Thursday, June 30, 2005

To Cottage or Not to Cottage

This morning I woke up feeling okay, feeling like I could handle the drive up to the cottage, the hours I'd have to spend cleaning up all the mouse poop, the buying of the groceries, and everything else I'd have to do. This evening, my stomach can barely handle a can of ginger ale and I'm feeling so tired I don't even know if I can make it out of bed.

Tomorrow is another day. A Canada Day. So I'll see how I'm feeling then and get back to you. If you don't hear from me. I've gone to Cordova Lake.

Sam & Sadie

There's nothing like a wonderful visit in the afternoon with a good friend. Where you see her beautiful, happy, healthy, sweet baby girl giggling, cooing and chewing on her toes. Makes up just a little bit for all the hair falling out of my head in the shower in the morning. Blech!

#31 Faceless Killers

I finished Henning Mankell's Faceless Killers this morning. I've come to the conclusion that mysteries are the perfect summer read. They're captivating and funny, sometimes interesting but always shocking in some way. They are rewarding in the way that Law and Order is rewarding. Thanks to JKS for recommending the book—I couldn't put it down, just like the other mystery I read lately.

Oh, and I gave up on the quest to read the "classics" of literature, in this bloody heat, it's impossible.

So, Faceless Killers finds Ystad (in Sweden) police inspector Kurt Wallander trying to solve a very difficult case. Two elderly farmers are attacked late one winter evening. The husband bludgeoned to death and his wife left for dead with her head in a noose. As the woman expires in the hospital, the last word she utters is "foreign", over and over again. This sends Wallander, a rough and ready cop with a broken marriage and an even worse case of insomnia, on a crazy ride to find the killers. It's a solid book that intertwines the mystery with the ins and outs of Swedish politics, in terms of how the country deals with immigration. Now I'm going to have to look up the rest of the books in the bloody series. Mysteries are even more addictive than chick lit.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Heat = Bad Moods

The city continues to swelter under smog and high temperatures. Walking around downtown everyone complains about the weather and looks miserable. Sitting in a government office waiting doesn't make anyone more happy either. It's strange, how the weather affects people, and how we spend so much of our time figuring ways around it instead of figuring out ways to live in it.

We've got air conditioning so we can close our windows and doors, chill ourselves to the bone and ignore summer. Only now Toronto Hydro is urging people to reduce electricity because it's about to blow—well not seriously, but we're consuming way, way too much these days. I feel guilty just turning it on at night, but my RRBF can't take the heat either, like so many people I know.

We drive everywhere, which contributes to the smog, which makes us need the air conditioning, which drives up the electricity, which makes our footprint bigger, which makes me think of the frog on the log in the middle of the lake, and so on. But it's not so much the driving, as the people who leave their cars idling. The silly morons who are still convinced that SUVs (aka Stupid Useless Vehicles) are needed for the off-roading on Jameson between King and Queen Streets.

And now, all of you in SUVs should drive around with egg on your face. The US are going to destroy a small section of the caribou's natural migration and/or habitation in the north for SIX MONTHS of oil. Six months. Resources that will last for less than half a year will destroy hundreds of thousands of years of natural habitat. What's wrong with you?

And no wonder Canadians "hate" Americans so much. What's wrong with those people who voted for the oil drilling, how short-sighted are they? How little do they care about the Earth, the animals, the environment. I'm getting so upset just thinking about it, and before you say it, yes, it just happens to be that time of the month.

Monday, June 27, 2005

In Her Shoes

I want to call in sick the day this film opens and go see it with all my girlfriends. If it's one tenth as good as the book, it'll be an amazing girlie movie. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Books I Can't Wait to Read

My stack of "to read" books (if I did them according to height) might not be as tall as the Penguin Classics offer out there right now (link via Publishers Lunch), but it's certainly up there. And in light of the fact that I'll probably never make it through the other list I posted here, I'm moving on to some of the books coming out this fall that I really can not wait to read. They are in no particular order:

1. Elizabeth Ruth. Smoke. I'm not saying this because I did a delightful interview with her over on chicklit, and I'm not listing it simply because she's a friend, but because she's a wonderful writer, and I really liked Ten Good Seconds of Silence.

2. John Irving. Until I Find You. John Irving's books have carried me through difficult times. A Prayer For Owen Meany remains one of the greatest American novels published in the second half of last century. Irving remains one of our greatest writers (I claim him for Canada, if only because I know he often claims Canada for himself), but his last few books have been disappointing. There's nothing that I despise more than reading mid-life crises on the page. (Salmon Rushdie, I'm looking at you, don't duck—they're just words.) Fingers crossed this book brings us back into the fold, and doesn't convince me to stop reading Irving all together.

3. Michael Cunningham. Specimen Days. The Hours—need I say more.

4. Jane Urquhart. A Map of Glass. I took a field trip to see the church she wrote about in The Stonecarvers. I wonder where this book will send me? Somewhere inspiring, I'm sure.

5. Elizabeth Kostova. The Historian. This book is getting so much buzz that I'm almost afraid to read it because I'm afraid it'll turn out like The Crimson Petal and the White, which was quite possibly the worst book I'd read in years. However, this book is about Dracula? How can anyone resist Dracula? Honestly!

Star Gazing

At a trade show for work, I stood in line, like the true geek that I am, to meet Kim Cattrall, and to get her autograph. Overall, after years upon years of watching television, Sex and the City remains one of my all-time favourite shows. So when I saw that she was there, wearing a lovely yellow summer dress and these fabulous yellow pumps, I couldn't be cool and nonchalant—I wanted an autograph.

With absolutely no intention to buy her book, with nothing except awe for absolutely stunning she is in real life, I stood there with the rest of the adoring public for my chance to say hello. She was charming. We complimented her shoes, then she winked at us, and went on signing for the rest of her adoring public. You know, it took all of my self-control to not let my impishness win: all I wanted to do was ask, "So what really happened with you and SJP, and is the SATC movie really on the rocks?" But alas, I didn't, thanked her kindly for her scribble, and went back to work. Sigh.

Oh, and when I was in line for some cucumber maki, Sook-Yin Lee came up beside me and ordered some sashimi. A pale star gazing moment compared to Sunday's luminary flash of inspiration of just seeing Kim Cattrall.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Feeling Hot Hot Hot

I made the grave mistake yesterday of biking to my errands. Now that I've bought my tickets for my fabulous birthday trip to Europe (oh, how Victorian of me!), there are a few things I need: travel bag, travel-sized toiletries, and the list goes on. And since the meds are making my scalp really itchy and dry, I wanted to find some nice shampoo that might help. So, I decided to ride my bike. Whew, what a mistake that was—it was 34 degrees in Toronto yesterday, without the humidex. Which meant that I was biking around mid-day in 45 degree weather, in the shade.

Silly ragdoll, you say. Silly ragdoll indeed. By the time I got home, I was dehydrated (regardless of drinking an entire bottle of water), faint, and feeling really overheated. Insane! Maybe it was a bit of heat stroke, who knows, but it turned me into the crankiest, angriest girl I'd been in a long time.

I tried to sleep, and then made dinner, did the dishes and felt much better. The RRBF wasn't much better. After spending the last few days clearing out the rest of the crap from the basement, paying to get all the garbage hauled out of the backyard, then fixing the leaking plumbing, he was so tired that he spent the entire day either in front of the television or on the computer.

Strange thing this heat, we beg for it all winter and then when it comes around it's a bit too much for us to take. Ah, the subtle irony of living in Canada with its extreme fluctuations.

The good news is that we didn't drive the car yesterday, I didn't take any extra bags for shopping and tried not to turn the air conditioning on until we absolutely had to. I'm still trying to be a better person for the environment, but it's hard.

Today's the beginning of a big conference for work, so I'll be at work this afternoon and all day tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Friday, June 24, 2005

Stupid Disease #4576

Fridays are the worst days. So tired. So frustrated. More tomorrow when I'm feeling better. Sigh.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Da Vinci Code Watch

As Dan Brown's book remains a bestseller well over the two-year mark, I've been watching with a morbid curiosity all the crazy stuff that pops up from this work of fiction.

I read this article (link via bookslut) by Christopher Hitchens, who hated the book, generally echoing the consensus among, ahem, learned individuals that the writing is terrible (I got part-way through and then tossed the book into the corner screaming).

This woman created a cute comic, riffing on the book. Someone's now writing a biography on Dan Brown (link via Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind). And some other fellow is really peeved that the publisher isn't going to publish the book in paperback and time soon.

Let's not forget the numerous television specials or useless amount of ink spilled on whether or not the theories found in the novel are true. Ahem, it's a novel people, A NOVEL!

On the one hand, I'm thrilled that one book has spawned this much attention. It's making people read, which I'm always thrilled about—maybe someone who hasn't read a book in a long while will read this book and then be encouraged to read something else, something perhaps not written by Dan Brown. But on the other hand, there's something in me that wishes the world would just wake up and realize the book is a terribly written product of someone's imagination, and not take it so seriously—that is until Tom Hanks stars in the movie in the summer of 2006. Sigh.

Virtual Wasteland

Everyday I get about 25-30 emails that aren't junk mail per se, but various newsletters that I've subscribed to for "research" purposes. And one of the newspapers in the UK that sends me a note every morning had this to day, "Standby: Britain: The waste that fuels our energy crisis." The article talks at length about how everyday electrical equipment is a source of energy waste by leaving things on standby. And it got me thinking, about Live 8, about my ecological footprint, and about how the world is now, more than ever, geared to a throw-away society.

When did the world change? I remember having an environmental conference when I was in my last year of high school, at the very least a decade ago, where we urged the world to think about its consumption of oil, the use of Styrofoam and how important it is to recycle. Now, I see commercials for throwaway toilet brushes—because the simple old-fashioned toilet brush has become ungainly and inefficient?

Now, I drive to work the majority of the time. I could take the transit, but it would take me close to two hours to get to where I needed to go. Yet, I feel increasingly guilty about driving, that price of gas, or oil in general, is making the world a sick, greedy place.

I turn off my lights, but take a shower every day. I planted a garden to help with the smog, but have to water it every night. I ride my bike on days when I'm at the downtown office, but we drive to get groceries almost every weekend. We use cloth bags, but so much of the food is pre-packaged. And I'm not even going to think about the medical waste involved in the research to find drugs for my disease.

How much has the world changed since I was naive and thought that by the time I reached this age, people would actually start caring more about their environment and less about their comfort. It's a melancholy thought, but I struggle with it all the time. And now, I've got to go water the garden.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

My Friends, The End

The last session in my poetry class happened on Tuesday night. Few actually showed up, but it was a good class, and we all got to workshop our poems. Now, the question remains whether or not I can find the courage to send the series out. Who knows?

Oh, then the teacher invited me to come for a beer, and in my infinite wisdom, I decided I'd rather be home watching Corrie Street. Bah! I'm a goofball.

Goodness me, do I love a good virtual showdown. Neil Pollack wrote about the death of his persona in the NY Times. Then, Dave Eggers replied on McSweeneys (links via bookslut).

Remember the heyday when Dave Eggers and Neal Pollack would show up at the Horseshoe half an hour late, weird diagrams and fake superhero costumes in tow? Remember how we all swooned when Dave told the stories about his brother Topher and the tragic deaths of his parents interspersed with crazy stories of meeting whales in kayaks? Sigh. Somehow, the pretension of all of that just couldn't last. It was like Shift magazine, too hip for its own good.

But again, I guess the debate rages as to whether or not Eggers' form of self-publishing empire is still relevant and whether or not his website still matters, because Neal Pollack's piece was in the, ahem, NY Times.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Summer Reading

As many blogs were reporting today (bookslut, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind, and so on), the newspapers around the globe are atwitter with Summer Reading Lists. And it's not that the beautiful warm weather and long, quiet nights at the cottage don't inspire one to pick up a book that they've been meaning to read, but more that there's a certain connotation that goes along with the whole Summer Reading idea.

So when I landed up a Salon list today that was out of the ordinary, I thought to myself what does Summer Reading really mean? How is it different than Winter, Fall or Spring Reading? To me, it isn't really, but it is a time to catch up and read more, for some reason, most of which being that the television truly sucks ass this time of year.

Now I've decided I'm going to try to read as many books on this list from The Guardian as I possibly can. And watch as my 50 Book Challenge kite sways, flutters and then eventually takes a nose dive for the Earth.

What I've already read? Ahem, not as much as I should have being the one with the MA in English from U of T. Snippets of Pilgrim's Progress, all of Robinson Crusoe, Emma, Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, half of Moby-Dick, Madame Bovary (yawn), Little Women, Jude the Obscure (one of my all-time favourite books), The Rainbow (I heart DH Lawrence), half of The Good Soldier, Mrs. Dalloway, A Passage to India, The Great Gatsby, As I Lay Dying, Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Catcher in the Rye, half of Wise Blood, Charlotte's Web (when I was like, five), Lord of the Flies, On the Road (oh, how I love thee, Kerouac), Lolita, Things Fall Apart, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Song of Solomon, Waiting for the Barbarians, Oscar and Lucinda, and Atonement. How many is that? Maybe 20? Man, I'm in for a busy summer.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Best Movie of the Summer

We went out to the pub for dinner last night, ate our usuals, and then drove over to see Batman Begins. But first, we went to Home Depot and I bought some daises for the garden. The RRBF bought some "Husky" garbage bags because he has some time this week (fingers crossed) to continue with the basement. The state of the house brings me down so much, and I'm not sure if I'm at all capable of a long-term renovation, which seems almost moot considering we have little choice in the matter.

Annnyyywaaay. I loved Batman Begins. Christopher Nolan also directed Memento and the underrated, yet ultimately flawed, Insomnia. And his particular style of directing, taking a serious script and making a serious film, works extremely well for this movie. It's like taking all the best moments of Unbreakable and combining them with the best of Spiderman but without any of the cartoonish aspects of the latter film.

The movie takes its subject matter incredibly seriously and makes a smart action picture that is even paced and brilliantly subtle at the same time. The RRBF felt that Christian Bale did a really good job at portraying Bruce Wayne.

It's funny, I loved the Batman movies in high school, and remember one crazy summer that I spent with Jason Overy, Chris Rice, and Lesley Calvin. Names that won't necessarily mean anything except that we spent every waking moment together that summer, from my cottage to the suburbs of Toronto, the boys smoking, the girls drinking and watching bad summer movies. One of the nicest summers of my high school life before I fell in love with Chris and he didn't like me back, but we went out for a couple months and it ruined everything. Before Jason confessed his true feelings for Lesley and everything fell apart. I don't really speak to any of them now, those fleeting friendships that mean so much at the moment but drift apart like foam from a wave.

Friday, June 17, 2005

#30 The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency

I'm not necessarily a mystery reader, although I read a lot of them as a child growing up (Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie, and so on). There's been a lot of talk lately about Alexander McCall Smith and his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, and upon the recommendation of Sarah Weinman, who loves all of the books, I decided to read the first one. And, I'm hooked. Seriously. I loved the story, the writing and especially Precious Ramotswe, the main character in the series.

Upon the death of her father, Mma Ramotswe inherits his cattle, promptly sells them and opens up the one and only ladies' detective agency in Botswana. She solves crimes, but not the gruesome-Hollywood sort; instead, they're tales of straying husbands, lost children and everyday life in Africa. It's a marvelous little book, a perfect quick summer read, and one I could not put down.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

So Much To Update...

...but so little sleep, between getting home from Winnipeg to getting up and going to work, I'm so tired! More tomorrow, I promise.

Winnipeg!

Was wonderful. If you can believe it. The opposite of Scarbie's crusty experience, here is my Winnipeg Top 10.

1. Lake Winnipeg

Lake Winnipeg is absolutely beautiful. We stayed in a Victoria Beach cabin built around the 1920s filled with original folk art and imbued with years of happy family living. The atmosphere around Victoria Beach is one of almost a 1950s summer resort community. It felt a lot like the vacation spot from that Diane Lane film, A Walk on the Moon, except there was no Viggo Mortensen in sight.

2. The Great Outdoors

What there was in sight, however, was nature, and lots of it—and I'm not just talking about the mosquitoes, of which there were plenty. Especially when one was using the biffy (and please don't ask me to explain why an outhouse is called a "biffy" in Manitoba, because I just can't, if anyone has any ideas, please let me know). I spent most of the few days we had there straining my eyes and neck to catch a glimpse of the wonderful white pelicans, especially those resting at Pelican Point. There were tonnes of birds there, many that I couldn't recognize and/or identify, so there's no point in describing them, but also deer (we saw tracks), foxes (our friends spied them on a store run) and other fun stuff.

3. Spoiled Rotten

I think I gained back all the weight I've lost because of the Cellcept, and thank goodness. We ate so well over our holiday that it was a crime to come back to TO and order bad delivery because we had no energy to cook. We were wined and dined by two exceptional entertainers, and they get nothing but love from me in terms of how wonderful they treated both of us...

4. Good Friends

...for the entire time we were there. We were pampered, treated to great conversation, and fully entertained. Oh, and we played cards, which is my all-time favourite thing to do at a cottage, ahem, cabin (that's what they're called in Manitoba).

5. Oh, Canada!

There's a gentle delight in discovering different parts of Canada that you've never been to before. I've travelled from one end of the country to the other, and even spent time at a cottage on the Lake of the Woods, but have never been around the area of Lake Winnipeg. It's marvelous, from the delicious bakery at the Lake, to the really cool townie bar we visited on the way in, discovering hidden gems in Canada's back roads is one of my favourite things to do on vacation.

6. The Sights of Winnipeg

When we got back to the city on Monday night, we went to go see Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which is a silly summer movie with beautiful people that are both solid actors and who do a good job with terrifyingly bad dialogue. Oh, and I got to eat Milk Duds, my absolute favourite candy. Then we did some sightseeing, where I saw the Forks and other downtown 'Peg highlights. So. Much. Fun.

7. The Perfect Soundtrack

Fading echoes of Neil Young and the Rolling Stones, alongside some fabulous Canadian stuff including Elliot Brood and the Cons made for a perfect soundtrack while we were at the cabin.

8. Champagne

Need I say more?

9. Stupid F%&king Disease

Only made me sick maybe half the time I was away, cause for celebration indeed!

10. Getting Along w/ my RRBF

Ususally travelling together means at least one major blowup, but this time, we spent a few days actually enjoying each other's company and having fun. He drove me crazy for a couple of hours while speaking too loudly and doing general RRBF antics, but they were minor when compared to previous trips spent being so mad I won't even talk to him for, like, hours. Oh, and he came up with the goofiest RRBF saying I've ever heard. When discussing the asexual nature of one Sarah Harmer (according to us girls and having nothing to do with her exceptional musical talents), RRBF chimed in about how "cute" he thinks she is, and I rolled my eyes. His response, "What do you care about where I get my appetite as long as I come home for dinner?" Bah!

Friday, June 10, 2005

The 'Peg—Here We Come

The RRBF and I are going to Winnipeg for a few days. Updates when I get back. Fingers crossed the meds only make me sort of sick for our "mini-break" in Bridget Jones terminology.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

My Next Trip To NYC...

...will be planned around this map. It's kind of like what we sort of did in London last February. With the exception of it being so organized and interactive and all that jazz. Ahem, that tour ended with me coming out of the tube exclaiming, "This is Bloomsbury!" And then looking around in wonder and amazement until we got to the pub where I had a great glass of beer and some crisps. Ah, I love London.

Steaming!

It's so hot in Toronto these days. When we went out for Chinese food this evening it was actually 37 degrees Celsius. That's a bit crazy. We discovered that of all the things in the house that are wrong (the ants, the smell, the rotten garage roof, the bowing walls in the basement, the bad pipes, the faulty electricity, and I could go on but won't because the list makes me too sad), there is one thing that's actually right: the air conditioning actually works. Hallelujah. I feel quite guilty about using it though, so I'm going to re-start my donations to the David Suzuki Foundation and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Foundation next paycheque.

My stomach hasn't necessarily been coming out of me these past couple of days because the doctor lowered the medication to see if my system could tolerate it better. I've stopped throwing up in the morning, and have managed to have a bit more energy than usual, but am still having to curtail my extra-curricular activities. I hate that. Having the disease is one thing, having it totally interfere with my life is completely another.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Blog Wars

My head is drowning in blogs. For the past few days all I've been doing is reading page after page of posts. A couple of interesting things have come up over the past few days, though.

1) Far, far too many people are thinking about Oprah and her summer reading pick of three William Faulkner novels. The posts range from the sublime to the ridiculous. More on my personal relationship with Faulkner later.

2) I've been reading all about the "war" between Curtis Sittenfeld and Melissa Bank. Well, more like Sittenfeld's comments about Bank's new novel in the New York Times last week has erupted in a crazy-ass blog debate on the merits of chick lit and those who write it. This afternoon, Buzz, Balls & Hype alerted me to the fact that Jennifer Weiner has now entered the fray.

Technorati reports that there are a whopping 255 posts in the last little while in the "blogosphere" referring to Sittenfeld, the majority of which are either agreeing or disagreeing with her review and the subsequent fallout. Entertainment Weekly's review, written, again, by Weiner, gives the book an unmitigated "A." Now, remember, this is the same magazine that gave the truly audaciously bad Lords of Dogtown (see: my review) an "A" as well.

Yet Weiner is a self-proclaimed chick lit supporter, one whose books realistically and necessarily fit into the genre. It's no mistake that EW picked Weiner to write the review—a pop culture magazine needs a pop culture reviewer to read the book. There's no shame in that, there's no shame in ensuring that you're writing for an audience, a very particular audience that will be receptive to your point of view. And maybe that's where the NY Times went wrong, or right, depending upon how you look at it. Weiner's comments on Sittenfeld's review are on the mark, that maybe the negativity that so many people are reading into her words stem more from how Prep has been treated a) by its publisher (the white cover w/ the pretty pink belt, the free belt giveaways, the marketing of the book as chick lit) and b) by the legions of people who steadfastedly claim that it's not chick lit as they defend it open on their laps while on vacation in the Florida Keys.

Maybe having someone whose fighting against the chick lit label review a book so steadfastedly within the genre written by one of the originators of the trend wasn't the best way to go. And instead of making the fight personal, oohhh look at Sittenfeld attacking Bank, oohhh look at Bank rising above it all, maybe examine the debate from a different point of view and wonder why the NY Times asked her to write it in the first place. Who doesn't love a bit of controversy?

I read A Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing and didn't really like it at all, felt it didn't contain a cohesive and/or coherent narrative, and I really didn't like the main character. But I'm willing to give The Wonder Spot a try, but I'll wait until it's in paperback. But let the blogs go on battling—it's making my day interesting...

Monday, June 06, 2005

Reality Television: In My Head?

I had a bad dream the other night that the Rock and Roll Boyfriend and I were trapped on a reality television show about home improvement. Perhaps because I've been watching way, way too much Holmes on Holmes. But, whatever. I don't really watch capital "R", capital "T", Reality Television, with the exception of a bad American Idol audition or two and the last half of the last season of The Amazing Race (congratulations Lynn and Alex!).

But now after seeing commercials for Dancing With The Stars, I am now convinced that television can sink no lower. No, let me rephrase, C-listers, D-listers, and those even further down, can sink no further—this show feels like the ballroom equivalent of the ridiculous Lorenzo Lamas hot show that was on a couple of years ago. I mean, how much humiliation is honestly worth a) a mediocre paycheque and b) tepid and highly tenuous claims to fame?

Why aren't people fighting poverty and the AIDS crisis in Africa? I know, it's a moot point. But I still need to go for the jugular sometimes.

You Mean More Dull Than Mine?

Heh.

Sat in traffic for an hour. Inched along and got hot. Felt annoyed because the cars didn't move even though they all had places to go. Then the traffic cleared up and I was late.

Monday

The Boomtown Rats were right. Have I said that before? I'm sure I have.

Felt sick all day. What else is new ragdoll, you ask? A fat lot of nothing. There was an ant in the house today. I got stuck in two traffic jams, one on the way to work this morning and another on the way to see the specialist for a disease check up. Almost had the runs at work, AT WORK! Am disappointed in myself that I haven't been doing any writing. The new issue of Taddle Creek came and went and I didn't hear anything about the two poems I sent. Bah!

Hey, at least I'm not dead yet. And Six Feet Under starts up again today. And the weather's beautiful. And my garden is growing. It's not all bad.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Ant Update

They are still alive. I am still attacking.

#29 Little White Lies

Ah, the Friday afternoon feeling crappy and lying on the couch wishing that it wasn't so beautiful outside because you can't move book that you can finish in less than two hours. Ah, Gemma Townley, taking a page from your sister, literally, and writing a predictable, unassuming book that will sell like wild cakes because people love chicklit, myself included. Ah, if it weren't a way to pad my list, I'd leave books like this off completely. Ah, but if I were a bigger person who could actually concentrate while dealing with Wegener's Granulomatosis. Ah, but if I weren't so utterly and totally sick of watching television and bad movies. Ah, Little White Lies, you served your purpose. You got my mind off the disease for a short period of time and that's all I can really ask of a book of your sort.

Urban Girls Gardening

After three solid days of feeling like complete crap, I woke up on Saturday morning feeling much better. I had made plans with Zesty to make a trip to Humber Nurseries and buy plants for our front garden. We spent, ahem, loads and bought some really neat plants, Black-Eyed Susans, poppies, lavender, ferns, sweet little baby's breath and some other stuff I can't remember.

Now, keep in mind, I've never gardened before. Unlike Zesty, who should open up her own firm called Urban Girls Gardeners. She's awesome. It's like watching someone utterly and completely in their element, a whole new side of someone I've known now for the better part of twenty years. It was quite incredible.

Then I managed to go for a bike ride to see Manny, the osteopath, who ended up doing some wacky treatments where he wore a glove and stuck his fingers in my mouth. It was surreal to say the least. The man remains truly amazing for his ability to capture the essence of what's wrong with my body: all of the places he treated are the ones affected by the disease.

By the time I got home, the RRBF was home so we went to our local pub and had dinner. We then walked around our old neighbourhood, visited the CD store, and he bought me a Wilco album ("Seventeenth"). We had just watched the documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart; it's all about the recording of their record, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot." All in all, a great Saturday.

Too much to ask even, that when I woke up this morning, I had energy. We went out to eat breakfast, got home, cleaned the house, went to see Cinderella Man (predictably good) and have made dinner. It's amazing to feel like a normal person. A gift after the week I had last week.

Back to work tomorrow. Fingers crossed my good luck, good mood and relatively good health holds up. It's back to the doctor tomorrow.

Friday, June 03, 2005

#28 Three Day Road

Joseph Boyden's Three Day Road is one of those rare books that you read and automatically believe will become a classic of Canadian, if not world, literature.

Three Day Road tells the story of two Native Canadian men, Xavier Bird and Elijah Whiskeyjack, who leave Northern Ontario to join the army and fight in the First World War. Interspersed with Xavier's story is the story of his aunt, Niska, who raised him.

It's a haunting, intelligent and meticulously researched book that provides a very different perspective on the war. But it's also a wonderfully genuine novel about the love of one woman for her nephew, for her way of life, and how the world changed the Native Canadian experience both by its modernization and by the evils of colonialism. Xavier's life changes the minute he steps out of his canoe and into a world where bombs explode and morphine addiction becomes a way of life for many of the young soldiers.

It's a book that deals with the heroic actions of the Canadians, of how it changed our national identity, but only in context to Xavier's very real and very different perspective on life as a Canadian solider. As the tale circles around the relationship between the two men, Xavier, quiet, withdrawn, and Elijah, outgoing and with a talent for languages, they change in ways that Boyden carefully relates through how they deal with the war.

It's a glorious novel, and one that I won't be able to forget any time soon. One that resonates with you even though your stomach is churning and your own body refuses to rest.

The Depths of Despair

My favourite phrase from Anne of Green Gables, "the depths of despair," seems to sum up how I've been feeling the last few days. On Wednesday night, all seemed so hopeful as I'm blogging about Chicklit and other good things. Then at about 8 PM, everything fell apart, including my body.

I threw up everything in my stomach, and suffered awfully, ahem, in the other direction, and I started running a fever again. My body sort of collapsed on me just going through the regular motions of being a girl. And I'm still feeling weak, tired and mentally exhausted by it all.

At least I see the doctor on Monday and can find out what's happening with the disease. I'm tired of being scared all the time.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Happy Birthday Chicklit

Chicklit is five today. Five! I remember when that sight was born and I was posting as one of the very first contributors. Ah, and one of the articles that I've written that I actually like, about Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses and Billy Bob Thornton's movie adaptation.

Oh, and the first time I got negative press in Bookslut, for the review I wrote of Steve Martin's truly awful Shopgirl, was also courtesy of Chicklit. Go Chicklit!

Poetry Class

My poetry class continues to go well. Last night I read another poem of the 12 I had written (one for each month, love poems); it's called simply "April." Again, the teacher said, "It's really strong." Which seems to be his blanket comment for all of my poems, not saying it's a bad comment, but wish that the class didn't sit totally mute for a minute before saying anything about them. Last night they spent a lot of time talking about me, and my reluctance to read out loud before really talking about the poem. Oh well, it's all good experience. I wish I had the time to send more poems out—it's something I'll promise myself to do this summer.

Um, Yeah, It's Fiction! Fiction!

Heh. Westminster Abbey is now giving tourists a pamphlet explaining the factual inaccuracies of The Da Vinci Code. I'm consistently amazed at the inability for people to grasp the fact that this book is fiction, which means it's made up, not real, invented, exaggerated, and all the other wonderful things that flow from a writer's mind to the page.