I think about language as I sit in the quiet room of my local library on certain Wednesday nights. I am trying to come up with a bit of story to read out loud at the end of my writing group and I want to use the right sort of words and sentences.
Anne Rice is one who believes in adverbs, even though many so-called writing pros condemn the use of them. Ugh!
How am I supposed to know what is the right way to go?
I’m just glad I’ve managed/mastered the English language this far, when I wish I’d focused harder and done better at learning French when I was in school. I am proud that Canada is a multi-language nation and it can only serve as a benefit.
My family doesn’t all speak Polish or German. I wish we did. My father’s parents didn’t teach him their native European languages, by speaking them at home when he was young. I think they were so focused on learning English, as still fairly new to North America, that they couldn’t be bothered. I hope they didn’t feel any sort of shame surrounding the speak of their birth countries, being recent immigrants to Canada.
My mom learned German, as my grandparents always spoke it, but a certain dialect of the language. My grandpa used to tell me stories of how he didn’t even speak English before going to school. It was always German in his home as a child.
My mom speaks some and understands it. This allows her to speak to my uncle who visits from Germany every few years.
I was recently blown away by the beauty and rhythm of Spanish, as I prepared to travel to Mexico. I tried, for months, to learn some so I wouldn’t be totally lost when I went down there. By the end of my week, I’d gotten better at recognizing what was being said around me, but I would have needed many more weeks there to be able to speak any with much confidence.
Language is hard. It is one of those things that gets harder and harder to learn as you age. I am so set on learning to play the violin, at age 33, that I can’t possibly fit in learning any other language on top of that.
This song is the feeling I felt when the bright Mexican sunshine was full on my face while I sat writing up on my balcony, overlooking my small bit of the city of San Miguel de Allende. It was hard work, the writing part, but I couldn’t have asked to be doing it anywhere better.
I felt alive. This is my first thankful. I could write many more.
I am thankful that I got to discover a spot I never would have known of before. San Miguel de Allende is an interesting place and it is just one of many in such a spectacular country of Mexico, so unknown and unfamiliar to me, such a short time ago, So much more to learn about and explore, I can tell. I just barely scratched the surface.
It isn’t a resort. It isn’t on the ocean, but I admit, logically or not, my heart skipped a beat at the thought that I was closer to blue/grey whales at that moment in time, than I’d been in a long time.
My ears popped going through mountainous terrain to get to the city, but boy was I pleased when I stepped out of that shuttle and onto that uneven sidewalk and a whole new door was opened to me, both literally and figuratively. I will never, as long as I live, forget that moment.
I am thankful for the villa we had our writing workshop in and where I got to call my lodgings for the week.
I soon learned my way around, from my room to the kitchen and meeting area and to the lovely outdoor spot. I didn’t realize the way some houses are constructed in Mexico, was totally not expecting it, but was pleasantly surprised by the indoor/outdoor set-up.
I loved my room and its cool interior and the open balcony just a step out my doors.
I am thankful for my sunny writing spot, a day bed set up outside, by the railing. I would go there to write and to listen to the sounds of San Miguel, just outside of the wall of the villa.
I am thankful for the levels of emotion I went to with my writing during the week.
I didn’t expect it to get quite so emotional. It seemed like that for everyone in the class. We all dug deep and we shared a lot in one, much too short week.
I am thankful for the garden area of the villa and the peace and tranquility I found there.
There were so many plants and nature was there, right at my fingertips, in the middle of the city of SMA.
I am thankful for soundscapes.
We had to record somewhere in San Miguel and try and write from it. This was, perhaps, not so difficult for me as for some in the group, but I found a way to make it my own. A lot came from it.
I am thankful for special and unexpected experiences while traveling.
I was serenaded by some mariachis. It was uncomfortable for me, all that attention focused in my direction, but I recognize the special experience for what it was.
I am thankful for the chance to meet my writing mentor in person.
She made it possible that I even knew of San Miguel and she gave me some added strength and determination to try traveling by myself for the first time. She offered just the right incentive and I was determined to make it happen.
She took so much time out of her life and planned for me to be as safe as possible and to have the most enriching time imaginable.
She took me out in San Miguel one night and we had a lovely dinner, talking about Mexico, travel, writing, and so much more. She gave me her time and her knowledge, having been where I have not yet found myself.
She directed me safely, letting me figure things out for myself, with my own heart, mind and white cane. She was thoughtful in her descriptions, all from her creative writer’s mind. She spent time with me, more than she needed to, and showed me so many things I may have otherwise missed out on, with all the visual elements of travel and exploring new places.
I am thankful for so many things and I could keep listing them, but I am determined to write separate, individualized pieces about all the magical moments of my trip, including the amazing people I met and what they did for me, how they affected my life, in so many ways.
I am thankful for glimpses of the culture, architecture and religious beliefs of Mexico.
I am thankful, too, for the unforeseen spiritual awakening I had, in an unexpected place of vitality and passion. It was like nothing I’ve ever felt before.
I am thankful for our day out, visiting makers. My writing mentor set out to show her class of writers that we too make something of value, even if it can’t be seen in as big a way or touched, like a statue or a piece of art.
I am thankful for the guide I had on our day out.
She spoke no English and I no Spanish, or very little if any. This presented a problem. But she was there, with a gentle, guiding hand and just in case, and we both got so much out of it through the silence, I can’t even express. I will never forget her and I will write about the way she affected my life too.
I am thankful for the wisdom and the inspiration and reassurances for the kind of life I can have in the years to come and for the truly fascinating stories I heard. I am thankful for a pizza night full of lively conversation and the best sharer of the villa I could have asked for. I am thankful for the radiant love freely given and the stories and the camaraderie of all. I am thankful for fruitful partnerships which fostered positive discussions I will never forget. I am thankful for those willing to listen. I am thankful for the laughs and the insightful talks and the likeminded writing companionship. I am thankful for steady arms on unfamiliar surfaces and much patient assistance with pesos and with my sparse Spanish. I am thankful for roof-top views, shared margaritas, and the invites to travel again, with new friends, in future.
I had to write about my thankfuls, but I am still processing so much of this. I am told I will have many more meaningful experiences like my week in Mexico and that more is to come, that this is the beginning of something and not the beginning and end of just one week. I hope this is true, but I will never forget this one as, in so many ways, my first, so many firsts.
I am thankful for all the help I had to travel alone and for the angel that watched over me while I went, as I was told by a kind and talented man.
I am thankful for all the food our mentor and leader of the class put out (including fruit, chocolate, tea/coffee/water) because she said she believed it helped inspire loads of creativity and the ladies who cooked for us and the flowers everywhere. The perfect environment for writing and creativity and all that needed inspiration.
I am thankful for what I came away with, the writing I did. I am working on it some more yet, but hope to publish my story at some point.
I am thankful for the last night, with the thematic musical entertainment, the fact that I vowed to try new things and ended my week of that by eating crickets, and for all the brilliant writing shared by everyone in the class. I am thankful for the support I received for my piece upon reading it aloud.
I am thankful for my family’s support, even though I know how hard it was, at times, for some of them more than others. I would be nowhere near where I am now if it weren’t for them.
I am thankful for the confidence I felt and, even more so, for the fear that persisted and fuelled me. It’s still feeling me.
I am thankful for the reaction from my cat and my dog upon arriving home. My cat made a long mewing sound like I’ve never heard. He sounded excited, to me anyway.
I’m not sure what good it will do in the concrete ways that matter, but I am thankful for all the protests I’ve seen happening against the cruelty, ignorance, and arrogance in the US government, especially these last few weeks since I was away.
Those judges and lawyers working to fight against such unfair actions taken without any care to those hurting. Those fighting are likely putting their butts on the line, some maybe even risking more than we realize at this given moment.
Canada is nowhere near perfect, not hardly, but I am thankful for the total difference in feeling I notice here. I love a lot of Americans, some I’ve met oh so recently, but the country as a whole makes me very uncomfortable now, feeling vulnerable, but it’s clearly the government I have a problem with. I hope this changes one day. May seen as though I’m generalizing here, but believe me, I wish I hadn’t felt that when traveling back through the US.
Just put yourself in the place of someone coming to a new country because you feel in danger in your own.
How can you not help but try to understand what that must feel like? How can any of us avoid that, just because it’s an uncomfortable thought?
I can’t imagine having to leave my home, the only place I’ve known, so I am thankful to be back in my home of Canada. May it always be a place of peace, even when threatened by hate like the rest of the world finds itself, more and more.
There is so much happening, in my world and in the world at large. I am just trying to survive the helplessness of it all, and the best thing I can think of is to write through it all, through all the pain and the confusion and the uncertainties. This must include self care, right along with care for and of other people and our planet.
This taking new chances to hopefully produce new and eye-opening perspectives is about all I can think to do to appreciate life. Things can be hard, are rough, for a lot of people. I say, take a leap and step off that ledge, metaphorically of course, or use your best judgment. Just do something.
I want to share more photos, but those can be a bit tricky for me. I asked for them, for the record of preservation, to show my family. I can’t quite keep them straight, never knowing if what I include and think is really what it is. I will do another post, once I get that straight. Most of them were posted on Facebook, but I never want to share without credit or explanation.
Instead of a New Year’s resolution, it has been my question/statement to myself about 2017 and my own determination to make my life what I’d like it to be.
Well, I’m back. I made it. First, to start with how mind blowing Mexico was, but more about that later. I have a lot to say on it, as a writer, still trying to process.
About the part that scared me silly though, traveling by myself:
It isn’t easy to have to wait to be taken from counter to counter, gate to gate, plane to plane. There are some advantages. It can be nice having someone push you around, along with your luggage, but I particularly liked the one transportation vehicle they used, specifically in the Detroit Airport. I liked that one. The two guys who took me, from the first to the last, they were friendly and pleasant.
You are first on the airplane (early boring) and last off. Different flight attendants and others likely know different things about how to help someone who is blind. Some are more hospitable than others. Sometimes I felt ignored and sometimes I felt well taken care of.
I honestly have to say I liked Dallas Airport the least. I didn’t realize how big it is there. The porters are different. Some easier to communicate with than others. It was a far distance to go, on my way there, and luckily I had a few hours because I was left at a gate, which changed. I sat there and suddenly heard them announcing a different flight than the one I knew I was there for. This was when I decided to speak up and get some help. Thankfully, another porter with a wheelchair was called and I was taken to the correct place. Unfortunately, then there was a problem with the plane and I sat there for more than an hour, nearly two. I was afraid I would miss the opening night festivities in Mexico, at my workshop. I didn’t.
I am writing about this, even with all the array of wonderful things I could be writing about my week in Mexico, because I feel there is a need to explain what it is like to travel when you have a disability. I doubt people realize.
The last time I flew anywhere I had a hand to hold tightly when my anxiety of lifting off the ground and into the air got too much. I felt kind of alone on my journey there this time, with no hand to hold, but I realized I needed to experience that. I needed to sit and be okay with being alone, right where I was, doing exactly what it was I was doing there.
I had all these images in my mind of all the strange and wonderful souls I would meet while traveling, in airports and such. I met hardly any on my trip to Mexico. That’s okay. I was on my own journey.
I met a lovely porter to start off my traveling, in Detroit. He told me his name and asked me about where I was going and what for. I told him of my fears of traveling by myself and he assured me it would all work out. He was right.
He got me a bottle of water and brought me safely to my gate. He made sure to park my luxury vehicle right next to the desk at the gate, so the people wouldn’t miss me there.
I tell you, you hear a lot of behind the scenes drama and things when you sit in that spot. Interesting.
So, I was the only one in my row on the first flight (Detroit to Dallas). It was an experience anyway. Behind my row there was a young woman, traveling from visiting her boyfriend, and the older woman beside her took an instant liking to her. The two of them then went on to talk the entire flight. The older asking the younger about her plans and her dreams. I secretly wanted that sort of experience from traveling. Would I make any connection like that? Did people resist approaching me? And did I shrink back from reaching out to anyone either?
It was still all so overwhelming, this traveling by myself. I was on constant alert, fearing I would end up lost or misplaced. I didn’t dare listen to my music or be distracted in any way. I was depending on other people for my very safe arrival, but how much of it all could I take on myself, to take my own power back?
I had help to find the check in desk at the airport in Mexico for my trip home, from the shuttle driver. He took my hand and brought me to them. I was so flustered I forgot to tip him. I felt so bad when I realized. I didn’t want to be so wrapped up in myself and my own worries that I did that sort of thing. I wish I could repay him somehow.
The porter they called to take me spoke no English and she asked if I could speak Spanish. At least, that much I could understand she said. I told her no and that one of the only words in Spanish I know was the one for water. Thanks to my niece who learned it from her Spanish speaking babysitter.
She had to go help someone else and found a woman who spoke English to stay with me. The woman then proceeded to tell me all about her life until I heard a familiar voice.
It was one of the women from the workshop. I could tell it was her, first, by the clunking sound of her shoes. She could keep me company, but the English speaking lady had to go. Still, you meet some interesting people when traveling.
I felt, at times, like the girl from the workshop was having to help me with my stuff, not relax while waiting for her flight, but that is all on me to not look at things life like that so much.
The porter returned and we went to our gate. She took me to the chairs while the girl from the workshop went into a special lounge for those with special bonuses from the airline. The porter then left me in the wheelchair. It probably seemed easier for her, in her mind, but I didn’t want to have to sit in it while waiting an hour or so for the flight. When the girl from workshop came back she agreed and we found two seats. This still required dealing with the wheelchair and my luggage, along with her things. She brought me a yogurt drink from that special lounge. It tasted so good in that moment.
We spoke a little and she helped me to the bathroom. We had to manage our luggage because leaving it unattended would not be a good idea.
My biggest concern, other than being left somewhere, was the bathroom situation. Anyone can find a bathroom in an airport if they need it. For me, I would have to depend on whichever porter I happen to be with if I needed to go. Many of those were men who hardly spoke English themselves. Not the best of situations, but best there was. Otherwise, I would be on my own and would have to find someone, a stranger or airport employee walking by, to help and show me where a bathroom was. Not fun.
I sat in my row, on my way home, and looked at a Mexico I could not see, through my oval airplane window. Suddenly, amongst the dozing I did and the boredom of sitting there in a row with a guy and girl I didn’t speak to, the familiar voice suddenly said my name, handing me a bag of warm mixed nuts. More perks from first class. That was the last I saw of her. I was truly on my own again.
The airport in Dallas was chaos. They had only one porter when I got off the plane and there was also a man in a wheelchair who needed assistance. His wife ended up guiding me, helping me with my luggage, while we followed the one porter and the husband through the lines and crowds. She did not have to do that, but she did. They were both very kind.
I suddenly heard protesting to my left. I couldn’t make out all they said, something about the US, no Trump, and no KKK.
It was a bit nerve racking as I followed the woman and her husband through customs and I forgot about the bottle of water in my bag still, from the girl from the workshop. I wish they didn’t have to take it from me. Silly regulations. I even got patted down at the airport in Mexico, by a girl who had to try to ask if it was okay first, but did not speak any English. Now I was having my bag inspected. Oh the joys of airline travel.
Finally we found our correct gates and the porter left me at mine. I thanked the mysterious couple, the ones who asked me about my time in San Miguel and told me about the house they rent there, and I sat and hoped for the best.
The people at the desk did their job. A nice lady helped me to the plane. I found my seat and a friendly woman, traveling alone for the first time too, she was feeling anxious and asked me if my folded up white cane was drum sticks. I liked her at once.
The flight went by a lot faster, long long day, with someone to talk to. She asked me about my writing and my blindness and family. I asked her about her five children and the plans they had to move from Detroit to Dallas. Her and her husband had just put an offer on a new house there. I wondered at the differences, the separate lives of so many, including this stranger who took the time to speak to me and I spoke back.
I was afraid, the entire time. I was afraid and still I didn’t want to let that stop me anymore. I did it once and I know I can and will do it again, until I am no longer so afraid. I know even sighted people can be afraid of such things, when traveling alone, when being afraid to fly or confused by flight numbers and gate changes. I know. I know we are all the same somehow while oh so different.
I appreciate all the help I received and all the assistance and the company kept. To all the strangers I will never see again. To the amazing souls I met in Mexico. To my amazing mentor for all she did for me. To my family who supported me. I say thanks. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
“Closing time – one last call for alcohol so finish your whiskey or beer. Closing time – you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.”
I like this song from the nineties. I thought it fit well, it came to mind, as soon as I finished reading, or should I say listening to an audiobook today and here is my review.
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
Ever hear of the saying from my title of this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday post?
Okay, so how many nights are bars and clubs full of people, looking for something, but just what are they looking for in those places?
It’s right up my alley. The topic of love, romance, and relationships and it is all from the hilarious comedic mind and heart of the Parks and Recreation star.
I will admit he wasn’t my favourite character on that show. I was more of a Ron Swanson fan, but since the end of the series I have watched some of his comedy specials. He is about my age and he is just trying to figure out the relationship questions facing many people of our age group.
Many of the topics he first covered on stage and in his jokes and humorous observations are what he put into his new NetFlix series, “Master of None”, a semi autobiographical snapshot (which I am in the middle of watching).
Here they now are in book form. Normally, I like to read books on my own. Occasionally though, the argument can be made to listen, especially when the book is narrated by the author himself. It brings a level of personality and humour that I wouldn’t get if I read it.
It begins with some catchy, smooth, chilling music as he introduces the book. It fits the romantic feeling he wants to bring across, until he can’t help his comedic style and starts yelling and calling us, the listeners lazy for not bothering to read on our own.
I love this book because he discusses a lot of really interesting parts of modern romance in modern times, but he does it with little bursts of his signature sense of humour.
He tackles such topics as social media, online dating, sexting, what he terms the act of being “monogomish”, cheating, and our generation’s give-up attitude, not sticking things out and the fear that, with all the options of a wide open world, that we’re never happy and always wondering if there’s something better out there.
He uses some of his own life experiences in the dating world, focus groups and ReddIt forums, and studies and expert opinions from psychologists, anthropologists, and journalists who study love and relationships.
He even went into a retirement community and asked people from previous generations about love and marriage from their standpoint. One old guy was only there for the free doughnuts, but the rest did offer valuable insights into how they met their partners, when and why they got married, and how they feel their lives turned out.
The only way we can learn is by studying the past and by asking questions of those who have gone before us, but times do change. Okay, so sometimes the more things do change the more they remain the same.
This is both different and similar, as the years pass, but as the clock of our lives ticks on, what will we look back on at the end and regret that we didn’t do or feel?
Aziz and his team of interviewers and experts speak with people in North America, Europe, and Asia.
There are some interesting insights into how monogamy is handled in France when compared to the US. Either one going to extremes.
Women’s options were fewer and roles were measured in different ways years ago. Respect should be timeless and for everyone.
Can love really last?
Of course it can’t, not in the mad and passionate way spoken of in the book and desired by most of us.
His expert scientists share scans and, he points out there are graphs and charts in the book, but that they can’t be translated in the same way when listening to the audio version.
He talks about what I would think is obvious, but is one of the lesser obvious things from what I’ve seen: that new love is exciting and it lights up the brain just like a drug, but that this feeling can’t possibly last, nor should it. If someone chooses to continuously chase that high all their life, rather than accept life’s inevitable ups and downs, well there’s really nothing to be done to convince them that the benefits of finding one person to have as a partner and a companion could ever be more than enough.
I can’t fault social media and technology. My iPhone and the Internet are invaluable to me. Online dating websites have helped me open up and find people I never would have met otherwise. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Can these things make jealousy and deceit easier? Of course they can. Doesn’t mean these things did not exist before them. Shakespeare is proof of that.
In the book he quotes rapper Pitbull and a line in Spanish, translated to say:
“What the eyes don’t see the heart doesn’t feel.”
This is exactly the level of immaturity that exists out there, when people only care about themselves and have no consideration for anyone else.
I recently wrote about having faith, now that we’ve arrived at the Christmas season, that just because something can’t be seen with two eyes, doesn’t mean it isn’t there, happening, or could potentially hurt or harm other people.
Myself and every other blind person could tell you that many times the heart feels things, without having to see with the eyes. This just shows the many and varied beliefs, opinions, and experiences of love and romance.
This book was not a literary classic, but it was an excellent story and well told. You just can’t get the same affect without Ansari’s voice and his acting.
Has he himself found the kind of love that will flow from mad and passionate into a long term respectful companionship? Hard to say for sure, but if you enjoy audiobooks or books on love and relationships, I would recommend Modern Romance.
So, in closing…with one final piece of advice from the book:
He calls it, “acquired likability through repetition”, instead of nothing more than an “option that lives in your device”.
Okay, well it’s all often in the wording. Of course, he is simply referring to the picky way some people look for love, giving up on someone after one date, if they weren’t ready to see fireworks. Smart phones make it much too easy, he points out, to think of someone on the other end, side of a phone screen as one dimensional words in a little speech bubble, instead of a human being with feelings, hopes, and a heart.
What are your thoughts on these topics? Have you heard of monogomish? Do you think love can last? Is there any situation where cheating is acceptable? Are you an Aziz Ansari fan? Have you heard of the song I quote above?