, , , , ,

Marie Laurencin, August 1923

Marie Laurencin, August 1923 (Photo credit: Etsy.com)

She is posting again…

the house
the vilain
the expert

Various circumstances, illness and a dysfunctional computer mostly, but also memories of the days, better days, when I lived in a blue house, have kept me away for a few days. My blue house is on the market and on my mind and in my hearth.

I cannot afford it at its current price but will try to buy it back. I lost it because an insurance company employee did not tell me that my application for permanent disability benefits had not been approved. Selling the house was conditional upon my application for permanent disability benefits being approved. One does not relocate if granted a temporary leave.

The Independent Medical Examiner to whom she referred me, asked her, in writing, to tell me not to relocate as he believed I would be able to resume my career after an indefinite leave of absence. He wrote that I should not make any important decision for six months. Adjustments would have to be made to my programme-load. But, on the basis of past accomplishments, he was certain I would be able to return to work. He was right.

Photo credit: Page Marie Laurencin

The Scenario

no sabbatical leave
new courses

When requested to prepare two new courses, I had to abandon a sabbatical leave I was devoting to my long-awaited book on Molière in order to prepare two new courses, one of which was Animals in Literature. I could not refuse assignments because the Chair of my department was prone to anger. I once fainted in his office and landed on the back of my head. No, I would not have survived Chernobyl!

What is very strange is that I still like him, but he will no longer serve as Chair of a department, which is a blessing for everyone. There is no advantage to being Chair, financial or otherwise, at least not where I worked.

I was also the person who had to create a multi-media lab component for a language course. It was not upgraded during my sabbatical and I was not told. I upgraded it when I returned to work, which is why I fell ill. Every lecture of my course on Animals in Literature was prepared, but it had been a huge effort. I had no energy left for extra work. I should have asked for that component of the course to be cancelled until the following academic year and assigned to someone else.

The Illness

the illness
the ‘arrangement’

At any rate, when suddenly I lost the ability to look after myself properly, the biggest challenge is brushing one’s teeth, my doctors requested I leave the classroom immediately. I phoned the Dean, who was at a complete loss, and I presented a doctor’s note to the effect that I was sick. My doctor’s note was not taken seriously. As a result, my students no longer had a teacher. The secretary of the Department remarked that I could still walk and that I should “negotiate an arrangement” with the Chair.

I therefore “negotiated an arrangement” with the Chair. For two weeks I would continue to teach Animals in Literature. During that time, he would teach my two other courses, provided I graded the students’ last quiz and all their assignments. He also asked me to return to work in time to prepare the students for their final examination, which I would also have to grade, etc.

Under the circumstances, I did not have to “negotiate an arrangement.” However, my Chair is not entirely to blame because the Dean would not let him hire a replacement.

Fille au chapeau bleu et noir, vers 1950

Fille au chapeau bleu et noir, vers 1950

The Punishment

When my case manager learned I had finished my teaching assignment for the year, she rushed to judgment. I had been on a sabbatical, which she probably viewed as a holiday, and could not prepare a new course! My application was fraudulent. She didn’t know that I was granted a sabbatical to write my book, at long last. Sabbaticals are seldom granted for the preparation of new courses.

To punish me, she did not relay the doctor’s message to me. As I wrote above, the IME had specified that I was too sick to make serious decisions for at least six months. The sale of the house was conditional upon my application for permanent disability benefits being approved. When it sold, my blue house was not for sale.

I am unlikely ever to recover fully from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. My fatigue is due to a cerebral blood flow problem triggered by a flu I caught in 1976. But I have worked despite this problem. It meant reorganizing my life and eliminating outings in the evening.

At any rate, I lost my house and now, several years later, my share, one ninth of the small building I live in, is for sale. My co-owners will not create a reserve fund for the upkeep of the building, which is a major problem and a deterrent for persons who would otherwise be interested in buying. One never knows when the next bill will land at one’s door. Others may enjoy this form of gambling, but I would not have survived Chernobyl.

I chose the apartment, but my family bought it on my behalf. The notary they hired did not tell me there was no reserve fund. Moreover, I had requested, in writing, that the apartment and building be examined by a certified inspector. I am not blaming anyone. It would not help.

The rest I will not tell. The above, however, happens in several teaching institutions. One simply works a person out of his or her position. In fact, I told this story in an earlier post, but differently.


I do not think I will be returning to blue house, but I will have tried. If I can’t purchase my blue house back, it may be easier to forget.

There is more to say about Gabriel Franchère. When the Astorians travelled away from Fort Astoria, they named Mount St Helens. It was then an active volcano, but no one ever suspected the tragic events of 18 May 1980. At 8 hours 32, it exploded and then “imploded,” sort of. The mountain folded in.

I apologize for my tardiness and send my kindest regards.


I will try to find the words to “Marie.”

Léo Ferré sings “Marie,” a poem by Guillaume Apollinaire (26 August 1880 – 9 November 1918)

Vase de fleurs, 1950

© Micheline Walker
26 June 2015

Vase de fleurs, Marie Laurencin,
vers 1950
Page Marie Laurencin