Friday, February 10, 2012


This big idea of mine to get out of high school faster seemed to be constantly stymied.
No convincing my mother that 'free school' would be perfect for me ('Summerhill' had been read cover to cover). Next, my high school art teacher supported and convinced my mom that enrolling at Parsons School of Design would be great for me. This plan was working for awhile until I foolishly shared with mom that the school was in a 'rough' part of New York City- that ended that dream.

Next, some guy my age convinced me on the idea that the private school he attended in Saskatchewan was a very cool place and students could graduate a year earlier.
In Saskatchewan high school was completed in Grade 12, so I could get out of Grade 13 in the province of Ontario. Yipee!

I was in on this full throttle.

My father, after mom shared my wishes to him, thought this was an excellent idea. I was surprised. He never seemed to agree with me on anything in those days.

It was early summer vacation now and this 'guy' wanted me to meet his father.
OMG, his father was WAY BEYOND THE BEYOND!
I mean with all due respect, I had never met a more strict, scarey guy in my life.
     This man, not too far below the surface, had a palpable rage...actually, on second thought, he had no fear in directing it at me. It was the first, second and the third degree. I was very happy to get out of that house.

     Days after meeting the 'dad', this fellow confessed that he had lied to me.  He shared that it was a very strict school, extremely religious and he was miserable there. Continuing on, he wanted a happier life for himself and had dreamed we might become boyfriend and girlfriend, though, he confided, there was the 'six inch rule' and it would make it difficult for us since the staff looked through binoculars when students walked together.


     I did appreciate his honesty and sweetness...though, remembering his father didn't help much.
     As soon as I got to my house, I adamantly declaring that the 'plan' was off- to mom first (dad second) filling her in on the details.
     My father wouldn't budge.
     "You are going and that's that", he said.

     I had no idea at the time how much he wanted me out of the house. The eldest of four, certainly very precocious, it seemed my father had had enough of me.
     Anyway, come September, off to the train I went with my steamer trunk of stuff.

     It was not a happy goodbye. My family were at assembled in a line on the platform. Sister crying, little brother confused, other brother wondering, what?...I don't recall my mom looking at me; dad was all business. I didn't even have time to say goodbye to my school mates. In hindsight, I had been quite popular.
     I still have that photo my sister took of me sitting at my birth, on the train. Looking down, emotionless and frozen, not a happy photograph.

     Ever resilient, I enjoyed my train ride.

     Arriving in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, after a few days, I had already planned to take a taxi to this school. No sooner had I stepped off the train than I was corralled  by two very large men in suits. They looked like KGB agents. Sounding my full name very formally, they said, "we will be driving you to the school."

     I said, "That's OK, I'll get there by myself."
    They muffled a full out laugh.

Sitting in the backseat of their car, it was a silent ride.

     I knew when we turned into the school grounds off TransCanada Highway #1 and read the huge billboard, "Welcome to Briercrest Bible Institute, Home of the Lord" I was toast.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Washing My Hands of Volunteerism-The Fundamentalist Approach_Notes from a Kid_

The impact friends have on eachother is not to be overlooked.
When I got on that train decades ago and headed further westward

I was only too happy to get far away from that place.

Though I was, no doubt, from the city, for me,

 I had no thoughts of comparision.
Yet, from the very first moment
awakened from my nap
in that fundamentalist boarding school
looking up at a number of huddled girls
looking down at me,

I had a queasy feeling inside.

They were commenting quite loudly amongst themselves
(as if I was not a sentient being),

on my physical appearance,
and that I was from a big city back east.

I mean, I had my eyes opened!
It was weird for me to be the object
of such a strange first encounter.
That "big city girl crazy crazy"
...however crazy I might have

behaved at that school...
                   I was to learn

                   I was inside

                   an even crazier place.
Here is some comments from one of my favorite educators:
"Questioner: Sir, are you crazy?

Krishnamurti: Are you asking the speaker if is he crazy? Good. I wonder what you mean by that word `crazy; do you mean unbalanced, mentally ill, with peculiar ideas, neurotic?
All these are implied in that word `crazy.' Who is the judge - you or I or somebody else? Seriously, who is the judge? Will the crazy person judge who is crazy and who is not crazy? If you judge whether the speaker is balanced or unbalanced, is not judgment part of the craziness of this world? To judge somebody, not knowing a thing about him except his reputation, the image that you have about him. If you judge according to the reputation and the propaganda which you have swallowed, then are you capable of judging? judgment implies vanity; whether the judge be neurotic or sane, there is always vanity. Can vanity perceive what is true? - or do you not need great humility to look, to understand, to love. Sir, it's one of the most difficult things to be sane in this abnormal, insane world.

Sanity implies having no illusion, no image at all about oneself or about another. You say, `I am this, I am that, I am great, I am small, I am good, I am noble; all those epithets are images about oneself. When one has an image about oneself one is surely insane, one lives in a world of illusion. And I am afraid most of us do. When you call yourself a Dutchman - forgive me for saying so - you are not quite balanced. You separate yourself, isolate yourself - as others do when they call themselves Hindus. These nationalistic, religious divisions, with their armies, with their priests, indicate a state of mental insanity."


My sentiments. I don't fancy myself that 'free' and have my vanities too.

At this boarding school there was a couched phrase called, 'Gratis'

a nom-de-plume and/or synonym for "volunteering'.

It was 'offered' for families to pay less
tuition, boarding fees etc. to this fundamentalist school.

My parents had paid the full tuition,

not knowing that if they 'offered up their daughter'

for 'gratis' these costs would be reduced

and further,

as the school shared with my folks by phone,

"It will create 'humility' in her".

 Humility and saving money,

 my parents jumped at the idea.

 Thus my indentured servitude began.

Kitchen Duty Gratis:

Sharing this same fate was another young girl who would

 become my saving grace and fellow fun-lover, G.B.

It was her and I against the  POTS AND PANS.

Each and everyday, - costing nothing; "complimentary tickets"; "free admission"
unpaid - not paid; "unpaid wages"; "an unpaid bill" - without payment; "I'll give you this gratis"
we washed dishes, pots and pans
(oh, how we hated the fried sausages!)
at lunch (us two only)
for the entire school
for the entire school year.
Our kitchen matron, who held
a much fancier school title like,

"Empress of the Universe"

shelled out 'God's Work'.
An embittered woman
who despised fun,
led the adult bible/prayer meetings
at the school and
prepared the groundwork for,
G. and myself
to come up with creative ideas to ease our toil.

I learned once again in my young life,
that humour and real 'fellowship'
can save a person from madness,
bigotry, narrowmindedness and
blind religious fervor and

to watch out for the word,  'volunteer'...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Jane and Finch Dream DIY_Sleepy Jane's Visit from a Finch

Jane Finch House currently on the market_walking distance from Jane Finch Mall 

Sleepy Jane Gets a Visit from a Finch
and wonders why we can't think like a Dane?