Monday, February 27, 2006

Ah, Insurance - A Necessary Evil

Well, apparently, the advice of the insurance lady that I met with today is for my RRHB "because you're renovating anyway" to put in a safe to hold our valuables. Considering we don't own anything remotely valuable to put into a safe (so how's about dropping the desktop in there sweetie when you're not using it) with the exception of the two rings I'm now wearing ALL the time, what would be the point? Although I do think it would be uber cool to have an Ocean's Twelve style safe tucked into the wall behind our, ahem, "amazing" art collection. Heh.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

#9 Open House

Yes, I completely realize that I skipped right over #8 - You'll Never Nanny In This Town Again. I read Suzanne Hansen's memoir about her time as a nanny to the stars yesterday morning and was thoroughly bored. First off because of my New Year's Revolution to try and stop consuming so much celebrity gossip (she worked for Michael Ovitz and his family), and I lapsed by actually reading this book, and second because it's so average that it's not really even worth writing about let alone wasting my precious anemia-starved brain on.

So then, last night I picked up Elizabeth Berg's Open House. It too was a quick read, an Oprah book, which meant that I finished it in three hours or so. It's an entirely passable novel about a woman in her early fourties dealing with life after separating from her husband of twenty years. She's never worked and has always enjoyed the simple pleasures of family life. The book itself is sweet and good tempered. And watching how the main character, Sam Morrow, changes as her life changes is good for the soul.

But it's funny how the back cover copy calls it a literary novel; and how different that designation is in the States vs. here in Canada. I wouldn't call it a literary novel. Not in the sense that Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go is absolutely literary. But maybe that's just my own prejudice about the subject matter and how these stories of women's lives just don't feel they have the weight of what I would consider to be important literature. Is that sexist and anti-feminist of me? Maybe, Berg's a good writer and it's an engaging story, but it's not anything new, and certainly not anything beyond how you feel after watching a particularly good episode of Grey's Anatomy. It's an entirely different kind of satisfying—reading Ishiguro you feel like you've learned something about the state of the human condition; reading Berg you feel like you've just spent a day being pampered, having a pedicure and are about to eat your favourite dinner. Both are good, but different.

Friday, February 24, 2006

And Speaking Of, Ahem, Asses?

San Francisco is moving to be entirely waste free by 2020, which is cool. They're even turning dog poo, well, attempting to turn dog poo, into a viable source of energy. My favourite sentence from this article? That they still have some bugs to work out.

Heh.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Other News That Sucks Ass

Apparently, intellectual property like short stories, poems and half novels are not covered by insurance. I guess the arts have absolutely no value in the world of very real house insurance after some asshole steals your computer right out from under you.

The Accidental Tourist

So one of my New Year's Revolutions this year was to try and experience more of the city I live in instead of just sitting like a lump in my house. Soooo, so far this year I've done a few things in this vein that can actually count as 'enjoying' what the city has to offer.

I went to a taping of Cityline, which was way fun. It's totally not a show that I watch on a regular basis, but I was invited and it was Fashion Friday, so why the hell not? The fashions were kind of eh, but the shows were amazing and Marilyn Denis is pretty damn delightful. Oh, and at the end of the taping they give you free stuff.

Side note: Here's something you might like to know about me...I will whore myself out to the highest bidder for free stuff. Doesn't actually matter what the stuff is as long as its free. Isn't that pathetic?

Annnywaaay. We ended up with some Marc Anthony hair products and some other beauty product thingy. Oh, and Marc Anthony? Dude is orange in real life, and not the sweet Florida, natural looking orange, but bright crayon-esque, spent way too much time in the tanning bed orange. Ew.

And next weekend I'm taking Zesty (on the day of the Oscars no less) to ballet for her birthday. The National Ballet of Canada is performing various pieces originally choreographed by George Ballanchine, who is one of my all-time favourites of the dance world. I'm very excited.

Oh, and on Monday night I was at the New Face of Fiction 10th anniversary celebration. Also very much fun, but it's a pain in the ass to find parking around the Distillery district. The delightful Patricia over at Booklust has a much better wrap up of the party up on her site. Holla!

See, I'm so cultured. Yawn...

When Good Blood Tests Go Bad

The most frightening thing in the world, next to the phone ringing in the middle of the night (because according to the Cowboy Junkies, "...good news always sleeps 'til noon"), is a super-fancy disease doctor leaving a message on your voice mail that says, "I'd like to talk to you about the results from your blood tests."

You see, doctors only call if it's bad news. It's one of the few things in the world you can truly count on: if your tests suck and there's something wrong, the super-fancy disease doctor will call you. If you're fine and nothing's wrong, they put the results in the file and you see them in four months.

The most harrowing aspect of the disease is the up and down from the visit-to-visit bloodwork. Right now, my creatinine levels are still elevated, which is to be expected for the most part with the disease being active right now. What he didn't expect to see is low white blood cell counts and anemia. Hell, it's a wonder I've got any blood in my body at all.

So now I've got to go back to the super-disease doctor and see what's up next Tuesday. And I thought I was on the right track...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

#7 - The Goddess Rules

With the doctors, disease and robbery all happening at breakneck speeds this week, it's a wonder I could concentrate at all. I have been reading Peter Ackroyd's mini-biography of Chaucer, which I'm loving, but I took a break from it to finish another one of my British chicklit books called The Goddess Rules (by Clare Naylor).

The cover is incredibly cheesy (think Harlequin in the 1970s) and belies the totally addictive, sweetly irresistible story on the inside. The main character, Kate Disney, is an artist who paints pet portraits for a living. She lives in a garden shed (honestly) in the backyard of an antique dealer (an old friend of the family). Her life is in shambles (bad egg of a boyfriend, good career but does she really want to be painting pets for the rest of her life, and what about the shed?), and until an old, reclusive movie star named Mirri comes to stay at the main house, that has no chance of changing.

Of course the main character goes through the requisite 'must-stay-with-the-bad-boyfriend' plot before she ends up with 'the one', but it's a pretty good little read. More romance-like than true chicklit, it was a bit saccharine for me at times and I rolled my eyes a lot, especially at the opening paragraph which was just so cliched that I almost put the book down. In the end, it was what I needed on a weekend after a week spent with super doctors and bad-ass robbers.

The Return of the Ring(s)

Well, the coppers came through. Yesterday, while I was off for Heritage Day, I got a call from one of the detectives of the Major Crime Unit. They had 'seized' some rings and wanted me to come down and identify them. I raced out of the house and down to the 14th Division, asked for the detective, and then sat down with my book prepared to wait for a while until they could get to me.

It was barely 15 minutes before they came downstairs to talk to me. The detective pulled out a little baggie with six of my rings in it: my grandmother's diamond and ruby ring, my mother's wedding rings, and my paternal grandmother's wedding rings. The only one missing was my Claddagh ring, but it's okay because they know where they are and they'll probably find it too. I had to make a statement and sign an affidavit, but then I got to walk out of there with my precious things in hand.

Can you believe it?

Now they're safely hidden at home, with the exception of my Nanny's ring, which I'm going to wear until I can get it made into something that matches my wedding ring. I'm not a big fan of mixing white and yellow gold, but at least I'll always know where the ring is. There's not a chance in hell I'm going to let it get lost again now that karma, or whatever else in the world you'd like to call it, has returned it.

Now if only the bloody insurance company would call us back. They STILL haven't gotten a hold of us so we can make a claim.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Today's "Horror"scope

If only this could have been my reading on Wednesday, and then maybe we might not have been robbed:

Daily extended (by Astrology.com)
After what you've gone through, today's astrological lineup will be an absolute dream come true for you -- because it's time to totally come clean. That means no more explaining your every move to loved ones who don't quite believe you, no more chatting up people you're not really interested in and no more worrying about not being able to say the right thing at the right time. Forget that. It's time to enjoy life, simply and honestly.


Posting will be sporadic until we get a new computer. I'll try to do my best for every day or every couple of days.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Curse of St Valentine's Redux

So, we were robbed yesterday. Not metaphorically. Not symbolically. Not even jokingly.

Some criminal broke into our house and stole a bunch of our stuff. Namely, our ENTIRE desktop computer system including the modem, router, keyboard, speakers, monitor and hard drive. They ripped the cable out of the wall and took that too. As if that wasn't enough. All of my latest short stories and poems were on the computer; thankfully, I have copies of most of the stuff, but the last two books I was editing for the Classic Starts series—all the work I've done over the last two weeks— are just virtually gone. I have to start from scratch.

Then they went next door into my bedroom and took all of my rings that were in a small jewelry box my parents had given me for Christmas a year ago. In that box was a diamond and ruby ring of my grandmother's. Truly the only thing of my Nanny's that I had of hers; it meant the world to me and now it's just gone. It was in my family for sixty years. It was the first ring my grandfather had given her, even before her engagement ring. It was beautiful.

Also in the box was my mother's engagement ring and two wedding bands. Again, one of the few things I have to remember my mother and now it's gone too. Into the hands of some scumbag who doesn't care that these are two things that are of extreme sentimental value to me, that they are all of have left of two of the most important people in my life.

They also took my other grandmother's wedding rings. While costume jewelry to some extent, they're still gold and were given to me by my aunt for my wedding, in case I wanted to wear them.

Finally, they stole my claddagh ring. The very one I bought this summer in Ireland from the very place claddagh rings started. It was an original, official claddagh ring; one I can't get back because I'm not about to head to Galway any time soon.

They also stole my RRHB's brand new cell phone that he had been given after that really cool video shoot he did. And now, when I tried to call Bell and tell them, they won't even let me put a note on the account because it's in his name. They were awesome to deal with too—very friendly and so helpful. Um, NOT.

The police were at our house last night for close to three hours dusting for prints and taking down our report. I asked the one officer what the chances are of me getting my rings back and he said they weren't good. Their advice is to check the pawn shops around the city over the next few days because these skanks like to get rid of stuff quickly.

I feel violated and angry. I'm upset with myself because I should have been more careful with the precious things in my life. And I have no idea if the insurance company will even replace them because I have no record of them. My heart is broken and last night I was in hysterics.

We both slept fitfully. My RRHB has now secured the door and we've padlocked our garage to avoid further trouble. But there doesn't even seem to be any point. They've taken pretty much all we had that was worth anything. And left us with no chance of ever getting it back.

And the hardest part is thinking that my treasured things are in the hands of some jackass who is trying to get rid of them for some personal gain. What? His next fix? His bail? I don't know. And even though I know it's not charitable of me, I don't care. Usually, I'd think that if someone was that desperate, I should feel pity for them. But now I think where's karma when you need it? I've had a brutal year with the disease, getting fired, and all the other crap of trying to exist when I just don't feel well, and now I've lost two irreplaceable things that were given to me to remember two irreplaceable people in my life.

Like I said before, my heart is broken. I can't take much more.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Curse of St. Valentine

Valentine's Day is cursed. No, not for the fairly stereotypical reasons of love loss and heartbreak, but because most of the major tragedies that have happened to me in my lifetime have happened on or around Valentine's Day.

My Nanny, who died a very painful and uncomfortable death from colon cancer, passed away on Valentine's Day proper. When she died, I was nineteen years old, and battling my own disease, Wegener's Granulomatosis. And as I had lost my mum at fourteen, my mother's mother, my Nanny, had raised me pretty much through my teenage years. I loved her fiercely. I loved her for her strength of character and her commitment to her family. I loved her because she wore 'racing gloves' while driving her station wagon and drank Russian "wodka" at night. I loved her because she ate rum raisin ice cream, which I thought was the most disgusting flavour we served at Baskin Robbins. I loved her because she made my prom dress, taught me how to knit (sort of) and indulged my love of family history. I miss her everyday.

My mother's youngest brother, my volatile Uncle Jamie, died from the same disease, colon cancer, many years later—just the day before Valentine's Day. We grew up with my uncle, his wonderful temper, awesome rants about just about everything, and heart so big we were afraid it might burst.

My paternal grandfather also died around this time, just a few years after my maternal grandmother. He was my last surviving grandparent. I grew up thinking he was this strange and mythical creature. Oddly enough, he called me "Queenie" my entire life, and considering he never really knew my name (he got it wrong all the time), I thought that was pretty damn funny (he only had five grandchildren, I'm surprised he had such a hard time with it).

It's funny, my RRHB has pretty much given up on any notion of us having a romantic Valentine's Day. The whole holiday is so cliched and consumer driven that it doesn't really mean anything to me; it never has. But the overwhelming feeling of trepidation it brings when it comes near has me always thinking, "Okay, who's next?"

Thankfully, today it won't be me. I just got back from the fancy super-doctor who stopped the gross Septra medicine that was making me throw up. I'm only taking one drug moving forward and that, my friends, is a victory worth celebrating. Bring on the chocolate!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Happy Belated Blog Day

Well, Tragic Right Hip is one year old. Happy blog day! Here's the first post that started it all.

I'm so tired today and I've got editing work to do. We went to see a Marlies game on Friday night. They lost (eight to two) but the game was fun. There was a crackerjack fellow sitting in the row in front of us who was a super-fan. Screaming at the top of his lungs, yelling sh*t about how the team needed to show some heart even if they were losing. He almost got kicked out of the arena because he was talking smack with some other drunk kids a couple of rows beneath us. It was awesome.

Oh, and the goalie waved at us. Which, of course, set him off all over again. It was almost as much fun as a rock and roll show. Almost.

Then yesterday we had a Valentine's Day party to go to. As a result, I can barely move today and am anxiously awaiting the barfing that's sure to arrive seeing as I only got about three hours sleep last night. Today is a bad movie, ain't gonna move off the couch, gonna do my work on the laptop kind of day.

Aw, Sunday.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

My Turn

Scarbie and Blondie did it—and I don't want to feel left out. So I'm copying both of them. I hope that's okay ladies.

Four jobs I’ve had:
1. Ice cream girl at Baskin Robbins. Here is where I cultivated my love for Daquiri Ice slushies with vodka, rode my skateboard to work, and attempted to glue all of the things I broke back together with the chocolate sauce. Ask Suzi if you don't believe me.
2. Working at the Gap. God, I loved working at the Gap. I loved folding. I loved doing the cash. I loved the 50% staff discount. I loved the mall. Man, I miss that job.
3. Executive Producer. I ran some web sites. I loved it. I did not love my BFH. And in the end, all the stress caused the disease to come back. Bastards.
4. Writer. My favourite job of all time. Five books and counting, a few poems, and giant ambition. I'll keep y'all posted on that one...

Four movies I could watch over and over (well, this week):
1. Underworld (I am a deathdealer)
2. Love Actually (Joni Mitchell taught your cold, English wife to love)
3. Bridget Jones's Diary (Everyone knows that diaries are total crap)
4. Badlands (I run the words on the roof of my mouth with my tongue too)

Four places I’ve lived:
1. Brockville, Toronto, ON
2. Kingston, ON
3. Banff, AB
4. Mississauga, ON

Four TV shows I love (currently):
1. Ellen (I know! It's cheesy! I love it!)
2. Lost
3. Coronation Street (see note above)
4. Grey's Anatomy (there's something satisfying about having crazy-ass medical problems and watching a show about medicine)

Four places I've been on vacation:
1. Ireland (my favourite place was Derry)
2. London, England (my favourite thing is having a pint with Elyssa and her mates)
3. Winnipeg, MB (my favourite place to watch the pelicans)
4. My cottage, Havelock, ON (my favourite place to call home)

Four blogs I visit daily…:
1. Hissyfit
2. Martinis for Milk
3. Friends, Romans
4. Blondie's
5. Ethel Knots
6. And all the others on my list to the right. I don't want to leave anyone out. I love them all so!

Four Favorite Foods:
1. My RRHB's Fakon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches
2. Fish and chips at the pub on the corner of College and Dovercourt
3. Fresh grapes
4. Organic spelt gingerbread cookies

Four places I'd rather be:
1. Can I be honest and say that I'm actually liking where I am right at this moment, sitting in front of the computer, finishing off a story and about to watch the tube after a particularly unchallenging day of work.
2. Well, the only thing that would make it better would be the RRHB being home—but he's working. What a mighty good man!

Four songs I listened to most recently (on the iTunes Party Shuffle):
1. The City, Fembots
2. Wonderwall, Oasis
3. Genuinely Frozen, Greg MacPherson
4. Cain is Rising, Oh Susanna

(hey! It's iTunes, not me!)

Last three vehicles I’ve owned:
1. My bike. Built by an ex-boyfriend who was far too obsessed with The Smiths and it still works to this day.
2. My 1984 Datsun (aka Nissan Sentra). That was the best baby blue crappy-ass car ever. It ran for years.
3. Our current 2003 Nissa Sentra

Whew. That was fun. Now you try!

#6 - Into the Wild

Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild, a mega-huge bestseller about Chris McCandless (aka Alexander Supertramp), a young man who went walking into the Alaskan woods never to be seen alive again, quite simply rocks. I'm a weary nonfiction reader generally. Find nonfiction books to be dry and too historical, too school-like sometimes, but when it's done well, it's so fascinating that it's a real story, that I get sucked in and can't put the book down.

I've been trying to read as much outdoorsy-type nonfiction as I can these days. There's a character in one of the stories I'm writing about Banff who loves to hike and rock climb, and since I do neither, or rather, haven't done either in years, I want to make sure what I'm writing rings true.

Krakauer has a gift for weaving different stories into his nonfiction without them necessarily seeming incongruent. Although the book talks mainly about Chris McCandless, it's also about Krakauer himself, as if understanding a bit more about his own character helped him to get inside the head of the boy who died so tragically. It's a good lesson to take note of...but not like I'll be attempting any Frey-like nonfiction memoirs anytime soon.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen's been all over the arts news these days after his induction into the Canadian Songwriter's Hall of Fame. I was lucky enough to hear his interview yesterday on the CBC, which was more inspiring than I can possibly put into words. Listening to him (I'm almost about to say changed my life, but I've vowed not to be so melodramatic), you can really tell he's a man so connected with words and with their meaning on one hand, but on the other seems to be at peace too with the absolute poverty of meaning they can convey as well. You can also tell that he's dedicated himself to thought. He speaks slowly and deliberately, letting silence punctuate so many of his thoughts.

I envy that. I envy dedicating yourself entirely to your art for the greater part of your life. Living in semi-poverty, without the ins and outs of a full-time job or the mind-numbing drones of everyday things: television, meetings, work email, work documents, and on and on. My goal over the next few years is to become self-sufficient in a way. To truly give over to my own creative spirit, as much as humanly possible. Let's see how far I get. It all depends on my royalty cheques. Come on Little Women! Or Frankenstein! Or Robinson Crusoe! What's that M.J. Rose thing? Is this blog worth $7.95? If you think so, go on and grab a copy of some Classic Starts from your local book store.

Annnnywaaay. The interview talked about a lot of different things, from the inspiration behind many of his infamous songs to talking about his novels and his poetry. But one thing in particular stuck with me. The interviewer (Shelagh Rogers, I think) asked why he was so fond of form vs. free verse. And Cohen replied that he enjoyed working with form because it forces the poet to look beyond the first thought. I guess he's kind of anti-first thought equals best-thought school of writing. It forces the writer to move beyond that thought into something deeper, richer and ultimately more interesting.

And it made me want to write a sonnet. Even though I know I would probably suck at it.

Monday, February 06, 2006

#5 - Party Girl

So, after a weekend spent throwing up and watching more bad movies because I can't leave the house, feeling guilty because it was my mother's birthday and we didn't go down to the hospital to see her, and not cleaning like I usually do, I managed to accomplish one thing: I read another chicklit book, Party Girl by Sarah Mason. Yes, that Sarah Mason, author of Society Girls. She does like to use the word 'girl' in a title, that's for sure.

The book centres around party planner whose childhood sweetheart was actually an awful bully (with a heart of gold, of course). She ends up having to plan a giant fete for said fellow and his family, which ends up exactly as you'd expect: with the two leads in the closet making out. Ah, British chicklit, you never tax me nor make me frustrated with plot holes and other annoying things about these kinds of novels.

I should really only count these books as .5 and not a full whole.

Phone Frustrations

Whoever thought getting something for free would be such a freaking hassle. So, RRHB got a free phone from his video shoot last weekend. That's all good; it's a totally cool phone with lots of gadgets and an MP3 player.

But because it's with a particular carrier, we had to cancel his current phone and order a new one. Only it doesn't exist. No one has a record of the phone I have sitting in front of me on the desk.

I was on the phone with customer service for almost ninety minutes trying to figure something out when he said, "Just tell them we'll go into the store."

Sigh. Life is never easy, is it?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

#4 - Society Girls

I have a soft spot in my cold, black heart for British chicklit. As you know, I'm a fan of chicklit anyway and think that it's the perfect kind of book to read when you wake up at 4.45 AM, throw up from your meds, have the runs, and can't get back to sleep.

Ahem. Was that TMI?

Annnnywaaay. I finished Sarah Mason's Society Girls. Nowhere near the level of sophistication of Gemma Townley, Mason's book is okay (judging on the chicklit curve, of course). The plot is totally predictable, and there are characters that are mentioned but never discussed so what's the point of them even being there (two extra brothers who never come home and don't even seem to have names, so wha?). But the main character, Clemmie, was delightfully free of a job in publishing and/or marketing—hooray!

The title refers to a girl who goes missing just before her wedding, and Clemmie and her sister Holly, a journalist, end up getting in over their heads in terms of the whole situation surrounding this girl Emma. As with most chicklit, the plot is preposterous and all just a rouse to get the wayward lovers together, but this book did a lot to keep my mind off my rotten stomach at 5.30 this morning.

Now how's that for a book review!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Time Is A Wastin'

At school on Monday night, someone had written something and I immediately had assumed it was based on a pop tart (like Britney but much younger). Now why would I immediately make the assumption that some smart woman in my class was writing about an American teenager whose famous for having one name, an attitude and not much else?

Hummm. Perhaps because I've been watching way, way, way too much television these past few weeks. In fact, I'm pretty sure I had a television hangover on Sunday night, after spending three days at home, feeling super-sick by myself watching movie after movie after movie.

My brain hurts.

I've even been too tired to read. So not only is the stupid disease ruining my life, or rather, ensuring that I have no life, it's limiting the things that I really love to do too.

Say it with me: stupid Wegener's.