7:51 pm

the way the crow flies

This place is a dump right now, honestly. It's a funny thing, what happens when you get fairly into doing some things, like patch a pair of jeans, or pull out the Christmas ornaments, or pack for a move. You find yourself remembering things without remembering them, that is, feelings come through loud and clear, but with nothing current attached.

This is my sixth move just since I finished grad school. I can't quite work out how many times I've moved in my life, I'm an Army brat, and I'm pretty sure we get a free pass on recalling stuff like that. But I have almost as many memories associated with the motions of moving as with decorating the Christmas tree, if not more. None of them clear, or verbal, just feelings. Stuff. It bubbles up. It feels old. I don't know what to do with it. I'm moving again. It's a bad time to try and think, there's too much to do. I know how much there is to do; I've moved a lot. I've got a list. I've got a permanant list. I've got a permanent list of how to manage impermanence.

This is how I've been made. How I've made myself. Settling down is the mark of a grown-up in my culture, but I've begun to think in terms of not so much striving for settling, as for learning how to ride the wave.

Before we packed up all the books, we each pulled three or four to tide us over; one of mine was The Way The Crow Flies, by Ann-Marie MacDonald, who does everything she attempts beautifully, expertly, and is the sort of person one's parents should have warned their children about. No, really—parents are all the time going on about not playing with the kids who hit too hard or who talk up the benefits of smoking dope or cutting classes to hang around outside the skating rink. Which isn't even open yet. (For all the kidlings: classes are actually more interesting than that. You think about it, you'll realize it's true.) And all this instead of warning you like they ought about kids who're growing up to be Ann-Marie MacDonald.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. I bought this book a couple of years ago, when it first came out in hardback, and saved it since for the right time. Reading is a need, like eating or breathing, and as with those it's worth your while to try to read the right things at the right time. For a middle-aged Army brat, moving house is the right time to read The Way The Crow Flies.

Christine has told Madeleine this story. Dora was a famous "hysteric." She told Freud that her father had interfered with her sexually, and Freud believed her at first. Then he started hearing so many rape and abuse stories from so many women that he decided they were all deluded.

There it is. Modern psychiatry is founded on a refusal to acknowledge the truth, because it's too awful. Psychiatry, which exists to illuminate the essence of the individual. And when it comes down to it, it is easier to postulate that a multitude of strangers have separately shaped a narrative whose constants are as anchored as those of folk tales to be deluded, than to accept that they're telling the truth about their lives. About all their lives. About the foundations of their world, the same world in which Freud lived, and slept and dreamed and worked and walked. What could he do with this world, this universal slice, this view of privilege and honour as seen via the mirrors of those who survived being so honoured and privileged?

So. There it is. As with Fall On Your Knees, the kind of reading you want when your life is in flux and you want a pilot who knows the channel.


defying my own good night with the help of Wind That Shakes The Barley from the album "The Best Of The Chieftains" by The Chieftains

tagged: , | 2 Comments


  1. guest
    posted August 21, 2005 at 1:37 pm

    I don’t even now what this page is about, buuuut: nice writing (style-wise).
    You seem to be a tad depressed, your life is not fulfilled so far, thats what the air
    around you seems to convey (from what I can say).
    Get well.

  2. posted August 22, 2005 at 8:27 am

    Beg pardon, but, “huh?” I wasn’t depressed. I was moving house. No one I know or want to know moves house in a cloud of joy. This is not the same as depression. If you need a second opinion, check with a depressed person.

    Get well.

    Thank you, I am well. This is what “well” looks like. I’ll tell you what this post wasn’t about: it wasn’t about judging feelings or events as good or bad, healthy, unhealthy, yadda yadda. It was about paying attention, and noticing what’s there, without trying to categorize any of it. When you move house, this is what you do: you pack each thing you own into a box, then you seal the box and label it. Then you lift it and carry it somewhere else, usually several times, before you finally look at the label again and try to remember what you meant by “MISC. RUB. STDY”, and then open it, and try to find someplace to put the contents in your new home.

    That’s a lot of labeling, of categorizing, of decisions. It’s pretty much the opposite of contemplative, and it’s constant. What I was doing in this post was simply making some space for contemplative.