Saturday, October 26, 2013

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10.16.13 (Wednesday afternoon, part III) - The gang.

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10.16.13 (Wednesday afternoon, part II) - Bubbling. Coach Emma is rocks.

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10.16.13 (Wednesday afternoon) - Before soccer in the bubble.

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10.16.13 (Wednesday morning) - The Halloween house is in full swing.

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10.15.13 (Tuesday afternoon) - P and L built a house (and then Coco ate it).

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10.13.13 (Sunday afternoon) - Arting.

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10.12.13 (Saturday night) - Medieval Times. Red and yellow! Red and yellow!

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10.12.13 (Saturday afternoon) - Open house at the fire station.

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10.10.13 (Thursday morning) - The beginning of a very rainy five day weekend. So we decided to recreate the Civil War and spend the day in our jammies.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

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10.08.13 (Tuesday night, part II)
- Sushi with friends.

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10.08.13 (Tuesday night) - Reunited.

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10.07.13 (Monday afternoon) - The beach at Kiawah Island.

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10.07.13 (Monday morning) - After the rain stopped, we took a walk by Laurie's house.

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10.06.13 (Sunday night, part II) - Dinner at Husk. Amazing.

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10.06.13 (Sunday night) - Us. Fancy.

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10.06.13 (Sunday afternoon) - Middleton Place. Charleston, SC.

Friday, October 18, 2013

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10.05.13 (Saturday afternoon) - CHARLESTON, SC!! with Laurie and Jon. We spent the afternoon Octoberfesting at Closed for Business.

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10.04.13 (Friday night) - Happy hour at Hector's. I managed to avoid becoming a drunken mess. The girls are clapping to the Cups song, quite impressive.

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10.04.13 (Friday) - Recent schoolwork. P's self-portrait on top; F's in the middle. Don't F's sentences make me sound like the worst mom ever? Or at least the laziest?

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10.04.13 (Friday morning) - T loves his journal.

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10.03.13 (Thursday afternoon, part II) - Walk home. T carried the groceries for me. Or at least he tried to carry the groceries for me.

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10.03.13 (Thursday afternoon) - Walk to Menchie's for the 4th grade fundraiser.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The greatest part of Gerry’s life was probably between the ages of seven and fourteen, when the boys roamed the town in gangs. They weren’t delinquents or anything, but they did more or less as they pleased, like a subculture within the town. Girls were not part of that, I don’t think ever. We were always in little knots of girlfriends, we just didn’t have the freedom. So it was interesting to learn all this.

. . . .


Was Vancouver less useful for material?


I lived in the suburbs, first in North Vancouver, then in West Vancouver. In North Vancouver, the men all went away in the morning and came back at night, all day it was housewives and children. There was a lot of informal togetherness, and it was hard to be alone. There was a lot of competitive talk about vacuuming and washing the woolies, and I got quite frantic. When I had only one child, I’d put her in the stroller and walk for miles to avoid the coffee parties. This was much more narrow and crushing than the culture I grew up in. So many things were forbidden—like taking anything seriously. Life was very tightly managed as a series of permitted recreations, permitted opinions, and permitted ways of being a woman. The only outlet, I thought, was flirting with other people’s husbands at parties; that was really the only time anything came up that you could feel was real, because the only contact you could have with men, that had any reality to it, seemed to me to be sexual. Otherwise, men usually didn’t talk to you, or if they did they talked very much from high to low. I’d meet a university professor or someone, and if I knew something about what he knew, that would not be considered acceptable conversation. The men didn’t like you to talk, and the women didn’t like it either. So the world you had was female talk about the best kind of diet, or the best care of woolies. I was with the wives of the climbing men. I hated it so much I’ve never been able to write about it. Then in West Vancouver, it was more of a mixed suburb, not all young couples, and I made great friends there. We talked about books and scandal and laughed at everything like high-school girls. That’s something I’d like to write about and haven’t, that subversive society of young women, all keeping each other alive. But going to Victoria and opening a bookstore was the most wonderful thing that ever happened. It was great because all the crazy people in town came into the bookstore and talked to us.

. . . .


Did you always have the sense that the marriage wouldn’t last?


I was like a Victorian daughter—the pressure to marry was so great, one felt it was something to get out of the way: Well, I’ll get that done, and they can’t bug me about it, and then I’ll be a real person and my life will begin. I think I married to be able to write, to settle down and give my attention back to the important thing. Sometimes now when I look back at those early years I think, This was a hard-hearted young woman. I’m a far more conventional woman now than I was then.


Doesn’t any young artist, on some level, have to be hard-hearted?


It’s worse if you’re a woman. I want to keep ringing up my children and saying, Are you sure you’re all right? I didn’t mean to be such a . . . Which of course would make them furious because it implies that they’re some kind of damaged goods. Some part of me was absent for those children, and children detect things like that. Not that I neglected them, but I wasn’t wholly absorbed. When my oldest daughter was about two, she’d come to where I was sitting at the typewriter, and I would bat her away with one hand and type with the other. I’ve told her that. This was bad because it made her the adversary to what was most important to me. I feel I’ve done everything backwards: this totally driven writer at the time when the kids were little and desperately needed me. And now, when they don’t need me at all, I love them so much. I moon around the house and think, There used to be a lot more family dinners.

. . . .


Had your mother read any of your work before she died?


My mother would not have liked it. I don’t think so—the sex and the bad words. If she had been well, I would have had to have a big fight and break with the family in order to publish anything.


Do you think you would have done it?


I think so, yes, because as I said I was more hard-hearted then. The tenderness I feel now for my mother, I didn’t feel for a long time. I don’t know how I would feel if one of my daughters wrote about me. They’re about at the age now where they should be coming out with a first novel that is all about childhood. It must be a dreadful experience to go through, becoming a character in your kid’s novel. People write carelessly wounding things in reviews like, oh, that my father was a seedy fox farmer, and things like this, reflecting on the poverty. A feminist writer interpreted “My Father,” in Lives of Girls and Women, as straight autobiographical representation. She made me into someone who came out of this miserable background, because I had a “feckless father.” This was an academic at a Canadian university, and I was so mad, I tried to find out how to sue her. I was furious. I didn’t know what to do because I thought, It doesn’t matter for me, I’ve had all this success, but all my father had was that he was my father. He’s dead now. Is he going to be known as a feckless father because of what I did to him? Then I realized she represented a younger generation of people who had grown up on a totally different economic planet. They live in a welfare state to a certain extent—Medicare. They’re not aware of the devastation something like illness could cause to a family. They’ve never gone through any kind of real financial trouble. They look at a family that’s poor and they think this is some kind of choice. Not wanting to better yourself is fecklessness, it’s stupidity or something. I grew up in a house that had no indoor toilet, and this to this generation is so appalling, truly squalid. Actually it wasn’t squalid. It was fascinating.

. . . .


After you’ve spent five months or so completing a story, do you take time off?


I go pretty much right into the next one. I didn’t use to when I had the children and more responsibilities, but these days I’m a little panicked at the idea of stopping—as if, if I stopped, I could be stopped for good. I have a backlog of ideas. But it isn’t just ideas you need, and it isn’t just technique or skill. There’s a kind of excitement and faith that I can’t work without. There was a time when I never lost that, when it was just inexhaustible. Now I have a little shift sometimes when I feel what it would be like to lose it, and I can’t even describe what it is. I think it’s being totally alive to what this story is. It doesn’t even have an awful lot to do with whether the story will work or not. What happens in old age can be just a draining away of interest in some way that you don’t foresee, because this happens with people who may have had a lot of interest and commitment to life. It’s something about the living for the next meal. When you travel you see a lot of this in the faces of middle-aged people in restaurants, people my age—at the end of middle age and the beginning of old age. You see this, or you feel it like a snail, this sort of chuckling along looking at the sights. It’s a feeling that the capacity for responding to things is being shut off in some way. I feel now that this is a possibility. I feel it like the possibility that you might get arthritis, so you exercise so you won’t. Now I am more conscious of the possibility that everything could be lost, that you could lose what had filled your life before. Maybe keeping on, going through the motions, is actually what you have to do to keep this from happening. There are parts of a story where the story fails. That’s not what I’m talking about. The story fails but your faith in the importance of doing the story doesn’t fail. That it might is the danger. This may be the beast that’s lurking in the closet in old age—the loss of the feeling that things are worth doing.


One wonders though, because artists do seem to work to the very end.


I think it’s possible that you do. You may have to be a little more vigilant. It’s something I never would have been able to think of losing twenty years ago—the faith, the desire. I suppose it’s like when you don’t fall in love anymore. But you can put up with that because falling in love has not really been as necessary as something like this. I guess that’s why I keep doing it. Yes, I don’t stop for a day. It’s like my walk every day. My body loses tone now in a week if I don’t exercise. The vigilance has to be there all the time. Of course it wouldn’t matter if you did give up writing. It’s not the giving up of the writing that I fear. It’s the giving up of this excitement or whatever it is that you feel that makes you write. This is what I wonder: what do most people do once the necessity of working all the time is removed? Even the retired people who take courses and have hobbies are looking for something to fill this void, and I feel such horror of being like that and having that kind of life. The only thing that I’ve ever had to fill my life has been writing. So I haven’t learned how to live a life with a lot of diversity. The only other life I can imagine is a scholarly life, which I probably idealize.

- Alice Munro's interview with the Paris Review, 1994

Friday, October 11, 2013

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10.02.13 (Wednesday night) - LON sent everyone new sleeping bags. So the kids "needed" to camp out in our kitchen.

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09.30.13 (Monday afternoon, part III) - After practice.

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09.30.13 (Monday afternoon, part II) - Soccer practice.

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09.30.13 (Monday afternoon) - Three boys and a firetruck that shoots ping pong balls. Awesomeness.

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09.30.13 (Monday) - Dan bought me roses for no reason. Happiness.

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09.29.13 (Sunday) - T's artwork. I sort of love it.