Tuesday, December 21, 2004

home again, home again. Another thirty-some-odd wonderful car-hours under my seat-- a visit to the Fernandes, a historic tour of prior breakdowns, and one Denny's Elvis later, Gramps is still scoffing at all the youngsters. Also, there's no "k" in calisthenics, "horton" is *not* a type of bird, and "qorn" will lose you major points in any road trip word-game worth mentioning.

Brought some marking home with me, but the food, the family, the company and the time are already doin' me wonderful. hmm... maybe another nap is an order.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

A stone's throw out on either hand
From that well-ordered road we tread
And all the world is wild and strange.
(Rudyard Kipling)

Friday, November 26, 2004

Well, one down, three papers to go (and one last batch of 110X essays to mark). They're supposed to be publishable!?! Well, it's a nice theory... December 15th is going to feel pretty good, let me tell you.

It's a little weird to look at the calendar and realize that it's November 26th, you've spent three months doing little outside of academics, and all you have to show for it so far is *one* mark from way back in September. It's always seemed a little stupid that it all comes down to your ability to condense everything into a couple papers in a two week period, but hey, so it goes. It's fun handing them in...

But yeah, holidays are going to be great. I've got a couple days in the 'loo after all this blows over (16th-19th?)... and I've heard tell of a certain movie marathon involving a Peter Jackson trilogy. Then home for a rest. Also, tentative plans are to get on the overseas ESL train for a year or two (starting next fall) while I figure out what subject my next degree will be in... so if you have any leads, I'm starting to send out feelers. About ESL, not--well heck, degrees too. Have pen, will travel and/or write things down for grades or food.

Also, hats off to Kirk and the hard work he and Gerry Hart put into the Alberta Liberal campaign. Walk a little taller; you've earned it. We owe you.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

It was a cold and rainy walk back from class today, so I decided what the heck. I'll put on a pair of dry socks and write some stuff down.

I was considering yesterday whether it was valid to say that I hate Novembers. I've had a surprising string of extremely uninspiring Novembers lately. I suppose February isn't exactly sunshine, and by my upcoming logic April isn't so great either, but truly, November and I go way back. It's the exponential curve of the Arts degree workload. Oh don't worry, I'll save you all the gory details; the generalities and comparisons are meaningless anyway and yeah, yeah, we all have work to do. It's just that, I really don't have any memories of November that aren't just a smear of stress on the windscreen of life, usually involving me locked in a room for three consecutive weeks, drinking Cokes and sheperding commas into an MLA-approved pig-pen. Remembrance Day just doesn't take over the shopping malls like Halloween and Christmas do, and besides, I'm usually weighed down by my own petty concerns. Six hundred words, three hours, thirteen percent reduction of average... that other, personal kind of math. The only difference with the Master's is that now I'm marking papers and wow, at least it's reassuring that I don't write *that* bad anymore.

Bah, but that's all mechanics, and finally, finally, they don't care about mechanics as much anymore. I've sat through some mighty fine seminars in the past few months, and it's been great to deeply engage with the pulse of human thought as it appears and evolves through literature. Plus, Kingston has a lot of pubs. Really really nice pubs. And there's still nothing quite like tossing back a few (well, iced teas) deep into the night, swapping injury stories, brushes-with-celebrity stories, and oh-my-goodness-did-you-hear-the-one-about-that-professor stories. As bubbles go, I'm living in a vibrant one.

All of which means I'm really liking it here. Headspace and workspace and carapace (okay, I got nothing) are all hard to maintain, but the instability of everything makes it all seem more real. It's kind of fun being messed in the head all the time. I kind of enjoy coming back from class with a pounding headache, bustling through throngs of fellow students, sifting through a chaos of mental ideas. All I need is a cardigan sweater, poofy white hair, and an armful of rolled manuscripts, and you could call me Professor Penner.

None of which means you could get me to do a PhD in a million years (at least, not within the next seventeen months or so). I wasn't kidding about wanting my November back.

But my typically introverted school-mindset aside, life's been good. We passed our cleaning inspection with flying colours (remember the landlady?), the plant clipping I stole from the kitchen-eater back at Brighton is taking over our south-facing window, and a random smart-alec grocery comment in class led to a vast exodus of four in Gramps, with brief layovers in random parking-lots, back-streets, and an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet on the way to grocery heaven. Caution got thrown to the winds, and once again Christmas break is going to involve a Donny and a Vaughn and a car for several thousand western-facing kilometres, should Donny a) want to come and b) not have a thesis to hand in. I even managed to play some computer games last week (NetHack is possibly the most challenging, most addictive, and probably best RPG ever made), and pulled an all-nighter reading a novel that wasn't even on the course list, suggested or otherwise. Housemate Jonathon Bowman, who is contentedly no longer enrolled in this crazy Master's thing, keeps renting good movies that I have no choice but to be distracted by, and gosh-darn-it, who knew that Squash could be such a fun sport? Let's face it, as long as I don't think too much about the uncertain void of next year's plans, life's been pretty fun, straightforward, and full of interesting moments.

Of course, I miss Waterloo. And by Waterloo I mean poker, nintendo, bible studies, potlucks, movies, and all the people that go with them. And no, not in that order. Hopefully I'll have some time between my last paper and the next road trip to drop by and catch up with everyone sucked up by the vaccuum of Not-School. I'm like, two months behind on my emailing and six months behind on seeing people, but I'll do what I can. So don't worry: if you're still reading this, I'm glad that you haven't forgotten about me. I miss you all and will make it back to 110, 209, 60, and all those other glorious numbers sometime soon. For now, twenty-six papers to mark, an eight-pager to write, a seminar to prepare, and a half-price graduate student night at The Toucan to get to yet tonight. Adios!
In the library: thirteen books
grace my left, fourteen others
pile my right.
Eliot, if nothing else
you've taken up a lot of person hours.

The pressure builds in my head.

Line-broken thoughts
become a pressure-release valve:
      gaped jaws speak orange as engines heat spewing
      burnt steam, pen-charred papers blast a billowing
      gravel roar and dry pistons grind as--
the nib nicks various limbs and I have pen on my face.
I twitch, the table bucks, and suddenly my
academic stacks lean as
Eliot-thought teeters
at the edge of real life:
trapped in tiny, throbbing book-bodies,
hearts thumping at the five foot drop.

I leave them there.

It won't be I who decides their fate.

I cross the street, heading for home:
so much to unlearn,
so much Eliot.

Friday, October 29, 2004

The world is made out of letters, words. Under every friendship there is a difficult sentence that must be said, in order that the friendship can be survived. This was theirs.
(Zadie Smith's The Autograph Man)

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Well, life is new once again. I'm in Kingston, living the high life... by which I mean reading books and pretending a Masters in English has some larger purpose that will one day magically manifest itself in heaping doses of health, wealth, and personal fulfillment. Or at least two of the three.

And it's good. It's entirely different and shockingly the same as undergrad. I have eight hours of class a week, all in a room that fits one table and fifteen chairs... just. I feel like I'm part of an international think tank, brought together by covert means to "expand the field" and "establish our reputation as elite though kooky academic successes so that more-than-slightly-well-off parents will buy a copy for their kids". My fellow grads range in age from 21 to 33, but they are one and all down-to-earth, darn fun people to hang out with. Everyone's just the teeniest bit nerdy about "literature", but the squash and badminton ladders they've got set up are a welcome balance to my (admittedly) solicited emails from the bridge, chess, and poker clubs respectively. In the end, I just do homework, but it's fun to dream.

For those who care, I'm taking Alice Munro, T.S. Eliot, and Topics in Post-Colonial Literature I: West Indies, Africa, and Asia: "Contemporary (black) British Literary and Visual Culture". No, the brackets don't make sense to me either. I'm also a T.A. for ENGLISH 110X. I was hoping the X stood for extreme, but I think it's just a section designation for the first year general survey course. Survey course EXTREME. But yeah, I've got office hours and an extreme email address that people who seem shockingly young now that I'm shockingly mature can contact me at with questions like "um... could you help me with my essay?" All right, I made that question up, but I'm looking forward to many questions like it. Queens doesn't let their T.A.s lecture (read: "We at Queens believe that T.A.s should focus on their studies"), but I've got a pile of students who are writing five or six essays over the course of their (full) year of study, so I'm still in the business. They pay me for it too, which means that I get to wade through all kinds of union politics whenever more than two people are standing in a group in the grad lounge. Did I mention the grad lounge? Oh yeah, and I also get my very own graduate study room, graduate office, graduate-extended due dates (that book you're looking for? I've got it until JANUARY), first-name basis connections with the "special collections" people in the archives, and a study carrel in the incredibly sumptuous, gorgeous, and all around sensuous arts library that isn't shaped like a cube and is less than ten years old and has a spiral staircase and holy crap if you are still a believer in Miss Dana Porter get your little heiny over here or maybe to Yale where Tamara insists on making us all biblio-jealous. Or maybe just me.

As for the similarities, well, sports bars and hockey still ring synonymous with good times and people watch way too many movies and third year doctorate students are still nervous and ramble babble and fudge their way through presentations that no one's done the reading for and everyone still makes a ton of verbal and written grammar mistakes which everyone proceeds to mock them mercilessly about and every once in a while someone looks around and says whoa, let's order pizza. Fernandes? I miss you buddy, even though we all reduced you to your last name and spelt your name wrong. And yes, I just looked up "spelt". It's "chief Brit." Go Canada.

Those who haven't seen me in forever probably haven't heard about California or the cottage or Montreal or all the other glorious things that have been filling in the cracks, but I figure "photography is worth a thousand English degrees" so without further ado, here is my life over the last month. I'm off to watch a movie.

Santa Cruz, CA

The Point, ON

My Room, ON
images posted by Hello

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Right. So I'm in California. It's great. Really. Sand and stuff. Water too. Joel's also here. He says hi. So does Charlotte. But I'm off for strawberry pie. Long drive back you know.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Jon and I are back from the K Dot. Signing the lease only took two hours of line by line emphasis and repetition. Whew. And if we *step* out of line? "I will pursue devious yet legal means to break your concentration and affect your grades". Ah well, here's to the next stage.

Behold the fruits of our labours, including like, 48 million hours of driving:

Our new house is on the right.
Posted by Hello

Our living room.
Posted by Hello

Our Kitchen.
Posted by Hello

Thursday, August 05, 2004

well, first off, congratulations to Steiny and Megan, who trumped my long weekend adventures by getting engaged. second off, I had a great time despite less engagement, heading up to the Bruce Pennisula with Charlotte, Caleb, Christa, and Jocelyn. third off, EVERYONE keeps planning evening things... must find ways to bottle sleep and take surreptitious shots on the truck between deliveries. life is moving quickly. little time to smell the roses, let alone write about smelling. them. although I need a shower too.

also, Charlotte is job shadowing today! boss Frank and buddy James were both unable to back me up this week, so trusty Charlotte flew (read: drove) to the rescue. best of all, I wasn't the only one lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling when work ended, the ride home ended, and the crash began. ah, the crash. I feel like I'm blogging under the influence. of fatigue.

but things are good. still trying to get to Vancouver before August ends: hoping to meet up with Amanda (poste) and see the old Winnipeg once or twice more before I enter the maelstrom (read: grad work). Toronto Driveway fell through, but still has the magic to pull through... here's hoping. Charlotte (of course?) wants to hitch-hike the whole way. heck. why not.

hope you all are feeling well. I don't envy you your desk. but you probably don't envy me my floor. I guess they're both just places where we sleep. unintentionally.

anyways, best of weather over your noggin' and lack of ruts before your wagon,

Monday, July 19, 2004

you know, someday, when I'm living my life in increments larger than 1.5 hours a day, I'll tell you some stories. Until then, well, I'll cheat. Canada Day was wonderful... go check out Estelle's breakdown under the July 4th heading here.

As for the weekend past, well, the wonderful Chad Schmidt joined the growing married ranks back in Manitoba. Such being the case, I called up Vaughn, arranged a car, and drove out to yet another 2.5 day Manitoba adventure. Chris came too :) Grand Beach, food, shopping, sleep (yeah right), close friends who can still connect with that weird Ontario guy... gotta be great.

Now it's just figuring out the end of August. And sleeping. hmm...

Friday, July 09, 2004

Of course, life could also be wonderfully funny, downright strange, and somewhat laughable...

Monday, June 28, 2004

whew, what a weekend. It looks as though housing in Kingston is a go... Jon and I went up to the old Kingston on Friday and survived a gruelling, 2.5 hour interrogation from our soon-to-be-new-landlady pending intense-application-scrutiny. The lease we will potentially sign is (nearly literally) unbelievable: clauses include elevator and fridge defrosting procedures... and we won't have an elevator (umm... "Water used to clean the plastic parts of the refrigerator must be no hotter than the hand can bear"? I'm not making this up). However, we are gambling that the DETAIL / LIMITATION / STRICTURE / CONTROL / PARALYSIS format of our slightly over-meticulous lease is merely the straight-up price we are paying for a beautiful, underpriced, comfortable two-level in the perfect location. Here's hoping the 2 landlord, 1 character reference stage goes all right.

Property rights and abuses aside, another thousand klicks under Gramps' tires and I'm in Mississauga, where I commence eating and do not cease for approximately 27 consecutive hours (except for brief Gamecube breaks). Estelle's grandma was having a huge bash for her 80th party (Saturday), and some serious family reunion cooking was on hand. Then on Sunday Estelle's friend Jacrise had her 18th birthday party (passage into womanhood: filipino tradition), which involved more cooking and tons of good people. The programs and sharing were full of sentiment; I ended up missing my own family a lot all weekend. Always good to remember the important things in life :) The Toronto Filipino Baptist Church was also wonderful, and I lucked into a rare, non-English service in Tagalog (general dialect across the islands from what I can tell). Of course, no one under 30 had any idea what was going on, but the worship was everything I've been missing for a while and the sense of family was palpable. Also, true to my tingling Mennonite potluck-sense, I discovered they have communal lunch EVERY SUNDAY! Substitute varied noodle dishes for chili, and you've got the filipino Baptist version of good times. None too shabby.

Anyways, updates aside, July is shaping up to be grand: two extremely extended weekends, including a Montreal Jazz Festival and a gosh darn old time Manitoba wedding. Gramps? You ready for this? I know I am.

Multiple disclaimers and sidenotes: "Gramps" is my car, the previous couple days of poetry is my own work, the best food in the world is a filipino spring roll, and yes, if you want to drive to Manitoba with me leaving July 14th at ~6pm-ish to return for July 18th in the evening sometime (Wednesday night to Sunday), you are most definitely invited.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Arrival in Pompeii

At eight I tunnel through sunflower fields
to fight enchanted sleep. Mosquito spray and
sunscreen mix their tastes on my lip.
I find the hot sun
without spying the long-lost princess,
but I can't be sure:
maybe I just missed her.

Maybe there's a mandrake hidden in the neighbour's flax.


At twelve a poplar tree hunches epic
proportions and windbreak shoulders
a quarter-mile
from my house. My cousin climbs partway; I
make it nearly to the top. I could swear
I'm higher than my house,
higher even than the grain elevator...
she calls up to me, but I can't describe it.
It is
the farthest I've ever seen.

From a submarine, surfaced, a sight to the horizon is unreliable.


At twenty-two I find S.P.Q.R. stamped
prominently on a stiff-necked wall:
guardian of Vatican City.
Its runic numerals erode
angles deep into distant times.
Later, I step
on another S.P.Q.R. stamp, forged
in sewer-grate steel.

Senatus Populusque Romanus: The Senate and the People of Rome.


"In 1508, by Pope Julius II della Rovere's
commission, Michelangelo Buonarroti
begins painting ceilings.
The Cappella Sistina is rectangular in shape and measures
40.93 meters long by 13.41 meters wide:
exact dimensions of the Temple of Solomon
as described
in Old Testament lore."

One million guidebooks burst into confetti as God's finger finally reaches Adam...

At twenty-four I found Pompeii
one-thousand-nine-hundred and thirty-seven years
too late:
my digital camera
running out of batteries in less time
than it took 20,000 people to realize something was
very wrong

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

this blog is a box.

you can open it at any time, but I'm responsible for filling it.

at least, I feel responsible.

maybe only because I'm inside it.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

As you read the first sentence of this particular blog entry you realize that something is different. Though it takes only moments to adapt, you feel the briefest of shocks at being forced from your usual, comfortable role as passive observer into one of active participation. You are not used to this. Your first reaction is a bit defensive: perhaps you scoff at such an obvious gimmick, or, having read something like this before, you write it off as imitation. Perhaps your knowledge of the Author allows you to pin down the source of influence. Perhaps, after a moment, you realize that these are only attempts to recover dignity, control... but surely you have never lost control, you think to yourself, after all, as a Reader, you can stop reading at any time.

However, even as you read the next words you realize that you have not and probably will not stop reading. Perhaps the philosopher in you spies the trick and you experience a small thrill of self-congratulation, but now you are a tad uncertain. You do not know where this is leading, and as One Who Reads, you usually know where you are being led. But there are no clues here. This particular blog entry does not fit into the category of personal disclosure, or public announcement, or even note-to-self. There are no links, no quotes, no structure beyond that of sentence and paragraph to indicate what you are reading. Perhaps by now you think you have discovered The Purpose of this entry: it is an exploration of some sort, an intellectual exercise, a way of pondering the existence of "the blog" or the ways it can be used. Perhaps you are being led by the Author to question control, or to find some insight in the examination of the reading process itself.

But even as you convince yourself of these things and raise your chosen defense of critical thinking or careful apathy, you cannot fully ignore the part of you that suspects you are still being manipulated. You reassure yourself that, of course, the Author cannot *know* what you are thinking... you are reading mere guesses, and if the Author guesses wrong then the spell is broken. However, maybe you find that you don't *want* the spell to be broken, and that in several ways you have already been playing along, "suspending disbelief" as it were-- you are, of course, well aware that this is just another spell.

Still, you don't know why this one is being cast, and that bothers you a bit. Perhaps you are already frustrated at having come this far without a reward of any kind. Why would anyone read without reward? You question how this might end and wonder if you won't be somewhat frustrated. You fear the Author might yet descend into the merely absurd: resorting to a surprise ending, or a non sequitur, or some other cheap narrative device. You hope that there is no profound or cliche climax approaching, but you sense that the ending is near. After all, the ending is being discussed, there is an order to events, surely at this stage you will not be denied closure.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

That's a lot of hassle for thirty cents.

Right, so I'm on my third job in the span of a week... a situation only ameliorated by the fact that this one's the same as the first. Yup, after negotiations with Tom Musselman, the construction contractor that housemate Chris was working for, I told Prestige Acoustics that they weren't paying me enough and left for balmier, more lucrative seas (how come my life is becoming one big Puzzle Pirates metaphor? Kirk?). Of course, those lucrative seas told me on Tuesday that they weren't actually all that lucrative, or rather, they would be, but only if they could find work for me to do. They couldn't. So on hands and knees I told good old Prestige that I would come back... if they paid me more.

Which is why, on a thirty cent raise, I am once again working for the job that I quit last week, pretending to be a Martin brother (both Travis and Taylor worked there) and working out... I mean... working. Seriously though, I am buff. Buff in ways that only a true English major can be, an English major that once sat at a computer for five consecutive years to earn a degree through the drinking of coke and the checking of email, an English major that spends his gloriously deadline-free free time reading more books, an English major that is reading books and getting excited about going back to school to study even more books, LOTS of books, TONS of books, especially in the library, where I can take my shirt off when the girls walk by and say, "Hark! I'm buff!".

Still, buffness aside, it is truly amazing how much I missed "the farm-tired": that feeling at the end of the day when you pry the steel-toe boots from off your throbbing feet, pull that drywall- and sweat-plastered bandana from off that head of hair your great-grandmother paid you $40 to get cut (sorry Oma! soon!), and rinse approximately three pounds of dust and muscle-ache down the drain under a mist of hot steam and hotter water. Let me tell you, after spending a whole lotta time brain-tired, body-tired can feel pretty good.

But utter bliss aside, some have been asking for more details. Well, Prestige Acoustics supplies ceiling tile, accompanying metal bits, insulation, and drywall. People order this stuff, my buddy James (who actually *is* buff... at least, more so than me... if that's even possible...) and I throw it onto a freakin' huge chick-magnet truck (seriously, girls are ALL OVER US in that thing. I'm not even joking; it's kind of scary.), then we drive it to various delivery sites all over continental America by which I mean Southern Ontario and unload it again. My job = driving + lifting. Oh, and buffness (and girls!?).

Right, but all of these asides aside, the story of my life can be encapsulated in one tiny anecdote: I delivered drywall to Mitra the other day. I worked at Mitra as a Software Developer a few months ago. If that isn't a clash of lifestyles, I don't know what is. I even met some of the *hot* air conditioner boys that several of my fellow high-paid corporate deskjob coops were mooning over. Ladies, they're actually quite nice in person too ;)

Anyways, moral of the story is, I really like my current job. I'm starting to remember what I used to believe success was, and I'm learning a lot in the reevaluation. Money and Success won't fulfill your life, and just because you haul drywall doesn't mean you deserve to be patronized (and whoa, are ya)... course, societal pressures and pride will forever tell us otherwise. I'm still the arrogant prick university graduate sometimes... eesh, disgusting... but at least I don't have that moment of defensiveness anymore, the moment that immediately proceeds the question "so, what are you doing this summer?". I've rediscovered the dignity in labour that I'd forgotten about... more's the pity for me.

So if I ever pull up beside a GMC 3500-HD dooley flatbed with my IPO-earned, caffeine-burned, computer-sciencey/englishy-result-of-whatever-the-heck-type-of-career-I-end-up-in Lexus, remind me of the place that big old truck came from. Because that was back when I was buff.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

So, I spent the weekend down near Beamsville with a Grandma, a Great-Grandma and approximately one million cousins in celebration of Mother's day. Lots of good times, including some quality English graduate time involving a server built from the ground up and a Debian install. Granted, it beat me, but only because I ran out of time... darn integrated graphics and the needless attempt at KDE.

Regardless, life is as wonderful as the weather, which is to say, wonderful indeed. Looks as though I'll be taking over for my buddy Travis at Prestige Acoustics, where the job description is drywall, ceiling tile, and customer relations. Your guess is as good as mine, but hey, as long as the deadlines don't involve "compare and contrast" or the word "trope", I'm all in. Besides, a little bit of buff can't be all bad. Gotta maintain my ability to trounce the wrestling Charlotte ;)

Further, the official Summer O' Ultimate commences this fine fine evening. Disc, you and me gonna get together. In ART'S FACE.

So, Monday at 7am, my new sleep-life begins. Until then, books, games, and movies. Well, after that too...

Thursday, May 06, 2004

And May is upon us. School's over and done with, which feels great, and the house is slowly recovering from the end of term crunch, which also feels good, so bring on the Spring. If anyone knows how to get ahold of the Langeman Cwik Ultimate Boys house, let me know... looking forward to some sweet Ultimate all summer long.

Of course, all Ultimate and no work makes Jared a poor boy, so the job hunt is beginning to kick into high and somewhat desperate gear. I appeared to have unemployment on the ropes earlier this week with an interview at a company called Creative Options, but after generating excitement with an interview, the "whoops, government grants to hire new grads only apply to long-term hires (and not those planning on grad school)" shoe dropped. Also, desperate emails to an old friend of mine (Mitra) aren't being returned... last hope is that the email recipients are on vacation.

All of which leaves me in somewhat-more-interesting straits. I've been holding out on a drywall-hauling job and a gravel-shovelling job in hopes that I can land something without a hyphen and more capitals, like Writer or Coder. But, as time passes, options begin to run out.

And of course, I keep finding all these wonderful opportunities all over the continent, all of which are behind the glass wall of the two-month-notice clause of my lease. Unless you know of a distant place of work that will pick up two months of rent, well (hmm... or maybe a willing subletter for the summer?). Heck, I could even go prepare some of the exotic cuisine Google carts out every day. Man, and I thought Grebel was revolutionary because they put the hamburgers into the soup the next day...

Oh well, things will turn up as they always do. In the interim, I've managed to see a couple good movies (including back-to-back Kill Bills) and read a couple good books (including John Fowles' The Magus... don't think I've ever free-falled through a book in exactly the same way before). In between there are weddings and board games and books and lots and lots of email to catch up on, so, well, here we go.

All I know is, not having an essay due can be a beautiful thing :)

Thursday, April 22, 2004

well undergrad, it was nice knowing ya.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004


A mountain city stretches rock fingers
beyond the clouds. The descent is difficult,
but the view is beautiful. I follow
the sunset downward…

I will soon need a torch.
Wild dogs run by me in dusk; ahead
there are shouts and fires:
they are attacking the encampment.

Green grass pushes my hurried feet;
I run low to avoid being seen.
I stumble into the opposing camp;
I am speared.

I awake in a small house:
she tends me. Her father and mother
look at me sternly. When I am well enough,
I say things to make her laugh.

Outside on one crutch, the deep sense
of their land fills my limbs. She shows me
its textures: many have found modern ways,
many also have forgotten its touch.

We visit the city together. Men
in passing trucks mock us. Another man,
drunk, tells savage stories;
my anger chases him through the streets.

Harvest. A speech-maker tells "our story":
crossed-stars and wild magic, a flourish
of doomed endings; others clap. We fold.
I realize she is taller than I am.

I take her to my grandfather. He questions
this strong, fine warrior. Her answers
satisfy him as no others have before.
I tell him she will bear my son.

We return to her village, but
somehow I know I cannot stay.
A hand shakes my shoulder; the vision
wavers; story and magic drain away.

By our house, at night, the fires leap
higher than our dancers. Our son’s limbs
flow strong and true. There, she smiles our pride
back to me, bravely. I catch my breath...

Thursday, April 08, 2004

okay. it's very early in the morning. in less than two hours, i will be leaving for kingston to look for housing with jon. this is not good.

and yet, for some reason, i just find myself mysteriously wanting to go to kenya.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars-- on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.
(from Robert Frost's "Desert Places")

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

the following was written by www.essaygenerator.com. the opinions expressed therin are not endorsed by me. or your mom. of course, now I have to resist the temptation to use this for my poli. sci. essay...

I shall now enrich your life by sharing with you about your mom. There are many factors which influenced the development of your mom. While it is becoming a hot topic for debate, there are just not enough blues songs written about your mom. It is estimated that that your mom is thought about eight times every day by the over 50, many of whom blame the influence of television. In the light of this I will break down the issues in order to give each of them the thought that they fully deserve

Social Factors

Society begins and ends with your mom. When The Tygers of Pan Tang sang 'It's lonely at the top. Everybody's trying to do you in' [1] , they created a monster which society has been attempting to tame ever since. Spanning divides such as class, race and uglyness, your mom bravely illustrates what we are most afraid of, what we all know deep down in our hearts.

Status, Security, Fame - your mom, all revolve around this 'golden fleece'. Just as a dog will return to its own sick, society will return to your mom, again and again.

Economic Factors

We no longer live in a world which barters 'I'll give you three cows for that hat, it’s lovely.' Our existance is a generation which cries 'Hat - $20.' We will primarily be focusing on the Greek-Roman model, a lovely model.

(insert mom graph)

There are a number of reasons which may be attributed to this unquestionable correlation. Even a child could work out that inflation plays in increasingly important role in the market economy. A sharp down turn in middle class investment may lead to changes in the market.

Political Factors

No man is an island, but what of politics? Contrasting the numerous political activists campaigning for the interests of your mom can be like looking at the vote of the man in the street with that of one more accustomed to your mom.

Take a moment to consider the words of a legend in their own life time, Achilles H. Amster 'You can lead a horse to water, big deal.' [2] This clearly illustrates the primary concern of those involved with your mom. Perhaps the word which sums up the importance of your mom to politics is 'participation'.

Where do we go from here? Only time will tell.


In my opinion your mom must not be allowed to get in the way of the bigger question: why are we here? Putting this aside its of great importance. It enlightens our daily lives, invades where necessary, though your mom brings with it obvious difficulties, it is truly your mom.

The final say goes to the award winning Leonardo Beckham: 'You win some, you loose some, but your mom wins most often.' [3]

[1] Tygers of Pang Tang - The Cage - 1982 MCR Records

[2] Amster - The Popular Vote - 2002 Worldwide Publishing

[3] It Magazine - Issue 302 - Spam Media Group

(credit goes to mmccain for the link)

Friday, March 19, 2004

Always more to learn I suppose. "snuck" isn't a word, you *don't* pronounce the "t" in "often", it's "spit and image" (not "spittin' image"), and when you go see the animals, you're actually going to the [zo], not the [zu]. However, they're willing to let that last one go... just not in "zoology".
YourDictionary.com's 100 Most Often Mispronounced Words and Phrases in English
It's true too. The "revelant/relevant", "doggy dog world/dog-eat-dog world", and "For all intensive purposes/For all intents and purposes" conversations have come up several times recently. Save yourself some embarrasment and check it out now... not that you wouuld ever correct your friends...

And are you really sure you know whether it's "'erb" or "herb"?

(postscript: I should probably wax philosophical about how English is a living language and who really knows anyway and if it ain't broke don't fix it versus I can't believe they're doing that and if it's wrong it's wrong and boy that sounds dumb, but I'm actually doing homework. Can't you tell? ;)
Hmm.... if this were a fridge-magnet set, what kind would it be? Spam Poetry
The ancient night and the unruly salt
beat at the walls of my house;
lonely is the shadow, the sky
by now is a beat of the ocean,
and sky and shadow explode
in the fray of unequal combat;
all night long they struggle,
nobody knows the weight
of the harsh clarity that will go on opening
like a languid fruit;
thus is born on the coast,
out of turbulent shadow, the hard dawn,
nibbled by the salt in movement,
swept up by the weight of night,
bloodstained in its marine crater.

(Pablo Neruda's "La Noche en Isla Negra". Alastair Reid translation)

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Sick of school? Take some time off and play the only game that's never the same and always bizarre: the official rules of Calvinball.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Well, the information is now public domain: I got an acceptance letter from Queen's this morning. I applied there and at Memorial (St. John's, NFLD), so I'll probably wait for a yay/nay from Memorial before making any big decisions. Pretty darn exciting. Although I'm still considering sneaking my way onto the panel of judges over at Charlotte's outdoor job awards instead of turning pages and writing words next year :)

Oh, and mom, if you've recently come across this site, I... wanted it to be a surprise :)

Monday, March 01, 2004

Suddenly the wind howls and bangs at my shut window.
The sky is a net crammed with shadowy fish.
Here the winds let go sooner or later, all of them.
The rain takes off her clothes.

The birds go by, fleeing.
The wind. The wind.
I alone can contend against the power of men.
The storm whirls dark leaves
and turns loose all the boats that were moored last night to the sky.

You are here. Oh, you do not run away.
You will answer me to the last cry.
Curl round me as though you are frightened.
Even so, a strange shadow once ran through your eyes.

Now, now too, little one, you bring me honeysuckle,
And even your breasts smell of it.
While the sad wind goes slaughtering butterflies
I love you, and my happiness bites the plum of your mouth.

How you must have suffered getting accustomed to me,
my savage, solitary soul, my name that sends them all running.
So many times we have seen the morning star burn, kissing our eyes,
and over our heads the grey light unwind in turning fans.

My words rained over you, stroking you.
A long time I have loved the sunned mother-of-pearl of your body,
Until I even believe that you own the universe.
I will bring you happy flowers from the mountains, bluebells, dark hazels, and rustic baskets of kisses.
I want
to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.
(from Pablo Neruda's "Juegas Todos Los Dias". Translated by W. S. Merwin)
(Tarn, Nathaniel. Neruda: Selected Poems. New York: Houghton Mifflin. 1970. 25.)

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Primitive man was equal to his tools; postmodern man is everywhere overwhelmed by them.

(paraphrased from Krishan Kumar's "Selections from 'Modernization and Industrialization', Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th Edition.")

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Entry for "most succinct word" in a now-defunct Guiness Book of World Records:

"Mamihlapinatapai" - Fugeian for "looking at each other hoping that either will offer to do something which both parties desire but are unwilling to do".

Friday, February 13, 2004

the thickening night words. the tongue
unfolding flesh, rasps along the body's length
is words. moves across the room. sits. writes.
has just written. fact this fiction. the thickening night;
the unfolding flesh; the you he addresses
across this room that is, as any room, crowded
with old standards, stock scenes, clich├ęs
we have seen before, heard. who
directed this shit? he did. his flesh
thickens. hangs
where he would wish it not to be. night
falls. the tongue
explores its own mouth. shut up. put it
here. there, he said. here. & there, she said.
here. here.
(from bpNichol's "St. Anzas VII")

Thursday, February 12, 2004

And if i tries to retain a kind of loyalty to ideas, not blindly, but allowing them, always, to evolve under the scrutiny that time permits, it is simply that struggle with constancy, to stick with what makes sense until it no longer makes sense, to not be swayed by infatuation's blind calling. It is what binds books together, these motifs and concerns, the trace of a life lived, a mind.

     in the rooms you live in
     other people's books line your shelves

     the traces of their lives
     their minds


something of that is what family is. other minds enter, other lives you pledge a constancy to.

there are other journeys, other poems, other plans that do not realize themselves.

living among family you are changed. it is the way your vocabulary increases. you occupy certain nouns, are caught up in the activity of certain verbs, adverbs, adjectives. syntax too. tone.

the language comes alive as you come alive and the real mysteries remain.

     outside the window
     the rumble of other journeys
     planes, trains, cars passing
     the feet of friends or strangers echo the unseen concrete

the blind is white under its horizontal ribbing

the world enters

your ear

(from bpNichol's "You Too, Nicky")

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

my mother found herself one late summer
afternoon lying in grass under the wild
yellow plum tree jewelled with sunlight
she was forgotten there in spring picking
rhubarb for pie & the children home from
school hungry & her new dress half hemmed
for Sunday the wind & rain made her skin
ruddy like a peach her hair was covered
with wet fallen crab apple blossoms she
didn't know what to do with her so she put
her up in the pantry among glass jars of
jellied fruit she might have stayed there
all winter except we were playing robbers
& the pantry was jail & every caught thief
of us heard her soft moan she made her
escape while we argued over who broke the
pickled watermelon jar scattering cubes
of pale pink flesh in vinegar over the
basement floor my mother didn't mind she
handed us mop & broom smiling & went back
upstairs i think she was listening to
herself in the wind singing
(di brandt's Questions i asked my mother)

Thursday, February 05, 2004

I am no more lonely than a single mullein or dandelion in a pasture, or a bean leaf, or sorrel, or a horse-fly, or a humble-bee. I am no more lonely than the Mill Brook, or a weathercock, or the north star, or the south wind, or an April shower, or a January thaw, or the first spider in a new house.

(from Thoreau's Walden)
I love lists. Not in the self-actualized, lists-conquer-disorganization sort of way... just a love for the intricacies and complexities of, in fiction, creating a beautifully shaped list. The list is like a poem in that the placement of every word matters; only, in a list the form is entirely minimal. It's like math too: a series of discrete points one after the other forming a line that extends into infinity but is always only visible, on the page, as a finite set.

Maybe the reason I think lists are so cool is that their meaning is almost entirely shaped, not by mere elements, but by the relationships between them. Meaning in lists is like the harmonics formed when ripples meet: pebbles flipped into deep water. "earth, the universe, this flower pot": each term pushes and pulls meaning from the terms around it and from the list as a whole. Every term affects every other; the list is both its parts and its sum.

Maybe words themselves are like that. Maybe words are just these tiny little one-element lists: forever humming with the potential of splitting, of multiplying, of bursting free like seedpods into millions of children. Purple becomes "mauve, violet, a smear of burgundy and navy". Far becomes "far, shockingly far, so distant it's beyond our ken".

Take the above list from Walden. It's beautiful. The words link and fall like silver chains toward their meaning. The drawn-out, headlong tumble of reading something like this in the midst of simple prose is breathtaking. And that last line... "the first spider in a new house," and suddenly everything before it is seen as if for the first time, "the first spider in a new house," and a mundane list of associations leaps into the poetic.

Look, to further wallow in the linguistic list-geekiness we’ve got going on here, I find I have no choice but to mention another classic. It said by Foucault to have "shattered, as I read the passage, all the familiar landmarks of my thought" (Foucault's "The Order of Things"). Foucault got the list from a passage in Borges, which gives vague reference to a work by Franz Kuhn. That work, in turn, "allegedly comments" on the classification of animals by a "certain Chinese encyclopaedia," intriguingly named the "Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge." The list itself?
Animals are divided into:

(a) those that belong to the Emperor,
(b) embalmed ones,
(c) those that are trained,
(d) suckling pigs,
(e) mermaids,
(f) fabulous ones,
(g) stray dogs,
(h) those that are included in this classification,
(i) those that tremble as if they were mad,
(j) innumerable ones,
(k) those drawn with a very fine camel brush,
(l) others,
(m) those that have just broken a flower vase,
(n) those that resemble flies from a distance.
If that just isn't the coolest thing ever, I don't know what is.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Without looking up at me, he asked, 'They won't take him away from me, will they, Mr Meursault. They will give him back to me. Otherwise what will I do?' I told him that they kept dogs at the pound for three days for their owners to collect them and that after that they dealt with them as they saw fit. He looked at me in silence. Then he said, 'Goodnight.' He closed his door and I heard him pacing up and down. Then his bed creaked. And from the peculiar little noise coming through the partition wall, I realized that he was crying. For some reason I thought of mother. But I had to get up early in the morning. I wasn't hungry and I went to bed without any dinner.
(from Albert Camus' The Outsider)

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

At certain hours of the night
ducks are nothing but landscape
just voices breaking as they nightmare.
The weasel wears their blood
home like a scarf,
cows drain over the horizon
                                      and the dark
vegetables hum onward underground

but the mouth
            wants  plum.
(from Michael Ondaatje's "Claude Glass" in Secular Love)

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Lear.   ...When the rain came to wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter; when the thunder would not peace at my bidding; there I found 'em, there I smelt 'em out. Go to, they are not men o' their words. They told me I was everything. 'Tis a lie -- I am not ague-proof.
(from Shakespeare's King Lear)

Friday, January 16, 2004

Living, we cover vast territories;
imagine your life drawn on a map-
a scribble on the town where you grew up,
each bus trip traced between school
and home, or a clean line across the sea
to a place you flew once. Think of the time
and things we accumulate, all the while growing
more conscious of losing and leaving. Aging,
our bodies collect wrinkles and scars
for each place the world would not give
under our weight. Our thoughts get laced
with strange aches, sweet as the final chord
that hangs in a guitar's blond torso.
(from Julia Kasdorf's "First Gestures")

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig. Came straight from the London airport (via a ride to pick up my stuff in Beamsville) to drop my backpack in the entrance, grab some pens, and run to class. Which sucked so I dropped it. Yup, a week of class gone and I'm taking my first look at what courses to take. Good times. A bit of catch-up to do (not to mention a lot of grad application stuff), but hey, I'm going to bed.

Enough of the minutiae. Go read One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Smooth and flowing, it's a wonderful way to kick off the shoes of reality for a while (of course, my plane was delayed such that I finished the book *before* take-off... but thankfully I was pack-horsing it for Vaughn and had backup material).

From picking oranges off the trees in Italy to snow in my socks and a cloud of negative degrees in my hood... Oh Canada.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

London, Barcelona, Paris, Lausanne (Switzerland), Cinque Terra (Northern Italy). The "blithe tourist" shell began to crumble on the train through Southern France... and now I find myself in Rome, my mind completely blown. Indescribable. Coming from a country with history only as deep as the topsoil (the other thousand years swept under the carpet), walking among the mighty ruins and monuments of Rome is quite unlike anything I'd imagined. To walk under stone domes that have stood and felt the rain for more than two thousand years is to rethink our force as humanity. I have never seen anything like the ruins left by the fall of the Roman Empire. History textbooks and photographs can only give it context.

If only I were sure I could see the Taj Mahal and the streets of Jerusalem before I die... and perhaps Tibet's Forbidden City. My goals for simple living remain unchanged, but the taste of walking through St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, alone and for the first time, will never fade. Only rock, only buildings, and perhaps a testament to misplaced ambitions, but you can feel the essence of the human drive throbbing through the stone.

My advice is this. Go to Cinque Terra over Venice: those foot-pathed villages among the mountain vineyards say more about Northern Italy than canals ever will. Be impressed by Rome and what was once the height of Western Civilization (the sheer scope is both fearful and awesome)... but maybe, just once, think about the majority of the human race that existed outside of some rich, privileged patriarchy.

And for goodness' sake, whatever you do, read Umberto Eco on the train through Italy and La Swisse. Trust me, you'll never feel the same way about monastaries again ;)