When I was in grade nine, my English teacher Mr. Nauffts assigned an oral presentation. I can’t remember the topic, and I can’t recall any formal oral presentations before this time. I do however remember reading sections of a story while seated in my desk, and the joy of answering questions and even going up to the board to show off my math skills.
Formal oral presentations were a new thing though. If we did have them, I know I would have bowed out (aka stayed home ‘sick’). This particular one in grade nine however was the first one I remember vividly because of what transpired on the day I was to give the talk.
When my name was called, I walked over to Mr. Nauffts and gave him the written assignment. He said that I now had to present it. I told him I wouldn’t. I didn’t say in a snarky way; I simply stated I did not do oral presentations. What I didn’t tell him was that I hated them, that they made me feel too paranoid and self-conscious. I’d rather jab a pencil in my hand then stand up in front of my classmates and talk on a subject.
I’ve been missing in action a wee bit the past two weeks, but I do have a few good excuses.
1) It was the last two weeks of summer vacation for my kids before school began, and I wanted to spend more time outside with them.
2) I’ve been busy editing a few things which won out over social networking.
3) We’re starting to get ready for winter in little ways. It’s better to do little ways when you live on a farm than run around like the headless chicken bumping into things because you have so many things to do in a big way.
I mentioned in a previous post that while looking for the draft of a western novel I had written more than a dozen years ago that I had found my Reflections duotang from Grade 12. At school in Cole Harbour, we began writing weekly reflections/essays/stories in grade 10. It was a simple assignment: fill one page of looseleaf with writing. It could be on anything. Heck, it could be a letter to your ex-boyfriend telling him what clown he was.
The objective was simply to write. For me, that was the easiest ten points on my term mark I could get. Often, I didn’t fill one page; I filled two or three or five.
After reading a few Reflections, I realised my thought process hasn’t changed much. On the outside I may look a little different and my daily activities have completely changed, but on the inside, I’m still the same person.
Below is the first entry. It’s appropriate since I’m a dreamer more than anything else in the world.
I Was, I Think
Many people dream. I am one who dreams many. A lot of people try and come up with reasons why people have dreams and what they all mean. What I think is that dreams are like subconscious videos of your life in the past or it could be of the future.
There is a saying called déjà vu. This could simply be explained by someone having a dream and not remembering it in the morning and then when they have done what they had done in the dream they remember doing something like that before.
I believe that a person’s body dies but not their soul. The soul lives on in other bodies throughout the years.
When I dream I never see myself. I always see other people but not myself. I talked with my sister about this and we wondered if we looked different in our dreams. I wondered about this for a long time and then one dream I looked in the mirror and through the eyes of me I saw someone else. It was either a dream from the future or from the past. I could not really tell. But from what I figured in your dreams you are looking out of a different body.
Some people, in my dreams are familiar to me. At least they seem familiar. Only a few times do I dream with people I know in them. It is usually people I have never seen for a long time or someone who I had just recently met. People who I do not know in my dreams from reality I know in my dream. They can be brothers, or sisters or best friends in the dream which gives you a weird feeling when you wake up because you know that you know that person and you’re not going to meet him or her in real life.
…I still remember the dream in which I looked into an oval hall mirror and saw another face staring back at me. I had initially passed the mirror and was on my way down the hall when I realised I should look into it and see my appearance. For some reason, my awake hours spent thinking about what I looked like in dreams gave me the ability to intentionally stop and look into that mirror.
Have you ever seen yourself in a mirror in your dreams?
I began this year by looking back, way back. On my hunt to find a western novel I had written in my early 20s, I found my old Reflections Duotang from grade ten and a project I had written on witchcraft in grade 7 (1979-1980). In the coming months, I’ll share my old reflections on the blog, but today, I wish to share my project (complete with footnotes and bibliography): Witchcraft. This is word for word, just as I had written it when I was twelve years old in my first year in junior high. My mark was 18/20.
Words are powerful. They can drag us to our knees, fill us with joy and boost our spirits when we’re depressed. But words can also be powerless to the whims of people who believe they are doing right by dictating how we should use or view them.
Over the past fifty years, several words have become tarnished by misuse. These words, that were once useful descriptive words, are now banned or restricted.
The writing world is filled with pleasant surprises, disappointments and moments you may want to remember and forget. Sometimes you can expect that something different will happen. Other times, when you’re doing something for the first time, you’re caught off guard by something that is done to you or something that you must do.
One of those ‘strange to me’ moments happened Monday when I hand-delivered a copy of Mystery Light in Cranberry Cove to my daughter’s school. It all began quite innocently enough. While picking her up for an appointment, I thought it’d be a great time to donate my book to her school library. The office secretary pointed me in the right direction and asked if the book she carried was of special importance to me.
“Yes,” I said with way too little confidence. I hesitated to say more, hoping I’d escape without fanfare. See, I really don’t like fanfare, being the centre of attention. I know it’s something I should get used to. After all, this business dictates that I meet others and show off what I’ve done.
Taking the plunge, I said, “I wrote it.”
That’s where a simple drop off turned into something more. I was introduced to the librarian as the author. She produced a camera and wanted to take a picture of me and my book.
Gosh, I know I said I like old photographs of me, but I really don’t like getting my picture taken. Still, I took a deep breath, pulled my daughter under my arm and smiled. I smiled as though the librarian wasn’t going to steal my soul with that digital device. I smiled as if I had just been handed an award for my book. I smiled like I was never going to see that picture . . . ever.