Thursday, October 19, 2006

Poetry Thursday

Uncomfortable poetry.

Writing about my family, particularily my dad, has always been uncomfortable for me. Coming from a strict British household where the world "love" was rarely said, but often showed, it was difficult for me to show my dad how much I love him. Even worse was seeing him cry for the first time ever when he dropped me off for my first day of university.

This is one of the first poems I ever wrote where I was able to break down those walls and show him how much I do care for him. I'm just not sure if he's ever read it, or if he would ever feel comfortable reading it...

Daddy's girl

Every morning,
he tames her hair
into two ribboned pigtails.

In the evenings,
pink fuzzy creature,
flurry of fat legs
and shiny Mary Janes
races down the pravement
to greet him home.

His china doll,
he likes to say
sitting tickled in summer grasses.

The day he drops
her off at university,
she knows he can cry.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Saturday morning yoga class

The studio is dimly lit this morning, from the windows at the end of a low-ceilinged room. All around, mats are unrolled with a “thwack” as students wander in, dotting the floor in rubber rectangles of grey, blue, and pink. To my side, a man in too-tight bicycle shorts (the kind that used to be fashionable in the eighties) and a blue tank top practices yoga poses. The skin on his spindly arms is stretched taught across muscles that are remarkably well developed for someone so skinny. Rolling onto his back, he raises his legs to the ceiling, arms propping his back up. His neck now tightly bucked into his chest, I hear him exhale, mouth closed. Crossing his legs, he lowers them into a reversed lotus position, bald head gleaming in the light of the window behind us. Inhales, exhales. Raises his legs, and lowers them to the ground. Beside him, a cluster of women stands around a mat, clutching water bottles and trading stories about their husbands and children. Other students lie in the relaxation pose, stretch or practice balances.

Diagonally across from me, an old Chinese woman, wearing a paisley blue sweater and light blue pyjama-like pants, has walked in. Every so often, she rubs her hair frantically and shakes her head with a twitch. Her breathing is sharp and shallow and she gulps air in like a grounded fish while clutching her chest as though she’s having a heart attack. As I watch her with growing concern, a man who I take to be her husband walks in and unrolls his mat next to hers, completely ignoring her erratic behaviour. She takes a drink from her water bottle, and mutters something to him in Mandarin. Beside them, another couple practices a pose and compare notes on how best to execute it.

Just then, another man walks in, burgundy yoga mat slung over his shoulder, tied at both ends with a white strap. His black hair is peppered with grey, and reminds me of a young Einstein in its manic unkemptness. Although he’s tried to tame it by pulling it back in a tiny ponytail, the sides still spray out from his head on either side like a poodle. Crossing the floor to the front of the room, his flip flops make light flapping sounds against the wooden floor. A black YMCA tank top marks him as the instructor, and as usual, his white boxers show through. For someone who is supposed to be a yoga master, he looks remarkably tired, and sports a five-o’clock shadow even though it’s early morning. As he weaves his way between clusters of students, he greets individuals with a nod and a low hello. Throughout the room, groups dissipate and people stand at the front of their mats, waiting in anticipation. The chatter dissolves into a low murmur. The instructor opens his mouth, and out croaks the voice of a Russian Kermit the Frog. We are invited to stand at the front of our mats, feet parallel, arms hanging down. Breathing in, we bring our hands to prayer position. Yoga class begins.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Simply because I should post something...

Haven't been feeling too inspired through PT or SS lately, but I figured I should probably post something, so here goes: a meme pinched from Orange Blossom Goddess's blog:

1. FIRST NAME? Christine

2. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Not my first name. But my middle name, Dorothy, comes from my grandmother on my dad's side, because we shared the same birthday. I only met her when I was a baby, because she passed away the day before my second birthday (the day my brother was born), but she is a legend in my family - she sounds like she was a wonderful, strong woman.

3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? I'm not really sure, actually. It's been a while!

4. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Well, it's mine...Full of personality and quirkiness! So, although it's not neat, I like it.


6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? Yes, because I'd understand my quirky sense of humour and crack me up :P

7. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? Yes. It's striped pink and brown - my two favorite colours, although I don't write in it often.


9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Never. I have a huge fear of heights (which made me a terrible gymnast, but there you go...).

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Reese Peanut Butter Cereal (when I do have cereal - it's a treat).

DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Depends..If I'm tired or have to dash to the loo, no...

12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Yes, both physically and emotionally.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR? Um...that's tough. Chocolate chip cookie dough, or something with toffee in it - Ben and Jerry's or Hagen Dasz (is that how you spell that?)

14. SHOE SIZE? 6 1/2 (heels), 7 (flats), 8 (runners)

15. FAVORITE COLOR? Right now, I'm in a brown phase, but I like pink too.

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? My knack for getting all worked up about nothing sometimes.

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My parents and brother.


19. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? No shoes. Pink velour jogging pants (it's Saturday, after all, and see 15).

20. LAST THING YOU ATE? Two chocolate chip-pecan-toffee cookies from Tim's (it's Saturday, after all).

21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? The stove cooling off after boiling potatoes for gnocci, and She's All That on City TV (it is Saturday...).

22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Pink or brown. Or maybe marble of both!

23. FAVORITE SMELLS? Cologne on a man's neck...



26. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? I took it from Orange Blossom Goddess. She's pretty cool :)


28. FAVORITE SPORT? Tennis (to play. I don't have the attention span to watch it).

29. EYE COLOUR? Depends on my mood...Green or brown (haven't figured out what coincides with what).

30. HAT SIZE? Um...I dunno, small?

31. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? No, but I wear glasses and contacts would come in handy when boyo's around :P

32. FAVORITE FOOD? Fondue, four-cheese pizza (at the Reservoir Lounge).


34. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Pink (ok to be fair, not EVERYTHING I wear is pink :P)

35. SUMMER OR WINTER? Spring or fall.


37. FAVORITE DESSERT? Cheesecake, ice cream, chocolate...

38. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? The Undomestic Goddess, Anna Karenina (not sure if I'll ever finish that one...)

39. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Trackpad. Don't have a mouse.

40. WHAT DID YOU WATCH LAST NIGHT ON TV? What Not to Wear and something else I don't remember.

41. FAVORITE SOUNDS? wind in the leaves, water running over pebbles or on the belly of my canoe

42. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Depends on my mood. Both are cool.


44. WHAT'S YOUR SPECIAL TALENT? I'm fairly "bendy" and pretty good at yoga...

45. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? North York, Ontario, Canada

46. WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? How many times do you have to ask that question? See above.

47. NEWEST THING YOU'VE TRIED? Port with blue cheese and walnuts. Yummy! Thanks boyo!


49. WHO DID YOU LAST SEND A LETTER OR CARD TO? Um...I sent a thank you note to a photographer at work who donated us some images...


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: Skin


Wow...I've been away from this for far too long. I hate the verbal constipation!

Getting to know you

we've only met twice
but already,
I want to write about your skin
skin that I've only just touched
only just smelled
explored furtively
stolen kisses
hands grazing hands
fingers sneaking in between the buttons on your shirt
with our second kiss goodbye

but my mind has already
traced the scar you told me about
above your heart
a constellation among fine chest-hairs
waiting for the day I do know you well enough
to know you through your skin

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Trouble afoot at the Walrus

Oooh, things are getting interesting on D.B. Scott's Canadian Magazines blog. In particular, see a conversation that's happening about The Walrus (a Canadian magazine much like Harper's). Last week, most of the board quit, as did the publisher. Now, things have gotten so heated on D.B.'s blog, that the editor himself has started posting comments. If you're interested in Canadian magazines, you'll be interested in this:

Canadian Magazines: We're OK, it's OK, say Walrus principals

I have to say, I met Ken Alexander, the Walrus's editor, once, and I wasn't impressed.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Will things ever calm down, and AAARGH!

Ok, I rephrase that. It's Saturday morning and in fact, I have nothing to do. Everyone's busy...It has been such a weird summer, with friends getting divorced, moving out of boyfriends' houses, getting new jobs, taking care of baby...To tell the truth, it's been fairly boring. Now, I don't want to complain, but I have to say, I'm getting pretty tired of entertaining myself and the cats. I'm actually thinking of joining the local running and hiking clubs. They do say that they are effective means of meeting people. But enough of feeling sorry for myself. The point is, it's a grey Saturday, and I finally have time to blog again.

Work has been crazy busy, and I'm pleased to say, I survived h-e-double hockeysticks week: four projects, all with competing deadlines, all of which were due this week. Craziness. But I survived, and I'm looking forward to November, where I can actually plan out my critical path and sit down with my boss to put together some goals and achievables, rather than just reacting to the next crisis and deadline.

As for the love life, well, things with e-harmony dude didn't really work out. It's amazing how 'into' me he seemed, yet he never called or wanted to make plans to get together. The lesson learned: ALWAYS trust your instincts - I didn't have a good feeling about this one, and actually cancelled our first date, but he convinced me out of it. I ended up breaking up with him for exactly the reasons I cancelled our first date. How empowering to actually be the breaker-upper!

So now, the door is wide open for me to explore other possibilities. And who knows what may come of it?

That's about as personal as I'm going to get on my blog. And now, for something completely different:

A friend just sent me this from the BBC site, and I couldn't believe it. What does this mean for Rachel Carson's legacy? I'm going to have to do some serious thinking about the implications of this WHO decision. Just when you think you have things figured out, life throws another twist at you:

WHO backs DDT for malaria control
Malaria, carried by the mosquito, kills more than a million each year The World Health Organization (WHO) has reversed a 30-year policy by endorsing the use of DDT for malaria control.
The chemical is sprayed inside houses to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
DDT has been banned globally for every use except fighting disease because of its environmental impacts and fears for human health.
WHO says there is no health risk, and DDT should rank with bednets and drugs as a tool for combating malaria, which kills more than one million each year.
"The scientific and programmatic evidence clearly supports this reassessment," said Dr Anarfi Asamoa-Baah, WHO assistant director- general for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.
DDT presents no health risk when used properly Anarfi Asamoa-Baah "Indoor residual spraying is useful to quickly reduce the number of infections caused by malaria-carrying mosquitoes; it has proven to be just as cost effective as other malaria prevention measures, and DDT presents no health risk when used properly."
Teams of sprayers typically visit endemic areas once a year, spraying the chemical on the inside walls of houses; mosquitoes landing there absorb it and die.
Global ban
A potent insecticide, DDT fell into disrepute with the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring just over 40 years ago.
The book showed that widespread, indiscriminate use of DDT and related compounds was killing wildlife over vast tracts of North America and western Europe.
Spray preparation, BBC
Africa battles over DDT
A number of countries banned it, and in 2004 the global treaty on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) made the prohibition global - except for a clause allowing its manufacture and use in disease control.
Some African countries have continued to use it, though most have either switched to other kinds of insecticide or pursued a strategy of issuing insecticide-impregnated bednets. Some aid agencies have policies of not funding programmes involving DDT.
South Africa was one country that switched, but it had to return to DDT at the beginning of the decade after mosquitoes developed resistance to the substitute compounds.
"Of the dozen insecticides WHO has approved as safe for house spraying, the most effective is DDT," said Arata Kochi, director of the WHO's Global Malaria Programme.
Richard Tren of the pressure group Africa Fighting Malaria has been campaigning for DDT's rehabilitation.
"All development agencies and endemic countries need to act in accordance with WHO's position on the use of DDT for indoor residual spraying," he said.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

SRC weeks 12? 13? where did I drop off?


Well I have no idea what week I'm on, since Anna Karenina swallowed up about three weeks. But let's say it's week 13. Wicked was...all right. I don't know if I hyped it up too much cause of the reviews it got from others, or it's simply a poorly written book, or just not my genre. It started off great, it ended ok, but in the middle was about 200 pages of loosely-strung out and vague adventures that I had to force myself to follow. Glad I ticked it off my TBR list, but don't think it deserves the accolades it's received.

The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency

Well, I can't say I've met my challenge. But I CAN say that SRC inspired me to read much more than I would have in the past. My final book (which I'm just wrapping up now) is _The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency_. I have to say, I've been pleasantly suprised thus far. It's quite a different, non-western take on the detective novel, and as the jacket flap says, it's also a pretty inspirational book. Thanks SRC for inspiring me to read more!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Sunday Scribblings

Argh it is so hard to keep up with my blog these days! I've been busy launching our new website at work and doing tons of overtime (though in a non-profit I'm learning that OT really isn't counted) and seeing my guy in the evenings, or just plain crashing. Now that our website is up and running, I am moving on to getting our newsletter to art, and then working on our annual report and calendar. There certainly isn't a shortage of work, but every time I walk by the sign for our organization, I do a little cheer in my head each morning, because that's how much I love my new job :)

Anyhoo, this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is about fortunes or fortune cookies. I generally don't believe in that whole fortune-telling thing (or maybe I'm too superstitious to try it out), but I do love fortune cookies. And although I am not feeling very inspired by this prompt (sorry, SS peeps), I will write a little sum'n-sum'n just to get the creative juices flowing.

Fortune cookies always remind me of my best friend Lenya and our highschool days. In grade nine, we had to take the bus from our school to the Sheppard Mall (a ghost mall then, and a ghost mall today) and then transfer over to another bus to get home.

Lenya and I would occasionally take public transit together back from school, then instead of heading to our transfers, trek down to the mall, and hang out. Now my parents had always said that they didn't want me to become a mall rat, and dear reader, I must assure you that we were far from that. But anyways, Len and I would meander over to the food court, sharing notes about our favorite guys in science or typing class (yes, typing class - I think we were the last grade to actually learn typing on typewriters, and thus I date myself...) still dressed in our burgundy and grey Catholic school uniforms, and make our way to the Chinese food stand.

We'd wait in line, often for a few minutes at a time. Then, when our turn came up, we'd step forward, and brazenly order...

a fortune cookie.

No lo-mein, no chicken balls, no barbequed beef. Just...

a fortune cookie.

Lord knows what the teller thought of us as we doled out our 15 cents (or was it 25) in order to purchase that crunchy sweet morsel wrapped around a sliver of a fortune. But we didn't care, and the purchasing of the fortune cookie became a little ritual of ours.

One day, late in the school year, we headed over again to the Chinese food stand, full of gossip about a guy we called "suspenders" (because he had an endearing way of wearing suspenders with his uniform), who had looked especially cute that day and had sat next to me in typing class. Len and I had shared numerous poorly-typed notes back and forth comparing notes on dear suspenders during class, and were chatting away about what tomorrow would bring. Our turn came in line. I fished out my change, and found that I only had 10 cents in my wallet. And Len had none.

With a small sigh, I stepped to turn away from the counter, when a kind lady standing next to us opened her wallet and offered to pay for my fortune cookie. I've never truly gotten over the embarrassment of that moment, and I can't quite imagine what she must have thought of us...Perhaps she thought we were starved (though I never was the skin and bones type). That didn't stop me from accepting her offer, and taking the cellophane-wrapped fortune cookie with me, cheeks blazing red from embarrassment. I can't remember what my fortune said that day.

The next year, our school moved to within walking distance from my house, so Len and I no longer took the bus together, but instead met at school. The gossip was never quite the same, although we've stayed life-long friends. But I often think back on our little ritual of purchasing a sliver of hope, when our whole lives still stretched before us, and it makes me smile for the optimism we shared back then.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sunday Scribblings

This week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is to imagine our pet's inner life. I've decided I will tell you about little Annabelle. She was one of the sweetest kitties my parents had ever adopted; a stray from the Humane Society. Although I try not to anthropomorphize my pets and imagine them as individuals in their own right, what happened with Annabelle made me wish I could have understood her inner life and communicated with her...

Tiny Annabelle joined our family last year, and quickly became a central part of my parents' household. Their older cat, Caramel, loved her. They used to lie together in exactly the same way in the same chair; groom each other; play together. They quickly became inseparable friends, which so rarely happens with cats.

She was such a sweet little cat. For a while, we thought we'd call her Ewok because up close, that's what she looked like. But there was something always wrong with her front paw; the way she held it up like it was botherng her and stepped gingerly on it.

One day, Annabelle started having difficulty with her breathing. Lying on her side, her flank rose and fell like a bellows in the heat. After a week at the vet's, she came back home, but Caramel didn't seem to recognize her, and the problems resurfaced. Her eyes turned grey and glazed over. She started walking into walls, tables, chairs. She spent hours lying on the rattan chair in the front porch, because it seemed to be the only place she was comfortable anymore. We took Annabelle back to the vet's.

While my dad and I were on a four-hour drive back from Sudbury, caught in the tail end of the huge storm last summer that washed out the Finch Avenue bridge, my mom got a call from the vet: he'd had to make a decision and put Annabelle down. Her body had systematically shut down due to a parasitic infection. She lost her sight due to hemorraging in her eyes; her fur lost its shine; her liver and kidneys shut down. She started having seizures.

When my mom went to see Annabelle for the last time, her beloved kitten didn't recognize her. She backed away into the corner of the cold metal cage when mom reached her hand out to pet her. Mom came home and cried for an hour while she waited for us to arrive.

We cried together in each other's arms while dad put Annabelle's lifeless body the ground next to a weeping birch tree, branches swaying above her. We placed a bird bath in the grass above her, because she'd been so thirsty in her last days and couldn't seem to get enough water, mom said. And she'd also loved to watch the birds.

Why did I weep so deeply for a cat I'd known for such a short time? Because all I could think of was that she couldn't have known what was happening. Everything around her was foreign - the sterility of the vet's cage, the shutting down of her body. And she couldn't call out to us to tell us something felt wrong in that front paw. It must have been completely disorienting and frightening to her. And in the end, I'm not sure she knew how much she was loved, or how much she'd be missed.

Caramel walked around the house for days calling out for Annabelle in the middle of the night. Looked for her in empty nooks and crannies but never found her.

~ Ceebie

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I'm back

Finally, a Saturday morning in which to enjoy a cup of tea, catch up on my reading, blogging, yoga, and household chores!

I'm a little late, but since this week's PT prompt was "free", I thought I'd post two of my favorite poems that I wrote about ten years back. Granted, they still need some work, but the yellow is something that has stuck with me.

Sunflower Queen I

Round the bend in the bike path, under a bridge, is where she brings her treasures. She has a mattress -- torn and flat, but it does the job. Every day, she wanders in fields and gathers fallen sunflowers. On your way home from work, you can see the yellow walking down the street.

The gossips say she dated a doctor so handsome, when he smiled, his teeth gleamed. Now, nurse cap flops on her head. Parents call her the "Bayview street nurse". If you're bad, she'll give you a needle so you will never wake up.

I've seen her down the street at Loblaws: she hides out back and waits for people to chuck their receipts, or collects empty banana boxes. Then she scurries up to shove them in her bags or grocery cart with the floppy wheel.

Tonight, a cyclist finds her on her mattress, surrounded by rotten sunflowers. Love letters and poems scribbled on receipts and cardboard scraps with banana stains have been stored under her mattress.

I keep them, in a shoe box under my bed.

Sometimes, I can still smell the yellow in my dreams.

sunflower queen II

in the calm,

cool grey of morning

I lift myself

from dewy grasses

split silver paths

to stand where the petals burn

damp earth clinging between toes

reach up

tilt faces down

and breathe fire

~ Ceebie

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I've been AWOL

...because of this new job, and this new man in my life (we met on Eharmony, actually!) :)

Things are great, but hectic! So very little time to blog and catch up on everyone else's blogs. But hopefully I'll be able to carve out some time this week to do so...Plus I had a drive-by visit to celebrate my nephew's first birthday in Ottawa this weekend. He is just at the age where you can see his personality emerging and his sense of self. It's so cool, and he's so cute! I'm a very proud matante :)

Anyhoo, I promise I will stop by everyone's blogs to check them out. And I hope to be able to contribute to PT and SS this week. I'm missing my blogger community!


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Poetry Thursday supplement

Ok...I've been thinking about it, and one of the most romantic times of my teenage years was on a first or second date with a boy I was head over heels with... I'd had my eye on him for two years since we were camp counselors at the same camp, but never imagined he'd be interested. Until he asked me out. He used to drive his dad's light brown pickup truck, which for some reason I thought made him soooo cool. And he was hot. Smart. And he was interested in me!

So on this one particular evening, we were driving back from who knows where. Most likely dancing. We did a lot of dancing that summer. He drove us downtown, right across from the harbour at Harbourfront, to an abandoned parking lot. Turned off the ignition. Turned on the cassette deck (now I'm REALLY dating myself). We got out, and danced to "November Rain" by Guns & Roses....Funny how perspective changes everything!

first love

harbourlights twinkle across the way
head on your chest
we slow dance
body leaning into each other
your hands fit so nicely
on the small of my back
hoping you won't feel my heart
beating a mile a minute

breathing in your Drakkar
the guitar twang solo
Guns & Roses, November Rain
blares from the cassette deck
of your dad's brown pickup truck
I left the $3.99 cellophaned roses lying
on vynil seats

this empty parking lot
a perfect backdrop for first love
and a night I'll never forget



Somebody please help! What is the deal with my template????

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Poetry Thursday rough cut

This week's Poetry Thursday prompt is to write about a song or music that inspired you...Although I am a dancer and love music, it's always been more about the beat than the words for me. Then I remember the day my brother and I were going through my parents' LPs and threw on Pink Floyd. I remember thinking "what kind of stuff were my parents ON?" and looking at my brother in mock horrror. In the days of early 90s music, Pink Floyd was an amazing discovery for me...The way the songs bleed into one another...The metaphors that grab you, like the dark side of the moon...The guitar chords that reached deep into me.' In highschool, Pink Floyd became our unofficial mascots - we all sort of spontaneously rediscovered their albums, and they played in the background in the dimly lit basements of our parents' houses at house parties.

The other album which has stuck with me from those days is Harmonium - it's a classic Quebecois folksy kind of band.

Then there was the time when we had our graduation party at someone's parents' barn. It was probably the last time all of us were together as a group. My boyfriend and I had stolen to the loft for a 'moment' and when we came back, I remember my friends sitting around a makeshift table, playing poker, slightly drunk and Dominique singing "ne pleure pas" over and over again in the most monotonous voice. Can't remember who the singer was. All that's stuck in my head is the droning of Dom's voice as he threw down another card, looking as though he was about to cry any minute himself.

Now if only I could turn these thoughts into a poem! Maybe the other great PT writers will inspire me, as they do every week :)


Sunday Scribblings

This week's Sunday Scribblings prompt asks, "who else might I have been"? Last year, I attended a lecture by Nicole Brossard, author of Hier (Yesterday at the Hotel Clarendon), and posted about her musings on what it might be like to live and breathe in another language, an excerpt of which I am reproducing here:

Nicole's work has been translated into several languages. While she writes in French and is a native French speaker, she read to us in English from a text that had been translated by someone else. She spoke to us about the idea that you are a different person if you grow up in another language. Who, she asks, would she be, what kind of a woman would she be, if she had grown up in English, Italian, Spanish? Each language has a different way of breathing, and of being...

I have grown up sandwiched in between Canada's two solitudes - French, and English. Never completely at home in French while surrounded by a culture that is predominantly English, and where my mother tongue (the language first spoken to me by my mother) always felt like an uncomfortably big sweater where the sleeves had been rolled up. And at the same time, I am never completely whole in English alone - I feel as though a part of me is missing somehow when I live my life entirely in that language. So how do I then construct my subjectivism, in the spaces between these two languages? How do I breathe in this space between two silences?

Who would I have been if I'd grown up entirely francophone, or entirely anglophone? Would I have felt more at home in Toronto, or Quebedc? My bilingualism is a core part of who I am. Sometimes it serves as an extension of my thoughts, if one or the other language happens to fail me momentarily. If I'd been Spanish or Italian, would I have been more hot-blooded? Who would Christina have been, rather than the quiet Christine of half British roots who often has extreme moments of extroversion tied to her Quebecois roots?


First three days, first three weeks, first three months

Phew! I have made it through week two of my new job, and I'm still standing (barely)! I am loving my job but it is a HUGE learning curve for me. More of a vertical rock climb, really. The people are very nice, my team is really laid back and fun, and the work is exactly what I have always wanted to do.

I sure was thrown right into the fray, though. On my first day I had a conf call with our CMS provider who is going to help us relaunch our website. They provide this really cool database system that allows you to do all kinds of neat customization and track info, etc...We're going to be one of the only, if not the first, charity in Canada to use this stuff. As a data geek, I'm excited.

Following that meeting, I had a briefing meeting with our designer on my second day to discuss our design needs for our newsletter, annual report, calendar and certificates. I'd prepared a creative brief for him, and he couldn't believe it was my second day.

By the end of week one, I'd talked to all of my regional contacts and put together a fairly detailed editorial lineup for the newsletter. By middle of week two, I'd chaired a meeting and helped redesign our site flow and page titling on our website.

There certainly isn't a lack of work, but this is justification that this is my dream job. I'm actually getting to the point where I'm excited to go in to work - something I haven't felt in years! Of course there will be personality conflicts with a few people, and I'm still figuring out my level of decision-making power and the lines of reporting, but otherwise, things are good :)

So that's it for my update. It's also why I neglected to post for Poetry Thursday this week. I've simply been tooooo tired, even to post someone else's poem! But I will definitely post next week.


Saturday, July 29, 2006

Musings on internet dating...

Ok, I had to blog about this topic eventually. My ex bf and I met on Lava, and to be quite honest, we had great chemistry, and many things in common, but in the end it didn't work out. When we broke up a few months ago, I was devastated, but have come to terms with it now and am ready to move on - I know he's not the only one out ther for me and am curious to see who else is out there. Plus, to be honest I just want a summer of fun where nice men take me out for dinner and make me feel nice. Here's hoping.

Anyways, since most of my friends seem to have gone AWOL for the summer, I've decided to try my hand at internet dating again. So far, I haven't met anyone, but here's the low down on Lava vs eHarmony:

A) Lava
To be honest, this one is much like going to a supermarket, strolling through the aisles, and picking up the box of cereal which looks most attractive. If you were to read the ingredients on the side of each box, you'd see that they are all pretty much the same.

Same with Lava: it's primarily driven by people's attraction to your photo, followed by their impressions of your profile. Most people don't write anything remotely original which sets them apart, so it's pretty much just about "smiling" at the person who you think you could stand to be seen with and are attracted to. If they smile back, you might begin chatting, and take it from there.

Or, they might smile at you, or try engaging you in an online chat. To be honest, apart from my ex, most men I've talked to on Lava pretty much assume it's open season to begin seriously flirting and making suggestive advances almost immediately.

This can make one feel quite vulnerable, flattered (if you're getting a lot of "smiles"), or down on yourself (if you're not getting smiles or messages - which for me, seems to be the case these past few days).

What, really, do you know about someone after chatting with them for a little while, or engaging in an exchange of smiles? Not much. Plus, who knows if their online photo is recent, and really reflects them!

on to B), eHarmony:
To tell the truth, I hadn't even intended on going back online until a friend of mine suggested I try eHarmony's free personality profile quiz. This is a 20-page quiz that tries to give an accurate picture of who you are. I think mine went a little overboard on the social butterfly thing (I am social, but have my introvert moments too), and ended up saying I'm quite spiritual (I'm agnostic).

Somehow, I ended up clicking a box that triggered the next step, which is to have matches sent to you based on your compatibility with their personality profile. In theory, this is an interesting concept (which reminds me a lot of the old video dating days, though I was too young for that when it was en vogue). So the system started sending me matches.

Matches are a description of a person's personality and commonalities with you, with answers to a number of questions. It's a lot more detailed than the Lava profiles. Matches can: ignore your match, close your match (it's funny how insulted I've felt when men closed the match without even knowing them!), or open communication.

If you open communication, you then go through a series of steps before beginning "Open Communication". You each have the opportunity to send each other (and respond to) questions about your likes/dislikes and other behavioural questions. In theory, this is to help you get to know the person better. But the 'net is such an impersonal mechanism, it's difficult to read responses properly.

Anyways, I've been engaging in communication with a few men, and am now at the "begin open communication"stage, but I'm nervous. After going through all of the stages, it suddenly hit me that this man is 7 years my elder, and my parents might not appreciate that. Plus, I had a look at his second photo, and it seems he looks much older than the first one suggested. I'm not ageist, but I don't want to be dating my father!

ARGH. So, the struggles of a single gal living in TO continue.

I'd be interested to hear your internet dating woes or successes...Have any?


SRC week 9 - I Capture the Castle

This week I started my new job, to which I am subwaying it instead of driving. This, coupled with the fact that I don't know anyone at my new job yet, means that I've had a lot more time to read this week (although I still haven't finished Ana Karenina - 1/4 of the way there, though).
This book was actually in the teen section, possibly because its main protagonist is a teenage girl, Cassandra. Cassandra lives in a medieval castle in England, in the 1940s/50s. This seems romantic, but since her family is poor, they've had to seel alll of the furniture, and have very little to eat, no electricity and very few amenities. The novel is written in the first person, as though they were Cassandra's journals. It's quite well done, although in my opinion it's probably a little more well-written than a 17-year old would write. However, that may just be because with the rise of television, etc, we've all become more and more illiterate and have set ourselves lower standards of literacy.

Anyways, this is a good book, which I recommend.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Poetry Thursday

This week's PT prompt is poetry about food. Since this week was my first week at my new job (more about that in a future post), I haven't been particularly creative when I get home. I can say however that for years I had a very ambiguous relationship to food. My family isn't one that is crazy about food, and as a dancer and gymnast I had huge issues with eating for some time (not anorexia, but close enough). It wasn't until I took a cultural production workshop around food in grad school that I began to unpack the other cultural meanings food has for me...One day I may find a poem I wrote for the workshop and post it here, but for now, here is a poem I love by Joy Harjo:

Perhaps the World Ends Here

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what,
we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the
table so it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe
at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what
it means to be human. We make men at it,
we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts
of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms
around our children. They laugh with us at our poor
fallling-down selves and as we put ourselves back
together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella
in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place
to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate
the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared
our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow.
We pray of suffering and remorse.
We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at th ekitchen table,
while we are laughing and crying,
eating of the last sweet bite.

- Joy Harjo

The gits of earth are brought and prepared, set on the

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A literature map!

Jen posted a link to the coolest thing today: a literature map! Basically, you enter the name of an author, and then somehow it generates a map of what other readers who read that author have also read. For instance: Carol Shields, Anne Taylor (never heard of her but I guess I should pick something up of hers), Joanna Trollope, Barbara Kingsolver, Oscar Wild (is that the same as Oscar Wilde?)....And off in the right hand side, Margaret Attwood, Joan Barfoot, Timothy Findley...

I'm pleased to say taht I know who most of these authors are, and if I don't this might be a good means of exploring them.

Anyone understand how the heck this thing is generated? I've never seen anything so cool! (Well maybe I have, but at the moment I think this is too neat!)


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Poetry Thursday

This week's PT prompt is about sex...For me, this relates to the topic of personal poetry we discussed a few weeks ago. In part, I've refrained from writing sex poetry out of a fear that one day my parents would come across it! Coming from a strict British and Catholic upbringing, sex was never discussed much in our family. I know it seems silly but that's essentially it.

Here, then, is someone else's sex poem that I first encountered in first year English in University. Having studied in a strict Catholic high school, we hadn't read much (if any) sex poetry (and if we did, we quickly glossed over it...ah, the repression of Catholic highschool!). So when our lit prof introduced us to John Donne's "The Flea", I couldn't believe that someone in the 17th century (a former priest, no less) had written such a raunchy poem. Yes, I was incredibly naive until I arrived in university!

The Flea

Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is;
Me it sucked first, and now sucks hee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be;
Thou know'st that this cannot be said
A sin, or shame, or loss of maidenhead,
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pampered swells with one blood made of two,
And this, alas, is more than we would do.

Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, nay more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed and marriage temple is;
Though parents grudge, and you, we are met,
And cloistered in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that, self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it sucked from thee?
Yet thouh triumph'st, and say'st that thou
Find'st not thy self nor me the weaker now;
'Tis true; then learn how false fears be:
Just so much nonor, when thou yield'st to me,
Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.

- John Donne (1633)


*edit: I've since had the opportunity to read many other PT posts, and it seems I am not the only one who feels a little shy...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

SRC week 7 - catching up

I picked up the story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor some time ago from my parents' TBR Mountain, and have been trying to get past the first 40 pages for a few months. Now that I'm off work, I've finally been able to finish it. Overall, I think it was an intriguing concept - a Protestant upper-class family in Ireland in the early 20th century is forced to leave when their home is attacked and almost burned down. Their young daughter runs off and is presumed drowned, so her parents leave Ireland and move to Italy for the next 30 years. From there starts an interesting series of events. Overall, very well done. What was most interesting to me was that the syntax and flow of the sentences was so very Irish. I could almost hear the lilt in the sentences. Not sure if I'd read another one by Trevor, although it was selected as the New York Times best book of the year at one point (not that that's anything to go by either ;P)


Saturday, July 15, 2006

SRC weeks 5 & 6 (or is it 6 & 7?)

I am so far behind on my reading, partly because I've been trying to wrap up six years of employment and prepare for a new job, and also finish up a feature article assignemnt.
Anyways, I've made it halfway through Leonard Cohen's [u]Book of Longing[/u] and Jan Zwicky's [u]Robinson's Crossing[/u].

I had to give Zwicky's book back before I could make it all the way through, but I liked what I read so far. The first section is a lot about embodied knowledge, and the tensions between knowing and feeling. The second part is about Zwicky's life on the prairies at her grandparents' farm, and her quest for home. I didn't get much through it but I plan to return to her one day. She's really getting a lot of good reviews from ecocritics as someone who's doing great things for environmental writing in Canada.

As for Cohen, I'm torn...I can't decide if he's a feminist or a misogyinist, or both. I don't particularly enjoy his style of poetry, which tends to be more conversational and flippant rather than lyrical and evocative. But he is one of Canada's best-known poets, and he is an intriguing character. His struggles with Buddhism and wanting to indulge in the pleasures of the flesh are particularly intriguing to me... I'm not sure if I'll make it all the way through this but I'm glad I picked it up nonetheless.



Where to begin...Yesterday was my last day of work at the University. Having spent almost 1/3 of my life there as a student and staff, I have to say I really had mixed emotions about my departure. I really believe that my Faculty does great things, and there are tons of folks - friends and colleagues, students and faculty - whom I will miss. Everyone has been really really nice and I've had so many great emails from students and faculty telling me they'll miss me and they wish me all the best. Even my manager said thanks for my hard work and that I'd be missed (which, considering our rocky year, was surprising!). The EO made up some story about how she met me, but the point is that she said that it was the little things that I'd did, my passion and enthusiasm for it, that would be missed. So many people have been so kind and I'm glad I'm leaving on my own terms. One of the students even sent an email to the list serve telling them I was leaving, and I've had so many great emails from students thanking me and saying they'll miss me. An email from a faculty member in Budapest saying my skills were underused, a phone call from a colleague who was on her day off to wish me well, faculty members saying they'd miss me...Really, I can't imagine a better way to leave.

It just feels surreal. My safety blanket is gone! Now I'm off into the totally new (yet not entirely foreign to me) field of publishing. I met with my new director today and the staff. They all seemed so relieved to have me there because there is TONS of work to be done. I had to buy a bag in order to carry the homework home!

Once I get used to subway commuting again (compared to a car it feels pretty claustrophobic to me), I'll loooove working at Yonge & Eglington (or Yonge & Eligible as the locals call it :P)

So that's it! One week of freedom and catching up on all of my projects and such, and then a new life begins!!!!

I'm so nervous and excited all at once. It's really a mixed bag of emotions but this is so what I've wanted for so long. And some kind souls have decided to give me a break. Now I get to write and publish for an organization with an environmental mandate, and feel like I'm making a difference in the "real world". Woohoo!!!!


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Poetry Thursday

This week's Poetry Thursday prompt is for humorous poetry...Although my poetry is rarely humorous (tortured soul of the poet and all...), here's something I unearthed from my portfolio that struck me with its quirkiness (inspired by the smell of Ottawa in the fall, which had me convinced I was walking around with bad breath for months. I realized it was the Ottawa sewage system!)

Venice Never Smells at Night

One day, years from now, you and I
Will be walking along a Venetian canal
And you will turn to me, silhouetted
In the moonlight, and say

Darling, what is that smell?
It's not me, and it's not the canal,

And that, will be that.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I have to do this

Ok so I have to do this in order to change the photo in my profile. Trust me it is not solipsism...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Eats, Shoots & Leaves - great passages

Trying to finish this book today, so I can finish my feature tomorrow (I know, priorities!). But at least I may have a better sense of proper punctuation (though I'm happy to say I knew most of the rules I've come across in this book so far).

Anyhoo, here's a passage that showcases Truss's ability to make a dull topic seem interesting, at least to editor nerds such as myself:

"Nowadays the fashion is against grammatical fussiness. A passage peppered with commas -- which in the past would have indicated painstaking and authoritative editorial attention -- smacks simply of no backbone. People who put in all the commas betray themselves as moral weakinglings with empty lives and out-of-date reference books" (95-6).

And here, a list of proper uses of the comma:

1. Commas for lists
2. Commas for joining
3. Commas filling gaps
4. Commas before direct speech
5. Commas setting off interjections
6. Commas that come in pairs

I definitely recommend this to anyone with the slightest interest in language and punctuation (but it is not a grammar book, as Truss points out).


Who is a feminist poet?

Justin posted this great post, "Why I am not a Feminist Poet", that I found through Wandering Blind's blog...

Have a look at it - this is exactly the kind of stuff I am toying with. Am I, or am I not, a feminist, by wearing high heels? Are there indeed different kinds of feminism? I fear that first-wave feminists, while they made so many great gains for us, and did what they did (the bra burning, etc) because they HAD to, also give feminism a bad name...Feminism in the PoMo age opened up the realization that not all women are created equal, and we all come from different situatedness. This kind of feminism, to me, is a more equitable form of feminism. But does it stray too far from the Feminine Mystique?

Would love to hear what you all think... (and apologies to Justin if I have misread the tone of his poem)


Poetry Thursday supplement

After reading everyone's Poetry Thursday posts (I finally made it through the whole list of posts, and there are some amazing writers in this group!), I remembered another poem I wrote years ago about the process of writing for me, which I think more accurately responds to the prompt about personal or confessional poetry:


thoughts, armed with daggers
wage battles behind my eyes -
soldiers riding memories -
multi-colored horses pave
hooves into the valleys of my mind

jets of ink wash
over hills and grooves,
flood into the channels of my veins,
deleneating branches, trunks

become a forest

bleed beneath my fingernails,
to keep afloat in the current behind the rolling ball

emerge victorious,
and print myself
into the fibres
of this page


This was written over fifteen years ago (before the blog world, hence "fibres of this page", at a time when I was still finding my poetic voice, and struggling with balancing the personal and the poetic. I still read the angst, the struggle that writing had for me back then. I remember feeling the desire to write, but coming to the page and staring at its blankness, or writing, scratching out, and trying again.

I haven't done much poetry writing in the last few years, but I have to say that I never experience this angst in magazine writing. For some reason, the writing comes easier, and sometimes, a poem floats up to the surface, emerging from intense anguish or happiness, or just a line someone said to me.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Poetry Thursday

This week's Poetry Thursday prompt was to write about poetry that is deeply personal. I would have to say that two poems that I wrote most recently - Yume, and untitled - are probably the most personal I've ever written. Both emerged out of the experience of separating from my partner of 9 years, and both have helped me deal with the separation. Yume just came out of me after my trip to japan only weeks after moving out of our house. Untitled came to me recently, when my mom told me he'd written my dad a letter saying that he should have worked things out with me....In almost a cathartic release of emotion, both helped me get over one of the most difficult times in my life.


Monday, July 03, 2006

I think I am a stickler

Just picked up Lynne Truss's book Eats, Shoots & Leaves, which I initially saw in a bookstore in Japan, and then purchased in Canada some time ago but was on my "TBR Mountain" as Heather calls it.

Anyways, I'm only into page 2, but I already see that this book is for me, since I totally identify with the following passage:

"For any true stickler, you see, the sight of the plural word "Book's" with an apostrophe in it will trigger a ghastly private emotional process similar to the stages of bereavement, though greatly accelerated. First there is shock. Within seconds, shock gives way to disbelief, disbelief to pain, and pain to anger. Finally (and this is where the analogy breaks down), anger gives way to a righteous urge to perpretrate an act of criminal damage with the aid of a permanent marker."

I was going to deny that I've ever perpetrated such an act. But then I remembered a certain sign on our printer at work that I defaced in order to erase a painful misuse of the apostrophe.

Yes, I am indeed a stickler. Just ask my friends how many times I have corrected their grammar while chatting with me on MSN: they'll tell you, it can be quite painful at times!


Edit: On page 6, Truss mentions the Apostrophe Protection Society, and it actually exists! I am loving this book already!

SRC Book - Wuthering Heights

Well, I'm a week behind in my reading, but I'm glad to say I finished Wuthering Heights.

I now understand why this book is considered such a classic. What a complicated structure, and skillfully done! I love how the different narrators are woven together...Sometimes you forget that the story is in fact being narrated by Mrs Dean, who is speaking to Mr Lockwood, who is narrating the story to us. And then Emily sneaks in a sentence or two between the two of them, and you remember that in fact the entire action is taking place in Mr Lockwood's bedroom, as he lies in convalescence at the Grange...I'd have liked to have studied this in my Rise of the Novel course, to see what my prof had to say about it, but it was on the reading list and we never made it to it.

I am glad though that it is now illegal in most countries to treat women the way Heathcliff does! It's amazing how powerless Catherine is to control her fate, as is Linton (and he is described as overly effeminate)...The only person who is able to escape Heathcliff's clutches is Isabelle, although in the end she does not find a happy life. I'm also glad that we are no longer stuck in our classes as once was thought. Although it's difficult to fell pity for him, Heathcliff is in fact doomed to be a bad man from the start, because he comes from gypsies, whereas Hareton at least can find redemption because he is born into the upper class and just needs a little care and attention from Catherine.

Interesting though that there are no heroes or heroines, only a remarkable anti-hero! I also was struck by the variations in spelling...What would an editor do with a contemporary edition? Would they choose to change the spelling to current day standards, or leave it as is?

I also understand why so many cats are called Heathcliff...although I never associated that name negatively before. Now whenever I meet a Heathcliff, I'll be on my guard!

Glad I chose this book, and glad I completed it!


Saturday, July 01, 2006

I got it!

Time to celebrate! After a year and a half (or more) of applications and interview, I've been offered a full-time position as Publications Coordinator for a non-profit environmental organization! Hooray! This is what I've been working for for years, so I'm so excited to finally have all of that hard work validated, and pay off!

The HR rep called me yesterday and I was so excited, I dropped my broom in the kitchen and didn't realize until two hours later! Now I'm trying to stave off all kinds of questions, like "how am I going to afford this?" and of course, the ever-remaining question "am I good enough?" (here comes the impostor syndrome again hehe)...I paced, hopped and skipped around my condo for the next two hours, calling friends and family. Woohoo!

Now I need to celebrate but everyone seems to be busy...I'm thinking of throwing myself a party.


Happy Canada Day weekend everyone,


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Poetry Thursday

This week's assignment was to bring poetry into the every day. Instead, I'm publishing poems which bring the everyday into poetry...

Bonne Bell - Cafe Latte
Net Wt. 12oz./3.4g*

I've finally found the perfect shade
of lipstick. You say it's nice,
'cause it don't slap your face red.

I leave you with coffee
in five-o-clock shadows.

* from the label on coffee-flavoured lipstick


Rubbermaid Dreams

Now I know:

there isn't a Tupperware big enough
to seal you in
and keep our memories
from going stale.



Sunday, June 25, 2006

Interview outfit - wardrobe poll

I'm finding myself utterly undecided about what to wear for a 'view this week. To that end, I'm polling you, dear blog reader: which outfit do you think would be best suited to a third 'view with a non-advocacy environmental organization?

Option A) White blouse, grey pants, white pointy shoes

Option B) White blouse, grey pants, black pointy shoes

Option C) White blouse, tan pants, white pointy shoes

Yes, the white blouse must be worn. I spent far too much on it not to wear it!

Why am I polling you? Because I polled my parents and my dad said Option B. Mom said "wear whatever". So now I'm at a loss...

Interview's this Tuesday, so please vote by Monday night!

Thanks all!


Failing utterly

Well it's the end fo SRC Challenge Week 4, and I am failing utterly. I am 1/4 of the way through Wuthering Heights, and loving it, but there is no way I'm going to complete this on time. I'd need an extra three hours in my day and there's just no way I'm going to find that...I consider myself a fast reader, but I must say that I'm finding it hard to keep up!


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Poetry Thursday

Here's something that I was inspired to write from something my mom told me not long ago. It's still in its infancy, but I thought I'd post it here and see how you all respond... (I'm reposting it because for some reason if you save a draft and then publish it, it publishes back on the date you saved the draft, not the date you are publishing!)

in my mother's garden
of a saturday afternoon
come face to face
with a ghost

she tells me
she's received a letter

what would you do
if he wanted to come back
she asks

leaning back,
dig palms into earth
to ground me
grab handfulls of grass
else my heart will run
far from here
away from the memory of a time when "I" was "we"

blink back tears
a grounded goldfish
gulping air
step into a flowerbed
waist high in grasses and wildflowers
among lazy lady bugs,
creamy butterfly eggs
shimmering on flowerheads

stubborn weeds
pulling up large clumps of earth
dirt raining onto sandal-clad toes
lazy bumble bees bumble by
weed the garden into order

until my heart stills

this is where I come when I am lonely she says
and I finally understand what she means

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Procrastination, or work???

Here's a book review that was forwarded to me through a freelancers' group I belong to. A lot of it certainly rings true for me, and now I have an excuse to procrastinate when I should be working on a story, because I'm actually working!

doing nothing
"... The hard part of writing is not the typing part, but the thinking part," writes Dave Barry in the New York Times (6/5/06). "If you were to come into my office," Dave continues, "you would most likely see me engaged in some activity that did not appear, to your untrained eye, to be work." Dave might be clipping his toenails, surfing the web or "thrashing around" with his electric guitar in a "futile but ongoing (for nearly four decades) attempt to learn the guitar part to "Paperback Writer." What you'd be missing is that while Dave "was engaged in these seemingly pointless activities" he was "thinking about a critical writing issue, such as: Which is the funnier-sounding mineral name, feldspar or potash? It takes hours of grueling mental effort to solve that kind of problem, but you, the reader, see only the finished product (feldspar).

"Upon this premise, Dave reviews "Doing Nothing," by Tom Lutz, which addresses questions such as "What is work? Why do we work? Is it a moral duty, or do we do it only because we have to? Is it O.K. not to work if we can get away with it? Do we resent those who are able to slack? Or do we envy them?" Tom wrote the book apparently out of anger at his slacker son, who was taking a year off before college to watch television. What bugged Tom was that his son's behavior pretty much reminded him of his own youth, when "he spent a fair number of years engaged in countercultural activities not widely considered productive." The book traces "the history of society's attitudes toward working and slacking," starting with "two 18th-century giants ... Benjamin Franklin, creator or the archetypal workaholic, Poor Richard" and "Samuel Johnson, creator of the 'Idler' who believes the only value of work is to enable leisure, and the highest calling is to do as little as possible."The Franklin view is the dominant one in America, but what Tom Lutz discovers "over and over (and over) is that slackers and workaholics aren't always as different as they appear." Ben Franklin liked to party, for example, and Samuel Johnson was a prolific writer. "We scorn the lazy... but we long to hit the lottery ... We criticize our kids for doing exactly what we did when we were their age." Ultimately, says Tom, we need slackers "as a goad to examining our relations to work, as a critique of our culture's twisty relation to work and to leisure, and as a celebration of the same." Dave says that "Doing Nothing" left him with "a deeper appreciation of the value of not working ... In fact," he concludes, "I wish I could do more of it," adding: "Alas, I cannot: these toenails aren't going to clip themselves."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Poetry Thursday

Not quite a poem, but here's something I've been working on over the years. It's actually a photo essay that's accompanied by some photos from my Japan trip, which I may post along with this when I have the time.

Anyways, here's my Thursday submission:


At the end of the rails, I am swept up in a river of umbrellas that seem too large, on sidewalks too narrow — a canopy of brightly coloured fabric. I buy a floppy hat to shade my face; somehow, the sun seems closer here.

In moss gardens, draped over stone lanterns and wooden beams, lazy temple cats watch me wearily, tails drooping over crumbling gods. Wooden wishes on red strings twirl and clack together in the heavy breeze, waiting to be offered up in fire.

I have come here to be nameless.

Here where sacred sites are squashed between concrete walls and neon lights, I wander from vending machine to vending machine, seeking the refreshment of cold green tea. Swim between islands of shade, where leaf shadows ripple over me.

Waves of song spill across dusty gravel paths, out open doors and over polished wood, to the rhythmic gong of an iron bell. Holy men point me the way up teapot lane, while off in the treetops, schoolchildren chatter and laugh, chasing each other around winding pathways. I've taken so many photos of laughing fat men with red bibs, scalloped temple roofs, dragons and gods.

In the stone garden on the final day of wandering, I contemplate the stillness of rock. The patience of the gardener who has daily raked a landscape clean in the knowledge that it will never grow green. Sun angles across lines of gravel and sand, softening the harshness of rock and stone. In the evenings, the neon lights flash bright through my curtains, to the pling pling pling of pachinko parlours and the shouting of store owners.

I now know what it is to be without words. To be alone, even when I am swept up in a sea of people. To be in a land where I am immune to the cry of merchants and the lure of bright lights. I could lose myself here, and no one would know. I've gone three days without speaking, except to ask for toilet directions and a hamburger at the golden arches.

In the morning, the bullet train pulls me away from this land where I have found wordlessness. Whips by stooped women with broad straw hats in silver rice fields. So many lives continue in quiet perseverance as we race by.

I am returning home to a newly painted door, where a new bath towel hangs alone on the rail. To a single bed with crisp sheets torn from plastic wrappers.

I know I will be all right, because I believe in the promise of Yume.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

SRC Book of the Week: An Obsession With Butterflies

Well, it's not on my SRC list but I'm cheating. I've been obsessed with butterflies for ever - they are a sign of hope and change for me. I even painted a butterfly on the back of my canoe to symbolize hope for the future.

So, I'm reading An Obsession With Butterflies. It was in the sale bin at Indigo, but who knows? The first page has a quote that struck me right away:

"Adding butterflies to your life is like adding another dimension. The air trembles with the movement of wings....All this existed before, has always existed, but you were unaware. You didn't see. At various times and places, in winter or on a busy street, the air is still and butterflies are impossible. Yet their presence remains, like one of those other ten dimensions. You've added this to your life."

And another one, a quote from Taoist master Chuang Tze, that my dad has quoted for ever but I didn't know where it was from: "I dreamed I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither. I was conscious only of following my fancies s a butterfly, and was unconscious of my individuality as a man. Suddenly I awoke and there I lay myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man."

"There comes a time in your life when you must look at what you love and think: Yes, I was right. People who love butterflies have it easy."

Saturday, June 10, 2006

SRC book of the week: The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant

I'm only halfway through this book (not even really halfway) and SRC week two is over! Thus begins the slippery slope where instead of completing one book a week, I complete one every week and a bit!!! Argh! I am enjoying this book quite a bit though. I'm not overly familiar with the Old Testament but I'm enjoying this herstory of the Bible quite a lot. I imagine Diamant must have done an incredible amount of anthropological research to fit in so many details about women's daily lives so many centuries ago... Anyways, it's a nice tie-in to Midwives, since there is so much about birthiing and midwifery in it. Hopefully it will be done by the end of the weekend.

This is a new one for me...

Was just browsing through DB Scott's Canadian Magazines blog, and came across a post on the Interrobang: apparently Microsoft is starting to include it in its Clear Type fonts and it may be gaining more widespread usage soon. It's a combination of a question mark and exclamation mark all in one... Meant to convey an excited or surprised question...

Click here to read what Wikipedia has to say about it...


(Back to Saturday afternoon procrastination).

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Thursday's poem of the week

The End and the Beginning

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won't
straighten themselves up, after all.

Someone has to push the rubble
to the sides of the road,
so the corpse-laden wagons
can pass.

Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
sofa springs,
splintered glass,
and bloody rags.

Someone must drag in a girder
to prop up a wall,
Someone must glaze a window,
rehang a door.

Photogenic it's not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.

Again we'll need bridges
and new railway stations.
Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.

Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls how it was.
Someone listens
and nods with unsevered head.
Yet others milling about
already find it dull.

From behind the bush
sometimes someone still unearths
rust-eaten arguments
and carries them to the garbage pile.

Those who knew
what was going on here
must give way to
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing.

In the grass which has overgrown
reasons and causes,
someone must be stretched out
blade of grass in his mouth
gazing at the clouds.

~ Wislawa Szymborska (trans. Joanna Maria Trzeciak)
Edit: I've just joined Poetry Thursday, having started my Thursday Poem of the Week without realizing that this blogging movement existed. I'm excited about being inspired by others' writing and inspiring the lyrical voice inside of me once again...

Poetry Thursday's assignment for last week was to write a poem from overheard conversation. Here's something that was said to me yesterday that has stuck with me:

I knew a man
He studied English for his BA
English for his MA
English for his PhD
When he spoke,
It was like opening a book

You could hear his apostrophes
Hear his commas
His voice was a story to listen to

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


I've been unoficially tagged by Heather, so here's my A to Z meme:

Accent: Southern Ontario Canadian, because I've been told I say "about" differently than Northern Ontarioers.
Booze: Red wine , green apple martini, or bellini
Chore I hate: Cleaning up after my kitties after they have been sick from licking off their fur (apparently one of them does this because she is either bored or anxious. She's pretty laid back so I think it's the former).
Dogs/Cats: Cats! Two of them!
Essential Electronics: Ipod (pink), computer, flat-iron
Favorite Perfume: Not sure if it's really a perfume, but So Pink body from GAP
Gold/Silver: Depends on the outfit...
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Insomnia: Sometimes for weeks, and then not for months.
Job title: Graduate Recruitment and Liaison Officer. Not sure if it feels more or less exciting than it is.
Kids: With the right guy, yes.
Living Arrangement: My two kitties let me share their condo with them.
Most Admired Trait: um um...passion and quirky sense of humour?
Number of sexual partners: That's for me to know, and me to find out...
Overnight hospital stays: Never (knock on wood).
Phobias: Heights (I was a gymnast so this is a bad one to have!)
Quote: Can't think of one right now...
Religion: Agnostic
Siblings: 1 younger brother
(Combo) UnusualTalent: I have no idea, since I can't even curl my tongue into interesting shapes :)
Vegetable I refuse to eat: None, really.
Worst habit: Senseless worrying.
X-rays: Just regular dental x-rays.
Yummy food I make: Banana bread, pasta puttanesca, blue cheese fondue, peanut butter cookies...
Zodiac Sign: Aries (supposedly we are passionate and hard-headed)

Whoever makes it to the end of this post: tag, you're it! If you do the A-Z meme, please let me know so I can read yours!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Midwives, by Chris Bohjalian

Well, I was right. Bohjalian was hinting at witch hunts in Midwives. Here's an interesting quote:

"To some p[eople, they're witches--or, these days, strange and somehow dangerous throwbacks to another era. But in the eyes of other people, they're healers. Not surprisingly, it always seems to be the women who see them as healers, and the men who are quick to cry witch. Or shaman. Or meddler. Midwives, by their very nature and profession, have always challenged authority; they've always been a bit too independent--in the eyes of men, anyway." (p273)

Not sure I entirely agree with his whole male-female dichotomy, but I do think again that it's an interesting reflection on the whole reason-intuition dichotomy.

Overall, this was a great book though. Some people say there are too many novels about women getting married or looking for love, but I've never read one about women giving birth or helping women give birth. The author does a really good job of portraying the anxieties and concerns of a teenage girl, which is impressive considering he's a man. Finally, there's a great twist to the plot at the end.

I recommend it, even if it is an Oprah book club book!


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Weekly SRC tally: Novels: 0.5; Government reports: 2

Do government reports count as literature? I've just finished reading the Site Management Options manual for the Spanish River Valley Signature Site, and am wading through the Background Information booklet. Since I'm only halfway through Midwives by Chris Bohjalian (an Oprah book, I must admit, and not on my original SRC list but I was four short anyways if I'm going to read one a week...), I thought I'd add these two reports since technically, they are reading (and in a way, they could be considered popular literature since they do in many ways shape the ways in which we view and experience the landscape...).

I guess this opens up the question: what counts as literature? Do government reports? For some people, maybe, if that's how they view the world. Does having an Oprah's book club sticker affect a book's classification as literature or does it bring it into it's own realm of genre fiction such as Chick Lit or Romance, just that it's called Oprah Lit?

Anyways, from what I can tell of the first half of Midwives , it's a fairly light read, but an interesting concept. Essentially, the protagonist, a young woman in her thirties, narrates the story of her mother's prosecution as a midwife, when she is charged with killing a mother to save a child. Some interesting tensions in this book are:
  • the suggestion of a modern-day witch hunt,
  • the battle between male-dominated science and female-dominated intuition (represented by the midwives) and finally,
  • the very fact that this story is being written by a male author.

What does it mean when a man tries to place himself in a woman's shoes, especially when the woman he is writing about is marginalized or discrimated? (to that end, if anyone's read The Polished Hoe by Austin Clarke, what does it mean that he chose to write a post-Colonial narrative in a female voice about the experiences of a marginalized black woman?).

Anyways, these are things that are running through my head. Has anyone else read it or do any of you have responses to my questions? I'm off to finish the rest of the report and try to free up some space for my novel.


Friday, June 02, 2006

What a great week!

This week was Congress - the largest academic gathering of its kind in North America, bringing 8,000 academics from the social sciences and humanities to discuss their research. I was fortunate enough that not only was it held at York, but the Environmental Studies Association of Canada held its conference in our very building!

This meant that:

a) I got to spend some quality time with my friend Joanie, who I have known since undergrad but not seen in three years because she was in Northern Alberta and then moved to Saskatoon to begin her PhD (smarty pants). I also reconnected with a few faculty from my MES...who remembered me after all this time!; and

b) I got to rub shoulders with academics and familiarize myself with what's happening in the environmental studies field (in particular, ecocriticism...I was fortunate to attend the meeting of the Association for Literature, Environment, Culture and cool). Most of the presentations did go over my head, but it made me realize how lazy my brain has become in the working world and only fed my inspiration for item c) all that much more;

c) I have the beginnings of a topic for a SSHRC/PhD application, and some ideas as to where I might study!

It's true what they say: everything happens for a reason. This breakup really has opened up so many opportunities for me, including moving to another province. In addition, had I applied to an English department to do ecocrit six years ago, I don't think they would have considered me. But from what I gather, English programs are becoming more and more interdisciplinary and open to other forms of research and writing, including popular literature. So it is now possible for me to return to my home discipline yet bring with me my interests in magazines as well.

So exciting!

Now I have to buckle down and schedule my time, because I have an article to write, a journal to start editing and a PhD proposal to start researching! When am I going to find time for the Summer Reading Challenge??? I did buy a book today (a bit of an indulgence): This Elusive Land: women and the Canadian Environment. It looks quite good...I wonder if it will fit into my reading list?

More later...


Oh oh! I almost forgot: I also discovered Jan Zwicky today, a Canadian poet who won the Governor General's award in 2004 for her poetry book Robinson's Crossing and her literary theory book Wisdom and Metaphor. Her discussion of domestication and the continual search to return home seems like it could provide a theoretical framework for my work...Or at least provide interesting contrast to my MES thesis, which was about women searching to leave home-space in order to find a home-place....

I know, I am such a nerd...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Thursday poem of the week

And it was at that age...Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating planations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesmal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
I felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke free on the open sky.

~ Pablo Neruda

Monday, May 29, 2006

They like me! They really like me!

Exciting news: I submitted a story I wrote about canoeing with my dad to Canadian Geographic last night, and the editor emailed me back this morning (which is unheard of...usually it takes at least 2-3 weeks to get a response) to tell me he thought the story was "lovely"! Unfortunately the section I submitted for is booked for now, but he said he's going to think about it and let me know when he thinks he can fit it in!



Sunday, May 28, 2006

Update on the Pathways front...

Well, it's been a quiet-ish weekend (minus the party at Neel's yesterday, aka the "bootleg Drake", which was a hoot!), but I did speak to the president of COEO and they do still want me to take on the Pathways job. The question now is whether I simply take on the chairship (which is more of a production manager role) or if I can take on the managing editor role (which is what I would prefer to do, but there's currently someone in that role although it seems they pay her so little she may be willing to give it up for me...). Right now, the journal's all over the place. It isn't really certain whether it's a journal or a magazine, so there's a lot of potential for changes and improvements.

This would definitely be a tremendous opportunity for me in the right direction, but I am concerned about how much work could potentially be involved (I'm thinking for starters a readership survey, business plan and eventual redesign, although if I left things as is there isn't that much work involved with the status quo) for the amount of pay (which really is quite pitiable but I do appreciate this is a non-profit...).

Then there's the ever-present issue of the impostor syndrome: feeling scared to take this challenge on for fear of failure. But that's something that many of us (mainly women) face and have to overcome. What better way to overcome it than to face it head on?

We're supposed to talk again in a few days' time and iron things out, and then I'm going to transition into the role (whatever role it ends up being). So, more on this later.


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Food for thought - Canada's Boreal forest

Just finished reading a thought-provoking and well-written article on Canada's boreal forest by Jeff Hull, "The Final Frontier", in the September/October 2005 issue of Audubon magazine (which just shows you how far behind in my reading I am...).

Did you know that there is more intact forest in Canada's boreal than there is in the Brazilian Amazon? The boreal is apparently named after the Boreas, the Greek god of the north wind, and the boreal forest is the largest intact terrestrial ecosystem in the world, with Canada's portion alone representing 25 per cent of the world's remaining frontier forests! I'm an environmentalist, and even I didn't know that! Holy moly!

Anyhoo, here's a really well-written passage (well the whole thing is really) that struck me:

"Nobody imagines taht another mailing of apparel catalogeues or a few family packs of paper towels will be the undoing of the great northern forest. But then, nobody thought that another hydroelectric dam could stifle the great salmon runs of America's Northwest, either, or that one more set of nets would empty the Grand Banks of cod, or that killing a few more buffalo could wipe out the endless herds that roamed the Great Plains. The real Tragedy of the Commons is that everybody knows it's true--only nobody believes it will happen to them."

Yep...See what I mean? When faced with a thought like that, where, oh where, do shoes fit into this???

Here are some things the article proposes to help presereve the boreal (and if you get a chance, check out the Fall 2005 issue of ON Nature: there's a story in there by Katharine Balpataky about tree-free paper, with sidebars and factoids that I researched about paper and tree consumption...):

  • cancel your catalogues subscriptions and shop online instead (I have to do this for at least two publications I get but never read);
  • buy recycled tissue and printing paper (did you know that if each household in Canada replaced just one roll of toilet paper made from new paper with a roll of toiled paper made from recycled paper, we would save more than 47,000 trees, 3,204 cubic metres of landfill space, and 65.5 litres of water and prevent the creation of 4,567 kilograms of air and water pollution resulting from manufacturing. Amazingly simple, yet so hard!).


A clean slate

Though there's nothing fun about a relationship ending, there's a lot of potential too, including a clean slate AND potentially gaining a friend...

WRT the clean slate: everything's wide open...I'm not tied to TO, my career, etc (not that my relationship was tying me down to TO in the first place, but it made it more attractive to be here). So I was reading through my stack of magazines that I've accumulated over the past few months (a topic for a future post: what are your reading strategies? How to read everything you want to in a lifetime, when everything includes novels (new and old), academic literature and journals, magazines and poetry? How?), and I started reading my alum mags (Tabaret, which is actually quite a good magazine AND it's bilingual!). Then I thought hey...why not start seriously thinking about a PhD again (this thought occurs to me every 2-3 months. And I realize now that this post is fraught with parenthetical thoughts....Which reminds me of Andre Alexis' book Childhood, which is really an exercise in pomo intertextuality, which is so cool...all these footnotes inserted into the text and parenthetical references).

The problem is, I can never narrow down the 5ws and 1h (I have 6 very helpful friends, I go to them for advice...Their names are Who and Why and Where and What, and When and How).

Why do I want to do a PhD? Because I love to learn, because I love to do research and I love the academic world. Love conferences and just pushing the boundaries of knowledge. Then again, a friend of mine in a PhD said that PhDs are NOT about learning...Food for thought.

What do I want to study? At the core of it all is language, the written word, nature and feminism. Not sure if I want to study literature itself, or magazines, or something broader in communication. Topics of study might be Canadian women's writing (comparison of Quebec vs non-Quebec writers' relationship to home and nature, for instance, or fourth-wave women's writing and themes of nature). Or, Chick Lit...Why has it not flourished in Canada? Or, Canadian women nature writers in magazines. Or, the influence of home magazines on the feminine mystique in the late 20th century....Have we re-domesticated ourselves through magazines?

How? Not sure. Option A: continue working at York and do the PHD part-time and use the employee benefit. Option B: sell condo. Return to student lifestyle. Then options would be more open and I wouldn't be tied to York. Option C: marry rich heart surgeon :P

When? This year, maybe the next...Have to start reading journals again to really decide if this is for me.

Who? Obviously, me. But then the question of supervisors come into play. And finding someone whose research is interesting to me, but whose personality is a good fit too, is really important.

Where? Depends...Toronto or Ottawa. Not willing to go to the States although U of Oregon reportedly is the place to study ecocriticism.

We'll see. This week is the Congress at York. Perhaps to show you what a nerd I truly am, I've been so excited about this for months. It's the largest academic gathering in North America, with 8,000 delegates from the social science and humanities fields. Think about all of the knowledge that will be shared in the space of two weeks!

Anyoo...Enough for now. I'm sure this will come up again. It always does.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Books read this week: 1

Just finished Where She Has Gone by Ninno Ricci. It's a sequel to Lives of the Saints. Pretty good, I must say. Especially when the protagonist returns to Rocca Secca and you realize that you've been here before, as a reader, but now it's tweny years later. There's a really weird theme of incest between a half brother and sister, too...Strange... Another book I've read from Ricci is Testament, where he explores the life and death of Jesus Christ from a contemporary perspective, and includes a gospel according to Judas and Mary Magdalene...Interesting take on a familiar story.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Marilyn Monroe?

You are Maryiln Monroe

A classic tortured beauty, you're the dream girl of many men. Yet they never seem to treat you right.

Well, that's what the survey says anyway.
I'm flattered, but I don't agree at all (about the Marilyn part, I mean).

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Thursday's one day closer to Friday

I spoke with the editor of Pathways yesterday. As far as I can tell, the post is pretty much mine to have. The only thing is, he had no info about payment, and in terms of the position itself, it seems as though I could either wind up as the production manager or managing editor. I still have to talk to the president re: payment and the full details, but it could be a great opportunity. Just unfortunatley means that I can't quit my job to write and edit...yet...

In other news, mommy goose at the Faculty had her goslings the other day. I walked over to her nest in the planter, and there under her wing was a tiny little head poking out, as yellow as a highlighter. They are so fuzzy and look so soft, I wanted to take one with me! Too bad they end up growing up into annoying honking pooping geese that for some reason are associated with Canadians...I didn't know we were noisy and messy, but maybe that's how the rest of the world sees us!

Apart from that, I'm slowly getting addicted to blogging, which is cool. And I discovered Flickr! I may not have tons of cool photos, but I did find this group called Love Shoes! Some of the folks on that are DEFINITELY more addicted to shoes than I am (or at least have more disposable income to allow them to buy shoes!).

Royce may even end up starting his own blog, but he's thinking of doing it on MySpace instead of Blogger. Anyone have ten reasons why Blogger is better?

That's that for now...