Category Archives: True Stories

Anecdotes from my past and present.

Make yourself comf, kiddies…

Posted on March 1, 2011 by

kelly-yoyoKelly and I try to get out for at least one long walk each weekend, and Saturday we set out south. The thought was we’d go up to the high point on Clark Drive–where one of Vancouver’s best views can be had–then take the bike path east to Main Street. I don’t usually spend much time on Main, but the past few weekends I’ve been there a lot, and Saturday’s excuse was that I had a gift certificate from Front & Company. Also key to the whole scheme was a stop at the soon to be closed Re-entry Espresso for a last banana chocolate muffin.

We were on 29th & John when the first flakes started coming down, tiny barely visible bits of ice, so sparse you could count them. Here a flake, there a flake, not a threat of snow, barely a tease. The light had the uncompromising steely palette of a horror movie and it was quiet, but for the periodic caw of a crow.

We got to Reentry to find a wake in progress; all the neighborhood regulars were in for a last shot of decent espresso and to write up good wishes on brightly colored pieces of paper. The farewell notes got stuck to the window as patrons were leaving. We arrived just as someone vacated one of their mini-booths so I parked my butt, claiming the space…

…where I immediately attracted a bright-eyed four year old girl, who began petting the other seat–where K would eventually sit–covetously. She had the charming, hopeful gleam of a baby bird spotting a worm.

“You can sit for awhile,” I told her.

She slid in all the way to the wall. Introduced herself as Kimmy, shook my hand with enough vigor that I was afraid she’d smack my overworked, chronically sore paw into the table, and yanked up her skirt to show me her tights. They were very fine tights, pink, with both stripes and hearts. I told her I’d wear them.

She then cast those hopeful peepers on my hat.

It is quite the fab hat. Barb bought it for me a few Christmases ago, and it is colorful and reversible.


I told Kimmy she could try it on. She did, with great delight, and suddenly I had three kids in the bench across from me… another girl had joined us along with a slightly younger boy. They seemed into the hat but lacked Kimmy’s fashion initative. I flipped it inside out, turning it to a less intimidating black fleece objet, with pink brim. Nope. Kimmy was wild with delirium, but her sidekicks were content to stare.

(I figured hauling out the camera would change the chemistry or there would be pictures).

Then K turned and set our muffins on the table. Boychild snagged the plate, casual as anything. Like: thanks, lady! I had to move fast to rescue our pastries. He didn’t seem to take it personally.

The kids’ fathers–it was a very dad and tot crowd–retrieved them as soon as K was ready to sit. She heard one of of the guys say the cafe was the first place he’d taken his baby by himself. Awww!

So, Reentry, I barely knew ye, but I can see you are already missed.

It’s my birthday!

Posted on February 25, 2011 by

I am forty-three today, which is amazing in a one hundred percent gratifying way.

Birthday themed celebrations did not include a party, but did include: going to see Jonathan Coulton last Friday, going to le Crocodile for a night of Alsation fare (translation: mountain of pork!), having a fabulous dinner out with my mother, at Salsa and Agave, buying a pretty new dress, having a Sherlock rewatch at home with dessert last night and, um, telling all of you! Whee!

(Yes, there was supposed to be a trip, but it didn’t pan out. We’ll go, but it won’t be a birthday thing.)

I’m not much for presents, but if any of you can arrange for the 2nd Avenue skunk to pause in a photogenic shaft of light when I have my camera at and and ten minutes to spare, I’d be obliged. My current best photo of the beast could be mistaken for a quasar.

Story intro: Origin of Species

Posted on February 16, 2011 by

I wrote “Origin of Species” at almost exactly the same time as I did “Faces of Gemini” (whose intro is here) and the process was very similar: an anthology invitation from editor Jeanne Cavelos became an outline in point form, which in turn became an outline of detailed sentences. These became a bony first draft in need of fleshing. The two stories feel like siblings of a sort, having come together in this fashion.

I cannot remember how I hit upon the idea of taking Annie Darwin’s ghost and putting her in a Van Helsing story. I knew I didn’t want to set the story in the time of Dracula, didn’t want monster-stalking by gaslight: I figured that the anthology would have plenty of those, written well by people who actually know their Victorian history.

I do know I was deeply pleased with the idea as soon as I conceived it; I vaguely remember that I’d just read Annie’s Box: Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution and had it on my mind, and saw that Annie could be put to good use there.

It felt right, in other words, which is no doubt another reason why the story came together so fast.

Life is full, Alyx is Quiet

Posted on January 28, 2011 by

I haven’t been blogging much lately. I got some birds up last week from my outing to Vanier Park, with Barb, but posts about writing and the state of my life have been in short supply. One reason is that I temporarily diverted my usual blogging time into revision on an upcoming novel. Another is that I am doing the Quantum Leap rewatches, and a Favorite Thing Ever each week, along with prepping lectures for my Novel III class and writing 8-10 critiques a week for the current Novel II class.

At the same time, some of the bits and pieces of my life have been shifting around a bit, and lots of them haven’t actually settled yet. One example: I’ve always been an early riser, but for the last month and a half I’ve been starting my work day at 6:00 a.m. Another: I’ve been deep in preparations for a choir concert (video footage, including me mangling the word ‘collectivist’ and Badger being lovely and articulate, can be found here). This was my last concert for awhile, as I’m taking a break from singing.

I never quite got a chance to tell you that my birthday trip went down the flush, and I haven’t figured out what the new birthday plan will be. And I took on a new mentoring gig, which–with help from several other little life shifts–discombobulated the stable little Wednesday morning breakfast ritual that has been a mainstay of my and kelly-yoyoKelly‘s lives since we were twenty-five or so.

There’s been other stuff too, so much of it, some of it with the potential to either be quite big or evaporate in a pfiffle. And I’m like a lot of people, in that uncertainty will never be the topic of an Alyx favorite thing ever column. So there’s been lots of awareness of things unresolved, a resulting bit of tension, and radio silence.

A few things that definitely are going on:

–Kelly and I and Ana are going to the Vancouver Police Museum’s Forensics for Adults program tonight, to do a one-hour workshop on blood spatter. Come on, admit you’re jealous.

–When we first moved to BC and I got chances to experience the Seabus and B.C. Ferries, I started having fabulous seagoing adventure dreams. In these physically improbable scenarios, I often got to drive a ferry as though it was a speedboat, in really fast, really splashy chases. These dreams are so fun. Now that I have been on a cruise, I have cruise dreams too!

–After a couple years of random and unsuccessful attempts to find contact information for her, I have finally managed to reconnect with one of my Clarion instructors, someone I absolutely adore. This has been supernice.

All my carrots are belong to virtual reality. It used to be that when I achieved some wee personal goal, I’d buy myself a $2-5 packet of sticky notes, or a bowl from someplace like YokoYaya. But now I buy iPod apps! Today I loaded up Vancouver 150, which is a “Hey, Vancouver’s turning 150 so here’s a news and history portal” type thingie. But it was free, and the universe owes me a treat, so if you know of great iTouch apps that are not games, I am always interested.

Early morning sightings

Posted on December 9, 2010 by

I saw a skunk on Wednesday on my way to the cafe. It was six in the morning, raining hard and very dark–so, no chance of a photo. That, combined with the fact that it was a skunk, meant I didn’t even try to give chase. I was nevertheless delighted to see him waddling down Woodland in high gear, wavering between the west side of the street–and the fenced-in safety of a Terasen work site that is popular with a lot of the urban wildlife–and the garbage dumps of Greyhound Cate’s alley on the east. I don’t see skunks that often, and it has been at least a year. I took it for a good sign.

Yes, out and about at six. My timetable has shifted slightly, and now every day starts with an early fiction-writing session at the cafe. It used to start at half-past eight on Monday to Friday, and then early on Saturday-Sunday. Now it’s all crack of dawn, all the time. As an Xtreme Morning Person, this suits me… but every change has effects, and some have been hard to quantify.

Still, there’s been some “Mmm, must eat this meal at this point in the day now,” and a bit of “Gotta figure out when I’m getting to the pet store,” and “Hey, the frozen food run is sooo much more convenient!” I didn’t count on having to slot in a replacement for the semi-conscious woolgathering I used to do at five in the morning, five days a week. ( I’m not waking up any earlier, in general; I’ve just shifted around the daily must-do list in a way that’s been mostly pleasing.)

A thousand tiny consequences, some to be sorted; some, savored. The weekends are glorious, because K and I are on exactly the same clock, and we’ve already spent a couple long, delicious days together, reading and hanging out. Saturday when we went to the opera, we had a leisurely two hour window to get there… for ten! There was also a fit of self-indulgence wherein we destroyed the living room’s fitness for visitors by arranging the couch and our armchairs back-to-back, to maximize TV viewing comfort on the former and fireside-reading in the latter.

We are still muddling through the process of figuring out when and how to hang out with people when one runs out of brain at seven and goes to bed at nine.

Early bedtime has also proved to be the final nail for choir rehearsals. After the January 22 concert, I am planning to become a non-singing volunteer: meaning I’ll finish out my term on the Board and continue to run the website, but for the first time since 2003 I won’t be rehearsing or performing.