Wednesday, April 11, 2007

T-minus 17 hours till CAiNE and Counting

Well, not quite. I have to get up at 8am tomorrow. So I can go to the airport to catch my 11:22 flight out to Vancouver, so I can go to CAiNE.

My sleep schedule is looking to be something like this:

Thursday Morning: Go to bed at 1-2am. Get up at 8am.
Friday morning: Go to bed at 1-2am. Get up at 8:30am.
Saturday morning: Go to bed at 2am, get up at 9am.
Sunday morning: Go to bed at 2am, get up

Not as bad as ICC, however. Sunday morning: Go to bed at 6am, get up at 10am. Attempt to cope with emotional day on 4 hours sleep. Yay!

Its gonna be fun, but tiring.

Good news is that I've been able to fit all my stuff into two bags. So I won't have to go through baggage check, which will speed the whole process up CONSIDERABLY.

All going well, I should be able to make a few posts and con-updates from the hotel. This CAiNE is gonna I just keep telling myself that, and hope my head doesn't explode on Thursday or Friday at Mage.

When I get back, I'm going to start the Way Down up again, along with a more regular posting schedule. The first chapter or so of an all new Adelaide Fetch caper should be ready to go by next Friday.



Anonymous Ian Armstrong said...

Hi Derek! I still exist but I can't find your e-mail address. I know it's something to do with utoronto. Here's a letter I sent to your ancient address:

I hope this address still works for you; otherwise it's off to the blog.

How are you? I haven't been reading your blog or hearing anything about you, but I think of you often and you come up in conversation semi-regularly. And Grant ran into you a while ago which helped provide some impetus to finally write, but anyways, I'm really rambling.

How's your university career going? Last I heard you were into Classical and English Literature, with some eastern European languages on the side. I decided not to graduate this year; next year I'll submit my thesis, do some independent research with a prof I like (we'll be exploring the connection between musical experiences and the spiritual life), and some piano lessons.

The past couple of years have been a phenomenal adventure. Most of all, in case you haven't heard, Zanne and I are expecting a baby in July. This is a really incredible time for us with lots of self-reflection, dreaming about the future, planning, arguing, arting, hanging out with our crazy cartoonist housemate (Mark moved in last May and will be moving back out at the end of April), and trying to fit exams and final projects in between the cracks.

My life has really been expanding in all directions at once. Zanne comments that the same is true of her belly. Quite a bump now.

Materially, I'm preparing to be a father and also working as an education assistant at the local High School. I help out in the Grade 9 French classrooms and also tutor kids in either immersion or core who are having trouble keeping up. I'm at a great school - they play good music over the PA in the main common area at lunch time (yesterday I walked into Peaceful Easy Feeling by The Eagles and thought 'I love this school') and kids really get active and involved: today there were a whole lot of kids at all grade levels who put duct tape over their mouths and wore printed sheets attached to their clothes explaining that they were not speaking for the day to raise awareness for gay rights and to get us to "think of all the voices you aren't hearing today". I feel more practical than I ever have before; I've been working at this school for about two weeks and I also worked for a little over a month at an Elementary school, and I just feel way more capable of existing in the material world and moving resources around. I used to be so afraid of having an impact, certain I'd never be able to delve into practical work.

At the exact same time, my spiritual life is way more grounded and active. Catholicism has taken my faith and work into a framework that lets me reach so much deeper and tap into so many sources that I didn't know about before and wouldn't have been able to relate to if I had. The latest layer of exploration has been looking over my spiritual practice and philosophizing using the traditional division of the work into three levels: material, spiritual, and divine, that comes from the Neo-Platonists in Christianity and that I first read about in The Cloud of Unknowing. Essentially, the anonymous author of the Cloud warns readers against evaluating their spiritual practices based on the experience of their senses, even the spiritual senses. I came across this just after reflecting that most of my sense of spirituality is related either to developing various abilities or experiencing various extraordinary things. There's nothing wrong with those things; I think they come from God to encourage us and as part of our journey. However, a person can disappear into them and forget about the Divine, which is our real goal. So now I'm looking at different ways of balancing the spirituality I'm accustomed to with this new focus on the Divine for His own sake, not for my amazement. I also find I'm praying more and more deeply.

In other news, which I guess you could group under artistic growth, I've finally gotten over (*actually knocks on wooden table when writing this*) my issues around role-playing. I'm sure you remember me being fascinated and interested in it and then deciding I didn't want to spend any time talking about and going all crazy back and forth. I've mellowed out a lot now, though I haven't actually had circumstances to play since moving out here except the one or two game sessions of a diceless free-form thing that I ran in the fall. On the other hand, I talk about games and the theory behind them quite a lot, and draw on the ideas I've come across in role-playing books and experiences to shed light on all kinds of philosophical discussions. I feel like I'm also more accepting and able to express the amazing flow of daydreams and characters that I'm starting to realize is a real gift and a blessing. They're great ways to communicate with myself and with God. With the same benefits, I've also gotten more confident with other forms of artistic expression. After my first year out here I fell away from improvising and expressing myself on the flute, but this past year I was bullied back into it by Zanne and some other friends and have felt freer and more useful in other areas too. More integrated. Just last Friday (the 13th) I played my last flute exams. Although they were certainly rehearrsed pieces and technical exercises, the love that had been re-awakened by improvising shone through. Also, one thing I'd forgotten is I always improve when I'm being tested. I think in all aspects of life, though I first noticed it for music. A very particular sort of calm settles and I can just perform unimpeded.

There's a lot more to say but it's getting late so I hope this reaches you and finds you well. I'm eager to hear how you've been doing.

Much love,

6:49 p.m.  
Anonymous Ian again said...

I is a silly. I didn't leave you any way to contact me in response to this.

ianjarmstrong @

is an old address I'm using again more frequently now. I also have a new spiffy ednet e-mail address for the High School where I work, but it was just minted today and I don't yet know what it is.

Enjoy your Cain Con. I have to leave you with a great (and dimly vampire-related image). Last Sunday there was a large metal container (think coffee perc. but not heating) at the back of my church marked 'Holy Water.' It was there for people to fill containers and take them home. Us Catholics still know how to lay the pure and virtuous smack-down on things that go bump in the night!

6:57 p.m.  

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