Saturday, April 26, 2008


John Lennon's 'Happy Christmas (War is Over)' is for me a special song, for it sends me back to X-mas 1992. The song was playing as I received a diary as a gift from relatives. I had tried keeping a diary in the past, but nothing had come of it. After a half-hearted start with this one and many, many days between entries, in 1994 I fell into a serious routine of keeping a diary. It is 2008 and I started my 10th diary earlier this month.
The timing was perfect, for I hit adolescence and all its turbulence in the early 1990's, and really needed a place to vent. I'm glad I kept a diary in those years, for now I can look back and smile at all my diatribes and emotional storms. They really are funny and make me shake my head at the person I used to be. After the waterworks and angst-storms of my teenage years, I went to university and recorded my experiences in Religious Studies, which was my major, and other courses needed to get my B.A. There were other storms and events to record, and in the years since those days, my journals have become very useful. My folks ask me when something in our family happened, I usually have some sort of answer for them.
I had my journal near at hand September 11, 2001, and can recall where I was when I watched CNN give its grim report in the morning hours of that day. Each vacation we have taken, be it to do cross-border shopping, to the lake for summer holidays, or to Cancun (our most recent trip), I documented to the best of my ability. On a more personal level, I have watched as my spiritual beliefs have evolved over time thanks to my keeping a consistent journal. I'm a voracious reader and I have kept notes of books that really piqued my curiosity. Someday, should destiny choose me for notoriety, I will have more than enough documentation to write an auto-biography.
There does not appear to be any end in sight, as I have another empty journal waiting in the wings when my 10th one is full. Nor would I want this to end. Keeping a blog is fun but very ephemeral. Keeping a diary is just as much fun, and is also solid and will not disappear like so much html. It's been close to 15 years since I heard 'Happy Christmas (War is Over)' and received the best X-mas gift I could ever get. It's a gift that truly keeps on giving.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Saints preserve us!

Some people have a favourite saint. My favourite happens to be St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of those who despair. Actually, I just like the name Jude, which I first heard in that eternally wonderful Beatles song from 1968 (first 'really' long song I ever heard, but that was all na-na-na's). Anyway, St. Jude also has a little bit toward the end of the New Testament, and I guess it's the subject matter that makes him the patron saint of despairing people. He was writing to comfort and reassure the Christian people who were facing a lot of despair in those days. It's a noble enough goal and it must've done the job. Hey, he got into the Bible, and that's a feat in itself. Of course, being Jesus' cousin did not hurt either. A few of Jesus' cousins got into the Bible as well, either by being mentioned in the Gospels or they had letters of their own in the New Testament.
Anyway, I've done some not-so-serious thinking about saints, especially the ones who are in the Bible. God, to my knowledge, never said to anyone that so-and-so should be a saint. It's been the popes who have canonized and created saints. I have to assume that guys like St. Jude got in because they are in the Bible or have some connection to Jesus - like blood ties, for instance. Jude was also one of the Twelve Apostles, which adds to his supposed holiness. However, in the early 21st Century, there are people working perhaps much harder than Jude ever did to make the world better in the name of the Church and they will probably never be beatified and canonized.
I'm sort of hoping there's an authority somewhere that's reviewing the histories of these saints, especially the ones in the Bible, just to see if they still deserve the title of St. I understand that Pope Paul VI did do some housecleaning back in the day and removed the title from some saints, but I wonder if the saints that are in the Bible should be checked out to see if they still warrant the title. I don't know if St. Jude still warrants the honorific, but I don't think I'm any authority to make such judgments. I'm still waiting for Mother Theresa to be made a saint. It takes the Church a while to make such decisions.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Not to me, but to one of the most wonderful people I know. Mother's Day is not for another month, but my Mom's birthday is tomorrow, and I wanted to celebrate her day before the rest of the family does. My mom was born on Easter Sunday 56 years ago tomorrow. Easter Sunday has not fallen on her birthday since then. She's had her fair share of Friday the 13th's, though. I would not say she's unlucky because of it. She's been married for over 30 years, has two lunatic offspring and a gargantuan old cat, and is enjoying her first year of retirement from life as a registered nurse. Kudos to my mom!
A little history about her. She was born in a small town in Manitoba and lived on the family farm until she was five. She is the second of five living children (and certainly the most sensible of all of them). Her family moved to Winnipeg and she got married in the mid-70's. For any Canadians listening, she attended Expo 67 during a Girl Guides trip. That would've been cool to see. Anyway, at the dawn of the 80's she had her first little lunatic and she and dad moved west. (Apparently, I cried all the way there and all the way back two years later, but enough about me) After a succession of moves back in Winnipeg, my mom and dad settled down long enough to have my bespectacled sister. Then one last move (Halloween 1985, and we haven't moved since) and mom was hard at work in the nursing home until her recent retirement.
My mom's quite a traveller these days. Mexico every February with dad and cross-border shopping with my sister. Since her retirement, she's rediscovered television and likes CSI and Criminal Minds. I would love to see her get back into reading, but that will come when it comes. I cannot imagine what will happen in the future, but I think my mom's going to do really well. No grandchildren yet, but she's said she really doesn't want any right now.
I love my mom for her incredible patience and her sense of humour. May the next 56 years be just as rewarding for her! Bonne fête, ma mère!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

SOC stuff

I talk in stream-of-consciousness all the time, going from point to point effortlessly. Some might say I'm being totally random. I know that people who are not in the loop with all the jumping get confused and frustrated. (Apologies, parents) Anyway, I finished reading "Tristram Shandy & A Sentimental Journey" by Laurence Sterne and was once again boggled by the SOC I encountered in these two books. "A Sentimental Journey" was less stream-of-consciousness than "Tristram Shandy" was, but still boggling all the same. "Tristram Shandy" is a hard book to follow and well-nigh completely plotless. A hundred little side-plots flowing through Shandy's shifting, meandering narrative. There's much more about his father and uncle than about himself in this book. Constant dialogue between these fellows, and it goes so much deeper than a few remarks per scene.
Sterne also has to flesh out just about every back-story he creates, which leaves the reader spinning and gasping for air every now and then. I'm not saying the book is bad. For its time, and even for these days, it's a ground-breaker. People still like a ghost of a plot that they can follow, so I don't know if "Tristram Shandy" would be welcome had it been published these days. Of course, there's also Joyce's "Ulysses" for those seeking a SOC experience. I've read that book, and I know I'll have to read it again, because I was totally lost.
Before I wrap this up, I have one more SOC experience to discuss. In 1968, the Monkees came out with their 'flawed but interesting' movie "Head". Our familiy was enduring a rebirth of Monkeemania in the late 1990's and my sister bought "Head" to see what it was like. Anyone who has seen the movie knows what kind of experience it is. The heroes jump from event to event, and yet it all hangs rather well together. Considered ground-breaking in a technical sense (underwater camera action), it was a huge bomb at the box office. "Head" was my first encounter with stream-of-consciousness outside the house. Not my favourite movie, but better than some movies with actual plots.
Just like "Tristram Shandy" and "Ulysses".