February 5th, 2018

The dogs of February and more things we like

Despite my best hopes, January was cold and fighty, and then I spent the last few days of it puking (I had a stomach virus) and was in such a feverish haze that I didn’t even realize it was February until I saw Mark making out the rent cheque.

Maybe February will be better??? I have deleted the extremely negative post that I wrote about January, leaving only the above, and here are some positive things that I like, which will hopefully set the tone for February.

464. Ice wine! I had a lovely weekend at the Ice Wine Festival in Niagara on the Lake the weekend before I got sick, wherein I discovered I like ice wine (bad news: they mainly don’t serve it in bars so it can’t be my signature drink). Fun surprise! It tastes like syrup!

465. The Dogs of February This is one my favourite songs by The Lowest of the Low, which is one my favourite bands of my tender youth, and I’m pissed that I could only find it to link to on a bootleg full album (it comes in at 15:50). It’s a grumpy song (“Don’t you love it when it doesn’t/work out quite the way it was supposed to”) but lovely to, so that’s something

466. My little flash story is posted on The Oddments Tray. Claire Tacon produced and Chioke l’Anson performed and it turned out lovely. Please listen–only 2:39 minutes!

467. Declarations at Canadian Stage, written by playwright Jordan Tannahill, who is a writer I’d follow anywhere. None of the programme descriptions or reviews describe it adequately and I doubt I could do so myself, but I really did find the performance haunting and affecting. It closes February 11. Maybe you should go?

468. Spearmint gum

469. The (free) browser game Fallen London, which has obsessed me for nigh on three years. Soon I will be poet laureate (in the game).

470. Space heaters

471. When other people contribute to 1000 Things We Like

These are from Fred

472. being the only person on the bus

473. the crowns at Burger King

474. night skiing

January 24th, 2018

Many things are terrible/1000 things we like is back

It probably just proves that I’m a self-absorbed jerk, but I feel a bit self-conscious about the fact that you can’t really tell from any of my social media that I realize that large swathes of the Canadian literature community seem to be self-immolating. If you care what I think–and probably no one does–I do realize. Boy, do I.

I’ve been pretty entrenched in following every new horrifying reveal and all of the ensuing bickering/battling over the details. I’m reeling for my colleagues who have been hurt and were still brave enough to come forward–sometimes more than once–to try to protect those who could be next, or just to get their stories known. I’m so sorry I didn’t know more years ago–though I knew a little. Mainly I have been very very lucky in most of my literary life. So lucky.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, that’s fine–it’s very depressing. And if you know exactly what I’m talking about and feel I’m not doing it justice, I’m sorry, and I know. I’m just not really equal to this sort of thing, especially when tides and tempers have been so mercurial lately. I’ll be running around the house muttering that I’m really going to tell X what I really think and Mark–who is also upset but more measured–will suggest that that’s not the best path, and then the next morning more of the story will emerge and everything is different and I’m glad I didn’t say anything. That has happened enough times that I think I’m never going to say anything ever again. I’m spending more of my time miserably scrolling through more and more sadness, wondering what to make of any of it.

And yet one must go on–and one must write, in this increasingly fractured and strange environment. Surely it won’t always be this intense, but I can never unknow what I know now and…oh no. So…I do what I can. One thing will be a re-foray back into 1000 things we like, which for the first time in it’s 15 year history, we didn’t come close to finishing in its allotted year. But as has been mentioned in this space, 2017 was a toughie for different reasons. So I’m giving myself a pass on that and myriad other things, and just trying to do more and better in 2018. Here are some of the ways I’ve been trying to buck up, cheer up, or just get up in the morning throughout the maelstrom of awfulness so far this year:

455. The The Toronto Women’s March was on Saturday and it was an inspiration and a motivation and a joy to hear the speakers, chant the chants and walk the walk with so many female-identified humans and our allies for the right to imagine own our future. And added bonus was that my mom marched with me this year, which was really wonderful.

456. Doctors without Borders Canada never ceases to inspire and amaze with what they do. I just called them to iron out a problem with my monthly donations and it made me feel a little better about everything.

457. Cookies! I’ve been bringing them to any friend who seems to need a bit of good cheer of late, because honestly cookie-baking is one of the few concrete skills I have in my arsenal. A lot of people like my baking and even if it turns out the recipient doesn’t, I hope they feel loved that I made them something. Also, I like doing it.

458. WhatsApp–I couldn’t even tell you why, but sometimes it’s really the medium that makes the messages work. Over the past year, I got into WhatsApp groups with both a gang of my university friends and (separately) a gang of my elementary/high school friends. Both groups are delightful! Why WhatsApp, when email threads and Facebook messenger and who knows what else didn’t work for either set? No idea and I don’t care–I’m just so happy to have messages from some of my favourite people, all the time!

459. Ballet classes–they are hard, but I really do like them. Grand battement is my favourite.

460. Giving away my stuff. I said in my new year’s resolution that I was going to sort through my stuff and get rid of what I do not need, but it’s hard when everything has a story or a memory attached. Then there was that awful cold snap and a colleague said her church was running a soup kitchen and they wanted to outfit those who came with warm clothes and blankets if they could get enough donations. I went right home and packed up all my extra scarves and hats and fleece blankets–Mark gave a bunch too. Even if someone did make them for me years ago, I’m sure they wanted them to go to someone who really needed them.

461. A couple fleece blankets for myself.

462. Liking and retweeting/sharing. I haven’t completely disappeared from social media–I still like and share material, even though I’m not generating much myself. I’m not sure how much the so-called “signal boost” helps, but if it does, I’m happy to do it. Also, likes help the writer, or at least that has been my experience for sure–it does feel good and give confidence when you get a bunch of stars or thumbs-ups or hearts. You feel like your message is getting through. So I’m trying to let anyone whose voice resonates with me know that. I think I might have been a little parsimonious with the likes before, just out of thoughtlessness–“I enjoyed that essay/post/photo, what’s next?” I’m trying to do this tiny thing very intentionally.

463. Reading books. I mean, that’s the heart of everything, right? Otherwise, why bother? Currently I’m reading The Making Room Anthology under a fleece blanket, and hoping for better, warmer days.

January 2nd, 2018

Resolving: 2018

I didn’t ever write the 2017 in review post. I wrote some drafts in December and they were all rather grim and hysterical, because it was a legitimately hard year but also probably because I was exhausted. Then I went on vacation for two weeks and, for the first time since I graduated from undergrad, didn’t do anything. No fooling: I had time off from work but I didn’t travel by plane or train or even car beyond a few km radius, I didn’t do freelance or personal projects or school assignments, try to pack for a move or reorganize my life. I just slept 9 or 10 hours a night, hung out with my husband and cats a lot, occasionally went out to see a friend or a movie, and ate some nice food. I built a little fort on my couch out of pillows and blankets (my apartment is cold) and read books in it, dozing off when I was tired, bringing food in there when I was hungry (my fort was full of crumbs). I saw the Dior exhibit at the ROM. I cooked a bit and had a NYE party. That’s it.

Now I’m a lot less grim and hysterical. 2017 is never going to glow with good times in my memory, but when I’ve had enough sleep it need not seem worse than it was. Instead of enumerating everything that was wrong with the previous year, here’s my resolutions for the next one, which do in fact kind of elucidate what I’m seeking to fix about my life (I’m still not in the sunniest frame of mind–it’s going down to -22C this week).

1) Ballet class: I signed up in December for the most introductory of introductions at the National Ballet School and it cost enough that I think I’ll actually show up. I’ve taken some drop-in ballet classes before and know that though they’re beyond my comfort zone I enjoy them if no one makes me feel bad about my lack of skill (including myself; mainly myself). Exercise, new people, and a reason to leave the house in winter: this seems like something I can use.

2) Mindfulness: This is not so much a resolution as something assigned to me by my neurologist. Part of why 2017 was such crap for me was that I was often ill. I have appropriate drugs for my migraines now, but I often don’t know when to take them or which ones to take–taking migraine medication too late in the game is often worse than taking none, because it has no affect and causes side effects that it wouldn’t normally have if taken at the right time. Then you’re really sick AND you have crazy side effects. Vertigo played a role in my autumn. According to the doctors, I’m not in good enough communication with my body to know what meds to take when, and mindfulness can teach me that. So I’m going to download an app and hope the app can help me, because I’m otherwise pretty much at sea. [Edit: I got Headspace and did the first session. It seemed ok. I liked the coach’s British accent.]

3) Take my blood pressure twice a week and record results: The many fun medications I’m on could cause my blood pressure to spike, so I’m supposed to be tracking this, but I’ve been lax. No more!

4) Say less on social media and listen more: I get a lot out of posting little thoughts, jokes, snippets of dialogue, requests for info, book-related announcements and general ephemera on social media. Most people are so supportive and wonderful, and the fun chatter helps me get through the day. AND YET–is that the most social media can do for me? I am so good at ducking hard news, and now here is yet another medium where I have completely blinkered myself from sadness. Well, not completely–it creeps in, and it should, especially the state of the world being what it is. In 2017 I started deliberately following folks on Twitter who made me uncomfortable, mainly activists for various forms of social justice, and I’m going to keep on doing that as much as my comfort-loving mind can stand. Another, more selfish side of this is that despite the overwhelming positivity of my FB feed, I do get a bit of snark now and then, and I can NOT take it. It’s not even bad, just someone scrolling quickly and saying the first thing that comes to mind. I simply don’t have 623 good friends, and expecting all those vague acquaintances to care about my feelings isn’t reasonable. If I say less, people will snark less back at me, and I’ll have room in my head for weightier issues than “did she really mean to make fun of my cat?”

5) Get rid of stuff I don’t actually use or want; organize stuff I want to keep in a reasonable manner: I would like to actually move house in 2018, but that’s not a resolution but a plan. In service of that, though, I’d like to start the decluttering and organizing now. Rubbermaid tubs figure prominently in my future. I love Rubbermaid tubs.

6) Finish the 3rd 1000 things we like. I can do this!

***

I think that’s all the resolutions I’m going to make for now, though there’s certainly more I could: about exercise and diet (who couldn’t?), about writing and reading (but those are my career–I feel like accountants and engineers don’t make resolutions to work hard at their jobs), about all kinds of stuff I could stand to improve on. But this is a good start.

PS–If you know someone challenging and wise to follow on Twitter, I would be happy to hear about it. Or a cheap and plentiful source of Rubbermaid tubs, for that matter.

July 16th, 2017

The liking goes on…

From Fred

432. Cold showers
433. Sparkling water
434. Koalas
435. 90s workout videos on youtube
436. Izombie
437. Bubble wands
438. Navy blue eyeliner
439. Confederation Bridge (I guess it was controversial for locals, but for an outsider 425. very exciting)
440. Body Break’s Hal and Joanne (they are husband and wife, who knew?)
441. The shape of the province of Alberta
442. Your Father’s Moustache as a name for a dining establishment
443. That time in 1987 when Robert Munsch visited my school.

Me again

444. Raspberry jam
445. The second seat back from the back door on the right side of the aisle on TTC buses
446. Pop (the beverage, and the word)
447. Getting the eye gunk off a cat so they look all nice and clean
448. Baby tummies
449. Hiring cool people
450. Netflix (everyone knows this, but it still needs to be said)
451. Deckle edge pages
452. French flaps
453. French cuffs
454. Cuff links

July 12th, 2017

Things We Like, Vacation Edition

…and so many great things happened. I’ll format this post as additions to the list of things we like, but with more explanation than usual….

417. The show Mainstreet on CBC PEI, where Mark and I did a short interview with Angela Walker and got called a “superpower couple”!!

418. Beaches beaches beaches! We tried to go to one a day and didn’t quite make it but saw plenty of good ones. If you’re heading to PEI, I’d recommend Brackley Beach, Canoe Cover, Rustico Beach, Victoria-by-the-Sea beach, walking the boardwalk in Victoria Park and pretty much any opportunity to see a body of water–they’re all lovely.

419. Fireworks Restaurant at Inn at Bay Fortune is probably the nicest restaurant I have ever eaten in. But maybe not quite a restaurant–they employ a staff that gardens on the property and the garden supplies all of their vegetables and herbs–when it’s too cold to garden, the restaurant closes. They serve all local fish and meat, cheese and I think wine and beer too. It was such a lovely experience in a lovely setting on the water. I understand most readers won’t be near Souris, PEI anytime soon but if you are go here!

420. GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) on Netflix The thing about being on vacation is that you spend all day every day with your significant other, and by the end of the day you are out of things to talk about. So we read a lot (more below) and watched GLOW, which is so funny and interesting (I love the insider stuff about how wrestling moves work) and stars Allison Brie, who is always great to watch. A total joy–I only how there will eventually be more than 10 episodes.

421. The Wonder Woman movie–this one probably doesn’t need a link, you know what I mean. It’s very good. I always want to see movies in theatre and rarely get the time, but I heard that you HAVE to see superhero movies in theatres, plus I really wanted to support this female-superhero thing with $$, so we made time for it on the trip. It was delightful!

422. #RevlonXLashes, a freebie product I got from Influenster. In addition to just generally enjoying free products, this one is a pretty good long-lasting mascara–decent for a drugstore brand. I have gotten way into mascara lately and have been spending too much money on lovely Lancome things (Hypnose is the best I’ve found so far–you?) but this is a nice cheap alternative that lasts all day.

423. This fun Open Book Lucky 7 interview that got posted while I was away.

424. Sunsets in Riviere-du-Loup, the town in eastern Quebec we always stop in because someone at a party once told us they have the prettiest sunsets. That person was right!

425. One Day We’re All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter is a funny book that is also smart and very readable. I sped through it in two days, mainly on the beach–proving that a beach read, like a beach body, is whatever one you bring there.

426. Naps. I took a bunch, mainly in the car on the very long drive east and then west–they were glorious.

427. Sweet potato fries. In my head, somehow, these aren’t that good until I try them again and realize they are my favourite thing in the world. Why do I always forget that?

428. Golden Doodles! Everyone in the family seems to be acquiring these. They are charming and VERY energetic.

429. Being barefoot on grass.

430. Coming home to my cats.

431. Answers to Reading Survey, in the comments on the original post and on Fred’s blog. So very interesting–and not over, if you were still wanting to answer!

May 31st, 2017

Good stuff

From Fred

351. The caramel sauce at Starbucks
352. camera tripods
353. listening to audio books on the tram
354. false eyelashes (on other people)

From Anne-Michelle

355. thinking the candy package is empty and then there’s one more piece.
356. sneezing when you really wanteds to sneeze.
357. mallory ortberg
358. not having to explain yourself.
359. rose wine (no accent aigus here)

From Corinna
360. toddlers’/preschoolers’ hands: pudgy with baby fat and still small, but so much more capable. And they make the most unusual gestures and hold them in the most unusual ways (a result of them still figuring out how to use their hands, I guess).
361. The smell of lily of the valley
362. When you can smell wisteria from up the street
363. The backs of Toronto’s older brick houses. Such lovely streetscapes in alleyways
364. Basil. The smell. The taste.
365. Cake
366. Walking on grass in bare feet
367. Toronto
368. Good hugs
369. The rocks and minerals section of the ROM
370. Supersoft kid leather
371. Round stones
372. When strange cats on the street let you pet them

From Colette
373. Bird song (or is it ‘birdsong’?)
374. periwinkle (word and bloom).

From Craig
375. The first scoop of yogurt from a freshly opened container.
376. A song coming on your mp3 player that is the exact b.p.m. at which you are jogging.

From Julie
377. Girls’ weekend
378. Going to the spa
379. Traveling
380. Reading on the deck
381. Yoga
382. Laughing
383. Camping
384. Hiking
385. Going to bed early
386. Going out to eat
387. Online shopping
388. Swimming
389. Learning new things
390. Organizing
391. Walking
392. Being near the water
393. Going to the beach
394. Being barefoot
395. Singing in the car
396. Sunshine
397. Watching Netflix
398. Thunder and lightning storms
399. Dogs
400. Ice cream
401. Vacation days
402. Getting up early
403. Coffee
404. Summertime
405. Fall leaves
406. Drive-through parking spots

And me again…
407. Aziz Ansari
408. flossing
409. cats’ toes
410. really good book club discussions
411. salt
412. bathtubs
413. lilacs
414. a well-arranged centrepiece
415. hotels
416. being dirty from gardening

May 22nd, 2017

I still like things; how about you?

So much going on, and not enough hours in the day, but

331. Sleeping until I just wake up because I’m not tired anymore
332. When a stranger overhears my joke and laughs
333. Overhearing a stranger tell a good joke
334. Black beans
335. Flipping channels and randomly hitting something I actually want to see that has only just started
336. The sugar crystals at the top of the maple syrup bottle
337. When they throw in a few samples at Sephora
338. Sephora
339. The smell of strawberries in season (out-of-season/imported strawberries don’t have a smell, have you noticed that?)
340. The smell of lilacs
341. Running into a friend on a crowded street in a big city
342. Kitty feet
343. The smell of grass-clippings mixed with the smell of gas from a lawn-mower
344. Getting a nacho with so much cheese on it
345. When the neighbours stop being noisy exactly when I want to go to sleep
346. Said the Whale
347. The thrill of the passed-appetizers hunt
348. Unexpected money, even a tiny bit
349. Coupons
350. Shoppers Optimum points

March 27th, 2017

1000 things: still likeable

From Josée Sigouin

307. Jazz instrumentals
308. Kekou’s dark chocolate-ginger sorbet
309. Riding a bike in a breezy dress on a sizzling day
310. Plain Greek yogourt mixed with cranberry sauce
311. Rediscovering an obscure song from decades ago
312. Banana sices dressed with fresh mint
313. Nina Simone
314. Cold-brewed green tea
315. Breakfast on the balcony
316. Mozzarella melted on a hot-cross bun, with a side of apple
317. A riot of colours – garden, painting, collage, fabric, etc.
318. Clementine sections dipped in Greek yoghourt & pumpkin seeds
319. Melody Gardot
320. Beets – the redder, the better
321. Night-scented stocks
322. Ataulfo mango slices sprinkled with Thai basil flower buds

And from me, because why not:

323. Seeing anybody learn anything brand new (but especially a cat)
324. Succeeding at paperwork
325. Figs
326. Chinooks
327. spumoni ice cream
328. going to bed when you’re really tired
329. finding something I thought I’d lost
330. how Lily Tomlin looks better and better as she ages–maybe that will happen to us all?

February 12th, 2017

Long live 1000 things we like

I wondered if 1000 Things We Like 2017 might peter out due to lack of interest, but you guys really rallied–nice work. Here are some things you like:

From Claire

284. Ziploc bags
285. dead leaves

From Paul S

286. Forgetting everything except the present at the pinnacle of a long run.
287. Being incapsulated by music at a perfect concert.
288. Landing safely and smoothly after a turbulent flight.
289. Having your dog sleep on your chest.
290. A significant other massaging your scalp with their fingertips.
291. A pleasant forest trail dappled with mid-afternoon sunlight through the canopy.
292. Kaytranada

From Fred

293. Ginger Tea
294. Hans Rosling (RIP, but check out his Ted Talk)
295. going to the ballet
296. downhill skiing (I just recently rediscovered this)
297. the song “New York Minute” by Don Henley
298. teaspoons
299. cleaning out your purse
300. Contigo travel mugs (quality stuff)
301. Drake’s third mixtape (So Far Gone)
302. Photos taken in 1987
303. Beach holidays
304. Reading Wikipedia articles about Space Travel
305. Paintings of Napoleon
306. Cherry pie

From

February 5th, 2017

Hey, whatever happened to 1000 things we like?

It’s been a while–dark times, but also busy times. Don’t worry, there actually are still things to like. To whit:

From Joe Dague
260. the album Graceland, by Paul Simon

From RR
261. Against Me
262. new sheets
263. watching a cat figure something out
264. when my niece gives me orders: “Becca, come!” “Becca, lie down!”
265. licorice allsorts
266. jam
267. pineapple
268. bees
269. Pokemon Go, even in the cold
270. Evees (the cutest Pokemon, for my money)
271. just a tiny nap on the subway
272. hugging someone wearing a parka–so cuddly!
273. getting home after a long day
274. malls
275. Bellinis
276. the satisfying consistency of chain restaurants
277. meeting new people
278. meeting new cats
279. Brie
280. wondering what a candy labelled in a foreign language will taste like
281. running, briefly
282. watching snow from indoors
283. when a broken thing is fixed

What do you like?

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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