Monday, December 12, 2005

Confessions of a fledgling magazine writer...

No matter how big mistakes may seem at the time, it's all about the learning proces...So here are two unfortunate things that have happened to me, but from which I will learn tons:

1) Problem: microcasettes can break. Yep, right off of the wheel, in fact. And when they break, don't even bother trying to fix them, cause all you're left with is a spool of tape, that's all crinkly, and no interview. Gone. Poof.

Solution: Enter the digital voice recorder. I've just bought one for $69.99 + tax, and it hooks up to the phone. No more having to run back to the tape recorder to make sure that the tape hasn't run out during a phone interview, or to change sides. The DR will record up to 16 hours of voice conversation, and stores your files in folders. When you're done, simply upload them to your computer.

2) Problem: sometimes, photographers may claim you've lost a photograph of theirs, which makes you (and the magazine) look bad).

Solution: First off, take full responsibility for whatever happened, and apologize profusely. Then, check your records. Sometimes, photographers may be a little confused as to what they sent where. Then, apologize again, after searching around thoroughly for it. In the end, mistakes happen, whether theirs or yours. But remember: it isn't always your mistake.

Enough procrastination. Back to work for me!


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What the heck? Snape???

Severus SnapeYou clearly do not scare easily. You want a man
who is sharp, intellectual, cultured, and not
too mushy. Get underneath his cool, sarcastic
exterior and who knows what treasures you might

Who is your Harry Potter love match? (for girls)
brought to you by

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Lightbulbs and magazines

From DB Scott's blog on magazines...

Q: How many freelancers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: No one's sure. The ones who can screw them in, we can't afford, and the ones we CAN afford can't screw in a light bulb.

Q: How many production editors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Only one, but that's going to cost us an extra production day.

Q: How many copy editors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: I can't tell whether you mean "change a light bulb" or "have sex in a light bulb." Can we remove the ambiguity?

Q: How many managing editors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: You were supposed to have changed the light bulb last week.

Q: How many copy editors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: The last time this question was asked it involved managing editors. Is the difference intentional? Should one or the other instance be changed? It seems inconsistent.

Q: How many art directors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Does it HAVE to be a light bulb?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

"Let there be gardens to tempt them, breathing saffron flowers."

Quotes I love from _The Lost Garden_ by Helen Humphreys

"It is very easy to return nature to itself. The clean lines of a garden go first. Then the balance of what has been planted. What used to be a conversation between the different elements becomes a tuneless cacaphony. No one thing distinguishable from another." (67)

"What is longing if not the ghost of memory?" (99)

"Let there be gardens to tempt them, breathing saffron flowers." (Virvil, Georgics, in Humphreys 117)

"Sometimes,...I used to go down to the Thames at low tide and collect the bits of old clay pipes that would wash up against the pilings. There were so many of these tiny hollow tubes. They were like bird bones. I liked to think of all those people, those men of a hundred years ago, dropping those pipes into the river. I liked that in the modern city, with all its busle and clatter, I could be engaged in a private work of archaeological excavation." (123)

"The moment opens. The moment closes. There is sunlight. There is frost. There is the brief idea of roses amid the patch of weeds." (140)

"There are so many different stories to tell. It's never the same. Every day weather blows in and
out, alters the surface. Sometimes it is stripped down to a single essential truth, the thing that is always believed, no matter what. The seeds from which the garden has grown." (142-3)

"The language of roses shifts like sand under our feet. It blows in and out like the wind. It carries the fragrance of the flower and then it is gone. Rugosa. Canina. Arvensis. It is how we learn to speak about something that is disappearing as we say its name. It is a trick, a false comfort. Humilis. It is what we think we need to know and how we think it needs to be known. Involuta. It is where we want to go, this name, and stay there, safely held for ever. Indora. Alba. Sancta." (148)

"It is a place we have all arrived at, this book. The characters fixed on the page. The author who is only ever writing the book, not gardening or walking or talking, and while the reader is reading, the author is always here, writing. The author is at one end of the experience of writing and the reader is at the other, and the book is the contract between you. And this is what you're doing, being in the book, entering it as one enters a room and sees there, through the French doors to the garden, Lily Briscoe painting on the lawn." (182)

"When a writer writes, it's as if she holds the sides of her chest apart, exposes her beating heart. And even though everything wants to heal, to close over and protect the heart, the writer must keep it bare, exposed. And in doing this, all of life is kept back, all the petty demands of the day-to-day. The heart is a river. The act of writing is the moving water that holds the banks apart, keeps the muscle of words flexing so that the reader can be carried along by this movement. To be given space and the chance to leave one's earthly world. Is there any greater freedom than this?" (182)

"Dead flowers hold their fragrance. That is one truth. Sometimes our passion is our ruin. That is another." (209)

"The thing about gardens is that everyone thinks they go on growing, that in winter they sleep and in spring they rise. but it's more that they die and return, die and return. They lose themselves. They haunt themselves. Every story is a story about death. But perhaps, if we are lucky, our story about death is also a story about love. And this is what I have remembered of love." (210)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

To live and breathe in another language...

So I heard Nicole Brossard speak and read on Thursday night with Salina (one of the plusses of working at a University - there are opportunities for intellectual stimulation once in a while).

Here are a few things Nicole talked about that I thought were really cool:

1) In her new novel, Hier (or Yesterday, at the Hotel Clarendon), Nicole has interspersed one page from a found novel among the text, five times. It's completely unrelated to the rest of the text but at the same time by having it there five times, she forces the reader to read the text at least once. And the cool thing is that every time you come back to the text, you're coming at it from a different chronotope (as Bakhtin would say...and if she hasn't read Bakhtin I would be very surprised) - a different time and space. So you are always changed and therefore the text itself is never read the same way twice. Nicole compares it to being on the shore of an ocean and having a conversation, where a few words here and there are blown away by the wind. Cool.

2) Nicole's work has been translated into several languages. While she writes in French and is a native French speaker, she read to us in English from a text that had been translated by someone else. She spoke to us about the idea that you are a different person if you grow up in another language. Who, she asks, would she be, what kind of a woman would she be, if she had grown up in English, Italian, Spanish? For each language has a different way of breathing, and of being...

I have grown up sandwiched in between Canada's two solitudes - French, and English. Never completely at home in French while surrounded by a culture that is predominantly English, and where my mother tongue (the language first spoken to me by my mother) always felt like an uncomfortably big sweater where the sleeves had been rolled up. And at the same time, I am never completely whole in English alone - I feel as though a part of me is missing somehow when I live my life entirely in that language. So how do I then construct my subjectivism, in the spaces between these two languages? How do I breathe in this space between two silences?

3) Three, three...what was three again? Well, Nicole read some of her journal writings from being in Japan in 1982 - Tokyo, and Kyoto. And there are places in her narrative that I swear could have been written by me when I wrote Yume. The same sense of being lost in translation, so the saying goes. The same sense of becoming entirely wordless, and of being lost in a culture where holy sites and neon lights are cramped together. Where the sublime is nestled in the commonplace...weird...

How neat to be able to write every day...To get up in the morning and have words sew the spaces in between your breaths. To construct a world out of words...

Saturday, October 08, 2005


That's the Hopi word for "life out of balance"...and as an environmentalist I felt it was time for me to comment on the crazy things happening in our world. Today an earthquake may have killed upwards of 3,000 people in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. And it's finally time for me to speak up and say: life is definitely out of balance.

As a teenager, I first became aware of the environmental ills in our world when I stopped by the Body Shop and bought a sweatshirt depicting the hole in the Ozone layer, and asking for the ban of CFCs. Somehow, things seemed so black and white back then (curiously, the color of my sweatshirt, as well): hole in the ozone layer? My response was, let's send a sattelite into space, and make tons of little sparks that will emit enough ozone to plug the hole. And stop using CFCs.

Well it's more than 15 years later, and things no longer seem so black and white; nor do they seem like a few shades of grey... Perhaps the reason why I haven't commented on hurricanes Rita and the others is because, if I started I'd never stop... Some call this teetering on the edge of eco-depression: a sense that there is so much ill in the world, and there are no easy solutions. We're into October, and the weather is strange and the air is choked grey with smog, although the leaves have already started to change. I no longer know what the solutions are, since I myself cannot even wean myself from my car and still occasionally use my dishwasher when I get lazy. If I can't change my behavior, who's to say the rest of the world will, either?

Perhaps these earthquakes and hurricanes and the like are Gaia's way of saying: time to wake up...time to shift the scale back in balance...I have no idea anymore...

Friday, September 30, 2005

Encourage is synonymous with suggest, lest you forget...

Yep, it's friday. There is absolutely no one in my hallway. They're all at the OUF (or 'oeuf' as our Manager refers to it -- the humungous university fair for highschool kids). We never had such an event when we were choosing unis. Most of us in my highschool chose Ottawa U cause it was one of the only French places to study in Ontario, and we got money for doing it, too! I made it through one year of French Biology and then switched to the English Lit program. Go figure.

But man do I wish I could go back and talk to my guidance counselor who was more interested in finding me a date for the prom than in actually counseling me. No, he told me I'd be fine no matter what subject I chose, then proceeded to tell me about his job in a paper mill in his undergrad, and how he hoped his daughter would turn out like me. Thanks for the compliment, but what you should have said was, go into communication or journalism.

Then again, no one ever said life was easy. And I guess I appreciate things more now that I've had to work for them and figure things out on my own. I certainly don't think the last 12 years have been a waste of education. Anyways. Things have turned out just fine, and I'm happy with where I am now.

Oh yeah. I have to work the PIF tomorrow. Sit at a table and chat to pples. Fun stuff.

And btw: encourage is synonymous with suggest - anyone who disputes that is just trying to be difficult. You know who you are.

Toodles for now,

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Apparently, I am an idealist...

Your Personality Is
Idealist (NF)

You are a passionate, caring, and unique person.You are good at expressing yourself and sharing your ideals.
You are the most compassionate of all types and connect with others easily.Your heart tends to rule you. You can't make decisions without considering feelings.
You seek out other empathetic people to befriend.Truth and authenticity matters in your friendships.
In love, you give everything you have to relationships. You fall in love easily.
At work, you crave personal expression and meaning in your career.
With others, you communicate well. You can spend all night talking with someone.
As far as your looks go, you've likely taken the time to develop your own personal style.
On weekends, you like to be with others. Charity work is also a favorite pastime of yours.

Why do we fall in autumn?

We're officially into my favorite season - fall, or autumn as so many people around here seem to be calling it these days. Not as hot as summer or as cold as winter, cleaner than spring, it's full of crisp smells, warm colors and fire...

As kids we made pile after pile of leaves to jump and roll around in, our hair tangled in bright colors...That fascination still holds me but I am an adult now, and people give me strange looks if I opt to run through a pile of leaves, kicking them to the sky.

This year, I've decided I'm throwing myself back into those leaves, no matter the strange looks. Spring may be a time of renewal, but autumn is the season when the phoenix dies and rises again... And it is my time to rise up again, fueled by the warmth of raining fire.


Ceebie at Len and Dave's going away party...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Book clubs are not just for old ladies

I had my first book club meeting tonight, can you believe it? Lit major and never been in a book club before. I found it through the North York Library and it was a lot of fun. We're all women, most of them are retired, and there are about four of us in our late twenties/early thirties. Like everything, there were people who could really discuss the book well, others who were too shy to talk and then some who didn't get it at all...But it was fun and I highly recommend it.

The book we read was Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress...Can't remember the author but basically it's about these two young boys during the Cultural Revolution in China in the late sixties. Their parents are academics, and Mao, threatened by people who can think, sends the children of these academics off to the country to be 're-educated' by the peasants. They soon meet four-eyes, another young boy who has hidden a suitcase full of European literature under his bed. Eventually, the two boys steal the suitcase from four-eyes and use the literature to re-educate the little seamstress (who really ends up re-educating them about love and life).

The story itself is written like a fable, but there are so many neat themes and motifs running through this book. Perhaps the most poignant for me was the power of literature to inspire change and how literature is not only a great tool to take us away from reality but also helps us understand it better. For a long time I'd sort of dismissed my studies in English Lit as something that was 'fluff' or not real...I'd forgotten how important literature is to culture, change and thought...

I had a few 'very good point' responses from the group, so I'm pleased to say I don't think my English Lit training has gone to waste!

We have two new books to read and I'm excited to get to them. I may not even turn on the tv tonight!

More later,


Sunday, September 18, 2005

Mid-September and I am busy!

Wow, has it already been three weeks since my last entry? I have my laptop back, thank goodness, and I am busy! Summer will be over tomorrow, and then begins one of my favorite seasons: fall!

Anyways, so much is going on but at the same time not much. I missed a weekend going up to see my bro and baby Sebastien because I am busy working on my article and fact-checking someone else's. And man, do magazines ever need a fact-checker! This dude is really sloppy and I'm finding all kinds of mistakes. This is great experience and I am so glad that I've taken on the internship, but at the same time I'm dreading going over his article with him!

I'm also starting to plan what I'm going to do next once the winter issue is done. I'm expecting that my editor won't let me stay on for ever, and in fact it's probably a good idea for me to move on to another magazine. At the same time I'm not so sure that another magazine will let me do this part-time, but maybe my editor can pull some strings for me! The best thing would be if she could actually give me a part-time job, but I won't cross that bridge until I get there.

Other than that, the first draft of the chapter for the tourism guide is in, and that editor seemed pleased with it. i can't wait to see the final product with my name in print! I've got tons of neat book launches and events I can go to, and I'm doing tons of work for the magazine too. So much fun! If I ever forget how much fun this is, please flick me.

I am also looking for another job... We'll see how that goes. All I can say is even though I'll be happy to move on, I'll still miss helping the students and feeling like I've made a difference in someone's life. I'll still continue doing that, but in a different, way, I guess.

Anyhoo, procrastination time is over. One more thing though: Delna's back from Africa after three years and has brought an Irish boy with her! Maybe I should go there and come back married or something too!

Ok, tty all later,


Wednesday, August 31, 2005

We have all become cyborgs

It's now my fifth day without my laptop, and I am slowly starting to feel disconnected from the world. I had not realized how much of an extension of me my laptop was until I started missing the evening chats with friends, the opportunity to flip open my computer into another world, or the ability to pour my words onto my screen faster than I can write.

What Haraway wrote, dismissed by many as the crazed rantings of a supra academic, is now true: we have all become cyborgs, and computers have become an extension of our minds, and our selves.

Without our computers, where would we be?


PS: you'll notice the photos of Sebastien are no longer online: special request from bro and sis in law, who don't want photos of their son on the internet. I do as I am asked.

Monday, August 29, 2005

If you want something done, do it yourself

Maybe it's the monday morning blues. Maybe it's the pre-coffee haze. But right now, I've just about had it with men who say they'll do something, but prefer to play video games, watch tv, drink beer or scratch themselves instead. My dad still grumbles about all the things my ex-ex said he'd help him with and didn't (it seems he's having a harder time letting go that I am, but that's the subject of another entry).

Maybe it's cause men can't multi-task, as Carol says. They need to focus on chewing gum, then walking. But doing both together? FOGEDABOUDIT.

As far as I'm concerned, singledom has been good for me for many reasons, but one of them is: I now know how to do pretty much everything for myself. No more waiting around for the bf to fix that towel rail that's been broken for three years, which means the towels hang, musty and soggy, over the door. I know how to caulk a bath (not yet, but I will), swing a hammer or patch a hole in the wall. And if I can't do it, I know where to go to find someone who can, and will.

Next time, if I need something done, I'm doing it myself (with a little help from dad, of course).


Saturday, August 27, 2005

Nobody likes the cooties


I discovered this really great P2P software the other week that allows you to share music with friends...Being a sharing person, I decided to try it out. I listened to music I hadn't heard for years, and things were great. My iPod mini and I were happy.

Then...My computer started freezing on reboot. My email wasn't working. Now I've completely lost all of my email folders, including research, contracts, assignment letters, not to mention addresses.

Gone. All gone. And I have an article due on Sep 9th and no idea what it's about (and my editor's out of the country -- great timing)!

Who are these folks who sit around trying to find ways to break into other people's computers and destroy their personal property? I'd really like to have a heart to heart with one of these folks and find out what it is that makes them tick. What are they thinking? I know there's the challenge thing, but how is breaking into my computer and vandalizing it any different than vandalizing physical property? And would they like to have it done to them?

It had to happen to me eventually. Lesson learned: sharing music means sharing other people's viruses. And nobody likes the cooties.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Success means taking a leap of faith and giving it your all

Good news all (and by all, I probably just mean me since I bet no one's reading this!):

I've got another writing contract! It's for rewriting a chapter on parks & rec trails in Toronto, for the Toronto Colourguide (apparently it's sold in Indigo, Amazon and around the world and one of the other authors is the NOW mag entertainment editor, so I'm in good company!). The pay is lousy, but right now it's all about doing a good job and getting my name out.

So that's it folks: for years I've been afraid of failure and afraid to take the leap into writing. Although it's still early days, I'm finding that if you're willing to do the work, and you do a good job, people will start to know you. The magazine world is such a small world!

Anyways, that's all for now.

And as Angie Stone says, "my sunshine has come -- there's no more rain in this cloud". For now

More later


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

He's Just Not That Into You - Fact or fiction?

Ok, so as many of you know I'm a big Sex in the City fan (the show, and well, there's nothing wrong with a little sex in the city either!). Once I turned single, I suddenly appreciated the trials and tribulations of those four gals a whole lot more! Some might even say that my life eerily resembles that of Carrie on some days...

Anyways, there's this episode that spurned this book, He's Just Not that Into You. I bought it (on sale -- can't go wrong for $14) and for a long time hid it away in my bookshelf. But now we've started this informal book club -- the HJNTIY book club, and the book is making its rounds through the office.

I'm hoping that we'll be able to get together for Bellinis, Mojitos or cheap wine some time and commiserate (Allison, I know you don't like that word). For me, the book doesn't offer that much solace. Who cares if he's just not that into you? The real question is, WHY isn't he? For Tina, the book's a bit too negative and broad-brushed. Looking forward to seeing what others think of it!


Addendum: Just because he calls you doesn't mean he's necessarily into you. He might just be looking for directions.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Ceebie's first entry - a busy summer!

Well guys, it's been a busy summer, what with baby Sebastien being born, hiking the ChicChocs, paddling the Spanish River and Lenya leaving (jk Len...we still love ya here in the T-dot). Oh and let's not forget Julia and Kieran's wedding -- lots of happenings!

Here's one thing I learned on my canoe trip on the Spanish River, though: when a boulder gets in your way, back paddle, and ferry across the current. That's the best way to avoid tipping your canoe and getting wet!

I'm supposed to be working on an article now so I'll keep this first entry brief. I hope you enjoy my photos -- some of the highlights of this wild and crazy summer.

More to follow,