I read the first two stories in Alice Munro’s Dear Life today. She’s the Canadian winner of the Nobel for literature, so of course I wanted to try her again. She’s our first ever winner for literature I believe. I’ve tried to read her before and found the stories readable but depressing. But these two stories I enjoyed. The first is more optimistic, so I liked it, the second sad with a creepy male character whom the protagonist loves, so I didn’t like it much, but was still OK with reading. I’m very predictable – I want good things to happen to sympathetic main characters.
I’m happy I’m able to enjoy writing that pretty much the whole world says is excellent. It’s maybe shallow to want to be with the crowd, but I hate to be missing greatness. Though there are lots of books that I can tell are very good literature, but which I do not enjoy. I’m hoping Alice Munro is going to move out of that category for me. Maybe I’m maturing.
I’ve been staying at home a lot this week. I felt I was coming down with something, but I’ve been popping a drugstore ginseng remedy that I think kind of helps, and have been sleeping a lot. I’ve been practicing trying to be relaxed at home. I think I’m often tense and on edge for no great reason, so I’m counter-acting that with some belly breathing and calming statements. I’m just at home, there’s no reason to be tense and worried, I can relax.
I attended a family event on Saturday – my father’s 80 birthday, an event in a rented hall at the university. A lot of his former students came, and some family friends. There were speeches about what a great teacher and mentor he was. I was uncomfortable – I’d had such a different experience of him as a child.
One good thing was I had good clothes to wear. I’d recently bought a business jacket for work, with a newish white shirt and black skirt, so at least I looked like a professional. My fear was I’d still look like the badly dressed kid I was. The clothes gave me some confidence.
I did skip the weekday actual birthday day dinner with my parents. I felt guilty, but enough is enough. It makes me sad to see them.
It’s tough when parents are getting older, and if things were good, I should be supporting them, as they supported me as a child. They did do all the conventional things for me – lessons, food, shelter, outings, travel. All these things that families do for their children. I’m grateful for that. Once I had my own son, I did realize that these things aren’t necessarily easy to do.
But here I am, in parts. That’s at least half way down to my parents.
So I stay away mostly, and show up to big occasions. They don’t ask what’s wrong. I feel guilty, but can’t bear to see them any more than I do.
Art: Got Book Worms? Camille Engel