Monday, January 31, 2011

Kindergarten

Dear Kindergarten,

Some people might look upon you as a sweet and innocent time and place.  The dress-up center, the finger painting...sure, it all looks pretty low key when you put it like that.

But the truth is much more sinister, isn't it?  I have discovered your secrets and I'm about to blow your cover, Kindergarten.  Let's be blunt, the fact is this: you steal babies.

You got my first child, and I didn't even see it at the time.  It's only in retrospect that I realize that my sweet little boy, the one who held my hand and kissed me goodnight and thought that I could do anything, walked through your doors one day and came out different.  Bigger, and more independent.  Sure, he still wants me to do his laundry and cook his dinner.  But he doesn't need me like he used to; where I once knew all that there was of him, inside and out, now I just have a small piece for my own.  And that one shrinks every day.

Today, I filled out the papers that will see you get your hooks into my baby.  In just a few short months, I'll be handing him over to you.  And a little hand that, up until now, has always readily fit into mine, will be letting go.

Be gentle, Kindergarten.  I know that he is ready, but I'm not sure that I am.

Yours truly,
Me

Friday, January 28, 2011

Snow Hey Oh

Push,
glide.

Push,
glide.

Eyelashes catch
fat flakes of snow.
Sight blurs and
I can almost read
the secret stories
in the loops and lines
carved in the ice.

Push,
glide.

Push,
glide.

Lift my face
to the dark night sky.
Fly off into starfields
of falling snow.

Skate.
Zen state.

Push,
glide.

Push,
glide.

***
Flash 55...can you tell a story in exactly 55 words? My newly repaired laptop came home just in time for me to play along this week.. Go see g-man for more, and mayby try one yourself .


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Funny The Way It Is

So the universe took pity on me.  The unlucky streak I was on has been counterbalanced to some degree by the super day I've had today.

- I was offered the post of Secretary in our Scouting group, something that I was hoping for.

- I got a raise.  Not a huge one, but 2% higher than most people in my department.

- I got an email in response to something I submitted to "Our Canada" magazine nine months ago.  It was the very first thing I ever submitted, and when I hadn't heard back after a few months, I put it out of my head.  But today's email was to notify me that they were considering my piece for submission, and would I answer a few questions?  So...it pays nothing but a free year-long subscription.  And heck, I might not even make it in the magazine, it wasn't a promise or anything.  But it sure did put a smile on my face today.

So...I guess I just had a year's worth of bad luck and good luck, all in one week's time.  Based upon this strange run, I will go ahead and assume that the remainder of 2011 should be exceedingly quiet.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sour Times

I had a whole post composed in my head. All about the dark cloud hanging over my family's home these days. But I'm typing this on an iTouch so forgive me, but I'm taking the lazy approach and giving it to you in point form.

- Wednesday night, my hubby fell and mangled his foot. His right, of course. So no driving, no working, and no income. For at least a few weeks.

- Friday night, my one-month old laptop died a horrible death. It now needs to go back to HP for a complete factory reset and reinstall. Luckily I learned my lesson and all was backed up. But no computer for two weeks. I'm twitchy already.

- Saturday, the ATM swallowed my bank card. Nice.

- Today, my eldest son woke up with The Plague, AKA the stomach flu. Which is bound to spread through our ├╝ber-unlucky household in short order.

So if you don't see me around much in the near future, it's not that I've ditched you - it's just that the universe is conspiring against me...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It's Not Just This, It's Everything

So scared of change, you refuse to choose – and by doing so, choose anyway.

Instead, sit idly by. Find your story in the wrong end of some song lyrics, and realize you don’t even sympathize with yourself anymore.

What you give (or give out) is the only thing that really counts.

Or so I’ve heard.



***

Flash 55...can you tell a story in exactly 55 words? This is my attempt. Go see g-man for more, and mayby try one yourself

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Furious Balancing

I wish there was a way to put up a magical force field around my blog, a big electric fence to keep out the crazies.  Impossible in this environment though, isn't it?  It's not like when you're a kid, and the clubhouse can have a password or a secret handshake - if you want to be online, you're public property.  Keep Out signs don't work.

Weird people wander the world.  I know this, of course, but my life is just so darn boring that they seldom find their way into my corner of it.  So when it does happen, I'm shaken.

And now I need to find a way to share without sharing too much.  To be me, but carefully.  Bear with me, okay?  I'm working on finding the right balance.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lingering Still

Wow.  I just realized that, even though I've only been blogging for about a year and a half, my archive links along the side now span three calander years.  Makes me feel all old school, seeing those months and years adding up.

Way back when I started, I thought this would just be another passing phase, something else that I tried, grew bored of, and gave up.  I'm kind of good at that; generally not so good at the carrying on, seeing things through sort of stuff. 

Sure, I've contemplated throwing in the towel a time or two (what blogger hasn't?), but I'm still here.  And guess what?  My previous post was number four hundred.  Wow.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I Was Lost In The Lakes

I should have been writing (just fifty-five words!), but spent the evening listening to music instead.

So those fifty-five words just won’t come, and I wish I could give you fifty-five songs instead. But that’s just not practical, is it?

So. Here’s one. How about you go find the rest, then get back to me?



***
Flash 55...can you tell a story in exactly 55 words? This is my attempt. Go see g-man for more, and mayby try one yourself


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter Is Come And You're Stuck Here

When I awoke to the sound of the snowplow, I was fairly certain that I’d be in for a rotten ride to work.

I was right.  More than right.

I didn’t need a reporter to tell me that the traffic was more “stop” than ”go”, nor did I need a weather forecast to tell me that it had snowed, was snowing, and would likely snow some more. FM radio was making me cranky! Also, the car heater - a necessity to keep my windshield from icing over - was giving me a headache, and as my car crawled along congested streets, I could feel my blood pressure rising.

In an effort to calm myself, I lowered my window a few inches. A refreshing breeze slipped in, along with a few snowflakes; these served to cool my cheeks and my temper, at least a little bit.

I guess it was all that snow that inspired my music choice, because I cued up For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver, a band that takes its name from the phonetic interpretation of bon hiver, which is French for “good winter”. Since I’m going to be out in this weather for a while anyway, I might as well make the most of it, I figured.  I pressed play.

Just a few notes in, I remembered how much I love this album.  Oh, it had been far too long since my last listen! As each song wound itself around me, I found myself less and less stressed. I took advantage of my snail’s pace to admire the stark loveliness of the snow-covered world around me (there is something about the strong lines made by a bare tree’s silhouette against the dawn sky that feels like poetry, you know?), and I lost myself in Justin Vernon’s world, a place much more pleasant than the one I was currently stuck in.

The album choice was a good one, it did a fine job calming me on a slow and snowy drive, and I enjoyed each and every track...all ten of them.

But when the album ended, and I was still many miles from work? Well, then I threw on some Nine Inch Nails and cranked the volume right up, singing along just as loud.

When all was said and done, my forty-five minute commute ended up taking three hours.

Bon hiver? Non!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Little Help From My Friends

Have you ever experienced that maddening feeling of having a word on the tip of your tongue?  How about a song on the tip of your ear?  Okay, so that isn't really a thing.  But it should be!  Because these past few weeks, my favourite Indie radio station has been playing a song that reminds me of something else; probably some cheesy one-hit wonder from the eighties.  The song opens, the first few bars trigger that almost-memory...and then it's gone, and I can't retrieve it no matter what I do.

So can you help me, my friends?  Take a listen and tell me (please!) - what song does this remind me of?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Enchanting Ghost

I’m not usually one for writing book reviews, but these past few days, I’ve been reading a book that I never dreamed I’d find so enjoyable and I just had to share my delight with you, my blogging friends.

Pretty much anyone who is even half-way serious about writing has likely heard of the classic reference The Elements Of Style by Strunk & White; I know that I had.

But who wants to read a boring old tome like that, anyway? I would think, whenever I came across the recommendation by an author to do just that.  That book is as old as dirt and likely twice as dry.

Yes, that is what I once thought.  But I recently stumbled across a copy in my used bookstore.  Not just any copy, either; my lucky find is illustrated by these wonderfully whimsical paintings by Maira Kalman. I was immediately charmed, and made it mine.

When I first cracked open the book, I felt quite virtuous: like someone sitting down to a big plate of vegetables. I knew that reading this slim volume would most certainly be good for me, but doubted it would be even half as enjoyable as devouring a little "junk food for the mind".  Ah, how wrong I was!

Not only was William Strunk Jr. a grammatical genius, he was also witty, well-spoken, and quite insightful. Laugh if you will, but these past few evenings have seen me reading well into the night - prying tired eyes open so as to keep turning pages.

Let me share a favourite passage (just one of many!), to give you a taste:

Rule 17: Omit needless words.
Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all sentences short, or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.
Brilliant, right?

When I was in school, grammar was not part of the curriculum. Rather, it was something that we were just expected to absorb through osmosis. Sure I knew the difference between a noun and a verb, but if you asked me about clauses, or dared me to find you a dangling participle, I would have given you nothing in return but a vacant stare.  Learning the lexicon of grammar at this late stage has been challenging, but the process has held some rewards, as well.  I feel almost as though I've been acquiring a new language! 

Much of what is presented seems like common sense to me; it's just that now I've had it laid out, labeled and defined.  Perhaps I'm a bit of a book nerd, but I love that sort of thing.  Certainly, I will continue to make grammatical and stylistic mistakes. Sometimes I might choose to ignore the rules on purpose, while (many) other times, those sneaky little errors will just worm their way in to my writing when I’m not paying attention. But at least now I know where to look when I want to be better.  And I won't even mind.  How cool is that?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fifty Mission Cap

A father-son outing tonight: my oldest child's first NHL game, Leafs against the Blues.

Sure, Canada may have been sorely disappointed yesterday (and Leaf fans have been disappointed for years!), but a fierce love of the game still burns bright in my son's heart. He’s a ten year old Canadian boy, and full of dreams.



***

Flash 55...can you tell a story in exactly 55 words? This is my attempt. Go see g-man for more, and mayby try one yourself

Saturday, January 1, 2011

You Could Be Happy

Abraham Lincoln supposedly said
Most folks are about as happy
as they make up their minds to be.
I came across this quote by chance,
& plan to test this theory out.

***

Can you tell a story using only 160 characters? Head on over to Monkey Man's site to read some more, and maybe add one of your own.

New Years Day

2011.  Wow.  Just typing the date seems weird, like somthing out of a sci-fi novel.  How did we get here?  Seems like just yesterday, I was partying like it was 1999...

Huh.

Well, whether or not the combination of digits strikes me as an oddity, it is indeed a new year.  It will be a big one: I will turn (gulp) thirty-eight and will no longer be able to even pretend that I'm still "mid-thirties".  Nathan will turn eleven - preteen angst and puberty can't be far behind now.  And Will, my sweet baby, will turn four and (holycrapholycrapholycrap) start Kindergarten.

What else is going to happen this year?  Well, as I alluded to a few days ago, I've decided that this is a year for resolutions.  I don't normally go in for that business, but what the heck, I'm feeling adventurous. 

Details, I hear you ask?

My resolution is really more of a goal, actually.  And it is this: Get published (and paid for it!) in 2011.  This goal has a whole subset of resolutions that go along with it, of course. 
  • Write every day, for starters.  Now, I've decided to be generous with myself out of the gate.  I'm going to give myself one day off a week.  But no excuses on the other six!
  • Read every day.  This is really important.  I read widely and weirdly.  I read novels and short fiction, of course.  But also reference books and non-fiction.  Inspiration is everywhere.  So are examples of good (and not-so-good!) writing.  Plus?  I love to read.  So this little resolution should be easy.
  • Submit, submit, submit!  I have only just recently started doing this.  In the past, I would get locked in editing mode, polishing and polishing until a) I was sick of the piece, and b) I had convinced myself that it was horrible.  Well, guess what?  I'm no Hemingway, but I am capable of creating something of value.  And unless I get it out there, I'll never see results.  So.  At least one submission a month.  That is my promise to myself.
So, my friends, there you have it.  Me, someone who always shunned the New Year hoopla and avoided resolutions like the plague, has put it out there for all to see.  Wish me luck!

And speaking of wishes, I wish each and every one of you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.