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) (

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.

December 27th, 2009

Still festive, mainly

I had an awesome Christmas, and I hope anyone else celebrating did likewise. I was given a new watch to replace the one that broke a month ago, so everyone I normally hang out with will now stop being plagued by me reaching for their wrists every (approximately) five minutes. I also got a zillion awesome books, peanut-butter bonbons, pickled carrots, a scratch-n-win Bingo that won me $3 (which I immediately blew on a second card, which won me nothing), slippers, a cloche hat (just like Virginia Woolf!), a tiny table, and dozens of hugs.

I also got another sinus infection!! This was not a gift but rather, I suppose, just payback for so much awesomeness. I still resent that I spent most of *Sherlock Holmes* yesterday a) sleeping or b) trying not to vomit (I didn’t–win!), and thus have no idea what happened. But I still think it was a very good movie anyway. And the more I consider it, the more I actually think that this incident was the result of my over-the-counter sinus medication, because as soon as I stopped taking it the desire to puke and lose consciousness went away. So now I’m medication-free and largely functional, and if I can just get on a plane and travel across the country, I am pretty much guaranteed more hugs, plus naniamo bars. So that is today’s goal.

So I gotta go pack, instead of writing a year’s end list of best somethings or worst somethings, but I was likely not going to get around to doing that anyway. Thank goodness Maisonneuve did one of books and let me contribute.

I hope you guys have a great fake-boxing day tomorrow, and who knows–if I have a little downtime in my travels, I may yet get you a list of best/worst somethings, or possibly a picture of me in a cloche hat.


December 21st, 2009

Public Service Announcements

In case, you know, you need to know:

…how to cope with UPS. When you call UPS, there is no option in any menu to speak to an agent, but if you decline to press any buttons, even for English or French or to enter your tracking number (interesting: if you don’t choose a language, you get English) they will eventually tell you that you can’t speak to anyone unless you have tracking number, so call back when you’ve got one. Then a long pause that sounds like it might be permanent, then the weary voice of the autoprompt, asking “So do you still want to speak to an agent?” Say “yes” and the voice recognition software will direct you to an actual competent and (somewhat) sympathetic human. Man, that was tricky–but worth it.*

…what to give for a holiday gift. There’s great recommendations (and little bios of their sources so you can check for cred [they all have cred]> at The Advent Book Blog. I recommended a book last week, and now that the person I was giving that gift to has received it, I can link to my recommendation.

…how do something nice. Could you be persuaded to give blood? I know many people can’t because of low iron or certain prescriptions in their systems or other health problems, but if you can I think Canadian Blood Services could really use it this holiday season. I base this guess on the fact that last week, the gentleman donating in the chair next to mine experienced the briefest of dizzy spells, and *five* nurses were all over him like a bad suit–cold compresses, elevated legs, fans, cookies, ecetera! They were really really nice, but you just got the feeling they were a little underworked. A few more donators would keep the nurse/donator ratio a bit more even. I know nobody likes needles, and I personally loathe the whole process, but I feel SO GOOD afterwards, knowing I did something for someone (3 someones!), plus awesome karma for the day. I mean, just a few short hours after making this donation, I found a tambourine on the sidewalk!!!! Karmically amazing.

…describe people that are just too hyper. When someone described a potential project (going to see Sherlock Holmes on Boxing Day) as likely to be pandemonium, I said approximately, “Don’t worry, we’ll deal with the pandemaniacs.”** He responded, “That’s not a word,” but I think it is now, and it’s a pretty good one. I give it to you.

Hope that helps!

* I just received the package, so I guess this is a win. But it took a week, four delivery attempts, one formal complaint, plus me saying morosely after I’d registered the complaint, “Can you write on it that I’m very sad?” (no, they can’t), so I am not feeling very victor-like.

** What I actually said was dumber than the above, but the neologism was the same, and this is my blog and I’m allowed to edit the past if I choose…right?

September 1st, 2009

The Haps

1) Joyland Stories will soon be a part of the daily dose of aweomse that is CellStories, a site that sends cell phone and Blackberry (etc.) users a new short story every day (you can also read the stories at the link above). Sounds like a great way to pass a commute, and is probably the second reason on my list of reasons to maybe possibly someday get a cellphone (the first being to receive amusing texts from AMT, and third being in case I am ever accidentally (or on purpose, I guess) locked in a closet.

2) The finalists for Journey Prize 21 will be announced at Ben McNally books on October 1, and I’ll be there to help make the presentation. I’m really looking forward to celebrating such great work.

3) A story of mine called “Dykadelic” will be in the yet-to-be-launched journal *The Milan Review* sometime this fall.

4) I’ll be reading at the Draft Reading Series on October 4 at the Blue Moon Pub. Only new drafty works are to be read there, so who knows what I’ll be presenting.

5) Finally, for those who said it couldn’t be done, I have made it through a week with a left hand mouse and, though I still hate it a lot, this morning when someone *moved my mouse* to the right side of the keyboard (oh, don’t even ask) I *moved it back*. New neural pathways, here I come!

You let me down easy / you let me down hard

August 21st, 2009

First-world problems

I have recently been introduced to the term “first-world problems”, used to describe those problems that sure enough do feel lousy when we have to experience them, but taken in the context of people who struggle for food, safety and clean drinking water, are a little less than earth-tilting. Ie.,

–ice cream melts too fast
–waiter forgets your wine, is rude when reminded
–ugly hotel room
–wallet in other pants
–trying to switch the hand you use your mouse with in order to stave off carpal tunnel syndrom and Altzheimer’s disease makes you grouchy and confused

I’m trying to do that last one and it’s making me very unhappy in a distinctly first-world way. On Wednesday, I did *one hour* of left-handed mousing, and when I got into bed that night and let my body go slack, the mouse-fingers on my left hand immediately started to twitch. Today, I’ve been at it about 3 hours, and I think I might go insane.

Now, I’m a prime target for carpal tunnel, since I’m in front of a computer an incredible number of hours, don’t have an ergonomic setup, plus often use a laptop. There’s nothing I don’t think to be done about the laptop; I’ve been trying to use the touchpad with my left hand, but since it’s right there in the middle, I immediately forget add allow my pushy pushy right hand to take over.

It’s easier on the desktop, since I have an actual mouse that I have moved over to the left side of the keyboard. However, it is a very strange mouse since it the one associated with the drawing pallette I use in my work. Mine’s not that nice, I just wanted a clear picture, but it is a pricey item and clearly it’s not going to be replaced just so I can have a left-handed mouse to go with it, even if there was such a thing (wow, another first-world problem: my expensive technology not quiiiitte as nice as some).

So now I am left-clicking with my *ring-finger*, probably the weakest part of my body besides, like, my hair. Hence the twitching, I guess. I’m trying to feel the new, Alzheimer’s-preventing neural pathways being formed as I do this, but mainly I just feel like I’m working really slowly as it often takes a couple tries to click on what I want. Also my ring-finger is tired. Also, several times when I got really involved with something, I discovered myself 45 degrees pivoted in my chair, gripping the mouse with my right hand through now will of my own. Also, for some reason, my right hand hurts; sympathy pains?

A friend of mine actually successfully made this switch, which is what inspired me to try, but that friend is superhuman in any number of regards, and I’m starting to think this is one of them. Maybe I’ll just learn Suduko??

Why not smile?

April 6th, 2009

Post-weekend update

So I got to do my GritLit reading yesterday and it was awesome; therefore I am not allowed to complain about the myriad things that went wrong with the universe this weekend and continue to do so (snow??) Ahem.

Sometimes, when life is chaotic and difficult, I am comforted by filling out forms. Not hard forms, nothing tax-related–things I know the answer to. I like very short answers that fit in slots, or even better, can be checked off! So simple, so clear, so little room for chaos or difficulty.

I am particularly fond of the Canada Council form that writers have to fill out after participating in literary festivals funded by the CC. The form is short, direct, and easy (mainly opinion questions, which are hard to get wrong, as are items like one’s own address). Also, since lit fests are inevitably so very much fun, the form is basically an invitation to have a good kvell about how great the committee was, how nice the venue was, what delicious food was served, how awesome the audience was, etc., etc.

So I filled out the form this morning and basked in the warm memory GritLit joys, and this mainly blotted out things like:

Cup of tea #1–site of bug drowning
Cup of tea #3–spilled on sweater
Voice–sounds as if I should be telling midnight callers what I’m wearing (sweater covered in tea)
Rose-coloured readers–far too dismissive of the works of Reese Witherspoon

They’re tryin to tell me how to feel

April 2nd, 2009

All panic, no disco

At less than 20 hours until my reading for 65 high school kids, I have nearly no voice. WTF? I’m not even sick, just silent.

Home remedies I have tried so far:
–green tea
–chamomile tea
–gargling with salt water
–frosting (not really a remedy; I just found this cache of leftover frosting)

Any other suggestions for me? At this point, I can’t even muster the voice to call to cancel the event. It’s going to be extra lame if I have to get someone else to do it!!

He could not know another tiger

February 1st, 2009


So you live in an apartment for ages, get used to all the tricks of the door locks and the shower faucet, keep your shorts available during the winter because you know the heat is unpredictable, realize there is a tiny bloodstain on a floortile here or there and don’t worry about it because it’s probably yours, tape things to every available surface, install splitters on the phone jack and a power bar on the electrical jack and generally just assume that the place is your domain and you know it cold.

And then, one day you get the flu. And you spend that day, and subsequent ones, in a semi-coherent haze on your couch, unable to tolerate food or music or conversation or even text most of the time. Supine on your couch, you simply try to keep as silent and still as possible (sometimes motion-sickness can be triggered by the motion of a footstep, or even rolling over too quickly). And during one of your more lucid, conscious periods, you suddenly realize:

Everything in this apartment makes a tiny tiny noise.

Aside from the resounding *thunk* of the refrigerator switching off, it has a steady, low-tenor hum at all times, it seems. Hours after the DVD has ended and the TV set been turned off, it still makes static-y little clicks. The laptop’s motor whirs at random hours for no reason at all (yes, the laptop is always on, “just in case”), and I can hear the elevator cable down the hall making horrible squeaking noise each time it ascends (this does not increase my desire to ride the elevator). Also, the west-wall neighbour takes a lot of showers and I think their shower is directly behind my stove. The north-wall neighbour is passionate and vocal about hockey. And the ceiling neighbour has a deeply confusing erotic life that I still haven’t figured out.

I know so much now, way too much. I’m pleased to be sitting up today for extended periods (I was doing quite will on a 15-minutes work/45-minutes nap schedule there for a while) and I hope to keep the stereo on throughout. If I owe you an email or a phone call, you’ll get it soon, and if you’ve already received one that read or sounded like a fever dream–well, it probably was. Sorry. I hope I didn’t mention the rattle in the heating ducts.

She runs guns / everyone wants guns

November 14th, 2008

Sleep camel

I learned that term from the Idler’s Glossary, in a discussion about those who will *not* idle, who make a contest of activity and reserve leisure for unconsciousness. A sleep camel is one who stays up to all hours during the week, usually in order to work extremely hard, and then crashes out all weekend.

I am very fond of sleeping, and try to do as much as possible, and yet I find myself more and more verging on the camel-type, popping out of bed bright-eyed on Mondays, only to be red-eyed and whiny come Friday. It’s not *exactly* that I’m a hard worker though; more that I am an average worker who works on several different things, and also does a lot of random but entertaining non-work whenever the opportunity presents itself. For instance, this week I stayed up very late every night, doing the following:

Monday–Saw taping of So You Think You Can Dance, Canada? (go, Izaac!!) followed by work.
Tuesday–Read in support of Harold Hoefle‘s launch of the *The Mountain Clinic*, followed by hanging out at the bar, followed by work.
Wednesday–Fancy dinner with friends, followed by insufficient amount of work.

What has happened to my life? It is full of frolic, obviously, but also marked sleep debt. I have to manage my time better. Or have less fun. Or something I’m too tired to think of right now. Whatever. Don’t call too late tonight is I think my point.

You overthink

July 8th, 2008


Of course, I exist in a perpetual state of vague well-wishing to all Rose-coloured readers, and indeed, most of humanity–I hope, despite my occasional moments of snark, you have felt the good vibes. But today I shall focus and amplify the wishing of wellness on those who are currently undergoing periodontal surgery. Chin up, my friend–or down, or whatever is most comfortable.

Let’s go down to the fashion show

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