Thursday, June 25, 2020

Toni Morrison

Another heavenly day, mild, sweet. Here's my list for today: 11.15, walk with Ruth. Plant astilbe. Fertilize. Fill bird feeder. Tidy chaos in office. Call about new day-timer. Listen to Toni Morrison radio interview.  Cook something with the tomatoes. Cook the red cabbage. Check in with Monique about her important doctor's appointment and for aperitif. Catch last night's Sam Bee and Colbert with Jon Stewart that I actually PVR'd.

(PS, added later - I completely forgot I'm teaching a Zoom class at 6.30! This is why I need a new daytimer. See below.)

Exciting, no? In between, many emails, blogging, stuff. Endless stuff. It's nearly the end of June! Most of the year so far has been a fog.

But the fog is lifting; was just on Parliament Street, which was bustling, though with lots of masks. Still blessedly quiet, though not as blessed as it was in April, when nothing was moving. Sam started work yesterday, am waiting to hear how it went; he texted, "It's a weird new world," at 10.

Before our Father's Day feast, incidentally, Sam and I had the following text exchange:
Me: I’m not doing anything to the steak or chicken or salmon, assuming we can put something on after barbecuing?

Sam: I don’t know! It’s never been done before, but by god we’ll try. We shall be at the forefront of food exploration. Drizzling sauces on cooked food for the first time, laughing in the face of traditional marinade. Laughing I say!

What a smartass. A bit of respect for your lazy old mum, I say.

Have to confess, I'm grappling a serious new addiction - the garden. I now know how people turn into those boring gardening fanatics, droning on. I go out every morning to inspect, tie up, prune. Smell the roses. Tie up raspberries. And then water, weed, spray bugs, worry. Admire. Fuss.

Watched to the end of Normal People last night, largely because of the young star Paul Mescal, who turned in a phenomenal performance as confused, loving, honest, infuriatingly tongue-tied Conner. The show left me depressed, as did the book, which eventually I skimmed rather than reading. If Maryann and Conner, so obviously soulmates who adore each other and are meant to be together, cannot make it work, what chance is there for the planet? No wonder there will never be peace in the Middle East; human beings are so blind and damaged, they can't see fellowship when it's blooming right under their noses.

But it's the writing that's at fault, and it's what drives me crazy about fiction - the author torturing her characters. So many of the plot turns, driving the two apart, were not credible, were in fact absurd. Oh give them a break, I kept thinking. Two people who love each other that much would break up in ten seconds over a tiny misunderstanding? Really? I don't think so. S and M: the writer put her female character into bondage, but also made us all suffer.

The filmmaking was superb, though, and as I said, talented young Paul reminded me of what it's like to be young and in love. Sigh.
Also saw a fine PBS documentary about Toni Morrison. What an extraordinarily powerful, self-determined woman, from poverty to a Nobel Prize. At one point, she had a full-time job as a New York editor while also teaching at a university and raising two sons as a single mother. Oh yes - and writing a few little books. Now that's a woman who knows how to use her time wisely. Inspiring in every way. Oh yes - and doing all this as an African-American woman, the lowest on the totem pole in those days. Not any more!

She talked about teaching writing, how she'd say to her students, But where are you in this? What were you feeling? Go deeper. Hmmm, I thought. Sounds familiar.

Another confession: I have never read her. On my list.

It's nearly 1. Time's wing├Ęd chariot. Etc.

PS Laywine's, the wonderful pen and paper store, is open, and they have the Quo Vadis Academic Daytimer for 2020-21 in a choice of five colours! I can't live without my daytimer, and the current one is nearly done. Hopping on the bike. My day is made.

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