Archive for July, 2011

Summer Visit

My son (right), his brother (middle), and a friend (left) have been visiting Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast the last week. It’s been a beautiful time. Last night: La Bodega and an awe-inspiring, gigantic and beautiful fireworks display over English Bay courtesy of China. Today: Pride Parade and meeting some of my friends, dinner at Vij’s [er, La Bodega, turned out], and then home for something on the new Blue-ray.

Love is a Losing Game

Amy Winehouse

Online Identities

Two of my favourite people, claiming their names:

My friend barefootwriter‘s Google+ profile has been suspended, for “violating Community Standards.” “No specific reason was given,” she writes, “but looking over the list, my hunch is that this action could only be part of the crackdown on the use of pseudonymous profiles on the service.” On her blog, she makes a persuasive case for made-up names in a post called “On Google+ and Pseudonymity.” It’s good reading. I highly recommend her delightful Twitter-feed as well.

In “Living a Lie,” my friend Sarah Jackson explains how she was forced to give up her professional and online identities because she was being stalked. “Police told me to abandon my email addresses and everything else connected with my prior life. I had already changed my phone number and my appearance. Now, they said, I’d need to start using a different name for everything published online. I created the name Elise Gray, and the Twitter handle @journoholic. I was sorry to leave my original username @sarahsodyssey behind — it had accumulated around 650 Twitter followers at the time. I disappeared.” After the stalker found her again, several weeks ago, Sarah took her name back, part of a “Plan B” the police helped her develop, she writes. Follow Sarah on Twitter here.

Multiple Regression

A hopeful student provides me an extended definition on our class blog.


This beautiful note came with a huge platter of chocolate-chip cookies, which sustained me over the 1995 Christmas break at Stanford University. I had been teaching in the Writing and Critical Thinking program and mentoring graduate students in the English and Comparative Literature programs in pedagogy. After the Winter/Spring trimester, it would be seven and a half years before I had my own classroom again, at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, in Canada, eh?

My culinary benefactor, Dena, was a fine student in my “Writing and the Bill of Rights” class. She went on to become a teacher herself. I bet she’s fabulous.

Cy Twombly


Cy Twombly’s “Untitled, 1970”

When I first came upon Cy Twombly’s “Untitled, 1970,” in the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, I froze, then sobbed, then asked myself, aloud, “What is happening here, to me, and over there, on that wall?” I am still at a loss on both counts, muttering elliptical banalities like “visual rhythm” and “epic audacity.” RIP, Cy Twombly: Your house-paint and crayon and canvas continue to charm and elate me.

Below is a photo of the artist, standing next to one of his wonderful “Bolsena” drawings. Here is Claire Daigle’s excellent retrospective on Twombly’s work, written for the Tate Museum’s online site in 2008.

Cy Twombly, Bolsena drawing

Strange Vanity

An unwillingness to welcome feedback or new views makes a person atrophy intellectually and often professionally as well. Arrogance, to me, is therefore a very strange vanity, one having nothing to do with confidence or with professional pride.

The word “arrogance” comes from the verb arrogate, “To take or claim something for oneself without justification.” It is a form of theft, from others … but from oneself, too.

July 4

My second favourite American holiday, after American Thanksgiving.  It’s about being happy and grateful because of where you are lucky enough to live, and about frisbees and cookouts in the local park and fireworks to end the day. It’s about being part of your community. American Thanksgiving is about gratitude as well, to be a part of a family, to have the necessities of life, food on the table, your own or not.

Canadians are less fervent about their holidays than Americans are. This does not surprise me. I still celebrate Independence Day and American Thanksgiving in my heart, though I have been [back] in Canada since 1996. My heart, however, is very happy to be in Canada.