Friday, March 31, 2006

#23 - Amsterdam

I came late to Ian McEwan, reading Atonement first, and then the only other book of his that I've read is Saturday. I've never truly delved into the backlist, until now. Amsterdam won the Booker Prize in 1998, and it's a swift, surefooted tale that reads more like a morality play (as reviews suggest) than a straightforward novel.

The book opens with the funeral of Molly Lane. Two of her former lovers, newspaperman Vernon Halliday and composer Clive Linley, stand by and attend the bare bones service. In the pages that follow, as the friendship between the two men fails, so to do their respective careers. Everything thus orchestrated in some way by George Lane, Molly's widower, a powerful man they both despise.

Amsterdam, keen on detail with McEwan's sharp eye for the intrinsic and complex minutiae of everyday, reads almost like a precursor to Saturday. A lot of detail is spent on the day-to-day activities of each of the men, trapped in a way by their own success, and the fallout from midlife failures. One of the cut-out blurbs calls the novel "chilling", and I'd agree, both in terms of what happens (I don't want to give it away) but also in terms of how the story is told. There's also a level of obvious detachment from the narrator, which makes the eventual underlying moral ambiguities all the more interesting.

It's a short novel too, thankfully, because I've been finding the Book A Day challenge a bit rough the past few days. Now, I've got to get reading for tomorrow's installment, as I'm shooting a movie all day, I doubt I'll get a book finished. In fact, I'm going to take tomorrow off, if that's okay with all of you.

Things To Do Update III

Things are humming along with one week left in my exile on illness street. A couple of tasks I've accomplished and crossed off the list in the past few days:

5. Get groomed - essentially get my hair done. I haven't had it cut or coloured since before the non-wedding. I've also made an appointment to tame my ridiculously overgrown eyebrows. They're frightening these days.
I got my hair cut yesterday and because I'm afraid of the fact that it's all going to fall out again (as it does with every new medication), I got it cut really short. However, I did step out of my comfort zone and dye it very dark brown with slightly reddish highlights. It's very dramatic and I'm not sure if that was the right decision but hey, it's only hair dye. If I hate it next week, I'll dye it back.

14. Finish uploading my music library back on to iTunes. Download the rest of the suggestions that friends have sent. And if you have any idea of songs I might like to write to, please send them along, I'm currently taking requests...
Done and done! It took forever, but my iTunes is now 1477 songs richer, bring on the party shuffle!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

#22 - Behind The Scenes At The Museum

In the end, it my belief, words are the only things that can construct a world that makes sense.
Kate Atkinson's Behind the Scenes at the Museum is the story of the life of Ruby Lennox, from conception to old age, told in a fury of first-person that captivates you the minute your eyes hit the page.

I'm too tired now to give a full review, or even a half a review, but suffice it to say that I really loved this book, and it's no wonder, judging by how much I enjoyed Case Histories. The Book A Day challenge lives for another day. But I must admit I'm getting a bit burnt out.

FemBots On Tour

Great article by Mark Daniell about my RRHB's band. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Quotes For Today

There were two passages from The Night Watch that I wanted to share, but last night I was so tired and just wanted to put the Book A Day to bed, that I didn't include them in my post.

In the first, Kay, an ambulance driver at the height of the war in London, comes home at the end of a particularly gruesome shift. Her lover, Helen, is already asleep:

At last she grew calm enough to finish her cigarette and sit more comfortably. When she was perfectly steady, and sure the express train wouldn't come back again, she'd go to bed. She mightn't sleep, for an hour or more. Instead, she'd lie and listen to Helen's steady breathing in the darkness. She might put her fingers to Helen's wrist, and feel for the miraculous tick-tick-ticking of her pulse.
I marked that paragraph because I do the same thing, not the whiskey drinking and smoking, but I do often sit with my two fingers on my RRHB's wrist listening to his pulse. I don't even know when or how I started it; it's something I do just to reassure myself that he's there, alive, ticking, literally. It's something that makes me feel safe, which is why this resonated with me so much. Kay, the strongest woman in the book, suffers silently for the most part, so true to herself in a world that wasn't necessarily ready to accept her, but still so valiant and brave to save every piece of it that she can.

The second passage that I marked has to do with Viv, a pregnant girl whose lover is a married soldier:
The window opened on to a courtyard. She could hear typing, the ring of telephones, from rooms on the floors above. If she listened carefully, too, she could just make out, beyond those sounds, the ordinary sounds of ignore Street and portmanteau Square: cars and taxis, and men and women going shopping, going out, going home from work. They were the sort of sounds, viva thought, that you heard a thousand times, and never noticed—just as when you were well, you never thought about being well, you could only really feel what it was like to be healthy for about a minute, when you stopped being sick. But when you were sick, it made you into a stranger, a foreigner in your own land. Everything that was simple and ordinary to everyone else became like an enemy to you. Your own body became like an enemy to you, plotting and scheming against you and setting traps...
How perfect is that quote for what my life is like these days?

#21 - Conversations With The Fat Girl

I'm back on track this morning, as I knocked off Liza Palmer's Conversations with the Fat Girl in about two and a half hours. There's really nothing to the book, which is why it was so easy to read. Maggie, the 'fat girl' in question learns to love herself over the course of the novel as she pursues the boy of her dreams, finds herself a fabulous new job and finally ends a toxic friendship with her formally obese best friend Olivia.

There's nothing new here and the writing isn't remotely remarkable enough for me to read another of her books. Even though the easy reads are necessary for the Book A Day challenge, I'm beginning to think of them like television, good for a bit of time wasting but not really worth the investment.

In good chicklit, there's an overarching sense of a stereotypical story looked upon in a very unusual way, some spark that keeps you interested in the characters and their outcomes. In this book, there was none of that; it fell flat, regardless of how hard the author tried. I wouldn't even recommend this book for a plane ride. As my mother used to say, "It's a toilet novel."

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

#20 - The Night Watch

I forgive you Sarah Waters. Not that you probably care, but after hating Tipping the Velvet so very much, I was happy to enjoy The Night Watch with the delicious passion I felt towards Fingersmith.

I forgive you too for writing a book 470 pages long and, I suppose, for my own audacity in thinking that I could finish it in one day for my Book A Day challenge. But the prose is so easy-going, the story, about Londoners during the war, so addictive, that I left television behind for the evening and kept on reading.

I even forgive you for telling me the story backwards, for starting in 1947 with the end and then doling out the background in the subsequent sections from 1944 and 1941.

But most of all, I thank you for showing me a London that my grandmother lived through, bombs, air raids, night watch wardens, soldiers on leave, love stories told in the dark, torches, and terror.

It's a truly great piece of fiction.

Knocking 'Em Back

Ahem, and it's been an industrious sort of morning (now afternoon) for sure. I finished up the final edits of my two latest Classic Starts. And have also finished yet another task from the list:

12. Clean the kitchen cupboards (see #10).
Done and done!

Movie A Day - Beauty Shop (#5)

I watched this abysmal film on Sunday afternoon. Holy crap it's poo. Awful script, painfully bad acting by usually good actors and chalked full of trite, predictable situations. What's more embarrassing? I actually watched it to the end. Shame on me. And shame on Alicia Silverstone and Queen Latifah, they're so much better than this dreck.

Oh, and I didn't watch any movies on Monday, so that means I've got two, count 'em, two extra ones stored up! Maybe I'll indulge today...

Just Miscellany

What a busy day I had yesterday! As I'm living and dying by the list these days, here's item 16:

See the eye doctor (appointment made), family doctor (appointment made), naturopath (appointment made) and osteopath (appointment not made yet...). This is all in the goal of spending the next 2.5 weeks getting as well as I humanly can get in the time I've got to myself.

Yesterday I saw the family doctor to talk about the strange prednisone-crazy anxiety attacks. She was very kind to me about it all and just wanted to make sure that the super-fancy disease doctor knew that I was starting to feel a bit weepy from the stupid meds. Then she was kind enough to give me some little pills that calm me right down. The last thing I need is to start freaking out all the time, rev my immune system up even more and then have the disease get even worse. Oh, and I've now made not one but two appointments with the osteopath, so cross that off too!

Then I walked all the way from the hospital up to Bloor Street just so I could knock this one off the list:

6. Buy a good pair of walking sneakers for the better weather soon to arrive.

Done and done!

By then it was time to take the subway to see the naturopath, who I haven't seen in two years. That's how much my life had sort of gotten away with me...anyway, it was great to see her and she's going to help me work on my diet and other homeopathic stuff. I see her again once more before I go to back to work. It's a great start, I think.

My one true goal is to be much better prepared for the toll that working takes on me in terms of living with the disease. If I can get super-organized by the time I go back, then I won't feel like I'm wasting my life away when I get home and am too tired to do anything except watch television.

Oh, and there was this great quote that I forgot in my post yesterday about The Good Life. It's kind of pretentious, as Corinne is reading Plato to her lover, Luke, while they're off cheating on their respective spouses, but I liked the sentiment:

"...any single book is the instantiation of a kind of Platonic form—the ideal, the creation of an author, which exists independent of the physical object. And here they sit on the shelf: The ideal's latent until we pick it up and connect ourselves with the mind of a man or a woman who may long be dead. And, in the case of a novel, with a world that never actually existed."

Just something to think about today as I go about slicing and dicing the list!

Monday, March 27, 2006

#19 - The Good Life

Jay McInerney's latest book The Good Life sets a love story against the backdrop of 9/11 New York. The novel's central relationship between two middle aged people having affairs outside their own unhappy marriages portends the very real and very modern changes that affected New York after the wake of the terrorist attacks. It's not a story of young love, but rather true love, which is an interesting point of view.

Yet, as much as a reader wants this novel to be about 9/11, it's really not, and I think that's kind of a shame. The cataclysmic event remains a setting, and an adept one at that, but there's a sense of emotional depth missing, which sort of ruined the book for me. There's none of that lingering Rescue Me psychological meltdowns among the rich and famous New Yorkers depicted in The Good Life. There's none of the celebration of New York found in Sex and the City and the book reads more like Bonfire of the Vanities (a novel I hated) then I would have liked.

McInerney's a good, lyrical writer, with long, luscious sentences, but he relies on repetitive phrases and stereotypical characters too much. The idea of "the good life" at once challenged and then ultimately revered throughout the novel comes across as a bit vain and even self-indulgent. I found it hard to care about the hearts of the two main characters because, quite simply, I didn't care about them. There's a bit of sloppiness to the novel too, with characters introduced at critical times and never brought up again, and situations explored but never truly resolved.

But mainly, I didn't like the female lead, Corinne. I thought she was actually kind of ridiculous and a lot of her dialogue was utterly unbelievable. The male lead, Luke, was more interesting and the novel might have been more successful if it hinged entirely upon him, although that would mean putting up with his absolutely annoying wife, Sasha. Just tying a love story to the events of 9/11 isn't enough. I kept thinking: what is this book about? The vapid nature of the rich and famous or how hard it is to change when you're at a stage of life where there are dire consequences (broken marriages, children, career changes). But really, because there's no emotional depth to the characters, the truly emotionally charged situation they find themselves in is kind of redundant.

Give me Denis Leary any day.

(And thank goodness I finished the Book A Day challenge today, it was tough!)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Movie A Day - Exception

So, I didn't end up watching a movie yesterday, which might be a good thing. I was too captivated by Intuition. And I had to go to a family function thing last night that left me out of the house during prime movie watching times. So I'm giving myself permission to watch two movies one day this week...and I'm not sure what day that might be, but I'm guessing Tuesday, when all the new films show up at Rogers. Ah, my life is so predictable and somewhat pathetic, but I'm resting dammit, I'm resting!

#18 - Intuition

Intuition, Allegra Goodman's absolutely fascinating novel about the world of cancer research, has received such good reviews that I was afraid it might not live up to my own expectations. How wrong I was. A wide, sweeping tale of how a team of cancer researchers at a lab in Cambridge make a startling discovery only to have it followed by crippling accusations of fraud, Intuition isn't just a book about science, but of the interpretation of science. The book tells an elegiac tale of how science, regardless of method, madness and the push for results, remains a remarkably human conquest.

The lab, run by two headstrong people, pure scientist and overt genius Marion Mendelssohn, and Sandy Glass, a bombastic, brilliant oncologist, employs a dedicated number of postdocs toiling away at the seemingly endless quest to discover more information about cancer. When a bright but disorganized postdoc named Cliff starts to show dramatic results in terms of one of his experiments, the entire lab reels in the glory of the findings. Yet, when Robin, Cliff's volatile, yet noble, girlfriend (then ex-girlfriend) questions his research, a wave of controversy engulfs every single person it its wake. No one comes out the other side unscathed.

Goodman's rich and fascinating book engulfed me in the same way. The science in the novel isn't so dense that it's impossible to understand or follow; in fact, it's quite the opposite. And I love how the whole book sort of sets out the argument that science itself, despite its very definition, is not infallible. It's one hell of a captivating novel, and I'm sincerely glad that I managed to finish it for the Book A Day challenge.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Joan Clark Gets The Love

Thankfully, someone, somewhere has finally acknowledged that Joan Clark's An Audience of Chairs is award-worthy. In all seriousness, it was the very best book I read last year and I sincerely think that she's one of Canada's most underrated authors.

In fact, I'd even go out on a limb and say that this book should (if there's any justice in the world) become part of the canon, to be read after The Stone Angel and The Stone Diaries, and then dissected for its absolute brilliance of character and impassioned story. Do yourself a favour and read it. I've recommended it to so many people and I have not had a dissatisfied customer yet.

Movie A Day - Dot The "I" (#4)

I Faux-Voed Dot The "I" from TMN the other night because it stars Gael García Bernal, and damn, I'd watch him in just about everything. When I looked at it on the IPG, it screamed "ADULT FILM" in brackets, so I felt a bit dirty putting quasi-porn on the fancy new TV machine. Well, only for a second, because he's so hot...oh, wait, what was I stalking about?

Annnywaaay, it's a little indie movie about this crazy, self-obessed filmmaker who shoots a reality movie wherein one of the main characters (Carmen, played by Natalia Verbeke) doesn't know she's involved. There's a boring, predictable love triangle, and a boring, predictable outcome. It's kind of a silly movie, but I sort of liked the statement that it made in terms of examining how reality television has impacted popular culture. It's just too bad there wasn't really anything fresh or new in the film.

And the supposedly "ADULT FILM" aspect? Oh, so tame, I'm guessing that no one over at the TMN rating committee has even seen Y tu mamá también. Now there's a film worth have something in block caps on the IPG. Ahem. Is it hot in here?

Movie A Day - The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio (#3)

I watched this film on Thursday, and then that evening I went to see V For Vendetta, but I don't consider that cheating, if only because when I thought up the Movie A Day challenge, it was to curb the amount of time I spent in front of the boob tube, so I think I'm still doing okay.

Regardless, The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio is the story of a mid-1950s housewife who raises her large brood of kids up out of poverty by winning jingle contests. Based on Terry Ryan's memoir (one of said 10 children) of the same name, it's a saccharine film of the hard knock life and eternal optimism of the main character, Evelyn Ryan. Julianne Moore plays the lead, and she's good (but because she's always good and not because the role is particularly challenging and/or interesting). But on the whole, the film was more like a movie-of-the week than a feature film. I'd give it a six out of ten.

Things To Do: Update

As my life is the list and the list is my life these days, here's where I stand:

5. Get groomed - essentially get my hair done. I haven't had it cut or coloured since before the non-wedding. I've also made an appointment to tame my ridiculously overgrown eyebrows. They're frightening these days.

So, I've got a hair appointment for next Thursday and on Wednesday I'm getting my weedy eyebrows done. I'm spreading out the love. Grooming is relaxing, right?

10. Clean out the fridge (completely, that means, like washing everything).

Done and done. The fridge is bea-u-ti-ful. The scariest thing I found? A bottle of ranch dressing from when my brothers were staying with us. It expired last June. You know those are the things in the fridge you just never get around to throwing out, yeah, well, they're all gone. I even put everything back in its proper place, dairy with dairy, fake meat products with fake meat products, fruits and veggies in their proper bins. It's a sight to behold. Now the fridge is prepared for my mammoth meal plan undertaking; and I'm starting that today.

#17 - Something Blue

The companion novel to Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed, Something Blue picks up with Darcy's story; remember, she's Rachel's best friend, the main character from the other book.

When we last left them, Darcy and Dex had broken up, he and Rachel were together, and she was with Marcus, one of her ex-fiance's groomsmen. Only there's a twist, not only was Darcy also cheating on Dex (as he was with Rachel), but her affair has one kicker of a result: she's pregnant. And when her love affair with Marcus collapses (as you know it should), for the first time in her life, she's completely alone.

As a golden child, beautiful, popular, and all the other cliches, Darcy doesn't deal well with her life falling completely and utterly apart. She goes off to stay in London with a childhood friend and, of course, ends up finding love and happiness in the end. And thankfully, two books later, Rachel and Darcy sort of make up, which is nice too. All in all, both novels were 'brainless' books—things I read as easily as I would watching a rerun of Friends.

You know, thank goodness for EW's Chicklit 101 or else I'd have no idea what books to read in that particular genre. And is it established enough to call itself a genre? Huh, that's something I might mull over for a while today...

Annnywaaay, the Book A Day challenge is going well, I think. I've managed to keep it up for four days and have read some good books. I've started a more substantial book for tomorrow's entry, Intuition by Allegra Goodman.

Friday, March 24, 2006

#16 - Something Borrowed

Book A Day book number three is Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed. It's a chicklit book (as you can tell from the pink cover and wedding-centric title) about two girls, Rachel and Darcy, best friends forever until the former falls in love with the latter's fiance.

Giffin's twist, to tell the story from Rachel's point of view, the one doing the cheating, was a solid decision. It makes the book less about the drama and more about the human side of affairs, how sometimes they just happen because people make mistakes, how they fall in and out of love. Even though everyone knows the mistakes they are making, they still make them, and the whole book ends predictably.

However, it was a good, quick read, which is what I'm looking for these days.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Good News Thursday!

Taddle Creek accepted another one of my poems! I think it'll be in the Summer issue of the magazine, but I'm not sure if it'll be online or in book. Very exciting!

Thy Noble Cause

You know, I find this commitment completely and totally noble in this day and age, and would like to imagine myself trying something like it. But I think I'd get as far as my next 'mall' day and completely give up. But maybe there's a 'Compact Compromise Lite' I could take?

Because really what happens when you've got a bunch of holes in your socks and underwear, lose your favourite toque, get sick to death of scouring Kensington Market for just about everything and piss off all your friends because you're too cheap to shell out for something that you need?

But then again, it's only for a year.

Movie A Day - The Squid And The Whale (#2)

I loved this movie.

Noah Baumbach's portrait of a disintegrating family might just be the best film that I've seen in months, if not all this year. Two of the worst parents in the world, Bernard Berkman, a failed writer struggling to stay relevant, and Joan Berkman, an up-and-coming novelist, tell their sons they are divorcing.

As the two boys, Walt and Frank, struggle to deal with the news, alongside the most painful parts of adolescence, they can not escape their upbringing unscathed. It's this coming-of-age aspect of the movie that deeply affected me most likely because of my own insanely messed up childhood.

The film has that painful quality to it; the sense of reality that's so hard to capture where everything is awkward and unforgivable, sort of like watching the original version of The Office. The deft writing and superb performances are so real that the film hits you exactly where you like good art to go, and it doesn't let up.

And ain't that just right, my brother, as Ivan would say.

#15 - The Three Evangelists

Fred Vargas's The Three Evangelists, part of Vintage Canada's new World of Crime imprint, is a superb little mystery. The second book in my Book A Day challenge, it tells the story of three hapless intellectuals whose neighbour goes missing after a mysterious tree is planted in her Paris garden.

Sophia, a retired opera singer, can't get the tree out of her mind, so she asks the young men, the 'evangelists', Lucien (nicknamed St. Luke), Marc (St. Mark) and Mathias (St. Matthew), to do some digging, literally. They find nothing. But when Sophie disappears two weeks later everyone, including Marc's disgraced ex-policeman godfather, is on the case.

What unfolds is a deceptively simple tale in a classic mystery fashion. The whodunit aspect consistently changes as each one of the historians uses his own methodical thinking to uncover the clues to the case. By the end, I was surprised to find out who the culprit was and sad that the book was finished. Vargas's prose, crisp, clean and with a rich sense of French culture and lifestyle, whips you through the book at breakneck speed. It's the perfect novel for Book A Day reading.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Movie A Day - Derailed (#1)

This "thriller" starring Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen was so pat and predictable that I kept waiting for the obvious twist to appear so that I could feel all smarty-pants that I had it all figured out all along. Sigh. And lordy, the puns, you could have some good fun with the title, Derailed, how fitting!

The acting was good; the movie, not so much. Am I wrong to like Jennifer Aniston though? I know she's trying desperately to act her way out of being "Rachel" for the rest of her life, but I just wish she'd pick slightly better movies.

That said, I did watch it to the end, and not just because it had a character in it with my name (and she was Clive Owen's wife, lucky her!), but maybe simply just to avoid having to watch an entire episode of American Idol in real time.

#14 - The Jane Austen Book Club

The very first entry in my Book A Day challenge is Karen Joy Fowler's The Jane Austen Book Club. It's a non-starter of a little book about the lives of six people who come together to read Jane Austen's novels. The story is told in the 3rd person but from each host's point of view from within the month that she (or he as there's one man) has the club to her house.

The book suffers slightly from the switching POVs, in that you don't really get a true sense of any one character. The stories are sort of all over the place and the three most fully realized characters, Jocelyn, Sylvia and Allegra (her daughter) still feel kind of one-dimensional.

Regardless of the above, Fowler's characters are quite interesting portraits, even if they're not fully drawn and realized. And I quite like the ingenious idea of pulling them all together through their own readings and interpretations of Austen's classic works. All in all, my final thoughts would have to be that the book's narrative kind of suffers from a kind of jack of all trades, master of none sort of problem; it has lots of interesting information with no real guts to hold it all together. Oh, and I'm so tired of the meta-meta-meta pomo blah de blah crappy 'cuteness' that seems to plague so many books these days.

You know the moment when all the characters are at a library fundraiser and some pompous 'writer' of detective novels shows up and spews colloquialisms about the writing process and then steals someone else's story? Moments like those are so done. Please stop writing them.

Things To Do

Despite that fact that I'm fully aware that I'm home because I need to rest and, ahem, rest assured I'm doing just that, I have made up a 'to do' list of projects to keep me occupied so I don't go batty. Also, it's all of the stuff I haven't had any time to do because I've been so sick and tired that my weekends and, well, weekdays have been spent in a near comatose state.

As my RRHB said the other day, "I think the boredom's going to kill you before the disease is." Hallelujah and he knows me so well.

Annnywaay. In the effort of full disclosure, here is the list, in full:

  • 1. Complete my own version of John Allemang's Book A Day challenge. Follow with a Movie A Day challenge as well (the challenge here will be limiting myself to just one movie a day). I'm spending way, way too much time in front of the television.

  • 2. Finish unpacking our boxes and transfer the unused contents to plastic storage bins that can go in the basement. This is so my RRHB (when he gets back from tour) can completely demolish the first floor. This is a selfish goal to some extent because I'm so sick of only living on one floor of the house that anything I can do to help the renovation along, I'm going to do.

  • 3. Go through all my old writing and transfer as much as I can to the new computer. I bought a cute little clipboard from the Pottery Barn, just to hold up my pages!

  • 4. Create a menu plan for the next three weeks. Then go grocery shopping.

  • 5. Get groomed - essentially get my hair done. I haven't had it cut or coloured since before the non-wedding. I've also made an appointment to tame my ridiculously overgrown eyebrows. They're frightening these days.

  • 6. Buy a good pair of walking sneakers for the better weather soon to arrive.

  • 7. Research yoga classes for the diseased. Do such things exist?

  • 8. Clean the downstairs hallway. Part of #2.

  • 9. Get our taxes organized. Take everything to an accountant.

  • 10. Clean out the fridge (completely, that means, like washing everything).

  • 11. Clean out the car (see #10).

  • 12. Clean the kitchen cupboards (see #10).

  • 13. Write each day (and not just on the blog).

  • 14. Finish uploading my music library back on to iTunes. Download the rest of the suggestions that friends have sent. And if you have any idea of songs I might like to write to, please send them along, I'm currently taking requests...

  • 15. Write all of my non-wedding thank you notes.

  • 16. See the eye doctor (appointment made), family doctor (appointment made), naturopath (appointment made) and osteopath (appointment not made yet...). This is all in the goal of spending the next 2.5 weeks getting as well as I humanly can get in the time I've got to myself.

Now I've got just under 3 weeks, and even in my weakened state, I think it's a pretty doable list. And man, I love lists!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Super-Fancy Disease Doctor Redux III

Well, I'm the same. Isn't that a treat? But it's good actually, still very anemic, still don't know for sure if it's disease or meds, still off work (until April 10th) and still so tired I'm actually looking forward to the rest. But at least I'm not worse, my kidneys are in good shape, my lungs are super clear and once the anemia goes away, I'll have energy too.

I go back and see him in 10 days and that's when he'll start me on the new disease drugs. At least there's an end in sight to all the crazy medical drama. At least I have to hope there the mean time, I think I'll continue my 'old man' exercise program and hit up the mall.

Hey, I might be chubby and puffy, but at least I'll have some new spring clothes for when I go back to work.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Girl, Bored, Must Quiz

In an attempt to quell my sick-time-at-home boredom, dear Kathleen forwarded the What Musical Are You Quiz over to me.

Shockingly, I'm "A Chorus Line," whereby the fancy answer guru let's me know that I'm "wild, kinky, and love dance. Music is my life. [I]'ve had a dramatic past, but again, who hasn't."

Odd how true it's ringing right about now. Have I spent too much time inside? And more importantly, what musical are you? Inquiring minds want to know.

March Movie Madness

Can one ever get bored of watching movies? It's not likely in my household, but after the overload I've subjected myself to over the past few days, it might be the case. Now that the Oscars are over, all of the nominated films from last year are making their way into the video store. Of course, with little else to do, I've become quite a regular at Rogers. Thrilling, I know.

This past weekend, I watched A History of Violence, which I quite liked. It was like a tidy little morality play only with more gore. The script was tight and clean, but I thought William Hurt chewed the scenery and Maria Bello was kind of miscast. I also watched Good Night, And Good Luck (man that comma bothers me), which I loved, loved, loved. It's full of such good tension brought on by tight shots and constantly burning cigarettes, the performances are subtle yet nuanced and the script, oh, the script, so good.

Then, yesterday I went to see Capote in the theatre. Now seeing so many of the films that were nominated for Best Picture, I'm still so stunned that Crash took home the prize. All three of the films I watched over the weekend were better acted, better scripted and better shot than Crash. But whatever, it doesn't matter.

But the one thing that drove me nuts about Capote? Philip Seymour Hoffman's bloody dirty fingernails. You're telling me that Capote, so obsessed with his clean cut looks, well dressed physique and impeccable grooming, would wander around Kansas with the dirtiest fingernails I've ever seen on film? I don't think so. Was there no makeup person around to take a look at his hands and perhaps take a nice swipe under the nails and tidy them up? It drove me crazy. And yes, it's probably a sign of the prednisone. Hey, at least I can recognize the OCD before it gets really bad. Heh.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

How Tired Is Tired?

You know, I always feel like Alanis when I use the word irony to describe certain aspects of my life with the disease. But I'm never sure if I'm using it properly. Funny how two degrees in English don't make me any more confident in terms of using the tricky words.

So, one of the side effects of the prednisone is sleeplessness. So not only does the drug make you puffy and chubby (it increases your appetite and therefore you gain gobs of weight, including awful water weight), but it also keeps you awake and makes you psychotic. Both times I've used prednisone in the past to treat the disease, the drug has made me nuts. I call it the 'prednisone crazies.'

The second time the disease flared when I was in my mid-twenties the drug made me so wacky that I was hearing voices and wanting to jump off high rises. It took me two years to crawl out of that depression. Luckily, I'm in a much better 'place' to deal with the prednisone crazies, in that I know what they are and how to recognize them before the black dogs descend and I start scrubbing the bathtub with a toothbrush and a bottle of bleach.

Annnnywwaaay. As it's been well documented, my blood went missing a few weeks ago, and as a result, I'm severely anemic, which makes you tired. Really tired. Like so tired you can't walk to the corner tired. Right, so the only thing you want to do is sleep, but the damn prednisone is keeping me awake. The result? I'm a bloody zombie: I can't think, can't remember my name most days, have trouble even writing a sentence. So I'm wandering through my days like an extra in Dawn of the Dead. I just lie in bed for hours, my braid whirring and whizzing, weight of the world on my shoulders, wishing I could sleep. But I'll say one thing for sure, when you wake up at 6 AM every morning, you feel the full pressure of the amount of hours in a day.

Now for the big question, is that ironic? Probably not, it's probably just my plain, damn bad luck, damn you Alanis for making me all confused.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Paddy's Day

If I was feeling up to it, I'd be out celebrating by drinking cider and Harp. But I'll have to be content with thinking about how I was in Derry in August, enjoying a pint at an awesome pub inside the old city walls, listening to the band, chatting with a fellow that looked like that Kevin kid from American Idol, hearing the story about the notes framed and posted up behind us on the wall, thinking about the idea of freedom, and all the other good stuff from my trip last summer.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Oh, Dan Brown, You're So Twee...

Calling all writers. The key to everlasting success in terms of keeping the creative juices flowing? Getting up really bloody early and then doing "refreshing" exercises during your peak thinking periods.

Yeah, that'll work. Harrumph.

If I make it through the day without collapsing from exhaustion it's a good thing. If I get two sentences that are worthy with a brain that can't remember one thing as it travels from room to room, it's am even better thing. But maybe I'm missing the point, maybe I need to be more disciplined...Oh, and maybe that's where all my blood ended up. Perhaps it flowed on over to Dan Brown. Maybe after he's done with the trial I'll ask him to return it. Lord knows he can afford to buy some more.

#13 - The In-Between World of Vikram Lall

Wow, this book took me forever to read. M.G. Vassanji's epic story of Vikram Lall, a Kenyan-born Indian man who rises up through the ranks to become the country's most wanted, won the Giller in 2003. As much the story of a post-colonial Kenya and its struggle for independence as the story of Vic's life, the book covers roughly forty years, following the protagonist from youth to middle-age.

Vassanji interweaves the story of Vikram Lall, his family and some close friends with the social and political changes in Kenya before, during and after independence. Mainly Vic's voice is used as a gateway to the stories of his sister Deepa and Njoroge (the love of her life and an African), and the Lall extended family (grandparents, parents, Mahesh Uncle). The history of Vikram is both physically (his grandfather was a labourer who built the railroad) and metaphorically (how he finds himself 'in-between' worlds despite being born an African) tied to Kenya. Vassanji relays this in many ways, through the amount of detail paid to everyday life in Africa, the food they ate, the places they went, the life they led, as well through the distance the narrator keeps from both what he's seeing and the life he lived.

It's a difficult book to read for that very reason. So much of the story is told at arm's length, something I'm sure my creative writing class would cut apart, but it works on so many levels that keep the epic scope of the book tied so closely with the experiences of one man who absolutely refuses to experience anything fully.

In the end, I'm glad I read it because I am deeply interested in the perspective of life in Africa during the time after the British empire disbanded its colonial stronghold, and the book's bittersweet tone will probably have me thinking about it for days afterwards. And not just because I'm stuck at home being sick and tired and spaced out.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Editor's Bag Redux

So today I learned that my gorgeous new bag has another use: it's big enough to hold the "sample" of the 24-hour urine test I had to do this week. What a quiet irony to my life. I mean, hell, if I have to go to the hospital with a day's worth of pee, it might as well be in style.

Google Rules The World

We all know this already. But how hilarious is it that some kid is heading to California for the summer and has no idea what his job will be? Honestly? That makes me want to apply to work for Google right now. Mystery jobbers like mystery shoppers, maps of everything, scanning books, developing offline 'solutions', where's it all going to end?

Do you think Google would hire me? A semi-sick, semi-blogger with good writing skills and a mad love for the internet?

#12 - The Automatic Millionaire Homeowner

David Bach's "Finish Rich" philosophies, appearances on Oprah and well-timed practical advice have made him a superstar. I read one of his books last year and found it more profoundly annoying than anything. Plain common sense wrapped up in cute buzz words and self-discipline. But I like to read money books, or rather, books about how to manage your personal finances (maybe because money manager is my self-appointed role in our marriage), so I read The Automatic Millionaire Homeowner in about thirty seconds.

It's a practical book that explains mortgages and all the other good stuff involved in utilizing real estate as an investment. I was looking for some solid advice as to how to own (or plan to own) a vacation home (cottage, condo in Paris, ah, dare to dream) but the book's not really about that. It's primary message? You have to live somewhere so you might as well own where you live. It's secondary message? Don't sell your first house, but rent it out if you can afford to. See, good, practical advice.

But my biggest problem with the book and with the cookie-cutter approach to finance that so many of these self-appointed 'gurus' proport to have remains the lack of a holistic approach to money management. Resources are looked at in terms of dollars and cents, and not in a more 'what am I contributing to the world' point of view. Not that David Bach is an anti-environmentalist (he often has chapters on charity and giving), but so far in my life I've only read one book about money management that looked at the human costs as well. Sam Lamb lent me the book and I can't for the life of me remember what it was called, but I'd like to go back and read it again, just to be reminded that every dollar you earn has a true physical cost attached to it, and that's worth something far more than the interest ING Direct is paying me on my life savings.

In the end, I'll still read books about money management, still be annoyed by them, take what I need and be glad that I spent the two hours learning (or being reminded) of how finance works, because it's important. But I'll always be doing it with the idea in the back of my mind that I'd love to end up a poor, starving novelist one day, if only I could dare myself to give up the stability of a two week paycheque and the small comforts of cable television.

OED Starts My Day

The OED word of the day? Twelve-incher.

Am I wrong to see the humour in the first definition being: "Something that measures twelve inches in length, diameter, height, etc.; spec. (a) a cannon with a bore of twelve inches; (b) a twelve-inch record."

Heh. A "cannon" with a "bore" of "twelve inches." Heh.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The YA Conundrum

An interesting article on CBC Arts talks about the idea of adult-to-YA crossover with some popular fiction, books like The Girls, Life of Pi, Curious Incident. The article sort of gives me a bit of hope in terms of a book I'm working on right now. The story of four young women in Banff, Alberta, I'm finding the more I write it, the more it comes out YA fiction. And I can't really tell if that's a bad thing or not?

Yet, the books that impacted me most when I was a child were definitely not kids books. Or maybe that's because I'm thinking of my YA reading days as being in high school, past my Sweet Valley High stage, past the only ever writing stories about twin sisters stage, past Little House on the Prairie (well, well past) and Little Women, past SE Hinton (oh, Ponyboy, I still have you in my scrapbook), and past the beloved Judy Blume, where I devoured Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, William S. Burroughs, Margaret Atwood and Salinger.

But there's one fact that the article seems to overlook, it's not that YA crossover books are a new phenom, it's just that now publishers are actively marketing them as such. For years, girls that I knew, voracious readers all, were dipping into their mother's libraries and reading well above their age level. All the boys I knew read like mad and recommended much of what made my everyday bus ride bearable. Give the kids some credit, they're finding The Girls et al because they're great books, great books that deserve a chance regardless of your age group. Having it now somewhat defined as 'trend' seems to demean the entire idea of kids coming into their own when it comes to literature. Something they've been doing for generations, well, at least since my generation.

I Want To Fight On TV

We got a Faux-Tivo, forever known as our Faux-Vo, from Rogers about two weeks ago. It's a little revolution in a box. And there's no going back now. We had to agree to the damn thing for two years just to bring the price down to something remotely reasonable.

So in my absolute fit of Faux-Vo-ing everything, I've been watching Related, a cheese-ass WB drama about four sisters living in Manhattan. You may have read Scarbie talking about the same show. As it's a show my RRHB would never, ever in a million years let me watch while he was in the country let alone in the house, Faux-Vo and sick leave make for perfect Related bed partners.

I have just one question: why is it that a fight about cheating (one sister kissed an old boyfriend before leaving and confessing everything to her new boyfriend, who (BTW) only became her lover after they both cheated on their boss) can take a nano-second to complete? The entire fight, from beginning to end, took about two minutes. That's fighting, pouting and making up all in a flash of one hundred and twenty seconds. It's a bloody record.

Annnnywaaay. If that same fight happened in my house, and mind you, it hasn't, no illicit kissing, but a lot of other stupid fights, it would go ten rounds starting at midnight, last well into the next day and then charge again just when the dust settled. Ah, the magic and power of television, er, or the WB.

Oh, and can you tell I'm addicted to the Faux-Vo already?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Decisions, Decisions

Lately, I've been doing a lot of thinking. Those few days without the internet to waste my time and being home from work because we're still trying to find my blood, means I'm not racing around like a maniac living my life.

On March 21st, I see the super-fancy disease doctor. At that point, I'm sure he'll put me on yet another medicine for the disease, which will inevitably have serious side effects. The prednisone I've been taking for the last two weeks has started to kick in. My cravings for extremely bad food have started (I won't give in! I won't give in!) and I'm a bit puffy. The really fun stuff like the acne (face, chest, back) hasn't started yet and neither has a lot of the water weight, so those are positive things.

But what's weighing my mind down isn't whether or not I'm dying from the disease (because I'm not) but more how I need to change my life in order to deal with its presence. Change is hard regardless of how it comes about. Whether it's forced or whether you force it upon yourself, it always involves pain, pressure and release (metaphorically, of course).

So now I'm kind of at a crossroads. I have a good job that I'm not necessarily well enough to do but I don't know if I'm sick enough to stay home. And then there's the guilt: the guilt about taking care of myself, the guilt about getting paid but not working, the guilt about just staying home if I really need to. In the end, much depends on what the super-disease doctor says next week. I guess maybe he'll force my hand, and change is on the horizon.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Self-Indulgence: The Editor's Bag

Now, I'm not an editor, but I do work at a publishing company. Does that make this purchase any less self-indulgent? Perhaps not, but I bought the damn bag anyway.

I consider it the evolution of Ragdoll. Up until now, I'd been using knapsack for just about everything: purse, carry-on, carry all. And with my impending "scary" birthday, I thought that maybe it was time to grow up and buy a serious bag. It was way, way too much money though, and I'm suffering a bit with the guilt. Oh, but only until I look at my gorgeous bag and then all the bad feelings just sort of go away.

Hey! My Books Are On The Shelf...There

I've been off sick from work the past week trying to find my blood. Er, well, finding the energy to try and find my blood might be a more adequate way of putting it. I spent most of the mornings at home puttering because we didn't have a computer until today (yay!). The prednisone, in addition to making my cheeks puffy, is now keeping me awake. So, I get up around 6 AM and can't get back to sleep. There's only so much television you can watch, only so long you can sit on the couch before you think, "a walk might be good." Or "maybe I can handle a matinee today."

So I saw Match Point, which I found deeply sexist and kind of frustrating. Granted it's Woody Allen's best picture in years and I can see why so many critics liked it. I don't want to give away any spoilers so I'm going to leave it at the fact that despite the overarching comparisons to Crime and Punishment and more than adequate performances the movie still falls flat.

Okay, well, I'm going to say one thing, if you've seen Unfaithful, then you can probably guess the part of the film that totally annoyed me. In the end, I crave emotional conflict on the screen, and the film never really gave it to me. It was nuanced and from an interesting perspective, but felt a bit outdated in terms of both the characterization (yawn Scarlett Johansson) and the dialogue.

Yesterday I went to go see Failure to Launch. Oh. Boy. By the end, I was kind of charmed, but all in all, it's a totally mediocre film too.

Annnywaaay. While I was waiting for my friend before seeing Allen's film, I browsed through the local bookstore in the mall. To this day, I'd never actually seen any of the Classic Starts in the store, and I have to admit, it was kind of thrilling seeing some copies of my own books up there on the shelves for kids to discover and their parents to (hopefully) buy. In fact, it was more than kind of thrilling, it was pretty damn cool.

#11 - Learning Curves

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I think Gemma Townley is the best living chicklit writer out there. Even better than Jennifer Weiner (and I heart her too). Even better than Marian Keyes (she kicks ass, she does). But it's the level of sophistication that Townley's books manage that keeps me coming back and thinking about them in comparison with the rest of the pack.

Learning Curves
manages to be absolutely girlie; I mean it contains many, many of cliches known to the chicklit genre. But there's an extra spark there in Townley's fresh, invigorating prose that takes the book to a different level. It's so absolutely well written, well plotted and clips along at a dazzling pace.

Not to mention the fact that Townley is so adept at creating cute, quirky but relevant characters. In this particular book, post-eco-"warrior" Jennifer Bell, whose father left when she was still a wee girl, infiltrates his company at the behest of her mother (wanting more information about possible shady deals). Her parents haven't seen each other in years and one of the charming sub-plots involves what really happened in their marriage.

Of course, Jen meets a man—the delicious publisher Daniel Peterson and, of course, falls in love with him. And I know it's the unwritten chicklit rule that the road to said romance must always be rocky, but how Townley makes it all happen remains both bright and refreshing. It's not knowing that Jen won't remain undercover for long in the MBA program at her father's firm that matters, it's how Townley achieves the emotional high points that take the plot from point A to point B.

All in all, a bright spot in my anemia-addled brain that can't seem to finish a book to save my life. Despite all the things Zesty keeps telling me to read.

I'm Back

The cable modem is here. The internet is on. I'm back on the information super highway.

I have so much to say!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Sunday Afternoon With Balanchine

I took Zesty to the ballet on Sunday afternoon for her birthday. More of the year of the accidental tourist and the commitment to do more things out in the city. We saw the National Ballet of Canada perform three short George Balanchine pieces: The Four Temperaments, Apollo and Theme and Variations.

The first was the most modern of the three, and therefore my favourite. The lines were crisp and clean, there was lots of introverted footwork and the dancers wore very scaled back costumes. The second piece, the story of Apollo's birth and subsequent relationship with his three muses, was also good. The final piece, the showstopper, Theme and Variation, was the most classical of the three, lots of tutus and plenty of dancers on stage.

So much of what I like in ballet is sort of what I like in literature too. Clean, crisp formations, smart positions, interesting movements, and the language of bodies used to tell a story. The most classical, and I'd hate to say, Victorian, elements of Theme and Variation, the bold statements made with grande battements and overwhelming set pieces, are the aspects that I resisted the most. There are things that I love about the history of the ballet, how every pointe and position harkens back to the court of Louis XIV, but I also like how now in my later life, I can see how the same history remains constrictive too.

I started asking myself how relevant ballet is anymore to anyone who might not be that into the idea of dance. They are the same problems the world of books faces every day too. How do we keep literature relevant in a world where Paris Hilton is 'news' and people are reading less and less? How will the National Ballet of Canada reinvent itself in its new venue for a new century? How do you balance the idea of tradition with the inevitable fact that culture is changing so quickly?

All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. And then, I charged over to a friend's house to watch the Oscars and laughed my ass off in the company of some of the funniest people I know. Talk about a cultural shift...from Apollo to pimps, almost too much for a 24-hour period.

D To The U-P

Holy crap dial up is slow. How do people survive without being able to whip around the internet without the painful loading times and abysmal crashes that seem to happen once every five seconds.

We're still waiting for our new computer. They said it would come in 7-10 days (today marks day 7). But until then I'm using my work computer and the so early 90s dial up that's making me feel like I should pull out my grunge wear and don some combat boots while listening to bad indie rock by former Toronto-based "reggae" band One.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

#10 The Wonder Spot

I saw Melissa Bank at the 'ladies' afternoon at the IFOA this year and bought a copy of The Wonder Spot shortly thereafter. Her reading was hilarious and her delivery dry. The passage that she picked was perfect for the setting and Bank did well with the audience too.

So much brouhaha came about this summer after Curtis Sittenfeld's review in the Times, but after reading the book, I'm tending to agree with her thoughts. The book is more of a series of vignettes than an actual story. Each chapter is separated by even smaller little bits of writing that read like scenes from an excercise in a creative writing class. It's hard to understand where Bank's decision making came from in terms of how she chose to tell the story. The events she chooses to leave in and what she keeps out is somewhat mystifying. The book would have been so much better if she made the decision to plum the emotional depths of a few important parts of Sophie's life instead of hovering somewhere on the surface.

The Wonder Spot moves quickly through Sophie Applebaum's life; it starts when she's about twelve and by the time the book has finished, almost thirty years have passed. Bank's witty prose flits in and out of Sophie's various love affairs and ineffectual career choices. She's a very funny writer and has the ability to sum up a situation in a few short sentences. But it's a style that might seem more fitting for a short story than an entire book.

I felt the same way about The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing. But in terms of The Wonder Spot, I really miss an overarching plot; it would have stopped me from thinking, "What is this book about?" Because in this case, it's just not enough that it's about Sophie's life, because, well, nothing happens. She sort of ends up exactly where she starts, new boyfriend, newish job, and no real revelations. And in terms of her intellectual growth? Well, it too is very much like where she started: average and adolescent.

All of the important things that do happen, seem to happen in parenthesis. Her father dies in passing, one of her boyfriends (one that doesn't even have his own chapter) dies, and she loses her best friend (of sorts), but we never see and/or hear of the emotional involvement. We simply move on to the next stage in her life, a new art class, a new boyfriend and an attempt to find a new job.

I liked the book to some extent, but I just wanted there to be more. I just wanted something, anything, to happen to Sophie that pushes her past bland optimism and dry wit.

Friday, March 03, 2006

If The Blood Goes Missing...

Shockingly, both work and the super-fancy disease doctor agree that it's best to let you stay home and try to find it. So that's where I'll be: on my couch getting even fatter from the damn prednisone and resting until my blood counts normalize over the next couple of weeks. Apparently, no one wants a bloodless Ragdoll around.

The hardest thing to get over though, is the feeling of defeat when it comes to the disease. I feel like I'm letting it win, and it kind of has, I mean I can't even get up a flight of stairs without feeling so tired I want to pass out.

But the biggest lesson from all this? I've got to learn how to relax. Stress causes the disease, at least, that's what I think, and I've spent my whole life either putting myself through stress or trying to figure out how not to deal with it by barreling through so I don't look weak.

Do you think I can find the answer in the next two weeks? Anyone?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Oscar Watch 2006

Over the past week, I've made a rather pathetic attempt to try and watch some of the Oscar-nominated films before I head over to a friend's house on Sunday night for the gluttonous, but absolutely addictive, show.

I watched Pride and Prejudice after my super-fancy disease doctor's appointment yesterday afternoon. I resisted. Keira Knightley? Not my favourite. And Jane Austen and I have a rather precarious relationship (one too many failed attempts at acing Victorian literature classes during university). But I was won over, dammit, I was. It's a great little movie, perfect for a rainy afternoon when your blood goes missing.

Then our friend Kate came over and we had our Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner. I've given up sugar for Lent. I'm not Catholic, but I do like the ritual of Lent. Fingers crossed John Constantine doesn't come over and give me hell. Ahem, no pun intended.

Annnywaaay. We watched Walk the Line. And I resisted. Then resisted some more. I have a mythical relationship with Johnny Cash (read poem I and poem II). In my mind, the whole idea of a Hollywood biopic about his life could only end in disaster. I mean, Ali anyone? But on the whole, it's an entirely passable film. The performances are solid; both actors refuse to mimic Johnny and June Carter Cash. They approach the roles like they're maybe even a bit independent of the people that inspired them and that's why it works. There's a slight bit of surprise that the film's been nominated for so many awards, but of the current batch of crap-ass films that came out this year, I guess it holds up?

Oh, and I went to see Transamerica. Felicity Huffman is very good in a very mediocre film. She's got my vote (well my heart's vote; my pen's going with Witherspoon. I want to win the cash!).

Zee Blood, It Is Missing?

My second visit to the super-fancy disease doctor in as many weeks was kind of funny in a scary sort of way. They're convinced that the wonky blood work results are from the meds. Instead of making me better, I'm just falling down a pretty dangerous path.

Ragdoll: "I just don't feel like I'm getting any better."

Super-Fancy Disease Doctor: "You're not. We're making you sicker."

It's a weird bit of irony I think that what's saving my life is actually bringing me closer to the brink of death. Take this stat for example: My red blood cell count (your hemoglobin) normally runs at 125; right now it's a 82.

Ragdoll: "I'm just so tired all the time. I can't even walk up a flight of stairs without being totally exhausted."

Super-Fancy Disease Doctor: "That doesn't surprise me. It's as if you've lost 1/3 of your blood over the last three weeks."

Barring any gashing wounds I don't know about, how exactly does 1/3 of your blood just leave your body? Where does it go? What happens to it? Did it just get up and walk out of my body when I wasn't looking? And whose going to find it? How do I get it back?

The only other couple of times I've been anemic have been the result of surgeries (both hip-related, of course). The only other time the blood mysteriously disappeared was when I first got sick. But then I was a crazy dancer girl who never ate and thought Diet Coke was a complete meal. Now, I'm hearty -- my blood shouldn't go missing and leave cottage cheese thighs in its place.

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 ...