Sunday, April 20, 2008


This is the band "Sumalao" that plays at the Latin Quarter on the weekends.

After a busy week of writing, teaching and various other activities, I decided that on Saturday night I'd attend a literary event and then meet my friends at the Latin Quarter (our hangout) for some salsa dancing and fun. It had started out to be a stressful week, and it took me a couple of days to get my centre point again, but then I immersed myself in my writing and teaching and by the weekend I needed to have some R&R. I've decided to attend more literary events as well as the travel media things I go to. It's good for schmoozing and getting to know the literary community of the city (which is a pretty active one.) So I on Saturday night I went to the B.C. Book Prize soiree at a big hotel downtown. It was one of those lah-de-dah affairs where you stand around drinking an $8 glass of wine, nibbling on canapes that the waiters bring round on silver plates. Aside from a well-known poet (a poet laureate) who I am familiar with and in awe of, I didn't see a soul I knew. I really wanted to talk to Mr McWhirter but was just too shy to approach him. I wanted to tell him how much I admired his work on the script of "Hecuba" the play I loved so much and went to see twice earlier this year. But he seemed pretty absorbed with his own crowd so I never did quite get the courage up.

I stood around for as long as my tired back would take it, the found a place to sit at a table with two other women and a guy. I got into a conversation with the older woman who said she recognized my name (that's good!) and when she told me hers, I also recognized it.
But neither of us could figure out from where, except I am a member of the Federation of B.C.Writers and also actively attend some events such as the Surrey Writer's Conference. Anyway I felt kind of thrilled to think my name is 'known' out there in the literary world!
Later, I checked her card, and see is is connected with and it happens I've been thinking of submitting some travel stories to them.

The woman and her party left the table but then I ran into another dear friend and her husband, a poet who used to belong to our writer's group but who has been absent for some time due to a disability. I have great admiration for Mavis, and always read her poetry to my classes when we are doing a poetry night. So it was excellent to run into her and her wonderful husband Paul, who said he'd just had a book published about falcons. (He's very involved in ecology issues). That rounded up the soiree very nicely for me and made me realize how important it is to attend these functions as you never know who you'll meet there.

Our writer's group doing timed writings in a scenic spot on
Mayne Island where we often went for weekend retreats.
Mavis and I were reminiscing about our writer's group -- the great fun we always had together, especially on the twice a yearly retreats to this lovely coastal island. This last year we didn't go away at all, and there didn't seem much interest generated. I miss this, and so do a couple of other older members. And these kinds of retreats really brought us closer together as a group and as friends. We used to do crazy writer's things, always with a theme (such as a pirate weekend, or favorite writer's weekend, or rites of Spring...all with costumes)
And we'd do writing exercises, like in the photo above, timed writings on the knoll overlooking the sea, when we were out for one of our hikes. I've been feeling very nostalgic about those days lately and wonder if ever we can recreate them again. There were specific things on the island that were precious to our group. One of them was visiting the 'circle tree'. It's an old arbutus twisted into a circle shape and every retreat we'd go there, pose by the tree, drink a toast of wine and toss the lees to the spirits of nature, and in an old hollow stump we have a cache of messages we've been writing over the years, like time capsules. So each time we'd go to the tree we'd unearth the buried cache and read the previous years writings. Oh, I miss all of that so much!

Me, in the circle tree

Anyway, after the literary soiree, I went to meet my friends at our favorite bistro, The Latin Quarter (often referred to here as the LQ)
And that turned out to be another sort of 'literary' evening too. My friend had just returned from Peru, proudly showing off the book of short stories he had published there; another friend who just returned from Beijing came to talk to me about writing a story for my travel web site; there was a whole table of artists/musicians/poets/writers celebrating the visit of a remarkable and beautiful woman who has been living in Turkey (she's a Rumi poet and whirler as well as a singer, dancer) At the same table was another woman who I recognized as someone I'd talked to recently in the neighbourhood Greek taverna -- also Turkish, and a writer from the S.F.U. writing/publishing program. The vibes were simply fantastic last night. And what a grand group of people we all are, we regulars who love to meet each weekend to dance salsa, chat, have fun, give each other hugs and kisses and hang out together. That made my weekend, and I woke today feeling much more settled, though still that cloud of unhappiness is there and will remain until things are solved and perhaps tomorrow at our meeting here it will be. Otherwise I will stick to my resolution to remove myself, as I really have to protect myself from further outbursts.
Today I took myself on a field trip to do some photographing for a blog I am planning about the public markets here. I went on the skytrain to the New Westminster quay and public market. The sun was out, although the weather is very cold -- record lows for April and there was snow on Friday! Enjoyed my stroll around by the Fraser River but the market itself was totally boring and scuzzy so I wasn't too impressed with it. I'll only give it two stars out of five, and that's just because of the historical significance of its location.

Well, here's the end of the weekend. I've just had an hour long reflexology treatment and a long chat with my friend, so it's time to make a late dinner (very late, it's almost 10 pm!) and perhaps watch a movie to round off the day.
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Marie said...

You're right - it's always good to attend these functions as you never know who you'll meet. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

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