Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Born in the Sign of July

The lion inside me
roars mute, quiet to
the outside world

A victim of my
misplaced sun sign,
born perhaps a month too late

A victim of my
constant craving for
warmer weather

Summer in the city
feels foreign
hot pavement aches underfoot

I long to be
beside the lake,
feet dangling

Sweat melting all
signs of sunscreen,
hearing your car

Drive up the road
butterflies everywhere
including my stomach

It’s been a long year
long road, from
childhood to now

Where I still fit
on your lap
in your heart

At least for now
until we leave
summer vacation

Spent, like the last
few dollars
in my wallet.

We don’t fit
in places with
hot pavement

I roar up north
rip my clothes off
during a thunderstorm

Let loose that lion
that privilege of my birth
for you to hear the roar

Poetry Wednesdays

My friend Kate just started a really cool blog. She's brave enough to put her poetry right out there for comments, throwing it to the virtual wind and seeing what it catches. So I'm going to copycat her and post a new poem up here on Wednesdays. Considering I've only written about a dozen poems, I can't do it every day. So here you go (see next post), please keep in mind that this poem was just rejected by Contemporary Verse 2. Bastards!

Little Victories

Ah, what fun the mail brings! In this cyber-centric world, I'm always impressed when I get exciting mail. Two things came this week: 1) the new issue of Taddle Creek, the one with my poem in it; and 2) my advance copies of Frankenstein and Robinson Crusoe, which look amazing. They go on sale March 28, so mark your calendars now—just kidding. Kind of. They'd be perfect Easter presents, come on! Support the arts! Support the artist!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Testing Tests

There comes a point in any sick girl's day where she's entirely sick (ha ha) of a) taking medicine and b) having tests. This point comes very soon after a burly woman of Eastern European descent pokes, pulls and prods her, leaving bruises all over her chest, during an echo cardiogram (which is an ultrasound people, an ultrasound—there's no need for bruises, no need!).

Entirely tired of bringing along a book to read in waiting rooms while waiting for a doctor. Entirely tired of seeing a puffy, pimply face. Entirely tired of being so bloody tired. Entirely tired of watching daytime television, even for a moment (with the exception of Ellen dancing, that's always fun).

Ah, but the end is in sight. The great prednisone countdown of 2005 has begun. As of tomorrow I've only got two weeks left on the evil drug. Whee-hoo! Now that deserves a bit of ass shaking and some high kicks!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Medical Analogies

Sooo, I'm so out of it that I've been reading way, way too much celebrity gossip. How do I know this? I just had a short conversation with an old friend via IM and this is what I said:

Ahren says:
which med is causing all the grief...the 3 weeker or the 6 monther?

ragdoll says:
the three weeker

ragdoll says:
it's the tara reid to the paris hilton

Yes, the prednisone is the bad fake-breasted, falling down drunk, low-rent version of the meds I'm taking right now. I am going straight to hell.

Missing Out On Life

Now that I've added a cold to the ever-growing list of ailments, I'm starting to get seriously peeved at the number of things I'm missing being stuck in the prison of ill-health otherwise known as my house.

1. The Lowest of the Low Goodbye Shows at the Horseshoe. I spent so much of my youth seeing this band, and one of the first post-high school rock shows I went to with my then friend, now RRBF, was the Low. So many memories. So crappy that I was stuck at home blowing my nose into kleenex.

2. Going to the movies. I want to see Harry Potter, Walk the Line, Rent and so many more—but I can't. Because I can't leave the house. Because I'm sick. AGAIN.

3. Holiday shopping. 'Tis the season and we've got a new niece who needs Christmas presents. Grrr.

4. Dinners with friends, old-fashioned drink-ups, catching up over a pint, basically being social beyond email and instant messenger. I'm sick, tired and lonely.

5. Looking good while leaving the house for trips other than to the doctor. Which I haven't done all week really. Oh, and the RRBF keeps laughing at me and saying things like, "It's okay honey, I know what you're supposed to look like."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

What's Led to What

A bit of exhaustion (a mere understatement), led to a sore throat, being in the company of other ill people, led to a sniffle, a sneeze, a splutter. All of this led to feeling under the weather, caught in a snow storm, a fury of fickle attention to good nutrition, being lazy, being tired, being medicated. Which leads to a cold, a bad cold, an achy cold, a fuzzy head, a heavy chest, a dose of vapour rub, a dash of cough medicine, a warm scarf, a cup of tea, vitamin c, and garlic, nature's cure. A good night's sleep, a warm blanket, a good book, a mediocre movie, a long day's journey spent between the many walls of my house. Will be spending today writing, sleeping, reading and resting in an attempt to led the cold right back out where it belongs, on the side of the street covered in slush, buried in muck, well away from my brittle constitution and my lack of immune system.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Globe 100

The annual Globe and Mail 100 list comes out today, telling us all about the best books published this year. It's my second-favourite issue of the paper, right behind the truly awesome crossword they do at the end of every year.

I've read 6 out of the 100 (Saturday, Three Day Road, The Wreckage, The Time in Between, An Audience of Chairs and The Year of Magical Thinking). I've got about another 7 or 8 on my to read list, but they don't count. I also think it's kind of funny that neither of the GG winners are on the list: David Gilmour's A Perfect Night to Go to China nor John Vaillant's The Golden Spruce (which I have read). The Giller winner is there, which sort of shows they kind of got it right, but I still am in shock that Three Day Road didn't win the GG, it's by far the best book of the year, IMHO. Or maybe I've got it all wrong and the Globe's list is way off, but somehow, I don't think so...

And I don't see Best Abridging [ragdoll] for Little Women. Heh. Just kidding.

Money Changes Everything

In addition to being the worst songwriter in Canadian songwriting history, it is now confirmed that he's also a giant a**wipe. And people are still buying Nickelback records? If the drummer played on the record, he should get royalties. Like Chad's not making enough bloody money already? And his name is Chad which is preppie for a**wipe anyway.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Knit Wit

A couple of years ago, I took a beginner's knitting class at Romni Wools here in Toronto. For $75.00, and for three Sundays in a row, you meet at the bottom of the store and they teach you how to knit. My friend Sam actually introduced me to the class, after she had gone and found it extremely helpful.

My grandmother tried to teach me how to knit when I was a teenager. She gave up after a while because I was left-handed and couldn't figure out how to knit in reverse. This time, I'm knitting right-handed and not worrying about being left-handed and trying to figure it out that way. It's a good exercise for my brain anyway.

My mother, of course, in addition to being a wonderful cook with her own burgeoning catering company, was also a great seamstress and an excellent knitter. People hired her to make sweaters for them. I still have a couple of them. Nothing I would ever wear but they are beautiful. In my quest to know my mother better, to know myself better maybe, I've tried to be like her and do these things, more because it helps me remember her than the fact that I'm any good. Because I'm so not good at either sewing or knitting. I think I'm a half-decent cook, but that fact was highly debated this summer at the cottage by my brother and my RRBF.

Annnywaay. I've been knitting for a few years now, but haven't graduated to anything bigger or more complex then squares, well, rectangles if we're being specific. I can knit scarves and have made one really nice one, but I want to make something more interesting. Like a sweater or a poncho. I don't do it enough to get really good, but I keep trying, which I suppose is all that matters.

The problem being that I don't knit consistently enough. I do it in spurts, a bit here, a bit there, so that when it comes time to start a new project (I'm knitting a scarf for an ex-neighbour), that I forget everything. Oh, the basics come back to me, knit, purl, knit, purl, but I can't remember other things, like how I was taught to slip the last stitch at the end of a row and then what? What comes next? I try purling, it looks funny; I knit the stitch and it looks okay but it's not the clean 'ladder' look that I was taught at Romni. Who knows. I'm just making it all up as I go along. Kind of like when I was in grade 10 and decided I'd make myself a skirt by sewing two pieces of material together and that's it. And I actually wore it. More than once.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

OMT (Add-ons To Trials and Tribulations)

6. So glad that Tom Cruise fired his sister aka "publicist" just in time for this juicy bit of fright night to find its way before the eyes of the unsuspecting public, I mean, his fans. What a wingnut. And why and how is this news anyway?

7. In response to a very loud, shouty email I sent to this fellow about getting unwanted spam, I received this (it's now my most favourite email EVER):

Thought I bid you good bye - we have no business - no need to
communicate any further - hopefully it's good bye forever....besides it was just
some friendly advice - I hear a cry for help. You seem like a very very very
angry, tense, moody, miserable person aren't you - is life that
un-pleasant that you let a little email work you last nerve - you let someone you
don't even know effect/affect you like that - some more good advice from a
NOW concerned community colleague who shares this city/country/world with
you - I hear they have a lot of good doctors and lot of shiny new pills
that'll cure this - go visit somebody for that - or try breathing, stretching
and just letting it go, or tai-chi. Whatever you do something but do it b4
you break into road rage or hurt seriously yourself or somebody seriously +
never be a reaction to anyone or anything. have a beautiful life - try
having a more positive outlook to but now your scaring me.....

Dude obviously has way, way too much time on his hands. But, heh! How does he know me so well after such a short period of time. Not.

Band Widow

So I'll be a band widow tomorrow night as my RRBF heads up to North Bay to play a show. He's got rehersal tonight, and then he's away tomorrow night. There are so many things I could do, writing, reading, sleeping—but I'm so bored of being in my house feeling crappy that I wish I could actually leave and go see a movie.

Wow, this blog post is boring even me. I'll stop now.

Working From Home: Trials And Tribulations

1. Is it really too early (10.22 AM) to be eating cheesies?

2. How long should one wait before taking that shower she really should have taken three hours ago?

3. Why, oh why, must every site I turn to give me juicy information I can't help clicking on about the utter and final demise of Jessica Simpson's marriage?

4. Is it that bad to want to get all your work done so you can watch The Notebook at 4 PM for the, like, 18th time? Because it's so not over for me, either, dude, totally.

5. There's snow outside! It's winter in Canada! I'm so excited. Yawn.

#59 The Time In Between

I've been reading David Bergen's The Time in Between for months now. I started the book way back in the summer, read about a quarter of it, then went on vacation. By the time I got back, I had moved on to so many other books that it took me some time to get back to it. It took a conversation with a co-worker to get me to pick the book up again, when she mentioned that it hit her so hard she still hasn't completely recovered.

And at first, I didn't see it, I found the book kind of slow going; it didn't grab me like so many of the others I've read this year. But now that I've finished it, I can totally see what she means—the slow burning, sparse prose creeps up on you and takes a hold almost like a good ghost story.

Set mainly in Vietnam years after the war, the book tells the life story of a mainly absent Charles Boatman, first through his eyes, then through the eyes of his daughter, Ada. Having fought in the war, Charles returns to hopefully deal with his demons, and then goes missing. Ada and her brother Jon arrive in Vietnam to try to find their father, or at the very least, find out what happened to him. There's a pivotal scene in the middle of the book, exactly placed, that I won't spoil, but it's a moment that grabbed me so hard that I had to put the story down and take some deep breaths before I could continue.

The setting is such an unrelenting part of this book. Forced to deal with their tragedy in a foreign country, Ada and Jon, while looking for their father, inevitably fall upon their own paths of self-discovery. Rich with metaphor and filled with mystery, the backdrop of being an outsider in a country already riddled with the aftermath of the war becomes an intrinsic part of how Bergen chooses to tell the story. It's almost as if Vietnam becomes a character in its own right, a living, breathing part of The Time in Between.

Dealing with themes of loss, family, understanding and the cultural differences between life in northern British Columbia (where Charles eventually settles with his three kids after their mother dies) and life in Vietnam (where the majority of the story is set), the book feels so universally human, if that makes any sense.

Having it win the Giller seems fitting, and it does a little to take away the sting of Three Day Road being shut out of the awards this year. All in all, I'm glad I actually took the time last night to finish it, to read the last 10 pages that had been bookmarked for months. The time in between The Time in Between finally coming to a close.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


So Contemporary Verse 2 doesn't want my poems. They "reviewed [my] work carefully and unfortunately [my] writing does not meet [their] needs at this time." So carefully that they've cut and pasted the form letter into an email addressed, "Dear Poet."

Kind of reminds me of my rejection letter from UBC when I applied to graduate school—they paid careful attention to my application as well, and then spelled my name wrong on the letter.

At least my Taddle Creek poem is coming out in two weeks. That's one success for this miserable failure of a year anyway. I'm getting pulled down by the tired, achy, exhausted body...what does that Superman show say: "Somebody save me?"

Okay, now I'm even depressing myself. On to the next journal!

#58 Bee Season

While I was waiting to see my kidney specialist, I finished Bee Season by Myla Goldberg. It's the story of fifth-grader, Eliza Naumann, who suddenly finds herself the apple of her over-achieving father's eye when she wins her school's spelling bee. The book follows Elly's spelling bee successes right to the nationals, where she comes this-close to winning.

The intimate and delicate balance of Eliza's family life starts to fall apart against this backdrop of the spelling bee season—and through her experiences studying with her father, her life also changes.

I liked the book a lot, but thought that maybe it tried to do too much, and it became a bit overwhelming towards the end. However, I think she's incredibly talented, and I'm looking forward to reading Goldberg's new novel, Wickett's Remedy. I also have no idea how they've adapted it into the movie that's currently playing...but again, I'm immensely curious.

Doctor Update

Today I saw my kidney specialist about all the strange exhaustion stuff going on. He confirmed what I sort of thought anyway, that it's all probably a side effect of the small amount of prednisone I'm taking. This gives me hope. It means I'll only be feeling crappy for another couple of weeks. He also wants me to tell everything to the super-special disease doctor that I'm seeing in two weeks who might have more insight.

So things are looking up. I've talked to work and they understand everything. I've seen the specialist, and he knows what's going on and doesn't think it's my kidneys (yay!); and I have an appointment with the fancy disease doctor in two weeks if I'm still feeling like there's a bowling ball on my chest and I can't walk to the corner because I'm so tired I feel like I'm going to fall down.

I still have to have the test on Monday, which is kind of yukky, but at least it'll rule out for-sure-for-sure that I don't have an infection in my heart.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Are We In Trouble?

Because we're much, much older than the norm (link via Gawker). Um, and we're Canadian. Do you think that makes a difference? And what about all those 20-year-olds who got married and are now divorced, huh? Huh?

The Worst Part... that I don't feel like myself lately. My brain can't focus, I have no energy to do anything. I keep crying because I don't like not feeling like myself, not feeling useful, not feeling like I'm living up to my potential, whatever that might be. There are so many things I wished for when I was a kid, I think, or at least I knew to trust my instincts, that everything would be okay. That I would be okay. The worst part of all of this is losing that inner voice. The lost cry of my own personality being drowned by the disease and my seeming inability to wake up these days.

Would anyone think less of me if I took a break?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

OMT (One More Thing)

Yesterday, we were sitting backstage after the show, and I can't remember where it came from or if JKS said it himself, but I found this incredibly inspiring:

"I'm an artist. I create the world, not the other way around."

So that's my approach to life and art and blogging and working and being sick and being alive and being tired and reading and thinking and everything. It's truly my world. I'm creating it. It's not creating me.

Frustration With A Capital "Fr"

So I stayed home from work yesterday as per the ER doc's instructions only to find out he never sent the order for my new test. It's now scheduled for November 28. On top of that I never heard back from the specialist, so it seems that whatever's in my chest can't be all that tragic considering no one's really taking it all that seriously.

Our friends were in town playing with Sarah Harmer at the Glenn Gould Studio. It was wonderful to get to see the show, it's beautiful inside and truly sounds amazing. The whole evening was kind of surreal. I'm feeling so out of it that it's hard for me to stand up for long periods of time, so I was glad it was a sit-down show. But at the same time, it's so anti-rock that I didn't know quite what to do with myself. Do I "woo!"? Do I "whoop!"? Can I holler? Should I dance in the aisle (um, no definitely frowned upon)?

The whole evening was full of strange callbacks to my past. Danny Michel was playing with Sarah Harmer. He used to be in this band called The Rhinos. When I was at university the couple times I saw them play I was either drunk or on acid (please don't tell my father). The first time, we were so hammered we totally sat at the front of the very small club (The Toucan) and talked to the band through the entire set. Oh, silly girls.

The second time, they played at this strange club in Kingston (I can't remember the name now, but maybe it was A.J.'s), and I sat on this set of stairs beside the stage. I was so high that I kept reaching through the iron bars to take their things: hats, scarves, mittens, beer, anything I could get my hands on. It was totally bizarre. They kept coming back to look for things and I had moved them, and then moved away so they had no idea what was happening. Oh, being high on acid. So silly.

So it's strange that I have such an intimate memory of him, of his band, and he has no idea who I am, other than the girl he sort of kind of yelled at when the CBC guys gave the rest of our friends crap for smoking outside—the smoke was blowing back in on them. And I wasn't even smoking—because girls with Wegener's really shouldn't be smoking, as much as they might want to.

Earlier that evening, Sarah Harmer and The Weatherthans covered Islands in the Stream, by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. I listened to Kenny Rogers so much growing up at the cottage, that it made me all warm and fuzzy thinking about my grandfather, playing poker and these strange "talent shows" all the kids used to put on in the middle of the summer for our parents. Which made me think of how I grew up, what a great time I had, all the people I love and loved, and all the other things you remember from your childhood.

It could just be the meds that are making me introspective, imagining links from events today that connect me inexorably to who I was ten, fifteen, even twenty years ago. It could be that my body is so tired that the only way for me to expel my energy is through willing my brain to work despite everything that's going on. Who knows?

Oh, but the strangest part of the evening? Danny Michel pulling a totally pimping pair of crocodile leather shoes out of his car, holding them up saying, "Check these out!" Apparently, he thinks they're kickin' but he's not brave enough to wear them just yet. Then everyone finished packing up their rock gear to move on to the next part of the evening. This was the part where I went to bed and they all went out and got hammered. I hate the disease.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

#57 The Year of Magical Thinking

Life changes fast.
Life changes in the instant.
You sit down and dinner and life as you know it ends.

It was aptly fitting that the book I took with me to the doctor's today was Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking. A highly personal and extremely effective memoir about the sudden death of her husband John Dunne and the illness of her daughter Quintana, Didion's book just won the National Book Award for nonfiction.

It's a superb read, and it actually calmed me down to the point of thinking it's the perfect book to have with you when you're sitting in a hospital waiting room. Didion's writing style is sometimes hard to follow, she writes long, complex sentences without a lot of punctuation, but that's because they echo long, complex feelings and issues like grief, death and illness.

Her magical thinking is such a brilliant way of looking at how to cope with the death of a spouse, someone she had been married to for almost 40 years, that it becomes a bit of a trope within the book itself. She can't give away her husband's shoes because what would he wear. She doesn't want to move the last stack of books beside his bed because what will he read when he gets back. When she finds out Julia Child has died, she thinks she and her husband can have dinner, wherever they are.

Yet, there's another element to the story: her daughter's illness. It's another example of magical thinking. Didion's own mourning and grief over the death of her husband is totally interrupted by her daughter's terrible illness, and the book moves back and forth over the experiences around these two devastating tragedies that define her life in this period.

It's not a book of advice, nor is it a self-help book, rather it's a brilliant examination of the process of grief and mourning. Throughout everything, Didion notes that her own experiences as a writer, as a reader, tell her in times of trouble, of dis-understanding, to go back to the literature, back to the written word, to find the answers. In an extreme bit of self-reflexivity, Didion's given so many people dealing with tragedy something magical of her own—this book for us to go back to.

"This is my attempt to make sense of the period that followed, weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I had ever had about death, about illness, about probability and luck, about good fortune and bad, about marriage and children and memory, about grief, about the ways in which people do and do not deal with the fact that life ends, about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself."

Frustration With A Capital "F"

Okay, so I made an appointment with my family doctor today to see if I can find out why I'm so tired these days. I've been having this strange pressure in my chest that sort of feels like I've got the wind knocked out of me, and think that might be why I'm so tired. Annnywaaay. I see the family doctor for three fleeting seconds before she's on the phone with Emergency (the clinic is in the hospital), and calling up my kidney specialist to tell him that I'm in her office feeling lowly.

Sooo, she sends me downstairs to the ER. And it's exactly what you'd expect: bedlam. It's the very last place on Earth I want to be. In fact, I can think of no place I'd actually call hell, except an emergency room at a crowded downtown Toronto hospital. I didn't think I needed to go the ER, I just wanted to make sure I didn't have an infection in my heart, which I've had before, because that's what it kind of feels like.

I got to the ER at 11 AM. I left at 6 PM. I had blood drawn, an EKG, and myriad other tests to confirm that maybe it's not pericarditis, but maybe it still is—because I have to go back TOMORROW for another test.

The whole point of me going to see the family doctor was the following: A) not to bother my specialist with the minor ups and downs of my health that may or may not be related to the disease; B) to determine if maybe I'm so tired because of the disease; and C) to AVOID AT ALL COSTS the ER because it's unnecessary and, well, not a bloody emergency.

The resident was super-nice. But he has no answers. He doesn't know if it's the disease. He in his cutie-patootie faux-hawk and super cool brown cords can't tell me if I'm sick because I've got a disease or if I've caught some strange viral infection. His advice? Go see my specialist ASAP. That's actually written on my ER orders: Go see [insert name of ragdoll's super-duper specialist here] ASAP.

There's nothing more frustrating than feeling like you're wasting time and precious resources. I had work to do. I have a life to lead. I have a disease to battle. None of these things can be done from a bed in the ER ward listening to the truly ill people wailing like they need a wall and dying in beds beside me.


Shakespeare via your mobile phone. Makes it even shorter and more succinct than Tom Stoppard. And is that necessarily a better thing? I don't know. How much value do words lose when you strip them of their sentences, shorten them to the point of extinction and then pull them out of context?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Slowly Melting = Good Karma

Making it through an entire day of work feels almost like climbing Mount Everest. Okay, I've never actually climbed Mount Everest, so I'm sorry if I'm offending any true blue mountaineers out there. By the time I get home I'm flushed and semi-feverish, or at least I feel that way, totally exhausted and thinking about bed. I put on my pajamas (jogging pants, sweatshirt) and I turn on the television. So. Not. Exciting.

But tonight I had a function to go to for work. Flare magazine had a cocktail party to celebrate their year, and it was a lot of fun, despite my lack of energy. In fact, I had a My Name is Earl moment. I had forgotten to dump my business card into the buckets for the door prizes until the very last second, when Zesty pulled a fast one and dropped it in. And I won a $250 gift certificate for Yorkdale Mall! Bring on the shoes, bring them on!

Perhaps the world is being kind to me because I'm feeling so poorly lately. Who knows? But it was kind of funny.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Side Effects

So I am now officially puffy from the prednisone. The side effect is awkwardly called "Moon Face." Which makes it sound so lovely. In essence, my cheeks are all puffed out and I look kind of like a chipmunk. Kind of fitting for this time of the year.

My skin has also erupted into some strange acne too. Which means, of course, that I'm washing it, using toner, using masks, anything to try and control it. This sometimes results in me picking away it for hours, squeezing things that I should honestly leave alone.

Today, my throat is super-sore, and I've been working from home the past few days to try and feel better. Thank goodness I've got an awesomely understanding boss and workplace. I couldn't cope with it otherwise. There are some small blessings. If I was still working for the Boss From Hell, I think I would have lost it.

I went to school last night, which was fun, but too exhausting. I came home and just about collapsed on the couch. I've made another appointment with the doctor for Thursday to see if there's anything they can tell me about the disease and whether or not it's actually getting any better.

My spirits are falling, and my RRBF keeps asking me if I want the pillow. It's kind of funny, he's such a romantic, offering to smother me so I'm out of my misery. In jest of course, ah, the things we do for love.

It's brutal that I'm too tired even to read. And you all know how unlike me that is...

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Wegener's Weekend

There are so many things about the disease that I can't handle these days. The whole psychology behind it, the idea that it's living in my body, working against me, turning my immune system inside out, is hard to grapple with on a daily basis. But more then that, what's worse is not being able to stop thinking about it either. I've spent the past few days at home, working from home, but I have so little energy that even resting this much isn't making much of a difference.

And then you start to get self-critical, blast yourself for watching too many episodes of Felicity that has sent you, and feel guilty for not getting enough work done.

But the truth is that I can barely get out of bed these days and my head is in such a fog that I'm surprised I can concentrate on anything for more than 10 minutes. How do people cope with this?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Wegener's Granulomatosis

If the disease is only 'grumbling' and not full-blown, I'm am afraid to know what a massive attack might look like at my age. I am so tired I can barely move. My sinuses are killing me. It feels like there's a log on my chest. It's all so very strange.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Today I Remember

Today is for my great-grandfather, G.H. Copeland, who crossed the border from Ohio, signed up in Windsor and was shipped off to England. He carried a Ross rifle that didn't work, fought at Ypres (the second time) and Passchendaele. He helped the Allied forces win the First World War.

Today, I think about my grandfather, G.H.'s son, James Copeland. He marched in Italy, lived with shrapnel in his foot and liberated Holland. He spent his war in a tank and came back a changed man for two reasons: his new family and the war itself.

But most of all today I think about my grandmother, Janet Mardon, a war bride, born in Angel in London. The story goes that she met my grandfather during an air raid, falling in love in the dark, almost instantly. They got married in a fever. She wore an expensive wedding dress she sort of inherited (she was a seamstress) when the wealthier woman's nuptials got cancelled. My grandmother came to Canada on the Letitia, landed at Halifax, and then took a train to Toronto with my aunt, a toddler.

After I lost my mother, my grandmother became a beacon of strength in my life. She lived a hard life, but she loved us too. She was proud, fierce and beautiful to me, a role model on the importance of family and the fury of love.

Today I'll close my eyes and remember the mud, the horror, the terror of the First World War. The bravery of my great-grandfather and hundreds of thousands of young men like him. Today I'll close my eyes and think of my grandfather meeting happy Dutch faces waving ribbons upon their arrival. Today I'll close my eyes and think of my grandmother walking the streets of a bombed London wearing her Wren uniform, helping out where she could, building the strength that defined her character for years to come. Lest we forget.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My Boyfriend's Back...And There's Going To Be Trouble?

There's a strange adjustment period when my RRBF gets back from being away on tour. Of course I'm glad to see him, but after about a month by myself, I'm also set in a new routine. So it's strange when he's back and I'm all grumpy because he's in my way, but not in my way. And he's all out of sorts because he's been on the road for a month and not used to going to bed, getting up and going to work.

But because now I'm so tired from the disease, and barely making it through the days, I'm glad he's home, if only to help me get through my life for the next little while. It's the small mercies.

Next step: our non-wedding in December.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Je Suis L-a-a-a-me

So I had my first story workshopped last night in class. It was gut-wrenching and heart-breaking. My fellow students are quite amazing, and all really good readers, which means they put the story through the gears and it will be the better for it. But I am so super-sensitive that it's almost impossible for me to not take everything personally.

Here's what I discovered:

1. I make up lame names. For some reason, the male protagonist is called Christian Meadows, and the female protagonist is called Eve. Yes. Christian Meadows. Eve. I did not even see the problem with it when I was writing it. Perhaps I should be writing Harlequin romances instead.

The names will need to be changed.

2. My sentences are too long. And I love long sentences. But shorter might be better, hence I'll have to edit. We all know how I feel about editing.

3. I am no genius. This is of no surprise to anyone. Heh.

On the whole, it was a very positive experience, and one I'll be repeating six or seven times during the course of the class, but ouch—if I could only get over my pathological shyness and actually not take the constructive criticism to heart. It hurts. Like a band-aid that comes off too early. Ouch.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


I bit off more than I can chew this weekend. I'm so tired and achy tonight that I'm glad I'm finally home and can put on my pajamas. I'm actually all shook up, and not in a good way. First off, I went and had brunch with some friends, which was nice, and not too stressful. Then, I worked for a while on my book for Sterling. Then, Wing and Glark picked me up and we went to see Jarhead.

Welcome to the suck, indeed. Despite a solid cast with excellent performances by just about every young man there, despite some innovative and interesting direction, despite a story that's actually kind of timely, despite all this the movie's still terribly mediocre. Nothing happens. Now, I know that's sort of the point, all the build up, hundreds of thousands of troops in the Gulf, and then a war that only lasts for 4 days, but still, something should have happened.

Instead, we get a sort of stream of consciousness film that plays more like it should be on stage than anything else. And it got me thinking, about how it's Remembrance Day next week, about how war has changed so much in my lifetime that even the glorification of it has been deconstructed to the point where it's hard to see the ins and outs of obvious right and wrong. Sam Mendes had a chance to make a statement with the film. He didn't take that chance. He played it real safe, sort of flew under the radar so much that the movie isn't about war; it's not about the oil; hell, it's not even about the soldiers—it's a coming of age story wrapped in the context of war that works as an allegory for Swofford's (Gyllenhaal's) broken soul. And you know, what's even worse is that the film isn't bad, it's just seriously mediocre.

I guess that's why I'm disappointed. There are boys, Canadian boys, American boys, over there now dying senseless deaths, and Mendes filled up his film with a hell of a lot of quasi gay porn and bombastic male posturing. Perhaps that's what it was really like, but then that makes what's happening today even more futile. And with the current war in Iraq turning out to be more like Vietnam than even Bush himself gathered it could, I'm disappointed that in this day and age of media cynicism, the likes of Michael Moore, and the big Hollywood machine, that Mendes didn't stand up and shout at the top of his lungs with this film. Who knows? Maybe he did and I just missed the point. Oorah, indeed.

Now I'm overtired and feeling really quite ill. I wanted to get more done on my book, but it'll have to wait until tomorrow. There's always tomorrow.

Spare Cash?

Somehow I don't think that this was what the Barenaked Ladies had in mind when they listed off all the things they could and/or would do if they had a million dollars.

The next step in this utterly ridiculous "joke" is to then film a reality television show that exhibits all the crackpots who actually take him up on the offer. Oh. Wait. Maybe he's making a movie out of it all instead.

But it's all art for art's sake, isn't it? And in that sense, the ridiculous becomes the sublime because to have it any other way would mean the entire system would collapse.

So Glad I Went

Life always surprises you at the strangest moments. My cousin's wedding was wonderful, and I had a great time. The food was incredible, and it turned into a celebration of the best order.

I am very glad I stopped feeling sorry for myself. My eyes are still sore and puffy, though.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Totally Frustrating Day

I woke up this morning with a red, puffy and irriated eye. It pretty much kept me up half the night. I spent the other half tossing and turning. There are books, clothes and pillows on the side of the bed usually occupied by my RRBF. It was an awful night.

Today my cousin is getting married. The wedding is very small, just a handful of people at a restaurant, but I wanted to have a productive day before I went. I got three pages, if that, written on my latest book for Sterling. The rest of the day was spent trying in futility to rest. The first time I went back to bed, the neighbours were building something: loud banging, the odd power tool. The second time I went back to the bed, the cat wouldn't stop whining for his dinner. I gave him said dinner, then he whined some more—for more dinner. As if. Oh, and I did I mention the loud rock music coming from next door and the phone ringing?

My eye is still red and sore. I've got new clothes to wear, but no nice shoes and I was too tired to go shoe shopping. Between the meds, the sore throats popping up like bad ex-boyfriends, the absolute frustration with feeling so weak and tired all you can eat all day is frozen waffles but being utterly unable to sleep, and the complete and exacting sadness from the disease on the whole, I'm having a rough day.

#56 The Secret Life of Bees

Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees follows the life of Lily Owens, a young white girl growing up in South Carolina during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Living with an abusive father, T. Ray, and cared for by Rosaleen, her black housekeeper, Lily has never known the truth about her mother, who died in a shooting accident when she was four. Lily killed her, and has lived with the grief ever since.

A number of events drive Lily and Rosaleen out of town. Armed with a few possessions of her mother's, including a honey label with Tiburon written on the back, Lily and Rosaleen make their way there. Lily hopes finding out who makes the honey will help her find out about her mother, and it's this goal that finds them living with a trio of sisters, August, June and May Boatwright. Lily's instincts are correct—there is a connection between her mother and the sisters, but it takes much of the book to work it all out.

There are so many reasons why I liked this book so very much. Kidd's prose is sparse, but direct, lean without a hint of aggression, and simple without being simplistic. The story is tight too, the whole book happens over a summer, but it doesn't feel rushed or forced.

And it's about a motherless daughter searching for the truth about herself and her mother, so it drives hard into my own heart like the last few hours of a road trip when you're so close you can taste being home. Lily finds so much more than she thought possible, first love, a home, kindness, honesty, truth and a sense of purpose.

Knowing can be a curse on a person's life. I'd traded a pack of lies for a pack of truth, and I didn't know which one was heavier. Which one took the most strength to carry around? It was a ridiculous question, though, because once you know the truth, you can't ever go back and pick up your suitcase of lies. Heavier or not, the truth is yours now.

Friday, November 04, 2005


The weather has turned so very strange in the past couple days. It's super-hot for November, more like the end of September, and people are turned out in the oddest ways. I saw a man tonight at the movies wearing a French-inspired black and white striped long sleeved shirt with a pair of black racing shorts. This was his date attire. He got up this morning, felt the sun come in through the window and decided to cross dress between Lance Armstrong and the mime on the corner in Montreal.

Annnywaaay. I went to see Prime tonight with Wing Chun. You know, I was totally afraid that it would be another complete let-down, but it wasn't. It's not a great picture by any means, but it's solid, and has a funny script. Bryan Greenberg (ah, Jake!) is super-hot, and Meryl Streep is excellent as per usual. Uma's a bit flat, but I'm not her biggest fan (Kill Bill obviously excluded).

The film turns the whole May-December romance stereotypes inwards as a much older woman (37!), just divorced, falls for a very young man (23!), and they have a complex, but rewarding relationship. He's in love for the first time; she's in love after a very long time. The one problem? His mother is her therapist. But it's not slapstick, even though it could be. It's kind of tender and sweet, and it shows how love sort of happens and then you have to deal with the fall out. I liked it even better than P.S., which has the same theme: young artist falls in love with older, influential woman.

Hell, and Bryan Greenberg is super, duper, duper hot. I don't care what EW says.

So, It's The Other Way Around?

Is it wrong of me to think of this as somehow anti-Canadian in some way? I can understand how thinking that Harry Potter might have some sort of fallout for the Winnipeg band in terms of how huge a machine it actually is, but is it really going to adversely affect their careers in any way? And so what if it does?

The whole thing reeks of money grubbing to me, but that's just me—I suppose they're really worried about their artistic integrity. But that's a big supposition, in my opinion...

Oh. My. Eye.

Ouch. This re-design sort of scares me, and was it necessary?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Aw, He's So Famous...

That someone put him up on wikipedia. How cute is that? He'll be so happy to hear that Austin Powers is number one and he's number two. So. Cute!

#55 When in Rome

After having a pretty interesting discussion over at Chicklit about the genre chicklit, I decided to knock back an easy read today: When in Rome by Gemma Townley. I heart Gemma Townley. She's totally underrated in terms of the phenoms of chicklit (Sophie Kinsella, Melissa Banks, Lauren Weisberger, Ms. Weiner, Ms. Keyes, etc), but I think she rises to the top, for more reasons than one.

1. The plots might be predictable, but they're never contrite and don't have obvious holes, like so many books I've read in the genre lately.

2. The heroines often have the same problems (two boys, one love; bad job, like shopping) as many chicklit books have, but they seem to rise above and use their wits to get them out of situations vs. their acumen when it comes to men.

3. She's a fun, flirty writer, and that's hard to achieve.

4. There are a lot of cute pop culture references that I love, and that seem to fit, which means they don't feel forced in any way. They just work. Like in this book, the heroine, Georgie, is obsessed with Roman Holiday. It just feels right for the character, even when she ends up in Rome and cuts her hair off, all stereotypical products of a good Audrey Hepburn movie, but it works both for the character and for the book.

5. I love books that I can read in two subway rides: one to work, one home from work. It's a minor pleasure in a busy life.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Shakespeare Debate

One of my favourite quasi-academic topics is Shakespeare, or rather, the debate surrounding his identity. Who was that masked man, allegorically, of course? Bookninja sent me over to a fun article in the NY Times this week that puts forth a newish-oldish debate about Shakespeare's religion, and that he was a closet Catholic. Considering he wrote in Elizabethan England, that's actually kind of interesting to think about.

If I had any inclination to go back to grad school, I might actually think about examining some of his plays in light of the theory. How differently might they be read? I know, it's early in the morning. Just ignore me if I've already put you back to sleep.

Oh, and just for fun, here are a couple of articles I've written about the Shakespeare question, two of my favourites: one from my old work and one on Chicklit.

Happy Halloween?

We had one kid come to our door last night. One poor lonely little ghost with a plastic pumpkin. I almost gave him the entire bowl of candy because who wants it hanging around the house?

I suppose it's my own fault, considering I had an appointment during prime Halloween trick-or-treating time. But still, one kid? Now I'm stuck with 150 pieces of candy and no RRBF to eat them.

Next year I'll do it up right. Maybe I'll even remember to change the outdoor light bulb so they know I'm sitting there on the steps with a big bowl of candy for them.

My Boy is Ten

My friend Heather took this photo a couple of weekends ago. We went for a walk in the woods. It was a bit cold at first, neither my boy nor ...