Volume 3 of Raw Forming: 1964-65 September-April  work & days: a lifetime journal project  

St Mary's from the third floor east window of 252 Barrie St.










Second year at Queen's, living with Olivia Howell on the top floor of the Hepburn's house at 252 Barrie Street. A madly social year. By its end Olivia is with the man she will later marry, most of our friends are big in campus politics, and I am three ways humiliated - losing a man I was interested in to Olivia, getting fired from Sunnyside, and losing the election for International House president - so that I decide to slink away to Europe for a year. Part 1 a log of running around with the In Group, Thanksgiving in Toronto, a description of the Noffke house in 1964. Part 3 Sunnyside Christmas, increasing involvement with political movers. Part 4 regional SUPA conference at Caledon Farms, Ottawa demonstration in support of the Selma marchers.

Mentioned: Chuck Stojan, Effie Luddington, Danny Noffke, Norman McLeod, Olivia Howell, Don Carmichael, Rasheed Mohammed, Mike Easton, Charles Carter, Ad Varma, Jim Lee, Mark Collins, Madeleine Murray, Cathy Spennato, Peggy Morton, Tony Tugwell, Bruce Stewart, Ian Summerville, Jim White, Tim Anderson, John Fitzgerald, Alison Gordon, Tom Hathaway, Carol Dresser, Peter Fraser, Indra Kagis, Jean Royce, Bob Schwab, Jim Gerard, Joan Corry, Jenny Ray, Art Pape, David Glassco, Fred Euringer, Florence O'Donnell, Dr Isaac Newell, Dr Julian Blackburn, Madame Tonge, Dr Richard Hope Simpson, Dr Anthony Riley, Ralph Allen, Jane Howell. Cooke's, Turk's, Wilfred Higgs' Photo Studio, Shurtleff's Milk Bar, Saint Mary's Cathedral, Grant Hall, International House, Graduate House, Lino's restaurant, West Street, City Park, Lake Ontario, 74 Dale Avenue in Toronto, The Walrus and the Carpenter oyster bar in Toronto, Sunnyside Children's Centre, CUCND/SUPA, the New Democratic Youth Party, demonstration in support of the Selma march, the Kingston Poverty Project, Caledon Farms SUPA conference, T-grouping. Knife in the water, Through a glass darkly, Night of the iguana, The lady's not for burning, The Alexandria quartet, Memoirs of a dutiful daughter, Saroyan Papa, I love You, The creation, Tender is the night, Here comes there goes you know who, The doll's house, Rebel Without a Cause, World architecture, Rilke, The Island, Grace Bumbry, Miss Julie, Emperor Concerto, Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, Billy Budd, Aida, the Easter Oratorio, Moonlight Sonata, Bolero, B Minor Mass, Der Rosenkavalier, The Pumpkin Eater, Cannonball Adderly.

[From RF2-4: The apartment we have now if nothing disasterous happens before September, is the third floor of an old brick house. The downstairs and hallway is very shabby and smells of countless suppertimes, but the third floor is airy, clean and all ours ­ bedroom, living room, kitchen, and a shared bathroom. Olivia will have the bedroom and I'll sleep on the couch in the living room because she is much too untidy for me anyway and will be sleeping later when I have to get up at six thirty to go to work. More about it later. The landlord is Hawaiian, a very hearty warm sort of person I think, and his wife is untidy and probably stupid, but friendly. The family is quite large, going down from a fifteen year old girl to two babies. Several other students live there. It is near the cathedral, a grocery shop, a drugstore, and five blocks from University. Near downtown too. We'll never get over the apartment we almost had tho. This one is sixty five a month which is very cheap I suppose.]

 Sunday morning, September 27 1964

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.

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.

14 October

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.

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,

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 '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.

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.

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. 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!

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

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 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.

November 10, Tuesday the rainy

Now at last a new typewriter eraser so that I can write you again.

Enclosed are several scraps of letters that I began to you during the Month of History this year. Mother will remember it with a certain amount of horror I'm afraid. I'm sorry to have been so brutal in that one letter: I seem to have been carried away. (But oh Mother, your one line of advice will be classic forever - "DON'T fall in love, if it is going to UPSET you."!!) Now is the time to tally a few of the results of that torrid month, however, and from my point of view they have been three more extremely good friends, an increase in confidence, an inside knowledge of what emotionality-irrationality is like, a certain understanding of how creative genius (Danny - and to a certain extent all of us in the Theatre of the Absurd) works and thinks, and from this an ability to evaluate much more accurately the turmoilulous way of life that is habitual to both Olivia and Danny, the flamboyant poet-prince, and my own tendency to be awed by both of these. If I hadn't for one flaming week been madly in love with Danny's genius and reckless a-sociality, I would still be pining for the mythical genius-prince to gallop in and save me from mediocrity. But I know now that I could never never live with the Danny type and that Mediocrity is something everyone fights their private and personal battles with - and that it is not an absolute Evil. One more reason perhaps for writing the brutal letter that seems to have sent you into such panic is that since the visit home I had not seemed to be able to reach you and that the visit itself (I felt) was rather a failure, because, while I had wanted especially to be responsive and merry, I managed only to be depressed, depressing, and flat.


I wrote another one, very depressing, about moments when very intense relationships suddenly seem flat and one feels unable to reach anyone else:

This is not all, but enough?
Two ways to avoid the question:
I do not speak, and you smile
You with your warm joy hidden
And I with my bright joy lost
The door behind you closing
Tears in my eyes

This is ambiguous too, but some of the ambiguities have a point. the stanzas are deliberately not punctuated so that they can mean several things. In the third stanza for instance, you can read it as it is or like this: "You with your warm joy, hidden / and I with my bright joy, lost." And in the next stanza you could read "The door, closing behind you as you leave" or "The door which is behind you closing as you enter." - at that moment, you see, it doesn't matter whether the friend is in or out: you are still separated from him. Also, the verb in the last stanza can take "tears" as a direct object and be "The door, which you move as you leave or enter, is directly responsible for the tears in my eyes, it is closing tears in my eyes." This is a lesson, by the way, on interpreting modern poetry - the reason it is so hopeless often is that it is using compression and ambiguity in just this way. This way the poet doesn't even understand his own poetry completely, because it means other things to other people who read nuances of their own experience into it. True for all poetry, but modern impressionistic etc especially. Are you bored? This is really a very arty letter.

I am having some fun this year with clothes. My tendency is toward tweed and leather and silk à la Chanal and Dior, I'm afraid, but not being able to manage that I have decided that if I must be a little shabby I shall be shabby with élan and with fun. Hence turtlenecked long-sleeved tee-shirts (cheap), warm and patched patterned stockings, Alice-in-Wonderland shoes, the cape, a corduroy A-line skirt, sometimes peasant kerchiefs and little gold hoop-earrings, eye-liner, shrieking color combinations, and the flight bag overflowing with books in lieu of a purse. And poor old Beowolf cringing with embarrassment at his chipped and leaky condition. But the vulgar, tongue-in-cheek Bohemian look is easy to keep up, and tho it is ludicrous my friends know I'm not taking it seriously, other people find it merely interesting, and role-playing is a constant secret joke. And knowing you are deliberately looking a fright is a huge source of confidence. You are horrified? No you aren't really.

Judy, I read Zooey last Sunday morning before work (read Franny before) and loved it so much I was happy all the rest of the day.

Olivia is still an extremely good friend. She says that if she were a man she'd marry me.

November 11, Wednesday, paradise-almost-lost, nine thirty p.m.

We had the Armistice Day vigil today, for half an hour in front of the Student's Union. Olivia was there (holding a sign of course, one of the official signs, "Towards Peace"). Danny, Charles, most of our peacenik friends, and others were there. It rained. We stood with the water soaking our hair and dripping from the ends of our red noses, peering at our hecklers through running mascara, feeling like fools not because we were vigiling but because we looked so martyred. Charles the dearidjot was not wearing a coat and was soaked to his beautiful shoulders through his rust sweater. I wanted to put him to bed and feed him some hot broth but I throttled motherly instincts and went to English class instead. Mr Newell, prof for this English class, is very reasonable, and to my joy, allowed me to choose for my term paper topic a comparison of the doctrine of individuality between Walt Whitman (whom I love and who is on our course) and William Saroyan (whom I love and who is not on the course - Papa, I love You was Saroyan): one is premodern and one is contemporary. A great deal of work, because there is no reference reading on the topic, but something that interests me fantastically and that, it happens, interests Mr Newell too - hey, this is university studying at its best, choosing one's own term paper topics and not even having to write the Christmas exams unless one wants to! And in psychology, my little pecan professor Dr Blackburn (who is inconspicuously Head of the Department - a great honour) will allow us to specialize in the personality theorists who most interests us - I think I shall do Jung.

2nd December

As Olivia and I sat in our English class this afternoon, it began to snow feathers, languidly, as the sky turned dusk-blue. Needless to say, we became restless immediately, and the professor, whom both Olivia and I are beginning to like enormously, noticed the stirring of the class and let us go early. I suspect he may have wanted to go gambolling himself. On the way we met Mark, and he stumped along behind us scratching his head as we skipped and frisked across campus. Fifteen minutes later, Mad Murray and Tim somebody found us lying flat on our backs in the snow, meditating and making snow angels. They decided we were daft, and hauled us away to the coffee shop: do you know about Mad? Mad(eleine) is blond, chic, lovely, energetic, and a freshette. She also has a fantastic social sense, and is, after three months at Queen's, passionate firm friends with every important and "interesting though not very important" person on campus. She is naïve in her approach to everyone, flattering them obviously and rather childlikely, but interested in them quite sincerely. She is also only child of a rich, important papa - we were suspicious of her social climbing instincts at first, but suspicion has turned to admiration and the condescending affection of second year students for a freshette.


Grant Hall was Medieval and romantic again tonight, under the snow, with light shining through the yellow stained-glass arch-windows: sometimes, seeing it in the almost-dark, walking toward it from across campus, especially alone, is like walking out of reality and time. And you always forget what it is like, during the summer.

Sunday night

Bruce called; we asked if he and George would like to come for the evening and bring some records. Candles, a dark room. Olivia sprawled on the couch in tights and my black dress, with her hair and the side of her face outlined in candlelight. George on the trunk with a pillow, Bruce curled into the chair, I on the floor in my green monk's gown. Vivaldi, the Missa Solemnis, Piaf, The Three Ravens with Peter, Paul and Mary. Talking very generally at first, but all waiting. Bruce saying to me "You don't have a 'face' at all;" to Olivia, "You weren't real that one night after the court, when you came into the coffee shop." I to him, "It's at parties, sometimes; it's very gay colors." Bruce depressed, "for very personal reasons." He wouldn't tell us why, so we told him. "I think it's what happened to me last week," Olivia said. Me: "It is as if your skin has thickened. Stimuli have a hard time getting through. You feel as tho you can't reach anyone. You try and try to get through, but it is all such a struggle that you hate it. You can't talk, you haven't anything to say, and it makes you feel that nobody wants to have you around. That is why you were bothered by Alison's wit." Olivia: "You go into the coffee shop and you sit down. Then you get up and go away. And then you come back. You can't stand being with people, but when you're alone you have to go back to them." Me: "You stand and talk to someone in a corridor for five minutes, but it is such a struggle. You fight and fight, but you can't say anything, and you go away hating yourself." "Sometimes it happens at parties, and everyone thinks you are being a sulky child, and that makes it even worse." We looked at Bruce, and he was smiling oddly, with a light on his face - "That is it exactly." (Bruce with his slight, active body and his patterned Norwegian sweater, his sharp-chinned articulate face, covered with freckles and seeming to have a light behind it; his diamond-shaped eyes and his elfin ears.) And immediately he began to lose his 'spook.' (By the end of the evening he was very happy.)

There was a song on one of the records that we sang over and over, in a sort of warmth that was very beautiful.

Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow, and oh so mellow
When grass was green, and grain was yellow
When you were a young and callow fellow
Try to remember, and if you remember,
Try to remember when life was so tender
When no one wept, except the willow
And dreams were kept beside your pillow
When love was an ember about to billow
Try to remember, and if you remember,
Deep in December it's nice to remember
Although you know the snow will follow
Without a hurt, the heart is hollow
The fires of September that made us mellow
Deep in December, it's nice to remember
And follow!

Christmas Day, 1964

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. 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.

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.

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. 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.

15 Jan Friday

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 neat troop-lines ready to set the rusty cogs of revolt moving. 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.

17 Jan Sunday

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.

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 the Journal.

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.

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. 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.

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.

Snow falling last 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 and I leaned out to say hi, then crept downstairs with the feeling of conspiracy that creeping through a slumbering house always brings, 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 water.

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. 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.

January 31

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 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.

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!

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! ) - 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.

February 5

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.

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.

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.

Feb 25

Last night, to save the $1.50 admission charge, I went to the dress rehearsal of the drama guild production for this term. While sitting and waiting for it to start, the director, who is experienced and rather brilliant (has worked at Stratford) [Fred Euringer], came over to ask what I was doing and very nicely told me that I could take notes for him as he dictated them while I watched the play, to pay for my admission, as t'were. So I had a chance to watch the unseen hand of the director - the details he picked up were minute, but important. Watching his mind work was a particularly fascinating way to learn about the theatre. And then during the intermission break, we went downstairs by a gruesome curving iron staircase (more like a spiral ladder) for coffee and shop talk - acting's a pretty exciting business. It is most exciting to see people you know playing roles. David Glassco, a third year boy, blond, intelligent, keenly aware of all sorts of people, has a good part. He lives on West Street, is one of my new and potentially good friends, gave me a ride home on his bicycle over the icy streets.

March 4, Thursday

Outside, sun on the tower - suddenly the quality of the light has changed, it is spring sunshine, the puddles are warming to it, even the snow is warm under bare feet, the trees stand out against the sky more insistently, darker because the sap is running, but the tips are still ash-white, by the lake, bushes are red and the line of islands is a smoky blue. I sat reading by the lake yesterday, couples went by holding hands, men whistling (I am becoming an accomplished whistler, it is a great satisfaction to break into a whistle when walking along a street to class - whistling is especially effective late at night when the air seems hollow and echoes from every building add resonance to the tone) (Rasheed disapproves - he and Basil have a proverb which they insist on - fruitlessly - quoting at me, "A whistling woman and a crowing hen are an abomination unto the Lord.")

After sitting by the lake yesterday, stopped in to see Florence O'Donnell, you'll remember, the Levana president Queen's graduate of fifty years ago. I brought her a red twig and a bit of youth I suppose, and she gave me anecdotes of early Queen's girls, showed me their pictures all with their earnest faces and academic gowns, a small class, but most of them distinguished themselves. She spoke for a long time and very affectionately of a little French girl, Cécile, who was too poor to buy a graduation dress but walked off the platform in her borrowed patent leather shoes and donated flowers with gold medals in both English and French, the first to get two medals and one of the first women ever to beat a man for the English prize. Those days are so real and so pleasant to Miss O'Donnell, it is sad to see how they've passed and she is just a bony figure with a hairy face and watery eyes, and a mind full of vanishing images.

March 11

Friday, morning before French lecture and the sun has been very bright on our tower since early this morning.

Birthday - this is what happened. March 6 was Saturday: I was home studying on Friday night and Olivia was away somewhere. Soon it was 1:30 a.m. and the telephone rang. Olivia, "Happy birthday, roommate - I'm at Tony's, why don't you come down for coffee and a study break?" So I did - opened the door, and was grabbed from both sides by Olivia and Tony, who marched me to a throne along a rug they had spread across the floor, to the Moonlight Sonata. Gave me coffee in a large mug, set a present (in a shoebox) at my elbow, and sat down at my feet! Then we had a poetry reading, all sitting around and reading our favorite bits aloud - all sorts of people dropped in, a West Street custom, although it was after two, and stayed to read their favorites. Alison Gordon came, and David Glassco read Shakespearian sonnets in a well-modulated self-consciously dramatic voice that made me grin a bit. This went on until dawn, and then we went home to bed.

Olivia has just remarked, "Ellie never stops talking about what a good life she has." Just because she is not having such a good life - Don is being difficult and perverse and so on.

13 March Saturday

Bright, windy afternoon, just got your letter, have spent the morning reading a German play and eating huge triple ice cream cones - something about spring wakens a passion for ice cream EVERY YEAR, heavy banks of brilliant white clouds are rrrolling across the sky.

I run across the street to Cooke's Store, the oldest store in Canada, founded in 1868 - through the large wooden doors that have been there since the store was built, long oiled-wood aisles like the ones in the old school houses, here comes Mr Cooke himself, plump, a warm face, old, with wrinkles of skin in round folds, long soft white hair. He talks about the store, "You see the sign there painted over, the shelves, Italian Warehouse? It means that we handled products from the Mediterranean, olives, cheeses." He shows me the line of luxury chocolates from Holland, Drosges. "Drosge himself has been here, invited me to come to see him in Holland, he'd show me a good time!" I ask him, "I'm sure you haven't been here since then?" He tells me the long long story of how he bought his way into the business five dollars a week, he tells me about the days when trolleys rolled through City Park, when you could take your girl out on a great evening for thirty five cents: thirteen for bus rides out to Ontario Park for both of you (eight tickets for a quarter), buy two dishes of ice cream (10¢), see a show (10¢), and have the last rides for the evening on the merry-go-round, two pennies. I bought three chocolate Easter eggs with a liquer in the centre, wrapped in beautiful shiny paper, then was wobbling down the street again on Beowolf (people are always smiling) when a very handsome Queen's boy whom I didn't know called across the street, "What's the matter with your bicycle, pull up a minute and maybe I can fix it." So he kicked it a few times, I gave him an Easter egg, we talked for a while on the corner, and as he sailed away on his bicycle, I found that Beowolf was not improved, but if possible, twice as crippled and clanking too! Hm.

This is just a demonstration of how friendly everyone suddenly has become.

I'm going to Ottawa tomorrow afternoon. Unfortunately. Because I should be working - but suddenly, we have to attend the demonstration for civil rights that SUPA and SNICK are staging. It is a march protesting the US handling of Selma Alabama, you've heard of what happened there, and supporting the civil rights workers. We leave by bus tomorrow morning, meet students from all the other Eastern universities, and amass as large a group as possible - Olivia and I have been systematically going through Who's Where pages assigned to us, inviting people, mostly hedging people, to join us. Everyone can't afford the time, but we believe that this is important now.

March 14

I was impressed and excited by the bright blue sky above the Parliament Buildings, the black tree branches so sharply outlined, the line blocks long of people walking, walking, with their protest banners, to the long grassy slope in front of the House of Parliament, between the West and East Blocks - by addresses from two Selma, Alabama negro civil rights workers, Tommy Douglas, a feeble message from Pearson, an unfortunately stupid prayer by a Reverend Paul, the applause and cheers of the crowd of students and adults, the rows of feet and legs moving steadily and slowly and silently past the US embassy - by Olivia who carried the other end of our "Queen's Marches for Freedom" banner with her hair blowing and her blue coat flapping (later she rushed up to Tommy Douglas impulsively to tell him how wonderful she thought his speech was, she glowed up at him). Don says she is like a "damn monad," a monad being according-to-definition an "original unit of life," a simple-complex person that life seems to race through electrically, storming and crying and shouting and singing and dancing and swearing and carressing and defying - by the freedom songs we sang all afternoon and on the bus home, by many of the people there whom I love and am reluctant to leave next year, by Peggy's face lit obliquely by the red exit light on the bus, by a queer skinny boy named John who had a ratty beard and brown child's eyes - by this response of people here to the problem in Alabama, by the thanks of the Selma representatives, by the fact that all the five thousand people there were there because a few students in Toronto took the responsibility of organizing.

The bell tower of the House of Parliament is especially beautiful: tall, reddish-brown bricks, fine details in the delicate Gothic style, the green copper roofs, the bell chiming the hours and quarter hours over the long slope to the high buildings across the way, songs speeches and the bells echoed back from many sides.

Saturday night March 21

Tonight has been sharpened by the rare, fluctuating realization of what it is to be alive, myself upon the earth, focused at one intense moment in history, with the anxious consciousness of Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria, the dim mystical humorous world of the Medieval cathedrals, the subtle subtle intelligence of Beethoven's Emperor, all co-existing in one room here with us - as immediate as our own world where we are both sitting with books in the yellow light and the smoky air; the sky is dark, without detail, like a coating on the window pane; on the floor are spread pictures cut from a magazine - a wooden figure of an old man playing a lute with his head slanted backwards in the foreground of a dark cathedral nave, a green-tinted photograph of the thirteenth century Eve of Autun carved in stone, floating sideways in a newly created world of bushy leaves. We have been looking curiously at the reflections of our faces in the mirror. Olivia is reading the Aeneid of Virgil and instead of Lawrence Durrell's modern Greece, she is half absorbed in the ancient archetypal Greece where Jove and Juno are quarrelling over the fates of heroes. Now, with these other worlds behind our white door (with the fragments of poetry, many worlds and mind-worlds, on it) there is a consciousness of your world too, the living room with its blank wide window, all of you. Other people, Grandmother, Peter. All this - I wanted to tell you because I want to remember and because I wanted you to realize all your worlds too.

March 27

A day so bright and clear, and so full of the necessity of working, that when I sat down to write to you and discovered the feebleness of the black on my ribbon, I leapt up and ran downtown to get a new one, you can guess how glad for the excuse. Now the afternoon is still outside the window glimmering at me, but here is the new ribbon (vigorous isn't it) and I'm tapping to the tune of Falla's Sorcerer's Apprentice. There seem many sheets of your letters to be answered, Mother.

Don is playing stern father to Olivia now, making sure that she works. Two nights ago, for instance, he told her that if she had her term paper done for two in the afternoon of the following day, and got an affidavit from me to verify the fact that she was actually finished, he would take her out on Friday night. And so she stayed up until five a.m. and finished the paper. When she woke me to tell me, I was wide awake and composed Don's affidavit for him. Here it is

For Don ­ an Eppic
I feel the poet in me stir
(Still half in stupor as it were)
And sit me down this break of dawn
To sing you of a paragon.
Now herewith do I sign and seal
To set my hand in witness
That Oliv'ia Howell cursed with zeal
And slavered until dawn - and witless
Tumbled into her chaste bed.
But robed in glory, bathed in light,
Lies the essay, finishéd.
Through half the day and half the night
She moaned and muttered, scratched and bled,
Splashed and choked through pools of sweat
And tepid coffee. No regret
Could keep her from her storied fate.
Now may she slumber deep and late.

April 3, Saturday night

Study break, it must be about ten thirty and O and I have done about seven hours plus of work since one thirty, have about three to go. We give each other five minute breaks every hour, and once every three hours or so we take off an hour or a half to go and see Don or Peggy, or to walk, or now, to dance to some good beaty Cannonball Adderly saxophone jazz that Mark lent us. Sometimes we have an ice cream cone or some cashew nuts or a philosophic-psychologic-literary discussion just for a treat: both of us are concentrating heroically and very proud of ourselves - and now we are fantastically interested by all our courses again and wish we had done more work during the year. I can hear Olivia clapping and stamping in the next room and am trying to type to the irregular drum-thud myself.

7, Wednesday night

A bit of documentation about study-time here: phenomena observed are, intense urges to eat Burnt Almond chocolate bars and watch television, the absolute necessity of going to movies (very unfortunately, the Odeon downtown chose study week to have a Bergman festival, art movies for three days, and we've gone of course! Yesterday, when Don and Olivia and Peg and I were standing blinking after The Magician, Dr Campbell came over to buy a ticket and exclaimed, with his Scottish-leprechaun ears quivering with fiendish glee, "Why Miss Epp! I am surprised to see you here!")

The main spectre of exam time is naturally NERVES, O and I alternately love each other elaborately and fight shouting-fights. A few nights ago she came in at two thirty and announced "That really finished our friendship as far as I'm concerned, I'll try to make it as easy for you as I can for the next two weeks" - she didn't make it any further than that because I welcomed the study break and shouted back, "Well if you think after the way you've behaved that you can just come in and make your little announcements without telling me what I'm supposed to have done and without asking what MY side of the story is, you can . @**!" and so on at the tops of our voices, with me getting up and pointedly closing the door to the hall just when she reached top volume (nevermind MY top volume!) and so on back and forth until I was just thundering some climax, waving my arms, flashing thunder at her - and she giggled. And I giggled. And we ended up howling with laughter, the misunderstanding cleared up, and said goodnight very affectionately.

I'm anxious to have you formally okay Rasheed's visit so that I can reassure him.

April 18, Easter Sunday

Suddenly the Salvation Army music is the choir song George Block taught us years ago for Easter - what was its name, "The lambs were weary and crying." I miss the choir, Mr Block's lovingness, and sometimes faith as well.

Norman phoned me at six thirty this morning, to wake me and tell me to look out the window because it has snowed slightly during the night, the sun was bright on the trees and wires and roofs, glinting on the snow, against a clean pink and blue sky, birds' sounds. He had simply wanted me to see it before the snow melted . When I woke again at noon, the snow, the sun, the birds, the glory, was gone.

But about five, ironically or at least strangely, because or when, Norman came to see us, the sun came out again. I went walking, found grass green, willows red, white flowers pushing through, branches silvery from the sap. I'm happy that my worst exams are over, that it is almost summer, that I'm coming home. I'm sad to say goodbye to Tony, Don, Olivia, all the others, and to leave Kingston just as it becomes beautiful again.

Die Welt ist so gross und grün.

I'll see you soon, but don't expect me until I arrive! We won't leave till the end of April at least.