Sunday, April 26, 2009

Stability and transience

I was going to blather about Ludlum today, but there's something that's been churning around in my brain this week, and I don't think I've spoken about it before on here. I think it's time I did so. Call it my two cents trying to become a nickel. Anyway, one of the schools I work at is in a lower-income neighbourhood, and for some of the students, it is becoming less of a school than it is a hotel, while the teachers are being forced to become babysitters. The students aren't there long enough to learn anything substantial, as their parents shuttle and shuffle them from house to house. Some of these families are just barely earning enough to make it through the day, let alone the month, and I know that they don't have the time nor the energy to waste worrying about a missing library book or two. These are not the ones I'm aiming my writing finger at. They are trying their best.
There are also parents with 'issues' (let us call them) who care little what their kids are doing or whether or not they're getting the necessities of life. These are the ones who are responsible for all the angry, resigned mutters that echo through staff rooms all throughout each and every school division in the world as we know it. Parents that could (and SHOULD) be thinking about their children but care only about themselves and their 'quick fix' (let us call it). And these are children who want to learn, who want to come to school and want to improve their reading, writing, and math skills. I'm not a teacher, but I can hear the mutters as clearly as anyone, and it frustrates me as much as it frustrates anyone.
As I've said, I'm not aiming my cannon at all parents. There are those who genuinely care about their children and about their necessities. They are the ones who come to events and beam with pride at seeing what their son or daughter is doing or has learned. These are the ones who go a long way in establishing some sort of stability for these children, and they must be commended for it. Now, I don't have a lot of space left, and I want to come to the Semi-Buddhist part of my post. Without some sort of grounding in this life, these children are going to wander in confusion and misery until they go to the next life, which might be even worse. One needs to attain stability to feel secure, strong, and open-minded in this or any life. Attain stability before you may understand transience. These children are going to pass on before it is their time and life won't be any better the next time around.
I'm not presenting any answers here. This is just spleen-venting from a frustrated library tech. who has seen things a little clearer. Not that I was wandering around blindly before. Anyway, that's all. BYE.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Deep thoughts about Sandow Birk's 'Purgatorio'. I didn't start with 'Inferno', but if it's anything like 'Purgatorio', I am going to be blown away a second time (and then, hopefully, a third time by 'Paradiso'). The translation to 20th Century English really clarifies the story for me, and livens up the characters. Birk took Dante's already awesome saga and has combined it with his own incredible talent. Eye-opening and breathtakingly inspiring. My knowledge of Purgatory has been poorly limited for some time, and I needed to read this book, if only to increase my knowledge. I like that there's a place like Purgatory. It's not permanent, like Hell or Heaven. It's a place where certain souls go to be purified before they reach Heaven. A chance to expiate bad karma before a final push to Heaven, so to speak.'
I used to feel that Purgatory was just invented to placate those who weren't killers, rapists, or criminals in general, but weren't saints either. Regular folks who've lost their way from time to time. The 'mountain' concept visualized by Dante is refreshingly appropriate. The mountain's summit is Eden, which also makes sense. That's where Humanity got started (according to the Book of Genesis), after all. I need to examine these concepts in deeper detail, but this book makes for a very good start. The matter of the Seven Deadly Sins is also looked at. I made some connections very quickly between the book and my own spiritual journey, and the speed at which I made these connections was scary.
Dante suggests (and Birk seems to agree) that everything is motivated by Love. Even the 7 were born of Love. Love badly manipulated, but Love all the same. I have come to understand that my Deadly Sin is Sloth. This I admit whole-heartedly, too. Sloth, according to Dante, is Love without Zeal. I agreed with this so fast it scared me. I've made more than a few notes in my journal about being without zeal. It's good not to be over-zealous, but there should be some passion in one's life, shouldn't there? In 'Purgatorio', the slothful in life run around their level of Purgatory, screaming out passionately about having zeal for God and crying out their sin to everyone who will listen. All activity, which is the direct opposite of indolence. This just makes sense.
There are other connections I made between this amazing book and my own life, but there isn't enough room here to share them. All I can say is that this book is really worth reading (not just once, but several times - I plan to read it several times). Also, read it while examining your own spiritual journey. I think you may make some connections. Anyway, that's my bit for today. BYE.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Picture test #1

Trying something...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

On the Literary Front #4

I've attended a few funerals in my life, but they've all been of family members, and my family's fairly close-knit and there are no animosities that I know of that would have the power to break the surface tension of solemnity and proper decorum. That's why a scene I'm working on today, which is a funeral scene starring an estranged family with lots of secrets and feuds, is not the easiest thing to see in my mind's eye, let alone portray. Sure, I've seen such scenes recreated in books and on the tube, but having some sort of physical and personal reference would make the scene all the more real. Not that I'm asking my family to start feuding for something as insigificant as my projects. I'll make do with what I have.
It's Easter Sunday and the story's going to get told again. Another reason why I don't go to church. Enough digression. I decided to write about my projects, and so I am. I have two (thankfully, only two!) projects going these days, and when I need a break from reading, I either pick up the clipboard or turn to my laptop. Technically, I've got three projects going. Two series, three projects, if you get my drift. I love working on my novel projects. It's something to keep my brain busy, and results in some really neat diary entries when I'm contemplating and brainstorming. I know I don't do enough of these posts, but Real Life keeps intruding and I need to share what Real Life's thrown at me.
Anyway, I'm working on one series centering around that estranged family I mentioned. They're based in Manitoba and are dealing with old secrets and other things. I'm currently typing out a second draft of the first book in the series and writing out the second book. I can't say if this series is going to stretch into a third book. It's my attempt at purely straight fiction. I've done Fantasy and even some Mystery. I figured it was time to try fiction, but it feels like some sort of soap opera at times. All the dramatic interplay between family members. Oh well. I'm going to keep plugging away at it until both books are done. Bear in mind; I'm doing this because I want to, and NOT because it might earn me a few bucks. If I could see my name on the bookstore shelf for even a day, I would be inexpressibly happy.
The other series has me going back into the Fantasy realm, and yet keeping somewhat within the boundaries of fiction. My way to explain my beliefs and figure more than a few things out. I'm not going to elaborate because I know someone out there is going to ding me for redundancy and for going over well-trod ground. If I am, so be it. If I'm going a whole new way, so be it. I guess that's about all for the time being. I was going to write about 'Phineas redux', but I found something else to write about. Just know that 'Phineas redux' is a really good book. Currently reading Robert Ludlum. BYE.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

PV, pesos, and peace and quiet

My week in Mexico was pretty awesome. I don't have any pics yet to post, and I probably wouldn't post any pics even if I had some on hand to post. Puerto Vallarta is a lively city that was named after a former governor of the state of Jalisco (as far as I can tell). It boasts a beautiful boardwalk, a flea market the likes of nothing I have ever seen before, and hundreds of thousands of Canadians. The resort my mom and I stayed at was wall-to-wall with Canucks. Only a handful of Americans and three handfuls of Mexicans (from the interior looking for cooler weather on the coast). I'm a little surprised the state of Jalisco has not become a Canadian satellite province. It probably wouldn't hurt its rep any, and it might even raise its rep as a great place for Canadians to go.
10 pesos to 1 USD. That is common knowledge, although there were a few differences depending on where one goes. I found myself very fond of the local OXXO, as it reminded me of the local 7Eleven. They were everywhere! Not big in the way of chocolate though, which leads me to wonder; Mexico is considered the birth place of chocolate. With this in mind, wouldn't Mexico seek to capitalize on this rep by stocking their OXXO's and other stores with chocolate? I came across a few Milky Ways (American version of the Mars bar), which were good. Back to pesos, however... it cost 15 pesos (roughly $1.50) to surf the Net for an hour at the local Internet cafe. It was much cheaper than renting a laptop and connection from the resort. We probably only used between 15-20 minutes of that hour, but that was all right.
Had a couple of high adrenalin moments during my stay in PV. First one came while my mom and I sweated our way through Downtown PV. We had finished looking through the Municipal Flea Market and were looking for a restaurant Mom was fond of. Our walk took us over a lagoon across a footbridge made of wood and wire mesh. What a heart-racer that was! The second event came when I parasailed for the first time ever. $40 USD saw me strapped into a tight harness and hurled up like a kite into the air. The view was stunning and I was incredibly amazed by the feeling of freedom that coursed through me as I floated high over PV. No pics of this amazing event (shrug), but I have several witnesses.
More than once, my mom and I likened the resort to a sort of Fantasy. However, I quickly got to thinking about Reality, and how easy it was for Reality to creep and trickle through the Fantasy. Much like Gautama taking his chariot ride and seeing Reality for the first time. Reality is armed police and soldiers on nearly every street, making sure the tourists aren't harmed. Reality is decay just beyond the resort walls. Reality is Time-Share fiends nipping at your heels. Not something that our resort's staff would've wanted us to see (especially the decaying, cracking walls just outside). Sometimes I wonder if the locals are ever resentful about their economy being steered by so much pasty-white flesh. The vibe never came to me at all, but it still makes me wonder.
I'll probably have more to say about my trip later, but maybe not. BYE.