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Let’s take it from yesterday afternoon.

1) Meeting at the Council re Laureate developments, yay! Exciting stuff. Shot out of there like a bat out of hell to go to

2) M’s concert, in which she played in a junior orchestra, and a solo violin piece. And sang. Waved goodbye to E & R who went to

3) E’s concert, where he played bassoon. And sang. M and I skipped this bit, so we could head home, eat and prepare 

4)  the poem she was reading today in a poetry reading competition. Though she wasn’t competing, just reading. I was one of the judges, and…wouldn’t be fair! She bathed, got to bed and

5) E & R arrive home. E sky high sugars from a snack before the concert, not wanting to go low and have a hypo. He eats more and takes his short-acting insulin. He’s shattered, so we tuck him in

6) only to wake at 12.30 am to E having his first nighttime hypo. Dreadful for him, worst one yet. Treated and settled once again, with promise to wake him and test his blood 

7) at 2.30 am. Which we do. All fine. This morning both children and us look and feel like wet dishcloths. Off M goes to school, where I meet her

8) for the poetry reading competition. A fine time had by all, and worthy winners. Photos taken. Half an hour in Starbucks for me then, where I manage to grab some writing time. Then

9) off to ballet. Afterward 

10) we head to coffee. Friends I’ve known for years, godsends. An entertaining and relaxing hour. Too soon

11) head home. Within 5 minutes E back from school. Within 10 minutes

12) he realises he’s low again, another hypo. After treatment we are able figure he overestimated lunch, too much insulin.

13) He says he thinks the lows are worth it for the better sugar levels, even if they mean he grinds to a halt for 20 minutes at time. I tell him his father and I will be looking at the whole picture tonight, to try to reduce them. He shrugs, his newly 13 yr old mind set. He wants good numbers. I admire him more than I can say.

*

It’s a bit like that at the moment. The pace of life, believe it or not, has actually slowed slightly. We deliberately keep some things at bay, to make grudging room for the uninvited guest called Diabetes. However. It’s important to keep doing the things that are vital, that feel nourishing, in all ways. To do so you have to make it look easy. Because otherwise it’s all a battle and self-pitying and patently defeating the purpose But I confess to feeling at times like I’m not waving but drowning.

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Just in case anyone was unduly worried: I’m back with the programme.

1) Gym achieved. Motown played. Much better.

2) Schubert and Cleo on form. 

3) M cheered by good violin practice last night.

4) R fixed printer. Yay! Will get ink later. And more cat food.

5) Although I *did* send a series of weird messages on my mobile phone yesterday, today it seems totally reliable.

6) & 7) Only downers (well, not including general existentialism and too much work overall, too fragmented a life and not doing anything to help the state of the world): still can’t get through to mysterious musical organisation (answering machines). AND STILL HAVEN’T SENT MY WORK OUT.

Here’s the deal: by the next post, work will be out. Some work. A little work. Okay, 15 poems.

Meanwhile, another Italian scene from H, brother-in-law:

to a little bleat of joy: saw Mamma Mia the other day, R under duress and E hoping no one would recognise him. M and me just settling back for the journey.

Well, of course it had its cheesy moments (particularly in the first 5 minutes: R’s head well and truly in hands). But also had some wonderful ones that took me by welcome surprise. Much like Enchanted (which for similar reasons only M and I saw in the cinema) there are some truly delicious scenes of the good old fashioned musical, when everyone drops what they’re doing and starts singing and dancing…great stuff.

I also found Mamma Mia hugely moving. Not the whole thing by any means. But much of it was gutsily acted by middle-aged men and women — such stars in their own rights — whose commitment to the simplicity of the heart of the piece — loving and aging — shone through every moment. Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan in particular were just…luminous. Really.

Anyway, I found myself crying through the Dancing Queen sequence. Really. I was mortified, until I realised that the woman next to me was crying too. 

After poking around on You-Tube, I’m pretty sure that the clips are all pirated. Oh well. You just gotta see the movements with the song though, so I’ve stuck the best one I can find here. GO SEE THE FILM. Really. Whether you see the karaoke version I leave up to your own fine judgement…

For those of you who knew it was going to happen, it happened. For those who didn’t: I threw a surprise party for R last week. 

Oh yes I did.

The children were in on it. It took weeks to plan. On top of everything else. I don’t know what got into me, except this: we have a tendency to be away for his birthday. In fact, we haven’t been home in years  on the actual day. So I wanted to make an effort. I  said I’d cook him dinner. He was panicking (stop laughing). We sent him outside to his shed until we were ready. He was panicking. He thought that the best he could hope for was take-away Chinese.

The children led him in the front door, eyes closed. When he walked in —

18 people were sitting on the floor of our living room.

I’d done it! We’d done it!

He was gob-smacked. The first thing he said was Who thought this would be a good idea? In fact he said this several times in the first two minutes. Which panicked me somewhat.

Then we poured him a glass of bubbly.

Friends had sent cards. Sarah and Mike had sent flowers. Nancy and Hamish had sent a strawberry tart from the Goods Shed. Everyone had brought food. So R’s fears were unfounded. And it was good food. Even better, it was great.

The children popped all the poppers and then watched loads of episodes of the Simpsons with their friends.

We ate and ate. R opened his presents (cookbooks and wine!). 

His brother called. His father called.

He had a birthday. He is Eeyore no more.

(But I hated the white lies. Shiver.)

*

We are lunging for the finish line that is called our annual holiday — hurray! So will be out of commission on these pages for a coupla weeks….Will return with photos and quite a bit fatter no doubt (though I’ve earned it: gym three times a week, yay!).

Til then: peace. Read a good book.

Yet again it’s been a grueling few days. If it weren’t for the fact that all of life is precious, I think I might be under a rock by now. But all of life is. And with the terrible news of a student dying, and the mother of one of M’s friends also dying, both last week, came R’s and my 20th wedding anniversary. We went away for a night, just us, eating good food and ordering a different wine with every course. The weather was blazing, and we slept on the beach. 

He also sent me flowers.

*

I’ve been looking for a poem to gather everything into one place. The fact that so much can co-exist, that indeed it must. Love and grief in the same room. Dread and longing, to paraphrase Adrienne Rich. So. An approximation via one of my all-time favourites, by Mary Oliver. Won’t have you rolling in the aisles. But goes partway toward something.

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — 
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I HAVE MOVED

From January 2010, my new blog is Waving and Drowning

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Who am I?


A writer born in Texas, who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (yes, like the song), and who's been living in the UK since 1988. I've published two books (see below), and teach creative writing at the University of Kent. I'm married to a composer, and we have two young children. See About for my full profile.