At the beginning of he year, I made a New Year’s Resolution to write one blog a month. My July post was a few days late, and now I’m writing my August post on the month’s very last day. This bog, therefore, will probably be my weakest. And for this blog, I’ll recount my busy summer.
How Busy Am I
I consider the Canadian summer to run roughly from the Victoria Day weekend to the Labour Day weekend, although the calendar disagrees. And reflecting back on my summer, I have to agree that it’s been a busy and sad summer for me.
The Scholar Am I
At the beginning of May, I began two classes at Toronto’s George Brown College, including Wine II, an advanced wine class that involved lectures and tastings; and Spirits, which introduced me to the world of spirits. I was particularly enthralled by the spirits class, for I had previously never been enthralled with spirits, so I was looking quite forward to learning how to appreciate distilled alcoholic drinks. However, the wine course, which ran thirteen weeks, was repetitious of previous courses’ material, although I was able to sample some outstanding wines. But I will forever associate the beginning of these classes with some bad news.
My First Grandmother Moves on
The very day my Spirits class began, I drove with my mother to suburban Mississauga, where my maternal grandmother was staying in a nursing home. Five years previous, she had had a stroke, robbing her of her independence. My grandmother, who had lived the previous two decades on her own, lost her ability to take care of herself, hence the retirement home. Robbed of her speech and energy, she became a zombie from The Walking Dead, living only in body but robbed of her previously sharp mind and physical energy. On that last day with my grandmother, my mother and I spent time with Nana as she watched idiotic daytime television, including The Chew. My grandmother, who had been progressive and forward thinking, was reduced to waiting for her time to die. I was in a bit of a bad mood that day, and had I known it was going to be my last time with her, I would have put in a stronger effort to connect with her. Two months after she passed, when my sister was home from China, we buried my grandmother’s ashes with her parents and older brother. It was a very informal, brief ceremony void of any religious overtones or outside family. My extended family, which includes my two aunts and uncle, broke up, most likely forever, and we parted ways. And life goes on.
My Sister Comes Home
My sister has spent the last three years teaching at international schools overseas. Armed with a teaching degree, she first went to the United Arab Emirates to teach the Alberta curriculum to local children; later, she moved on to China. Much to my mother’s delight, my sister has bee accompanied by her husband. My sister was last home 18 months previous, when she visited us for Christmas. This time she came home for summer break, and to celebrate, my mother rented a cottage in Haliburton. The week also corresponded with the last week of my Wines II exam, so I joined my family part way through the week. As a result, I had to take a bus from Union Station to Haliburton. It was an ordeal that lasted four hours and had me passing through, among other places, Oshawa, Lindsay, Peterborough, and Port Hope. I arrived at Haliburton on a Wednesday night, but once I arrived, I was able to spend three days canoeing and swimming with my nephews, aged five and three.
A Weekend of Shows
Every summer I enjoy going to many arts shows and outdoor festivals, and this year was no exception. It began in late April, when I went to three screenings at this year’s Hot Docs Festival, Toronto’s annual film festival dedicated to documentaries. I dragged my mother, recently relocated to downtown Toronto after a decade in Wellington County, to two documentaries that I thought she would like. One involved Japanese women bonding over an art piece and the other involved a woman who lived on her own at a weather station in the mountains. They were both boring movies. But the documentary I saw on my own, about people in New Zealand who dress up as zombies and scare people, was interesting.
I went to the Toronto Beaches Jazz Festival, spread over the month of July in Toronto’s east end. One weekend, I saw a reggae band playing in Leslieville; another weekend I saw Queen Street East overtaken by crowds and bands playing at every intersection.
Earlier, at the end of May, I went to some Doors Open Toronto events. It was a Sunday, and getting around on my bike, I rushed from the west end, where, I saw Toronto’s jazz station‘s radio studio; to the east end, where I saw Toronto’s Art Deco water station at the foot of Victoria Park Avenue. Along the way I stopped to see the end of Woofstock, which has sadly shrunk in size and reduced itself to charging a door entry fee.
Art in the Park
I went to see several art shows in parks. In late July, I saw Shakespeare in High Park‘s Twelfth Night; tonight I plan on seeing King Lear. And in August, I went to Toronto’s east end’s Withrow Park, where I saw Shakespeare in the Ruff perform A Midsummer’s Night Dream; a couple of weeks previous, I saw Dusk Dances perform a series of eclectic dances in the same park. It was a magnificent display of dance and movement.
And in August, my Other Grandmother
In late July, I heard from my cousin that my paternal grandmother was terminally sick. My grandmother was conscious and aware, so there wasn’t any indication that it was imminent, despite the cancer in her lymph nodes and congestive heart failure. My brother and I made the trip to London during the first week of August to visit her. My grandmother, who always loved to talk, spent the entire time talking about her childhood and marriage to my grandfather, who died four decades ago. My bother and I were with my grandmother when the care worker came in. When the care worker asked my grandmother if she wanted a religious person, my grandmother said, “I used to be a Catholic, buy forty years ago the Good Lord took my husband, and I can never forgive a god for taking my husband from me. But I know my husband’s up there waiting for me.” A week later my grandmother was dead. I got bereavement leave from work, and I spent the day on the Toronto Islands, watching the solar eclipse from Hanlan’s Point, Toronto’s nude beach. I saw the eclipse in Lake Ontario while nude. I thought it was an appropriate way to celebrate an eclipse.
Other Things I Did
During the summer Toronto’s Edwards Gardens hosts a series of outdoor concerts in their beautiful garden. Because I was taking classes for a good chunk of the summer, I saw only three concerts, including an excellent blues band. It’s a wonderful concert series, serving beer, burgers, and ice cream. Go see it. Seriously.
In July I saw the Honda Indy. Kind of. I rode my bike to Ontario Place, and along Lake Shore Boulevard, there are a few gaps in the pillars where you can see the cars pass. I stood at the west end of the Ontario Place Entrance, watching cars zoom by. Car racing is boring, but at least I was able to see I saw the Indy.
I had a few job interviews, and the job search has been a large part of my summer. Because I’m submitting my resume for writing jobs, I write each resume from scratch. I have to go through each resume and edit myself on multiple layers: copy editing, structural editing, stylistic editing. I don’t have one set resume, so I don’t pump hundreds out per day. Yet I do get job interviews. I had one job interview writing and editing for a professional association’s magazine. I had another for an educational organization. And I had yet another for a journalist position. I do get interviews; however, I’m looking for the job offers.
When I reflect back, I always think of how much busier I could have been, of how I could have done more. Yet I have to remind myself that I keep myself busy. I go to work five days a week. I write as often as I can. I walk my cat almost everyday, weather permitting. I go to the gym five days a week. And I go to a lot of events. Come to think of it, I keep myself very busy. I’m proud of myself. I may live on my own, yet I’m always busy. I should be commended. I should be applauded. Heck, I admire myself.