Oh my. It seems to have been another long while since I updated the website. I still blame the PhD, although I’ve added some teaching responsibilities as well, so in fairness, it is, perhaps, the combination. You will, I hope, be pleased to note that I have not been so remiss in my book writing. Pairs & Artichoke Hearts is nearing completion and I expect to begin marketing it to publishers by the spring. If you want to read more about it, please go to the Works in Progress page, and my entry into The Next Big Thing!
In spite of the favourable tone of last fall’s post, I’ve reverted. I’m still working on the apartment, and hope to get back to working on it more seriously over the winter holidays. And I’ve returned to my cave; I’m only venturing out when necessary. Looking forward to a long and productive hibernation as winter’s chill sets in. On a brighter note, I’ve returned to cooking, creating vast quantities of hearty soups and chili to stave off the cold. Even on nights when I don’t feel like cooking, I can go to the freezer and heat up a homemade meal, which is always pleasant (not to mention considerably less expensive and healthier than ordering take-out).
Life was moving along quite smoothly, and I was making excellent progress on my dissertation—right up until the rental car I was driving back from the cottage got T-boned by a cab in early September. I’m okay, but still on the mend, with the assistance of many alternative healthcare practitioners, lots of sleep, and gentle downtime. The cats, who were also in the car, were fine and recovered much more quickly than I have. This is an event I could have done very nicely without, an event which has caused considerable internal stir, not only physically, but also psychically. The police concurred that the accident was entirely the fault of the other driver, and yet I’m the one who suffered injury, and is still recovering more than three months later. The notion that I could be doing everything right, or at least nothing wrong, when the universe whaps me upside the head for no apparent reason, is very disconcerting.
Then events unfolded in Newtown, Connecticut these last few days. While this is one more in a long line of such tragedies, this particular one has affected me more than most, I think because it involves young children. They weren’t doing anything wrong either, and yet now they’re dead or traumatized. I know I’m looking for logic where none exists. My heart goes out to all those involved, the living and the dead. But yes, this rightly brings up the question of “the right to keep and bear arms,” the second amendment of the American Constitution, adopted, I would add, in 1791. I suspect that the gentlemen who saw to its passing would shudder at some of the ways it’s been twisted over time, as well as the “improvement” in killing power of today’s weapons over the single shot rifles they were thinking about. My mother grew up in a pioneering family towards the end of the pioneering era in the Canadian outback in the early 1900s. My grandfather had rifles; they were kept in a locked cabinet and were used to hunt food or euthanize injured or rabid animals. These are not problems most of us encounter in our comfy urban settings. In the US, to a lesser degree in Canada, and to a greater degree in some other countries, we have turned such weapons on each other. The statistics support that countries with fewer guns have many fewer firearms casualties. In spite of this, when mass shootings happen in the US, people buy even more guns. Where is this heading? Are people going to pack little Billy and Sally off to school with their respective Spiderman and Barbie lunchboxes, along with their flak jackets and handguns? Maybe a .22, something small enough for a child to handle, in black for him and pink for her? Maybe more guns isn’t the answer; maybe a more compassionate society that actually listens to the needs of its children, especially its young men and boys who are statistically more likely to respond with violence. The individual responsible for the devastating carnage in Newtown used his mother’s legally obtained and licensed assault rifle and handguns that she had purchased for self-defense. Seriously? The population of Newtown is about 27,000 and by all reports, it was a peaceable place to live and raise a family. If Americans living in such postcard perfect small towns feel so paranoid that they need military weapons in their homes, then the terrorists won a long time ago.
Maybe it’s just my perception, but it seems that all around the world, people have dug in on opposing sides and there’s no room for the middle path, no room for negotiation. I see this around the question of gun control versus the right to bear arms, but I also see it in the widening gap between rich and poor, between capitalists and environmentalists, and among fundamentalists of every stripe. It seems that if you’re not dug in on one side or the other, then you’re a victim, and no one wants to be a victim. I’m not sure when we became so ardently polarized. But it scares me and makes me very uneasy about the future.
Enough. The holidays are almost upon us. I’m done for the term. I need a break. I’m taking the train to an overnight getaway in Niagara Falls. En route, I’m stopping in St Catharine’s to visit two exhibits of work by Dennis Tourbin, my late friend and creative mentor. I’ve never seen the Falls in winter or at night, so I’m looking forward to that strange magic, in conjunction with all the kitschiness that is downtown Niagara Falls. I even snagged a Fall’s view room! Looking forward to the opportunity to reset, and hoping to begin the New Year with a new, more positive, outlook as I push towards the completion of a couple of major projects in 2013. Best wishes to all for a happy, healthy, and peaceful New Year.
© Catherine Jenkins 2012