A Promise for a Lifetime; a memoir of the imagination in three parts

Part One:  The Promise, or How to start a university in Honduras


Have you ever wanted to set off on a journey with no destination in mind?

I did — and I did. It began as a spontaneous event. I stepped outside of the Chicago airport to have a smoke between connecting flights and with no intentions to do so, I jumped on a bus and set off on a pilgrimage to nowhere. Destiny had her way with me and the first thing she showed me is this: ‘nowhere’ is the same as ‘now here’. I followed the signs and let co-incidences, strange encounters and small explosions determine my path, living for months with no cash, I climbed mountains and crossed borders and witnessed how time evaporates, boundaries disappear, and memories cross over into the here and now making all possibilities inevitable. Liberating, validating, fucking amazing – almost magical, ‘The Promise, or How to start a university in Honduras” is a travel memoir that plays with time with words mimicking memories and presenting hard earned truths with imagination, humour, and intelligence.

A short bio: At 15, I dropped out of school and ran away from Toronto to the West Coast of B.C. where I got a job deck-handing on a 38’ salmon troller. A few short years later I earned my Class 4 Master Navigation papers, which was a most unusual accomplishment for a young woman at that time (1976). When my kids were young, I went to university and eventually wrote my Ph.D. thesis, Ordering Chaos, Canadian Fringe Theatre. In the 80’s I was a writer and director in Fringe theatres across Canada and when the kids left home, I became a minimalist and a traveller. Travelling with my trusted little suitcase on wheels, I crossed North and Central America by bus and train, and once by motorcycle. I lived and worked in 6 different countries: Mexico, Cuba, Grand Cayman, Honduras, Guatemala and Belize. In 2005, the University of British Columbia (UBC) hired me to teach in the English department. I also periodically teach for a U.S. program called Semester at Sea. I’ve  sailed around the world teaching “Digital Story-Telling” and “Literature of the Seas” three times and 900 miles up the Amazon River too. To celebrate my 50th year, I walked for 50 days across Northern Spain on an ancient Pilgrimage. Now, I live part of the time on a tiny Caribbean island off the coast of Belize where I have a modest guest house, and the other part of the time I teach courses in Writing and Canadian Studies for the English Dept. at U.B.C. ‘A Promise for a Lifetime; a memoir of the imagination in three parts’ is my first memoir, and “The Promise, or How to start a University in Honduras’ is part one.

Women like me born in the 50’s, liberated in the 70’s, radicalized in the 80’s, educated in the 90’s – and now diversified beyond these generalizations, many of us no longer care to gender ourselves. So, I’ll change that to say people like me who enjoy reading memoirs and travel adventures, who have an open-ended sense of humour, a fascination for how memory works, an interest in migration, ethnography, adventure and an enduring penchant for transcendence and transformation – these are my readers.

A note on narrative style: In non-linear systems the change of the output is not proportional to the change of the input (in mathematical terms that is). This seems like a fitting way to describe my writing and perhaps a metaphor for my life: sometimes over-productive and sometimes counter intuitive, always unpredictable while remaining beautifully balanced on the edge of contradictions and coincidences. I think my readers will appreciate the refuge of such a fine balance and enjoy my alternative vision of lived experience.

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