Sunday, March 28, 2010

The art of the run-on sentence

Sunday mornings seem to be the day and time that I feel the urge to put together the ideas for this blog. The ideas that run into my head like a "run-on sentence". I have a pile of post it notes that capture the idea or story and list of links to add into this space - all sitting in a file until I can catch up with them or . . . forget about them.

If you are a writer, you likely have a story or many of them running in your head too. You know, suddenly your thoughts aren't just random thoughts. They come on suddenly and develop unexpectedly in your mind like a flowing compostion that is interesting and beautiful and should be captured on paper or something digital.

The problem is, the story all flows in your head while your fingers are away from anything to capture it on. After the information surge, you can't recreate that interesting composition that just ran through your mind. You need to keep something handy with you all the time to capture these moments. Even stop your car while running errands and run into a library to borrow a piece of paper and a pen!

Your "brillant" ideas and thoughts may actually add up to something useful or interesting for others, or you may look at what you wrote again later and wonder, "What was I thinking?! It seemed so brilliant at the time!" At the very least, that composition in your head was an entertaining moment that only you got to enjoy! And you don't have any control over it either. It will come and go as it pleases, so enjoy the ride!

I think a blog is more interesting if the voice behind it talks to you at the moment you are reading it and gives you what you are looking for and really need at the moment that you found it. It does not talk at you.

My idea for today's post is to share a letter of thanks I wrote on my last day to the people I worked with at the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages (OCOL).

I didn't really share much about my personal self while working there, but on my last day, at the last moment I could write this letter, I did, and sent it to everyone via email. They had only five minutes to read it before the good bye gathering organized for me in the conference room that day. And it seemed, everyone, about 20 people, had all managed to read it. They really enjoyed it. Some wanted to frame it and put it on the office wall. I've never written a good bye letter anywhere I have worked. I liked the people. They inspired me. I wanted to leave something behind. I never know what will come next.

Below is the letter if you care to read it. It will also give you a snapshot of the voice behind this blog without having to read an autobiography! It is a perfect example of the run-on sentence! What was I thinking! Lol!

Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Letter of Thanks

It was a wonderful experience working with OCOL/CoLO; as an organization it felt like a small and dynamic family with an amazing output. Friendliness is an obvious quality that is appreciated here. I still can't figure out how you get everything done with only 175 employees!? Audits, studies, report cards, annual reports, kiosks, media relations, speeches and events, court interventions, communications products, and responding to questions and complaints. Did I miss anything? Probably. Admin - that's a big job too.

I enjoyed learning more about official languages. That was a surprise for me. It is a more interesting and engaging topic than I thought it would be. It always helps to learn about Canadian history through different lenses and points of view. I've looked at it now as an American from California moving to Canada and marrying a fluently bilingual French Quebec Journalist at Radio Canada (CBC) who I met during the '84 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, learning French myself as an adult, and sending my kids to French schools and daycares in Quebec. I had both culture and weather shock and somehow survived.

I've looked at Canadian history through the story of the Canadian Horse and its evolution in Quebec and Canada; working with Canadian Horse breeders in both Ontario and Quebec who get along very well for the common cause of preserving this breed, trying to get funding from Canadian Heritage for a museum exhibit (or at least a virtual online exhibit) that would cross Canada, then find its home in a Quebec City museum. All to no avail.

I also looked at Canadian history from the period of Cornelius Krieghoff's time in Quebec City in the 1850's and his fascination with les habitants so clearly depicted in his paintings, meeting and interviewing the unilingual English retired school teacher from Toronto who bought and rescued his Quebec City home dans les plaines d'Abraham from demolition many years ago, and who was accepted by the Government of Quebec to purchase and restore this home, and received funding from them to do so, even though she did not speak a word of French, and as a student in Communications at Concordia University in Montreal where 50% or more of the students were French, and another large percentage were immigrants from other countries, and where I was the only American.

I now know what it feels like to be in the majority, and what it feels like to be a minority. Fair is fair.

And now again, I take another look at Canadian History, this time from the point of view of official languages and its beginnings, which ties nicely into some of my past university studies of the Quiet Revolution in Quebec in the 1960s.

I even managed to read the Commissioner's book, "Sorry I don't speak French," as I took the bus to and from work each day. (Actually, I cheated a bit and skimmed through many parts.) I think I enjoyed the introduction the most, and learning about the Commissioner's experiences at Fort Lennox on Ile-aux-Noix on the Richelieu River just south of Montreal where I journeyed too one day for a visit as a tourist with my kids when they were little. Thanks to Luc for lending me the book from the OCOL Library. (P.S. I returned it today.)

Well, I'm not one to really say good bye. Being from California I'm more likely to say, "See ya later" or "Hasta la vista (baby)!" (That's Spanish; we hear a lot of it in California with the large Mexican population there), but being that this is Canada I should really say, "A bientot mes amis! Merci pour toutes! Les chocolats aussi!"

You are a great bunch to work with!

(Note to blog readers: I haven't figured out how to insert the French accents on the French words using this keyboard! Sorry. I'll work on that for any future French words that pop into this blog.)

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