Archive for August, 2011

August 3rd, 2011

Excerpt from Like Any Other Day

by Alison Isaac, Learner, Writing Workshops

It seemed the promise of civil rights and assimilating parents didn’t migrate across generations. She had fooled herself into believing her mastery of accent-less English and a graduate degree would be enough. But months passed, hundreds of resumes were sent out and no job offers came. Bathing had become a chore, so she did it infrequently. She realized there was little point in showering only to sit on her mother’s couch searching for work in the local papers and online. She went days without bathing but knew she was alright as long as her mother didn’t comment on it. Not one to mince words, her mother would have told her if she stank.

She used to walk into offices confidently, resume in hand and hair pulled back in her tightest bun, slick with gel to keep the curls out. As time passed with no results, she chose to job search from the warmth of her home. But she discovered there were other challenges to the online job search and found herself wishing her name wasn’t as neutral as her accent so potential employers would know who she was—or at least what she looked like—before she walked into their offices. It was a horrible feeling to travel two hours by public transportation during a Canadian winter, only to find that you weren’t what they were expecting. Toronto was a cold place.

She finally ended up accepting a low paying job at the local American superstore where most immigrants from her neighbourhood were employed. She was supposed to start training the following week, although not in a management position as she had hoped. Since she hadn’t worked in retail since high school, she was told she would have to work her way up.

About Alison Isaac:

Alison is a writer and educator with a diverse background that includes journalism, international coordination, and non-profit community work. As an educator, Alison has lived and worked in Mexico, and holds a B.Ed. with a focus on equity, diversity, and social justice in urban education. As a writer, she has lived in Ecuador where she wrote, edited and managed content for a travel guidebook, and also contributed to various media internationally. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.

This text is an excerpt of Alison’s short story entitled “Like Any Other Day,” which was written for Cordelia Strube’s short fiction and novel writing workshop: ‘Short Fiction and Novel Writing – Level III’ (CWWR 425).

August 3rd, 2011

A Memorable Meal

by Maggie Brackley, Learner, Writing Workshops

The sun slips slowly behind the distant Pentland Hills, and soon the mist will roll in from the North Sea as it always does at this time, bringing a damp chill to the summer night. My sister and I follow our noses down to the harbour. The smell of seaweed and freshly-caught fish carries on the wind, but what really lures us is the wonderful smell of frying from Murdo’s fish and chip van.

As exiled Scots, it is a given that every trip back home will include fish and chips. Not any old fish and chips, mind you, no, our fish must be eaten as fresh as they come, harbour-side, caught on that day’s boat. This traditional food, once so ubiquitous, is getting harder to find, fallen to the competition of the foreign invaders: Indian, Thai, Mexican and the like.

We line up impatiently, salivating as we watch Murdo throw the newly battered fish in the deep bubbling fat. Just a few minutes more, and he drains a batch of newly fried chips and wraps them along with our fish in heavy grey paper.

We take our precious hot bundles to the sea wall to dine al fresco, the seagulls squawking and flapping around us, their beady eyes ever watchful, waiting to pounce on any tiny dropped morsel. We bite into the crisp batter, and savour the sweet, Scottish haddock underneath. The chips are fat and hand-cut, quite different, and we believe far superior, to their transatlantic cousins, the slim, stringy French fries.

Our meal wraps us in warm memories of times past, of our childhood growing up in this place, of similar meals with those no longer with us.

Stuffed and contented, we saunter down the path to the nearby pub, to wash it all down with a pint of dark Scottish ale. Sl àinte Mhòr!

About Maggie Brackley:

Maggie Brackley is a former business analyst with the Ontario government. She has recently retired, and now liberated from writing Treasury Board submissions, enjoys writing about her travel experiences.

Maggie’s travel writing piece was written for Ann Ireland’s online course for beginning travel writers: ‘Creative Travel Writing’ (CWWR 952).