Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I read at a local bookstore/cafe last night. It's strange reading aloud when you don't often get the chance to. Your words detach from your mouth and circle the room, quick to become separate entities. Suddenly, they seem like strangers. Your own voice sounds strained in your ears, wavering, like you've been crying. It is difficult to look at the people in the room. It is as if you are afraid to see how your writing has impacted them. Or if it has at all.

I often think of books, especially those of poetry and fiction, as private matters. Readings remind me that they are public matters. Shared matters. A reading can sometimes remind me of church--people, like so many congregants, suspended for a moment in the power of speech and insight, or just captivated by another's vulnerability. They can seem like the perfection of human contact--when the truth about one thing or person is channeled through a story and dropped, like a gift, at the foot of another.

Readings remind me to write as beautifully as I can. Writing reminds me to speak as truthfully as might be possible. And that is enough for today.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

what the world eats

I came across this photo essay in my internet travels. Today, when words seem stale, images came to vault me back into thought.

©Peter Menzel www.menzelphoto.com; from the book Hungry Planet: What the World Eats. Ten Speed Press.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

little things

There are many treasures to behold in
New York City. Just three days there and its surface only slightly scratched. We made a good scratch though, I think.

Every once in awhile I come across something that makes me feel a simple, primal happiness just by looking at it. I found these pottery owl teacups (made in Japan) at Anthropologie, a hip clothing etc. boutique on West Broadway. I didn't purchase a lot while in the city, but I had to have these. Now I'm just looking for a pot to match, because I didn't care for the one it came with.

They bring about the same feeling I get when I see a cat. There's just something so paradoxically innocent and proud about them. They exude contentment and sort of amused peacefulness. They'll be great filled with some genmaicha tea.

I also bought a small sampling of Vosges chocolate, wrapped up in a purple bow, with flavours like wasabi-ginger-black sesame and sweet Indian curry-cocount, robed in dark chocolate.

Besides the owls and the chocolate, I came home with some socks and a sweater from a discount store, and a few books from the Strand (birthday present courtesty of the in-laws!): On Beauty, The Old Man and the Sea, Letters to a Young Poet, and The Road. Oh yeah and a cute hat and scarf from a street vendor, plus birthday presents for my mom.

NYC may be shopping central, but I found it easy to resist the 700$ Prada sweaters and $1200 shoes. I was surprised by how repulsive I found much of the haut couture (aka high fashion). I'm not yet sure why, because I like art, and the two are closely tied.

For more pictures visit us on our blog or on Facebook.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


People have been suggesting I post on here, via Facebook, and face-to-face (woe to that ancient, forgotten form!) I looked back, and yes, it has been awhile. As I thought about what to write about, Natalie Goldberg's words come to mind, "writers end up writing about their obsessions." In her workshops, she has writers make lists of their obsessions, so they know what to expect from their work.

So as I venture into the scary life of an artist (whom, she adds, are "never free unless doing their art"), I got to thinking, what are my obsessions? As I've divulged on here in the past, food is one of them. In all its forms, liquid, hot, cold, spicy, salty, or sweet. Love and friendship are two more. Self-understanding, God, religion, family, the outdoors, the future. And those are just a few.

And then there's exercise. Yes World, I am obsessed with working out. I think part of this is due to the fact that I have a lot of time on my hands. Another reason is because I am a writer, and so my work lacks a certain solidity. I often bake when I feel unproductive, just to revel in the feeling of having created something real. Maybe that's why I like to knit, too. But back to the exercise.

I also love it because it releases pent-up energy. I love to subdue my muscles, heart, tendons--all of me--to my will...I like to see what my body is capable of. I love to feel the exhaustion of having worked. In a society where we are encouraged to take the easy way, exercise connects us to our bodies. Movement used to be a part of everything we did; our bodies were made to move. I think we have to be creative in our current world to replicate that, lest we end up putting the miracle of our flesh and bones to waste. I'm not saying those who don't exercise are bad people...these are just my thoughts about why I do it so much. Whether it's taking a walk, biking to work (commuting on a brisk sunny morning is the cheapest thrill around!), or doing a yoga video before bed, it all counts.

I was talking to a friend the other night who was looking for inspiration to start moving more. I discovered this great site where I've been tracking my workouts since the spring. I've pasted my October record here for an example:

I find the little pictures inspiring...seeing all those little figures makes me smile. (Mark prefers the one on the Runner's World site which gives you bars and graphs and all sorts of cool extras.) But for those of you out there looking for a simple way to track your progress and inspire you, this is a great tool. There's room on here for everything...hiking, playing with kids, walking, and cleaning the house.

I have nothing literary or profound today, but I do have my obsessions. And to those I will strive to be responsible to--to indulge and yet to be aware of their power.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

mint and pine nuts

The other day a friend remarked in jest, on the subject of my blog(s): "Everything you write is about food!" I took a look back, through my own online chronicle and the one on which I share with a certain boy. She was right. I do write a lot about food. Not to mention think and talk about it. Many of my conversations with my mothers lately have included something along the lines of "hey, I made this amazing..." or "we had such and such for dinner." When it comes to subjects, of writing or of conversation, food is one of the most forgiving.

I began to think that I was probably predestined to like chopping, mixing and stirring, given my maternal history. But however accurate that explanation, it still seemed too one-dimensional. I have come to love food--its acquisition, combination, preparation and consumption--for many reasons, some on "my" terms, some on others'. Food is a source of immense joy for me, plain and simple. But it is for my mother to, so now I'm back where I started.

I think what I love so much about cooking is the range of simplicity and complexity it offers. How often in life can you open up a book, follow some directions, and come out with a pleasing, useful result? There is something so satisfying about it when life starts to feel like its not yielding much. Open book, find object of desire, follow steps, and your plate is heaping with a new creation. And even better is when you have almost everything you need for some obscure recipe (Israeli couscous? check. French lentils? got it) and only have to go out and buy two ingredients. Like mint and pine nuts. I wish writing a story was that easy. A pen, a page, some mint and pine nuts.

Maybe it is. Maybe I do already have most of what I need.

The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies. ~Tom Robbins

(now who can write about food like that?!)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

thumbs up to...

...white eggplants.

I wasn't sure when I'd say this, but it's good to be home in Syracuse. Home has had multiple meanings for me over the last few years, but our little apartment above Terry's beauty salon is filling the role out quite well these days.

We bought this white eggplant today at the Central New York Regional Market. (Reason #1 to like Syracuse) The farm boy who sold it to us didn't know the difference between it and the purple ones but his older sister did. Not as bitter...sounded good to us. (We're enjoying it's quirky greeting too much to have sliced into it yet.)

Summer in Winnipeg was more homey and welcoming than I could have even hoped, but there's something about having your own little corner of the world--whether it's rented, borrowed, or owned. Whether it's in cafes you visit only once, or under the thin nylon walls of a tent.

Arriving in Syracuse three days ago for some reason felt different than all the other times. It felt a bit like slipping into a pair of perfect sandals you bought on sale but saved until bare feet season. They are the perfect fit, and you forgot how great they were. You feel excited and yet comfortable at the same time. Syracuse is like this sandal for me. I know some of its curves--how it might support me over here, perhaps rub a little over there. I really hope the excitement lasts, despite knowing it will be tempered by the everyday.

Buried in one of the four issues of Paste waiting for me upon arrival, I read (in an article on Winnipeg's Weakerthans of all things!) that the hardest thing in life is to get through an ordinary Wednesday afternoon. The days of weddings and funerals carry their own "hypercharged momentum," but it's the "crushing weight" of the daily that deadens us to meaning. These words by novelist Walker Percy are not everyone's fear, but sometimes they're mine. Sometimes, despite my somewhat silver-spooned life, I fear the silliest things: a gray morning presenting me with few reasons to get up. A morning that the church bells are muffled by the sounds of the street--a morning that finds me uninspired, and without passion.

That morning hasn't come yet, but I know it will. And when it does, I'll always have eggplants...and comfortable sandals.

For more in the "Reasons to like Syracuse" department, visit us at Colony of Two!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

preface to the unread

How does one go about choosing a book to read? With so many slots of time in a day to be filled, and with so many possible literary interventions, how does one begin to decide? Words, in their teeming multiplicity, cry out to adorn our lives: the time between bus transfers, the minutes waiting for a pick-up, the parts of a day not easily labeled morning, afternoon, evening.

What makes us pick up a book, the collection of another's mental processes, the imprints of a human mind at work on some subject--love, betrayal, censorship. What is it we look for when we crack those alluring covers, with their stamps of approval: "staff pick," or "Oprah's book club?" Maybe we look for new meanings for the world. For order, for symmetry, or maybe just for newness. What ideals do those unread pages signify? I admit: to be more knowledgeable, cultured, entertained.

One of my struggles is always this: classic, contemporary, or something different altogether. I am not one of those author-groupies, who follows one particular author through his or her entire body of work until I have exhausted my resources. I am also not a mystery junkie, a chick-lit chick, or a erudite classicist. I am greedy for variety. I want it all. The beauty of the old works, the experimentalism of the new ones, and a little self-help or spiritual growth advice on the side.

This makes choosing a book very difficult for me. I know many people go purely on recommendations. But my sources are perhaps too prolific, and I have trouble extracting something from the cloud of "you HAVE to read ____" or "you haven't read ____?!!?" Sometimes I springboard from one to another, forging an errant path between themes, styles, and genres.

There are times when I read a book because I somehow feel I should, as in my last, the Brothers Karamazov. Other times it's more random, something I was given, or picked up in some used bookstore somewhere, in a moment of ravenous story-hunger. But I must read, for literature opens the doors in my head that have been fused closed by too many layers of paint. It caffeinates my creativity, and fertilizes my desire. It gives me a somewhere when I feel nowhere, another place when I am feeling out of place, intimacy when I am an island, solitude when I am scattered.

Friday, June 22, 2007

worlds a part (a story from India)

Oh sad, neglected little blog! How I have crushed you under my preoccupied feet, and treated you with such undeserved contempt and scorn! You who have been such a faithful slate for my verbal wanderings, such an open door to vast expanses of writerly wondering. I return to you, hoping you'll receive these worn, forgotten thoughts.

Many of you have asked about India, on facebook and otherwise. There are a few reports "straight from the field" on our couple blog, but here I wish to relay one story that I think translates the whole of the trip quite poignantly.

While sauntering an evening away in India's hip yoga capital, Rishikesh, Mark and I were crossing one of the main bridges over the Ganges that bisects the town. This bridge is patrolled by a tribe of monkeys, who pace along the railings and swing from the cables, waiting for treats. Once in awhile, with a good streak of luck, a person can cross the bridge unperturbed by these mangy, red-bottomed fur balls. But not this time.

One particular monkey had stationed himself near the end of the bridge. Just when I thought this crossing would be a monkey-free one, there he was, perched mischievously on the rail. Now a monkey is not a particularly intimidating creature. Quite the opposite, actually. With their crouching stature, human-like features and matted gray coats, they are hardly a fearsome bunch. But there I was, in a new country, engulfed in a swarm of newness and difference. I didn't know what to expect of these little creatures, roaming free from zookeepers and unencumbered by the West's safety fences. These guys were wild and free to attack my head at will.

The bridges in Rishikesh are a constant rush of bodies, motorcycles and bikes. But near this particular monkey, the crowd had thinned a little, perhaps in deference to its unpredictability.
As I summoned up my strength to pass this strange and ratty creature, backed by Mark's faithful encouragement, the monkey's little face contorted in an evil scowl and set its beady eyes upon me in a look of malicious intent. The combination of that wrinkly face, the foreboding frown and violent hiss, was enough to make me jump three feet backwards into the safety of the crowd of strangers.

A few seconds passed, and then one by one the brave ones (my hubby included) slipped by its watchful post to the other side. "Come on Jenny, just come. Just walk, you'll be fine," he assured me. And so once again I called on bravery (that virtue that is is so unused in our culture of luxury) to help me pass that furry devil.

Beside me was a small group of Indian women, dressed in black saris, and with their heads covered. They were older women, and they seemed to be traveling together in a tight-knit group. They too had held back after the monkey's display of discourteous behaviour. As I began to pass the monkey, I felt the hand of one of these women brush mine. Thinking it was just an accidental touch, I did not respond. When the small, leathery hand then firmly clasped mine, I knew it was no accident. I returned the grasp, and together, holding hands like two frightened school girls, we succeeded in running the gauntlet of our fear.
She let go of my hand on the other side, but before descending to the street with her companions, threw me a delighted shriek of amusement. I will never forget her playful smile, as if to say thank you for conspiring with me.

Throughout our trip to India, as with other past adventures, I made an effort to accept a culture and a people vastly different from the familiar. Sometimes it was easy, as in the case of holding that old woman's hand. Sometimes it was difficult, and required great courage. But that one moment summed up a trip that will remain forever on my heart and in my mind. It only took a few seconds for that woman to teach me how similar we all are, in our silliest fears, our bitterest loses, and our loftiest joys.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Top Eleven reasons to smile

11. The sky is a brilliant blue and I hear a chirping bird
My bike did some serious hills yesterday
9. I get pizza tomorrow instead of a journalism lecture
8. We had corn on the cob last night for dinner
7. We found a
really eccentric local coffee roaster
6. I'm doing a free yoga class in half an hour
5. I got an advance copy of the new Feist album (due out tomorrow) for 6 bucks!
My parents were here over the weekend (yay!) and they brought us a bottle of Dad B's wine
3.We're now registered for the MB half marathon (yikes!)
2. We leave for INDIA on Thursday

and the number 1 reason I'm smilling today...

1. I'm gonna be published! (see April 10th's post...they want it!)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


This morning I went for a walk. No running today, just the slow saunter of a leisurely walk.There is so much a runner can learn from walking. For me, it is chiefly a reminder: to enjoy the passing world, the melting world, the world around me speckled with brown and green. When I run I feel machine-like: the clicking pulse and pumping heart, the mechanisms of the lungs and muscles. When I walk, I am a grazing animal, free of fences. I leave the concerns of time and distance behind me, and I remember how to play.

One of my favourite New York State authors walks every morning. Thoreau says walking will keep me from rusting, should I “stay in my chamber” all day. He says there is “nothing in it akin to exercise…but is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day.”

This day, canopied with blue after so many grey ones, is a day worthy of so many small adventures. Warmed-up homemade tomato dill soup and a veggie nori wrap, finishing an article, an hour of yoga in my favourite room, gathering my wool for tonight’s first Syracuse “stitch n’ bitch” with 7 women I’ve never met.

But the best adventure was the walk. The sun on my skin is like the embrace of an old friend. The snow melting off houses patters like rain, and under my feet gurgles into a hidden urban brook. The neighbourhood comes alive as nature sheds its final coat of ice, people push windows from their dusty rigidity, and the mighty exhalation of adventure impels every one of my steps.

(picture is from my cycling trip last May)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

idleness and barbeques

I just sent my first official query to a magazine. Querying is what optimistic freelancers do in the hopes of getting assigned an article. It’s the first one I’ve sent to an editor I’ve never met. The first editor who is not a benevolent friend trying to help me get my words out there. It sounds self-depracating, but the pros tell me to expect rejection and then keep trying.

Classes are quickly approaching their end. My mysticism class is wrapping up with Moby Dick, a voluminous American classic dotted with spiritual and philosophical illumination—all on the back of the 19th century whaling industry. Meanwhile, on the other side of campus (I’ve been listening to too much Carrie Bradshaw), journalism class provokes me to long afternoons in the sun pondering the craft of writing.

Take last week’s journal entry:

I want a recipe for good writing, but it is a pull-everything-out-of-the-pantry-and-get-creative kind of endeavour. It is full of holes and half-attempts. Cliches become casualties on the road to creativity, and my best risks just threaten an alienated readership. I’m taught what not to say, and how to be clearer: “Look, who would actually say that?”(I would.)

Current mass journalism seems to be the pursuit of clarity at the expense of beauty. It corrodes the temples of words I’ve built in my mind, making them seem superfluous, gaudy, ornate.

Perhaps they are right, and good writing is clear, full of what people would actually say, and only that. For I am no Austen, no Dickens, or Thoreau even. I live today, in the 21st century of shortened words, of “text.” Of WTFs and LOLs and all the rest of language’s vestigial parts.

And so today, rather than writing, I feel like doing anything else. Wandering, dreaming of idleness, barbeques, a new tattoo. In joy the days slip by with ease. In the absence of joy, every minute is lead.

Cheers, it’s spring in New York State! Let’s go publish!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Riddle of blue

While I was home in Winnipeg over the break, the question “so what do you DO down in Syracuse?” came almost every day. This has never been my favourite question to answer, but people are interested. These annoying life-check questions are part of what make friends friends. Thus, today a feeble attempt to sketch out my life as a legal alien living south of the 49th parallel.

I think that part of the problem is that in the last few years, I haven’t really “Done” much, in the capital D-doing sense of the word. I got good grades, but I’m not in grad school. I haven’t even applied. Rare were the jobs I held onto for more than a year, mostly involving beverages of some sort. Easy to get and easy to quit. One University degree lies folded up between photo albums in my parent’s basement, next to my high school diploma. As the months tick on, I realize how much of it means little to me. As the years tread on, I realize that the little bit that does matter, matters a hell of a lot.

I didn’t become a teacher, a nurse, or a lawyer. I don’t own a power suit, and I don’t really want to. But then there are those old goals that poke their heads up now and again. The novel, the cafĂ©, the triathlon. Little bits of envisioned selves that take smaller forms now: Reading in them. Sitting in them. Running and cycling—two out of three isn’t bad.

So, what do I DO down here in Syracuse. Being unemployed leaves a whole lot of time for doing the things I always said I wanted to do. I often miss the world of structure and routine, where earning a living through honest work keeps me sane. However, what will be will be, and here I am, on an F2 visa, unable to earn even a penny polishing wine glasses (one of my many, underappreciated skills).

And so, I spend my days taking free courses at the University, listening to my professors wax poetic about leaves or good writing. (Or gripe about the war in Iraq or bad metaphors.) I practice Haydn’s Creation along with singers who are better than me, but whom I hope will sing loud enough to drown out my squeaks. I knit, un-knit, and knit again. I learn to bake bread, grow sprouts, and incubate my own yogurt. I try to break a 9-minute-mile. I go to films and Health Expos and anything free, I lift weights and do yoga on Mondays down the street. I read books, and I stare out the window waiting for the day the sun will pummel the clouds out of existence. (When it does, I am invincible.) I spend far too much time on the Internet, but a satisfactory zero hours in front of the t.v. I try to write articles that might sell. I hang out at the library down the street, or sip lavender lattes in basement cafes with my hubby.

Life, as we know it, leaves little to be desired. And yet I am a hungry creature. Desire is scrawled across my being.

I have tried hard to gather knowledge, prove my skills, and justify myself to the world. (While the people that matter already accept me.) A perennial quest for uniqueness or essence, maybe. In the lives of those I admire most, I see a new goal: to live for today, with more compassion for others and more grace for myself. To live out knowledge and to work hard. To question and doubt, and yet be satisfied in a life of faith. It is a never-ending quest. But today, today the Syracuse sky is mysteriously blue, and I am on my way out to bask in its riddle.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

ode to a finished book

I finally finished Simone Weil's Gravity and Grace. The work of this mid-20th-century French Jewish activist-mystic (yet defying categorization), is now on my list of most difficult books I've "read." I put read in quotes, because sometimes, when reading, the clarity and meaning of words evaporates, leaving them behind as mere objects. It makes for an interesting reading experience: When words betray their purpose, to communicate, and leave me instead with a vague sense of things--of brilliance and truth, or at least of worth. There is something in her writing, something that evaded me right through to the last word. But I ploughed on, believing the discipline and, in her words, attention, to be somehow good for me.

I will give you two quotes. To complicate this post with more than that would be much too heavy for the general purposes of the internet (speed, surface, mass accumulation of that which quickly slips through the fingers).

"The mysteries of faith are degraded if they are made into an object of affirmation and negation, when in reality they should be an object of contemplation.

"Beauty captivates the flesh in order to obtain permission to pass right to the soul."

Wow. That's all I can say.

Friday, February 23, 2007


We walk through the town square, the church bells an antiphon to our rushed drive downtown. I think that as long as churches ring their bells, there is reason to be alive. Those bells bring majesty to the public doman, glory to the void of city rhythm. A man on the street corner bellows, his face pink, his eyes brimming with scriptural ammo: "It is only by grace that you are saved!!! Those ashes on your forehead cannot save you! Repent for the day is near..." He's partly right, but he's wrong about the ashes.

Ash Wednesday found us in St. Paul's Cathedral, kneeling at the altar, getting our foreheads dirty. There was a different message than the one we'd just heard on the street. This one reminded us to beware of religiosity, and of showing off our feeble attempts at righteousness. (Close the door, do this in secret.) These were softer words, rising up to a vaulted ceiling where the they formed little gold nets for our prayers. "Remember," he says to me, "that you are dust and to dust you shall return." He says this to ten, fifty, one-hundred people kneeled alongside me. He puts ashes on wrinkled, brown, smooth, and cream foreheads alike. The same words, spoken to many but new to each. The translation of Job I just read for Mysticism class ends with this .. . comforted that I am dust.

Why ashes, anyway? Why something so tangible, and yet so fleeting? (Gone, with a puff, like a seeded dandelion.) Before our time, people would recognize mourners by the ashes on their faces. The ashes showed that in their sadness the mourners had neglected the daily household duty of keeping the ashes in the fireplace under control. Today it might seem religious to walk around sporting ashes on your forehead. Like some kind of cross around your neck, icon-emblazoned t-shirt,
tattooed Buddha on your arm. But there was a time when it was just inevitable. The stuff of trying to live, and work, and be human. Again I am surprised at the dailyness of of life and faith.

This spot of ash. I bent too low I hit the earth; old fire, powdered terra. The solid remains of fire touching my skin. What will not be burned, gracing my skin. We springboard into Lent (lenct, germanic root word for Spring), with sunshine on our shoulders and darkness on our faces. We are grateful to be light and dust.

Monday, February 19, 2007

better than tylenol sinus

I think I’m finally kicking this cold. It began a few weeks ago, tentatively clinging to my sinuses, but as of the last few days has descended confidently into my throat and chest. Colds are the illness no one ever wants to hear you whine about. They’re as mundane as what you had for breakfast—only your significant other cares. (A little.) And so, I send my complaints out into the anonymous network of compassion: A blog post, like a faded fluttering prayer flag, beating its tired fibres against gusts of Himalayan air. Yes, that’s me.

Fighting a cold takes many forms: Tea with lemon, yoga, knitting, lots of sleep, skipping classes. But there are also some unconventional tonics: hockey games and beer, chilly walks around town tramping through snowdrifts, spicy ceasars, swordfish with homemade citrus pesto (thanks to a belated Valentines Day feast prepared by my resident chef).

Today the doctor prescribed snowshoeing at Green Lakes: pure rejuvenation to a cooped-up soul who has seen too much of her walls and the insides of mugs. The snow that fell over the past week has settled into each crease of tree and rock. It is a blue-white wash out, pocked with the colour of proud evergreens. Our snowshoes keep us near the surface, but on some of the really soft expanses, the snow pulls us in like a feather bed. We cut new trails; it doesn’t look like many have been here since the snowfall. Boughs and branches lean over our path, heavy with their burden of frozen water. My heart-rate quickens as particles of fallen seas resist my stride. I let them fall easily off the contraptions strapped to my feet. I breathe in air clean as menthol—it passes through me, fighting my puny cold with nature’s Cold. The sun had become a stranger, but today it returns to bless the passing of winter. It mingles with fresh shards of outdoor air, forming an elixir that just might scare this sickness right out of me.

Contrary to the old wives’ tales, I would highly recommend going outside when you have a cold.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

lend me your ear

How do you know when you’re supposed to be a writer? (How do you know when you’re supposed to be anything?) I have failed so far in trying to pin my interests on a particular vocation. Maybe it is because I love this earth so much that I don’t want to deny any part of it. Maybe that is an optimistic view, and I am really just lazy.

And yet I keep coming back to writing, and its impervious demons: How dare I assume that my words will count, that they will be worthy of even an ear? There is so much noise around us, thousands of messages breeding cacophony. My own voice seems obstructed by the words themselves.

How can I be confident in this journey when I have not yet seen the map, let alone the end? How can I obey when I have not yet heard?

I cannot be sure that my love of words should translate into writing. There are so many ways to love words. And so it seems, more and more each day, that writing is neither an act of confidence nor skill, but faith. And faith is one of those companions that no matter how persistently you push it away, it just keeps turning up in the strangest places. Faith just doesn’t know how to let go.

As always, I am full of questions. In my prouder moments I believe I could be a good mother, teacher, architect, counsellor, nurse, editor, graphic designer, chef. But in William Stafford’s words, the world waits there / thirsting after its names. Who am I to turn away? Adam has passed on his duty, and I feel incredibly small in front of the silence that longs to be turned into song.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

a strange and familiar path

When you haven't been a student proper in 2 years (not counting being a student of life and love and all the rest of it), the first day back you feel like a peasant before the table of the noble. Your intellectual hunger growls, lurches from its place of comfortable distraction. The bookstore shelves are a mile high, arching over your frame worn thin by labour and idleness. They offer the choicest morsels of wisdom, and you want them all. Names swirl before your blurry eyes; some names you recognize but many you don't. Names that have been lost in the backs of old journals. Names that have changed some of your friends' lives. Names that have indeed changed your own.

And you want to be let in again, to dig into your pockets and find the key to all this knowledge. You know it's there, beneath coins and crumpled bus tickets. This has been for so long a faraway world, and it is once again present.

I am finding that I still fit into those old muddy boots. The voice of instruction comes like a psalm. I am finding that even though learning can take a thousand forms other than academia, the University has remained a place that expands my vision and energizes my pursuit. I am finding that it feels good to come home, in this, as in so many other ways.

Friday, January 12, 2007

suos, cultores, scientia, coronat

Things have changed just a wee bit as of late. I'm a married woman, I'm a resident alien (and yes that's a technical term), and a student again. To the left you will behold my very own Syracuse University student card. This shiny little card allows me access to books, weights, and vast stores of knowledge. Three of my favourite things.

You may also behold the new labels on my blog entries: Wired Magazine's technology hound, Eugene B. Blognerd, says "these easy to use little titles allow you to search for your favourite posts from the room for rambling archives. All at the click of a mouse!"

(Eyeroll. My husband is now really hoping I get enrolled in a course soon, and have something to do other than pester him with my giddy, nerdish moods.)

The otherwise boring drive down here was full of exciting distractions:
Successfully crossing the border as a legal unit, a new travel mug (c/o Caribou coffee), fudge (c/o Illa), Lord of the Rings read by a grandfatherly British man, and catnaps (c/o grandfatherly man). But the award for "ultimate best time on road trip #2 to Syracuse" goes to sheep, who make me laugh more than any other animal. When you pet them, all of their wool and skin moves like a massive turkish rug draped heavily over their backs. It's delightful. (Thanks Todd and Anna-Ruth.)

So the ring on my finger now means a whole lot more than "I'm getting married." It translates to memories of the 29th and before, companionship, committment, shared laughter, and to spousal benefits at a great university. Not to mention having someone to share hummous and tabbouleh at meditteranean restaurants with. As we said to each other this morning: Well, here we are on a new adventure.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

box a

I think my posting is about to become somewhat more frequent. Tomorrow we will trek to the border, and cross over as a married couple (those words are still new and strange yet comfortably familiar.) The guards will pull out their pens and push their spectacles up their nose, and we will wait for the go-ahead. Another country awaits, not far from where we are now, but with so much that is other.

Once again my life is packed into little boxes. I spent the last 3 days moving stuff from point A to point B to point C. Those three days seem a write-off for meaningful existence. I was a conveyor belt. I was a shelf-stocker: what has value, what is long past its expiry date. The goodwill box is overflowing once more. It reminds me of how I felt when I started this blog, freshly deposited in a new, pulsing city. But this time it's
we, and that is different.

The wedding is over. The event is past. The memories are now starting to take its place. Photos for sensations, videos for moments. Reminiscing for anticipating. Such is the rhythm of our lives.

We move tomorrow. I into the unknown of city and life, he into the known of school and friends. Both of us into the dance of being known and the mystery of yet still being unknown. What do you know?