Tag Archives: lesson

place – CONNECTION – this happened here


just when i needed a little drama in my life.

Unfortunately the complex next door is fairly crispy and stinky. I and my roommates will smell like a campfire for a little while. No need for summer camping.


bikes —CONNECTION— gravel road+pink+training wheels


Bicycles: essential form of transportation within city limits. Any old second hand bike with no working gears is fine. Problems arise when you decide to go on extended trips outside of the city limits, beginning to recall the value of those clackity gears. In any case, at least it’s good exercise. That’s what I was telling myself two days ago biking up Islington to the McMichael Gallery.

I even think my first bike had gears, gears and training wheels. I came late to any form of adventures on wheels, according to some. I was 8 years old. The bike was a shocking pink with little white wheels jutting out to the side. Determined to not look a fool I practiced obsessively and soon enough the safety wheels were thrown into the depths of a closet.

Once I was a practiced professional, which didn’t take long, I made it my project to control my sisters learning experience. I told her where to turn, pushed her up our gravel driveway and said what ‘didn’t work’. The entire time she was contentedly oblivious to my direction. I squinted my eyes and clenched my teeth trying my best not to show frustration. Well I suppose she was only a four year old who couldn’t possibly understand all of my bicycle wisdom in one lesson.

Next was open roads with little traffic and no hands……nothing like city biking.

Ira Glass on building a story

I found these videos on YouTube and I think they’re a really helpful resource. Ira Glass is one of my favorite storytellers.

The Click Song by Miriam Makeba — CONNECTION — Mom & Miriam help me master the click in ‘Xhosa’

The Click Song sung my Miriam Makeba. Another one of my favorites; where did that naughty little flea go…huh?

Tongue reaches for roof of mouth, flicks forward as other letters tumble out through vocal strings. I’ve almost mastered the pronunciation of Xhosa. Once again, tongue suctions to roof of mouth and snaps down, over and over again. Xhosa, Xhosa, Xhosa. I ask my mother to repeat the name of this language I am currently obsessed with. The Xh is like a wet snap in the mouth, o sounds like aaaahhhhhh this is finally followed by sa.

Before attending an all-white boarding school and before being fully introduced into the absurd world of segregated South Africa my mother grew up on a farm surrounded by these sounds, by these clicks. Like most white and therefore privileged South Africans of the time my grandparents had help on the farm. This came from a Xhosa family who lived there and whose children were my mothers friends until it was time to be whisked away to not an entirely different world but to one in which the rules and laws of the land were explicitly made clear by new authority figures.

We’re on a short drive to the bottom of Smithers ski hill in northern BC, Canada. I ask mom to say the words once more “say it again, say it again.” I am so close but my mother has tuned out, tired of my demands. We have about 10 minutes before we arrive at our destination, just enough time for Miriam to chime in on the lesson. “Okay fine,” I say “can we listen to The Click song then.” My parents continue talking. “The Click song,” I repeat firmly. Mom leans forward and presses play, her back tense with irritation.
Miriam begins:

In my native village in Johannesburg there is a song that we always sing when a young girl gets married.
It’s called The Click Song by the English because they cannot say ngqothwane.

The song starts and one line is repeated:
Igqira lendlela nguqo ngqothwane
Igqira lendlela nguqo ngqothwane

I focus on these two lines every time they come up in the chorus. Meandering around my mouth my tongue begins its gymnastics. Clicks are thrown here and there bouncing around the car as it swerves between white cold stuff stuck to the sides of the road. My shoulders bop up and down. We are almost there, not quite enough time to press repeat or to prepare myself for cold, blizzards and downhill.

And finally, I cannot end this post without a brief Xhosa lesson.