I have been quite busy in the last couple of weeks, the happenings of which have encroached into my brainspace in a way that has made it difficult to separate and write anything of length. Not reading reflections nor secret poems, not essay starts or even long-winded comments. Not even anything. I find myself with insomnia, dreaming about strange new career paths and what my root fear of leaving my government job might be (besides the whole not being able to pay the mortgage aspect). I can’t read with the focused intent required for taking in course material while commuting by morning bus. It’s just one of those times. But one which should be up soon!

So in lieu of anything complete – here are the scattered thoughts of the week:

1) Our neighbourhood BIA has apparently chosen a new name for our shopping district and will heretofore be known as “The East Village” which seems a bit pretentious given that we are nothing like the East Village in New York, and also that rather than improve over the past three years, our business district has actually got more run-down and boarded up. While there are some absolutely fantastic concerns in our neighbourhood – Donald’s Market, Baad Anna’s, Ugo and Joe’s, Miscellany, the Wheelhouse and Como Market (to name a few) – we are still overly-populated with dollar-stores, betting establishments and cheque-cashing places. We don’t have a hardware store, a bookstore, or even a late-night cafe (Laughing Bean is lovely but closes at 7) – and because of the proposed London Drugs development, a whole block is empty at the moment and will likely remain that way for some time to come. But perhaps the biggest problem that we face is that Hastings Street runs right through our commercial strip – which is like having a highway in your market district. I’m not sure if these problems can be addressed over time – but it’s not very East Village like at the moment.

2) I think we need a Home Hardware at the corner of Hastings and Nanaimo, where the discount store just moved out of. I would so prefer being able to walk to purchase my small hardware supplies rather than driving to the closest Rona.

3) This nasty blogger Andrew Breitbart died the day before yesterday of apparent heart failure. Apparently a man of hatred and vitriol with an insecurity complex a mile wide – I can’t help but note that in every photo he looks aged beyond his years. He was 43 when he died – but judging from this photo he looks to be in his middle fifties. Perhaps that’s what carrying around a lot of amped up negative emotion does to you. In any case, I’m not at all sorry that he’s gone.

4) Brian and I finished reading the last book in the Wicked Years series last night – or rather I should say that I finished reading it to him. At almost six hundred pages, this was a two-month affair – and finishing it seems like an accomplishment in not just reading, but intimacy. This reading together, which we have been doing now for almost two years, is one of my favourite aspects of our relationship and just one more way that we maintain closeness to one another. Sometimes it’s only 15 minutes a night, sometimes we read longer – but whatever the length and content, we always feel closer because of it. Entering a fictional world together, moving in the same pace and inflection, and finally finishing a read at the same time – all of these things help to remove us from our everyday worries and into some world out of time.

5) In a class discussion this week, one of my classmates asked of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, “Why does Woolf write this way? Why can’t she write some other way? Isn’t this an elitist way of writing?” which – bless him for his honest reaction – strikes me as a gendered response. I have never heard anyone suggest that Joyce should write differently, even among those who hate him. And of all the “elitist” writers we are encountering in grad school, why pick on Woolf because she writes in lyrical prose? I mean, I get that some of the reading is difficult, but this line of inquiry really made me wonder if some people still give women short shrift when it comes to taking them as seriously as men. An example I used with one of my classmates afterwards was Margaret Atwood – one of Canada’s literary greats – and yet still when her name comes up I hear people kvetching about Surfacing or The Edible Woman which were her early novels, written in the sixties. Do we do that for male writers also? Hold them to something they wrote forty years ago as if this is their whole problem? Or do we have an active disdain for women – particularly feminist writers? How does this manifest?

6) And also – this is totally amazing:

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