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Life in Squares, and just life

There’s life in these old bones. I’m not perky, but definitely better than yesterday. Finally noticed my plants are dying and am getting around to watering. Have kept my cat alive for two days, and myself too. There’s hope.

Today I wrote a furious letter to Lisi Tesher at the Star, who’s been allowed to take her mother Ellie’s place several times a week as an advice columnist. Ellie is sensible; Lisi often gives glib responses, but today’s was particularly infuriating. A woman wrote that she and her husband, who have 3 school-age children, are divorcing. “Now what?” Lisi responded with great cheer that no problem, “there’s no failure in divorce,” “Co-parenting is different than what you’re used to,” “Think of all the positives.”

Co-parenting is different, no question. As someone whose children had to go through the agony of divorce, I wrote to her that, unless the circumstances are exceptional, there’s no way to sugarcoat what that family are all about to go through. They will need help, not cheery bromides. Jesus. Divorce, except for cases of abuse or addiction or other violence, is almost certainly disastrous for children. That doesn’t mean the problems can’t be overcome, but a great deal of work on both sides is needed to do so. Making light of what’s ahead is a huge disservice to them all, but particularly to the children.

I’m especially aware of all this now because I’m working on my essay book, which has a number of pieces about divorce and single parenting. The ten or fifteen years after my divorce were in many ways nightmarish, yet I had financial support from my ex that allowed us to stay in our home and to pay for my shrink, who helped me through. Most custodial parents are not so lucky. If there is one thing I would NEVER do, it’s downplay the cost of divorce for children.

Speaking of which, I watched the 3-part British TV series Life in Squares, about the Bloomsbury group, particularly Vanessa Bell and her marital arrangements. Her husband Clive moved on after they had two sons, living separately with his own lovers but visiting regularly. She was desperately in love with the gay painter Duncan Grant, who lived with her for most of his life; eventually, in what you gather was their only moment of sexual intimacy, they conceived a daughter. Angelica Bell didn’t know until adulthood that Duncan not Clive was her father. Eventually she married David Garnet, who again she didn’t find out until later had for years had been her father’s lover. 

Can you imagine learning your husband was for a long time your father’s lover? Yikes. These people were ahead of their time in defining bisexuality in their own way! Not to mention, of course, Virginia and her passionate affair with Vita Sackville-West, while her dear husband Leonard Woolf tried to guard her sanity and talent. 

Complicated. You gather few actual divorces; people just moved in and out of each other’s beds and gorgeous country homes. 

And then I watched my favourite Finding Your Roots. Such a great show, delving into people’s pasts, often hundreds of years back. Last night’s was about actors Edward Norton and Julia Roberts; at the end we find out that DNA tests revealed they’re distantly related. 

How helpful Amazon is. Just discovered my Jewish Shakespeare hardcover is on sale for nearly $90. No wonder the sales are pouring in. 

Here are my animals, new and old:

It’s another dark dark dark gloomy day, as it has been for the entire week – mild but oppressive. Another neighbour has just tested positive. A little sunshine would go a long way for us all, Powers That Be. Asking for a friend.

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2 Responses to “Life in Squares, and just life”

  1. Your new cat is so beautiful, Beth. She (he?) looks almost regal. What is his/her personality? I'm longing to get a cat, but I'm often away and I don't have a garden. It would be cruel to keep an animal in a small space.

  2. beth says:

    Juliet, cats are marvellous companions and very undemanding. Tiggy lived five years with an elderly woman in a small retirement apartment, so I assume my house is a jungle of adventure for her. But I will not let her go outside to hunt birds. She's more comfortable with me though still a bit aloof, not a lap cat yet, I hope that will come. People do walk their cats on leashes. You can get playthings and climbing platforms. But mostly, if they have the basics, cats can live almost anywhere.

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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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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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