Les Semaines

March 18, 2007

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: old journal

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The End of the Line

This week I had the sad experience of breaking off a long-term friendship. This was someone I have been close friends with a long, long time, and I was sure I would want to know for the rest of my life. I was proud of the longevity of our friendship and how close we were and of the crazy and wonderful times we had shared.

I had seen her treat other people pretty badly, and did notice that her other friendships rarely lasted long no matter how engaged she seemed to be with the person at first. I watched her cut off family members, and get into arguments in workplace after workplace. Each time she was the only honourable person amongst fools and thieves and people abusing their power. Only in the last few years did I begin to question these stories.

Gradually, I noticed that our arguments felt like more than just the way people argue when they know each other too well. She would snap at me or interrogate me. She would tell me I hadn't done enough. That my life was wrong. That I was always this or always that. I clammed up.

Finally I began to question her behaviours and to tell her how I felt when one of these incidents occurred. Of course, they got bigger and more frequent, and I grew to dread contact with her. I sent a few emails and letters but couldn't bring myself to pick up the phone.

Then four days ago, she emailed about restarting our friendship while including a shaming note about an accompanying editorial; the two messages were so disjointed as to be laughable. It was one more incident in what increasingly felt like attempts to bully me. I realized that I never, ever wanted to experience that feeling again.

So I sent her a carefully, phrased, vetted by many friends, email to explain why I didn't like receiving the message and why, and how I had grown to feel over the last few years. Then, basically, I said goodbye.

The instant I sent the message, I felt free. I felt relieved.

As you can tell (believe me it was much longer--I just cut several screenfuls of unnecessary detail out), I am still processing it and it does feel huge (kind of over-shadowed my joy at receiving the grant, though I've slowly been letting word out about that to cheer myself up and make it feel more real). Not quite a divorce, but definitely a break-up, and a shift in my life. Obviously, I feel it's for the best--I have no regrets, but I'm still grieving for what we had, and especially for what I thought we had.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing

Listening

Not time this week to focus on anything in particular, but just .000made our 350th CD trade at lala.com

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

I spent much of this week slowly reading Monique Charlesworth's The Children's War, a novel about two teenagers during World War II. Ilse is German and half-Jewish, and as the book opens, her mother has sent her to her uncle in Morocco. She winds up spending most of the war perilously hiding in France. At the same time, in Hamburg, Nicolai is increasingly isolated and grows attached to the family's new nursemaid--whose daughter Ilse is missing in France as the Germans enter Paris. How they both survive is the story that carries this novel. Isle's tale is the heart of it; Nicolai's is given less attention, but they're both trapped and forced to fight their circumstances however they can. A painful and fascinating look at growing up during such a situation.

In Maureen Johnson's young adult fantasy novel, Devilish Jane's discovers that her best friend has sold her soul to a demon in return for all the things teenage girls dream of. Jane cannot stay out of it, not matter how strange and dangerous the situation seems--she has to save her friend, even at the cost of losing her own soul, which she's not sure she believes in, anyway. Fun.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Revised a bunch of poems and sent out two submissions.

Reached my goal for the trim of part II of the novel.

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Retrospective: old journal

Sunday, August 2, 1992
near Dingestow

Breakfast at 8:00. First drove to Hendre to see the building that held the school where Christina's mother and aunt went. The grounds had been turned into a golf course, but they are restoring the building. Lovely architecture and features--very close to the farm where we're staying.

Then we drove on to Raglan (after a brief argument about me not being able to remember where to turn after the directions being described to me more than once). Raglan is a really large ruin with some beautiful carvings left--of a couple, part of the remains of a fireplace, a crest, gargoyles on a few of the tower points, and some at the tops of windows I tried to photograph. We climbed to the top of the tower and there were views all around. There were short bits of stairs but most of them didn't really lead anywhere. Apparently it had been a particularly elaborate castle before it was slighted after the Civil War.

 

 

Raglan CastleRaglan Castle.

Raglan Castle.

 

From Raglan we drove back through Monmouth (across the Norman tower bridge again), through Ross-on-Wye, to St. Bartholomew's, Much Marcle. It was a very attractive church. The service had just ended. We went in and looked at some carved effigies in a vault to the side (carefully screwing the lock shut), lovely one outside of there, Blanche Grandison. Large yew outside with a seat on it.

Hellens, across the roads, didn't open until later, so we drove on to have lunch (wonderful Hereford roast beef with beans) at the Walwyn Arms.

From there to Dymock, of the Dymock poets, where I saw a copy of a letter where Frost called Pound an incredible ass, in The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, another Norman church, with a tympanum representing the Tree of Life.

Then to Newent, with a lovely timber-framed Market House on 12 posts (1600s) and lovely timber-framed semi-ruin across the street. Newent Church has a lovely 9th C. cross-shaft, and a stone tablet, with on one side a bishop and a name, Elred (probably the name of the character for whom it was used as a tomb-pillow) and on the other, the Harrowing of Hell. It was likely used as a portable altar before that. Now it's cased in glass and so I couldn't get a photograph.

 

The Cross-slab at NewentThe cross-shaft at Newent.

 

Then back to Hellens, but we'd just missed a tour and so we wandered back through the gardens, saw the dove-cote and court and fountain and pools and cider-press.

Then we cruised out way around back roads with grass growing in the middle of them, getting lost on our way to Brockhampton. When we got there, we stopped to use the phone (poor Jim) then around the corner to the church which has an Arts & Crafts Movement construction on the site of an earlier church. It was very attractive, and well-done medievalism, with two tapestries from Morris' shops after a Burne-Jones design for a window at Salisbury. Sat on the grass for a bit, then stopped at Goodrich Castle too late to go in.

Then on to Trellech, where we went into the church and much to our surprise they were reconstructing it. There were ladders up inside the the bell-tower and Christina couldn't resist and climbed them, while I lagged back, too nervous to follow all the way. Apparently there wasn't much to see. We came down and found a lay reader awaiting us. We quickly apologized and started asking about the restoration. He showed us around and talked about what they were doing. Showed us a skull buried where they'd recently found it. He was wishing they had pictures of the restoration, so we took a few and said we'd send them to him [we eventually did]. He explained a bit more about the lovely sundial in the church, which marked where the nearby stones, well, and the tump of a castle are. He showed us the preaching cross out front and the altar stone that he said they thought might be a druidic altar. As we were standing talking a lovely manx calico cat rubbed up on my legs from behind, and really startled me. One other thing the man told us was that the preaching cross was a listed site and that every year had to send in a piece of paper to say it was presently vacant.

 

Trellech, preaching cross, druidic altarTrellech church, the preaching cross, and the "druidic altar".

 

Then we drove over to the three standing stones (Harold's Stones). They were lovely, leaning, bent shapes, made of something called pudding stone, with small stones crumbling out. It felt very old there, and as though the stones were sleeping. The man at the church had told us of a legend of two giants tossing stones at each other and them landing there.

 

standing stonesHarold's Stones.

 

Then we went to The Virtuous Well, which was clearly awake. The water was clear and still. We talked about it a bit, clambering around it, then Christina got a leaf of holly and I a bit of cow parsley and we put them around the well.

 

The Virtuous WellThe Virtuous Well.

 

Walked through the smoke of yard waste burning to Owen.

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