I’ve just finished reading Patti Smith’s M Train and three days later I am still feeling empty and sad that it’s over. This book is billed as a memoir but it’s so much more than that, brimming with poignancy, wise but careful observations and a simple, child-like take on the many things that she encounters in her everyday life. And, let me just say, that the writing is exquisite.
Consider the following:
We want things we cannot have. We seek to reclaim a certain moment, sound, sensation. I want to hear my mother’s voice. I want to see my children as children. Hands small, feet swift. Everything changes. Boy grown, father dead, daughter taller than me, weeping from a bad dream. Please stay forever, I say to the things I know. Don’t go. Don’t grow. (page 209, M Train)
It was also surprising to me that Smith is perhaps not the “angry” poet I was expecting as some of her earlier punk music/work might suggest; rather, she looks after her cats tenderly and is clearly a gentle and devoted mother. Her way of seeing and reporting beauty in the everyday is very Buddhist to me and her rapt devotion and understanding of all things Bloomsbury (she’s actually photographed and stayed at Charleston House and Monk’s House – both lofty ambitions of my own!) also resonates with me since I absolutely share that fascination and am no stranger to cherishing a special piece of rock or a translucent piece of china with a cheerful, chintz motif myself. Continue reading
Last night we celebrated a double birthday dinner for my Best Friend in the World and my eldest, Frasier’s 24 years, a fact that fills me with such strong emotion that I am unsure how to carry it or how to process.
It’s such a cliché to hear so many mums lamenting throughout the years about how fast time goes and since this is one of the worst things that one can say to a new mother strung out on no sleep I can proudly say, that I have never said it myself – honestly – but the fact is? It’s the icy, shocking, can’t-believe-this-is-happening-to-ME truth. One minute I was running down the street with a forgotten lunch bag or volunteering on a school bus trip, breathing in the heady smell of little-kids’-feet and strawberry Chapstick for two hours and now here I am surrounded by colleagues and a Significant Other who are all quoting gloomy economic forecasts, consulting charts and obsessing about retirement. How did I allow this passing of time to happen without holding on to key moments more tightly than I did? When am I ever going to be pretty now? Why do my ankles suddenly swell for no good reason, lending that camel-feet look to every outfit? Will I soon begin cultivating an interest in supportive underwear? When exactly is my writing career going to take off in earnest– and how long can I keep kidding myself that this is even a thing? I mean how pretentious to even try, my inner voices accuse darkly, pointing out the futility of this very blog, as a feeble exercise in self-absorption. Oh and why is it only about shaved or regular slice at the deli counter now, when it used to be about looking up from under my lashes at the swarthy and romance-cover-worthy butcher?
Now the butcher seems to be only eleven and wants me to hurry up, already, between the stone-roast ham or the Black Forest. Continue reading
I’ve been thinking a lot about fear lately since it’s something I manage every day in its varying forms. Many of these random thoughts may be highly ridiculous; for example, although I dearly love scallops, ever since I read about some people developing an anaphylactic reaction to them later in life the pure joy in eating these plump, succulent pillows of the sea has now been tempered a bit – I even hesitate to order them sometimes. (More often though I still do and eat the first few quickly – just in case – and then settle down to really enjoy). Other recurring fears revolve around my children, relationships past and present, money, plumbing, my own profile and oh yes that small nagging one about death (including all the spiritual and dietary considerations that I may or may not be dropping the ball on).