Sunday March 15
The Ides of March. Will I be betrayed or will I do the betraying?
Woke up weeping. My blind cat, Milo, bumping into walls, walking in circles, looking for direction saddens me. Really, it’s my pre-lock down life I’m lamenting. I had just settled in to Dublin, had had a reprise from lingering ennui, the consequence of trying to write a book going nowhere. Then, it was over. Now, I’m home, untethered from that resolve and peace. And like Milo, lost my way.
The maintenance of the house assaulted me- weeds, kitty litter, taxes. A fog has descended on my brain. I wandered from room to room looking, looking for what? To get hold of myself, I listed what I had done by 1:15 P.M.: fed Milo, cleaned the litter box, took out recycling, filled out the census, had breakfast, read the newspaper. Eating breakfast outside and reading the Sunday New York Times tricked me into thinking all was well: life hadn’t changed. I wondered if I could put a vegetable garden in the front yard.
On the plane ride from Ireland, I considered growing potatoes. Years ago, I had had a garden that included a long row of red and yellow “pommes de terre.” Sinking my hands into the dirt, pulling out them out, holding them, eating them was deeply satisfying. Associations to the potato- my Irish grandmother ate one every night for dinner, her mother emigrated to the states, an indirect consequence of the great potato famine in Ireland. The poor relied on the potato for daily sustenance. Since it provides many of the necessary amino acids, it is referred to as the perfect food. When the potato blight hit Ireland, the British ignored the problem. Starvation and homelessness were rampant. Wouldn’t it be wise to grow a “perfect food” during a pandemic?
Yet as the day wore on, I didn’t work on my taxes or pay my bills or do the laundry. Couldn’t pull all the threads together.
Like many people, I end my day reading in bed. As a way of “returning” to Dublin, I picked up Deirdre Bair’s biography of Samuel Beckett. It should last a good long time, almost 800 pages. Although he was a Dublin upper middle class Anglican and my family were Catholic tenant farmers from the hinterlands of Roscommon County, I hoped I might make a connection with my projected book, a mix of ancestral biography, history, anthropology, sociology, and maybe fiction. I’ll grasp at any straw. Instead he seems to be buoying me up, out of self-flagellation, however, briefly. His struggle with writing, sometimes only getting a few pages done in many weeks, redeems me. A colleague, another tortured nonprolific writer.