January 31, 2010 § 7 Comments

It has been long enough that I suspect I am writing, now, to myself, and perhaps to a few diligent search bots.  This is probably just as well, since I don’t quite know what it is I mean to say.  Still, here I am, on a bitterly cold night after a long week and an achingly sad goodbye.

I started this blog after the death of a relationship so it is no surprise that I would return to it after the passing of another.  It was different this time, which is to say that I was different, but there is still a space where someone I loved used to be.  Should friends come across this post: I’m okay, I hope that he is, and I am available for coffee.

The other spaces in my life, by contrast, are impossibly full, of twice-weekly lectures and bright, nervous students and the familiar parry and thrust of union meetings.  There is other work as well, which I lost faith in for a while but whose value teaching has reminded me of.  I had a feeling it would.

There is more, which will come when it comes but for now there is a waning moon, a glass of scotch, and peace.



January 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

No, not a resolution; I know better than that.  Better, for now, a possibility.  That’s enough.


August 22, 2009 § Leave a comment

I miss writing here.  For years, it was what I did at the end of most days, a ritual but also a frame.  I liked marking time with words and how they felt as I wrote them, even when I had nothing of consequence to say.

It’s been long enough now that it feels strange, like a house I used to live in.  Still, I’m compelled to return at certain moments, if only to imagine what it would be like to live here again.

I tell myself that it’s okay: that there are times when writers write and times when they don’t.  And that it is hard to write when one is in limbo, which is the place I am living in now.

Sun in the twelfth house; Saturn in Virgo.  Even the stars are at a remove.


August 2, 2009 § Leave a comment

Start cooking those noodles, first dropping a bouillon cube into the noodle water. Brown the garlic, onion and crumbled beef in the oil. Add the flour, salt, paprika and mushrooms, stir, and let it cook five minutes while you light a cigarette and stare sullenly at the sink.

–Peg Bracken, The I Hate to Cook Book, via Salon


July 16, 2009 § 2 Comments

Well, as the Montrealers among you well know, it’s been a lousy summer.  The rain is near-constant and falls in showers, sheets, and occasionally violent storms, the last of which flooded basements throughout the city and unleashed a rumoured tornado.  The weather makes it difficult to commit to a terrasse, and even my balcony has lost its allure, being as often as not too cold and damp to enjoy.

The weather does have certain upsides: for example, it interrupts my neighbours’ renovation projects and sends their children scurrying indoors, leaving the alley beyond my window blissfully quiet.  But whatever benefits this silence confers are far outweighed by the feeling of being trapped within four unchanging walls.

When the sun peeked out the other day, I dropped everything and bolted outside with my camera, which, not being waterproof, I’ve had little opportunity to use.  On a whim, I decided that I would document the network of alleyways that Mile End is famous for, which had suddenly come alive in a burst of flowers and billowing clotheslines.

As the neighbourhood has gentrified, the facades of its buildings have lost a certain amount of their charm.  Wood has been replaced by aluminum and steel, which are sturdier materials but also less crafted and colourful, and the decorative flourishes provided by unsupervised tenants have slowly given way to the visual conservatism of owners preoccupied with design concepts and property values.

Still, you can see vestiges of the old Mile End in its alleys, which, by virtue of being less public, have been slower to succumb to renovation.  From the back, the neighbourhood is still a bit funky and lopsided, which is of course just the way I like it.  It means that people like me still live here.


June 22, 2009 § 3 Comments


A few days ago, I encountered three lines of a poem in a report about the protests in Iran.  A protester sang the lines to the reporter, translating them for his benefit:

We should go under the rain.
We should wash our eyes,
And we should see the world in a different way.

The lines stayed with me, and I resolved to find the poem from which they had been excerpted.  It took a bit of digging, but I found it.

The poem is by Sohrab Sepehri and is called “The Sound of Water’s Footsteps.”  The translation is poor, but it hardly matters.  Even hobbled by language, it is a marvellous poem.

Now, I’m not a literary scholar, so I don’t know why it is marvellous.  But when I read this

Life is getting wet time after time.
Life is swimming in the pond of ‘Now.’

Let us take off our robes:
Water is only a step ahead.

I wanted to swim more than anything else in the world.


June 21, 2009 § Leave a comment

We have, in fact, reported all the censorship – of local newspapers as well as communications. The footage of a brutal police force assaulting the political opposition on the streets of the capital has shocked the world. Rightly so, although no one has made comparison with police forces who batter demonstrators on the streets of Western Europe, who beat women with night-sticks, who have kicked over an innocent middle-aged man who immediately suffered a fatal heart attack, who have shot down an innocent passenger on the London Tube… There are special codes of morality to be applied to Middle East countries which definitely must not apply to us.

–Robert Fisk, “In Tehran, fantasy and reality make uneasy bedfellows