Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thursday Is Link Day

Well, I'm dead sick with a bad cold that travelled from my brother to my husband then to me. I've read a couple books (#36, Town House by Tish Cohen [lovely, delightful and funny] and #37, Flyte by Angie Sage for What Would Harry Read) and am in the middle of a really fun kids book called Skulduggery Pleasant by an Irish author, Derek Landy. It's another titled for WWHR, and once I'm done that I'm hoping to get back to some of my reading challenges, fingers crossed.

Annnywwaaay, some interesting things around the web:

1. A Harry Potter theme park: is it really necessary?

2. BOOKED! It's pretty exciting that Book Expo Canada, our annual trade show and conference, has opened up to the public in the form of this 3 day festival. I'm not sure if I'll be attending too many events because I'll be working the show but if you love books there are some great authors coming to town. Speaking of which, Toronto Life has a great contest to win tickets to see Gore Vidal.

3. Gabriel Garcia Marquez celebrated. I've started Love in the Time of Cholera and am enjoying it immensely. It's so nice to hear of thousands turning out to see an author and, well, unheard of really.

4. Barnes and Noble recommends Paulette Jiles's Stormy Weather. Like Oprah's Book Club and Heather's Picks: does anyone read books that are recommended by the big book stores? I'm curious to know.

5. I heart BoldType, it's just so classy. Check out their newsletter, gor-geous. And they've suggested The Raw Shark Texts as a Beach Read, which is so fitting in an oddly ironic, conceptual fish kind of way.

That's enough for now, I think. Stupid cold. It's making my brain fuzzy.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

TRH Event - The 5-Minute Face

So, at lunch I went down to the Sephora at the Eaton's Centre to get a 5-Minute face done as part of a promotion for Carmindy's The 5-Minute Face: The Quick & Easy Makeup Guide For Every Woman. And boy, it was fun. Almost as much fun as learning to do the 'smoky' eye when I went to MAC for the ultimate girlie make-up party.

While the look that I wanted, according to the makeup artist (the retro 60s face from the book) would take more than 5 minutes (shockingly!), she did do a lovely job of smoothing out my skin and giving me a mini-smoky eye. Even though I already know how to do that, I did manage to pick up some tips that will help with the Brigitte Bardot-inspired look I am going to try out this week.

Carmindy, of course, is gorgeous, and was helpful with her tips; she was also telling everyone that women have got to stop putting themselves down (I'm paraphrasing), and enjoy their beauty (and again, paraphrasing).

Although I did have a moment of panic that she would take one look at me and say, "Yup we need to get you on the show right away..." On the whole, for a lunch-hour break, it was totally fun.

Monday, May 28, 2007

"Sunshine Makes Me High"

A young girl exiting the Yonge/Bloor subway stop had that on her t-shirt, and it kind of made my day. She might have been a serious wacko but I preferred to envision her as a young, delightful woman who truly sees the value in a beautiful day.

Other things I am thankful for today:

1. Bike lanes: It may be like the Daytona 500 within the thin white stripe, but it sure beats battling giant SUVs and maniacs on cell phones outside the lines.

2. Swearing: Does this need any explanation?

3. Tish Cohen's Town House: Such a delightful book to be reading yesterday in the early evening.

4. The end of the television season: The pressure, oh the pressure, of keeping up with all the shows. It was just too much. Now I'm glad that it'll be a good few months before the serious dramas start and we can mindlessly wile away the hours watching the spectacle of So You Think You Can Dance. Awe-some.

5. My RRHB: For doing all of the chores so I could write all day yesterday. And, do you know what, I did! I managed to send 31 pages to my mentor and have approximately 80 pages of the second draft of my extra long story.

6. Dance class: I don't care that it's a beginner class. I don't care that sometimes I get the steps wrong and am the chubbiest girl in the room. The teacher is wonderful and the class is just so much fun.

7. Organic chocolate: Again, does this really need an explanation?

8. The word "sigh": It says so much in an email.

9. Facebook: I am obsessed; some people I love getting in touch with, others, meh, but it sure makes your inbox look busy considering they send you an email for just about everything. It might get tired, but for this week, I'm still chilling with my pokes, my peeps, and my photo albums.

10. Lesley C.'s University of Guelph Sweatshirt: I've had it for over 10 years now and really should return it but it's the most comfortable piece of clothing I (sort of) own. I wore it all day yesterday and I think it was part of the reason I got so much done. That and the RRHB was ill so he hogged the TV all day so I couldn't procrastinate by watching Step Up AGAIN even after I totally made him watch it with me on Saturday night. So deliciously bad—you can't even know.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Booktherapy

Discovering a new book blog isn't always postworthy, but I've been quietly reading tn's booktherapy for the past couple days and am slowly coming around to its philosophy: books as mental health barometers. With bits of intimate details interspersed with ideas around reading experiences, the blog examines, psychologically, the impact of books on various aspects of mental health. In context, here, to the author's life. This got me thinking: how do we view books in terms of our own psychology? Do we all have books / authors that act as a divining rods in terms of insight into our own psyches? If so, what are they?

I know I read On the Road because I dream of the day I can take off on a year-long, world wide tour of places I've never been. I know I feel absurdly attached to so many stories that seem to have an effect upon my own brittle grasp on reality. Anyway, do you all have a book, novel or otherwise, that sort of reflects your own psychological and/or philosophical point of view?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Slice And Dice The "Dick"?

Hyperlinked via Bookninja, I jumped over to this NY Times article about Orion books publishing a series of pared down classics like Moby-Dick and David Copperfield. As I make a great deal of my writing living from paring down classics for kids, I'm always torn when I read about stuff like this.

On the one hand, I wouldn't ever consider discouraging anyone from reading any book, abridged or otherwise, and if the classic Moby-Dick is just too much novel for you, then hey, at least you're getting the gist of the story, right? But on the other hand, why on earth would you need to do this for an adult audience? What holy purpose does it serve? Books, in and of themselves, are microcosmic looks at a time and a place, and while we might consider some of the classics over-written, they have managed to earmark their place in our collective creative soul for a reason, and why change them?

My own Classic Starts are primarily for kids. But does that even matter? I think so, and I really believe, especially after my own classroom visit, that reading of all kinds inspires children. And Frankenstein, Robinson Crusoe, Little Women, they're all great stories, ones that I worked extremely hard to retain the original essence of when abridging them for younger readers. Are the writers/editors of these adult abridged editions going to do the same thing? And do you really think there are classics out there that need to be trimmed for this day and age? Probably, but that's not really for me to say, I don't think...

To me, it sort of reeks of the Restoration, when they gave Shakespeare happy endings because that was the spirit of drama at the time. Necessary then, but I'm pleased to punch that Hamlet was restored with Ophelia entirely in her grave by the time I ended up at university.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

#35 - On Chesil Beach

For now, I'm going to post pictures of the books I read in context. I spent the weekend up north, so this photo is fitting then, with the galley (thanks Trisha!) of Ian McEwan's latest, On Chesil Beach perched on the railing of our sun deck. The last book of McEwan's I read was Amsterdam and considering I barely remember anything about it, I'm happy to say that my reading experience of this sweet, sad little book was extremely different.

The story of newlyweds Edward and Florence, On Chesil Beach explores how one very small mistake, a misspoken word, a poor reaction, can alter the course of your life forever. I don't want to say much more than that considering the novel is only 166 pages long and to give too much away would perhaps ruin it entirely. Suffice to say that it takes all that was so great about Saturday, the attention to detail, the exploration of family life, and the intimate details of everyday events, and shrink wraps it to a moment versus an entire day.

Set in 1962, On Chesil Beach, as much as it is about the change the characters themselves experience, it's also about the evolution (and later sexual revolution) of England in the 1960s. The setting feels so perfect too, even though the novel travels back and forth through Edward and Florence's lives, the one night that they spend on Chesil Beach truly impacts their past, present and future, and I find that fascinating. I love novels that challenge the idea of traditional storytelling and, in a way, even though McEwan's style is very classic, and this novel quite straightforward, it's how the author gets into the details that makes this book so great.

I can't tell you how perfect this was to read sitting in the quiet at the cottage, watching a loon or two float by, hearing the birds, feeling the pebbles underfoot, imagining the cold beef the characters had for their dinner...just lovely.

Cottage Feet


In homage to Pickle Me This, "Cottage Feet," a very happy pair of Vans kicking back on the sun deck enjoying a can of Strongbow. Even if I did cut off the tips of my left toes.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Shhhh, Sleeping Rock Stars

My RRHB was in Windsor and London the last two nights, and now he's asleep, along with their drummer Nathan Lawr (who is also a wonderful musician in his own right) who is crashed out on my couch.

Normally, if you had a regular house that wasn't being renovated, there would be other places for you to hang out, like downstairs. But because we're all crammed upstairs, I'm sort of trapped here on the computer waiting for them to wake up. And considering we're supposed to leave for the cottage in an hour, I'm getting desperate to jiggle the bed a little and step away from the celebrity gossip. There's only so much trash I can fill my mind up with before feeling slightly dirty myself.

I'm also pleased to say that two nights of really good sleep have brought me back to rights in terms of the past week. Last night I watched The Good Shepherd and barely made it through before crawling into bed at 10 PM. I also finished reading Claire Cameron's debut novel, The Line Painter, which is #34 for the year.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

What A Week

I can barely believe that it's Saturday again. The week flew by at light speed and I haven't even been home long enough (other than sleeping) to update anything. So, because today should be spent writing so I have something to send my mentor by the end of the weekend, I'm updated via a quickie list. Had I had time this week, all of these would have been separate entries, so I apologize for the brevity.

1. This was the week of author events through work. I attended four of them in three days. The first, a forum to launch Michael Chettleburgh's Young Thugs, was very interesting. I even learned that there were Irish gangs in Toronto in 1850. Another thing for my list to investigate because I think it would make a cool story. Then I went to two different events for Daniel Handler: a Lemony Snicket cocktail party, and an event at the Andy Pool Hall to celebrate his novel Adverbs. But my favourite was the underground club party for Richard Flanagan, author of The Unknown Terrorist, where Russell Smith mildly insulted me before carrying on his way and doing a superb on stage interview with the author, who, by the way, read Chekhov as preparation for writing about the women in his novel. That made me want to take him out for dinner and listen to him wax philosophical for hours.

2. Gilmore Girls is over. I managed to watch the last episode but only after begging my RRHB to remember to tape it before he went off to his second job on Tuesday. I was chatting over email with Kate who pointed out that it's actually kind of ironic to see every single episode of a show and then forget to tape the very last one. She's right, but I was just so busy this week that a number of things slipped my mind. I felt very ho-hum about the finale. Even though the show has absolutely gotten off track as of late, I'm still not 100% convinced it should have been over. And how they dealt with both of the relationships, Luke and Logan, was ridiculous. Regardless, it's one less hour of television I'll have to keep up with in the fall.

3. I finished reading Chantal Simmons's Stuck in Downward Dog. I got a little teary at the end, and it was refreshing to read a chicklit novel where 'getting the boy' wasn't the central focus of the story. I liked how the book was more about a journey for the character into herself versus a more stereotypical journey into the right relationship. Anyway, that's book #33 for the year. I'm also halfway through about a half-dozen other books that I'm hoping to finish this weekend up north while my brother and RRHB are watching Pan's Labyrinth.

4. Yesterday afternoon, our summer hours started. I had some work to finish up so I didn't leave right at 1:30 PM, but I did manage to make it to an afternoon show of Away From Her, Sarah Polley's directorial debut. Based on Alice Munro's story "The Bear Came Down the Mountain," I felt like it was a solid adaptation, if Polley did take some liberties with the story's point of view and tended to sentimentalize where the author had been tack-sharp. I found some aspects of the film a bit overly dramatic but Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie were just so good that I was willing to overlook the bits of the movie that just felt too forced. Grant reading "The Cinnamon Peeler's Wife" really? Regardless of how much I love that poem, the can lit overtures in the film were a little, well, eye roll inducing. But I don't want that to deflect from the fact that Away From Her is a film I would highly recommend as counter programming to the glut of American multiplex blockbusters hitting the streets every week or two.

5. I saw yet another specialist this week about some lady problems I've been having. Needless to say, a lot of what I'm experiencing is probably a side effect of the methotrexate, which doesn't make it any easier to take. I'm also getting frustrated because I can't seem to loose a single pound. Eating better, riding my bike, dance class, pilates, and still over the course of the last few months, I am the same chubby -bloated sick-looking girl I was when I started. I'm very frustrated about all of that but I have to say that if it's the medicine at least I know that I'll be off of it in the next six-to-eight months and maybe then the weight will start coming off. I can't stand looking at pictures of myself though, which is annoying because everyone and their uncle seems to update Facebook with a million different albums. Anyway. I really liked this doctor very much and feel like she'll be extremely helpful when it comes to this particular problem that won't seem to go away. I have to say that even now that the disease is in remission technically, I'm dead sick of all the treatments. It's been three years of different medications, difficult side effects, and I'm just plain tired of it all. And the mood swings with everything else combined has just about caught me by the fray of my last rope.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

TRH Movie - Catch and Release

Yet another film I had to review for Chart this weekend, I watched a DVD screener of Catch and Release. Starring Jennifer Garner, Timothy Olyphant, Kevin Smith and Juliette Lewis, the film meanders and aimlessly moves around in a far too subtle way to be effective over the course of its almost two hour run time.

Set adrift after the death of her fiancé, Gray (yes, that's her name, yawn) has to learn to live without Grady, who dies off screen and is never seen in the film with the exception of a few photographs. With her perfect life ruined, oh-so subtly symbolized by the beautiful wedding flowers being turned back at the door and the gorgeous cake rotting away in the fridge, Gray doesn't quite know where to turn. So she bunks down with Grady's friends, Sammy (played by director Kevin Smith) and Dennis (newcomer Sam Jaeger). Oh, and let's not forget Fritz (where did Grant come up with such ridiculous names?), the LA-living bad boy who boffs a waitress in the bathroom during the wake at Grady's mother's house, and who becomes Gray's love interest.

The movie feels so predictable, even though you know it's trying hard not to be—so of course, problems from Grady's past surface that she had no idea about (really?) in the form of Maureen (Juliette Lewis), a woman from his good time days when he was out in LA visiting Fritz (I can't type that name without feeling like it's just so ridiculous). And it's hard, because you can see the vibe that Grant is going for, sort of akin to the films of the utterly and always brilliant Allison Anders, where it's more subtle and sensitive than your typical studio picture. But Catch and Release never truly shows the heart of say a film like Things Behind the Sun or Grace of My Heart.

Essentially, the biggest problem with Catch and Release is that none of it really feels organic, and nothing feels more forced in this picture than the setting. And maybe it's a problem with the writing or maybe with the performances, although elements of both are truly lovely, so I can't quite put my finger on why it doesn't work. The film is wistful when it should have been hard hitting, obscure where it should have been obvious, and derivative when it should have gone in another direction.

(Explaining the worst made-for-TV moment would spoil the middle of the film so I won't go there but just trust me to say that you'd roll your eyes too).

The trouble with the movie, I think, that in order to see the impact of Grady's death on Gray's life, there had to be more than little reminders of the way it used to be. There's not enough there to understand why she's so lost, there's nothing of her previous person there to examine the impact of the tragic moments. In fact, there's little in terms of motivation for many of the main players, which leaves you wanting more, despite how well Grant tries to set up the situations.

I did, however, listen to the entire commentary track between Grant and Kevin Smith, which was, of course, hilarious and insightful. At one point, he talks about how much he hated the 'outdoorsy' aspects of the film, stating that he'd rather sit down and watch four films in a day than spent it fly fishing. At that moment, I felt like writing a fan letter to him that started, "even though we're both happily married, if you were ever looking for that girl to sit down and watch all those movies with..." Heh. Sigh.

Regardless, I read a few reviews that really criticized Smith's performance, but I didn't feel that way at all. I thought all the actors, including the normally over-"acting" Jennifer Garner, did a really good job with the material. I just felt like the script would have worked so much better as a novel, where Grant, as a writer, could have had more time to explore the absent back story, and could have filled in some of the missing pieces.

Anyway, I didn't get much of my own writing done this weekend for the watching of all these films and the writing of the subsequent reviews. And now this week is just so busy that I'm afraid another week will pass before I actually get to send anything to my mentor at Humber. I'm not so happy about that. I'm feeling the pressure actually.

TRH TV - The End Of An Era

I've finally done it. This week I broke up with Grey's Anatomy. Completely and entirely. I erased the show from the PVR. I made no attempt to watch it first. I read the recaplet but, come on, what's a girl to do? I've decided that there's only room in my life for one medical drama, and that's ER, and now that Stanley Tucci's on the show, well, there's no question where my viewing eyeballs will be focused.

Tuesday is the last episode of Gilmore Girls. I have a feeling I'll have a lot more to say about that come next week. This year has been so disappointing for me in terms of that show. But I learned a good writing lesson: imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery, often the characters might look and talk like they used to, but they're acting nothing like the Rory and Lorelai we came to know over the past few years. There's a quality and a substance to the writing on that show that seems impossible for the new show-runners to capture.

I'm sad The Sopranos is ending because it means the old-school HBO dramas have all come to a close. Entourage has stood up quite well in place of some, and it'll be years before we see The Wire again, which is the best show on television. I'm going to miss the quality Sunday night dramas. Somehow, even if Big Love does start up again, am I ever really going to care? Probably not.

Sigh.

How many weeks until Rescue Me comes back? And should we just box up the television until then? Probably.

Wow. I'm really rambling here and not making much of point other than Grey's jumped the shark, ER has found its way back, Gilmore Girls is done and I spent far too much time thinking about television.

TBR Stacks


I totally cribbed this from Baby Got Books, but here's a picture of one portion of my TBR books. The bottom shelf should be books for the 1001 Books / Around the World in 52 Books challenges but they've all gotten mixed up with some other novels, ARCs from work, and other job-related titles that I need to read.

The top shelf is a mishmash of books I want to get to some day. These are books I haven't read so they haven't been packed away yet. They're also books that I couldn't bear to give away when we did the big clean out a few months ago. Some of them I will never read. But the interest is there, regardless.

TRH Movie - Georgia Rule

Well, I went to Georgia Rule for Chart this past week, and my 'official' review is here in case you're a little bit curious. As I hated this film, there might be spoilers in this review, so if you're going to go and see it, then don't read this. Okay? That should be sufficient warning, no?

Annnywaaay. While everyone else in the theatre laughed at the ridiculous jokes and silly situations, Tara and I sat there stone-faced and serious. In addition to not finding a single part of the film remotely funny, I also felt disgusted that films like this, films that must obviously hate women, actually still get made in this day and age.

And it's not like Garry Marshall, the director, or Mark Andrus, the screenwriter, has ever met a woman that lives outside the deep-seeded stereotypes tossed into this picture. Lindsay Lohan, who plays Rachel, the main character, is a mixed up teenager whose been sexually assaulted by her stepfather. So she's jaded, confused, and forms attachments to men based on the wrong sorts of emotions. Right, but it's not like the film actually explores any of the more serious implications of Rachel's abuse to her life, oh no, instead it's all one big joke—and when she finally confesses the abuse, a 'did she or didn't she' back and forth forms the central "plot" for the film.

The two people caught in the middle of Rachel's confessions: her grandmother Georgia (Jane Fonda) and mother Lilly (Felicity Huffman) either believe her without a doubt (the former) or think she's just lying again, like she has all of her life (the latter). There's multi-generational breakdown happening here because Lilly has rebelled all of her life against Georgia, and has become a serious alcoholic in the years that saw her flee from her mother's house and into the arms of her successful divorce attorney (natch) of an evil husband, played by Cary Elwes.

As the stereotypes pile up, Rachel finds herself dumped in Hull, Idaho, where Georgia, alongside her infamous "rules" (dinner's at six, no exceptions; if you live with her you need to work, no exceptions; don't take the Lord's name in vain, if so, wash your mouth out with soap, no exceptions). These same rules caused Lilly's own rebellion but Rachel finds some sort of solace with her grandmother, but not that this is even explored in the film, as anything approaching an emotional connection is glossed over by sitcom-inspired comedy and unfunny one-liners.

All of the women in this film make bad decisions with no explanations really for their actions. There are no consequences necessarily either, in fact, very little actually happens in this film. In a vain attempt to get the audience on side, every single situation that should have some sort of emotional impact is maligned by some sort of pale attempt at a joke. Lohan changes skimpy outfits and screams a lot. Huffman falls down drunk a lot. Fonda pinches up her face a lot. In short, it's embarrassing for all of them.

And I can't help but think that feminism hasn't really advanced in any way if multi-million dollar studios are still branding dreck like this as a 'chick flick' and expecting women to flock in droves into the theatres. These are not real women. Nothing about them feels authentic. The PG-rating betrays the serious issues in the film; you can't feel anything for Rachel except exhaustion. She's tired, the film's tired, the comedy is tired, the direction is tired, I could go on, but I'm sure you get the point.

I get the feeling that both the director and the screenwriter are out of touch with a modern world. I get the feeling that the actors tried, with the exception of Lohan, to make the most out of the substandard material. But I also feel that if a filmmaker is going to take on serious subjects, like sexual molestation, there should be a level of commitment to the material that goes beyond wanting to create conflict. There's none of that here, and even when the ending comes around, despite the saccharine nature of the scene, you're left feeling dirty for sitting through this picture in the first place.

#32 Depths - Henning Mankell

I was halfway through this book before I declared the death of my reading challenges, so maybe all is not lost.

While Depths isn't a Wallander mystery, it still retains many of the qualities that Mankell displays in his popular detective series, especially in tone and narrative style. Mankell has never been an author to shy away from the bleaker aspects of human nature, and Depths is no exception.

The novel, set during the First World War in Sweden, opens years in advance of the main story, as one its main characters, Kristina Tracker, the wife of naval Commander Lars Tobiasson-Svartman, escapes from the mental hospital that has been her home for many years and stands alone in the forest contemplating one memory: that she once had a husband.

From there, the narrative switches point of view, and the story becomes entirely Lars's. He's an exacting kind of man, with a mind that has a unique talent with measurements; a man who is drawn inexorably to the sea, who uses his unique skills to become a hydrographic survey engineer for the Swedish navy.

While on a mission, Lars discovers a young woman named Sara Fredrika living on a Halsskär, a skerry close to where they are measuring the depths of the sea. Soon he becomes obsessed with the woman, and the friction between the life he has in Stockholm with Kristina Tracker, and the one he desires on Halsskär turn Lars into a man even he would not recognize. His longing to escape from both of his two disparate worlds drives him to desperate acts, those of which bring the novel to its tragic conclusions.

Mankell shows with the novel that the ache of humanity that drives the overwhelmingly brooding yet wonderful Wallander series can carry into a more literary, artistic novel. His voice in this book is clear yet abrupt. Depths has short, succinct chapters, barely longer than two or three pages each, yet the story feels rich, flushed out and complete. Mankell's sea, and how it relates to Tobiasson-Svartman's consciousness, becomes almost a secondary character in the novel; it's described beautifully and at length, and it's easy to understand Lars's connection to it, both psychologically and physically.

The Swedish entry in my Around the World in 52 Countries challenge, for once I felt a sincere and complex connection to the setting in the novel. Depths is a novel all about landscape, bleak, cold winters, rolling storms, the power of the sea, and the deep impact that war has on the men in its service. It makes me think that I'd love to read anything Mankell writes outside of the Wallander series, not that they aren't great books, because they are, but Depths satisfies in an entirely different way.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Death Of My Reading Challenges

I am desperately trying to hang on to my reading challenges these days. But I've got so many books to read for work that I might have to call it quits on both: Around the World in 52 Books and 1001 Books until I've got more time.

I've also finished #31 for the year, Magyk by Angie Sage. It's a book for kids that I read for our What Would Harry Read? promotion. I love the idea of imagining the reading lives of imaginary characters. It's a super-cute theme that should get people talking, if only to imagine what other characters would read.

Like what would Elizabeth Bennett read if she were alive today and reading in this century? What would Dean Moriarty have in the back pocket of his jeans? If Trip Fontaine were real, would he read? If you had a favourite fictional character: what do you think would be on their bookshelves?

Anyway, I'm going to try to keep on top of my 'for me' reading but I have a feeling it'll get buried well beneath all of the books that now teeter on the top of my TBR pile from work. It's an embarrassment of riches, that's for sure.

Trouble, I Say, Trouble

The older I get, the thinner my skin seems to grow. I always thought that as the years racked themselves up as lines appearing above your lip, beside your eyes, that little things would stop bothering you. Hearing about things, being teased, people making fun of you, but for some reason, all of this affects me more today than it ever did in the past.

I've never been one to take criticism well. It soaks into me, like liquid into a paper towel, and I feel it all, each painful word. Nothing rolls off me, it all sticks like glue, and I realize I'm using a lot of metaphorical language, but hey, at least I'm not pulling a Candace Bushnell.

Years ago, I could recognize the moments when I was feeling particularly immoblized by the outside world as times when I was probably entering into a phase of depression. But I haven't been depressed (unless it's drug-related from the prednisone) for years. And that got me thinking: maybe the meds have permanently altered how my brain functions. Maybe they've made me a dour girl who can't take a joke and whose feelings get hurt at the slightest touch, especially by people I hold the closest to me.

Most days I can get by without wanting to hide away from the world. Most days I can get dressed and get outside and walk with my head up and feel confident that I am good person and that people like me. Most days. But then it'll all come crashing down without any notice, and I'll be stuttering and stalling, refusing to leave the house, wearing my dirty pajamas, crying for no reason, feeling sorry for myself—all kinds of days pass like that, in almost-depression limbo.

It takes me a long time to feel comfortable. It takes me a long time to overcome my frustrating shyness and actually feel confident in social situations. I know a lot of people who know me would say that's not true, but it's how I feel on the inside, sick to my stomach and held so tight that there's nothing for me to do except swallow all those feelings and wait for them to resurface as the disease.

Today is not one of the good days. But tomorrow, well, like Annie says, it'll certainly be sunny, and if I could just learn to roll with it a bit better, maybe it would all come just that little bit easier. Who knows?

I know one thing that'll cheer me up: watching Georgia Rule, the train wreck of a movie I have to see tonight for Chart. Heh.

TRH Event - Stuck In Downward Dog

After work yesterday I went to the Toronto launch of Chantal Simmons's Stuck in Downward Dog. Held at Kultura, a swank restaurant on King Street East, it was one of the more inventive launches I've been too in a while (nothing can hold a candle to the Raw Shark launch, but you know it's hard to beat a art-installation shark boat).

In addition to the fab venue, the entire party was full of swag. And really awesome girlie swag too, from OPI nail polish to Cake nail files, from eye cream to lip gloss to these cute little flower broaches, it was incredible. Essentially, they handed you a beautiful bag and you just filled it up with what you wanted, as much as you could carry.

I've been looking for a sweet little chicklit book to sort of soothe my manic work-related reading, and although I didn't pick up a copy of the book at the launch, I am still going to add it to my TBR pile for sure (Scarbie said she'd loan me her copy). And it was delightful to see some friends too, which is always the best thing about a book launch.

I also got a chance to briefly say hello to Chantal Simmons on my way out, and she looked just so lovely: she was wearing a gorgeous strapless pink dress with these wonderful silver shoes. If I was any bit of a fashionista, I could explain it in more detail, except I will add that she was as lovely to meet as she was to look at. Does that sound corny?

I felt like quite the frumpy grandmother among all the lovely ladies in my Lululemon biking pants and my oxford shirt. Note to self: always bring along extra clothes in the summer in case there's an event you need to go to after work and your biking clothes just won't cut it. Sigh. What can you do, really.

On the whole, I think it was the right way to launch a chicklit title, with a martini named after the main character, lots of great girlie swag, a room full of lovely book people and an author who seemed happy and excited about it all.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

My Other Car Is A Bike

So I've officially started riding my bike to work each day. It's been three summers since I rode every day. The last two I couldn't ride to work each day because my office was out in the suburbs. The summer before that, it was too painful to ride because my hip bone was essentially melting in its socket.

But now, all that has changed! I pumped up my tires and started on my merry little way Monday morning. There's something really quite beautiful about the city at that time of day, even though the people driving the cars are mental, the traffic is really annoying, and the roads are a mess, it's still refreshing to be outside in the air and the sunshine, peddling your way from one place (home) to the next (work).

I had a boyfriend who once told me that muscles have memory. In some ways, I know this to be true, when I'm in dance class and the teacher does something like say a grande plie, my body knows exactly what to do from years of study when I was younger. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the muscles still move in the same way; they might remember, but they're certainly not strong enough to pull it off, like, at all. So my grande plie looks kind of lopsided and funny, especially because my hip is still so awkward.

So, it's kind of the same with biking. It's obvious that I know how to ride a bike, but I've been so scared to get back on the daily two-wheeled commute because I figured I wouldn't have the energy and/or the stamina to handle a long-ish (say over 30 minutes) trek from my house to downtown. I had to psyche myself up for it all weekend, and kept saying, "the only way to do it is to do it."

It's embarrassing, I know, and I felt like a Nike ad just saying it over and over again in my mind. But now, after even just two days, I feel like a pro. This morning I even gave someone the hairy eyeball for parking their giant minivan, with the engine still running, in the bike lane on Harbord.

I feel better already and I even slept better last night. I have more energy and I'm even looking forward to a longer than usual ride home this evening, as I stop in on yet another book event. Fingers crossed my hip stays healthy and the disease likes this level of energy. By the end of the summer you probably won't even recognize me.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

TRH Movie - Spider-Man 3

Well. I'm not even sure where to begin with this giant mess of a movie. That's not to say that Spider-Man 3 isn't enjoyable, because it is, nor is to to say that I didn't like it, because I did. But overall, I felt like they just tried to do too much and it ended up sprawling all over the place, leaving the film feeling a bit watered-down and mashed together.

The RRHB and I were talking about it after we got home, and he made a very valid criticism. I'd hate it if a movie took my favourite book and changed all the story lines around just to make a 'blockbuster.' From his perspective, they've ruined a lot of what made the comic so great by trying to make the film so huge. They've brought together years and years worth of plots and tried to put them all in the film like a bunch of puzzle pieces that are either slightly too large or too small to actually fit with the overall scope of the life of the character.

All in all, it's a summer of closing chapters, with third installments of so many blockbuster series bowing, from The Bourne Ultimatum to the non-stop Pirates films, I'm sure it's not the first time I'm going to write a sentence that goes something like, 'well, I enjoyed the movie...but.'

And there's a small part of me that thinks the main characters are tired of making these movies, and that exhaustion certainly shows through, despite their obvious dedication to the project. Who knows. I'm not an actor. I have no idea what it's like to be responsible for a franchise the size of Spider-Man, with this movie alone rumoured to have cost close to half a billion dollars.

The stunts are pretty wicked, and there's a level of super villain that we haven't really seen before, but I can't help but wish they did more with the black-suited Spider-Man and his alter-ego, the emo-Peter Parker, but I know I'm looking for too much in a film that it truly just meant to entertain. I will say, however, that Topher Grace kicked ass; he was the most enjoyable part of the movie, even if he was totally underdeveloped and kind of tossed in at the last minute.

My First "Public" Appearance

Yesterday morning I visited a grade 3/4 split class in Scarborough and read to them from the latest abridged classic, Around the World in 80 Days. They had done quite a bit of work with the abridged Frankenstein earlier in the year and were apparently all very excited about having me come in that day so they could ask me some questions.

What a rush! Most of the kids in my life are ones that are related to me: a niece, some nephews, my little cousin, and the majority of them are quite small, baby-sized, in fact. So it was such a treat to be around kids who were young enough to have a sense of wonder about things, to ask such cute questions like, "What's your favourite colour?" and "When is your birthday?", that we as adults, don't necessarily even contemplate anymore because we're all so concerned about paying the mortgage and getting the house fixed.

Truthfully, they were lovely kids, very well behaved and very excited about meeting a real-life 'author' even if I don't necessarily think of myself in that way. Afterwards, I signed autographs. How hilarious! If I could do this all the time, I totally would: it was good for the heart.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

There's Nothing Like Sunshine...

And a royalty cheque to brighten up your day.

Sigh.

This Friday I'm doing two really fun things:

1. I'm taking the day off so we can go see Spider-Man 3 in the afternoon on opening day (I've already bought the tickets. Ahem). I know, it's silly, I'm a grown lady, but I love the movies that much. And it's kind of a tradition for us to see them opening weekend.

2. But even more importantly, I'm going to a friend's classroom to read to the kids. A while back, they read my abridged Frankenstein, and sent me letters. According to them, I'm their favourite author, which makes me giggle because it's so cute. And I didn't even write the original...Mary Shelley did. Regardless, I'm going to take in Around the World in 80 Days to start them off on another abridged classic and keep them interested in reading in general. I'm really looking forward to my very first in-class appearance. How fun is that?