dreaminghope: (Corset)

On Thursday, Russ and I went to see our first Cirque du Soleil show, Corteo. A clown dreams of his funeral: processions, a full orchestra, beautiful singing in French and Italian, and slap-stick comedy alternating with moments of intense beauty. I thought I knew what to expect, from seeing videos of Cirque's shows, but seeing it live is a completely different experience. On TV, the impossible is just part of an evening's entertainment; live, the barely possible is awe-inspiring.

I'm not going to try to describe the acts in the show. There are basic descriptions on the Corteo website, and I can't do better than those simple outlines. The acrobats soared and surprised, and I can't make words do that. Not yet, in any case. English feels very heavy right now.

C'est comme les artistes de cirque peux voler, ou peut-être échapper sur un vent qu'on ne peux pas sentir. Sûrement, c'est impossible qu'ils sont comme tout le monde; ils doivent avoir les os des oiseaux.

That night, I dreamt that I was made of air instead of flesh, and that my words were musical notes.
dreaminghope: (Corset)
From pre-kindergarten through grade two, all of my formal education was in French, and from grade three until grade eleven, half of classes were in French and half in English. That was a time when I could really speak French. I would sometimes even think in French. But that time is more than a decade in the past, and my French is very rusty now. I can still pull words up and have a very basic conversation – Comment allez-vous? Je suis bien, merci. – and I remember that it is more polite to use "vous" than "tu", but most complex vocabulary and grammar rules are gone, or at least buried deep.

I don't speak any other languages. I do know "please" and "thank you" in Spanish – past vacations in Mexico – and in Italian. Well, almost. It turns out that when you pronounce an Italian word like "per favore" as if it was a French word – making the "e" on the end silent – it comes out sounding like Spanish. Luckily, the Italians I met seemed to know that I meant well and were very understanding of me butchering their beautiful language.

When standing in line in a bakery or at a panini counter in Italy, I would rehearse what I was going to say: "Uno, per favore", carefully reminding myself to pronounce the final "e". I would get to the front of the line, say my line well, and then... he'd ask me a question. He'd ask in English, because I wasn't fooling anyone with my attempts at Italian, and I would answer in "foreign". In my fumbling desire to respond in "not English", I would often respond in French or some perverted French-Spanish-Italian blend. Even in the final days of our vacation, I would say "oui" more often than "si". Nodding and smiling will get you far, though.
dreaminghope: (Bee Faerie)
The Giving of Thanks

Dear Aunt Judy and Uncle Pete,

Thank you very much for the lovely bear Christmas ornament. It is very beautiful and will look really good on the tree next year.

We had a very nice Christmas. Uncle Tim came and stayed with us on Christmas Eve. We're going to have a skating and sledding party in the back yard for New Year's Eve.

Thank you again for bear. I hope you had a merry Christmas!


My mother believes in thank you notes. When we were kids, Mom would keep a careful list of who sent us what as we opened each gift. Within a week, Mom would force us to sit down at the kitchen table with her list and write the notes by hand on pieces of her stationary. Mom would tuck the notes into cards and address the envelopes; my childish handwriting would have easily filled the front of the envelopes and left no room for a stamp.

Since my mother comes from a large family (six sisters and two brothers) and only one was local to us, there were a lot of notes to write. For Christmas every year until high school graduation, every aunt on my mother's side would mail a tree ornament – often handmade – to each of the cousins. I have enough beautiful ornaments to completely cover a tree with hardly room for lights, and each one represents a thank you note written in careful black pen.

Dear Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Ian,

Thank you very much for the adorable snow angel ornament. It is very cute and will look really good on the tree next year.

"I'm so sorry I'm late making my changes," the customer on the phone says.

"That's OK; I think I can get them done for you."

"That's great!" and then she rattles off three changes and five additions she would like. I carefully note them all down and read them back to her.

"Anything else I can do for you?" I ask.

"Nope. I think that covers it."

"Thank you very much!" I conclude.

I say "thank you" automatically, and as often for when I do something for someone else as when they do something for me. Too much time in customer service.

I also apologize to inanimate objects when I bump into them, but that's normal: I'm Canadian.

I try to remember to mean it when I say it, but words are so easy. Typed thank you notes can be cheats too: copy and paste makes it simple. It is too easy.

Dear Aunt Brenda and Uncle Urs,

Thank you very much for the "Drummers Drumming" ornament. It is very beautiful and really completes the 12 Days of Christmas collection perfectly.

Some of my aunts still remember my annual thank you notes, though I haven't had to write one since my graduation ten years ago. There's something meaningful about ink on paper, written and addressed by hand, and mailed with a real stamp.

Embodied gratitude: saying "thanks" less and giving thanks more.
dreaminghope: (Hot Zoey)
I've started receiving junk mail addressed to Issa Hope. It's either an amusing typo that has made itself onto the source list for the junk mailers, or my sister has started signing me up for things. Though she would never dare do so without the correct punctuation; it should be 'Issa. Note the very important apostrophe.

Microsoft Word offers generous, ignoramus, and gunrooms* as spelling alternatives to ginormous. Firefox offers enormous, which I take as proof that Mozilla is smarter than Microsoft.

Word and Firefox haven't been updated to reflect the new Merriam-Webster-created reality. My Oxford Dictionary of Current English (1998 edition) already contained ginormous, defined as "adj. slang enormous. [from GIANT, ENORMOUS]".

Enormous does its job just fine for me. I also like massive for its sense of weight as well as size. I don't need ginormous.

I do need a word for the feeling of being nostalgic for something that never was.

*Firefox's dictionary does not recognize the last; it offers gun rooms.
dreaminghope: (Confused Zoey)
[Poll #864998]

Is it just me, or is English unnecessarily complicated?
dreaminghope: (Bee Faerie)
Hope is the name passed to me from my father's side of the family. My mother took my father's name when they married, as was the standard then.

One of my earliest memories of playing with language is from when I was about five or six years old, when my grandmother, a retired school teacher who married into the name, explained to me over dinner that if the "e" is left off, it spells "hop". I remember her patiently writing the two words out on a scrap of paper so I could see how it worked. This was a great revelation to my little self, and one I remember sharing with several friends, who obviously weren't as impressed as I. They were unappreciative of the wonders of words... they preferred Cabbage Patch Kids.

Hope means expectation and desire.

My aunt gave up this name when she married, but she gifted it to her first born daughter as a given name.

It took me a long time to learn to appreciate carrying the name "Hope". When I was little, I didn't think about the meaning of my name. I thought instead about its ugly sound, and how it rhymed with "pope", "taupe", "rope"... words that were unattractive and dull. The "pph" noise at the end is what did it, I think; it was ugly to my ears.

I've carried this name for 27 years, so I've heard all the dumb jokes and easy puns; plays on words about being "hopeless" or "hopeful". People still try to catch me with them. I haven't heard a new one in a dozen years (that is not a challenge).

Hope means trust and faith.

I've overcome my dislike of the sound of "hope" and learned to love it. By luck of birth, I've been labeled with the blessing of expectation and wishes to be fulfilled. Or with the curse of always wanting... though that may not be a curse if the journey is the whole point.

I don't know if I'll ever get married, but if I do, I may want to keep my family name. It has taken this long to really want the name; I'm not ready to let it go. Maybe I'll try to convince him to take my name; what better way to enter a marriage then with hope.
dreaminghope: (Bee Faerie)
Cherry blossom season is ending. The recent winds have brought the flowers down in flurries and gathered the petals in banks and dry puddles. The sun have baked the dead flowers until they are brown, and dozens or hundreds of feet have crushed them into a fine powder in places. Vancouver smells sweetly of decaying flowers.

Decaying is defined by its synonyms: decomposing, wasting away, rotting. It is a prettier word, though, appropriate to the remains of flowers.

Daisies die beautifully. Their petals get a brown trim and twist and go limp, but they are still pretty flowers. Daffodils have ugly deaths. Their proud crowns shrivel away, leaving plain trumpets, strange and unbalanced.

"De", a small syllable of negativity. You are denounced, denied, declined. "Decaying" is descended from the Latin word for fall, cado. I suppose it means falling, as in from a great height, but I wonder at its connection to fall, autumn, often thought of as the season of decomposition.

In nature, autumn is the time of planting. While we think of harvesting and of putting our gardens to bed, the falling and rotting fruit plant the seeds for the next generation. Spring, while we plant our new gardens, is harvest time for nature. The flowers die and decay all around us as we celebrate the sun and the freshness of the year.

We are surrounded by the sweet smell of the deaths of the cherry blossoms.
dreaminghope: (Firelight - Cinnamonsqueak)
Definition of compassion: Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. Synonym: pity.

I disagree that pity is a synonym for compassion. I think they are very different in both cause and result.

Pity is directed and specific; it is an emotion directed at a person or a group of people; it is, ultimately, a limited state.

Compassion can be general; it is a quality, a personality trait and a choice of how to live.

Pity is often condescending and patronising, though not always in a bad way. Pity can be comforting, in small doses.

Compassion can be directed towards an equal. Compassion is about knowing that all beings are of intrinsic value. It is about opening yourself to the other story and feeling what is under the story. It is about always striving to embrace the diversity and the sameness.

Pity is an emotion directed towards people.

Compassion is for all life, however you choose to define it. Anything that has spirit can be emphasised with.

Pity is pessimistic. Compassion is optimistic.

Pity is a narrow stream of tears in the presence of tragedy. Compassion is open and continuous.

Compassion is mercy and grace and tenderness.

Practice relentless compassion and radical grace.
dreaminghope: (Labyrinth)
Be touched by wild beauty and honest charm, and free grace from the superficial and the shallow.

Grace our table. Share your divine self with us and we'll break bread with you. Together, we will speak our prayers of thanksgiving; we will say grace and honour the great spirit's gifts.

Move with grace, and a goddess shines from within you. Act gracefully, with mercy, compassion and generosity, and a god acts through you.

Feel the divine light; feel the grace within.

Offer what you don't need to give and give grace to the world.


dreaminghope: (Default)

February 2014



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