Jeanette Winterson • At the Borders of Common Sense

On Sunday night, my boyfriend and I went to hear Jeanette Winterson speak at Sydney Opera House. She is a fiery ball of feminism and revolutionary thought. She read from her memoir and introduced me to the poetry of Adrienne Rich.


Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

When I left home at sixteen I bought a small rug. It was my rolled-up world. Whatever room, whatever temporary place I had, I unrolled the rug. It was a map of myself. Invisible to others, but held i the rug, were all the places I had stayed — for a few weeks, for a few months. On the first night of anywhere new I liked to lie in bed and look at the rug to remind myself that I had what I needed even though what I had was so little.

Sometimes you have to live in precarious and temporary places. Unsuitable places. Wrong places. Sometimes the safe place won’t help you.things get worse

Why did I leave home when I was sixteen? If was one of those important choices that will change the rest of your life. When I look back it feels like I was at the borders of common sense,  and the sensible thing to do would have been to keep quiet, keep going, learn to lie better and leave later.

I have noticed that doing the sensible thing is only a good idea when the decision is quite small. For the life-changing things, you must risk it.

And here is the shock — when you risk it, when you do the right thing, when you arrive at the borders of common sense and cross into unknown territory, leaving behind you all the familiar sights and smells and lights, then you do not experience great joy and huge energy.

You are unhappy. Things get worse.

It is a time of mourning. Loss. Fear. We bullet ourselves through with questions. And then we feel shot and wounded.

And then all the cowards come out and say, “See, I told you so.”

In fact, they told you nothing.

{from Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson (c) 2011}


darkness and water helped me to arrive here

We are Driven to Odd Attempts

By Adrienne Rich

We are driven to odd attempts; once it would not have occurred to me to put out in a boat, not on a night like this.

Still, it was an instrument, and I had pledged myself to try any instrument that came my way. Never to refuse one from conviction of incompetence.

A long time I was simply learning to handle the skiff; I had no special training and my own training was against me.

I had always heard that darkness and water were a threat.

In spite of this, darkness and water helped me to arrive here.

I watched the lights on the shore I had left for a long time; each one, it seemed to me, was a light I might have lit, in the old day.


About KatieP

Embracing my midlife sexy while exploring modern love & relationships • Devoted to all things beautiful • Master of Arts in creative writing & non-fiction writing