September 16th, 2014

On Literary Envy

I’ve been wanting to write something on literary envy for a while now–by which I mean being envious of others’ literary achievements or accolades (not characters in literature being envious, as I just realized this could be interpreted). And then this morning in Jessica Westhead’s Twitter feed (which, like most things JW does, is interesting and you should check out) I saw on article on that very topic. It’s Nathan Rabin’s Salon piece on being envious of John Green. It is an excruciatingly honest piece on feeling bad about how Rabin and Green were casual friends, then grew apart and Green got crazy successful. Rabin, who was pretty successful in his own right and also apparently not even in touch with Green, felt miserable in the face of Green’s gargantuan achievements. And fair enough–if you’re going to make that comparison you’re probably going to feel bad about yourself.

Myself, I’m hardly immune to literary envy (of the first kind), but it would never occur to me to be upset by someone like Green–I mean, let’s dwell in reality for a second and realize I’m never going to be a cult rock-star author whom young girls weep about the possibility of seeing in the flesh. Really, I’m ok with that–I can’t even see him from here, just read and enjoy the books. If I met him, I think I would just be pleasantly fannish and hope he remembered my name.

It’s the people are a couple rungs up from me that sometimes unsettle me a bit–I can see them from here, so very clearly. And everything a writer does–maybe everything anybody does professionally–is about getting a little better, working a little harder, accomplishing a little more than you’ve done already? So why can’t I get to that next rung?

A good answer, both for Nathan Rabin and for me, comes from Dear Sugar, the pseudonym of the (very successful) writer Cheryl Strayed. Sugar wrote a column on this very subject, and it was really inspiring to me. I’m actually not a very envious person most of the time, and so while I have definitely had days of staring at Facebook and feeling sorry for myself, most of the time I can get past it and feel good about deserving people reaping excellent rewards.

Sugar’s advice is powerful and helpful for those of us with even a touch of the green-eyed monster, though–I promise to slow down on those Facebook spirals after rereading this…

“You know what I do when I feel jealous? I tell myself to not feel jealous. I shut down the why not me? voice and replace it with one that says don’t be silly instead. It really is that easy. You actually do stop being an awful jealous person by stopping being an awful jealous person. When you feel like crap because someone has gotten something you want you force yourself to remember how very much you have been given. You remember that there is plenty for all of us. You remember that someone else’s success has absolutely no bearing on your own. You remember that a wonderful thing has happened to one of your literary peers and maybe, if you keep working and if you get lucky, something wonderful may also someday happen to you.

“And if you can’t muster that, you just stop. You truly do. You do not let yourself think about it. There isn’t a thing to eat down there in the rabbit hole of your bitterness except your own desperate heart. If you let it, your jealousy will devour you.”

It’s just such simple basic advice that will, at the very least, allow the struggling writer to have more friends–and we could all use those.

Another thing that just occurred to me is that I am posting this on Giller day. I’ve actually seen nothing but supportive loveliness online today, but if there’s anyone out there secretly feeling less than lovely, please read Sugar’s column (and maybe don’t read Rabin’s–while honest and heartfelt, it won’t exactly make you feel better).

February 18th, 2014

Last Fall

Last fall I read about 550 short stories in two months for the CBC Canada Writes contest. I was a big crazy slalom, but I enjoyed myself and learned a lot. If you’re not familiar with Canada Writes contest, it’s pretty prestigious and pretty challenging–I read that many stories and I was one of TWELVE readers. In addition to the very stiff competition, the word count on the contest makes it all but impossible for me to even enter–1500 words MAX. I’m not really that kind of writer lately–I felt like I’d all but forgotten how to write an effective story in that tight a space and I was hoping that helping out with the contest would help me relearn that skill. It did, to some degree, but all really good short stories are truly just their own thing and while there’s a glimmer of “oh, I see how you did that” mainly the spell remains unbroken.

Anyway, the long list was announced on Monday–from that list of 36 it’s up to the judges to determine the shortlist. I do not envy them the task. There was plenty of dross in my pile of stories, of course, but when I passed on my selections for the long list they were all pretty damn amazing–any number could have won in my book.

If you want to read my thoughts on the three stories I chose that made it to the long list, you can do so in the little interview CBC did with me, Amber Dawn and Michael Hingston, two of the other readers. More of those interviews will follow in the next few weeks.

So now you know why I was always stressed and carrying a big pile of papers last fall….

November 13th, 2013

Rose-coloured reviews the 2013 Giller Prize

Despite the phone ringing during the opening chords, I was pretty pleased with what I caught of Whitehorse. They’re great singers, but though I thought they were struggling pretty hard to work around the stage in their formal-wear and to set up instruments mid-song. No one could have helped them? Seemed a bit chinzy not to have a tech guy at an otherwise lavish event…

Onwards to the show! Jian Ghomeshi was hosting again, and he was his usual personable, suave self. The room was filled with elaborate tables with elaborate centrepieces. Mark and I now know enough literati, at least by sight, to have fun pointing out who we knew in the crowd, a game Mark is much better at than I am. I’m out of it enough that, as Jian announced each nominee, and the camera focussed in on a face, I assumed that was the nominee. Mark thought this was hilarious.

“Is that Craig Davidson?”

“No, it’s the guy behind him. You can sort of see his hair.”

The camera guys would struggle with this all night. Not sure why.

I failed to watch the Gillers last year due to the CBC website posting the wrong time on their website for their OWN broadcast–so lame–so I don’t know whether the changes I saw in the broadcast were new this year or not. I do know that they seem to have taken my 2010 Giller Review to heart and eliminated the very personal interview questions in the mini-movies. Actually they did that in 2011 too, but this year they replaced them with personal interview questions on-stage. I actually love those, but that is my nosy streak–I am not sure it was fair to ask Dan Vyleta about his late father in front of a live audience, though he handled it gracefully and wittily.

Something new, at least to me, is that the mini-movies are now readings of the stories, in the authors’ OWN voices no less. This is a huge improvement over previous years where there was neither an opportunity for the authors to speak nor any direct quotes of the celebrated books. I really liked the readings–great job, everybody. I was less crazy about the visuals in the movies, which were impressionistic, vague scenes from the books in question, more or less. I wasn’t wild about them, but nor was I embarrassed by them, and I also don’t have a better suggestion. Well, I do–it could just be the author standing there wearing nice clothes reading the book. That always does it for me at live readings. But TV being the action-packed medium that it is, I don’t think we’ll see that in future, so I’m fine with these glimpses into someone’s imagination of the worlds of the novel.

The best part of the evening, other than the winner, was unexpectedly the on-stage judge interview. Margaret Atwood, Esi Edugyan, and Jonathan Lethem comprised the jury, and vast variety of heights. They were already mildly amusing just standing there, with Jian Ghomeshi onstage, before anyone spoke. They looked like invitees to different parties, or like a mischievous sprite, the queen, and an awkward teenager, respectively. Ghomeshi kicked things off by mentioning that Atwood had asked earlier about the “banter” and she teased him from there, answering all the questions gnomically–the difference between her time on the Giller jury this year and previously is “being older”–and actually covering a giggle with her hand at one point. I have almost never seen video footage of Atwood, and I was shocked by a realization I’d not had previously: Margaret Atwood *loves* being Margaret Atwood. I am so happy for her–makes me want to read her new book even though it is about the apocalypse and I am very scared of the apocalypse. Ghomeshi capped off the interview by asking if we’d be surprised by the winner, and Lethem responded that it was a book on the shortlist. I’m not sure if I’m properly conveying how funny it all was.

The presenters were useless as ever–the weakest part of the show. I don’t know why the Giller organizers insist on pulling people from showbiz to present–as if many bookish people will be drawn in if there’s a hiphop star on it. Or as if hiphop fans would be! I forget every presenter’s name and most of what they said, but I did note that there seemed to be much more emphasis on the presenters proving they had actually read the books. I do not care if they had or not, as they did not have anything interesting to say about their reading experiences.

As far as I know, other industries have people FROM that industry present at awards shows. Film actors at the Oscars, tv folks at the Emmies, musicians for the Grammies (actually, I don’t for sure know these things and think that maybe should be Emmys and Grammys). ANYWAY, surely there are some writers somewhere who are telegenic enough to be Giller presenters. Isn’t that “presenter” role supposed to be a little bit of exposure for others in the industry who aren’t nominated? I think it would be great to see more Canadian writers than just the 5 nominees on Giller night. If I thought I could pull off an evening gown, I’d apply for the gig myself.

Um…cutting to the chase: *Hellgoing* by Lynn Coady won. I was delighted, not only because it is a book short stories, nor because it was the only book on the shortlist I had read, not because I thought Coady other book *The Antagonist* should have won when it was nominated in 2011. I thought that THIS book, this book that won, was very very good and deserving of accolades. I’m wary of a cumulative effects with big prizes–none of this “write enough good books and that will eventually add up to one great book.” And I don’t necessarily feel that this was a victory for short stories, though after book Giller night and Alice Munro’s Nobel win a few weeks ago, everyone’s been congratulating me as if my “team” had a victory. It would certainly be lovely if these two events brought more readers in general to the story, but in the meantime, I think Coady can claim whole ownership of this prize. She didn’t win for her subject matter (too varied), her lifetime achievements (too young), or her gravitas (too funny): she won because she wrote an inventive, intelligent, entertaining, sad, thought-provoking book. I’m hesitant to say the best (as I haven’t read the other books) but certainly a book very much deserving of celebration.

Coady’s speech was unexpectedly boring–she mentioned being overwhelmed and fair enough. The highpoint was that she noted two big factors in her success as a writer are a happy marriage and enough food. Hear, hear!

Best Gillers in my experience–even cautiously looking forward to next year!

November 6th, 2013

Tonight! Plus a guest blog

I know I’ve already seen the film of How to Keep Your Day Job 1 million times (not actually, but close) but I’m still so excited to see it tonight at the Toronto Short Film Festival at the Carlton Theatre. It will be special to witness this little film’s Toronto public debut. Also, people have been telling me how they feel about the film and where they laughed or were surprised, but I’m so curious to actually *be there* in a room full of strangers, hearing and feeling them reacting to the events on screen. There’s also a lot of other wonderful-looking stuff on the bill tonight–can’t wait!

Oh, and I wrote a little blog post for the Compose Journal blog. It’s about the origins of the story of mine they published, Loneliness and, more interesting to me in the present tense, what happened after I wrote it.

Oh, and Lynn Coady won the Giller??!! The first time I have been truly thrilled by a Giller-winning book! I wish she could come be mayor of Toronto!

July 12th, 2013

Good literary news

This blog has been a bit quiet of late, and when I do post it tends to be vacation anecdotes or random rants, but here at last is a post with some actual literary news…

First off, in the ongoing adventures of the short film How to Keep Your Day Job, now a nomination for best short film at the Directors’ Guild of Canada Awards. I guess you can watch this space at the end of October to see who won, but it’s just so great to see the amazing cast and crew of the film getting some recognition!

In terms of my own literary accomplishments, my short story “Marriage” has been accepted for an upcoming issue of The New Quarterly. Longtime readers will know I have a long love of The New Quarterly and am thrilled that they like this story. Can’t wait to see it in their pages.

And finally, Monday of this week, I did a fun 75 minute class with Professor Rawding’s literature students at University of Waterloo. They’d read a dozen stories out of The Big Dream, then thought about their reactions and made lists of questions by theme. Each group took a turn asking questions–yes, I did over an hour of Q&A with people who a) knew their stuff (no softball “so do you write with a pen or on a keyboard?” questions) and b) had not chosen the book themselves and did not necessarily like it.

It was *intense* to say the least, but also thrilling–the best compliment is a careful reading, I say. And honestly, no writer worth his/her salt ever believes anyone who says “Great book!” and leaves it at that. But the thorough, insightful questions from these students made me feel truly flattered that the book inspired them. I hope my answers were as good (or nearly).

Here’s a picture with me and the class. I am slouching because I was worried about blocking the kids behind me, who were actually way higher so I just look odd. Professor Rawding’s on the left in the green check shirt.

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And finally, a photo of me with the professor’s cat (of course!)

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February 20th, 2013

Deathmatch

Every year I see a posting for a Broken Pencil short-story contest, click on it with interest and then recoil in horror. I am not Deathmatch Material. I like to think all us short story writers are our own special flowers, and though every reader might not like to sniff every flower, there’s room for all of us in the garden.

Broken Pencil’s Short Story Deathmatch posits a winner-take-all, hateful-comments-weed-out-the-week mentality, at least on the surface. In reality the comments from Canadian readers and writers aren’t *that* harsh–more, the commenters often seem to really engage with the stories. So though I quail from entering myself, I annually find myself drawn into a public-opinion-based literary contest that is actually about the literature.

Because, let’s face it, most public-opinion book contest *aren’t* about the books. At least, not as a “contest” is normally interpreted. Every few months, I’ll get an email or see on FB that an author I know/like/admire is in contention for one of these readers’ choice things, and could I please vote? Usually, I do it if I’ve read the book and liked it–I draw the line at voting for books I’ve haven’t read, no matter how much I like the author’s previous works or personality. But still, even if I know the book well and love it, my vote isn’t really fair, because normally I’ve read few or none of the competitors, so I don’t actually *know* the book I’m voting for is better.

In the interests of fairness, I should really go out and read every book in contention, at least a few chapters and skim to the end, before I make a bold claim that I know which the best one is. But let’s be honest, who is willing to do that without being paid? And who is paid–judges. That’s why I contend that the best people to judge contests are always the judges. It’s not because I’m elitist snob who privileges certain opinions above others; it’s because the only people who are going to read dozens of books in a year that they didn’t select for themselves, some hard to find, obscure, very long, or about topics that don’t interest them–are the folks on the payroll. The “popular” way isn’t even close to fair.

Amazingly, near as I can tell, the Deathmatch *is* fair. Of course, you can’t stop people voting without reading and the writers with friends working office jobs, who can set their phone alarms and go online to revote every hour, are going to do better than folks whose friends are teachers and construction workers. But it works really well. Each quarter final pits only two short stories against each other–it’ll take you maybe half an hour to read both, and then you can make a totally informed decision. You can choose to vote in any number of quarter finals–1, 2, 3, or 4 rounds. The semi-finals pit the winners against each other in 2 more rounds after–get this–everybody’s rewritten their stories to incorporate the feedback they got the first time around. How cool is that?

I voted in a couple quarter finals, but didn’t think to share the love. Now we’re in the semis, but it’s not too late–you can vote until Sunday midnight in the first semifinal, and all next week in the second. Start here and enjoy some weird fiction.

November 2nd, 2012

No Giller reivew this year

So, sadly, there will be no Rose-coloured review of the Giller Awards broadcast this year, because the Giller website listed the time of the webcast as 9pm (scroll down to the second blog post and you can still see the error!) When I eagerly sat down at 8:59, everyone was cheering and the camera was swooping *out*–party over, having apparently started at 8pm. Nerds!

I admit that I mainly wanted to watch so that I could make snarky comments about that guy from Hedley, and the injustice of devoting an hour of air time to books by 5 authors, and not letting 4 of them speak. But I also do enjoy the experience of seeing some razzmatazz in the name of the usually more yoga-pants-y writing life. I’m also a little alarmed that no one caught the error–I bet this never happens with the Pulitzer!

Nevertheless, congrats to Will Ferguson anyway–apparently he was quite charming at the ceremony. And congrats also to Russell Wangersky, the author of the only shortlisted book that I read, for writing a really good one.

I’m looking forward to the Writers’ Trust Awards next week to fill this gap. I have been twice now, and never wanted to say anything snarky about that event–it’s really fun, and yes, glamourous. Also, high-calibre snacks. I’ll be much more upset if I get the time wrong on this one!

April 2nd, 2012

Participant

I’ve been doing a few things lately even *in addition* to swanning around the Maritime provinces and basking in the springtime sun here in Ontario. Today, for example, I ran *many* errands in the aforementioned springtime sun, which is somehow much better than the fraudulent summer sun of a few weeks ago. Today was one of those rare days for a 9-to-5-er, when I had time to prioritize those little errands like the library, the post office, the dry-cleaner–instead of cramming them on the tail-end of some more glamourous errand, they got to be centre stage. And I strolled between them listening to Belle and Sebastian (come on! anyone who doesn’t think Belle and Sebastian is the perfect soundtrack to a spring stroll is just a hipster too far). Lovely.

Ok, but also–some writing stuff. I contributed a line to Pass the Ghost Story, which is fun, creepy, and still in progress; I was interviewed by Grace O’Connell about Writers and Day Jobs, and I made the very long but very cool long-list for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. I’ve read enough of the books on the list to know what an honour this is, so I’m basking…just a bit!

And it’s only Monday!

November 12th, 2011

Rose-coloured Reviews the Giller Prize Show 2011

To watch last year’s Giller show, Mark and I had to head for someone else’s house, but this year through the power of live-streaming, we could watch at home and keep the kitten company. I have no idea if CTV had a live-streaming version of the Gillers, too, but the CBC one was hitchless–no hiccups or buffering issues. Lots (and lots) of commercials, but I guess that was the point.

So there we were with our smartpop, our wine, our kitten going insane under the desk, watching the camera roll over the vast and glittering crowd at the Four Seasons up to…Jian Ghomeshi?? Hooray, I love that guy. He was the host at the Writers’ Trust Awards the year I was a presenter, and he did a lovely, low-key, and charming job of it. What a shock to find that at the Gillers, right off the bat, Ghomeshi was unfunny!

Worse, as the show wore on, he seemed to be rolling his eyes at his own jokes. He’d kind of grimace, look down at his notes, make the joke quickly, and then say, “C’mon, c’mon, that’s funny, right?” It was all a lot more Fozzie-Bear-ish than I was expecting.

But that was the cumulative effect of the entire show–at the beginning he just seemed a little stiff as he introduced Lang Lang, who played something lovely on the piano and was, unique among the men I saw on the telecast, wearing an open-collared shirt.

The next segment was a bit from the judges, talking about how hard it was to read so many (140+) nominated books. One of the judges (I don’t know who any of them were except Annabel Lyon–always nice to see her) said, “All of the books had something about them that made them worthy of the prize,” or something along those lines. “They’re talking about my book!” I squealed. (Full disclosure: I have no idea if *The Big Dream* was put forward for the Giller, I just know that–technically–it was eligible.)

Like last year’s event, things moved along at a good clip, and as I recall after that we got pretty much directly into the book presentations. As with last year’s, the presentaters were a random assortment of vaguely famous non-book-related people. The first one, “international celebrity” Lisa Ray was no one I’d heard of and her telepromtation delivery of the introduction to David Bezmozgis’ novel did not make me want to investigate further. Nelly Furtado, Robbie Robertson, and that guy from Hedley did slightly better jobs, but still–who cares? I seriously doubt anyone who was not going to watch the show would see an advert and say, “Hey, Nelly Furtado is not singing, but is speaking for 120 seconds? I’m so there.” As for me, who was looking forward to the show, there’s pretty much no one whose literary opinion I respect less than the Hedley guy’s, and I consider myself *un*curmudgeonly among litsy types–why not cater to your audience?

Weirdly, the only presenter who did such a good job that I believe (a) that he was speaking extemporaneously, and (b) that he had read the book, was Ron MacLean introducing *The Antagonist* by Lynn Coady. Mark explained that he is some sort of hockey commentator, and he certainly spoke bomastically, but also with genuine enthuasiasm for the book and its author, whom he address directly, as “Lynn”–he also said he was going to call her parents and congratulate them. If all the presentors had been like that, I could’ve forgiven their literary irrelevance.

I should admit that Michael Ondaatje’s book *The Cat’s Table* was introduced last and, though I genuinely liked the excerpt in the New Yorker, by that point I was not paying attention. I don’t even know who introduced it. Part of the problem was that the kitten had become increasingly destructive, flipping a folder off the desk and sending a plume of papers into the air, followed by partially eating a little rubber thing that could not be subsequently identified. But also, there was the fact that I was freaking bored.

The best parts, as last year, were the personal interviews with the authors. This year’s however had shucked off the lame invasive aspects–showing the writers with their partners and kids–in favour of actually focussing on the books, and writing in general. They had also left off the syrupy natural settings (strolling beside a river, anyone?) in favour of a really nice, book-lined studio, the same one for all six. The questions were interesting if not overly intellectual, and the editor kept in only the bits where the authors sounded thoughtful and smart. I liked last year’s pieces very much, but these were far better–weirdly, making the setup less personal allowed the authors’ personalities to come through far better. I was especially impressed with what Coady said about what the reader owes the book (nothing) and what Zsuzsi Gardner said about why she writes (to comment on the world). I also liked that the writerly questions were folded in with the life ones, so that no one was stuck standing in front of a white wall just after the commercials, talking about what is their muse. Really well-done segments, all six (fine, I didn’t really watch Ondaatje’s–the cat was trying to dig through the floor).

I said it last year and I’ll say it again–why are there no readings at the Gillers? The Oscars show clips, the Tonys show song-and-dance numbers, the Grammys have songs, the Gillers have…that Hedley guy reading the back cover bumpf. These are supposed to be our country’s best crafters of words–how come some speech-writer is crafting everything that’s said in the awards presentation? And if the worry is that the authors themselves would be too nervous and unprofessional for a CBC telecast, one could certainly hire actors to read passages–they’d be cheaper than Robbie Robertson, I’m guessing. Although I vastly prefer to see how a writer reads his/her own work, and anyway, this year the writers didn’t even get to stand up on tv (except the winner) and I wanted to see what they were wearing.

And while I’m ranting, with all the serious, respected, professional criticism and reviews that has been written about these 6 books, why was the only quotation in the broadcast of Nelly Furtado’s tweet that she was “consumed” by *Half-Blood Blues*?? WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO APPEAL TO???

Deep breath. Esi Edugyan won. I’ve only read Better Living through Plastic Explosives and The Antagonist (and loved both) but Mark read *Half-Blood Blues* and assured me it was strong novel and a worthwhile winner…though he, like me, was pulling for Coady’s novel. And Edugyan gave a calm, sweet speech and also is absolutely stunning, so it was pleasant to watch her (though for some reason I STILL couldn’t see what she was wearing).

So though we were happy enough with the outcome and were glad these 6 books were celebrated, I found the broadcast of the Gillers extremely lame and unrepresentative of the glorious books it was supposed to be showcasing. And there were *so many* commercials. I haven’t watched broadcast TV with any kind of regularity in nearly a decade, and almost never with my partner, and it turns out there is a strange kind of silence that comes the first time you watch a yeast-infection-treatment advert together…which was probably the most memorable part of the experience.

June 17th, 2011

The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award

Thanks so much to Allyson Latta for gifting me with the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award! This is an award that is inspiring in its generosity–the rule is the recipients are the next adjudicators, and have to pass it on some other sweet blogs. Which is actually rule 3–let’s do this in order.

Rule one is to thank the person who have you the award–thanks so much, Allyson. We met when we judged the UofT writing contest last summer–and had a wonderful lunchtime debate over the winners at the Gallery Grill. Also is an insightful reader and a fascinating person, as her “7 things about me” section of the Blog Award requirements proves–you should read it if you haven’t already.

So rule 2–tell 7 things about me. I got into trouble trying to do the “25 Things about Me” Facebook meme a few years ago, but 7 seems more manageable. Let’s see…

(1) I’m from a quite small town, and I lived there until I graduated high school. Then I went to McGill and from there to live in Toronto. Apparently these urban experiences have completely overwritten any rural parts of my personality, because people are always shocked and disbelieving that I grew up planting squash seeds every summer so I’d have something to enter in the fair in the fall. I totally did though–and once my squash won third place!

(2) I have a bunch of qualities that “creative” people aren’t supposed to have–I’m pretty good at math, enjoy socializing and dislike being alone, have an easy time obeying orders and learning from direct instruction. The math is helpful, and so is being good at school-type contexts, but it’s a bit hard to be a writer if you don’t really like being on your own, which is why I am very glad I have this blog. And Facebook. And a good long distance plan. And friends in general.

(3) I really like cats. Really a lot (but not a psycho amount). The pathetic thing is I don’t have a cat of my own, and often, other people’s cats don’t like me. I think it is because I am too needy, and I want to play with/cuddle them more than they want to be played with/cuddled. I joke that I am a reverse cat lady because I have a happy long-term relationship with a man but can’t keep a cat interested–but really, when they sprint away from my outstretched arms and hide behind the couch, it still stings.

(4) I used to be a good driver, but after not having a car for a decade, I’m distinctly tense behind the wheel these days. I’m trying really hard to get better, but I still prefer to have a second opinion on whether it’s a good time to merge now, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in my passengers.

(5) I have two small titanium screws hinging my upper and lower jaws together, one right in front of each ear. If you were wondering, titanium does not set off metal detectors in airports.

(6) Of all the “amusing anecdotes” I sometimes tell at lunch or at parties, this one is the most popular:
A couple years ago, I was walking home from the grocery store (about a 6 block walk) and pulled a 600 mL bottle of Coke Zero out of the bags and began drinking it as I walked. A guy strode up from behind me on the sidewalk.
Guy: Can I have a sip?
Me: Uh, no. Sorry.
Guy: Oh, come on. I’m thirsty. Just one sip?
Me: I really can’t. (trying to walk faster, but groceries are heavy)
Guy: Come on, please (repeat several times)
Me: I’ll just give you the soda. Here.
(He refuses to take the bottle)
Guy: Is it because I’m black?
Me: No!
Guy: Well, why then?
Me: It’s because you’re a stranger! I don’t know you.
Guy: Oh, come on, I’m a good guy, etc. (followed by further badgering)
Me (now upset and confused): STRANGER! STRANGER!
Guy: (Backing away, hands up) Ok, ok. I’m a good guy you know. I’m just going to church.
Me: Ok.
Guy: So I’m going to go to church now. (He jaywalks across the street, and does in fact go into a church.)

(7) In grade 2, there was a sink directly behind the painting easel in my classroom. Sometimes centipedes would come out of the drain and live in the sink for a while, which freaked out/fascinated all the kids. Once while I was painting a picture at the easel, a centipede appeared in the sink. I was so disgusted by this that I took my brush and painted the centipede blue and yellow (this sort of reaction made sense when I was 7). When the teacher came over to look at my painting, she saw the painted centipede and admonished me: “What if I put you in the sink and painted you blue and yellow?” I thought it over and realized this was probably a fair punishment, and climbed in to the sink, which really baffled the teacher.

~~~
Here are some really sweet blogs for your enjoyment–the new winners of the Irresistibly Sweet Awards!

Candy Blog is an obvious choice for this one. Written by a playwright, but entirely separate from her creative work, the candy reviews are totally serious, well-written, detailed reviews of all the candy in the universe. Great reading if you…like candy, but also if you are looking to expand your vocabulary with ways to describe tastes and aromas. Fascinating.

The Corinna Wraps blog is a full of adorably wrapped presents and other confections made out of paper and card. It’s great if you’d like tips for gifts and favours, or even just like to look at pretty things. It’s done by my sweet friend Corinna, who also teaches workshops on how to wrap like she does. I took one of the workshops on Tuesday, and while my paper flowers came out a little wonky, I was impressed at how much she could teach even a klutz like me in only a couple of hours.

A Place is run by my dear friend Fred, but I’m pretty sure her blog would be funny and fun even for those who don’t know her. Just slice of life stuff–my favourite of the recent posts is the reviews of the foods she got out of a vending machine–but with a very charming eye for detail and a sense of humour. This blog is also 10 years old, so there is a wealth of archives to explore.

My friend Scott’s blog Letters to Henry (is it bad that I pretty much read only blogs of people I know?) is often inspiring and always interesting. I always wish for more updates (cough) but really, a fun and fascinating life away from the screen does make for better posts when they do appear.

~~~

Thanks again, Allyson, for this lovely award and a chance to gas on about myself and the blogs I like. A great start to my day!

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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