The first person I met when I went to university orientation, back in 1985, was Christina: a voracious reader, Henry VIII aficionado and fellow theater geek who joined the student newspaper the same day I did. We laughed, we learned, we did a bunch of shows… and, in the fullness of time, we eventually graduated. Due in part to the mixed miracle that is Facebook, we have remained connected.
Xtina came to Toronto with her husband Scott last weekend, and by way of celebrating Kelly’s birthday took us on Sunday to the African Lion Safari in Cambridge. Ontario friends, I am surprised that it was a couple of Alberta kids who told us there were lions, omg lions, within easy driving distance. To say nothing of the rhinos.
We rounded out the day with a quick run to the Devil’s Punchbowl and then went on to the Vegas-for-families tourist explosion that is Niagara Falls. The splendid natural impressiveness of all that falling water did, once again, transcend the horror of the crowds and the tourist tack.
(I will note for the record that Niagara Falls has the most sewerific Starbucks bathroom I have ever seen. Scott will back me up on this, so you don’t need a photo.)
The full photo set is here.
When we were recently in Boston, we ended up tooling through Whole Foods in search of fruit, yogurt, airplane snacks and the particular kind of entertainment that comes of briefly staring at things you would never seriously consider buying. Among these were some slogan-y fridge magnets, including one that seemed like it could be my new national anthem: Let Go or Be Dragged.
This, at first glance, seemed like a kinder-gentler revision of an attitude I sometimes find myself holding, which might be characterized as Get Out of My Way Before I Set You on Fire.
I do not like to feel impeded. Oh, I know–who does? I’m not a special snowflake in this, though I may be more than usually mulish about plowing on regardless once I’ve decided on a goal.
Anyway, we got back to the fabulous Oasis Guest House, where the WiFi was free-flowing and delicious, and I decided to pin the expression. Upon googling the phrase, I found it’s credited as being a Zen proverb. This presumably means that it doesn’t necessarily arise from the I and my flamethrower are coming through now, thanks place, as I had initially assumed.
I decided I was okay with that, and that I could hold the one reading but maybe strive for the other, and so I pinned it. And damn if Pinterest didn’t then offer up all sorts of other peace & luv bon mots. Of which I did genuinely like a few:
You can’t fix yourself by breaking someone else seemed kind of pertinent to some of the things I’ve been talking about lately.
What you allow is what will continue is something I mean to think about. It’s not bad, but there may be a kernel of victim-blaming there.
Fall seven times, stand up eight, on the other hand, has that Karate Kid can-do spirit we all know and love.
What are your mantras and how well do they hold up to overly critical scrutiny?
Here’s the Boston photoset. I’m still curating, a little, but it’ll give you the general idea. https://flic.kr/s/aHskfCerFP
In the past week the temperatures have swung up above freezing. The icicles I’ve been photographing everywhere have vanished, and the snowdrifts are shrunken, dirty shadows of their former selves. Litter and other appalling, filthy things are emerging as they melt; this is one of the things I never loved about the end of winter, when I lived in Alberta. Still, the sidewalk-hoovers were out in force today, sucking up the crap. It’s unutterably cool to live in a city where the city pays humans to vacuum the sidewalks.
My Novel Writing II class is winding down. Final submissions came in yesterday, which makes this another week where I’ll write about 10k words of critique. (Novel III is up next, in the spring and there’s still room for a couple more writers.)
Kelly and I went and wrote fiction at the TIFF Bell Lightbox lounge, Luma, a couple times last week, in the evening. They seem to have all the good things: tables big enough for two or four people to work on, good windows, caffeinated beverages, adult beverages, nibbles, desserts, and not-too-obnoxious ambient music. (Jimmy’s on Gerrard, I am looking at you.)
The Lightbox is about a ten minute walk from our place, and my dream (one day I’m sure we’ll make it happen) is that someday we’ll follow up a writing date with an 8:00 p.m. movie of some variety.
Speaking of Kelly, her story “Good for Grapes” is out now in New Canadian Noir, and can be found in an ever-increasing number of bricks-and-mortar and virtual bookstores. Corey Redekop is doing mini-interviews with a number of the NCN authors: here’s hers.
So, everyone, what are you reading these days?
Christopher Buehlman’s The Lesser Dead has been out for about a month now, and if you like your horror horrible (as opposed to romantic, edgy, or cuddlesome) I cannot recommend it enough. Here’s my review at Tor.com, in which I try to say more than “oohh, oooh, squee, squee!”
This week I am reading fourteen student novel openings and a book that won’t be out until 2015. Sneak peeks are one of the perks of the job, and I’m looking forward to telling you about this one closer to its release date.
A thing about living right downtown here is I mostly see sparrows and pigeons. Starlings, sometimes. Grackles and gulls, for sure. I’ve had cardinals and finches in the tree outside my window, there’s a young raptor who taunts me on Queen Street when I’m out without the big zoom camera, and I can go to the lakeshore for ducks and cormorants. It’s not as though the birds aren’t here.
But, day to day, it’s mostly sparrowkind.
In Vancouver last week I caught glimpses of all my faves: crows (commuting crows, by the hundreds!), starlings, great blue herons, three species of duck, bushtits, cormorants, and a glimpse of northern flicker. I thought I’d have to content myself with the scolding of a Stellar’s jay in the bushes, but it turns out my sister-in-law feeds them. I almost collided with one Monday on my way out the door; it was headed to a clutch of peanuts on the kitchen windowsill.
It was satisfying and soul-nourishing, and a nice concrete example of a difference, neither good nor bad, between Then and Now. But not truly between Here and There, because if I’d got a house outside of the downtown core, I’d be hip-deep in feathery company.