Quotable: The Voyage Out

Friday, 30 November 2012
“They would talk of such questions among books, or out in the sun, or sitting in the shade of a tree undisturbed. They were no longer embarrassed, or half-choked with meaning which could not express itself; they were not afraid of each other, or, like travellers down a twisting river, dazzled with sudden beauties when the corner is turned; the unexpected happened, but even the ordinary was lovable, and in many ways preferable to the ecstatic and mysterious, for it was refreshingly solid, and called out effort, and effort under such circumstances was not effort, but delight.” 
–Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out

High Five Toy Drive

Thursday, 29 November 2012

There’s a big chance you already know Steve Gillon. He’s kind of a local celebrity as of late, appearing in Hamilton Magazine and on INDI 101.5. He’s also a personal friend (Oh, the dance parties we have had!). Steve is one of those guys who doesn’t just donate to charity when the holidays roll around, but he’s busy all year, organizing events and making the city an even better place to live. Most recently, Steve has launched the High Five Toy Drive for McMaster Children’s Hospital.

So many of us in this city have been affected by McMaster Children’s Hospital and the amazing work it does. If you’re lucky enough to have never had to visit a pediatric cancer ward, I’ll loan you my story to encourage you to donate to the High Five Toy Drive. My favourite little buddy, Evan, was only a toddler when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, and he spent more than two years in and out of McMaster Children’s Hospital, including his fourth birthday in ICU when he was given only a 50 per cent chance of survival. He wouldn’t be here today without such a fantastic facility in our city.

Drop off a packaged toy to any one of the High Five Toy Drive’s five drop-off locations this holiday season. You can also make a monetary donation at Dr. Disc or Strut Salon, both in downtown Hamilton.

Keep watching High Fives 2 Help Lives for more about Steve and all the amazing things he’s doing.

My best buddy

Steeltown Speakeasy

Wednesday, 21 November 2012
Our monthly Lit Lunches have been growing, with new writers, editors, and bloggers joining us every month to eat good food, talk about books and writing, and connect with one another.

In between guzzling wine and snacking on finger foods, we’ve tried to come up with ideas to keep Hamilton’s literary community growing, and one idea was a monthly reading series. We’re happy to announce that the inaugural Steeltown Speakeasy will be happening tomorrow night at 8:00 at the Baltimore House. So far, three brave local writers will be taking to the stage to share their work.

For more information, or just to say hello, follow the Steelcity Speakeasy on Twitter at @SpeakeasyHamOnt. And please join us tomorrow night! Expect photos and a website soon.

Quotable: Beach Strip

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

"My father said that when he was a boy in the 1950s, excursion boats steamed across the bay from the city during the summer, carrying people to the beach strip amusement park, where picnic tables were set among trees near the shore and kids played on a safe, sandy beach. No one we knew went to Florida in the winter or to the northern lakes int he summer. No one we knew could afford it. Everything they needed for fun was on the beach strip. I suspect many of the old people who live on the strip today were once kids who rode the excursion boats to the amusement park back then, giddy with anticipation for rides on the merry-go-round, the ponies, the Octopus, and the Ferris wheel. The rides are gone, but the people remain, maybe because their goal as children was to always be near those long-gone amusements on the strip, and living here in rented rooms and peeling-paint cottages is the only ambition they truly achieved in their lives.
— John Lawrence Reynolds, Beach Strip

Photos courtesy of the Hamilton Public Library, Local History & Archives

Dear Teen Me

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

My own personal “Dear Teen Me” letter is part of the Dear Teen Me Blog Tour.

Dear Teen Me,

You’re sixteen and it’s a Saturday night. Tonight, all of your friends are out with their boyfriends, and you’re feeling sorry for yourself. You’re probably drinking a raspberry tea with three sugars and watching the first season of Dawson’s Creek. You won’t believe me now, but, ultimately, Joey chooses Pacey.

Life is good for you right now, even if you’re too angsty and mopey to admit it. I know you think you’re doused in boy repellent, but you’re not. In your twenties, you’ll run into some of the guys you know now and they’ll tell you that you terrified them with that serious look on your face and confident strut.

So, smile. But keep that confident strut!

You'll be surprised to hear it, Teen Me, but you actually have a lot figured out. I know you’re sleeping through first-period math almost every morning, and I’m here to tell you to keep doing it. You’re going to fail that class, and you know what? It’s not going to matter. Relax now because the next ten years are going to be crazy.

Right now you think you're headed to the university you have you heart set on, but you don’t really want to go there. You think you want to go there because the building on the front of the brochure kind of looks likes a medieval castle and because a guy who once loaned you a pen is going there, but you’ll snap out of this Felicity moment soon.

Instead, you'll move to Ottawa. It won’t feel brave at the time. It just sort of happens. But it is brave, and it’s the best decision you’ll make in the next ten years. Here you’ll take five or six classes a semester, work nearly full time, but still manage to have a lot of fun. And I mean a lot of fun. You’ll find your footing there. I won't spoil the fun for you by giving away all the details. You'll get to experience them all on your own.

But I’m skipping ahead of myself here. You’re still sixteen. And you still have two more years of high school to get through. You’re actually going to have a lot of fun, but there will be bad times, too. Next year, a car is going to wrap itself around a tree, and you’re going to feel really fucked up for a while, but that’s OK. You’ll listen to a lot of angry music, and you’ll make it through.

You’ll be happy to hear that the boy repellent is going to wear off before you graduate from high school, and you’re going to get to fall in love. And I mean the real kind of sappy, disgusting movie type love you’re probably scoffing at right now. He’s going to be a musician. And a chef. And he’s going to spoil the hell out of you. People are going to tell you that long-distance relationships don’t work. Just wait. You’re going to prove a lot of people wrong.

So, stop worrying so much, Teen Me, because things turn out just fine. Enjoy your quiet Saturday night by curling up with a good book, because soon these nights are going to be rare.

You at almost thirty.

P.S. Do me a favour and read Catcher in the Rye while you're still young enough to empathize with Holden Caulfield. You'll pick it up a half dozen times in your twenties, only to abandon it.
Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Margaret Atwood retweeted me, and I almost spit out my morning coffee.
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