Thursday, 29 March 2007

Bully time

Passed another milestone on the road to maturity (yes, that's a euphemism. I'm talking about growing old). I don't know how many milestones that makes, but there are a bunch behind me. I remember listening to a friend's little sister screeching excitedly about Christmas, and thinking: I'm getting too old to appreciate it. Ah, the bitter nostalgia of nine years old. Felt glum all the way home. I can remember my first day of school after moving downtown from the suburbs and hearing, casually, on the playground, the f- word. Wow, I thought to myself. You're a big boy now. I can recall, vividly, walking home from high school marching band practice in my uniform and hearing some little kid say, Hello, sir. That one sent a real shiver down me. I wasn't ready to be a sir, yet. I wanted to remain a, Hey, kid. But time is a bully, pushing you around whether you want to go or not. I remember the first time I wasn't asked for ID at a bar (a relief, that one, since I was still under age). Not a kid. To this one bouncer, my friend John looked younger than I did. And as the years continued to shove past me other people started to look younger than I did. I remember the first time I noticed that the NHL seemed to be made up of young-looking guys. Some of them seemed absurdly young, in fact. I can remember getting a speeding ticket from what looked like a teenage policeman. I wanted to say, You're kidding, right? This is some kind of Halloween trick. Anyway, the point of this post is that I was confronted the other day by a librarian who looked like a high-school kid. Hockey players and cops are one thing, but when the librarians start to look underage, you can stop fooling yourself. That face you shave every day belongs to a geezer. Dave Barry wrote a book about turning 40, and one of the chapters is called, How to Geeze. I tell you, I am in a geezing kind of mood this week. I'm going to start wearing my pants higher, and complaining about the government. Darn kids had better stay off my lawn.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

juggler me

Whew. In the middle of intense week as writer-in-residence in the beautiful community of Dunsford Ontario. Smell of farm (yes, that's a euphemism) very prevalent. Enthusiastic and hilarious children all clamoring for more of me, and, since I am no good at saying No, I am feeling knackered. Back home I study my lines and songs whenever I can. I'm in an amateur production of Into The Woods, and our show goes on in two weeks.

I love amateur theater. There's something truly moving about group of people getting together to sing and dance and act their hearts out, and then going home to become nurses and police officers and butchers and teachers and high-school kids. No one is making a career out of this -- we're doing it because we love it. We are amateurs. And, darn it, for amateurs we are pretty good. Some truly excellent voices, and a couple of the ensemble numbers work a treat. Which is why I have to practice more. I don't want to let the team down. I'm the narrator, and I have a crapload of lines. Many in the cast are note perfect, and I am not even note-worthy -- yet.

Busy juggling life -- writer, father, mentor, actor. Can I keep them all in the air? Watch this space and see.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

coffee, lent, life

A day away from blogging and I'm feeling withdrawal. How can one become so addicted so quickly? It's worse than I imagine crack to be. (My research experience in this and related fields is very sketchy.) So, zombies. That's the new book, and it's starting to get off the ground. Still on the first draft stage -- that dirty first draft, with all the mistakes and false trails that don't go anywhere, all the characters you figure you're going to develop, all the clever subplots, the bright and shiny objects you are attracted to and then forget about. (The author as magpie.) First chapters seem good at this time of the morning. Hopeful time of day.

For some reason the coffee is very good this morning too. Don't know what I did differently, but the stuff is strong and sharp and darkly wonderful. Back when I did lent, I gave up stuff like candy (easy) and wine (pretty easy) and peanuts (not easy), but it never occurred to me to give up coffee.

Lent is an interesting idea. Not part of my background (I was raised a strict atheist) but when I was married I was happy to participate in the family observance. I haven't done it in a few years, and in a weird way I kind of miss it. It's not about suffering for God. I don't really think God wants us to suffer. But there is a focus, an awareness of the metaphysical outside, which is reinforced every time you feel like a handful of peanuts (say) and don't take it. Part of the observed, examined life.

Hmm. Still a couple weeks left of lent. Maybe I'll give something up. It won't be blogging, though. Nor coffee. I wonder ...

Thursday, 22 March 2007

time's boomerang

Quickie today, just back from two presentation where the past came back and hit me. My eldest (twins, now getting ready for university) had a wonderful baby sitter when very very young, and this sitter, now a mother of four, had me to lunch after I visited her kids' school to talk about writing. Heartening to see that Anna hadn't really changed: I could see the college girl smiling out from behind the thirtysomething eyes. (A big relief to me, passage-of-time-wise -- I recently ran into a high-school buddy who looked ready for the knacker's yard.) And this touch of the past came after a visit to another school visit earlier this morning, where my twins' kindergarten teacher is on staff. For years we did our picture-book reading "Mrs McKrow style" with the book pointing away from the reader. What a fine teacher she was, patient and encouraging with what seemed like half of our downtown Toronto kindergarten who started the year with no English at all, and still making sure everyone's coat was done up. She said she remembered me pushing a stroller with my four kids in and around it, looking harrassed. Harrassed? I said. I was always trying for joyful and animated. She smiled. (Like Anna, she has been kindly treated by time, and it was easy to see the eager young thing she'd been.) Harrassed, she said. Tomorrow: zombies.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

I'm a lumberjack and I'm confused

So it's my second blog day. I feel like I'm in a forest chopping down trees and no one is hearing them fall.

But they are noisy, dammit. Berkeley can say what I wants, I know what I know.

Just as well a ton of people aren't responding to me yet, since I have no idea how to get back to them. Navigating this world o'blogging is easy, my web guy says. Sure it is, I tell him. But whenever I click on POST or PUBLISH, or RESPND, the words disappear. Publish or perish, they say, and I'm perishing. Oh well, maybe this one will get through.

A (surely) common question: how on earth do serious bloggers (and I am soooo not a serious blogger) get any work done? I can imagine this process getting addictive; caring more and more about detailing my daily life, sharing it with the (two, so far) people who visit my site. But it is not paying the bills.

All right, maybe just one more paragraph. Then I must get back to work.

Into The Ravine is in copy edit. This means that for the next few weeks I will be immersed in the minutiae of commas and m-dashes and foolish consistencies. So my hero appears in different colouored shorts halfway through the book -- so why can't he change? Dr Watson has two names in the Sherlock Holmes books. And two different war injuries. Who cares? I don't.

All right, I'll go now. See you tomorrow. Keep those cards and letters coming.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

news from the high board

I feel like a non-swimmer on a high board. It's Tuesday around noon and I'm writing my first ever blog. I've skimmed a few of these but I'm not a regular reader. I don't really know what I'm doing. I'll just jump in, I guess. What's the worst that can happen?

So what do you want to talk about? I don't know much about you, so I'll start with me. These things are kind of like conversation, so maybe there'll be more going on when you've started to contribute.

I'm living in a rented house on a hill. I can hear the wind from every room. From the bathroom it sounds like there's a gale going on outside. Inhibiting, I tell you. I'm always relieved when I come out. Hey, that's a joke and I didn't even mean it. (I can't help noticing that my first ever blog entry is about sitting on the toilet worrying about the wind. What a ridiculous start. I should have aimed higher.)
And the current of my desire swept me downstream, and I looked into her eyes and found there the keys to my subcompact soul.

Hmm. Maybe I should just do weather.

It's sunny, and not as windy outside as it seems to be inside. I wore my coat unzipped when I drove the kids to school. There's a bit of snow on the ground, but it seems to be melting. I understand that it's supposed to get real warm tomorrow or the next day.

Now, sports. (I don't actually watch sports very much. I used to care a lot but lately I can not find the three hours necessary to take in an entire sporting event. And when I say lately I mean, oh, for the last fifteen years or so. I'll flip through the channels and watch half an inning or a series of downs or a couple of whistles' worth of hockey or basketball, and get bored. Maybe I have ADHD or something.)

And now I have to go -- there's a school pick up, and I haven't finished my pages for today.

Hmm. I can't say I've found a rhythm to this blogging yet. Random thoughts leak out of me like steam from a badly covered pot. Focus, Richard, focus. If I started out on the high board, I am now in the water, beating my arms and legs furiously but not moving across the pool. Before I exit for the day I'll use the opportunity to mention the upcoming book, Into The Ravine, and the new website. Hope to see you there.
And here too. You know, you can help. It doesn't have to be just me thrashing around. Conversation takes two.

Next time I'm bringing my water wings.