Excerpt from Chapter 14

Climbing the Rock Within by Jennifer Haig

Excerpt from Chapter 14:

Jean Tones, the wife of Irving Tones, an historian and editor,
accepted more than one book Dad had edited about
Napoleon. One stood out, a coffee table book, with Napoleon
clad in red and gold, gloves in one hand, a map statement on
a table. It brought him future reviews, which said, “Patrick
Smith incorporates the magnificent artwork of the
Napoleonic period along with a detailed profile of Napoleon.
The result is a magical and pure delight to the eye. PS merges
the two memoirs of Meneval (Napoleon’s secretary) and the
other of Constant (Napoleon’s valet) and provides a wonderful
insight into Napoleon’s personality. Instead of a boring
translation of two French diaries there is a vivid account of
Napoleon’s life as emperor of Rome.”

Back around the date of publication, September 30, 1993,
Dad, wrapped in his role as a grandiose editor, refused to
remunerate his well-acknowledged scholar/friend, Mrs.
Tones, any more than a calculated, non-thank-you.

Excerpt from Chapter 13

Climbing the Rock Within by Jennifer Haig

Excerpt from Chapter 13:

My parents were away in Cleveland. I was alone at
home, and a letter arrived. It was from the Investigator
of Consumer Affairs Medical Board with a threat to subpoena
my medical records from Dr. Landorem if it was not
responded to in ten working days.

In Cleveland, on their way again to France, in May 1993,
my parents called me at 7:30 A.M to say good-bye. They were
going to New York City to board the Concord jet for the third
time in their lives.

“Dad, you’re a terrible, ugly person.”

Dad pretended not to hear. He knew the Medical Board
letter had arrived, did not mention it. “I helped a crippled
man. It’s written up in the paper, Rose. This man was a friend,
you know.”

Excerpt from Chapter 12

Climbing the Rock Within by Jennifer Haig

Excerpt from Chapter 12:

On February 19, 1991, a white tablecloth greeted me.
Breakfast was set. Mom, her quiet self, looked at me.
“Good morning, dear. How did you sleep?”

Unsure of how to judge when silence meant silence and
when it meant family breakdown, I waited. Dressed for the
“office,” Dad plowed over his newspaper, drank coffee. I figured
they did not care to hear that my sleepless night, as so
many others, had left me tattered. I lied, “Okay. I slept.”

Out of the kitchen with coffee came Lisa, the maid, no
one formal, just helpful; service my father was used to. I sat,
looked at him confused, still anxious to break his shell. Lisa
smiled at me, knew my entire secret. Daily, her patient eyes
witnessed my silent seizures. Aware of my bursts of fury, even
when Mom above my head spoke to her, “Nothing’s happened.
She’s fine.” Rosa knew my loneliness, never left me.

Excerpt from Chapter 11

Climbing the Rock Within by Jennifer Haig

Excerpt from Chapter 11:

Each day, I walked from home to Dr. Landorem’s office
with a weighted, barely coordinated body; I battled a
lack of self-worth. I had answers, but also, I was lost. My turbulence
released. My home-based hospital was a place to heal.
I can thank my parents for that. In a high-ceilinged living
room a grand piano offered solace. I was the only one ready to
play it. I called Estelle, a family friend, and signed up for
lessons. Every Friday morning, I rode a bus to Golden Gate
Park, went to docent classes at the Asian Art Museum. I was,
in my own way, back in school.

Though I was home, I felt intimidated. My mother did
not help, described me as an embarrassment, “swinging from
the trees.” Monday mornings a heavy-set German masseuse
showed up to relieve my mother of her back pain. The older
woman knew my mother better than I did. I sat, ate my bowl
of cereal. She often approached me, said nothing. One day I
noticed she came a little closer.

Excerpt from Chapter 10

Climbing the Rock Within by Jennifer Haig

Excerpt from Chapter 10:

At the beach house with Mom, Dad and I sat unheard,
unhealed. I kidded myself, imagined an ocean’s inner
stance, thought twice. I was no more free-spirited than past
high school weekends when I would sit alone in my room,
watch the ceiling. I had something to talk about then. I had
something now.

I watched my father through a porch door. In a gray
wicker chair he sat, his hand holding a book: The French Revolution.
Head bent low, his glasses rested on his nose. Against
the forested hills, he heard the same sea resonance I did,
maybe the same message. His quiet expression never changed.
Determined to snap our barrier, I approached his reclusive
ear.

“Come on the beach with me?”

Excerpt from Chapter 9

Climbing the Rock Within by Jennifer Haig

Excerpt from Chapter 9:

In Portland, I had a home away from home. Its fireplace
was every excuse to build a fire; it was rainy outside. A fire
meant tea, a book, silence. I enjoyed the more personal, natural
lifestyle of this city. In my mind, it made my parents’ type
of “San Francisco sophistication” seem superficial. I wondered
if I would ever return to understand it. The attitude was
at least willing to wait for me in the race of time. Part of me
grew up too slowly, while part of me still could not wait my
turn.

I watched the garden, swollen figs close to the kitchen
window. My trick with Brad was over. I daydreamed, welcomed
the rain’s persistence.

My new housemate, Penelope, an English major, sat snug
in a living room chair, read a book. I envied her contentedness.
Blond with curly hair, angelic milk-white skin contrasted
her studious light-rimmed glasses. A stolen, frayed dorm
couch filled one wall, my floor-bound mattress, the other. Too
shy to talk, I stayed in my place, counted the window’s raindrops.
Unfinished art history books lay scattered on the
breakfast table. I picked up Penelope’s Campus Bulletin. A dogeared
page caught my eye: The “Round-Up Column.”

Excerpt from Chapter 8

Climbing the Rock Within by Jennifer Haig

Excerpt from Chapter 8:

Dad, Beth, and I went on a trip to France together. The
first day in Paris, we went to a café bar, Mother
Earth’s, the place where Patrick had worked when he lived
there. It was small, had a well-used bar area, casual indoor
tables, with a few on the street. Once again, as in our high
school past, I thought of him exploring freedoms in ways I had
not. Once again, Rick and his world felt unreachable.

We started to leave, ran into two who knew friends. To
fight the heat, I took a deep breath. Dad, already in celebration,
took us to Joe Allen’s to have a beer. The next day, we
saw some sights, Sarah Bernhardt’s tombstone. The trees were
beautiful, green, the streets cobbled. For a bit, I was inside
Dad’s history-loving mind.

Excerpt from Chapter 7

Climbing the Rock Within by Jennifer Haig

Excerpt from Chapter 7:

Once I left for college in Oregon, Ivan kept in touch
with me through poetic letters, once illustrated in the
upper corner, a hummingbird hovered above a pink thistle.
The color detail allowed the figure to move, be suspended.
With all his words and images, Ivan gave more to me than
anyone. Afraid to show him my denied side, I mentioned
nothing of my illness.

I thought of how hardworking he was and how I had
stereotyped all the others at the party as “rich conservatives”
or “uncaring” ones not to understand me. I also knew he had
been out of bounds, without a tie, not of my financial background.
Now, I was scared, didn’t know what I wanted.

Excerpt from Chapter 6

Climbing the Rock Within by Jennifer Haig

Excerpt from Chapter 6:

This “coming-out” was meant to be an honor. For me, it
underscored Dad’s attitude toward women and girls,
which I had yet to trust. Again, without a grip on myself, I felt
fears I could not put into words. So much had to do with nausea
caused by my pills, fear of unanticipated seizures, and the
penned-in anger at my parents. It was dancing school all over
again. I had not grown up.

After I found out about the “coming out,” at the breakfast
table the next morning, I asked my father, “Dad, do I have to?”

“Yes.”

Excerpt from Chapter 5

Climbing the Rock Within by Jennifer Haig

Excerpt from Chapter 5:

When we arrived at the school, Mom and Dad met the
other students and helped me set up my room. I
held my mother tight, knew I had made the right decision,
said good-bye.

Though excited, I watched their car pull away and felt a
part of myself go with them. Mostly, I rebelled full-force,
knew I would enjoy the protected environment, my new home
filled with books and friendly female faces.

I enjoyed nighttime in the company of three roommates
in an old section of the converted inn. Across from me was a
longhaired blonde, Cindy. She was not as shy as I was, knew
the ropes of the school, had been there two years already. We
were strangers until I found out she was from Vancouver, B.C.
The name clicked. It was the place of Rick’s former boarding
school. We got along well enough, didn’t quite know how to
make a good conversation, until we shared our poetry and our
journals.