Thursday, May 5, 2016

A sign for Macca

Several people have asked what my sign in Vancouver actually said to Paul. It took me a long time to come up with the wording, many drafts. I tried things like "You saved my life in Paris. Story in my book," and "We met in Paris June 1965. I was in the blue dress. Remember?"

Lame. I'm a writer, I said to myself. Come on! How to entice him with only a few words on a bristol board sign?

It came to me at 4 a.m. one morning, and luckily, when I got up, I remembered and wrote it down. At the concert, I saw him read it. His face didn't change; he did not smile. He spoke in Japanese to the two women in kimonos sitting right next to me, screaming "Pauw! Pauw!" in very high voices. And that was that. I wondered if perhaps my wording reminded him too much of his age. Or perhaps the people in the Sgt. Pepper's costumes had already been chosen.

Oh well. My sign did not do its job, but I don't care - I had done mine.
I may deeply regret not getting a ticket to the Hamilton concert in July. But if I'd gone, there'd have been no sign. Just love.

Beth meets a nice guy with strangely big eyes

Writers, here's an example of how poor grammar can undercut a sentence full of important news: I just received an email from Cycle Toronto, a bike advocacy organization I belong to, that after years of hard work, they'd managed to get the city to approve the Bloor Street bike lane project. Great news. But this is what they wrote:

Today, after years of advocacy, Toronto City Council approved pilot bike lanes on Bloor St. The approval marks a key victory in the development of Toronto’s cycling network, bringing us closer to safe streets and a healthy city for all.  We expect the Bloor pilot lanes to be installed in late summer.

Because of a misplaced modifier, the sentence read as if Toronto City Council has put in years of advocacy. The clause at the beginning, about advocacy, is attached to the subject of the sentence, City Council. So Cycle Toronto, which has advocated non-stop for years, has just, in one sentence, handed credit for the victory to Council, which dragged its heels and did little to help until yesterday.

Grammar, people! Okay, I know, I sound like a little old lady with a ruler. Well sometimes I am.

And don't get me started on the Republican nominee for President of the United States, who can barely speak English. A whole new definition of the word 'loathsome', which I used to reserve exclusively for our former premier, Mike Harris. Mike, meet Don. Soulmates. If either of you has a soul. Which I doubt. 

I'm still in bed and crabby - as you can hear - but definitely, there's hope. I will get out soon and put one tentative toe into my daily life. Hooray. May even venture out - to Shopper's Drugs, my new favourite place on earth.

At Banff, a talented young photographer called David Whyte took head shots of some of the writers. Here's my favourite of me, with a cute guy I met there. Oh, why are all the good men taken or gay?

Perhaps you can't see, speaking of all the good men, but I'm wearing my fave Macca t-shirt. Sigh.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

fury today

Marginally better but not by much. Talked to my nice doctor - a flu virus, she said. Okay, got that.

More battles locally with neighbours who are determined to make the job of burying the hideous power lines that run through our backyards - especially prominent, if I may delicately point this out, in MY backyard - as difficult as possible. The work was delayed again today by someone fussing about damaging the roots of the enormous tree in her yard and killing it, as if Bell is in the habit of carelessly slicing through the roots of vast trees as it buries lines. Oops! There goes another one. Oh well, no problem, there's a tree over there, what do you need this one for?

I'm amazed the companies are putting up with all this hooha; it's not costing us homeowners a cent, and this is the second time work has been delayed. But there they were, six very nice Bell and Rogers people standing around my yard, still trying to make plans.

Next week, on the third try, the work will go ahead. If no other frantic objections appear. Don't hold your breath. Hell, as JP Sartre so wisely pointed out, is other people.

And then I went online to check the Ryerson website to try to figure out why the registration for my course is so low - it has not been this low for at least a decade. I entered Chang School spring 2016 to check the courses, scrolled down to "Writing" - and my course was not there. All the others were, but not mine. Eventually I saw why - my course is not listed with everyone else's under W for writing, it's under A for Autobiographical Writing. Why of course! If I were looking for a memoir writing course, naturally I would look under A.

Jesus. I had a few furious moments, and my lungs already hurt.

Nothing to be done, until it can be fixed next term. To be fair, if you access the site another way, all the writing courses are together under W - it's just this particular way that separates my class. I'm paranoid, after decades of fighting for the inclusion of non-fiction and specifically memoir at the big writer kids' table. There used to be a perception, and some still have it, that real writing is fiction and poetry; non-fiction is mere journalism and memoir is mewling self-indulgence. But the world has changed that, as memoir takes over the publishing industry. LObloodyL.

The class is very small, and it's wonderful; I love them all already and we'll have a great time. So moving right along, to the next freakout horror show which I can't bear to think about - and this one means the end of the world.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

birthday and Woodstock 2016

First class over - U of T,  a fabulous group. Now I can go to bed. I actually bought a thermometer on the way there and took my temperature. Normal. The druggist was coughing and said she'd had the same thing. So no, I am not dying of tuberculosis, nothing romantic like that.

Two joys: 1. It's my daughter's 35th birthday today. 35 years ago I became a mother. Thank you, powers that be, for that greatest of joys. This is what her brother posted on FB, of the two of them with Eli at a family wedding:
And then he wrote this: My ( Much) Older sister Anna turns one year older today. I don't know a stronger woman or better friend. I love you Anna I don't care what Lana says about you, you're great.

And here's Anna's birthday party, at the playground - where else? - with Lana, her best friend, beside her, and a child or two, some of whom might be hers: 
Lani wrote: Lani Ashenhurst Lookit your team! Thanks for making this world more wonderful for 33 years (there were a couple of years there when you were driving your mother nuts so we have to subtract them from your age). I love and admire you.

Yes it's true, and more than a couple. But let's not go there, days long gone. Happy Birthday, my beloved daughter. Sorry I couldn't be there.

And 2. - oh my. It's called Desert Trip. Too bad I'm too old for this and it's on the other side of the continent and in the fall when I'm working. Can you IMAGINE? What a gathering! Historic.

kind notes

That does it, I've left a message for my doctor. It's such a lovely day, and I'm in bed. Something must be done - maybe this is more than flu. Of course, whenever I finally call the doctor, by the time I see her I'm well again. Usually. So let's hope this happens now. I teach tonight and realize this is not like having to go onstage when ill; I can just explain that I am not quite my bouncy self and do my best, can't do that when in a show. As always, adrenaline will carry me through tonight and tomorrow and Thursday night too.

In the meantime, I'm busy editing five So True essays and my memoir before getting it printed for the first time, exciting. And people are cheering me up with lovely notes about past work. This from a former student:
Just finished All My Loving. What a lovely, fun read! It took me back to my own Beatlemania days and to the experience of being fourteen. The way one's emotional life can be based almost completely on fantasy (maybe not just at fourteen). Many thanks!
"Lovely fun read" sounds great to me, thank you! And this from an old friend in Ottawa about my very first book, a compilation of essays from CBC radio and Facts and Arguments in the Globe, hence the title:
I recently picked up my signed copy of Back Page Stories which you gave me years ago. Now that spring has arrived and I wake up earlier and earlier, I wanted you to know that re-reading one short piece a day is as much a springtime ritual as opening the back door and listening to the peepers and chickadees before sunrise. Your writing is still very moving, given that we all have similar heart-warming experiences in our lives, and your social commentary is as relevant today as it was then. I've now discovered your blog and a few more good reads, I'm sure.  
I hope so too - that more good reads are in store, as soon as I stop whining about my lungs. Spring is definitely here, and I want to roll in the grass like a happy dog. Soon.