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Last night, the last class of the Ryerson term, and this morning, something completely different – a writing workshop with a group of people who are “in transition,” as they call it, from the street. A former student, Theresa, was once a crack addict and is now a responsible single mother studying at university and working with an organization which helps street people find homes and jobs. This amazing woman organized a week of life skills seminars for 10 people, and asked me if I’d teach them creative writing.

It’s good I’ve been doing this for 15 years, because I needed every bit of skill today. Our session was exhilarating, moving and exhausting. Here were people who’d been denied what most of us take for granted – a childhood that provided, at the very least, shelter, education, and safety. Some in the group were very shy, others extremely vocal and boisterous; one was transsexual, one Native. Some are battling addiction; many of them, Theresa told me, live in cockroach-infested rooming houses. But they have an address.
We talked about stories, telling stories, and theirs came spilling out. And they wrote – with heart, with increasing courage and honesty just in our 2 1/2 hours. And I felt such sorrow that from birth, some of us have to fight for survival, while others are showered with gifts. Wayson just told me about the documentary “Babies” which he says shows the same thing – there are four adorable babies, all equally bright, but it’s clear which ones are going to prosper and which will have a much tougher time.
Anyway, my new friends are on the right road. They gave me a card afterwards that they’d all signed. One had written, “Thank you for the life and writing lesson.” I’m not sure what it means, but I like it. And the Native man wrote, “Meegwetch for some guidance of putting pen to paper.” I just looked it up; Meegwetch means thank you in Algonquin. What a beautiful word.
Was drained for the rest of the day – I think the end of the teaching term, and this experience, both hit me. And the fact that it’s four thousand degrees outside. Was in a catatonic state when my hairdresser phoned – there’d been a cancellation, did I want to come in? I certainly did. What a perfect way to recouperate, an easy afternoon chatting with Ingrid, Donny and Greg and the interesting people sitting in their chairs. It’s just the best hair-cutting experience. And this time, Ingrid did surgery – took off a ton. I feel 10 pounds lighter. Perfect for this hot weather, which was turning my already frizzy Afro into Moses’s burning bush, an orange-brown fuzzball around my face.
And then Mr. Choy dropped in, and we went to the Pearl Court for wonton soup. And then I watched Jon Stewart, George Strombolopolis and Law and Order simultaneously, and now I’m writing here, and now I’m going to bed. Downstairs the central A.C. works wonderfully; upstairs it doesn’t work at all, so now I’m going up to the sauna where I sleep.
There. Up to date.



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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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