Monday, December 22, 2008

We walked the Unsilent Night through downtown Galt tonight. Eerie music, lightly falling snow, and no wind. Dad and I managed to steal enough CD's to recreate the experience on our own (the effect is created by overlapping tracks of specially composed musi). The creator describes it as a "free outdoor participatory sound sculpture of many individual parts ... played through a roving swarm of boomboxes carried through city streets. Bring your own boombox and drift peacefully through a cloud of sound that is different from every listener's perspective." There weren't enough boomboxes, but we still heard some of the sound, some of the time, and the weather was kind to the event. I think the sound sculpture will help me concentrate during my school work and exam studying next term. If I even have exams! I didn't have any this term, and it was real nice. I write about this because the main event of yesterday I still find too traumatic and heartbreaking to examine. I finished East of Eden, and it left a deep impression on me. I can't compare it to Grapes of Wrath, I probably still like Grapes better, but I feel much more emotionally involved in Eden right now. I can't talk about those people, they are still too dear to me. Oh, my heart.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

None of the last 20 people to visit my blog were in Halifax

IrelandBray, Wicklow
GreeceAthens, Attiki
UkraineKiev, Kyyivs'ka Oblast'
SpainTorrevieja, Comunidad Valenciana
BrazilCuritiba, Parana
MalaysiaKulim, Kedah
VenezuelaMaracaibo, Zulia
SwedenEslv, Skane Lan
When I sit down to write these days, it is to write about my dog. Emails, blog entries, personal journals, he is in all of them. It isn’t that I find him to be of inexhaustible interest, but his constant puppy presence completely overtakes my thoughts, whether I am reading, writing, brushing my hair, or trying to sleep. He demands persistent sensory stimulation, and I am the only one who belongs to him enough to provide this service. The sense he most enjoys exercising is that of taste, so I am always on edge, waiting to hear the crunch of his teeth on my mother’s plants, kindling, or Christmas ornaments so I can spring into defensive action. But I do think that if I could capture his idiosyncrasies, they would be worth writing about in earnest. It is delightful to watch him prancing through the room with some new object in his mouth. When he has kidnapped a sock from the laundry pile, or a slipper from under the bed, he walks quietly with his head down, because these favourites he knows are forbidden to him, and his moments with them are borrowed time. This private joy lasts only until he is noticed and chased to justice. However, when he has some new object in his mouth, something he has never found before, he can’t know for sure that it is forbidden. He trots around with the object like a flag, testing the waters. He is bluffing, hoping the confidence with which he carries himself will trick us into letting him have that banana, or the fridge magnet. What could you humans possibly want with this CD, he says with his sparkling eyes. Just let me take care of it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Out in the cold Pendleton Place's closure threatens the lives of Halifax's most vulnerable street people, say homeless advocates. By Bethany Horne A deal between the provincial government and an organization that runs some of Halifax's homeless shelters could end up endangering the lives of homeless people this winter, front-line workers say. In October, minister of community services Judy Streatch announced that Pendleton Place would not re-open this winter due to an agreement her department made with the Saint Leonard's Society of Nova Scotia, Pendleton's parent organization. Pendleton was a seasonal co-ed shelter on Brunswick Street with a harm reduction mandate targeting the hardest-to-house homeless: those under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or those with severe mental disorders, as well as others who are banned or don't fit at the other shelters. The province is re-directing Pendleton funding into more bed space at other St. Leonard's shelters---Metro Turning Point Centre for men on Barrington Street, and Barry House for women, on Wellington Street. In October, St. Leonard's director Jerry Smyth said the existing shelters would be able to manage the demand for winter shelter, and that the same harm reduction services Pendleton provided would now be in place at Turning Point and at Barry House. "No one will be turned away," he said. But this month two people have already fallen through the cracks in the new system. A male-to-female transgendered person was turned away from the women's shelters, and was unwilling to stay at the men's facilities. And, a man with a mental health condition was banned from Turning Point after threatening a female staff member. He has already been banned from the zero-tolerance Salvation Army men's shelter on Gottingen Street. Both people were on the street Nov. 19, and are now temporarily staying in motels. The community workers who know them say they are in extremely precarious situations. The governments' actions "are vicious," says Paul O'Hara, a social worker at the North End Community Clinic. "They are placing people in very precarious circumstances." O'Hara fears someone might die before the warnings from the community are heeded. It's hard to know how many people are negatively impacted by the shelter changes, says Kathy Bourgeois, a staff member at Adsum House for women. Before the provincial deal, Barry House was a zero-tolerance shelter. To maintain a safe space for women with children, or women recovering from addictions, Barry House staff would turn away women under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or anyone they thought could be a threat to their current residents. But women who used Pendleton were not always "dry," and when Pendleton bed space shifted to Barry House, Barry stopped being a zero-tolerance shelter, overnight. Adsum has been using the harm reduction philosophy since 2000. Bourgeois says it took Adsum staff and clients a lot of work to adapt to the harm reduction model. Eight years later, they still struggle to get it right. "The idea of going from zero tolerance one day, to harm reduction the next just seems impossible. I don't know how Barry House is going to do it," she says. Concerned service providers have formed a group to come up with a plan for a new emergency harm reduction shelter, but their time is running out as the nights get colder. O'Hara says an as-yet unnamed organization has agreed to run the facility, but they still need to find a space and the new shelter will need provincial funding. He endorses protest as a way to put pressure on the provincial government to provide funding. "The only reason we got Pendleton Place was the direct action of the Halifax Coalition Against Poverty, who went to city hall and turned the city council meeting upside down." November 3, the Halifax Coalition Against Poverty stormed the DCS building on Gottingen Street and stayed until police forced them to leave. Two weeks later, 150 people marched to the legislature to demand a variety of solutions to poverty, including an emergency winter shelter. O'Hara hopes the pressure builds up enough to force government's hand. "It will be on the department of community services, and indirectly on St. Leonard's society, if someone dies on the streets this winter," O'Hara says.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I think I am here because I need to remind myself that I am a writer, that I can use this tool of creation for my own enjoyment, instead of just to fulfill the requirements of a class assignment, or to get published in a paper. I was looking at some of the stuff I wrote last summer, before I started journalism school, and I really liked it. I wonder if I will ever have such clear headed, expressive prose again? I guess I feel a similar fondness for my essay about violent movies and military non-fiction, which was a more recent thing. As much as I like writing, call myself a writer, feel most comfortable writing, there are very few instances that I can pin point where I have written something that I liked. That might be a matter of bad memory, but most likely a matter of being sucky, and yet persevering. Journaling is what most satisfies me. Any other format seems forced, but is that a bad thing? Is that not to be expected, for someone who has been journaling and writing letters consistently for years? I feel like feedback I get on writing I do that I don't particularly like is not necessary negative, nor more positive than the feedback I get for the journaling I myself like best. But yesterday, somebody read an anonymous ad that I posted on Kijiji and called me up, asking if I had posted that ad. She recognized my style of writing, she said. That, even, was an encouragement to me. But it was puzzling. I wanted to ask: My style of writing? What is that, exactly? Can you explain it to me? I would really like to know.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

To marry or not to marry? from Charles Darwin's journals

Marry Children (if it Please God) Constant companion (and friend in old age) who will feel interested in one Object to be beloved and played with. Better than a dog anyhow Charms of music and female chit-chat Not Marry Freedom to go where one liked Choice of Society and little of it Conversation of clever men at clubs Not forced to visit relatives and bend in every trifle Expense and anxiety of children Perhaps quarrelling Loss of Time Cannot read in the evenings Fatness and idleness Anxiety and responsibility Less money for books etc.
The choice seems clear to me.

I hope it rains coffee on the countryside

I had forgotten how much I loved this song. By Juan Luis Guerra originally, but covered here by Café Tacuba and Alejandro Flores. It has such a cornucopia of agricultural events. Oh, to climb down the hill of shelled rice, y continuar el arado con tu querer. It's quite untranslateable, actually. Sorry, I tried.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Guess what time of year it is: Kaley Kennedy is homeworked. Courtnay Clair Sedgwick has a killer headache and is trying to learn. Angela Horn is definitely freaking out. Too much to do :S . Katheryn Horne is tired! Bedtime! Anna Stewart head it tends to stray away, sometimes I can't see clear. Katheryn Horne wishes she had time for life. Becky Tulloch is workin on theology..again.. Lexie Arnott is getting her head on straight!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Latest night out on the town

This week is Atlantic Fashion Week in Halifax, but last week was the Pop Explosion, and Paul, Eva and I went out to see Josh Ritter. Apparently, it was his birthday. Paul ran into Josh in one of his trip to the bathroom, and reports that he is a real nice guy and a gentleman. We all had a great time.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bush and Capernwray

Is the only thing worth talking about politics these days? Well, no, as I was reminded by two dear apolitical friends in the past week. And yet, I sit down to write this new blog entry about politics, again (I'm sorry). As the Americans approach a historic decision, I sit and watch with unpardonable interest. I feel the guilt one feels after showing interest against ones will in the headlines that greet you in the grocery store aisle. "Angelina: she cheated on him! Jamie Lynn Spears, pregnant again!" - it is terrible to be temporarily entertained by such voyeuristic filth, and why are these people worth caring about? Because they are arguably talented? I wish I didn't care to sneak a peek at the American election. After all, both candidates will manipulate facts to make their opponent look bad, they will both capitalize on insignificant circumstantial flaws to draw broad conclusions about the others capacities. If elected, both would produce similar policies, they will both break promises, to deal with the unavoidable recession. They would both disappoint us. They will both fail the international community. But I think one thing that gives me some closure is that President Bush is universally put down, loathed and considered a handicap to the Republican campaign. It is a pejorative, to be said to be "the same as Bush" ... finally, this view enters the public domain! Eight years too late, and that is the tragedy. And my evil mind rejoices, because I will never forget November 2004, when one of our guest lectures at Capernwray, in England, asked the auditorium of 170 people, 100 of whom were American, "How many are voting for Kerry?" and NO ONE raised their hand. I think he then asked the students of other nationalities to raise their hands if they WOULD vote for Kerry if they could, and there were dozens of arms in the air. And I remember seeing the American's mail-in ballots arriving in our little cubby holes, and the temptation to destroy their irresponsible choices was enormous. I fought with people during that month, verbal sparring. I held my tongue an equal amount, but it killed. Obviously, my debates always ended with me being hurt because there were just so many of them, they were bound to exhaust me and overpower me. Election day I barely left my room. People were gloating, gloating... "Bush won" ... it was too terrible. I was depressed for a week afterwards. Maybe two weeks. It was my darkest week at that school. I couldn't believe that the world was in for four more years. I was unconsolable. But NOW! Now I feel much better. And I wonder how many of those that were smug after Bush's win are voting for Obama this year? I wonder, because it would just make me feel so vindicated if they were. Acknowledging ... "we were wrong" ... if Obama wins, does that rescue Americans, in our mind? Should we forgive them?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

After weeks of seeing this link pop up on my friends Facebook accounts or MSN signatures, I actually checked it out, and it is brilliant! Not only does it contain a lot of useful information about the Canadian election today, but the interface is delightful to use. It integrates poll data, platform analysis, informed predictions, a message board, and interactive map, postal code look-up and more: and it is effortless to use. Effortless! I think this is what websites should work like. If you are voting in Canada today, I strongly suggest you check this site out FIRST. The idea behind it is to not split the anti-conservative vote. In my riding, I am perfectly justified in voting NDP, but in Ontario it is a tougher choice. So vote smart!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Norman Mailer- from his personal letters, 1950-1999

". . . It’s a peculiar thing about being a radical—the years go by and lo and behold there comes a time when the phone calls don’t come in any longer from one’s more elevated social friends. I think simply that one’s become a luxury to have as a friend, and unless they care for you very much—which none of my social friends do—you just slowly are dropped from the orbits of their circulation." "I don’t care if people call me a radical, a rebel, a red, a revolutionary, an outsider, an outlaw, a Bolshevik, an anarchist, a nihilist, or even a left conservative, but please don’t ever call me a liberal." "the Republicans are a psychotic monstrosity. On the one hand, they’re God, flag, and family—although few of them would know Jesus Christ if he were standing at the next urinal pissing along with them—and an astonishing number never served in the armed forces nor heard a bullet, and being politicians, they cheat like jackrabbits on their wives and families. But all right, what’s the use of being a politician if you can’t make a living at being a hypocrite? The point is: the Republican Party is schizophrenic: on the one hand, they are, as I say, for God, flag and family, but on the other, they are for the unbridled expansion of capitalism, and thereby leave out something that might still be important to you which is that Jesus, like Karl Marx, thought money leaches out all other values. Indeed, it does. If the whole country is going to pot, and it certainly is, I think you could graph the decline not only in morals, but in a sense of social éclat and social standards—I think you could plot the decline right next to the rise of the Dow Jones—the higher the Dow, the lower the standards. Money destroys all other values. I can even respect the right wing Republicans for holding to a few standards, as they do, but they never take on capitalism which, unbridled, is the worst scourge of human value that we have right now. There may have been a time when Communism was a worse scourge, but now we’re the leaders, and I suggest you consider living with the notion that the party of your choice is paralyzed in its moral centers."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My stomach, my eyes and my brain are all unsettled right now. I couldn't understand why, so I have systematically begun to go through possibilities. Typical sources of stress are usually: Christmas- Easily dismissed because I have informed my whole family that I don't want/won't be buying gifts this year, and I booked the ticket to fly to Ontario yesterday. With Muddy, so I can't be stressed out about what to do with the dog. But: We don't have a crate big enough for him anymore, and he isn't trained to feel comfortable inside one. So maybe I am worried about this? I don't think it can be the whole reason. The rats- Katie has them right now, and yes, I am worried about them, and about what to do with them over Christmas while I am gone. Possible fragment source of residual uneasiness. Schoolwork- Always present. I tried to calm my sense of unease by going through my course calender and writing down my upcoming deadlines. Nothing big for another weeks and a half. But this led me to discover a large source of my unexplainable feeling of worry: I haven't had any grades back from any of my profs so far this year, except for one lousy news quiz. How is this possible? Are all my courses so end-loaded that I am going to die come the last weeks of November? I try to force myself to get things done early, but then the monstruos quantity of things that will eventually have to get done overwhelm me, and I don't know which one to concentrate on now, when nothing is urgent. The Gazette: It is pretty much proving to be exactly what I thought it would be, and although I exist in a constant state of catch-up, with impossible to prove suspicions that everybody talks about me negatively behind my back, I don't quite care enough to change anything drastically right now. I have more important concerns. Politics: Maybe, maybe. Oh, this is pointless, I still can't put my finger on it and I am sick enough of the computer already without spending frivolous minutes on it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ordinary folk and the arts

This was written by Margaret Atwood:

"On Tuesday [Prime Minister Stephen Harper] told us that some group called “ordinary people” didn't care about something called “the arts.” His idea of “the arts” is a bunch of rich people gathering at galas whining about their grants. Well, I can count the number of moderately rich writers who live in Canada on the fingers of one hand: I'm one of them, and I'm no Warren Buffett. I don't whine about my grants because I don't get any grants. I whine about other grants - grants for young people, that may help them to turn into me, and thus pay to the federal and provincial governments the kinds of taxes I pay, and cover off the salaries of such as Mr. Harper. In fact, less than 10 per cent of writers actually make a living by their writing, however modest that living may be. They have other jobs. But people write, and want to write, and pack into creative writing classes, because they love this activity – not because they think they'll be millionaires.

Every single one of those people is an “ordinary person.” Mr. Harper's idea of an ordinary person is that of an envious hater without a scrap of artistic talent or creativity or curiosity, and no appreciation for anything that's attractive or beautiful. My idea of an ordinary person is quite different. Human beings are creative by nature. For millenniums we have been putting our creativity into our cultures - cultures with unique languages, architecture, religious ceremonies, dances, music, furnishings, textiles, clothing and special cuisines. “Ordinary people” pack into the cheap seats at concerts and fill theatres where operas are brought to them live. The total attendance for “the arts” in Canada in fact exceeds that for sports events. “The arts” are not a “niche interest.” They are part of being human."

Read the whole article here while it is still up (the Globe and Mail takes the articles down after a few days).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The World on Wednesday

Maybe it is my fault for not paying close enough attention, but don't you think this possibility should have been wider publicized, just in case?
I feel like I was cheated out of my right to walk around yesterday charged with sentimentality, with a newfound appreciation for the smallest leaf, the simplest scent of perfume in the air, the heat of another human being's body.  News casts should have popped up as a separate window in every website visited (nobody watches TV anymore, so the "Breaking News!" scenario probably wouldn't do much to spread the awareness). 
Ok, so it is Wednesday now, and we have survived. I just feel let down because I never knew I was in danger -- real danger. I'm kinda glad we all lived, Earth, because yesterday was NOT a worthy end-to-the-world. 
And what of those kooks that are butting in to your thoughts right now, and reminding you to live EVERY day as if it were your last! 
Well, they should have gone ahead and invented a big bang machine. Done something practical to spread their saccharine tripe.
Maybe all these Swiss scientists ARE the live-every-day kooks. What they are really after is imbuing the rest of the world with an impending feeling of doom, in hopes of radically energizing social and personal change. 
Thank you, Switzerland!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ah, writing. A storm has been rumbling all day over Halifax. The rain and wind are a cold couple, and the thunder is a trumpet call. For what? Well, the times are changing, of course. I finished my job with the YMCA on Friday. My job as Opinions Editor for the Dalhousie Gazette "started" a while back, but has gone to top priority now that the summer gig is up. I don't miss the kids, but I do hope I run in to them sometime ... knowing Halifax, I will. I'll keep my eyes open in grocery stores and movie cinemas from now on. My wisdom teeth come out on Tuesday and classes start on Thursday, so tomorrow is the last day in a long time I will be able to enjoy both empty time and solid foods, together. I intend to make the most of it. And journalism! I find it so hard to pick courses that aren't journalism related, and yet I get so many electives! I don't know what to do. If Dal had a fine arts department, I would take something creative. I don't want to have to write an academic paper, ever. Clayton and Paul's professor from the History department has been staying with us this weekend. She is cool, but the way she talks about Clayton and Paul's research papers ... I don't think I can do it. I don't have the attention span or the concentration. And yet I would hate to be bad at it, so I would kill myself to write a good one. In my mind, it does not sound like a pleasurable experience. It is a skill I would like to have, but not really as urgently as I would like to learn mandolin, crochet, welding, photo developing, quilting, farming and portuguese. Academic writing: not top priority. You can quote me on that.

Monday, August 04, 2008

This is complaining

This is not in pain:

This is in pain:

This is about being born human. This is about baby soothers and whiskey soothers and chewing on fingers.

This is about waiting at least a month for a removal. This is about being scared.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I had forgotten what a complete universe your life is when you are a kid. The present is all-important, you are constantly mid-adventure, and you have little time for logic. "Yes, I threw the ball at him first, but can't you understand how completely terrible it is to my life that he threw the ball at me? This crime has to be dealt with now, I do not care about the greater scene of fairness, or a punishment that you say might occur tomorrow, tomorrow is too far outside of my world. I want justice now!" Canadian kids fight so much! And they hate games! And they are such cheaters! And then they fight about who cheated! Maybe it was the deep-seeded element of competition, but kids in Ecuador were way better at grasping the rules of a game, and participating enthusiastically. Here, one girl wants to sit on the ground and moan, one wants to make bracelets, a group of boys want to see how often they can throw stuff at each other before they get stopped by a counselor, and how violently, and the rest are just trying to cheat. Actually, that is not true, the kids that speak English as a second language are total dears, participate readily in all planned activities, solve disputes among themselves, don't tattle or lie, and don't steal beads from the camp bin. And they don't scream (yet). I sat watching them all on the playground today, trying to remind myself what adults can do to totally captivate children, and make them thrilled to do what you want them to do. Is it a quality that is just innate, some have it and some don't? Or is it a way of talking, is there a secret look you can adopt. I tried to remember what the adults I was gaga over had in common. Also, I tried to figure out how to explain that games are fun when rules are followed. Breaking a rule ruins the whole imaginary universe you enter in to. You spoil the fantasy. I hate it when one kid spoils things for a whole group. As I said before, it is difficult to bring this point up with them and explain that they are not the centre of the universe. At that age, you are. But it is good work, good learning, good efforts. I think if I ever discover how to be one of those magical adults then the whole summer will be worth it. It boils down to the desire to mean something to them. To make something better for them, to allow them a different perspective.

Monday, July 07, 2008


From Joey Comeau's blog:
"The problem with a lot of the people I've met who are "romantic" is that they don't really treat the object of their affection as a real person. More like a prop in the romantic fantasy! This is all fine and good as long as things go fine. But if not, well! That's when the anger comes out, and you can see little traces of the cognitive dissonance going on behind the scenes! But I love you, you stupid fucking whore! "

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Busy week. Paul and I are now parents to a labrador/rottweiler puppy named, as of 2 hours ago, Muddy (Waters, and because of the unusual brown splotches of fur on his mostly black body). We adopted him through Litters and Critters, a foster-based shelter here in Nova Scotia.

Here's Muddy (7 weeks, 8 pounds):

In a world of ideal pirated internet connections, I could upload a cute video of him eating dirt, or my toes. Alas, the internet has not quite reached that level of sophistication in this isolated corner of the world.

Speaking of this corner of the world:

Thats us. I am sure with a wide angle lens I could have worked wonders. I apologize profusely.

Correction: actually, that is not us. We are 2403. But ours looks very similar, sans barby.

I have also started to train to be a YMCA Day Camp counsellor I always spell that word wrong, and don't trust spell check).

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Through the process of unpacking my boxes, i ran across all of my old journals, plus a lot of papers that didn't make it into one of the main "volumes," but were small pieces of the puzzle. I flipped through, looking for all the January 1 entries... looked for the 3 am entries... for the pre- and post- transatlantic journey entries. Even some that didn't mark milestones contained those twisting reminders of oneself. 
What would i say then about myself now? Would this have been enough to satisfy the young's thirst for substance? 
I found the latest journal I wrote in... and wrote some more. I think my writing has been so disorganized lately. I'm not really blogging it, not really writing fiction (just re-writing), not even putting it in the private collection where it all used to go. Is this growing up? "Fragmented" was a word I used to Paul to describe how I feel. Perhaps the internet or the old journals... concentration dispersed, future questioned. Well, not really, I know I want to do journalism school, but I want to know How I am going to do it. Not questioning the possibility, but the whole thing in itself : How are you going to be, how are you going to continue to be? 
Passion is still so important to me. To write clearly, like in a journal, without fear of judgement or without even feeling like you have to make sense... because it is just for you, at this moment in time. It is easy to be passionate when there is no pressure to make sense. I read the old writings and I want more, now. I want integrity. I want concordance. I want it to mean something.
(maybe that is why I am more careful about what I write)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Worth Repeating

Words inside square brackets are, I assume, modifications of the text by my dear Heidi. "We live in a society where people are able to have more and more material things. The net result, however, has not been to make us perfectly happy. Quite often what lies behind affluence is a spiritual void. This doesn't mean that wanting to have [a good income, comfortable things, and a lover] is wrong or shameful. The spiritual void wasn't created by wanting things. It was created by turning to externals and expecting them to do what they can't do. Externals can't fill spiritual needs. The saying that a rich man has as much chance to enter heaven as a camel does of passing through the eye of a needle isn't a condemnation of wealth. It simply points out that money has no spiritual value. Money isn't the gate to paradise. The wizards have always taught that desire must be seen as a path. In the beginning, desires are about things, like pleasure or survival or power. But in time, the path of desire leads beyond these gratifications. They are not baser desires, but earlier ones. Just as a child outgrows toys at a certain age, the desire for more and more will eventually lead a person into a natural phase where the desire for god becomes all-important. "Don't worry about becoming a seeker after god," Merlin said. "You have been a seeker since birth, only at first the god you sought was toys, then approval, then sex or money or power. "All of these you worshiped and wanted with great passion. Rejoice in them when they are the desires of the moment, but be prepared for them to fall away. The great problem you will face will be not desire but attachment, holding on when the flow of life wants you to let go." The exercise for this lesson is a pure thought experiment. Imagine the thing you want most passionately right now. Perhaps it is a certain car or a life of wealth or some kind of love. Try to pick something you're still pursuing so that you can feel how powerful the pursuit of desire really is. Now, back up to a desire or wish in the past, one that has already come true. It might be your last new car or successful project. Compared with your current desire, this old one will feel different. You won't feel so keenly the hunger to pursue the old desire because you've already tasted its fulfillment. What you are experiencing in this contrast is how life pushes you forward. Yesterday's desire had its own impulse for fulfillment, which has now shifted to today's desire. This forward-moving impulse isn't random. It has carried you from an infant's wants to a child's to and adolescent's to an adult's. If a positive model of desire is established early, then the baby will grow up with natural desires that match its true needs. A psychologically healthy person, in fact, can be defined as someone whose desires actually produce happiness. But if the baby is imprinted with the opposite notion, that its desires are shameful and are only grudgingly met, then desire won't develop in a healthy way. In later years the adult will keep searching for fulfillment in externals, needing more and more power, money, or [lovers] to fill a void that was created in his or her sense of self as a baby; the person's very sense of being is judged to be wrong. In extreme cases desire becomes so distorted that its need turns into a need to kill, steal, commit violence, and so forth. These desires can cause untold harm, both personally and socially. yet no one knows, seeing a murderer or thief, where his or her values went astray. To a wizard all desires begin in the same place, at that point where life simply wants to express itself; it is the obstruction or condemnation of desire that creates the problem. Unhealthy expressions of desire simply reflect unhealthiness in a psyche that desperately needs to know itself, just as all of us do, but has--at least for the time being--failed. Therefore, it is vitally important to come to terms with the nature of your desire, to realize that in the divine plan all your desires are meant to come true. God isn't blocking you from having anything and everything you want. It is you who believe deep down that you don't deserve anything and everything. Such self-judgment creates blockages in the natural flow of life, but once they are removed the path of desire becomes a joy, because is is the shortest and most natural way to god. No desire is trivial, because every desire has a spiritual meaning. Each is a small step leading to the day when you desire the highest fulfillment, which is to know your own divine nature."

Sunday, June 01, 2008

A day

Well, we're here. I will show you pictures sometime. I will show you our portly blue house, squished between two of its twins. I will show you our piles of boxes, our space under the stairs where many of our piles of boxes will likely sit, unpacked, for weeks, while we get motivation to look into them.
I walked to Gottingen to pick up a half litre of milk today at a little convenience store/meat market. Gottingen St. is a boarded up store front, white paint peeling off a graffiti mural. It's a dirt path that cuts through an empty lot littered with lottery stubs. It's a library, a YMCA. It is lined with crack-houses and art galleries, cafés and shelters. I used to go to one of the drop-in centres to hang out, but stopped going because there was nothing there for me to do. Things are ok on Gottingen St., people have their own routines, they know the routes they walk. I don't know if it is in my head, but there is a bit of a look of the hunted in some eyes. 
This morning was our first at this new place. Paul went out on the bike this morning, and on his way back, a block away from home he passed a taped-off crime scene. A homicide, an old man, stabbed in a school yard at 3 am. I don't want to live here without living here, you know. We have chosen a neighbourhood where it is imperative to know your surroundings, to get to know your neighbours, to learn your own routes, good routines. It is important to be trusted, to be seen and to fit in. I think it is a good thing to force ourselves to do: this country is built on neighbourhoods where you can safely get my knowing none of your neighbours. It is in the inner city that your likelihood of thriving, of even staying safe, is very dependent on your connection to the community around you. 
I think this is a good thing.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

I am taking a hiatus from the internet. Phone me. Nine oh two, four two five eight one three nine, as of Tuesday or Wednesday. Ok?

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I didn't burn water today, but I came pretty close: soy milk. In our favourite/only medium pot.

"Incinerated" Paul says. "It doesn't even exist anymore!" Paul says.

Yeah. I know! I'm the one who has been scraping the bottom of the damn thing for 15 minutes!

Things are a bit crazy figuring out things to take/buy/sell in preparation for moving. We have scavenged some wood to make a bookshelf out of, and have been riding the Kijiji hard looking for a circular saw, cordless phone, single bed, drill, french press and other accoutrements. Check out our new bike kart:

We will still build one, eventually, but it is important to be able to get groceries in the meantime.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Today, I went to the dentist, and am only waiting for the freezing to dissolve to discover whether the trip's lingering effect was disaster or deliverance. One deep cavity, two baby ones, drilled out and dressed up in ceramic plastic. He said once I recovered feeling in my tooth that had the deepest cavity I might be in pain, in which case to call immediately and they would fit me in to the schedule. For what? I wanted to ask. More drilling? An extraction? A root canal? Yesterday, I signed for an $80 wisdom tooth consultation (a fancy x-ray and advice from a "professional" about which wise molars would get pulled when). I have three that need out (one which is urgent), and each tooth costs $250. Glory! I don't know if it is only dentists, but these medical examinations felt so dehumanizing. I didn't know what to ask, what to express. I almost cried in frustration at the dental surgery office yesterday, and it wasn't only the money. It just felt like something had been taken from me, in a sterile, officious way, and I was backward for wanting it back.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

I couldn't find a picture from this trip that communicated HEAT, but these two, taken together, communicate much of what the past week has been like for me, otherwise.

Different places, different people, but the general combination of a couple of people and a private place have made for many good conversations recently. Today Alexis was over (finally!), and we talked for a good chunk of time.

The heat: One day, I was talking to Julia for about five minutes on my way into the shower. Eventually, I got into the bathroom, undressed and into the stall. When I turn the water on, ten cents drop off my skin and on to the tile floor. It was hot enough that a dime would stick to me for five minutes (at least) and I would have no idea. Sometimes, you just feel so sweaty and dirty it doesn't matter, I guess. Often I rush home in between engagements for a quick turn in the cool flow of water... I feel like an addict rushing towards my fix, like I am going to die if I don't get that sweet relief in less than 5 minutes. It can be so good.

Yesterday was the only day since I have been in Guayaquil that I didn't have at least one shower. There has been rain every night, even thunderstorms, it is like the rainy season has been reborn. Yesterday I had a bad day, and I wonder if maybe it was because I was denying myself that return to freshness. Even 24 hours is too long for anyone to hold out in that climate.

There wasn't much sun today. It is a gentler existence. I still deserve my fix, though, and I am off to get that now.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A heavy rain last night. Finally, it was warm and I could let it soak through my shirt. I wanted one of those while I was here. And the rain pounded the roof as Janna, Paul and I scooched in for a cheese-soup-movie-night. The sacred event demands warm soup and rice, landing in an empty belly and warming a cool night, settling while a story unfolds in front of you. "Atonement" was a good choice for the evenings entertainment section. Today is Paul's last day. Weird, I know. Time is so capricious. We made it to the beach for three nights, and to the mountains for just as many. Peace and rest are natural responses to both environments, but we managed some adventures as well. I swear I didn't come back to Ecuador just for the food, but I sure enjoy it while I'm here: fresh fish and shrimp at the beach, great meals shared from friends kitchens, the expert vegetarian chefs in Banos, the risky adventures of street vendors. It's all good, and no food poisoning/water parasites/Hepatitis A symptoms have reared yet. On the intellectual front, I have finished True Crimes, a biography/anthology of Rodolfo Walsh, an Argentinian journalist and activist. Great gift, Clayton. I hope to write a more comprehensive piece about my thoughts on that shortly, maybe in May, after the 12th and before the 30th when we have to move. Or maybe in June, after the 1st and before the 24 when I start work.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

So farewell, farewell to Nova Scotia's charms For it's early in the morning I am far, far away.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

I hope that I don't miss too much in Nova Scotia politics while I am gone.

Something makes me believe, however, that little will change. Nova Scotian progressives ridicule Rodney MacDonald (and, indeed, refer to him with the diminutive, familiar name "Rodney") in much the same way liberal Americans ridicule Bush. It is just too easy.

Simultaneously, social services are being eroded, private-public partnerships are strengthened, real progress is being traded for artificial inflations of the economy. Whole industries are disappearing, and the band-aids distributed by the federal government are received by the provincial one with whoops and whistles. I haven't seen any recent reports on those $35 million that are going to help the forestry and manufacturing industries that are hemorrhaging jobs in this province.

Rodney was loving those millions in the press. More critical minds, of course, wondered how such a small sum could do anything for the numerous communities gutted by mill and plant closures. Liberals and New Democrats were disgusted at the politically motivated payout- only the party in power can effectively bribe its way to winning a hypothetical election.

While covering this story for my journalism beat, I was disgusted mainly by Rodney MacDonald, reading his blind comments and his daftly positive proclamation (much in line with the "My government would leave no Nova Scotian behind" statement that brought him so much flak in the home-heating debate).

However, I can't believe that ridicule is going to get us any further fighting MacDonald than it did fighting Bush. I think public denouncement would go much further than mockery. I think this is serious and scary at times.

That said, Kate Beaton does a great job at making fun of him (her familiarity with Rodney is a bit more understandable, as they both have homes in Mabou, Cape Breton).

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Nobody says anything about my new glasses, they just think I am PALE. Well, don't worry, I am going to South America in a week and don't plan to wear any sunscreen. None. Unless there is a homeopathic version. (Just kidding, I don't wear sunscreen. I like sun. And I don't care if my skin ages prematurely. I think that is a lot of hooey)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Latest Photography

"Please Don't Pee!" - Bethany Horne, 2008.

"Anyone Could Mistake This For Affection" -Bethany Horne, 2008.

"Paul's Favourites" - Bethany Horne, 2008.

"The Only Way To Get Lyra To Stay Still" - Bethany Horne, 2008

Yes, I am procrastinating a little bit. But what can you do when you can't write? You can't write!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ten minute blog

I don't know, I just felt like it. This is what I've/we've been doing.
Some sewing:
Some singing: 
Some schooling: 
Classes I have picked so far for next year include 
Central America to 1979 - HIST 2382 with John Kirk
The Creative Process - CRWR 2000 with Andrew Wainwright (year long)
Indigenous Mvmt in Latin Amer. - HIST 3393 with J.P. Heilman
I have to pick two journalism courses, too. I might pick four. Unfortunately, I can't get too cocky about that schedule being definite, because I likely won't know what my major will be until May or June.
Ten minutes are up! I have to go to class!

Friday, February 29, 2008


A tough lesson to learn.

A room darkened by a blanket pinned over the window, dozens of the Doppler-effects of moving cars traveling the space between my ears, a bright computer screen: this is my "zone." The repose of the room's mess lends geography to the wasteland of my imagination.

"A chapter," he says. "Somewhere from 1000 to 3000 words," he says. Our will and wildness must take us the rest of the way.

Today is leap day. This makes it feel special to me. Why do we have leap years? You may know the partial response to that, but maybe not the full one:

From The Straight Dope:
The leap year is a contrivance so that the calendar year (usually 365 days) doesn't get too far away from the solar (astronomical) year. You say: huh? Well, the astronomical year – the time it takes the earth to go exactly once around the sun – is not precisely 365 days. The ancients estimated it as 365¼ days. That wasn't bad as calculations go; it's actually 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds.

Now, you may think that crummy little fraction (almost 6 hours or 1/4 of a day) doesn't matter much. But every four years, the calendar would lose a full day against the seasonal year. Christmas (Dec. 25) would start to come a little earlier each year. After about 20 years it would come before the winter solstice; after 200 years or so, Christmas would come in the autumn (since the seasons are tied to the astronomical year, because they depend on the earth's slant relative to the sun) . . . and then in summer . . . and . . .

To prevent this drift between the calendar year and the astronomical (seasonal) year, we add one extra day every four years. Thus, over the four year period, we have 1461 days, not 1460, for an average of 365.25 days per year. That pretty much makes it come out right.

This innovation was imposed in the year 709 AUC (ab urbe condita, after the founding of the city), when Julius Caesar regulated the calendar. Nowadays, we refer to it as 45 BC. The Nicaean Council in 325 AD adopted that calendar for Christendom.

But it still wasn't precisely right. As noted above, the astronomical year isn't 365 days 6 hours (365.25 days), it's 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes and 46 seconds (365.2422 days). So as the calendar went along with its jolly add-a-day-every-four-years pattern, it gained about 11 minutes 14 seconds every year. After every 128 years, that was a full day. Note it's going the other direction – Christmas would fall LATER in the season each year.

This anomaly was corrected by Pope Gregory in March 1582. By that time, the calendar year was 10 days off the seasonal year. ( The real concern was not Christmas, but Easter, which had to occur near the vernal equinox and according to the lunar cycle, but that's another story.) They made two corrections. The first was that they just dropped ten days. The day after October 5, 1582 became October 15, 1582. (Some countries adopted this change later, in some cases centuries later.) This restored the equinox to its rightful place. The second change was to reform the calendar to prevent slippage in the future; and we use that same calendar system today, called the Gregorian.

(Footnote: The Russian Orthodox Church still uses the Julian calendar. Christmas comes out about January 7 in their calendar. About every century, the Orthodox Christmas slips one more day against the solar calendar. Currently there's a 13 day lag that by 2100 will become a 14 day lag.)

How does the Gregorian system work? We still have a leap year every four years, to accommodate the almost 6 hour difference that was known in Julius Caesar's time. The Gregorian correction is that every hundred years, we make it NOT a leap year. Thus, 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not leap years, even though they would have been in the normal four year cycle. Thus, every 100 years, there are 24 leap years, not 25. So that lets the calendar year average 365.24 days each year.

Does that do it? Sadly, no. There are still those extra seconds – the astronomical year is 365.2422 days. So every 400 years, we DON'T NOT add the extra day (double negative intended). So 1700, 1800, 1900 were NOT leap years, but 2000 was.

If you've followed the math, that gets us very close. Over a 400 year period the calendar will contain an average of 365.2425 days per year.

Every 4,000 years (the first will be the year 4000, then 8000, etc.) we make the century years NOT leap years again. And that gives us an average of 365.24225 days per year over a 4.000 year period. Still not exact, but the calendar year won't vary by more than a day from its current place in the seasonal (astronomical) year in two hundred centuries – close enough for practical purposes.

So the rule is:

Every year divisible by 4 is a leap year (adds an extra day to February),
EXCEPT the last year of each century, such as 1900, which is NOT a leap year . . .
EXCEPT when the number of the century is a multiple of 4, such as 2000, which IS a leap year . . .
EXCEPT the year 4000 and its later multiples (8000, 12000, etc) which are NOT leap years.

So, we had a special leap day back in 2000, and we didn't even know it. When will the next century year be that is a multiple of four? I wont live that long, that's for sure.

The crux of this blog entry, and back to the picture at the beginning, is that I have needed an extra day this year. Because a lot of the work I have chosen to do has demanded creative brain work (writing for Choyce, sewing, some aspects of journalism, letter writing to people far away)... and a lot of this "work" I have not learnt how to force. I have not settled into a routine, nor developed the discipline (like Paul) to be creative consistently and forcefully, to be productive even when the "zone" is not working.

So what has the extra day meant this leap year:

Last night, another night spent trying to scare-off 3D visions of zippers and pockets and seam allowances... trying to find sleep. Waking up slow to
another morning of sitting in the dark, trying to focus thought, pursue flighty inspiration.

But I can't do it alone. The headwork is all me trying to find places in my brain that contain the knowledge so I can do things alone... but I can't. "You need feedback"...

The internet is a double edged sword is these situations. Yes, I can surf around, find pictures of the steps people take to construct bags with liners and patch pockets... but two hours later, I have sewn nothing. I can look up features of geography and be absorbed by Wikipedia articles about history, looking for good descriptive details, but click click click and I am reading about Robespierre, who has absolutely nothing to do with a South American city in 1998. I can start journalism research on the internet, but will I really benefit from reading an article about the MMR vaccine and it's implementation in the UK? No. I will not write about that. I am wasting time.

So, feedback: from other people. Not the internet equivalent. I have asked my dad about details that will help me create a character. I have decided to focus on advice Anne gave me yesterday about the pocket, instead of trying to understand every aspect of the construction. I will let Paul read my chapter this time before I give it to Lesley Choyce. Hey, maybe even the prologue. Who knows.

And if there are any typos or mistakes in this here blog-post, please let me know.