Archive for March, 2012

Bicycling, and Balance

Monday, March 12th, 2012

I’ve been marking for days, weeks, even. Hell, I’ve been marking for years.

My dining room table is covered with snowdrifts of midterm essays circled by coffee rings. At this time of year the task of marking hangs over everything, clouding my vision, sometimes even making me disconsolate. It leaks into all the rooms of the house.

It’s called “affective labour.” As Melissa Gregg writes, “the fulfilling nature of [an academic’s] job makes employees self-motivated agents, ready and willing to work.” Times and spaces once reserved for leisure (the living room, the weekend) are given over to the academy. Gregg calls this “sacrificial labour.” She argues that academics’ ability to create highly flexible (and endless) work schedules has become a model for white collar labourers across all sectors.

Trust me, I know all about this. My father the academic; the long hot summers through which he worked and we waited for him to stop working.

Sometimes you have to say no to the work. Sunday was the end of Daylight Savings, the sun like warm honey. I invited The Scrabble Player over for a bike ride.

The warmth of the sun felt strange on our skin. We pumped up my tires and drove to the nearest cafe, Tango Palace.

With a bicycle, the world opens up. New streets, new perspective. Having just moved to the East End of Toronto and feeling doubtful about it, that bike ride was a game-changer.

After latte and conversation on a park bench, we zoomed down Leslie Street in search of Leslie Spit. We never did find it. Instead, winding trails took us to rocks and water near The Beach, cerulean blue horizon embracing us.

The glaze over my eyes dissolved. The light, the new fresh colours, and the water dazzled.

Like most people, I crave a balance between work and play and love. The solution is partly political, partly spiritual.

And that horizon, honest and implacable.

FYI:For the next few weeks, as I continue to mark, I’m inviting guest bloggers to write food stories for this site. If you have an idea for an entry, message me. Until then, happy spring!

Black and White

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

How I love a good theme party!

The Oscars and our chosen theme film, The Artist, provided an excuse for elegant black and white attire and black and white food, on the last Sunday in February.

I made white bean dip with blue corn nachos, pumpernickel rounds with goat cheese, tapenade with baguette, and black bean soup. The Scrabble Player brought swellegant trays of crab sushi. And there was lots of vin blanc and pinot noir (not to mention the Black Russians I stirred up).

The crass fantasy that is Hollywood formed a backdrop to our queer elegance.

It’s hard to get through February, dammit, and it’s hard all year to write poems, make films, defend poor people in the legal system, teach kids, teach young adults, sell art, make art, defend art (things me and my friends all do).

The Librarian made a beautiful black and white cake. See, she’s actually an artist. She cooks and bakes the same ways she draws and paints, with delicate sophistication

Sometimes,we indulge ourselves. Sometimes, we have to be silly, just to get through the winter.

Sometimes, there’s art in how we celebrate. Sometimes, celebration is an art.