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,