photo by Kelly Robson
One of my irrational peeves about pop culture is the way writer homes are sometimes depicted as vast, cool, expansive spaces, with tons of square footage and twenty-foot high ceilings with massive amounts of natural light and floor to attic bookcases on the walls. This doesn’t bother me about Castle, however, because Nathan Fillion’s character is portrayed as having come from money in the first place and being extraordinarily successful in the second, but when the fictional writer in question isn’t a New York Times bestselling born-with-a-silver-spoon personality, it irks.
Having said that, my little condo doesn’t much look like a set designer went nuts on the premises, but it does have an extraordinary number of luxuries attached to it.
The hot tub you’ve all probably heard about, and like most of these places, there’s a gym, communal barbecues, and an event room. The real perk is the location: we’re five minutes from the subway and smack in the midst of cultural treasures like the AGO, the TiFF Bell Lightbox, City Halls new and old, and all the theaters.
One of the things I probably don’t mention all that often is that my marvelous well-located building also has a library, complete with a random scattering of books, WiFi that mostly does work, and a TV and faux fireplace that–as far as I can tell–aren’t plugged into anything.
It’s big, spacious, quiet, and frequently empty, and it has a couple of workstations as well as the lounging chairs pictured here. There’s a window along one wall which lets in the light of day. It’s where I go to clear my head when I need to get away from home, cats and distractions, but can’t or don’t want to go all the way out to a coffee shop.
I’m sitting here as I write these words, sifting through projects and priorities for the coming month, with Of Montreal’s Sunlandic Twins playing via a portable Bluetooth speaker and a view of gray and rainy clouds.
I suspect and hope that 2016 is going to be an extraordinary year, filled both with wonders and opportunities. This little bit of quiet, at the stub end of the year, is all about gearing up and getting ready.
First, a question, about your favorite movie set in present-day London. What is it?
My incredible reward for virtue Sunday morning–virtue being that I hauled my ass out the door at nine to go have what turned out to be an exceptionally, yea unfairly robust and demanding hot yoga session–was that when I opened my locker and tried to put my glasses back on, they snapped in my hand.
(Actually, my true reward for virtue is that the incomparable Andrew at 312 Optical assured me that they were still under warranty, and that he would urge the folks who make them to send out the part post-haste so he could fix them. And he had checked all this before I got there, because he follows me on social media.)
I do have back-up glasses, but the lenses are very different. I’m looking at a week or more of underperforming and feeling eyestrainy. And, possibly, being offline a lot. Which is the whole reason I’m telling you this.)
Other nice things that happened this weekend included this fantastic review of A Daughter of No Nation in The Toronto Star, by Marissa Stapely:
The appeal of this series lies in Dellamonica’s thoughtful, penetrating writing … and the effortless way Dellamonica weaves sexually diverse characters into the narrative without making it feel like they’re fulfilling a quota. The overarching sense of social responsibility is refreshing, too. Sophie questions her new world as all young people should: she does not simply let life happen to her, but instead seeks to understand and improve her surroundings.
And Kelly’s posting the TOC for the Gardner Dozois anthology The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Third Annual Collection, which will include her debut story, “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill.”
Blessings, so many blessings. There were fish tacos, and hugs from our favorite baker, some funny posts from an artist friend who’s trying to clean out one of her piles of multimedia supplies, the first few chapters of The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World by David Jaher, chocolate olive-oil cake from Forno Cultura, roasted parsnips and a rewatch of Thor: The Dark World.
Most of all, there was talk of London, London, OMG, London, where Kelly and I will be going, for the first time, in a mere 95 days. Part of the reason for rewatching The Dark World (not that one needs a reason) is that it’s one of the few movies we own that’s set in London now. As opposed to London in the 1900s, 1800s, 1700s, Doctorwhohundreds, etc. The only other one may be Love Actually. Hence my initial question. Because I’m not entirely sure I’m up to rewatching Luther.
I have archived and locked the pre-2015 entries on my Livejournal, as part of a wider process of tidying up and looking over material from the past, the better to eventually create an official archive. I won’t shut down LJ, which is now a mirror for my WordPress site. Those of you who read it there, rather than here, will still see posts, business as usual. I’ve simply closed the door for awhile on a ten year chapter of my life that, mostly, doesn’t seem very relevant to the now. I’ll browse through, over time, and cherry pick out any good bits for reposting.
This journal-combing process extends back in time to the pre-Internet era; I kept diaries when I was in my teens, and I’ve been looking back at those too, sometimes with surprise and delight, often with embarrassment. Teenaged alyx telewittered a lot, OMG, so much, and affected to care about hockey, and had handwriting that makes my current scrawl look like the calligraphy of some ancient, highly trained Empress of Japan. At fourteen, I documented my early menstrual cycles in bracingly gross detail, and (cringe) occasionally with diagrams. We should send someone back in time to teach the concept of TMI to the little children of Alberta, perhaps sometime in the early Seventies.
Cool discoveries abound, too, though: teen Alyx drew a lot of cartoons, weird distorted bobblehead portraits. She often reports working hard on various writing projects (some original, some fanfic) and she read a shocking number of books.
Year fourteen is the only of the handwritten diaries I’ve reviewed in detail, and there’s a lot that’s missing: things I can remember that were happening at home and school that simply get no mention. This was, in part, because I couldn’t count on the entries not being read by others. I was about sixteen, I think, when I made a truly secure hiding place for my journals. We’ll have to see if the content changes when that happens, or after my past self leaves for university.
A Daughter of No Nation is on the Shelfie Top 10 list for Most Anticipated SF and Fantasy books, in great company, with novels by Charlie Jane Anders, Kameron Hurley and Catherynne M. Valente. Review copies of the book are percolating out to the usual (and hopefully a few unusual) suspects. Soon we’ll be hearing what people think of the second installment of Sophie Hansa’s adventures.
I’m finding the prospect a little nerve-wracking. I don’t think there was anyone who absolutely hated Blue Magic. There were a few people whose response came down to “Holy gosh, this book sure do have a lotta queer people in it!” but there’s not much you can do about that except go, “Yep.”
Child of a Hidden Sea, on the other hand, and Sophie in particular got under a few readers’ skins, and not always in a way that led to true and enduring love. I decided to take this as a sign that I’d become better at characterization, especially since most of the reviews were, in fact, raves. Anyway, it might simply be the effect of a lingering head cold, or the fallout from a rather unusual week, but right now I’m thinking my only sane response is to go “La la la, can’t hear you!” and think of something else until my head clears.
Having been to Stratford for the first time this past weekend, and having seen three shows – Carousel, The Alchemist, and She Stoops to Conquer, Kelly and I are finally embarking on watching Slings and Arrows. We’ve had so many chances to do so over the years–I think people have lent us the DVDs on three separate occasions, and we never quite managed to pop one into the gadget before sheepishly returning the disks. It’s been one of those gaps that was almost embarrassing to admit to, what with me being such a raging Paul Gross fan. But it never happened, until now, and it’s almost–but not quite–too dated. It’ll be good prep for seeing His Almighty Grossness and Martha Burns in Domesticated next month.
Kelly and I are off to Stratford, Ontario to see Carousel, She Stoops to Conquer and The Alchemist with my parents. They’ve been in town all week, and if you’re waiting on an e-mail from me, that’s the short answer as to why. (The long answer is “…an’ also I have a cold, and also also I had a three-hour seminar Friday night in the burbs–oh, the humanity!–but I sincerely like you and so appreciate the thing you sent me, and I will absolutely get to you as soon as is mammally possible because you are a wonderful human being and a treasure to behold. Seriously. Cough, cough.”)
In other words: regular service, including an increasing number of posts about A Daughter of No Nation, will resume on Tuesday. And in the meantime there will no doubt be geotagged Instagram and other pictures of yet another Ontario town I never saw before, in my whole life.