Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Oh Gentle Reader, forgive my absence. Truly, it is not the absence of thoughts and ideas that keeps me from you - but an overabundance, a zucchini-like crop of ideas that overwhelms the little garden of my brain. This post is an offering of random vegetables from the crop.

I quit and unquit Facebook. I quit for all the right reasons and I unquit for all the right reasons too. I'm still tinkering and toying with questions of motivation and performance and technology shaping behaviour, but ultimately it felt deeply antisocial to opt out, and the private notes I got from friends reminded me that I have depth in relationships there, as well as fluffiness. It was good to take a break, to remember what my concerns were, but then to recall the good side too. I'm going to try to participate without indulging my narcissistic tendencies.

My grandma finished rehab and moved home to become a bag lady. She spent a week at home, sleeping on her couch and keeping her clothes in gift bags on the floor. Her sister-in-law (who is only 80) stayed with her. Her brothers tried to persuade her to install a wheelchair lift to the second floor. Six days in, my mom and her brother persuaded her to check out a retirement home. Two days later, she moved in. We are all deeply, deeply relieved and she is surprised how much she likes it.

I took my Big Vocational Questions on retreat a couple of weekends ago. I go to the same place every year and it never fails to be a deeply meaningful time. The place I go has a labyrinth and I always walk it. On the Saturday morning, I roused myself out of bed and walked out to the labyrinth only to discover it was nearly entirely covered in snow. I could see the large stone at the center of the labyrinth and I could see lumps that were the smaller stones making up the shape. I decided I could probably remember the path, more or less, and set out to walk it. Halfway around I realized I was outside the labyrinth altogether, and underneath the shadow of the large wooden cross. You can't walk the labyrinth in this season, I told myself, or was told. But the Cross is still there. I've walked the labyrinth in December and January before, but not this season. The thought was incredibly liberating: I felt a weight roll off my shoulders and instead of Figuring Out My Future Path, I walked, listened to music, skied, escaped a strange whuffling noise in the woods, and wrote fiction.

I finished my book. I finished a crappy first draft in December, but this is a decent first draft, with all its parts covered. There are still revisions to be done, but suddenly last Tuesday, I was done. And pleased with it.

I've had a number of nice closed doors lately, writing-wise. This has been a big part of my angst this winter. I did win Most Improved Client from an editor for hire, and a respected agent read my manuscript in full over the Christmas holidays. Honestly, these are not nothing. But neither are they Something. I'm probably right to be both encouraged and discouraged. Never does the discouragement go to the place where I want to stop writing - that's never in question - but it still takes the heart out of me, some days.

Dave got a new job. Dave is a teacher. This doesn't happen. But it did. Mid-January, he was hired by the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics to be a fulltime educational consultant. Due to some hiring issues at his school, this worked out beautifully for the school, so he has been seconded for the semester to work for PI and will return to teaching in September. PI is paying the Board for his salary, benefits and pension, so it's a seamless thing for us. But still unexpected. He started last week. And is getting used to a quiet, sitting at a desk, going to meetings job. Today he met me at lunch.

I'm skiing again. The extreme cold in early January plus a trip to Florida (I know - poor me) meant that I was delayed in getting into my winter rhythm, but I'm now stealing away to the golf course for a quick ski at dusk. It feels nearly clandestine and terribly urgent and satisfying. Even if I am a slowpoke.

Oh, there's more. There's a lot of illness among friends, challenges with church, kids rising to the occasion, sports and life.

But here's what's happening. I'm waking up every single morning, having dreamed exhausting dreams. Last night, I was interviewed by Jian Gomeshi on CBC about my work with a charity I used to write for. The night before I was sorting out a gift basket for a client, to divide between various people. I haven't dreamed about vegetables - yet. There's almost always sorting out going on in my little subconscious mind these days - but when I think about the stuff going on by day, it's really no wonder.


  1. If your ideas are like zucchinis - you should really give them away!

    Jian - how cool is that!?

  2. I'm not charging you for this here blog, am I, John? :)