Monday, October 31, 2005

Bless The Small Mercies

My very first royalty cheque arrived in the mail today. What a welcome surprise. Especially because today I started crying spontaneously at work because I felt so bad. I'm working from home tomorrow. And I think I might call the doctor and see if he has any suggestions as per why I'm feeling so rotten.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

In An Attempt To Reach Out

I have emailed long lost friends, answered the phone every time it rings (three calls from my RRBF, three other calls (two wrong numbers and one firm doing market research). All in an attempt to avoid writing. How do you procrastinate?

I've been actively grading the songs in my iTunes Party Shuffle as well, pretending that's work. The last few to come up:

1. Mr. Brightside, The Killers (four stars)
2. Take It Or Leave It, The Strokes (three stars)
3. Hey Ladies, The Beastie Boys (two stars [I'm in a mood!])
4. The Future Hangs, Cuff the Duke (five stars)
5. Please Don't Make Me Cry, UB40 (four stars)
6. Countdown Our Days, Fembots (five stars)

I've watched a couple episodes of Coronation Street, and a half an hour of Veronica Guerin.

I've vacuumed some, washed the tub, dusted and put away my clothes.

I've danced around my office to The Strokes and The Pogues. I bought Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart. Fond memories of bad high school dances.

I've written quite a few silly blog posts.

In fact, the only thing I haven't done is take a nap—but don't count that option out.

Today's Inspiration

Comes via a link from Bookninja:

In the end, it didn't quite put me off. Now I know where my novel is heading, I don't panic when a first draft is drivel (and it is always drivel), and most of all I understand that writing is mostly a question of hard work.


That's the part that I have trouble with, the hard work part, most of the time I want to write it and have it be done, sort of like it is with the blog.

(She says as she's been sitting at her computer for hours revising the story for her creative writing class, looking over two poems and changing one or two words and writing more of her abridged classics).

Confidence Builder II

In the attempt to procrastinate even more regarding my abridged versions, I've just sent off some poems to Contemporary Verse 2. Judging from the big, fat rejection I got from The Fiddlehead, I'm not hopeful, but am going through the motions if only to develop a thicker skin. I sent 4 poems off: "January (My Violent Heart)", "April", "Born in the Sign of July" and "October's Teenage Wasteland." I'll keep you posted if and when I hear anything.

Confidence Builder

I think I forgot to mention that I'm taking a creative writing class this fall. It's a 'graduate level' course that focuses on workshopping fiction with a goal that by the end you've got 50 pages or so that are in good shape to shop around. After reading the first stories by two of my classmates last week, I had a shiver of self-doubt that I'm ready for something so polished. However, I'm sticking with it, and just sent off my first story for discussion in our next class, which is November 7th (we're skipping Hallowe'en, for the parents in the group).

The story I sent off is one of a series I've been working on about the time I spent in Banff during university. Looking at it before sending it off left me on a crazy trail of procrastination, trying to find out about people I used to know (one ex-boyfriend who I treated terribly and regret to this day what I jerk I was), googling different places I remember, trying to recall things that happened 10 years ago now.

But most of all, trying to capture the irony of Banff itself, rich playground for wealthy folks, pitstop for kids running away, easy summer money, beautiful landscape, unreal life, all of those things that make for good fiction. If only I could figure out how to write it properly. Fingers crossed they don't hate it, and fingers crossed I actually make it through class without throwing up. Shyness really is a disease, isn't it?

Saturday Afternoon at the IFOA

We went to the last IFOA reading we had tickets for yesterday. There were four women reading: Lisa Moore (from her Giller-nominated Alligator), Allison Pick (from her new novel The Sweet Edge), Melissa Bank (The Wonder Spot) and chicklit belle of the ball, Lauren Weisberger (Everyone Worth Knowing).

Lisa Moore's book was by far the best of the bunch, from what I could gather from the readings. She had one line about how a windshield reached out and punched the character during an accident that stopped me in my boots. I've got the book at home and might move it to the top of the 'to read' pile, that is after I've got through the three book club books I'm behind on these days.

I admire Lauren Weisberger, and Melissa Bank's book read quite funny, and I'm glad to see 'chicklit' become kind of accepted at such a high-brow event as the IFOA. It's a nice change, and maybe a necessary one...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Testing, Testing

The Dr. Mr. Fancypants had me go for CT scans yesterday, of my head (sinuses) and chest (lungs), to see what the disease is doing. My appointment was for 5 PM. On a Friday. There's nothing more discouraging than having to be at the hospital when everyone else in the world is on their way home for the weekend. On top of that, I'm so tired these past few days that I'm having trouble paying attention to anything.

In fact, I'm so tired that I can barely take care of myself. Today I'm kind of grumpy that I'm a band widow, and I'm missing my RRBF, but it'll all pass once I get some sleep and rest for the majority of the weekend. My only plans are to watch bad TV (24 on DVD) and read. Oh, and to do my abridged versions. I'm so behind!

Isn't my life thrilling?

You know, the worst part of days like this, disease days, is honestly thinking that it might be easier just to let the Wegener's have its way with me. I know it's not a rational thought, probably a side effect of the maddening prednisone, but today I'm even too tired to think about fighting.

But that'll all change this afternoon. I've got one more IFOA reading to go to, and I'm hoping that it'll perk me right up.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Brick Books

Tonight I went to Brick Books' 30th anniversary party. They were celebrating the launch of four new books of poetry, and with one of the authors being a friend of a friend, I decided to go along with Kate. I have such a love-hate relationship with poetry: love the form, love the medium, love language; hate the form, hate the pretension, hate the language (kidding).

The first two poets were mediocre, and one was downright nuts, but that sort of made the evening fun. The last two poets, David Seymour (aforementioned friend of friend) and a truly fantastic poet named Karen Solie, made the whole evening worth while.

Well, then there was the fun "philosophic" walk home with Kate, the truly funny idea of starting the Anti-Poets Poetry Club, and seeing some people I hadn't seen in a long time. Oh, and then being too shy to say hello to my ex-poetry teacher. All in all, a pleasant continuation of my quest to lead a more cultured life.

Popwatch, Bitch!

Because there are few places on the web where the words "apocalyptic gloom" and Ashlee Simpson work better than on Popwatch. Oh this poor, poor man who is unable to realize that little in the world of pop music has to do with anything other than the world ending.

Because I wake up to it every damn morning as I listen to the asinine morning team berate someone for having leaking rectums or something equally disgusting, and then am forced to listen to the second worst song I've ever heard in my life: "Photograph" by Nickelback:

Look at this photograph
Every time I do it makes me laugh
How did our eyes get so red?
And what the hell is on Joey'’s head?


'How did our eyes get so red'? Seriously? Did he actually write that down and get all excited because he then took the whopping huge next step of then rhyming "red" with "head." The man's a bleeding genius of rectal leakage.

See, you can't listen to radio in a vacuum.

James Frey...

...was on Oprah yesterday to talk about his book in terms of her book club pick. The whole episode felt a bit Oprahfied, with the poor woman being saved from her addictions and seeing James Frey today with his happy family, but it also felt real. And it felt real because Frey himself seems very real, very honest and very explicit about his own story.

My favourite part of the whole hoopla surrounding the book? How many people this morning woke up thinking about that book, about that man, about his struggle and about his one simple piece of advice: hold on.

Maybe that applies to people with diseases like Wegener's Granulomatosis too. And not just people with addiction.

Bad Disease Day #1328979654

So I'm starting to feel the side effects with the prednisone, in particular, craving rich bad-for-you foods like cheese and ice cream. I'm waking up at all hours of the night, worrying about silly things, crying and feeling sorry for myself. This morning, I woke up at 4 AM and started putting our mail into different files. I was sort of looking for something that I couldn't find, but that's not really the point.

And then I had kind of a sh*t day at work, managed to feel even more sorry for myself, all the while wanting just to go home, crawl into bed, and ignore the rest of the day.

Now I'm sitting here about to get read to go to a Brick Books party at the Gladstone, happy to be getting out of the house, but miserable because in order to get out of the house, I actually have to leave.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tuesday Night At The IFOA

Last night we saw Julian Barnes, David Baddiel and Michael Crummey. It was another good evening of readings. And funnily enough, Zadie Smith and Nick Laird sat one row down and across the aisle from us. I had to try hard not to watch them, and keep concentrating on the task at hand.

Now I'm totally exhausted and must sleep.

Happy Birthday To You!

We've got a niece! My RRBF's sister had her baby two days ago, and she's lovely. I went to see her this afternoon. So small...I've never seen a person whose only 1.5 days old before. She has amazing facial expressions: yawning, open eyes, scrunchy face, half-smile (probably gas?), and more. How amazing is that?

Monday, October 24, 2005

North Country

Oh, they had me, they really did—right up until the very end, when a giant, zit of a Hollywood moment ruined the film for me.

To cap off my incredibly culturific weekend, I went to see North Country with Glark and Wing Chun on Sunday afternoon. That makes it: two IFOA readings, one film crew, one rock and roll show, and a feature film—all in one teeny, tiny weekend. It's amazing what having 35 odd people you don't know in your house will make you do...

Annnywaaay, I hate to admit how hard the film grabbed me in the first two thirds. The story was good, the acting was solid, the relationships didn't ring false, the politics were honest, and they had me. Blubbering, sniffling, bawling and batting away the tears at one pivotal moment in particular.

And then it went all MOV on me. And the ending was spectacularly cheesy without having to have to be, and I was mad that I got sucked in at all, because being cheated at the end of a film is like being cheated by the first really hot boyfriend you have—it comes totally out of the blue emotionally, even though you were half-expecting it because he's so good looking you know it'll never last.

In the end, glass ball predictions mean that Charlize Theron will probably be nominated for an Oscar. As long as everyone stops talking about her appearance and let her talent stand for itself, but wait, what am I saying, that's a pipe dream that'll never come true.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Rock And Roll On A Saturday Night

So after Zesty and I left the IFOA, we headed over to Lee's Palace for my RRBF's show. Thankfully, Lee's was pretty full, and people were actually standing in the front section near the stage, looking expectantly up at where he and the rest of the band were setting up. It was a relief to see a good crowd, especially a crowd full of people I don't know and/or recognize.

While we were waiting for the band to start, I overheard the conversation of a couple girls standing sort of on top of us. They were talking about my RRBF's bandmate, how one of them tried to talk to him at Hillside and he was very shy, but polite, not necessarily encouraging any further conversation. Which, being a girl who has a fellow in a band, I can completely see and understand.

Then she said, "And I also met the one in the hat." My ears perked up, "For the FemBots / Weakerthans tour, I was standing outside having my smoke, and he walked right up to me and said, 'Hey! How's it going!'" What? "And then he got closer and totally apologized saying, 'Oh! Sorry, I thought you were someone else.'" Whew. "When he got on stage and I saw he was one of the FemBots, I thought cool." Yeah, well that's where it ends honey. Heh. I'm only kidding. Well, sort of. Okay, yes, I'm kidding.

It's always a bit surreal to listen to people talk about my RRBF in that whole 'rock star' manner. But it's also funny to hear how his rock star sort of lives out in the world too, two different people: one at home, the one I live with, and the one he wants the world to see, the independent rock guy (ie, getting super-excited to see someone he knows, but knowing that he needs glasses so he probably didn't even recognize her until he was almost standing in front of her sort of thing). In the end, it was a good show and the end of a very full night, full weekend, of, ahem, culture?

IFOA On A Saturday Night

So last night, like Friday night, Zesty and I went to see an IFOA reading. There was only one author reading, but when that writer is John Irving, I suppose he's kind of a hard act to follow. Irving read from a new novel, a story about a cook and his son living in a logging camp in rural New Hampshire. The events of the chapter follow from the death of a young French Canadian lumberjack in a logjam, and extrapolate from there into the lives of the two main characters, as I said, the cook and his son.

I leaned over to Zesty and said, "[My RRBF's] father was a lumberjack, and he's French Canadian." Not seeing many similarities other than thinking that my RRBF would probably really like the book, once it's completed.

It was nice hearing something new, something fresh that Irving's working on; his poised delivery, his brilliant articulation in terms of preparing his reading, all contributed to what I'm thinking was a sort of once in a lifetime opportunity to see a sort of genius (and I do hate to use that word) at work.

Just before he read from the chapter, he introduced the new work, giving a sort of insight into his process by explaining how he thinks of 'landscape.' It's in the details, the research, the history, the background, everything that surrounds the plot, the characters. And I'm paraphrasing (of course), so forgive me if it's slightly off exactly what he said. The analogy struck me for some reason, and I'm still thinking about it this morning.

After the reading, and it was a good 40 minutes at that, he sat with a journalist and answered some of her questions. I'm not going to trash the interview here, but suffice it to say that everyone, including Zesty and myself, were complaining about her as we left the theatre. Annnywaaaay, the subject matter of the interview was about his latest published tome, Until I Find You, which again, I have at home but haven't started yet. It was well-treaded territory, Irving talking about his experiences in terms of not knowing his own father and his own very early sexual introduction. And then he finally took questions from the audience, well, 2 questions to be exact. The first was a prototypical literary "event" question; the second was a more pointed query asked to steer Irving into talking politics, which he did with humour, dignity and grace.

All in all it was a kind of surreal night, something that's so inspiring that you find it hard not to want to change your life (but in my case, I'm too damn lazy to make any substantial changes). Heh.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

#54 The Lost Painting

Jonathan Harr's latest nonfiction title, The Lost Painting, is an interesting and elaborate little book about the art world's uncovering of a Caravaggio painting entitled, "The Taking of Christ". The book reads like fiction, which is probably why I got through it so quickly, and it's an engrossing story, for both those obsessed by art and those (like myself) who just like to look at pretty pictures. And that's really all I have to say about that...

Well, except maybe this: I'm a bit sad now that we didn't go to the National Gallery of Ireland when we were there this summer, now that I know that's where the painting lives. I always like to see the piece of artwork after reading about it, finding the pieces very interesting sort of bookends to the written word. It was serendipitous when the RRBF and I were in Paris two Februaries ago. I had just finished Tracy Chevalier's The Lady and the Unicorn and we actually got to see the Lady and the Unicorn tapestry at the Cluny Museum, one of my favourite museums in Paris.

Maybe it's just the idea of inspiration that intrigues me, seeing first-hand how one object inspires a writer to create a work of their own art.

IFOA On A Friday Night

Last night, Zesty and I went to see Diana Evans, Nick Laird, Helen Oyeyemi and Zadie Smith read at the International Festival of Authors. The IFOA was always one of those cultural institutions of Toronto that I've always wanted to go to, but never got around to getting tickets and/or organizing my lazy as to attend. This year, I've rectified that by getting a bunch of tickets for a few different nights, and as the readings start at 8 PM and are often over by 9.30 PM, it makes for much better entertainment then sitting in front of the television.

Annnywaaay. The four readers were presented as the best and the brightest young writers from Britain, all being thirty or younger (I guess? I could be wrong about that), but real "up and comers." With the exception of Zadie Smith, who came, arrived, flourished and now headlines. All four readings were very good, but the only book I was motivated to actually buy was Laird's, if only because I've already got 26a and On Beauty at home. His reading was very funny, that cutting Irish humour, and his writing seems fresh and lively, not unlike a drunken attraction at a party that you can't stop from happening, ending up hands all over each other in the company of people already sobering up, but you just don't care.

I stood in line to get my book signed, which I don't normally do, as I'm not much for the autographs, but wanted to see what he looked like up close, always interested in seeing the person so I can imagine them writing when I read the book. But I lost my sticky note with my name and then had to go through the normal rigmarole about how to spell it / say it, which is the bane of my existence. After three different trys, and me spelling it out like a grade-school teacher, he said, "That's a nice name." Heh.

His wife's reading was amazing, powerful, poised, and almost perfect in her delivery, and it's easy to see why Zadie Smith is the belle of the literary ball these days. All in all it was a great night, not too long, not too short, supporting the arts and all that jazz.

In fact, it's a weekend of supporting the arts: tonight it's John Irving (whee!) at the IFOA, then I'm going to Lee's Palace to see my RRBF's only Toronto stop on his whirl wind tour of Canada. And I can't wait. If you're not doing anything tonight, come out, it'll be a great show.

Hot Set!

Friends of ours are shooting a movie in our mess of a house this weekend. That means our entire downstairs, the main area of our house, has been transformed into something I wouldn't even recognize. The amount of work that goes into a film from the backend seems quite incredible, and I've never seen anything quite like it. There are so many people I don't know in my house, it's kind of an extreme feeling: like having that awesome kegger at university where half the cool kids show up, and you know nothing about them, only that they're cool and have graced your party with their presence.

They finished dressing the room on Thursday night and declared that it was now a "hot set." Which means, I guess, that no one can go in without fear of being burned. Different props were "in play" and the whole thing is a vivid use of words that I had no idea existed in that manner.

Now, it's early, and they've been here for a couple of hours already. I'm waiting for the RRBF to wake up so we can leave, because I don't want to go without him, but I don't want to be in the way either, so I'm sort of sitting in limbo typing away at my virtual world that seems far more real than what's going on downstairs for some reason.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Things You Notice When You're Too Tired

To do anything except notice things.

People search for the strangest things. I love looking through the Site Meter to see how people are getting here, the few that aren't my friends who end up here somehow, but I'm shocked at the number of people searching for information about George Stromboloupolous, and am even more shocked that they're looking for information about his height. What's up with that?

I have started having side effects from the prednisone. I'm hungry all the time and am all wired when I try to sleep. I feel like I'm covered in a layer of puff. And the crying, oh the bloody crying, for no reason and all the time. I'm half-ashamed of myself.

Well, not a very exciting post. No links. No love. Not much of anything except a girl battling with a dumb disease that she didn't ask for and doesn't much want.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Something Inspirational?

I've started crying, which means the depths of despair might be headed my way. I'm trying not to think about it, so instead, am posting a little bit of inspiration from John Updike. I can't remember which newsletter it came in last week, so apologies for the lack of proper credit:

"You imagine a reader and try to keep the reader interested. That's storytelling. You also hope to reward the reader with a sense of a completed design, that somebody is in charge, and that while life is pointless, the book isn't pointless. The author knows where he is going. That's form. As to style, you find words that will deliver the image without stopping the action entirely. Writing ficiton is like music. You have to keep it moving. You can have slow movements but there has to be a sense of momentum, of going someplace. You hear a snatch of Beethoven and it has a sense of momentum that is unmistakably his. That's a nice quality if you can do it in fiction."
--John Updike in a Q&A with Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg in last weekend's Wall Street Journal.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Elizabethtown Redux

I wrote a long post yesterday about seeing Elizabethtown. Then I read the EW review and agreed, and then read what the imdb.com overview had to say, and thought some more. And then Zesty came over last night, and we watched Monster-in-Law, and I started talking more about the film with her as well.

And I finally put my finger on what I really thought went wrong. Cameron Crowe's always looking for that boom box moment. You know you know it, that moment in Say Anything when Lloyd Dobbler stands in the rain, Peter Gabriel blaring, professing his undying love for Diane and it immediately turns into something iconic. See, he's been searching for that boom box moment ever since, and while it might be the perfect moment in a truly great film, it's one of those things that can't and shouldn't be forced. And boom box moments aren't needed in every single movie to make them great; it's not a formula that works. It was a bit of magic that happened when no one expected it to, and that's what made it great. For now, Cameron Crowe needs to take a step back and stop trying to choreograph his next great, iconic moment and let his story breathe, and maybe then the film wouldn't feel so flat.

Huh, and I've spent just about enough time thinking about this picture. I should be abridging. I've got two books due next month.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Aw, Freak Out!

So, being a band widow means now sleeping alone in our big, empty house. That's by myself. No one else around, well, no humans around, we've got two cats that keep quite good company. Annnywaaay. I watched Underworld on TMN last night, and I'm not saying it's the best movie in the world, but it's certainly one that I'm fond of and tend to watch over and over and over and, well, over again.

The movie is about vampires and werewolves, and I hate scary movies usually, but this one is different—and don't hate me for saying this—almost mythical. And Scott Speedman ends up a combination of a vampire and lycan, which makes him, like, the strongest, strangest creature in the whole bloody underworld. How cool is that?

Okay, so then I decide to go to bed, and take Emma Donoghue's latest (I think) book with me. She writes semi-scary Victorian thrillers. And then, just as I turn out the light, I hear, "BANG BANG BANG BANG." Ohmigod, someone's freaking banging on the front freaking door!

I jump out of bed and race to the window, which I know you should NEVER do when you're already scared to death, lest someone actually see you and know you're in the house, but it didn't matter, because you can't see anything anyway. There's a roof in the way. Stupid roof!

Then, I look up and notice there's a full moon. A. Full. Moon. Just sitting there all scary and glowing and sh*t.

Something else crashes downstairs and I'm on the verge of calling 911 when I look outside and there's already a cop car parked across the street. So, of course, my next logical thought is that there's a serial killer on the loose and they've tracked him to my neighbourhood. I stand there wearing my sweatshirt and no pants (my legs get too hot), totally freaking out because I think I'm about to die, which is just silly because no one was breaking into the house.

The cat was banging on the litterbox.

How silly am I?

Oh, and I slept with the phone all night, just so I could call 911. I'm that ridiculous.

Elizabethtown

There's that moment at the beginning of a movie where you just know in your gut whether or not you're going to like it or feel it's just a waste of your time. That moment never really comes in Elizabethtown. It's a movie that just screams, "meh." It's not great, but it's not terrible, either. It's not particularly moving, but it's not a complete joke either.

Cameron Crowe's latest film stars Orlando Bloom as Drew Baylor, a man who has just stepped into a colossal fiasco, not a failure, and lost his job (because he cost the company close to 1 billion dollars). On top of everything, his father dies suddenly and he's forced to go to Elizabethtown, Kentucky to gather up the body. On the way, he meets a plucky stewardess Claire, who changes his life (of course she does).

See, there's so much potential there: fish out of water in the South, estranged family coming together to celebrate a beloved figure, meeting the girl of your dreams just as your life implodes. But there's something about the film that just doesn't work; it falls into deeply contrived situations that would be better spent in a second-rate TV movie than in a Hollywood blockbuster (what am I saying, I actually went to see Pearl Harbor in the theatre).

Don't get me wrong, I love a bit of cheese every now and again, but this movie just hovers and never quite gets there. Maybe because the main characters forge the basis of their relationship on cell phones. Maybe because the whole situation with Drew's job is just so ridiculous it's unbelievable. Maybe because Kirsten Dunst just doesn't pull off a "Southern Belle" as she should. Who knows? Orlando Bloom was great, and there's a wonderfully heartfelt scene with Susan Sarandon that almost makes the movie.

Oh, and there's a road trip that's pretty spectacular, if the ending of the movie didn't blow so bad, it might have actually saved it. I did adore one thing about the film, and that's Paul Schneider, who might just be my next big crush. Yummy!

In the end, I'm still holding on for that one movie that shakes me up this year, and I haven't found it yet. Where's Tully when you need him?

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Worst Lyrics On The Radio, Like Ever?

Do you agree or disagree, are these the absolute worst lyrics you've ever heard? Honestly, I know I've complained about OLP before, but seriously:

"Are you happy now?
Are you happy, tonight?
Or did Punk Rock get it right?
Is there no future in sight?"

Sid Vicious is rolling around in the pointy-toed elf shoes he was probably buried in.

Oh, but it gets better:

"Is it different now? Is it different, tonight?
Or did Jesus get it right?
Or is the devil behind the light?
Are you happy now? Are you happy?"

Is he honestly serious? Why are these clowns on the radio? Why?

#53 The Bronte Project

Another sweet chicklit read that I came upon by reading the review in Entertainment Weekly. Jennifer Vandever's story revolves around main character Sara, who studies the letters of Charlotte Bronte, and the lives of her siblings, working towards a PhD. When her fiance, also a scholar, leaves her to pursue a fellowship in Paris, her life sort of falls apart.

Sara's attempts to put it back together take her from New York to LA, to Paris and in between. A funny cast of supporting characters includes Claire, a Princess Diana, Naomi Wolf-inspired "scholar"; a hilarious gadabout Denis whose life is a consistently evolving poem; and her new lover Mr. Emmons, a semi-recovered coke addicted Hollywood producer.

It's a sweet book, and a good quick read, although I did find myself scanning, which tends to happen when I'm so tired that I can't entirely focus on the page. Granted, I caught myself most of the time and went back to actually read what I'd slipped over.

All in all, one of my favourite chicklit reads of the year. Funnily enough, I generally abhor anything that reminds me of Victorian literature (the genre has not been kind to me), but the Bronte connection seems to work well in this novel.

Working From Home

Means the freedom to wear your ugly-ass sweatpants and sweatshirt all day long.

Means the fun of not having to take a shower—right away.

Means listening to iTunes all day long on Party Shuffle (the last 5 songs were "Feel Much Better" by Jim Bryson, "Like a Hurricane" by Neil Young, "In My Place" by Coldplay, "Va Danser" by Edith Piaf, and "Turkish Song of the Damned" by The Pogues). What an eclectic mix!

Means getting up early and getting right to work, none of that time wasted commuting or any of that crap.

Means really, really trying to get a handle on your internet addictions. Ahem, I'm trying to take a sabbatical from gossip. It's hard. But I've only slipped twice today, and does the imdb.com gossip even count? It's news, right?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Pills And More Pills

So, the total number of meds I'm taking in a day has rocketed up to 7.5. Whee-hoo! Now, if only they were fun at the same time, and not just the usual slog, which I'm hating a bit these days.

Other than that, the funniest sentence I heard the doctor say was, "Her organs are not in danger!"

Whew, I wouldn't want them to be caught walking under a ladder or over an open manhole. I'm glad they're not being held at gunpoint or caught in a bad case of road rage. Heh.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

That's Dr. Mr. Fancypants...

So I went to see a fancypants doctor today who specializes in auto-immune diseases like the one that I have. The inside of the waiting room reminded me of Nip/Tuck for some reason, even though I've only ever seen one episode of the show. It was all Doric columns, peach paint and walnut stain.

Turns out the treatment of the disease this time around hasn't been as effective as the doctor's might have hoped. Up until now, my kidney doctor hadn't prescribed prednisone because in his view, the Wegener's was just grumbling, and not fully active. But I've been having symptoms for a year now, and the imuran isn't enough. Apparently, studies have shown that you can't just treat the disease with one drug (imuran up until now), you need both (imuran plus prednisone). So now, after seeing another specialist, I'm back on the steroids, which I hate for many reasons.

They make you crazy. They make you gain weight. They give you acne and "unwanted hair growth". They keep you up at night. It's a nasty bit of business, prednisone, even though your body makes it naturally.

I'm upset today because the last time I took prednisone, I fell into the worst depression of my life. I heard voices telling me to jump off of buildings. I cried all the time. I had two years of serious therapy to try to pull me out of my head. I spent obsessive compulsive weeks where I wouldn't be able to leave the house until I'd scrubbed it with bleach. And I don't want to go back to being that person. I don't want to hide in my closet because I'm afraid to leave the house. I don't want to be afraid of the streetcar because I can't stand everyone staring at me. But most of all, I don't want to hate myself with a passion that could truly be used for some thing better.

Monday, October 10, 2005

In Her Shoes

I went to see In Her Shoes this afternoon with two dear friends. Funnily enough, the two friends have so much in common (they both love pop culture) that I knew they'd get along even though they'd never met. It was kismet, and I like that.

Annnywaaay. The movie is based on Jennifer Weiner's novel of the same name. Weiner, reigning queen of intelligent, sassy chicklit, has a cameo in the picture, and it's kind of cute. It's a faithful interpretation of the book, with some tiny plot points adjusted for the sake of the medium, but it didn't matter, because I was going to love this movie even if it was mediocre. And I did love it, maybe for all the wrong reasons, for the fact that I miss my own mother (Rose and Maggie's mother is dead) and grandmother (my own maternal grandmother died fifteen years ago and I still miss her every day) so much that even a hint of that in a film brings me to tears. Throw in a smart girl whose life just seems out of control with sibling issues, and well, you might as well hand me the cold pack for my eyes because I'm not going to be able to see when I exit the theatre.

I'm glad I saw it on an afternoon as a band widow. It's the perfect film for the day that my RRBF has left. And I'm spending the first night alone in the house we bought almost a year ago.

Off The Cuff iTunes Purchase...

"Come on Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners.

Why? Well, because my high school boyfriend loved the song. He used to dance around to it in his parents' truly hideously dirty basement. It is a memory I cherish for some reason. (The later ones of him acting like a freak and then an asshole, I try to forget, but I am not blameless by any means.)

Why? Because we've gotten in the habit of using it to get whatever bad-ass radio song we have in our heads out of them.

And it's good to listen to music when you're at home by yourself truly enjoying the first minutes of Band Widow-dom.

#52 Eleanor Rigby

In the back of my paperback edition of Douglas Coupland's Eleanor Rigby, he says that Liz Dunn is his favourite character. There's an actual person named Liz Dunn in his life, but the character bears no resemblance to his real-life friend. And I can see why, she's a wonderful character and the novel is sweet, short, and fun to read. It's been years since I read anything by Douglas Coupland, after Generation X, I never went back, maybe dismayed by the pop culture relevance in his books. But I sort of regret that now, having enjoyed this novel so much.

My First Afternoon As Band Widow

Has been spent still reeling from the stupid pneumonia, but enjoyable for the following reasons:

1. Cuddling with my RRBF before he goes away for the first leg of his Canadian tour.

2. Laughing as I noticed that he forgot his suitcase. Calling to tell him that he forgot his suitcase, and then laughing as I handed it to him.

3. Watching Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix on Oprah. Seriously considering seeing Walk the Line even though it sort of goes against my own personal mythology surrounding Johnny Cash.

4. Playing "Stressed Out" by A Tribe Called Quest, while dancing around and generally shaking, well, you-know-what, and knowing that I'm the only one home (hence I won't get caught listening to my bad pop music).

5. Going to see a matinee when I really should be at home cleaning the house. Thus procrastinating the house cleaning for another day.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Friday Doomsday

So, when you're grumpy and sad on a Thursday, and it turns into Friday morning, here's what happens (as told to Zesty in an email this morning):

I had to drop off my RRBF and my brother, and then go to work. Keep in mind it was at opposite ends of the city.

1. Got up extra early to drive them. We were on the road by 7.09 AM.

2. My brother gets in the car, clothes smelling like smoke, and I cough for a few minutes. And then I stop feeling sorry for myself and open up a damn window. Problem solved.

3. They stop at Tim Horton's. I get a gross bagel that I didn't even really want in the first place.

4. We drive to some obscure neighbourhood in North York. I pay no attention to details a) because it's morning b) because I'm tired c) because I'm just not thinking. (Here's the part where it becomes my fault, even though I won't admit it.)

5. They try to explain to me how to get back to somewhere I might recognize.

6. I start off and get lost on the FIRST TURN.

7. I am lost, crying in a Country Style parking lot, talking to my RRBF on the phone because I had somehow ended up at Bayview and Finch when I should have been at Dufferin and Wilson.

8. Continue to cry.

9. Cry more and have my RRBF sort of yell at me to calm down.

10. Go the right direction, make it to the 401, which is a parking lot.

11. Get to work almost 45 minutes later than I normally would.

12. Immediately realize I don't have a lot to do today, and didn't have to worry about being late in the first place.

Sigh. It's a damn good thing it's a long weekend.

So there.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I Have Nothing to Say Today

So I'm going to do the dishes and order some pizza for dinner. Why? Because it's what this Thursday demands. Feeling broken down and beat up because of my lungs, my bad cold, my broken heart, and I'm just not in the mood to talk. Okay?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Pause for the Beats

According to the San Francisco Chronicle (link via Bookslut), today is the 50th anniversary of the beat movement, or more specifically, the first performance of "Howl". When a drunk Allen Ginsberg took to the stage and catapulted an entire generation into a frenzy with his lines:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical naked...


Imagine what it would have been like to be there, dressed in black, wearing horn-rimmed glasses, hearing Kerouac egg him on, and then hitting on some wonderful blonde woman whose grooving and digging it and thinking about changing the world and loving them and wanting to go home with them and taking a trip, hopping a freight car, sleeping with Henry Miller in Big Sur and then collapsing from laughter after remembering it all only to start from the beginning again.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Doctor's Orders

So, because my cough was much, much worse the past couple days, I hung my head in shame and called the doctor. I hate calling the doctor all the time, but when you're taking immuno-suppressant medication, the smallest infection can turn into something huge, and my recent illness is no exception.

Sooo, it could be pneumonia, but it doesn't sound like it per se when he listens to my lungs. But I've still got the same symptoms and judging from how it always TURNS into pneumonia, he's going to treat it as if it actually is pneumonia. Clear as mud, eh?

I might be taking antibiotics (the super-serious kind, none of this easy-peasy sh*t) for me, but at least it saves me from yet another round of bloodwork and x-rays. Tests are so tiresome.

Today Being Tuesday

I started two new books, and found this wonderful quote in Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland:

Sometimes, at my office, when the phones aren't ringing, and when I've completed by daily paperwork, and when The Dwarf To Whom I Report is still out for lunch, I sit in my chest-high sage green cubicle and take comfort in knowing that since I don't remember where I was before I was born, why should I be worried about where I go after I die?


It's a very zen quote, no? I guess the trick will be whether or not I a) finish the book and b) decide whether or not the above linked review in Bookslut is on the money or not.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Random Author Sightings...

Or perhaps not so random.

1. We went to Elizabeth Ruth's book launch last week. It was great fun. Does that count as a random author sighting? Perhaps not random, but certainly interesting to see someone so happy, glorious and celebrating the release of a wonderful, creative book. And my favourite part was hearing her say something along the lines, "The entire inspiration from the book came from one line in an article I read while researching." Now that's a testament to the creative process.

(Off topic - I had a similar experience lately when I was sitting at the deck at the cottage last, last weekend and a couple drove slowly up to our dock, looked around, waved and then floated away. I thought, "How neat would it be to write a thriller that started with a man floating up to a woman's dock at a cottage in Ontario." Pretty neat from my point of view. /Off topic).

2. After missing the Salman Rushdie reading because it was sold out, I was treated to the sight of him walking by in the hallway at work. He's very small. Not demure at all, just short, much shorter than I imagined he would ever be, being such a giant of the literary world. But still, how cool is that to see Salman Rushdie walk by in the hall outside the office you're camping out in? Totally cool.

Random Thoughts

How many movies is too many movies? I'd say close to 5 in one day might just be reaching saturation point. I was so sick on Saturday that I couldn't even make it off the couch, and I watched: Casablanca (do men like Bogey exist today? do they need to? What happened to that kind of "man"?), The Wedding Date (don't even say it, it's bloody terrible, and when did assumptions ever equal a plot?), Garden State (ah, I heart Zach Braff), A Slipping-Down Life (it's an independent film that's almost as good as Tully, but not quite), and Sin City (stylized, flashy, graphic goodness). Then, by the time Sunday rolled around I couldn't even see the television let along concentrate on watching any MORE movies, so I gave up and read. All. Day.

Fingers crossed I get over this ridiculous infection by the weekend. We've got hot stuff planned: it's the eve of the RRBF's biggest tour ever.

#51 Smoke

Smoke, Elizabeth Ruth's second novel, tells the story of Brian "Buster" McFiddie, a young boy who suffers from terrible burns after falling asleep drunk, with a lit cigarette and an open bottle of liquor in bed. The one thing that saves Buster from both a terrible depression as a result of his injury and, well, death, are the kind words and tender hands of Doc John, who tells the boy stories of Detroit-area mobsters to take his attention off the burns.

The novel, set in the 1950s, in a small town in Ontario called Smoke, where the majority of the inhabitants are tobacco growers. It's a rural town, but it's not your typical "small town Canada" kind of novel. It's a novel that explores outsiders in the purest sense, from Buster, now disfigured as a result of the accident, to Doc John himself, each hiding secrets as easily as they hide in the shadows of society (to an extent).

It's a brash, bold, even brilliant second novel. And one that fit perfectly into my melancholy afternoon coughing, spluttering and generally feeling sorry for myself being sick for the second time in three weeks.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

#50 A Million Little Pieces

Oprah, o wise sage, picked James Frey's A Million Little Pieces as her latest book club pick. A good friend in my office highly highly recommended the book to me, loving it so, so much that we launched into a fairly funny conversation about why we both enjoy reading addiction books. Maybe because it's an experience that's so richly human, the loss of total control in the face of something that utterly consumes them.

It's a richly addictive memoir, which I think was Frey's intent, to echo the feeling and rush of his experiences as an addict, and fully explore his time in rehab. The book is written in almost a pure form stream of consciousness, with little additional punctuation other than a basic periods and commas. It's a swift read, and one that takes you right into the fever of the moment. From the instant that James wakes up on a plane missing his four front teeth, with two black eyes, a whole in his cheek and broken nose not knowing where he's going or where he's coming from, you get the feeling that it's not your typical memoir. It's an interesting choice from Oprah, who might be reeling from the lack of support her last choice failed to garner (Summer of Faulkner, wha?).

It's funny how the books in your life start to create clusters, or patterns, as you read through them. I've read three solid books about addiction this year: The Hungry Years by William Leith, Dry by Augusten Burroughs, and now A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. All three by men, all three detailing a deep and private part of their lives that forced them to change, and come out extremely different on the other end. Surprisingly interesting books whose authors have next to nothing in common except their shared experience with some form of addiction (food for Leith, alcohol for Burroughs, and drugs and alcohol for Frey).

I would highly recommend all three books, but maybe not to read them in succession for fear of falling off the high cliff of very serious topics into a pit of despair over your own addictions, be they as slight as my own addiction to sugar or more serious. All three make you think, and more importantly, make you feel.

Back to the Same Again

So I'm as pale as a cloud on a summer day. My head is foggy, my chest is thick and wet (yum!), and I'm coughing up lots of icky stuff. Hooray! I'm sick, AGAIN. So I spent yesterday morning trying to go to work, giving up by around noon, coming home and watching movies. For hours. I felt too bad to even read for that long.

I watched Things Behind the Sun, directed by Allison Anders. It's a wonderful independent film about a woman who was gang raped (I know, sounds uplifting) when she was fourteen, and has never moved past the event in her life. She's a musician, and when her record starts moving up the charts, a music magazine wants to interview her. Only the journalist is the brother of the ring leader of the boys who raped her.

The movie frankly deals with the broken nature of Sherry, and Owen, the journalist, has his own troubles sexually as a result of what happened when he was a kid. There are deep psychological implications, and they reverberate in everything the two have done since they were fourteen; the broken souls are intelligently and almost wistfully explored in the film. It stars Kim Dickens as Sherry and Gabriel Mann as Owen. Oh, and Don Cheadle, the most underrated actor in Hollywood (IMHO), plays Sherry's manager / lover, and he's excellent as well. I've been wanting to see the movie for ages, and I'm glad it was as good as I'd read it was.

Then I watched Maria Full of Grace, and it was okay, very disturbing, but good. By then I was almost dizzy from too much television and sort of blacked out until after dinner. Annnywaaay. I'm starting to use this crazy Zip.ca membership, but I'm not sure if it's worth the money I'm paying for it. I'll give it another couple of months and let you know.