From Mike Dooley, Self Help Speaker, Author:
Notes from the Universe
Whatever you’re going to do today, please, do it to the best of your ability. As if it was all that mattered; as if it was all you had; and as if your very happiness depended upon it. Because these are among the very truths you came here to learn.
I haven’t wanted to write this week at all. In fact, it is taking a bit of guilt to get me to write in my ‘morning pages’ ( a nod to Julie Cameron’s self help series, An Artist Way). Still, I have made progress and like most struggling artists, I, lacking self confidence this week to write and be good at it, must attribute some of the ‘ah ha! moments that keep me pushing forward to seeing my dreams a reality.
To back track and give you, my reader, a sense of setting, if you will allow me to use such a term, of my life, I will start from last Thursday or a mere seven days ago. My husband works out of town four days a week, coming home sometime in the afternoon on Thursday afternoon. He has not always done this, in fact before landing this job he was unemployed nearly a year and a half. We have two children, my daughter is nineteen and my son is sixteen years old. We have lived in this town and home that we own for exactly a year. My husband has his family here, his mom, dad and younger brother and my daughter has her boyfriend of four years that lives here. My son, an introvert and emphatic and takes after me in that manner, has bloomed here, making numerous friends, gathering girlfriends like flowers and nearly residing in the woods, something that he has always been more comfortable in than the city we lived in before. I have, for the most part, felt like a boat without a rudder, directional – less, lost. Out of place. I find this fascinating and disturbing at the same time. It is not like I am a hermit, holed up and a recluse. I have forced myself out in social situations, I am a college student and at 44 years old I do work at a job that forces me to interact with many people several times a week. Still, I feel so out of place here. Up until last Friday, in the wee hours of the morning while my alcohol induced insomnia and highly emotional state kept me awake, I would drink several nights a week just to keep myself ( or so my inner voice reasoned) from going absolutely bat shit insane. The crux of the evening was that I needed to quit drinking cold turkey and completely. My husband had woke me up several hours earlier mad that I had left him on the couch. I, being quite comfortably numb with a bottle of wine in my system, woke up to him yelling at me. He and I exchanged a few words and then because I was getting loud or maybe because I told him to get out of the bedroom in so many colorful words, he called me ‘crazy’. That was a slap in the face wake up call. Maybe because of my experiences in life with mentally ill people that I have loved and lost through death or separation, some of them still in my life, buried deep within my soul or physically present, even totally drunk as I was, I could NOT be labeled as crazy. I WOULD not be labeled as crazy. So it was decided between all the voices that reside in my head, I will be in my right mind and I reasoned am obviously not in my right mind while drunk. Since I love alcohol as much as it seems to love me, I have to cut it out completely. I am that person who is physically pained if you decide to leave the table and toss a half glass of wine…my mind finds ways of reasoning with this person, even snatching the glass before the wine could be tossed down the drain, and find a way to drink it myself. “Don’t waste such a perfectly good tasting wine!”, I would say.
Needless to say I spent the weekend doing everything to be friendly but not a friend to my husband. Having a ton of free time on my hands now that I decided to be sober, I meandered to the library, my hangout of sorts. This backwoods town has a marvelous library. I was on a mission; I had read a blog post from Jen Pastiloff on wordpress about a book by Ernest Hemingway called A Movable Feast. This is where synchronicity of all sorts just falls into place as if golden bricks were being laid to the city of Oz. The white light of the heavens, angels singing…. it is too good not to share all that has happened in a week’s time.
I am a writer. I didn’t really grasp this notion or love until last summer and over the course of this year. From August to August has it grown into a full blown realization that I am a writer. I have been reborn in a way. I have also found solace and creativity in cooking this year, to the point that being in the kitchen and creating a delicious feast everyday just turns me on! Not in a sexual sense, but in a I’ve- done – a – good job- today satisfaction turn on. So, reading this blog where the writer explains her joy of reading A Movable Feast, my coupled desire to revisit Key West in the near future, knowing that Hemingway had a house there (connect the dots…), my absolute joy of being in the kitchen this last year, I had to search out the book! I had to read this book! I am a nomad at heart and reliving his time in Paris and him being a writer starting out with nothing but a desire, I HAD to read this book! Funny thing though on the walk into the library, I was thinking I would go to the shelves and just have a look, to see if I could see Hemingway’s books in the fiction section instead of going to the electronic card catalog.
Time – Space Continuum …
Does anyone else miss the wooden card catalogs like I do? The smell of musty wood, the feel of the index type cards between my fingers, the swoosh of the drawers opening and closing and the sight of well worn edges knowing that those cards and ultimately the books sought, had been shelved for a long time?
Back to my walk and the reasoning behind me not plopping in front of a computer screen to find the book I sought.
As I walked by one row of shelves, a smallish brown with age book stood away from other books on a shelf at eye level. “Look at me!”, it cried from the shelf. I stop and do what I was asked to do. It is a thin book, something in a expanse of a quiet afternoon I could devour. Remember, I had a weekend that I would not be socializing with my husband and my kids would be scarce. The book’s title was interesting and because it was an old book instead of a newly published one, I picked it up. A Turn of The Screw by Henry James with another story called The Lesson of the Masterwas included. The introduction copyright is 1930 if that gives you any indication of this story’s age. I realized after thumbing through it that it was a gumshoe mystery who-dunnit, something I am not really into reading; still, my interest was peaked and I tucked it under my arm. I eventually scanned enough shelf space and found a section of Hemingway books, none being A Movable Feast. I did choose one of two books on his short stories and went to the information desk to request the book I actually sought be sent from another library.
The thing was, now that I had three books, two on Hemingway’s fiction/autobiography of his time in Paris and the one on James’, I had no desire to read. I opened them, started them and closed all three after attempting to enjoy the story being told. By the time Tuesday night had come around, I knew that my mind was working on greater things, mulling over my relationship troubles and wondering if my life will always feel so out of my control because of my lack of direction. If you would meet me and I were to tell you of my life today, you’d think, “This woman has her shit together!” Yet, inside my mind I feel as though my life is like me being lost in a great forest with no way out anytime soon.
Yesterday, home alone, without transportation, I decide to clean off my desk of the dozen or so books I have on writing to make room for space for material to start my college classes on Monday. I am seeking a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, a fancy term for being able to learn three courses of study in two years. or in other words, I still have no solid direction and need a choice of three. Mighty nice of a college to do that for students like me! In order to place those books on a already crowded book shelf I had to remove a stack of magazines I had picked up at the college library last year. I did this first thing in the morning before turning on the TV, which I hardly ever do. I am not a TV watcher, yet I was compelled to turn on the TV and watch the news or flip through the channels. I have the Bon Appetit’ magazines on the couch thumbing through them, when the announcer says, “Today would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday. In honor of her memory and her legacy we will be doing a segment of her life right after this commercial break.”
Julia Child Memories (video link)
I had only watched the movie Julie and Julia last week! I had started this blog, SoulFoodWords.me because of of that movie! I had started writing and thinking about writing this summer out of desperation and loneliness! That movie about Julia Child and Julie, a lost and depressed woman who turned 30 years old and turned to blogging about the food she made from recipes out of Julia Child’s cookbook, The Art of French Cooking, solidified my focus on something outside of my head and into a blog on wordpress.com.
Do you have goosebumps yet?? It gets better…
I really try to wrap my head around all this yesterday, but I stay busy cleaning the house. The start of last week’s argument was that my husband of nearly 20 years thinks it is fun to ‘surprise us’ on Thursday afternoons by showing up at the house without warning. He works nearly two hours away so he has ample time to let us know he is heading home. I’ve told him in the past this is not fun for us. The kids and I have for four months routinely languished housecleaning until a super tidy cleaning frenzy on Thursday, so that my husband can walk into a clean house. This is important because we have eight cats, a dog and various snakes as pets. During the week the house isn’t a mess, but we are lax about picking things up and the dog only gets a bath once a week, so it just makes sense to do it all on the day he will be coming home. During the previous week, he had told me not to expect him until 7 or 8pm because he would have a new boss and this guy is stickler about working people up until 5pm and later. Anyway, my husband shows up at 2pm last Thursday and the kids and I had so many things not accomplished for his arrival. That stressed me out, frustrated me and caused the first argument not even five minutes into his arrival home. So, to make use of a day alone yesterday I cleaned and after completing everything, I settle down with a bowl of popcorn and re -watch Julie and Julia in honor of Julia Child’s birthday while flipping through Bon Appetit’ magazines. I thought it was a great way to spend the afternoon. A reward of sorts for myself by thinking ahead while still making progress of getting rid of magazines I didn’t need on my bookshelf.
Several magazines were different; one was a Good Housekeeping, so I took that one to my room and tossed it on the bed for later reading in the evening. I made dinner while my daughter and I watched the commentary of the making of Julie and Julia and the remarkable Nora Ephron as the director of that movie. I took pictures of the dinner I was preparing with thoughts of a blog entry of how my love of being in the kitchen creating food that makes me happy to serve and share mirrors the life of Julia Child in so many ways. Did you know, she didn’t start learning to really cook until she was 40 years old? Well I am 44 years young and I can understand her struggle of not knowing what to do with the remaining years of life. I do the nightly routines that have been established this summer with little to do: clean the dinner dishes, talk to my daughter and when my son came home from being out all day, to him, watch an electrical storm and then finish the evening with a few hours on Facebook playing a game and posting quotes.
I climb into bed around 11:30pm and while waiting for sleep to arrive I pick up The Good Housekeeping magazine among the other six or seven choices that litter my husbands side of the bed while he is away. Each issue of Good Housekeeping dedicates the last 20 or so pages to a short story feature. In this issue I thumb through, the short story excerpt is from a book called The Paris Wife by Paula McLain which after reading a few lines I recognize Ernest Hemingway’s pet names he gave to his friends and they to him!
It gets better…
I make up my mind not to read the story while tired but to read it after writing my three pages of longhand this morning. As I am reading the story excerpt in bed this morning Ernest asks his ‘Paris wife’ Hadley a question:”Who’s your favorite writer?” She replies, “Henry James, I suppose.”
I had to share. Thank you for sticking through to the end. I now know I need to read these books, learn more about Hemingway as part of my own growth as a writer ~ I have in mind to get an complete autobiography of his if there is one ~ and keep the faith. Perhaps I won’t be as famous as Hemingway, James, Child, or Ephron, but maybe I will make a difference by being around,touching someone else’s life by my passion for creating both stories and food, as they both beg to be shared.