Last week an old, blind lady who I was helping walk to the grocery store told me I’m an angry and bitter person.
In my defense, I’d woken up that morning after having three consecutive dreams that had an unsettling tone to them. I was also PMS-y (never a good enough excuse on its own) and was dealing with some drama that apparently is the norm when it comes to dating a (much) younger guy. So, when this woman stopped me on my way to get dog food, let’s just say I wasn’t exactly in the mood to help her to her destination (which wasn’t on the way to mine.) However, I can’t, in my nature, leave an old, blind woman standing there on her own so I agreed to take her to a main intersection.
When I started things off by asking her if she’d ever considered getting a guide dog, our rapport went downhill very quickly. I only asked because my dog does therapy work, and it moves me to see how much of a difference she makes in people’s lives. But no, this old, blind woman wasn’t open to the idea of that. She knows how to live her life, she told me defensively – what works for her and what doesn’t. And despite never having spoken to anyone about guide dogs, she clearly wasn’t open to the idea.
I’ll blame my mood, but this really irritated me. I suppose the rest of our interaction (which took about 15 minutes, since she was walking sooooo slowly) was curt. She dropped the “You’re an angry and bitter person” on me while we still had a least five more blocks to go. I wasn’t going to leave her on her own, so I just kept going, without saying much.
Finally, when we reached the intersection, someone who knew the old lady ran across the street and took over. I didn’t say goodbye and she didn’t say thank you.
Our not-so-brief encounter festered inside of me for the rest of the afternoon. I alternated between feeling terrible for coming across as angry and bitter, to plain angry that this woman would be so closed-minded. By bedtime I decided to not let it bother me any longer. If I could come away with one life-changing lesson from that encounter, it was that I hoped to never be so stuck in my ways that it turned me into an undeniably unpleasant person.
A few days later, I found out the guy I’m dating – let’s call him Manjeep – was going to Whistler. He’d put it out on Facebook, and was hoping to round up some troupes to join him since he’d arranged a place to stay for the weekend.
The day before Manjeep was to leave, he still hadn’t found anyone to join him so I told him I’d come. For someone who is not much of a snow bunny (it’s too expensive and I fell down a hill, ungracefully, on a grade 9 ski trip) Whistler isn’t much of a draw. If you’re not into tourists, (as most elitist people aren’t) this isn’t the place to visit and if you’re not skilled on the hills, it seems quite pointless. However, as someone who hasn’t had a sleepover with a guy, much less a romantic getaway for years, a quick weekend away greatly appealed to me. I fantasized about getting cozy by the fire with fondue and wine at night after Manjeep had spent a long day on the hills, while I had stayed at the hotel and watched reality TV. In my mind, it was perfect.
The night before we were to go, Manjeep told me his friend was going to be joining us. My heart sunk and the romantic weekend dream bubble I’d created in my head was immediately popped. I told Manjeep I couldn’t join them. I knew myself – I’d be in the corner the whole time, sulking and being difficult. There was no way I could ever enjoy myself after I’d gotten so excited by the idea of a weekend away with Manjeep. One, there was no way I was sharing a room with two snowboarding bros, and two, why was I even going to Whistler? As someone who doesn’t do anything alphine-y, what was the draw?
Then I realized: I was reacting like the old, blind bitch. Set in my ways, with an iron-clad idea of how things are and how they were going to be. I made my mind up. I had to change.
I hope you’re ready for a happy ending. Turns out, despite its endless high-end shops, crowds of sophisticated Europeans and not-so-sophisticated snowbros, there’s a lot to take in, in Whistler. Like the following:
*I spent an afternoon at the Scandinave spa. Despite being the only solo person there (it was mostly couples and bachelorette parties) I reveled in their strict “shhhhh” policy in their steam room, sauna and cedar-scented solariums.
*The Amsterdam Pub – supremely mediocre food catered perfectly to stoners (and Europeans – they have schnitzel.)
*The art on the bridge that leads to the Olympic rings, with the stethoscopes, crows heads and skulls – surprisingly morbid and impressively beautiful. A nice, surprising contrast to the squeaky clean vibe of the village.
And you know that joke: Why are there no cocksuckers in Australia? Because they’re all in Whistler. Fuck that. All the Aussies I met were strapping, had handsome smiles and made excellent eye contact. And were all bouncers.
While my trip wasn’t perfect (I could have stayed longer and I do appreciate privacy when I’m staying in a hotel room with someone I’m intimate with) I would have regretted not going. Thanks to a blind bitch, all it took was opening my eyes and going against what I’m accustomed to, for me to have a good time.
January 10, 2013 1 Comment
More than any other time of the year, the last two weeks of December bring us an inundation of correspondence via letters, cards, blog entries, Facebook statues and emails of year end updates to remind us how much better everyone else’s lives are. Happy engagements, happy marriages, happy career advancements, happy new babies, happy families, happy friends, happy talented offsprings, happy accomplishments, happy things that you don’t have in your life.
December 30, 2012 No Comments
I’m not sure how many of you read my blog regularly enough to notice that I put something out every Thursday, and have been for more than two and a half years. (That’s the longest thing I’ve been committed to in the last decade.) If you do read my blog with any regularity, then you’ve probably noticed I’ve been thrown off my game in the last few weeks. Here’s why.
I’m currently entering a period of my career where I am a very busy freelance writer. After taking on a part-time job in a newsroom to get me out of my isolated freelance cocoon and bring some stability back into my life (both financially and mentally), I was then flooded with other writing opportunities. This is great. As someone who’s been freelancing for the last four years, this has always been the goal. I can’t afford to say no to opportunity – both financially and professionally. So I am currently spending much of my time writing. And getting paid to write. Get the fuck out.
That’s just about all I could ask for as someone who identifies as a writer, more so than anything else (woman, daughter, friend) – sometimes to my detriment. But oh well. It’s romantic. And how I see the world.
As a freelancer, I can also attest that you never know when this kind of stability will end. Nothing is ever secure, so when the work comes, you take it. And you do your best. There’s no other option for me.
As a result, I have very little time to do things I used to have a lot of time to do, like lazing on the couch, reading my Statscounter a zillion times a day, taking naps. Writing this blog with any sort of regularity.
But that doesn’t mean I’ve given up on it. Despite my new work-heavy schedule, I’m still finding time to write just about every day. It’s just that I’m not terribly inspired to write short-form – as in, anything under 1000 words.
I started I’m a Good Story to prove that I could do that, weekly. I enjoyed the challenge of coming up with something – anything – to write about in short-ish spurts on a regular basis.
But I’m changing as a writer. I’ve been increasingly more interested in long-form storytelling. Which is what I’m focusing on right now, on my own time— and it does take more time. It’s an attempt at writing a book, some of which I intend to excerpt here at some point.
This all sounds very dramatic, doesn’t it? We’re almost done.
I’m currently working with a super talented graphic designer on a rebrand/reinvention, mostly of my logo but also on what I want to do with this site. For now, that’s not entirely clear.
I wanted to let you know that this shift is unsettling. I feel like I’m failing in a way. I’m pretty certain that none of you will care that much, but hopefully this will help us understand where this is going.
Basically, what I’m saying is, we’re not done. I’m a Good Story, as a phrase and as my outlet, is something I feel pretty strongly about. I wouldn’t go so far to say I’m proud of it, but I’m content that I’ve committed to something this long that came entirely from my brain. I’m also happy – and maybe just a wee bit scared – that my life is changing, along with my role as a writer. That’s how we do, right?
All this is just my way of letting you, my cherished reader, know that I probably won’t be updating this blog weekly anymore. I am going to keep it going, I just haven’t figured out how. So, in the meantime, I want to sincerely thank you for caring and reading my work. It not only validates me and fills me with joy, but it also means the world to me.
Speak to/at you soon.
AKA The first person ever to milk the phrase “I’m a Good Story.”
June 28, 2012 2 Comments
After suffering from debilitating depression for a long time, things have hugely turned around for me. An influx of writing opportunities of have fallen into my lap, male attention is on the rise and my sister is alive. There was about a month there where I was hard-pressed to find something to bring me down. And then my rain boots fell apart.
I should warn you that this is probably going to sound materialistic, petty and first-world problem-y. Because it totally is. And if you’re not interested in fashion and branding, stop reading or read and then make fun of me in the comment section. I need to get this out.
I live in Vancouver, a city that sees something like 86 days of sunshine a year. If I’m going to invest in rain boots, they have to fulfill certain criteria because they are going to be my second skin.
Firstly, my rain boots must protect my feet from getting wet. Secondly, my rain boots must be easy to slip on and off since I’m going to be wearing them all the time. Finally, my rain boots shouldn’t make me look like a wittle girl about to go splash in some puddwules, all oversized and dumb looking. So it certainly helps if they look sleek and tall on me.
My Hunters have fit those simple criteria for the last two years. I wore them so much, they became my identifier. People would see me on the street, walking my dog, with my big red headphones and bright red rain boots. They were part of my uniform. I have worn them at least three times a week since first bought them. We are in love.
So when I came home from a rainy dog walk recently, only to find my feet damp and cold, I was thrown off. (Is there a more uncomfortable feeling than wet feet? Oh, wait I know… making out with someone who kisses like a reptile.) I inspected my beloved rain boots. They were cracked. My heart sank. These cost $150. That’s a lot of money to spend every two years. Eeeeh, I shrugged. Five minutes later, I was online, looking for a new pair. I really liked the metallic ones.
Instead of buying another set of boots off the bat, I contained myself and I decided to see what would happen if I contacted Hunter to complain. I’m usually too lazy and jaded to make an effort to complain about things but I wanted to see what would happen, especially since these boots were such a big part of my life. Several months earlier I had a lovely experience with UrbanEars, the Swedish makers of my fantastic headphones which I use everyday for work. After the cord of my pair started to fray, I wrote them a heartfelt note about how much I love their product (and their country.) I asked them how long they were intended to last (I was outside my warranty) and what I could do so it wouldn’t happen with the next pair.
Someone name Karelene was kind enough to write back, saying she was touched by my email and if I had my receipt and warranty, would see what she could do for me. I imagined Karelene as blond and attractive, like most Swedes are, with a warm smile and an inviting manner. I was tempted to see if Karelene would invite me to their offices to meet her in person, since I wanted a good excuse to visit my mother’s home country and make friends with attractive foreigners. I couldn’t find my receipt, but felt good when I went and bought another pair, knowing that they went out of their way to make me feel good as a loyal customer. (Man, this is starting to sound like a mom with a lot of time wrote this.)
The same can’t be said for Hunters. When I and wrote them an email, someone named Wendy wrote back a response that was canned and uncaring. I imagined Wendy to be miserable and lacking the glow that Karelene had. Her hair probably hid her face. She basically told me since I was outside their one-year warranty, they couldn’t do anything. When I dropped the “I’m a writer” threat, she still didn’t care. She was probably too busy eating lunch at her windowless desk. It felt empty, and didn’t give me the same feeling that Karelene’s response did. When I wrote back asking Wendy to give me three good reasons I should invest in another pair if they’re going to fall apart in two years, she never wrote back. I really wanted to stay loyal to their brand – what with all their cute colours and their tall, slender fit and the fact that they’re hands down my favourite pair of rubber boots I’ve invested in since I moved out West that make me genuinely happy – but I couldn’t. Wendy and Hunters clearly didn’t care about me. I couldn’t feel good giving them my hard-earned, yet easy to unload, cash.
While stoned on a day off during a recent trip to Toronto, I went into Get Outside and started chatting the ear off a really sweet sales person about my boots and how consumed I’ve become over the fact that I can’t bring myself to buy another pair. To my surprise she was totally sympathetic.
“Twenty years ago, you’d buy a pair of rubber boots and they’d last a lifetime,” she said. “Two years is not long enough to justify spending $150. I’d raise a stink if I were you.”
I smoked more pot and thought about how disposable everything’s become. How if I bought a pair of nice non-rain boots for $150 and they only lasted two years, I’d be equally as consumed. (Remember, everything’s going my way at this point in my life, so this is the stuff I am getting consumed over.) Why do record players from the 70s still work but my nearly three-year-old iPhone is turning into a piece of shit? What else could I do to get this unsettling, consumer-consumed feeling out of my system?
I just spent 1000 words telling you all about it. I suppose that’s a start.
Hi reader. All I’m looking for is recommendations on cute and functional rubber boots that aren’t Hunters. Feel free to leave a message in the comments or email me at email@example.com
June 14, 2012 7 Comments
After having the same cell phone for about 11 years, my dad recently invested in an iPhone. While he takes delight in using it to film and photograph everything he does, his new purchase is a bit concerning at times.
About eight years ago, I broke up with a long-term boyfriend whom, for the sake of this story, we’ll refer to as Duck. It was an intense but ultimately unhealthy relationship that I needed to get out of my system as quickly as possible.
A few days after it was officially over, I started spending some quality intimate time with a fellow who was notorious for having an exceptionally large…um… thing between his legs Comically so, in fact. It was so hilariously enormous that I dubbed him with the nickname “Mr. Monster Cock”.
One day, while walking through a park with said fellow, I ran into my friend Dave’s girlfriend and her dog. Although I’d spoken to most of my close friends about my recent flings, not many people had yet met Mr. Monster Cock and were starting to question his existence.
I made a point of stopping to chat with Dave’s girlfriend and introducing her to my new companion (by his formal name, of course.)
A few hours later, I texted Dave.
Your lady met Mr. Monster Cock. He exists! He and his giant cock most certainly exist!
He never responded.
A few days later, I met up with Dave to hang out with him and his dog and watch Top Model.
“Hey,” I said. “You never responded to my text about Mr. Monster Cock.”
“What text?” he asked. “I never got a text from you.”
This was a time before iPhones existed, when texts weren’t conveniently displayed as conversations and could be easily tracked and monitored. No, my shitty cell phone could barely store 15 texts at a time. I had to constantly delete my “sent” files.
Dave and I quickly realized — to my horror — that I’d sent that somewhat indiscreet text to the wrong person. Shit. I quickly looked up my contacts to see who could have possibly received it
I looked at the possible options. None of them were good.
Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit!
My musings about Mr. Monster Cock had either been sent to a) my dad or b) my ex-boyfriend. Great.
Dave nearly pissed himself laughing, while I went pale with shock.
To this day, I’ve never figured out who actually got that text. My ex-boyfriend Duck and I didn’t end on good terms, but if it was sent to him, he never brought it up as ammunition in the many arguments we had after we split up.
As for my dad… If he received that message, I’m assuming that he didn’t understand what was going on. He’s slow when it comes to a lot of things. But I don’t know for sure. I’ve never had it in me to ask him.
So what can I learn from this experience? Especially now, in the age of snapping and sending dismembered private parts to potential suitors?
It’s pretty simple. Be really, really careful whom you send that shit to. A world of embarrassing possibilities await you if you don’t. Like trying to explain your interest in monster cocks to your suddenly iPhone-savvy dad.
Hi reader. It’s me. Show me love in the comments below or send me love via email, firstname.lastname@example.org!
May 31, 2012 1 Comment
For the past few months, I’ve gotten my dad, Avi, an accomplished filmmaker and noted curmudgeon, to critique videos made (mostly) by people I know. The segment’s proved to be popular, as apparently everyone loves a grumpy, hard-to-impress judgmental ESL film snob who likes next to nothing. This time around we’re doing things a bit differently. I got Avi to upload one of his first indie films, Tarantula, onto YouTube. I sent it to the musicians, artists, directors and editors that he’s critiqued in the past, with hopes they’d give me their thoughts and feelings on his work.
No one had time to watch it, which, I suppose, is the ultimate harsh review. (I know for me personally, I’d prefer someone read my stuff and hate it then not read it at all.) Anyhow, here’s Avi’s opinion on Avi’s work.
Tell me about the history of this film.
I think it was 1972. My friends and I decided to make a film so we wrote it down. Me and this actor in the film, with the glasses. I met him on another film. I was an editor on feature films. I was 26 or 27. I wrote and shaped it. It was different when it started. I put a little meat on it.
How would you summarize the film?
It’s, what do you call it, three people, one who depends on the other. But they cannot do without one another. Each one plays a part in the relationship. It’s an algorithm of a situation in life. But the style at the time, it was influenced by artsy farty industry of the time. You know Ingmar Bergman…(calling to my mother) who are the others Rosa? (My mother: “Fellini”) They inspired us and we made something similar.
Did you produce it yourself?
Everything was donated by friends and film studios. Because they knew me. We didn’t spend any money on it. We rallied the government for funding but they didn’t want to give us anything. But we carried on. We got a camera from one guy. Ariflex. Film we didn’t buy. We used leftover film from negatives. We’d use 50 feet, 60 feet. Thirty-five feet is one minute. Somehow we put it together. The lab was free. Everything free. But it was a beautiful era, editing with film. Splicer. Editing with splicer. And pencil crayon. I used the viola, an editing machine. We filmed on a friend’s kibbutz, a Six-Day War widow, who wanted to get out of her trauma. She helped with editing. The art director got us some stuffed birds. Mom made sandwiches.
(My mother butts in at this point and goes on a rant about how the lead female character was originally suppose to be played by a famous actress but she dropped out, then they got a real deaf actress but she was hard to direct so my dad commanded my mom to play the lead and she was all like “Go fuck yourself” and then they found the actress in the film, who was unknown but good for the part.)
At what point did you submit it to film festivals?
I moved to Canada and my friends stayed behind and said, let’s give it a shot. He sent it to Tel Aviv film festival and Chicago and we scored in each one of them.
How did winning awards make you feel?
Awards for me are just dust collectors.
Did it open doors?
I didn’t need any doors opened for me. I was working at the time. I’ve never been unemployed for half a day. From one project to the other. All those trophies were just nice statues. It didn’t open doors or anything. I never connected the two together.
What do you think of the film now?
It’s very naïve. It’s a young man’s film. Part of this time. Everyone looks like they have a broom up their ass. So serious and pretentious. At that time everybody liked it. But now, come on. It’s like looking back at your Grade 8 homework. Times change, you change. If I saw the first two minutes, I’d fall asleep too. But at the time, it worked.
Wanna say harsh things about Avi’s work? Now’s your time dear reader! Leave a message below or send me a full detailed email at email@example.com…nothing you say can hurt Avi as he doesn’t really have feelings. So go mental!
May 24, 2012 No Comments
Right now just happens to be one of those times that I need more love than usual. Someone in my immediate family is having open heart surgery next week, so I’m a bit concerned and kind of consumed.
When I’m consumed, it’s hard for me to write long, insightful narratives. So instead, I’m going to write short, snapshot-like paragraphs about things that have captivated or inspired me lately, since my life has certainly not been dull over the past few months. Oh, and feel free to send me some lovin’. You can never get enough of that.
Beauty in unusual places
I pulled down a guy’s underwear recently and a pink cloud of cherry blossom petals floated out of them, landing all around me. It felt like I was in an anime cartoon. It was beautiful and a complete contrast to the rest of the evening, which was the polar opposite of clean. (He’s way too famous to read this blog, so this isn’t technically kiss-and-telling.) Spring is in the air — or at least in my immediate air space.
This guy is always at the one dog park that I visit with my dog Dutchie. He arrives with his granddaughters’ dog in tow and giddily tosses the ball for her. He smiles his toothless smile as his lil’ buddy runs into the water to retrieve the ball and he gently pats her when she comes back to him panting and soaking wet. I told him that it’s nice to see him so happy at the park, staying active and engaged.
“What else am I going to do?” he asked me in a voice that sounds eerily similar to that elder perv character in Family Guy. “I’d be wasting away alone if it weren’t for her.”
I learned how to do fishtails and turn off my brain
Last week, I bought a gorgeous APC blouse that’s got a virginal, fancy-French-tablecloth, running-barefoot-in-a-field vibe to it. I figured it would look really good with fishtail braids. I put it out on the Internet that I wanted to learn how to do them and a few people sent me the above video.
Sure, it was super informative and now I know how to braid my hair into fishtails. But the best part of this video is that it shows Lauran Conrad endlessly brushing and braiding her hair.
There’s something about watching a vapid Californian girl, playing with her beautiful, shiny hair, that’s hypnotic. At one point she says: “It’s important not to overthink the fishtail braid. Once you cross a piece over, let it go and just focus on the next piece.”
I’ve decided to apply this wise advice to many aspects of my life.
Some guy fell in love with me at first sight
There’s no way to tell the following story without sounding like I’m conceited, so just let me have my moment.
I was at an Afro disco DJ thing recently when a guy stopped me and asked me what colour my tights were. I was wearing a grey dress, grey boots and bright yellow tights that my friend had picked up for me in Paris. He brought me over to the bar so he could see them better.
“You’re the girl in the yellow tights!” he said. “My friends and I saw you cross the street earlier today. You really left an impression on us.”
He lives in Seattle and was the opening DJ for the main DJ we were there to see. He looked at me with wide eyes and told me that if I needed a dance partner, he’d be happy to fill the role.
It was sweet and flattering. I’d been with four different (and completely unavailable) guys in the past two weeks, but none of them had been so sincere, sweet and genuinely enthusiastic towards me. It’s too bad I’d reached my guy quota at that point, because otherwise I’d have been pretty open to his offer.
I gave him my card and he emailed me the very next day, telling me how nice it was to meet me. I thanked him for making me feel so beautiful. I meant it.
You’re reading this
While we’re on the conceited path… At least once every few days, acquaintances go out of their way to tell me how much they love this blog. I never feel shy when I get these compliments, since they’re always so nice to hear.
I love that you read this blog and I love that most of you really enjoy it. It makes me feel like my time, effort and brain-power aren’t just disappearing into a void.
So keep sending me love. I want to blow my head up to the size of a hot-air balloon.
Thanks for reading, dear reader. I love you. Now show me some love. Send me email love at firstname.lastname@example.org or like love on Facebook . Barely anyone’s clicked on that shit. If everyone who read this Liked me on Facebook, there’d be, like, 1000 likes.
May 17, 2012 4 Comments
Recently, I experienced one of the highlights of my year when I attended the Vancouver book launch for Buffy Cram’s Radio Belly. Buffy is my former UVic creative writing classmate and someone who has always intrigued and wowed me. She was this supremely talented, wise and quiet girl with beautiful bouncy curls and a cherub face. I had always wanted to know more about her. So it was really thrilling to see her accomplish something so grand – a fancily designed published book of fiction with her name on it! How many of your peers who are writers have published works of fiction? I’ll answer that for you: Not many. I recently asked her to answer some questions about writing, life and inspiration to get a sense of how the girl does it. She was nice enough to write back.
What did you think about the UVic writing program?
I started at UVic when I was 18. I had just come back from my “Australia -trip”—you know, the one most people do in their early 20s where they go wild, learn to surf and/or scuba dive and find themselves. I entered university thinking I was all worldly and unique—I wanted to be a journalist for National Geographic. Then, in my first journalism class, I met a whole bunch of other kids who had also just gotten back from Australia (or Thailand, Mexico, whatever) and also wanted to write for National Geographic. I recall our professor standing up at the front of class and explaining how hard it would be to get published in that kind of magazine. She tried her hardest to get us excited about writing for community newspapers and campus publications that term but I could already feel myself backing away from journalism. Over the next few years I found my way, slowly but surely, into fiction. UVic was a great place to be because there were courses situated all along the way between journalism and fiction. I ended up finding a home for a long time in creative non-fiction, which is how I first got published.
What were your impressions of me from writing class?
I remember sensing the east in you. I knew you were a Toronto girl and that always intimidated me a bit. You were pretty and blonde and smart and infinitely likeable. I remember wanting to hang out with you more but I was insanely busy those days, holding down three jobs in addition to studying. I often felt like I was missing out back then—like everyone else was having the quintessential “college experience” while I was at work. Is it true? Were you having more fun than me?
(Eds note: I had fun sometimes but I was actually jealous that you had all these jobs and were making money.)
Tell me about your journey after you were done Uvic. You’ve seemed to have gone all over the place.
After UVic I taught ESL in Vancouver and then Montreal. I had students from all over the world and that made me want to travel again. My boyfriend at the time was from Boston and since it wasn’t easy to live and work in each other’s countries, so we decided to travel and teach. We spent the next few years in Europe, Asia and South America. At some point during my travels I decided to start my MFA with UBC’s optional residency program, which meant I could do my course work from anywhere the world. My MFA luckily led to publication.
Where are you currently based?
After many years away, I’m back in Victoria. I plan on doing a lot of writing at the UVic library this summer. When I meet our doppelgangers I will befriend them!
Tell me about your writing process. I picked your brain a bunch at your book launch and you seem to have a similar process to me. Like you, I can’t write more than four hours at a time. You also said you do freestyle writing. How much of your work comes out of that? I write 1000 words before I get out of bed, morning-page style, but it’s more diary stuff than stuff I’d be able to use in my work.
Wow, I admire you for writing in bed every day! I try to write first thing when I get up too but most of the time I fail. I usually aim for an hour or two of “free writing” at some point before noon. This is the fun stuff, the thing that keeps me going and makes it all worthwhile. Then, later, I might go out to a library or coffee shop and work for another couple of hours on a specific project. Getting out of the house to write helps me feel like I’m a real person doing actual work rather than a monster who wears pajamas all day. (Eds note: Yoga wear softens the blow…highly recommend it.) Sometimes if I’m in a really good phase (and if I don’t have to go to work-work) I’ll do another 1-2 hour shift at night with a glass of wine. But there are many, many days where I’m lucky if I can just get one hour of freewriting done in the morning. I try to hold myself to at least that. As long as I do my one hour of freewriting I’m still allowed to call myself a writer, plus I’m a much nicer person to be around.
How did you become an author? How was your work first published? Do you just write and send it out? I want to be a published author one day…tell me everything there is to know!
I don’t think any writer ever knows what they’re doing or where they’re going when they start out writing their first book. Even at the story level, I never once sat down to “write a story.” All along it’s been one slow sentence at a time. All along there has been uncertainty and self-doubt. Being in school helped ease some of that uncertainty because at least I knew I would get a degree at the end of it all. And being in school, going through the workshop process on specific pieces is what gave me the confidence to send stuff out. As for publishing…my first published piece was a memoir piece I wrote in my UVic days called “Man Hands.” Much later, when I was at UBC I sent it out to Prairie Fire’s annual writing contest. It won third place and then went on to win a National Magazine Award. From then on I was a contest junkie. I kept submitting and racked up some wins and some honourable mentions. This gave me the courage to keep writing. I knew eventually it would amount to something, I just didn’t know when. I was prepared to keep writing stories and submitting for the next ten years if that’s what it took. I recommend every aspiring writer does the same: find a good writing group, rework and rework your stuff, and then send it out to contests.
How’s it been since the book was launched? I was certainly impressed at your Vancouver reading. It was so inspiring to see you so accomplished. You fit right in there with the other authors and read so well. It was like you were born to be there. How have you felt about this press tour?
Wow, thanks! To be honest—and I want to be honest here because it’s one of the things I admire most about your blog—getting published has been a pretty anxious and emotional thing. It’s strange going from being a reclusive pajama-wearing writer to being on stage. It’s strange to have my writing—such a private thing—become suddenly public. I feel like I’ve always written for my own mental and emotional well-being. Having readers is something I never really thought about until it was upon me. I was terrified for about six months leading up to the publication of the book. But now that I’m out there meeting readers, I’m overwhelmed by how wonderful they are. Readers are such warm and smart and compassionate people. I’d like to live the rest of my life in the company of readers!
What’s it like getting reviewed?
It’s a very weird experience. It’s a lot like a total stranger coming up to you at a party and psychoanalysing you based on your clothing or hair. Actually, it’s like having a whole bunch of strangers come up and do this one after another. One says your hair is funny. Another says it’s too serious. One says your clothes are cliche. Another says they’re quirky and alienating. But in the end, a lot of these different opinions cancel each other out. Besides, it’s just my clothing and hair they’re talking about.
Are you a full-time writer? Do you do other stuff to support yourself? Can you afford peanut butter AND jelly?
I always thought it would be dreamy to be a full-time writer but this past year when I was finishing up the book I became one by default and, actually, it turned me into a total weirdo. I stopped brushing my hair and started playing games on my phone. I couldn’t afford peanut butter or jelly. It made me realize that those other things I “have” to do to survive—like teaching, bartending, sewing—actually keep me sane. For the next year or so, while working on my upcoming novel, I’m going to be (re)launching a small line of handbags that I make from repurposed leather jackets. It’s fun and I can do it from home. This means I might become a weirdo again, but I suspect that’s what it takes to write a novel.
What’s inspiring you these days?
I’m so thrilled to be back in Canada where I speak the language. I love going to flea markets and asking people where they got the stuff they’re selling. I love talking to old people on busses. I like observing people at Bingo halls and breakfast buffets. And I like being able to talk to kids again.
Are you still writing while this is happening?
No and it’s killing me. It’s such an odd thing—I’ve done all this work to get recognized as a writer and now that it’s happening, I can’t get to the writing.
May 10, 2012 No Comments
On my personal website, I sometimes write updates about my actual, non-blog life and post photos of my friends and sometimes if they’re famous or niche famous, I’ll tag them. One friend in particular that gets more Google hits on my site than any other is Ali Liebert. She’s a Canadian actress who just scored a Leo nomination for her role as the butchy lesbo on the show Bomb Girls, which is one of the highest rated dramas in Canadian TV history. She also just launched a production company and is generally owning life in so many ways. People from all over the world want to know about Ali so they Google her name and wind up on my site. I thought I’d exploit her internet popularity and the fact that she’s my friend and catch up with her to share in the excitement of her life.
It should be known that a few years ago, Ali and I were part of this organically formed support group, for lack of a better word, called The Blazing Pussies (she came up with the name). It consisted of three actors and two writers, all female, who’d meet up weekly and talk about goals and struggles and everything else that we were going through. So basically, I’m really proud to know where Ali once was in her life and see her come so darn far. Without further adieu, here are the best parts of a chat we recently had.
Ali Liebert on her newly launched production company, Sociable Films.
Michelle Ouellet, Nicholas Carellastarted and I started it over a year ago. Everything’s coming together. I went to Elton John’s Oscar party two years ago with Cory (Monteith from Glee), I was sitting next to S. Epatha Merkerson, from Law and Order. Embarrassingly enough I didn’t know who she was. She asked me if I was an actress. And I asked if she was too. We get chatting and she grasped my hand like she was grasping the younger generation and she was like “Don’t just be an actress. Make your own work.” And I was like “Bing!”
We’re going to be in the business section of the Sun this week and we had an article in Playback online. It’s a trio. We’re all producers, co-owners, co-creators. Our roles are going to be shifting project per project. We started an improv feature called Afterparty and we’re going to be shooting on weekends in June. It’s like a big co-operative. The three of us are unbreakable. We’ll read anyone’s script, anyone who wants to work with us, we’re open. It’s a group collaborative program.
Ali Liebert on people Googling her name.
I’m happy people are looking on your site although I think you told me once that people were looking for naked photos of me. And that’s weird. And no one’s going to find shit.
Ali Liebert on the last time I saw her, in New York, and we went to Hannibal Buress’s night at the Knitting Factory and we were sexy dancing after the show. (I was sexy dancing because I wanted to attract the attention of Aziz Ansari, which didn’t work.)
Sometimes I dance when I feel awkward. It’s just that awkward time after the show, and you make me dance. I can dance anywhere. I wasn’t trying to attract suitors because I was already in love with my boyfriend.
Ali Liebert on being in a relationship when she’s clearly desired by fans, based on the amount of people who Google her name looking for photos of her. Also, Ali Liebert on playing a butch lesbian with a rabid internet following.
I was doing an interview with After Ellen. The interviewer knew I was straight, she’d done her detective work. She knew I was just another straight girl playing a lesbian. I have never had the type of fan base that I’ve had with Betty McCrae (her character on Bomb Girls). There’s a Fuck Yeah Betty McCrae Tumblr site. All the videos to songs and gifs. It’s so crazy. It’s never happened to me before. It’s exciting. I don’t look at too much stuff because it’s me, but it’s not me. I have a detachment when I look at it. It’s like I’m looking at someone else in a weird way. I’ve seen naked sketches of my character Betty and the character Kate. And there’s full on fan fiction. It’s flattering that people are spending time thinking about it. It’s wonderful for the show, and it’s also really important and amazing to have a visually butch lesbian on TV. Just to represent a more masculine, butchy lesbian is great. I’m really glad to portray her and I don’t know what’s up for next season.
Ali Liebert on having a really top notch year as an actor.
Two thousand eleven was amazing for me because it was all dramatic roles in really legit, dramatic pieces. Considering I almost quit acting in 2010, it’s crazy that I hit a wall, didn’t want to do the grind anymore and then I had the best year of my career. I did a Robert Townsend film, and Foxfire (based on the novel) and then Bomb Girls. Then this year is blossoming into a kick-ass year too. I have a Leo nomination, production company, a second season of Bomb Girls. I’m fucking really happy dude.
Hi reader(s). Could you do me a favor and Like me on Facebook. Popularity means a lot to me. Or share this with your friends. I’d like to get the good word out on this blog. Also, it’s really nice to hear from you and I’ve been hearing from quite a few of you lately, which seriosuly makes my day, so don’t stop. Send all love or whatever else to email@example.com, yay!
May 3, 2012 No Comments
I recently listened to an interview with Stephen Merchant, the tall, spectacled, less-famous co-creator of The Office. The original one. At one point he was talking about dealing with fans and I felt like he was speaking directly to me.
“I get people come up to me and sometimes it’s a hassle, sometimes it’s charming and quick…lingering with cameras is a problem,” he said.
Stephen Merchant is the only celebrity I’ve gone out of my way to stop and say hello to, but it was something I had very little control over.*
During a particularly bad breakup, I spent a lot of time watching the British Office. It was one of the only things that made me feel better. It got to the point where I recited lines from the show while I’d watch. If there were some sort of Office trivia game, I’d have mastered it.
I also have a thing for extraordinarily tall men with glasses. So it was natural for me to develop a thing for Stephen Merchant, when I’d watch the DVD extras over and over and over again.
While I have a bored fascination for celebrities and fame, I’m not that bowled over by it. I think having dated someone who went through the cycle of fame, I was able to have a unique perspective into what it’s all about. (To give you an idea, he was playing Coachella and gracing the cover of NME while we were together.) Sure, if I’m dining with someone who’s considered famous and they get recognized, I certainly get a kick out of it, and I’m not going to deny that when I saw Jay Z last time I was in New York, I got a bit of a thrill. But in a time where degenerate teenaged moms are gracing the same newsstands as glamorous movies stars, fame has lost its luster.
But back to Stephen Merchant. It was about four years ago, around the last time I had an actual boyfriend. I was over at his house when I got a voicemail from my good friend, um, we’ll call her Merida. Unlike me, Merida grew up in a small town that didn’t have celebrities around for many miles. As a result, when she’d see someone around town in Vancouver who’d been on the ol’ TV box, like Owen Wilson or the guy from Swollen Members, she had no shame to go out of her way to say something and then call and text all her friends about it. Let’s just say she wasn’t terribly smooth.
I’d cottoned Merida on to the Office and my love of Stephen Merchant. So when I got a brains-blown-out excited message from her telling me he was having breakfast next to her, I couldn’t help but scream. My boyfriend at the time thought I was a piece of shit.
In her detailed message, she described what he was wearing (jeans, a green t-shirt and a baseball cap), and what he was doing (reading the paper) and what he ordered (eggs). I called her back and we squealed at the idea that he was in the same city as us, walking the same streets, breathing the same air.
That night, I was working an evening shift at the Canadian Press. I hadn’t brought my dinner so I decided to head out to Wendy’s for a burger. (This was before Robson Street had some decent meal options.)
As I opened the front doors of my work building, there was Stephen Merchant, walking directly in front of me. My eyes nearly popped out of my head.
In a split moment, and without thinking, I went up to him and told him I was a big fan.
“Thank you,” he said, clearly uncomfortable.
I don’t quite remember the gist of the conversation but I did get a few words out of him. He’d just seen that Jean Claude Van Dam movie, JCVD, and highly recommended it. Then he excused himself as he’d left his hat at the theatre.
If I hadn’t of gotten a detailed Stephen Merchant report from Merida that morning, I would have felt like he was using that as an excuse to get out of an extended, awkward chat with a superfan. But she’d mentioned he was wearing a hat, which he wasn’t when I had stopped him. So at least he wasn’t lying to get out of talking to me.
It’s hard to say if Mr. Merchant would have classified our brief interaction as a hassle or charming. I know for me, it was just one of those things that were meant to have happened – at least for the sake of dissecting the story, and the idea of fame, so many years later.
* That’s not true, actually. I once excitedly tried to corner Natasha Lyonne backstage at a Hot Hot Heat show. She looked at me like I was about to throw a mesh net on her with the intention of kidnapping and skinning her. To be fair, her and I had a past together, which in that moment she seemed to have forgot. We’d attended the same Israeli army-training program as teenagers. Most of the night backstage at the show, she completely ignored me until she realized my boyfriend was in the band. Then she was nice. She wasn’t doing too hot at that point in time but I’ve heard she’s since cleaned up her act, which makes me happy.)
I want to hear about your run-in/relationship with celebrities, cause that shit don’t get old. Leave me a comment below, on Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, yeah!
April 25, 2012 No Comments