“Award winning”

So, read a book by an “award-winning” author. The award wasn’t mentioned. The book was lousy with poor writing and full of all the mistakes I make when I am writing, the things that are hacked out by other advisors and editors and readers of my stuff.

Things like boring dialogue, stuff at adds nothing to the story, yadda yadda.

I never know what to do with this. On the one hand, it gives me feelings of hope for my writing.

On the other, it is apparent it is who you know that affects publication. It frustrates me as I look for homes for my writing.

Sounds like sour grapes, but it isn’t really, it’s more about how once you break into the ranks of “real writers”, people give you more rope for other projects. Maybe.

So I’ve won a couple of awards. Think I will start mentioning them. And send my book out on the rounds ASAP. With “award winning” stuck on them.

What is love these days anyways?

Lately I’ve been wondering.
I’m so lucky.I am surrounded by dear friends who I adore and who seem to like me. I don’t think I’ve offended any strangers lately, except for that guy who wanted my parking space. I have children who care about me.

But I lack love, that romantic upsurge of joy and affection we expect when we see our partner. I mean, I have that upsurge when I see my dear friends, when I get a phone call from afar, when my sons fit me into their wild schedules, when I get an email from a far away family member. But I long for romance. And, quite frankly, someone to curl about me at night and be too hot so I have to peel off the blankets but still sleep, touching each other somehow. I miss that. I miss having someone about to sigh at when my computer goes wrangy or I have to run out for milk or have to climb various stepladders. Someone to laugh with at the end of the day, someone to be with me against life’s challenges.

It seems to be out of style. Or maybe I’ve repelled it by turning down opportunities. I am only now beginning to understand the very real damage done to me in my youth that makes me push words away, seek proof, feel doubt, distrust. I’m doing the work to get over that.

Now, though, that I am yearning for romance, it is elusive, hard to find. People want part of a relationship, not all of it. They don’t want to be tied down, have expectations. Fair enough, I feel a bit that way, too. Adapting to change is hard. Especially as you get older. Others have been hurt, too, and have their own walls to pull down. So they dance away.

But I can’t help but think friendship and romance and love all require some sort of commitment. Time, primarily. The people I adore, I do so because they want to hang out. We spend time together. I can call on them if I need to, and vice versa.

Where is that with my romantic interests? Guarded, bounded, suspicious.
It’s too bad, really. A touch is all I need. And some time. And maybe an occasional bunch of flowers or a surprise book in the mail… I don’t need much to fall head over heels. But I need a bit.

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Kneeless in Halifax

A kindly older gentleman called me today to remind me that in four weeks today I’ll be under the knife, having both of my knees severed, chopped off, readjusted, scraped, and reassembled. My surgeon’s office visibly winces when I refer to having my knees hacked off, for some reason. Yet orthopaedic surgery is the most carpenterish of all surgeries, involving saws and electrical sanders and a bunch of stuff that would look perfectly comfortable in a Canadian Tire or Dexter’s lair.

This is when being a nurse is NOT HELPFUL AT ALL. I’ve seen orthopaedic surgeries, I’ve heard about the stunning lack of hygiene in some hospitals, I know about wandering germs, forgotten sponges, wound infections and other multicoloured outcomes. So I’ve got all of that corralled in the back of my mind, to emerge in the middle of the night when I am half awake.

Tossing MS into the mix adds a soupçon of variability, and is why I opted for the two knees at once thing. In a way, it’s a comfort. I have absolutely no control over the MS angle, so it allows me to let the other things go, too. All I can do is exercise and keep as healthy as possible for the next four weeks, take my flu shot, and cover everyone who comes near me in the hospital with alcohol gel.

And hope. With good luck, new knees means years more of walking capability. With bad luck, I’ll be less capable than I am now. It’s tossing the dice. But my knee pain is excruciating enough I am jiggling those dice in my hand, ready to throw them.

So, my dear much older friend, thanks for the gloat. It made me laugh and of course, unless everything goes much worse than expected, I’ll be able to visit you in the home and show you my scars. (Teasing, of course, you’ll outlive us all with your bionic morning drinks)

Inbetween exercises, I’ll have unprecedented hours for reading without guilt. I’ll need to rest, right? And I have a houseful of books beckoning to me.

It’s an ill wind that blows no good…I might even get some writing done!

Meanwhile I look at my swollen unscarred knees and try to fixate them in my mind.
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The country in six days, ending with an exclamation point…

trajets_Canada_enOf course everyone is focused on the madman attack on Parliament Hill, that total abnormality here in Canada, where representatives of the people feel free to walk and work without fear of assault. (well, at least until now). I’m not going to write about that, sad though it is. Suffice to say the assault brought my trip to a sudden, jerking end, reality intruding on my mind much like my post-travel cold throws me flat onto the bed.

I’ve just travelled across the country, stem to stern, on #VIArail, taking the Ocean from Halifax to Montreal, commuter train from Montreal to Toronto, and the Canadian from Toronto to Vancouver. It is a fabulous trip, one everyone should do at least once in their lives. I sat up in Economy from Halifax to Montreal, cheap-seated it to Toronto, got a room (and an upgrade, thanks VIA!) to Vancouver. All have their pleasures.

The Ocean is fitted with handicapped accessibility (limited though it is). There I met a former biker gal who cheerily named me “D” and took me under her arm (literally) while she pestered the bartender. She told me of her many lives, from legal to slightly not so, then offered to put out a contract on one of my relatives. You see, the thing about the train is that you know you are not likely to see folks again, so stories get told, intimacies shared, secrets revealed. It’s a bit like those five minute dating things – meet, smile, reveal, reveal, leave. One woman told me the horror she felt that her cousin accused her of jumping off the bedroom dressers when she was a kid. The woman was in her 70′s, and she’d never told anyone before. Some hurts lie deep.

I met a gorgeous but naive young gal who was going to Montreal to maybe be a model. Biker gal and I both sat her down for a talk, I gave her my contact info, called on my niece for info about places to stay in Montreal. The young gal listened, but I haven’t heard from her. I hope she’s okay.

But then, that is the other real charm about train travel and, in fact, about Canada. Almost always, you meet people who are going to treat you right, who are polite and friendly and safe and sweet, who offer help or support or friendship, short or long. The trip affirmed that. No matter what train I took, what class I was in, every person I contacted was this way. Even on the flight back, when I shared the plane with a crew of drunken roustabouts heading home from the oil patch, 99% of the people were sweet beyond belief.

It’s a grand trip for the people, but the landscape is breathtaking. I started with the rocky Atlantic shores, rumbled through the Acadian dykelands, on to the rolling Appalachian hills of New Brunswick, the fields and townships of Quebec, through my old town of Kingston and on to the big city of Toronto. Then on to the Canadian Shield, so large it takes a while to understand it. I watched the endless endless trees and rocks and trees and rocks and water of Northern Ontario, gasped with relief when we got to the prairies and Winnipeg and I could see the sky again. Saw the tiny old slumping homes being consumed by prairie, spotted a football-field-sized car dump in Saskatchewan, adored the Qu’Appelle valley. A few oil rigs dipped their heads as we went by.

Then the first mumblings of hills, a blue-grey lump ahead, that grew, slowly slowly, then faster than imaginable into the completely over-the-top (pun intended) Canadian Rockies – they are sharp enough you could cut yourself on them, showing off the rocky tumblings laid down millennia ago, tilted up long long ago, still patterned like a group of seven painting.

By this point we all were in the sky view car, glass overhead and around. We didn’t get the bubble car – we were the last long train of the season and so missed that – but it was chilly in the regular glass one so everyone brought up blankets and curled up for the show.

We stopped in Jasper, rolled down to Vancouver. Beautiful, beautiful. Sea to sea in six days. Unspeakable grandeur, sweet places and huge cities, seemingly more trees than stars in the sky…and not a SINGLE MOOSE.

Our train trip ended in delays from conflicting track use – CN owns the rails so there are battles at most crossings over priority. So we passenger trains wait, then race along like a roller coaster. The engineers were great, slowing down so we could see waterfalls and bears and goats. The staff on the train were fantastic, the chefs unbelievably good, the activity staff endlessly cheerful and helpful. I loved every minute, though I admit to impatience in Northern Ontario. I do love the sky.

I flew back through that sky. It was a shorter ride, but much less pleasant, despite the charms of Westjet. The train rules.

Now, how can I get to N’Awlins by train???

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Where is this heading?

dorothyanneb:

Wisdom from one of the kindest people I know. I wish we had some way to tell our government to take the money away from the military and fund healthcare resources in Africa, and I wish I was well enough to be some use in this crisis. If I still had my brain and nursing license I’d be over there in a flash.

Originally posted on johnageddes:

I am worried about Ebola. It is rapidly spinning out of control.

Photo from internet

Photo from internet

I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a four-year old African child whose mother is dying of Ebola and I can not hug her or comfort her as she is dragged off by people looking like space travellers. I can not imagine what it is like to be a health care worker in a facility where there is no clean water supply, limited resources and few beds and knowing that just touching someone who is infected to provide care for them or make them more comfortable is risking my own life.

It annoys me somewhat when I see the panicked response of the U.S. or Spain when they get one case that is treated in health care systems that have funding many, many times that of the West African countries that are struggling…

View original 652 more words

Book junkie

I’m moving In a few weeks, and I’ve been busy packing up my life. Altogether too many crafts, every type of drinking glass, too many kitchen implements, and fourteen! boxes of books. I live in an apartment. I’m moving to a smaller one. Those books will ensure the apartment never gets blown over…

So, as I packed the boxes, pitying my movers and worrying about space for the cat, I sorted some out to take to my local used book store, a fantastic kingdom called Doull’s. I’ve written about this place before, but just to remind you, gentle reader, it is a paradise of serendipitous finds filled with staff who can find anything, anywhere. I love this place more than any bookstore I’ve ever entered.

Part of the magic involves the apparently careless piles of books everywhere. I say apparently because I’m onto you, Mr. Doull. I know you are sprinkling bread crumbs to lure your bibliophiles further into the lair, where they will find untold must-have treasures. Tasty titles topple on wobbling towers, begging for rescue.

I find it hard to get down the first hallway without five urgently-needed books in hand unless I close my eyes and plunge dangerously forward. Did I mention there are New Yorker note cards in one corner? They stack very well on top of my seven books (it’s a bit down the hallway).

The wonderful Mr. Doull assessed my cargo, and gave me a value. It wouldn’t have mattered how much he offered, frankly, though he was very fair. In front of me following the transaction lies a glittering trail of books that soon will be mine…once I move, set up my bookshelves and shave the cat.

It’s better than the yellow brick road.

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On anger, depression, Robin Williams, Terry Pratchett, and writing

I read an article yesterday by Neil Gaiman about Terry Pratchett, author of the fantastic, funny, wise, and seriously wonderful Discworld series. Neil was asked about Terry, about how he must be such fun.

Neil told a story of Terry, about how he’d been furious one time and about how he’d told Neil that it was the fury that drove him to write. He was furious about his Alzheimer’s. I felt a surge of recognition.

Though I try to out a good face on it of acceptance and “enjoy each day”, I am completely furious that multiple sclerosis has robbed me of my life. Scrape the surface of my cheer and you’re likely to see tears or rage. I spent years, years, educating my mind. I was moving rapidly forward on my career, heading for a position where I could have significant impact on things. I wanted that, I tasted that, I respected people with a mission. And then MS came and struck my brain. Cognitive assessments tell me I should concentrate on things requiring no more than 20 minutes concentration.
This is very true for complicated tasks, and , alas, my writing. So I’m trying to shift my focus to less verbal/executive/numerical things, to more generalized creativity, but I feel the loss. I feel it every day I get up and am baffled by simple tasks. It breaks my heart, every day.

And so I rage. And like many, I turn that rage inwards, towards depression. Part of the depression is because of the MS brain damage – perhaps the depression associated with Parkinson’s damage was the final push for Robin Williams, poor and wonderful man. Part is because, like Terry and Robin, I share the telescope-turned-backwards view of a progressive, disabling disease that will not just kill me, but will make me a crippled, incompetent, incontinent, dependent thing first.

It’s all about generativity. About the ability to contribute in some meaningful way. For Terry and Robin, perhaps the thought of no longer being able to be brilliant is/was too much. I’m not burdened by assumptions of brilliance – I’m nowhere near these guys on the scale. They bring (still) joy to millions, I might do the same for a few, and I’m content with that, most of the time.

Other times I grieve what I might have been.

And then I give my head a shake and vow to make every minute count while I can still manage those twenty minutes. So I pick up my pen, my creative projects, my advocacy, my friendships, my joy, and surge onwards…

Because it’s the rage that fuels me, too.

http://www.theguardian.com/profile/neil-gaiman<<a