52. The Benedictine Nuns – Journal Entry 30th Jul 1980

I had a very nice chat with Sister Gregory. She told me a Benedictine nun from England, who belongs to an intellectual order, is in Australia to attend a conference of the Benedictine order.  The monks are smitten by her intelligence and knowledge and she will be holding a discussion on prayer. Sister Theresa is trying to find at least twenty people who might be interested in hearing the English nun speak. Sister Gregory said it was a case of Sodom and Gomorrah – at least 20 good people?

BenedictineNuns
Benedictine nuns with Gita 1980

Sister Gregory says that the more she hears about our activities and what goes on at our place the more she thinks that ours must be the only Christian household. I don’t think that’s much of a compliment though. Apparently, Barbara comes out with bits of our lore and language, which amuses the nuns. Mum is the only religious one among us and likes to attend church.

Today again I didn’t get much done. A letter came in from India, Nora wants to visit us so she can spend time with mum. She also wants to start an export business and we will have to think about that.

Telephone the solicitors – they haven’t done anything yet about the insurance claim.

Barbara had another upset today. Cliffy is said to have teased her about someone and she is supposed to have said that if he teases her again she would kill herself. She was withdrawn when she returned home. She has also been excited by the last visit to town when she met some Quay Street friends and has been marking time for our next Rocky visit.  She seems to be making a big issue about friends, old friends, and sending cards to them. It’s been nearly two months since Barbara has been on Mellaril, mum tells me.

I stopped the Rover in an awkward place and it wouldn’t start.  It doesn’t take much to start the engine but you do need that little slope and Johnny doesn’t know what the problem is.

Mum was upset now because she was to go to the pensioners social and had baked a cake. If she had known the Rover wasn’t available, she would have walked and made time for it. Now she would be late and the cake was heavy, she said. I stopped her from disturbing the neighbours and walked with her, carrying the old-fashioned coffee cake. The swamp had over 30 Whistler ducks sitting quietly among the weeds.  On the way back, I sat and watched them. How I wished, yet again, that I had a pair of binoculars.  A car passed by very close to me when I walked back, funny bugger.

The corned leg of mutton didn’t turn out so well. The overnight soaking was insufficient and it tasted rather salty, the gravy was worse.

At 9:30 p.m. I talked about the draft program for Warby’s conference and Johnny suggested changes. I told Johnny about N and M’s possible visit and laughed at his consternation. Told him of my day and also Monika’s delight at fixing the duck fence.

31st Jul 1980

Rang the Activities Therapy Centre about Barbara, saying she would kill herself if Cliffy teased her again. The bus driver told me that Barbara has started her talk of boyfriends and was being teased by the schoolboys on the bus. I advised her to tell Barbara to stop talking about it. Reggie the bus driver, is very kind and believes in treating adults as equals. She was concerned enough to see Graham, the psychologist, about the problem of dealing with Barbara on the bus.

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series and based on the journals of my mother.
  • These posts are meant to be read in sequence and the Preamble post marks the beginning of the journal series. Refer to Archived on the Home page.
  • Check out the photos under the Gallery menu option

40. The Aftermath – Journal Entry 30th Oct 1979

Today I have to take a firm stand. Johnny is destroying himself and suffering inordinately. Last night was the worst ever, he says. My rejection, that is my disinclination for lovemaking, is taken as a deep rejection and hurts him very much. I don’t know what to do. Actually, I know what to do – put all thoughts of D from my mind. My relationship with Johnny is the most important thing in the world. It grew over the past fifteen years and we paid for it very dearly. The present family is very precious. There should have been no question of prolonging the agony and indecision for so long. I can’t think clearly. I don’t want to think clearly.

It is nice sitting at the desk and writing. The wind is very strong, parts of the house rattle and the pine trees are singing. The little sunbird has started sitting on her eggs. She seems unafraid, her curved beak is visible, looking like a witch’s nose.

The cramps in my leg are annoying, still, such wonderful news on my health. Will telephone Dr Russ in the middle of November.

Let’s build on strengths, rather than dwell on weaknesses:

Simplicity
Excellence
Hospitality
Warmth
Contributing
Care

Discussion on the above list ended rather disastrously, mainly my fault for side-tracking this year, very poor performance, most anti- intelligence, care, etc. I saw it in Johnny’s attack on me personally. Practically reduced to tears.

Never mind, let’s dwell on weaknesses:

  • I want to be treated differently, to be given privileges which others don’t get;
  • I stay in bed trying to sleep with a full bladder;
  • I go on unreasonable tracks (1) cafe and catering business (2) wanting to stop drinking on the grounds that alcohol destroys brain cells (3) work at the hotel (4) affair with D;
  • Most important: very short-term thinker and lose sight of objective or direction very easily.

What are my strengths?
What do I want to do now, in the next year, in five years from now?

31st Oct 1979

Johnny wrote this after I noticed a wry smile on his face this morning and asked what he was thinking:

“I woke up and lay happily absorbed with her, absorbed in the beauty of her skin; and then recalled with a slow shock, the monster thing.

Wondered how I would go in the same position, but I knew that.

Recalled the times a little tempted by the possibility of liaison and each time had thought of her and our love and ruled it out. Even in recent months, frustrated beyond endurance, with fantasies of beautiful girls, I said to myself each time, you know bloody well you wouldn’t do it Johnny. Something strange is happening but you could not betray Gita. Sex could never be so good as you and she have known it.

Recalled how last night, all the time, she avoided saying, ‘I love you.’ But these moments together are true, pure, good and wonderful.

Will she chase the monster thing away?
We’ll see tonight perhaps.

I believe that Gita goes my way too, but she is not far-sighted and occasionally cultivates strange obsessions. I wonder too whether the monster thing is her first infatuation after meeting me (and that young Frenchman, years before). Perhaps she doesn’t recognise it or think of handling it.

As the stronger partner, my betrayal of her would be worse than hers of me.”

1st Nov 1979

At 12 noon yesterday, I reached a decision. Go home Gita and stay there. There was really no choice. The affair with D was all fantasy and escapism. All the pain and hurt was one-sided and my beautiful, kind, sensitive, intelligent, innocent Johnny was hurt the most.

So I cooked a carefully chosen Indian meal for Johnny. Made coffee for his early return and was happy to make tentative steps out of limbo.

How soon will we heal, what should I do to make up, to compensate for the days of terror that Johnny lived through? His terror has not gone away completely. Will it ever?

A very happy evening with wonderful lovemaking. God, how tame the phrase is. The alternative is to fill several pages with a detailed description of what took place, but I won’t. Best ever?

The rain lilies were white and crowded on the lawn in the moonlight. Johnny and I stepped carefully between them to avoid damage, while taking quiet pleasure in their beauty. Strange and hardy things these rain lilies. This lot was very short-stalked. Their leaves had not had a chance to grow because of the long dry weather, so only the buds pushed through the parched ground. Watering them does not produce the flowers. They only seem to respond to rain and their bulbs keep underground for years. Tova barbecued and ate some of the bulbs. She said they tasted delicious, but they made her and Bob sick for two days.

Happiness was waiting for mum to come back on the bus from a bowling match in Rocky. Tired from our long evening of sex and booze, we sat in the bus stop shivering a little in the cool midnight air. When the bus did come, mum hadn’t noticed our car and got off to a smart trot up the hill. We frightened her, as she thought we might have been soldiers. We slept well, except for Johnny who woke up at 2 am with a bad intestinal pain.

He gave me a good idea of how to get out of this latest self-absorption – concentrate on Johnny!

So many good things to be getting on with, but also a great deal of rebuilding:

  • Study Algebra
  • Study Computer Science I (a skill if needed)
  • French or Chinese (French first, I think)
  • Lots of reading and writing
  • Teach self to read faster
  • House and family
  • Johnny of course

A nine o’clock rule has been in force since last Saturday. No work after 9 pm and meet in the study.

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • These posts are meant to be read in sequence and the Preamble post marks the beginning of the journal series. It can be found in Archived on the Home page.
  • A map of where we lived and a family tree are also at the bottom of the Home page, click here.

37. Language, Emotion and Disease – Journal Entry 24th Feb 1979

Notes from Wallace Ellerbrock, MD: Language, Emotion and Disease, Omni Nov 78

  • Objective knowledge is a myth; all “knowledge” being based on biases in “perception” and “cognition” is subjective and emotionally determined.
  • There is no such thing as a fact. Any verbal statement is an opinion. Any statement can be called an opinion or a fact and if called an opinion, it leaves the possibility of an error. If called a fact, neurotically expressing a belief that the statement is gold-plated, it is never to be questioned. More importantly the mind is turned off that fact (not questioning).
  • There are only two emotions, like and dislike – all others are components of one of these plus a personally formulated comment about “reality”. For example, lonely means “I am alone” and “I don’t like being alone”.
  • Anger and depression are not separate emotions. Anger, reality as I perceive it, does not match my image of how it ought to be, but I think there is something I can do about it. Depression is the same, but I think there is nothing I can do about it.
  • Negative emotions are associated with unnecessary disturbances of bodily mechanisms, proportional to the duration and intensity of the negative emotional state. Such reactions are not limited to a particular organ. All bodily organs and cells express their response to such brain states in various ways. If you are angry or depressed about your job, your stomach acids will either go up or down, your blood pressure will go up or down, your glands will increase or decrease their functioning, and so on.
  • Consider the concept of “stress”. There are two reactions. If the stress makes you miserable, your body will have all kinds of deleterious reactions. If it is enjoyable, your body will function better than ever, up to the limits of the body’s installations.
  • Learn to quickly identify the onset of anger and depressive feelings in yourself.
  • Pick something you don’t want to happen to you, such as a removal of an organ for instance, and when something happens that would normally make you angry or unhappy, ask whether giving in to these negative feelings is worth the disease price you’ll have to pay.
  • Discontinue any medications that are central nervous system depressants.
  • Use alcohol in trivial amounts as it is the worst brain depressant.
  • Start observing other people: their postures, their choice of words, tones of voice, pitch and levels of stress. Study the reactions of others and try to guess what is going on in their heads. And then watch yourself. Shoulder posture – down and forward is depressed, up and forward is hostile whereas up and back gives you a feeling that you are working towards the control of your own reality.
  • Decide each morning that throughout the day, whatever happens, it will not make you as angry or as unhappy as it would have the day before.
  • Get rid of the words “got to”, “have to”, “should”, “must”, “ought to” and “will power”. You can’t do anything except what you want to do – so enjoy it.

Notes from The Medium Is The Massage (sic) by Marshall McLuhan

  • The personal and social consequences of any medium i.e. of any extension of ourselves, result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each technology or extension of ourselves.
  • Automation technology is integral and decentralised in depth. The machine was fragmentary, centralist and superficial in it’s patterning of human relationships.
  • Medium is the message because medium shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action.
  • The medium is the message and one should not be distracted by the content.

Notes on writing by author Georges Simenon and advice by editor Colette

  • Colette’s advice to Simenon: “It almost works. But not quite. You are too literary. You must not be literary. Suppress all the literature and it will work…”
  • Simenon makes the habits and idiosyncrasies of his characters so known to the reader that each and every reader emotionally equates the character with the person of his most intimate acquaintance, himself. Similarly, localities realised in such exact and penetrating detail can be treated by the reader’s emotions only as the one locality we have all apprehended in truly vivid detail, the setting of our childhood.
  • All his life, Simenon has not just observed but simulated man and woman: their loves, deliriums, obsessions, the secret hiding places of their mind, their urge towards self-realisation or self-destruction. Above all, he’s imagined and lived through the character’s loneliness.
  • If there is to be any art, if there is to be any aesthetic doing and seeing, one physiological condition is indispensable – frenzy. It must first have enhanced the excitability of the whole machine, or else there is no art. All kinds of frenzy, however diversely conditioned, have the strength to accomplish this, but above all, the frenzy of sexual excitement – this most ancient and original form of frenzy.

How to make pizza

Make a big batch of pizza dough and prepare the pizza bases to rise in a warm place.

Make the sauce for the base: fry chopped onion and garlic in olive oil, add tomato puree, add chopped oregano and basil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Top bases with pizza sauce and your favourite flavours:

  • Mince, as in bolognaise sauce
  • Bacon and cheese, fry chopped bacon and spread on base with thin slices of mozzarella
  • Kabana, sliced thinly, pan fried then spread thickly over base with pizza sauce on top

Cook on high for 10 mins then turn down for 35 mins.

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • Click here to go to my blog Home page
  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • The Preamble post marks the beginning of the series and can be found here