As a writer you should not judge. You should understand.Ernest Hemingway, On Writing
Hemingway had a point. And it’s a guiding statement that I try to live by, not only in my writing, which you’ll find plenty of on this website, but in my travels and my teaching.
In modern sensible terms, Happenence is an English teaching business. It’s entirely controlled by me, Catherine.
Happenence is also, unconventionally, an amalgamation of ideas, stories and beliefs that drive me and guide me. Some people believe that the different aspects of life should be kept in different boxes, but I have never been very good with boxes.
What you’ll find on this website are my stories and experiments in living, teaching and listening. Hundreds of tales from my travels through other people’s family kitchens. You’ll also find resources for learning English and, more generally, ideas on how we can all be better at communicating.
This place, Happenence, is where some of my writing (a small proportion really) has ended up. It’s here I reflect upon the things I am trying to understand, without judgement, although I’m still working on this.
To give the gods some credit, they haven’t held back in giving me some wonderful experiences to learn from and write about. They’ve also struck me with a few challenges too.
Now you’re here, first, you’ll probably want to check out a couple of blog posts. If you can’t stand how I write then you’re not going to want to stick around.
First though, a warning:
I write about living. It’s not all pretty
One night I was on my way home from work when, on reaching town, the colectivo (a kind of collective taxi) was enveloped in that acrid tear-gas smell, a group of gas-masked protesters stood nearby, and we had to loop around because the carabineros (police officers) had closed the road. The driver frowned, I sighed, nobody spoke. A few streets further on I thanked the driver, got out and walked the rest of the way home.
I write about trauma. Sometimes it’s a bit upsetting.
In my writing, I reflect on how my trauma was a catalyst that changed my life, changed my brain, and how the therapy that followed changed how I live. Other times I reflect on conversations I have about trauma, particularly sexual abuse. Invisible scars that last a lifetime.
Being able to communicate is a skill that involves more than just having a wide vocabulary. ‘Never talk about relationships, politics or religion’ I was told during one of my English teaching courses, but inevitably if my students work, study or live in a foreign culture, they are going to need to talk about exactly these subjects. Imagine if I’d been living in Chile October 2019 but unable to say anything about the collective trauma rippling through the society?
I also write about teaching, language and books
Despite my accent, the ever so slight lisp and requiring speech therapy as a small child, I’m called upon to advise on how one should speak English, including its pronunciation. Or maybe it’s because I have a warm northern accent and can empathise with anyone who struggles with those ‘th’ sounds that people turn to me and ask. Either way, I’ve become a magpie for techniques for improving pronunciation.
And I’m a bibliophile. Write to email@example.com to recommend me your favourite book or to get a free recommendation from me!
Next, if you want to keep updated with what is going on in this whole Happenence wonderland, write yourself into my list of people who want to stay in the know. My mother always gets excited when these emails come through. Sometimes they include pretty pictures.
Third, you might want to write to me. Or send me presents, like the wonderful lady who sent me a box of tarot cards after I wrote about having my cards read. If you make the time to write me a proper email I’m almost certain to send you one back.
Welcome to my Happenence,
P.S. Whilst some names, dates and locations are changed to protect the identities of people I love. The essence is all true.
P.P.S. You can only improve by taking on feedback. Feedback for me is like pollen for the bees. If you have some to give, please take a deep breath, hit send, and share some with me.