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a student’s piece for Remembrance Day

A few weeks ago, a student at Ryerson wrote a piece for class about how her father, a veteran, was mistreated on Remembrance Day by a store. Send it to the Globe, I advised, and told the class, whenever they have an essay relating to a specific holiday, they should send it in. Already, her piece has appeared. She has never been published before and is thrilled. And I am thrilled for her.

With all these reports of sexual assault pouring in, including from decades ago, I’m grateful that as far as I can recall, I have never sexually assaulted anyone. I don’t think anyone from my past is going to stand up and point a finger. In fact, I could point a finger or two myself, but I won’t, that was many many years ago when I was young and stupid and spent too long at the bar.

But I love how Samantha Bee put it, with her usual forcefulness. “Here’s how I do it, guys,” she said. (I paraphrase.) “I get up in the morning, get dressed, go to work, and I don’t masturbate in front of my staff.”

At today’s conversation group, the local library’s outreach coordinator came to talk to us about the library and to make sure all the women have library cards. He told us about the library’s programs – so many! It’s like a community centre – parenting, literacy, the Lego club, the Bookmobile, Leading to Reading, home delivery for the non-mobile, of course Storytime for young ones, another conversation circle, puppet shows, teen youth groups – it’s incredible. Even “Why make a will?,” coming up in a few weeks – we had to explain “a will” to the women. So impressed with our library system. There are 100 libraries in Toronto – the goal, one every 1.5 kilometres. Fabulous.

Yesterday’s treat – I was killing time on Bloor Street between class at U of T and a non-fiction conference meeting nearby, strolling along with the shoppers, when I heard a high clear voice of unearthly beauty – a young man standing at the corner of Bloor and Bay, singing. “For Tuition,” said his sign. He sang “Ave Maria” and I stood stock still and relished. I gave him $10 and he gave me his card. Ian Sabourin, a counter tenor. Thank you, Ian, I said, for such beauty in the midst of the consumer madness of Bloor Street. When I left, he was being hassled by a First Nations man who wanted to beg on the same corner. Valuable real estate. Give him a listen – he’s stunning, vocally and – let’s be frank – physically.

And then, last night, watching the second half of the doc on Jann Wenner’s Rolling Stone on HBO – four hours of the history of my generation, music, politics, revolution. Wonderful.

Democrats won in the States including the first transgender woman ever! And the Bloor Street bike lanes are permanent. At last, some good news. We could use some. It’s getting cold here.

P.S. This is what a successful writer’s life looks like. Sigh. Just a tiny bit jealous.



2 Responses to “a student’s piece for Remembrance Day”

  1. theresa says:

    What a pleasure to listen to Ian this morning, Beth. Thank you for the link. And lucky you, to hear him singing on a street corner in Toronto. I love countertenors, that high clear unearthly voice (David Daniels and Daniel Taylor are my favourites), so it's lovely to have another to watch for. I sent the link to my chamber music compatriots…

  2. beth says:

    Yes, hearing him was truly magical – you could hear his voice blocks away, and even the harried businesspeople and shoppers of Toronto could not help but be arrested. At least, a few of them. I hope he has a fine, long career. It was funny, too – people were expecting a woman, and then saw this handsome young man. One of life's fine moments.

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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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