Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I'd save on shoes.

In class today I gave my students the prompt to write about what our classroom would be like 20 years from now.

Two of them went the post-apocalyptic route, reasoning that the world will be ending in 2012 (1).

In both stories I was still teaching in that room.

One student had me continuing to try and teach creative writing over the screams of the prisoners swinging in the bird cage-like cells that would hang from the ceiling. Post-apocalypse my classroom would also be serving as a dungeon.


The other student noted that "the war had changed me." He was correct. In his vision of the future I had a peg leg.

However, I also had a really great leather club chair where I could sit and regard the dismal, dying outside world.

So, hey, lemons. Lemonade (2).

1. Damn you to hell Hollywood!
2. And yes. I'm that big a geek. I actually got a little thrill from the idea that these kids see me as always teaching at the school...apocalypse or not.

Monday, October 12, 2009


If I was or ever had been one of the cool kids I would be on Twitter.

But I'm not of the Twitter mentality. I'm a person prone to over-thinking things. I require a long, slow version of Twitter.

I'm waiting for someone to develop Tortoise. An online system where, instead of Tweeting, we would Tort.

Which brings me in near proximity to the word torte which is in the neighborhood of desserts which lands us at chocolate (1).

I'm at the airport right now where I have wished everyone within earshot a cheerful Happy Thanksgiving.

And, now, I have the thing for which I am giving thanks this drizzly, gray Monday.

Tucked safely into my laptop bag is not 1...not 2...but 5 giant Aero candy bars.

I have an unreasonable but unfortunately selective sweet tooth and Aero bars are high up there on the list of favorites.

Other candy joints come from friends and vigilant family members around the country. Van Pelt has scored Skybars on my behalf. The meeting planner (2) brings me large quantities of Idaho's Spud Bars (3).

And then there is my dad...my dad who attempted the ultimately failed but still admirable feat of shipping a batch of Aero bars by post.

Note to all considering the move: Aero Bars do not ship well.


Not well.

1. Welcome to my blog where this is how logic works.
2. With whom I am excited to be having dinner with tonight...and for the chance to use "whom" in a sentence. I think properly.
3. A candy I've yet to successfully convince a single person is a good idea.

Pilgrim's Progress

This time around my time here in Canada is ending on Canadian Thanksgiving.

While some of the trappings of the American holiday tramped up here thanks to British loyalists who bailed to the provinces after the American Revolution, Canadian Thanksgiving also finds its roots in the thanksgiving offered for the return home of the explorer Martin Frobisher, the harvest celebrations of what the Canadians refer to as the First Nations people, and the celebrations held by French settlers who made their own transatlantic journey with Samuel de Champlain.

But the best thing about Canadian Thanksgiving?

I've not seen a single Christmas decoration.

Happy Thanksgiving!

That's Wild.

So, no, I decided not to use the fuzzy cover.

Have you seen it?

The version of David Eggers new novel The Wild Things that has a fur-covered cover with two eyes peering out? Like Max when he's in his wolf costume?

If you don't know what I'm talking about you can click here.

I won't be doing that because, frankly, the cover freaks me out. A lot.

I'll have to admit though that the cover didn't freak me out as much as the idea that Eggers was going to turn Sendak's highly visual, not so wordy Where the Wild Things Are into a great big novel.

Not because I don't think it should be done or view Wild Things as a sacred text that shouldn't be touched, but because it's a really, really great idea that should work incredibly well.

The illustrations in Sendak's original are proof positive of the old adage about a picture being worth 1,000 words.

I just wish either of the Eggers' book's covers made me feel that similarly inspired.

Looks like one of those moments where judging a book by its cover isn't the best of ideas...unless you're in the market for a book that can double as a pair of mittens.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Retail therapy without the retail.

Today has not been a great day.

I find myself once again facing a deadline that I feel entirely unprepared for. The pieces that are due are written and are each sitting here in the laptop waiting for final reading and editing...but there is something nagging me about each and every one of them. Some loose end. Some sentence or three that I don't like.

Some voice that doesn't seem like mine at all.

So I followed that great technique used by writers since the beginning of writing.

I ran away.

I packed up the laptop and my map of Toronto and headed out into the world. A few hours at a coffee shop taking advantage of free WiFi and overpriced tea followed by a trip to a gallery. A few more hours of working and caffeine. A walk down Yonge Street. Another cup of tea.

A visit to Nicholas Hoare.

I would officially like anyone who professes an enthusiasm for the end of paper to be forced to visit Nicholas Hoare's Toronto bookshop. It's fantastic. Deceptively large, excitingly limited in its offerings and designed in such a way that each and every book is displayed like a piece of art. Covers facing out...sometimes appearing and re-appearing in three different places. Hardwood floors, a big fireplace, giant front windows filled with natural light.

And there, sitting on one of the beautiful mahogany-colored shelves, was a copy of Margaret Atwood's collection Payback (Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth).

The book's text is taken from work the Canadian author is doing as the CBC Massey lecturer - a stint that has her speaking across the country.

Not Suzie Orman self-help, Atwood is looking at debt as a cultural fixture that extends back through time and literature.

I don't know why I had a little epiphany moment when I read that bit from the cover description but I did. Strange that someone who loves Austen like I do could kind of lose track of that concept. Debt and poverty play fundamental roles in much of what are considered the great literary classics.

Hunger is like one of those 1950s character actors who showed up in at least one episode of every television show. Someone was always hungry.

And that is why I will always be a huge fan of bookstores and real live books. Because you never know what ideas you will stumble on.

If only I had stumbled on a "How to Fix Writer's Block in 10 Easy Steps."