Reflections on This Week

This is going to be a long post, because it’s been a full week in the news already, and it’s only Thursday, and I’ve got a lot on my mind. This American Thanksgiving, I imagine there are a lot of conversations going on at a lot of family dinners about the decision of the Grand Jury not to indict Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown and the subsequent protests in cities all over North America and the world. I know we’ve been having those conversations at our own dinner table. Whatever your views on this particular case, the fact is that black Americans are statistically far more likely to be killed by police in the USA than white Americans, and that’s a big societal problem that goes far deeper than any one case. (Here’s one look at the numbers,...

Day Job Gratitude

Around this time every year, after a couple of months of having every waking minute – and lots of sleeping ones – taken up with my work for the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, the to-do list associated with this year’s event dwindles to a manageable level, and I lift my head and look at the world outside the SiWC box, breathe a little fresh air, get some good sleep, and feel the niggling, aching need to write gathering in my soul. I’m excited to see what comes. But leaping back in the writing pool after a long hiatus is a little scary. Somehow, even though I’ve been here many times before and it always turns out fine, there’s a tiny bit of fear that I’ve forgotten how to swim. So I thought I’d start here with a nice, easy blog post. Besides, I have a...

Bodies at the Pool

The changing room at my local pool is a busy place. Mums scrub toddlers dry with faded, worn towels, the sort we all hesitate to throw away because they come in so handy for times like these. Little girls stand under forced-air hand dryers mounted high enough on the wall to act as hair dryers, their faces scrunched up against the warm rush of air. They remind me of when I was a kid and would wait my turn to do the same after swimming lessons, reaching up when my turn came to push the big, silver button to start the machine. When it stopped, I’d always wonder if I could get away with pushing it one more time before I relinquished my spot to the next kid in line, my head hot but my hair still wet. Teenagers shower quickly in their suits and disappear into the...

Sunday afternoon Twitter talk

I don’t purport to be an expert on social media. But I do pay attention, and I think I’ve learned a few things along the way, one of the fringe benefits of knowing a lot of very smart people. Today, I received twitter spam from an author I’ve never met or heard of, linking to his short story available on Amazon. Like pretty much every writer I know (every person, for that matter), I hate spam. Nothing is better designed to keep me from buying any product than the uninvited attempts of a stranger to sell it to me. But it’s a lazy, sunny Sunday here, and I’m sitting on my patio drinking tea, and it appeared he was an actual human being, so I decided, knowing it was likely unwise, to reply. I said pretty much what I’ve already...

The Weight of Disorganization

Awhile back, I had great intentions of writing a blog post about the weight of disorganization. The irony of the fact that I still haven’t posted it hasn’t escaped me. It was a day when the accumulation of receipts, notes, meeting agendas, tickets to events, and whatever other random detritus had taken up residence on my desk had me overwhelmed, and my goal was to clear it all off, piece by piece, until I had a clean, clear surface to work with. But first, I decided to take a “before” picture to use in this blog post. And IT BROKE MY PHONE. You may think I’m kidding, but no sooner had it taken the picture than it crashed, first to the standard “oops, I’ve crashed” black screen with the white apple, and then to a...

Of Officers and Blogs and Books that Make Me Cry

A few random things for a Monday… I grew up with cops. My mum worked as a public servant for the RCMP for twenty-six years, so her co-worker friends included police officers and other people whose work lives, like hers, involved behind-the-scenes stuff that made police work possible. These were the people by whom I was surrounded, and all of them, every single one I knew, was in it for the right reasons. And now, we have our own friends who are cops, and they, too, go to work every day to try to make the world a little safer, a little better, sometimes at the expense of their own safety. And I know that when one of their number is killed in the line of duty, it’s like losing a family member, whether that person sits next to you at coffee or is a...

Perspective and Inspiration

I’ve been sick this week, with the sort of chesty, sinus-y, feverish bug that knocks you flat and makes simply breathing enough of a challenge that working is out of the question. By yesterday, five days into this thing, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, sick of being housebound and of not being able to write as much as a coherent email. Woe is me. *cue tiny violins* We all have those moments, I know when whatever is holding us back gets us down. But if we’re lucky, before those blues can burrow too deeply into our souls, the universe hands us a little perspective. It did that for me yesterday. First, I read my good friend Laura Bradbury’s excellent blog. It speaks for itself, so go read it. And then, if that wasn’t enough to make me...