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classes starting next week

The word of the day is “hunkering.” As in, down. That’s all a Canadian can do in the snow and pale grey light of January – hunker in the lair and try to keep sane. I think of my neighbours from Sri Lanka and India, from Jamaica, lands of vibrant colour, rich in smell and community, people living their lives in noisy abandon outside, under the sun. Here the world is white and grey, outside is bitter and unwelcoming, people huddle in their black parkas with faces swathed in scarves and vanish as quickly as possible. No colour, no smell, no sound – no faces, even. If it’s hard for us, Canada in winter must be a frozen hell to those from warm places.

The good news: I gather protest is growing about Harper’s arrogant dismissal of Parliament, and there may be demonstrations. Hooray! Nothing like a good demonstration to brighten a dull January day.
Tending to business: first, FYI, my Ryerson “True to Life” classes start next week, Level 1 on Monday and Level 2 on Tuesday. If any of you are interested, the time to register is NOW. Level 2 is undersubscribed at the moment and will be cancelled unless some keeners appear. I also have a Level 2 at U of T, starting the following week. So, keeners – let’s get through winter together. Here’s an image stolen from the latest New Yorker – a can has just been opened, the top pried up, and lots of worms are spilling out. Another worm hastens toward the open can. “PAR-TAY!” he cries.
Winter term 2010 – we’ll open cans of worms and partay.
Also, I’ve had a few emails from regular readers about how difficult it is to respond to this blog. I don’t know why – last year there were lots of responses, so something in my set-up must have been switched without my knowing it. In any case, I have tried to change the settings to allow you to post a reply more easily. Please feel free to give it a go and let me know if it works.
Twice yesterday, even in the fog of winter, pure joy. I grabbed the new New Yorker before heading out the door, opened it on the streetcar and read a poem by Donald Hall. Instantly, I was no longer on the grubby streetcar surrounded by black parkas. I was immersed in my own “unforgettable detritus,” of which there is so very, very much. This poem is particularly meaningful to hoarders like me, but I hope the rest of you normal people enjoy it too.
When I walk in my house I see pictures,
bought long ago, framed and hanging
-de Kooning, Arp, Laurencin, Henry Moore –
that I’ve cherished and stared at for years,
yet my eyes keep returning to the masters
of the trivial: a white stone perfectly round,
tiny lead models of baseball players, a cowbell,
a broken great-grandmother’s rocker,
a dead dog’s toy – valueless, unforgettable
detritus that my children will throw away
as I did my mother’s souvenirs of trips
with my dead father, Kodaks of kittens,
and bundles of cards from her mother Kate.
Somehow, in so few words, he gets right to the heart of something so moving and human – dealing with the past, with memory, with loss, and, of course, with death. How can we forget good old death, in January?
Then, last night, I watched a documentary called “How the Beatles rocked the Kremlin.” A Liverpuddlian called Leslie Woodhead, who filmed the Beatles in their earliest incarnation at the Cavern Club, went to Russia to chronicle what the Beatles had meant to people there. The premise of the film, coming from those interviewed, is that the Beatles had more to do with destroying Communism than Gorbachev – that they started the process of, as one said, “alienating kids from the Communist motherland.”
Woodhead shot the crowd in the Kiev Kavern Club – one man wearing a t-shirt with “still pissed at Yoko” printed on it – and in the Kiev Beatles Museum, and at McCartney’s concerts there in 2003 and 2008. The Beatles playing in their land was, one said, “a holy day. There were rivers and waterfalls of tears.” In the early Sixties, kids were not allowed to listen to pop records or even to grow their hair; embracing pop culture was done in secret, and so the revolution began. A Deputy Minister in Putin’s government remembered with glee that listening to bootleg Beatles taught him English. “‘Dragged a comb across my head,'” he said. “I learned what ‘comb’ meant.” Hair was a huge issue. “I was always trying to stretch my hairs,” a woman solemnly told the camera.
Over here, we just had to save enough babysitting money to buy the latest LP at the mall. Winters may be terrible and our current Prime Minister too, but we’ve always had freedom, blessed freedom in this marvellous, frozen land.
Time for wine in a small glass, more spaghetti and chocolate, and a taste of “Rubber Soul.”



2 Responses to “classes starting next week”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thought I would test your comments feature to see if it was working.

  2. beth says:

    Seems to be working. I don't like this "anonymous" option, though – a bit weird.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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