Where am I, the Côte d’Azur? It’s 20 degrees here today, on the 8th of April! Bewildering. Hard to complain when it’s so hot and sunny, daffs and forsythia in full bloom, and since we’re back in full lockdown, outdoors is a welcome option. But it’s not normal.
Speaking of not normal, yesterday I went to No Frills, and while in the produce department suddenly felt so dizzy, hot, and queasy, I thought I’d fall over. Had to prop myself against the potato shelf and breathe deeply through my mask. Headed home asap and lay down, was better in a few hours. Dr. Google says it could be many things. If it happens again, I’ll call my doctor’s office. I know, that was the lesson of my appendix – don’t ignore pain. This wasn’t pain, just lightheadedness.
Getting @#$% old.
Yesterday, I Skyped with old friend Richard Fowler, fellow actor in Vancouver in the 70’s, who had a fascinating alternative career in Europe and ended up in an aerie, a fabulous little house he had built in the mountains high above Positano on the Amalfi Coast. It has the best view of anywhere on earth, but Richard, who has severe vision loss, cannot see it. Still, he has a wonderful life there, regularly taking the bus down to Positano to swim in the sea; he speaks fluent Italian of course and has many friends nearby.
Richard took me on a tour with his iPad; this is a screenshot of his terrazza.
Last night, the last episode of the 3-part doc on Hemingway by Ken Burns. Oh, the glamorous life of the writer, I said out loud, watching the excruciating disintegration of this Nobel-prize winner, who after a lifetime of alcoholism and a series of head injuries descended into terrible paranoia and depression before, like his father, committing suicide. One of the most interesting points made was Hem’s interest in androgyny. This ur-“masculine” man fought in several wars, slaughtered scores, perhaps hundreds, of animals and adored bullfights; over and over I had to hide my eyes so as not to see the violent images, bullfights especially, the cruellest, vilest “sport.” Yet Hem liked his four wives to have short hair and dress as boys, and with one played sexual games where she called him Catherine. His youngest son Gregory actually was a cross-dresser who, despite being married for years and fathering many children, eventually became a trans woman named Gloria. Fascinating.
What I hope this superb series triggers is respect, once again, for simple language that gets to the point and stays there. Language has become more and more ornate over the past years, dripping with metaphor and simile and adjectives. I’ve thought, reading writing competition winners, that simple language doesn’t stand a chance and have swum against the tide with my students, warning them against “five dollar words,” when “50 cent words” are clear and get the job done.
I just found my copy of A Moveable Feast which I look forward to rereading; I remember liking it a lot though he gets nasty about his friends. It starts, “Then there was the bad weather. It would come in one day when the fall was over. We would have to shut the windows in the night against the rain and the cold wind would strip the leaves in the Place Contrescarpe.“
Been there. Felt that.
Tonight, a great thrill – my daughter has been asked to give a speech nominating her friend Paul Taylor, whom she met in Grade 6, as the NDP candidate for Parkdale-High Park. She sent me a draft of her talk this morning for editing; I had barely a thing to do. It’s superb. I will watch on Zoom tonight. One proud mama.