Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Disaster of Me

My short story class is a nightmare and I'm trying to get out of it. My joints ache like I'm having mid-life growing pains but I know it's the disease and I'm tired of it. My head aches and my mouth is dry, totally dehydrated like I'm stuck in a snowbank with only ice to suck on and it's just not the same as water in a plastic cup. I've run out of sleeping pills, which is why I'm over-tired and dehydrated, and finished my latest course of antibiotics which, when mixed with the not sleeping for the past three days, means I'll be sick again within the week.

I'm tired of the disease this time around. I don't know if I have the energy any more to cope.

/of feeling sorry for myself.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

#22 - The Book of Joe

Jonathan Tropper's The Book of Joe is one of the better books I've read this year, and it's been a pretty good year so far. It's a sweet novel that looks at the life of a successful novelist who wrote disparagingly about the town where he grew up only to return seventeen years later as his father falls into a coma. Tropper's writing reminds me of Jonathan Franzen, that bittersweet recognition that life hasn't turned out the way you expected, and that material success sometimes isn't the answer.

And then, the whole visual image of the book was shattered when I looked up the movie version on the imdb and found out Joe Mantegna is to play "Joe." Ew. He's only supposed to be 34, so they must have it wrong.

Highly recommended. The Book of Joe gets the broken hip salute, which essentially means I'd give it a big booty bump if the book was a cute fellow at a rock and roll show.

Poetry Class

Tonight was the second class of my "Introduction to Poetry" class. I missed last week because of the Work Conference, and went back to happily find that the really annoying girl from the first class wasn't there anymore. Isn't that awful of me? I feel so selfish because I want to know what the teacher thinks of my work, so that I can send it out and see what happens. But I also don't want to hog the whole class with my own mini-egotistic impression that I'm smarter than everyone else. Because I'm not, but there are only so many bad poems one can come across in one's lifetime. Thankfully, the other poems discussed tonight weren't all that bad -- lacking polish, but still good.

Of course, I'm terrified of reading in public. The last time I did it actually on a stage I made myself so sick before hand that my period was two weeks late. It stressed me out that much. Tonight, I read a poem called "January (My Violent Heart)," the first in a series of twelve poems I wrote, each with a title of one month out of the year, as it would suggest. When I finished reading it, shaking, stuttering and shivering, the teacher said, "Wow, that's really strong." Which was nice but it scared me a little bit because I've lost all ability to be objective about my work at this point.

In the end, I did it, sort of half-conquering the feeling that I can't do it, can't write, now my only goal at the end of the course is to publish the poems I workshop. We'll see how lucky I am. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, April 25, 2005

When Bad Things Happen To Good Penguins...

Is it really necessary for the penguins to walk through airport security? I mean, damn, it's cute, but what could they possibly be packing?

My Nomadic Existence

It's a strange thing to have a job where you don't spend more than one or two days straight in one office. I guess that's how salespeople work, but having never been a salesperson, I've had no experience with it. Not to say I don't like it, but I'm looking forward to spending two days in a row at my main office, getting all my stuff organized from the conference and catching up on my internet gossip.

Wha? Britney's pregnant? Now that's scary, someone who takes marriage so very seriously that she gets married and then divorced, ahem, annulled less than 24-hours later. What happens when the warm glow of the insta-family wears off and she's actually changing diapers and being responsible for another life? Will she stop smoking and walking around barefoot in truck stop restrooms? Um, ew. Maybe the baby's theme song will be, "Oops, I Did It Again," as it spirals into the abyss of Hollywood kids with really messed up famous parents.

You go Tom Waits. You have and will always kick ass. Especially for that one great memory I have of you spreading fairy dust all over the stage the last time I saw you live. Big Black Mariah, all right!

I found this on bookninja.com today. A woman has read all of the Oprah Book Club books and then written a book herself about the experience of reading them. Um, considering the entire world read the Oprah Books is this book really necessary? And the last book about reading books I tried to read was Alberto Manguel's A Reading Diary and it was terribly boring.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Sentence Of The Day

We watched the truly bad Walking Tall last night after the Rock and Roll Boyfriend's parents left. But the best line in the entire film came from Johnny Knoxville's character Ray, he says as he surveys the scantily clad, half-naked women and ruggedly, ahem, tough characters in the local casino: "This place is full of fake tits and real assholes."

Heh.

That Sour Taste In My Mouth...

...Isn't necessarily regret. It's the stupid antibiotics that I've been taking now for almost five weeks straight. No matter what you do, brush your teeth, rise your mouth with wash, gurgle salt water, it still tastes a bitter pill. Funny how life literalizes your metaphors without even asking.

Last night, I went out for dinner with the Rock and Roll in-laws. The boy's aunt is visiting from New Brunswick and it was a lovely dinner. If you get the chance, have a black bean burrito at Mitzi's Sister—delicious!

I'm feeling frustrated today because I've been taking so much medication for so long and I don't even know if it's working. Well, it's working in the sense that I'm not dying of sickness like I was a few weeks ago but I'm not feeling entirely well either. The disease is funny that way, it sits beneath the surface, sort of floating in the pool of my body waiting patiently to pull me completely down in the undertow.

Needless to say I'm tired of it all, the low white blood cells, the high creatinine, the sickly chest, and the extreme exhaustion. Today, this rainy Sunday in April, where I'm supposed to be making plans for Ireland, curling up in bed reading a book, getting out even though it's still kind of cold, I'm stuck inside feeling sorry for myself. I'll change the Boomtown Rats now please—I don't like Sundays.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

National Treasure, Yeah Right!

It's kind of neat living in a hotel room for a week. The bed was glorious and it didn't have those awful, flowered polyester covers either, it had a big plush duvet with a cover that smelled faintly of bleach, meaning it had definitely been washed before I slept in it. Yum!

The food was excellent, but it does get a bit tiring eating buffets all the time. Anyway, there were movies we could rent in the room, so we did. The first night we watched Assault on Precinct 13 now my love for Ethan Hawke knows no bounds at this moment, but the movie was so bad and Brian Dennehy chewed so much scenery it's no wonder he's, ahem, a portly older man. Then later on in the week we watched Hitch and it's no wonder Will Smith's the world's biggest box office draw, he's totally entertaining; it's just too bad that film falls apart at the end.

The coupe de gras for the week was National Treasure. What a terrible film! Too much like The Da Vinci Code (Sir Ian McKellen shame on you), so utterly predictable, and there's no way that the silly girl from Troy that launched a thousand boats was any more of a doctor than I am. Silly film -- so many of these ridiculous Hollywood blockbusters make so much ridiculous money inflating the egos of has-been stars going through their mid-life crisis, like Nicolas Cage, that it's makes me sad for the world. Yet, I still watched it, so what does that say about me? Now talk about chewing the scenery -- I think that Nicolas Cage might be right up there with Brian Dennehy to win the coveted "Worst Actor of my Work Conference" Award.

It's Been A Long Time Coming

After a hectic week away for work, I managed to go out last night and celebrate the fact that a friend from my former job has escaped the clutches of the Boss From Hell. And another friend, Suzy Q, has also tendered her resignation. So that's two more staff members in the span of three weeks that have left. Oh, that doesn't count the one she fired about five weeks ago or the other one who moved departments less than five months after starting.

So, the latest ghastly story I've heard is that one day last week, BFH was walking the halls and said to a colleague, "I'm tired of looking at all these skinny bitches." Yes, she referred to her team as a bunch of skinny bitches. Yes, this is the woman in charge of the online department of one of Canada's biggest broadcasters. Now if she were complaining about someone as silly as Paris Hilton in that manner it might not be so bad, but come on -- how is this professional and how does this woman still have her job?

Oh, and to make matters worse, I hear the VP is hiring a bunch of consultants to come in and fix the problem because it's gotten so bad in the department. Here's a suggestion: fire the boss, get rid of the useless MBA-twits, and find a decent leader. Oh, and then hire back all the talent you decided to get rid of because you felt insecure that they actually knew what they were doing.

Then, some British guy at the bar picked up my business card for my new, fabulous job, and after asking how I knew everyone, he said, "Oh, you're that girl." Yes, that's me, the disabled girl who got fired her first day back after hip surgery. And anyone and everyone that I tell that story to still has a horrified look on their face when I say, "Yes, ten minutes, she fired me ten minutes after I got back."

Well, Nelly, I raise a glass to you because you're out, and we'll celebrate far into the night as Suzy Q makes her gracious exit next Friday.

It's sure nice to have friends though. Lord knows we've all developed quite a pack of enemies.

Friday, April 22, 2005

It's A Long Road Home

I've been working now for two straight weeks. After two days in NYC and then two days spent at another conference, I've just returned from seven, count them, seven days at another work conference.

I'm beat.

Remember when I was blissfully unemployed and convinced I'd never find a job again? Yeah, if there was crow pie nearby, I'd eat some. Um, is that the right analogy?

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Work Conference Part Deux

So today I'm back at a work conference for an entire week. No internet access means no blogging for me. So here are five things I'm obsessed with at the moment:

1. Ethan Hawke. He's not the world's greatest actor, he dumped Uma Thurman (wha?), and he's got those strange crooked teeth, but ever since I watched the heartbreaking and yet still uplifting Before Sunset months ago during my recovery, I can't get him out of my head. He's my superstar crush. I think too, because the film is set in Paris, and I'll be going back there this summer, that it resonated even more for me. That tender place where youth finally transcends into adulthood, barely making a mark on how fast life goes by, it's been months since I watched the movie, but I'm still thinking about it.

2. "Night Flares." Greg MacPherson's new album came out this month. The Rock and Roll Boyfriend had a copy that a friend burned for him, and his band is opening up for MacPherson's Toronto record release on April 28th and I'm really looking forward to it.

3. Coronation Street. Look, I know we're, like, a year behind the UK here in Canada, supposing the colonies aren't allowed to be up-to-date on our "teley," but the CBC has been showing two episodes in a row for the past two weeks and we're all obsessed in this household. We all got teary when Todd said goodbye to his baby, and his storyline is so heartbreaking. Bah! Soap operas, who knew me and my snobby, artsy-fartsy mentality would be so obsessed?

4. Prep. The more I think about this novel, the more I realize I really, really liked it. Not just because it's a fascinating example of teenage angst, but because of how the author Curtis Sittenfeld creates such a real character. Lee Fiora is so absolutely normal, but so heartbreakingly abnormal, that you can't help but associate yourself with aspects of her life. Who hasn't sat alone at a food court? Who hasn't wished they could be a part of cool kids? Who hasn't looked at themselves in the mirror and cursed their genes for making them so humbly average looking? Don't let the cover fool you, it's not a chick lit book, it's a lovely combination of a coming-of-age tale mixed in with the aura of Catcher in the Rye and Toews's A Complicated Kindness (as I said before).

5. Deadwood. The swearing (yes!), the traditional Western (yes!), the tragically flawed characters (yes!), the magnificent scripts (yes!) -- all add up to this show soon overtaking The Wire as the best show on television. At my work conference over the past couple of days, I met a woman who said, "I don't think there's anything worth watching on television, at least not anything that I'd actually make a point of watching." My heart broke at that instant because I think HBO has revolutionlized television, bringing aspects of BBC-inspired shorter, well-written, excellently performed and magnificently shot series to the forefront. Plus, Robin Weigert, who plays Calamity Jane, makes me howl -- the whole diatribe about drinking and farting made me pee my pants.

Oh, and, of course, I've got to go away for a whole week and miss all the WB shows with new episodes. What happens with Ephram and his baby? Will Rory stay with Logan? How will Keith react to Dan's meddling in his love life? So many questions, so little time for television viewing.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Shoes, oh, Shoes

I never learn my lesson. When we were in NYC last week I saw the greatest pair of shoes, but didn't try them on and didn't buy them. Then, I checked with the store here and they don't have them. It's a hard lesson to learn. The same thing happened when I was in London last year.

All the money books tell you not to buy something on instinct the first time you see it. But they don't know how to help you deal with the shoe letdown. And not even Bluefly can cheer me up.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Ah, The Work Conference

Having a big fancy job doesn't necessarily mean that it's always full of big-fancy and exciting things during the day. I've just spent the past workday sitting in a conference about the "new face" of the publishing industry. It's interesting, for sure, when it's interesting -- if you know what I mean -- but when things like that are boring, my goodness are they booorrriiinnngggg.

I spend more time thinking about how smart people stay smart by attending lots of these things, but then I wonder if any jackass can become a motivational speaker just by setting up a web site and calling themselves so...

Anyway, on a more exciting note. I started my poetry class on Tuesday night. It's always fun to start a class, and especially continuing education classes where people are there because they have a love for the subject matter. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that the teacher is hot -- like, totally, wish-he-was my poet boyfriend, smoking, drinking, walking stereotype of hot smart guy, hot.

Now I wish that my poems didn't totally suck and that they weren't so bloody self-involved. If anyone wants to read them and tell me otherwise (wink wink) let me know because I'm suffering from a crippling sense of self-doubt this week about everything in my writing life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

On My Travels Today...

...I found this: Farmzone.com. Isn't it cool?

I'm sorry, but if knowing the fact that there's 0% chance of precipitation makes me geek then bring on the nerd love because goodness, gracious me I love a good, interesting map!

Oh yeah, Google satellite maps are cool all right, but they won't tell me that the "Gusts" are 25 km/hour. How neat is that?

#21 - Can You Keep A Secret?

Oh, Sophie Kinsella, you are like popcorn, light and airy, able to finish quickly and easily, enjoyable but don't stick around long. I read most of Can You Keep A Secret on the plane to NYC and the rest that night in my hotel, but forgot to include it yesterday.

Why oh why do I enjoy reading books that are like movies on the page these days? It's the whole chick lit genre that's got me so stumped. I've said it before and I'll say it again here for the record: I'm convinced chick lit is the Harlequin of my generation. I read these books the same way my mother read romance novels: quickly and efficiently, where all the plots blend into one, where all the media/publishing/magazine jobs blur and all the characters, unlike Lee from Prep, are hidden beauties, and all the men are gorgeous and rich, of course. Where does this life exist?

Let's start a faction to write real chick lit, oh, wait, it already exists, doesn't it? In the voices of Toews and others who don't see romance as a means of escaping the fact that you still need a plot that you can't poke a hole the size of an elephant through and character development for a novel to, well, be a bloody novel.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The 50 Book Challenge: #s 17-20

So I'm up to what, 20 now for the year? I finished The Second Summer of the Sisterhood and Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood. Ann Brashares books are like the WB, only on the page. They're full of angst ridden but spicy teenagers who are strong willed and independent, but still tender and troubled. Perfect for a girl who can't seem to focus on the television but really misses One Tree Hill. Highly recommended girlie reading; I can't wait for the movie -- honestly.

I also finished J.M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello, which I felt was not one of his better books. Coetzee's one of my favourite writers. One of the writers where I'll only read one of his books every couple of years because I'm afraid of running out and if I don't have his words in my life, it's just not the same. But this book was too heady, told from a very strange perspective and in a very odd manner -- not that his books have ever had a straight forward sense of narrative, but I just couldn't get into it at all.

Finally, I read a fabulous book yesterday called Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. It's a book that's doing gangbusters in the US, but I don't know if the buzz has carried its way up here yet or not. In tone it's kind of like Catcher in the Rye or, more recently, A Complicated Kindness, but it's not as well-written as Toews novel. It's an engaging story about a complex yet perfectly ordinary girl who pushes herself to attend boarding school. It's a coming of age tale that haunts you after you've finished reading, but only because you know some daft Hollywood producer's going to come along and decide they'll make a movie out of it and fail miserably.

The Rock Weekend

So this past weekend the Rock and Roll Boyfriend played in a series of shows with The Weakerthans, where he's an auxillary member. So after a fabulous time spending two days in NYC, I dove right into a Band Girlfriend weekend of lots of shows, lots of loud music and even more beer (well, not that much beer because I'm on lots of meds for the disease).

The Constantines are the Canadian rock band -- while The Weakerthans will always be the love of my life; the Cons are equated to that awesome drunk sex you have at the end of a long, great night with the really hot boy you've had a crush on forever.

I managed to drag my tired ass to all three night shows: Thursday, Friday and Saturday, even though by the end I was pretty sure my bronchitis was back and I was dead sick by Sunday afternoon.

There's something about a rock and roll show the way everything can be just right: they'll play your favourite song; the beer will be cold enough and stay cold; the people will all be happy to be there and no one will be obnoxious; and that good feeling stays with you forever. Well, at least until the next morning when you've got a wicked hangover and have decided you're dying because your chest is infected once again and you're mad because the disease is controlling your life instead of the other way around.

Oh, and did I mention that all of my rock and roll crushes now begin with the letter "W"? The keyboard player from the Cons with his twist-tie legs and boundless energy is named Will; and the lead singer from Cuff the Duke, scrawny and penniless with a new record coming out in the next couple months is Wayne. Ah, to be ten years younger and not an old rock widow with grey hair and too much cellulite on her ass.

NY Frame of Mind

Talk about the whirlwind. I left Wednesday morning at 5.08 AM, got back Thursday evening at 9.30 PM, and spent almost 36 glorious hours in New York City. We stayed at Flatotel, which my friend Wing Chun informed me, was where they filmed the first season of America's Next Top Model. The room was amazing. The hotel was right in midtown Manhattan within walking distance of Times Square, and how amazing is it just to drive past the East River on the FDR (is that right?) with the sun shining, with the windows of the yellow cab rolled down, with the sights of the traffic floating in and out of the lanes like sea gulls on Lake Ontario, and with the idea that for just a moment, walking with the group of people from the NY office, that people might mistake me for a native New Yorker.

We spent most of Wednesday in meetings, and then raced in a cab downtown to buy tickets from the half-price ticket booth for a Broadway show, which may seem utterly tourist of us, but hell, it's the Great White Way people? We ended up seeing Twyla Tharp's Movin' Out, which unlike Momma Mia, is all dance; no cheesy dialogue and no corny storylines made to fit into the music. Instead, Billy Joel's music seems to fit seemlessly because the choreography is so good. I was really hesitant to see it, but was absolutely amazed it was so moving.

I spent the first years of my life dancing, and did it all through high school; and when I see it there in such a perfect form (the musical is a magical blend of modern, jazz, ballet and Broadway dance) that it makes my heart ache just a little bit for sore toes and knees and thighs and hard work and sweat and all kinds of other good stuff.

After the show, we went to Jamba Juice, and then to sleep at the hotel. The next day I managed to squeeze in some shopping at J Crew (yee-haa!). And then bam! we're back on a plane and back in Toronto. And the weather was ten degrees cooler, which made me miss NYC even more.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

NYC - In the Spring

Tomorrow we're going to NYC for business. It's my first business trip ever, and I feel like a heroine in a Sophie Kinsella book.

Should be interesting. Shoes anyone?

Sunday, April 03, 2005

There Is A Season, Turn, Turn, Turn

...If only it would turn into spring. We were hoping. We were holding out hope. But today it snowed for the fifth month in a row here in Toronto. I think Winnipeg is having better weather.

Turns out the world isn't just mourning the death of the Pope, but the weather seems to be doing a pretty good job of it as well.

It's interesting to see the world's reaction to his death, considering, and I mean no ill-intent here, but the man's been on death's door for quite some time now, and it's divine grace that he lasted this long. I mean, really.

Our house is still a project. The basement is full of crap, broken walls, broken toilets, a bathtub, insulation -- oh, and the scariest thing ever, at some point before we moved in, mice had eaten almost entirely through the biggest power wire in the house. So, hurrah for fixer-uppers. I never thought I'd hate the house I bought, but right now, I'm hating it and so much more.

Did I mention the fact that it's April. And it's still SNOWING.

Oh, and I went to a really shitty seminar yesterday and that just put me in a pissy mood that seemed to continue all weekend.