Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow neige schnee nieve

Snowed in. Twenty centimetres expected, and the winds are fierce - flights cancelled, people staying home. As my friend Marilyn, a literary agent, just wrote me, "Aren't you glad you don't have to go to an office today?" Yes indeedy. Just me and the crabby cat, and the falling snow, and thou, of course. Must not forget thou.

But it's Wednesday and so I'll soon be going to Carol's class at the Y, blinding snowstorm or not. After I am dead, on Wednesdays, my spirit will rise and haunt the Y. Because Carol's will too.

Since so little is going on in my life under the snowdrifts - teaching, editing, writing, and a great deal of eating and drinking, hence an even more pressing need for Carol - I'd like to report on a few news items, for your delectation. An article in the Saturday "Globe" on creativity, for example, which contained this illuminating line:

"(The scientists) have debunked the myth that creativity is seated in the right side of the brain and begun to explore the intriguing possibility that it is related to the ability to silence our inner critic."

Wow! What a vital bit of info that is, dealing every day, as I do, not just with my own inner critic, but with that of my students'. "This is garbage," they'll say, before reading a heart-breakingly honest piece about life. "I almost didn't come today, this is so bad." And yet - they did come. They did write. That's the triumph of creativity over the voices that intone, "Give up. There's no point. You're utterly without talent and this is drivel."

Incidentally, this leads me to the only mention I will make (maybe) of Amy Chua, the controversial "Tiger Mom" who has written a best-seller about expecting a great deal from your children. Her daughters are "successful," she says, because she constantly demands more, refusing them sleepovers and hobbies in favour of hours of music practice and homework. These girls will be achievers, that's a given. But creative? With, I would guess, an inner critic of such ferocity? I'd be surprised. Happy? I certainly hope so, though that is not their mother's concern. For more on the above, see my piece for "More" magazine, reprinted here under "Articles" - "The son also rises." The same issue, dealt with in my flabby, over-nurturing way.

Speaking of great achievement, I was thrilled to read about the Canadian woman who's the first graduate of a Liverpool university's new degree program in Beatlesology. She has a Master's degree in "The Beatles, Popular Music and Society." I have a Master's in that too, though not, as yet, a piece of paper confirming it.

Loved the survey conducted among the peoples of the world, to ascertain how anxious they are about the future. It found that all are, indeed, anxious. The poll showed that the most troubled are not those in the midst of turmoil, like the Pakistanis or the Afghans. The most pessimistic people on earth are, you guessed it ... the French. 61 percent of the French are gloomy about the planet's prospects. This in a country with the best health care in the world, not to mention the joie de vivre, the wine, the - be still my beating heart - fromage.

How I look forward to my two weeks in April amidst this grumpy bunch. I will try to cheer them up by pointing out that at least, there's not that much snow.

It sure is beautiful out there, though.

6 p.m. Hah! What kind of wimps do they take us for? They call that a weather emergency? Something like ten measly centimetres, none of it heavy and wet, but as fluffy as fluffy can be.
Hey, we're Canadians out here, you know. Just because we live in Toronto doesn't mean we can't deal with the elements. Bring it on.

No, don't. Please. Forget I said that.

It's incredible to watch what's happening right now in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and other Arab countries. How extraordinary to watch a revolution in real time. When things like this happen, I fantasize about talking to my father, who died in 1988. He was so involved in world politics, I love to tell him what's going on, hate to think he's missing it. I told him about Nelson Mandela, about the fall of the Berlin Wall. Dad, I say. The dictators are falling in the Middle East. How's that for thrilling?

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