– A Story –
by Aline Chauvier
(Hafslo) Norway & everywhere, 2019
A live self-published novel on Linkedin & online
In August 2019, I started to write & publish online & live a novel via Linkedin, sporadically written on the spot. This novel is progressively written as it comes & forms on paper. As inspiration happens. As a story unfolds. In the form of small extracts immediately published online via Linkedin & here on our blog.
On this blog, you can read the novel “A Story” as a continuum – as it is progressively written & published online.
Please be aware that this literary material is a raw material and is, can & might be consequently still subject to changes, redaction and proofreading in the future. The text is therefore not in its final (finalized) form in its present state.
Its consecutive parts are only published here after they have been published on Linkedin.
I wish you an excellent reading.
Feel free to leave your comment below.
– A Story –
by Aline Chauvier
(Hafslo) Norway & everywhere, 2019
Today. I start writing a novel named “A story” that I will publish live via Linkedin through progressive posts on an everyday basis, several times a day, whenever inspiration comes.
This novel will be mostly a raw literary material, which will be proofread as progressively as it will be written & published. This novel might therefore not be in its final form in its actual present published state here below. I believe this is even more relevant to experience this way of writing a novel as for today. Because we need new ways of telling stories. We need to reinvent literature and arts in all their forms. We need to rethink literature and the process of writing.
I invite everyone to read this novel if they want to and have time.
Warning: Although some parts & events contained in the present novel might have been inspired by real existing facts, this novel is to be considered as a fiction novel.
I hadn’t had sex for a while. He neither. He was working abroad as a carpenter. I had decided to take a break from any kind of relationships for the few years after my divorce. For my psychic health sake: my exhusband was enough of a challenge. And I needed to recenter.
We had had a few drinks before at the pub. And I had dressed up.
“Shall I wear a sexy dress?” Had I asked him in a text message as we agreed where and when to meet.
“I am not sexy dressed” had he answered.
I laughed. He had a good spirit.
Sometimes. I think. About what is most difficult in being single. In waking up every day. Either with my son on my side. Or alone. About laying down in bed alone. Every night.
And as awkward as it can sound. The most difficult seemed to me to not be able to caress the chest of a man. With the palm and the back of my hand. Not to be able to put my nose on his chest and breath. Breath the skin of a man. And hear him breathing.
We all have these little things and gestures that make us who we are. And this one. Is probably what constitutes the most difficult challenge about being single. For me.
I have a lot of work to do this week and next week. And I had to sleep one more hour this morning. To catch up on sleep for this week. 6 hours of sleep is not enough. I understood I definitely need 8 hours of sleep every night. Mostly because I keep physically active 5 times more than the minimum. And thus my body needs to rest.
I love having a weekend ahead with good work needed to be done. And working on what I love.
On these thoughts… wandering into my mind, as I sat to work and turned on my computer, I felt just fine where I am. Who I am. How I am.
– Bergen –
The way they smile. The way they move. The way they speak. Or do not speak. The way look at you. Or refuse to. They way they jump into a tram. Or get out off it.All that fascinates.
That’s what I Iove. In humans. Their unlimited capacity to fascinate & express all these things. Who they are. What they live(d). What they want for a future. On their face. The small and tiny traits. That build a smile and shed a tear.
– 3 –
The game of life is to tell the truth. And every time. Get better at it. The truth. As sticky. As unpleasant. as uncomfortable. As difficult. As transcendental. As transformative as the truth can be. “The truth is curative”, says Jordan Peterson. If you have one aim. In life. This must be the truth. Otherwise. Nothing else makes sense. The pursuit of meaning is what gives sense to life. Says Jordan Peterson. Indeed. When I come back in mind. To the places and the people I once loved. Meaning is the only core essence that gives sense to these experiences. Work. As a meaning. As a sense of purpose. As the motor of existence. This morning I had planned to work earlier. Johannes woke up and sat on my legs. So I literally spent the time I had planned working being a mother instead. Speaking and cuddling. Motherhood is constant work.
– 4 –
How can one get better at telling the truth? This is a reflexion this morning:
1. Tell it. The truth. Simply and fully. If your words are carefully selected: choose to only pronounce truthful words. Give up on anything else.
2. Use clear and simple words. As unambiguous as possible. As unequivocal as possible. As close to reality as possible.
3. When you have a doubt about the truth. Take some time. To recenter. To calm down. To let all feelings and emotional constraint fade. So that everything that remains is the sole truth. As naked and raw. As it can be. As bright. As dark. As hurtful. (One must be strong to tell the truth) As it can be.
Sometimes the truth is beautiful. Sometimes it is ugly.
One must be able to tell it nevertheless.
4. Hang out and connect with people that are genuine and authentic. Whose quest of and concern for the truth is at least the same and as strong as yours.
5. Avoid disrespectful, hurtful and dishonest people.
6. Ban all lies from your life.
You do things. Every single action. The abdominal exercises. The meetings you are not that interested in. With people that are not that interesting neither.
But you do them. People with who you have nothing in common.Sometimes. I sit. And I see people walking and passing by. And I feel an urge. To stand up and hug them. And feel their heart beating beside mine. I see their face. And I would love to hug them. As simply as this.I feel an unconditional love for humanity.And a strong desire to hug them. To find humanity. To find back humanity. Within us. All.
There are days. Fragile and insecure. When your anger is as huge as an elephant. It is like. You got to express it. Your anger. Anger coming from all sorts of things. Like. Unfair situations. Unacceptable decisions made by others and which impact your life. Sadness. Powerlessness. Frustration. Isolation. Loneliness. Lonesomeness. Sometimes. Yes. Your anger is everywhere. You carry it all around. And it just hangs above your head. Like something ready to explode. Like something ready to fall. Like the sky would fall on your head.
And yes. It explodes. In small bits or in big clouds. In volcanoes. In tsunamis. In tempests. In hurricanes. In tornadoes. In waves and waterfalls of words. That crush on paper. Like these waves. All innocent that crush on the rock by the dock.
Sometimes. I truly do not understand. Where does it all go? Where does it all come from?
Where does it all begin? Where and how does it all end? All this. This anger. This force. This energy. This sadness.
The only way I found to deal with my anger is writing.
– 9 –
Often. When the time comes to sit down. In the middel of a full-speed day. With a lot of learning and working sessions. After I had a productive and great learning day.
Well. Maybe. I feel fulfilled. Because I keep on caring for my child. And because I keep on learning.
Probably, learning raises our awareness. And probably does it sharpen our skills, knowledge and expertise most effectively. Maybe this does enhance our responsability in the quality of services we provide for others. And maybe does it strengthen our self-confidence in general.
I often think:
Allright. I might not have all the answers to all these questions. But I, at least, work on answering some of those I have on a daily basis. And this might make my life a little less unbalanced. A little more meaningful. A little less uncertain.
And this. Only. Makes it worth fighting for. And living.
Because my days are mostly dedicated to self-education. Translating. Writing. Thinking. And other artistic activities. My life seems to be much more balanced than before. I do experience a genuine feeling of mastering my time. And organizing it much better than earlier in my life. The schedule I follow is tight. Is strict. Is charged. Is demanding. But it is also diversified. Energetic. Dynamic. And only composed of activities I and my child love doing.
This does not mean all of these activities are easy. But they are enjoyable even when demanding. Like running for instance: I love running, although this is clearly not always pleasant to run for the first 10 to 15 minutes of an hour running session. Sometimes. We even long for the end of the running all along the entire hour. But what is sure is that we always feel better afterwards.
At least, I do. Because of that chemical balance change that happens into our brain while running. These are magical methods. To build up confidence, real change and happiness. By small bits of repetitive efforts and commitment. Like Simon Sinek says “Consistence matters”.
While researching on multilingualism today. I pumbed into a research in philamatology, the science of kissing, which discovered that French mothers were more prone to kiss their babies. Something which stimulates breastfeeding and language development. As well as in adults, kissing helps regulating moods and enhances affective bounds.
I thought about my celibacy. A lot. Today. And I felt. I felt. Revolted. Chocked. And maybe angry. To be unable to understand how does it come I still did not have any real partner 3 years after my divorce. “3 years, this is nothing”, told me my psychologist.
I never understood this statement. I personally think:” 3 months of celibacy only is an eternity”.
Also: I could never prevent myself from realizing that women stating these kinds of “statement” they mean to be comforting have indeed themselves, never experienced celibacy. Real celibacy. I was not angry thought. I simply did not agree with her. Or with the statement.
I did not see any reason why I just did not have a partner at the time. And the longer the time passed, the more challenging being & living alone with a child were indeed.
This was the biggest challenge of my current life and of the life of my son. And I had no valid reason to give him every time he questioned the foundations or the reasons of my celibacy.
This. However. Did not make me neither sad nor severely angry. This only was a source of questioning. To which I was clearly unable to give any real answer.
– 12 –
I would probably never forget.
The 3 weeks in the Chiapas communities. In the mountains. San Cristobal de Las Casas. The women who sold ‘artesanias’ & ‘poncho’. The couple of women who sketched people passing by on the main square. The graffiti on the walls which said “Cambiar el mundo”. Our naive youth & resilient spirit of change. Our hope. Our delusion, maybe. Our realism, sometimes. All & everything, all at once. Happening. While travelling.
That. Shall I never forget.
– 13 –
As memories were jumping into my mind. Some pleasant. Others not. Maybe even not at all.
I remembered an article of psychology I had read earlier this year about that “we always remember better negative memories rather than positive ones”.
This statement seemed quite sad to me. But if psychology says so.
There were not many real economical improvements in our life. Right now. In terms of independent income. Because social benefits given to single-parent families would cease in coming February, I experienced much anxiety related to me and my son economic survival and given we were already living in a very modest apartment, this permanent reality presented a genuine problem to me. I often tried to understand, how other women or other families managed it better. I nevertheless came to the conclusion that it was nothing to understand. Many of those who had a job had it because of their network family or contacts, not their qualifications, or because they had made a lucrative marriage. Or because they were local, had a local name or were nationals or married to nationals. And because they only accepted the system as it is. No matter how unfair and unright, if not illegal, such a system was.
to add: corruption is nothing to understand in the mind of an intelligent person.
– 14 –
“Sur les pas du renne” was the title of a novel I had been given as a present at the very beginning of my pregnancy. From a friend whom I had not heard from almost since then. Lise had not been an old friend, I would probably not mind. But, she was the godmother of my son. Therefore, I considered her silence as hurtful. For both, my son and me.
As a writer, I understand now how difficult it is to write about human experiences and relationships. Mostly, because as Simon Sinek says “these are messy processes.”
This is definitely not easy to write about men and women and about Men, with a big M, in the anthropological sense of the word.
As a writer, I also found great difficulty writing without making a judgement, without being judgemental in some ways and without polluting my writing with subjective feelings and consideration, still remaining truthful and genuine to the experience lived or the fiction experience imagined. My novel had I decided would be both, a human mix of fiction and reality where the reader would never know where and what had truly happened in reality and in the mind of the storyteller.
– 15 –
There were many different mornings. Many different moods for every morning. But with a dedicated training, I had managed to be better at waking up and going to sleep early and at regulating my sleep. My sleep, however, had never truly been affected by what had happened in our life. I had been able to sleep, normally, so had my son, more or less, all the the way through.
Most of my days were spent learning. Most of them problem-solving. Most of them were spent being, learning and training at being a parent to my child.
“You are not a parent, you become one”, I did not exactly remember where I had heard the sentence. Was it at a therapy session when my psychologist suggested to me a book named “A mother to be”. I should probably find the book now. Now that I do not have more time. That my apartment is full of books half read, almost entirely read, read & turn apart by having travelled all around with me. Books I found, books I bought, books I liked, lived & despised. Books I might not agree with. Others I entirely embraced. Books. I could spend my entire life reading books. Only doing that. Entirely. Devotedly. Without anything else and no other food for the soul. Than reading my books. These books.
– 16 –
Time. Was always the most critical point of focus in our life. Either that we did not have enough of it, as not enough money, or that we had too much of it, but never enough money to respond to our desire to develop and grow. As living in one of the richest country worldwide, I wondered how it was ever possible to, as a single mother, sleep on a coach and to have been doing so for the past 3 years, still seeing no one around us protesting against the living conditions that me and my child had been enduring for the past … 9 years now. My text messages to my lawyer had remained unanswered, such as most of the complaints I had introduced to the various instances & public services around. I had come to the belief that people living here (although living in far better conditions than we ourselves were) were just indifferent to the poverty in which some of the inhabitants of their country lived. These people, though, kept on bragging their sick opulent lifestyle with several expensive cars parked around their house, huge luxurious mansion & their several holiday trips abroad without guilt or remorse. While my child was witnessing every day his mother packing and unpacking her bed in our modest 2 rooms apartment, which did not even belong to us. This, although I often had a better higher education background than many people I knew who had far better living conditions than us. This nonsense made me both angry and set me in complete disbelief concerning the existing system.
– Part 18 –
The whole thing was stressful. Only stressful. After 9 years of expatriation, characterized by running a cafe, divorcing, living 3 months at a crisis centre, going through a court case for the custody of my child, having to do everything on my own, beside so many others who had the constant help of their in-laws or friends and who were simply not taking care of their children as I was of mine.
I had come to the belief. That there was no fairness in this country. Nor was there any common moral standard. And certainly was corruption rampant. Visceral. And fiercely damaging for many vulnerable individuals. Like us.
I had enough of hearing these people bragging their opulent & luxurious lifestyle when some of them who the richest, had never sat on a university chair and still believed to be more competent than educated people like me are with 5 years of higher quality education.
More competent they were & are. Yes. At ignoring their own incompetence. Certainly.
– 19 ‐
There was no proper recipe. For life, I mean. There was. Only a chasing all advice that one could get. In order to survive. The more the gap between my neighbours and me was growing deep, the more I stopped waiting for a “Hello, Hi or Goodbye”. Most of the time, it was me who bothered expressing these simple gestures of civility and signs of sociality.
I used to believe there was nothing in common between these people living in huge mansions and me struggling to make ends meet. Because. Yes. Everything was expensive in Norway. Everything. Not just your car or the electricity bill, but the smallest decoration for your apartment had a higher price than a book in Belgium. Books were costing 5 to 6 times more than in Belgium, making it a valuable object that only the most privileged could afford. Our apartment was full of books. It was. By choice. I might not have had my 3 yearly holidays in exotic places, but I had books in my apartment. Never enough of them. Never.
There were evenings when I really hated it here and the lonesome solitude this country inflicts to its inhabitants. There was just nothing to do. The snow had come. Sitting in my car after 2 swimming hours, it felt like “there was just no one out there to talk to”.
There were days when it felt ok. Not all right. But ok. And days when it felt unbearable. I longed for Brussels. I longed for humanity. After 9 years, the snow did not amaze me anymore. As soon as winter had come, everyday life just turned into a survival race, when every day had its worries. Shovelling the snow outside every morning, making it through the day as a single mother. Guaranteeing an acceptable every day to a child. Looking for jobs, taking off freelance & trying to keep the flame survive, the one that creates, the one that dreams, the one that loves & hopes. Humbly & simply. For a better world. Was I hoping for such a world all alone? In the cave of my psyche. In the deepest corners of my existence. In the sanctuary of my mind.
“Il n’y a pas d’amour dans “Je t’aime”.” The sentence was from somewhere. Someone. Somehow. I do not exactly remember. Everything is nuanced, they say. Every day was a challenge. The cold had made is a bit more difficult for me to run once a week. But I love running. So I promised myself to keep on doing so. Even with the cold. I just had to be well dressed & more perseverant.
I needed to run. Mostly because this was the ultimate challenge with myself. Almost the only moment when I purely did something which simultaneously challenged all aspects of my physical and psychical health.
Also. Because I used to think: if I had to take my son on my shoulders or back one day and cross Nothern Europe to reach back Brussels on foot, I needed to have had thorough physical preparation before. I knew that if I had to, I would. Lonely nights were not always of inspiration. I guess they could be, for people who choose to live alone.
Days after days. Time flew. Definitely flew away from us. J. Peterson says we got to have both: chaos and order. Not only one of them. Life is a balance between both.
Our life was ordered. By a busy and strict schedule I had myself designed. But in many aspects of our life, it seemed that chaos emerged every now and then. There were both ingredients. Finally. Both made me feel safe.
Often. A child of 4 years old brings chaos with him: spontaneity. Disorganization. Being late in the morning. Planning the unplanned. Playing with every second of joy. Imagining the future. Being happy about what we had.
What we had? The question resonated in me as an empty certitude. Mostly overwhelmed with sadness & disappointment. Bitterness & maybe even horror. Horror facing injustice. & revolt. The impossibility to accept. The doubt. The lack of trust. The anger. Over & over again.
Lots of days. My mind was sailing on this ocean of feelings, as sour and difficult they might be and indeed were.
As I woke up at 6 am this morning. I felt the bliss of doing what I had planned to do without procrastination. I had rested significantly yesterday. Mostly because this week had been particularly tiring. John had been sick for a few days and had stayed home from daycare. Being present for a child, as easy as it can sound, is actually and factually not that easy of an exercise. I understood that presence was indeed a work in itself. A demanding training of one’s own mind and focus. A genuine effort of attention and of love, of giving and gratitude. These three days with Jo home had been transformative. As I drew the conclusion of this particular week, I felt more present than ever and most fulfilled by myriads of different feelings, all differing from one another, colliding and tearing apart the very human beings we indeed are.
Some people did not mind. The gap. The vicious & serious, when not chocking gap existing between people living beside each other as neighbours. Some, but not all, kept on nodding when saying “Hi”. As for me, indeed, such a very short word was the most challenging greeting ever. Not that I did not want or consider it as important to say it. But after so many years of stagnation, I considered these people surrounding us as responsible for the racism they held on to & in which they stigmatized single mother & other people like us. In 9 years, Norway had not become less fascist nor less racist. On the contrary, severe discriminations seemed to have become as common as normal, making such behaviour as accepted yet illegal and unacceptable. It used to make me angry, sad, revolted and upset. Yet did it seem to let all these neighbours as unempathethic as psychopaths. As cold and indifferent as the most dangerous serial killers. This reality was probably what directed me most to reach back Brussels. With Jo.
You once dreamed of that little courage on the west coast of Ireland. With the wind and the summer sun. The ballads on the beach and your hair caressed by a salty breeze. Torrid nights with a husband you would dearly love and care for. One or 2 children running and laughing on the same beach. A life full of calm, desire, passion and simplicity.
But. There. The life you once dreamed of: you have never been there. I have never been there.
The only ruins that remain out of that memory is the fragrance of the sea. And the soft caress of the wind. That only snow and a harsh Norwegian winter isolate you with.
Of these happy endings. Remain only the bitter and sour taste of life. As real and true as it can be. As crual. As incendiary. As invisible. As insignificant. As poor. As miserable. As life can be.
So you sit on your couch. On which you have slept for the past 3 years. And restructure your thoughts with the remaining forces and shadows of efforts you are still able to make. This Friday evening.
Isolated into the dark ruins of a tough winter. In a faraway land you dream of leaving.
– 27 –
This was difficult. To assess. If all of what happened to Johannes and me was more due to the outcome of a badly thought system. Or of a genuine indifference from the people around us. It was maybe both. Maybe & surely because we were too good people. Too good people to fight? No. I could fight. But too good, yes. We were well educated & polite. Respectful & careful. Observant & critical. Trustful & trustworthy. At the end of the day. We were not naive. But trustful. Both of us. Many people could integrate into our life, without us being unwilling to accept them into it. Yet, our number of friends was not unlimited. At least it did not exceed the Dunbar number of possible relationships. Those who were into our life, we were taking good care of. Those who did not want to were always welcome to join us later on. Probably was I constantly trying to practice the tolerant world I dreamed & wished to live in. With a most possible universal mindset & sense of acceptance. This was easy for me. To accept people.
– 28 –
The wind and the snow. The wind and the frost. The wind. The snow. The freezing air. Obscurity. Nights that were deprived of sleep. Frustration. Cold. Lack of every human touch that a healthy normal woman would consider to be the sinequanon ingredient of an ideal life as an adult. As a well-constituted and psychically healthy human being, I had to assume that “human touch” was, along with time, the most expensive and valuable product in today’s world. As a parent, this reality made it extremely difficult to see oneself as an ideal or even a good enough caregiver. The conclusion was simple to make: how a woman that was deprived of all normal human physical interactions and touch, constitutive of a healthy emotional life, could be sufficiently emotionally available to her child and to his needs of physical contact.
As I was entering the third year as a single parent, the question kept hanging above my head as a Damocles’ sword, ready to make our entire family life shiver and cleave it into small pieces. But as I was and had always been courageous
and brave, I faced and embraced the challenge of giving to my child all the love, availability and presence he needed, although being deprived myself of all of these emotional needs every human being has and crave for.
I could not stop. So I decided to go on. And do the best I could. To be the best mother I could to my child in the most unperfect world and challenging times the human species had ever known.
There were 24 hours in a day. 60 minutes in an hour. Each minute was composed of 60 seconds. Each of them flew at a glimpse of an eye. At the sound of a breath. At the speed of a gentle caress.
Time. Was & is the most expensive product in today’s world. We never have enough of it. We cannot spare it. We steal it from our children. To work & make a profit. We never have enough time to see them grow. To give them all pieces of advice we wish to face the world & its obvious challenges. Not enough time to read all the books we wished to. All the newspapers. Learn all the languages we would love to. To do all the walks, runs & swims we wished. To tell all the things we craved to tell to all the people we love. When it is still time to. To apply for all the jobs we wished to. To dance, dance & dance. To visit all the places we have never seen. To taste all the flavors we have never ever breathed. To caress all the flowers we haven’t seen yet. To play, sing & know by heart all the songs which must be heard.
I had not reached my goals. Or maybe I had. It is difficult to say. Those goals most important to me, I had reached. I survived. The world. I had survived to live alone with a young child. Abroad. Without family around us. All alone. All alive.
I remember. Often when I struggle with self-confidence. I remember. Those moments of genuine victory. When I won. Against all odds. Against fatality. Against the sour taste of existence. Against adversity.
Those moments. I remember.
When I survived a night of rain and freezing cold on the top of a mountain called StoreHauge. My legs half frozen. The two of us under the wind. Running with the bottle of wine. No tent. Tissue shoes. No raincoat. I remember. The nap we took on our way back the morning after. The sound of the awakening of the wild place we had been trapped in during the night. The fire sky when we left the top at 3 AM in the morning when the sun rose. The feeling of being on a cratered ground similar to the moon.