Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Interviews, This Day In Literature, Writing

The Other Awkward Age: My Interview With Jennifer Niesslein

Would you consider yourself “full grown”? Do I? What does that really even mean?

I am getting much better at the idea of asking for what you want. After all, if you never take a chance, ask for what you want, you have no chance whatsoever of getting it.

I’ve admired her from afar. I’ve followed her and her role of running Full Grown People for two years now, ever since I discovered the website, that is.
0JsT3j8.jpg

I made her aware of me, first by taking the chance to submit a piece of my writing, a somewhat hurried account of a bad breakup. And she returned my submission with a kindly yet direct email, stating how she felt my essay wasn’t the right length and did not feel fully fleshed out. I took this early rejection and I used it to become stronger, to start to develop my writerly thick skin, the one I would need if I were ever to survive being a writer.

When I found the courage to thank her for that early on rejection, she said this:

“I’m glad the rejection was a positive experience because, honestly, passing on essays is the worst part of my job.”

I’ve never forgotten and in some ways that early lesson as a writer, due to Jennifer’s role as FGP editor, it all stuck with me and I see it as a pivotal moment in my writing journey thus far. I was curious to find out more about some of hers.

I’ve respected Jennifer ever since and I considered it bucket list worthy to get the chance to interview her. I asked and she said yes.

Please introduce yourself a little and feel free to mention anything you think might be applicable here. What was your history before Full Grown People, just to set the stage?

I started out in the mid-nineties at an alternative newsweekly here in Charlottesville, Virginia. The staff was tiny, and so I got to learn every aspect of the business, from reporting and editing to layout to ad-to-edit ratio. I met the woman who’d become my business partner at Brain, Child there, the awesome Stephanie Wilkinson. (She was writing the book column while finishing her Ph.D.) We started Brain, Child, a literary magazine about motherhood, in 2000. (Our first issue came out in 2001.) It was great run. We sold the magazine in 2012, and in 2013, I started Full Grown People!

I stumbled upon that magazine somewhere, a year or so after Jennifer launched it. It has changed my life. There aren’t enough hours in a day to read everything, visit every site and blog of interest, so only a certain handful stick in the end. Twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday (give or take), I visit FGP to learn about the lives of others who have decided to write about becoming fully grown people. As the editor, I wanted to know from Jennifer first and foremost:

What has writing meant to you in your own life?

It’s meant different things over the years, but pretty much consistently in my adult life, it’s helped me figure out tough stuff. That said, I live a pretty charmed life, so I write less than I edit.

I was barely thirty years old when I started reading the essays to be found on Full Grown People. This meant I wasn’t feeling all that full grown at the time. I wasn’t so sure where I fit in actually, no longer being a member of the popular twenty-something age group of bloggers and writers, who were discovering the reach of today’s social media craze. I wasn’t a mother. I was newly single and on my own. I hardly felt like a grown-up with all the usual responsibilities that come with that. I was feeling child-like, but yet with my adult years and middle age looming, seemingly frighteningly close. I started reading Jennifer’s writers and their views on all the things that come with being full grown, so now that I’ve got the chance to ask her:

What does the “full grown” in Full Grown People mean to you?

In the thick of life. There’s a whole category of literature called “coming of age” stories, but I think the truth is, we’re all coming of age throughout our lives, adjusting to new realities. 

This is why it was that I likely gravitated to this publication amongst all the others found online, all the places where essays are found. I didn’t have to be a mother to fit in and to understand where so many of the writers were coming from. I could be who I was, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a writer, and a woman. I did wonder though, what the differences were between running a publication specifically for parents and one in which the whole package of life lived was being covered.

What does it take to run a publication like Brain, Child vs Full Grown People? Are they similar at all and in what ways are they or aren’t they?

Well, my caveat is, I’m describing Brain, Child as it was when Steph and I ran it. (We’re no longer affiliated with it, so I can’t speak to its current incarnation.)
In some ways, BC and FGP are completely different animals. BC was print; FGP is web. So the business models are completely different. And while personal essays were the bulk of what we ran in Brain, Child, we also ran reported pieces, fiction, humor, etc. FGP is strictly essays. I think the common denominator is a respect for the reader’s intelligence and some damn fine writing. 

All caveats aside, I wanted to know, “some damn fine writers” and “respecting the reader’s intelligence”, but what else does Jennifer look for in terms of the kinds of essays she publishes on Full Grown People?

What sorts of things do you look for in a piece you might publish on FGP vs a piece of writing that might just not be right for the site?

Whoo-ee. I never know how to answer this question. This piece that I wrote for Brevity is about as succinct as I can get:

Seven Essays I Meet in My Literary Heaven – BREVITY’S Non Fiction Blog
(Another publication I read and love.)

I can’t imagine what it takes to put something as fabulous as Full Grown People together on an almost weekly rotation. Her control over the entire FGP in its entirety has had me in awe since I learned of what she does with it.

How would you describe the job of editor/editing vs simply writing?

Editing and writing uses two different parts of my brain. (Okay, maybe not literally.) If I’m doing my job right, my editing is invisible to the reader—it’s taking a writer’s work and helping make it as close to the essay’s Platonic ideal as possible. I think of editing as a collaboration. Writing is me doing me. And if I’m doing that right, it’s also a sort of collaboration between me and the reader—that my words will somehow tweak the way the reader thinks about something.

I couldn’t imagine anyone could or would go through year after year of putting out such wide variety of people’s personal essays without discovering things about the universality of life. What has that been for Jennifer?

What have you learned since you started FGP, about the universalities we all experience or about those who’ve wanted to share such things with you and your readers?

I learned this at Brain, Child, too:  you never know what someone is privately going through. 

True. Oh so true Jennifer. I often think that.

Then comes the small visual aspect of every essay Full Grown People publishes, but I have a feeling, though I don’t see each photo, that the part these elected images plays in the accompaniment of every essay isn’t small at all. I couldn’t see the pictures, only reading the essays, but I have noticed, from the start of reading them on a weekly basis, that there is a definite bond of respect between words and visuals, between Jennifer and her main photographer.

You have a photo accompanying every essay you publish. Most of the time one photographer in particular.
http://ginaeasley.com
What do Gina Easley’s photographs, for example, what do you think her art adds to the essays?

I think Gina’s amazing work adds another dimension to the essays, like any time you combine two art forms.  


People are always going to be growing and going through things and thus I believe there will always be a place for someone and somewhere, wanting to share those experiences.

Where do you see Full Grown People heading in the future?

Hopefully, just growing and growing! We have two anthologies already and I hope to publish more.

Jennifer Niesslein has made a huge impression on me as a “fully grown” woman and as a growing writer. From the success and popularity of Full Grown People that I’ve seen over these past two or three years, I know I’m not the only one.

You’ve made quite the impact in the world of literary and personal essays and a name for yourself and the website. What does that mean to you?

That’s kind of you to say, Kerry! It’s very gratifying. I’ve been a reader before I was a writer or an editor, so in a way, it’s an extension of who I’ve always been—the person who’s always saying, “You HAVE to read this!” And I’ve been so lucky to work with the writers and Gina—they set the bar high.

And finally, I wanted to ask Jennifer about the barriers for writers of different minorities, as she has seen a lot over her time in publishing. Things hopefully do evolve over time and I am sure, by now, it’s obvious how highly I respect her opinions on the always changing publishing and writing landscapes.

As a woman in the position you are now in, what might you say to the next generation of women who want to make a mark with their writing or some of the other things you’ve tackled? What sorts of barriers do you see less of over the years and which ones do you still see as potential problem areas for women in the world of writing and publishing?

That’s a good question (and, honestly, the first time I’ve been asked)! I’m a little leery of offering advice because there are such huge variables in women’s experiences and circumstances, and I don’t want to minimize the privileges I’ve had. But I would suggest learning as many writing- and editing-related skill sets as you can; I’ve had to wear many hats, and in the end, it’s given me greater creative control over my work. But the most important thing is having at least one person who will look at your work and tell it to you straight, with kindness. For a long time, my aspirations were a little, um, greater than my ability, and having someone or a group of someones to point out where I was flubbing and when a possible different approach could help was invaluable.
The best thing I’m seeing about barriers is just how many publications there ARE now—which means more opportunities for writers. The worst barriers are the same old things: the bias against women writers, and the even greater bias against disabled writers, writers of color, LGBTQ writers. I’m guardedly hopeful that the publishing climate will get better or get replaced—just because the conversations around equity have been more public than they were when I was a whipper snapper. 

I greatly value these views on equity, the existence of lingering bias, and the need for things like perseverance and determination, all of us just trying to survive in this world of publishing and self expression, as writers and creatives.

I want to thank Jennifer Niesslein for agreeing to do this interview. It has been a huge honour having her here.

Adulthood, all stages included, and we’re all just doing our best, trying to make it through “The Other Awkward Age”.

Standard
Featured Image -- 2162
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

Performing in Blindface

Conflicted. This disability advocate and blogger writes a fair and true post on why this whole thing feels like a conflict. She is right. Finding hope for the future while still living well in the present.

Adventures in Low Vision

 Photo shows a pink fuzzy I'm ask on a white background A fundraising drive related to the blind community went viral. The organization finances great medical research, yet the campaign premise doesn’t sit well with me. I’m split, so I’m reflecting on #HowEyeSeeIt from the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB). Yep, I’m diving into the deep end.

FFB’s digital awareness campaign encourages people with vision loss to ask others to wear a blindfold and do a task together. They record it for social media and label it #HowEyeSeeIt. Amateur, professional, and nationally broadcasted stories were created. Some people pushed back and expressed opposition and rejection of the blindfold usage. The National Federation of the Blind released a letter written by President Riccobono admonishing it. People in the blind community reported censored comments or blocks on FFB’s social media accounts. FFB, a private organization, has the right to delete/block communications on their accounts, but has publicly stated it is not blocking or banning…

View original post 794 more words

Standard
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, RIP, Shows and Events, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, TToT

TToT: Memory Use and the Overall System Footprint – Call and Response, #InternationalDayOfPeace #Graceland #10Thankful

It was a slow day And the sun was beating On the soldiers by the side of the road There was a bright light A shattering of shop windows The bomb in the baby carriage Was wired to the radio

These are the days of miracle and wonder This is the long distance call The way the camera follows us in slo-mo The way we look to us all

The way we look to a distant constellation That’s dying in a corner of the sky These are the days of miracle and wonder And don’t cry baby, don’t cry Don’t cry

It was a dry wind And it swept across the desert And it curled into the circle of birth And the dead sand Falling on the children The mothers and the fathers And the automatic earth

“The Boy in the Bubble” discusses starvation and terrorism, but mixes this with wit and optimism. Simon concurred with this assessment: “Hope and dread – that’s right. That’s the way I see the world, a balance between the two, but coming down on the side of hope.”

Hope and dread. Hope and dread. Hope and dread. These things run through my head…my head…my head.

My nephew is learning so many new things at school, even already after his first few weeks.

How do I know this?

The other night at dinner he started asking about carrots and how they grow, in the earth, from seeds. Such a basic concept of a lovely natural process.

Seeds planted. Something growing, sprouting up, from once there was only dirt under foot.

I am thankful for all the time I got to spend with my aunt.

Her life is a mystery to me. I get stuck on trying to imagine it. I only knew her for the last few decades of her life.

She was my father’s half sister. She was born in Europe during World War II. She came here to Canada, all by herself. I will forever wonder about all that.

The last time I saw her, as herself, she had made the trip to her mother’s funeral. We didn’t think she would come, for several reasons, but she came and I was nervous to give my tribute to my oma, whose relationship with her daughter was different from ours.

I hugged my aunt, after a day at the graveside, and an evening reminiscing about the life Oma lived, all of us sitting on the deck, around a table. I hugged her and left.

The next time she would have faced tumour treatments, her brain badly effected. She clung to me, our last real moment of contact, and one more familial thread is lost..

Without my parents making a decision to introduce us, I would never have known her mighty spirit.

I am thankful for the light chatter of young voices on a hard day of reality confronted.

On the night we received the news, I heard a one-year-old playing lovingly with her doll (all thanks to WhatsApp) and I interrupted a family in the middle of their beloved spaghetti dinner.

I needed to hear these little people, to remember that there are beginnings as well as those endings we wish would never come.

Na na na na na na na na Max Man!

🙂

Thanks to speaker phone, we discussed colours, what we want to be when we grow up, and what our favourite foods are.

I sat back, listening to my niece describe all manner of shades of many many colours. I needed that just then.

I am thankful for a world attempting to live more peacefully.

Justin Trudeau spoke about what “Canada has gotten right, not perfect.” That we believe diversity brings us strength to fight hatred and violence.

With all the meetings of UN in New York through the week, I listened to several speeches, President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau in particular. All still so complicated. Peace exists in pockets. I just happen to live in one of those at the moment. No guarantee it will always be that way.

I am thankful for another educational Ken Burns PBS documentary.

I was unaware of the story of this couple.

I am thankful for a room full of writers

I had a question about writing, about the writing journey we’re all on, and I thought who better to bring it to than that select group of people. They are just learning as they go along, just like me, and I wanted their take on a particular situation I’ve gotten myself into.

Their input did not totally squelch my concerns, but we did have a lively discussion about writing contests and when a scam is a scam. I did not want to bring down the other writer in the group to have received good news like myself. He may choose to go a different way with it, but I am still undecided. We all want our writing to have a chance out there in the wider world.

I am thankful for light in the depths.

Edith Widder: the weird, wonderful world of bioluminescence – TED

This sort of thing is not visible to me anymore as such, but just hearing this scientist’s enthusiasm made me believe in the hope of all that magic to be found, especially in the ocean.

I am thankful for the perfect autumn weather.

Thursday was nearly thirty degrees. It was humid but yet there was a coolish breeze, enough to make a meal out on a patio still rather lovely. Yep, there was at least one bee this time, but not on me. Not that I knew of anyway.

I wasn’t having a great week. I was feeling unwell and having more computer troubles. I wanted the first day of fall to feel like fall.

By Friday the temperature had dropped ten degrees or more. I was in Heaven. Fall had arrived.

I am thankful for speedy and readily available medical care for myself and for those I love.

I felt lousy, but I needed blood taken and tested. I got it. Results available online now and oh how far we’ve come, to be able to check our own blood levels, without having to ask any doctor.

Then my family needs treatment for chronic medical conditions, tests run to check out symptoms, diabetes, and diet changes are called for. Hopefully those I love can remain healthy and live for a long time still.

I am thankful for a lovely day on the go.

It began at a secondhand store. Not exactly my kind of place, as I have a strange aversion to old, used things. I am also drawn to their stories. My sister was shopping for maternity clothes, not as easy as it sounds.

We kept my nephew occupied in the halloween decorations section, specifically interested in a doorbell with an eye that opened and and a voice that cackled.

We had lunch at a “pizza store” as my four-year-old nephew refers to it. All you can eat, but still we ate thin crust pizza, to stick, as close as we possibly can, to our diets and health restrictions.

Then I had my violin lesson. Brahms’ lullaby, played for me on piano and violin, so hopefully I can master the entire song by next March.

I went, with my brother and a few people, to attend a bit of speaking about video game production and radio.

A Journal Of Musical Things

This guy, the one with the website, he has been on a Toronto radio station for years. My brother listened to his radio programs. We heard he was visiting and we decided to go and listen to what he had to say.

Finally, we walked downtown, a Beatles festival happening, and capped off the day with a relaxing glass of wine and delicious dessert on a patio and then a cup of coffee, latte, before I felt a sore throat coming on dampen my mood. Nothing could truly dampen my first Saturday of fall.

I am thankful for an album, which becomes an experience in itself.

This album was brought back to my attention, but this week it has great value, in its overall feeling of hope and peace.

It is a magical record, full of the voice of Paul Simon, but yet with a distinctly African tone. Anyone who has never heard it has been missing out.

These days albums in their entirety are all but extinct. Songs that stand alone are what gets the public’s attention. This album, named for a tourist attraction, a musical and cultural icon of a place, a spiritual experience for some, that is what this album is for me.

It’s a collection of songs, taking me on travels, experiences of sorts, to a place called Africa, where my young self couldn’t imagine. This album was playing in our house, thanks to my father, and this can clearly be heard on an old home movie when I was three.

There was the almost mystical affection and strange familiarity I felt when I first heard South African music. Later, there was the visceral thrill of collaborating with South African musicians onstage. Add to this potent mix the new friendships I made with my band mates, and the experience becomes one of the most vital in my life. block quote level 1block quote level 1

Graceland – Album By Paul Simon (1986)

I did not want to visit Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, so much as I wanted to learn about South Africa, about the troubles and the ruining of lives Apartheid caused, when I was too young to realize, when the concept of black and white wasn’t something I thought anything about. Now I think about it often. No superiority. No ranking of human life.

What was unusual about Graceland is that it was on the surface apolitical, but what it represented was the essence of the antiapartheid in that it was a collaboration between blacks and whites to make music that people everywhere enjoyed. It was completely the opposite from what the apartheid regime said, which is that one group of people were inferior. Here, there were no inferiors or superiors, just an acknowledgement of everybody’s work as a musician. It was a powerful statement. block quote level 1block quote level 1

Graceland transcended racial and cultural barriers. ” Graceland was never just a collection of songs, after all; it was a bridge between cultures, genres and continents, not to mention a global launching pad for the musicians whose popularity been suppressed under South Africa’s white-run apartheid rule,” said Andrew Leahey of
American Song Writer.

Standard
Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Song Lyric Sunday, Spotlight Sunday

Release The Hounds, #DoTheBartMan #TheSimpsons #SongLyricSunday

When I was a kid, I thought

SIMPSONS SING THE BLUES

was the coolest thing around.

This was back in the early nineties when the show was in its infancy and had its best years ahead of it. So much fun and laughter to come. I couldn’t possibly imagine.

Contrasting, Blues and comedy.

So many memories, moments of sibling enjoyment of this family and the jokes, from their family to my own. My brother and I were big fans. My brother and sister and I still quote the show to this day, to the total befuddlement of many.

Back during a time when I had my own child’s experience of feeling blue, which would grow and change as I myself would grow.

I would see what it meant to have the blues, what that would mean for those I loved, but The Simpsons would always be there to provide a laugh when I truly needed it.

Its bright colours were happiness to me, for many years, practically the opposite of the blues for many years, until I could no longer see the television, Homer’s blue pants, Lisa’s red dress, and that iconic couch.

So, for this week’s

Song Lyric Sunday,

I wanted to share my favourite Blues album here, rather than only one song. I really am not up on my blues.

VeYbAG6.jpg

I thought maybe nobody else would think to post this.

Standard
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Feminism, Kerry's Causes, RIP, Special Occasions, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, This Day In Literature, TToT

TToT: Wave Form Audio – Drop and Drag, #10Thankful #RoaldDahl100

“Don’t analyze. Don’t analyze. Don’t go that way. Don’t live that way. That would paralyze your evolution.”

Analyze – The Cranberries

I love autumn and am glad when the days cool off from oppressive summer heat waves. Lots of waves. Waves at the beach this past summer. Waves of fear that I am making wrong choices or not making choices out of fear to begin with. There are audio waves too, I’m learning. Letting that wash over me.

September has arrived and I feel a lot of pressure. I feel tense a lot. I feel the turmoil going on everywhere around me, in this giant and complex world. I try to find my place in it. I try to not allow things I have no control over to drive me to even more stress and distraction. Such anxieties are common, universal, and I can get through and keep moving forward.

And so, here I am, I will try not to analyze everything and I am more thankful than ever.

I am thankful for the perfect title for an essay I’m working on.

It was provided by one of my brother’s friends on Facebook.

I know. I know. I need to finish writing the entire essay, but I get inspiration and a direction to my essays if I have the right title to begin with.

This one is just so perfect, so fitting, and then I took his idea and I ran with it.

I am thankful I have started to learn a new song on my violin. It’s a special one, something I’m learning for someone special who’s on the way, before we know it.

This required I start playing a new string, the D string. Up until now I was only playing on half of my strings, E and A, but now I need to learn to move my fingers over just a little more and to hold my bow on a slightly differing angle.

I am thankful to have such a smart niece, one who seems wiser than her nearly six years on this planet and who knows how and when to ask the right questions.

Okay, so she may have done that thing where you answer a question with another question, but when you have something important to ask, I say go for it.

I am thankful that we got the second episode of our podcast all done and recorded.

All we need to do now is a little bit of editing. We were aiming to keep Ketchup On Pancakes at sixty minutes, which episode one just magically seemed to be. This one’s looking more like seventy minutes, but we think we can cut it down a bit more before we release it.

We just need to research more about podcast platforms and how it all works.

I’m thankful, especially, that we got one segment in particular completed.

We decided to read one of the short stories I’d previously written on my blog, as more of a dramatic reading, and you don’t realize how difficult that is until you keep messing up words.

It took about eight or nine takes to get through the small story with the least amount of mistakes throughout. We were both reading from our braille devices and you can actually hear our fingers moving across the dots as they pop up, as we move through the lines. We decided we like that sound in the background.

I am thankful for awareness for pain.

It’s something I don’t talk a lot about on my blog. The stigma and judgments are out there and sometimes I feel like people don’t want to keep hearing about it.

September is Pain Awareness Month and I do believe that anyone living with pain should not have to hide away. I know that must sound contradictory, but I do believe fear of judgment is often what it boils down to.

I am thankful and grateful because I actually have a pretty wonderful support system, where others do not. I do want to bring this silent suffering out into the open.

I have found some things that help and that work to make things bearable, but I thought it worth mentioning at this time.

I am thankful for even more awareness of a different kind.

Whether it’s the awareness of feminist issues or disability awareness, this week I was reminded a lot and heard from those speaking out and up.

Rick Hansen Interview – CBC’s The National

Again, people fight it. They become angry and defensive, on both sides, but if you’ve never experienced something yourself, I would hope there would be compassion and a little understanding for something someone else may have gone through to make them feel they need to say something or do something.

There are some who say they don’t want to identify themselves as feminist. That probably means, once again, they haven’t had many problems with something, be that a woman who has lived a somewhat privileged life and has had no reason to feel the need to fight for something.

I don’t care what you call it. I call it feminism and people freak out. I use the word equality and it’s pointed out that nobody has total equality with everything. I just speak from my unique experiences. I’ve been lucky, but I’ve also felt extremely limited in the world. I am taking steps toward empowerment, but it’s not as easy as it might seem.

I am thankful for a relatively stress free visit to a school for the blind in a city not too far from me.

I did not go there for my education. I went there this week to check out some computer equipment, to see about getting some new technology.

A lot of that is now becoming more accessible with the introduction of Apple products. They don’t require, for the first time, extra software or programs to make things square. It’s all built in.

But there’s still the braille readers and they can be thousands of dollars. Here in Canada, in Ontario where I live, there is a governmental program which helps out with the cost.

I am thankful my nephew made it through his first full week of school.

We ask him if he likes school, if his teacher is nice, and we get mostly “yes” to our questions.

He’s probably wondering why we are so curious. Things are more likely to come out at more random moments, like the rocks from the playground he kept bringing home in his pockets, or the little girls who are likely a few years older than him and who help him with his backpack when it’s time to get off of the bus.

It’s both exciting and anxiety inducing. He’s getting so big. All the children in my life are.

I am thankful for the connection made possible through WhatsApp.

It’s how my friend living over in Ireland sends family back here in Canada photos and videos of her one-year-old daughter.

I am honoured to be added to such an exclusive group. She includes descriptions of the pictures when she sends them so I know what’s going on in them.

Oh, and, Happy Birthday Mr. Dahl, who would’ve turned 100 this week.

My grandfather Roald Dahl, the magician

This article written by his granddaughter in The Guardian made me miss my own grandfather, who never published a book, but who was a magical storyteller himself.

“I will not pretend I wasn’t petrified. I was. But mixed in with the awful fear was a glorious feeling of excitement. Most of the really exciting things we do in our lives scare us to death. They wouldn’t be exciting if they didn’t.” So says the boy hero of Danny, the champion of the world.

Standard
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Interviews, Kerry's Causes, Spotlight Saturday, The Insightful Wanderer

Physical Place and Emotional Space, #SoCS #1000Speak

Whilst I complain sometimes that this new Facebook feature, going live, seems to slow down the voice program on my phone. On a day like today however, I see its benefits.

I am currently listening to a Facebook Live session from a nearby museum. Or is it at the theatre? in a town, not too far from me, but which I am not at this time.

I’d gone to this museum several times, the last few summers, for

Shakespeare’s First Folio.

I’ve gone for exhibits and talks about the world wars,

World War I,

and World War II as well.

But now I am listening to a panel of refugees. They are speaking about the countries they come from, how those places influenced them, and how being in Canada has allowed them to speak from a position of peace and yet with the right amount of noise and outrage for some of the human rights violations that go on every day, back in history into today.

Note: I mostly place *** ahead of any or all things said by the members on the panel, in place of actual quotes for things they said, things I heard, and the mashup in between. I hope I can make clear what are my thoughts and what are those experiences of the three experts I just listened to.

This post happened in the moment, but I realize it could serve as a post for any of the following:

Stream of Consciousness Saturday,

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion,

or even the Ten Things of Thankful post I write every weekend.

This was very much a stream of consciousness sort of post, as I was technically taking notes as I listened, but I wanted to go ahead and share them, plus my impressions and thoughts as I listened.

I didn’t realize this panel was taking place today, but I have access to Facebook and can listen in still. I feel deeply for anyone who has had to live through wars and governmental, religious, cultural upheaval.

This topic of refugees, “topic” sounds like a strange word for it, but I just don’t know, though words come easily in most cases. Not always, not here and now though.

This speaker came with his parents, exiled from Iran, at the age of nine. He lost loved ones, family and friends, back in Iran, to executions. Stuff I hear about in the news all the time, can’t fathom, and brush past the headlines to preserve my sanity. This is tough tough stuff. I feel helpless. I write so I have my own voice. I know I am lucky to have that.

My heart hurts. Those forced to leave their homes to survive and to save their families from further danger. He says we in North America are somewhat uncomfortable with pain and suffering. Struggling, he says.

***an empty shell, suffering. To have that fire, you reach a point where you have no choice.”

He speaks of what is beautiful and inspiring. He’s seen crimes against humanity. He felt such a sense of helplessness as a child. Lost his uncle to torture. He saw horrifying images. He learned his instinct for wanting to end injustice.

***It’s not abstract. It cuts you open like a knife.

He went, fresh out of law school.

After World War II, Cold War, the forming of the UN.

Criminal tribunal. I know little about these things. He teaches me and all who listen.

That line, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. That’s life for the world. Always.

I wish everyone could hear this man speak, all these speakers.

Humbling. He comes across that way. Futility, enormity. No [punishment is ever enough.

He refers to Nazi punishment at Nuremberg. I saw the movie., My father watched. The lawyers being there. I can’t imagine actually being there, attempting, given that responsibility to give punishment for unthinkable acts. Evil is the word that comes immediately to my mind, but they were all humans too. All of them.

I have the best life here in Canada. Circumstance. Fate. Luck. Whatever you want to call it. We don’t get to choose where and when we are born into this world. Personal past and the wrongs that are done. I see roadblocks. I see them clear. I see people knocking down roadblocks of all kinds. I have knocked down my share, but there are always more, more more.

Others do it. Grace. Genuine humility. Selflessness amongst the selfish world.

Life isn’t always the greatest for all humanity.

This FacebookLive thing isn’t bad at all.

***Living inside the fray vs living outside of it.

This woman has a platform to speak about what happens, good and bad, in her country of Kenya. Violations of treaties. Abuse of women and children. Discriminations. She speaks in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. Her words are powerful in their truth. She wants her country to be equal in its society, eliminating fear, from her position here in Canada. These countries need to learn from each other.

Easy to be full of ideals. Getting into life and reality can shock. True meaning and purpose. This man teaches younger generations, from his experiences. Education.

***Emotion as a form of cognition. Privilege over intimacy. Intellectual rigour. If you don’t understand the reality. you will never have passion to use your ability to go and make a difference.

***Exploit. Own moral virtue. General empathy. Fruits of sorrow. Some do work others arrive for harvest. glamorization of human rights. Profound human experience. Account of suffering. Platitudes. Feel good activism. Idealism is about struggle and being wounded and continuing. Emptied ourselves of that understanding. To separate theory from practice.

Nelson Mandela comes up. Imprisoned for years:

“Sometimes I miss it. I got a lot of reading done.”

Spirit. Upside of suffering. Inspiring each other. Draw on that courage.

Kosovo. Bombings. Refugee crisis happened there too.

Orphanages and institutions all around the world with kids in need of a home and someone to love them. Earlier I watched videos about J.K. Rowling’s foundation,

LUMOS,

a spell to produce light from Harry Potter,

from which I named my cat.

I hope Canada can do our part. We are not innocent. We’ve caused suffering. I don’t know the half of it even.

How to help those who must flee is not a new question. I have no real answers. I write. Stream of consciousness, I use stream of consciousness to relieve some of the pressure.

***Silver lining inside dark clouds. Circumstances, didn’t kill them, made them stronger.

World at large scares me. Gives me hope yet still too. Flip flop. Flip flop.

Prominent human rights lawyers. Doing what they can. All my stereotypes of what a lawyer does and I can’t deny their knowledge and wisdom and influence.

Speaking on certain world leaders. Not an easy job, but so often filled with self interest. Naive and idealistic. It always comes back to that for many of us.

***Cynical short sided policies.

He’s bemused. Good word.

Corruption. Complicity. The west. Middle East. ISIS. His idealism is tempered by realism. The global village is a mess reality but is a reality.

He wanted simple corporate life, just before September 11th, in New York.

He speaks of it so soon after last week’s anniversary.

Policy makers. Theories. Clash of civilization.

***Complex diverse fabric. Took preparation to tear that apart.

Middle East politics. I know nothing about this.

Human rights. Rule of law.

***Refugees are the symptom. Not the cause.

HE says. I just I just…

***Ceasefire. Multi laterally.

Talk over my head. I feel like a child who does not comprehend such things. Of course, I comprehend, I do, I think, even if I do not understand.

I hope Justin Trudeau can do something. Is that possible? The EU. So much to keep up with and my head hurts. Meditation. My best option?

Governments need to work together, like we demand from children, siblings, at school. Leadership and resolve.

Compassion post? Where do we learn empathy and compassion from? How do some not learn it, or unlearn it later?

I believe I’ve learned that from my family and from my disability. You see things differently, or else blindness should force you to do so.

Africa feels so far away to me. The world, so large, west, east, north, south.

She’s proud to say she is Canadian now. We are proud to have her here. Her home is always on her mind. You can hear it in her earnest words and tone.

***Political will.

Hmm.

***Willing but their hands were tired. problems. Take care of their own, rather than others that come.

Hmm.

Camps. Refugee camps. Camps are the word I, here in Canada, feel most uncomfortable about. They are all there is for so many though.

I’ve heard from those in literature. From these activists and civil servants.

Those last ones look forward to the day when they are unemployed. Will that day ever come?

They can not be everywhere all the time. Nobody has that power.

Mass migration and mass movements. Here in Canada we can’t nor should we avoid thinking about it, facing its undeniablility.

We are apart of this world. How do we treat indigenous people here, mirrors how we do for others around the world.

He visits prisons in Iraq. Unsuccessful suicide bombers. Young young men. HE speaks to them. Eighteen and Syrian. Must kill enemies. Then he speaks of the violence he has seen and misses his mommy, his village, wanted to go to medical school. Understanding from an intimate position. How recruitment occurs. Highly corrupt. Religious extremism. We are, all of us, susceptible. We can’t run from this. We are all interdependent.

***Hold our leaders accountable. Resume responsibility. Assume it. Do our share. Impossible for a few to clean up any mess.

A lot of blaming of journalists. Media looks at one problem. Pay attention. Feel powerless. Then what?

How to get beyond colour, I am colour blind. This does not solve it entirely of course.

Robert Kennedy. Fifty years ago. Before my time.

Female genital mutilation. Gender based violence. We feel like we need to pick an issue. These are real, live human beings, silence no more.

Teachers teach and then those students go on to teach children.

I am here in the virtual audience. Big big biggest questions, heavy with importance.

Silly thought, but like my still growing in-box, I fall behind. We have fallen behind.

Justice isn’t always so easy. I watch a documentary on Netflix about the idea of Hitler escaping, and I wonder. What if he had? Conspiracy theories linger, nonsensically.

Ethnic. Ethic. How to obtain sustainable peace? Long term?

***Spectacle of ISIS.

Regimes. Atrocities. Don’t make it to social media. Refugees flee from government. ISIS is the word most people see and hear. Undoubtedly it is all causing such strife.

***Dabbling in feminism. Iran calls it. Complex transition. Authoritarian. Fundamentalist. Leaderships. Repress. Youth want democracy. What kind of a coward is afraid of a feminist?

No kidding. Time isn’t often on their side.

Our leaders, those in positions of power, they do abuse that. How do we fix it? My idealism and naiveté showing again.

Korea.

History straight from this speaker, this man, from those things I was not yet born to see.

***Rule of law and rule of force. How to be civilized.

North Korea. People starving. I have no clue.

Nothing makes you feel better. Well, listening to these people helps a little.

Darkness to light, from Korea, north to south.

Those images trouble me no doubt.

Genocide. Rwanda. Hatred. Dehumanizing. Calling human beings cockroaches. How could anyone, no matter who it is? Fifty years after the holocaust.

***In the moments of most tension people fail, their best intentions lost to history.

When we hear the window to prevent escalation of violence is mostly gone by.

This Iranian/Canadian human rights lawyer states any ordinary citizen should never feel we can’t make a difference, do something. Is this true? Can I help somehow?

Then, in Winnipeg, apologies for residential schools. Prime Minister gives this now. Elderly immigrant couple delivering cupcakes. Neighbours. Could barely speak English but they brought “transcendent humanity” to their indigenous neighbours.

“all that it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing.”

I must check this Facebook page more often.

Stratford Festival

There is good being done everywhere. I need only seek it out.

Standard
Uncategorized

Submitting is Not a Dartboard

Rejection is my biggest teacher.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

41yKT5rcMQL.jpg

Allison Williams, Brevity‘s globe-trotting social media editor, writes often for this blog on issues of dedication, endurance, and inspiration for writers. Some of those blog posts, along with plenty of new material, have been assembled into Williams’ first book,Get Published in Literary Magazines: The Indispensable Guide to Preparing, Submitting and Writing Better. Brevity Editor Dinty W. Moore recently asked Allison a few questions:
__

Dinty:  There is so much advice for new writers out there. What are you hoping your book will accomplish?

Allison: I want to reposition the submissions process as a matter of great diligence and skill with a dash of luck and timing, rather than the other way around.

Even for writers with a publication record, submitting is scary—we’re all terrified we’re sending to a magazine that’s actually way out of our league, and we all worry that our ego is telling us…

View original post 906 more words

Standard