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The Shark is Broken, and Where You End and I Begin

This is a very busy house. Late Saturday night, Carol arrived from Ecuador. Carol lived on my top floor for years but, after her mother finally died here, she moved back to her other home in South America and has not been back for 3 years. She spent two days in the spare room and moved to the basement suite when Sheldon Elter moved out on Monday, after his run at Soulpepper, during which he won a Dora award. Bravo, Sheldon! A terrific actor who will go far. 

Immediately, Anna arrived from Stratford to take Carol’s place in the spare room for her usual Monday stay. Late tomorrow her friend Janet, who is now my friend, arrives from Vancouver for a night; on Thursday, Anna’s husband Tom comes for his Thursday stay. And last night, Robin who has lived on the top floor for 3 years came back from a month in Italy with many stories to tell. I live alone — ha! 

It’s that strange in-between season — moving out the cotton and moving in the wool. The furnace has been on for more than a week, early, usually it’s not on till Thanksgiving. But the deck plants are still outside; no frost yet. Many green tomatoes to use up. Many scarlet leaves on the ground. Apples. 

On Sunday, for his birthday present, I took Sam to see The Shark is Broken, a play at the Royal Alex, starring and written by Ian Shaw, son and doppelganger of famed British actor Robert Shaw. It’s a clever, entertaining play about the making of the film Jaws, which Sam, film buff that he is, has seen so many times, he can quote chunks of dialogue by heart. It’s about being an actor, an alcoholic, a man, a son, and what men do when they’re stuck on a boat waiting endlessly for a mechanical shark to be fixed. Terrific. Sam wants to see it again. 

I finished Where you end and I begin, the memoir by Leah McLaren. I think it was Anne Lamott who said, Believe me, no one in your family is happy you’re writing a memoir, and I’m sure Leah’s mother Cecily Ross is deeply unhappy with this one. It’s about how “enmeshed” they were, the girl and her irresponsible, fascinating mother, to a profoundly unhealthy degree. Cecily was sexually abused for years in childhood, and Leah’s thesis is that the damage inflicted on her mother was passed down to her daughter. Enmeshment = “emotional incest,” a continual violation of boundaries. 

I speak in class about “wounds and scars,” how important it is that you’ve dealt with your wounds before you write, because otherwise you’re settling scores and airing grievances instead of telling a story. Leah McLaren is a very good writer, and it’s a compelling, well-written book. But I felt that beneath the skill of the writing and the bright, engaging voice, there are wounds on display.

I’m still delving into the massive pile of clippings of Dad’s speeches and achievements and letters to the editor. Two obsessive women there — the one delving, and the one who cut out and stored all those bits of paper. Scores, hundreds of them.

Photo unearthed: Dad soaked, in bare feet, balancing or dancing on a brick wall with an attractive young woman. The circumstances? Who knows? Perhaps my mother would have liked to know. 

My neighbour’s massive Hallowe’en display with fifteen-foot-high monster is up already. Slow down! It’s coming soon enough!



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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