But mostly downs.

This week has been tough!

Every morning I’ve been getting up early to go to a different school, and every night I haven’t been getting to bed in time.

It’s definitely taking its toll on me.

Of course there was the news on Sunday night that Osama was dead. Such a relief that it’s over. And I really hope that Muslims all over, but especially in America, have it a bit easier now.

People tend to be more magnanimous towards their minorities when they’ve enjoyed a victory.

And things were getting really bad for Muslims, especially in America.

Then Monday was our general election, and what a surprise that was! Can’t believe that Canadians voted in Harper for a majority government! It’s like they rewarded him for shafting them.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the whole reason the government collapsed in a non-confidence vote was because Harper tabled a budget in which he wouldn’t tell people where he was spending billions of dollars.

Talk about arrogance!

Oh well. Now he’s in power with a majority for at least four years! And I feel like going out in that dreary rain to bother voting was a complete waste of time. Intellectually I know it wasn’t, and yet I can’t help the way I feel.

And last week Casey Abrams was cut from American Idol. *sigh*

I know, I know, frivolity, but it sure dampened my spirits.

Yesterday however I had a wonderful day! Went to a school in Richmond Hill where they were doing a character symposium. Did two presentations, one Roses in My Carpets and the other ESL to Author, for the intermediates (grades 7 and 8). Both went fabulous, even though the intermediates were really crowding the library. The librarian told me afterwards that she wondered how I’d keep their attention during a whole hour without a visual slide show like with my Roses in My Carpets presentation.

I just looked at her taken aback. Of all the presentations, one of the strongest is the ESL to Author presentation. I’d say it’s just as good as Roses in My Carpets. And perfect for grades sevens and eights, if I do say so myself! It reaches them right on their level. You should see them squirm when I start talking about suicide. Rich schools, poor schools, doesn’t matter. For a little while each kid is looking sideways to see if anyone is watching them.

For a long time I haven’t even worried about whether that presentation would engage them!

After my presentations I had a group of ‘groupies’. Young girls and a few boys who crowded around me, asking for autographs and asking questions, or some of them just hanging around the edges listening to my answers, too shy to ask anything but just wanted to, I don’t know, bask in my ‘glow’ or something.

It was so cute!

And one of the teachers was sitting among the students listening to my Roses presentation and he actually gave me a card that had some of the most amazing praise, including that I was a gift from God. In fact in his card he repented on behalf of the white kids who’d bullied me while I was growing up.  He said I was the carpet of roses and that I weave tapestries and carpets of ‘life’. Omigosh, it was so cute! Made me blush up a storm!

But then of course comes the lows!

Today I went to a school with a large Jewish population.

I was in the midst of my Roses presentation. There’s a line in the story about the family having bread and water for supper and I asked the kids if they knew the symbolic significance of that. Eventually one of the kids did come up with what I wanted, that basically bread and water was a symbol of prison. I told them that not that long ago, when they wanted to punish prisoners, they’d give them bread and water. And then when I asked them if they recognized what I, as an author, was trying to suggest (that basically the lives of poor people in other countries is often a prison–they can’t get out of it), a young girl, who I found out was Jewish, basically said that the refugees were bad and were being punished.

She is the first kid in thirteen years of doing that presentation who has ever intimated that the refugees were ‘bad’.

I found it incredibly depressing!

I make no secret of the fact that one of the things I try to do with my stories is humanize Muslims. Tell our stories so that people can get to know that, hey, we’re really not that different from everyone else.

But just seeing this innocent little grade three student say something like that, something she probably overheard, just reminded me of what a huge task there is at hand.

Maybe I’m just tired because of my schedule.

Maybe I’m just feeling a little burned out.

This kind of hectic schedule would do that to anyone.

But really I just feel like a cart horse. Like an aging cart horse, like Boxer in Animal Farm or something. I’m just lowering my head and straining at the yoke, biting at the bit, swishing it around in my mouth to make it more comfortable, ready to keep on pulling, one hoof in front of the other, one hoof in front of the other.

 What else can I do?

Tomorrow morning I have four presentations at two different schools across the city.

And I’m tired.

Sunday I fly down to Orlando for the International Reading Association convention for the talk I’m going to do there on Monday. Then Monday night I fly back, getting in by midnight. Sleep in my own bed for a night, then it’s off to tour New Brunswick and then attend the Hackmatack ceremonies in Halifax–where I’m pretty sure Wanting Mor (which was nominated) will not win.

Then I fly back on Friday afternoon, and on Saturday morning bright and early, I have another presentation at the library down the street. At least it’s down the street!

That’s May 14th. Between now and May 14th I have Saturday May 7th, one day, where I don’t have to work. (and yes, traveling is work!) One day!


Just call me Boxer.

Heave! Ho!