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Obama and Paul and the winding road home

Just took my little carry-on suitcase downstairs and put it away. That’s it for travelling, for now.

No, the plan is no more travelling, for now. Who knows what’s in store?
Philadelphia was fantastic, one of my favourite book events so far. The talk was well attended and received. My host, Rakhmiel Pelz, who fell and did something drastic to his elbow just before my arrival and was not expected to appear, showed up with his arm in a serious sling and spoke passionately about the importance of the Yiddish theatre in its time and place, how sad that history is being lost – and how glad he was that my book was preserving a piece of it. In my correspondence with him, Rakhmiel’s energy and forthrightness led me to believe he was a very young man. And he is, at least in spirit.
And Kathleen Carll, his assistant who put together the whole schmear, is one of those people you dream of landing in your life, or at least I do – phenomenally organized, quietly in the background getting everything done. The day was seamless. After my talk and a question period, there was a book signing, and I’m happy to say that the bookstore sold all ten “Jewish Shakespeare”‘s they’d brought. I chatted with the buyers, who, as always, wanted to tell me their connection to the story. And then Kathleen led me to the Drexel University Faculty Club for lunch. Drexel, by the way, is a university of some 25,000 students in the heart of the city. Who knew?
A group of Drexel academics had been invited to meet me at lunch, which was interesting. I confess that besides eating a great deal of the hot self-service meal (Free! Eat lots!!) I made a tuna sandwich from the salad bar to take with me to the airport for supper. (Free! Eat more!! Always think ahead!!!) And then my friend Jess appeared. Jess was a former young writing student who left Toronto to study sculpture in Philadelphia; now 31, she’s teaching at the school from which she graduated, with two shows of her work – she does huge pieces I call “trumpets to God” – coming up in New York. We walked in the 95 degree heat and got caught up, and then I returned to the university for a talk to a student writing class.
Then to the airport, a long wait in the wine bar (you can test three different wines for $11 and eat a secret tuna sandwich for nothing) for a delayed flight, home very late. My companion on the plane had flown from Vancouver to see the hockey game the night before. “I’ve been a Flyers fan since I was nine,” he said. “I grew up in Calgary and Vancouver. I was not very popular in school.” Seeing a game in Philadelphia had been a lifelong dream for him; I’m glad they won that night. How very Canadian it is to be defined by the hockey team you support – as in England by your soccer team, in the U.S. by baseball.
I guess you can also be defined by the fact that you support no team at all.
In my handbag, on the way home, a precious “USA Today” article about Paul McCartney winning the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, at an event at the White House. A gorgeous pic of TWO OF MY FAVOURITE MEN IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, Obama and my Paul, be still my beating heart. “After the last eight years,” McCartney said at the end, “it’s great to have a president who knows what a library is.” Yes! That’s my boy.
“Even though you have difficult issues (facing you),” he told Obama, “there are billions of us rooting for you.” Thank you for saying that, Paul. The President must wonder, sometimes, now that he is being blamed for not being emotional enough about the oil spill, if he has any supporters left at all.
It’s harder than ever to read the newspapers, heartbreaking pictures of sea birds covered with oil, teeth-grinding articles in the Canadian papers about Stephen Harper meeting with Cameron in England, and being far more coldly right-wing than the European conservatives. My letter to the Editor was published last week, in much edited version, in the “Star,” by the way. I was responding to an editorial asking the Liberals and the NDP to form a coalition, as in England, as the only way to defeat the Tories, and wrote in to beg Layton and Ignatief “to put personal and party ego aside” for the sake of the country.
Some chance. There’s an article in yesterday’s “Globe” urging the Liberal party to stick to its principles and not to sully itself with those socialists. This is, after all, the party that twice rejected Bob Rae, a brilliant seasoned politician with a left-wing past, the last time in favour of a cerebral man with great cheekbones, no warmth, prestigiously royal Russian blood and not one iota of real political experience, who’d been out of the country for decades. Which principles exactly are we talking about?
Calm down. No point in getting riled. It’s just the future of the entire country at stake, that’s all.
At home the next day, I faced an overwhelming list of things to do and tackled the most important – food. My friend Lynn and I met at Fiesta Farms, a wonderful store, for a giant grocery shop after which she drove me home. I bought sublime Ontario strawberries and asparagus, all the heavy things hard for me to carry on my bike or back, and cruelty-free meat which is three times as expensive as regular meat. Perhaps I’ll have to become a vegetarian after all.
Then spent hours raking, watering and staking up the roses which have exploded in the garden, what joy. Went to the library because another book I’d ordered had come in: “Granta’s Book of the Family,” an anthology of the magazine’s writings, both fiction and non. The very first story, Linda Grant writing about her mother, is so good it made me want to sit and finish the whole thing. Not to mention the 2 other library books I have out, plus “Wolf Hall,” and, now, the growing stack of “New Yorkers.” Not to mention doing all the other things I have to do, a zillion chores for work and life, not to mention actually WRITING.
Speaking of which …



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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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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

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Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


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