About Me

Update January 2022: I was going to erase this page today…it makes me cringe reading it now, 2-3 years later.

I simply want to write: I am working to create something beautiful.

But, I’ll keep the content below, to demonstrate, if nothing else, that processes (and attitudes) change over time.

Original from November 2019: Of course I’m setting you a bit of a trap here, because we tend to define ourselves by our accomplishments and our skills, not as the moment to moment evolution of the process of being human and creating a life.  

But, I recognise people want to know who I am, where I come from (this really means, from what place of authority do I speak and write?) And I know that you need to know this because what you’re really seeking is a form of trust or validity. 

A writer lives in a bit of a vacuum if we don’t have a reader; the reciprocal relationship [1] is necessary. We’re conducting a transaction: you’re giving me your eyeballs, focus and concentration for a limited amount of time (a true gift, thank you!!) and I am giving you (hopefully) writing or drawing which tickles (nettles?) your neurons, entertains you, makes you laugh (or cry) [2], or lets you get to know me better as the ambiguous, ambitious?, neurotic, evolving human I am and continue to become [3].  I promise authenticity.  And that’s messy and sometimes uncomfortable and often weird. 

So here’s a bit of an experiment I did with my students… but first, (and this is part of the experiment), did your inner spidey senses tingle when you read the word “students” in the earlier part of this sentence?  Already your super computer mind is filing away the connotations and information attached to that plural noun to situate me on some sort of measure/category/identity [4]… in less than the space of a single sentence we’ve slipped from process to outcome/accomplishment again.  It’s too easy to do.  And it’s why I’m writing this blog….because I’ve had a lifetime of training and education honing my outcome focus.  I’m desperately trying (and often failing) to get myself back on the path of creating/making/experiencing/playing [5] art, simply for the pleasure in making.  So I’m going to blog to occupy this space and damn it, you’re coming with me!

The experiment: it’s a reflexivity exercise I conducted in order to demonstrate how the practice of inward reflection and recognising our positions within the concentric circles of life (self, family, neighbourhood, community, city, country, planet …) must become part of the research process because it influences how we interpret information. These are the lenses through which we understand ourselves and consequently everything else that filters through our noggins.  A good and ethical researcher will incorporate this in their practice and be a more humble, tuned in and compassionate gatherer, analyser and synthesizer of data. Okay, the experiment….I’m going to list my accomplishments and I want you, dear reader, to pause and notice your reaction [6] to each descriptive bullet in the following list (i.e., do I rise or fall in your estimation of “the type of person I am”?).  Other people’s accomplishments tend to bash us over the head and drag us into a cave of dark self-loathing that prevent us from trying to make anything beautiful in this world. Or maybe that’s just me.

Here we go, we’ll start off  with recognisable and measurable accomplishments because, hey, that’s how humans categorise “progress”:

  • I work full time in a public health unit as a research and evaluation specialist [7] (Update 2022: now a senior policy advisor in the office of the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health – I’m a bureaucrat!).
  • I taught a graduate level research methods course to 50+ masters students two years in a row. [8]
  • Yeah, I’m married.  21 years. Yikes.[9]
  • I have raised (am raising)(will continue to raise even when they’re fifty?) two girls, teen aged at the moment [10]
  • I really want to be a writer [11]
  • I have published some of my writing…[12]
  • I worked (actually got paid) as a food columnist for two community newspapers for a few years, a long time ago, one in Whistler BC and one in Napanee ON
  • If you asked me to cook you pheasant under glass, I’d ask you when you need it by [13]
  • I decorated my own wedding cake [14]
  • I sit on the board of a non profit dedicated to social justice and food security [15] (Update 2022: no longer)
  • I found out I was half Jewish when I was 23 years old [16]
  • I don’t speak Hungarian [17] but I can limp along in French, at least enough to order coffee and a croissant
  • I love making and drinking cocktails [18]
  • My undergrad is a BScH in Psychology and I have a Masters in Public Health
  • I’ve taken a few creative writing courses and workshops
  • I wrote a food blog for five years. It was really more complaining about marriage with a recipe tacked on the end
  • I’m a member of the Impractical Labour in Service of the Speculative Arts (ILSSA), a union for reflective creative practice

Okay…this is getting a little too long for a post and, if you’ve been reading the footnotes too, you’re probably dizzy with moving the screen up and down …and you probably know more about me now than you really wanted to…but I hope you understand this is somewhat intentional.  The process of creating is iterative and topsy-turvy and fretfully uncomfortable.  I’m trying to let go of “accomplishments” and be at peace with just the doing and making.  Thank you for reading this far. 

Suzanne Biro 

[1] is that redundant?

[2] Pity is something I really can’t take though. Please, never pity me….and if you do, well, have the balls to tell me so that I can reflect on it and figure that shit out. 

[3] inner critic notes: fucking get on with it already 

[4] annoying analyst notes: don’t worry, we all do this, it’s automatic and humans are actually very good at it.  We are adept at reading facial expressions and we are pros integrating visual cues with internal socio-cultural hierarchies that start imprinting before we even learn to walk.  

[5] inner critic notes: you shouldn’t have so many slashes and similar words stacked up next to each other, you’re boring the reader. Where’s your inner fucking Hemingway?!

[ancillary] annoying analyst notes: Hemingway is not necessarily an author to emulate, I mean, c’mon….a fascination with guns, death, and bull fighting?  Not to mention suicide….

[ancillary] inner critic notes: even I wasn’t going to bring up suicide this early in the introduction. Jesus Christ have some fucking tact!

[6] annoying analyst notes: notice whether you feel envy or jealousy.  Scorn is a big one.  But so is self-loathing. Contempt. Pleasure.  Emotions run electric through us, lighting up judgments.  But notice too that larger reactions tend to hang on “accomplishments” rather than “processes” …it’s interesting…and something we need to work on. 

[7] my day consists of many meetings where I sit with nurses or dietitians or doctors or students and try to support them through planning and evaluating programs to help communities stay healthy and ensure people live happy, long, healthy lives.  Every day I ask myself why the quivering gravitas in my voice is trusted and I struggle with imposter syndrome constantly and I wonder when the powers that be are going to figure out that I’m a fraud and kick me out of the building with a swift kick in the ass.  

[8] I have decided I will not teach again because it broke my spirit and my back (seriously, I had to lie down, for like a week, popping painkillers like candy–don’t worry, not opioid derived, though I would have swallowed goat urine if someone told me it would make the pain go away). It was too hard to teach well on top of an already full time job and being a wife and a mother to two teenagers. Bourbon can’t be the answer to everything. 

[9] on the day of my 21st anniversary, a colleague asked with actual diamonds of wonderment shining out of her eyes, I’m not shitting you, what my secret is, staying with only one person for so long. I was too stunned to answer the question because this thought cascade happened: “ did I have a choice?”, then, “I don’t know”, then, “because I’m fucking the most flexible and sweet-ass person a man could hope for”, to “every morning I wake up thinking each day is a choice to stay or leave”, to  “having an affair is just too damn expensive, especially considering the coital act lasts an average of 7 measly minutes. And the rise up and fall-out of an affair -no pun intended- takes waaaayyyy too much energy.”, to “I don’t know.” Finally, after way too long a silence, I answered: a sense of humour.  Then I raised a fist pump and did a kick jump like David Lee Roth [inner critic notes: in your mind…in reality you simply folded your hands in your lap and nodded slightly with a smile only the Mona Lisa managed to capture]. Seriously, click the David Lee Roth link, it’s fucking hilarious, but then, be sure to come back here and read the rest.  

[10] if I had to choose out of these “accomplishments” I am most proud of… even though I can’t take full credit for this because the girls contribute to their growth as much or more than I do, plus there’s all the other people in their lives who contribute to their upbringing, too many to list here…it would be becoming and being a parent.  See? Process…

[11] annoying analyst notes: you are a writer!  You get up at 5 am four to five times a week to write in solitude each morning.  You’ve done that for six, coming on seven years now.  You need to start calling yourself a writer.   

[12] academic papers plus poems plus Carolyn’s course 

[13] I’m a fucking good cook. And I possess–for some unknown reason I can hardly explain–encyclopedic knowledge about food and cooking and baking that would make a trivial pursuit champion blush and sputter (sorry millennials, you’ll have to google that one). 

[14] It had molded white chocolate roses and hazelnut chocolate fondant with hazelnut buttercream. Incidentally, on the process side of things, it took me a lot longer to decorate than I had thought …7 hours I think it was…which really threw everything (and everyone) else into a tizzy.  I decorated it wearing only my underwear for some reason…maybe the dress wasn’t ready yet, I can’t remember.  I also wanted my wedding dress to tightly hug my (overly imagined) curves and push my boobs up into a sexy cleavage but the woman who made my dress refused to comply with my requests and I couldn’t afford to demand what I wanted and also, though I can sew, I didn’t want a third sleeve sticking out of side like an elephant’s trunk or some erection gone flaccid (i.e., I’m not that strong a seamstress). Flaccid is such a great word, isn’t it?

[ancillary] annoying analyst notes: there’s something interesting about the juxtaposition of wedding and penis imagery in footnote #14.  Worth exploring…

[16] My father won’t like that I have written this here.  We were raised to hide/deny this heritage.  But I’m fucking 46 years old and need to own this.  Besides, real Jewish people would say I’m not Jewish because my mother’s Anglican.  And a New Zealander.  I know, that last bit has nothing to do with anything, it just sounds righteous and punctuated and sits well a the end of that sentence. [inner critic: no it doesn’t.][inner critic again: you should check where that period is supposed to sit – in or outside the bracket?][same with the question mark] Shut the fuck up!!!!  [annoying analyst: yes, this is what process looks like…].

[17] my dad is Hungarian. 

[18] though they don’t love me and I find I feel too easily nauseated the next morning after just one teeny tiny one in an evening.  I am saddened by this because I love the feeling of taking off out of your socks and floating around the room being the funniest most witty most beautiful person in the world.  I find the writing process takes a certain discipline too, of keeping my mind healthy and clear…so alcohol takes a back seat these days.