But seriously…

The last few days have been filled with some very entertaining Rapture-inspired tweets, posts, events (like the post-Rapture looting party on Facebook), which can be summarized as a widespread cynicism and disbelief that Christ will reappear at some point today to bring the righteous home, prior to unleashing hell on earth.
shoes.jpgIn the meantime, believers are preparing themselves to be taken, including making arrangements for their pets, who, as soulless animals (their belief, not mine) will of course be left behind.
It just occurred to me to worry about believers who are disappointed today. History has shown what fanatics are capable of, in terms of self-harm, and we’ve been down the Rapture road before (and I’m not the only one thinking ‘what happens after it doesn’t happen, either).
Let’s assume that nothing happens today. What goes through the mind of a true believer? Does someone that devoted to such a preposterous idea just say “oh well, never mind. Guess I’d better mow the lawn after all.”? Somehow I doubt it. What worries me are not the weirdos who tell themselves that Camping got the math wrong, but those who believe that the Rapture happened and they just weren’t worthy. Let’s face it, on any random Saturday, natural disasters occur and a number of people die, and it’s not entirely unlikely that the octogenarian Camping himself will indeed go to his reward today, at least euphemistically, if not literally. So it follows that tomorrow morning, some people will wake up still firmly on earth, look around them and see what they believe are signs that the angels have been and gone, and decide that they are in for a few months of hell on earth before being consigned to the real thing.
What if these people take it upon themselves to put themselves, their loved ones, or even their neighbours out of their soon-to-be misery?
If anyone whips up a batch of KoolAid for the family, euthanizes their pets, or takes a rifle up to the clock tower in the town square, Camping will have a lot to answer for.

If former PMs can return from the dead*, so can I

I haven’t posted in decades because (a) I’ve been very distracted by Facebook, (b) I’ve been even more distracted by Twitter [<3 evrthng n 140 chrctrs. Brv = soul of wit] and (c) recent changes in our computer set-up at home mean that I cannot, techically, see my own blog. For a few months, I though no one else could, either, but apparently I was mistaken.
The current post is just a promissory note; a longer post on the educational reform in Quebec is in the offing, and barring any further distraction/technical difficulties will be posted anon.
*another in my long list of reasons the Internet is a wonderful thing: inside jokes with dead politicians.

To the moron who wrote on my house:

I appreciate that your message was about love. Goodness knows “K + S Fur ever” is better than “death to the cops” or something crude or vulgar. Having said that, may I make a few suggestions:
1. when writing on the house of an English teacher, please try to spell correctly, and use words (and) rather than symbols (+);
2. when writing a message expressing your love for someone, consider choosing a venue that you can easily revisit, rather than the front porch overhang on someone else’s house;
3. again, when expressing your love for someone, particularly your eternal love, consider using a medium other than pencil;
4. don’t write on my house.

Duplessis is alive and well.

So the Quebec Liberals have introduced Bill 94, which, if passed, would prohibit anyone with a covered face from providing or receiving public services. In our socialist state, “public service” means education and health, among other things – so no face, no healthcare, no teaching or learning, no driver’s license, and so on.
While the language of the bill does not specifically target Muslim women who choose to cover their faces for religious reasons, the bill is clearly a response to the “reasonable accommodation” issue, which reared its ugly head a couple of years ago with the now-infamous Herouxville doctrine and the sugar shack that (quite reasonably) accommodated a group of observant Muslims by making a special pork-free menu and providing a prayer space during the group’s visit.
Several of my fellow Quebecers, through letters to the editor and radio call-ins, have voiced their support for Bill 94. The standard argument in favour of the bill seems to be “if they come to our country, they should act like us.” When in Rome, as it were.
Ok, where do I start?
This is NOT a matter of choosing to be Canadian as opposed to Muslim. Canada is a place. Islam is a religion. One can be Canadian and Muslim, just as one can be Canadian and Jewish, or Catholic, or Wiccan. People who “come here” aren’t converts, they’re immigrants.
Secondly, the idea that this bill somehow sets Quebec up as a secular state, as our premier would have us believe, is disingenuous – we’re already a secular state, and that’s precisely why we (as a state) have no business telling people what they can or cannot wear, in terms of religious expression (not to mention that freedom of religion is enshrined in our national Charter of rights and freedoms – is Charest planning to whip out the notwithstanding clause when this matter, as it inevitably will, shows up in court as unconstitutional?).
Finally, the whole matter of telling Muslim women what they can/cannot, should/should not wear is so distasteful it hardly bears discussing. The fundamentally paternalistic condescension is nauseating. It’s leftover colonialism – you’ve come to our country (which assumes that there are no Canadian-born Muslims) to escape the oppression of your country (which assumes that, well, other countries, i.e., non-Western/North American/white countries, are oppressive); the niqab/hijab/burqa is a symbol of male oppression (which assumes that women are forced by their fathers or husbands to wear these things) and we’re going to set you free (which assumes that women don’t really choose to be Muslim).
And how are we going to set you free? By telling you what to wear.

How making a spectacle of yourself pays off

I’ve said it before, I will say it again – the Internet is a wonderful thing.
One of my recent net gains (get it?) is the wealth of long-lost friends I’ve reconnected with through Facebook. I resisted social networking sites for a long time, primarily because all the invitations I got came from students. While I love my job, and most of my students, I don’t really think I – or they – will benefit from seeing their celphotos of the bathroom floor of some downtown club with lax doormen.
But then one shiny morning I got an invitation from a long-lost friend. A grown-up. So I bit the bullet and signed up for Facebook.
Lo and behold – this is where they’re keeping everybody! It’s like Toronto, but on-line. Everyone’s there. I have reconnected with high school friends; coming from some one who steadfastly ignored all the 20-year reunion hoopla because “anyone I want to see I see pretty regularly, thank you,” this is a big deal. I had forgotten how many great people I went to school with, and I am glad to find them again.
I have also rediscovered friends from my bachelorette days – former roommates, university and college buddies, and theatre cronies. Once upon a time these people were part of my daily life, and it’s kind of a shock to realize how easily we lose those people. It’s nice to know that it’s just as easy to find them again.
One of these is my dear friend Lisa. She and I were once thrown together in a host of theatrical affairs, but once I stopped working in theatre, we lost touch. Now we’re back in touch, and all of this semi-coherent babbling has been a lead up to a plug for her new blog, Blob 2 Babe. In her own words:

I eat because it’s tasty!! I’m a Taurus, a sensualist by nature. I wanna see, hear, touch and smell stuff and if I like it, I’ll taste it! (For all of you that don’t think food makes noise – ladies and gentleman, I give you SIZZLING BACON. I rest my case…).
My problem is sheer inertia. This body has not moved too much in two years, so really what did I expect?
But it’s that moment, and we’ve all had it, when we realize that the mirror we’re looking into isn’t at the carnival. It’s an average mirror and this is what we look like.
Yikes! Eep! Yow! And finally, WTF?!?!?
So I’ve decided to take control and embark on a sane, no-nonsence, slow and systematic course of action. Good old fashioned excercise; cardio, weights, and some yoga thrown in but mainly for the cute clothes. I do not relish the prospect but if I have folks cheering (or jeering) me on, I think I might manifest my destiny of babe-dom.

Not only do I think that Lisa is a good, fun, upbeat writer, I can relate to her objectives, and I believe in the power of going public. After all, 2153 days ago, I started publicly counting my days without smoking, and that seems to be going well.
So go read, enjoy, and cheer, please.

Twenty years ago, I was in a very different place. Geographically, I wasn’t very far from where I am now, but personally, I was light years from here. My students now weren’t even born.
Twenty years ago, I didn’t know I was a teacher. I didn’t know I was a mother. I didn’t know I was a wife.
Twenty years ago, I was just starting to rebuild a relationship with my mother, after a turbulent adolescence.
Twenty years ago, I was a student, exploring the world and all it had to offer, if I would just take it.
On December 6, 1989, a very disturbed man walked into the Ecole polytechnique and destroyed 14 lives. Those 14 young women, whose only transgression was being intelligent and female, never had the chance to discover the world or themselves.
They didn’t know. They didn’t know what the future held – how many babies never happened? How many innovations were never conceived? How many rifts were never mended?
They didn’t know that being a woman was a crime punishable by death.
They say that time heals all wounds, but I think that what really happens is that time smooths the jagged edges, so it’s not quite so painful. The pain is what teaches us – we might not remember, really, just how painful it was to stick our hand on the burner, or to put our tongue on the cold signpost, or to stub our toe against the coffee table, but we learn. We learn to put on the oven mitt, or keep our tongues away from cold metal, or to walk around the table.
Time will not, and should not, heal the wounds of December 6 1989. I hope we’re still learning from that day.
20px-Purple_ribbon.svg.png Geneviève Bergeron
20px-Purple_ribbon.svg.pngHélène Colgan
20px-Purple_ribbon.svg.pngNathalie Croteau
20px-Purple_ribbon.svg.pngBarbara Daigneault
20px-Purple_ribbon.svg.pngAnne-Marie Edward
20px-Purple_ribbon.svg.pngMaud Haviernick
20px-Purple_ribbon.svg.pngMaryse Laganière
20px-Purple_ribbon.svg.pngMaryse Leclair
20px-Purple_ribbon.svg.pngAnne-Marie Lemay
20px-Purple_ribbon.svg.pngSonia Pelletier
20px-Purple_ribbon.svg.pngMichèle Richard
20px-Purple_ribbon.svg.pngAnnie St-Arneault
20px-Purple_ribbon.svg.pngAnnie Turcotte
20px-Purple_ribbon.svg.pngBarbara Klucznik-Widajewicz

The light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train

Summer vacation is fast coming to a close – I’m already putting together my framework for the coming semester, printing outlines, planning the first week of classes…
So it occurred to me that I should probably get my act together and post some photos from our grand European excursion. In the four weeks we were there, we went to Wales, Scotland and France, and made several day trips to various English locales, including Bath, Oxford, Milton Keynes and Bourton on the Water, and spent a lovely afternoon at the Batsford Arboretum:
The magnolias were almost finished, but this lovely flower was waiting for me.
Over the next few weeks, things will still be nuts, but I’m hoping that as a few of my various projects wind up that I will have more time and energy to think about my blog. I miss it 🙂
In the meantime, please do check out the photos, over on my flickr page.

They even got the elephants…

I am writing this from a very posh, very plush king-sized bed in a luxury hotel in downtown Montreal, while drinking a third cup of room-service coffee, gazing at a vase of my favourite flowers.
A few months ago, I assigned Dr. T the task of making my 40th birthday a major event, and I recruited Aurora to ‘assist’ him in the task, mainly to ensure that (a) someone who knew what I meant by ‘major’ was involved and (b) specifically, someone who understood that ‘major’ does not mean ‘pinball machine’ was involved.
Well, I could not have chosen better party planners.
Last night, we started with an Ethiopian feast with a group of my nearest and dearest, where we enjoyed great food and I was lavished with prezzies; the meal was topped off with two beautiful and scrumptious cakes – one peaches and cream, and the second spicy chocolate. Then we walked over to the Hotel de la Montagne, where we found my family and more wonderful friends waiting (with yet more prezzies). We drank and chatted and danced, and at 10 o’clock we made our way to the rooftop terrace to watch the fireworks (technically coincidental, but a nice touch, nonetheless). The party went on til we closed the bar, after which Dr. T brought me upstairs to our room (!), furnished with my baby laptop, our wave radio, my clothes for the morning after, and a vase of calla lilies. And the leftover spicy chocolate cake.
I don’t know what I did, in this life or any previous ones, to deserve such fantastic people in my life.
Highlights of the evening:
– Partying with Kuan Yin and Alison, both of whom travelled great distances to share the evening with me (not to mention sharing a lot of wine with me the night before).
– Laughing at my dad, who was essentially mugged by each of my girlfriends in turn when he told them “no kissing” – probably knowing full well that would be taken as a challenge…
– Trying to keep up with my mum, about whom several of my men friends asked questions such as “really? That’s your mother?” and “so, if I were to talk to her, are there any special interests or hobbies I should mention?”
– Hanging out and dancing with my sister, who stayed to help me close the bar and did her best to make sure that I had enough to drink.
– Seeing my Vanier crew, who turned out in great numbers – I don’t have a job, I have an extended family.
– Posing for Irene, the self-appointed event photographer!
– Turning around every five minutes to see yet another familiar, happy face… just when I was thinking everyone had arrived, someone else would turn up.
– Hitting the dance floor, where a twenty-something girl eyed me up and down and said “Oh thank God – another young person!”
In short, I had a wonderful time, and will spend much of the next forty years trying to express my thanks to the A-team (i.e., Aurora and Andrew).

It’s not you, it’s me

Every time I sit down and dash off another blog entry, I say to myself “this time it will be different. I will post again. Soon. Like tomorrow.” Then what happens?
Apparently I black out for about a month.
Well, no, of course not. Life, as always, happens, and at the most inopportune moments. Let’s take a look at this week, for instance:
Sunday: spent the afternoon at Laronde with all my boys.
Monday: did a few hours of work on the Cegep a distance project, punctuated wonderfully by lunch with Aurora, and spent some time revising my course package for next fall’s Liberal Arts course.
Tuesday morning: biked to NDG to help Dina move – between the two of us, we moved her queen-size bed & boxspring, not to mention three dressers, two tables, a recliner and, if I remember correctly, a grand piano. Might have been a panda. Something black and white.
Tuesday evening: ate v.g.* Chinese food with Aurora, followed by the Vanier grad – as the Liberal Arts rep, I was part of the platform party, which involves sitting under hot stage lights for a gazillion hours while several people talk about school pride and achievements, standing up to hand DECs to the three Liberal Arts graduates who attended the ceremony, and sitting down again. On stage. Which means hundreds of people will see if you yawn, scratch, slouch, etc.
Wednesday: yet more Cegep a distance stuff, then popped into Vanier to drop off the revised course pack and take care of a few other odds and ends, then had lunch with Aurora (is there a pattern here?), then dashed home to tidy for incoming visitors, then drove off to the boys’ school to collect them, since Colin was away at camp (!) and got back to the school long after the buses left. Got them home, shoved Colin into a much-needed shower, made supper and did another round of tidying in time for the aforementioned visitors.
Thursday: leaped out of bed stupid early and rush off to the plane station to collect Alison and my godson, who are in town to help me celebrate the big day, had breakfast with same + Cam & Paula & Alex, dropped Alison off at her brother’s place, rushed home, put another five hours into the Cegep a distance project, then grabbed my kids and headed off to the school BBQ. Lovely, rainy, damp weather… but excellent turnout, nonetheless, so all’s well, etc.
It’s only Thursday?
Anyway, none of this is really all that time-consuming, but then there’s Facebook and Google chat, not to mention eBay, where I am relisting my Nikon camera for the third time because the guy who “bought” it last week has lost his job and therefore his desire for a camera.
So once again, I am reduced to posting a lengthy post about why I don’t post very often anymore… but this time it will be different. I will post again. Soon. Like tomorrow.
*all the Cegep a distance stuff this week has been analysis of Bridget Jones’ Diary. Find self frequently abbreviating, not to mention v. worried about calories consumed. Am texting like 14-yr-old girl.