I Write Because

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“The raw truth of an incident never ends,” writes Michael Ondaatje in Divisidero.

I joined a WordPress daily prompt class just after starting to re-read Divisidero. These words were still running through my head when this prompt came and I thought of them and how writing is sometimes the only way to find the meaning in the endless raw truth of the incidents of our lives.

I write to inhabit the raw truth of relationships long ago lost, of faith given up and found, of people forgotten only until I move beneath the surface of memories. I write to inhabit the raw truth of thing still new and huge, like Claire’s birth and daily changing self, and my identity as mother and partner.

I write to move through the raw truth of literature, of books like Divisidero that haunt and illuminate, that remind us of our own hauntings.

“For we live with those retrievals from childhood that coalesce and echo throughout our lives, the way shattered pieces of glass in a kaleidoscope reappear in new forms and are songlike in their refrains and rhymes, making up a single monologue. We live permanently in the recurrence of our own stories, whatever story we tell,” Ondaatje writes.

We live permanently in the recurrence of our own stories, whatever story we tell.

I write to shape the recurrence of all the stories, my own and those of others, in which I live.

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NaBloPoMo. And more coffee.

I am a slow writer. In academia this was mostly a detriment; my obsessiveness with getting words right did produce some decent pieces of writing, but I was always writing right up to every single deadline. In blogging, writing slowly and obsessively is definitely a hazard, as it’s really hard to build momentum and keep readers interested when writing an entry a month (which is pretty much the pace I’ve been at). So I’ve decided to take part in NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month): a post a day for a month challenge. And true to form pushing deadlines, here I am on the first day, writing just before midnight.

And since my obsessiveness extends to more than writing, I’m going to write about coffee shops again. I really want to write more about coffee in Saskatoon (my coffee roots) and Ottawa (still my coffee home), but I’m trying to make peace with Edmonton, so I will say this: there are two good coffee shops here. In a city of a million people. Just saying. (And already the bitterness is surfacing. No pun intended). And we had to drive 26 minutes to get there (so much for making peace).

But at least the coffee’s good! Today we were at Transcend in Garneau (the other good one is Credo). I love that both names have a religious tone: you know they’re serious about coffee. In fact, Transcend has a manifesto of sorts on the wall, which is always a good sign in a coffee shop (and really nowhere else). To be clear, there are two locations; the other is in a sort of industrial area and is nowhere near as cool. When we first moved here, I drove past the Garneau one and loved the old building it’s located in, but when we tried to go back on the weekend, my husband entered Transcend in the GPS and we ended up at the boring strip mall version in the industrial area. I sat in the car and cried because I missed good coffee shops in old buildings so much (and because I was hyped up on pregnancy hormones).

I’m a sucker for exposed brick, so I loved this place with its Art Deco feel the moment I walked in. It’s in the same building as the Garneau Theatre (built in 1940): in a city where everything feels like it was built in the 80s, I can’t say how much I appreciated this space. And the bathrooms are large with ample counter space for baby changing. Bonus.

But because I was hung over on Halloween candy today, I didn’t even have coffee. Jeff was a couple doors down at Garneau Hair (we had to combine tasks to justify the drive), so I just sat and drank a peppermint lavender tea with Claire and watched the all the young hip people, mostly students. (More accurately: I watched Claire guzzle my tea from a tiny white tea cup, as it turns out she loves peppermint lavender tea). It was strangely surreal to watch the baristas racing about and students lounging around drinking coffee — like watching the earlier versions of myself. And although I miss many, many things in this new place, as I sat there sharing tea with this beautiful, tiny little person, I didn’t miss my old student life or my old barista self for a moment.

The Curated Self

Dr Siobhan O'Dwyer

My first stop in any city is the art gallery. I’m passionate about great art, I like to buy works from local artists when I travel (a habit my financial planner is desperate to break!), and I’ve often fantasised about going back to university to study art history.

What fascinates me most about art galleries is the curation. The process of deciding what pieces to include and what pieces to leave out; whether to present the pieces chronologically, by theme, or by medium; how much information to include in the accompanying description; what colour to paint the walls; and how to promote the exhibition.

Curation is, itself, an artform and I often use the language of art when I talk to academics and students about social media and their online presence. Deciding on the what, where, when, how, and why of the information we present to the public is an act of…

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