Back to Work

Below, page 1 of a very, very old work-in-progress. Self was clearing her closets when she stumbled across the hard copy yesterday.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, DEAR DEPARTED DAD.

DSCN0046

Committed.2: HINDSIGHT, p. 29

An 11-year-old who was relishing the start of summer vacation and long hours of freedom instead finds herself committed to a psych ward by her father and stepmother. She lives in two rooms the entire summer: a bedroom (with barred windows) and a dining room.

Her first conversation is with a boy in the dining room, a day after she’s been committed:

The boy next to me whispered: “You should eat that.”

I looked up at him. He was older than me. In fact, everyone was older than me. I would soon learn that I was the youngest kid on the ward. Eleven-year-olds don’t usually get admitted to the adolescent psych unit. Adolescent was a big new word for me, but it meant twelve and older. I carefully surveyed the room, noticing the nurse watching me closely. I nodded and obediently ate the soggy flakes.

Group time came soon after breakfast. Keith, I learned, was fifteen. He was waiting for placement at a nearby group home, and he had anger issues.

Stay tuned.

Committed: HINDSIGHT, p. 28

Hindsight, Ch. 5 (Hospital)

I stood up, staring out the window. I was on the dreaded Seventh Floor. The place where they locked my mom away whenever she lost it. When she tore out windows and painted the walls with ketchup and mustard. When she marched her kids into the mountains and left them. Where my stepson went, when she was so depressed that her naughty step-kids wouldn’t eat her nasty bloody chicken.

The window was reinforced, and there were strategically placed screws and nails in the framework. Even if I managed to open it, I would have to travel seven floors down. My bed only had two sheets. I wouldn’t make it.

Dysfunction

Hindsight, Ch. 4 (Married Again)

I was winning. We could stop this.

My father looked at us both, disappointment heavy in his eyes. “What would people think?” he asked.

“I don’t care,” I told him.

We argued for the rest of the day. I didn’t want this woman moving into our house. Something about her was unkind, cruel. I sensed her disdain towards me.

The day of the wedding came.

 

Older Sister: HINDSIGHT, p. 13

She wanted to stay to protect us, but she wanted to get away, to protect herself.

Certain Favorites: ONCE UPON A RIVER

Trying hard to keep this post spoiler-free. Don’t worry, she’s only a third of the way through this novel. She’s not giving away any big secrets or anything.

We are at a Vaughan chapter. Self has to admit, this character is one of her favorites. (How lucky is she that she just finished Northanger Abbey and then stumbled into another great novel. This doesn’t happen often. That is why she appreciated discovering Phillip Pullman and reading His Dark Materials all in one go.)

Setterfield is really good at describing sows, pet pigs, etc First there was Maud the Sow, who was kidnapped (Who kidnaps a sow? a character asks. Yeah, WHO?). Martha, a pig, Maud’s daughter, becomes a replacement confidant for one of the characters (There are so many pigs on farms in the Philippines and no one’s ever written about them. Or turned them into characters. Why not give it a try, self?)

Vaughan had a disorienting encounter several chapters ago with Mrs. Constantine. He lost his daughter — “taken” — when she was four. He’s just been going through the motions ever since. Then someone rescues a man and a four-year-old girl from the river. A servant tells his wife the news before Vaughan gets a chance to tell her himself, and then his wife takes off, just like that, to the inn where the drowned/rescued girl has been taken.

These actions, while thrilling, are so perfectly in character. Self finds herself nodding over the pages, saying “Yes, yes. Go on.”

As for Vaughan, he couldn’t go on. He went on.

As for the man who was rescued with the little girl, he has remained unconscious for all these pages. He made a big, dramatic entrance in Chapter 1, lost consciousness, and has been lying flat on his back on a table at an inn since forever. All self knows about him is that a nurse practitioner (or whatever you called healers in that time, in England) came and examined his entire naked body very thoroughly, and deduced that his injuries were survivable, and also that he was a photographer.

She only heard of Diane Setterfield at the Fowey Festival of the Arts. She went to Bookends of Fowey and asked if they could recommend a book by Setterfield “to start with.” Once Upon a River was out of the question because it was hardcover and very thick, and self had still weeks of travel to go. She bought it, though, just before leaving London.

In another piece of luck, self has been back from London for two whole days, and her weirdo neighbor has not made a peep (until this afternoon, when she heard muffled stirrings from the other side of the fence. UGH. She’s confident he’ll never discover this blog, because he doesn’t seem to do anything all day, and has no friends. He has stuffed animals lined up in his living room window, and seems to think self has a crush on him. She’ll be really distressed if he shows himself, frankly. It will ruin her plans for the summer, which are: to remain entirely, unreservedly, stress-free. One day when she was running out of conversational topics with Dearest Mum, resident of Manila, she told Dearest Mum about this neighbor. True to form, Dearest Mum giggled and said she was so happy to know that self had an admirer!!!)

Something is going to happen. Stay tuned.

Jonathan: ONCE UPON A RIVER, p. 110

Jonathan’s birth:

I couldn’t take my eyes off him, little fairy creature that he was. He gave a blink and the way his eyelid — you know what it is like, not straight like yours and mine, but set at an angle — it closed over the eye not quite like a normal baby, but nearly. I thought, What does he make of this strange world he’s come to? What does he make of me, his foster mother? He moved his arms, not altogether like my baby girls used to, but more floppy — like he was swimming. A baby frown came into his face and I thought, He will cry in a minute. He’s cold. Beattie hadn’t wrapped him up or anything. Fairy children can’t be so very different from the ones I know, I thought, because I can tell he’s getting cold. I put my fingers against his little cheek and he was all wonder, quite astonished! When I took my finger away his little mouth opened and he mewed like a kitten to have it back. I felt my milk rise at his cry.

For the first time in forever, dear blog readers, self has no inclination to read spoilers on goodreads or Twitter. She’s caught firmly in the fictive net of this novel.

Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Tim Dee

Landfill: Notes on Gull Watching and Trash Picking in the Anthropocene, p. 21:

  • Early morning Bristol. The bars, along the street where I live, recycle their glass empties of last night.

She knew nothing about Tim Dee before she began this book.

His writing is SO beautiful.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Back in London!

Prague was very pretty but people do not speak English there.

London is adorable because as usual there is traffic and the skies are grey.

It’s another Bank Holiday. OMG, so many of these! Can someone please explain what is going on?

The last thing she remembers doing in London was watching John Wick 3 at the Odeon on Tottenham (Five Stars!) and meeting Jennie for dinner at Chez Nous immediately after. Then walking with Jennie down Great Russell Street and pointing out the British Museum and the Antiquarian Bookseller and paying a very brief visit to the Bloomsbury Hotel (The lobby looks like most of the space is taken up by a bar. Or mebbe it’s always been that way and she’s just mis-remembering?)

In Paddington, she used an ATM to withdraw pounds. A message told her: PUT YOUR CASH AWAY QUICKLY.

Then, as if she needed another reminder, the PA system began to squawk: THERE ARE PICKPOCKETS HERE.

She dashed into an exit elevator like her pants were on fire. GOTTA GET OUT OF PADDINGTON I’M SURE I’M BEING STALKED BY SOMEONE WHO SAW ME USE THE ATM.

The taxi rank was beautiful: it snaked all the way back, looked like at least 50 taxis, each moving smartly forward evey few seconds. She wished she had the wherewithal to take a picture. But she was SO deathly afraid of pickpockets. Seriously, though, that is some serious taxi business going on at Paddington.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Gulls and Humans: LANDFILL, pp. 17 – 18

This is a gorgeous book. Stunning. A learning to see.

Self heard about it at last year’s Cambridge Literary Festival (which featured a number of panels on the environment)

pp. 17 – 18:

In my lifetime gulls have come toward us. Most other birds have gone in the opposite direction, but the gulls have bucked the trend. In part we made them do so; in part the birds elected to fly that way. And they continue to tell something of how the once-wild can share our present world. Calling them seagulls is wrong — that was one of the first things I learned as a novice bird-boy. They are as much inland among us as they are far out over the waves. Yet, in fact, this state of life for them is far from new. Over the past hundred years, human modernity has brought gulls ashore.

DSCN0251

This gull took off from the balcony of self’s room in Fowey Hall.

Stay tuned, dear blog reader. Stay tuned.

 

 

« Older entries

nancy merrill photography

capturing memories one moment at a time

Asian Cultural Experience

Preserving the history and legacy of Salinas Chinatown

Rantings Of A Third Kind

The Blog about everything and nothing and it's all done in the best possible taste!

Sauce Box

Never get lost in the Sauce

GK Dutta

Be One... Make One...

Cee's Photo Challenges

Teaching the art of composition for photography.

Fashion Not Fear

Fueling fearlessness through style and inspiration.

Wanderlust and Wonderment

My writing and photo journey of inspiration and discovery

transcribingmemory

Decades of her words.

John Oliver Mason

Observations about my life and the world around me.

Insanity at its best!

Yousuf Bawany's Blog

litadoolan

Any old world uncovered by new writing

unbolt me

the literary asylum

the contemporary small press

A site for small presses, writers, poets & readers

The 100 Greatest Books Challenge

A journey from one end of the bookshelf to the other

Random Storyteller

A crazy quilt of poems, stories, and humor