Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Chicago, That Marvelous Town

Hangin with the fam right now in the Windy City.

Sorry I have been lax in writing but my days are getting away with me.

We are gearing up for our own invented holiday - Vint Day.

My parents decided when we were young that they didn't want to put pressure on us for Christmases or Easters or Thanksgivings and so they invented Vint Day, Februrary 29th, once every four years, when all of us have to get together. We can miss birthdays and the anniversary but not Vint Day. It's like all of those things wrapped up in one.

I have been explaining this to people my entire life. Many find it quite cool. Others look confused. I think it's great.

The older I get and the more spread out we all are, Vint Day becomes truly what my parents envisioned. A time for us to just be together, even though we live miles apart.

And so, I will write again although I can't guarantee that it will be before the end of the festivities.

Be original. If I've learned anything from my parents, it's that.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

I've been moved today in two different ways. I'll start at the very beginning (*sing* a very good place to start)

Saying Goodbye

I was at the funeral of my dear Great Aunt Florence today. She died last week of some kidney complications at the age of 74. It was very sudden since she only went in for an ultrasound to find out why she had the stomach flu.

Though I have probably only been in her company a dozen times in my life, I have always admired her gentle, kind disposition.

You know those people who's smiles light up the room? They have that sparkle in their eye, as though they were meant to listen intently to your story and make you feel like you're the most important person in the room.

This was my Aunt Florence.

She was married to Uncle Tom, who was my dad's father Grandpa Wilmer's only brother.

I was very affected when my Grandpa Wilmer died. My sisters and I had spent a week with him at his new house in Port Hope. He had dropped us off at my parents' house on a Sunday. He had wandered around with my dad in the old house, giving suggestions about the electical situation. They made plans to fix it up together.

That afternoon, he and my grandmother drove home. And after dinner, he quietly went. As though he was
sleeping with his eye's open.

I remember meeting my Uncle Tom that day. He looked just like my grandpa and I thought that maybe he could be my grandpa now that mine had gone. Silly childhood thoughts. (My grandmother endedup marrying again to my Grandpa Ed who took us all in with open arms and has been the best, most supportive and funny grandpa a girl could ask for. I have actually known him longer than I knew my Grandpa Wilmer)

And I remember meeting Aunt Florence. I remember her holding my hand, supporting my Grandma, giving me a hug. I don't know how, out of all the people that were around during that horrible time, I remember her.

It was probably 10 years later when I saw them again - this time, at another funeral. I was 20 at the time and couldn't stop staring at Uncle Tom. It was spooky how much they looked alike.

And when I spoke to them at the end of the funeral, I tried to seem composed and stop staring. But I remember Aunt Florence giving a knowing smile and just knowing.

Even then, she seemed to understand my pain. A young lady who she had seen only a few times in her life. And yet still, she gave so much comfort.

I was fortunate enough to see her quite a few more times since that funeral seven years ago and I feel that she was exactly the person that I met at my grandfather's funeral. Kind. Gentle. Full of caring. So much friendlieness to give.

I will always remember her that way.

*********

A Different Kind of Goodbye

A Cup of Jen is another blog I have been reading lately. She is going through a bit of a transition in her life. I loved reading about it.

I wish you the best of luck, Jen. You should create a character out of what you're going through and write a novel. You are living the emotions that people will connect with. I know I'll keep reading.

Friday, February 20, 2004

A Friday Night of Work

Well, I had too much fun last night in Toronto with some friends and now - after sleeping in and napping - I will be sitting in front of my computer to complete the writing I was supposed to have finished today. Thank goodness for self imposed deadlines.

I have one final piece for Mosaic Minds - it's half done anyway so I forsee myself actually finishing it before dinner. That would be good.

I get to hang out in Chicago with my parents all week - so much fun. D and I will be taking the train - 10 hours - so I hope to get a lot of reading and writing completed. I need to pack myself a travel-work kit for the train. I love the prospect of 10 hours to just sit somewhere and complete projects and tasks I have been waiting to do.

Will be blogging from there next week.

A bit boring today so I'll sign off and get to work.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

A for Effort

Since we've been home, D and I have had a lot of time on our hands. We haven't been at work regularly and the work we were doing wasn't by any means stressful so we always had energy at the end of the day to do more work if we wanted to.

I've enjoyed getting my writing career on track. I feel like I'm getting into the zone and figuring stuff out, simply because I have the energy all day to do it. I have written more in the last two months - mostly for Mosaic Minds - and my editing skills from long ago are all coming back to me.

So, when I saw this opportunity to take a free online writing course, I figured why not? It's more a fiction writing class, which I don't have any direct experience in and thought I should try it out.

It seems I haven't really changed all that much since university because I missed the deadline on the first assignment. Doh. I've been so busy with all the writing and editing for Mosaic Minds, the days go away from me.

And so, I must sheepishly post my written stuff late to them. Perhaps no one will notice. Although, they may as well get to know the real procrastinating me.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Wedding Bells

No, not for me silly!

By my good buddy J finally got the courage up to ask his lovely girlfriend L of many years to be his wife forever. Not sure why she said yes - ha ha - but I am very happy for them!!

I am also very happy that I figure I can get to this wedding - I missed two important ones last year - as it's set for October 2005.

Guys - congrats again. Can't wait to hear all the romantic details.


*********

On another selfish note - what do you think of the background? I just was experimenting but not sure if the yellow is too 'in your face'?

Monday, February 16, 2004

Countdown

One month today, I will be in England.

I will be jetlagged but I will be there.

I confirmed today with my friend from Leeds that we could crash at her place for the first week we are there. She's all for it - and sent me a reminder that a big work 'do' will be in the works because everyone is excited to see me.

Excited to see me? I was banking on the fact that most people forgot who I was!

I'm getting a little anxious. I'm not sure who that person was who left their life over a year ago, lived out of a backpack for months at a time and made the committment to do it all over again.

It's like I've kinda lost my confidence. Once you get into your comfort zone again, I think it's easy to slip back into your 'comfort zone' ways. I'm a bit scared to think I can't remember what I missed about Canada because it's all become day to day now.

I hope I have done everything I wanted to in this break back here.

But listen to me, there is still time left! I mean, I have a whole month...

Considering how quickly the last 3 have flown by, I can say I better not blink

*******

On another note, we are getting close to putting another issue of Mosaic Minds to bed.

We have even MORE content this month - I think I'm more excited than I was for the launch!

*******

Another shout out to the Ryze Network. I think I will meet some interesting people here. Plus, I like communities that have the two tiered system - non-payment and payment. Two levels of access. Once I start making some real money, I can see myself paying for the extras they offer but I appreciate a company that doesn't seem to be out for milking all poor self business people's money out of them.

Friday, February 13, 2004

On the Road Again

Back on hiatus for the weekend. Not sure when I'll be near a computer.

Left my cute little town today. Always sad to go.

At least it's not goodbye yet. I think it might be even harder this time.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Chicks Rule

It really doesn't matter how much time passes, the friends you have had the longest are the ones that know you best.

I have a funky little unit of chick high school friends that - in a word - ROCK!

We got together last night. And it always feels so great to have adult relationships with them. Everyone's lives are going in different directions - one is pregnant, one just bought a house, one is in school.

It makes for great conversations but there's no competing. We all support each other and are genuinely interested in what everyone has to say.

I have made some great friends in this past year away and I do hope that I will keep them as long as girls I have now.

But there will always be something special about the long timers. I will always work hard to make sure these friendships stay intact.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

The other day I met some new ladies at a dinner thing I went to with my friend.

It was the first time that it just rolled off my tounge.

After chit chat about what all these ladies did, the question I have dreaded and hated since I left Toronto:

"So A, what do you do?"

Since last year's epiphany, I have always hated to be defined by 'what I do'. It is, however, a common and honest question but one that still makes my skin crawl a bit and I have to stop my judgemental frustration from creeping up the back of my spine and out the top of my red-haired head.

"I'm a travel writer."

And just like that, I was born.

I haven't actually said it out loud. I've talked about "trying to" or "thinking of" but I haven't really actually yet defined myself as a freelance writer.

To the new people I met last year, I was always a former journalist turned communications turned taking-a-year-off-to-travel-Europe.

The the old people that know me, well, I guess I was the same thing.

But now, I'm no longer travelling Europe. I'm not even really getting that many temp gigs. And when I sit down to work, is it either writing, editing for Mosaic Minds, or looking for freelance opportunities.

I can't say that I'm getting rich out of being a "travel writer" yet but who says you have to be defined by your profession?

I am what I am - not what I do.

*mind wander singing Nina Simone* "I am, what I am and what I am needs no excuses..."

The ladies seemed quite intrigued, asking me all kinds of questions about publications and how it worked.

I had to admit that I am not yet being courted by the likes of Conde Nast or Lonely Planet but more that I am pitching stories to people in the hopes they will want to print them.

D laughed when I told him the story.

"Did you have to backpeddle when they started asking questions? Did you get nervous like you always do when you're flustered and talk too much?"

"No" I said, indignantly. "I just figured if I started to define myself that way, then it would come true."

Kinda like verbal osmosis.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Same Old Story

I had the best of intentions this morning. I was going to get up early and go to the gym.

I got up around 9 - which is not too bad considering I was up working until 1:30 and I have this thing about 8 hours sleep - and started to get ready.

I decided I might as well throw in the load of laundry I had brought to my friend's house. You know, the satisfaction of checking things off your list.

It was only when I went to look for my workout outfit that I realized I'd thrown a wrench in my plan.

I am now washing my workout outfit.

And so keep your fingers crossed that something won't come up this afternoon that will make me bail on getting fit.

******

Mastering the Craft

Mosaic Minds stuff is coming along. Had a great editor on the first major piece I wrote, which was quite helpful. Took in her suggestions and I think the piece is a much stronger one.

The editing process made me realize I have a recurring writing habit.

I tend to write all the pieces but mix up the order in which they are written. I'm not sure if this is a common writing *flaw* but I find I just need someone to tell me to switch sections around and suddenly, it's a much better piece of writing.

I can recall back to my highschool Creative Writing classes having the teacher write in red, "this section should go here" or "good effort but needs a stronger ending - perhaps use paragraph 8". When someone would point it out, it would then become so obvious.

Perhaps it's because of the way I write. Write outline. Write topics. Layout order. Write transitions.

I guess I need to work on sequencing. Or make sure I have stellar editors.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Communicate, Communicate

I cringe when I watch people have a miscommunication.

I have always been a talker and so when I see the lines of communication broken down so easily, it really irritates me. I have trouble understanding how and why people are not talking to work through their problems.

There has been a miscommunication. It really has nothing to do with me. I really should just stay out of it. But my gift for gab is pushing me on to try and help resolve a situation I see WILL be resolved by talking.

At the same time, I think there is too much talking or more correctly too many people talking.

When two people have a breakdown in communication, the best way to fix that is to let the two people have a conversation. The more middle wo/men you have, the more likely you are to have more miscommunication.

And so I'm torn in that I foresee how easily the miscommunication could be cleared up. But I also see there are already enough people trying to bring the communication back together that me getting in the middle of it is really just another person interfering with the breakdown of communication.

I realize I have used the word communication a number of times in this blog. I'm trying to make a point. Repetition. Perhaps it will work like it's supposed to in math class. It's something that just then comes naturally.

2x2 is 4. 2x3 is 6. 2x4 is 8. 8x7 is 56. 6x7 is 42. 7x7 is 49.

I always hated math class but I have never forgotten my timetables.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Weekend Off

First, thanks to everyone who has sent me nice inspriational emails. I'm sorry I haven't had time to respond but there has been a bit of chaos in my life this week and haven't been close to a computer.

Before you feel too bad for me *wink*, let me just say that everything is fine and no one is sick or dead.

D and I will be 'shifting spaces' so to speak for the next couple weeks in order to help give some family members some space.

The point of my cryptic writing is to say that I won't be near a computer with access until Monday so I won't be writing here - or able to access Mosaic Minds stuff until then as well - (for all you Mosaic Minds ladies who are reading:) - although I will be doing a lot of writing since I'm back to loving the pencil and pad:))

My positive sister made a great point - it kinda feels like we're travelling all over again - thanks kiddo.;)

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

BABIES!!!

MY BEST FRIEND FROM HIGH SCHOOL IS PREGNANT!!! I am so excited. I think I could have only been more excited if my sister called to say she was pregnant.

I am SO HAPPY for her. I can't wait to see her. I was already being an annoying mom figure - "eat more broccolli, drink red wine - the French say so!!"

Only one thing made me sad - I won't be here to see cutie pie being born. I wasn't there for her wedding and now, another milestone missed.

What's next? Retirement? Well, let's hope I will have stopped touring the world and settled down by that time to see her through another milestone.

But never mind - I have to get there as soon as possible!! next week even!!!

E and D - congrats so much. Can't wait to see you!!!

Still Writing and the Weekend Jaunt

Had a great weekend in the city again. Walking down the club district streets to my friend's house I get so much inspiration for writing. And then, as usual, I get to the computer and it all goes blank.

I do remember my "beacon feeling". Looking up at the CN Tower. I am in a space that people come to from all over the world. A tourist attraction. I have been all over Europe to see these tourist attractions but I have never felt that way here.

To me, it is just home. I don't live here anymore but it still feels like home.

When I left my small town to come to school in Toronto, I would always look up at the CN Tower and remember how far I had come. I was in the 'big city', living on my own and being independant.

In the years after my parents left for the US, I would look to it and feel safe. I had done it. I was here. I felt comfortable in a place that is looked upon as a busy hustling place where people holiday.

I missed that feeling. I've been so many places this past year and have enjoyed so many fantastic things. But I have never been able to feel at home in those touristy places.

Here I can.

I can't explain why I would want to feel at home in a touristy place - why not just my home town?

Maybe it's just another way of connecting with all those people I saw milling the streets in places like Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Paris.

They were all just living their lives. And now I am just like them again. I do have something in common with the city dwellers of Lisbon, Athens, Amsterdam and London.

I feel at home amongst a wonder of the world.

***************

On a different note, I'm sending out some good thoughts for a good friend who is going through a difficult time.

The mind can work in such mysterious ways. It's such a farce that there are so many times when you think you're going off the deep end but when you really might be, you have no idea.

I hope that I have the strength to help her get help. I know she is strong and will get through. It's just hard to see her like this right now.

So, send her your happy thoughts. She needs them.