I passed the exam to get into a conference interpreting masters program that begins in January. I am extremely happy about this! Also, should I have time it will give me something all new to blog about– the types of exercises and experiences I will have as an interpreter-in-training.

In any case, I so enjoyed my experience as a volunteer interpreter that some time not long after I started I decided that I wanted to do work similar to that I had been doing with the torture victims as a career. Interestingly this is sort of the opposite of what happened when I got into the translation studies MA– I did not have a passion for theory of translation but had written extensively about it because I desperately WANTED to understand it and have a passion for it. In the end I did become somewhat interested in the issues I studied in depth, you might say I had a mild passion if such a thing is possible.

When I began interpreting, even as a volunteer, it was as if a light bulb went off in my head and I said to myself this is what I want to do, this is what I must do. With my thesis and translation theory, it was clear that the work I was doing was what I had to do to get my MA, but I never felt excited by it (except when each phase of the process was over). I am excited every time I get to interpret for somebody, at every phase of the process, and I love being able to see the difference I make in my clients’ lives. I am also touched by the beautiful expressions of gratitude I have received from each of my clients at various times.

I am so excited that I can now accredit myself to do what I love as a professional. Though it is a major step in my own professional development, I am mostly excited about it because it is the first step in becoming qualified to do what I love. I also feel that I will pick up a lot more confidence with terminology which will allow me to be much more confident and effective in the way I represent clients.



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Update from my sort of busy life. Also a bit of explanation of what I think makes a good attendant.

As seems to be the norm in my life these days, tomorrow is a busy day. I am having my second exam to qualify for the conference interpreting program. After that, I am accompanying a client as a volunteer interpreter to a neurologist appointment. Before that, I have my attendant coming in (also before the exam I should mention), and after that I am hoping to do some biking and I am helping my mom to cook. This basically means that I read her the recipe and she does the cooking, as my knife skills are not good. Actually, they do not exist. However, it is fun to participate and help her in this way.

I am so far very pleased with my new attendants. Many things are good about them, mainly that they are kind and treat me with dignity, but perhaps that is a little too general and those who have never worked with attendants might expect that treating clients with dignity is a prerequisite for the job. It is in theory, but some I have known get away with less and seem to be in the job because it is a good way to exert power.

I am pleased to say this is not the case with my new attendants. They help me with very personal tasks, as well as others that are mundane and boring such as changing my bedsheets. All of this is done happily, and they make me feel that they are having a good time. I also like that they are close in age to me (late 20s). Not that I dislike older people, but I find that I have more in common with the younger ones and the conversation focuses less on my disability and physical oddities and more on our interests or people in our lives. It is also refreshing that I can pick out my outfits without having to defend my choice and that I can have a shower without feeling as if it is a physical exam (this is speaking of a prior experience.) In any case, a good attendant is a great thing for me as it makes me feel more in control of my life and more adult as I am able to care for my body and my personal living space.

I am very excited about my exam tomorrow. With all the volunteer interpreting I have been doing since March, I have come to realize that I like translation but I LOVE interpreting and that is what I want to do as a career. Should I pass tomorrow’s exam I will have the opportunity to earn a graduate diploma and potentially a second master’s degree in conference interpreting. This program is new, cutting edge and only the second of its kind in Canada, I will love this program and it will give me much to do, think about and possibly blog about, if there is enough time left in the week after assignments are done. Anyway, it is a great opportunity that I hope to have.

All the best to everyone on Grey Cup Sunday! Hoping Calgary wins so that Rob Ford has to donate his weight in food to a Calgary food bank. Although, if the Argos win the Toronto food banks get the Calgary mayor’s weight in food. As a Ford hater, I would say it is a win-win situation!!

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Personal Business

For a blogger I do not share a ton of personal business on my blog, but I promise, this will change as time goes on! Right now I just am not finding a lot to say. I am once again interviewing personal attendants, this after some time away from working with them. Looking forward to finding a good match! Though I have a very supportive and loving family who have always helped and supported me when I needed, it is very rewarding for me to realize I can take part in organizing my own life and personal belongings. I also do have the goal of eventually getting out on my own, but know that I will need some support due to quite limited dexterity on one side, extremely poor spatial sense and rather restricted mobillity. I feel that learning to manage attendant care is a good way of practising the skills I will need while living indpendently– it also helps me to feel more “normal,” though I hate to say that and I do not know exactly where that thought came from. However, it is an interesting one. Perhaps if more occurs to me about it I will write another post along these lines. My general feeling is that normal is a label and not a concept I want to explore in connection with myself or anyone else. After all, what is normal? And, what is normal for me may be totally weird and strange for someone else. So, forget I ever said anything about normal. What I mean to say is that having PSWs enables me to feel more in control of my own life, and I am happy about this. In the wee hours of the morning, before I go to bed at night, the thought that I have had and will soon regain this level of autonomy is a happy one. Though I am not an over-believer in God or Christian ideology, I might even say it is a blessing!!

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Back from a long hiatus…


As the title of this post says, I am back from a long break. I am not exactly sure why I took this break– perhaps I was having a bit of writer’s block, although not really because I wrote something most days this summer and fall. It was probably just that I doubted I had anything interesting to publicly write about and was also doing some other paid work… let’s just say that life got in the way. I had a few paying jobs but nothing steady. However during the summer there was a constant flow of people and hustle and bustle of activity in my life. I thought of blogging and drafted a few posts but did not write anything that I felt was worth sharing so publicly.

Today my sister emailed me and mentioned one of my other posts about a memoir I have reviewed on this blog, Burmese Lessons. I think that with the launch of several popular book campaigns (the Giller Prize, the Governor Generals awards and Canada Reads), this marks a good time to relauch at least the cultural aspect of my blog. As disability related insights occur to me I will share those too.

I do not really feel like looking up the GG and Giller Prize nominees right now (an excuse for another post!), but I will say today that I was just listening to Q with Jian Ghomeshi and he announced the theme of Canada Reads 2013. It is “Turf Wars.” This means that for this year, Canada has been divided into 5 regions and one book from each of these regions will be picked to wage the “battle of the books.”  The rules are as follows and I ike that they are more open than restrictive this time:

-The books have to be English-language  fiction that is in print (though it excludes French-language literature,  which I as a translator am somewhat against, I must say that the campaign is not called “Canada lit”– maybe they should create a French version??)

-The books may be from any era in Canadian history as long as they are in print.

-The book does not have to be set in Canada or written by someone born in Canada,  but the author  must have lived some time  in Canada, whether currently or in the past. So, something like Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance would qualify.


I intend to follow this campaign and will post my thoughts about whatever short- and longlisted books I manage to read between now and February when the winner is announced.


Next post: the Governor Generals awards and The Giller Prize  


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Hello again

I do not want a long post today. Only wanted to announce that on June 16th I officially received my Masters degree in translation studies.  This, my proudest accomplishment to date, was great! It came about 1 week shy of my 25th birthday. I am sharing it now because I have been so busy with translation work (!!) that I have not had time until now.  In any case, last year I thought finishing the first draft of my thesis was the best present ever. Now I realize having the whole thing finished and receiving the degree is 10X better.

The experience of doing the Masters program was very rewarding, though sometimes I did not paint it as such to my nearest and dearest. The best part was that I had a great group of classmates who I consider friends. It was very stimulating to be around people with such great ideas and who valued school and education so much.  Thanks to all for a great experience, I wish you all the best and hope we stay in touch!  Congratulations to all again!!

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Burmese Lessons

Perhaps because the weekend was quite dark and stormy, it seemed a good time to devote myself to finishing a good book that I have had on the go for quite some time. Karen Connelly’s Burmese Lessons is a self-reflective account of revolutionary life and love in Burma of the mid to late 199os.

The book is a travel memoir, following in the tradition of most of Connelly’s other books. In fact at several points throughout, the author mentions her need to travel, and connects her wandering state to a need to establish family and forge family-like connections that are distant from the family she was born into.

Burmese Lessons is at first an astute political commentary Connelly observes in Burma as a journalist and while researching her bestselling novel The Lizard Cage. About halfway through, it evolves to a philosophical but very real and grounded book about the potential for conflict between revolutionary activity and romantic love. Connelly becomes  romantically involved with a Burmese revolutionary leader and must decide whether her lover’s revolutionary goals conflict too much with his ability to love her and conversely whether she has what it takes to love and support someone whose first devotion is not to her but to “the cause” of revolutionary activism. Also, will Connelly. a white Canadian woman writer, ever be truly accepted by the Burmese revolutionaries that her lover works with? These are the questions at the heart of the book, and to give away the answers Connelly arrives at would be depriving my loyal readers of another great read.

What got me interested in this book was its inclusion in the longlist for 2011 Canada Reads True Stories. Unfortunately it did not make the final five books, but this I think might be due to its similarity to Something Fierce, Carmen Aguirre’s memoir that actually did win the competition last year. My most loyal readers will remember my comments on Aguirre’s book published in an earlier post. I would like to expand them a bit here to say that Burmese Lessons is an excellent companion to Something Fierce. Both books address the topics of revolutionary activity and the potential for conflict between revolutionary activism and romantic love. However, while SF is an insider’s look at revolution (Aguirre participated in revolution and it could be said that she chose the revolutionary life), Connelly would rather not be directly involved, but becomes so for a time in an attempt to be intimate with her lover. The books provide two different perspectives on revolution and both are insightful, engaging and thought-provoking reads.

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Running a bit behind schedule today, sorry! And a pledge of allegiance to my blog and the written word

I am a bit slow to start off the day. It is one of the hazards of being self-/unemployed I think. I know I do not post regularly enough to say I was late in posting, but I am hoping that will change soon. I would like to impose  some discipline on myself in regards to this blog because I think I can do some good things with it and use words as my weapon of activism. However, such a pursuit requires a consistent effort, not a half-assed one.

Today is Thursday and it is the last day of May which means that I am really almost 25. I do not feel old by any means and that is good because I am not and I know that. I am not one of those people who says look how fat I am when I am not and oh my God I am so old when this is not true. Such people mildly piss me off. However, I will say this. I think that such the age of 25 marks the transition in one’s life between young adulthood as in getting used to being an adult and real adulthood. I am now long out of my childhood and beginning to do some thinking about what this means for my future. One thing I have been thinking of late is that I am a highly reflective person with a lot of ideas that I really would like to share with the world in some way. I would like to use this blog now as a site to share these ideas and please share yours as well. I vow that I will no longer use the excuse that I am too busy as a reason not to blog. I must take the time regularly to reflect and share my ideas with the rest of the world. In writing I am putting myself out there as a feminist, activist, cultural critic, person with a disability and just person. You can read this or not, but my words will have no effect if I do not let them out.

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