The Blue Notebook
And now the cooking for Michael. I unroll the veal that I remembered to batter out flat this morning; and I roll the pieces in the yellow egg, and the crumbs. I baked crumbs yesterday, and they still smell fresh and dry, in spite of the dampness in the air. I slice mushrooms into cream. I have a pan full of bone-jelly in the ice-box, which I melt and season. And the extra apples I cooked when doing Janet’s I scoop out of the still warm crackling skin, and sieve the pulp and mix it with thin vanilla’d cream, and beat it until it goes thick; and I pile the mixture back into the apple skins and set them to brown in the oven. All the kitchen is full of good cooking smells; and all at once I am happy, so happy I can feel the warmth of it through my whole body. Then there is a cold feeling in my stomach, and I think: Being happy is a lie, it’s a habit of happiness from moments like these during the last four years. And the happiness vanishes, and I am desperately tired. With the tiredness comes guilt. I know all the forms and variations of this guilt so well that they even bore me. But I have to fight them nevertheless. Perhaps I don’t spend enough time with Janet — oh, nonsense, she wouldn’t be so happy and easy if I wasn’t doing it right. I am too egotistical, Jack is right, I should simply be concerned with some sort of work, and not bothered about my conscience — nonsense, I don’t believe that. I shouldn’t dislike Rose so much — well only a saint wouldn’t, she’s a terrible woman. I am living on unearned money, because it’s only luck that book was a best-seller, and other people with more talent have to sweat and suffer — nonsense, it’s not my fault. The fight with my various forms of dissatisfaction tires me; but I know this is not a personal fight. When I talk about this with other women, they tell me they have to fight all kinds of guilt they recognize as irrational, usually to do with working, or wanting time for themselves; and the guilt is a habit of the nerves from the past, just as my happiness a few moments ago was a habit of the nerves from a situation that is finished. I set a bottle of wine to warm, and go into my room, getting pleasure from the low white ceiling, the pale shadowed walls, the glow of red from the fire. I sit in the big chair, and now I’m so depressed I have to fight against tears. I think, I’m bolstering myself up: the cooking for Michael and the waiting for him — what does it mean? He already has another woman, whom he cares for more than he does for me. I know it. He’ll come tonight out of habit or kindness. And then I again fight this depression by putting myself back into a mood of confidence and trust (like entering another room inside myself) and I say: He’ll come quite soon, and we will eat together, and drink the wine, and he will tell me stories about the work he’s done today, and then we’ll have a cigarette, and he will take me in his arms. I’ll tell him I have my period and as usual he’ll laugh at me and say: My dear Anna, don’t put your guilt feelings on to me. When I have my period I rest on the knowledge that Michael will love me, at night; it takes away the resentment against the wound inside my body which I didn’t choose to have. And then we will sleep together, all night.