Monthly Archives: November 2014

Growing into Thanksgiving

Americans seem, generally, to have a hard time with official holidays, as though the added pressure of suspending their daily living patterns tips the population into a crowdsourced demand for succor in the form of either consumption or mining family tensions. In my dotage (!), I’m pretty content with playing Thanksgiving as a necessary reminder to pause and simply feel gratitude; no need to go feast it, cheer its football teams, oggle floats and store displays, or make haste to exit the kitchen before the relative who likes to not like me enters it.

For the past 25 years, Thanksgiving has marked a special and grateful moment in my personal life, for it was on this day that I determined myself to be, in fact, pregnant with someone who has turned out to be purty darn wonderful.  But that’s personal, not a blanket experience for society around me, even my own best buddies. They have, each and every one of them, something or another just as personal, and just as gratitude-evoking, from their own years. And some of them are cranky enough to want to bypass that reminder to just pause and remember a moment of lived joy or grace or even bliss.

Which gets to the nub of pausing to feel grateful: I’m not thanking some entity out there or even my various and assorted continent exploiting ancestors, or the ones who, Johnny Come Latelies, managed to find a place of safe harbor. Those happenstances are readily mineable for all their cultural implications of greed, luck, and bad actions taken in the name of a fantasy called by various names for a deity.

And I’m certainly feeling no thanks at all, in a “there but for the grace of luck” way, for being in a safer, healthier place than friends and strangers both who live the fallout of American racism and solipcism and a bunch of other pernicious -isms that barely poke at the surface of what they are up against to simply maintain, let alone enjoy dominant culture’s smugness.

Feeling gratitude, however, is a bit like literacy: it’s something I had to learn and then have to practice, and can continually refine, without need of trappings like a feast or even a collection of others in the room. It’s a day off to remember that possibility exists. And possibility, for me, is the alphabet of the future.

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Border blues

O Canada!

The federal government of our neighbors (okay, neighbours) to the nor

ALA Editions, 2015

ALA Editions, 2015

th has spoken against my wily ways once again. This time, my unexpected–and undreamed–offense falls between the covers of a professional book. I mailed a copy of Libraries and the Affordable Care Act, fully labelled for Customs, and it came bouncing back from the border station near Scarborough, marked inappropriate for import. Okay, smarties, you have government-supported healthcare up there already (although it’s not national healthcare but rather province-by-province assured). Would it really have hurt anyone to be exposed to my admittedly dry prose steering US public library staff through their sophomore efforts with what the US (and 17 states within it) have on offer for those of us who are…well, south of the border?

My intentions in mailing it were pure: no plan to poach either patients or library patrons. I was mailing it to someone–admittedly a former US public librarian–who was beset with curious questions about how this set of 2010-enacted laws work. Heck, if the book’s good enough for library staff here, what could it hurt to share the info–with one person, mailed to a home address–there?

Or maybe I should interpret the official rejection as the book’s very first review. In which case, I am in big do-do beyond my border rep.

It’s almost exactly seven years to the day that my attempt to receive a then-six-year-old computer monitor coming across the border (again, south to north) was met with equal outrage. That time, however, I was on the north side and could be hunted down with the $1000C import fee demanded. Uh, no.

But, Canada, we gotta stop meeting like this: books meant for librarians trying to understand snaggly US insurance laws, antique computer monitors. What’s it gonna be in 2021? Should I start crafting a plan now? I’m thinking origami animals. Who can say no to them?

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Filed under American cultures, Health and wellness, intellectual freedom, reading and books

Holding pattern(s)

The lacy arms and fingers of newly empty tree branches brushing up along third story bays and wide-eyed attic windows along Boston streetscapes unfailingly warms my eyes. A thousand possible stories lie within those homes, many of them likely beginning with “In late autumn, I looked from my window and….” The houses themselves tumble in crowded rows along short, and usually terrain-hugging curved, streets, not so much dressed for an occassion as remarkably comfortable looking worn robes of clapboard painted a dozen times across parts of two or three centuries, or, alternatively, proud in their pink puddingstone pajamas.  The rise and fall of the land offers the sense of nearly constant activity, blankets shifting and swelling, caught stop action in the morning’s grey light.

Plumbed lines rarely appear–except on brick school buildings, the severity of Bromley Heath Housing, and repurposed cathedrals. Streets rarely pass more than 40 feet without curving, so any intersection where angles approximate 90 degrees are nominated as “squares”: Jackson, Hyde, a restaurant that calls itself Canary.  Walking is so acceptable, and accepted, that a request for directions tends to start with “Walk ova to…” instead of Northern California’s “Drivin’ or walkin’?” or SoCal’s “Go down and get on the 405…”

It’s a good place to roost between one home and the next, soothing in its buzz, undemanding of poses.

The streetscapes do the sitting, the constant readiness for visual capture. They demonstrate endless possibilities for do-overs. Come spring, the bare trees will sprout freshly green again.

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