music, reading, writing

The World According to Garp and John Prine: Double whammy kismet

It’s strange how you make a simple choice, then the universe sends you signs that it wasn’t a simple choice at all, there is a reason you made the decision you did. Kismet.

In the summer, I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to read The World According to Garp by John Irving again. He found a beautiful 30th anniversary edition at Russell Books, our phenomenal secondhand bookstore, for my birthday.

I recently finished the book, at 606 pages it’s not a quick read, but definitely worth it. I enjoyed its blend of comedic tragedy and serious social observation as much this time as the many other times I read it. Then, this interview with John Irving appeared on CBC the other day, discussing how the book should be a period piece but is more relevant today than ever on its 40th anniversary.

The World According to Garp is a book about sexual violence. Irving wrote it in 1978, in a time when it was still unusual to have a transsexual character. Roberta Muldoon, a former tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles, remains one of Irving’s favourite characters.

He doesn’t endorse the 1982 film starring Robin Williams because he felt that Williams was too sweet to play the character of Garp. More problematic, he felt the character of Roberta was satirized, not allowing John Lithgow to exude the power of the character that Irving imagined and portrayed in the novel. He saw the film as making a joke of the whole LGTBQ community, which was the opposite of Irving’s intent.

A mini-series is in development, 5 parts, 55 minutes each. Irving is involved this time, so it will be fascinating to see how it comes alive in that format. I need to watch the film version again, I only saw it once years ago. It will be interesting to watch it again, knowing Irving’s position about it.

I used to say I wasn’t a political person, but the truth is in the broad sense, we are all political in every choice that we make every day. It doesn’t mean we are following every absurd political news story. The way we behave in the world, the way we treat other humans, those are our politics. What we stand by and put up with when the oppressors walk all over the minorities, those are our politics. Our apathy, the lack of reverence for the right to vote, those are our politics.

It’s a fairly long interview at 45 minutes but very interesting, particularly if you’re a writer, but also his commentary on the politics of today. There is a reason he has lived in Canada for the last three years, and plans to become a Canadian citizen. His ultimate philosophy is “You have to be kind.” Simple. True.

In another wink to kismet, they mention John Prine in the interview. I had never heard of him but he’s an American country folk singer and songwriter that has been around since the 70s. He recently released a new album, The Tree Of Forgiveness, and my husband found these incredible videos on Youtube. I’m not a country music fan in any way, but these are wonderful songs. Enjoy!

Summer’s End – Get some tissues ready.

When I Get to Heaven – Listen for the dad’s awesome advice near the end! 🤣🤣🤣

NaNoWriMo update: I did it, I got to 50,000 words, which technically means that I won. My goal though, is to get a proper edit done on all twenty chapters. I’m only on chapter 10, so… not so on track. But I’ll get there! Good luck to any other wrimos out there!

Have a wonderful week everyone!

❤️ Amanda

chronic illness, life, mental health, MS, Quotes

Pain and anxiety

I had another post scheduled for today, and then this happened…

My body has been happier for the last month or so than I remember it feeling for a few years now. My mom and I had a mostly wonderful outing to the theatre today(Saturday). We watched an incredible tribute to the phenomenal Leonard Cohen by Les Ballets Jazzs de Montreal.

Normally I print the tickets at home but for whatever reason I chose ‘pick up at box office’. We had to wait outside in the beautiful but freezing cold day (for Victoria standards – we’re wimps compared to most Canadians 😉), and by the time we got into the lobby, the MS monster was in full force.

Right or wrong, I resorted to a glass of wine which always calms the shakes and the nasty. Despite the plastic cup with a lid, I spilled all over my light purple pants. Nice. Of course, if I’d been wearing black it wouldn’t have happened. 🤣

Anyway, the following spilled out of me a few hours after I got home today. I wanted to share because I imagine it’s not an uncommon feeling. The pain’s bad enough but coupled with the anxiety of whether it’s signalling a relapse makes it almost unbearable.

I’m going to assume that when I wake in the morning, after this post is published, the monster will have retreated again and I will keep on keeping on. To all the warriors out there, I send you courage and positive vibes in the battle.

❤️ Amanda

The pain heaves my stomach and sparks my anxiety.

It’s like too much blood in my foot, pushing out against my skin.

The foot wants to fold in half too, a taco of toes.

I breathe out against the pain, hoping it’s that my shoes are too tight.

The pain gets worse lying in bed later, legs bare, unconstricted.

There’s a python in my leg, squeezing, squeezing until I can’t breathe.

I move the leg to dispel the pain but it follows me, hungry.

I reprimand the foot.

It’s the misfiring of neurons, it’s not really happening.

A futile attempt.

The pains roars louder.

I swallow the nausea, blink against the headache.

The pain runs up and down my leg, into my arm, my jaw, my shoulder, my back.

It’s everywhere.

Controlling my body and my mind, I’m lost in the misery.

Then the anxiety yells above the pain.

Is it happening?

Will I be down for the count?

Is it going to take me out for good this time?

I want to cry.

I want to hide.

I want out of this body.

I feel the grimace on my face and try to correct it with a smile.

A smile marinated in pain, a crone’s smile.

My face slackens, my mouth sliding down my chin.

The foot is sharing, pain travelling up my leg into my hip socket.

A live wire sizzling its anger from the inside.

My eyes squint, I swallow the lump of tears, blink away the moisture.

Crying won’t help, it makes the headache worse.

Lie still, lie still, breathe it away.

Shoulders tense, jaw clenched, abs contracted to hold it down.

Now the python’s in my arms too, too much blood in my whole body.

A burning tingle numbing my body and mounting my panic.

It circles my ribs.

They click together, compress my lungs.

I take a long, slow breath but my lungs won’t fill.

My tongue tingles.

I swallow the nausea again, the bile crawling up my throat.

The wrinkles deepen on my face, crevasses of pain.

The pain shoots down to my big toe, throbbing its nasty foulness.

The python circles my throat and I choke on my saliva, coughing and sputtering.

I hold my neck, coaxing the muscles to relax, the python to release its grip.

The panic screams but I have no time for that right now.

I need to breathe, to relax my body before I turn to stone.

But if I relax, the python will take over, squeezing me until I burst.

Nothing makes sense, the pain clouds reason.

No focus except stopping the python, controlling the panic.

The worry that it’s not here just for tonight.

That it wants to settle in for awhile.

Stopping my life again. Ocean, beach, waves, rocks, quote

You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.

I Remember

An early post this week, in honour of Remembrance Day.

Thank you to all veterans and current military trying to protect freedom and human rights around the world.

I remember.

It’s important to recognize that Remembrance Day is not only about veterans that have lost their lives. Many soldiers return home with more than just physical injuries and the supports are not there in the mental health system.

We need to do better.

I also like to take time on Remembrance Day to think of the innocent civilians that get trapped in war, simply because of geography.

I think of my Oma in World War II, who had to flee her home with three small children and live by her wits to keep them all fed and safe.

I think of all the people suffering in refugee camps now, victims of malnourishment and rampant disease.

I think of mothers protecting their children with their bodies as the bombs fall.

I think of fathers and volunteers digging bodies out of rubble, praying for a miracle.

War is an atrocity. Until we do better, we need to remember.

I remember.

❤️ Amanda


A Lesson in Grief

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.

A year ago this week, my mother lost her husband. They had been married less than five years but they made the absolute most of every minute they had together. Theirs was a great love story.

Joe was a special person. Sometimes people say that to be nice after someone dies, but he was truly an incredible human being. Some people exude a particular kind of warmth and caring, which makes us lesser humans crave being in their presence. That was Joe.

As shocking and tragic as his death was, only three weeks after his 80th birthday, where a huge community of family and friends came out to honour him, I learned an important lesson from my mother about love and grief. In the midst of her heartbreak at losing the love of her life, she already had it in perspective.

Rather than wallowing in her grief and their short time together, as I imagine I might, she focussed on the fact that they’d had any time at all. Five years of a great love provides countless wonderful memories, and is more than many are lucky enough to experience. It’s better to have loved and lost, right?

RIP Joe. I feel so fortunate to have known you. We all miss you so much. I love you Mom! Hug your loved ones and don’t wait to say the important things. Life is precious and fleeting.

Have a wonderful week!

❤️ Amanda