April 23rd, 2013

Freedom!

So that stressful project at work is complete, I believe, so I’m finally on vacation this week and next! And for once, I’m not going anywhere or doing anything big on vacation. When I was younger, I mocked the concept of the “staycation,” but that was probably because I never realized how much I could like my own life. I have an amazing apartment, partner, friends, family, and city, not to mention gift certificates–why would I want to use my limited free time to leave all that.

So I’m here, enjoying my life (and accepting lunch dates, if you’re interested!) So far I’ve
–eaten Korean food and gone to a board games cafe
–gone to a farmers’ market
–built a nightstand
–watch a movie in a movie-theatre
–made soup
–walked all the way across downtown
–eaten Thai food
–bought a vacuum cleaner

Some of this is prosaic, I admit, but the chores need to be done and at least I have time to do them at my own pace. And most of it’s just been lovely–especially that long walk yesterday. I had an over an hour before a lunch date and nothing in particular to do, so I decided to walk it. The weather was stunning, I had nice music on my ipod, and the thing I was walking towards was such a pleasant prospect. I love walking in Toronto–it’s really how the city looks its best.

For my next trick, I will be experiencing my first spa, thanks to a gift certificate I got for Christmas. The treatment itself is very expensive, but there’s all kinds of extra stuff there you can do for free there, like work out in the gym and swim in the pool. So obviously I’m going to go 2 hours early and try everything, because why not, right?

I am also, of course, writing a bit on my break. I am so tired from work that I am not setting any huge goals, but it’s nice to be able to give writing some of the good part of the day, instead of getting to it when I’m already sort of miserable. I always write, but often in tiny bursts–my output has been pretty pitiful lately. I hope some leisure time will help expand it a bit.

Speaking of pitiful, I contribute a little bit to “Failure Week” on Hazlitt, in the form a comment in Jowita Bydlowska’s article “Where Do All the Dead Stories and Characters Go?” A fun and somehow inspiring article–so many brilliant writers have to kill so much of their work, and yet it turns out amazing anyway. Encouraging!

Anyway, so that’s the news with me right now–rather pleasant, and no griping for once. Hope it’s the same where you are!

April 2nd, 2012

Participant

I’ve been doing a few things lately even *in addition* to swanning around the Maritime provinces and basking in the springtime sun here in Ontario. Today, for example, I ran *many* errands in the aforementioned springtime sun, which is somehow much better than the fraudulent summer sun of a few weeks ago. Today was one of those rare days for a 9-to-5-er, when I had time to prioritize those little errands like the library, the post office, the dry-cleaner–instead of cramming them on the tail-end of some more glamourous errand, they got to be centre stage. And I strolled between them listening to Belle and Sebastian (come on! anyone who doesn’t think Belle and Sebastian is the perfect soundtrack to a spring stroll is just a hipster too far). Lovely.

Ok, but also–some writing stuff. I contributed a line to Pass the Ghost Story, which is fun, creepy, and still in progress; I was interviewed by Grace O’Connell about Writers and Day Jobs, and I made the very long but very cool long-list for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. I’ve read enough of the books on the list to know what an honour this is, so I’m basking…just a bit!

And it’s only Monday!

May 26th, 2010

Fun and paranoia

So I spent my birthday weekend (also Queen Victoria’s) in Montreal, frolicking and getting tan and eating tasty food and sleeping in a king-size bed in a glamourous hotel (of course I dislike the recession, but there are some fringe benefits, like glamourous hotels costing normal-people prices for a while). Sorry for not mentioning it here (or anyplace electronic)–sites like this freaked me out about “locational privacy.” So a few people who wanted to spontaneously chat with me this weekend could not and I feel a bit silly about that, but otherwise, it was a very very lovely weekend. And bonus: now I’m 32!

Back in TO, further good things are afoot (and not even just being taken out for lunches and getting cards in the post). Kerry’s daughter Harriet is turning one, and to celebrate Kerry is having a best literary babies contest, with the prize being a subscription to the wonderous The New Quarterly lit journal. Go enter! For another thing, it is a skrillion degrees out, but just perfect in the shade if you are on a patio…I’m just suggesting. And I have an essay coming out in the summer issue of Maisonneueve, on newsstands at the end of June, which I’m happy about.

There’s always more to do, natch, and also the niggling worry of the potato bug I found in my stairwell, but really, Toronto in the summer is a beautiful thing. Hope you are enjoying it.

March 8th, 2010

That’s what I like

The song with my favourite lyrics ever turns out to be cowritten by Sam Shepard, which of course does not make it any better, but does sort of up the interest factor in Shepard for me. I’ve only read the occasional New Yorker story by him–does anyone want to recommend what play to start with?

Sunshine on tulips! The ones on my dining-room table look like this and are absolutely splendid.

The weather this week! Yesterday was perfect wandering around weather and I hope that’s what you did. And now, we don’t have to panic, because the rest of the week will be nice, too. But then next weekend, it’s supposed to be 5 or 6 degrees and snowy, which makes no sense. But we have five glorious days until then.

Taco King at Danforth and Donlands. I’m linking to a largely negative post because it’s all I can find–but most of those people didn’t eat there, just looked at the pictures through the window. I think it’s great–cheap fast Mexican food that does not come out of a box, bag, or tube (ie., no cheese of the whiz variety). After a lovely delivery experience (embarrassingly, me and my dining companion ordered so much they gave us three forks–we thought at those prices the portions would be small but they weren’t) I went on Saturday to see the establishment. They grill the chicken in front of you and apparently the tortillas are homemade, and everything’s a wicked good deal. Let’s not let prejudice taint a good thing–just because the owners and some of the staff are Asian, doesn’t mean they haven’t learned to do Mexican food extremely well! I’m scared it will close because so many restaurants in that area do, and I’ll be back to Moe’s Southwestern, which is actually good too, but I’d rather have local indy than big American chain if I can.

RR

February 17th, 2010

Things I Like Today

1) Spencer Gordon’s short story Transcript: Appeal of the Sentence on Joyland (although I did actually like it even more when he read it at Pivot at the Press Club readings–this story should be a podcast!)

2) The lovely new home of Kerry Clare’s book site/blog, Pickle Me This, as designed by the crack team at Create Me This.

3) When you are standing looking up into the sky (you need a patch of sky free of buildings or bits of trees, so that all you see is sky) and it is snowing staight down and after you stare up for a while, you lose perspective and begin to feel that the snowflakes are standing still in the air, and you are travelling upwards into the sky. The snow today has been particularly good for that, if you wanna try it.

RR

February 2nd, 2010

In case you were wondering…

Sometimes I start off on things, and never let you know how they worked out. Probably, you don’t care, but for the sake of completeness–

1) I now mouse exclusively with my left hand on desktop computers (ie., all day). On laptops (ie., at night and on weekends) I occasionally succumb to the lure of the central touchpad with my right hand, but the (fuzzy heartshaped) mouse is placed to the left of the computer. I consider Alzheimer’s officially postphoned…for now.

2) I consider January’s “writing in the morning”s a failure, but not a dismal one. I *did* sometimes write in the mornings, not every day and never for very long, but as it would otherwise have been time spent asleep, I’m counting this one as a win. But I’m also pushing it forward as a February resolution.

3) My *new* resolution for February will be to limit my cereal consumption to two bowls per day. This will be difficult–I really like cereal.

4) Remember when I was teaching last year and obsessed with my teenaged students? We about to start all that again, as through the graces of the SWAT/Now Hear This program, I have been named writer-in-residence at Jean Vanier high school in Scarborough. If you went to Vanier, know someone who did, taught there, attended an OFSA badminton championship there, anything at all–I want to hear about it. For though I am very excited about this new adventure, I am also very nervous.

5) So the ground hog says, six more weeks of winter (warning: disturbing groundhog-nuzzling picture at that link). I should be sad, but I seem to have pulled out of my seasonal-affective funk from early January. Now I’m just really grateful that it’s been so dry and nothing is slippery underfoot. If that keeps up…well, I guess it can stay cold. If, you know, the rodent says it has to.

6) Remember when I wrote short stories? Well, I actually still do that, I just haven’t mentioned it in a while. Forthcoming RR publications included “How to Keep Your Day Job” in the summer issue of Room Magazine, “Sweet” in the summer issue of Canadian Notes and Queries and “Far from Downtown” in The New Quarterly. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that I’m just thrilled to be working with such amazing mags, and very looking forward to seeing my work inside them.

There, now I think you’re just about up to date…
RR

January 11th, 2010

Rose-coloured Reviews The Weather Indoors

Thanks to all that provided such kind and useful advice on my indoor-weather predicament. I have to point out that, while I do doubt that my building-provided thermometer is accurate, it does say that the Rose-coloured Ranch is only a degree or two lower than the legal minimum of 21 C, and for a mysterious shining moment when I was not there but the building manager was, actually above it.

I’m pretty sure it’s colder than that–I am not *such* a whiner. But reading the stories in the comments section and hearing them from other friends reminds me that I am *kind of* a whiner. My apartment has never been 12 C by any thermometer, I have never been able to see my breath inside, and all my plants are still living. I should count my blessings. So I appreciate both the advice about ovens, showers, and thermometers (which I’ll likely use) and the reminder to buck up.

That said, it *does* seem a little more pleasant at my place now. This could be a morale issue, as I spent a delightful weekend abroad, but I do think it’s warmer. Last night, when I returned home, if I happened to put a foot on the floor with only a sock on (my slippers sometimes fall off) it is not so terribly distressing. Mind you, I still slept rolled like a taquito in a fleece blanket (you wrap yourself standing up, then inch-worm under the normal covers) clutching a teddy bear whose floral-sachet heart can be heated in the microwave for warmth and aroma therapy. But having done all those things, I was quite warm and comfortable.

Perhaps I will be able to move on from this chilly period in my life and I actually post about a book soon. Just in case, I think I’ll bake a cake tonight and leave the oven on a little extra.

RR

January 9th, 2010

Better

The promised improvement report: I am feeling a good bit better about the world today, owing in large part to have found somewhere else to sleep last night where I didn’t have to wear a hood to bed. This is not a permanent solution, I know, but I’ll work on one of those next week. It may involve an oil drum; stay tuned.

In keeping with my theme of devastating literature, yesterday I read Joyce Carol Oates’s Where are you going, where have you been? and may never get over it. What she achieves in this story is amazingly harrowing, and then you pull out of the story and feel like you’ve gone so far from reality, but really you haven’t at all. Bizarre, amazing, and not for the timid–you were warned.

Warmly,
RR

January 8th, 2010

Everything is terrible

Examples of everything:

–Building manager’s inspection of my apartment finds that it is not illegally cold. But last night, before bed, teeth were chattering! Mine! Indoors! That should be illegal.
–This morning, my bus rear-ended another bus.
–A tiny but important little bit’o'code on my computer was devoured in the night. Now I can do everything but the thing I need to do right now. (note: this was fixed almost immediately after I wrote about it by a kind colleague, but that’s not the point. The point is what is the universe’s *deal* that it would do that to me?)
–Hot Friday night plans: avalanche of tax forms.

Although everything is, in fact, terrible, that expression is not mine. There is actually a website called Everything Is Terrible (you should have known) filled with alarming/sad/hilarious found footage. I’ve only seen the cat massage video, which I think has been doctored to make it even more disturbing than it was originally (ie., very) but it’s an interesting concept.

I’m just gonna put my head down for a little bit now. Oh, no, wait, I’m going to do this mountain of work.

RR

PS–I will try to post something rose-coloured on the weekend. As soon as this migraine receeds a little.

October 2nd, 2009

Another week

And another week’s end round-up:

Michael Turner answers 12 or 20. Mr. Turner is an important author for me (although really also for Canada) for various reasons, not least his was one of the first literary readings I ever saw, and at said reading, the very first pornographic film I ever saw.

The Literary Type has a hilarious post about The New Quarterly’s adventures at Word on the Street. My favourite part is when Melissa worries she’ll have to live in the parking garage. Oh, I love those guys!!

My matching quote game was met with near-resounding silence (thanks for trying, AMT) but here are the answers anyway: 4 a), 3 b), 2 c), 1 d), 5 e).

The Writers’ Trust announced their shortlists on Wednesday, including the Journey Prize shortlist, announced by Camilla Gibb and me.

It got really cold in Toronto and I hate it. I am also encountering some sort of wardrobe malfunction wherein all my clothes disintegrate (within the privacy of own home, mind) so I have to cobble together outfits that don’t make sense just for frostbite prevention. I will shop tonight, I swear it,

Behaved very badly in the arms of a boy
RR

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