Thursday, November 27, 2008
One day a few years ago, listening to easy hits while driving my mom's car one weekend at home from university, I realized that I'd misheard the lyrics every time. It wasn't "I feel it comin' closer day by day, life would be ecstasy, you and me and Leslie" (where I always imagined Leslie was the dog or something crashing this couple's romantic Sunday picnic). No. It was "endlessly". Just "endlessly".
I felt like I'd just been dumped.
Monday, November 24, 2008
What the hell do I want?
I have trouble finishing up the final polish on this novel chapter: i don't want to be a writer.
I settle into bed with my laptop at 130am one Sunday night and manage to write a pretty great short story in a little under three hours' time, one day before the deadline: i want to be a writer.
I go to the ATM for some twenties and am rewarded with a bank account balance slip that's less than $1, but more than 0 (it was 51 cents): fuck, i don't want to be a writer.
I see a crazy guy in the woods up at Spadina and St Clair, who is pushing a baby carriage full of urine-soaked Chihuahuas wearing dog collars made out of rope, and attempting to rake up the leaves, to RAKE UP THE LEAVES IN THE WOODS: yeah, i want to be a writer.
I continue to feel completely ostracized from the generally older students who populate my MFA program: I'll never fit in. I'm not pretentious enough. I don't want to be a writer.
I realize that writing is a solitary act, and a lonely life, but also that I'm a solitary person, and a lonely one, and it suits me just fine, and even though I've been doing this since high school, the reality is that I'm still wetting my feet, and I still have a million stories left to tell, and I'm not done yet, so I guess I'll keep going as long as I've got it in me: okay, fine. I'll be a writer.
Monday, November 10, 2008
But I don't want to right now. I want to take another break instead.
"Sad Eyes" by Bruce Springsteen (from 18 Tracks, 1999)
This is one of the laziest, safest, and most boring songs Springsteen has ever done, off an album that's barely even an album. He sings like a little lady, the arrangement is saccharine, and the lyrics are fortune cookies. But the first time I heard it (on an episode of Dawson's Creek) I knew that I was hooked. Embarrassed to admit it, but hooked. It happened in season 2 of DC, during the awkward but not entirely regrettable Andie+Pacey plot. The late-late nineties. It was an easy time, a hopeful time. It was a time before James Van Der Beek disappeared, and before Joey Potter bowed down at the temple of Xenu, and before anyone had even dreamed of a 90210 remake. It was a time when good things could happen, as long as you believed they could. If you wanted a boy to climb up the trellis outside your bedroom window, declare his love for you after tumbling onto your floor, and then kiss you while holding your face in both hands (Pacey Witter style), then, yeah. It was possible. Everything was possible in 1999.
"Have A Heart" by Bonnie Raitt (from Nick of Time, 1989)
Because my dad used to play this cassette all the time when I was growing up, before I learned how to tell the difference between shitty music and good.
"Only You" by Yaz (or Yazoo, if you prefer. From Upstairs at Eric's, 1982)
I was going to write about that one scene in The Office Christmas Special, you know, those ten heartbreaking minutes at the very end that always send me into projectile weeping, but this really doesn't even need an anecdote. It's a good song, seriously.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
But, somehow, this year, I heard the song. The song came up, somehow, on a random shuffle. And, for once, I remembered.
When I was sixteen, seventeen, eighteen maybe, my favourite song in the world was "Say Yes" by Elliott Smith. I don't know what it meant to me then. Maybe I was sad, and he was sad, and during the two minutes and thirteen seconds of that song we could be sad together. Whatever the case, it meant something big to me. Eight years ago today, he put two big wounds into his chest and that was it. Sure, most of his music was completely depress-o and heartcracking (the image of Richie Tenenbaum, freshly shaven and bleeding rivulets from the wrists, comes to mind), but then there was that song. That song. Some people do great things, and some people kill themselves. Sometimes it's the same person who does both. You're gone, but I still have your song. Thank you for the song.
I'm glad I remembered this year. RIP, XO.
There's a storefront on Bloor Street, a little west of Ossington, that has a cat and a scratching post in the window. A cat and a scratching post, and nothing else. In fact, it isn't even a store. It's just a big empty window with a cat in it.
A few days ago, I was walking that sidewalk stretch, as I do a dozen times a week, looking for the cat in the window, but I couldn't find it. The store, the cat, the scratching post: everything had vanished from Bloor. It took me a few minutes to finally figure out what I was looking for. The storefront was completely camoflaged; it had been covered over with a wall of wood for renovations. Okay, so that made sense. But--
what about the cat?
Today, finally, there was a small handwritten note taped to the wood in front of the store:
"THE CAT IS FINE SHE STAYS IN THE HOUSE"
Saturday, October 11, 2008
by Ryan Reynolds
A couple of years ago, I walked uptown to Central Park on one of those perfect November days. The air had a bite to it while the sun shone bright. It was the day of the New York Marathon and I thought it might be fun to watch the runners nearing the finish line. So, I joined the crowd about a half-mile before the race's end at Tavern On The Green. With my arms resting on the cold cordon, I saw an incredible spectacle of people pushed to the very brink of collapse. I expected exhaustion, but what I didn't expect was to see just how much these runners had to EARN their prize. It was emotional. The pain was etched into their faces so deeply, you'd swear they'd spend the next 3 weeks looking like Abe Vigoda. I saw guys coming in to finish with bleeding nipples. Why in the hell were their nipples bleeding? People were crying. People were limping, hobbling, screaming, crawling. But most importantly, people were experiencing a sublime rapture that I couldn't even hope to understand. They were touching something magical no stalk-still mortal simply watching the race could comprehend. These people had accomplished something real. At that moment, with all the energy, inspiration and passion swirling through the crisp autumnal air, I breathed in deeply and decided something: I'd never fucking do that ever, ever. What in the fuck were these idiots thinking? Bleeding nipples. Bleeding. Nipples.
Two years later, by some tragic backwards prophecy, I find myself signed up to run in the New York City Marathon. Every other day I train. I run like a bastard all morning. Not since the discovery of Junior High School has a torture been so effective. Why on earth would I willfully do this? On behalf of my Father, Jim Reynolds, who's spent the last 15 years in a life or death struggle with Parkinson's Disease.
Let it be known at the outset, I am not a runner. I am a running joke. Waking up at 4:30 am and jogging anywhere from 11 to 23 miles has been nothing short of horrifying. Although, I've never given birth to a professional basketball player through one of my tear ducts, I can't imagine a worse way to start the day. Conversely, some people have real problems. I digress...
A year and a half ago, I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Michael J. Fox. Like so many before me, I found it impossible not to be touched by his story of overwhelming strength, passion and relentless commitment to help those afflicted with this insidious disease. The man is inspiration exemplified. Plus, he was in Back To The Future. Which was, well, awesome. In a moment of extremely poor judgment, I offered to do something big for him--I offered to compete in the New York City Marathon. Which was, well... dumb.
While I'll probably never fully understand Michael's struggle, I've had a first hand peek behind the curtain of Parkinson's. I've watched my father -- a strong and proud person who successfully raised 4 arguably insane children - slowly, cruely stripped of his independence. His golden years robbed without explanation. It quite obviously sucks. Witnessing my Dad suffer over the years galvanized my need to step up. On November 2nd, I'll join thousands of other men and women to march in lockstep solidarity toward searing psychic pain and physical humilation.
One of the reasons I chose RUNNING specifically, was because (as Murakami so eloquently put it) my competition is the most formidable foe of all; ME. The person I have to beat is the guy I was last week. The person I was yesterday. Indescribably worse, those affected by Parkinson's wage a similar war in their own bodies every single day. Unlike a marathon, their struggle won't end in a shallow pool of vomit just outside Tavern On The Green while waiting for an ambulance. They continue day in and day out, silently battling away in the most personal of struggles.
Yes. I'm asking for a donation. I don't do this with any degree of levity. I know we're in rough times and there are literally millions of causes worthy of your hard earned cash. It's my hope the story of my father combined with my own goal of becoming the first person in history to sob uncontrollably for 26.2 miles straight, may inspire you to give something too.
Please know that NO DONATION IS TOO SMALL - and certainly, no donation is too large. And If you don't give anything at all, maybe I've primed you for a future donation in someone else's name. For someone else's cause.
If you visit the site below, you'll be directed to my page on the Team Fox Website. Michael's foundation has raised over 100 million dollars in the fight against PD. On my page you can leave a personal note of support or mockery along with your donation.
In the end, no matter how much I mythologize this run, no matter how much I choose to romanticize this campaign against my own will, lungs and ambition... there's always going to be that guy who finished the marathon on a pair of prosthetic legs. And there'll always be my Dad. And Michael. And Millions of others who bounce back off the ropes against all odds. So, I promise I won't congratulate myself too much.
Finally, if you happen to be in New York on November 2nd, come down and watch. Feel free to bring a smile, automated defibrillator, or a fresh set of nipples.
Click here for my Team Fox page
On behalf of Me, my Father, and everyone struggling with Parkinson's, our endless gratitude."
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
- to get one (or two or several) of these prints and hang them on my living room walls, next to the more-realistic portraits of raccoons and deer stolen/borrowed from my grandparent's cottage. These are perfect. These are the kind of things I feel I would have made myself back in the eighth grade, had I been more artistically gifted at the time. That was during my "clever funny animals" phase: I used to cut out the heads of wildlife from the pages of my old Owl magazines, and then gluestick them onto the bodies of models in J Crew catalogues. I was way ahead of my time. Oh, wasn't I.
- to reach the day when the CBC's airing of Coronation Street is finally in sync with the BBC. Sadly, I don't think our Canadian shores will ever meet their British ones. Right now, it's early autumn in Canada, and early December on Corrie...early December of LAST YEAR. We are embarrassingly far behind, and, besides, bad things are bound to happen during the upcoming holiday episodes. Bad things always happen in Corrie Christmases; a murder, an affair, a fire at the very least. I just want to feel happy things at the same time the Street feels happy things.
- to get my pump (soon, pancreas, soon).
- to see Okkervil. I have been underwhelmed by the Toronto show calendar so far this fall; there's been little I've been looking forward to except for this, and even then it was only the tiniest spark. But now, I've reconvened: I've been wanting to see this band I love for a few years now-- that sad snowy winter of early '06 was defined for me by Okkervil River and only a few others-- and the chance has never revealed itself until now. So, I'll take the band gladly. I'll take Will Sheff in my arms and hug him until he pukes.
- a good place to run in Toronto. More trees, less creepy European men who whisper "beautiful" in my ear when I pass them on Bloor Street. I want the paths along the river that I wore down in London, I want them here. I want to find a lovely patch of woods, not that muddy rape-path in Forest Hill I stumbled onto last week. I want everything I love about other places to be consolidated in this place.
Monday, September 15, 2008
I read Infinite Jest last summer exclusively during my breaks at work. It took me three weeks and several re-starts and one library renewal to finish, but once I had slogged through to the end I felt the familiar twinge in my stomach: I knew that this book was going to be one of "those books" for me. His language play, his muddle of characters and time periods and content, and his often three-page-long run-on sentences were all difficult to get through, but as payoff the book made me reconsider where I wanted to head with my own writing. It encouraged me to take more risks with style, to think smarter, to try harder. In short, it made me want to be a better writer.
"We're each deeply alone here. It's what we have in common, this aloneness."
Thursday, September 11, 2008
It's been about two weeks, but Toronto isn't my Big Dirty yet.
Although, to be fair, it is pretty damn dirty.
This house of mine looked pretty nice upon first and second viewings, but as soon as I moved in I realized that every interior surface was actually covered in a thin layer of dirt and grime. The floors and the kitchen counter and the bathtub. The walls and the window-sills and the windows. The doorknobs and the baseboards and the front door of the fridge, even. I cleaned and primed and painted and fixed it up for five days straight, and it still doesn't feel like home. A few days ago I finally, finally felt a small flicker of comfort in this place-- something really small, but something noticeable. I'm hoping it'll snowball in time.
School is something else entirely. During the orientation "party" I slowly realized that my one fear about entering this program straight out of undergrad was being confirmed before my eyes: I am the baby. I am the youngest person in the group by at least two years, and even then most of these other people are closer to 30 than I am to 20. Quality in writing is often guaged by the life experiences of the author, and my fact sheet (young, suburban, cynical, straight, redheaded and pale like fucking Anne of Green Gables) isn't doing me any favours. I'm sure most of these people doubt I have the capacity to succeed at this, at this stage in my life. And I'm sure they wouldn't be suprised if I were to admit to them that, yes, I too doubt my potential and worry sometimes that I've started out too early. I haven't written The Great Canadian Novel yet and tucked it away in a drawer, and I haven't been published in literary journals or won large-scale writing contests. So what have I done? I've written a novel, a novella if you must, that took up most of a year and now takes up a substantial part of my heart (only a few people have ever read it, and only a few ever will, but I'm okay with that). I've spent four years emerged in this world of pretentious literary folk, writing out everything that comes into my head, looking for inspiration, trying and trying and failing and sometimes succeeding. This is the only thing I can do, and the only thing I really want to do. And that's a universal statement, right? Writing fiction can, and should be, ageless. Well, so long as it's good.
On the other hand, there's this:
Conrad, 22, has signed on to write a three-book series of young adult fiction for HarperCollins, the publisher tells PEOPLE. The books – the first of which is scheduled to hit shelves in the summer of 2009 – will be loosely inspired by Conrad's own experience going from an ordinary teen to a reality TV star.
"It's definitely influenced by my own life," Conrad tells PEOPLE. "The books are about a girl who moves to L.A. and stars in a reality show, so obviously there are some similarities."
So will Hills costars like Heidi Montag, Specner Pratt or Brody Jenner wind up as in Conrad's series? Not exactly. "I'm not trying to do a fictional story based on all my friends in my real life because their stories aren't really mine to tell," says Conrad, who has gone through many dramas on her MTV show. "Some of the characters may symbolize people in my life, but it is in no way calling anyone out."
Conrad's best gal pal and The Hills costar Lauren Bosworth has already been offering advice. "I run ideas by Lo and I'll ask for her opinion because I value my friends' opinions," says the budding author, who has completed the outline for the first book.
But not everyone in Conrad's life has been clued in to her plans to pen a series. "Honestly I haven't told everyone," she admits. "I've told my best friends and they have all been really supportive. Nobody was worried."
And it's enough to make me want to puke up all that cheap white wine I drank last night-- a Wednesday night-- while I pretended to work on my most recent novel idea.
Also, who knew they sold quilted Chanel handbags at Target? I sure didn't.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
*This, this summer, has been a four month long drought of creativity for me. I haven't been updating frequently (or writing at all for that matter), but not because I have been too busy for it. The opposite, actually. It's been four months of stasis, repetition, the same, the same, wait, something different?, no, actually, the same again, circles, circles and circles, circles without cracks. And it hasn't exactly made for the juiciest material.
I could put down in words my opinions on the Olympics (opinions including but not limited to: Michael Phelps' obnoxious dolled-up mother, the laughable coverage on NBC, dislocated elbows, etc), but nobody cares.
Or I could tell you all about these tv shows I've been watching with intense dedication (Skins, Mad Men), usually running through a single season in a single day, but everybody's already seen them.
Or I could brag about all the books I've devoured this summer during all my time off, but (surprise!) I've barely read any. Instead I go to the Goodwill by my house at least twice a week and search through its impressive book section, usually coming out with about three or four titles each time for $2 a piece, and then I take them home and stack them precariously on the dresser in my bedroom.
So that's my nutshell summer. My summer has been a stack of dirty used books that is always just on the brink of toppling.
Any second now.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Toronto was never my city, my vision. Funny, then, that I find myself now about to fully commit to this civic space for the next two years (at least). I just handed over the rent deposit today. I've just adopted this place.
I spent about two months scouring craigslist ads, peering for annoyingly bright orange rental signs in windows, and calling landlords who were quick to give me rehearsed dismissals. Apartments were seen and discounted, apartments were frantically applied for and just as quickly given to other (better?) applicants (families with children, young professionals, junior architects and the lot). The process of apartment hunting in downtown Toronto--bearing in mind that my preferred area to live in is a relatively small rectangular boundary (there's no way I can live north of Bloor! I'll get stabbed if I'm south of Dundas! The world just drops off west of little italy!)-- proved to be harder than most. It was easier to get into grad school than it was to secure a suitable place to live in the city: ultimately, success at this task came down to a mix of being both "good on paper" and personable in person, and neither is particularly easy. We looked, and found, and tried, and lost, over and over again. Desperation dug its hooks into us. But then, we finally lucked out--very deep into the eleventh hour, I might add-- with an apartment that almost seems a little too west but will likely turn out to be perfect.
So a room, an apartment, a new home, an entire new city is now mine-- all it took was a few months worth of searching, and a lifetime of getting over my obstinance resistance to the T dot.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
So, I was surprised when this news release came out yesterday and my grandma wasn't automatically the first person to alert me about it. My mom, actually, was the one who called and woke me up and frantically told me to googlenews my disease. And there it was. And it changed everything.
I became a completely different person the moment I was diagnosed with type 1 on that June day four years ago. The switch was instanteous. My biggest accomplishments up to that point-- most likely my good marks or high school running career-- suddenly paled, and in time they meant even less. Managing this disease requires effort and attention every day, minute, second of my life. It's my full-time job, and my forever burden, and the most important thing I'll ever do, but it's also the thing most easily forgotten. I've had friends who took years to realize that I have diabetes, and some friends who probably still don't know. I'm always hiding just in the background, pricking my finger and wiping away the blood, stabbing my bare stomach with a needle beneath the veil of a table, frantically drinking down a bottle of orange juice in the checkout line at ValuMart to make sure my blood-sugar low passes before I reach the cashier. It's a full time job that I'm not allowed to take even one second away from, because everything I do right now determines what will happen to me later: if I don't keep my blood sugars under control now, there will complications waiting for me down the line. They'll be there. Just waiting.
I've always known that there was a potential solution out there, but I always discounted it. Well, not a "solution" as such, but a means to help keep my blood sugar levels under tighter control with the push of a button. The pump is an ugly, boxy little device that looks like a perma-pager and constantly delivers a dose of insulin to the individual via a needle inserted under the skin. Did I mention that it looks like a pager from the '90s? I know that this little beast can significantly improve one's ability to manage their blood sugar, but the fact that it has to be attached to the body at all times seemed a little off-putting to me. That, and the fact that a pump costs upwards of $5000, along with $200 for monthly supplies (none of it covered by my mom's drug plan). Being a poor undergrad student and future starving grad student, the pump has never even been a possibility for me. I was happy to dismiss its ugly appearance because I knew I wouldn't be able to consider it, at least not until I was a grown-up with a good job and benefits. But know, everything is different. Money is no longer an issue. Good health is the only thing that matters. I know that I'll always give my disease the care and attention it requires, but it's so wonderful to know that there are options out there to make it easier for me. The provincial government has sent down this wonderful (free) piece of equipment from heaven, and it is going to change everything.
This is my deus ex machina.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
I have this clear memory of waking up at three in morning one snowy February day when I was fifteen. Rather than forcing myself back to sleep, I decided to waste the few hours I had left before school by nesting in the couch and blearily watching the MuchMoreMusic video flow. Nothing about it was memorable, but then there was this video by Kathleen Edwards on the screen ("Six O'Clock News", her first single off her first album, was the one), and for some reason it became a moment I would continue to remember. I remember that I was wrapped in at least two blankets at the time, one of them likely being the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sleeping-bag that technically belonged to the dog, but I was still cold. I remember that I had the TV volume down really low to keep from waking up the rest of my family, and that the snow heaps outside were turning slowly Tropicana as the sun began to rise. And the backyard was pretty, and the day was pretty, and the song fit even if her voice didn't sound all that polished. It was a moment where I suddenly forget that I was living in a filthy Toronto suburb, and truly believed that I was inside some beautiful rural morning. I desperately hate country music, but this wasn't that: this was just the country, in song-form. Everything fell together in a really delicate way, and it felt like I was home.
Her latest, "Asking For Flowers", gives me exactly the same feeling. The only difference this time around (apart from the fact that the the vocals are much less rough around the edges) is that she's moved on from waxing about rural rot and she's started singing about life experiences that ring even more true. It's always comforting to find an artist who seems to be moving at the same pace as you are-- in time, their songs become artifacts for you to claim. I'm lucky that Kathleen Edwards has yet to be picked up as a poster-child for mainstream Canadian folk. Sure, there was one song on the last album that got played on Mix 99.9 for a time, and then there's this new Polaris nomination-- but really, she's still an untouched resource. Good thing. That means these songs can still be mine to dust, polish, and hold dear.
"Six O'Clock News" meant something back then because it transported me to some rural place where I felt I belonged. The first time I heard "Sure As Shit" off this newest album, it also felt suddenly meaningful-- not because it took me somewhere else, but because it hit so close to home: while she was singing about "lounging around all day in a hot pink chenille housecoat", I was still wearing the wet terry-cloth towel I had been too lazy to change out of hours after my shower.
It's good, guys. I really mean that.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
But wait! There's more!
*I used to have a mild crush on Chuck Woolery while he was hosting "Greed" during the post "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" era. It was a terrible game show, and he was such an asshole to every contestant, and he constantly screwed up his lines and stumbled around the set drunk. How adorable.
Friday, July 11, 2008
"It's not bad, is it?"
"No, no. Bad suggests that, you know, it's evil or something. You know it's not.. It's poor. It's rubbish. It's shit. It's a shitcom!"
"It's a shitcom? Well, we've sorted that out then."
Still not sure? :
Thursday, July 10, 2008
My problem isn't with the watered-down soulful background music, or with the slow motion scene of him spinning her in the street cribbed straight from Love Story. I don't mind the excessive footage of Anne Marie's hair bouncing to prove her carefree nature (look how shiny!), or the obligatory bits of heterosexual machismo (soccer! bowling!). I can't even find fault with the weird sound of Lee's voice-- it's almost endearing.
My problem is that this commercial doesn't feel at all like a commercial. These people aren't playing their parts. They aren't pumping out phony tears to ensure cash in hand at the end of the day. No, miraculously, somehow, these are real tears. I'm sure eHarmony.com is a total sham, but I truly do believe that these two overly-groomed people are actually in love. And that's a problem because every time Anne Marie and Lee materialize on my tv screen (once a commercial break, a million times a day), I'm reminded of the fact that my own flesh-and-blood boyfriend is currently 7 hours away. A province away, an entire language away. Anne Marie and Lee are holding hands every ten minutes, but he and I aren't even connected by tv signals: even if he were watching the same commercial as me at the same time, it would still be in French. Something something lost in translation...
Every time I time I turn the tv on it makes me miss you more. I miss you to pieces. At least we didn't meet on a dating website, though. That would just be embarrassing.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Despite my well-known love of romantic comedies (their bones, not always the final packaging), lately I've been finding myself universally unimpressed by what Hollywood has been handing me. I mean, 27 Dresses?? 27 Dresses was practically unwatchable. They attempted to turn Katherine Heigl into the dowdy uggo sister simply through a brunette dye job and some cardigans. I mean, really. I just couldn't suspend my romcom disbelief.
I was prepared to dislike this movie for that reason above, but also based on the presence of Abigail Breslin (where's Dakota when you need her? Answer: deep inside puberty). But, by the end, I had to concede that it actually was pretty good. It didn't get too laggy or maudlin, and it ran a steady race. The legs held up. The bones were pretty strong. Plus, any movie that celebrates irritatingly sassy redheads earns an automatic extra half-star in my books.
This godawful tv show:
Yeah, it's The Bachelorette. Shut up. Shut your face. I'm fully aware of how overly-edited and cloying and rehearsed these shows can be (lord knows I've watched enough to judge [my reality tv binge is going on eight years and strong!!]). Still, the one thing that can make a reality show great rather than terrible is the "casting", and this season of this terrible show has really benefited from fantastic casting. Her final two dudes include the one in that photo above, who is a mildly unattractive pro snowboarder, and a guy who has about thirty pounds of baggage (a three year old son, to be exact). And, if that isn't great enough, one of her other guys looked a hell of a lot like a dumpy Jason Bateman:
Don't you agree?
this disgusting craphole: The flea market in the basement of the Dixie Outlet Mall
A wonderful labyrinth of thrift junk that I happily wandered one afternoon, right up until the point when the mean old hag who runs Rosemary's Antiques...Rosemary, I think her name was...until Rosemary yelled at me to stop touching her precious gaudy baubles before I knocked them all over the floor. Thanks for the warning, Rosemary. You're right. I am five years old.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
So this hill. Tonight I veered in the middle of my normal route and decided to run up to its top, where I had a complete view of the bright lights of downtown (and some of the gta's less bright spots). It's a beautiful thing. And then in the distance I saw this weird honey-coloured light in the shape of a half circle. And I stared at for a long time, trying to figure out what exactly this light was and why it was located so high up in the black sky: maybe a splatter of far-away glare from the cn tower? maybe an electrical station? maybe a new sign for a Texaco station? It took me roughly five minutes to figure out what I was staring at.
It was the moon. My sparkling gas station in the sky was actually just the moon. I ran home fast down that hill.
And in other disturbing full moon news (be forewarned), this man now qualifies as one of the hottest bachelors in the world:
You were warned.
Monday, May 26, 2008
In the end, I didn't kill the dog. In the end, I resolved to start watching tv like an attention deficit 8 year old might: sitting cross-legged on the ground, head tilted up to screen, flinching every ten seconds or so to change the channel. Thank god we only have basic cable. I don't think my patience could handle any longer a range.
There's been at least one good side effect of my dog's demonic behaviour. Today was the first day in a number of days straight that saw me actually sit down to pleasure-read, quietly and without fidgeting, for more than an hour. Ever since I moved home from school for this four-month-long transition period between schools and degrees, I have avoided picking up any fiction. I couldn't tell you why. I don't even know why. Maybe the previous school year-- all those ridiculous lit classes I took, all those pointless lecture hours and badly-written chapters I can't take back-- scarred me more than I realized. I don't know. Don't even know. But now I'm here, with a stack of books I'd love to read teetering on my desk, and public library late fines looming, and librarians bitching at me for not paying my existing late fines, and a two-seater porch swing taken from my previous front steps in London and transplanted into my back garden here in Mississauga, and all the time in the world (ninety days, give or take).
I've got a two-seater, but there's only me. I guess I'll just have to live with that.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Hey Whitney-- where'd that juicy booty of yours get to?
But sometimes, every once in a while, Tyra's indulgent weight preoccupation results in some of the most entertaining TV ever to grace the hour between 10 and 11 am (eastern time). Please enjoy "Fat Woman on Tyra":
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
We watched Road Rules marathons on MTV, and caught the earliest episodes of Buffy on the WB, and Talk Soup on E! when it was still hosted by John Henson and was still hilarious. But mostly I lived inside Nickelodeon. I may have been a Canadian, but we spent so many March Breaks down south that I considered myself an honorary Nick kid.
So now be nostalgic with me and let's watch an episode of Legends of the Hidden Temple! Please?
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
After a year's worth of notes, every single piece of my collection of black pens had seemingly died. But then I checked my purse, and there it was: a thin tube with a black artery still pumping straight through its middle. This is the pen that will get me through the last two exams. This is the pen that will accompany me to graduation. This is the pen that will write me to freedom.
I only ever write in black ink; never blue, and you'd have to pay me to use pencil. Its something similar to my refusal to pick up the 6 Richmond from anywhere but NatSci, or my inability to run without my ipod. I operate according to a schedule of habits, a grid of comfortable tics.
When I finish this last exam, I'd love to race down to Harris Park and take this last pen and chuck it from the banks into the swirling Thames. (From the Bank to the river.) Today I completed the last edits on my thesis, had it printed and bound, and then carried the package like a baby to University College to drop off for my professor to read and mark. I cradled it in my arms carefully. I'll probably receive my diploma soon and tuck it into a desk drawer somewhere, but this little thesis felt far more important. It weighed a ton, my book did. My book. No single piece of paper can ever mean as much as that pile of paper does.
For now, my pen is waiting for me. I probably won't end up throwing it into the river; I wouldn't want to disrupt the current after all.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Last night, while walking near-ish to Jim Bobs, I noticed: one orphaned shoe (slutty metallic sandal!) lying next to an empty Bacardi Breezer bottle (strawberry?)
Last week, walking past the train tracks on a sunny afternoon, I found: the homeless man in the red jacket. (I had not seen him in over a year, and was worried that perhaps my favourite Richmond Row vagrant had died. In reality, all he did was get a new jacket [navy blue rather than dirty red]).
London sure has strange ways of saying goodbye.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Here, about two weeks away from the end of my undergraduate career, I've found myself involuntarily living in the past. But not really in the past past: everything that happened before that one night in the hospital four years ago doesn't exist to me anymore. There are traces, I guess, snapshots of what my childhood was like and audio clips of memories and flashes and seconds and blips. But sometimes I can't decipher between what really happened and what I just remember seeing on TV (inside my head, my childhood is probably half my own and half Kevin Arnold's.) No, now my tangible memories only reach as far as the start of university. So that's where I've taken up refuge lately. I'm spending my days in Halifax circa 2005.
As embarrassing as this is to admit, (and disregarding the fact that I've already revealed this secret to more people than I'd like to admit), one of the biggest reasons on my "pro" list for choosing Dalhousie was (sigh) Joel Plaskett. I'm not even sure what was going through my head at the time. I think, for a while there at least, I entertained myself with the possibility that this decade-older Canrock-er might actually fall in love with me. It was one of those eighteen-year-old-girl hopes that looked pretty and sounded funny but had some solid roots. I listened to "Down at the Khyber" on a cd player in my backyard during summer afternoons as my departure loomed. I watched old episodes of Street Cents online to catch glimpses of my new city I knew nothing about. I became obsessed with it all, because I needed to be hopeful about what was to come, because I still fought back tears each time I stabbed myself with a tiny needle, because there wasn't anybody to talk to, because I needed to be hopeful about something.
I moved out east, and I never once found Plaskett reading a tattered paperback on a bench in the Public Gardens, and I cried and I struggled and I tumbled, but there was always hope. (Is this getting sappy? Like, really sappy? I worry. I'm tougher than this.) I used to sit on the sill of my rez room window and listen to one of his old CBC Radio 3 sessions over and over, letting it repeat and repeat and repeat as much as it liked. I used to read the cartoon his girlfriend (or wife, now, maybe) drew for the city's free paper on a weekly basis. I used to go see him perform every time he was in town, even though that was frequently and the songs were always the same chords, the same banter, the same feelings. But at least I was feeling something.
I'll never advocate on behalf of Joel Plaskett, the amazingly innovative singer-songwriter. The music isn't anything special, and the boy behind the guitar is starting to lose his spark with every passing year. But I'm glad to have him on my side, all the same. Your Favourite Band Ever really should be the band that you're most afraid to admit liking. It should be the one band that you have a rehearsed defense for, the one that you follow with an embarrassed "I know" shrug, the one that still has meaning even if only in your room at night when nobody else is listening. Fuck, this is sappy. But Plaskett really, really did save me. I put the CBC session back on repeat tonight. It was probably the first time I'd listened to it in months, years maybe. And I sat on my bed, with a years' worth of notes on Old and Middle English fanned out before me, and I felt like I was still eighteen. And I cried, naturally, but they weren't exactly sad tears or fear tears-- just tears, just drops & drops for my rainy city and my long-lost East Coast boy, but really for some newer cities and newer boys.
I saw Plaskett at Pearson airport this past December. I was checking in at the counter and he was attempting to check in at the self check-in and failing miserably. He was flustered and there was a ice storm outside and our plane was delayed by four hours but the timing was perfect, and the world was beautiful. There's still hope. There always is. Thanks, Plaskett.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
So yeah, I finished first year university last night- capped off with a very lacklustre english exam. But now it's done, and it's behind me, and I don't have anything left to worry about. I'm sure my marks are decent enough to get me into Western. I found out today that I have a job for the summer. I will get to see my mom and my dog on the day after tomorrow. The only thing I really have to worry about right now is the fact that my boxes and suitcases are still in the closet of my old room, and they made me give back my key, and the ex-roommate is going out drinking tonight and therefore won't be up for most of the day tomorrow but SHIT I need those things! Goddamn. I have to ship everything by tomorrow.
But oh well. I like when things fall in place like this. I considered myself to be extremely unlucky after everything that happened last year. Now, I can feel that life is getting fairer and overall better, but I know it's not luck. I worked so hard to be a good person this year- I observed every quality I hated in the people here and strove for the opposite. Now, I'd like to feel that it's paying off. It's a good feeling.
It looks like I'm not going to accomplish any of the things I wanted to do before leaving Halifax. I used up my dalcard dollars today, and filled out forms and arranged plans and bought gifts and walked downtown- but that's it. I could have gone out tonight for the last time but no one is available, and I'm just not feeling it. I'm not going to have time for Peggy's Cove. Hell, if I have to spend all day waiting for Kelly to wake up so I can get my bags, I'm not going to have time for anything tomorrow. It's a bummer and it makes me feel empty and incomplete and uneasy, but there's nothing I can do about it now. I accept it. At least the weather is somewhat nice.
Fuck. I hate residence. I will not miss it. Fuck Dalhousie. Fuck Dalhousie. Fuck you and your dirty toilets."But really. How is Kelly doing now? It would be wonderful to know, but these days not even facebook can bring two former live-in enemies together (damn you, privacy settings).
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Monday, March 31, 2008
I'd like to finish school and travel, finally, again. I'm not lacking for experience: I've lucked out on a bunch of easy vacations in the past, and I took them for everything they had to give. But this winter has been this fucking winter and now I'm itching to get away again. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I'm moving to Toronto this fall (it isn't home, exactly, but it is only a short subway+bus ride away from home). I'm not moving to London, England (The Big Life Dream), and I'm not even moving to Montreal (The Substitute/"it'll do i guess" Life Dream). No, Toronto it is, and I'm sure it'll be good for me, and I'm sure I'll be good for it, but, really, I just need to get out of here at least once before I have to settle come September. I'd like to jaunt to NYC for a weekend. I'd like to go to Chicago for the Pitchfork fest....yes, again, so long as they add at least one more band worthy of giving me the chills to their roster, and so long as I'm not forced to stay in that horrible hostel again (I'm pretty laidback, but those shared bathrooms were the proverbial final nail-- I awoke one morning to find an unclaimed boy sleeping on the communal couch, and the sink clogged with someone's soaking wet weave. HIYA, HI-Chicago Hostel!)....I'd like to go back to England, as ever, as always, but I guess I'll just put that one in my pocket for now.
I'd like to finally finish the last few lagging pages of my thesis. It's my baby: I wrote the first page on the third day of October, let it germinate over the course of the year, and then finally hunkered down and poured out forty+ pages over reading week (I didn't leave the house and survived on coffee and arrowroots, exclusively) until I was nearly at the end. Now it's my postpartum blues: I haven't added more than a few sentences onto it since the start of March. It's just sitting here on my hard drive, steaming away, waiting for the conclusion I'm more than ready to write. In time, baby, okay? Gotta watch some more tv first.
I'd like to reach that day where I listen to "Someone Great" for the four millionth time and finally get sick of it, because it's been months and months and months and I'm still not there yet.
I'd like to march into a crowd of Western Girls dressed in salty UGGs and droopy sweatshirts and pooch-leaking leggings and scream out "you all look like Tony Danza circa the first season of "Who's the Boss?"!!!" But I never would, because they're all pretty scrappy.
I'd like to be the anti-Western girl: redder curlier hair and paler frecklier cheeks and faster walk and pencil-ier skirts and tougher face.
I'd like to drink white wine straight out of the bottle (20 year old Leslie's poison of choice) and then toddle over to the Keaton and puke in their Pepto Bismol pink ladies bathroom. Yeah, that's right, that's what I think of you, Alex P. Keaton: I love you to death but you make me sick.
I'd like to read as many books as possible while my eyes are still in reading shape and my spirits are still up reasonably high.
I'd like to trade my diabetes with someone else for a week, a day, even. I just need a break from needles, is all. Any takers? We can do a swap. I'll take what you got.
I'd like to not leave you behind.
I'd like to stop writing? I'd love to sleep.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
I went to bed that night hoping that the craziness that had just gone down would prove to be a precursor for the rest of the year. It had been an intense, unbelievable, unforgettable night, and I had faith that all the coming nights would be just as amazing and weird and good.
This was a year that saw me plummet academically, endure perpetual sweats over the future, learn to breed hatred for just about everybody, and lose contacts with some people and things that used to be of primary importance. I just slipped. (I also literally slipped on the ice one night during the tail end of London's horrible winter, but that's another story.) It was an endlessly hard year, and I'm not even in the clear yet.
Still, though. I mailed away my future yesterday (a single piece of paper cradled inside a way-too-expensive xpresspost envelope.) I felt like throwing up as I handed it to the girl behind the desk. She took my future and stamped it, hard, and then tossed it through a little slit. So there it is...there, it's gone. It's now.
I used to believe that my academic future would entail a leafy autumn campus full of warm old buildings and me, dressed in some sort of Ali McGraw-ish outfit, hugging a pile of books and leather-bound notebooks tightly to my chest. But I've slowly found the flaws in this vision: I don't have long black hair, nor am I attracted to Ryan O'Neal types, nor do I have the arm strength to lug a stack of books around. Come to think of it, Love Story sucked.
I'm surviving the year, just barely, and my future is currently in transit somewhere between London and Toronto. I've decided to pick the other future. The one that isn't connected to any past fantasies of mine. The one that doesn't include old buildings or musty books, but might come to include all these other things I've been too scared to even dream about. Things like slip 'n slides, afterparties, and massive nights. Epic songs filled with trumpets. Long-long-distance afternoon runs that turn my thighs to jelly. Stories that tumble beautifully out of my head after being cooped up in there for months. People who leave me besotted. A city that isn't London, and a campus that isn't Western. It took the entire year, but I'm finally hopeful again.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Friday, February 29, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
But then this kindof turned it all around for me: On Freaks and Geeks, the tv show that became my favourite ever became my salvation became my guide for life, Lindsay and Nick fell in something like love and then fell out of it but probably would have fallen back into it again if season two had ever been allowed to see the light of day. In real life, Linda Cardellini and Jason Segel fell in love all the same. And then, several years later while sleepless at 2am and too lazy to find the remote to change from TBS, I realized that Lindsay and Nick had been paired up from the very start. The movie that had brought them together so many years ago was none other than...
...a movie that apparently only exists between the hours of midnight and four AM on channel forty seven. They played a couple in the movie, and then became a couple two years later thanks entirely to Judd Apatow and Paul Feig. And that, my friends, was the proof I needed to believe that love is real. If Nick and Lindsay can make it, surely anyone can.
BUT THEN THIS HAPPENED. And now I'm not sure I can believe in anything anymore.
Friday, February 22, 2008
The above quote doesn't come from any of my cherished obnoxiously contemporary novels or more-hipster-than-thou Brooklyn bands or indie-darling film-fest movies. No, in fact it's a line from summer '06's little gem John Tucker Must Die. (Note: viewing is not recommended.)
I've spent nearly twenty two years defining myself by the stuff that I love. There's some snobbery to it, obviously, but I do truly love all the things on these lists I've stapled onto my identity and held close.
In a few months' time, I am set to start defining myself by the stuff that I create. And I'm restless, because it's exciting. And I'm trembling, because it's absolutely terrifying.
Exactly one month ago I found myself standing on a pebbled pathway in the backyard of Ernest Hemingway's house in Key West. My mom was a few feet away, talking to a family of tourists from Norway who were temporarily escaping days of 20 hour darkness they'd left back home. I was bare-shouldered for the first time in forever, and those shoulders were blindingly white. The sun bounced off me. The lawn was covered with six-toed cats named after dead celebrities. I kneeled down to pet Truman Capote. The bitch tried to bite me. And I knew. I swore at the grey furry asshole, and I knew that it was time.
Getting into a Master of Fine Arts program for creative writing seems like a good reason to rationalize starting a blog. Or maybe starting a blog is a good reason to rationalize getting into grad school. Either way, it's the right time for me to stop relying on other people's words and start spewing out my own. Sorry, Elvis. Sorry, Ernie. I'm going it alone from here on in.