Jun 28 2011

Lynn Miles pays tribute to Rumana Manzur in “Love Doesn’t Hurt”

I think of Lynn Miles every time I read about the perilous fate of Rumana Manzur, the UBC graduate student who was brutally attacked by her husband last week while visiting her home in Bangladesh.

Ever since book contributor Renate Mohr recruited Lynn to donate the lyrics to one or her songs (“Rust”, a beautiful tribute to the lines we all earn on our faces through living), Lynn’s poetry and music have been a regular and inspiring presence in my home. And in addition to contributing to the book itself, Lynn offered to recruit other songwriters to work with her on creating a companion CD. It never quite came together — in part, we suspect, because as punishing as the world is to women of a certain age, it’s even more punishing to female performing artists of a certain age.

But the Juno-award-winning Lynn’s participation in the launch of I Feel Great About My Hands at the NAC in Ottawa in April was a huge gift to all who attended, and it made the other writers and I feel deeply honoured to be on stage with such a master. You can see her in action on the abbreviated video of the event, or find other samples of her performances online.

And the reason I think of her now whenever I’m reminded of the continuing problem of partner perpetrated violence against women is because the most heartbreaking song on her most recent album, “Fall for Beauty.” The song is called “Love Doesn’t Hurt” and on her website, Lynn explains that she wrote it as an emotional plea for people in abusive relationships.

I wrote this song after watching Oprah do a show about domestic violence. She kept repeating “love doesn’t hurt”, and even though I’ve written plenty of songs about how emotionally painful love can be, I wanted to put this crucial idea right up there beside my other songs, for balance, and clarity.” says Miles. “I’ve been playing the song live and have been approached by several people who work at women’s shelters who tell me it’s a powerful song, and that they want to play it for their clients. There’s no better compliment than that.

I think the song should be played every time domestic violence makes the news — and those of us who care about the issue should call up our local radio station and request it in honour of the women involved — both those who survive, and those who don’t. Its resonant lyrics and haunting music play in your head hours after you’ve heard it in the most beautiful way — like the entire album.


Jun 8 2011

Bloomingdale’s supports the girls

It’s 36 degrees centigrade outside but in the lingerie department at Bloomingdale’s, the temperature is very comfortable, and the “intimate apparel” (that’s what they call it here), even more so.

Galina, the friendly and authoritative woman staffing the fitting room has convincingly demonstrated that – like the women on Oprah referred to in Marlaina Gayle’s essay (tellingly called, “How Drooping Breasts Led Me to A Truck-driving Life of Adventure”), I, too, have been wearing the wrong bra size.

“Your selection is overwhelming,” I tell her. “Yes, she says, it is. But –” (and here she sizes me up in a glance and pronounces my size, in advance of confirming her accuracy with a tape measure), “we can help you.” And she does.

Half an hour later, she and her equally professional and supportive (pun intended) colleague Erica have equipped me with four new bras and (who knew) relevant insights into how best to wear, adjust and care for them. (It pains me to say this, but I can’t think of when I have ever, ever had remotely this good service in a department store in Canada.)

Is a career change next? (That’s the trajectory followed by Marlaina.) (And will I, too, start to adopt “the girls” terminology used by Galina as she coached mine into place, and cheered when they stood at attention?)

Finally, should I be approaching Bloomingdale’s to encourage them to stock copies of the book that has the potential to boost their sales just as Oprah’s episode no doubt did a few years ago?! (Ok, that may be wishful thinking…)