Friday, October 26, 2007
We don't have a lot of that kind of freedom here in the big smoke. Freedom from choice. Evem just writing down the words makes me feel a little less heavy....
I was walking throught the Eatons Centre today, briefly, and was floored by the place. It doesnt matter how often I go in there...I still feel like it's so wierd how we are constantly surrounded and bombarded by images/words/people/giant billboards/t-shirts telling us how we should look and what we should buy and who we should befriend and what we should eat and how we should smell and and and and. It's friggin overwhelming. Sometimes I wonder if the idea of choice has gotten way out of hand for us in North America. I feel like it's one of the plagues. Instead of locusts we have 10 by 10 foot glossy's of a photo-shopped, airbrushed, collagen filled woman with pursed lips and a 'come hither' stare - everywhere you turn. It's as if they are magical, multiplying billboards. There is no escape from it. And all I went in there for was a coffee. It's so fucked up. Or maybe I'm the one who doesnt get it....it's so hard to tell sometimes in this culture of more, give me more, give me more. I sometimes feel like an alien. The only thing I want more of is custard tarts...mmm....custard tarts...yummmmy..
On a better and complete opposite note, I bumped into a resident today who isnt currently staying at the shelter but who is one of our regular "community members" (thats politically correct social jusitce speak for "guys who regularly stay at the homeless shelter"). The last time I saw him he was being restricted and was in rough, rough shape. He was emotionally, physically and mentally distraught. This is not unusual for him, and even when he gets super irate, he wouldnt hurt a fly.....althgouh he likes to direct his anger at inanimate objects.....like chairs, tables, chess sets, hamburgers, plates of spaghetti....you get the drift. Sometimes it's quite helarious, if somewhat annoying. Anyway, he was actually looking really good (not to the men in suits who walked by us). He seemed really stable as well. He told me he's been at the good shepherd and going regularly to his anger management program - only 4 weeks to go. I told him I thought that was awesome, and was relieved he wasnt throwing hambugers around anymore - and he actually laughed. Then I started laughinhg harder and we actually laughed quite hard together....and it was a really really good moment. It was so good to have a conversation with him outside of work and see him somewhat happy...smiling and laughing even! I needed to see that today. I'm really glad I saw him.
I suppose it's true, and can be said, that maybe a guy like the one I was just talking about does need more freedom of choice as opposed to less. And he probably won;t ever be presented with the choices he badly needs. I, on the other hand, have choices coming out the wazoo that threaten to drown my peace of mind and distract me from things that really matter. It's so confuseing. I have choice but wish I didnt have so much of it. He has little choice (from his community/culture/world) but probably would give anything to have more choices than the meager ones he is presented with. I guess it's an age old problem....but no less baffleing. If only we could even the scales...or spread the resources...or at least cut down on those obnoxious billboards downtown...at least. I'm the last person who wants to grand-stand, or preach or tell people how i think they should or should not live...but seriously...do we really need so many useless billboards on everything?? Hmmm...I don't know how this turned into a rant about billboards. Ah well.
Friday, July 13, 2007
amid rosemary plants lined up neatly in pots at the corner of this street and that street.
the July afternoon is littered with wooden boxes of orange-red peaches and ripe pears. sparrows settle on black fences and stare curiously at me with tilted heads...before flitting off to the top of street signs to watch streetcars and strollers roll past.
the ordinary turns extra ordinary...
with a stack of books lying on the steel coffee table. chipping, royal blue paint. cigarette smoke winds it's way slowly up to the overhanging tree branches until it stays, suspended, in the thick summer city air.
old mufflers chortle in beat up cars, while a bearded vagabond stoops to pick up a cigarette butt from the creases of the sidewalk. he slowly lifts his leathery face up towards the sun....his eyes squinting, fiercely, as if confused that it should be there at all.
a postman's truck pulls hurriedly up at the cafe...it's red paint shines like a brand new toy.
a grandmother laughs with her little cherub baby.
a graceful, willowy brunette strides by with nose planted in book.
a hydro worker yells at his co-worker that he needs a "6 FOOTER".
then the wind picks up and the trees begin to sway....
a wondrous and ordinary day.
Friday, May 04, 2007
Monday, April 30, 2007
I guess I just wanted to write about it here. I actually wrote about it in a letter to a friend (yes - the old fashioned kind that you put in one of those red boxes!) and i thought i would give it voice....because I have this weird theory that sometimes is can be good to remember the hard weeks.
Sometimes being at the shelter can feel like a boulder has landed on your heart....like last week. Some of it is a vague feeling of sadness that you can;t quite put your finger on - and some of it is obvious and poignant. In any case...here are some snap shots of last week in the shelter.
Friday, April 20, 2007
I am looking forward to (yet another) move as of the middle of May.....
I found a very nice apartment here in TO - all to myself!! After thinking about "next steps" post community living made the decision to continue working at the shelter here in Toronto for the time being, and try and find a home of my own, and live as "normal" of a life as I possibly can right now! I am looking forward to setting up my own little home, and staying put in one locale for one year at least. It will be nice to get reacquainted with myself after a very hectic couple of years, and have a space to just 'be'. It will be the first time I've lived alone in over 4 years - since Ottawa! I think it will be a neat experience to live by myself in the big city! It would have scared me 3 years ago - but I'm primed and ready....and even researching house plants!
I am still working full-time at the shelter and it has settled down quite a bit since the weather has warmed up.....very relaxed as the residents are out and about enjoying the sun. A welcome change, for sure!
I'm also in the market for a new bike, a keyboard and a double futon (frame and mattress). If any reader lives in Toronto and wants to get rid of any of these items let me know!!
I have some gigs lined up for the spring as well. It will be good to be playing more again after a long hiatus. It is a bit nerve wracking playing in front of an audience again...as i feel very rusty....but am hoping to be doing a lot more of it...and finally finishing the EP! For a sample check here
(under Julia Churchill)
Thats it for now!
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
My Poppy, Jack (John) Vincent, died at the age of 91 on Monday March 19 in St. John's Newfoundland. It was a sad day for me. I just recently got back after having gone down for his funeral. I have always been very inspired by Poppy. I loved him very much. I wrote this poem during my trip, about Newfoundland, my grandparents, their history, my childhood and the feeling I have every time I go there....the very vital attachment I feel towards the land. So here it is:
for Jack and Nellie...
Many stories have been told
Most of which I've never known,
But i can feel them growing stronger in the marrow of my soul.
The legends wait and whisper in the ancient parts of me -
On the island,
On the island of my birth.
My Poppy had a fighter's heart,
and Nanny's was the same.
Their years were etched in rock and sand; through mists and driving rain.
An ocean held their deepest love and loneliness and pain -
On the island,
On the island of my dreams.
But I was just a small bird in the sky of such a place,
And yet it lit the passion of my tiny heart ablaze -
The day I set my eyes upon the face of Mother Sea,
It was the home,
It was the home inside my heart.
Shining days like crystals dropped upon a childhood land.
The moon, reflected on the deep, would take me by the hand,
And lead me to a silence where the beauty gently sang -
It was the magic,
It was the magic of my youth.
The bluest eye I've ever seen has rested on me here,
I can see myself inside it; I've inherited that stare,
Of worlds within the worlds of deepest blue and salted air,
Upon the island,
On the island of my birth.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
I arrived in Ottawa today around noon.
I will put on my skates today and sail away.
Truthfully - they are not my skates...they are my moms. Who knows where my skates are. Probably buried amongst a mountain of other childhood/adolescent memory's.
I remember skating down the canal as a kid, eating beavertails and singing "A Bicycle Built for 2" at the top of my lungs.....just to see my breath....and I remember having skating races with my Dad and other neighbors who we used to go with. My ankles were never strong enough...but skating at it's best always felt a bit like what flying might feel like.
Flying on the ground.
Gotta fly....see ya.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
It's been awhile since I have written about my life...thought I would give an update. Especially given the sheer madness of the previous months... I always feel a little uncomfortable writing about my life...mostly because there are so many more interesting things to be writing about. I guess thats the wierd thing about blogging in general.
Anyhow - a fresh chapter is beginning and a lot is changeing and shifting right now. I think it may be time to bite the bullet and clear the blogger slate...so here is the dealio:
I moved out of Zacchaeus House - Toronto Catholic Worker - as of January 1 of this year. I finally made the decsion to move as of late November. It was not an easy decision for me...but it is nice to be out of what became, in the end, very very difficult (as some of my previous blogs will attest).
I have moved in with friend (and co-worker) Elly Green. Living the high life on College and Beatrice. Little Italy is a far cry from Parkdale. I do miss Parkdale very very much. It is my home in Toronto - that is for sure. But it's been good to have a break...if a little dis-orienting.
Since leaving the CW I have been working full-time front-line at the Gateway - shelter for homeless men in Toronto. I have been working there for a year and a half - but took on full-time when I left the worker. I enjoy the work...but it has taken a big mental/emotional toll over the past while. I have strong urges to retreat to a place where I only have to take care of myself.
I feel that I have learned more in the last year and a half than I have learned in all of my life thus far. No jokes. I figure that is a good thing...if overwhelming - power packed, man!!!. Right now I am seeking a way of simplicity...and un-complication (is that a word?). I also feel, in an effort to begin to process my experiences living in intense community, and living/working with the marginalized of Toronto, I would like to start writing more about the expereince and what I have gone through, and how it has changed my life and my evolveing thoughts on community and it's major impact on our increasingly individualized and isolateing society. But it is so much I barely know where to start.
So I won't right now. But I will be useing this blog as a processing tool over the next while. I also want to say thanks to those of you who have been praying with and for me over the past months. It has been a rough go - and I am thankful for those of you (known and unknown) who have helped me through it in some way. (Are we ever really "through it" I wonder?)
Until next time,
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
You have waltzed with great style, my sweet, crushed angel,
to have ever neared Gods heart at all.
Our partner is notoriously difficult to follow
and even his best musicians are not always easy to hear.
So what if the music has stopped for awhile
So what if the admission to the Divine is out of reach tonight.
So what, my dear, if you do not have the ante to gamble for real love.
The mind and body are famous for holding the heart ransom.
But Hafiz knows the Beloveds eternal habits
For He will not be able to resist your longing for long
You have not danced so badly, my dear, trying to kiss the Beautiful One.
You have actually waltzed with tremendous style
O my sweet, O my sweet, crushed angel.