Friday, June 19, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I want to write about a dear friend of mine. We partnered up for a few projects while bogged down in our undergraduate. In those never-ending days I was raising children and Lena was living in residence so we would get together at my house where the television was often running and kids were wandering in and out. We would discuss literature and critics; we would brainstorm ideas for our papers, eat meals, snacks, and drink coffee, coffee, tea.
However, on a particular remove-your-coat, sunglasses-day in March (which happened to be my birthday) we opted to skip class in favour of sitting on the patio at the Grad House and order a jug of sunshine. There we sat, sipped and soaked in the sunshine until it was time to remove the sunglasses and shade our shoulders with the coats of March. The day was a gift. Weather-wise I had never had such a fine birthday, nor have I again.
As it does, time has turned its hand, my children have moved out and on with their own lives, Lena has married, is raising two children of her own, and working three jobs while she earns a PHD. We manage to visit a couple times a year, email once in a while, and hardly talk on the phone because time is unforgiving.
Yesterday, the sun shining, March winds blowing, Lena booked the day away from children, work, and studies. She turned off her cell-phone, drove to my house and picked me up to spend another birthday.
After a brief visit in my too quiet house we went for a drive chattering all the way about our different struggles with time – her demands so high that a tub-soak is a two-year-ago luxury (as every mother knows) while my nest suffers neglect and envy. She told me about a book, a must read by Jane Anderson who writes about "finding your authentic self after a lifetime of being all things to all people." Lena laughed, telling me that she had picked the book up because Jane Anderson so aptly fit the life enhancement into her schedule: A Weekend to Change your Life.
Thus engaged in wonderful conversation we lived a bit of the advice from the book and drove to Amherstburg Ontario where there is a quaint Tea House, white lace on dark tables, sunlight streamed from a bay window charming the dimly lit room. Menus were brought out and rejected by my dear friend who had already arranged everything for the five course lunch part of our date. For the better part of three hours we sipped tea (a most wonderful tea, which I have to ask the flavor of) and soup, nibbled salad and tiny sandwiches and cheese-cake and fruit and crumpets, and we chattered before taking another pleasant drive to a garden shop where we strolled and gazed at the promise of spring.
We spent time as if we were rich in it: my mind never once wandered away to phone calls I have to place, forms that need filling, the condition of my kitchen, or any other worry that the resent world has held for me.
Last night I removed crystal figurines from the cabinet where they were kept safe through the years of bouncing balls to hacky-sacs to the 'my-parents are-out-of-town-lets-part' years and displayed then on the dragon-fly gem-stone mirror this friend gifted to me after our lunch. I flipped on the lamp, sat back with a glass of red wine and I marveled at the rainbow reflects: past, present, and future.
And I said thank you
to the universe
for gifting me
in all ways
And thank you!
Monday, February 23, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
This issue, of hearing and seeing a writer as they present their own words as opposed to reading the work on the page, is very interesting. I have brought it to the floor with students in every class I have taught (no matter the level of practice they were at) and every age-group (grade 8 to adults). I personally have thought about the issue since my days in university. One of my poems (“Yellow”) hit the table for discussion. The practice was that we (the author) read the piece before it would be discussed. After I finished reading “Yellow” (which I may get up the courage to post) my professor claimed that she had a sheet full of comments but they became irrelevant. She did not have questions; no criticism to give me, nor did anyone else at the table of a dozen. All that accomplished was me doubting the power of my work in the written form (which I’ve never told my students or anyone else for that matter). However, our experiences are not as important as what we learn from them. This is the period when I began to pay attention to the appearance of the word (“I” vs. “i”) and to their position on the page. I also started utilizing the blank space on the page and doing away with most punctuation (which is maybe too often read in association with prose).
So here I step up and present “Doing dishes” in its written form and invite you to comment, question, or criticize…all opinions are valued. And remember that you can click on the image to enlarge it for easy reading.
Thank you in advance.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Last night TVO’s (Ontario Public Television) “The Agenda” aired a very informative debate on Steve Maich’s book, “The Ego Boom.” Though last night was the first time I have heard of this book or of Steve Maich, for that matter, it is amazingly relevant to my post on spending.
The show opened with a brief introduction of what Steve Maich explores in his book, which was published before the lay-offs and buy-out, before the experience of the present global situation.
“Our ego is responsible for the current economic crisis,” Maich said. He went on to describe how the 1980’s quest for self-esteem (and to instill self-esteem into our children) had gone awry, how the advertising media had shifted from statements of aspiration to those of self-affirmation (“because I’m worth it” shifted to, “because you’re worth it.”): eventually over-blowing self-esteem into something narcissistic and how the banks eventually came to invest in the notion that “ownership” somehow reflects self-worth.
I think of the book as a depiction of the gradual, steady building and the consequences of false self-esteem on a very large scale…defiantly a book that I’d like to read.
Something that rings true, and that we may each need to think about, is the idea that “the economy is here to serve us, not the other way around” (Elizabeth May). I admit that I have never thought of it that way before but I find May’s statement quite liberating. If we give May’s statement some thought and turn our practices around, it seems to me that we will experience more freedom than we ever have before – traveling a more positive road.
Elizabeth May (Political leader of the Green Party), Brink Lindsey (from the CATO Institute), Alan Hatchenson (Law Professor), and Dalton Conley (Sociology Professor) debated the issues Steve Maich raises in “The Ego Boom.”
Click onto the Wed. Feb 11/09 tab for "The Ego Boom" debate
Details on the book "The Ego Boom"
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
The most important message of the moment is the idea that we have been neglecting our spiritual needs, thus creating a feeling of emptiness (some kind of hole that needs filling) and we have been trying to fill that hole with 'things'…materialism; if any thing it is time for us to step away from that. It is time for us to learn to live simply; simply learn to live. And it is time for us to each get acquainted with the self and our individual spiritual needs, or if you prefer, the needs of our spirit (the genuine self).
I am also laid off and see no ‘job’ prospect, which is why I started this blog in the first place. Depressing? Yes! And that is fine. It was okay for me to take a few days to feel sorry for myself but in all, I do have a roof over my head and food in my belly. I won’t bother posting what I don’t have…what I’ve learned to live without, but I do have my old computer and internet. I have friends and family and communication. And I have one aspect of ability that I have worked very hard to try to develop, one passion that I could not justify spending time on because I was supposed to be out in the world generating money, working at some job some place to prove something to someone somewhere. I have neglected writing since graduating university. It is what many university graduates do…they graduate and look for a job and end-up doing something that has nothing or little to do with the area of study which meant enough to them to keep them going through the four to seven or more years it has taken to earn their degrees. What, ‘Reality’ sets in?…how sad. I am kindly lifting the guilt, for not making and spending money, off of my shoulders and I am working at getting to writing; to get doing the thing that inspired me to be able to endure seven years in that learning institution.
And okay, this may seem like a ‘privileged’ example. What about the people who, life being what it was at the given time, felt a need to take that factory job, make money so they could live and so they could spend money? The difference is slim. I am not, nor have I ever been ‘privileged’ in the financial sense. I am the first university graduate from my blue-collar family (outstanding school loans, past due). My brother is laid off after 21 years of working in a factory. He had ‘goals’ which he misplaced by labeling them as ‘dreams.’ When I learned about his lay off I suggested that it could be a blessing in disguise. He readily agreed with me. He has severance pay and training services available. Should he be spending his money right now? No! He should be taking time to digest the idea that his life has taken a new direction, getting in touch with himself, acknowledging the possibilities. It’s time to be creative, think outside of the box, and see the new. Winter feels long but spring always comes.
I was speaking with a very dear friend the other day, and as is true with many people right now, our conversation turned into talk about the economic situation. I told her, I feel that something positive is going to come from all of this mess; however, I didn’t explain myself. Now I have.
Positive thoughts = Positive energy
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
When the tsunami hit and stunned the world, like so many others, my friends and I could not peal ourselves away from the news. The feeling was one of helplessness. However, I had already graduated and was unemployed so was in a prime position to do something. A dear friend of mine was in the final stretch of her master’s degree and suggested, “We should go.” I was so overwhelmed by the idea that I got tears. It was a strange experience in those moments. There was no decision to be made; the decision just was. The fundraising started with our group of friends on the eve of 2005 and stretched over our community for the next month and a half.
We raised funds at university poetry readings and in back-street bars. We also organized a manor event, “Two Women and a Mission,” in a wedding-size hall which was donated. For this event three sales people, plus my sons, worked to gain door-prizes, which resulted in so many door-prizes that we ended up selling raffle tickets on some and having a loony auction on other items. Now there’s a tip for you if you are ever fundraising. The loony action (or dollar auction, for my American friends) is interactive and filled with energy. People really had fun with that and we raised good money. Aside from all of this community fundraising (which resulted in 6 thousand dollars), I was writing letters to raise corporate funds.
Once my friend and I decided on India we looked up the India Times newspaper to see where we might be needed. After hearing the news about children being taken, abducted for the sex trade, my mind was set to focus our energy on children’s safety. We found an ad which was placed by an orphanage that was adopting 80 tsunami orphaned children into their care (The Indian Gospel Mission). Not wanting to use community donations to fund our way to India, I started the campaign to gain corporate money to fund our travel expenses (tickets were 15 hundren dollars each).
In the meantime, we had friends and family who not only pledge money for the children, but they suggested that we needed funds for a cooling off period after our stay because we had no idea what we were about to face, so they also made donations for us to have a week to wind down before returning home. We spent that time in New Delhi.
It was smoother than truth. Everything came together and came to pass. We stayed with 120 children in India for a month. Our community paid a lumberjack, mill-worker, and a master carpenter who came in and taught the young fellows at the orphanage how to build bunk-beds, a skilled trade. Another of our feats while we were there was to get these kids back to the ocean they once loved. We served meals, sang songs, played games, and tutored English. The children were amazing spirits.
In my life I have never met more resourceful people in general. We arrived in Southeast India in late February 2005. Already the people had a major bridge nearly constructed. They carried bowls of rock and cement on their heads, had assembly-lines set up in the passing of bricks. Smiles were seen everywhere, laughter was hear, but in the midst you could walk past a tent and hear wailing which, out of cultural respect, you could not slice into with your presence; you could not comfort yourself by comforting them: not in the moment. The same was true in night-time hours of our day-time dancing, laughing children. Night-time cries haunt me more than the massive grave site which held 15 hundred bodies. Cries haunt me as they should because the aim of the trip was not about my comfort but was about their. Grieving is an entitlement and in their culture it is private.
Would I do it again?
Does your heat beat?
Monday, January 5, 2009
MA, English Literature & Creative Writing, University of Windsor, 2003
HBA, English Literature & Creative Writing, University of Windsor, 2001
OAC, Adult Learning Centre, Windsor Ontario, 1995
De die in diem: a book-size collection of poetry and short stories which, from the shock and awe to something close to acceptance, explores a year of the grieving process in this death denying society. Main advisors: Dr. Di Brandt and Dr. John Ditsky
2005—2007 Creative Writing for Beginners, Mackenzie Hall
Prepared teaching material/designed program and content, instructed two hour workshops on a weekly basis for adult writers (Fall and Winter 12 week sessions)
2005—2007 Creative Writing for Intermediates, Mackenzie Hall
Prepared teaching material/designed program and content, instructed two hour workshops on a weekly basis for adult writers, organized public reading which served as their final (Fall, Winter, and Spring 12 week sessions)
1999—2003 Creative Writing, Queen Victoria Public School
Organized and ran two hour writing workshops on weekly basis for grade 8 kids.
Accepted for Publication:
“Doing Dishes” (poem), Leaving Footprints: An Anthology of Southern Ontario Women Writers, (Black Moss Press)
“Check” (short story), Windsor Review: Transportation Issue
“From Caterpillars to Cocoons” (poem), Fait Accomplit: University of Alberta
“Testosterone” (poem), Little Black Book (Silver Lining Press), publication date: 2006
“Testosterone” (poem) in XX Magazine issue 4
Web-copy Editor, “Oh Simple Baby” website 2007
1st Editor, “Water Lilly” Still Water Productions (Peele Island, Ontario) 2004
Web-copy Editor, “The Everyday Dogg Show” (Toronto, Ontario) 2004
Editorial Assistant, University of Windsor Review (Windsor, Ontario) 2001—2003
Managing Editor, Generation Magazine (Windsor, Ontario) 2000
Editorial Assistant, Generation Magazine (Windsor, Ontario) 1997—1999