raw forming volume 3 part 1 - 1964 september-november  work & days: a lifetime journal project

September 20 1964

My home for this year is 252 Barrie Street after all, by the very lucksome coincidence that the very night our vile Mr Hepburn decided to re-rent our apartment, Olivia appeared with the rent money.

I am at the moment sick to death of baby sitting Olivia because she has begun the last year's emotional horrors in exactly the same way, by breaking up with Andy and then wishing she hadn't. Oooo I get so impatient with her dependency on other people to baby her through her crises. So I'm going to try the other tack now and ignore her moanings or tell her to do something about them by herself.

Other than this, the first week back at Queen's has been - here I'm stopping to consider what it has been - and although I was going to say pleasant, I have shoved that particularly meaningless word back into its ragged edges file and will say ghastly instead. Ghastly and quite often deleriously happy.

Beginnings. After I left you at Grande Prairie, I moved into the seat beside Janeen and we talked about college, her summer in Quebec City. She is exactly as she always was, even her funny sudden giggle and her very lovely face. She is much less awesome now than she was, because we are in the same worlds and my world is perhaps even a little wider now. Then the crackling pink dawn over the bush. Then the very early coffee with Janeen in Edmonton. (Janeen left shortly afterward with a friend who is driving with her back to Calvin [College].) A lazy lazy day window shopping in Edmonton and sitting in front of the city hall in the red hat ridiculously and dramatically self-conscious, watching people coming and going.

[Then the] train.

Sunday morning, September 27

I seem unable to get a letter off to you which is of a sufficiently epic nature to describe all that has happened in the last few days - the eight days since I got back to Kingston. But briefly -

Olivia and I do have 252 Barrie Street apartment because she paid the rent. We are living here now. We have a front window that opens wide over the street onto a view of the cathedral spire, a triangular small window set into the slanted ceiling above the stairs, my matador on the stairs landing, two vines in flower pots, two green wine bottles on a trunk, a row of nudes (done by Mrs Howell during her college days) ascending the staircase, a glorious black locomotive painted by Marlene of Sunnyside, a refrigerator that is very very empty, and a rather constant stream of red and yellow and black and white visitors who much amaze our Hepburns.

I'm registered in English 35 ­ American Literature from Emerson to Frost with Whitman; French 14 - totally lectured in French, a survey of French literature; German 2; Psychology 24, Theories of Personality, given by a dried out whimsical old man whose smile is a jerky crooked line; Art 1a - archeology, Classical art, Greek and Roman, where we have encouragingly begun with maps of Crete and diagrams of the palace (2000 BC) at Knossos where the minotaur-labyrinth myth began; Art 1b after Christmas, Medieval art.

Sociall-ee, International House has been our second home because we've spent our afternoons there at the freshmen orientation coffee parties, talking quite madly and exuberantly and flirting with many many new men. In the evenings we have usually begun at IH and then gone for coffee, for a drive, for a walk, or just to sit on the courthouse steps and talk.

Olivia and I are madly in love with each other. She's broken up with Andy. We are both half in love with a nearly mad poet named le grand Dan (Daniel Noffky) who is half in love with both of us. We're very fond of Norm, who is also half in love with both of us, and Anne as well. To continue, we are both also half in love with a 6'2" Irish leprechaun named Charles and he is very fond of us. Olivia is very interested in a lean West Indian named Rasheed. In various combinations we have been going to the country at night and rambling, raving, acting ourselves out furiously in the theatre of the absurd, shouting with laughter, waving at trains, running, screaming, hugging, drinking coffee, conning freshmen into taking us to dinner, serving coffee at International House in the daytime, sitting and talking at night, eating spasmodically and eccentrically, sitting on windowsills, church steps, stumps, rocks - giddily seeming to find ourselves and to become things that we were not before. Emotionally a strenuous time. La Glace has seemed so remote that I could not write. Even now I can't promise a letter soon. But classes have started and we will settle into patterns. You will hear about all this sometime.

I've never felt so free.

Kingston is beautiful.

Daniel Glen Christian Noffke is twenty-one, tall and skinny, long-haired, cagily grey-eyed with light freckles among his beard-stubble. He has a very wonderful face and a very strong, sensitive, twitchy personality: half mad, half wise, partly devil and partly god. Dan is magic. He's wit, he's calculation, he's a representative of everything a man can be, I think, intensified. (A few densities - he describes Norm's aspirations to the top of the Canadian political pole: "Norm is going to be Prime Mildew some day." About God: "He's a swinger. I love him so much.")

It has been raining all afternoon, sometimes rather wearily and then again with anger, fury even. Moods have varied today too. Living with Olivia is a delight but is very complex - as with my relationship with sibling Judy, there are always currents of affection, irritation, joy, giggle, and sometimes jealousy weaving in and out among each other. She is enjoying it too. I doubt that I could ever get along with anyone as well.

The large bell in the cathedral tower is bashing insistantly and the entire third floor is rocking. I love this at six in the morning. Olivia does not. It is becoming dark outside and Le Grand and Charles are here waiting for Olivia to return so that we can go and have some supper. Olivia very ironically is off at city park comforting Sue, who is breaking up with her Bill. Only last week Susan was doing the same sort of baby sitting for Olivia.

Ooo am I tired, the Inners had a three a.m. of it last night, acting ridiculous in the middle of a ball field in city park. The entire evening filled us with enough chuckles to provide us material for a very giddy morning, and both Dan and Charles admit to chuckles themselves.

Tomorrow begins some discipline and hard work: I am glad. The two weeks have been riotous and good for our soul, but even fun needs a great deal of work to sharpen it, it seems unfortunately. Fortunately actually, because I love work. Especially good this year is the intense concentration in French class to grasp every beautifully articulated syllable bubbled forth by the feminine and charming Madame Tonge. Ahh Olivia is here, supper.

October 4 ­ Olivia:

"The" infinite adjective of nothing and everything, Dan reads on the toilet. I envisage "togetherness" in a kitchen with a difference - coffee, pink roses, homogenized milk - cow, grass - oh, how prophetic, and 2 pens moving jerkily in a mixture of stupidity and intelligence - tomato soup mixed with water, not cream, if I know what I mean.

Mumbling voices in the difference and I don't want them. I want to write nonsense or not who cares. To write quickly, smoothly, jerkily about nothing, to get it right out and drain myself of this fantastic feeling of nothing and everything. Coherence or not, once again, who cares? Love or hate, once again, who cares? Who cares to infinity to extreme verbosity, intensity, absurdity. The important thing is WHO CARES? As long as one lives with crude pink roses and glaring lights and vodka and impossible human feelings "the" nothing and everything is important and the same. The extreme stupidity of writing frantically about nothing is important and must be done, frantically. To go on, and on, and on about nothing to infinity, a dream where love, hate, jealousy etc are sublimated and the only important thing is to write. Don't you see it doesn't matter what comes out whether it be homogenized milk or pink roses on the table cloth as long as it comes quickly, spontaneously, and joyfully. So on and on and on about nothing. God save the Queen. God save God, Prime Minister Pearson, James Meredith, Fidel Castro and Ellie Epp and I'll go on and on and on. Me! me! me! not the true selves but one with the terrific capacity to write joyfully about nothing and everything. And everything is nothing. I need a cigarette.

October 6th, 11 a.m. on a Tuesday morning

I am having breakfast - a package of peanuts and a carton of milk - in our parlour. Rain outside the window. The room is tidy now, oo you should have seen it when I cleaned it up at one this morning.

You must be irked that I have been silent so long and I am irked as well because I want you to be able to share university with me.

Next weekend the entire In Group is going to Toronto for the Thanksgiving holiday. Charles is staying with le Grand Danny, I with my Eastern parents, and Norm of course is going home. Mrs McLeod is going to plan large things for us!

There never was and never again will be a group like the In Group friends. Yesterday for instance Olivia and I had a wildly happy afternoon (a long loaf of French bread with butter for lunch, coffee; wonderful). We both felt suddenly enormously creative - and so, in our cutoffs and Queen's shirts we ran downtown and bought some material - mine a green and Olivia's turquoise - samples enclosed - and began to shape it into our own designed and own crafted hostess gowns - housecoats. Then we thought of poor Norman and invited him to come over and watch us (Anne broke up with him Sunday night and he was smashed to the point where he called Olivia up at 3 a.m. and asked her to come for coffee and talk to him!). After a while we called Charles too, and Daniel appeared of his own accord. So we modeled our gowns for them - gave them, graciously, coffee, then argued ungraciously about Hitler and listened to their political histories as mock-parliament and mock-UN dignitaries. Charles listens a great deal and sometimes brings in an astute comment that surprises everyone. Eventually we became too noisy and had to move out to a coffee place. On the way as we were standing on the street Olivia and I had a most wonderful urge to hug everyone. And so we did. And then we hugged each other. It wasn't completely childish exuberance. We do very spontaneously (like the pink Quaker lady) love each other very very much, all five. This is the first gang I've ever belonged to and it makes all the isolation and loneliness of La Glace seem so long ago, far away, because it is so especially and extra good. All of us understand each other perfectly, know exactly what everyone is thinking, and have to be completely ourselves because we would never get away with any pretensions. We are comfortably ridiculous together and just as comfortably serious. We care very much what happens to everyone and we know without any doubt that everyone cares just as surely about us. It is much - I've said this before - like our sibling relationship, Judy - mutual understanding, amusement, 'in jokes' that no one else could possibly understand, conversations entirely in 'vague specifics.' (One night at IH we sat and talked entirely in our own 'vague specific' abstractions, and although we understood exactly what we were saying the two boys who were watching us in amazement, their heads swivelling back and forth like spectators at a tennis match as they watched the conversation roccochet from one to another of us, thought we were either collectively mad or collectively brilliant. We are, both. Being in In keeps our wits sharpened to pencil point. Norman is the punmaster, Dan is the poet, and all of us supplement our appreciation with flakes of brilliance ourselves.

I'm much leaner now - have lost seven pounds only, but XBX has done wonders [Canadian army exercise program]. How is my dress coming Mother? No hurry. You can have the coat whenever you like. You'll need it soon. I'm sending Paul's birthday present. Also in the package are some patterned stockings for Judy. She'll be the first in Sexsmith to have them? I have some too, and so does Olivia. 'Our' men don't like them but we love them passionately and wear them whenever we can. They do like our hostess gowns however.

Please everyone don't be as delinquent as I am in writing. I will try to get back to my page-a-day but I am so seldom home and when I am, it is usually too late at night to wake the world with typing.

Mmmm smell of fried onions from downstairs - the Hepburns are such fun to live with - they are always having fights we can eavesdrop on, yet they are closely knit.

October 8

Our to-and-from the world window is open and through it tonight I can see dim shapes of moonlight on the tower, hear wind and cars passing and feel autumn in the temperature.

It was a Thursday, German class with beef-stew hearty Mr Ridley who superimposes his rather good German accent on his Oxford accent. Then Psychology 24 with Mr Blackburn, a small raisin-faced man with bright little eyes, a furry thick ring of hair around a perfectly spherical and very pink bald spot. He has a strange crooked mouth and an absent manner of lecturing (he stares at a string hanging from the ceiling and suddenly stops in the midst of a sentence. Then he collects himself and repeats the word he has just stopped at, and goes on) that make him seem a complete eccentric with no real-world contact. But when he caught me grinning at him one morning (because he was so odd and such a dear fossil!) he grinned back his crooked jerky little grin, and we have been good friends ever since.

Then a flying bicycle trip home to collect our laundry in my big one-only pink flowered bedsheet and load it onto my bike, trundle away like an English short story washerwoman and push it through and into all the doors and traps of the laundromat. Then art class with slides of Greek vases and little pottery figures. Danny le Grand who is in the class too came just for the end because he had quite predictably forgotten that on Thursday art is at three thirty rather than at four thirty comme Tuesday and Wednesday. So I took him home, lent him a dollar, had supper with him, and listened to his huge and beautiful dreams for a while. Then Olivia came home and I went to secretarie the CUCND meeting, and now with hair in Medusa tendrils about my wet neck I am officially beginning this year's page-a-day programme. And after this, the translation of a German poem into an English poem or a chapter on Freud or a Medieval French play or a session with Cretian palaces or some thinking about dearly bewhiskered old Emerson.

Yesterday was memorable because Dr Corry and I (Dr Corry is the principal of Queen's) and "some other people" had a reception for an eighty-eight person band from a Japanese university. The other people included Padre Laverty, our AMS president, heads of departments of all sorts, and two other IH executive types - Agnes and Bob.

So we found ourselves at dinner with eighty eight wonderful Japanese faces, most of whom knew no English, with the perplexity of how to communicate either welcome or friendliness or interest to them. I pounced upon the only two girls of the group and ate with them - to their shy dismay at first. Mishako was a rather plain, tiny clarinetist, the only woman band member. Junko, lovely, nineteen, small boned and graceful and alive as a kitten, with a smooth animated face and short soft hair under a red round hat - a grey plaid suit with a blue sweater, flat peculiar shoes. We were soon talking quite eagerly about Hamlet and Robert Frost because Junko is an English major at her university, who came with the group to help with translation. She is shy to an extent that would be impossible to a Canadian girl with her face, intelligence and appeal, but I felt as though she could quite easily be my Japanese counterpart, because of her interests and her journalizing habit and her approach to people and to books. We were delighted to discover that we are the same age and are in the same year of varsity.

13 Tuesday - day after Thanksgiving

Came home last night by taxi from the station after a Toronto Thanksgiving weekend with a cold, a hundred percent exhaustion, and many small secret grins about the happenings of the weekend - more of that later.

It is raining today - I was out running barefooted in it in Olivia's skinny cutoffs, to Skeggs' Groceries, to get some apples - and the cathedral is smoky grey. A tall tree next to the tower has crackled out in orange and yellow and the bare limbs of many trees across the street are black from the rain. A soggy tweed-colored pile of wet leaves in the gutter. Houses reflected as blurred grey hulks on the pavement. Rain always makes me happy.

The weekend began at Friday noon when Norm, Dan and Charles arrived at the apartment with their bags and called a taxi. Olivia wasn't packed by the time the taxi came of course, so I ran down the half-block to Skeggs to buy a bag of apples for the train. While the massive clerk was weighing them up Norman puffed in, seized my hand and dragged me out, saying "The taxi driver says it is almost too late to make the train." All I could do was call out a very feeble "Forget it" to the clerk and swerve out after Norman. The train was ten minutes late of course and we waited for thirteen. On the train we five (it is beginning to sound so familiar to say "we five") found an end corner for ourselves and hauled out books, chocolate bars, and I my hostess gown to see if I couldn't get some sewing done. Charles was seeing the countryside to Toronto for the first time - farms first, then the lakeshore with birds standing motionlessly on the cold beaches, then the rubble and ugliness of the industrial complex between Oshawa and Toronto, finally the slummy outskirts of Toronto itself, and Union Station. Mrs Howell with Joscelyn were there in their little car to get me and Olivia and Dan and Charles (Dan lives five minutes from Olivia in Rosedale and Charles was staying with him). Norman's father was there to meet him so we were introduced to him as well - he had a quirky reticent face, very immobile and secretive. We were not especially taken with him.

Home to 74 Dale Avenue, the beautiful dining room, Olivia's magnificent Rachmaninoff, Granny with her traditional and very nice welcome home kiss, dinner beautifully made and beautifully served, cheese and dessert afterwards. Coffee and talking in the living room. When Mr Howell came home from work Olivia of course flew out and hugged him: then he came back and hugged me too. I like him better every time I stay with Olivia! Not long afterwards Dan and Charles walked over and we all sat on the living room floor talking to the Howells. Charles was being astute and charming, Dan was being his usual dramatic expansive self. Olivia had been tense about this meeting between Dan and her father because both like to dominate both a room and a conversation, and both are extremely wily. But what happened was that both men instantly understood each other and were mutually very taken. Olivia and I had to escape into the kitchen for a moment to crow about it. Then Danny put on some of the records he had brought - Peter, Paul and Mary; selections from a record made at his high school glee club; a humorist; a ragtime piano song called Over There that was popular during the war; and finally jazz that Olivia and I had to run away and dance to. Not as in dancing with anyone, but as dancing by ourselves to ourselves, dancing about ourselves and the music. We both love to move to music and while Olivia is much better at it than I am, all that is really necessary is absorption in the music and loss of self-consciousness. Then we all lay on our stomachs on the carpet and listened to Rachmaninoff again. Then we were so hungry that we tore through piles of rye bread, cheese and fruit.

Chronicle continued tomorrow.

14 Oct, Wednesday

On Saturday spent a long part of the afternoon at home, talking to Mrs Howell and Granny - Mrs Howell did pen and ink sketches of us both, Olivia's was quite good but mine a bit difficult to recognize. Then a hop into the VW and around Rosedale's winding avenues to Danny's place.

Ordinary Rosedale-looking house. But inside! The first thing we noticed was a many-colored, shoulder-high Oriental statue of some sort of mannikin in mosaic-colored and peculiarly draped robes. Behind him was a tall white screen reaching to the ceiling. All along the wall beside it were pictures of all sizes and framings, massed together; portraits, grotesque athletic bodies in blue pencil, and even a slice of watermelon with a lovingly painted lemon beside it. Above the statue, a four-foot birdcage hung from the ceiling, containing four or five stuffed birdlings. Around the doorway, a sort of reception alcove with a wooden bench covered in bright cushions, marble busts and a mirror, plants and more paintings. Two stairways, one carpeted - the main - the other formerly bare - the servants'. They are right next to each other.

The living room, a long rectangular room stuffed with furniture. A two-foot pile of Vogue magazines on a glass table, tall crystal bowls of candy. A bronze casting of a feminine hand. At least three huge pots of flowers, one of pink carnations with an absurd spidery rose-colored ribbon in it. A grand piano. Bleached blond wooden floor (the dog went to the bathroom on the former white carpet so that it is now on the second floor). (There is so much furniture in the living room because someone willed them a complete lot and they just added it to their own.) Gilt clocks. Overbearing lamps. Walls scabby with knobbed picture frames. A very valuable painting covering one wall.

And the dining room. Large black table with the places already set for the next meal, circular breakfast table in a glass alcove overlooking the garden, sideboards massed with bronze coffee-urns the size of tubs and encrusted with ornamentation, shelves of beautiful crystal, candle holders of all types on every free space, chandeliers with lightbulbs in them, more plants and flowers, a rolling wagon of wine and liqueur bottles with glasses. Bronze ice-buckets with napkin-wrapped empty bottles in them. A glass door leading to the back yard. In the middle of the dining room a mountain of fruit and vegetables and grapes with many-colored gourds in a cornucopia for the Thanksgiving centerpiece. The kitchen strangely orderly and almost like the kitchen of any farmhouse in the hills. Mrs Noffke turned out to be a tall rather thin woman who floated in and out speaking absently to anyone who was around at the time, setting down pots of flowers or murmuring about who sent them.

The house was preparing for their mammoth Thanksgiving dinner that night and so we crept away downtown to look in shop windows and explore Yorkville. We found a wooden door with a sign "The Walrus and the Carpenter." Entering (she said rhetorically), we found a carpeted staircase which led to a high-ceilinged restaurant, empty entirely except for a man at the top of the stairs who said "Good afternoon" rahter pleasantly and three waiters in striped shirts who smiled at us. We had coffee and a fruit cup, and a great deal of pleasure in just being there for the entire room, designed and largely created by a sculptor of Canadian fame, was done in rough woods, cast iron, lighting patterns and textures. Lamps hung from the ceiling in glazed black lobster pots, and the walls were lined with odd black metal sculptures. We discovered that the oyster bar (which it is officially called) was only a little over a week old, and the proud host showed us clippings of the good reviews it had received in the Globe and Mail.

Then we noticed an art gallery open across the street and decided to wander inside - it was a one-man gallery and we found a plump young Armenian inside watching the wrestling matches in a back corner. His paintings were rather bad, but the sculpture was good and Olivia and I found one of two women and a man which amused us very much - we called it the "triangle" and grinned meaningfully at each other over it. Our Armenian painter came out long enough to tell me I had lovely eyes and gypsy cheekbones and to tell Olivia that she looked French before he stroked both our chins and returned to his wrestling. (We declined an invitation to stay and watch it with him, and went home to supper instead.)

Charles and Danny were tied up with their elegant dinner until ten thirty so Olivia and I went uptown together to see a Polish film called "Knife in the Water," a beautiful and thoroughly artistic movie about a man and his wife and the hitchhiker they pick up. The three spend the night on a lake in a sailboat, and the movie is nothing more than the symbol-studded and symbol-woven story of what happens and does not happen to three people isolated on the water. The characters of the three shift, develop, then become the same again by the time the dawn arrives. I loved it very much.

Olivia and I were both rather insanely happy by this time; and we decided that we would arrive at our ten thirty appointment with the Noffke's at eleven. So we very luxuriously and smugly primped until we were thirty minutes late, roaring with laughter the whole time. Then, I with my hair in an impossible fantasy of coils and dips, and Olivia in a slinky dress and net stockings, we swept to the Noffke's and found Dan, Charles and Norm waiting for us. Dan who had caught on by this time that we were repaying certain tardiness in phone calls etc, met us at the door on his knees. Mr Noffke was entertaining a New York millionaire in the living room (and Mrs Noffke sat looking very bored in a decollete hostess gown) so we rumbled upstairs with our various glasses of sherry to the television room which seemed stuffed like a pillow with all the furniture, ornaments, and books that there was no room for downstairs. Listened to Danny's weird assortment of records, leafed through the Karsh volume "Portraits of Greatness" which Karsh himself (a "dear friend of the family") had inscribed affectionately to Mr Noffke. While we were there Mr Noffke wandered into the room with a long black fur around his neck, postured sexily and crooned "You gotta take it off right, you gotta take it off right" like a stripper as he unwound himself from it. Then he disappeared. (To get the full effect of this little scene, remember that he is a little thin man with a hunched back and a large, wise, funny and wonderful face. He is a top decorator and designer, flamboyant and completely spontaneous, humorous and cagey, but Danny says that underneath he is sentimental as well. I believe it. he is fantastic and eccentric and everyone adores him.) (Much like Danny.)

We sneaked into Mrs Noffke's white and gilt and ridiculous bedroom to see the dog Arthur, whom we found lying on the bed under the black fur in a champagne dream. (Arthur, the pampered darling of the family, was at the Thanksgiving feast too.) After much music and talking, when everyone else was in bed, we raided the fridge for ryebread-cheese-and-turkey sandwiches, and grapes. And then turned out the lights in the living room and talked there for a while. So endeth Saturday.

Did you get my last letter? It was a two page and densely spaced reply to your hysterics Mother - the problem is that I don't remember mailing it and can't find it. So if you received it let me know, because I don't want to write it again.

Will mail this in unfinished state.

Friday sunny afternoon, Homecoming weekend,

A pause in the midst of a violent perusal of Franz Kafka to write you a page. This weekend is the weekend when all old graduates come home for a big football game. The ivy is brilliant, and the trees on lower campus are like orange smoke, very beautiful, clear and warm. After German class this morning I spent an hour in the library, pawing and sniffing, and brought home a pile of books for this afternoon. Then Olivia and I had half a loaf of French bread thickly spread with butter, and huge red local apples (parchment-colored inside, sometimes tart and sometimes mellow, always a surprise, and very cheap) for lunch. And in this dust-cloud (apartment needs cleaning) of well-being I have been reading Kafka for German 2.

The cloud of well-being is partly left over from last night. Olivia and I went to a reunion of Ban Righ III because Marg and Cathy were back for the weekend. Then we 'bombed' over to International House for the party, there to find Dan and Charles and Norman. Charles and I left at a very respectable hour, but found ourselves at the lake. The water was flat, no ripples. The moon was half-diffused through fibrous-textured clouds and circled by a ring, the trees along the lake-walk are half-bare and stand out in silhoette. Lights reflected in streaks on the water. A line of mist along the horizon, rising and spreading over almost all of the lake and half-hiding a far away sheet of moon reflection. We stood on the pebbles beside the lake and felt as though we were standing in a mirror or as though we were part of a reflection on silver. Then we scuffed home across the park in leaves ankle deep, then devoured an omelette each downtown.

Charles and I are having an October-summer romance, happy and carefree and unearnest. Charles is very much a wonder. He took care of me paternally while I was recovering from le Grand, and now that I'm recovered sensibly, he is not so paternal. I've told you I think that he is twenty one (looks younger and acts older) and working on his Masters in chemistry. He graduated with his B.Sc. from Dublin University with a First Class and is at Queen's on a rather good money-agreement of some sort. He's very beautiful: six foot three and a half, lean and hard with nice tough shoulders. He has a pointed chin, a leprechaun grin and pointed blue eyes, a shock of soft blond hair, a boyish and rather naughty nose, and wonderfully tidy ears. Usually he wears either a bulky rust-colored sweater or a green Harris tweed jacket with many leather reinforcements where the cuffs have worn through. And he wears enormous and sturdy Irish shoes. His accent - south Ireland, very soft and humorous. He is extremely clear-thinking, something that the rest of the Inners with Norm possibly excepted are not, and not nearly as emotionally jagged as the rest of us. Yet he is often overwhelmingly merry and we all adore him. Often when we become abstract and mixed up he sets everything into perspective with one acute sentence. Quite often he watches rather than participates but his mind is clicking over the situation all the while and he comes up with a better analysis than any of us. Also he is exceptionally considerate and generous, probably as a biproduct of living with his father the parson. Charles happily does not intend to become earnestly involved with anyone yet, either, and we've developed a relationship that is very warm, very straightforward, and truly fun rather than conflict.

Sunday afternoon

The stairs are clean, after lying thick with dust for several weeks, and it is a beautiful Sunday afternoon with some possibilities of being spent with Kafka or Greek temples or Moby Dick.

After I wrote you yesterday the football victory parade passed by my window and I watched it in my cutoffs and Queen's sweater, sitting on the sill. There was the pipe band in its red tartan, the cheer leaders in a howling line, the majorettes and the parade band, then rows of engineers in staggering Oil Thigh lines - some of them looked up and waved and hollared to me to come down and join them. Everyone was in a frenzy of we-won: I love the color and the noise of these parades but could care very little less about winning or losing. We always win however. Last night the Inners, Norm with a quiet girl called Margaret, went to a Graduate House party. Charles, being a graduate, got us in - the house is large and has a big basement and living room for partying. They had a real band with drums, a sax, two electric guitars, and a tamborine. A crashing beat and lots of noise. I rather liked that part of it. Quite a few of my graduate friends were there, Tim and Peter and a cute little wry Scot, and a beautiful beautiful Welshman named Jimmy Jones. We found a corner downstairs and sat and talked, stomped a bit, watched people going by. Most of the people at the party were graduates, therefore more sophisticated and very attractive. We dressed. There was a big blond in a tight pink dress with a deep deep neckline and we enjoyed watching her wriggle. I have a distressing tendency at parties always to enjoy watching more than participating. This was a good party in that way! Had a whole lot of food afterwards and then went home. Charles had washed his hair before the party and it was flopping over his forehead like a little boy's. He's a dear.

I am sitting cross-legged in front of a low trunk that we have on the floor. Besides the typewriter, there are two tall green bottles and a scattering of broad red ivy leaves. Next to it is a wicker basket of Europe pamphlets. The windows are open - they are casements that open inwards in two halves - and outside is a rusty rattly sound of motors passing. Sun on the cathedral tower. Passers passing. We are tidy and organized once more. We are usheretting tonight for the film society - a Bergman film called Through a Glass Darkly. Norm, Dan and Charles are ushering too and the film will be good.

Wednesday already

Cold, cold rain and I am wearily home from Sunnyside after an evening's work. I got your letter there yesterday but please do send them to Barrie Street from now on because I'm working irregularly and will get them sooner here.

The leaves are left on only a few trees, and shreds of them are plastered down ("worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie" - Hopkins) on the pavement by the rain. The few trees that have leaves are glorious yellow bonfires in startling relief against grey branches. I love these autumns in Kingston. It is surprising that you are still harvesting - perhaps this just shows how I have forgotten Peace Country seasons and times already. By the end of October it will be snowing. Do you remember, Judy, when we were living at the Old Place, one night in October we were home alone and it began to snow. We saw it against the trees, and we ran out onto that wooden sidewalk in our pyjamas and bare feet, dancing a frenzy and throwing it up into the air. I still remember how it felt on those bare feet. A very black night.

Through a Glass Darkly was a very gentle and beautiful movie and all five of us loved it very much. Bergman is Swedish, so that the dialogue was in Swedish and the setting was a bleak coastline along the ocean in southern Sweden. The first scene was four people straggling out of the water in silhoette against a sunset after swimming. They were a father who is a writer - a popular writer but not a really good writer; a seventeen year old son - blond, thin, full of snapping electrical motion and ideas, betraying himself continually by his very young puzzled eyes. The daughter, Karin, a beautiful girl who is relapsing into schizophrenia to the bewilderment and dismay of her rather bland neutral husband Martin. The movie is about these four people. Its title is from I Corinthians 13 and its message is that the only real and worthwhile thing is love. In a way, as in all his movies, Bergman is asking himself questions and experimenting with answers rather than giving a concrete and forever-definite message. Besides the involvement we felt with the characters, and to a certain extent our identification with them (Karin's schizophrenia was much more real to me because of my nearly-schizophrenic spell last month), we loved the movie because of its very piquant photowork (every scene composed and focused) and the almost magical images (light moving over patterned wallpaper in reflections like tiny flames; curtains outlined against a black window frame, blowing; a massive hulk of a boat in the stony beach with rain dripping into its black hull like slow shiny oil; the thin jagged line of a pier jutting out helplessly into the sea; and old blankfaced house with blank windows standing overlooking the beach.) (The family lives there.) A play written and acted by the boy with Karin and Martin, written at seventeen already mocking himself gaily and tragically, for his father whom he resembles so much and who will not talk to him as to another adult. The father, in fact, has sacrificed his family to his writing and it is only as the four of them are affected by Karin's relapse into her incurable mental illness that he realizes how much he loves them. At the end of the film, Karin has been taken back to the mental hospital in an ominous helicopter that lands on the black beach and Martin has gone back to town with her. The boy is left with his father: he asks "Is everyone like this, so shut up in his own cube?" And at last the father palms off some clichés - that may or may not be true - on him and the boys says to himself "He talked to me." End of film. Karin was a beautiful person entirely, every movement she made, and every expression, and even her illness was awesome and beautiful.

On this Saturday, have just received your letter and your feeling of pleasure at the return of myself to my letters is like the feeling of pleasure I have at the return of yourself to your letters, Mother. Glad you got the explaining letter and glad you understood it. I hope very much that your harvesting-dragon will soon die a natural and full-bellied death, to be covered over by a warm layer of snow just deep enough to bury him decently. I do remember vaguely what a tension-fed fire-hell he breathes: and his death can be mourned with festivity and contentment. Okay? I'll expect to hear about his last smoldering sighs soon.

Grey October Saturday in Kingston

- Began this morning with an unexplained and persistant clanging of bells at ten minutes before the hour. Then the grim nine o'clock rising for a ten o'clock class which when I arrived there ten minutes late steaming and puffing in cutoffs and sneakers turned out to have been cancelled. Oh well, an hour free. Library first, to read all the back issues of the NY Times Book Review section and some Photographic Society journals. And then a ride down a deep hill beside the Lower Campus park. A stop with Beowolf leaning against a tree to run in a particularly inviting slope of deep leaves and sit in them and throw a few handfuls into the air. Then, seeing a brick house being demolished, a flying detour to ask the construction-demolition men if I could have [bricks] for our bookshelf. (I saw a heap of glass in my way, and having no brakes, jumped off to avoid rolling into it. I of course skidded flat onto my back in the mud with Beowolf's rigid limbs on top of me and my books flying. A very dear man with a big breakfast-roll face kept murmuring "Poor little girl, poor little girl" in a carressing Italian accent as he pried Beowolf off me.) Then a session of sitting at the end of a dock at the yacht club looking at the few boats still out, at a few people shivering in their parkas as they hauled down their masts. It looked so different from the July early morning yacht club. Talked to a retired sailing fiend about boats and archeology (he grew up playing tag among the ruins at Smyrna and met his missionary wife there under the moonlight, fa lala). Then frozen in bone and radiating heart-heat in spirit, home to a blanket and two grapefruits and bread-with-cheese. Then when Olivia arose, a session of doing dishes in the bathtub (an entire tub full, they accumulate during the week). And sardines on toast for lunch; sardines are such cheap ecstacy! The stone houses of Kingston in their stony peaceful silence now that it is October and we are supposed to forget how young and green it is in summer. (This is to fool students into thinking that this is a dry old historical city, but I was here in June and I know!)

The wine glasses in the living room, one half full. I bought them for twenty five cents each in Turk's downtown. Turks is a narrow half-shop piled to its high ceiling with broken chairs and vintage refrigerators with old seventeen dollar pairs of bronze candlesticks, some very bad junk jewellry. And some glass. Mr Turk Junior (this sounds Dickens) was hovering about on Friday morning as I was looking for stuff to spend money on (adore spending money - you know - but not on NECESSITIES. Groceries are such bores - except when Olivia and I shop together, but more of that later on). I said to him (sez I), "Do you think" (looking at the seventeen dollar candle sticks) "you are a bit exorbitant?" and on that note of frankness we struck up a friendship and he asked me enthusiastically as he wrapped my fifty cents worth of wine glasses in newspaper to come again, come again. The one that is half full now, beside my Danish candlestick, is half full of beautiful pink wine - vinegar. Wine vinegar that Mrs Howell gave us in case we might need it.

Will have to send this as it is. Coffee splotch.

Sunday November 1

I was homesick last night, both for family and for the countryside. Once in a while I feel rootless - this year more so because there hasn't been enough 'alone time' to assimilate this neighbourhood and apartment. You've noticed this from my letters!

Last night we had a surprise visit from Mrs McLeod when she came to Kingston to see Norm. And she came puffing up the stairs with her arms, and Norm's, full - she had been at the Kingston market square and had (been) carried away. We benefited! A potato-bag size loaf of French bread, apples, ripe brown pears, a fruit loaf in a provocative white bakery box, and a small round pumpkin! We laid everything out on the kitchen table and gloated over it all. But the pumpkin especially - I kept picking it up and hugging it. Olivia is official jack o'lantern maker for the Howells, so she scooped it out for us, but she let me carve the face because I never had done one. It looks like the diagram and represents the human dilemma - of whether to laugh or cry or merely leer. No, do not fear, I am not becoming intellectual even about pumpkin carving - the interpretation presented itself after the face was finished.

Costume ball on Friday at IH - I went as a demure Hindu in one of Miss Solomon's old saris - pink silk with a gold edge - a great deal of makeup, black-ringed eyes, little hoop-earrings, a caste mark, and a high-necked black jersey top. Was delightfully popular, especially among the Indians and Pakistanis who swore repeatedly that I looked "just like an Indian girl" and "I thought you were a Pakistani girl!" There is nothing, either, that makes one feel so feminine, wispy, and beautiful as a pinks silk sari. Both Mike and Charles (my October summer-romance true love) and Ad were there and I had no time really to talk to any of them, or to Norm. One new arrival is a small Sikh, energetic as Amil socially, with beard and turban who lectures on pharmaceutics to medical students and who has just written a philosophy book on the thesis that all is illusion. He danced in great sweeping flourishes, to the beat of my telephone number, "Five, four, TWO-and-three-and-three-and TWO and not-eight-not-eight-not-eight BUT - seven!" superimposed on an African beat.

After the party, Olivia (dressed as an English beatnik from Soho Square, in black tights, brief skirt, heels, and sweat shirt, and black smudged cat-eyes), Norm, Charles and I walked to a restaurant that is used to seeing us at five a.m. (Theatre of the Absurd nights) with the pumpkin under our arm, sedately at twelve thirty. Walked home and picked up Danny who had been writing an essay. Olivia and he had a roaring fight on the way home, he came up to the apartment and he and Olivia continued it in terse whispers (three a.m.) while I went to sleep feeling smug about mon beau Charles. Then, quarter to six a.m., Olivia woke me up with "We're in trouble, Danny's been here all this time! And the Hepburns are getting up, the baby's crying! And that idiot Danny left his shoes beside the door, we heard Mr Hepburn try the door to see if it was closed - and we can't see Danny's shoes - Mr Hepburn must have them - he must know Danny is here ­ he'll never believe we've been only talking ­ and he'll throw us out of the apartment for having men in after curfew! Oh what are we going to do?" Danny was whispering hysterical orders, "Olivia make your bed, oh hell Olivia make your bed. And scatter some books around, we'll tell him all of us have been studying. Dammit, make your bed!" But I was too sleepy to become excited and finally got everyone into their coats, filled their arms with books, and we tremoured downstairs in a file. The Hepburns snored on, the shoes were still there, we fell outside and laughed raggedly - even more raggedly when we remembered that the door was locked and we had no key, so couldn't get back in until the Hepburns were up. Cold! Tired! Disgusted! Had some expensive breakfast, raged with disgust when Olivia and Danny began to bicker about their relationship, ran home and waited in Shurtleff's milk bar until there were noises behind the 252 door, and got in just in time to get ready for a l0 o'clock class and a long day of studying. (Am giggling about it still.) But this was on top of a wearing week of two essays and two exams, little sleep. So no letters to you this week! Saw Mon Beau only once, a film on Thursday, worked at Sunnyside, CUCND meetings. I am sorry to be such a feeble foreign correspondent.

Was at a hiking party at some rich doctor's summer estate with Mike [Dr Westerthorp? something like that] and some of his friends this afternoon. Healthy to be out on the rocks. Helped Ad move into a new apartment this morning. Working at Sunnyside tomorrow. Love the French Renaissance authors, love the German short story writers, love Jung in psych, love Thoreau's Walden in English, and love Greek art. Am on a committee planning the new International Centre, am busy.



part 2

raw forming volume 3: 1964-1965 september-april
work & days: a lifetime journal project