Sunday, December 21, 2008

On Firsts

SO it's nearly been a week since I mused on this here blog. I can't say I've been busy, because I'm pretty much running my own schedule here, sans deadline to boot. But I have been gettin' down to some first-evers, so with that I'll lay it out in a list -- and invite more to lay bare their firsts of late.

1. Ordered running shoes online. Mine are getting bare, I know exactly what kind I want -- and it turns out Brooks Radius Cushion are discontinued. (Plus, online shopping is so fun in the U.S! Free shipping everywhere, constant sales, Saturday service!)

2. Sewed an EASESTITCH. I'm not sure that's a technical definition for this loose stitch line on my Vogue pattern for this wraparound dress I'm making, but I think I get its purpose.

3. Ordered scotch at a bar. And with the future in-laws, no less! I swear the drink is in my blood, and the occasion gave me the opportunity to tell about the time my mom gave my 90-something grandmother Glen-something cylinder ... w. socks inside. In any case, it took me forever to drink it and it was nice and watered down by the end, I think it's a good choice. I think.

4. Walked with weights. 8 lbs. in each hand kicks yer ass. Or at least it forces you abs/ core/ back muscles to step it up. Next we'll try it in the foot+ of snow that just came down.

5. Owned a purse. As of last night the Prada-knockoff that I borrowed for the NYC trip is mine. The in-laws to-be have had their fun laughing at my tote bag, which I got free with my ING Half-Marathon registration last year. It's hardly a bag, it's cheap synthetic material sewn together, it's only meant to last for the duration of race weekend. But it carries a book, a magazine, and a whole bunch of other, extra crap so well! (Actually, so does this purse).

6. Bought oven mitts. I could be wrong here. I'm not completely new to the salad days, and in relationships past I may have purchased such an item. But I can't remember so I'm voiding that possibility, especially because the purchase allows me to make some interesting observations about my hosts. Lots of cheese. Homemade soap. Acres of forest out back.

And yet ... no oven mitts. Or bathtub plugs (even though they do a monthly soleil bath). Hmm. No dustpan, either.

It's times like these I have to avoid making sweeping generalizations about Americans. (And just visit the dollar store for them).

7. Burned poetry. I had brought a file of saved poems, hoping to re-work them in the peace and quiet that's been afforded me this month in Thomaston, CT. But when I looked back at them, for the most part, I just wanted to move on, with a nod to dark times of the past and what they've done for me. I have burned gifts and sentimental relics from relationships past, but I've never actually put to flame my scribblings.

But we needed kindling for a very wet fire, and, in my self-appointed role as recycling ambassador in this house, I already had a nice box of paper prepared. Toss in some sexual frustration, a grieving daughter, detailed accounts of sibling rivalry, and the fire roared.

8. Watched a live wrestling match. Before I met my fiance, my knowledge of wrestling was based on Olympic coverage and Saturday morning WWF matches; when I was a kid, my best buddy and her family of gregarious Greeks would school me in headlocks, body slams, tag teams, and everything else for show-style fights.

Now that Alex is a coach for the Grade 7/8 team, I'm getting the inside scoop. And last Thursday, I was up in arms over a 105-lb kid who couldn't keep the blood in his nose long enough to get pinned! Enough already! Go Bears!

9. Considered applying for a reality show. For the sake of my wedding guests I'll leave it at that.

10. Posted/ hosted a debate on Facebook. Most of the stuff on my FB page is light and fluffy. I eschew 'applications,' rarely give or receive gifts, never add or remove info. But I picked up something on Twitter and, wanting to respond but unsure of how to approach the original poster, I posted a paragraph and a ling on my Facebook page. A former colleague got in touch to say she'd just posted the same thing to Twitter, and a former editor chimed in with his two cents on the subject.

And it was fun, a whole new experience, to have Facebook act as a conduit for assertive discussion and not just a rallying place for various fantastic people/ events/ photos/ etc.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Stumbling onto my own perspective

The running here in Litchfield County is improving, and today I threw caution to the wind and headed south (? better: right) on Hwy. 6 down Naugatuck Valley.

Or should I say up. The hill just kept going and Craig Norris talked a bit too much in the first ten minutes of the R3 30, so it was a struggle at first and I was counting the minutes (15 in total) that I would run in one direction before allowing myself to turn around and head home (which is, somehow, also terribly uphill).

But just as I hit the crest of the hill, I noticed a driveway, or at least an inlet of sorts, on my right hand side. (If you happen to be using this as a map of the Valley, I run on the left hand side. Obviously).

It was majestic. It was daunting. It was something from that movie The Fugitive only way less extreme. It was the Northfield Brook Park entrance to the Thomaston Dam.

I jogged down the gravel pathway atop the dam, noted that rappelling and ice climbing are not allowed, imagined my buddies back home sneaking out after dark to get up to such mischief, and turned around.

It wasn't until I reached the halfway point down the gravel pathway, which sort of had the feel of a gangplank, that I stopped to take in the view. The river below was rolling high, roaring with the rain of the past week. The trees, mostly deciduous, formed a fuzzy, familiar blanket down the Valley, and if I leaned one way I thought I could see the graveyard, er, cemetery, that usually acts as my run-to spot. Facing the other direction, I could understand for the first time why it's always uphill in Thomaston: it's a narrow valley, and the town follows the riverbed while never really exposing it as a natural attraction. So if you're not climbing, running, or driving uphill, you generally feel like you're about to fall over a cliff.

Does that make sense?

In any case, standing up on the Thomaston Dam gangplank, it made sense to me. Something about the town clicked for the first time. And, I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit it, but I realized something else about my relationship to this town -- and the development of my relationship to this town.

It's all seen through the eyes of my fiance, who has a bit of a love/ hate thing going on with his birth place. When we first met in Hawaii he couldnt' stop talking about it. Upon returning, and noting that almost 100% of it's inhabitants have noticeably lighter skin than yours truly and driving around at 10:30 on a Saturday night looking for a coffee house with chill music that, apparently, doesn't exist, he's disenchanted, to say the least.

At the Dam today, I imagined Alex taking me there, sweeping his arms at the bounty of the land and pointing out locales from his youth. In that fantasy, I was bitter. I felt the chill of my own sarcastic take on life -- the park has U.S. Army written all over it, and they're an easy target these days -- and saw my cold shoulders scurry for the comfort of the car.

I think this can be summed up with a comparison.

Alex likes to watch movies with other people who have already seen that movie and love it. I find this quite irritating, what with all the expectations and ruined punchlines. I prefer to find movies; sure, I like to share them, but I already know Alex and I have different movie tastes (last night, when the coffee house fantasy flopped, he settled for Tropic Thunder from the local Red Box).

In short, I like to stumble upon my own vantage points, all pumped up on my own endorphins. A part of me is even hesitant to share this blog with Alex, preferring to hold this mornings' experience as some special discovery in My Own Private Connecticut.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

On Sullivan's Why I Blog

OK, so I'm late reacting virally to this manifesto. But my delay can be directly related to one of the points in the article.

And, because the piece was so choc full of reflections on the state of, and projections for the future of, all things bloggy, I'll stick to this one point.

It came at the end, when Sullivan was wrapping up his argument for blogging and it's place within literature. It came when I, having slipped off for a wee sunset-hour nap, stood up, said hello to the home-from-work fam, and returned to the comfort of my couch to finish the article. (It's no dis to the piece, I swear I have narcolepsy).

Throughout the piece, Sullivan defended the blogosphere, comparing (good) blogs to Pascal's Pensees, deconstructed his own development as a blogger, etc. And throughout the piece he insisted on the potential for the peaceful co-existence between conventional journalism and blogging. But it wasn't until his conclusion that it really hit home.

You see, I'm blogging -- and living, for the month -- at my to-be in-laws, at the top of a hill in a small town in northwestern Connecticut. Occasionally I attempt to make real-life connections with the people of this town, but I generally live in this one corner of the house (where I've found a one-to-two-bar wireless connection!)

Day after day I plan my reading, researching, pitching, etc., unable to live without a deadline (see previous post). Yesterday I decided to take a different approach and embrace this temporary state. I would read (picked up back issues of New York Mag,Psychology Today, Atlantic Monthly and Self -- Thomaston does have a library, thanks goodness).

Sure enough, as soon as I cast off the boxes of which magazine, which issue, which editor, which angle, which department -- in general, as soon as I stopped compartmentalising my whole approach to reading and researching, the ideas came. (When will the incandescent light bulb be replaced by the compact fluorescent as the symbol of a good idea? And is this delay a symbol in itself?)

OK, OK, I'm rambling ... but such is the way my playful mind works when my drill sergeant mind lets loose it's grip. I pause and look around and make connections -- sometimes days after reading the piece.

Feeling frugal (who isn't?) and limited by back issues, I've been trying to read online. Almost made it through this Walrus article on beards. (Maybe it's in their blog section, but it's long and 'full' enough to be an article). I did get through a short story by Claire Gibson on Joyland.

But after a few hours of scrolling, interrupted by the occasional tweet/email/chat I decided to head to the couch. And that's where I met Sullivan.

I had tried to read this a month ago, when the listservs were all abuzz with it. I made it to page three -- and I was proud of myself for that.

So how justified was I feeling when, having made it through the whole piece, Sullivan closes by comparing the act of reading online (using a "querulous, impatient,a distracted attitude") to the experience of "opening a novel or a favourite magazine on the couch. Reading on paper evokes a more relaxed and meditative medium."

Of course, Sullivan wasn't arguing one is better than the other. But for me, for this month sans deadlines, I think I'll risk narcolepsy and stay on the couch.

(Until I get an idea I want to bounce off the blogosphere, or find a person I want to track, or a new publication I want to write for, or ...)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fairytale of New York

With the wedding plans completely up in the air and my stay-at-home role making me a bit edgy, today we headed for NYC to check out dresses with my 'Hollywood' sister-in-law to be, Katheryn. She'd be in the Big Apple anyway, and her buddy, Brazilian designer Ana Maria, was also in town ... Katheryn was stoked, and when this girl gets excited it seems anything is possible.

SO I jumped on the chance to have this model/ actress/ one-woman army take me under her wing for a little couture comfort.

Just walking through the bustling Christmassy streets with this new family had me looking up. Up to a sky that was clearing up, across to the Sally Ann bell-ringers who actually sing bee-you-tiffully, and through the sea of shoppers to catch kids' smiles. Before we even arrived for my private fitting I had a new skip in my step.

It wasn't my first trip to New York -- that special visit came earlier this year, when Al and I escaped the parents for a couple days of bumming around Central Park, Times Square, and various pizza joints. Before that, NYC was pure legend, coloured mostly by that classic Pogues tune. (Classic -- and sad, as it always reminded me of one failed relationship and the Christmas that followed).

That skip turned into a bit of a teeter when I arrived at Ana's apartment. The place was so clean, so full of designer clothes ... and I always feel grubby in those kind of situations. But I scrubbed hard that morning, and even shaved the day before in anticipation of the many eyes that would be sizing me up, so I kept my cool as I tried on backless, floor length gowns, fun frocks, and 4" heels that definitely made me feel like a little girl playing dress up (she has size 11 feet!)

But before long I had the dress.

Now, I did have some reservations about picking the first one that came to me. I suggested we should check out some bridal salons while in the city, so that I could know for sure that I didn't want some thousand dollar costume I'd never wear again. But the more people I talked to the less attractive this experience appeared. Apparently those bridal folks can be pretty mean, trying to restrict the number of dresses you try on, and they don't even keep numerous sizes in stock! They PIN -- and at 5'1", they'd be doing a lot of pinning.

Did I need a witch to complete this fairytale? I don't think so.

So we measured some alterations in the comfort of Ana's awesome pad -- the dress will be made in Brazil, bringing a fun cultural element to the dress -- and we were soon making plans for pizza en route to Grand Central, where we'd catch the 3:39 pm train back to Brewster, NY.

But there wasn't enough time. As the sun breathed its golden magic through the towers of Manhattan, we scurried from 64th and 1st to 42nd and Park. I took Mark Kingwell's advice and refused to run ("running is always a sign of failure. ... Running means you have mistimed something ..."). And just when the mom-in-law to-be started to question my steady stride, scampering ahead and needlessly asking for directions, the Mercury caught my eye and brought my gaze up once again to that sunseting sky above.

Perhaps I'll start saying, when explaining my post-wedding plans, that I'm moving to New York City ... hey, it's my fairytale.

As for ex-boyfriends and their affect on my pleasure of the here and now, I still love that song. And the necklace I took off in Ana's apt? I remembered it half a block after leaving and went back, even though it was a gift from Boyfriend Past.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Without a deadline

Yes, that's me. I'm a freelance journalist sans assignment.

To be fair, it's mostly out of choice. Having completed my contract with the Ottawa Writers Festival, and with the holidays around the corner, I opted to do the 'quality time' thing with my fiance, his fam, and my mom on the west coast. I vowed that if I received a stellar assignment that required me to stay in Ottawa I would, but I didn't really go after said job.

And so I find myself without assignment -- in small town Connecticut, no less -- for the first time in ... many months.

How many times I wished for such freedom ... and now I'm finding the situation empty, scary, and completely foreign. Sort of like a uber-clean showroom of designer clothes.

Now, I like to nest. I like to putter around the house and get things done; these include spontaneous bouts of creativity, but they also include 'mundane' stuff like cooking and cleaning. (O damn! tofu! phew. all good). To me, these things build security and comfort, as well as allowing my mind to play around with ideas in the comfort and budget of my own home.

As a natural nester, taking on the housewife role comes pretty naturally. Someone popped by this afternoon, and I was quite happy to serve tea and chat the hours away.

So you'd think that, looking at the next year and all it's wifey duties, I'd be pretty stoked. But the thing is, the nesting seems so much fun that I'm afraid I'll lose myself in it, become adrift in a sea of colour palettes and crudites, until I wake up one day ... in my apron.

But today offered some nibbles of comfort. I was afforded quite a few hours of alone time; I tried to get CBC online but failed technologically. Instead, after washing up my poached egg and rye toast, I fell into the coach and wrote. I thought to write in le blog and I did.

It's very quiet in this house on the hill and I already know it's a great place to read. Writing? So far, so good. (Especially since I found wireless in our new (wrap-around-porch-turned) apartment!)

And what is a deadline, anyway? : The end of a job, all too often arriving too soon for what the assignment truly requires. : Someone else's constraints forcing themselves on you. : A goal. : A way to frame your writing, place restrictions on your writing, give excuses to your writing and/ or it's shortcomings.

Writing without a deadline ... there may be something to it. For now, I'm taking the advice of journalist Fateema Sayani and poet Gillian Wigmore. On writing after marriage/ kids: do it in spurts.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Adolescent Town

So I'm in Connecticut now, trying to envision my life here. This includes attending community events, reading and running, and trying to find some moments of silence to blog and write. After three days, I've picked up Louise Erdrich's The Blue Jay's Dance, continued down Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden, and have finished another chapter in Mark Kingwell's Concrete Reveries.

This last one is proving to be a challenge, with words like adumbrated used to describe postmodern architechture and the fact that architechture was the first medium to witness the rise of postmodernism.

But last night it paid off.

See, I come to this small New England town of about 7,000 every couple months. The first time it was all about trips down memory lane, as my honey regailed me with stories from his youth, of hiking trips and cemetary toboggoning. My next visit came in the springtime, when everything is at its peak and life in Thomaston looked good.

Now, I'm here for a month, in preparation for my semi-permanent move here next fall. And late November is proving to be grey, wet, and generally unfriendly. (To think last year at this time we were in Hawaii!)

In any case, as I stuggle to find a suitable, moderate perspective on this transition, Kingwell -- and Jed Perl -- come to my rescue.

While they discuss NYC, and the lurching feelings of ambition and discouragement one experiences upon moving there, I'm thinking my own wedded bliss in Thomaston could be seen in such a light:

Kingwell borrows Perl's term "the adolescent city" to describe "that shimmering land of half-fantasy, at once true and false, that presents itself to artists and writers when they first come to write about a place such as New York or Paris or London [or Thomaston]-- that sense of alightly awed but boldly sanctioned arrival, or Gatsbyesque ambition about to succeed (or not), dreams about to be realized (or dashed). I mean the way we all feel when, well-dressed and fresh-faced at east in imagination, we step off the train for the first time at Grand Central or Gare du Nord or King's Cross."
-- Mark Kingwell, Concrete Reveries

Considering this last depiction, perhaps its marriage itself that is the new town, the new land, that is open for conquering as much as it is collapse. Or maybe it was all those youngens I was hangin with last night, smoking cigarettes in their parents living room and playing beer pong, that made me feel adolescent again.

Either way, something is about to begin.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Writing while running

It doesn't work. I've long wished for some sort of device, concept, or even a simple approach to remembering the great thoughts that stream through my mind while running. It wasn't until recently, listening to authors at the Ottawa Writers Festival, that I realized maybe this wouldn't be such a good idea.

My high school creative writing teacher would tell us to Write it Down! (He loooved exclamation points and would plaster his wall is such Do it Now! euphemisms to inspire and irritate us). And I always interpreted this as a time-sensitive instruction, as if we were really meant to transcribe every thought that could possibly have any merit. But as I listened to the likes of ... O darn, of course I can't remember which author(s) said it ... in any case, on more than one occasion I heard that authors actually let ideas, characters, situations, moral dilemmas, etc. sit with them. They carry them with them, introduce them to friends, speculate on their qualities, sometimes before committing them to paper at all.

This thinking all came about as I was bounding down my street this morning, on my way out for a run. I was like 'darn, forgot to post to Twitter that I'm going for a run.'

I'm new on this Twitter thing, and I did just send a mobile update last night, but I don't run with my cell phone and I never want to. If I run into people in the (gasp) real world, it's a nice coincidence ... not to mention a little ego boost for me 'cause I'm always just a little bit proud that I actually run in the winter. But Twitter isn't going to be the device I've been looking for, and maybe I'll never find it.

Maybe technology just doesn't work with inner dialogue. And maybe that's why inner dialogue is so frighteningly special.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fashion Weeks

Here we go ...

Over the next few weeks I'll be covering a few events in Ottawa aimed at giving local and national designers more coverage. There's a strange thing going on -- best to read my advancer story the Ottawa Citizen

Tonight, it's the launch party for Ottawa Fashion Week. I'm particularly excited because it's a free event; the organizers are working hard to keep their events accessible, have given free tickets to all high schools in the city, and are keeping it alcohol-free. It feels very welcoming, and that's a good thing, cause it's my first fashion week.

Better run. Lots to learn and, despite my love for wit, I don't want to arrive fashionable late.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ah, the home office

Yes, I'm working from home today. My wonderful boss at the Ottawa Writers Festival gave us the day off (given the fact that we did 12-hour days for ten days in a row, I suppose it should be expected, but I was still surprised!)

And because I am a bit of a work-aholic, love my work, and am trying to inject new life into my freelance career, I'm working on my 'day off.' And it's great!

The sun filters in as I watch the day outside turn from sunny to wet-snowy, to grey with patches of vibrant blue. A tiny boxer puppy seems to smell something interesting on my patch of grass ... his owner tugs him along. The phone rings; I take diligent messages for my roommates.

And the mail comes!

All my life I've loved the mail. I procrastinated on the whole email thing because I knew it would be one more reason to avoid snail mail. In the late 90s I was still writing letters, pasting together photo collages and sneaking in little stickers and ticket stubs to more tangibly share memories with friends. Some snail mail allies would even write back, and I have tons of colourful, sentimental scrawlings in basement boxes.

But email came, and letters went. Or did they?

As a freelancer, I still get cheques in the mail. I know a lot of freelancers complain about the inconsistency of the invoicing system, but I sort of like it. Yes, I've had to hound editors who've had to hound accounts payable who maybe never even got the invoice, and I guess I'm luck because my rent is low and my bills even lower.

But there's something in the NOT knowing. Something in the limbo -- a sense that it could all be taken out from underneath you -- that keeps me working hard and prevents me from taking anything for granted. When I do month-by-month projections (ok, these are more like passing thoughts will running than Excel spreadsheets), I just kind of hope and visualize library trips, hours at the local coffee shop, frugal meals and quiet afternoons.

Yes, I'm on a contract now that gives me a regular paycheque. And yet I welcome the return to full-time freelance.

Maybe my hopeful tone is just because I got mail today, but it's worth noting that I did not receive a cheque. No, I got a stack of Ottawa Citizen Style Magazine, sent to me by my editor, who seems to think there's more work to be had and that I might just succeed in this game.

I also received the journal that my fiance and I correspond in. He's in Connecticut, and he gave me this hard cover book in Hawaii when we first parted in December 2007. Back and forth it goes, filled with hope and love and scrawling... looks like I have another ally in the snail mail underworld.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What you lookin' at? Part Two

After my last post I was still stuck on a few of the things I wrote. I felt it was necessary to clarify the region of said pants that were all stretched and skanky. It wasn't the crotch, it was the inside seams -- more like my upper thigh.

And schizophrenia isn't a disease, it's a disorder.
From Wikipedia:
Schizophrenia (pronounced /ˌskɪtsəˈfrɛniə/ or /ˌskɪtsəˈfriːniə/), from the Greek roots schizein (σχίζειν, "to split") and phrēn, phren- (φρήν, φρεν-, "mind") is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a mental disorder characterized by abnormalities in the perception or expression of reality. It most commonly manifests as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking with significant social or occupational dysfunction. Onset of symptoms typically occurs in young adulthood,[1] with approximately 0.4–0.6%[2][3] of the population affected. Diagnosis is based on the patient's self-reported experiences and observed behavior. No laboratory test for schizophrenia currently exists.[4]

I also visited "You know who I am," a site recently launched by Royal Ottawa. Good Ol' Alfie is the poster child, and the media storm that took place at it's launch really brought some attention to the confusion and stigma that is mental illness. Unfortunately, it left me uninspired.

This bare bones site, where readers share their experiences, was much more insightful:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What you lookin' at?

Just in from a morning run (finally able to pull myself out of bed and the bizarre REM dreams that come with the snooze button!), and I've got to say, I'm feeling a bit paranoid.

While it wasn't the 17 degrees we saw yesterday in Ottawa, the air was warm and thick, with a fog that reminded me of Trois-Rivieres. That usually means paper-mill stinky, but I have good memories of TR, so for me it was nostalgic. Maybe it was this reminiscence that, as I quickened my pace and made for the Library and Archives (my new locale for stairs and hills) brought the creeping sensation of paranoia.

And then I remembered that the pants I'm wearing are cheap tights circa 2003, which means they've fallen apart at the seams ... right around the crotch. Last night it seemed inconsequential, as I made my way like a ninja through the dark streets. But now, under the increasing glare of slick bureaucrats making their way to their well-put-together offices, I felt a tad ... nasty.

When I meet red lights I usually do a few crucial stretches. Now I only roll my ankles.

The people I expect to be admiring my gait, not to mention my dedication to run outside, in the morning, despite the cooler weather ... now I see as mean-spirited gawkers, ashamed for me and my skanky pants.

As I made my home I remembered something I read about schizophrenia. That paranoia, the feeling that people are whispering about you behind your back, is common for these folks struck with a most misunderstood disease. And I remember that sensation as a small, brown, not-particularly coordinated or confident person in public school.

Usually runs leave me feeling on top of the world, like I can do anything. And while this was somewhat true of this morning's run, I feel this one did more -- it gave me newfound empathy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First Snow/Run

Yes, it snowed in Ottawa this evening. Just as the sun was setting and I was getting up from a much needed nap -- filled with turbulent dreams spurred, no doubt, from my current read Three Day Road -- I saw the first flakes of the season.

And I was excited!

Weird, I know. But last year at this time I was in Hawaii, where Halloween wasn't the same and winter just meant wetness, no whiteness. When I finally arrived in Ottawa in January the snow was an assumed fact of life. And if we are going to make it through this season smiling or at least sane, we've got start it off with a bang, laughing and crying and knowing that winter in Ottawa is nuts.

So I ran.

Not far, mind you. But far enough to see some swirling leaf tornadoes and hear, through my iPod (yes, still needing musical motivation), a passerby whoop out a cackle at the oncoming storm. Long enough to smell woodsmoke. And fast enough to beat three yellow lights.

Bring it on.

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's been awhile ...

Me and my blog haven't spent too much time together lately. I've been busy with stuff in the 'real' world, most recently the Ottawa International Writers Festival.

So with all those writers around, my boyfriend asked me today 'have you thought about your blog? are you going to write in it again?'

My answer was yes, but first I have to run ...

Ahh. Much better. I"m hot under the collar but my senses are heightened after a 40 minute run to the canal and back home through the Glebe. Even found a patch of park I never knew aobut before.

Soon after I started I felt the baggage sway. My tummy, that is, up and down and up and down with every step, every bounce reminding me of late night beers and baked good mornings, of the Writers Fest that did a number on my usual, somewhat healthy, routine.

I was reminded of the physicality of writing in one of the sessions. Sonnet L'Abbe and Stephen Heighten, I believe. Anyway I know it was Sonnet -- who could forget a poet with a name like that -- who spoke of meditating, of bringing the words from a deep place within, of always trying to go, for lack of a better word, deeper.

My deep insides are hurting right now. I still have to do abs, and while the run felt good I have to admit I was using my iPod for extra motivation today so maybe I wasn't hearing my body cry out 'what's this? it's not beer or baked goods! you mean we [my legs, my gut, my will, etc.] still RUN?'

So I have to go attend to those parts and drink water and generally fuel the machine I plan on putting to good use over the next few months and years. 'Cause I do believe n the physicality of writing, but I can't expect much from a physical self existing off of beer and baked goods.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

in Flux

No, not an influx of inspiration or an influx of opportunities (though I suppose I have had plenty of chances, of various natures, recently). No, I am in a state of flux and it's affecting my blog.

And it's not acid reflux -- I kicked that about a year ago. The endoscopy hasn't come back yet but I'm guessing my G.I. will tell me I'm just a too stressed out, and it's affecting my tummy.

I'm between full time and freelance. Between a long-distance relationship and a live-in boyfriend. Between spring and summer (cause I don't quite trust that the rainy spell is over). Between endurance sports and capoiera! pick-up soccer! ultimate frisbee!
I like to play in the summertime. I like to give up my regimes and give into random team sports, sparring as the night grows on. Then out for beers to watch the game.

So I was determined to commit an entry every three days this June, then market my blog to the world and see what happens. Alas, the flux has me watching my back and flexing my limbs, always aiming for a smile and a calm, cool demeanor. 200 words is as much as I can muster, it seems...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Underused word of the day

a coarse-mannered woman who is prone to shouting.

I was looking up fishy words for a piece I'm writing on Whalesbone Oyster House. I had oysters there this morning at 10 a.m. and they put me in a right snappy mood.

And I think I have now found the fishiest word of 'em all...
I found this interpretation at, and it really made me wish I shrieked like a fishwife more often:

In London, fish mongers were also known as "The wives of Billingsgate". according to Ackroyd, it is thought that they were descendants of devotees of the God, Belin who was worshipped there at one time. "They dressed in strong 'stuff'gowns and quilted petticoats; their hair, caps and bonnets were flattened into one in distinguishable mass upon their heads." They were also called 'fish fags'. "They smoked small pipes of tobacco, took snuff, drank gin and were known for their colourful language... A dictionary from 1736 defined a 'Billingsgate' as a scolding, impudent slut." You can almost imagine how they must have smelled.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Don't ya hate ... golf.

Golf is taking a lot of flack these days -- and so it should.

From soaring rates of cart accidents to second-guessing their right to drain our water resources and even taking the issue of golf as a pleasurable activity to court (and winning!), everyone seems to be picking on the little (white, moneyed) guy.

Me, I have a love-hate relationship with golf -- or should I say golf courses. Like Sports Illustrated writer Frank Deford, I feel that while "only God can make a tree, but golf course architects can make trees seem prettier, and golf course superintendents can make the grass greener, and the flowers brighter, so that even when you can't hit a fairway or sink a putt, a golf course certainly is an awfully lovely place to be frustrated." Or tired but tanned, meticulously pruning and mowing your way through an afternoon for $10 hour.

And, like Deford, I have seen first hand the environmental scourge that these oases of greenery are, by nature. Nevermind the pesticides flowing into waterways, or the gas spills that naturally occur when you put teenage boys behind the wheel of all-terrain vehicles and tell them 'quick, the Gator's out of gas and the first tee-off is in five minutes!'
No, it's the need for constant water that really plagues the regions that golf courses call home.

In the summer of 2003, while sitting out a summer, waiting for cracked pelvis to heal (another casualty of the golf industry: poor workplace safety records), I had a lot of time to look around my mountain town of Invermere, B.C. -- and watch it wither away for lack of water.

This was the same summer that saw B.C. break record after record for high heat, drought, and, of course, forest fires.

So while I absorbed the rays from my balcony, the bush and trees were dying and igniting. From Google maps it must've looked like Armageddon. I know that as I passed through Banff National Park in late August (that is, after an hour of waiting -- with the threat of fire so high, they could only let traffic pass through in spurts), I put on "The End" by the Doors and imagined it all falling away...

Though Deford insists that the golf industry is beginning to understand that it's fundamentally unsustainable, I'm doubtful. New grasses that require less moisture? Overseeding 'frowned upon'? There's only so far that recycled water can go, my friend, and fostering the notion that man can (and will!) control nature will be an uphill climb -- with a heavy load of metal sticks.

I call on golfers to follow the lead of Henry Rachfalowski, the financial executive who shunned golf -- and shocked his colleagues -- by refusing to golf. He not only set a precedent for individuals who are taxed on benefits they don't enjoy, but he also got people saying ... outloud, everyone, 'Don't you hate golf??'

Maybe this could be their swan song...
(I can see it: black ash raining down on their golf umbrellas as bit their lip and straighten their plaid collars)

The End
This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
Ill never look into your eyes...again
-- The Doors

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Book of the Year: 1960

It was one of those Sunday evening moments, like a relaxed, enjoyable phone call with your cousin or playful, invigorating game of soccer. I walked around my house in my pajamas.
The garbage was at the front of the house and the recycling at the back and I am responsible for putting the garbage out this month so yes, I walked around my house in my pajamas (and it's not the first time!).
And there, on Gilmour Street at Lyon, were two stacks of encyclopedias, tied up with string. Being the proud user of such reference books as a child (no Nintendo here), I stooped down to have a look. And there I saw it: the Book of the Year for 1960. Yes they had 1959 and a bunch of other regular reference texts, but I stuck with my gut and yanked 1960 out of it's twine.
Honduras -- Home furnishings. Communism. Baghdad Pact -- Baking industry. Motion Pictures.
Special feature on Hawaii! (The Island State?!!)
With Canadian Supplement!

I really don't know where to start, but I do feel a new part of my brain tingle. I've never been good at history, I've felt a total imbecile, actually, but I'm feeling this book might be good for something...though I have already noticed that the information is mostly about market prices and industry production.

But it is signed by Diefenbaker -- who, I have learned since my curbside find, was Canada's 13th prime minister (1957-1963).

Friday, June 13, 2008

Very Superstitious

Are you superstitious?
It's a tough question.

I would say no, but I believe that some 'omens,' call them indications if you want, can get the better of our ability to maintain a positive outlook and a sense that we're in control of things.

It's Friday the 13th ... and I have my second triathlon tomorrow.

On the day before my last race, the wind broke my mirror. My roommates mirror has since been similarly smashed -- she also puts the blame and the seven years of bad luck squarely on the shoulders of the wind. And who has seen the wind? Neither you nor I ...
Sorry, Couldn't help it.

But somehow we feel like we have to appease the bad forces that might trip up a race, and because i love lyrics and Stevie Wonder:

Very superstitious, writing's on the wall,
Very superstitious, ladders bout' to fall,
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin' glass
Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Keeping a pet

And he gave you a german shepherd to walk
With a collar of leather and nails
And he never once made you explain or talk
About all of the little details

--'Master Song,' Leonard Cohen

I've been thinking a lot about pets these days.

I suppose it's mostly because it's puppy season; everyone everywhere seems to have small canines with extra skin and too-big paws. I melt at the sight of them and crane my neck as I pass dog parks. I've always been a dog person and even took out all the dog books when I could first read, memorizing breed names and planning my litter.

But now, after years of deciding it wasn't the right time -- I was moving or wanted to, I didn't know where I'd be living for the next fifteen years -- I'm not so sure about the role dogs will play in my life. I'm not sure I want to 'keep' a pet, and I'm not sure dogs are meant to be kept.

In Hawaii, things were different when it came to dogs and cats. They hung about, you put food out, they offered affection, you accepted. It seemed a mutually beneficial relationship, with each party able to walk away from the set-up at any given point.

In Ottawa, 'owners' (or 'caregivers' as local retailer Posh Nosh refers to them) invest thousands to purchase and maintain a pet -- even more on the emotional level, as pets come to serve as surrogate children and life partners.
Is this fair to the beasts?
Did they ask for this kind of co-dependent relationship?

I suppose one could argue that children, too, don't 'ask' to be born. But that seems a bit more natural, like part of maintaining a species.

But when I try to see my sister, who has a 2-year-old husky, or my friends who just adopted a bulldog, as parents involved in a natural course of events, something inside of me cringes. It's similar to my aversion to the argument that 'we might as well eat cows -- there are too many of them. What would cows do if we didn't eat them?'

And who would take care of pure bred dogs if not wealthy westerners?

I believe the mutts at the pound may be a different story -- though with this week's scathing article by Randall Denley at the Ottawa Citizen (The humane society's big secret: euthanasia), I really don't know if I can trust our local humane society.

In then end, as I walk with my sister's pooch and watch her, nose in the air, searching out scents and enjoying this brief, elated hour of partial-freedom (huskies are a breed that cut'n'run, making off-leash sessions for city-dwellers few and far between), I wonder who is getting the most out of this relationship. I imagine how I would feel as a kept woman; I feel uneasy about the extra attention I get with a dog; and I feel like I owe her something.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Cigarettes, and something that seems to work

At first, I thought I was just the first one to visit the Quickie on Bank and Gilmour that day: covering the cigarette stand there was a piece of hard plastic. (As my previous post attests, sometimes I get up pretty early in the morning, for no apparent reason).

Then, on Friday night, a group of us happened to be in another local convenience store -- this one just a block way, at Bank and Maclaren. If you know the area and enjoy fries, cheese curds and gravy, you'll know the place.

This time it was sheets of pale orange cotton material that adorned the area behind the cash. We all know what sits there, we all know that they lead to lung cancer and are a scourge on our public health system, and yet many of us still enjoy a cigarette or twenty now and again.

And here it was that I realized the coverings were not because the Quickie was actually slow to fully open up (isn't it a 24-hour joint anyway? and why would they cover the cigarette racks overnight? perhaps dawn isn't my best time after all...). No, it was because, as of May 31, retail stores in Ontario and Quebec aren't allowed to display cigarrettes.

Especially since I'm a journalist, I felt pretty out of the loop. The only excuse I can provide here is that, at the time, I was preoccupied with the healthy endeavor of running a half-marathon. But I happened to be one of those 'runners who smoke;' not often, but occasionally, after a big meal and with a glass of wine, I'll enjoy a drag of a cigarette.

In any case, the rule is out. Apparently cig stands were known as 'power walls,' and were one of the last remaining areas for tobacco companies to push their product.

And, apparently, the crumbling of these walls are having the intended effect. While the studies haven't come out yet, people are talking.

About alcohol-induced purchases, the painful process of trying to quit, the situation of the 'social smoker,' and starting a rally at Giant Tiger.

Yes, Your All Canadian Family Discount Store also sells tobacco products, but when a friend attempted to inquire about the price of her favourite brand, the cashier timidly responded that she was not allowed to divulge this information. Promotion? I guess so. Soon the people behind her in line were up in arms, complaining about the ban.

And while she may have gathered momentum for the opposition, she didn't buy cigarettes.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Wondering while wandering

This morning, I did something I've never done before -- in Ottawa.
I woke up early, by accident, and, unable to got to sleep and too sore to run, I went for a walk.

I knew I wanted to climb, to a vista or up a mountain or even just some stairs. Centretown is pretty flat, though yesterday from my balcony I realized we have a view that belies our concrete surroundings (if I look to the northwest, all I see are the trees of precious Dundonald Park). In any case, whether dreams or calf muscles were calling for it, I went in search of a climb at 5:55 a.m.

I've always been a morning person, so it's no surprise that I felt a rush of positive energy upon stepping out into the streets. I also felt mist, fog, or rain; it was a wet morning but, unlike yesterday when I was already late for a meeting with a financial adviser, I didn't run back for my umbrella. No, I kept walking and threw in my earphones, striding through the mist with Bjork.

On the way, it occurred to me that ...
... I have had the best success in running races when I don't try or strategize that much. As I enter the final week of training for my second triathlon, I plan to take this lesson to heart and play with the water, listen to my body, and have fun on race day.

... some people might get cute, fluffy chows because they are lonely and enjoy talking to strangers. Dogs that, when wet, feel like wet toques near a fireplace and could probably use some training, but nonetheless really tug at my heart strings perhaps have owners that need some warm-heartedness, too. All this in an effort to reconcile my conflict about pet owners and my deep, constant, dog-envy.

... the headlines do affect me. I am scared of our NCC pathways. I feel safer when I see, from afar, tiny bodies making use of the Ottawa River pathway, but the cyclist and the runner may not be able to save me from the attacker.

... in some ways we walk around in a bubble of our own making, engaged in dialog with ourselves or plugged into iPods. But in other ways, ways that hit me like a ton of chemically-saturated bricks when I hit Bank Street, we are utterly consumed with projecting a fresh face, a strong scent, a put-together image. The scent of cologne really hung in the air this misty morning, and I realized those hyper-sensitive people might be onto something in their demands for a scent-free workspace.

All to say,
what a way
to start a day.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Excuses, excuses

Wow, a full two weeks since my last post. Excuse One: my life, house, body, and schedule were completely overtaken by the Ottawa Race Weekend. For once in my lifetime of participating in road races (18 years now!), I was with a strong crew of runners, and I completely indulged in the experience, taking a week off to tour with an old friend from B.C. who had come in for the race.

Now I'm back, and meant to be working. But the day my friend left, it was like my body gave up the ghost, and I fell prey to some weird allergy-flu thing that has kept me in bed for two days.

But this is my first time being sick as a freelancer. What to do? I can't use the excuse that I might contaminate my workplace. No, only my roommates suffer, and I can't do too much about that.

This morning, as I hauled my sore body out of bed, I figured, "well, this is an advantage of the freelance life. You don't need to call in -- you can just take a sick day when you need it."

Then, my roommate was heading out to work. The sun was shining and I thought, "maybe that's all I need. Some fresh air..."

Then, I misspelled a name in a pitch. Turns out I can contaminate workplaces, virtual, perhaps, but workplaces just the same, with my foggy head.
With that, off to bed.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Tire Experiment

It all began last Sunday, when the tires went out.

My buddy made sure it was garbage day Monday, but by the end of the day the trucks had come and gone, but the four tires remained, stacked on our lawn. Apparently they don't take tires.

What to do?

While we pondered and made phone calls, we watched from our front room/ office at the reactions of passersby to our sculpture of rubber. We live on the corner of Lyon and Gilmour in Ottawa and, in addition to The Beer Store Parade, plenty of interesting folk stroll, rush, and chat past our window everyday.

On Tuesday morning, we noticed a small boy -- maybe four (at least taller than four tires) -- stop and stare down the recess created by the four tires. He stood there awhile, and eventually his father came to look. We saw them nod in agreement, and we *thought about* running out and telling them they were free for the taking. But then they were gone, and we were left with our curiosity.
When it got the better of us and we went to check things out for ourselves, we saw that someone had put a slice of pizza down there. Just a few bites gone.
Were they coming back?
You don't usually see largely-uneaten pizza on the street. Were they looking for a garbage can and thought this the next best thing?
Does Ottawa need more garbage cans?

Later that day, our landlord came to mow the lawn. Tires moved to sidewalk (no boulevards on Lyon). Following this development, we garnered a few nasty looks from our neighbours in adjoining townhomes, and we remembered just how ugly tires are.

On Wednesday, the tires had been moved again. This time into two stacks of two. I believe this was done on behalf of the local squirrels, who had now broken the pizza slice in two with their nibbles.

The status of the tires remains unchanged Thursday, but for some glances ... and increasing guilt on our part. Ottawa sure is beautiful this time of year, what with the blossoming, lush trees, the multi-coloured tulips and the flurry of folks enjoying the warm, sunny weather.
Whose tires are those??

On Friday morning, I looked out the front window with glee: two tires gone!
"Should we put a sign out? 'Take the rest?" my roommate asked. Hmmm ... we wondered. Is there a resale or recycling value for tires? Hopefully...

Just then, a guy on a bike dressed in a reflective vest stopped in front of our house. Wouldn't you know it, he draped one tire on each of his handles and rode away, barely wobbling. Gone are the tires!

As a final chapter, and a nod to our neighbours, the next-door dog owners came by and, pooper-scoop style, bent down and picked up the pizza remains so their beautiful huskies would not be tempted to mow down gone-bad people food.

This whole experiment made me realize my love for a few things: our neighbourhood, Ottawa in the springtime, freelance writing that lets me stay at home and watch the outside world while I work, and the way spontaneous intentions of others can remove guilt and solve problems.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


worn |wôrn|

damaged and shabby as a result of much use : a worn, frayed denim jacket

Thanks to my friendly neighbour who came by Saturday to remind about Ladyfest on Saturday, I made it out to 'Not your grandma's craft sale' at the Jack Purcell centre in Ottawa. A first time for me, and despite the fact that I was feeling a little grubby, cheap, and irritable, I had a great time! I can only imagine my impression should I have woken on the right side of the bed.

My 'nose for news' has recently taken on new meanings, as I inhale with glee favourite glossies and train passengers -- somehow guessing my interest -- offer me magazines they've found. Likewise at LadyFest, I immediately found myself at the magazine stand. Or, at least, Serah-marie with her publication, Worn Fashion Journal.

Worn really struck me. It is indie yet polished, smooth and well-designed, with lots of content and visuals. The publication aims to bring 'a political, environmental, historical and cultural context to fashion,' and in my browsing I found articles on galleries, textiles, and the influence of music on fashion. Basically, it seemed, if it's high-end now, it could have started in the pages of Worn. Not to say it's a place for newbies aiming to hit the big-time (their writer's guidelines demand opinions and list the following words as 'Banned, unless there is a very good reason: Discourse
For example
this article
No, Worn seemed to me like the beginnings of culture. Though it looked much better, it reminded me of mold. Looks like a dot on the cultural radar, but can be brewed into a fine cheese we're all vying for -- once the marketers have stepped in to direct.

Of course I asked about contributing, and Serah-marie seemed interested, though we soon nodded appreciatively at each other about the business end of it all. No, she can't pay contributors. Hopefully soon, they all say. In any case, I enjoyed flipping and chatting, and told her that I liked the look of it, and would keep my eyes peeled for Worn around town.

But I'd barely passed a rack of shapeless T-shirt dresses (who looks good in those?) when my mind snapped to something I'd read in Worn. It was about Astria Suparak, a curator in Syracuse, NY. As part of her profile, she'd noted clothing exchanges as a source of inspiration. It was, in fact, the #1 item on her list.

I've been trying to pitch this story for a couple years now. Clothing exchanges as fashion inspiration, yes, but these events also serve as excellent 'social lubricants' (more on that later), and fit into the green movement better than recycled fleece. And yet, as of yet, no bites. The green movement is gaining ground, reaching a new 'tipping point,' they say, though there's hope yet for that angle. But still...

In my research for pitches to these stories, I often do some mad Googling, offering the search engine any combination of the words/ ideas Clothing + Exchange. The movement is growing, and I find myself excited about more hits, which is why I returned to Serah-marie's booth and took down Astria Suparak's name. More fuel for future pitches! This way I can 'prove' clothing exchanges not only happen, but have a special place in the world of fashion.

Alas, my discovery was bittersweet. As I walked away (Serah-Marie kindly let me take down the name without buying a copy) I realized something about freelancing and this whole 'trend identification' thing. Freelancing for magazines requires long lead times; you have to think months ahead and hope/ plan for an issue or idea to remain relevant. But it's not so much the logistics as it is the mindset of editors that was bothering me last Saturday.

Why is it that something must be written elsewhere, have a Google presence, or an NGO-affiliation in order to be valid?
and how long can something original and sincere, like a clothing exchange, maintain a Google presence without becoming tired, old news? After I write the article of my dreams, will the clothing exchange be 'damaged and shabby as a result of much use'?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Shades of accessibility

Now, I complain often about Greyhound. Their prices are inflated, their service -- both on the phone and at the station -- is pathetic, and they've left me stranded on more than one occasion. But today I met someone whose experiences with long-distance public transportation has been truly appalling.

I met Isabella outside the restroom stalls on the Amtrak. There are a few seats for strollers and wheelchairs so, while waiting to use the steel closets of stench known as train washrooms (not even the door worked on this one!), I chatted it up with Isabella.

Isabella has to come to Uttica, New York every few weeks for some sort of post-operation check-up. Isabella relies on a wheelchair to get around, and a wheelchair lift to get into buses and taxis. Greyhound has these lifts, but requires 48 hours to arrange for one to meet her at the gate. Anyone who has ever tried to speak with someone on the phone from Greyhound knows that 48 hours -- involving a special request and a return call, no less -- is a tall order. And sure enough, though she'd been trying for days, she only spoke with someone on the day before her trip.

For Isabella, this meant that she was left 'hoping' someone in Montreal would be able to go against standard operating procedures and make magic happen, ie. attach a device to a bus and help a lady get home. She was prepared to wait till midnight, when she thought they might have more time. But she didn't feel like waiting all night at the Montreal bus station (and last time she tried that at the VIA station they took her passport information and told her Never Again!)
These nights are especially long because hotels aren't really an option. Most can't accommodate a wheelchair, so she ends up sitting in her chair all night.

The whole situation brought me down, and got me thinking about those bus signs for accessibility. You know the ones that depict concert staff talking to the friend of a blind man, asking if he wants to sit at the front? Or suggesting restaurants make menu type large and legible?

I'm looking for a link to this ad campaign, which I think is fabulous and articulates our skewed view of disability, but all I find are McGuinty promises to make Ontario more accessible. Can anyone help me out?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What is it about tax season...

...that brings out the procrastinating wanderer out in me?

I know everyone says they procrastinate, but I don't. I enjoy stroking things off my to-do list and despise the feeling that I should be doing something that I am not actively working toward.

So, after nailing down some assignments yesterday, I felt today would be a great day to get some business done. People are always telling me that I can't ignore the business side of freelancing. I'm reading Mediabistro's 'Get a Freelance Life,' and this is definitely Chapter One. Craig Silverman also stressed this last week at a PWAC event -- he even brought up the whole GST issue I've been dodging.

So I started my day by emailing Silverman (not about that tax thing -- I'll dodge it for another year), and while doing so I happened to hear him in my kitchen, being interviewed on the CBC! Well, I thought, my day is a smashing success and it's only 10 a.m.!

Then came Netfile or Efile or whatever the heck the feds have cooked up to make grabbing our dollars and getting our details into their system that much easier. Yea right. Just try to update your address. I dare you. Browser this, cookie that, phone us at...the line is always busy. I can't even get through to H & R Block.

And wouldn't you know it, the day I decide to do my taxes is the day that Facebook introduces chat. And just like procrastination, I usually steer clear. But George Swiminer is back from Uganda! And he's mere blocks away!

He'd never been to Ceylonta, and I'd never tried their lunch buffet. It's awesome, FYI. Maybe they'll ask me on Line 4327 of Guide 2375...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Runnin' down a dream

"It felt so good, like anything was possible...

Yes, such was my passion for running this Sunday morning that I casually (ok, there were some stomach butterflies) joined the marathon group with the Running Room, deciding that instead of 12 or 16 or 18 kilometres (the Half-Marathoners were doing 12), I'd go for 24! Why not?!

I realized why not at about the 18 kilometre mark. My muscles didn't want to be pushed anymore, some chipper blond had just suggested that my plantar fasciitis symptoms meant I shouldn't be running at all, the conversation was dying down, and ... I'd already run 18 kilometres!

But I pushed on. Outside the DFAIT building, while the group waited for a red light, I tried to sound casual when I asked group leader Scott "would you mind telling me how far we've gone?"
About 21.5 km, he figured.
Exactly the distance of a half-marathon. What a coincidence.

The coincidence would only last about another five blocks; by the time we hit that weird intersection outside the National Gallery my mind was made up (or at least my mind could not convince my body otherwise any longer). I filtered off to the side and let my fellow runners stream ahead. Then I walked. It only lasted about two blocks, but it felt great.

It didn't feel nearly as great to walk home. And I apologize to anyone in Hartman's or on Bank Street Sunday at 11:30; if I gave you the death stare it's just because you were not my bed.

Speaking of which, right before bed I decided to check out this whole plantar fasciitis thing. It's bad. You know carpal tunnel syndrome? The secretary disease that puts people out-of-commission or in orthopaedic contraptions for years? There's also tarsal tunnel syndrome, and it can lead to all sorts of nasty things...namely, not running.

Have I learnt nothing?
On Sunday morning, as I was cavorting with the marathoners and feeling all proud of my ambitious self (hubris!!), one of the marathoners said "well, at least you know your limits." I had been explaining how, ten years ago, I ran a beautiful 4:06 marathon in Victoria, B.C. Then I got all excited about being a 'real' marathoner and attempted one six months later in London, Ontario.
Too soon! Not enough training! Too sick the week before! I don't know what the Greeks said about resting on your laurels, but I'm all for that now. My second marathon was weak, unsatisfying, and 40 minutes slower. I missed a concert and I only remember pain. O yes, and that awful Cher song that I couldn't get out of my mind:
"Do you believe in life after love
I can feel something inside me say
I really don't think you're strong enough, no ..."

Imagine that for 42 kilometres with nothing but your ho-hum hometown to distract you.

So the lyrics continue. Now I seem to be running down some dream that may, in the end, require surgery. I iced my legs and wore shoes to bed, and this morning my feet didn't feel like they had marbles surgically implanted in them overnight.
Like resting and icing and stretching, we have to ward off our ambitions in order to stay injury-free.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Who's my Ottawa?

That's right, I'm hooked into Richard Florida again.

He's the author of the Rise of the Creative Class, an amazing reflection on the shape and character of society.
Now he's living in Toronto, and his newest book, Who's your city? dares to defy the notion that place is dead.
He argues that life is basically made up of three questions:
What do you want to do?
Who do you want to do it with?
and ... Where do you want to do it?

Now that I seem to have answered the first two questions, I'm pondering Ottawa.

Through lists and graphs, indexes and anecdotes, Florida suggests that certain cities are good for certain demographics. Boulder, Colorado is a good small town for singles. Washington, DC is a great city for families. Young professionals looking for a mid-size locale should check out Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Unfortunately, Canadian cities aren't listed.
And while I loooved Ottawa as a student, and continue to appreciate it as a young professional, I don't quite see myself raising children here.
In Ottawa, as in many urban centres, children are sort of treated as lepers. Don't touch them -- you'll be considered a pedophile. Don't look to closely at my toddler -- I'll keep my eye on you to make sure you're not some kind of sicko.
Worst of all, kids have to learn not to talk to strangers. How do you teach them this while maintaining that society isn't made up of whackos, that humanity is still, on the whole, good?

By moving to the country?
That's what I'm thinking.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

On Turning 30

Yes, that's right, I turned 30.
The event was hailed with much merriment, a cake, and some self-reflection.
But I don't really do self-reflection. Instead I like to look around me for warning signs, red flags or, even, maybe, better things to come.
And, indeed, it's blue skies all the way.

Though my birthday was accompanied by those trademark 'April Showers,' I found out that in Namibia rain is considered good luck. If you are starting a job -- or a decade of livin' -- my Namibian Thinker tells me that consecutive days of rain is a good thing. For rain to follow you, she says, is a sign of flourishing luck and success. Yes!

But the self-reflection kicked in when, for the first time, I entered 3-0 as my age into the stationary bike at the gym. Thirty! Out of habit, or at least years of society telling us to hide our age, I quickly looked over my shoulder to make sure no one saw the digits. This from a person who writes her PIN numbers on her hand and keeps passwords on a desktop file named 'passwords'!

I digress...

As my legs began to burn and I realized that my peak heart rate had actually been lowered to adjust to my thirty-something heart, I thought of Laurel Archer.
I profiled Archer last month for a B.C. community magazine. This tough-as-nails woman is sharp, motivated, talented, sincere, and fun-loving. She routinely competes in multi-day canoe and kayak races (and often wins), she has recently been inducted into the 'Explorers Club' (kind of weird but very cool), and she is a published author.

O, and she is forty-something.

Then, last night I had this great dream about Judith Burch. I call her my American Inuit Lady from the East Coast. She's charming, astute, warm ... and she travels the world sharing Inuit art with children from Mongolia, Siberia, Japan, India, to name a few. I couldn't believe when she told me her won't either so I won't bother ;)

In journalism there is an interesting practice of including the age of subjects. I often forget, and have to call back. The conundrum is similar to including the sex of a crazed gun[person].
Yes, it is a fact.
Yes, it helps paint a picture.
No, it is not the most important part of a story.
But when a young woman pulls a Columbine, it's the first or second word in a headline.
So when I found out the age of my American Inuit Lady, I pushed that factoid up in the story proposal. In this case, it adds to my fascination with her.
(my dream had her singing lounge style ... it was great)

Is it natural to be fascinated with older women doing great things? Now that I am officially an 'older woman,' I think I can chalk it up to admiration of peers. But sometimes it sounds condescending.

"O that's so great! You're out on a Friday night! And you're thirty!!"

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

It never rains...

...but it pours. That's what they say about freelance journalism and I'm currently experiencing a dry spell.
From actually considering turning down work just a week ago (of course I didn't), to firing off pitches like a Ritallin-induced paint-baller, I have officially experienced the fearful, changing seasons of freelance life.
For now, it seems like a right of passage. I'm living the life I've heard so much about, and that includes spending time in the trenches. My rent is cheap, my needs simple. The library, I'm finding, is a great place to escape the walls of a home office...though now that the main branch has wireless I'm sure it will become a second place of work.
But I am wondering how long I should roam this assignment-less desert, waiting for an oasis of satisfying, well-paying features to show up. Is a mirage (read: blog) enough to sustain me another few weeks?
Could it be that the entire magazine world is on hiatus? Perhaps adjusting to the onset of spring and simply going through their spring wardrobe?

I can help! I know the colour wheel off by heart! And I know both American and Canadian spellings of words like colour (color)!

Sigh. Patience, D, patience.

From my beloved library I found 'Steering the Craft,' by Ursula K. Le Guin. In it she emphasizes the need to work the words -- that writing may be a gift, but we need to work the craft of it, so that we can deserve it.
"There's luck in art. There's the gift. You can't earn that. You can't deserve it. But you can learn skill, you can earn it. You can learn to deserve your gift."
--Ursula K. Le Guin, Steering the Craft.

With that, I take a new outlook on my days devoid of deadlines. Rather than a desert, I'll see it as a chance to explore new waters, to play in the boat that carries me though life.
And as I look back to my last entry, where I questioned the place of writing in my life -- and wondered if I was giving it adequate room to roam -- I feel blind to what the world is trying to tell me.
Just write.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Just Write!

...this was the instruction of one of my first writing teachers Mr. Krisak.
That, and 'Let's Talk' were often scrawled across pages of my required journal entries, poems, short stories, and even the final 'Magnum Opus.'
Krisak introduced me to a lot of aspects of writing, like the notion that you'll never be absolutely satisfied with a piece and the idea that crap should not be tolerated.
So I often see those words in my minds' eye, when I'm washing the floors and am struck with a story, or find myself gazing out my front window, wondering what to blog about.
But lately, those two words have taken on a new meaning.
What if I 'Just Wrote?'
As in, didn't wash the floors or balance other people's interests into life's equations? What if I gave up the idea of physical fitness and social ties and...just write my days away??
I've always loved it. I can't imagine my life without it. And yet, I've never really let it take over my world, let myself become soley a vehicle for words, with no sister or mother, boyfriend or brother calling me out to play.

Could I take over the world if the words took over me??

I'm thinking of it today because I had a bizarre, disturbing dream last night. Really just a vision: I came up with a kick-ass, brilliant idea for a fiction novel.
Now, I dream often, and in vivid colour, action, and depth. The other day, after describing a literal roller-coaster of a dream to a friend, I tried to comfort him by saying that perhaps I dream so much because my life is sort of lame.
(This isn't true, but I sometimes feel bad about being happy. When 'no complaints' really means no complaints, and I can only say 'happy, health and fun,' I feel the need to recoil into apology mode. Weird?)
In any case, I told my buddy that perhaps my brain compensates, 'tops up' if you will, if the there's a lack of creative stimuli in my life...through dreams.

Now I'm scared. Do I need to be writing fiction?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Going Natural

What does that phrase mean, anyway?

I believe there was a time when 'going natural' meant not dyeing ones hair. Generally referring to women of a certain age (for me, it was 25), going natural meant embracing the process and consequences of aging, and allowing the world to witness the emergence of grey.
The subject-verb agreement does seem a bit twisted, though, because we are all born natural. What does going imply? The fact that we were once not natural?
It's true, I spent a few years experimenting with boxed dyes.
And then I decided to "go natural."
Now, in the rising green economy, 'going natural' implies organic, chemical-free goodness. In food or in cleaners, lubricants or toilet paper, natural is the oasis, the green pasture in which we will be reborn, erasing all our chemical sins of the past.
But, as I learned this week, it doesn't always work that way. Forgiveness may be swift but chemical exposure--harmful as it is--cannot always be dropped cold turkey.
I recently visited Pure Joy, a natural hair salon in Ottawa. No, not because I'm stil fighting the grey (though the stick-em-up strands, the ones that are so dry they're kinky? They meet the tweezers).
No, my visit to Pure Joy was pure research, for a short piece on the salon. We were a bit concerned that the place was selling itself as greener than it really was. Why are there still chemical products on the shelf?
Because, the stylist explained, hair gets hooked on it.
The natural stuff is, well, weaker.
What, it doesn't burn my eyes? Will it really work??
Apparently the results are better, softer, even 'more youthful.'
So this is a way to 'go natural'-- but without the grey.

Hmmm...I'm still a bit confused on the subject-verb agreement, but to be honest, I don't completely understand the expression subject-verb agreement.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

On the Other Side

Now that I've returned to Canada, things seem different. Not only that—-I seem different.
I feel like I'm clinging to past identity markers: I listen to the CBC more and am embarrassed to be seen beside an American flag.
This time around, I was able to view more family dynamics and Easter traditions, and glimpse, form a more intimate perspective, the Most Powerful Country in the World.
So...what did I learn?
First of all, at Easter, you've got to paint a lot of Easter eggs. These are hard-boiled eggs painted with crayon and dipped in dye. You can draw little bunnies or, in the case of my Jesus-lovin' boyfriend, scrawl 'Jesus Rules' on the little guys.
Then you put them in a basket and/ or make deviled eggs. (We did both; not sure if the devil got Jesus.)
There's also way more cities in the U.S. As family trickled in for Easter dinner, and I was introduced to all, I had a hard time tracing the routes home. In Canada, especially in Ottawa, it seems people basically herald from along the 401 corridor. My roommates are from London and...Namibia. Okay, so there are plenty exceptions.
But in the U.S., people will drive for six hours to the next state, where there's a whole new line-up of capitals and metro areas. And this goes on, state by state, across the country.
Which is why, by the time the train hit Canada, I heaved a little sigh of relief. No more cities. Yes, there'd be Montreal suburbs and big box stores, but those are generally around something, ie, one of the biggest cities in Canada. If you take southern Ontario out of the equation--and I know you don't like that, Toronto, but the fact is you're small potatoes in relation to the rest of North America--Canada is a huge area with, relatively, little development. And I love that!!
I'm sure Texans would think the whole of Saskatchewan a National Park (Regina being a visitor's centre of sorts, stocked with Mountie trinkets).
Suddenly, I'm more territorial about the Canadian border...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Pass the Port

Yes, I'm back in the U.S. of A.,
You don't know how lucky you are, boy ...

Lucky that my roommate realized that she had my passport in her car the day before I left and, despite the fact that she'd already left town for Easter, was able to mail it back to me in time.

Lucky that I happened to notice, as we were leaving Ottawa the week before for Vermont, one of the passengers clutching her passport tightly. O yea. Turn around.

I'm now trying to decode this irrational behaviour. When I first went to Hawaii I was fairly paranoid about border hassles; images of Syrian prisons and U.S. detention centres looming as I filled out forms and answered questions.

The fact that my friend Maher Arar is not allowed here is quite inconceivable to me now. Americans seem like friends--I am, after all, in a long-distance and serious relationship with one of these 'cousins to the south.' (That doesn't make it incest, though, right??)

The thing is, the more you pass through that checkpoint along the 49th parallel the less it feels like another country, which makes me wonder what purpose it's serving anyway.

I'll think about that on the Amtrak Monday...Easter weekend (they don't get Monday off) brings with it some domestic duties, and I hear the washing of dishes and the sanding of new doors...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fitting things in

What can I fit in between now and 22 minutes from now? In 22 minutes--21 now--the parking man will swoop down from his smart-car roost and drop a ticket on my boyfriends' car like a terd on a Sunday dress.
When can I fit in a run? a Blog? a coffee with an influential and admired colleague?
How many things can I fit into one day??
Only so many, I'm learning.
There's always room for more, of course. I can compile research files and make a loaf of bread; I can return emails, connect with editors, follow up on pitches and make a trip to Canadian Tire.
Or, I can let the day, with all it's weather and visits (sister and boyfriend!), nutritional needs and energy surges, flow as it will.
I can enjoy and blog peacefully, loosening my grip and slowly, carefully, micro-manage less.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Meeting the neighbours

Today's the day! We're going over to the neighbours tonight, at 8:30 p.m., to crash their book club and *hopefully* make new friends.
For some reason I'm placing a lot of importance on this event—-I canceled plans with a friend I haven't seen in months and I'm now basically counting the hours.
Admittedly, I don't have much of a social life and I love things that are free. But here's one more attractive quality of tonights rendez-vous: it's next door!
One thing I love about living in a small town is that everything is either really close, or unthinkably far (as in, you need a car to get there). From Molokai, to rural Japan, to ski resorts in B.C...I've always found a comfortable vibrancy in communities that have barely enough entertainment venues to sustain a night life.
With slim pickins', we're forced to frequent shadey bars and sketchy taverns, make buddies with locals (albeit sometimes out of fear), open up to happy hour regulars, and generally believe deeply in our own basic need to socialize...cause there ain't no In Da Clubs Columnist telling us this is the place to be.
It's in these same small towns that I've had the best relationships with my neighbours.
Nowhere was this more true than in Whitecroft, B.C., a little hamlet at the base of Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops.
The place is all of one mile around. No CBC coverage. Nothing in the way of commercial enterprises (though I think one failed condo development is now being used as a Bed and Breakfast).
There were more dogs than people, and both ran wild.
Packs of canines ran and howled through the night.
Gangs of ski bums wandered in search of weed.
And if you had a fire in your backyard --generally big strips of land leading into the centre of 'town'--be prepared for every Whitecroftian to show up.
Toilet paper was sometimes an issue, but the general consensus was 'the more, the merrier.'
It was also seen as a way to move the action off the hill, the mountain resort that paid our bills--barely--and then took us for what little remained via food and booze. Besides, moving up and down the mountain was always a drag. Better to lose a couple cheap cans to overly-familiar neighbours than to pay three times as much to party ... especially when you know your boss is reaping the benefits of your hangover.
I shouldn't say boss. Employer.
My boss was all about the in-house parties, organizing monthly potlucks for our department that were the talk of the town.
I remember clearly when he first gave me the low-down on these events. Rob, the lift operations manager, sort of took me under his wing, we'd gone to the same Ski Resort Ops college, and I was asking him safe, well-informed questions about schedules and visitor demographics. But I think he saw right through me: I wanted the low-down.
He told me they're always a riot, a great way to get to know people and rock it out in our snowpants.
And what a rockin good time they were! Outsiders vied for opportunities to stop by; word spread fast about locations; the 'what would you bring to a potluck' question became a stock question for new recruits.
To tell you the truth, I'm a bit sick of potlucks now.
I just want some easy-to-follow directions to a social outing, and a place to borrow an egg if I get half-way through a recipe. But you never know, with this weeks run-in with the white teeth (see former post), maybe karma is on my side and I will have a fortunate, fated encounter ce soir.
So I'm probably idealizing tonight's event, but I'm still excited. Just an hour and a half to go...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Biting Back

I knew instantly that he'd broke the skin. It all happened so fast, so close to home...and after a weekend of dog-cuddlin' and animal lovin'.
This morning, eager to get my week off to good start and start piling on the mileage in anticipation of the Ottawa half-marathon I'll be running in May, I headed out for a neighbourhood jaunt.
I'd barely ran ten feet when I was jumped, snapped, and yes, bitten by a little white lap dog. I was wearing thick lycra running pants and tough running tights, but I felt the sharp points make contact.
I jumped back and took an earphone out.
"Your dog just bit me!" I said, surprised, to the sunglasses woman dressed head-to-toe in fur.
She seemed almost as surprised as I was, even dropping the leash of the other dog she was walking.
I put my foot down on the leash and took in the situation.
I've been road running for nearly twenty years, and a dog lover even longer. My two passions were colliding in the worst way. I always prided myself on being able to stride past the gnarls and growls of the feistiest animals. I believed that if they smelled your fear they'd take a bite out of you--if they didn't, they'd become passive and let you on your way.
But this was a different situation. The woman explained that another dog, a big black one, had just 'attacked' her little white one (looked like a West Highland Whitie this morning). The little guy was spooked and on the offensive.
I told her she was lucky--I'm a dog person.
As I continued on my run I thought about how I should deal with it. On the surface, my leg hurt. I shouldn't have to worry about my personal safety when walking out my front door.
Then I thought about litigation. A friend of mine used to work in mediation, and she explained that a lot of cases are now being settled with mediators rather than lawyers. Not only does this save on court costs, my friend told me, but much of the time it isn't money that plaintiffs want, but empathy. They want to know that someone understands their point of view, the fact that something unjust occurred.
It was then that I decided to visit the owner; she'd pointed out her house, we were practically neighbours.
Later in the run I remembered my accident in the summer of 2003, when I cracked my pelvis at work, in a strange collision that involved me, a golf cart, and a tree. My boss picked me up at the hospital afterward, bought me ice cream and french fries...and had the golf cart disposed of the following day.
By the end of the summer the tree was also gone.
By the end of the year, I'd wished I'd taken the company to court. I'm sure Intrawest can afford to offset my student loan. It could be seen as a send-a-kid-to-camp program...only for ski bums who've hurt themselves in the line of duty.
But of course, this is Canada, and one of the things we pride ourselves on is the fact that we're not Americans, that we don't sue.
But sometimes I wish I could talk to my boss now, hear his side of the story. (If you want to hear more of mine, please ask. It's a pretty funny story).
As I made my way home I knew my leg was fine but I resolved to seek out the dog owner and get the full run-down.
Just now, I noticed her in front of my house, walking in the late afternoon sun Daylight Savings time has provided us.
I stepped out in my slippers, called her over, and identified myself as the runner from this morning. We chatted about the incident and I asked about shots. I even caught a few glances from the slow-moving rush hour cars on my street, smiling at the exchange between neighbours. Winter holes us up--spring is almost here.
Her name is Evelyn, and her dog is Spencer. Up close he looks more like a laso apso.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

IWD: A Journalists' Conundrum

And so it is, on Wednesday morning, I still haven't made a decision about the weekend.
Most of the time I couldn't care less about my nightlife, being pleased as punch to curl up around a laptop and watch whatever random pick I've ordered from Zip.
But this weekend is different—it's International Women's Day (IWD).
It also happens to fall on the Vermont Weekend, the weekend my friends and I were planning on visiting the Green Mountain State for a little White Mountain Fun (hosted, no less, at a hot tub- and horse ranch-equipped cabin in the woods).
For me, IWD usually comes and goes without so much as a high-five or a you-go-girl, but this year I'm writing about a unique event that's bringing female urban artists together at Babylon nightclub in Ottawa.
(Check out and come out!)
I've already interviewed the organizers——two DJs and b-girl——for the piece that will run in Saturday's Ottawa Citizen. I've already transcribed my notes, written the piece, and I'm about to send it...once it's out I can wash my hands of it, right?
The thing is, I can't stop hearing the voices of my sources.
It happens sometimes, with stories or people that really hit home. I used to think this was a sign that I was less of a journalist--a softie wanting to please everyone.
But earlier this week I read 'Reinvent Journalism in 10 easy steps' at
Last on the list is 'Cover your community like it's your invested in your community and care about its people.'
And I have to say, since arriving in Ottawa in 2003, I've felt nothing but welcome; I've seen artists rise up through the ranks and impromtu house parties foster new talent. Ottawa, specifically it's arts community, feels like a hometown.
And it's people like my 'Ladies in the House'that set the tone in this community.
It's easy to say I've done my part; I pitched the story to the Ottawa Citizen and kept at them to make it happen. I've done more than a $6 cover charge will in terms of awareness of IWD and urban arts in Ottawa.
I care about the people involved in this story and I've invested much mental energy in crafting this story. I guess I just want to 'show' it, by attending the event on Saturday (it's also gonna be plenty fun!)
But, as one of my sources said, "364 days of the year we're DJs, b-girls [and journalists]; but on one day of the year we’re really focusing on the fact that we’re women.”
As a writer, I was lucky enough to sit down and talk frankly with these people that hold down the arts fort in Ottawa.
As a woman, I'm proud of them...and leaning toward a weekend sans snow fun.
As a skier, it's tough. My mom visited Killington when I was a wee tot——missing my sisters' birthday. I've heard it's Amazing. Huge. Snow is coming on Saturday. In fact, were it Mother's Day, I'd feel obliged to hit the slopes instead of the clubs...

Friday, February 29, 2008

Heartache for Everyone

You spent five years saying you'd come my way
That's a little more wait than a heart can take
Yeah now that I know it's just a fantasy
I feel a hard time coming around for me
--Indigo Girls, Heartache for Everyone (All That We Let In)

It's a great song--it's pop and it's folk and it's girlly and it, generally, rhymes.
Ok, so maybe all of those characteristics are not what *some people* would consider the factors of good song. But when my sister sent me this song this afternoon, along with the admission that she'd been made to feel guilty about liking the Indigo Girls, it struck a chord.
A similar chord was struck last night on the dance floor. My roommate and I were kickin' it up kitchen style: goofing around, impersonating our friends, 'locking' and making funny faces at the DJs. There was plenty of room: the tunes were downbeat and soulful, great for us hams, but the other folks on the floor seemed to be squirming.
Then I noticed a blonde in heels teeter up to the DJ booth. Instructions were whispered, and the beats took a turn.
Timberlake. Beyonce. Other stuff I recognized from blasting car speakers.
And the crowd goes wild!
The dancefloor soon filled up; my roommate and I decided it was past our respective bedtimes, leaving the gals to bump and grind like puppies in the snow.
And that's just it: they reveled and rolled in the music, following their instincts instead of the music snobs (as my sister and I are known to do).
Even heartache--the drama of a lost love or the struggle in a long-distance relationship--has a sort of misty, historical quality that deserves it's place on the wall of life.
Don't take down your sappy motivational posters when your intellectual friends come over, and don't hide your Indigo, Girls.

Monday, February 25, 2008

On Showers, at home and abroad

Ahhh... the first shower home.
You know what I'm talking about: no matter how imperfect your bathroom conditions may be, at least when you step under the head you know what you're getting into.
Other people's showers, now that's a different story.
Most recently, I experienced this crapshoot of a hygienic undertaking at my boyfriends' house in Connecticut.
I should clarify: the home of my boyfriends' parents, where he once ran around naked but where now, at least during my visit, naked activities would be limited.
But I have digressed.
Before I go on I should say that the home is beautiful, the visit was enchanting, the parents warm and kind.
And the first shower was great -- hot, pressure-filled, quiet. Perhaps my standards were low after my nightmare of a bus trip from Ottawa, but that's how I remember it.
But on my second day, I found that the lever to direct water to the shower head barely did it's work, with a good half of the water still streaming below. After numerous fiddlings, and a deep squealing of (what I imagine was) water through the pipes, I gave up. I settled for some cool water splashed on my face and stepped out.
At times like this I like to imagine how much worse others must have it.
Like my friend George Swinimer, who occasionally writes extended group emails from his posts in various African countries. He once painted a picture of a bucket bath, his six-foot-plus body squished into a laundry tub, pitching jars of lukewarm water over his head as local kids peered through the window, pointing and laughing...
And at the place I lived in for four months on Molokai, I liked to imagine--at least while in the bathroom, leaky toilet and all--that I was in a third world country. In a developing country you wouldn't complain about getting your feet dirty upon exiting the shower; as an intern in the Aloha State you might. But development, ie. tourism, hasn't quite hit Molokai. Thank God.
And so we go...overseas to broaden our horizons, and open our minds to new ideas about shower quality.
Who knew I'd get this kind of exposure in small-town Connecticut!
And gain a new appreciation for my own shower, to boot.
Endnote: It turned out there was something 'up' with the shower pressure, and I was invited to use the other shower. Two showers! Wow. and I wasn't even instructed to keep the exhaust fan on. don't even get me started on that one...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

First Post: from the Tunxis Community College Library

Here we go...
For years, people have been asking me if I have a blog. Yes years! In Internet time that's a decade, at least. I've always been writing, hiding away my journal underneath my pillow, so I suppose it's a natural assumption I'd jump on the Blog Bandwagon.
And when my mother and my boyfriend both asked me, within the span of a week, "what's a blog?" I realized this media form had hit a pivotal saturation level. (My boyfriend is currently struggling through his computer graphics class, feeling the snickering of classmates as he learns the difference between a desktop icon and a screensaver; my mom is, well, a mom).
Then I tried to create my own website, using dotster and NVU and countless other how-to sites and downloadable applications.
Maybe it was because I was on the "Master Cleanse" (hot water + lemon juice + cayenne pepper + maple syrup, and nothing else) when I first attempted to get a site going, but in the end I gave up and asked for my domain hosting fee back. (So far, dotster seems okay with it, but I have to jump through some hoops and haven't received the credit back on my card.)
So there's the backdrop.
The stage is set.
I spend plenty hours on my macbook every day, I write in my journal just about every day, and I talk to myself constantly...this shouldn't be hard.
What strikes me now is the question: What do people want to hear?
Followed by: And should I give it to them?
Given that this is, so far, a completely random and wide-open forum, I feel tempted to throw caution to the wind and take advantage of the freedom.
And yet...I want a readership.
Which is why I took the journalism route—over the writer's path—in the first place.
Hmmm. My head is starting to tilt in that curious dog way. I like it.
And I have to admit that my slim macbook (no, not an Air) is becoming more comfy than a dog-eared diary.
I'm curling up in new ways, finding this community college library a nurturing home for thoughtful brewing.
I can dig it.
And I can hear those people, those that asked me about my blog, saying: I knew that you could.