"There's no point in spending your life in the pursuit of something that's easy." - Alice Kuipers

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Well, it was a weird Christmas this year. Christmas itself was good, but unfortunately my rabbit, George passed away on Christmas Day. I won't bore you with the details of my consequent complete falling apart, or expect you to understand why a rabbit would mean so much to me, but she did. And yes, George was a girl. (Who says a female rabbit can't be named George?)
The reason I'm telling you any of this is so you'll understand why I haven't posted in a while. The truth is, I'm depressed. I miss my faithful rabbit companion. I realize I didn't talk about her as much as I talk about Maddie, but they were equal in my affection, and now she's gone. So, if you're wondering if I've forgotten about all of you, I haven't. I just haven't felt up to posting. But I will again soon, so don't worry.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Twins Continued

Well, I couldn't put Her Fearful Symmetry down last night, so I finished it.
It was ... interesting, Honestly? I found the ending rather disturbing. Which, isn't necessarily a bad thing, sometimes that's what makes a book great - its ability to completely shock you with its ending. In this case however, I felt kind of robbed. I'll try to explain why without giving anything away.
About a week ago I was reading an article in Writer's Digest about creating suspense in your novel (a very good article by the way). One of their suggestions was to make promises to your readers. Not literal promises such as, 'I promise this book is going to knock your socks off', but in your story. You need to hint at things, perhaps at dark secrets, or quietly foreshadow big events to come. You need to lock your reader in with the promise of intrigue and possible catastrophe so that they can't put the book down. Now, in Her Fearful Symmetry Audrey Niffenegger did this very well, I obviously couldn't put the book down. Where I was disappointed was in the fulfillment of those promises. According to the article, it's important to make big promises, but it's equally important to keep those promises. I didn't feel that she did. The secrets she'd hinted at from the very beginning of the novel were indeed brought to light, but they had absolutely no effect on the outcome of the novel. Which made me wonder why they were there, and why the twins worked so hard to discover them if they had nothing to do with the outcome. I felt that way about pretty much everything. It was as though the beginning had nothing in common with the ending, and as I lay in bed trying to sleep after I finished, I found I couldn't. I just kept tossing and turning, questioning everything I'd just read and found I couldn't come to any kind of happy conclusion. She'd started the book off with all these different threads, and by the end they should have tied together so that each minute detail you'd forgotten to pay attention to had in fact been important to the story and led toward its end. I should have been slapping myself in the forehead moaning 'of course!', not scratching my head wondering 'what? How did that happen?'
And so, my verdict is this. It was, in fact, a very good read. It had me turning the pages from start to finish, unable to put it down. Unfortunately, the ending did not live up to the promises that I felt she'd made and I was therefore disappointed (and actually a little upset) by the ending. I encourage you all to give it a read and let me know your thoughts. I'm anxious to debate over its merits and shortcomings!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I think I've said enough about Christmas now to last until next year, so today I've decided to delight you with an entirely new topic. And no, I won't just be complaining, despite that being one of my favourite activities.
Today, I want to talk about twins. For those of you who don't know, I am one. I'm an identical twin, meaning my sister and I were once a single egg that split. It also means we look a lot alike, which can be both hilarious and frustrating; but that's another topic.
I don't often have much to say on the subject, most of my time spent talking about being a twin is in refuting old wives tales. No, we can't read each other's minds. No, when one of us eats the other doesn't get full. But the reason I've been thinking a lot about my 'twin-ness', is because I'm reading Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. The novel centers around a pair of mirror twins named Valentina and Julia, who inherit their aunt's flat in London. Mirror twins are identical twins who are an exact mirror image of the other. So, for example, a mole that would be on the right cheek of one, will be on the left of the other.
Anyway, the book is great. I'm just over half way through and I can barely stand to put it down. Even now, I can't help but look down at it hungrily, anxious to devour the rest of it. One of the reasons it's so interesting is due to the relationship between the twins. One wants to have her independence from the other, and the other wants them to remain together and exactly the same forever. She insists that they dress in matching outfits and believes that they must have the same job, something they can do together.
Honestly, as a twin myself, it's positively terrifying. I can't imagine what life would have been like if either of us had been that way. I'm lucky my sister and I managed to remain so close without trying to re-envelope each other and become one person again. I can't wait to find out if the twins are able to find their individuality, not to mention uncover the various mysterious secrets hinted at in the book.
It's always interesting to read about characters that are twins, especially by authors who aren't twins themselves. I think there's a bit of mysteriousness to it, a longing to understand what that kind of closeness is like. Sarah Pekkanen also wrote about twins in her first novel, The Opposite of Me, another fabulous book. However, in Her Fearful Symmetry, although it's a great book and I'm loving every minute of it, I do find her depiction of these particular twins slightly inaccurate. My experience of being a twin, and knowing several others, has been of a mutual longing for identity. Yes, we all love being twins and appreciate the close relationship that develops, but oftentimes we still struggle to be different, to set ourselves apart from the other and be known, not as half of a whole, but as our own person. It will be interesting to see what develops between the two sisters as the book progresses, and how their relationship changes as they find their individuality. If you're looking for a good read, by all means pick it up!
That's my twin perspective on a book on twins.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Christmas Spirit Lives at my Mother's House

"Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe help to make the season bright." (The Christmas Song)

That maybe true, but Christmas ceased being one of my favourite holidays when I got married. Not by any fault of my husband, who goes to great lengths to spoil me every year, or his family, who are always kind and welcoming. But from the moment I got married, Christmas began to dwindle from a pleasure to a chore, more and more so each year.
These days, the thought of decorating – which once filled me with glee- now leaves me exhausted. I no longer picture a twinkling tree adorned with glittering ornaments, I picture the struggle of finagling it into its stand and the tedium of rewrapping all the decorations and putting them away for another year. Why bother?
Christmas itself has become a tedium of errands, with my husband and I spending both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day running from house to house to celebrate with both sides of our respective families. I used to look forward to the time off to celebrate and then spend the next few days sleeping and binge eating leftover turkey and cookies. Christmas is no longer a time of rest and binge eating, with all the running around we have to do, most of the food is picked over by the time we get to each place and by the end of the day I'm exhausted and starving.
So this year my husband really shouldn't have been shocked when I broached the topic of not decorating or getting a tree.
“I just want to pretend that Christmas isn't happening this year. We could just pretend it's an unusually full weekend of family obligations with presents and then move on.”
My husband of course, thought I needed an infusion of Christmas spirit, and fought for a tree. Not wanting to be Captain Scrooge McKillJoy, I relented and my husband brought home a lovely little tree. It looks beautiful, and I appreciate his attempt to keep my Christmas spirit alive, but every time I look at it, all I can think about is what a pain in the ass it's going to be to take it down.
There is only one place on this Earth, where the Christmas spirit can still be summoned up from the depths of my holiday blackened soul, and that's at my mother's house.
Now, the Christmas spirit at my mother's house has itself taken a beating over the years, one of my sisters is now Jewish and understandably, various changes have been made to accommodate the difference in spiritual beliefs. Personally, I'm all for it. I'm not a church goer or bible pusher, I don't care if it's called Christmas or The Holiday Festival of Trees and Lights. (I actually prefer the second one, despite its making shouting holiday greetings a little more complex). Christmas was never about the birth of Christ for me, so getting rid of the title is something I can get behind. (Of course, this isn't for everyone and you won't see me trying to push this through Congress. But in our house, it makes perfect sense). Never the less, Christmas at my mother's house has stayed unrelentingly joyful.
There's something about being in that house, specifically about being around my mother that stokes the fires in my heart. The other night I went over to help her wrap presents (that's one of the few good things about working in retail – I've perfected the art of present wrapping), and within twenty minutes of being there, I was mindlessly humming Christmas tunes as I wrapped and curled ribbons. I was like an elf in Santa's workshop.
My mother is a powerful being. Within her lies the true spirit of Christmas, whatever that is. But I like to think of it as family, and pure, unbridled joy. God bless my mother in law and all her family, but they just can't embody it the way she does. My mother in law tries too hard, insisting that we must be joyful every minute, pushing games and chatter at us as though we'll never have another happy moment again. There's nothing pushy about my mom, and her house at Christmas. It's warm and tender, at moments punctuated with squeals of delight and peels of laughter, at others calm and peaceful. There is no frenzied push for perfect holiday memories, filling every moment with games and activity. Instead, there's an enjoyment of each moment as it happens, whether its the calm and quiet of a stolen nap, curled up on the couch with my husband beneath a blanket, or the excitement of watching someone open the perfect gift.
Maybe as time goes on, my Christmas spirit will decay to the extent that I can no longer appreciate it, but I hope for the opposite. I hope I can learn the secret of my mother's spirit, and the joy that resides at her house on Christmas. I hope I can learn to stand above the tedium of far too much family in far too small of a time frame and find a space for peace and joy for my husband and I, a special place within the chaos that can make it all bearable. Either that, or we'll have to start a new tradition – Hawaii!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Necessary Increase In Politeness

As the holiday season grows ever closer, and we find ourselves continuously caught in overcrowded malls and grocery stores, I feel it is important to remind ourselves of the unquestionable need for politeness. Yes, it's undeniable that this time of year can work itself on your very last nerve. I myself have often fantasized about the gruesome murder of the person ahead of me in line that A) refuses to wear deodorant and B) still thinks he should be able to pay with a cheque, but it's important to remember that we can positively change our surroundings.
Despite my passionate desire to bowl over everyone in my way and get the hell out of there, I realize that I must not only restrain myself, but do a complete 180 and go out of my to be nice. Think about it. If everyone gives in to their desire to be rude, pushy and completely self involved (and they often do), what does that lead to? The current climate of every mall, store and drugstore available.
BUT, picture this. You're in an overcrowded mall, and yet no one is trying to zigzag through the crowd to get around the older, slower patrons. Everyone is perfectly aware that at this time of year long lines and waits are unavoidable, and instead of getting pissed off, they accept it, take a deep breath and just relax. No one budges, and if an unavoidable bump occurs, the offending party apologizes. Customers greet cashiers and sales associates with a smile and a greeting, instead of immediately demanding their merchandise. The cashiers and sales associates can relax and focus on doing an efficient and friendly job, instead of worrying about fending off verbal attacks and abuse. People smile and greet each other, make way for each other and are generally conscious of each other. Sounds nice, yes?
Of course, not everyone can be counted on to be polite. But every time we smile instead of scowl, show patience instead of losing our temper and are just generally thoughtful, we improve the climate of those stifling malls and maybe even make someone feel a little better. Which brings me to my point. I'm calling on all of us, myself included, to make an effort this holiday season. Go out of your way to be polite. You'll be surprised by how much better you feel when you finally make it home.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I Hate Christmas

All I want to do is get through this month. December has turned out to be way more expensive than I initially estimated. Our home insurance is due at the end of the month, my husband just had to take his car in and I need two fillings at the dentist. Tie that in with regular Christmas shopping and expenses and I'm Broke with a capital B.
Not to mention, my HerStory Calendar deadline came and went at the end of November and I'm still not done. Now, I'm the type of person that very strictly observes deadlines. I'm all about punctuality. Being late in any form stresses me out. The other day I was five minutes late to work and my hands shook for half an hour. So, to be nearly half way into December and still not done is not okay with me. Honestly, the main problem has been my sources. Getting responses to emails and phone calls has been horrible. It's put me completely behind.
I just need to make it until the new year. Maybe the freshness of a clean calendar year will revive me. But honestly, I just hate Christmas. I never used to, but being married changes things. Christmas is now a harried rush from family to family; not to mention it seems to be the time of year for shit to hit the fan financially. Every year it's the same story, we spend the entire year trying to pay down debt and bulk up savings (making good headway too) and after Christmas we're not just back where we started, we're further behind. Sometimes I wish we could just skip Christmas.
There. I've had my tirade. Now I can get back to work.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Creative Juices are Flowing

It's so strange. I thought for sure that once I was done NaNoWriMo I'd be burnt out and need to take some time off, and yet I'm feeling pretty good. Not just pretty good, I'm feeling creative and inspired. After all, I wrote an entire book in 30 days. Granted, it was not a very good book. BUT, if I had a good, well thought out idea, there's no reason why I couldn't draft another novel in a similar time frame. Which is pretty exciting.
So, of course I've been pondering new story lines. It's fun. This stage, where creative thoughts are spinning but you haven't yet committed to anything, is rather intoxicating. Anything is possible. The hard part is settling in and starting. At the same time, I don't want to push it. I have a few meager creative thoughts bouncing around in my head. I want to let them alone for a bit, let them germinate and see if something really intriguing comes up. And if not, I've always found my own life to be a major source of inspiration. Working in retail is a strange animal all on its own.
I'm also trying to be careful not to take on too much with Christmas on the horizon. Sigh. I hate Christmas. I hate December. If I could just go to sleep and wake up in January I'd be so relieved. I find this time of year so stressful and depressing. So, maybe I need this. Maybe a new story could give me what I need to get through this time of year. I'll have to wait and see what happens. Maybe the magic of Christmas is just what I need to get started again, or send me into a spiral of despair. You know, either way.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

And the Winner is....

Not me. Yes, if you've been sitting on the edge of your seat, chewing your nails in frustration as you waited to hear the results of my epic NaNoWriMo challenge, I'm afraid my news is slightly sour.
Did I make it? Not officially. Last night when I got home from work I had 6500 words to go. Stationing myself at my computer I wrote like a demon, not stopping for a moment until I reached the end of my novel. That's right. I finished it. Unfortunately, my novel was incontrovertibly finished with 1400 words to go. Refusing to give up, I bull-shitted my way to 50,004, although I'll admit that those 1400 words had absolutely nothing to do with the story. There was just nothing more to add. There were two minutes left until midnight when I uploaded my novel onto the website and submitted it to their word counter, which came back saying I'd written only 49,373 words. What? There wasn't time to do anything more about it, and I definitely couldn't have come up with another 700 words of bull shit, so I gave up and went to bed, pretty disappointed.
Today, however, I feel pretty good. I may not have earned an official badge from the website (although I will admit I feel a little ripped off there, I did after all write over 50,000 words), but I did finish writing an entire novel, start to finish in just thirty days. That's pretty cool. So, although I have no official badge, I've decided to declare myself a winner. I wrote an entire novel in a month, while working a full time job and attempting to carry on a normal life. I'm positively exhausted, but I'm proud of myself. I declare my first attempt at NaNoWriMo a nearly complete success!