It hasn’t been the pre-Christmas
season I’d imagined.
I’ve been ill with a cold which
morphed into sinusitis, complicated by adverse reactions to another
procedure’s prerequisite meds. But, it will end. I’ll get better. I’ll live.
I’ve done no baking this year as
I didn’t think anyone would want my green-gold seasonally coloured snot anywhere near their food. Prior to getting sick, I had made my own Christmas cards and written all the
inside notes. I added quotes to the cards and discovered some which spoke to my own
feeling-sorry-for-myself state of mind.
“Don’t spoil Christmas by anticipating how it will be.
Let it unfold as it does, and be grateful for whatever comes.”Tori Sorenson
So I am grateful for:
lots of rest
outside Christmas decorations done in early November
the invention of tissues
a tree finally decorated
daughters who helped with shopping
I look forward to feeling well again soon and being able to smell the fragrance of the fir tree, warmed by the fireplace.And, I remind myself of the words of Dr. Seuss. “Maybe Christmas, the
Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.”
I’ll be grateful for whatever Christmas offers this year.
It’s New York at the Women’s Project Theatre, a full house.
The audience settles and reads the Elizabeth Bishop poems left as “A Poem for your
pocket” on each seat. Programs rustle, anticipation mounts, the house lights
brighten then dim, a cockroach scurries beneath a desk on the stage. We are
there to watch DearElizabeth,
a play written by Sarah Ruhl, originally published as Words in the Air
The play is based upon the thirty year correspondence and
friendship between the poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. Their
relationship is complicated.
Pulitzer-winner Bishop, who was lesbian, was left
financially stable enough to be able to travel as she wished, a love for travel
reflected in her work.Lowell, also a
Pulitzer recipient was twice divorced and his third marriage ended when he died
All the words in the play are taken from their letters and their
poetry, and force the audience or reader to look at their lives not as story, but
as lives lived.
Bishop’s and Lowell’s admiration for each other’s work is
immediate and their letters are full of compliments and professional
observations and suggestions. Their friendship is an ever-evolving affection,
with each seeing the other as that rare person who understands the need for a
balance of solitude and public image. There are oblique references to
infidelity, depression and alcoholism. (BWW Review, Michael Dale)
The play begins with the poets as adults, so no mention is
made of Elizabeth’s childhood in Great Village, Nova Scotia, her Canadian connection.
Dear Elizabeth unfolds as letters are read from two
wooden desks placed on opposite sides of the stage. The cast frequently changes.
The evening we attended, the actors were Ellen McLaughlin and Rinde Eckert,
with Polly Noonan as a kind of stage manager, stationed in an upstage corner.
Familiar with the work of each of these 20th century
poets, the play is a delight for me. As a poet, I value the profound effect of
friendship and knowledgeable critiques of one’s writing, as well as the
necessity of dealing with real life while writing.
I appreciate the kindness and generosity of my daughters in
taking me to see Dear Elizabeth, as I know their own tastes would have
led them to another sort of play. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and appreciated
the evidence of their recognition of me, as poet.
The cockroach provided a play within the play, scuttling
around Rinde’s shoes during the evening. When foot work became too active, it
took off for the safety of the travel props at the back of the stage.
Life intrudes into our stories without warning. Words is colour will take you to another site with additional information, if you click on them.
Sir Bedevere: 'Good. So how do you tell whether she is made of ... wood?'
Peasant 2: 'Build a bridge out of her.'
A Cautionary Tale of Travelling by Air
My plane is late leaving LaGuardia, an hour late, which will
cut into the time I have to make connections in Montreal. I need that time for
customs, picking up my suitcase, going through security, dropping off the
suitcase and then getting though the next security before boarding my final
flight. If I’m lucky, I’ll have time to eat.
Everywhere in the Montreal airport, there are signs saying,
“This process will take 10 to 15 minutes. Following that, you have a 5 to 12
minute walk to your gate.” This is supposed to be helpful. It isn’t reassuring when
I’ve lost an hour, sitting on the runway at LaGuardia.
I hustle through the Montreal airport, walking-running-sprinting,
paying attention to where I’m going so I don’t waste time getting lost. All is
well, though time is tight, until I reach the place where I hand over my
customs form and am about to return my luggage to Air Canada. I fumble handing
the form to the staff person. My hands are sweaty from hurrying.
He looks at me, sees an older, overweight, sweaty woman who
appears nervous.Automatically, he
points at an open door. Now, I have to go to a second level of security
screening. The officer decides I am trying to hide something.
Him: What are you declaring?
Me:(I think, holy
shit I’ll never make the plane now, but remain polite.) I bought two small
books and a DVD while in New York.
Him: You’re telling me that you were in New York for Black Friday
and all you spent was $60?
Me: Yes. I went to visit family, to spend time with
grandchildren.All I’m bringing back are
two books and a Monty Python DVD. (I
offer the additional information hoping it makes me look ordinary, boring and
Him: Are you saying that if I search your bag and your
purse, I won’t find undeclared items?
Me: That’s what I’m
saying. I have a cold, caught it from my
grandson and I’ve been running trying to make my connection. That’s why I look
Him: Yes,’ tis the season for giving. (No smile.) I want to search your bags.
Me: That’s OK with me.Can you help me lift the suitcase?
Him: You look anxious? Are you hiding anything? (He glares
Me: (Trying hard to remain calm and polite.) No I’m not
hiding anything. I visited my family and I didn’t want anything badly enough to
take the train, then the subway into New York to shop over the Thanksgiving
holiday. I am anxious as I don’t have much time to get to my next flight.
Him: You are shaking and your eyes are watery.
Me:Yes, I have a
cold, and yes, my nose and eyes are runny.
Him: I think you are hiding something.
Me: (I think every swear word I know.) I say: I am hiding
nothing but you are welcome to search. Perhaps you could help me lift this bag
to your counter.
Him: (Smirking.) You look suspicious because you dropped
your customs form and because you are sweating. (He stares and bends over the
counter to push his face closer to mine.) I can go through everything. What
will I find?
Me: (I stare back, feel bullied. I hope he catches my cold. He continues to stare at me silently. I blow my nose.)
Him: Have a good trip. You can go now.
Me: Thanks. (I think bad thoughts.)
I run-walk to return
my bag to Air Canada: this contentious bag containing two small books and a DVD
and my clothes.
It is 20 minutes until final boarding for my plane. I go
through the next security point (10 to 15 minutes) and then run to my gate
(faster than the seven minutes it says it takes). I make it, sweating, out of
breath, feeling miserable.
Because of delays, I eat nothing since breakfast except
airline pretzels and water. I feel sick and shiver uncontrollably in the
uncomfortable, cold and noisy Air Canada Dash 8 which flies from Montreal to
The air hostess is friendly, asks if I want water and free
pretzels. I say no. She asks if I enjoyed my trip.
The answer is yes, except for this last day of travel with
Air Canada, coming back through Montreal.
What have I learned?
Don’t sweat or look nervous when passing through security’s
scrutiny.(Yes, I know they have a job
to do and an important one, however this issue of being hauled over and given
the gears for merely sweating has happened before. I’m sorry but I’m a damp
kind of person.)
Don’t fly with a cold. Wow! That was a painful lesson and
one I won’t repeat.
Drive instead of flying whenever possible.
Learn to sprint without perspiring.
Why am I not complaining about my trip from Moncton to New
I flew that part of the trip with West Jet.
Perhaps, the Monty Python writers could make a movie moment
out of the idiocy of harassing older, out-of-shape women in airport security.
The photo and quote above are from Monty Python's The Holy Grail.