Thursday, April 19, 2018

Home

Yesterday was the first Wednesday in a couple of years, I think, in which I didn't post something. I was traveling and enjoying being (mostly) offline.

As you know, I've been on a vacation in which I've actually been...vacating. It's been great! I've thoroughly enjoyed visiting my sister, seeing her world (the sun! so many degrees on the thermometer!) and her part of the country, and experiencing a change in routine.

But I love living here. So one of the highlights of the whole trip: crossing the border yesterday and hearing the agent say, "Welcome home."

And it really is, pale sunlight, muddy driveway, filthy floors, dripping eaves, and everything else that goes with spring in the North (which yeah is south of most of the continent).

Of course, all that is easier to greet with open arms since I missed the most recent dump of snow and mega windstorm, which my husband delights in describing in great detail as he pounds on the walls. "Every door was snapping, loud bangs, like this loud!"

I've got a quick weekend trip coming in a couple of weeks but otherwise, I'm home for the foreseeable. It's a good time to get stuff done, especially with a vacation-refreshed spirit.
Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Vacation (Inspiration)

Here's what I've been looking at and doing recently. I don't believe in "inspiration" much, but I am a fan of "renewal," and that's what I've been fortunate enough to experience this vacation.



Next week, I'll be back in the land of "yes the sun is shining but it's not WARM," and I'll love being there, too--because it's home.
Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Drawing Lines on Paper

One way I relax (okay, about the only way, and often it should be written "relax") is to draw lines on paper.

Like so (which you would have seen on Instagram if you follow me there):



I don't mean it to be art. It's something to do when I try to unwind. I like lines and I like colo(u)rs and I like to do things with my hands.

I've written about this before, apparently. It's kind of shocking to click that link and see that I also didn't like to do much beyond writing and reading back in 2011. However.

I bring this up because I wondered last week how I know I'm a writer and not a visual artist. Perhaps, I devil's-advocated myself, writing is comfortable--not a calling, nothing more than an old, broken-in shoe of an activity. When I was a kid, art seemed to require tools we didn't have, like easels and paints and wheels and kilns. Also, art required getting messy, which was sort of problematic in the house I grew up in (it made more work for adults). In contrast, writing required... a (sharpened) pencil and paper.

The topic came up mostly because I have been drawing lines on paper for some time, and I'm working in a slightly larger sketchbook than I have in the past, and I'm going on vacation (I'm vacating as you read this), and I need to decide what I'm going to bring art-wise on vacation. Although to be fair, bringing art supplies to my sister's home is like coals/Newcastle.

What I've learned is this: although I enjoy drawing lines and learning various techniques, I generally don't know what to art. Like, okay, so I can draw vaguely photorealistic scenes from photographs. Yay? What is the point of that--to me, even?

The answer: the point is to do it. The point is not the product--I don't have to make something meaningful or beautiful or sell-able from visual art/drawing/colo(u)rs.

In my life, writing is also about the process--and the product. Both. I do want to create something that a reader can be affected by, preferably in a positive way. I want (most of) my writing to be read. But my drawings are mostly for me, or to serve as an Instagram subject when I'm tired of taking pictures of snow when the calendar clearly indicates that Spring has sprung.

In the interests of broadening my horizons beyond writing and reading--and even drawing lines on paper--I'm not writing while I'm on vacation. I brought no projects. I have no expectations. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I hope to be hungry for words when I return.
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Hope

It occurred to me yesterday that email, mail, and other courier services don't include a hope-meter.

That is, you can't tell by looking at the mailed item whether the person who sent it off was hopeful or discouraged.

All you can tell is that the sender got the required elements together and sent it, however that looked: she clicked Send, clicked Submit, paid for a stamp and shoved it into a mailbox, whatever.

It's probably a good thing, too. Because by the time the sent item arrives, the sender might well feel different--resigned, perhaps, or something even more neutral.

Regardless, the thing to do is get stuff sent. It doesn't matter how you (I) feel about it. Just, as they say, do it.
Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Random: Citizenship, Home, Belonging

Here are some random thoughts that have floated across my consciousness recently. They're mostly related to "belonging" and "home," which are, not coincidentally, themes of "Atomic Tangerine," soon to appear in The New Quarterly.

1. I picked up my Canadian passport. Now that I have the ability to leave and return to the country as I wish, I feel more comfortable about staying. There's probably something to examine there. Maybe it's just typical human nature. Maybe I'm part cat, wanting out from in and in from out.

2. Speaking of the Canadian citizenship ceremony, it was...interesting. Sweet, actually. Held at a local high school. One of the school's students was becoming a citizen. I managed to repeat the oath and sing the anthem. And I now have all the lapel pins a new citizen could ever want.

3. Still on the citizenship ceremony: I've always liked "Uptown Funk"--catchy hook, great video, what can I say, I like pop music--but now have an even stronger connection, given the high school jazz band's rendition of it during the ceremony. Including jazz solos! Not a musical number I'd have predicted for the day.

In fact, overall, the ceremony didn't go exactly the way I'd have imagined a citizenship ceremony. I would have anticipated something more solemn--somber, even, with talk about duties and responsibilities. Instead, mine was was celebratory and welcoming. It featured young people, themselves relatively new citizens.

To which I can only, in the words of the song, "hit a hallelujah (woo!)."
Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Postponing

The theme for March has been "postpone."

Because of illness, a friend postponed a get-together. For some mysterious physicians' reasons, a medical appointment has been delayed. Travel issues have caused a family visit to be postponed for months.

As a result, my schedule has room to breathe. And therefore, deadline that I had given up on meeting is now not only possible but reasonable.

Because of this room, I can not only "send something" just to be sending something, I can send something that's recently revised and re-considered. Perhaps even re-re-re-considered.

It's a good goal. So I will take advantage of fun (and appointments) deferred and meet it.

On the flip side, I'd planned to make a blueberry cobbler for the visitors. Even though they're not coming, it's still on my list for this evening. Because a cobbler is a sort of pie, and today's pi day, and my cobbler topping is scone dough, and (as we all know) scones are never wrong.

Some pleasures can be savored when they're postponed. But sometimes, making the cobbler is still the right choice. And new space in the calendar is a gift that I don't take lightly.
Wednesday, March 7, 2018

More Listening

The days are getting longer, but the ice remains on the roads, and therefore, my walks remain on the treadmill. Which means I listen to podcasts.

I was especially excited to see notice of the return of this podcast: Missing & Murdered. This season focuses on learning the story of Cleo, a young girl from the generation of the "Sixties Scoop."

As I said here, I learned so much from the first season of this podcast--among other issues, how and why some people might zero incentive to cooperate with authorities.

True-crime podcasts can feel squicky, in the way that reality TV shows can: exploiting tragic stories for sensationalism, fame, or ratings. I have wondered whether I'm "done" imbibing crime stories, whether those stories come in the form of books or podcasts or even longform journalism. I haven't decided.

But even if I declare a personal moratorium on similar podcasts, I will continue listening to Missing & Murdered. First, it doesn't feel exploitative. (To me, at least; your mileage may vary.) I also learn so much culture and history from the families and their willingness to share their experiences and stories. I said it before, and it's still true: I feel honoured to have the opportunity to listen.

And, as always, listening is important.