Higher Education

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memories of university 1982 – sound bite

Published October 25, 2013 by megdedwards

I was sitting in college watching two professors getting coffee and wondering about the tradition of wearing academic gowns around campus like so many wandering old Hamlets. But even as I contemplated all the reasons and tried to be sympathetic to tradition and institutions I noticed that they had been looking for the correct tops to their coffee cups for quite some time.

I smiled, amused at the daily troubles of absent minded professors. They were tottering away, pursing their lips and pushing their glasses up their noses when  one of them made a spectacular wave of his arms, as if suddenly and most unexpected from his grey character, he had a wild idea and was about to expound with excited arm waves and a loud voice.

But he had caught his robe on the cafeteria counter and the action had pulled him back suddenly, making him lift his fortunately topped coffee  suddenly into the air.  I watched him as he  carefully backed up and unattached himself and followed his friend in unhurried steps.

There is always time to dream, write and paint

Published October 2, 2012 by megdedwards

My sister and I home schooled our kids, hardcore. We did not hesitate to leave behind the current public school curriculum and grade testing.

We taught our kids to read, think, play and explore without anyone telling us how to do it.

Although our Mom never home schooled I think that our confidence in taking over the education of our kids came from her.  I bet our Mom would have home schooled if she thought she had a choice.

She was a very active and busy mother always teaching us details about plants or trees or about art, literature or politics as she cooked and cleaned.  She taught us how to be brave and explore new experiences and places.

My sister and I came from the same home, in a sense. Although she had the young mother who gave dinner parties for her CBC producer husband and sometimes drank martinis with the neighbours and I had the divorcee who rented rooms and smoked pot with her lover, we had the same creative and energetic woman running our lives.

She was not one of those moms that dreaded summer and the return of the children from school.  In the summers we lived in a cabin in the woods by a lake where there was no running water or electricity. We ran in the woods and played in the water and let our imaginations guide our play.

She read aloud and got out paints and games when it rained. She herself was always creating: painting cool designs on our rowboat, illustrating little stories, or sketching our portraits as we played. And when we all left for school in the fall, she actually missed us.

We had a bit of a bohemian mother, but she was competitive too, and not one to be left out of society.  She would put on her best skirt and jacket, a Vogue pattern she sewed herself, when she had parent teacher meetings.  We had porridge every morning and pulled on our sensible boots over our sensible shoes and walked to school on our own. We went to school every day and we were expected to do well.

I did not like school, and as far as I can tell, my sister did not like it either. But in those days one just went to school. The first few years of school were just plain torture, but I toughened up and my shyness was conquered mostly by grade three. It may have been good for me, I don’t know. But when my first child said she did not want to go I accepted her opinion.

As a parent I liked being free from the arbitrary rules of an institution and I loved leaving her little brain to develop without grading or peer- pressure.  She dreamed, decided what she wanted to learn, pursued her own projects and charged forward. It was a beautiful sight.

It is true that some kids fair better on structured schedules than others. Some kids like the constant socializing of school, and some kids really enjoy structured school learning.  Not all children thrive in home schooling. But my overview is that children benefit from free play and unhindered exploration especially between the ages of four to twelve years.

Presently I have two kids enjoying school (mostly) and my sister has an empty nest. In the last eight years or so we have both being pursuing education for its own sake, just for fun and because we like to keep engaged. I finished a long distance certificate in Library Studies and she is a few essays short of a MA.

What we have discovered about ourselves is that we tend to be very good at working for grades and the approval of our teachers. And what we find irritating is that we cannot seem to apply that same discipline and energy to projects of our own choice.

We need someone to say, ‘do this thing, and then hand it in and I will tell you how good it is’.  And frankly, we are embarrassed by this characteristic that seems so deeply ingrained by our parents and the school system.

We are shocked and disgusted by our Pavlovian response to approval. Right now, as our dynamic and powerful Mom is gracefully traveling to the other worlds, with cryptic comments and magical hallucinations, we are left examining who we are and what we should do with ourselves that best expresses her lessons and her rich teachings.

As we step into the world without our mother, I think we want to fulfill some of the artistic gifts that Mom and Dad have given us.  Our mother was a good painter and filmmaker, our father was a good actor and playwright.  When they were young they may have had dreams.  But they did not pass on those dreams. When we dreamed of being a writer or artist, we were quickly brought to earth.

Ironically, it was often pointed out that good art was produced by people who worked hard.  My Dad told me when I was a twelve year old poet that good writing was 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. I wondered why he told me that and concluded that he must have thought I was not hard working enough.

Now with so much of my life behind me, and so many dreams buried by hesitant living, I think that the best thing you can say to a child is that they do in fact have the talent to do whatever they want. Hard work is the easy part. Believing that you can produce something of value is much harder.

It is possible that the best part of home schooling is being free of the crushing judgment of others. And now that we are older women, my sister and I need to home school ourselves. We need to be the parents we wanted, so we have formed a bond of unconditional support.

If we can ask our children to believe in themselves, the best thing we could do is be a good example.  Our parents did not pursue their artistic dreams, and may have crushed ours by their attitude.  My sister and I have inadvertently been following the same path and need to remember that what we really want is to play without judgment and to explore without fear.

There is always time to dream, write and paint.

Stay Calm, Be Brave and wait for the Signs

Published March 10, 2012 by megdedwards

I have been spending much of my time thinking and writing in my wonderful philosophy class that I am taking long distance from Memorial University in Newfoundland.

Prof Craig Cramm offers a gem of a course for students looking for an elective, and the class has more engineering students than philosophy students.

This is my last class towards a Library Studies Certificate. This class was not a mandatory feature of the program, but I made it so.  In fact, the university had a required course called Business 2000 that was mandatory except that they no longer offered it. The long distance department didn’t seem to have any control over whether the business department would ever offer it again, and I was not willing to take the university up on their alternatives: apply to a separate institution that offered the same course for more money or take a first year English course.

Actually I was really annoyed and frustrated by the university’s disinterest in providing a solution and that made me question my years of dedication to acquiring the certificate. So after a series of terse emails that ascended eventually to the director of Lifelong Learning, I made it clear that not only was I not going to take another business course from a different institution in order to graduate, I wasn’t going to take a first year English course either.

I explained that most people in the library certificate course were sitting on a BA anyway and were trying to upgrade their hire- ability (not really a word except in places where people actually work).

I think they got tired of hearing from me and agreed with alacrity when I suggested that I take Philosophy of Technology instead, a second year philosophy course with no prerequisites. I argued that the course was in line  with the general theme of the library certificate that emphasized, repeatedly   in each and every course, how librarians must accept the modernization of the library and ‘get with it’.

Make the library more like a community center, create promotional material and book displays as if you are selling a product, start blogs and websites: technology savvy librarians need only apply, no ‘shushing’ allowed!

So this winter I took advanced technology, which taught me a lot and made me pretty darn comfortable with playing with technology and figuring out things like ‘deep linking’.  Then I moved into the philosophy of technology and it has provided a intellectual challenge and pulled everything together beautifully.

I am reading and thinking about technology, morality, ethics and action. It is fabulous.  It was just what I wanted, a real course with serious reading and thinking. I have written better essays for this course than I ever wrote when I was a young undergraduate.

The prof has asked us to make a leap with the last essay and write about how the ideas that we have discussed in the course apply to our own lives.  I am thinking about that with the intense mental application that this almost fifty year old woman seems to apply to everything she does.

Of course I could write about how in the last ten years of living in a fairly isolated community I have had regular work with a daily paper without ever meeting my editor face to face, and taken 12 courses from a university in a province that I have yet to visit. Technology has been a bonus for me. It has kept me engaged and even employed while living in an isolated hamlet on the side of the sea.

But my mind is thinking about something more slippery. While living in this area I have brought up my kids, home schooling some of the time, and volunteering and organizing much of my time, to the benefit of my family and the community.

If I needed or wanted a program for myself or my children I created it from library clubs, to toddler drop ins, to dance classes.  I did it for myself as much as for other people.  But I seem to be burned out now. Not only do I not want to create or plan any community event or activity, I don’t even want to go if someone else plans it.

I want to retreat, and be peaceful with myself. I want to write and think and be left alone.  I want to stop engaging with a community that gives back so little to me.

I am turning inward and reserving some time and space for me.  Acknowledging this fact has been cemented into place by a recent rejection. The school’s retired principal asked me to apply for a job in which I would teach GED (high school equivalency) to local adults. I thought about it and decided to apply although I realized it would be a huge commitment.

Of course I went through the letter writing and interview process just to be rejected. And this for a job that I did not know existed until someone asked me to apply. I felt like a big idiot and sucker. They hired a staid and putty faced woman of the community who is known for her religious fervor and judgmental glare.

I should not have applied at all. I should have known better.  It stung, slapped my ego, because it reminded me of all the times I have not got the job. It might be partly a generational thing where there were always too many of us with similar credentials and not enough jobs to go around. But I have always scrambled to create my own jobs.  The recent gig with the paper was great because it paid and gave me some respectability within this community.

So I am wondering how to put this in perspective. For me personally, I do not want to reach out to my community anymore. I want to offer something but from a different place. I do want to be part of the bigger picture, but I think I need to go back to my shy self contained self to do so. Something like writing literature for children, a place where you know you will have an effect albeit a quiet one. That is what I am thinking about.

So back to the blog, which like all the things in my life, is something I have created out of nothing.  It is an open journal and a map that shows you your path while you are still traveling.

And back to my general mantra, which came from a really cool and hilarious Canadian radio show that you can find on youtube called Dead Dog Café:

Stay Calm, Be Brave, and Wait for the Signs.

The Long Form Census and Moi

Published February 8, 2012 by megdedwards

I had an unsettling visit from an elderly Quebecois woman the other day.

She was a small woman with very practical winter clothes, and her hands and skin were very dry, like her frizzed out hair that was tied back in a strict bun.

I could tell she was a practical woman who believed being super clean was more important than moisturizers or wrinkles. She was perfectly pleasant but I felt that she was proud  to be controlling her normally judgmental nature.

I had invited her to come to my house, but with some reservation. She said it would take 2 hours, ‘2 hours!’ I exclaimed, to fill in the long form census. She had already been at my house twice, leaving notes from Statistics Canada. I called her back and made an appointment to see her.

Even then I thought, what is this, is this really less intrusive than filing out a form? She told me it was important for the government to have this information in order to make decisions about funding. I knew that. I never felt that the form was an invasion of privacy.

I decided to do the interview although generally I don’t give strangers two hours of my time.

The morning of her visit I forgot she was coming. It was 9 am and I had just poured a bath with lavender oil in it and was heading up to the bathroom when I saw a car pull up. I was filled with chagrin but tried to pull it together. I invited her in and explained that I had forgotten she was coming and she started to pull out her computer and explain, again, the benefits of the long form census data collection.

When she began to read from the computer, having trouble pronouncing the words because of her strong French, and I could smell my bath and also my underarms, I said gently but firmly, “Please do not read all the information, just assume that I understand”.

Then she asked me the names of the people in the house and began to pick out the letters on the keyboard one by one.  I took some very deep breaths and said, in a quiet voice, ‘Isn’t this a bit ridiculous, compared to me just filling out the form myself?’ She explained that they picked the houses randomly so that they had no information about the inhabitants and had to actually physically visit the house.

It took her an hour to drive to my house and I realized now, by the speed of her speech and her typing, why the form took two hours.  I knew that I had invited her and I knew I had to pull it together and be more pleasant.

I made a pot of tea and then I excused myself as best as I could. I explained that I had to go to the bath that I had just poured and I would be right back.  I justified this by acknowledging that I would be better tempered if I followed this plan, and I knew that she was already out on a day’s pay and had no other place to go that day.

I ran upstairs, had a quick bath, pulled my hair back, put on some proper clothes and whipped back. The ordeal was far from over, for both of us.

I did manage to convince her to just ask the questions without the preamble, but when it came to the relationships within the family I became short tempered again. Is Frank the son of Joe, yes, is Rose the daughter of Joe.  Just assume we are one nuclear family, I said, with only one father and one mother, and answer all the questions with that in mind. Are you the mother of Maude?

Then we moved on to my education and things deteriorated even further.  In answering what level of education you have, you can’t say just tell her, you have to look up a list of options in another pamphlet and say, for example, D.

Then I had to explain that I was getting more education and she said, “Yes, lots of education, but no job”.  She dipped her head after that, in an involuntary shudder, realizing that she was not supposed to chide the suckers who actually agree to fill in the form.

Part of me wanted to defend myself, ‘but I only just lost my job last spring, and I may get a new job soon, I am waiting to hear…’ But another part of me wanted to throw her tiny ass out in the snow so I just looked at her. “Have you worked for the government for long”,  I asked. She said she had come from Quebec so that she could be nearer her daughter and her grandchildren.  “That’s nice”, I said.  The English/French divide had hit the moment she walked in,  with the natural superiority that many French hold for the English.

The census continued inexorably. What came next was how much money I had made in the previous year, which turned out to be absolutely nothing. I felt like telling her how she had caught me just after I lost my writing job, but I didn’t. I felt like telling her that in the last year so much more had developed in my head and in my writing than money, but I couldn’t.

I was beginning to get a feeling of my worthlessness, which was seeping into my bones while my head intellectually denied any part of it.  How many hours did I spend on my work? That is hard to say considering it was after caring for my family but also a huge part of my day.  How would I describe my work, what was the most important element of my work, or what part of my work was the most important?

I said, after a pause to think, “Looking after my children”. She paused, hesitated, made a sound as if to argue with me, and then said, “Oui, d’accord”. At least on that we could agree.

Then she left for a snowy drive back to Moncton and a pat on the back from her boss for getting one more person on her list, and I worked on my essay for my last class in Library Studies and cleaned and made food and prepared for hungry kids and their many stories when they returned from school.

To be quite honest, the experience left me a bit  depressed but writing about it has helped.

 

 

Illness onto death, or let’s just not talk about it.

Published January 17, 2012 by megdedwards

Portrait of Phyllis Anderson by Meg Edwards

We happily live in a bubble of health until we are struck down.  It is very hard to live in a constant state of appreciation for your present health without getting maudlin or morbid.

It is probably best not to think about it at all. The people who live best do seem to have a way of pushing death and illness away from their thoughts.

I was sitting at the hairdressers the other day enjoying my splurge. My hairdresser has a way of not only making me look fantastic but feel great too.

And I have been watching; she does this for everyone who walks in the door. She is a miracle worker. I can truly understand why hair stylists don’t get into social media because when they are off work they must long for a less social life.

But my luxury buzz, a cup of green tea and the new Elle magazine handed to me by the delightful Susan as the die sinks into my poor head, was being brought down by the general conversation.

The women were bringing their stories to the chair, and quite a few of them were nasty stories; for example, a friend of someone who had a pain in the elbow that turned out to be cancer and was dead in a few months, another story of a child who went from having pneumonia to palliative care in a few weeks.

With two children on antibiotics at the moment I had a horrible chill when I heard that. The woman telling the story said it made her focus on the happiness of her family.  I understand this reaction but it does not resonate with me. First of all, the point of the epiphany is that shit can happen at any moment. How am I supposed to relax thinking about that!

Illness and death was chilling my innocent giggles over Tabatha Southey and Guy Saddy’s always amusing columns in Elle. People get a little heavy in the cold months.  My theory about life is that I will face each challenge life hands me as bravely as possible, but I will take no unnecessary risks. (I am a Rabbit in Chinese astrology.)

Not for me the bungee jumping that plunges me into an African river. But, if I actually must leap into a river in order to save a child, I will.

A lot of the time I think that I will be brave when the call comes for me to leave this life.  But as I sat in the chair with die sinking into my hair, I realized that I can’t really know. I am pretty sure I will freak out and mourn pretty intensely.  I have a lot of things I want to do and the way I am going, it is going to take me a few more decades to achieve all my dreams – like learn how to dance Samba, finish some dusty stories, play a ukulele in a band, return to India, and maybe even foster children.

I remember thinking about aging when I was young, and picturing a life that was not far off to what I have now.  I thought my husband might be bald, but he isn’t!

But my vision had this very rosy light hearted emotional halo around it that cannot be carried into aging.  I felt light and strong and as if anything was possible, when I was in my twenties and now I carry more weight, figuratively and actually.

I do my best to stay young. I have studied the best role models around me.  I had a good neighbor and friend, Phyllis Anderson (nee Goodwin) who was 100 years old when she finally agreed to move to a home.  Up until that time she crept about her house, put her bed in the study, got meal on wheels and managed just fine.

When I visited her in her house, delivering her mail or bringing her soup she didn’t really like, she was always up for a visit.  She would pull herself out of her armchair where she had passed out while reading the paper or knitting, and make her way to the kitchen. With her back bent over and her hands gnarled with arthritis she would fill the kettle and get ready for a good gab.

I never heard her complain. She once told me, in passing, that she had breast cancer in her sixties and lost one breast. She kept everything in perspective for me. I realized in astonishment that she had spent my entire life being an older woman and widow; the last 40 years of her life made up my entire life.

She had been a nurse in Montreal in the twenties. She had gone to all night parties; she had married late, in her forties, and her husband had not lived much longer. Much of her midlife disappeared into one short line about delivering meals, taking in borders, and being on the Church committee. I have a few of her old journals, she kept them all, and they mostly talk about the weather and what she had achieved that day.

“A fine day, got the laundry on the line. Planted some daffodils and cut lawn. Alice came over for tea”.

Her memories remain in my mind. One time she was being pulled on a sled by her brother and a dog, and the dog took off with her behind it.  When she was about 10 years old she made up her mind to have her long hair cut by the blacksmith into a bob and shocked her family. She got measles one year and lost a year at school and was very annoyed that her friends got ahead of her in their studies.

She went to Fredericton to study in Normal School and became the school teacher at the local one room school house and walked or rode a horse to that school.  Later, she went off to Montreal to study to become a nurse, being called back at one point because her Mom was dying. When her Dad’s second wife became ill later she had to give up on living in her own new house with her husband (the house I live in now) and go live with her parents to care for them.

You can see why I stopped in for coffee at the end of the day. She had a collection of anecdotes that mostly focused on her life as a child and how it always stormed on her father’s birthday in March. And a few stories from Montreal when she lived the high life. I heard the stories over and over, relishing some in particular. When she worked the night shift in Montreal at the Royal Victoria Hospital the nurses would sometimes take their break on a balcony of the hospital. They would pull out a chair and a big blanket, and then just sit and look over the city lights and hear the hum of the city.

She loved company and she seemed to love life. She loved to see my children and would pull out any old cookie she had to feed them.  A visit from a man, whether he was an antique collector, a nephew or my husband to help her with her taxes, always brought out her best and most lively personality.

I have many strong memories of her. Some of my new neighbours implied that I would not have liked her when she was younger as she had a strong Conservative and critical nature. Maybe we would not have got along, I don’t know. But when we met we were friends.  We enjoyed each other’s company.

And to be quite frank, I had more in common with Phyllis than I did with many of the other neighbours who had never left this hamlet. She was an educated and traveled gal.

From a selfish point of view, I liked her because she liked me.  She knew when I was lonely and she knew when I was sad. We would talk and have coffee in the late afternoon, and after a full day of childcare and no friends, I would leave feeling more like myself.

I did cry when she died, and only for myself.  I loved having her there. When she went to the hospital with a sore hip I went to visit her with the kids almost every day. It was a cold bleak spring and I would stop at the Tim Horton’s to get her a small hot chocolate in a ‘roll up the rim’ cup and a buttered bagel.

She lit up when she saw us, and there was nothing more hilarious than her determined strong fingers working that rim. It took about 10 minutes but she would roll the rim! I saw her pleasure in the buttered bagel and the deep chocolate taste.  I have never seen anyone enjoy an afternoon snack more.   I think  it  reminded her of her days as a nurse when she would take the trolley around in the afternoon and offer the patients  tea or hot chocolate and biscuits.

She did not mourn that those days were gone; she did not live in the past. But she did think that the casual outfits of the nurses were very odd. In her day she wore a pristine white dress with starched hat and sleeves. She had one repeated story where she found herself on the back elevator with a bundle of used diapers. An important personage had been invited to use the staff elevator in order to avoid attention and be able to visit his wife. She was mortified because she had folded back her starched sleeves before entering the elevator in order to avoid mussing them with the diapers. So she was puzzled by the present day nurses’ wrinkly pajama style uniforms and the casual look of doctors as well.

When she moved to the local old age home she still fought off the wheel chair. At 101 she had liver cancer and it was, of course, untreatable. I visited her there with my kids and often found her completely absorbed in a game of bowling or bingo. She had a competitive nature and liked to win.  She had been a strong and athletic woman.

The last time I saw her she was lying down, and basically quietly dying.  She tried to sit up and eat a bit of cake, and she dawdled her finger back and forth trying to catch the attention of my baby Maud.  She was still in the present moment. Then she fell asleep. The next time I went to see her they sent the nurse to tell me she had died. Her room was bare. They auctioned everything out of her house.

The house sat empty for a while, and god I wish I had just bought it (I did not have the money but maybe I could have raised it) because the next thing I knew Anglophones from Montreal moved in and cut all the trees down and molested my daughter. I am not kidding about that, it is all true, although presumably the molestation was more important than the tree devastation, but it is just funnier to me to say it that way.

I am laughing because I have a dark sense of humour.  Phyllis would have laughed too, because she knew that what didn’t actually kill you, was just food for conversation.

So, let’s have a tea, and talk about that, have a bit of a gossip, and let’s not talk about illness and dying.

Academia – I Could ‘a been a Contender

Published December 19, 2011 by megdedwards

What does a MA give you, a ticket to the smart person room?

Why didn’t I pursue the Smart Person ticket?  I was the studious one of the family, I even wore glasses.  I got good marks at school, was the only one to go to college and did not seem to have much else going for me. Why wouldn’t I have gone ahead in the academic world, as my Dad would have loved?

I have a contemplative mind, I am an excellent and thorough researcher and thinker, and I can take criticism (sort of). I even have the ideal academic personality, if you want to be a bit brutal about the ubiquitous beginnings of most academics as a loner and outsider.

I remember moments when the obvious path in front of me  became littered with obstacles: a fellow student saying I wasn’t made for academics, too flighty and creative. I took it to heart, for some reason, maybe even proud that I could be considered creative when my family had me locked into smart and sensible since I could walk.

Why I would let a comment like this affect me I don’t know, but then again I was desperately looking for some sort of confirmation. I did lack confidence, but I could have pushed through, as I have seen many people do since.

One of the academic critiques of my writing was that it was a bit undisciplined; I remember the red pen comment on an essay on Chaucer in the qualifying year before graduate school, “Circular argument”. I was not linear enough, not forceful, sometimes writing, even now, in the passive.  I was also told that my style was ‘conversational’, but that was not a compliment at the time.

Then again, that year I received my only A+ for a paper on The Faerie Queen in Renaissance Literature, maybe this professor liked my style, I don’t know.  I think I put more effort into a clear argument because I had to read it aloud.

I have learnt a lot since then but my ears still twitch at that criticism, brow furrows, who is telling me how to write?  I need to be more linear, more forceful, and more muscular in my argument, you’re telling me what?

In my last year of my BA I took all Women’s Studies courses and won the award for the highest grades in Women’s Studies that year.  I thought about grad school, and felt it was possible.  My dream was to do a Masters at Concordia and learn French on the side. But when I looked at the forms I realized I needed a professor to back my proposed thesis, and I didn’t have either a professor or a thesis.

The women professors at University of Toronto were, to a woman, cold and unsupportive.  Except for Janice Williamson, but she went off to the west and never came back. But I can vividly recall sitting down with a professor to talk about an essay.  She sat silently and stared at me as I nervously babbled.  The long cold pauses discouraged me from going further in that field.

By the time I applied for grad school I had given up on Women’s Studies. The women professors that I encountered seemed to have been damaged by the process of becoming a professor, as if they had gone through some sort of initiation that had made them forgo their little sisters.

When I applied for grad school I had to have an interview with a man in a peaked cap and an attitude. I was working as a waitress at the time and came to the interview in my usual honest manner.  I told the professor that I did not think that BA had given me much of an education, because I had just taken whatever I liked and had huge holes in my knowledge of literature. He said, “Don’t say that!” It was as if I had told my minister that I did not believe in God.

I loved my undergraduate years, and enjoyed all my classes, but grad school was not the same.  When I went to Simon Fraser for a few weeks in the English Literature MA I found the atmosphere had changed drastically from the undergraduate world; there was a competitiveness in conversation that I found unpleasant, and a ringing of false bravado about everything. As I forced my writing into an acceptable academic form my essays became more lifeless.

I felt a deep dislike for being with people who grade you as you speak. But as I grow older and older I see that many academic type people are like that, maybe all of them are like that. And that their cold pauses as they watch you squirm and search for words, is just a power trip. I could have learnt how to do that. And then I could have become one of those professors I talked to over the years, who sat back in their chair and waited for the student to sweat.

I thought for a while that I should have stayed in my beloved Women’s Studies program. But the thought of writing a massive MA thesis on some sort of dry topic on gender relations made me feel exhausted before I started. And although I enjoyed my foray into feminist theory I emphatically did not want to write about conceptual thinking for endless pages.

In the end I thought to myself, if I want to write I’ll write. And I got a regular job serving pizza and wrote for Kinesis, a paper published by the Status of Women in British Colombia as well as writing for Co-op Radio. And I took a Creative Writing course and loved it.

It is funny that when I look back over my life, and start wondering if I made wrong decisions, I generally come to the same decision I did when I was younger. I remember thinking in high school that I would never want to be a teacher, not because of the kids, but because of the school itself and the mostly dull company. I was right about that.

I know what it takes to be an academic, and even now I resist the path. Writing has always been my salvation, and it is my own voice that I want. I know what my voice is, and I have always known what it is. It is a fairly quiet voice and a bit circular at times, but it comes directly from me.

I potter around in the garden of my mind, winding around an idea, digging about in the leaves and roots, leaving bulbs that will blossom at a later time.   It is not neat or symmetrical, but there are surprising little paths and ponds, and I like it that way.

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