I am stealing my title off a Norwegian book written by Karl Ove Knausgaard. He’s set the Norwegian chattering set on fire and now moved on to conquer the rest of Europe and North America with his bald, Proustian observations. It is his contention that plot and character development are clunky, old fashioned tiresome devices. And I agree. Maybe we’re just old fashioned and tiresome ourselves and have heard all the plots and seen all the characters? But, I like the way he writes, or maybe his translator writes, about it being the 70s, all around him, in every room and on every street corner, while he ate his dinner with his parents one night. So true! Now it’s 2014 all around me, on all sides, and I have to live the rest of my life with an awkward “0” in the year instead of a comfortable “9”. And that’s just part of my struggle.


The rest of My Struggle, these days, has been sciatica running down my right buttock and sometimes right to the end of my leg. It’s really been hard getting sufficient sympathy for my condition because apparently I’m the last person in the Comox Valley to suffer with it. Perhaps on Vancouver Island. And maybe the Lower Mainland.  But, suffer I have done, loudly and to anyone who will listen. Everyone assures me that the pain will go, eventually. I bloody well hope so. If not, I will have to be brave and soldier on, like all the other poor souls who have to deal with chronic pain and somehow get on with their lives. It’s amazing how, up until now, other people’s pain has been rather negligible, of no real consequence at all.


I’ve tried to think of what may have caused it. Perhaps it was that fall on the ski slopes 18 months ago, on to the small of my back? Trouble might have been silently brewing. I hope not, because that sounds damn serious. Maybe it was that stretched out, graceful breast stroke I swam in the rec centre pool. It might have nudged a nerve out of place in my bum cheek? If that’s even possible.


I feel like an old car. I turn 60 in a few months. Coincidence? I think not. Until this happened, most days I felt quite young. (She said, wistfully.)


I sought out acupuncture treatment. I asked the practitioner what he thought the cause was, as I lay there bristling like a porcupine and he said, “a virus.” I felt like sending all his crystals and feathers flying.


Then he said he’d seen 14 cases of bad backs in the past week and that viruses do indeed reside in our spines, like the chicken pox virus, and emerge to cause havoc when we’re under stress.

And, on closer inspection of the room, there were no crystals or feathers, just a lovely aroma, the kind teenagers use in their bedrooms to mask the smell of pot, the smell of his elixirs. Maybe my sciatica was caused by a virus? But, it’s like “a rose is a rose,” really. Putting a label on it doesn’t fix it. It’s just kind of unnerving to think we contain the seeds of our undoing. But, we do.

(I need to cultivate a less adversarial relationship with my body.)


So, I go through my days, sometimes sitting, sometimes standing or sometimes, I admit, lying down, but always, almost always, aware of my damn right leg and butt. There is no comfortable position. Not for long. A lot of people think sciatica is caused by sitting too much. Maybe.

I feel this piece is full of maybes and perhapses.


My daughter recently hooked me up to Netflix, on her account, (don’t tell anyone!) and it has opened up a world of wonder. I sit, most nights now in a darkened back bedroom watching movies. I hadn’t seen one in years. What cheap joy! I feel guilty about it. But not enough to stop doing it. I know I should be living a real, not a reel, life, but some movies do stay with you as much as a good book.


Like Woody Allen’s, “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.” Only a person who has lived a long time could have written such a dark screenplay. At the end of it, all the characters hopes and dreams have been dashed and they’re having to come to terms with a legacy of regrets and missteps. The only happy people are a clearly delusional old couple.  It was the work of a cynical mind having fun. When it ended I think my mouth was just hanging open. It was an assault on my peace of mind. And what a snarky title!


It doesn’t have to be a movie, there’s even a design show I’m hooked on, “Grand Designs.” I thought it was because I had a latent interest in architecture, but no, upon reflection I seem to just be in love with the English “television presenter,” Kevin McCloud. I’ve read an interview with him and he says he’s got a parallel dream life going on in a hillside farm in Umbria, growing grape vines and watching the sunsets. We’re a match then. I have a parallel dream life going on in London, going to Portobello market every Saturday and working in the fashion business, or something like that. The details need filling in. Perhaps he can leave his family and meet me in the middle somewhere, Amsterdam perhaps. So, there’s a pain in my butt, but a different kind of warmth in my heart, for a “holograph.” How’s that for a bizarre ending. Have a great summer!