pause, sadness

"Rude and difficult people are more likely to be taken seriously. Curmudgeons are positively adored. I've noticed this. Even the fascinating unknowable earn respect." (p. 30)

I hope it's the long nights and short days that alter my mood.... this is something I talk about often, confused as my outlook sours through January and February.

I'm reading Unless at the moment, which is beautiful and lyrical and much better than I'd imagined. I mean, I knew it would be a Good Book by Good Canadian Standards, and that I would feel invigorated with the knowledge I was reading the work of a Great Canadian Novelist Loved by All, particularly Those Responsible for Handing Out Awards.

But honestly, I wasn't so sure I'd enjoy the experience. Turns out, I am enjoying it, even if I do feel a little melancholy. Not melancholy like when I happen upon The Biggest Loser on TV and I am suddenly filled with sorrow and an overwhelming urge to do 100 sit-ups while never eating again. (Don't worry. I've realized simply changing the channel quashes these urges. But do not flip to the Food Channel. It's too confusing.)

The story of a mother coming to terms (is that what's happening? I'm just 60 pages in) with the knowledge her daughter chooses homelessness over home is heart-breaking. Reta, the main character, is so storybook perfect, almost a modern-day Mrs. Brady if Mrs. Brady had a degree and the ability to self-evaluate. She's even, a bit, judgey or perhaps self-satisfied in her perfection (for example on p. 15 when she discusses the French feminist author she's been translating for years -- "She does not have a child, or any surviving blood connection for that matter, and perhaps it's this that makes the memoirs themselves childlike."). At the same time Reta is humble and confused by how her good luck and bad mesh, and hyper-aware of what others might be thinking of her. Like I said, it's early going, but the images of daughter Norah sitting on a Toronto street corner holding up a sign that reads "Goodness" and refusing to speak to her parents simply pulls at the heartstrings.

Anyway.... How to shake the melancholy....

Have I offered up John Donne before? Apologies if I have, but here is an excerpt from the elegy, "To His Mistress Going to Bed":

....License my roving hands, and let them go
Behind, before, between, above, below.
O my America! my new found land,
My kingdom, safeliest when with one man manned,
My mine of precious stones, my empery,
How blest am I in this discovering thee.
To enter in these bonds is to be free;
Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be....

(Now, if you're still reading, please imagine the chortles and giggles of Beavis and Butt-head.)

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