Thursday, February 23, 2017


I went to the Saskatchewan African Fashion Show on Saturday night—my friend Iryn was one of the organizers and invited me as her plus one. I'd never been to a real fashion show before, but I've seen every single episode of America's Next Top Model, so I think it was high time.

I admit that I Googled WHAT DO PEOPLE WEAR TO FASHION SHOWS THESE DAYS? Several sources seemed to agree: don't wear all black, but don't go crazy. Wear a statement piece. Wear your crazy tall heels. Carry an expensive designer purse.

Okay, I said to Google. Noted. And then I went to my closet and noticed that I don't have crazy tall heels, or an expensive designer purse, or a statement piece (what even in the heck). I do have lots of black. So. I wore the exact opposite of what one is supposed to wear to a fashion show. LUCKILY, I live in Regina, not New York. So I hoisted my $16 purse to my shoulder and pasted on my most fashion-forward smile—and had, might I add, a completely lovely time.

There were some solid musical interludes (courtesy of Scott Richmond) and the emcee was one of those people you want to find afterward and become friends with LIKE NOW. Plus—and this was the whole point—it was so fun to see these beautiful African-inspired pieces and the people who created them.

If you're in Regina, you should come to next year's and sit with me. (And help me dress myself beforehand because I just...)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Family Day

This weekend, Sullivan discovered the goodness that is Paul McCartney on vinyl. Here's the thing: I didn't know I owned any Paul McCartney records but, as it turns out, I own three. Or Barclay does. Or maybe they're Sullivan's? Where the heck did they come from? None of us know; they just appeared on the pile between Stevie Nicks and Monty Python yesterday and we've been spinning them ever since on the boxy old record player Barclay's dad gave us.

Sullivan has been thrilled—thrilled—at finding yet another music source. He's like a little sound archaeologist, digging around every room in our house and dredging up everything that makes noise of any kind, carefully uncovering it and figuring it out and sharing it with us as though we couldn't possibly know what it is or what it does. It's my favourite thing.

So that set the tone for our day off yesterday: I came out of the bedroom in the morning to find Sully sitting on the floor beside the crackling record player, grinning like he'd struck rare dinosaur bones, Barclay leafing through the album liner, a half-finished puzzle on the table. We didn't have anywhere we needed to be; everything felt settled and cozy and sweet.

We made a big brunch, chilled for a bit, and then walked to the Conexus for Waskimo (a little winter festival here in Regina). It was the perfect day for it—+7 and sunny (for those of you in the warmer climates: yes, we consider that good outdoor weather. I even saw a few people in shorts and t-shirts yesterday).

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Winter in Saskatchewan is unavoidable, long, and extreme—so why don't we have more events like this to give ourselves something to look forward to? Having something to look forward to, even something little or silly or short, is SO GOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN. Especially when your brain is encased in a layer of thick ice for eight months of the year. We need stuff to keep our heads buzzing so the snow can't settle inside them.

And yesterday, heads were buzzing. Everyone was just so dang happy to be outside. The city's morale-o-meter must have shot up 90%.

They cleared the lake off and had ice sailing and snow cricket and sleigh rides and shinny and outhouse races. There was an indoor element as well, with magicians and face painting and whatnot, but we didn't even make it in there because we were just so sun-starved.

Then we went home and made hot chocolate and watched Sesame Street while listening to Paul McCartney on the record player—at Sullivan's request. It was noisy, yeah, but not in an unrelaxed way. Barclay tuned it all out and fell asleep on the floor.

The perfect family day.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Number One: Story Exchange

Most people who [seriously] love writing have a list—conscious or not—of goals for their work. Places they would like it to end up or people they would like to read it or whatever. Some people want to make money—not always out of greed but as validation, confirmation that their words are valuable and that that value has some kind of tangible measure. Some people want to be famous. Some people want to change the world or change peoples' minds about something; some people see those as one in the same. 

I didn't realize I had a list until someone asked me about it one day a while back. 

It's kind of a fluid list; priorities change and some days I'm feeling more sensible than others, you know how it is. Some of the items on my list are silly, some are far-fetched, some are accessible, some are in the works, some are completed.

For example, there's a really cute literary magazine called Popshot, with gorgeous illustrations throughout. I'd like to someday have a short story in there (when I have time to write one). That's Number Seven(ish) on the list. The New Yorker would be a fun place to have something land but that item's way down on the list because it's about as realistic as saying I'd like be an astronaut by the time I'm 40. It'd be fun to sign with a lit agent, it'd be fun to travel to a big writers' conference, it'd be fun to do a book'd be fun to do lots of things. I have a very long list.

For a long time, up until yesterday, Number One on the big ol' dream list was to hear Stuart McLean read something I wrote out loud on the Story Exchange. I don't know why that beat out having a book published or making it into The New Yorker, but it did. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I really respected McLean as a storyteller, and figured that if he selected my story to read out loud, then that would mean something. Maybe it had more to do with the fact that I felt like he could infuse something into my words that I'd never be able to—the way he breathed life into Morley and Dave and Bert and Mary and Jim, maybe I thought he could pump some blood into one of my little one-dimensional characters. That would've been neat.

I was going to go see him live when he came here, the year he was diagnosed with cancer, the year the tour was cancelled but, well, the tour was cancelled. And he hasn't been back since, and yesterday the news broke that he'd passed away. 

His passing isn't about me or my list but, at the risk of sounding like a kid who's sad a professional athlete died before they could get his autograph, I'm a little sad to cross Number One off and replace it with something less meaningful. 

Goodbye, Stuart McLean. Thanks for Dave and Morley and making me laugh in the kitchen while I was trying to cut my husband's hair and countless hours sitting in a parked car because I got to my destination before the story was over.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Dry the Rain

I was sick on Sunday, so I got to stay in bed for two hours while Barclay and Sullivan did who-knows-what who-knows-where. I laid down for two minutes, and then went and got my laptop so I could work, but then realized that sitting up made my headache worse and was ultimately resigned to laying down watching Netflix for the full two hours.

It was then that I realized: I can't remember the last time I sat down and did nothing by myself. Not in a woe-is-me way, but in an I-find-it-really-hard-to-legitimately-do-nothing way. I kept checking to see if I could sit up and do something and my body kept freaking out on me.

So I let it go.

It was weird. I stared at the ceiling for a few minutes, trying to think of something to watch. People are always telling me, Watch this, watch that, you know, must see, can't miss. And I'm always logging these things away for a sick day—then that day arrives and my mind freezes like an old computer trying to run Photoshop.

I'm still reading Nick Hornby's Songbook, and it was sitting on my dresser, and it reminded me that I'd always kind of meant to watch High Fidelity someday. If you're cool, you saw it back in the Y2K, but if you're a loser like me, you didn't—and my verdict is that you really don't need to. (Aha! I was cool in the first place. #false) The protagonist is awful, and you just spend the whole two hours cheering for the girl to get away from this guy. And then at the end she tells him he "feels like home." Barf. He's selfish and selfish and selfish. I can't even think of other words for him. Hard pass on High Fidelity. I'd rather be a loser.


There was a scene in the movie that almost made the whole thing worth it for me. John Cusak's character is standing behind the counter in his record store and he leans over to Todd Louiso's character and says, "I will now sell five copies of The Three EPs by The Beta Band," and then he plays "Dry the Rain" over the store speakers.

I'd never heard of The Beta Band before (I know I know I know. I know), but it was like that moment in Garden State where Natalie Portman's character says the Shins will change your life and then they do—it was just like that. I can't think of another movie moment like that, where a character makes such a definitive statement regarding a song or a band and it ends up resonating with me in any way.

I've listened to "Dry the Rain" at least 62 times since Sunday and it's not getting old yet. The rest of The Three EPs is also fantastic, and I'm so happy to finally be in on this "secret." I know I'm late to the party but I'm also not too cool to admit that I'm always late to the party. But the point is? I'm here. And you're here.

And we could have an actual party, not just a metaphorical one? You could come over and we could listen to this song three times and then you could go home again. Enough time for a snack and a few smiles, not enough time for anyone to feel awkward or say anything dumb. Ideal.

Anyway. Listen to this song at least ten times and try to tell me it's not a song worthy of its own 18-minute party.

Friday, February 10, 2017

I'm Riding on a Pig

Sullivan wrote a song this morning and I recorded it on my iPhone and will now transcribe it here:

I'm riding on a pig!
I'm riding on a pig!
I'm riding on a pig!
I'm riding on a pig!
Iiiiiiiiiiiiiii'm riding on a pig!
I'm riding on a
The things I have to do!
If I drop my pick, I will cry
I should put a shoe on!
I put on boots!
I put on boots!
And skate shoes
I have my skate shoes on
I put my books on
On my bo-dy