December 30th, 2009

En vacances

I thought that I might not have the time or internet connection to blog during vacation, but here I am with both of those. What I lack is anything to blog in regard to. It is funny to get through a day without writing or editing or talking to people about writing, or even eavesdropping on people on the bus (somehow, I consider that part of my work). As it turns out, this vacation thing is very pleasant. There is currently a blizzard going on where I am (Charlottetown, if you are curious), which limits activities to reading, eating, talking, and playing cards. Also, napping, which is not really an activity but does fill gaps in the day quite nicely.

Lulled on sleep and sugar, I am unable to come up with much that’s interesting to say. I have learned that PEIslanders are very friendly and call Gin Rummy “Queens” but it’s still fun, that I probably have some kind of chronic sinus issue that I need a professional to look into and if possible destroy, that I like lobster as much as I suspected I would, and that the innovators issue of the New Yorker is pretty good but they still shouldn’t have done away with the winter fiction issue.

I swear to you, that’s all I’ve got. I…uh…I’m gonna go work on a story now. And then maybe commute to nowhere, just feel a bit more like myself. Either that or take a nice midmorning nap.


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 23rd, 2009

Festive farewell

I just wanted to send a quick Merry Everything to y’all out there in blog land. I’m mainly dependent on the kindness of others for internet this holiday season (I am currently stealing wireless from somewhere to write this post) so likely there won’t be much action on Rose-coloured for the next week or so, although I can never really keep away from the interwebs entirely. But certainly, I wanted to wish all who care to celebrate a merry Christmas tomorrow, and to those who don’t, a very nice day!

I don’t know if any of you would have run into this, but my short story, “Christmas with My Mother” just got released as an audio download from Rattling Books Earlit Shorts 4. It was very weird to hear my work in another’s voice–brilliant, because Janet Russell gives the story a gentle and nuanced interpretation–but very strange since the only place I’d heard those words before was inside my own head. Add to that the fact that I wrote the story over a year ago and hadn’t even looked at in six months and the whole thing was something of a shock. I actually squirmed at the awkward moments in the story as I listened and once laughed aloud at a funny part (immodest? sure, but I also think that writers who don’t find their own funny parts funny should stop writing them.

That story is also included in this year’s Best Canadian Short Stories, which also came in the mail yesterday–merry Christmas to me! So there’s two ways to get that story, should you care to. I would like to point out that, despite the title seeming to perfectly coincide with the season, this is very much not a Christmas story, and might not be ideal reading for those of you cuddling down to read in the glow of treelights (or it might be exactly appropriate–depends on how you like your glow). But just FYI.

Other than that, there is very little literary going on around here, but lots that is good–family, old friends, a cake made almost entirely out of pudding, that ornament of a stocking I made in grade 2, 90s nostalgia music, and many hugs. That’s how I like my glow–I hope yours is however you want it to be.


December 15th, 2009

Happy Holidays–all of them

Some years I don’t feel a need to explain, some years I do. This year I do, so: I am a Jew who celebrates Christmas. No intermarriage in my family, just long-time residence in–and affection for–a very Christian community. There were no other Jews in my grade-school classes ever (my younger brother also went to the school, and there was a much older girl somewhere in the system who was also Jewis, so I wasn’t completely alone). It was either figure out how to draw a Star of David on my own, or draw a Christmas tree with everyone else. And the others were so happy drawing the tree.

I don’t think I would have been ostracized if I’d refused the tree. There were no other Jews, but there was a boy who was a Jehovah’s Witness in the class, and he went and stood in the hall not only during any sort of holiday festivity but also during the national anthem and Lord’s Prayer (it was a very small old-fashioned country school) every morning. No one ever teased him, and he was actually a well-liked kid, but it couldn’t have been easy to miss out on all the festive stuff.

Christmas has a lot of good things that go with it. This year I’ve been involved in a couple different charity drives, for children both in this community and overseas. I’ve been to beautiful parties and received cards covered with glitter and eaten delicious food, and am happy to think there’s more to come.

I am sad to think that anyone would ever feel I was being disrespectful to my Jewish identity by enjoying other people’s traditions. And I would be sad also to think that anyone would think I was disrespectful of Christianity because I take only bits and pieces from that tradition.

And I would also be upset to be held as an example for why the Christmas-observant don’t need to be sensitive to the non-observant. “Rebecca likes Christmas and she’s *Jewish*, so I don’t know why I need to say ‘Happy holidays’ or take down this giant public creche…”

I’m easygoing, fairly secular, and deeply festive–I am non-extrapolatable, though there may well be others like me. Every year I gear up for Christmas with a tiny bit of trepidation over these misunderstandings, but mainly joy that I’m going to hear Barenaked Ladies sing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and eat eggnog flavoured candy canes again. And put tinsel in my hair.

And of course I wish you whatever your heart desires this December, of whatever denomination your wishes fall into.

This picture is hard to make out, but that’s my little fourth-night menorah in the front, and my little overlit tree in the back. I guess it is appropriate that this pic, like so much of what is written above, is all blurry.


December 12th, 2009

First night




November 26th, 2009

This week in review

Of course, this week is not technically over yet, but rather a lot has already happened. I think it was enough to occupy an entire week if it was spread out, and I am rather hoping nothing further will happen until next. Thus, I dare to pre-emptively summarize:

Tuesday: I attended the Writers’ Trust Awards. It is a pretty glitzy event, with roaming waiters and lots of excited chat before the ceremony. At the ceremony, the Journey Prize was the first to be awarded, which meant co-presenter Anita Chong and I could get our moment of stress out of the way early and enjoy the show! I had perhaps 200 words to say, and really people just wanted to know who won, but I was very worried about flubbing it, or not even making it to the podium because I had spotted a gap between the top of stairs and the stage where I could easily wedge my foot.

But nothing happened like that, and I was able to present the winner, Yatsuko Thanh, for her story Floating Like the Dead with no trouble. What an honour to do so, and what an incredible story. I was charmed by how sincerely stunned Ms. Thanh seemed, and was really glad I got a chance to meet her. And the other two incredible finalists, Dave Margoshes for “The Wisdom of Solomon” and Daniel Griffin for “The Last Great Works of Alvin Cale.” An evening like this one really makes me feel alive to all the wonder and diversity of wonders in CanLit.

I was also happy to see that Annabel Lyon took the fiction prize though I have not read the celebrated book, *The Golden Mean*. But if my intense love of her first book, Oxygen is any indication, I should. And I was pleased to hear that, though Ms. Lyon was also pretty stunned by the win, she remembered to mention in her speech all those smaller literary magazines where she got her start, and to please for no further cuts to arts funding in Canada.

Wednesday: On Wednesday morning I went out to University of Toronto Scarborogh to do a guest lecture in my fellow UofT Creative Writing alumni Daniel Tysdal‘s short story class. I did, as promised read the end of a story, “Massacre Day.” When I told the students that I would read the last three pages of that piece, I had the extraordinary experience of watching a roomful of students pull out copies of my book and prepare to follow along.

But that extraordinariness did not all compare with the level discussion after my reading and (very brief) talk. The students were reading intently and speaking insightfully, not just about my work (although I appreciated that very much) but about everything they laid their eyes and minds on. What a fantastic way to spend a morning.

That evening, was the Biblioasis fall poetry party, featuring Zachariah Wells, Shane Neilson and Robyn Sarah. The non-present presence of a 4th poet was Wayne Clifford, whose work was read by all three of the others to make up for his absense. It was really cool to get three interpretations of one voice.

Also last night, I got to meet London, Ontario, novelist A.J. Somerset who just won the Metcalf-Rooke Award. There’s a lot of literary winning going on this week!

Today, is the real American Thanksgiving, I’m pretty sure, so I am wishing you all a happy one of those–I remain as Thankful I was last week, on fake Thanksgiving. Also today, due to a minor incident, I was without tights for a portion of the day, and it was actually warm enough that I didn’t mind dreadfully, temperature-wise. The upside of global warming. What was strange is that I felt like a total scandal, bare knees and nothing under my dress but panties, when of course that is how I spent the entire summer. I think winter makes me puritanical.

I also spent part of today talking books with Kerry Clare while I lay on the floor eating scones and playing with her baby daughter. That was, as you might imagine, delightful.

To continued, low-impact delight.

November 20th, 2009

Thanks again

So, um, er, I thought yesterday was American Thanksgiving. All day I walked around being thankful for stuff, and it turns out–that’s next week. Too late, I’m already thankful, and I’m doing the Thanksgiving post today. Of course, I was already grateful last month for Canadian Thanksgiving, so I’m going to limit this list to gratitude-worthy things that have happened since early October. Ok, go!

1) Medieval Times. I liked the dancing horses, the bright emblems, the evil green night and his worthy foes, but it was not so any one aspect of the spectacle that I loved so much as getting to go, at the age of 31, with a group of happy friends that wanted to cheer for the blue knight and eat enormous amounts of chicken just as much as I did. I have to admit, I was nervous about what happens when you grow up; I am so glad to find it is this.

2) Canada! In the past couple months, I’ve been in the following cities: Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, and Jasper. And everywhere has been fun and fascinating and full of friendly people and unimaginable discoveries. So *this* is why people travel. I’m starting to get it now.

3) Biblioasis! Obviously, I’m pretty grateful for Biblioasis publishing my book a year ago, and supporting so wonderfully. But right specifically now, I’m grateful for it being a year on and still getting to do readings for Bilblioasis, not to mention being driven to Montreal by Dan Wells. Again, I didn’t know what being a published author would be like, but I am so glad it turns out to involve parties and sushi and road trips.

4) Not getting swine flu (yet).

5) Mavis Gallant‘s short stories. SHE’S SO GOOD!! I always knew that, but now my head is bursting with it. More on this situation as it develops.

6) Making my holiday card list (yes, I do this in November; what?) and thinking about all the lovely people I know.

7) Hugs.

So, yeah, thanks for all that. And remember that this list is effective for the next week, until the actual American Thanksgiving has come and gone, after which, I suppose I’ll have to find some new things to be grateful for.

November 7th, 2009

Edmonton: the first 30 hours

Since arriving in Edmonton, I have done many things. I rode in a cab for half an hour without anyone except the driver (I have a taxi thing), I stayed up really late, I ran windsprints, I bought sweaters, I ate little tiny tacos, and mainly, I got to hang with AMT for enough time to talk about nonsense (my favourite sport). When I call someone long distance, I feel I have to have A+ material; when we are in the same room, I feel comfortable enough to blather.

Because the flight was in the middle of the night, I did not get the customary amount of reading done, though I did read a couple excellent essays in an ancient issue of Arc (2008, seriously, I’m behind). I was basically catatonic for the entire flight–not quite asleep, not quite awake. But again, no real jetlag, though I was pretty excited to go to sleep last night.

Today I am bright-eyed and ready to go meet AMT at her class. I get charge of the house keys and am determined to live up to the responsibility. Already, it’s not going so well, as I can’t figure out how to turn off several of her lamps, and being the person I am (a person who fears leaving lamps turned on all day will result in fire) I wound up unplugging them. Go, me!!

Ok, I’m to the streets of Edmonton, where it is bright and sunny and reasonably warm, but there is a wind warning in effect. Also, here they sell sandwiches at the Shoppers’ Drug Mart. It’s a whole other world.


November 4th, 2009

In very brief

1) Montreal est magnificique! J’etais la pour un presentation des livres a Librairie Drawn & Quarterly avec Kathleen Winter et Amy Jones (on peut voir leurs perspectives sur notre presentations si on lit ses blogs. Notre publie Dan Wells a conduit son minivan, beaucoup des livres, Amy et moi (je pense qu’il y a un probleme de verb avec cette phrase, et peut-etre la plupart de cette paragraphe) et c’etait un adventure magnifique.

2) I was the Inconstant Muse for Hallowe’en! It was was awesome. Like most of my highly conceptual [confusing] costumes, this one requires some explanation: I picture the Muse a bit coquettish/flirty/slutty–she is all eager to hook up and give writers great ideas, but then she takes off and leaves you to execute the idea all alone. So my costume was a brief toga, some laurel leaves, and great first lines of books written in Sharpie all over my arms and legs. Conceptual, I tell you.

3) This hydro-metre thingy is the best: a way to be environmentally friendly in a vaguely competitive, entirely trackable way: you get to see your hour-to-hour, day-to-day energy use, and pinpoint where you are over-indulging in “peak” (ie., most expensive) energy. I don’t have most of the big appliances (dishwasher, laundry/drier, air conditioner) so even at optimal efficiency my savings would still be minimal, but it is so attractive to see it all laid out in colourful drafts. I hope I don’t get obsessed.

4) My post about TTC seating etiquette got picked up on the Maisonneuve blog. This is a silly thing to post here, as if you are a regular Rose-coloured reader, you’ve likely already read that piece, but I am chuffed the Maisonneuve-sters thought it was worth reposting, and Rose-coloured is for all things I’m chuffed about (except the post in question, actually, which is rather snarky).

5) Tomorrow night, I head for the hills, by which I mean Edmonton and the mountains beyond, as well as my incredible friend AMT. I’ll only be gone 5 days, and likely there can be some remote posting, but whenever I leave my comfortable internet orbit, there is a risk of non-access, so you may not hear from me until next week. I’m sure you’ll be just fine without me!


November 2nd, 2009


that Amy Jones, Kathleen Winter and I are reading tomorrow at the Drawn & Quarterly store in Montreal, 211 rue Bernard West, at 7pm. And that it’s going to be awesome. And…yay!

I’m inarticulate because of being really really tired from Hallowe’en, which was also awesome, but went on an extra hour due to Daylight Savings, and then some, because my friends are cool and I try to keep up. I’m planning to sleep…now, pretty much, so I should be in better form by the time I’m in front of any audience tomorrow.

See you there?

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