Some words you just have to stare down

When I wrote the title of this blog post I was in a bad place, that morning I’d used the M word for the first time. I’d wondered out loud if moving to Chicago had been a Mistake. I stared at the word in the text I’d written. I came over faint, wobbly. I had to go and lie down. I clearly still looked shattered later in the day as two colleagues, now friends took me to sit and drink tea and be quiet. That was Monday last week and Tuesday wasn’t much better.

img_2757Wednesday I flew to Vancouver wondering what the… I was doing. Thinking back to Vancouver I have to laugh. I arrived and remembered that I do love Canada. Before boarding I’d chatted to a woman in line about the man in a plaid shirt who was determined to be first on the plane. As we exited immigration together she asked, “Are you here for the food conference?” I was stumped, “How did you know that?” I asked. “Well, female academic, I guessed you’re here for the food conference.” “How did you know I’m an academic?” I kind of gasped. So there we were, arriving in Vancouver, identifying each other and then working out how to catch a train into the city. Once downtown we parted agreeing to meet up again later, I found my hotel, connected to wifi, and discovered that my paper was not on the conference program. I have to confess I contemplated just staying quietly in my hotel room and studying for the two days. It felt good, two quiet days to catch up on volumes of reading, away from the downward spiral Chicago had become. Pretend I wasn’t even there. I went and had a coffee, of course the barista was from Melbourne. I thought more about having two days alone, no pressure, no people, just me and Marx and a do not disturb sign on the hotel room door.

img_2761But instead I contacted the conference organisers and got back onto the program. I finished up my presentation and notes for my talk, had a way too expensive, not so nice dinner and slept. I really slept.

So Thursday the conference went well, my presentation was well accepted and prompted a lot of discussion. I shopped afterwards: if you’re going to spend most of the week reading Marx then indulging in a little capitalist expenditure is good for the soul. I bought fleecy lined jeans that were not only 50% off but it’s the first time I’ve bought jeans that are size 14 since, well last century. I got PJs too. Magnificent dinner of salmon pasta, salad, gin & tonic, white wine, coffee and a chocolate tart, all for half the price of the previous night’s extortion. Friday morning I met up with a friend and exchanging feminist research jargon and ideas, well I started to feel refreshed and not alone in a sea of conservative thinking, economics and dead white men. I read more Marx on the plane. The person sitting next to me moved away.

img_2799I landed back in Chicago feeling reinvigorated and since then I’ve been powering on with work, making great leaps forward if I dare continue the Marxist theme. I’ve been enjoying the leaves on my walks to uni and running late because I keep stopping to photograph them for all of you. Choir is definitely my Chicago happy-place. My contents insurance automatically gives me $2500 of coverage for my firearms. I’ve been to the gym today, things are being crossed off my to-do list and my apartment is starting to feel welcoming. Tomorrow the rental agency people are coming for a first inspection so we’ll see if they agree, sigh. Tomorrow we also get our mid-quarter paper to write so it may not be the happy day of yesterday or today. Have to confess several of us are “rooting” for it to be a Marxist analysis. But it will be what it will be, I’m not expecting the other M word to come back but who knows. Who knows other than that all will be well, and all will be well.

Oh and tomorrow’s Halloween, so hey I could turn into a vampire. This is the US after all.

There have seriously been gremlins messing with this post while I’ve been writing it, maybe I shouldn’t be so flippant about ghostly hauntings and Halloween…


Where the earth reflects the sky

I know I’m posting out of order, but writing the Anne of Green Gables visit blog post is taking a while! After I left Anne of Green Gables House and the LM Montgomery Museum, I went out to the coast nearby. Oh I had so missed the ocean in Montreal. Given the soil is so red and rich and fertile it’s not surprising that the beach cliffs are red sandstone. Takes a moment to get used to it, but it’s so soft and crumbly and beautiful.

img_5056edThe cliff top foliage is just lovely. Hanging onto life. And it’s good not to go too close to the edge as the crumbly red earth really is constantly collapsing into the sea.


I missed the photograph that explained my title for this post. I sat in the car watching the waves like we used to on the Great Ocean Road when I was a kid. No thermos of tomato soup, but the gulls were huge and just as loud. As the waves stirred up the rubble the sand coloured the water, dissolving, merging. My immediate thought was “Champagne waves”, but really as I sat and watched and relaxed, I thought liquid topaz flowing into aquamarine. The colours swirled. Waves foamed and filled my ears with a gentle purr of continual movement. And you know how the water reflects the sky, well it seemed to me that impregnated with the red earth, the sea looked just like how I imagine it would look if the earth could reflect the sky.  Full of rain clouds and squalls that had drenched me, the sky was a steely grey, not harsh or cold, more sleek and silvered and smooth. So there was this bubbling champagne topaz sea reflecting a living quicksilver sky, surrounded and penetrated, swirled into an aquamarine setting. Just beautiful, and my subconscious did keep going back to thoughts of a rich topaz champagne, but you’ll have to use your imagination because I was so caught in the moment I didn’t photograph it properly. Sorry about that!