Monday, February 28, 2005

Home Improvement I

In the spring, the Rock and Roll boyfriend and I are going to start home-improving our home. When I showed him the government's page about getting grants for making your home enviromnentally friendly, he burst out laughing and said, "What exactly do you think $700 is going to get us?"

Bah!

Franken-wha?

I've been abridging classic novels for young people for a publisher in NYC. Over the past three months, I've been re-writing Robinson Crusoe and Frankenstein, as I've stated in previous posts. Well, four months and three days later, I'm finally done--at least I think I am. There still might be changes to my latest draft of Frankenstein, but I sent it off today with the hopes that I've finally captured the spirit of the origial while still fixing the problems the excellent editor over at Sterling identified.

Of the three books I've written for them now, Frankenstein was certainly the most challenging. Mary Shelley's orginial, written from about a half-dozen points of view, often told through the use of the epistolary narrative, and raft with implausible action (all of a sudden Victor has a boat! all of a sudden he's got a pistol, oh no! the monster's totally changed his personality), remains my favourite in terms of how much I loved the story.

Don't get me wrong, Little Women was a book I read and loved as a pre-teen, and Robinson Crusoe gave me good fodder for grad school papers on post-colonialism (cannibals, ahhh!), but Frankenstein, despite its flaws, and in spite of its overbearingly Romantic overtones, remains a delightful, fascinating and ultimately successful book. Not bad for a teenager, that's for damn sure. Well, Shelley wasn't your average teenager, she did shack up with an older man/poet and was born to one infamous feminist (Wollstonecraft) and one a serious, radical thinker (Godwin).

Maybe it's because I admire the circumstances of her life so much, find the romance in the Romantics so utterly enduring, and put Byron on my must-meet list if I could ever time travel. Maybe it's because the precocious nature of the book consistently amazes me, even after reading it half a dozen times. Or maybe I'm still holding the fact that Jo and Laurie don't end up together against Louisa May Alcott. In the end, I'm a bit disappointed in my abridged version, I'm not sure I've done the original justice, but in the end, I hope my editors like it--and don't ask for too many more revisions.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Five Things I'm Addicted To At The Moment

1. This song. I can't stop clacking my tongue like Pharrell and thinking about Paris Hilton by saying, "That's hot."

2. Reading EW Oscar coverage. Especially Reason #1 on this list. I haven't even seen half the films this year, but I guess because we were in England last year, I actually missed the hype.

3. The new seasons of Gilmore Girls and One Tree Hill. I recapped OTH last year for TWoP and swore I'd never watch it again, but here I am taping episodes while we're away relaxing because I can't seem to miss one. Oh, and this season of Gilmore Girls is so good I'm finding myself in tears just thinking about watching an episode where the possibility exists somewhere of Luke and Lorelai getting back together again.

Did I mention I'm unemployed lately? I've got way too much time on my hands. Carry on...

4. Amy's Pizza. I know it's not healthy, but it's organic, and when it's that time of the month it's just right for the awful cheese craving evil that exists somewhere in my prehistoric brain.

5. Getting through this book. Now, A Star Called Henry is one of my all-time favourite books, but for some reason, I've started Oh, Play That Thing FOUR times and STILL haven't made it through to the end. I think because I told deborah of Chicklit fame that I'd write a review that my mind is now utterly uncompelled to finish the book.

I'm sure there's a hundred other healthy or unhealthy things I'm also addicted to right now, like worrying about how much of my hair has fallen out from the CellCept and how bad my skin is from the drugs. Like about how self-centred I can be when the world is so obviously suffering. That's why I donated here today, not to assuage my guilt, but more to accept the fact that while I've had a pretty crappy few months (surgery, disease coming back, losing my job), I'm still luckier than most people in the world. Oh, one more thing I should be addicted to this year--never forgetting that fact.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Relaxation Station

So, the Rock and Roll Boyfriend and I went away for a few days this week to Deerhurst. A "resort" nestled into Muskoka country north of Toronto, we were hoping for romance, restoration and a nice visit to the spa. What we got was sick, sick, sick. Turns out we both ended up with one nasty virus just after we got there. Rock and Roll Boyfriend barely made it through our first high-class dinner before he felt so ill he didn't think he'd even make it back to the room.

We watched Sideways via the room's pay per view that night. And despite the Rock and Roll Boyfriend moaning every couple of minutes for me to bash him in the head with the fireplace poker, we both enjoyed the film. Paul Giamatti should have been nominated last year for his excellent turn as Harvey Pekar, but it's even more ridiculous that he wasn't nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for this role. Bah Hollywood. I still haven't seen Million Dollar Baby, so I don't know if it's worth the hype. Anyway, back to our vacay...

Not to worry, we persevered. We spa-ed the next day, both having massages, facials and mud wraps. It was expensive, but worth every penny. There's something about being pampered after a stressful few months that makes it even more rewarding. We decided to stay in that night and order room service--big mistake. Dripping wet Caesar salad and really bad pizza made us both sick all over again.

The next day we decided to take a little road trip and head over to Algonquin Park. Despite living in Ontario for the better part of my entire life, I've never been there. It's so beautiful; even in the middle of winter, it was lovely. We did two separate short hikes, easy-peasy because I'm still using a cane, and I totally enjoyed myself. There were these sweet little birds who kept following us as we hiked along a trail that usually takes you through a Spruce Bog, only because everything's covered in snow it just ends up looking like the Pine Barrens from that episode of The Sopranos--there wasn't a bog in sight.

In the end, Deerhurst gets thumbs down for its menu, too limited and not enough vegetarian options; thumbs up for its spa (delicious!); thumbs down for the value in terms of what you get for the price you pay for the room; and thumbs up for service, everyone was lovely. All in all it was a good mini-break as Bridget Jones would say, and has set me up nicely for my return to full-time work next week! Wish me luck in having to give up my life of leisure and return to the real world...

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Time Heals All Wounds?

I can finally spill the beans--I am once again gainfully employed. Yippee! I'm excited about the company I'll be working for and the job that I'll be doing; it's in an industry I've been trying to crack open for years.

Maybe it's about time I answered some pending questions. Questions like "Why are you bionic Ragdoll?" and "Why did you need to have your hip replaced?" and "What's it like to have a titanium hip?" You know, those Barbara Walters on The View, sorts of things.

For anyone who might be squeamish about all things medically related, read no further...

When I was 19, I got very sick and was diagnosed with Wegener's Granulomatosis. It's a rare, auto-immune disease that presents itself in my kidneys and lungs. Needless to say I was on death's door and almost kicked the bucket before they figured out what was wrong with me. After two weeks in the hospital, I was put on some very serious drugs, prednisone and Imuran. I was also taking a sulphur-based antibiotic called Septra, which was kind of nasty.

One of the side effects of the steroids is they add fat cells to your bloodstream. This makes it harder for blood to get through thinner veins, the kind that snake their way to your hips, elbows and fingers. So, halfway through my treatment, my right hip bone started to die because no blood could get there. Ouch!

Because the bone wasn't live any more, they needed to fix the problem. In my third year of university, I had a vascular bone graph. The orthopedic surgeon extracted a part of my fibula, and inserted it into my hip to give the area live bone. It worked well for many years, but over the last eighteen months, the graph started falling apart. The result was much pain, discomfort and an acute restriction of my movements. Hence the brand-new hip! It's pretty cool when you think about how routine these types of surgeries are becoming. I spent five days in the hospital, and then recovered at home for the rest of the time. With the exception of the surgeon cracking my thigh bone to get the new hip in and having to keep weight off for the first six weeks, this surgery was one of the easiest things I've been through medical wise.

It feels different, and I can tell I'm sitting on something metal when I move certain ways. But I'm no longer in any pain, and that's a miracle to me.

Oh, and thankfully, now that the disease is once again active, I'm on a new drug called CellCept. It's making my stomach really upset and my hair fall out, but compared to killing my bones, I'll take those side effects any day.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Pet Peeves I

I'm sure this will be an ongoing rant, well number of rants, I suppose. The other day my Rock and Roll Boyfriend and I were out having brunch. Something we do fairly often, but not as much as of late since we bought the Fixer-Upper otherwise known as our house. Anyway, to make a long story short, since a few months before surgery, I've been walking with a cane. My hip isn't very strong just yet, and my leg muscles are underdeveloped from not being able to be very active.

So, I'm walking along the sidewalk, with my cane. Along comes a group of people, regular everyday people who almost bash directly into me because they are so important they can't move out of the way for the disabled girl. This happens all the time. I don't know why people think that it's easier for me to move, me with the cane, me with the scaredy-cat walk because I'm afraid of slipping on the ice and dislocating my brand-new titanium hip.

It's not easier for me to move. It's easier for you, healthy twenty-something male with two good hips to get out of my way. It's a major pet peeve, alongside those people who are so tired from sitting down all day in front of the computer doing their jobs that they can't get up and give the old lady or disabled girl (me) a seat on the streetcar. Those same people who, again, think it's easier for me or my new-found best friend Myrtle, to get out of their way. Where have all the manners gone, I mean really?

Hunter S. Thompson

Rest in peace.

What would my youth have been without "Hell's Angels," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," thoughts of drug-fueled gonzo journalism and plain, old great writing.

His voice will certainly be missed.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Sigh of Relief

I've spent my morning looking up shoes on the web. Now, I know there's real tragedy in the world, and I'm not always totally superficial, but this made me laugh. Note that The Boss From Hell at my place of former employment bought a brand-new pair of Uggs just a few months ago, and then proudly showed them off to her two lackeys like they were the bees knees.

Bless you, Manolo, for telling it like it is.

Now, I understand they're comfortable, or so says someone who knew someone very famous who also often wore said Ugg boots. I also understand that in this cold, cold Canadian climate, they sort of make sense. But for people like The Boss From Hell who are uber-concerned with appearing "trend" worthy, the Ugg-backlash is kind of rewarding in a nasty, awful way.

Thus endeth my mean-spirited post about my former Boss From Hell.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Inspiration is, um, Inspiring?

Now that I'm finished temping, I'm spending just as much time in front of the computer as I did when I was working full-time. It's so different, though. I'm working for myself, writing poems, looking up interesting things on the Internet, indulging my latest rock and roll crushes by examining related web sites.

We had the first meeting of our new "Kick in the Pants" Writers Group last night. We had a long discussion about inspiration, where it comes from, how it translates into your work. It's funny the things that stick in your brain when you're writing about them, how they change, and then morph into something completely different. A slight gasp of an idea suddenly becomes an entire poem that feels so personal--even though it's got nothing to do with real life, but the vivid imagination makes it feel so alive. Maybe that doesn't make any sense.

I've got really good news to share on the job front, but mum's the word until I know for sure I can spill the beans. Now, it's back to editing my kids books. I got the comments back from Sterling, the NYC publisher that I'm working with for two books in their "Classic Starts" series. I've abridged Frankenstein and Robinson Crusoe.

Little Women, the first one I wrote about eighteen months ago, is now for sale. Aren't they wonderful? They're such beautiful little books and it's really rewarding that a lot of kids that may have never read the classics will now have the chance to with this series.

Ah, editing--it's the bane of my existence. Funny, it's strange that I'm a writer who hates editing her own work. Happiness (read, ahem, perfection) is an impossible thing to achieve on the first draft though, and you'd think I would have realized this by now...

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Comedy of Errors

Bless the end of the temp assignment. After almost five weeks, it was starting to feel more permanent than temporary. After almost five weeks, they were starting to get used to having me around. After almost five weeks, I had just about as much as I could take of making $13 bucks an hour.

It all happened so fast, at first I thought I got a contract job with a fab ad agency, but they turned me down after realizing that I might not stick with it if my full-time dream job actually happens. Oh yeah, I had a second interview for said dream job this week--I should know sooner rather than later whether or not I'm going to be employed. So, thinking I had the contract, I quit the temp job on Monday. I'm sure the temp agency isn't too pleased with me, but I had to do what I had to do.

There was a point on Monday that I had two jobs in the bag, an interview for a third and the temp place asking me, again, if I wanted to work there full-time. Then, moments later, the contract fell through, I had quit where I was and I had no jobs lined up! My heart skipped about sixteen beats, but it's all worked out okay in the end.

What's on my to do list now? I'm going to write poetry, wax philosophical for the next couple weeks and figure out whether or not to stay home to write a novel or carry on with my career. What's a modern girl to do?

Some cool news, my latest rock and roll crush, Greg MacPherson, has an album coming out soon. That's very exciting. His song "Wide Turn" contains some of the loveliest lyrics I've heard in a long time: "I've got a cold heart I say / I'm only sorry if it lets me get my way / We took a wide turn / Rolled down our windows / And let the air rush in." Talk about poetry in motion...

Friday, February 11, 2005

Friday Night, Feeling Alright

Ah, the end to another week of temping. It's an odd beast, being a temp worker: you don't really register on the radar of people around you; you feel strange and awkward because you don't really know anyone that well; and you definitely find out what kind of work you like to do vs. what you absolutely hate doing. There's an upside to it though: the freedom. I get giggly just thinking about how I can simply say to them, "Well, I've got a good opportunity so tomorrow will be my last day."

Now that makes the work week lighter, for sure.

Everything is now finished with my old employer. I picked up my last documents today from the lawyer.

So what now? In my heart of hearts I wish I could take six months off and write the next great Canadian novel. But that's not an entirely realistic dream.

Good stuff's happening in town tonight. A friend is visiting from NYC, which is always cool. And my favourite band is playing tonight at Lee's Palace, but I think the tickets are all sold out. If you get the chance, you should go see The Constantines, they kick ass.

We were both in London this time last February. With the exception of seeing Tricky Woo at the El Mocambo, with the lead singer ending the show wearing nothing but a handkerchief tied around his neck, it was the greatest rock and roll show I've ever seen. They have so much energy, and it's nice to see the return to rock and roll, with plenty of guitars and hard, pounding beats.

I hope there's still tickets available at the door. Because being done with all that mess from my old job is definitely cause for celebration. I feel elated that it's all over with now, that I can finally move on with my life, that I can afford to buy a beer! Bless the severance payment people, bless it.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

New Year's Revolutions

I know we're well into February, and we should all be thinking about the Carlton Cards excuse for a holiday called Valentine's Day, but I'm still stuck in January because so much went on that month.

Does everyone you know break their New Year's Resolutions? I know I do, and I started calling them "revolutions" because, taking after Castro, people tend to stick to a revolution in the long run.

So, do I have plans to revolutionize my life this year? Perhaps, yes. Perhaps, no. But with this newfound unemployment it seems that I really should do some soul searching. It's funny. When tragedy of the work-sense strikes, people rally behind you, your friends spend a lot of time telling you that you're better off not being in an unhealthy environment (trust me when I say it was really unhealthy where I was working), and your adorable mother-in-law says, with all honesty, "Everything happens for a reason." And for a minute, before the tears set in, before your world comes crashing down around you, and before you reach for that Ativan your doctor has so kindly prescribed, you actually believe every single silly saying that human beings have been toting since the beginning of time.

Yes, everything does happen for a reason. "That's right!" I scream. Now, what in bloody hell is the reason and how do I figure it out before I have a complete and utter nervous breakdown.

Yes, I'm definitely better off without the nasty boss and the stress of a big, fancy job, but that doesn't help me to decide what the heck I'm going to do next.

In the end, all of the things I thought about myself aren't necessarily true anymore. I always figured I was someone who could roll with the punches. When you've had as much tragedy in my life as I've had, it's funny the things that unnerve you. I've been through losing my mom at an early age, contracting a life-threatening disease that seems to rear its ugly head every now and again (translate: right now), a bunch of messy relationships and a whole lot of people I love, especially my grandmother, dying of cancer at relatively young ages. In the end, sticking with platitudes might work in the sense that you always know what to say to someone who might be going through a bit of a something, but it's making all those truths work for you day-in and day-out that I'm finding a bit hard right now.

What's that? I'm out of Ativan? Well, you'll have to excuse me as I run out to the drugstore.

Happy Freaking New Year!

What a start to the new year! Let's see -- I had hip replacement surgery last September, so on January 1st I was still learning to walk. Then, I went back to work after being off on sick leave (you heard me: sick leave) to find out they had reorganized me right out of a job. Oh, and to add to the stress we (me and my Rock and Roll Boyfriend) had just bought a house. Of course, being a Rock and Roll Boyfriend, means he doesn't have a steady job. In what's supposed to be a time of renewal and regeneration, good luck and New Year's resolutions, I'm standing on the side of the road worried I'm going to lose my new house because I've lost my big, fancy job and, well, frankly I'm having trouble standing up...because I just got my hip replaced.

So now, I'm temping for $13 bucks an hour trying to find a new job. Do you know anyone that's hiring?