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Showing posts from June, 2011

thesis defense

I had my thesis defense on Monday. It was a good experience, a very good experience, for me. Not at all the scare-fest I thought it would be. When I first began my master's degree, one of the things I was sure I didn't want to do was defend a thesis, and that was why I chose the project option. The idea of standing in front of a committee of learned scholars and being grilled was a scary thought that made my stomach lurch in nasty ways. I would rather eat sushi (for those of you who know how much I dislike the Japanese fast food, this is a rather strong statement).

I have moments when my mind goes blank. I struggle to remember names and dates. For some reason, my mind likes to file away important, general information in a storage facility where it is very hard to access at short notice. Also, I have been known to easily get distracted and lose my train of thought. All of these can be deadly in a defense situation where one needs to be able to respond quickly to challe…

another lesson from the metro

I know people who struggle with depression. I also know people who suffer from positive thinking. At the risk of being over-simplistic, both of these tendencies (at least to me) ring of untruth in their own way. I always seem to be at a loss for words in the presence of super positive people. What can one say to someone who will only see what they want to see? Likewise, I have little to offer those who are trapped in despair, teetering on the edge of blackness. Maybe a hug or a sighing prayer.

I was on the metro a few days ago and they were having some problem with the automated voice that announces each upcoming station. I was deep in a book, as usual, and relying on the voice to let me know when I was approaching my stop. However, this time when the train left the station, the voice spoke some very unfamiliar words. I stopped reading and wondered if I had inadvertently stepped on the wrong train. I checked the metro map and found that the female voice was announcing station…

pilgrimage

One of the things I hate about writing (okay, maybe dislike is a more accurate word) is the number of drafts and edits it takes to come up with something that resembles a coherent and thoughtful piece of work. Another discouraging factor is the amount of time I spend spinning my mental wheels before I come up with an idea that is worth writing about. Hamster time is that period when I go 'round and 'round, trying a thousand different stories in my head, sifting through endless scenarios and possible themes before one of them actually appears feasible as well as interesting. It seems like time wasted, but it is, for the most part, the necessary process to arrive at the one idea that works.

This weekend, I have been working on a writing project. I had some inspiration on Friday night while I was talking about it with some of my friends, and I thought it would be a simple thing to put a few lines on paper. I did put some words on paper on Saturday, but after a page of scribbli…

knowing when to stop

Sometimes life just seems bizarre. While some people are laughing and partying and watching a sporting event in one part of the world, others are dying in street skirmishes in a war-torn region. While one teenager plays video games and drinks Coke and thinks about nothing more than unlocking the next level, another adolescent faces painful surgery and possible life-altering complications. While a new baby is born into one loving family, another dies from neglect, hunger, or worse. At any point in time, we find ourselves touched by the good, the bad, the ugly, the painful, the funny, the overwhelming, the surprising, and the sweet. On good days, I can see some grand cohesion between these multi-dimensional aspects of life, but many times, I find myself puzzled or even at odds with what is happening.

This is a joyful time in my life; I am about to graduate with my MA and have a summer of relative ease before I plow into doctoral studies in the fall. I find myself laughing and danci…

one moment please

Some years ago I worked as a receptionist at a window factory. My very first day at work I attended a seminar for receptionists. In this room surrounded by a hundred or so women who spent their days being the first point of encounter for various companies, I learned the magic of the word "moment." We were taught never to use phrases that referred to seconds or minutes because these measurements were too exact, and we would invariably disappoint some impatient customers who would take the phrase "just a minute" literally. Instead, we mouthed the magic, indefinite word "moment" together, savouring its immeasurable limbo.

The thing about a moment is that while it is a brief but undefined period of time, it usually carries a defining quality. We all remember moments in our lives when things changed. When we changed. I came across two such moments this week that have remained on my mind. One was the unfortunate hit that a player from the Vancouver Canuc…

see-through

I have been looking through some of the pictures I took on our road trip to the East Coast this past weekend. The scenery through northern Maine was beautiful, as was the foggy, rugged landscape of New Brunswick. We didn't have a lot of time to trek around outside, so many of the pictures I took were through the windshield of a moving car. Now that I take a closer look at the the photographs, I can see all the bug guts splayed on the windshield, distracting from magnificent sunsets and lush greenery. I also notice all too many blurred images that indicate we were rushing past some amazing scene at high speed, and all I could do was capture an indistinct representation of its uniqueness. Sigh. Such is life. We see indistinctly and we hurry through.

I often view the beauty of this world through the bug-spatter of my life's idiosyncratic paradoxes. Incredible scenes play out before my eyes even while small deaths are happening all around me. And if I am not attentive, bri…