Sunday, January 07, 2007


This is going to be such a prosaic post for such a wonderful day. Three Kings Day, La fete des Rois. Never mind that yesterday was the real day--- the twelve days of Christmas, done. Maybe that is why my energy suddenly dropped off late this afternoon. I did not make it to church this morning (I miss my old one and get rather homesick when in the one here, but truth be told, I have fallen out of the habit, and have taken Sunday morning for myself: quietude, cats in the sun, NY Times on my lap), but Advent through Epiphany is my favorite time of the year. No galette, either, since we still have the fruitcake and it came out exceptionally well. I chopped the apricots and figs for a new one to be made tomorrow afternoon. My mother came over yesterday and we ran some errands and had lovely late afternoon with tea and large hunks of fruitckae.
I am keeping the Sportos, pictured. I trekked out to Marshall's to revisit the boot that started me on Sportos in the first place (a style from last year, the Allison, I think. They didn't have it in my size at M's). It was no higher than the Amelia and not as attractive. Settled. I could really do with some snow right now. The shoe thing must be some kind of turn-of-the-year ritual for me. I have set about cleaning the master bedroom closet, and "found" some shoes that just needed sprucing up. Now they are cleaned and polished, sitting in a row. Even my old pair of LaCanadiennes, plain black, just over the ankle snow boots that I bought years ago when I was in New York, heading downtown from the public library when it started to snow unexpectedly. I think I had crossed onto Broadway at that point, and found a shoe store having a January sale. I bought what was available, and had no idea of how good a sale I'd encountered until, with the boots wearing out, I had checked the brand on the label and then looked online for more like them. The sticker shock ! I covet the Tillie's (or Tilly's, I think), but haven't worked up the financial nerve.

Too much NYTimes this weekend, actually. I read a sad story about a woman who lost her husband to a brain tumor and had intimations of my own short time on this earth; between polishing shoes and chopping fruit, I must find a way out of this morass that my career has become. Remember, during the Columbine aftermath, when the kids trapped in the classroom with their dying teacher held up a sign to the window that said "Person Bleeding To Death" ? Metaphorically of course, that sign could be in my window, especially every Sunday night. Then there was the cover article in the magazine, about the baby sitter turned incompetent and possibly murderous nurse (no parallel there, thank goodness). It kept rattling around in my head that the author took note that the babysitter, her former babysitter, always found someone else at fault for what happened to her. The very thought led to too much introspection on my part. What if really bad things have happened ? What if people really have, for their own psychological reasons, perpetrated bad acts upon one, caused damage that one did not incur? The article walks a fine line (the babysitter-nurse, as it turns out, was a victim of incest, which "explained" why she was the way she was, which was someone so incompetent and unsure that she could not admit she was wrong, ever). None of her story sounds like mine, not in the least. It is that a story so distant in every way from mine opened up the whole thing again, the aching question of one's own potential complicity in a fairly catastrophic event, or series of events. The fact that our society is quick to find fault with the person who suffers, too shallowly Freudian to face up to the fact that on an everyday scale, a civil and humane scale, people can be quite uncivil and lacking in humanity. The inhumane we apparently have no problem comprehending, or are so bombarded by it that we cannot associate it with ourselves, as in the dim feeling that many people treat the Iraq War as something apart from themselves and their daily lives. A reality tv event, survivor on a grand scale. The other extreme, finding fault with the sufferer, I have seen only to well years ago when the AIDS crisis hit: why were some sick and others not ? Were you thinking positively (a great irony of word choice there)? I've seen this with cancer patients as well, people with even good intentions implying that attitude, strength of faith, secretly desiring to get well/die were causing things to turn out the way they were going. I understand it: we all want to think if we do things right, we will be spared. Perhaps what I felt from the author of the NYTimes article was her own anxiety not about how she could have hired such a person, but about what she shared with her and could not acknowledge: a vulnerability to other people's secrets, a realization that she was laid open to more complex and perhaps darker motives than she had expected.

I wish I could wrap this up neatly, find my way back to the Three Kings, the presents for the saviour-child. Perhaps it is enough to look around at this end of the season, see fine shoes waiting for my feet to fill them, cat pressed against my side, soft lamplight, chopped fruit in a bowl, the house warm, the rain outside.

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