Month: May 2020

100 Day Project – Days 41 & 42 Literary Witch: Anna Akhmatova

This week’s literary witch is Russian poet Anna Akhmatova whom I think I have heard about only in passing through my friend Anya Krugovoy Silver who was also a poet and of Russian descent (whom I have written about before in my post: Death in the age of Internet friends). Anna Akhmatova calls for Endurance this week – which is something I know quite a bit about. And also: staying with pain, avoiding pain, patience. Pain is something I know about all too well – avoiding it is something I would like to do. Patience is something I am always working on (aren’t we all?)

Last night I turned off my phone and put it in my closet. We went for a walk/push in the wheelchair today (I did get out and walk for a bit though) and it was nice not having my phone with me. When I am connected I am always looking for things to take photos of – but today I just got to notice what was around me. I did have to pull it out and turn it on to take the photo of this week’s literary witch but I turned it back off right after and put it away. Today I got a lot of reading done, made sushi, went for a walk, sorted out & minimized my mending pile, had a nap, watched half a movie with Mister & Fionnuala (we watched the first half last night), ordered seeds (I know, I know, I’m very late), kept up with my Latin practice and did countless other things without taking one single photo. I’ve felt odd though, like I SHOULD be taking photos or checking my texts or playing PokemonGo or scrolling mindlessly on social media. But I’ve also felt great. Now I’m going to go and keep reading my book with out the need to put it down every couple pages and check my phone for no reason.

100 Day Project – Day 40

Can you believe it is day 40 of the 100 Day Project? I think, all things considered, I’ve done pretty good at keeping up with writing most days.

Today was a hard day for some reason (um, cancer much Melanie?) I keep waking up early because of back pain and spasms – it lessens somewhat when I take my medication and sit up for a while. For some reason I was just so tired and weary for the better part of the day. I would try to do things and then would have to lay down for a while. Laying down didn’t even lead to sleep most times, I would just lay there and scroll mindlessly. There has been a lot of mindless scrolling these days and little else getting done. It is so easy to turn to my phone when my brain is sluggish with tiredness and pain but even though I enjoy the interactions I have with people online it doesn’t really help my state of mind. My phone and I need to take a break from each other. I’m not going to make a big deal about it though and I’m not sure when – but if you text me and don’t hear back you might want to call the home phone or send an email. ; )

Today I was mindlessly scrolling on my phone and came across a clip of Jerry Seinfeld’s new comedy special where he talks about Device Dictatorship and if you have a couple moments you should really watch it. On your phone, of course, which is glued to your hand right now.

I don’t know how long this will be allowed to be embedded on my page so watch it quickly before it gets pulled.

100 Day Project – Days 37 -39

Covid-19 edition of the ugly bathroom tile selfie. I started doing these years ago to track the progress of my post-chemo hair growth.

This week we passed the 60 day mark of isolation. This week we didn’t get a lot of schooling done. This week I didn’t get a lot of writing done either. I’m not even sure where the week went but now it is Friday night and I am trying to get a blog post done so I don’t let too many days slip by.

Oncology was fine. I got more drugs. Always more drugs. I am, in fact, embarrassed by the amount of pills I have to take. Pain killers (more than one type). Chemotherapy pills. Anti-nausea pills and now heartburn pills to offset the side effects of chemotherapy. Sleeping pills so I don’t lay awake all night thinking about my mortality. I was also give anti-inflammatory pills this week because of back spasms but reading the list of side effects from these anti-inflammatory pills and these anti-heartburn pills makes me think I should just put up with the heartburn and back spasms. Soooo many drugs and then more drugs to combat the side effects from those drugs that come with their own side effects. All this for a woman who would barely take an Ibuprofen before getting cancer.

But all in all this week wasn’t too bad. It’s my week off chemo so I’ve had spurts of energy and during those spurts I have sanitized the dishwasher, scrubbed out the fridge, and started organizing the pantry. And then I use up all my spoons and have to lay down and doze for a while but at least I had the spoons in the first place to use up. (If you haven’t heard of the Spoonie theory here is a link to an article about it.)

Now I’m off to put Oonagh to bed and watch the second half of Return of the Jedi because I can’t seem to stay awake through a full movie these days.

How was your week?

(These current blog posts are part of my #100dayproject and are written quickly and posted without significant editing. They are what they are, mistakes and all. Much like me.)

100 Day Project – Day 36, Book mail is the best mail

We don’t get a lot of mail. Even though I foolishly check the mailbox at least twice a day we can go weeks without getting anything. When we do it is usually appointment notices from the Tom Baker Cancer Center (I know, I know, they are very much behind the times on that front) or letters from our Member of Parliament. But the last two weeks have seen a windfall of kindness arrive in our mailbox. I keep telling our girls that if they want to get mail they have to send mail but that doesn’t seem to motivate us to write more letters – something I am hoping to remedy soon.

What is even better than regular mail you ask? Why, book mail of course!

The first parcel to arrive came last week. A woman I have kind-of known for years through knitting and blogging circles asked if I wanted an extra pair of circular needles for sock knitting because she had too many. I said yes, of course, and eagerly awaited them. Then she saw my Literary Witch post about not having any Virginia Woolf books in the house and added a copy of A Room of One’s Own to the package. Of course the day after she went to the post office I wrote about having found a copy of this book on our bookshelf but, to be honest, this version is prettier so I will keep it and pass my other copy along to someone else. (Or return it to a Little Free Library where I think is how I got it in the first place.)

Ingrid from Gladstone Press – a new (2018) Canadian publishing company whose tagline is Old Books, New Looks – contacted me and asked if she could send me a copy of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. This arrived yesterday and reader it is luscious. The paper is so nice I made everyone in the house touch it (with clean hands of course) and kept rubbing it on my face so I could feel the softness. Mister said it was the paper equivalent of 300 Thread Count sheets. (Do we even know what that feels like? I’m not sure). Ingrid is not paying me to tell you all this as she gifted the book to me out of kindness but I’m just THAT into paper that I feel justified in rambling on about it. (As a child I had a large paper collection. I just really like pretty paper.)

There is even a map of Clarrisa Dalloway’s journey through London. I don’t know if this is a normal thing for copies of Mrs Dalloway to have but I was suitably impressed. I compare this new publishing house to such high quality imprints like Persephone Books and Virago Modern Classics – except it is Canadian which makes a big difference to the pocket books of those of us who would like to be collectors of high quality classics but can’t actually afford to be. (Although I do spend an inordinate amount of time on the Persephone and Virago websites window shopping.)

The Gladstone Press blog also linked to a really interesting article about The joy of reading Mrs Dalloway during lockdown which is well worth the read and has put this book at the top of my reading pile (I won’t lie, the feel of the paper helped a lot with that decision).

Last week I also received a copy of Winter Wren by Theresa Kishkan whose blog I have been enjoying for years. Theresa and I recently had a couple online conversations about the joys of novellas and she kindly sent me this one. I didn’t realize until she sent it that she and a partner have their own small publishing house called Fish Gotta Swim Editions that specializes in novellas. I’m not going to talk about this much yet because I plan to do a full review once I have read the book.

(These current blog posts are part of my #100dayproject and are written quickly and posted without significant editing. They are what they are, mistakes and all. Much like me.)

100 Day Project – Days 34 & 35: Literary Witch: Gertrude Stein

What do I know about Gertrude Stein? Not much to be honest. I know she was a contemporary of Hemingway and the Fitzgeralds and was in love with Alice B. Toklas with whom she was with for four decades. I haven’t read anything by her although have always been intrigued by her book The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas but it also sounds really weird in the sense that she wrote a biography of her life through the eyes of her lover. (When I was younger she always seemed kind of scary and bossy and thought it weird that Toklas was always referred to as Stein’s companion AND secretary.) As far as female writers living in Paris during that time go I’ve always been partial to Simone de Beauvoir (whose biographies I have read having spent one summer going through all of her works in order as their timeline appeared in her biographies – although I never did finish reading all of them).

The words associated with card are: making sense, frames, and new ways of seeing. I think we are all working on new ways of seeing these days. And if we aren’t we certainly should be. In terms of frames there are many ways to look at that but this week I’m going to take it literally because I bought a beautiful vintage photo frame a while ago and have done nothing with it so this week I am going to find the perfect photo for it. That’s the thing about oracle cards – you take what you need and leave the rest. There is an interesting (but long) biography on Stein over at The Poetry Foundation if anyone is interested.

(These current blog posts are part of my #100dayproject and are written quickly and posted without significant editing. They are what they are, mistakes and all. Much like me.)