misssylviadrake (misssylviadrake) wrote,

Tales of Upstairs Downstairs: Carving out more usable space; a writing life, vivid realistic dreams

Dear friends and readers,


The sanitation men came and emptied out the three bins between 11 and 12, and now two are wholly full again and a bit of the third. I probably will not fill them much more for now. I have cleared out much of the floor area in the part of the attic over the front area of the house. Most (not all as yet) of the toys in that part of the attic are on shelves or thrown out (as old, obsolete, broken, filthy). Ditto some child's books and videocassettes and memorabilia -- the good and cherished ones on the shelves and the rest pitched..

Tomorrow I mean to re-arrange the left files in my room to empty out all the shelves on the big wide tall broken bookcase and the narrow tall bookcase near the door. I'm doing re-arranging in the library shelves in the rest of the house too and have three shelves empty which I can fill.

Then I'll sweep! Yes I'll take a broom and sweep the attic floor. And maybe break down and dust too.

Donna Dennis, a Coney Night Maze

On Thursday the Admiral and I will try to put the huge book case up in the attic in a space between two of the three up there now.  We'll move out the narrow one into the hall the vestibule by the front door turns into. My aim is to have stuff up there I take down and vice versa. I'm now glad we have the little desk up there. It's not going to be livable space up there as it's not going to be heated or air-conditioned; the floor and ceilings are attic with slanted roofs and tiny windows. What I'm doing is carving out more usable space upstairs.

And eventually (after the hedge and garden pulling out, and the renovation of the bathrooms, and buying me a Prius C) I'll enclose the porch in front. That then will be a second small room for me -- the Admiral and Yvette and 2 cats can come in too. Multi-purpose. I'll have a bed, maybe a bookcase, the TV from the front room which no one watches hardly at all since the Admiral takes that room for his and he does not tolerate TV well. Maybe an exercise bike. I mean to have windows across the wall facing where the sun comes up. I realize this is a problematic change. Two of the walls of this room must necessarily be outer walls of the house and are now brick, both with doors in them and one with a wide window. How to cope with this I don't know. I will just ask contractor after contractor.

I am okay with all this. I am enjoying it in a way. I look back and find I was not as self-indulgent in print-outs as I feared. While I accumulated some print outs of emails & postings and fat thick folder filled with letters to and from friends. I am relieved in front of myself to say most of what I had was teaching stuff, or now obsolete notes for projects. I did have the notebooks from when Yvette was in the learning disabled school, and rows and rows of diaries neatly stacked from 1982 to 1993. About a year after we came to live in Virginia I began to keep a diary and commonplace books. It was touching for me to look at these with their cut-out pictures. Much faded. The first was January 1982 when I had bought Caroline a stick horse. They stop when I got onto the Internet.

I have written all my life from the time I was 13 when I wrote short stories. In high school I wrote good papers but I got As or they were entered into contests. I never won, only came second. Most of the time the people in the honors or AP classes won. Since I was not going to college, I wasn't in those classes. This was my first experience that taught me it mattered who you were how your stuff was judged and treated. In college I wrote and wrote. My first husband destroyed all my papers up to the time I was 21 when I left him. As I left these behind. Forgot about them. Just took my typewriter, a fan and a suitcase. A few cherished books. While in graduate school I was writing papers and my dissertation. In-between graduate school and teaching and my return to teaching in 1987 and getting onto the Net in 1993 I had these diaries I kept. Sad to throw them out but they were damp, old faded, and I had no place for them. I am a rich poor lady, no muniment room. Only this 63 year old wooden attic. All this writing helped me through my life.

It's not costing me a dime. I have not yet borrowed any money to fix anything in this house nor buy anything. Everything I've done has been from income or savings. In fact the only borrowing Jim and I ever did was to buy this house and our first two or three cars and the last I paid off quickly.

Yet I am suffering insomnia and also vivid realistic dreams -- from anxiety. I wake up sometimes in the morning under the impression the dream really happened and it's only later in the day does it come to me the dream was a dream. So I dreamed that the Admiral had bought tickets for 7 nights in a row of plays. Then we discovered he had bought for one of those nights already and we had to go somewhere else another night. Uh oh. A conflict. I woke in a sweat worrying about what we were spending and believed we had this burden. The admiral has been buying subscriptions, for more plays and planning trips -- nice ones staying in beautiful places to go to interesting events. But I do hate like hell spending money. I'm not used to this. When two weeks ago we bought Yvette a new chair and ordered two new glider upholstered rockers for ourselves. I know I appeared to write the checks as if it were nothing. It was not. I's hard to get used to this..

Another form of dream is about sickness. I'm standing on a Metro platform and talking to a woman I don't know and we are telling one another about who has cancer and who doesn't and who's dying and who isn't. This is from people my age telling me about themselves or a friend getting cancer. Sometimes stories of someone who died. Of course I know the Admiral and I are not getting any younger. He banged his knee on our bed the other day and is still limping. Nothing serious. He went to the doctor and ii's just "bursitis."But when he was younger he would not have had this inflammation.

I'm experiencing night of insomnia too. Just can't sleep now and again. My mind is working at high speed when I wake in the middle of the nigh, I find I've slept only 2 or 2 1/2 hours, not 4. I get up as usual for my bout of reading, but then when I return I can't fall back to sleep or only very late and for one hour. The restoril (prescription) is too strong and leaves me groggy. Bad ironic results: I fall asleep while we are at plays & concerts (!).; It's addictive if you over use so I'm careful not to use a pill but rarely (every 2 weeks at most). I emailed my Aspergers group for advice and they made suggestions for what to drink (a juice concoction) and routines to follow. This afternoon luckily I napped for an hour and now I'm writing this to stay up, will watch one hour of the 2002 Forsyte Saga (I'm going through both film adaptations, the 1967 with 26 episodes and now this 2002 with 13), and then hope to be very tired and sleep.

I am no more unhappy or less at peace than usual. If I've had new disappointments, dismays they are no different from the usual. I discovered that the Poldark society board has a petty bully in charge, and that these pseudonyms protect such people from being accountable. The group has had no experience of scholars and so there is no leavening of their cult and they are unused to serious talk about these Poldark novels and it disturbs them to read analyses of these stories. The facebook page has people at worship over the 1975-76 mini-series and the actors and actresses. People go to the trouble of making YouTubes out of bits of the mini-series re-contextualized with lush romantic music unlike the original altogether. I don't begin to understand the source of worshipping a 2nd rate (even if pretty good) BBC mini-series nor to tell the truth why these books to these 7 (or 12) books to these people? So there's another set of texts whose social world I can't belong to, enter into, share my writing or thoughts with. I've experienced this before. (With the elitist Trollopian women scholars who closed down to anyone who is not famous or presentable as prestigously-connected. I was told by one I looked like I was at a garden party; Before that I endured distress from with some Renaissance thug-like territorialness -- fierce). But it's over and I never expected much.


Mickalene Thomas, Fairy Tales

Probably I'm less bothered by people, and I know contented during the day reading and beginning to evolve genuine projects. No more skimming and just dipping in to books I accumulate but never read or not read properly. No jumping from thing to thing. I mean to have projects I enjoy for real without reference to anything beyond them as well as do papers or reviews. Maybe a book project: Elizabeth's story. My old Ellen's story from age 13 taken from Gone with the Wind will be revived in a new key with very different context: Cornwall, 18th century

Ah I could be the duchess of liberty, solitude, congenial companionship were it not ....

Journalizing, about 4:10 pm:

Okay I emptied out all shelves in the two bookcases meant to come out of my room and have re-arranged. All projects are now rationalized and can be got at. The ones to be worked on are two on Austen (films, epistolary and calendar), Smith (translation), Trollope (Pictures and on Living in a New country). My Radcliffe is not in files: she has been published since the 1790s and so exists in books plus files in the main library outside my room. What is in my room is what I must have in xeroxes and my notes, essays and published scholarly, primary and secondary materials.

We moved one of the bookcases, the narrow one out. Now we can open and shut my door comfortably.

I cannot claim to have swept the whole floor but I did sweep around one table and then brushed it off. I have hated the sight of the black bits (filth) which feel from the roof when the people we hired to put a new roof on apparently "cut a corner" and just hammered away so black flakes of all sizes rained on the attic. This was 12 years ago. They joined the so-called installation which when I bought I did not know consisted of bits of stuffed cotton-y which a machine snowed the sides of the attic with and eventually seeped into other parts. They look startled when I was indignant.  Much of this has somehow disappeared  but some seemed to gather in this or that spot.

One spot was this lovely round table I had bought for my children, blonde wood. My parents laughed at me for it. I can't say the girls much played on it with any tea sets. But I liked it and for 21 years have been upset to look at its state. It is now clean and in the part of the attic I've made usable. Did I do all I did so I could have this moment. I know many other people would have swept earlier or not cared.

No for  I have rearranged my room wholly, & now removed the narrow bookcase and emptied the big. Tomorrow we shall tackle putting the big one up.  The walls look funny. Pictures all in the wrong places. It'll take time to find new ones and change this aspect of my room around.

The full diary: section 1,
Section 2,   Section 3

Tags: 20th century, about blog, aspergers, autism, cyberspace, diary, disability discourses, dream life, female archetypes, house, letters, life-writing (mine), listserv life, reading life, real family life, seasonal, social life, womens lives

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