Thursday, January 04, 2007

Light Over Newmarket. Chapter Three...da big novel.


She was lying face downwards on her terrycloth towel, a breeze toying with her fine blonde hair. I reached out to stroke that hair, so spanking clean, and the woman turned to face me with her full pale blue eyes, wide apart and a little crazy, the high California cheekbones and a mouth as wide and pretty as an idyll's.
We were lying in the grass before a Mexican spa, one of a dozen in the central plateau, the hot springs of Los Antes, lush and tropical in a benign late February sun. Before us steamed a pool, hot as a bathtub, fat old tourists squatting therein like latter day versions of souls being cleansed in Dante's purgatory.
What a far cry this was from frosty Canada, from the sense of hopelessness and death that comes every February, when nothing seems to break the gloom, the threatening darkness, the pallor of one's skin. Canadians are more like Finns or Norwegians, not at all in temperament like the "slow Americans" that someone had labeled them.
Like the Finn, the Canadian drinks to excess in the course of a long and oppressive winter; he entertains gloomy and destructive thoughts on the worst of the snowy or slushy days, building up slow, smoldering resentment against one's wife, one's children, one's dog.
I hope I didn't come to Mexico just to escape winters, I was thinking, my plans, my equations, my diagrams now not meaning very much at all. I was conscious again that I was in possession of a body, mine and that in the end, back there, no gain, no gain at all was worth the loss of one's health.
But how little it had taken to turn it all around. The sun. O that sun! No wonder the Aztecs had worshipped it.
For two thousand years and more, the Indians in this north central region of Mexico had made their trips to the hot springs of the Ancients. Not Aztecs these, but Toltecs, older and fiercer, and Chichimecs and Tarascans. And long before them the Prototoltecs who may not have been Indians at all. For this was an archeological zone known as Mesoamerican, where for years dozens of cultures large and small clashed against each other to leave artifacts that would later stun the scientists, stun them because many of the vases, clay pipes and jars were of unmistakably Chinese origin, and that gave the theorists plenty to think about. Cloissone in the desert, among clumps of chaparral and mesquite.
Still, all the cultures worshipped the sun and they believed in cleanliness to the point of fanaticism, making daily trips, it is said, to the many hot spring sites, rubbing themselves with gourd soap to maintain their health or to heal themselves whenever and infrequent illness passed through the region. For the waters of the ancients were magic. Slightly radioactive, they could cure the gout and aching joints and hernias and muscle pains. They could even ease the gloomy depression which seemed to affect every lord and tribesman in the late February days, those days so warm at noon only to turn cool by evening, turning to nights of near-frost. The sun was in danger of being lost by the time Venus shone bright and threatening in the western heavens. Human sacrifice would have to be performed, or else this upstart furnace may yet flare up and usurp the sun, the moon, the earth.
The sacrifices would bring back the sun, would diminish Venus, and life would continue among the Toltecs, the Tarascans, the Chichimecs, who would, depending on the time and period of contact, raid each other for suitable sacrifice victims. There was sacrifice, of course and there was stupidity Better a maid or stripling from another tribe.
With the Toltecs long gone, it took the Spanish Conquistadores exactly one generation to render the remaining Tarascans and Chichimecs syphilitic and smallpox ridden, diseases that the magic waters of the ancients could not cure. Little by little the hot springs of the ancients, the same ones that my newfound California girl and I were so fond of, were abandoned, save as a water source. Eventually, the hot springs of Lost Antes became a bathing spot for the Spaniards, the Indians having to content themselves with the smaller, hotter natural springs and pools that abounded in the area.
But a generation later, the waters again attracted the old, the lame and the sick who gathered around the stonewalled pools and elaborately built bathhouses of the ancients. For among the Spaniards, the waters of the Ancients were anything from a cure for impotence, to a retardation of old age. The waters of the Ancients, some said, could well have made up the fountain of youth so long sought by Ponce de Leon and other dreamers.
With the weakening of Spain's control over Mexico, the Indians reclaimed the waters as their own, and over the years, the healing waters of the Old Ones regained their renown as a cure for virtually any ailment, some going so far as to say that a combination of prolonged exposure to the sun and frequent soaking in the night-shining water could even cure venereal disease.
I recalled talking to a doctor back in Canada who said that the sun, over a long term had the curing power of the best antibiotic. And I began to believe it these first few weeks in Mexico when I felt the pain in my groin subside. The doctor had, in his evasive way, not really admitted what the case with me was, and I had not dared to ask outright. Enough that the problem was "very nasty" and the antibiotics were not getting it.
Now with the sun, with the healing waters, whether through wishful thinking or not, I felt myself healing. I was feeling the restless energy of an organism that had had enough of confinement, that wanted to get out of the sickbed and walk in the sun. Over the weeks, I began to feel as if I were shedding whole blocks of years and it was Valerie, as well as the waters, that made me feel so.
"I love you, I am saying to the bikini-clad long-legged slightly knock-kneed but pert form lying beside me, and I play with her hair. I am, I know, perhaps the thirtieth. Times change. This isn't the fifties, where an entire generation seemed to have spent its life in a penal colony. Still, something of my Cabbagetown gutter language slips through the onion letters of my personality. She's lovely, but if she had as many pricks sticking out of her as she's had sticking into her, she'd be a goddamn porcupine. But that's adolescent talk that even the slum kids don't use today. Everybody's gone cosmic.
A flashback come. From guilt. Guilt over leaving Loren. My god, how will I ever come to terms with this?
Sex was really nothing in l977. You can have sex, lots of sex in this sexy decade. But in the case of Valerie, I realized that it wasn't the sex at all. She was a sister, like a twisted sister of my own, twisted but now socialized, perhaps overly socialized. I had never been nuts, but I was listening very carefully to her take on me, getting me in touch with who I was, what I felt, where I had been and where I was going. I just loved to hear her talk and seemed to be finding out about myself and her. I was growing to love Valerie only in the space of a very few weeks.
I looked over the modern pool at Lost Antes, through the flattened, crabbed greenery of thorn and pepper trees, their roots in the warm earth, branches spreading out and threatening to drop to the ground completely, the gardeners propping up the limbs with thick deadwood tree crotches, giving the trees a surreal look, like those enormous distended brains in the Dali paintings, these too supported by their inverse slingshot crotches.
Above the pool, the grass and the distended trees, a rich sky of a very dark blue, the blue of the thin Mexican sky. Most of Mexico was about seven thousand feet in altitude. No wonder so many of the Gringos seemed to be half-intoxicated all the time. The rarified air, the instant aristocratic status afforded to any North American. This was the place to be, to finally face the thing that had bothered you for so long back there, up north.
It was all so easy. All one had to do was to leave the scene of ones misery. "Abandon you creeping meatball." That's what Jerry Rubin had been saying and it had at the time made so little sense to me, there in the late sixties, in the university, with my blackboards and my equations, seeing under my very nose a generation that was truly like no other one ever on the face of the earth. I had at first laughed. A passive generation of Christs led by a so-called youth activist hardly younger than myself. Yes, the creeping meatball. The job, the departmental politics, the killer instincts of those around me, the illness, the cancer that thrives so well back up there, cells crying out against the rigidity of their form in a culture built on speed and abstract work.
All one had to do was leave. Or was that all there was to it?
I stroked the woman's hair again, moving my hand to her deeply tanned back, hot now in the sun. This morning I had made love to her twice and she had risen from the bed like a thing young and free and I told her to wait, not to leave, and I'd love her once again.
Valerie, from Santa Barbara, drying out from her drugs, her past life, her divorce. As in my own case, it seemed to take the Mexican sun no time at all to restore her to a brown, healthy vitality, to take her mind off herself and to restore it to the world. My world.
Had I been a younger man, I would have been content to merely gape at Valerie in mute reverence. She was lovelier than any dream. And she was attracted to me, who was balding and carrying a spare tire, me who was supposed to be the mad scientist gone over the hill, at least in my wife's estimation, and in the estimation of my doctor, far worse.
I'd met her shortly after arriving in Mexico. She was everything and she was nothing. Tall, stunning a traffic stopper, she was indeed beautiful, yet the simplest in psychology and makeup. She tended to talk like a hairdresser or a commentator on those eye-on-entertainment television shows, something of a bimbo, but what a bimbo! She had been an actress and a good one. I could tell. She had a memory. Could read two pages, close the book and relate it all to you. Then tell you that words were mere traps for fools and emotions was where she lived. You could see what happened to her. Somewhere, because of her divorces, she had lost the snap between logic and emotion and some therapist had spotted it. Yet she was still the empath the gorgeous Lorelei. And I was so lonely that I would do anything, anywhere just so as not to be alone. And it was my luck to end up with a Candice Bergen.
How does it come to a man that he adopts a strange bed in a move that seems congruent with some failure in his life, the failure of a scientific project, a creative project or a whole life wrong from the start?
I had decided on a town called Manuel Hidalgo in Mexico, a lovely hill community recommended to me again and again by some of my fellow professors who had gone there on sabbaticals to work on private projects or just to rest up and re-evaluate their lives and careers.
I had arrived at the town square, triumphant and exhilarated at first, exhilarated by the palms, aches, porticos, blue hills and the sense of having nothing to do for the rest of one's life. Lordships are still so easy to buy in this upside-down century.
Yet, by about the fourth day, I felt very self-conscious and very alone, there among the arches and the palms. Try to come in cold into a culture of strange customs, strange 17th Century churches, strange casual people, and you will feel yourself diminished, a nobody.
I had been somebody back home, the professor, the hundred-dollar-a-day intellectual. But here in the terraced restaurants, in the flowered Jardine, the flowered town square, with its boat-tailed grackles and rubber trees, I was nobody, still one more middle-aged fuckup who had had the sense to avoid ultimate embarrassment and failure by leaving my immediate surroundings. Kevin Logan talking to all the aging expatriate hippies, some hardly younger than himself, Kevin Logan talking to anybody and everybody, spreading himself thin (this was not the familiar university, professor), nervous, vulnerable, alienating himself and finally reduced to drinking in the cheapest and easiest spots to talk with the people, for you needed no social skills down in the pulque bars and dives. The tequila and the smoke usually carries you to a lower order of existence than you had anticipated, the scary Lost Weekend feeling, and after a while, as long as you were drunk, you really didn't care.
I sat with old men, American and Mexican, finding them congenial. The younger ones were dangerous, many of them, frontier-fashion, carrying guns. The old Americans of Manuel Hidalgo were an unusually approachable breed, younger in spirit than their counterparts back home in the old age lockups and the VA hospitals. The old men of Manueal Hedalgo had, many of them, come to Mexico to escape the bedpans and the smell of urine and death. These were men who were still really young enough to even undertake new projects, who resented the cult of youth back home, the cult that would not recognize healthy seventy-year-olds who could be as puzzled over existence as men of thirty-two, as sensitive as adolescents and as scared of the future as the youngest intellectual in the increasingly tight patriarchy that is Latin America.
In my loneliness and my drunkenness, I poured out my troubles to the old men, taking my turn, after they had poured out their troubles to me. Men, young and old, are indeed strangers on this planet. It is the business culture of work and competition that keeps men away from the real issues. In Mexico, with these elements absent for the visitor, people tend to talk about ultimate concerns: "Who, what, where am I and what is the meaning of my life?" People frequently huddle together when they ask such questions of themselves and others. So I huddled with the old men. And the old men were offering their observations.
"You think that you have left your wife for just a little while," one of the old men was saying. "That's what you think. You have left her for good. You are on a rollercoaster, boy, and it's going to take you some distance by the time you decide to get off.
"No, you're never going back. Never."
There were a number of good hotels in Manuel Hidalgo. I had registered at the San Fernando, paying a Gringo verdura's price for lodgings and food. I'd learned of this expression later as I got to know more and more Americans. The passing of the dope culture had put the label of verdura on North Americans. Not norteamericano, not Gringo, but verdura--vegetable--and it somehow made sense. Only North Americans can initiate the lifestyle of the hippie, the communal farmer, the encounter grouper. Yet, I was thinking to myself, am I any better, taking two thousand dollars of the money I'd unconsciously saved for just such a venture, dropping everything and probably very much contemplating the style of the dandy, of the hippie, before the clamps of society and old age itself came down. Clich├ęs are true. You only have one life.
Yet who knows what Loren would do once it was plain that I had found not old men, but a woman and that I may be gone for good?
I had met Valerie while I was having dinner with my usual bottle of brandy, there among the arches, porticos and cathedral ceilings of the hotel, a splendorous dining hall with its banana palms, its bougainvillea reaching up to the thick skylights, a salon really that amounted to being an eighteenth- century greenhouse, a scene straight out of a Kubrick movie like Barry Lyndon, a Fieldingesque setting crying out for heavily-rouged aristocratic whist players or gamblers; yet it was different in Mexico. It was more Mariachis and domino games and the heavy colonial hardwood tables, kerosene-finish Mesquite chairs in their plush red upholstery.
The brandy was having its effect. Everything was turning rosy in the afternoon. The scientific paper? The definitive unified theory between quantum physics and the way people behave? That seemed so far away now. The mind works best while gathered into itself for contemplation. Plato, old buddy, I'm entirely with you. Beauty. truth, yeah, maybe even love. I kept pouring the brandy.
She had made the first advance, ambling over to me in that charming pigeon-toed walk of hers that I would later grow to love, asking me for help in translating an entree on her menu. "My Spanish isn't so hot."
I know some French and Latin and the Spanish was beginning to make sense to me.
I explained the menu to her and then, in my loneliness, on a whim uncharacteristic of stodgy Canadians, I asked her, so very cool and Californian, whether she would join me.
To my surprise, and without much ado, she did join me. Just like that. Saucy fellow.
I observed her, sitting beside me, there with her long hair, her smooth femininity, the long fingers and that helpless-independent air she had, so typical of intelligent women who cannot come to terms with the fact that women, are, on the whole, more analytical than men, but they had not yet learned, like my scientist friends, to think in modules. They think realistically, in structures of relationships, while the world is a very queer place, as many a cosmologist will attest, the most solid assumption often resting on the flimsiest spider web. Or did I have Hawking confused with Fitzgerald?
Men are dreamers; women have discovered the sharpness of their wit. This is the meaning of 1977. People used to think it was the other way around. Only now are the fetters surrounding women being removed. For traditionally, it was the man who was adventurous, explored continents, was shot off int space. Now it is the woman's turn, and it is a healthy development if women can pick up the facility for dreaming. For without dreams, in cold logic alone there is the Russian woman astronaut, the Chinese garbage man-woman. Totalitarian societies (like our own?) have a habit of giving women what appears to be emancipation, but what is in the end the oppression of both sexes. We cannot believe, with the rest of society that we operate in a democracy. It took a genius like Arthur Miller to develop a view sophisticated enough to see the Democratic and Communist systems as being nothing more than competing bureaucracies. Who knows where our trends, fashions, styles emanate from. Stay alert. Use your head.
These flashes were leaping around as I examined Valerie and suddenly it dawned on me that intellectuality itself was an escape, that we were sentient, but relatively helpless, mutually dependent animals and I suddenly realized how lonely I was, how my life overnight was heaped up into a ball of loneliness, the life of snapped continuity, habit, familiarity. I had to come here, I know, to put an end to the twenty years of hard research, the set-up of my computer centre, the interdepartmental politics, the heavy smoking the drinking, the forced-smile faculty dos. I had succeeded in Canada, but there was a price to it. I was realizing, here in Mexico, that this was the end of the social climber trying so hard not to be a misfit, here at this junction on the slope side of one's thirties. This was the end for a man who had to work so very hard at nearly everything, a man for whom nothing really came too easily, who was so relieved to find the computer crutch, who, in the absence of parental savvy, had to learn very nearly everything for himself, for an insane mother and an abstracted father could not be trusted from a very early age. Punishment for nothing, and this plays havoc with a child's sense of security. The world become your tutor., I had learned well, learned ultimately (perhaps somehow through my father, hidden from me) that the world is a wonderful and many- faceted place beyond imagining once your neuroses and personal conundrums are worked out. A day really comes when you see the world for the first time. Yet there was the loneliness that may yet lead to even more confusion if you end up in someone's bed. Married man. Plain old-fashioned Sin, the evil that many priests had warned me about back in my Separate School youth. Something always thwarts our efforts as we incline towards truth and beauty, says Matthew Arnold somewhere. And that something may be Sin. Biblical matrix. Five thousand years of living.
I didn't care. My loneliness had reached the stage of doing anything anywhere, with anybody just to lose one's sense of ones lonely awful self.
Valerie and I introduced ourselves and we eventually made quite an inroad into the brandy. I was about to order another bottle, the conversation going well. I was trying to impress my mystique upon her, and it seemed that I was having some success.
But she was more sober that I, perhaps more assessful. She thought a bit about another bottle. Alcoholic relationships are so seductive until the brandy bottle pile up, until the squalor sets in, the blanked-out evenings. She had a past. Yes, yes, in the cold light of day, before the coffee, one suspects that one has finally slipped into bum hood and it is only the alcohol that greases your optimism, makes you look good to yourself, while to the world, especially if you do drugs too, you have a snake crawling out jof your mouth and you are a stumbling social disaster. Or graduate to the spike.
She thought a long time before finally saying, "Meet me at my house at nine. Here is my address." She had scribbled it on a napkin with the heraldic town emblem on it. The napkin did have the look and feel of leather. She may as well have written a new constitution for my life.
I could not believe that first night. After all the clubs, after all the Spanish music, Malagena Sale Rosa, country girl of the red room, yes, how red and plush the room were, she a fantasy in her her long white gown of a peasant cut, the red-and-blue flowers on each side of her halter, the amber haze of the drinks, the dancing, and later, the two of us quietly sitting across the table from each other, the light a warm yellow and our gazes warmer still, it seemed. She looked at me, a medium-sized mousy-haired leprechaunish man with bright blues yes that tended to fix, and I regarded her, yes, also of blue, but pale, like the natural paleness of her skin, a fragile aristocratic natural paleness that so many California girls possessed in that part of the world nearly devoid of aristocracy save, perhaps of the movie stars. And Valerie, to my gaze, was every inch a move star, and I was probably half right, though lord knows what kind of movies she may have been in. Gorgeous, graceful woman all the same.
She continued to gaze at me with those large pale blue eyes under long lashes, natural, like Greta Garbo's. You could almost pull at them. High cheekbones. High forehead. Face held high, maybe a little too high. Our gaze held. We had found each other.

Back to Title Page Chapter Four

28 comments:

EA Monroe said...

Hi Ivan! I'm two chapters behind! Sorry I haven't been coming out to play for the past two days. Who wants to work anyway! Not me!

ivan said...

Hi Boo,
I just scanned what I've put up, and to my horror, realized I didn't have white space between the passages and three-line drops
where scenes change. Gotta be more careful!
As this novel excerpt stands, it is all of one string, and I fear, a hard read.
Story of Ivan: Get buck fever and not giving the work a fishy eye and a final copyedit.
Ah well. De deed she is done. Long, long chapter, all of one string.
Anyway, the story is about adultery and we are all adults.
...But then Doubting Thomas might have something when he labels me along with Dick Clark, as the world's oldest teenager.

EA Monroe said...

Hooray for teenagers. I'm only sixteen, you know! Hah! Double Hah!!

ivan said...

Amazing how we stay with R&B, rock and all popular music well into our thirties and beyond.
We seem to like what the kids like.
But then there's Greenday and Jack White. Hell, I don't want to miss anything.
Nice to be young, isn't it?

JM said...

Ivan:

Funny that upon checking the site for the first time in a few days (up to my --- in organized crime right now) I'd happen upon a chapter I re-read recently at home. By way of update, I found Ivan in my library, wedged between Alice Munro and Malcolm Lowry. How's that for odd bed (shelf?) fellows?

ivan said...

Hi jm, professional crime writer and what a writer!
I couldn't think of a better perch than to be wedged between the wonderful Alice Munro and old Malcolm Lowry, who didn't think like you and I; he just didn't; his was an entirely a mirror-maze world. What a writer!
Migod, Jeff, you've placed me in very august company!
There shall be no Swiftian Battle of the Books.
I am just so glad to be up there along with Malcolm and Alice.

p.s.: Ms. Monro was an important judge for the Giller Prize, along with Adrienne Clarkson.

In my own sneaky way, I went to a small publishing house in Toronto, hoping that house would--wait for it--boost me to the Giller Prize.
I was let down.
Ah well, as old Preston Manning (sort of our Gerald Ford) says,
"Dream Big!"

EA Monroe said...

...the world is a wonderful and many-faceted place beyond imagining once your neuroses and personal conundrums are worked out.... plain old fashion sin...

The truth of life resides in the paragraph that holds these words, Ivan. I'm still working on all the conditioning! Believe me.

ivan said...

Thank you, Liz.
My father told me something like that.

ivan said...

p.s. to Liz:

At one time, I had the usual mix of neurotics and professionals in my creative writing class.
The neurotic had said he enjoyed his neuroses, was quite glad, he had said, to be to way he was.
Said the Doctor of Psychology:
"Wouldn't it be nice one day to see the world for the very first time?

Ahhh. I am getting a bit maudlin.

...Just got your invitation to a snowball fight. I have to bean somebody, it's like a meme. But there is no snow in Toronto, or Vancouver, probably.
Says the Toronto snowman, "Josie, my eyes are going!"

Josie said...

Ivan, the phrase "Intellectuality itself was an escape" caught my eye. I have often wondered about that. Is there a kind of snobbery to intellectuality? Is it the "class distinction" of the 21st century? I know I am intelligent, even though I don't have a formal education (but my daughter has a Master's degree), but I have found people who have sort of looked down their nose at me, even though I am probably more intelligent than they are. It's a weird feeling.

So that phrase struck my eye. Are intellectuals aware they are intellectuals? Are they smug about it?

Josie

EA Monroe said...

Ivan, there's no snow in Norman, OK either. That's what happens when a bunch of bored teachers go back to their classrooms after a long holiday.

Josie, I know and work with a few "intellectuals" who do not have a lick of common sense. :)

ivan said...

I must say I've been a "groupie" of real intellectuals in my Toronto of the Sixties. They were all around me, the Edmund Carpenters, the Jack Joneses, the McLuhans,, the Clarksons and to some extent Robert Fulford, though he was a Grade Eleven dropout--but what a brilliant writer! Also Peter C. Newman who was right on top of me at the Toronto Star, where I'd been hired as a cub reporter.
Myself, I had entered academia and journalism through a back door.
Lacking French, I boned up on Russian to get to "Flintstone University" where Russian could be substituted for French.
While at "Rock U.", I published some poetry at the institute's literary magazine and this somehow landed me a job at the Star.
Ok. So what did I learn about "intellectuality"?
I asked the former Fleet Street reporters around me what they thought of existentialism, one of the darling themes of Frenchmen and other optimists. "You don't believe in that rot, do you?" one Britisher snorted. The same for Marxism and ditto for any philosophy. "Stay in the Conservative Party, where you belong."
Circulating around the Star newsroom one day was Alex Colville's famous painting of the spirit horse facing an oncoming locomotive. "Think I'd bet on the locomotive," all the rewrite men laughed.
But it wasn't until I got in with the more serious people, like Martin Lynch, famous copyeditor at the Globe and Mail, and a couple of Ryerson prof, that I began to sense, with the Group of Seven painters, also all around me, that intellectuality was a dead hand, especially after two world wars and a diaspora of Eropean peoples
who were dazed by the North Aemerican experience. Certainly greenhorn Jewish intellectuals in New York. "What in hell kind of place is this?"
You can see their sentiments, those artists, storytellers and writers with no place to go who produced what is now almost a classic: MAD Magazine of the Fifties. Here is high art, here is high burlesque and satire, here is leterature seved up for us with "Humour in a Jugular Vein."
But the subtext was this:
Intellectuality is a dead hand, especially after what happened in Europe.

An intellectual is usually defined as a person producing work on behalf of the university he/she is tied to.
Like Eistein and Princeton, like McLuhan and Toronto.
So ordinary university graduates can hardly call themselve intellectuals. A real PhD may have a staff of as many as 24 people, and he will be involved in real reseach, not just B.S.- B.A. social science flunkie. He/she is a team leader and very vital. All others just collect the droppings... Lke Ivan, who one day had to clean out a Skinner box for the department of psychology.

So "intellectual" has a specific meaning. You are doing reseach and you are tied to a university.
There are many, many "Bowling for Welfare" intellectuals. Many soldiers are "intellectuals" especially on geopolitics and I have met more "intellectuals" on welfare than I'd care to mention.

Real intellectuals are heads of department, and they do research.
the rest are hoi-polloi; you have to distinguish yourself in a field, really distinguish yourself.

What a B.A. gets is a vocabulary.
You don't have to explain to him or her what a Pavlovian response is, what Stanford-Binet was all about or love as a "positive sentiment."
B.A.'s in Commerce know even less, actually far less as their trade seems just plain mechanics and the art of swindle.
Generally speaking, "natural brains is best" and examples are numerous. Peter Mansbridge: No education. He says "Life is my education." And is he a turd- kicker?
Martin Lynch, the Globe and Mail genius, did not finish high school.
George Ventris, who broke the Nazi enigma code, was thrown out of first year university. Einstein was repeatedly failed for being "dull".

But, but. There is a suburban snobbery. "What, no university?"
But university, at least in my time was just a sign that your people had money. Brains had nothing to do with it. My people didn't have money, so I had to find some people.
Depends on what you wanted when you were young.

Tell you a story. I bragged to my editor, Gerry Anglin that I was taking university courses.
"Is that going to make you write better, Ivan?"
...And I knew he was half-serious.

Josie said...

Ivan, I had the brains, but I didn't have the money. But I read everything I could get my hands on. When you mentioned "Youngblood Hawke" today (by Herman Wouk), I remembered that I had read that. I have read everything.

Josie

ivan said...

Ah well.
I was once told by a high school teacher that if I had two brains, I'd be a half-wit.
And the jibes at the Star. "What did you take at Ryerson, wood-working?" (Ryerson was a technical university).
But I had money. Scads, oodles of it. It wasn't my own. It came from family and not even my own family.
Lucky s...t kicker meets rich woman.
And then he really stepped on something!
Hah.

ivan said...

p.s. to Josie,
I know you've read everything. I am astounded by it.
And you wield a mean watercolour brush.
Let me put it better: You produce a candy-apple reality that jumps right off the canvas.

Josie said...

Ivan, can I borrow that? "If you had two brains you'd be a half-wit". I know a few people I can use that on. Hah.

Josie

P.S. We're expecting snow tomorrow, while you're over there watering your carnations. Sigh...

ivan said...

Oh, I'm the guy with the two brains all right.
Like a diplodicus or something.
One brain to get my ass in gear and the other for foraging.
Heh. At least I can think twice about things.
It is well past two a.m. over here and my pot of coffee has brought about a kind of hysteria.
Thinking of the diplodicus and the brain needed to empower his behind.
Over here in TO we had this import from Finland named Yucca-Pucca Soriaste to take over the TSO as top conductor.
For some reason, he was fired.
Said my foreman at the temp job:
"You'd be fired too if your name was Yucca-Pukka Sorryass."
I should talk!

ivan said...

p.p.s. to Josie,
Vancouver is starting to look like Thebes after what that old mother-grabber Oedipus did. Going to Weather Hell.
I know B.C. has a history of strange parliamentarians--I just thought of "Flying Phil Galiardi", the transport minister of BC who kept being arrested for drunk driving c. l964.
You don't suppose Premier Campbell is sending love notes to a chicken or something like that?
Some leader is guilty of something and I swear BC is getting fallout.
"Why me, lord?"
Answer: BECAUSE I DON'T LIKE YOUR FREAKING FACE!"

Anonymous said...

Ivan:

I was thinking - you should get a MySpace account, man. I'd even help you set one up if you want.

There are tons of groups you can join and stuff. Ask your friends if they can show you how MySpace works.

It's a ton of fun, and it's where I have been blogging a lot lately.

-Aaron

ivan said...

Thanks, Aaron.

I'll check into it.

And thanks for the mini-review of this novel, now up. You said it was recommended reading. You even provided full links. Dang, it was like another publishing there on your blog, way back, http://www.grandinite.com.

Can I say I have also been published online by GRANDINITE?

I'll be looking for your stuff on MySpace as soon as I get over this
funk I can't seem to shake.
You suggested in an email that I should change my habits and my location--a vacation?
Hell, look what happened to my chararacter in Light Over Newmarket when he took his own vacation. LOL.
But it's good advice. Maybe I need to get away, even if I have to borrow the money for the trip.

Cheers,

Ivan

ivan said...

My friend Aaron Braaten got his Master's degree in Economics through a completely original thesis on blogges and their ways, through the University of Calgary.
I sincerely dig the dude.

Ivan

Josie said...

Ivan, well, if you decide to fly the coop, don't forget to let us know where you're going.

Cheers,
Josie

ivan said...

Josie,
With the kind of taste and money I've got these days, I'll probably end up at Simpson's Gravel Pit, somewhere outside Barrie, Ontario.
What the hell. I am a gardener.
A man can always use a bit of gravel.
Gravol?
Heh. Dang tht passing full moon.
Says my friend, the Yippie-Dippie militia subversive: You a woman or what?
Nah. I'm just gonna list myself on eBay as a fruitcake.

Two weeks of mental clarity and two of funk.
...I just floated over to Devon Ellington's blog and she seems to feel the same way. And publishers are slow to pay her.

I have somehow survived by doing some editing for people. Felt like some sort of vampire by feeding on my own kind.
And my editing ain't that hot.

Said Stephen Leacock when he got his Doctor of Literature:
My cook 'doctors' my literature.
I hardly know how to doctor anybody else's literature.

Ah, what the hell.
Pull the loo chain.
Whee!

Oh, a tale out of school:
Editor Jerry Barker, of TOPIC Magazine, who serialized my novel, was somehow photographed in an English loo, doing his stuff.
They circluated photos of Jerry pulling the "ejection lever".
Jerry was enraged.
"I'll fire some sombitch!"
He also ordered me to remove two chapters out of "The Black Icon".

I didn't do it, Jerry!

ivan said...

p.s. to Josie,
I have a tiny spruce tree which I took inside over Christmas.
Forgot to take it out, and now the poor thing is faked out and sprouting lovely yellow buds.
Dare I put it outside?
I might kill the poor, brave shrub.

Ivan

Josie said...

Ivan, gosh everyone seems to be in the January, post-Christmas, full moon funk these days (including me). I have taken another day off work, making a long weekend out of it. I just needed some solitude.

I would probably wait a while before putting the tree back outside, but be sure you keep it watered and in natural light. It might be too much of a shock to go outside now. I know how it feels. It's SNOWING here in Lotusland today. Argh.

Josie

ivan said...

Josie,
Looks like you were wise to take your sick days at this time.
Stuff just builds up and there are fingernails on the blackboard.
I have been accused of writing my older novel, The Hat People in a state of raw nerves. "And it shows up in the character," friend Ruben Meyer once told me.
Notice your blog today is on the Second Commandment, i.e., swearing.

Jesu Cristo!

Sorry Lord. Just the way I feel.

ivan said...

DON'T YOU THINK I MIGHT HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOUR?
THERE WAS THIS MAN SITTING IN A TEMPLE AND HE WAS CONCERNED ABOUT HIS SON BECOMING A CATHOLIC.

I CONSOLED HIM.

I SAID, "I TOO HAD A SON."

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