Thursday December 24
Something very important, final, about the phrase "December 24,
1964," which seems to imply "Here is another Christmas that will
never be again, and that you will miss as long as you remember it, as you
miss all other Christmases."
Went to Sunnyside at nine, to see the presents under the trees and to
watch the last preparations. Miss Detweiler, Peter, and other staff were
setting places in the dining room for the special breakfast. Poinsettias,
gay napkins, sprawling centrepieces, tiny red candles, and very carefully
positioned place cards ("Who gets along with Bobbie?" "Let's
put Simon beside Miss Allen, she'll be thrilled." "I want Brenda
beside me!" "Can I have Carol?") When everything was perfect,
the presents stacked (there seemed tons), the dining room blizzarded in
red and white, doors discretely closed, all the staff retired to the front
room to sit on the red carpet with the three sleeping dogs, in front of
the fireplace with hot buttered rum (hot margarined rum, actually,
because Miss D got confused in the kitchen) and magnificent home-made pizza
and fruitcake - to watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on television and talk
slowly under the firelight and the colored lights from the two trees that
reached all the way to the ceiling. Later, about midnight, Miss Detweiler
and Peter would sneak upstairs to tie the stockings to the beds (as happens
every year, one of the children will have been awake and will spread the
dissentious but only half-believed news that Santa Claus is Miss Detweiler).
We ate the doughnuts and cookies left for Santa, scattered crumbs carefully,
and gave the milk to one of the puppies (a kleenex tucked into her collar
for a napkin - but she slurped over the rug. Goody, now Miss Allen can't
send the rug back! I think that was the idea.) Then I got up to walk back
for Midnight Mass with the Hepburn children - and Rory surprised me by offering
to walk me over (Rory is one of the students, a wise and merry politics
major) so we swung through all the wet streets (no snow this year) with
the wind swaying and pushing through all the colored outdoor lights around
windows and over front yard evergreens of all the Colonial-looking Christmas
houses (diamond-paned windows, and a fireplace in each, large white doors
with knockers and wreaths). Mass - the cathedral with its high vaulted ceiling,
gilt, with white and red trimmed among the gold niches and statues, poinsettias
and white flowers, the shifting figures before the altar, in their gold
or white gowns, the clap of signals, the single bell, the incense, the choir
and organ in the balcony very lovely. The Roman Catholic Church is in some
ways so sordid and stupid, but the Midnight Mass of Christmas Eve is the
most beautiful of all religious ceremonies. Near me, by chance, was standing
a lean-faced black-eyed friend called Tom, whom I call "Philosopher,"
a Scot with steel in his jaw-line and all sorts of fire in his eyes. I watched
the ceremony passing over his face, and that was beautiful too.
Christmas Day, 1964
Arrived at Sunnyside by taxi (once-a-year luxury) through the warm rain;
empty streets and a smell of pine trees. The children were just finishing
breakfast, the staff were in dressing-gowns, children leapt and shouted
about their stockings whenever a new person arrived - they were all in best
clothes with ribbons in their hair, ties. But the living-in staff looked
bedraggled, because Christmas is the one time of year when children can
wake staff, and they do it violently, tearing in and jumping on tired bodies!
Then Miss D lit the candles, turned on the lights, and opened the door!
In spite of the organization, there was a melee. No, Sunnysiders are not
blasé about Christmas! Every one of them ripped into presents, screamed,
hugged us, jumped up and down. Memorable pictures were very small Simon
dragging his large toboggan around and around the floor, Carol in a long
new dressing gown in a pony tail trailing about so conscious of her own
magnificence, Johnny ripping into presents with his teeth and hands and
feet, Tom (thin and jerky, with a constantly active face, the most popular
with the children) jolting along with his new Beatles record, Kevin whooping
over his new box-full of popsicle sticks (he has nearly 2000), Steven withdrawn
under a tree with his train track, absorbed, Sherry waggling from staff
to staff with her new talking puppet, Bobbie working over a race-car set
with one of the guests, delighted with anything mechanical, Brenda dragging
people under the mistletoe to kiss them (she is intrigued with rules, traditions,
anything formalized, and has to know exactly how they work - mistletoe was
a delight after she found out 'how it works').
And then there were the staff - Miss Allen playing her favorite role
of gracious-and-kindly-lady in a long full robe; Peter Hagedorn slumping
matter o'factly through the mess, quipping through the Queen's message on
television and hooting at Lester B, stopping to kiss Brenda under the mistletoe
like a smacking machine gun (pop, pup, pup, pup). Miss D (I do like her!)
getting as much fun out of Christmas as the children, always responding
to them as people, never talking down to them (Miss Allen does - she is
hopelessly condescending in spite of her interest in them all), chuckling
and merry (her red hair is turning out to be grey - she says that she has
it reddened every spring - and by Christmas only the tips are red. The effect
is wonderful!) Quiet moments listening to records with a child on your lap.
A glass of vin rosé (a light pink-brown wine almost the color of
weak tea) for the staff before dinner, then the very welcome invitation
to stay for dinner ("You aren't going home are you? We put a place
for you"). I had declined all invitations for Christmas dinner because
I thought I would rather have an apple in the park (deliciously dramatic
picture! and it was raining too) than spend dinner uncomfortably with "kind
people." Besides, Sunnyside is home. So I was squashed between Sherry
and Kevin - eleven children and ten adults in all, a 25 pound turkey. For
dessert, ice cream Santa Clauses molded in pink ice cream, standing upright
so that if you took one bite they would topple.
After a while, walked home. It was raining very slightly, warm, with
a potent smell of pine woods again. The lake smooth, no ice, with a few
ducks far out. Walked through Lower Campus, everything quiet, not a soul
in sight. Home in time to get ready for a date with Tony Tugwell, a special
friend (I hope) who is in town for Christmas (lives near Montreal in a small
town) and wanted to escape from all his aunts.
We walked over to his apartment carrying records, a wine bottle of flowers,
some candles, and my Christmas present to him, a candle holder that looks
like a griffin. I bought one for myself too. Maybe both having one will
be a hint for Tony . [sketch]
Tony made supper and we ate it by candlelight - leek soup, baked potatoes,
turkey sneaked away from his aunt's house, and for dessert, a packet of
dried fruit - then we 'borrowed' some wood from a friend's apartment, borrowed
an axe and went out in the moonlight to try and chop it, then built a fire.
Listened to Spanish-mood jazz that matched the firelight, watched flames
like goldfish with streaming tails, went out for a walk along the docks
(prowling over barges, into warehouses, blithely past "No Trespassing"
signs (once Tony disappeared into the bowels of a coal barge through a small
door and almost never returned), clicking our heels on the wet shining pavement,
flying in the wind, not meeting another soul until we were back in front
of the fire again.
It was a beautiful evening. Tony is very intense and very sensitive,
but quiet - he writes poetry, paints and sketches (his mother is an artist)
ideas rather than things, is managing editor of the Journal,
is producer of the annual review show, is fiercely independent and likes
me because I am, loves old houses and the country, tends to philosophize,
is an extremely gentle person. We are becoming friends, but slowly, because
I think both of us feel (I do) that it is bound to happen but must happen
slowly and very carefully or it will fall to pieces. We've always had a
sort of awareness of each other that may or may not be a beginning. Yeah
I am interested.
It was also wonderful to discover last night that his manners are lovely
- spent the whole evening with him alone in his apartment, mostly by firelight,
and no passes - most of the people in the intellectual crowd that both of
us half 'move' in are very stickypaws, which is fine - but some proportion
and sense of appropriateness! We did sit in firelight and he had one arm
around me, and it was perfect and beautiful.
Then, when I got home, Norm called long distance to say Merry Christmas
and Olivia called soon after. One of the best Christmases I've had.
Have thought of you when the tv announcer mentions your icy gales and
then moves on to say "For Eastern Ontario, another day of warm rain
and temperatures in the forties."
Am glad you have accepted the directorship régionale, Mother,
and you surely will be able to do it!
About Olivia, please realize that she is not in any way completely
responsible for fewer letters. I am working between forty and fifty hours
a month at Sunnyside, have two executive offices, am working on honours
courses with three majors and not the usual one, and have more friends than
ever before in my life! And still read! It is difficult to live whole-heartedly
in two worlds - because I have to live so thoroughly in this one, your far-away
world seems to blur. You do understand this - but when you say you seem
to be losing me you are right in that I can't live in your world any longer
because this one is so rich and so demanding. But I do think of you, wish
I were more faithful with letters, and you are a sort of constant in the
background of this world because I know that you continue to exist and to
care, and I continue to care for you and about you, and am anxious to tell
you, and especially Judy and Paul who will soon enter my world, what is
good and right and what is unwise in this world. It is a new world
for me and I am moving as fast - but as carefully - as I can among the new
ideas and new relationships, to try them and to find my way through them.
I think you know how impossible it would be to live in your world and to
accept all its limitations, and I know it will be as impossible for Judy
and Paul, and eventually Rudy. Sometimes you must be anxious about my experiments
or my silences, or my influences and my friends, but you MUST understand
that I really am an adult and am trying to find a best way for myself and
people like me in my generation, just as you had to find your own way in
a generation different from those of your parents. Not all of your values
are meaningful to our new way of life, and we must discard these even if
our parents are hurt and puzzled by what they think is our carelessness
and foolishness. Our goals are the same as yours - happiness and goodness
and wisdom - but we must find them in a new way. We learn as much from you
as we can - but we see your mistakes, just as our children will see ours,
and we will not accept those mistakes and limitations. Is this clear? Will
you remember it when you are anxious about what I am doing or thinking and
how I am feeling and living/ I am trying to be very honest with you because
I value you and realize the validity of your solutions to problems, and
because I want to tell you what I learn.
Olivia is my best friend, the most complete intellectual complement I've
ever had, and someone who is teaching me a very great deal about caring
for people and communicating with them. We are independent but we both know
that we each consider the other one of the most important people in our
lives. She is exceptionally warm, and very generous - I should tell you
a small story.
Last month, in November, I was flat broke - I had an application in for
a grant, but because it had not yet been processed and because I had relatively
no savings from the Sunnyside summer, things were very lean. Five dollars
in the bank, and just enough paycheck to pay the rent and telephone bill
and buy stockings. Groceries? Christmas? I wasn't worried because I knew
Miss Royce would process my bursary application sooner or later. But - unknown
to me - Olivia was worried. So do you know what she did? She asked
Norm to come along with her for moral support, and she marched into Miss
Royce's office - without an appointment - and asked why the heck she didn't
process those applications so that she could stop worrying about me! So
Miss Royce gave me a fat bursary and invited us both to dinner, and the
formidible boss-lady of Queen's University is now one of our friends! A
very typical Olivianism. And the Howells have always been extremely good
to me; they all think of me as a family member by osmosis and if I hadn't
been at Sunnyside, they would have been very hurt if I didn't stay the whole
holidays with them! All wonderful people. So start appreciating Olivia!
But please please don't be obvious about it.
January 2, 1965 the first time I've written it
Two letters today, one from each of my worlds - yours, and this one,
because Bruce wrote from Ottawa where he is skiing, enjoying his father's
cooking, and fighting urges to slug his scrapping little sisters, all with
Tim Anderson who is staying with him for the holidays (I've told you about
Tim from London).
You wrote a good long letter - a wide range of comments and information.
- The Sunnysiders do truly enjoy Christmas with all their hearts, I don't
think that their contacts with a hostile outside world can really touch
the exciting events in the new and secure Sunnyside world. Some of the most
mistreated kids, Brenda, Simon, Kevin, have more pleasure in Christmas than
the others because to them the food and the gifts say "This is a different
world, people do care about you, you are safe now." And so everything
is a thrill to them. I was very very happy to spend Christmas with them.
- Mother, what do you think of Ibsen and Salinger? Simone de Beauvoir
thinks of Nora in The Doll's House as a representative of the women
who are dissatisfied with the old, binding ways of subjection to their man's
will - do you see this in her?
- I would like to have listened to the two story-tellers, Hilmer Johnson
and Father, matching tales! I used to enjoy Peace River Country tall stories
so much - I remember all the nights at threshing time, lying in bed with
the door open, listening to Jack Arnold and his cronies on the crew, spinning
stories after their late suppers. And listening, in the café, as
the Norwegians stretched their coffee break to include the epics of old
New Years for me was the party I organized and hostessed for International
House. Spent the afternoon of the 31st on top of tables with streamers wound
around my neck, gobs of tape wrapped around my hands, and a disorganized
team of many-colored boys asking for decoration directions. Candles, flowers,
horns and paper hats, records, food. And it went off quite well. At midnight
the alarm clocks went off, we popped horns into our overseas students' hands
and hats onto their heads and joined hands and sang "Auld Lang Sine"
(told them "You gotta, it's a Canadian tradition"). I'm always
vaguely disappointed with New Years, because nothing happens, no thunderclaps,
no ripping of the air to divide one minute before from one minute after.
Yesterday morning took Donna, Mathew, and Johnnie (in-between Hepburns)
to help clean up after the party and they were blizzarded by streamers,
blew horns and wore the torn hats and popped balloons, ate the leftover
food and had a ball while I sat in the kitchen drinking coffee and eating
bacon with Sie from Indonesia, Tony from Malaysia, Dennis Stamp, and Goupa
of India - we had a very rabid argument about whether India had been right
to invade Goa, and talked about religions. We were talking about the Bible,
and Goupa who has been here only about two months, declared "We may
have a certain amount of myth in our holy books, but do your really believe
that about the man who lived in a whale?" Tony, who has been here for
about five years and has developed a thoroughly Western sense of humour,
shook his head very mournfully, "Goupa, Pinnochio isn't in the Bible!
You are all mixed up."
Have been too social lately. Had dinner with Mike last Wednesday night
at the Buccaneer, a very elegant diner outside of Kingston. He had borrowed
a car for the occasion, a yellow 1965. We usually go out in his company-and-canoeing-trip
car which has the front seat out so that I have to ride in the back. So
we had a martini (smells wonderful, like evergreen, and has a tiny olive
on a toothpick, but is horrid) and then a huge steak served on a
wooden slab, wine, and something puffily whipped cream for dessert. Took
two hours to eat it.
Last night went to a movie with Harsh Bhargava, from India, who finished
his Master's thesis on the relation between Yeats' poetry and Indian philosophy
last year and is teaching highschool in a town two hours from here. We had
a good talk about the adjustments he has made toward the Western way of
life, and the difficulties that even a little adjustment toward us can create
when he goes home. I find that my experiences moving from the closed narrow
society of La Glace gives me a surprising amount of understanding of what
the overseas students experience!
And tonight, am going out with John Fitzgerald, a post grad in biochemistry,
who is exceedingly handsome but a bit boring. Oh well.
Not so boring after all, and rather sweet. We pretended to be teenagers
and munched hot dogs in the balcony when we went to see a ludicrous 'teenage
appeal' movie. It had just snowed and his VW got stuck three times (he doesn't
swear). And then we went to Graduate House and watched the late movie (Rebel
Without a Cause with James Dean) with another couple until quarter to
Am reading an excellent picture-book called World Architecture
which has photographs and commentary on the new and unusual architectural
projects and ideas in most of the world's countries. Have you ever been
interested in architecture Paul? Most of the principles that apply to automotive
design apply to architectural design too.
Did I tell you about the "nine o'clock five o'clock showing"
I went to before Christmas? I'll explain the long name: at five o'clock
showings in a theatre, there are very few people around. And so a particular
set on campus, mostly actors and artists and English students, take a bottle
of wine, buy a few Cokes for the sake of the paper cups, sit in the back
row of the balcony with their feet on the seats in front, and heckle the
movie, which is usually bad, sipping their pink wine with a sense of daring
and luxury. I went to one of these "five o'clock showings" at
nine o'clock with my friend Don [Jervis?] (a bearded, very disillusioned
young man), Jim [Gerard] (an intellectual, Mephistophelian young actor),
Joan Corry (the principal's daughter, a rather ugly, dry-humoured girl who
drives insanely but is perfectly proper-looking in every other respect),
and a sexy, sweet, 'little' girl called Jenny Ray [Bob Ray's sister], who
has beautiful smooth shiny olive skin. And the movie we saw was indeed very
bad, but the heckling and the competition for witty remarks was fun.
January 4, Monday
We go back to work on Wednesday, the 6th, and tonight my telephone has
been ringing, people back from the holidays or from the CUCND conference
in Regina (a conference in which many changes, including a name-change,
were made to allow for the widened scope of the organization's interests.
Instead of the Combined Universities Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, we
are now SUPA, Students Union for Peace Action - rather vague, but much less
restrictive.) Don is back, and will be over tonight. He says Olivia intends
to arrive sometime tonight - I hope so. Tony called, he is home from the
conference, and he will be over tonight, after a meeting with Bailey, who
helps him edit the Journal! And George called as well, who knows, maybe
HE will be over too. If Olivia arrives, we can have a fiesta. It is good
to hear from all these people, but I am reluctant at the same time to have
to give up all this free-wheeling easy-living independence - ah, sleep til
noon and write a letter, and study, or houseclean feverishly or play with
the kids up here, and then read until four.
Had to say a very sad goodbye to Ad, because he left on the 2nd for university
at Western, and will be trying to pick up his second degree in engineering
there. He was such a hopeless blustering defensive big child that it was
impossible to get along with him, but just as impossible not to like him
very much, and I'll miss him.
There is a sense of homecoming even though I've never left, because everyone
else is coming back and the phone continues to ring. Had coffee, a sundae,
and three hours of talk with Rasheed from Jamaica [Trinidad], who spent
Christmas with Art Neufeld, a real Mennonite Christmas. He told me about
it all, enjoyed the hospitality, and we made a big secret of the word parushki,
which he learned to like as Mrs Neufeld made them. Olivia was mystified
and we played it up a bit to tease her. Rash mentioned feeling very much
a part of the family: at breakfast they said grace in German, and then he
said an Islamic grace in Arabic!
Bruce is home too, brought us a huge present elaborately wrapped: five
gold-tinted glasses for our hitherto-scrappy entertaining.
When I received your last, thick, chatty letter, Bruce and Ray happened
to be here. I let Bruce read your letter Mother, and he became very wistful
about "mothers who write such wonderful letters." And so he promptly
sat down and began to write a letter to you, but someone else came over
so that it was never finished. I'll give you what he left. If I can find
The impressions of the week since everyone has come back are reducible
to two rather pleasant words: books and men. (It is true that Olivia and
I are almost exclusively each other's girl friends and that the rest are
all men.) Well, visits from Don, Tony, Bruce and Ray. A letter from Harsh;
dinner Sunday night with Art, Rasheed and Basil (Chinese food and a discussion
of Canadian politics); dinner tonight with Peter Fraser from Art class;
a walk last Saturday night with Tony through deserted streets, rain and
a high wind (he came and threw snowballs at the window until I came out);
a visit and tea Friday night at Tony's place; high tea and opera after a
concert of Beethoven sonatas at Jim Lee's house with his two roommates and
Bob Schwab of IH on Sunday afternoon; a long coffee break last night with
John Fitzgerald; a movie tomorrow night with Norm who has recovered from
his crush on Olivia and his earlier crush on me; and dinner Sunday night
next with Jim Lee. And last week, a crazy run through drifts of snow with
Don and Tony and Olivia, after which we all went to Tony's to sit in front
of the fireplace and dry out. (Now the snow is gone again.) Rather too extended
coffee breaks at the Union, looking at art and architecture books or reading
the Journal and yaketing with a peculiar assortment. All of this sounds
so pants-chasing and delinquent. You must be dissapproving. But really and
truly we don't chase anyone, and we do behave well usually. (Thought I'd
put the 'usually' in to confuse you.) Also, Tony is producing the review,
starring in it, and editing the artsy-literary section of the Journal so
I don't see enough of him! And Olivia has the same situation because Don
Carmichael is the centre of a hurricane of activity. (Last night Dan, Norm,
Olivia and Mark went to heckle Diefenbaker when he spoke here for John A
MacDonald's birthday - Kingston is his hometown.) All of this is written
at telegraph speed because I must do mounds of work - sorry it is so brief,
will see if there is a quarter hour in my schedule for you every day. BOOKS
next edition. What a silly letter this is.
January 14, Thursday evening
At last the cold has caught up to us, and we are running from class to
class, stopping at the coffee shop and at friends' apartments all the way
home to warm up.
Your small letter today on arriving home from the art studio and the
coffee shop. I am very happy that you are happy with the package!
Did Judy prick up her ears at the words "coffee shop and art studio"
in the first sentence? There is something very satisfying about being able
to casually mention them and then go on to something else as if my art studio
was something I could be quite blasé about. I can't of course. The
second term in Art, I think I've told you, is Medieval art, and we have
a two-hour studio every Thursday afternoon. What we will be doing first
is imitations of Medieval stained-glass windows on small squares of white
board, trying to recreate the glow of real stained-glass back-lighting with
ink and wax on the stark white background. Our instructor is Ralph Allen,
an uncannily artist-looking young man who is in deed and in fact Queen's
resident artist: a young man with a lean long frame, silk cravats, a pipe
and long hair, and an arrogant lazy way of speaking! He does excellent work
And as for the coffee shop, it is such an institution at Queen's that
anyone who doesn't hang about it in a fruit-fly-like manner is missing a
great deal of essential university experience. We usually spend a half-hour
or so there for coffee after a class in the afternoon. Sometimes we come
in alone and sit down alone at a corner table to read a book. Before long
someone comes by, says "Are you waiting for somebody?" and proceeds
to sit down and push dirty cups out of the way before you can say no. Then
either his friends or your friends arrive, and the friends of those friends,
and then friends of friends of friends, until there are stacks of books
and a two-deep row of chairs around what began as your solitary table. If
there is someone you would like to meet at your table you are in luck because
somebody obviously knows him and will introduce you. (Today I met the boy
who got one of the other A's in the Psychology Christmas examination - there
were three counting mine - and since he has intrigued me for some time -
viola!) When you finally have to leave, you wave extravagant goodbyes to
everyone of your friends who has settled into someone else's table, and
inevitably bump into someone at the door who is going your way and walks
along. Just outside the door of the coffee shop is the university's biggest
bulletin board, and you stop there, then go on down the corridor past the
Journal office door, peeking inside to see if Tony is there as you go by.
You ask how my German is coming. I got a B at Christmas, and not a very
high B either. Dr Riley told me that I would have had an A except for the
fact that I cannot spell and my grammar is most imperfect. But I am learning
a great deal - catching up to the others in the formal aspects of the language
is slow but the accuracy and the colloquial nuances that my translations
into English have partly make up for it. I love the language and love studying.
I love the expressions "Abendland" and "Morgenland"
for west and east!
This year, associating with people like Carmichael and Tugwell and their
friends gives us some intimate knowledge of schemings and plottings of all
sorts. Even at this very moment, this core of energies is going to be directed
on a campus- and possibly nation-wide scandal. Last night Tugwell was late
because he was at a meeting with the Journal commander-in-chief and Carmichael
and other disreputables, and Carmichael was late for the same reason, so
that Olivia and I shook hands sadly and choked back giggles. And then,
until six o'clock this morning, a host of people smoked their way through
hours of discussing and deciding and head-chopping until they had their
pawns lined up in meet troop-lines ready to set the rusty cogs of revolt
The revolt being organized is one against the raising of fees in the
men's residences, but in typically political fashion, the reason for the
revolt (which is to be carried out through demonstrations, a protest march
to the principal's residence, and if necessary, publicity throughout every
university newspaper in Canada and possibly the Canadian Press too - because
the president of the Canadian University Press which distributes news is
a Queensman and one of Don's best friends) is not dissatisfaction with the
fees (none of the plotters except Norman live in residence and none of them
have any specific interest whatever in residence life) but the necessity
of creating a scandal to cover up another scandal which is threatening the
university political career of one of their friends! The entire scheme is
at least as complex as this sentence.
International House is hosting forty students from the Ottawa International
House this weekend, and we have been meeting, welcoming, billeting, feeding,
guiding, them. At the same time, the university is sponsoring a weekend
seminar on Romanticism, with all the keenest minds of the university speaking
on the Romantic movement in their own field of study. This morning I attended
two of the lectures, both brilliant, on German and English Romantic literature.
There have also been lectures on the movement in French literature and in
art generally, and in the socio-political causes. Tomorrow Dr George will
speak on Romantic composers. Lectures as excellent and as stimulating as
the two this morning seem to hint at what a university education really
could be if there were only enough professors as brilliant as these two.
They also seemed to outline the excellence of intellect that real cultivation
and real intelligence can produce a goal for our education.
So I have been trying to handle both at once, and at the same ill-chosen
time Tony and I are trying to decide whether to become involved with each
other and the tension is rather high. Several late parties. Last night we
celebrated Norman's twenty first birthday at Tony's, with the bottle of
champagne that Anne gave him for a birthday present - there were so many
of us that we got only a small taste - a deep rose-colored, tiny-bubbled
piquant and pleasant wine with so many emotional connotations!
17 Jan Sunday
It looks as though I will be spending the next week in a sari, or nearly,
because on Friday and Saturday I am going to be a Pakistani bride for the
International Night programs, and the next weekend I'll traitorously switch
sides to be an Indian dancer for the Republican (independence) Day celebration!
We have been spending the afternoon in rehearsal, very simple steps and
a one-two-three pause rhythm imposed on a strange beat-less tune, a folk
song describing the sadness of a woman whose husband is away from her and
who therefore declines to join in the gaiety of a wedding celebration because
"my joy has gone with him."
Last night involved the old institution of party-hopping: first there
was the party at IH, which swung along merrily by itself so that I left
it for Jim Lee's, which was sleeping in front of a fire, and when it was
late enough to respectably leave, there was another party on West Street,
and Tony Tugwell. The party was ugly: many beautiful and intelligent people
milling through the house in different colors, some with glasses in their
hands and some with their hands clenched behind them, and some holding hands
but forgetting whose hands they held, some smiling grotesquely with their
eyes squinting, and some fighting to keep some honesty in their conversations
but feeling the futility of seeming artificial even when being sincere;
some standing staring in the halls, a beautiful girl pushing people blindly
with her long thin arms, Ray looking about thirteen pounding walls with
his palms and shouting his resentment of the world, even the people we like
when we are alone with them wandering from person to person like spooks.
Tony and I finally left, and we took deep long breaths of the beautiful
cold night, and Tony said "Oh Ellie Epp, so many people going in diverse
directions" and went next door to his cold cold apartment and wrapped
ourselves up in blankets and talked and were very happy and felt so relieved
to be gone from the party.
Tony, Don and Norman have been working together on the Fees scandal,
and last night all three of them were exhausted and rather disappointed
because it was not going as well as they had hoped and their threatened
friend, who happens to be the student president of the university, is continuing
to embroil himself in problems. Olivia and I seem to be prematurely assuming
the roles of comforter-encourager females being solicitous about 'their
Have you read any of the German poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke or heard
of it? It is beautiful, and it is good to read it loud slowly, not understanding
all of it, but reading it for the sound and the cadence of the words.
A film society showing tonight, the Japanese film, The Island.
Yesterday evening's dinner date - High Commissioner - Japanese film schedule
- did actually take place. Dinner with Jim and his two roommates is always
so pleasant because the three of them are such pleasant company, their fireplace
and music are so festive and their cooking so excellent (grilled chicken
and steak) and Lionel's long-legged high-spirited girlfriend such good company,
and the conversation of postgraduates so easy and intelligent (and rather
less frantic than that of our undergraduate 'intelligencia' friends) that
the evening was perfect. (Was wearing a bright red print shift of Olivia's
with my red earrings). Jim himself is a very funny guy because he looks
so young and has such a young love of jazz and race cars and is always being
thrown out of pubs because of his innocent adolescent face, but is working
on his PhD in economics and will be lecturing next year! He's had a pretty
battered time of it too.
Then the High Commissioner, who incidentally must be called "His
Excellence," and who lounged in a chair talking lazily and rather spiritlessly
of Ghana - and then The Island, an outstandingly beautiful film with
photography and directing that was almost super-human and above-artistic.
To show the monotony, the agony, that the Japanese family experienced in
surviving at all, there were endless shots of the woman and her husband
carrying water up the hill, planting one foot after another up on the hill
and straining, muscle by muscle, to inch and balance up the steep incline.
The woman was beautiful, delicately Oriental, very work-worn but very sensitive,
with a body completely hard and tense, always straining, very slim, always
leaning against some weight or difficulty. Shots of her feet in their muddy
sandals, always straining as well. By the end of the film we were exhausted
and their grief at the death of their child seemed a personal grief to such
an extent that we longed for some very good friend who would put his arms
around us and comfort us. But the Japanese family had no time to grieve
and there was no time to stop carrying the water up the long hill to the
dry plants. Once, when the woman accidentally spilled a pail of water, the
man stared at her for a minute and then slapped her face so brutally that
she fell backwards. His action was completely realistic. All of them were
driven, and he was driven out of himself and out of human consideration
by the constant desperation of work, survive! Survive! I thought of the
way you work in "droke Zeit" and the film became very real and
Olivia and I are now saddled with another assignment. She is in charge
of an article on "women in university society," roughly, and I
am doing a very comprehensive book review on Simone de Beauvoir, these for
My friend Tugwell, the idjot, has discovered that his schedule leaves
him 6 hours a week free: three for the coffee shop and three for "communication
on a more personal level" - ie me. Our standard goodbye seemed to be
"I'll see you sometime when we're not both doing something important!"
And being incorrigibly power-hungry, we both have plans to speed up even
more for next year: he wants to be Journal editor-in-chief and I want to
be IH president! We also have great schemes to take over (as a group, not
just us) student government in total - what fools! But the experience, the
experience, and if one must be honest, the way it looks on the record.
Tomorrow night is a concert, Grace Bumbry, the lovely contralto who got
a standing ovation here last year. Wednesday night, rehearsal. Thursday,
rehearsal. Friday and Saturday appearances in the International Night program.
And Olivia has late rehearsals every night for her part in this Friday's
play, Miss Julie, in which she is a peasant maid.
Tuesday the 19th
Am reading Emerson, a complex philosopher-essayist-poet of early 19th
century America, and am immersed in his huge and struggling outlook on life.
So much of what I read in one course is directly applicable to another.
This is a vital offence in high school, where courses are all so rigidly
compartmentalized and we are not taught to interrelate. Again, as when I
am immersed in rather difficult and labyrinthine work, I feel the beginnings
of some large excitement that is partly in recognition of things I had half-realized
and partly in mental leaps to something new.
- Realized something last night, during a forty minute telephone conversation
with Jim Lee's roommate George: that every single atom and molecule of me
has been on the earth since it was created! I am a recombination and a new
pattern that is parts of infinitely many former patterns; and life, and
myself, is a continual changing of pattern! Isn't that marvellous? Marvellous
- in the original rather than popular sense of the world. I'm amazed that
I never thought of this before. It is strange; we have such a feeling of
time, of having appeared on the earth as something from heaven or someplace,
complete and completely new; but we were always potentially here, a pattern
waiting to be realized.
Jan 20th, Weds
Last night was beautiful, snow blowing crossways across streets, trees
clutching into the bright sky like roots, lights from far away buildings
shining through curtains of trees - went to the concert and sat beside Tony
on the balcony steps behind a pillar. (Tony felt like a "ragamuffin
who has sneaked in under the canvas" because he came in his working
clothes (inevitably a black turtleneck, a blue sweater and old dilapidated
grey corduroy pants) (always!). Afterwards, he went to the Journal office
to get out the Friday Journal and George took me for coffee. (A schoolteacher
with an 'intimate' speaking voice and a wistful sensitive personality, a
violinist.) Olivia not having left the key, I went back to the Drama Lounge
(a large basement room scattered with posters and books of plays, makeup
and costumes) to find her at the rehearsal, and so saw the dress rehearsal
of Miss Julie. When we got out into the snow again, it was still
beautiful but we stood in the midst of it and had a "screaming fight"
about whether I was going to Peggy's or going home, and what had I said.
A bit tragicomical, Olivia stumping ahead and me lagging behind shouting
"It is a beautiful night and I am not going to be screamed at"
and she turning around, "It was a beautiful night until you
spoiled it!" "It is." "It was." "It
is," until finally she went to Peggy's and I went home, both of us
feeling rather petty.
Our first performance of the International House program went off splen-did-ly
last night. Grant Hall, with its Medieval-looking stained glass windows
and great stone facades, and red and gold pillars inside, was decorated
- (money pots for the silver collection at the door!) a Japanese sunrise
(red) arch at the door, posters all around on the solid old pillars, a large
drawing of the Beatles, and a Mountie in full dress uniform! Flags of all
the participating nations over the stage. The cast sat on the balcony overhanging
the stage, and in my sari, dangling earrings and brilliant makeup I felt
like a very grand young imperialist Russian at the ballet, sitting in a
box and flirting with the performers, most of whom I knew. There was an
Irish jig performed by two of the (ironically) Highland dancers, and then
the Pakistani wedding ceremony.
What happens is this: the commentator gives a short introduction, then
the prerecorded music sweeps up and the bride enters shyly from the wings.
She is wearing a yellow costume completely embroidered with gold thread
and bright colors, and an attendent carrying a covered tray leads her to
the centre of the stage, where they both squat down on a rug. Then the attendents,
about five of us in various beautifully colored costumes, enter and cluster
around her, laughing, talking, patting her costume straight, exclaiming
over the jewellry under the cover of the tray, putting on her makeup, putting
fingernail polish onto each other, admiring each other's costumes and admiring
the bride very extravagantly.
Then a song begins in the wings, we hear it and begin to clap and sway,
singing as many of the words as we can catch and mouthing the rest. The
commentator is interjecting semi-comic remarks about our doings, then introduces
the groom and his party who shamble in from the other side of the stage.
The groom is a conservative-looking young man in a black coat, Turkish slippers
and white sheet-like trousers. He greets us rather shyly, sits down some
distance from the bride, and his attendants in more bedsheets and fez-caps
cluster around him. In the centre is the marriage registrar, Amil disguised
in a beard and glasses, mumbling to himself over the registry book. The
books are duly signed and witnessed, and we hear the commentator saying
"If you look very closely you will see a sneaking exchange of rings.
Why do they exchange rings through a friend and not directly? Don't ask
me ask them. Oh, I have just heard the groom whisper into the bride's
ear "We must be discreet in public."
The marriage itself is legally over, Amil pats the bride's head beneignly,
the groom squirms with embarrassment as the commentator comes out with the
choice (accented in his peculiar Indian way) remark "And now they are
man and wife before God and the law - they can do no sin now - even if they
want to." I find it difficult to keep from bursting into loud guffaws
every time I hear this bit of absurdity which was so carefully planned to
tickle the Canadian sense of humour! We all congradulate the couple, and
as the sad music begins, we smudge away a few tears and follow the couple
off-stage, unable to resist sweeping a bit with our heads tilted at an aristocratic
angle, overwhelmed by our own glory.
Following us on the program, the really stunning items are a drum-dance
by some of the Africans who dance so well at our IH parties, with Agnes
singing a wild chant in the background. The drummers are all wearing long
colored robes and little round pill-box hats. The Scottish dancers do a
weaving song, four tiny and exquisite Philippino nurses do a delicate, slow
and rather repetitive dance in sweeping dresses with butterfly sleeves.
The West Indian steel band rolls on its steel drums which are made from
actual steel oil drums of different sizes, cut off at different lengths,
which are pounded with drumsticks. An electric guitar, sticks, castanets,
and occasional shouts round out the semi-metallic sounds produced by the
steel drums. The pace was fast and calypso, the musicianship excellent,
and in their typical way, the West Indians put all of their bodies into
the music, stamping and swaying in time. We leaned over the balcony exclaiming
to ourselves "There's Wally, he's good! There's Jacques! There's Freddie,
and John, and Ninian, and who is that with Dennis? Look at Jacques on those
castenets, look at him MOVE!"
Jaspir Singh played a wavering quavering violin solo from India, someone
from Pakistan played a sitar, Harsh Barghava gave an excellent skit on ridiculousness
in radio. Then the Canadian contribution: four boys from Olivia's politics
class were due to give a skit. John and Rick bade us sadly to laugh very
loudly at all of the jokes, so that the audience would know they were funny.
But when they got on stage, Rick playing a decayed intellectual Frenchman,
John playing an American spy in Quebec, and the other two boys playing a
Habitant potato farmer and a British tourist were excellent and drew shouts
of laughter that covered our loyal support! John, as the spy, sauntered
about pretending to be a reporter, asking questions. The music of "Oh
Canada" in full-color orchestration swept up in magnificence, but suddenly
stumbled into a squawk and rose again as the Marseillaise. Then proceed
a good and clever series of jokes on separatism, anti-Americanism, each
giving their own perverted view. At the end, John as spy asked each in turn,
why they were there. Then the Habitant in his blue plaid shirt unbuttoned
to the waist, sheepskin-lined overshoes and flopping trousers with their
baggy suspenders, asked "Yankee, why YOU 'ere?" John, wordlessly,
took off his hat, placed it over his heart, and as the lights mellowed down
and off, the music of "Oh say can you see" rose as a climax.
Agnes did a Zulu dance in a wavering spotlight, to the frantic beating
of drums and shouts of the drummers, dressed in a leopard skin with her
hair flying back behind her. The secretary to the Ghanaian High Commissioner,
who came especially for the performance, was sitting beside me and kept
murmuring, "She is very good." Agnes is such an exceptional
person. It is only at times like last night, that we realize how much she
is besides the rather cold, enormously efficient executive we know. She
was so completely part of that frantic, frenetic dance and the screaming
Sunday January 24
Books - Sunday afternoon with classical music and a large bacon-eggs
lunch past, heavy snowfall outside, the niches in the cathedral tower drifting
white, snowflakes as large as quarters hurrying obliquely down to earth,
the music of the Sorceror's Apprentice, a wisped thought of Mother
Hulda's feathers snowing, Winston Churchill is dead, de Beauvoir's Memoirs
of a Dutiful Daughter is lying on its face beside me, Olivia is sleeping
in the next room. Thinking of de Beauvoir's statement, "Doubtless it
was my friendship with Zaza which made me attach so much weight to the perfect
union of two human beings; discovering the world together and as it were
making a gift of their discoveries to one another, they would, I felt, take
possession of it in a specially privileged way," and further, "The
man (or friend) destined to be mine would be neither inferior nor different,
nor outrageously superior; someone who would guarantee my existence without
taking away my powers of self-determination." We have the latter quotation
pinned up on the door with our other fragments of poetry and philosophy.
Olivia and I sometimes wonder how we manage to keep such a vital relationship
- completely natural, very honest, yet never static because we both discover
things about each other constantly, we change, we learn from each other,
we feud and carp sometimes and we are not shy of closeness. And we are conscious
that we are fortunate and that this is something rare.
Snow falling last night after the second International Night, reading,
then at ten to two a.m. the telephone "Hello Ellie Epp." "Hello
Tony Tugwell." "Shall I come and throw snowballs at your window?"
So he came and a snowball banged against the window ("One of these
days I'll accidentally break that window and your landlord will evict you")
and I leaned out to say hi, then crept downstairs with the feeling of conspiracy
that creeping through a slumbering house always brings, "A book for
you Tony" (The Old Man and the Sea), the snow still falling,
blowing white diagonal lines around the lamp posts, a long walk, then past
Peggy's - a light still on, "Shall we throw a snowball at the window?",
Olivia waving down, upstairs in Peggy's apartment, Olivia and Don and Ray
and Jim Lee in shorts playing bridge with beer bottles standing around and
a cloud of smoke over the table; when they went home, we walked home too,
or rather Tony seized my hand and we flew down the steps and staggered through
the bushes and drifts into the park where we rolled in the knee deep snow
and made crooked prints, and Tony played football with his shadow, tackling
trees and dodging imaginary opponents, until we emerged at the other side
of the park huffing and puffing with our hair soaked and our faces streaming
Mother, you asked whether, in educated circles, men mind competing with
their wives in the intellectual realm, and if their egos can take it. It
is strange among the Indian students here, the wife almost inevitably is
as educated as the husband, and is usually in the same profession - eg both
medical doctors or both PhD biochemists. It seems to work well for them.
Statistically, it seems that in couples in which both are professionals
and/or intellectuals, there is a higher rate of divorce, but this does not
indicate necessarily that more of the marriages are unsuccessful (since
duration is little indication of success in marriage, since marriage
is more than grim endurance) - only that the professional woman has more
courage to leave what is unsatisfactory and either try again with someone
who is more compatible or live by herself. The uneducated woman seldom has
either the means of support or the confidence in herself to free-lance,
and her dependence on what she dislikes makes her despise herself and so
leads her to mistreat all of the persons whom she loves. As to the question
of whether the men's egos can take it, that is a slightly irrelevant concern
because (speaking for myself, but from the same viewpoint as most educated
or being-educated and intellectually-oriented women I know) if a man has
so little self respect that my subjection to him and my adoring inferiority
to him are necessary to his peace of mind - ie I must make my weakness a
crutch for his weakness - a relationship with him can only be destructive
for both of us. I don't want any man on those terms, and I don't need a
man enough to accept him on those terms. I know that I am a strong person
and an independent woman, and although I have 'that human hunger' for closeness
with another human being and ability to be warm and 'womanly,' I can give
to a man only in respect for his strength (not imperfection - but essential
self respect) and not in pity for his grovelling need to prove that he is
superior to other people. I approve of being superior to other people,
but not of using them to try to convince myself that one is not inferior.
Under mutual dependency and self-abasement there can be no "discovering
the world together and as it were making a gift of their discoveries to
Later: had a communal dinner (everybody pops some money in a tin, and
for 35¢ or so we get a very respectable meal) at Peggy's, with macaroni-cheese,
milk and tea, cornbread and tomato soup in mugs - Norm and Peggy, Don and
Olivia, Tony and Ray. When you spoke of going to Voth's a few weeks ago,
and experiencing a "like old times" camaraderie, I thought that
your "old times' when everyone was closer must have been like this:
a group of people who are good friends and know they are good friends, baiting
each other, laughing at the same things, playing "in games." One
you might enjoy listening to is called "Would you go back?" Someone,
at random and unexpectedly, says "If they built the bridge, would you
go back?" and the person addressed gives a logical but hypothetical
answer, and the conversation goes on, each person adding some completely
absurd (but logically correct) remark, each person trying to trip the other
into self-contradiction and illogicalness. Sometimes the conversation becomes
serious, but everyone knows everyone so well that if they try being pompous
or esoteric or if they try name-dropping, they are immediately called down.
Norman, Danny, Tony, Olivia, Don, Peggy, Indra [Kagis], Mark etc are
forming an NDP youth party on campus. I haven't decided my political affiliation
yet, don't know whether to affiliate or not. But something is always happening
in this group of people. - Out of paper, write soon.
Have been constantly active but not in a very newsworthy way, working,
sewing an A-line skirt made of lovely rich-colored fabric (swatch enclosed),
thinking, seeing people like Tony, Peggy, Dan, Norman, etc at late evening
coffee breaks during the week, and during weekends visiting more about
this weekend later.
Am financially solid again, having taken out a federal loan (interest
free etc) of enough for thoroughly comfortable living for the rest of the
Our friend Don Carmichael has just covered himself with glory by winning
second place in a debating competition which is either trans-Eastern or
trans-Canadian, I'm not sure which. He was floating high last night - showing
off his silver trophy mug, and insisting that everyone kiss the victor -
even, this in jest, that our landlady must kiss him and our landlord shake
his hand ("He hasn't treated me well so he may not taste the golden
tongue") - fortunately he didn't insist on this. He is an amazing person
and his amazing, frantically curly hair, stony blue eyes and overwhelmingly
intelligent face are a 'witness' of the complete energy and clarity of his
thinking. He is also arrogant, demanding, impatient, and as hopelessly idealistic
about other people as he is about himself. Most of our friends have this
same difficulty: they go through agonies of soul-searching and various guilts
precisely because they expect so much of themselves: they want themselves
to be perfect in every way, and continually deplore, if they are active
and intellectual and too busy, their lack of humanity because they haven't
time for profound relationships with other people. Having given up all rules
of traditional morality and all restrictions of religion, they take on the
painful responsibility of deciding their own morality, realizing that they
cannot depend on a code of laws made for others in a different age. You
can see that they have a more difficult time in defining themselves - and
they all believe that it is their actions and not their vague beliefs
that define themselves - than do the young people who grow up and after
a superficial rebellion settle into the pattern of beliefs set up for them
by their community or their religion. The non-thinkers do not define themselves:
they are defined instead by their environment or by other people. The main
characteristic of my friends, and you were asking about them Mother, is
their independence of judgment. They are determined not to accept passively
any code, just because it is there. They are feverishly concerned
with what is good and true and meaningful, but they want no compromise and
no self-kidding. And if they should find that there is nothing, in fact,
either good or true or meaningful, they will want to accept their knowledge
as a self-sought-out consequence, a punishment perhaps for their independence,
but an inevitable and worthwhile punishment. I quite obviously admire this
attitude! It is a summary of what I mean when I say that they are so idealistic
- they want the best, perfection, and are determined to have it and no second-best.
- Do you mind the polemics? This type of people is - in Queen's - a minority,
and not characteristic of all university students. Although the university
population is supposed to be the top 10% of Canadian youth, many of them
are appallingly dull, flaccid, submissive and unthinking. Tony calls them
the "rah-rah" people - who live for football games and year parties
on boozing weekends, who go to university because it is done or because
they want high earning power when they get out or to catch a husband or
to store up memories for their old age or because their family did or because
they don't want to go to work yet or because they "have to do something,"
and not because they need knowledge in order to become the sort of person
they want to be. What is infuriating is that these students often seem such
a majority that the university and its policies must cater to them, thus
leaving the real STUDENTS in an academic system which frustrates them, but
which they can do little to change because of the great pressure of mass.
Having honours courses to some extent alleviates the problems because sheep
in them are sifted from goats into the better-taught and higher-standards
honours classes. One main problem tho' is still the necessity of specializing
in order to create technicians rather than to evolve persons - this
is why I am taking a General Honours Course which is about as free as is
possible, and why many of my friends are - but even then there is the frustration
of competing with people who are studying the subject in more depth.
Olivia and I, though, are learning a great deal beyond our five courses
each - both having semi-boyfriends in philosophy and many friends in politics
(Tony is mathematics-philosophy, Don is politics-philosophy, Peggy and Norman
are politics-history-economics, Danny is English-politics, and I'm the only
psychologist, and rather distrusted as such! in the lot) - we manage to
interchange a fair lot of information, together with political tips on how
to run newspapers or revues or direct plays or write poetry or win debates
or head political parties (Norm is president of the New Democratic Youth
in Kingston, Olivia is vice-president, Tony and Don are both on the executive,
Danny and Mark and Bruce, etc, are all in the membership!!!) or direct student
protest groups (Peggy is president of CUCND, now SUPA) [Student's Union
for Peace Action] or conduct art gallery tours (Peter Fraser is a promising
art historian) - after all this oratory, whew, let us regain our breath
and you may all stop applauding, thank you, thank you.
- Incidentally was visited yesterday by the buoyant and brush-cutted
Chuck Stojan of Sexsmith, who says that he sees Father often in the garage.
It was good to see him! He'd come to pick up a new red Chevelle for himself,
visited relatives in Kingston, and spent three quarters of an hour or so
at our place here telling about basketball and hockey and all sorts of Sexsmith
people. I almost hugged him - he came when I was in full rah-rah glory of
bluejeans and sweatshirt and huge yellow slippers - I think he liked our
I have been lying on the floor listening to the second side of the Emperor
Concerto - joie de vivre is thick in our veins today - and especially during
the wonderful vigorous curves and heavings of the last movement, I felt
the motion of a galloping horse under me, and I wanted so much to come home
and ride a horse over the fields - although I know we have no horse that
I can manage and that I am a little afraid of horses anyway and that the
fields are covered by a foot of snow! But I often long for hills and trees
and wide spaces and that pink sky silhoetting spruce trees (black and minutely
detailed) in the early morning (as we walked to school) or late evening
(as we walked home). That part of the Peace River Country has become a need
in my constitution - that and the wild springs with their roaring black
water. And perhaps, in fall, the long grass wet, prickling, after a rain
- chilled bare feet and a light heart, leaping over stumps and crowing on
rocks. I wonder how much of a constant this sense of wonder or memory of
wonder can be through all the inescapable adult self-pityings and metaphysical-ethical
fluctuations. As long as you live there you will not have too great difficulty
in persuading me to come home often - for short periods of time, ie don't
tear down the old Bakstad house: it would be such a good summer house for
us and our families during holidays, or when I trudge back with my dusty
shoes and dusty typewriter wanting a rest from crusades and casualties and
speculations and becomings. It is a wonderful moldy house and could be a
historical site - hostel - rest home etc if it were fixed. I'm very attached
to it - don't tear it down, just plant more vines around it.
Speaking of which - I think that I shall be coming home for a month or
so this spring, after the exams in the end of April until strawberry or
work season in mid-June. I want to do several things: work, on the
tractor if Father has a vacancy, or inside if necessary. I really want to
be a farmer for a while, work hard physically to test all the energy I feel
latent in all my faithfull shoulder muscles, get dirty, tired, run and not
walk, sing loudly and show off my new whistling 'skill' to you - enough
for room and board and pocket money.
Now Olivia has her cherished Beethoven's Seventh Symphony on the phonograph
and is dancing to it. She is wearing tights, a sloppy grey corduroy skirt,
a blue sweater much too long for her, and is whirling and stepping out the
music - she dances beautifully, with all of her body and her face: it is
this complete participation and joyousness that I love about her. I think
it is her dancing that I will remember as the real and unique Olivia. Sometimes
I join her - I dance jerkily but fairly well, and yet I miss the freedom
and balance she has - dancing and skating, my two and really only two regrets.
(Do you remember how I would go into the living room in the dark when I
was much younger, Mother, and "jump around" as you called it,
to the radio music?)
Your letter just arrived and was read. It was a thrilled and thrilling
letter, and I held my breath with you, Mother, as I went through your Day
at School. The Wasteland - I have read it, although never studied it - parts
of it, and the scene of the typist and the "condescending kiss,"
are unusual and sharp - parts of it are painful and beautiful - I love the
one verse I have memorized. Do you remember this?
- Is it like this
- In death's other kingdom
- Waking alone
- At the hour when we are trembling with tenderness
- Lips that would kiss
- Form prayers to broken stone
We have it pinned up on our door.
Tom Hathaway was here last night - he is studying harpsichord at the
Toronto Conservatory and doing some part-time work as the Ontario regional
director for SUPA - it was good to see him! Still the silk-haired blue-eyed
round spectacled Tom in the same old sports jacket with an old holey-elbowed
sweater and a funny long coat with huge boots - all this with his rather
pink, humorous face and his Boston accent. One of my favorite people.
My perverse friend Tony Tugwell had his opening night of the revue last
night and is running tonight and tomorrow too - I saw his premiere last
night - the music, a drum-piano-bass orchestra, was good - the script poor
- Tony excellent in his part as a frail, reedy and conservative English
aristocrat (looks lovely in a bowler hat) - Danny Noffke perfectly hideous
and dramatic as a leperous old Lord from the House of Lords, he acts well
- he should - after all, his most ordinary motions of his most ordinary
days are histrionic productions - and so much for the revue. I'm
going to be delighted when it is over so that I can sometimes SEE the man
and so he can start breathing - until the Journal editor elections come
up. International House elections are coming soon too.
- raw forming volume 3: 1964-1965 september-april
- work & days: a lifetime journal project