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It was impossible, I said in response to his question, to give the reasons why the marriage had ended: among other things a marriage is a system of belief a story, and though it manifests itself in things that are real enough, the impulse that drives it is ultimately mysterious. What was real, in the end, was the loss of the house, which had become the geographical location for things that had gone absent and which represented, I supposed, the hope that they might one day return. To move from the house was to declare, in a way, that we had stopped waiting; we could no longer be found at the usual number, the usual address.

And

“I kept waiting for the children to ask to go home,” he said, “but in fact it was I who wanted to go home: I began to realise, in the car, that as far as they were concerned they were home, at least partly, because they were with me.”

That, he said, was the loneliest of realisations…

And

I thought often of the chapter in Wuthering Heights where Heathcliff and Cathy stare from the dark garden through the windows of the Lintons’ drawing room and watch the brightly lit family scene inside. What is fatal in that vision is subjectivity: looking through the window the two of them see different things, Heathcliff what he fears and hates and Cathy what she desires and feels deprived of. But neither of them can see things as they really are. And likewise I was beginning to see my own fears and desires manifested outside myself, was beginning to see in other people’s lives a commentary on my own. When I looked at the family on the boat, I saw a vision of what I no longer had: I saw something, in other words, that wasn’t there. Those people were living in their moment, and though I could see it I could no more return to that moment than I could walk across the water that separated us. And of those two ways of living – living in the moment and living outside it – which was the more real?

From Rachel Cusk’s brilliant novel, Outline. 

 

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The Mississippi Delta was shining
Like a National guitar
I am following the river
Down the highway
Through the cradle of the civil war

I’m going to Graceland
Graceland
In Memphis Tennessee
I’m going to Graceland
Poorboys and Pilgrims with families
And we are going to Graceland
My traveling companion is nine years old
He is the child of my first marriage
But I’ve reason to believe
We both will be received
In Graceland

She comes back to tell me she’s gone
As if I didn’t know that
As if I didn’t know my own bed
As if I’d never noticed
The way she brushed her hair from her forehead
And she said losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you’re blown apart
Everybody sees the wind blow

I’m going to Graceland
Memphis Tennessee
I’m going to Graceland
Poorboys and Pilgrims with families
And we are going to Graceland

And my traveling companions
Are ghosts and empty sockets
I’m looking at ghosts and empties
But I’ve reason to believe
We all will be received
In Graceland

There is a girl in New York City
Who calls herself the human trampoline
And sometimes when I’m falling, flying
Or tumbling in turmoil I say
Oh, so this is what she means
She means we’re bouncing into Graceland
And I see losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you’re blown apart
Everybody sees the wind blow

In Graceland, in Graceland
I’m going to Graceland
For reasons I cannot explain
There’s some part of me wants to see
Graceland
And I may be obliged to defend
Every love, every ending
Or maybe there’s no obligations now
Maybe I’ve a reason to believe
We all will be received
In Graceland

– Paul Simon

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File it under men who think it is no big deal that you did their washing for them. When actually, you want to say. You don’t live with a man and haven’t for a couple of years now and you work, parent, run a house by yourself and so, doing someone’s washing is a very big deal. 

File it under men who cook for you. Under men who learn vegetarian recipes. Under men who have never dated vegetarians before. Under men who have exclusively dated vegetarians.

File it under men who love to eat pussy and think they’re the only one.

File it under men who sulk when you’re the one turning yourself inside out to see them.

File it under men who text you to tell you they’re calling you – they don’t ask, they tell you – even though you left them ages ago. Under other men who motion you over to your own fence by saying “come here, you’re not in trouble”.

(Note: not written about current events in my life).

 

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One day you’re cleaning up your kids’ rooms while they’re away at their father’s and among their piles of mess you come across a list the two of them made and.. oof.. if you don’t just ache with longing for them then.

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Writing lists about one’s family members is hereditary, apparently.

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I am very proud to once again have a piece in the Top 20 List.

 

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I am going to try to blog again this year.

Most of the reasons for starting a blog back in 2007 remain relevant to me today. I want a place to process my thoughts, feelings and experiences, I want a record for the children of parts of their childhood, I want more ways of connecting with feminists, particularly the feminist parenting community and also… writing more means I write more. And I really need to go back to writing more.

Plus, now I am far enough ahead of the grief and unraveling that was the ending of my relationship with my ex, and I think probably the children are too, that I believe I can write about myself again here without it feeling too vulnerable. In truth, I could never find blogging all that satisfying when it did not also involve a bit of the every day minutiae of my life, a bit of the raw and scavenged. When it didn’t feel safe to write about those pieces of my life in public I saw much of the joy of blogging and subsequently its motivation lost. Now I feel somewhat rebuilt. And feeling that way means I am more comfortable writing more fully about my life and that seems a good time to revisit blogging.

So, I am plunging back in, hoping I remember how to swim or at least float.

 

 

 

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From Alice Robinson’s “Aching for Apocalypse” in The Lifted Brow:

I was five when my parents separated, divorced. A series of rented houses followed. I became aware of (then tried not to see) the admirable, painful capacity for carrying on in the face of adversity that some adults possess. My good folks were unflinchingly diligent in their efforts to position themselves equally in my life. For thirteen years I swung like a pendulum between homes and rooms and rules, coming to understand that if there were two different ways of going about domestic life – different foods, different furniture, different ideas about health and wealth and leisure – there must be more. An infinite amount.

I was only ever intermittently with each of my parents, but I guessed that their lives continued when I wasn’t there, unfolding in the private spaces I knew intimately but only sometimes inhabited. I imagined what my distant mother or father might be up to, alone in their home. I grew curious about the things that went on when I wasn’t looking. But there was always some doubt in my mind when I pictured the house I was absent from. The knowledge: anything could be happening.

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A writer friend comes round. She brings her son, who is the same age as my older daughter. Once we carried these children in our arms; at other times we pushed them in strollers, or led them by the hand. Now he follows his mother in like a pet lion on a leash, a proud, taciturn beast who has consented, temporarily, to be tamed. My daughter has this same aura of the wild about her, as though beneath a veneer of sophistication she is constantly hearing the summons of her native land, somewhere formless and free that still lies inside her and to which at any moment she might return. The manners of adulthood have been recently acquired. There’s no knowing how quickly they could be discarded. She and my friend’s son greet each other in territorial monosyllables. It is as though they are two people from the same distant country who have met here in my sitting room. They’ve met before, often, but you’d never know: Those were old– versions of themselves, like drafts of a novel the author no longer stands by. All the same, I expect them to take themselves off elsewhere, to another room; I expect them to flee the middle-aged climate of the sitting room, but they don’t. They arrange themselves close to us, two lions resting close to the shade of their respective trees, and they watch.

My friend and I have a few years of conversation behind us. We’ve talked about motherhood — we’ve both spent a large part of our time as a single parent — and its relationship to writing. We’ve talked about the problems and pleasures of honoring reality, in life and in art. She has never upheld the shadowless account of parenthood; and perhaps consequently, nor does she now allude to her teenage son as a kind of vandal who has ruined the lovely picture. We talk about our own teenage years, and the hostility of our parents’ generation to any form of disagreement with their children. Any system of authority based on control fears dissidence more than anything else, she says. You two don’t realize how lucky you are, and the lions roll their eyes. What is being controlled, she says, is the story. By disagreeing with it, you create the illusion of victimhood in those who have the capacity to be oppressors. From outside, the dissident is the victim, but the people inside the story can’t attain that distance, for they are defending something whose relationship to truth has somewhere along the line been compromised. I don’t doubt that my parents saw themselves as my hapless victims, as many parents of adolescents do (“You have this lovely child,” a friend of mine said, “and then one day God replaces it with a monster”), but to me at the time such an idea would have been unthinkable. In disagreeing with them, I was merely trying to re-establish a relationship with truth that I thought was lost. I may even have believed that my assertions were helpful, as though we were on a journey somewhere and I was trying to point out that we had taken a wrong turn. And this, I realize, is where the feelings of powerlessness came from: Disagreement only and ever drew reprisal, not for what was said but for the fact alone of saying it, as if I were telling the residents of a Carmelite convent that the building was on fire and was merely criticized for breaking the vow of silence.

From “Raising Teenagers: The mother of all problems” in The New York Times by Rachel Cusk.

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When I’m broken I am whole

Bjork in “The Invisible Woman: A Conversation with Bjork” by Jessica Hopper in Pitchfork.

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