Almost two months into my graduate studies and I am already fed up with a lot of things. I am, however, looking forward to writing this final research paper in the summer.
My life has always been about paperwork. The state has created my identity through checklists and records. I have a Rolodex of acronyms within my head: CAS, OW, OSAP, CAMH. My name is in systems, and on waiting lists, for women’s shelters, affordable therapy, social housing, and free legal clinics.
My mother died when I was six years old. By the time I was 24 years old her brother, my uncle, died; soon after my so did my nonna. I want to reclaim my Italian identity; I file for birth, marriage, and death certificates of family members, so that governments can sell my history back to me.
I want to create a collection of documents that I can make sense of, something I have yet to achieve after a lifetime living within ‘the system’. I want to show the importance of rolling parmesan and breadcrumbs, and how adding eggs to soup helps with menstrual cramps. I want to share the oral history shared with me by my nonna, an Italian immigrant with a fourth grade education; a history she shared with me in her home surrounded by crucifixes and last suppers. I want to honour the strega, the crone.
I write other things too! Check out HillaryDiMenna.com