If You Could Only See Me Now; Multitasking at its Worse; Alaska Air to Seattle to Doha; Meeting Wonderful People on the Way; Reading the New Yorker of Jacqueline 

I do not believe in multitasking but there is no question about this – I am stupidly, supremely multitasking at this precise moment. I am sitting at the Edmonton Airport – got here early,  checked in, traveling Alaska Air to Seattle and then by Qatar Air to Saudi Arabia. 

Well..something  happened and they have only one person at the check-in desk and she has to check everyone in before she can push me in a wheelchair. Therefore I decided it was a fine time to call Telus in order the have my home wi-fi service placed on a vacation suspension. To make a long story short – it did not work. Multitasking never does, this will prove it. 

Multitasking is the performance of more than one task at the same time. This was the example sentence provided: “Parenting skills such as multitasking and concentrating amid distractions are easily transferable to the workplace.” Perhaps but it is wildly inefficient. As was proved in this particular instance.  

The pusher woman, destined to push me arrived, contact had not been make with Telus, I had unzipped my carry on bag, its contents spilled to the floor. Picked belongings up and off we went. 

Now I am comfortable on the plane – seat 4A – the pilot helped with my carry-on bag. All is right  with the world! Alaska Air is my airline of choice. It flew me from Edmonton to Seattle, most efficiently. The airline personal charming and efficient. The antithesis of Air Canada – polar opposites one could say. 

Met the nicest, most welcoming people on the flight.  Spoke to a woman and her son in the Edmonton airport – during those futile multitasking hours, she promised to hold the flight for me. She and her son were seated near me. We struck up a conservation. 

She: I see you reading a story from the New Yorker.  My mother supplies me with articles from there – you would like her, you would have so much in common.

We exchanged stories. She was born in Texas, but her mother got her out to there – moving to San Francisco. She moved to San Francisco from Texas when she was two – I moved from Edmonton to San Francisco when I was 24. We had other strange things in common – she and her son have blue eyes. However she had one parent with brown eyes, the other with blue. 

Me: That is amazing because blue eyes is a recessive gene. 

She: I know. The same thing is true of my son – he has blue eyes although his father has brown eyes. 

They live in San Diego, were in Edmonton for a funeral. I so hope we stay in touch – of course I gave her one of my fancy blog cards. I am running out – good thing I am on my way to AK of Eish’ha Tours who provided me with them. I need a fresh supply. 

The wheelchair met the Seattle flight and and I was pushed through the huge airport, catching trains connecting the various terminals.  It was again a delight to be transported happily (unlike my Air Canada experience in Montreal. I have devised a way of making great time while  being pushed in the wheelchair. 

Alter Ego: What is your technique. 

Me: If people get in the way, are slow moving, I say. BEEP Beep Beep 

Alter Ego: Does it work! 

Me: Every time. The staff love it and we make great time. 

The technique worked. Although there was only about an hour between landing and taking off, we made it exactly on time. Boarded Qatar Airlines and already, so soon I am luxuriating in seat 11J. A photograph of the screen shall be attached to this blog (and to Instagram) so all can see. Already dinner has been ordered – beef tenderloin – the meat is Halal. Will have a cheese plate for desert. I have been provided with pajamas, for sleepy time. It is most doubtful that you shall get a photo of me in them. Sorry, They are black but from the Black Company in London. 

We shall now move onto something serious. – the article I was reading in the New Yorker. Parul Sehgal told us how “How the Critic Jacqueline Rose Learned to Read the World ‘ in the August 21, 2023 print edition. I discovered it in my bathroom two days ago, stared reading, brought it on the airplane with me. Sehgal followed Rose around documenting their time together in Presence of Mind. The online article had a catchier title: How the Writer and Critic Jacqueline Rose Puts the World on the Couch.

Never had I heard of Jacqueline Rose, however Sehgal immediately brought me up to speed.

“Rose who corrects the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck University of London is a feminist and critic with a psychoanalytic with a psychoanalytic orientation, she is singularly influential both within and without the academic. “

(Bringing someone up to speed means giving them all the latest information about something.)

It is fascinating to read of Rose’s life in its entirety, please go to the article to do that. I shall show you a few insights that I totally and throroughly agreed with, one hundred percent. 

Some slight background is necessary to address the issues to be discussed. Rose is Jewish, she and her sister went on family visits. 

“Every Sunday saw the dreaded trip to the maternal grandparents, the Prevezers, immigrants from Poland, and each a remnant of slaughtered families. Fifty of her grandmother’s relatives had been killed in the Holocaust, Gillian once wrote. This was never discussed; all that was communicated was a hatred of Germans and a desperate cleaving to tradition. “They were cauldrons of feeling, but none of it could be expressed,” Braham Murray, who became a celebrated theatre director, wrote in his memoir, “The Worst It Can Be Is a Disaster.” The fact that “no Prevezer could ever appear vulnerable or moved” was, he said, the family “curse.”

I was therefore amazed and impressed to read of her Zionism viewpoint. 

“Rose describes herself not as an anti-Zionist but as a critic of Zionism, a reader of Zionism, focussing on the nationalist movement’s insistence on its own innocence. She warns against letting victimhood—best understood as an event, something that befalls a person—become an identity. In the context of Zionism, as in the context of feminism, she has said, we “need to be endlessly vigilant in not allowing victimhood to become who we are.”

That last sentence not only spoke, it sounded and reverberated in my ears. I was abused as a young girl – I was somehow, from a very young age, so determined, absolutely determined  – not to allow victimhood to become who I was. Nowadays, I see it everywhere. I met an Edmonton  transgender woman who shared endless stories about his/her victimhood. Abused as a boy, abused as a man who was sure he was something else, now looking like a woman, abused because she is transgender. Victim written all over ‘her’ forehead. It was my job to listen, to feel sorry, to wallow in her victimhood, but I did not. 

Me: This I cannot understand. I was abused, I did not decide I wanted to be a man, I decided I wanted to be a strong woman – not be a victim. 

She: Did not respond but then said she did not want me as a friend, as a confidant. I was gracious, inwardly vastly relieved. 

Victimhood is easy – blame others for one’s shortcomings – never take responsibility for changing either yourself or the world. Poor Me, the constant the only lamination of victims.

But admit to having weaknesses, wondering  about me and my life sometimes, not in a good way. The issue of closeness  particularly poignant as I prepare to leave, Canada yet again. Therefore, this had particularly meaning. 

“The question of closeness—closeness desired, permitted, negotiated, regretted—recurred in my conversations with Rose. Freud, I remembered, kept a figurine of a porcupine on his desk. He was fond of Schopenhauer’s parable about a group of porcupines on a cold winter’s day. Huddling, they were pricked by one another’s quills, and sprang apart; chilled, they again tried to nestle together.” 

In my own interminable way I have resolved the porcupine problem. Cole winter days are almost entirely unknown in Saudi Arabia. I will not be tempted to huddle with porcupines to keep warm. 

I am able to choose, to have options, Shegal’s amazing article spoke to this: 

“Rose speaks to this: “I’ll tell you what our options are.” “We can either come back the short way or we can go the slightly longer way.” “Now you have to make a choice, because there’s a walk down through the lime trees or . . .” This is what it’s like to walk with Jacqueline Rose. It is also what it’s like to think with Jacqueline Rose—in an intellectual style that has been honed by her engagement with Freud. There are so many routes one can take, each with its own losses and gains.” 

I am, as everyone can see, taking a different route. I am aware and looking forward to the gains, but also awfully aware that there shall be losses. 

I leave you now. I am in the Doha Hammond Airport, waiting for my flight to Riyadh. It is a long wait, tell you the story of that later. Some photographs of my Qatar Air seat, and some of the luxury in which I presently fined myself. A self-made woman born into a humble Saskatchewan family.