A photo of fall in Vermont a face-book friend sent:
I list the things I promised so as to gather myself together to form a set of routines where by I can keep myself busy and yet not overdo it. I find when I am embarked on beloved books and movies especially, but also just fine and interesting ones I can put Jim's absence aside for a while; and when I am writing with my mind fully and sometimes when I am around people I can feel cheered somewhat (not always but if there is a good spirit I'm okay).
So I take assignments and projects on.
I am working on:
Book: edition of Smith's Ethelinde for Valancourt (finished Sleath's Orphan of the Rhine; ideas for Hubback's The Younger Sister and Smith's Marchmont)
Book: A Place of Refuge: The Jane Austen Film Canon
Papers: for Haydn journal: Anne Hunter and Haydn
For Trollope Belgium conference: On Living in a New Country: Trollope's Australia
For ACESC: What work does a screenplay or shooting script perform
Paper finished and needs to be put on website: The Depiction of Widows and Widowers in Austen's Novels and Letters
Long overdue review: for ECCB: The 2nd edition of the Cambridge Companion to Austen and Lisa Moore's Sister Arts (lesbian art in the 18th century).
Review not so overdue: for Victorian Web: Fictions of Affliction
CERCLES (online journal): Better Left Unsaid (more than half-way through)
Right now: OLLI at AU: Beyond Barsetshire (after this week 6-7 sessions)
OLLI at Mason: The Gothic (more than half-way through, after this week 3 sessions)
For the spring: OLLI at AU: The Poldark novels (the first 4) -- 10 weeks (idea for fall, Jane Austen, second half, Lady Susan, Emma, NA, Persuasion, Sandition, ?Radcliffe Romance of Forest?
For the spring: OLLI at Mason: In and Out of Barsetshire (the first 3 novels) -- 8 weeks
For the summer: OLLI at Mason: Barsetshire Emerges: Framley Parsonage --6 weeks (idea for fall, course in Daphne DuMaurier)
Blogs promised for myself and one for Burney conference: the papers I heard at JASNA and Burney conference, the latter of which requires reading Burney's Love and Fashion
I was listening to a reading aloud of George Eliot's Daniel Deronda as I came home from another difficult class at one of these two OLLIs I volunteered to teach at and heard the reader say about a mind or minds shut up within themselves, "exiled in the rarity of their own minds, whose deliverance in passionate soliloquies" burn themselves out alone, in obscure or hidden places, and how happy when they do get "signs of recognition and fulfillment may penetrate the cloud of loneliness." I'm like this this or a bird banging myself crazily against walls to teach myself that I cannot live a life without him, proving it to myself so I need not blame myself.
I want to play,
But can I trust,
Behind the Furniture is safe,
But it is Lonely.
On the floor are toys and joy,
By the books is quiet and safe.
I would leave, but can I trust.
Would the fun be worth the risk?
I will walk on unsheathed claws,
that click upon the parqueted wood
My tail raised ready for flight,
My heart ready for the play.
The play’s the thing
Wherein to catch the catness of the cat.
Dear friends and readers,
As you may remember the Admiral and I were married on October 6th, 45 years ago, and we met 46 years ago so it is 47 years since he entered my life and became the center of my existence. He was born on October 3rd, 1948.
Have I told you how in January of 1969 I went to France and while I was with people to the point I began to talk in French and even felt I was thinking in it in order to go faster, I nonetheless became so stressed at being alone most of the time I began to lose track of what day it was, what date, I couldn't somehow figure how the time of day so I decided I needed to return to Leeds. My landlady forgave me the rent I owed her as when I was leaving there was someone to replace me, and I got on a train to the Channel, then a boat to Southampton and then a train all the way to Leeds. This was the first of many times that as I neared Leeds and knew I was nearing him, I began to get eager to go faster and faster because he was beginning to be closer, within reach. In later years driving home from somewhere I'd speed up when I got within 10 miles of our home in order to get back to him.
When I arrived, around 10 at night, a raw February night, Leeds mist, windy, within minutes (truly) there he was at the door, so thin. He was hungry, had no job as yet and no apartment. We fell into one another's arms. I rushed out to buy food and drink, and brought it back and he cooked it. I think we knew then how much we meant to one another.
He died on October 9th, 2013, the Thursday, precisely at 9:05 pm, a year before the first day of the Burney conference at Montreal -- a small group of people who meet just the day and one half before each JASNA AGM (as well as elsewhere at different times of the year, with ASECS for example). I heard 11 papers on October 9th (having gotten there by a 45 minute walk through a freezing cold windy day in Montreal, up a hill by 8:45 am); I proceeded to take much down in sten -- it keeps the mind occupied as well as the hands. Was given much food and drink, made welcome, talked to, smiled at, and in the evening got myself back to the JASNA where again I got myself a plate of food which I tried to eat (with two friends who had known Jim) and by 9 pm with Yvette (Izzy) went to the first larger lecture of the JASNA. I went from Burney people and place to JASNA; much of the conference I was roaming from here to there.
Since he no longer is alive, he could not be here with the cats as he was when Izzy and I went to two previous Jane Austen meetings (Portland JASNA and a Jane Austen Summer Program at Chapel Hill in North Carolina, so first Caroline's friend Marni visited the cats and then daily Caroline came and played and fed and stayed with them. They were frightened that first day and gradually calmed down, and began to recognize a pattern as well as Caroline. I've put one of the more poignant images of Ian up -- with a poem one of Caroline's commentators was prompted to write or put on her blog.
Here is Clarycat the first day without us.
Here she is in an equivalent posture with Ian:
As the days passed, they did begin to play and trust and interact more. In case anyone thinks I'm exaggerating, they vomited here and there across the house. They were upset. I've seen a video where a cat wails when it's left alone for days on end.
It was however only 4 nights and 5 days and Marni was here the first day and Caroline every day thereaftrer. Every effort was made to pet, engage, play, love them.
Here they are towards the end,
by my bed she waits.
Charlotte Rampling, Sous la Sable the latest of my gravatars
I thought I'd nake a blog as it just took me a great deal of trouble to renew this account for the pictures. Thus I put my latest photo of my two cats on this site. They are now my companions:
And here is a blog I wrote about them and Olivia Manning's Extraordinary Cats.
I am going to stop going to the grief support person I've been going to because I suspect she wants to get rid of me. We are not compatible for real and so she told me this crazy story about how when a butterfly lands near her it is a sign from a dead person of her friend. She was challenging me to say she is deluded. It is false to think these psychologists/psychiatrists operate from more benign controlled motives. Many are socially coercive strongly, most. To be fair, I did talk with her telling of what last August was like, how it was a hell for me and my beloved. And now I'm here without him.
I am wondering if the piano teacher I hired wants me as a student. She took 2 weeks to start the lessons and now she's cancelled again. She says it's summer and she has a vacation to go on. I had practices this week but there's so little to go on for 2 more weeks I feel silly. If she cancels again, I'll try the JCCNV as I'm told they offer these and they are much less expensive. I am enjoying Dance Fusion Workshop: imagine a group of 50 to 60+ year old women dancing in exercise sort of mode before a mirror, following a lithe 30+ year old teacher in ways that are reminiscent of a Michael Jackson video. I didn't say very like ...
I am working on the projects I told you about (edition of Ethelinde for Valancourt; my book on Austen films, and now a review of a book called Better Left Unsaid: Victorian Novels, the Hays Code films and the Benefits of Censorship by Nora Gilbert, finished a couple; I sent off a review of Kenneth Johnston's Unusual Suspects, my review of Simon Heffer's High Minds is on the Victorian Web,and I sent off an introduction to Valancourt's edition of Eleanor Sleath's Orphan of the Rhine. I will start teaching at two OLLIs, one at AU (Anthony Trollope: Beyond Barsetshire) and one at GMU (The Gothic: ghost stories & films, Jackson's Haunting of Hill House, Martin's Mary Reilly, Charnas's Vampire Tapestry), Reading with friends on the Net and keeping up my other blogs on wordpress once a week.
Life is desolate for me because without him I live an impoverished life -- I cannot do what I could with his aid and presence. Desperately lonely for his talk and attitudes. The epitaph I chose for this blog seems prophetic now. I did fear he might die much younger than the average, but did not foresee how he would be taken from me, so cruelly to him and so swiftly to me.
In trying to evolve a schedule for the summer I make this list:
Book projects: A place of refuge: Jane Austen film canon
Ethelinde, or The Recluse of the Lake, by Charlotte Smith an edition for Valancourt
Introductory essay on Eleanor Sleath's Orphan of the Rhine for Valancourt
Reviews for journals:
Unusual Suspects: Pitt's Reign of Alarm and the Lost Generation of the 1790s by Kenneth Johnston
Better Left Unsaid: Victorian Novels, Hays Code Films, and the Benefits of Censorship by Nora Gilbert
The Sister Arts: The Erotics of Lesbian Landscapes by Lisa L. Moore
The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen, 2nd edition, ed. Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster
Reviews for online
Austen Reveries: Harvard NA by Austen edited Susan Wolfson
Victorian Web: Fictions of Affliction: Physical Diability in Victorian Culture by Martha Stoddard Holmes
EC/ASECS: a panel
The Anomaly: the single unmarried adult woman living alone, spinsters, divorced and widowed women
Proposed paper for JASNA/Burney at Montreal:
Frances's Franny: A Proposed Solution
EC/ASECS, Delaware: November 2014
Widows in Austen
September 2015: In Belgium:
On Living in a New Country: Trollope's North America (this may be impossible for me)
For next fall:
The Gothic at OLLI at GMU
Anthony Trollope, Traveler, Political Writer, Sociologist
They don't seem all that overwhelming.
There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –
None may teach it – Any –
'Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –
When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –
--Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
See Ellen and Jim have a blog two
Michael Gorra on Henry James
Reveries under the Sign of Austen, Two
Tom Branson (Allen Leech, while he's lost his socialism alas he picks a schoolteacher) and Sarah Bunting (Daisy Lewis) in the image I recall from the end of Little Women: Jo March and Mr Bhauer kissing under his umbrella -- from the coming fifth season
Rebecca Mead's My Life in Middlemarch
Tony Tanner's Jane Austen
Pierre Goubert's Jane Austen
Under the Sign of Sylvia, Two
A year has passed -- what it's like
Sunday Poetry: With a Cat on my shoulder -- though the dark trees/down to the lake
Previously Married Women
Whatever became of Borders and other tales
Some verses by me:
He was thrown away.
What am I to do?
I carry on,
I exist as best I can without him.
I've been studying Howtidi's Death Comes to Pemberley and love Anna Maxwell Martin's performance as Elizabeth: I've bonded -- here she is at a temple on the Pemberley gronds disquieted over where she finds herself in her life, how others behave ...
Here is yesterday's exhausting day set of distress upon distress. Today walking to and from an HD-opera I felt my heart beating super-quickly and when I went to cross the street someone almost ran me over. People in cars in Virginia don't believe there are creatures called pedestrians and when these creatures get in the way the drivers get indignant. I hope if someone reads this blog after I have died of this you will tell someone with power to make some splash that the DMV was responsible for my death.
So what else do I have to tell of my year thus far: I am going to start volunteer teaching of Jane Austen to older retired people. I'm feeling the important voices I've lost forever. My father's. What would he have said about this license loss? I suspect he would have raged on my behalf. I remember how he raged at the way I was treated at Metropolitan Hospital up in Spanish Harlem after a car accident (I was not a driver but a pedestrian). Jim would be started. Utterly unexpected after 34 years of driving with hardly a ticket.
It's now been 25 years since I've talked with my father and had the comfort and intelligence of his conversation. We would phone once a week in the 1980s.
Sometimes I can imagine what Jim would say about something that just happened. About the cell phone he'd have told me again and again I'm a fool to have bought one. He never wanted one. We had old flip phones as phones. But many things I cannot guess and it hurts not to know because so often his jokes made things unimportant; he gave me good advice: he might have known my license was still suspended and I must not buy car for $17,000 for which I must pay insurance. He would have enjoyed Prince Igor with us today.
These things make a big difference in our lives.
I don't see how I can survive if this goes on and on and on this way. I am powerless but before I had the shelter of his presence, his understanding, his strength, his help. I am naked to the winds. I am a person one wall of whose house has blown away.
'“Middlemarch” suggests that it is always too late to be what you might have been—but it also shows that, virtually without exception, the unrealized life is worth living.'
This reminded me of the axiom or saying I put at the top of this blog: I must not reproach myself for my unlived life. It's not my fault he's dead. I did all I could to keep him alive. Had the cancer epidemic not reached the Admiral I would have carried on going to conferences, giving papers, traveling, making acquaintances and friends. None or (to use the term as Mary Crawford says she uses "never") very little, hardly anything at all of that will happen now. I will spend the next 20 years alone.
Will my unrealized life be worth living? well I don't want to go into cold obstruction (mud, earth) and rot. If I can manage to cope with the new PC I'm having installed I can pretend to be writing a book, maybe write one and even send it to someone -- with the full expectation it will be rejected as I have learned the way to get an essay published in a collection is to know someone putting it together in the first place. There are no blind submissions.
So why carry on? for the sake of remaining sane while alive?
He did say I should not try but live quietly and not pay attention to what others thought at all. That was among his last words to me.
I have been paying attention and not living quietly but going out a lot.
From Mary Wortley Montagu's poems:
What Lesson is it must restore my Rest?
The firmness of my Soul gives way,
Some pitying Power behold what I endure ...
The admiral really thought I'd be okay. It seems to me now here at least he was wrong.
I'm not okay without him.
Bu whatever happens, life as I knew it is over for me forever; I cannot maintain that way of life. Instead I rush about trying to please and be with people, flailing crazily. The bad judgement was this trying, especially trying to deliver that black American girl doll. I'll never ever go again to that place or to any place where I don't know where it is and no one appreciates my efforts. How could I have been knocking my head against a brick wall that way.
Izzy half-sleeps in her room and does not want me to help her stay up. Across the street in the darkness I see a house lit. I know that woman (a widow like me who lost a husband in his mid-60s to a terrible cancer and who has let me know she does not want more than a passing acquaintance -- why should she?) has her trees outside lit, in the house a son, a daughter and boyfriend. I saw a car drop someone off. I'll never know this sort of thing ever. Now he's gone never be with others in that way. I could be with him that way and once in a while Yvette would join in.
It is so hard to die, to lie in the ground and rot, lose consciousness. The admiral thought I should try to be happy based on my books writing reading movies and that he left me enough money to do it. But computers break down and what I am to do to fix it? Today I had a harrowing incident where I could have locked myself out of my MacBook Pro by trying to buy music on itunes in my iphone. I have got to put all gadgets far from me..
I am alone with my cat tonight in the silence. I watch Love Actually -- this warm comforting film with its hopeful children. Bill Nighy keeps saying it's all crap and yet we see him kind to a male friend. Like Downton Abbey everyone kind to one another.
See last year's http://misssylviadrake.livejournal.com/1