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!

January 9th, 2011

Good things to do

Some helpful suggestions you might want to consider:

Nathalie says back up your beloved blog and she’s right–if you don’t understand how the internet works (and I believe that would be most of us here in the blogsphere) you need to protect yourself against it doing something you don’t understand and eating your blog. If you follow the instructions on the site Nathalie links you to, it’ll seriously take less than 2 minutes, and then you can email the file to yourself and sleep better. I know I will.

My friend R. says do the Ontario Health Survey (if you live in Ontario) and she’s right too! It’s a little weird to be telling all this personal stuff to the internets, but it is helping medical scholars to have this huge bank of data, and don’t you want your personal medical quirks to be counted? There is one depressing question about how many hours in a day you spend sitting, but I’ve moved past it.

I say roast some chickpeas! They are nice crunchy snack full of protein, and you can put whatever spices you want on them. I can’t find online the exact recipe I used as my new recipe of the week, but this one’s close–

June 11th, 2010

Petty pettiness

I keep meaning to write a big long post about whether writers should work in the publishing industry, and if so, how. Ironically (well, Alanis Morrissette irony, anyway), actually working in the publishing industry has been preventing me from doing so.

In the meantime, here’s a tiny favour I would like to ask you, dear whoever is reading this. I have had this new website for a month or so now, and I love it very much. It’s elegant and simple, it has the beautiful image of my beloved Toronto subway system at the top, it has the neat contact form and the way simple photo uploads and…it’s what you get when you Google me. Why do I even care, since what you do get is my old blog, so people will just go there and be redirected here? I dunno. This is an imperfect analogy, but I think it might be something like women who change their names when they get married and get annoyed getting mail to the old name. They don’t stop loving their families, but they are choosing to be identified in a new way now and they want that respected.

That’s a bit heavy–maybe I just want people to get to some actual new content before they get tired of looking me up at all and go look at cute kitten pictures. I don’t know. But it’s driving me nuts–I went through 8 pages of Google and then gave up before I even found it! People have told me that the thing that affects Google status is links from other places, so if you have a link to me on your website that you haven’t got round to updating, could you please? Actually, even if you’ve never linked to me in the past, now wouldn’t be a bad time to start…

Forgive this little bit of meglomania. I think next week is going to be better. I am having a tiny bit of caffeine every day now and already things are improving. I still have this pain behind my left eye, but it is no longer overwhelming.

May 10th, 2010

The News

So the news is, in case you have not been picking up on my extremely subtle hints, that Rose-coloured is moving to its very own dedicated URL with a splendid new design from Create Me This, and life is good. Ok, life is actually incredibly hectic, so I’ve been building up to the big unveiling by not posting much–I’m sure you’ve been crushed by my silence. But see below–lotsa cool stuff:

1) May is the Month of the Short Story. I sort of knew this last year, but not really, because I spent most of May in Japan, where was probably not the Month of the Short Story and even if it was I wouldn’t have understood. Anyway, I definitely know it this year because Steven WB has moved 31 Days of Short Stories to now and that’s so amazing. Although my first thought when I saw the first post was, “Hey, that’s not until August!” I have a hard time with change. At least it’s not one of those 30-day months or I would really have lost it.

2) Amy asks (in the comments on the last post) what I say when I’m asked by a random person at a party what I do–writer or editor. It depends on the party–I go to a lot of parties where people are both writers and editors and other artistic people and sympathizers. In *that* crowd I always say writer (if we talk for long, the other will come up though) because they are likely to get it and be nice about it. *However* if the party consists of people of unknown professions, I say “editor” because I’m scared they will be mean to me if I say “writer.” That’s, mind you, a stupid stereotype of people in the non-obviously creative professions (in fact, most people need to be creative to get their jobs done). However, some people *are* dismissive, and I get really sad when someone, even a random stranger, is mean about my writing. It’s like they insulted my significant other–the conversation cannot go on. And although rare, this *has* happened.

Pharmaceutical exec: So, what do you do?
Me: I’m a writer. I had a book of stories come out in 2008.
PE: A writer? Really, so you just sit around and write all day?
Me: Well, actually…
PE: Man, that would be great–sleep in, make coffee, write a little story. No crazy commute, no DVP, no stress..
Me: Well, actually…
PE: (long detailed discussion of PE’s exact route to work, timing, possibility of accidents, etc. Seriously, 10 minutes!) A writer, wow, I should get on that. That would be the life. No stress at all! You wouldn’t believe what I have to put up with.
Me: You must wish you were dead.
PE: What?
Me: I wish *I* were dead?
PE: What?
Me: Oh, look, the hostess just put out a new kind of cheese. Excuse me.

Ok, I might have made a little tiny bit of that up, but largely, it’s accurate, and so very depressing. I’d rather just say “editor” and talk about my bus route to the office. Which makes me, I know, a giant wuss, but it’s less stressful by far.

3) Lindsay has a new website too, and it’s really pretty. Spring is the time of web renewal, apparently!

More to come soon, I promise–and brace yourself for the big change (I think this is a change I will be able to handle) of URL, coming soon!


April 5th, 2010

Bad Blogger

Dear Rose-coloured,

I am so sorry that I completely blanked on our third anniversary, last Wednesday. I truly believe that we are an excellent couple, Rose-coloured, and together we have so much fun, make such lovely new friends, and waste so much useful time that could have been spent getting the tomato sauce off the wall. I could never have imagined that what began as a self-absorbed fling could blossom into the long-term, with digital recorders and long distance interviews, shout-outs on serious blogs, and such kind comments a vast improvement in my nonfiction writing skills (and some actual publishing of it), all in pink pink pink!

Look how far we’ve come! When we first met, I had three jobs and was scrambling to finish my masters degree, and yet you always inspired me to write nonsense about busses and snacks and friends, no matter how tired I was. Now I have, um, two jobs and a book to finish (hm, not that far after all), and yet I totally haven’t gotten sick of friends, busses, snacks, or blogging. Maybe I am a little (tiny bit!) tired of pink.

The forgotten anniversary is only reflective, rest assured, of those above busynesses. My love is pure, and I promise I will make this oversight up to you…what would you say to a new house?

Love and inanity,

February 6th, 2010

Net Noise


118 posts in, I’m still finding Twitter largely pointless. It’s just not *enough* for me to care about–Facebook has these big huge profiles and blogs have as much space as you would like, but there’s almost no way to determine who you are dealing with on Twitter unless you know them already. And most people *don’t* distill well into 140 characters (I count myself in this group)–Twitter is boring because most posts are a) links to articles or other people’s twitter posts that I am not going to follow because there is no commentary provided and I don’t know where the “tiny url” will take me, b) comments on other people’s twitter posts that I didn’t read at the time and now can’t find (why on earth don’t think link the comments to the posts? why?), so the comments make no sense to me, or c) boring.

I’ve been told that I’m bored by Twitter because I refuse to accept it as it’s own medium, and keep waiting for it to be Facebook or a blog (witness the above refusal to call Twitter posts “tweets”–I just can’t anymore). Even those Twitter friends of mine who Twitter amusingly, if they (used to) have a blog I keep wishing they’d expand the point (you know who you are).

Someone said that I would like Twitter better if I followed celebrities, and when I said I don’t know any celebrities, said I didn’t have to. Apparently Twitter is less like Facebook, where you friend people you know in real life in order to keep up with daily adventures and thoughts and share your own (well, that’s what I’m doing on Facebook) and more like a blog, where you offer thoughts and opinions to the wide world o’strangers, and see if there’s anyone out there who is interested in them.

So I’m trying, and have a (very) few celebrity Twitter recommendations of Twitter feeds you might enjoy. I like the tiny stories of Arjun Basu (although they often strike me as installments of one larger story). I also follow novelist/short-story writer/playwright AL Kennedy, who is very wry and funny about literary celebrity in Britain (she’s always unwell, on a train, about to go speak to a conference of people for reasons she does not understand.) And I’m not even sure how this happened, but for a while now I’ve been following someone named Nerdy Girl, who turns out to be the publisher of This Magazine, Lisa Whittington-Hill, and also is hilarious.
I’m still reading Penelope Trunk‘s blog. I know, I shouldn’t, but I think it fills the gap in my life that people with TVs fill with reality shows about sex rehab and how renovating your house can wreck your marriage. She’s such a self-righteous, self-important train-wreck, and yet she’s not stupid and occasionally makes good points. For example, you could read certain bits of her post of frugality and be reminded of how we all choose our own financial constraints–those who consider life not worth living without a two-car garage will be stuck paying for that, and will have to work accordingly. Those content with a driveway–or a bike–will have more flexibility in their career options and/or more discretionary income.

Great points, and inspiring for those who feel their jobs might become too much at some point (hi!) But then she goes off on how what really matters is having household help so you can devote yourself to work, as well as a flash car to impress clients, and you realize she’s a lunatic capitalist. But it still makes for fun reading.

There’s better reading afoot in the blogosphere, however. Have you seen Mark Sampson’s new(ish) Free-range Reading blog? It’s got book reviews and lit news, but a bit unusual for a lit blog is that there’s been a couple really interesting posts about journalism (which MS is when he’s not busy being a novelist). It’s a whole other kind of writing, that journalism thing, and kind of cool to get to read about it from the inside. Also, naturally, he reads good books and writes about them well!

On a more mundanely self-absorbed note, does anyone know how the “next blog” button (up at the top of the screen here) works? I never even noticed it before this week, when the statistics on this site started to say it was referring a lot of people through here. My first thought was that maybe the blog behind me in the queue had gone way up in traffic, but there is no “last blog” button, so I can’t go there. Also, I’ve found that hitting “next blog” several times from the same blog leads you to different ones, so I think my theory is fundamentally false. But I don’t have a better one–do you?


January 6th, 2010

12 sentences

Another way people of the blogosphere (do I overuse that word?) are recapping the year is by posting the first sentences from the first post of each month in 2009 together, to see if they form a narrative. Mine don’t, but it was fun for me to cruise through all my old posts and remember all those good times. Also, to realize that I write really really long sentences; gotta work on that!

12 random bits of 2009:

These 365-day units do not necessarily break off at useful points–I’m having trouble encapsulating the past year or imagining the next one because I’m in the *middle* of so many things.

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.

Saturday February 28, 2009, dawned a bit watery, but the dawn did come before 7 am (only the third day of the year that we got light before 7!) and by the time sun was fully in the sky, the flimsy cloud cover had delicately burnt off or blown away, leaving us with a ravishing yellow and blue to breakfast by. In

As you might have been able to glean from the occasion dysphoric comment here at Rose-coloured, or my eye-rolls in person, my current manuscript is not coming together as well as I’d like.

I’m reading reading reading student stories this week, and they are *good*!

This is week is one with way too much fun in it, such that of the events below, I’m only actually able to attend a couple.

Colour vapour labour odour realize analyze vapourize glamour (but glamorous) jewellery ageing cheque judgment lasagna gonnorhea etc.

I started thinking about story (and poem) submissions to literary journals when a friend said she was going to start sending some out.

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).

Mr. Turner is an important author for me (although really also for Canada) for various reasons, not least his was one of the first literary readings I ever saw, and at said reading, the very first pornographic film I ever saw.

Reminder that Amy Jones, Kathleen Winter and I are reading tomorrow at the Drawn & Quarterly store in Montreal, 211 rue Bernard West, at 7pm.

The Advent Books blog is up and running.


January 2nd, 2010

Two thousand and what?

I was going to recap this past week of vacation at some point, but then I realized that I should also do a 2009-in-review post, and then people started going on about the end of the *decade* and now I am just utterly overwhelmed.

I’ve been reading other people’s lovely 2000s retrospectives instead, happy that some people can do this right. A lot of them are fairly personal, even if they are on blogs focussed on reading or writing or whatever (my interests are pretty narrow in scope). Which only makes sense–ten years is a huge meaningful block in anyone’s life, and it’s hard not to get emotional thinking of what’s been wrought in that time, even if a lot of good books got read in there, too.

Though I never particularly felt that the aughts had any kind of decadey tone, that might be because they were the first decade in which I was semi-functional in the world (there probably are people who are fully conscious agents in their own lives before they turn 21; to them I say, bravo). So to me the aughts are not just a decade where certain things happened–it’s the decade when *everything* happened.

This was driven home to me last night when the party discussion turned to where we spent Y2K New Year’s. I spent mine at the City of Hamilton’s outdoor celebration, because the band featured wasHoneymoon Suite, which was a (semi-ironic) favourite band of mine and my friends. I was visiting my parents outside of Hamilton on break from my third year of university.

If present Rebecca could somehow go meet me in the past, my younger self would probably only say, “How did you get your hair like that?”

I had no idea then how my life would go, and no idea how I *wanted* it to go, so I really don’t think I would have known how to ask a pertinent question. But I would have been really impressed with future self for getting my hair (mainly) under control.

And looking back, I still can’t form a meaningful narrative looking at the decade as a whole. Having this blog, and doing some interviews and profiles when *Once* came out last year, really put this in perspective for me. I can make certain events and relationships seem to cohere into a logical arc by extracting them from the long silly series of events that is my life and putting them only in the context of each other.

But to me, and I think to most people in the process of living, there is no narrative–just the things that happened, and what we did about them. It’s the act of writing (ah, this post has a point!) that creates a story, whether or not the events are true–the selection of what to leave in and what to omit, how to frame, what tone to take, whose point of view to honour. This blog in certain ways is the story of my life over the last 3 years, but it’s highly biased since I do all the telling, and I leave most of what doesn’t really pertain to reading and writing (usually) (for example, an edited version would include boring stuff like what I ate at every meal, dumb stuff like that time I got stuck in the back of the couch, and incriminating stuff like how I tried too hard to pet this cat that she went ballistic and tried to eat me).
I found a really interesting little section in the journal Ars Medica about how to write about real life:
“…[In reading fiction] we sometimes encounter unprocessed details…that have specific, charged meaning for the teller but are unclear to the reader. These pieces in many ways resemble journalling or therapeutic writing. The author is too close to the events or uses personal code and shorthand, which leave gaps. As a result, we are not fully invited into the experience. Stories of trauma and loss are often fragmented, because they remain so for the writer and have not yet been crafted through the personal and creative steps that render them coherent and universal.
“Writing personal narratives may indeed be healing, but to be literary there needs to be distance, and “observer’s eye” that allows us to to see the full picture.”
So that’s what I lack, I think–the observer’s eye that allows be to see my life from beyond my own headspace, to really think in terms of my own fictional self as living a story. And this is why I don’t write much autobiographical fiction–I’m bad at it. I know the details and their import so I leave them out, I get stuck on a particular “truth” and thus can’t make the story truly resonant with people other than myself.
The blog is an opportunity to try to craft mini-narratives that still sorta stick to the truth, but you might have noticed that I don’t often do that–Rose-coloured consists much more of essay/opinion/rant-type writing, or else snatches of contextless dialogue, rather than actual beginning-middle-end type stories from my own life. Those are just too hard–how to find an “ending” to my anecdote when I’m still alive.
So I find it weird to be looking at my life in a ten-year chunk–no narrative seems available. 10 years ago I had a roommate, I lived in Montreal, I was writing a weird novella, and my favourite food was probably chocolate macaroons. Are those the salient details of me at that point? Who knows? I don’t even know the salient details of my life now, and I certainly don’t know how to take the relatively simple but to me wonderful, baffling, sad, exciting, and scary events of the last ten years and make it seem like I had a plan, an arc, or even a clue.
How does anyone ever write their autobiography?
And thus, to begin 2010, apparently this is a post about why I write fiction.
I hope your next 10 years, and mine, are wonderful and baffling.

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.


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!


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