First, may Djokovic go home and shut up. I never understood why I instinctively disliked him so much; he’s just a tennis player, after all. But Federer and Nadal are clearly fine men, generous, open, honourable. Nothing about Novak is like that. And now we see him clearly. @#% him.
Second, on the other hand, I’m writing a love letter to Matt Galloway, anchor of CBC’s The Current. Does radio get better? The other day, I listened to an in-depth feature about Kazakhstan. Do I know anything about what’s going on there, or care? I did not, but now I do. Matt Galloway is one of a kind, the best radio host I’ve ever listened to except for my beloved Eleanor Wachtel, the best of the best.
The other day, I was flipping around on the TV when I stumbled on a documentary about Lady Bird Johnson. Like Kazakhstan, nothing could interest me less than this president’s wife with her stiff dark helmet of hair, until I was caught by something and watched. It turns out she was a phenomenally strong, empathetic, wise woman who pushed through an enormous number of environmental bills; her husband, who would have been lost without her, was responsible for the most progressive legislation since FDR. Who knew? Thank you, TVO. Brava, Lady Bird.
Sunday night, thanks to 60 Minutes, I also discovered StoryCorps. I’d heard of them, but was riveted by the piece about a project dedicated to listening to ordinary Americans and recording their stories. Be still my beating heart; listening to and validating stories is what I do, what I did on Tuesday as the U of T term started on Zoom and will do in two more classes tomorrow, what I’ve done since I started teaching memoir writing in 1994. Story! Tell all the truth but tell it slant. How much it matters.
Anna is not sending her kids back to school on Monday. She doesn’t think the government has done enough to protect kids and teachers, so she’s taking time off work to be home with her two. Brutal decisions are being made in the most confusing environment possible.
But for me, resident old fart, these are good days, interesting, driven. I’m not writing, I’m compiling – going through old files to find and edit essays written but not published for a possible compilation. I have over 45,000 words so far. It all may come to nothing, a document too flimsy, too solipsistic. But I’m giving it a go. And today, I was asked to send photographs for the article dear to my heart coming out this year in the Queen’s Quarterly.
On this mild day, I rode to Ben McNally’s Books on King Street East. It’s a wonder, this bookstore jammed with fascinating stuff, but I was there for one reason: Macca’s huge bestseller The Lyrics, an expensive two volume collection, his ruminations on his songs, how they came to be, what they meant and mean. My Christmas present to myself. Joy.
I also bought J.K. Rowling’s The Christmas Pig for my young friends, grateful to live in a world with books, and bookstores, and writers. And radio interviewers and story collectors who care. Behind me, as I write, a pot of hyacinths is wafting the sweet smell of spring my way, reminding me that winter will end. This pandemic will end.