Monday, April 25, 2011

Of Wyrms and Women pt. 6

[part 1] [part 2] [part 3][part 4][part 5]

Tia said not to worry, but I don’t want to show up empty-handed, so I bring a bottle of pinot noir. I arrive at The Lair, and Tia takes the wine “Sam, right? Thanks!” and adds it to the table of liquor, though she doesn’t uncork it. She pours two glasses of something and hands one to me. Whiskey. I sip slowly, and a heartburnt cough crawls up my throat. The music is loud, something punky with lots of trumpet. There are maybe fifteen people sprawled around the room, gathered in little clumps. It seems very mellow, despite the noise.

Tia leads me to a couple of chairs and we sit down.

“What do you write?” Tia asks. I take my notebook to the Lair, though I rarely get any writing done there. Mostly I keep my pen in hand, as an excuse to stare impolitely. I imagine saying ‘oh, sorry, I was lost in thought,’ but no one seems interested in catching me.

“I, uh, guess stories. A history.”

“Oh yeah? I had you down as a poet,” Tia laughs. “Can’t be right all the time, I guess. The other writers are grouped in that corner.” Tia points at a cluster of two men and a woman. The woman waves her hands, talking very quickly. One of the men leans forward, nodding, the other has his arms crossed in front of him, and taps his left foot rapidly. “I should introduce you. There are some artists here, a couple of computer geeks. Jen, over there, she’s a lawyer. She’s the freak of this group.”

Jen has shoulder length blond hair, stylishly straight with sharp corners. She is wearing leather pants and a leather jacket, open over a net shirt. Her belly is bare, her bra shining through, red and silky. She doesn’t look like a lawyer. I start mentally redressing her, like a paper doll. Would her nipple rings show through a loose blouse?

“How did you know I was a writer?”

“Intuition. It’s a game I play – guess the regular. After I see someone a couple of times, I decide who they are, what they do, stuff like that. I’m usually not far off.” Tia eyes me as I sip from my glass to keep from having to say anything. She gets impatient, and bounces away to talk with other people. I sit drinking and watching Tia. She pulls a man into the middle of the room and they start jumping around—dancing I guess. A woman comes over and joins them, and Tia jumps onto her back.

“I’m Melvin,” a voice comes from my left.


“Sorry, what?”

“Sam!” I yell.

I can barely hear through the haze of voices and music. Melvin must think I’m a dork.

“Tia says you’re a writer,” he says.

“Oh yeah?”

“I am too.”


A woman with green lipstick pulls on Melvin’s arm.

“Nice chatting,” he says over his shoulder. At least Tia is introducing me as a writer. I can erase my real job for the night: washing floors and scrubbing toilets at the university library is hardly going to make me friends. It feels like high school all over again. I was invited to a few parties in grade nine. Nicole Richardson was my best friend. I would follow Nicole around to try and fit in. If she got a drink, I’d get a drink. If she went to dance, I’d dance nearby. And she didn’t laugh at my clumsy imitations of her moves. Nicole talked to me, she sat with me at lunchtime. I must have become too clingy; Nicole began avoiding me, so the invitations stopped. Now, here I am again: an adult desperately wanting to be one of the cool kids, but feeling completely awkward. I let Tia refill my glass again and again.

Later in the evening, Tia moves her chair over, closer to me. She’s swaying slightly, I haven’t been able to keep track of the number of drinks she’s had. I have a glass of water in hand, trying to fend off tomorrow’s hangover.

“Let me feel your hair,” Tia murmurs, already moving her hand towards me. Tia pushes her fingers into my scalp and begins kneading. “It’s so soft. I didn’t think it would be so soft.” I stiffen. I hate my hair. I hate its texture. I hate people touching it. Tia is running both hands through my curls now, catching her fingers in the tangles. I’m tense, my eyes prickle. I’m not going to cry.

“I should go.”

“Why? Don’t go yet.”

“No, I’ve got to get going.” I get up, pulling my head away from her hands. “Uh, work. You know.” I weave my way to the door and look back. Tia is standing, leaning slightly to one side, watching me. I notice how pale she is: her whole face is bleached by the track lights. She’d look ethereal, except her eyes are too normal, an everyday green. I hesitate a moment, but then turn and leave. Walking home I berate myself. She didn’t mean anything by it. I should have stayed. What kind of moron panics over something as stupid as hair? Idiot me, I had to leave. To lose a chance at a friend. Damn. What’ll you do when you see her again, Sam?

What? No. I just won’t go back there. I don’t have to deal with it.


I get home and brush my teeth twice. My breath is still sour when I climb into bed. I want to sleep, but I lie awake for hours debating whether to go back to the Lair. I think of school again; my greatest achievement had been performing in Macbeth in grade eleven. I was his Lady, “screw your courage to the sticking place,” was my favourite line because it’s something I’ve never been able to do. This time, I’ll try it Lady M’s way.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Beverly Hungry Wolf granted honorary degree

i've noticed i get a number of people searching for writer Beverly Hungry Wolf clicking through to this blog, so i thought i'd post this announcement from Lethbridge College:

April 5, 2011 – Lethbridge College is pleased to announce Beverly Hungry Wolf (Sikski-Aki Black-Faced Woman) as the Honorary Degree recipient for its spring convocation ceremonies. Hungry Wolf will be presented with her degree April 28.

“Beverly Hungry Wolf is an exceptional woman who has made significant contributions to education throughout her storied life,” says Dr. Tracy Edwards, (Matoomikkitstaki First Offering) Lethbridge College president and CEO. “We’re incredibly fortunate to have Beverly share her wisdom and customs with Lethbridge College. It is my honour to bestow on her this designation.”

Born in Cardston, Hungry Wolf was raised on the Blood Reserve by relatives who fostered her Blackfoot culture. She has since been intimately involved in ceremonies and cultural practices of the Blood Tribe and has earned the right to be called an elder. This work has given her knowledge to share, taken from her elders and spiritual leaders that have long since passed on.

Hungry Wolf uses this traditional education to teach in many capacities. She is serving as an elder to Lethbridge College, First Nation Metis Inuit (FNMI) Cultural Support Program; she firmly believes in bridging the journey of Blackfoot students from their origins to their roles as students at Lethbridge College. In this position, Hungry Wolf provides personal and cultural support to all students, staff and faculty as a mentor and educator.

Convocation will be split over two days this year, with the first ceremony at 2 p.m., April 28, and the second at 10 a.m., April 29. While speaking at both ceremonies, Hungry Wolf will be presented with her degree April 28.

The FNMI Graduation evening will take place April 27 and the Nippon Institute of Technology (NIT) Ceremony the evening of April 29.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Of Wyrms and Women pt. 5

[part 1] [part 2] [part 3][part 4]

Wealhtheow waited, as wives wait for warriors gone to war. Daily she walked to the shore, scanned the sea for ships. This was the third summer of their marriage. The third season of watching the waves. Waiting.

Her husband led the war band. His father, called Halfdane, was growing old. When he died his son would lead the Shieldings Wealhtheow’s husband Hrothgar, would rule the Shield-Danes Shieldings. His song will be sung through centuries.

Wealhtheow turned and walked homewards.

Halfdane’s hall, though full, was small. A new one was needed. The Danes had been at war, winning for three generations. Their tribe had earned great renown. Her father knew of the rise of the Shieldings. He was a shrewd man; many of the other chieftains did not consider them a threat. The home of the Shieldings, after all, was far from their halls. Wealhtheow’s father was smarter. He knew war could be waged across water, and the ships of the Shieldings were strong. So he wedded his daughter to their prince, and she would weave peace between the tribes. If she could. Wealhtheow remembered the lament of the exiled wife.

The wife was far from her own people, living with her husband’s tribe. Her husband’s kinsmen did not approve of their marriage. They drew her husband into a feud, and he was provoked into committing a crime. He acted against his lord, wielding his weapon within the mead hall. So he was outcast, banished over the sea. His wife too suffered for his brash behaviour. She was bound to live apart from the tribe, alone in a forest. Forever separated from her husband. Her family too far to uphold her honour. Wealhtheow wondered how long the wife survived the sundering.

To live in the forest without support was surely a certain doom.

Fate had been kind to Wealhtheow so far. She thanked the Norns for that. Her husband, still young, was earning his reputation as a ring-giver. He was as generous to Wealhtheow as he was to his warriors. He adorned her in gold. Like his warriors, she gave him loyalty. She served him as a wife should. Wealhtheow’s mother had told her that she must bind herself strongly to her husband’s people. Earn their trust and love. If she wanted to survive.