You Can Go Home But It Will Be Landscaped

My childhood home had a wide open front yard; there was a stone wall and a low bush that came straight across the front. That’s all been sculpted away.

20140914_112837The new people created a precise maze of flowers and trees.

Many years ago, my parents commented that all of our neighbors were landscaping like crazy. So now it’s come to where I used to live. 20140914_112812But the biggest thing was that none of us were home; we had all moved – or died, leaving this place all but forgotten. 20140914_112833Except for the fire hydrant; it’s not like any of us could forget that.

Sister, Sister, Wherever You Have Gone

I remember when we bounced in the big chair to The Partridge Family and K-Tel’s Fantastic 22. tumblr_mjarkw5lm31r5yoejo1_r1_1280And I remember when we threw the little metal Santa Claus too high and it smashed through the window and we all ran. IMAG2188There were the trips to the cottage, the puzzles, the rain, the boat trips across the lake.

20140729_161648I remember your pained expressions too, you not wanting to be there, anywhere but with your dumb siblings, away with the crowd, all the excitement and things like that. weenAnd I remember not liking you so much for any of that. But it’s just kid’s stuff now, right? We move on, yes? 20140524_151436I mean, if you hold things too tight, they drive right into you and there’s nothing left, just petty agendas, seeing everything in the world, except where you came from. Dorothy's Red ShoesAnd that just goes on until you get to the end and then you wonder what happened.

Moosonee bog blog

It’s taken me a couple of years and some prodding, but I’ve come to realize that I just might be a blogger. This blog will focus on the development of my current novel, The Bad Side, as it ferments from third to fourth and fifth drafts and also offer some elements of research that go into the background of this work as well as into the back of my head. It is hard to separate the two – the writing and self – as one depends so much on the other. It’s not such a clear thing, but it is deep and real.

My interest in writing began when I was in Grade 4. I went to a progressive school,The Institute of Child Study in Toronto, which allowed for a lot of lateral learning including a two-week school trip in May up to the remote town of Moosonee on the shores of Hudson Bay in Northern Ontario. We visited many things along the way, including an abandoned mine shaft in Cobalt, a paper mill in Iroquois Falls and even stayed in a hotel where there was drunken fight. “There was a bad fight in our hotel. So the cops had to come and sent 2 men away because they were hurting a lady. When the 2 men left, the room was a mess. Bottles were on the floor and the bed was torn apart.” Early on in the trip, I decided to write a daily journal. The teachers were impressed with my initiative and made all the other kids do it as well. While this did not make me the most popular kid on the trip, it made me weirdly content. The journey made more sense to me when I had written it down. “In Cochrane, we went to an agricultural farm. We saw cows first and one cow went to the bathroom on her baby. It looked like a hairdo.” For the last leg of our journey, we took a train (“The Ontario Northland”) through hundreds of miles of bog to Moosonee. “We have been on the train for 4 hours, 45 minutes. I have seen 2 moose, 7 rabbits and the trip isn’t that exiting (sic).” I even added a picture.

You can see why I stuck with the words and not the drawings.

The following summer, I went on a family driving trip from Toronto to Prince Edward Island. I asked my parents to buy me a journal for my musings (although I doubt I used that word), and they decided to get one for my brother and sister too. My sister never got into it, instead just listing what she ate for each meal – usually peanut butter sandwiches – while my brother did as little as he could. I didn’t get their reticence. How crazy could they be? This was fun. This was what made the trip something real. “There was a storm before we had lunch and it was very bad in Charlottetown. It blew over around six trailers, 100 trees, three barns and injured a good many people. Then I looked up to where we were going  and there was a giant cloud as dark as midnight. Well, we went straight into it to get back to our cabins. And then it started to rain so-so-so-so hard that you couldn’t see through the windshield. You could only see about 10 yards it was raining so hard. Some cars had to stop, but we…” The next page has been lost.  I think we made it.

Anyway, my point is that I have always liked the idea of creating a stream of ideas with a sense or coherence, a direction, but not with the end so clearly in sight. I’m hoping this blog will help me make sense to you as well as make it all seem as real as those ‘exiting’ moments going through the bogs to Moosonee.