May 22nd, 2013

The end of the target demographic

I do a lot of consumer surveys, as a method of procrastination and also a way to earn tiny amounts of money very slowly, so I know that 18 to 34 years of age is where it’s at. Which is baffling to me, as such a high percentage of people in that group, especially the first 2/3, don’t have enough disposable income to make it worth trying to figure out what they want.

But now I am leaving my broke and opinionated brethren, to join the 35 to 49-year-olds and be slightly less broke and not really any less opinionated. I’m not sorry to be moving on–I’m curious to see what the future holds, and anyway, I’m pretty immature, so even if I look my age I’ll never act it. Also, my friend Wren explained to me that the LCBO clerks probably have a quota of people they ask for ID in a shift, and 30-something women are the ones who give them the least hassle when they do, so that’s who they mainly choose!

My last couple birthdays have been…challenging, for various reason like rashes, travel, and sadness in the lives of friends. I’m hoping this next one, tomorrow, is simply peaceful–work, friends, Italian food, more work, followed by more Italian food with my husband. Somewhere in there, I hope to pet some cats.

I feel like I’ve written a lot of year-encapsulation posts lately so I’ll skip doing one here. I’m actually not in the mood to think about accomplishments or lacks thereof–I’m happy to just enjoy the day and wait patiently for my ice-cream cake.

34 an 364 days–yay! Thanks for reading and being a part of it!

April 15th, 2013

Ikea Report: Lessons and Purchases

So if you’re friends with me on Facebook or Twitter, you know I spent last week counting down to a trip to Ikea. Due to logistical (it’s far away and awkward on transit, plus I hate driving) and practical (we don’t actually need that much stuff) reasons, I haven’t been in two years, but it’s come to a point that there were a lot of gaps in the household, and I was very excited to go fill them. Due to my incessant posting, a few people asked me to report on how it went. I have no way of knowing if they were being sarcastic or not, but here we go.

Lessons Learned

1. You can’t get stressed about everything.
I can’t recall how much I’ve complained about it here, but my job has been very stressful since oh, the end of November. Boo. It’s taken a toll on me, but the upside is I no longer have the energy to get stressed about things outside of work that would normally bother me . When the major north-south artery in the city was closed for maintenance, we planned to take the obvious alternative, and when the entrance to *that* was closed, we took Yonge Street, which is about as dumb as trying to drive 15km through parking lots. The waste of time, and the waste of my husband’s patience (we split down gender essentialist lines regarding Ikea [only–well, also musicals] and I was very worried he would lose interest in the whole venture before we’d purchased anything) would normally have agitated me greatly. But at least no one was snapping at me, or asking me to check every line break in the chapter for the 3rd time. So I just rode it out, rather peacefully (for me).

2. Without context, the difference between bad parenting and a bad day is very hard to see. Why not just assume the best of people?
Ikea is filled with children and the children, not being major stakeholders in couch-purchasing, are beserk. It was also a rainy Saturday and I thought perhaps a few families were there as a last resort. Other than a few free-range children in the cafeteria who threatened to send my tray into my chest, most of the kids there were content to bother each other or their folks, not strangers, and some were really cute. And really, if you’re easily irritated by cranky children misbehaving, you don’t really belong at Ikea.

3. Some Ikea stuff is not all that.
When I was younger, I was quite enamoured at how Ikea stuff all matched, and how I could afford it all. I thought people who were snobby about particle board and flimsiness or some aesthetic criteria I didn’t care about were, well, snobs. I still basically think that–Ikea is good enough for “all normal purposes” as they say, and if my Billy bookcase isn’t particularly nice, it isn’t particularly ugly, either. But for the first time, I did see some ugly things at Ikea this trip, though. I’m not sure whether their stuff is getting less nice, or this is just something that happens to women in their mid-thirties.

4. If something comes with sauce, and you ask for it without sauce, it won’t be good.
I learn this lesson over and over, and always forget. I got the cafeteria salmon without hollandaise because, in case you don’t know. hollandaise is basically stealthy mayonnaise, a substance I loathe (other things that are secretly mayonnaise include: aioli, tartar sauce, ranch dressing, Russian dressing, the pink stuff in spicy maki rolls, and certain brands of Caesar dressing. Mayonnaise is horribly insidious, and can sneak in anywhere.) Anyway, the salmon was super-dry, but the Daim cake made up for it, though it’s been renamed something super-literal like “almond buttercream biscuit cake.” I thought perhaps I would learn to make it, I love it so much, but no dice–if you go to the link above, you’ll see Daim cake is actually made out of Daims. Which is not a thing, as far as I know. So…no.

Items Purchased

Kay, enough boring lessons–here’s what we bought.

1) A purple lampshade for the Not lamp I purchased at a Montreal Ikea in the late 1990s, whose shade smashed when I knocked it over last week. The new shade is preventing the living room from being an uninhabitable blinding horrible place, but it looks weird on the base and is going to get replaced as soon as I gather strength. Small fail. $9.

2) A geometric patterned brown doormat. Looks perfect in front of the door, goes well with the hardwood, kitten adores it and rolls on her back on it, kicking her tiny feet (this was part of the plan). Big win. $40.

3) Fuzzy blue mat that goes in the middle of my office for no discernible reason except that I liked it and it was cheap. Cats not too interested, but looks reasonably nice in my office. Small win. $10.

4) Striped turquoise napkins. Because everyone needs napkins, right? Haven’t used them yet. $4.

5) Malm nightstand. In a somewhat sad metaphor, both my husband and I entered our marriage with only one nightstand each. His is from Ikea, a Hemnes in chestnut, a few years old. Mine was from my parents’ basement, so I figured I’d discard it and match up with him. Only Ikea has discontinued that chestnut colour in the Hemnes line, or maybe everywhere. It comes in grey, blue, red, and white–no actual natural-looking woods anymore. This was the point in the expedition when I had been there for a while and was getting tired and it seemed to matter a LOT that I couldn’t buy that matching nightstand. I wandered around in circles for a while, hunting, as if perhaps the chestnut nightstand was hiding. I was super-sad. Then I came to my senses, and got on with my life. I wound up with a birch Malm, which matches my bureau. Haven’t put it together yet, so who knows how this story ends. $69.

6) Laundry hamper on wheels, like all the cool university students in our building have. Again, not yet assembled, but I’m really hopeful about this one. $35.

When we got home, we collapsed on the couch and popped in a *30 Rock* DVD–surprise, it was the Ikea episode where Liz and Chris get into a fight there. We congratulated each other on our non-fightingness, and whiled away the evening in the gentle glow of our modest purchases.

March 17th, 2013

Why I Didn’t Have a Cell Phone Until Yesterday–and What Changed My Mind

The first thing to recall is that I pre-exist cellphones. There’s a generation of whippersnaps now who have never known a world where it was fine to be out of touch for a few hours, and it troubles them to be. I get that, to a certain extent, though I don’t feel it myself. When I was teaching high school kids and tried to outlaw phones in class, their first reaction was, “What if there’s an emergency?” My first reaction, which I didn’t voice, was, “You’re 15–how much help are you in an emergency?” And the second, which I sometimes did, was, “Whoever needed you would call the school and get the secretary to come get you, like they did in my day. The whole argument was basically stupid, but I did understand the *idea* of feeling insecure without a thing you are simply used to having. If they turned off the landlines in my apartment right now, it wouldn’t fundamentally change my safety level, but I would *feel* unspecifically unsafe.

But I grew up in a world where you didn’t need a cell phone to feel safe. First because they didn’t exist, then because only bajillionaires had them so they might as well’ve not existed, for my purposes. Then doctors and international businesspeople and the occasional drug-dealer had them. Then long-distance commuters and people who had small kids in day-care or otherwise away from them for long periods. Then anyone who drove any distance regularly or had any kids or was just very social and hard to get ahold of. Then pretty much everybody.

Through all these developments, I’ve driven almost never, and even less alone. I have no kids and, while I’m moderately social, I am also amazingly easy to get ahold of. Except for two years of grad school, I’ve had deskjobs for a decade–that’s nearly 40 hours a week you know where I am, plus I write in the evenings and am all-too-eager to pick up the phone or answer an email while I’m writing.  I would be very surprised if there were many people out there annoyed that didn’t hear back from me faster.

But honestly, lots of people with cells have lives like mine–I can’t honestly claim that it’s because I’m *so* practical that I’ve stood up against a tide of commericalism. Being broke for a few years–the grad school years–helped me convince myself I didn’t need lots of things, and then when I had money again I remained sorta convinced. I’m also naturally pretty cheap and lazy–I didn’t want to spend money or learn a new technology I didn’t have to. And in the background of all of this is probably some sort of mini-inferiority complex, e.g., no one really wants to talk to me that badly.

So, in short–who knows why I didn’t have a cellphone until yesterday? But I guess getting one’s first phone in 2013–especially if you’re not 60+–is kinda a big deal. Why did I get one? Well, the ostensible reason is there was a confusion with a friend about a meeting place, and I wound up having to use a credit card on a pay phone to call someone to ask him to call her to ask her to come get me. Argh–annoying, expensive, embarrassing, and all my fault, no matter who made the actual locational mistake, because with a cellphone it would’ve been a ten-minute probably, without all those extra people and credit card charges. Confusion and human error happens all the time, to anyone, but it was starting to be only with me that human error would ruin an evening.

So, there–a perfectly good reason for getting a cellphone and I’m sure many of my potential dinner dates are already grateful. But it was actually a conversation I had with a friend a couple days after the above incident that probably tipped the scales. I ran into her at a bus stop while she was texting on her phone, but when she was done she seemed happy to chat. I asked her if she loved her phone, and she said she did. I said I would probably get one soon, and was interested in what social doors texting might open, since I’d never done it. She said it was great, because it was like an ongoing casual conversation–no committment, no need of an immediate reply, but a low-key way to be in touch. She said she spoke to her best friend every day, and that was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back.

During the years of rising cellphone ubiquity I mentioned above, I’ve noticed the near-demise of the “hey how are you?” phone call, followed by the diminishment of the long newsy email. Folks simply don’t catch up in these long gluts anymore, because they don’t need to. Anyone who actually matters to you is following your twitter feed, friends with you on facebook, and readily available to text about minutiae in real time–everyone already *knows* how you’re doing. The first two have been great for me–I’m up-to-date on people I care about but who aren’t “close” friends. And I know some people do like the occasional multi-paragraph email or phone chat, or at least, they do for my sake. But I’m really excited about this whole texting thing–I think it might be a good format for me, because I’m so chatty with so little to actually say (she says, at nearly 900 words and counting).

So I’m now cellphonic and hoping to finally stop being useless to folks who leave the directions to the restaurant at home or are just running a bit late. But I also hope to hear from anyone who cares to be in touch, about anything at all.

February 3rd, 2013

The Sky Has Always Been Falling

I came to Toronto to work in publishing at the beginning of 2002, just before Stoddart and General Publishing imploded. At the time, I was acquainted with only a very few bookfolk, but all were startled and scared about their jobs and the industry at large–they predicted that things were going to change a lot, for the worse, right away.

The sky was falling, and it’s been falling ever since.

Eventually, in my 10 years in the world of books–mainly publishing with brief forays into libraries, book stores, and the classroom–I’ve met more people, lots more people, in this world. And I discovered that publishing folks are uncomfortable without a catastrophe. It’s a hard job, making books for people who have so many shinier, easier forms of entertainment available for their leisure hours, and we–yeah, “we,” I’m in it–like it better when there is at least a focus for our frustrations, a suitable scapegoat for everything that makes delivering literature to readers so hard. Over the years it’s been everything from Dan Brown to Amazon to American dollars at par to ass-grabbing executives to Heather Reisman. I suppose this could be true of any industry–I’ve never worked in another one, come to think of it.

I started writing this post during the Douglas and McIntyre bankruptcy, lost interest as the news cycle wound down, and now I’m back because of the Globe and Mail books editor reshuffle. It’s always something! But every time is like the first time for most of us: I keep feeling like most of the conversation is all, “now we’re *really* doomed” with occasional breaks for nostalgizing how much better it was before this new bad thing happened. Which is fine, I guess, in small doses–cathartic, anyway. Bad things really have happened, we’ve got to get it out of our systems, and kvetching is sorta fun.

BUT–I feel like every literary article in the mainstream press that isn’t a straightup review lately is an end-of-days whinefest. We’re actually losing column inches across the board, but why are we squandering what we have saying over and over how it all is sucktastic?

And who knows, maybe it *is* that bad and my perspective is just clouded–see the name of this blog. But how is it going to get any better when our focus is so backwards facing, so sad about everything that has gone before that we’re unable to think of the future.

I’m hardly cutting edge, but I think some of my tiny bit of optimism comes from my unique position, which is actually multiple positions. I’ve published two old-fashioned, old-school paper books with a press that is actually still independent, still active, still innovative–somehow Biblioasis manages to keep their authors out in the world, relevant and engaged, while dealing primarily with printed pages.

But I’m also on the other side some of the time–5 days a week, in fact. I work in a publishing environment that is struggling pretty hard to do the new things–books that have no print dimension, or only a small one, but do things print could never do. Have I seen the future? No, I haven’t, but I have seen a lot of possibilities. It’s inspiring what people are coming up with. It’s also really really hard–this sort of work calls on a lot of skills that aren’t really active in most bookfolk. It’s another part of the brain–several other parts–and sometimes it makes me really sad how not-innate this stuff is to me. But I keep trying, because what choice do I have? Publishing *will* keep moving forward, and I would like to go with it as far as I can.

I do find it hard to be terribly pessimistic about the future of literature when I have seen all these great ideas–variations on the old and brand-new alike–that are coming forward. And if you’re more pessimistic than me, fine–there’s room to disagree. But surely the “we’re doomed, we’re doomed” folks must realize that they’re not the best friends a book ever had.

Literature is a vibrant part of culture–it reflects and questions and celebrates and protests what IS in our world, and therefore it has to be part of that world. If it’s hard to innovate right now, individuals and companies and the whole industry do suffer, but that’s the nature of growth. We’re just going to have to work harder. In tough times, well…you know what they say…

If you’re worried about who is going to be the next great books editor, apply for the job. If you think all the publishing houses suck, found a better one. If you don’t think there’s a book that really capitalizes on the new technologies, write one. Or write a book that transcends technology, that’s so good it would be relevant in any age. It’s something to shoot for, anyway.

Or hell, just read a book. Read anything, and engage with the content, and talk about what it is and could be. Even if the sky were truly falling, it would still be worth reading books, and I think it always will be.

October 4th, 2012

The Same Only Different

I have the gift and the curse of usually liking my own writing. If I was interested enough in an idea to write a full story about it in the first place(not the little abandoned snippets that litter my Word files), I’ll pretty much always consider it worth revising until someone else likes it too. This is a gift because it encourages me to keep on with stories that have a lot wrong with them, but a curse but I can waste a lot of time on something better left in the archives.

As I approach the fabled mid-thirties, I’ve found another wrinkle in this pattern of constant revision–my voice is changing, or rather has changed, a great deal. Well, a great deal to me–I find even the contrast between some of the stories in *Once* versus *The Big Dream* pretty dramatic, but I don’t expect anyone else to notice or care. But it’s one thing to read two stories written 5 years apart and notice a difference–it’s another thing to delve into a story written years ago and try to live inside it to a degree that I can write that way again.

And in truth, I don’t go back so terribly far. I’ve always written stories, but I rarely return to ones written before 2005-2006. There are simply issues of quality I cannot overcome in most of the stuff written prior to then, and issues of deceased hard drives don’t hlep matters. So really, we’re talking max 7 years, here. Have I really changed that much? I guess so. I’ve done it before.

The oldest short story I’ve published (that doesn’t qualify as juvenalia in some way–like being in teen anthology) is “If This,” originally written in 2000, published in The Puritan in 2009. It was one of pretty much two things that I wrote in university that anyone else ever understood, and I really wanted to see it published. But revising it was excruciating–my mind just doesn’t work that may anymore. Back then, I was writing in a style I named myself (I think?) called hyper-lyric. It was a maximalism, periodic, involuted style that was only one of many reasons most people found my work hard to follow, but I loved it and writing that way made me happy.

It no longer does. I wander into periodic sentences now, and then I try to get them out in the second drafts. I always want to say it more simply, and I actually think I am far more pretentious in conversation and personal writing that I am in fiction (I’d never use the word “involuted” in a story). I was never aware of jettisoning the hyper-lyric style, or whatever that was if you don’t accept my imaginary terminology, but it sure is gone now. I still *like* that story, and a number of others I’ll never be able to repair enough to publish, but I no longer possess the mind that wrote them. Weird, eh?

So revisions become a race against, well, not the clock but the calandar, anyway. These days, between work on the new stuff, I’m trying to revise work from that 2005-2006 period and send it out before I become so different from the lady who wrote them that I can’t revise them anymore. Am I being melodramatic? Maybe, but really, anything to encourage myself to work, right?

Anyway, all this is in my head today because an older story that I revised pretty heavily this past spring, called “Anxiety Attack,” has been accepted by Freefall Magazine, which makes me really happy. I’m so pleased that that story will get its crack at being read by a wider audience than me, and I’m glad some else agrees that it’s worthwhile. And I guess I’m glad too that this proves the slog of revising older pieces is worth it, at least sometimes. “First Afternoon,” another revisited and revised story, will appear in The Windsor Review next spring, too.

And the race against the hands of time continues…(another thing I’d never write in a story)

July 25th, 2011

My Favourite Short Story

When I was 12ish, my favourite short story was For Esmé Esme, with Love and Squalor by J. D. Salinger. Looking back, I figure that’s the way you think when you haven’t read very many stories, and it’s a very small pool to choose from. After a while, you read more and you realize that there are too many ways for a story to be good, too many different vectors of excellence, and having a single favourite makes no sense. This applies to music, too. And art. Also human beings, and a lot of other things.

I tried to do the math, and I’m guessing a very rough estimate would that I’ve read about 2000 professional short stories (not counting workshop, or student work) in books, journals, and magazines in the last 5 years alone. I’ve loved so many of them, for so many vast and varied reasons. But I reread “Esmé,” for probably the 10th time, but perhaps the first in 10 years, last Friday, and I laughed and almost cried on the bus, and thought it was, along a certain gentle realist vector of excellence, sublime.

Like most people, I was mainly an idiot when I was 12, but it’s nice to know I was in the ballpark on a few things.

February 22nd, 2011

Retro moment–April 29, 2001

I totally meant to blog all day today, but somehow none of my ideas seemed to pan out. Then I happened to glance at this really old journal entry, and it made me laugh–perhaps it will have the same effect on you?

Before you read it, I have to say that living inside my own brain makes it difficult to tell if I’m changing or maturing at all. Usually I’m pretty sure I’m not, and am exactly the same as I was at 18. Or 15. But a few things in this post are actually quite different than my current modus operani. For example:
–many questionable dietary decisions (this was before I really knew what fat content was)
–owned a Walkman (even in 2001, this was a bit odd, actually)
–spending actual money on *Glamour* (I would still be happy to read *Glamour*, if someone happened to give me one for free–paying for it is where I draw the line)
–spelling “deal” as “dil” (I regret this deeply!)
–casual use of the word “bitch”, a word I’m pretty careful with these days
–rather worked up over having to use cash machine. I can’t honestly remember why this was–maybe I had higher banking fees back then?

Anyway, here you are–a random day from 10 years ago, when I was slightly different than I am now:

In the first moments of the doomed April 29, I realized that I had no batteries for my walkman, which I wanted to listen to on the train. So, off I trotted to the dep, full of innocent hope. On the way there, noticed copious police cars and tape. Figure there was an accident. Proceed to dep. Select batteries and Butterfinger bar. As I go to pay, cops enter and announce that someone was just stabbed across the street, that the stabber is still wandering around and we have the choice of staying barricaded in the dep until they bring the dogs in to find him, or running home now. This is bad.

Bad for the person who got stabbed, bad for business at the dep, but also bad for me, who now has no time to pay by interact and has to give up five dollars of her paltry remaining cash. Sprint home, lock all locks. Heart pounding. Worry about friends who are out and will have to walk home alone. Freak out. Go to bed at one and lie there freaking out for a while. Wake up at five, in order to have an hour to get ready in. Worry about stabber. Have time on hands so do dishes?!

Call cab (note: cab lady is a lot friendlier and less likely to hang up on you at dawn). Arrive at station and give cab driver all of remaining cash. Walk in. Train is not listed on departure board. Get sinking feeling. Ask man at desk what the dil is with 7am train. He explains that it is Sunday and therefore there *is* no 7am train. I beg to differ, as I have a ticket for said train. Upon examination, the ticket proves to be for the previous day. Wish to kill man who sold it to me under the pretence of it being for Sunday. Wish to kill self for not checking. Put head down on the ticket guy’s desk. Is too early to comtemplate alternative plan.

Debate calling parents at 6:10am, but extreme exhaustion makes me unable to be considerate of others. As it turns out, *they were having breakfast and it was a good thing I called so early because they would have left soon to meet by 11:30 arriving train in the city an hour away*. My parents now exist in an entirely parallel universe. They are extremely sypathetic but have no good ideas. Mother suggests waiting three hours in train station for first real train of the day, but am not wild about that idea. Return to ticket man (all this while dragging suitcases, I might add. Heavy suitcases).

Ask him for phone number of bus station, which he writes out for me. He attempts to tell me something helpful about using the old ticket next time, which causes me to be snippy and say I can’t understand the machinations of the VIA universe because I have been up since 5am. Storm off. Stop and turn around and say, “Well, so have you, I guess”. Feel like giant bitch, likely because I am one.

Call bus station. For $60 extra dollars and several extra hours, can finally leave city. Hurrah? Return *again* to ticket desk to ask directions to bank machine so as to get cash for taxi. Extremely nice ticket man says he will pay for my taxi, which he calls for me, instructs the driver and opens the door for me. Am truly giant bitch. Props to lovely VIA ticket man.

Arrive at train station. Purchase ticket. Eat terrible egg and tomato (??) sandwich, made by the waitress at the restaurant because the cook was apparently missing or possibly dead (I ascertained this by listening to the waitress shriek “JOHNNY” for five minutes until it was clear if he was in fact still alive and in the building, he would be kneeling in supplication with eardrums bleeding by then). Buy Glamour and Chuppa Pops. Examine fellow travellers. Bus passangers have none of the air of shabby gentility of those on the train – some are different to distinguish from people who just sleep at the bus depot. I am puzzled by this, as the price difference is really not very much.

Board bus. At least are no chickens. Get teensy tiny double seat to self (makes you appreciate the turquoise semi-spaciousness of the train) and spend rest of day studiously avoiding eye contact with new passengers so will not have to share. Read Glamour, eat apple. Time passes. Woman behind me occasionally pokes me in the shoulder by “accident” and attempts to speak to me in some non-English, non-French language which she never seems to believe that I just don’t understand. Am past caring.

Wake up in Kingston with hood somehow over face. Each lunch lying on grass median of the bus station parking lot. Return to bus and lapse into blissful unconsciousness. Somehow arrive in TO *early*. Wait outside for family. See car at the lights, wave and trot over. They don’t see me and drive off, leaving me looking like a freak in front of taxi drivers, who honk at me. Eventually brother arrives and shepards me, whimpering, to car. Eat spaghetti. Go home.

Discover computer will not disgorge story that needs to be finished by tomorrow. This means must wake up at 8 as opposed to say, 3, to go to Bureau en Gros to see if they can print it out, which they probably can’t. Is now time for bed, if I do not slip in the shower and knock myself out first. Fingers crossed.

December 21st, 2010

Reverb 21

Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?) (Author: Jenny Blake) (www.reverb10.com)

I do not understand this question; surely, if I knew what would lead to the best outcome 10 years from now, I would be doing it. In fact, what I *am* doing now is my best guess at what *would* make my future self happy (except all those Quality Streets I just ate, which my 42-year-old self is probably none too impressed by).

I don’t at all understand what I’m supposed to write here–a fantasy where my 2021, rich and famous and wildly adored self congratulates me on fine work ethic and great ideas? Or something silly, about how bad my skin will be in 10 years if I keep consuming chocolate at this rate? I just don’t get it; my life at the moment reflects the best information I have.

December 16th, 2010

Reverb 16

How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author: Martha Mihalick) (www.reverb10.com)

This story is so sad and common it’s almost hackneyed, but I’ve had three acquaintances diagnosed with breast cancer in the past year or two. I don’t know those women well–two wives of friends, one a roommate of a friend–but it’s just really shocking to see something like this penetrate my social circle. By “something like this” I don’t mean cancer specifically; just any kind of major sickness. Isn’t that supposed to happen to people who are very old, who have already had all that life has to offer and raised their children and loved their partners and accomplished all that they wanted? It’s so baffling that these women could be so sick when it’s blindingly obvious that they need to live so much longer and do so much more stuff. As far as I know, all three have stayed pretty strong and are getting on with all the stuff they need to do, but I bet you think about a to-do list a little differently once you’ve had cancer.

I don’t know exactly how this has changed me, but I would file it in the “maturing” folder.

May 26th, 2010

Fun and paranoia

So I spent my birthday weekend (also Queen Victoria’s) in Montreal, frolicking and getting tan and eating tasty food and sleeping in a king-size bed in a glamourous hotel (of course I dislike the recession, but there are some fringe benefits, like glamourous hotels costing normal-people prices for a while). Sorry for not mentioning it here (or anyplace electronic)–sites like this freaked me out about “locational privacy.” So a few people who wanted to spontaneously chat with me this weekend could not and I feel a bit silly about that, but otherwise, it was a very very lovely weekend. And bonus: now I’m 32!

Back in TO, further good things are afoot (and not even just being taken out for lunches and getting cards in the post). Kerry’s daughter Harriet is turning one, and to celebrate Kerry is having a best literary babies contest, with the prize being a subscription to the wonderous The New Quarterly lit journal. Go enter! For another thing, it is a skrillion degrees out, but just perfect in the shade if you are on a patio…I’m just suggesting. And I have an essay coming out in the summer issue of Maisonneueve, on newsstands at the end of June, which I’m happy about.

There’s always more to do, natch, and also the niggling worry of the potato bug I found in my stairwell, but really, Toronto in the summer is a beautiful thing. Hope you are enjoying it.

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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