Hello world! We're in that weird noman's land between Christmas and the New Year, and I'm staring out on an unusually blue sky. It's 3.41pm and the sun goes down in about ten minutes because deepest December. In my new office I have a wide expanse of sky, bare trees on the right, a few clouds on thee left, a couple of planes making vapor trails, the garden wall strangely without birds (we had pheasants this morning). It's very very still and very very quiet.
The madness of Christmas - three days of a full house of seven children and two children - an eighth couldn't make it because of Covid - has given way to that still, small quiet. Three days of joviality and forced joviality (God bless McD with his lateral thinking games) and small triumphs (a three year old learning to ride a bike for the first time, a perfectly cooked turkey) and odd sadness (a funeral, a death). And now we're in a period of contemplation.
My sister was cremated on Thursday. It was a small service for very close family followed by a bigger memorial in a very jolly church, decked for the holidays with a Christmas tree festival, which helped make the thing more bearable. Her children were magnificent and stoic and I was proud of our family, standing together in solidarity. She died of pancreatic cancer, like my brother before her. I find funerals weirdly uplifting and enjoyed doing my own research into the sister (half-sister) I didn't really know very well, and discovering wonderful things about her like her encyclopedic knowledge of birds and trees, her decision to get a tattoo at age 70, going to India after wanting to for fifty years, and loving it. Most of all, I was glad to find that I was wrong about her, that I'd carried a child's memory of who she was, a memory that serves no purpose now, a memory that had failed to incorporate the loss and tragedy she'd lived through.
(There is a pigeon on the wall now, lit by the last of the sun's rays, pecking at the ivy.)
And then a client died. I found out on Boxing Day, very early in the morning, and was up with it through the day, trying to find out information, issuing statements, trying to make sense of it all. Two things I will say about Hollywood: People are very kind and reach out with condolences when this type of thing happens, and it's lovely. They come out of the woodwork, people you haven't heard from in years, and they text you and ask you how you are and what happened and who will direct the next project now? But there are also those who like to insert themselves into the action and find ways to connect with the deceased, big themselves up to show how close they were. It's very, very strange behavior.
So much grief lately.
And so much chatter/clutter.
I tried to explain this to McD in the middle of the night. "How are you feeling?" he asked (I've been coughing coughing coughing with non-Covid bronchitis). "I feel like there is too much chatter," I said. I have this sense that in order to capture time, or make more time, the only way to do it is to quiet one's mind and allow some peace and quiet to make itself at home in one's mind. I'd been scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, twitter, insta, google, facebook, looking for things people were saying about the lovely client, and suddenly realized that I had no more room, only word soup sloshing around between my ears. I wanted some quiet. I wanted the equivalent of a pristine white room with just one small camp bed to lay down on. I wanted to silence my monkey brain.
(A hawk now, spiralling up, up above the wall, as the stars begin to come out.)
Time is a construct. And filling one's brain with monkey stuff feels like a dreadful waste. What if better things want to come in? What if there are great ideas that want to come visit?
Imagine your brain as an inbox. And the only emails that are coming in are things like google alerts, wayfair promotions, jetblue offers. But what you want is a great, well-written email from a friend. Do you know what I mean?
So this week is going to be expanding the mind week. Keeping it nice and clear and clean and uncluttered so that it can be open to more interesting things. No more tabloids in my head please.
Thistle, my Frenchie, seems to have developed Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) so she supposed be crated and can only walk on a harness in the garden. No stairs, no jumping, no walks, no excitement, etc. It's hellish. So, no dogs in the bedroom (for the first time ever in her life) and no proper walks. I could cry just writing about it. The vet has her on three different meds - pain meds, inflammatory, muscle relaxants - so in the mornings she is confused, discombobulated, completely freaked out by the new system. What the fuck, I think. What is the point of having a dog if they have to live in a crate (when they haven't been crate trained) and can't be in your bed and can't go for walks? Is that actually a good life? Is that worth it? I'm not sure it is. She is nearly 11, a good age for a Frenchie. There has been so much grief. I can't even think about this.
(The sky is almost completely dark, and the clouds have grown to cover it over. Someone is shooting by the river. I hear a shotgun. A few starlings fly overhead).
I think this is what we need to come back to:
- the sound of birds
- folding oneself into nature