Thursday, March 05, 2009

Moving on out

Hi all. I have loved using blogger but have decided to transfer my blog to a self-hosted wordpress blog at All my old posts are over there and new ones too so if you have this one in your links or bookmarks, please change it. New posts will only be on Hope to see you over there and, while you're at it, please check out my other blog, to help make the technological life a little easier.

Friday, December 12, 2008

All I Want for Christmas

Is not my two front teeth, although I wouldn't complain if the four top ones that Ben has coming down would come all the way out so we can all sleep again. No, this year I have something I really, really want for Christmas. Of course, I want the health and safety and happiness of family and friends (and the rest of the world, for that matter) but this year I want a toy. I want an iPod Touch. I don't know if I've ever wanted anything quite so much since I wanted an organ (you know, with a keyboard) when I was five or six years old. Back then I had a two-pronged approach to getting what I wanted and both of them meant driving my parents nuts. One was to constantly pretend to be playing a keyboard on the arm of a chair. The other was to stare at the circled organ in the Christmas catalogue. I'm not sure why I wanted an organ. Maybe because my aunt had one she played. Maybe it was that I knew there was no way we could get a piano. Regardless, that's what I wanted and I got it.

My desire for the iPod Touch is not a secret to my husband. In fact, I think my son, Sam, wants me to get an iPod Touch almost as much as he wants to get the presents he requested from Santa. If he sees one of those text to win commercials where you can win an iPod Touch for free, he runs to me saying he knows the answer to the "skill-testing question" and all I need is to phone and I will win it. He does this despite how many times I tell him this is just a ploy from junk text companies trying to trick me into giving my number. I have said, at every opportunity, that I want this device. I have also said I don't think I should get it since we can't afford it. And that's true. But, really, deep down inside, I want it. I want it so bad. It's pretty and small and cool and has wifi and can do everything I could want a device to do. And I am not an iPod fan. Don't have one. Never wanted one. I have a Sansa e260 which I really like and think may indeed be better than a regular iPod.

But now I hope Santa brings me the iPod Touch for Christmas. I have iTunes downloaded to my laptop and have my songs ready for synch. I have tons of free applications I can use for my writing and organizing my life (games) ready to transfer to the Touch. So, the question is not so much will I get the Touch as, what will I do if I don't get it? I'll find out soon enough and one way or another I will be wishing you and yours a wonderful, safe, healthy, happy holiday season.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Perhaps it is ironic that my first real blog post in months is about procrastination. Obviously I have been putting off this post. A number of times I wanted to come rant about the American election or our election or the recent coalition or some story in the news but I just never got around to it. I mean, first I was too busy to post but there comes the time when you must ask how long can I use a new baby as an excuse? Yesterday, for instance, I got around to getting a portrait done of the boys and there was a woman there with a tiny infant. The child could not have been more than two weeks old. And the woman was dressed in nice clothes and had her hair done! I thought it was pretty good I got out of my pyjamas and was wearing something that wasn't stained (although there was drool on my shirt but at least it wasn't mine). In my mind I blame that on having a fairly recent baby or, if that doesn't work, that I have two children. Then along comes someone like the mother of a child in Sam's class who, with her third child at 10 weeks old, not only managed to bring loot bags to school for all Sam's class on Halloween (I did not) but also had printed off personalized tags for each of the bags. So, I try to use the fact that I am trying to finish a novel amongst all this as my excuse. But mostly it is all about procrastination.

It really doesn't get you ahead, this putting things off. Take said portrait taking. I have procrastinated doing this for five years. There are no professional portraits of Sam but many, many pictures of him. We have, just as cliche dictates, way less of Ben so I decided to get a portrait. Also, they are so sweet together, the way they make each other laugh and how Ben lights up whenever he sees Sam. I wanted to get it on film. But, once again, I waited too long. Ben crawls like a madman now and has boundless curiosity. He also studies things. This is not Sam who would smile at the drop of a hat at strangers in the mall as they told me I should sign him up to be a model. This is the boy who stares at such people then looks to me to see if they're okay. He does not share his beautiful smiles unless he knows and likes you. Even Elmo Live gets a furrowed brow and a (not entirely unwarranted) look to me that says what the hell is that? A portrait studio filled with new things meant to excite and distract children is not good for such a child. When he wasn't staring sternly at the giant stuffed horsey or the photographer saying his name over and over, he was crawling off to check out something new. All while Sam kept trying to make Ben smile as we encouraged Sam to keep his smile on. Poor Sam eventually said "my smile is getting tired". We managed to get some fairly good shots, I think, but if I hadn't put this off, I could have gotten Ben as baby with Sam pics. A nice, placid baby who would mimic your smile because he didn't know any better. Procrastinating just made it worse (although such days are part of the joys of having kids, I know).

I won't learn. The truth is I am procrastinating right now. Sam is in school and Ben is napping. I should be editing my book to get it into the publisher next week. I should be taking the comments made by my trusted readers and making some changes to the manuscript. And I will. Maybe later today. Or tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow sounds good.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Get out and vote

I know, long time no post. For now, I'll just say all is well with Ben (that's the baby boy's name) and me. Also, big brother Sam (who loves his brother and dotes on him like crazy) and hubby are great too. Almost exactly one year ago, I posted this. I won't change anything so things are not exactly up to date but you should get the point. And I promise I will resume blogging really soon.

Get out and vote

It's election day here in Newfoundland and Labrador. I've heard people say that they aren't going to bother to vote. If you tell me that you're not going to take the time to vote, expect a lecture. I'll tell you my old line--that people fought and died for our right to vote. Oh, I know the guy in the foxhole in WWII might not have been thinking of whether or not we could mark a X in 2007 but still.

It wasn't just back then either. People are fighting and dying now for the right that you may take for granted, the simple ability to be able to voice your opinion about who runs our government, or to have the right to voice any opinion at all. In Afghanistan our soldiers are dying so the Afghan people can have it. And what about Burma? People have been standing up and demonstrating, knowing that they may get beaten to death or mowed down in the street just for that right that you don't want to take the trouble to exercise because maybe you feel that all the politicians are the same or because you think your vote won't make much of a difference. They die or are beaten and/or jailed just for the hope that one day they could do what you don't want to bother doing.

It takes guts to do that, to stand firm in front of an army of soldiers who will kill you for expressing your opinions, to stand in front of a tank in Tienanmen Square just so you could one day have a voice about who is in power. It takes maybe a half an hour of your time to get out and vote. Now go do it.

End of lecture

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Last pre-baby post

Probably the last blog post for a while. Two days from now I'll be having child #2 and, if the past is any indication, will be unable to string together complete sentences due to lack of sleep. "Me, Tina" will probably be the extent of my writing skills. But you never know, it could be just like my happily in denial hubby says and the baby might sleep through the night (depsite having to nurse every two hours), and might not cry all the time like Sam did. In such a case I may be like the women I marvel at. The ones that have a baby, put on makeup, do their hair, and await visitors, making conversation, and even smiling. They even go outside. With the baby. And they don't cry all the time or anything. They don't have that wonderful postpartum depression that makes everything so cloudy and I may be one of them this time. Well, I may skip all the crying but I don't think I'll ever be one of them. I see them, these women. I ask them how old their babies are as they walk along picking up organic bananas while singing to their children who reside in Snugli slings on their chests. "Ten days old"; "five days old" they say, and I wonder what part of the universe they come from. I cannot comprehend managing that with a newborn. I was pretty proud of myself when I took my first post-baby shower. But some women do it. Of course, it's different when you have a c-section but I still think some of them manage being normal fairly soon after the baby.

I remember seeing a mother of an eleven-day-old at a breastfeeding clinic when I had passed the worst of my PPD and Sam was sleeping for most of the night. I saw her and this tiny creature and thought I would give her some encouraging words. "It will get easier," I said. "He'll sleep through the night eventually and everything." She just looked at me calmly and said, "oh, he's been sleeping through the night ever since we brought him home." I walked away, resisting the temptation to smack her, and sat down. I watched a mother who was more like me. I could tell. Her eyes were blank and bleary and she looked at her child like one would look at a 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle, as if she didn't know what to do with it and what her next move should be. I knew her by her hair too. It was messy but you could see she had tried to make it look okay. Had probably sprayed it with a little hair spray and ran a brush through it, then gave up, either too tired to know it still didn't look right or, more likely, too tired to care. Funny, that I didn't feel the urge to tell her it would be okay. Because I knew that if someone had told me that (and they did) when I was still feeling like her, I wouldn't have believed them (and I didn't). They would have been empty words to her and she may very well have wanted to smack me. That's the difference with this time. I know. That even if I feel that way again, even if I think I will actually die if I don't get more sleep, even if I sometimes cry more than the baby, I'll know that it will be okay and that I will one day sleep again. And if I somehow forget that, I'll know to ask for help.

Or maybe I'll be out at the store next week buying groceries in full makeup and combed hair. Maybe I'll post on this blog and it will be coherent. But let's not hold our breath.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Oprah Effect

I have been keeping up with American politics, at least until it gets boring. I've even watched parts of a couple of debates. It's the democratic ones I've watched just because they are the only ones where things still seem up in the air. I watch CNN sometimes and listen to the pundits. They give lots of reasons for Obama's recent winning streak in the primaries and caucuses but I have yet to hear anyone, at least on the tube, talk about the one that I think is one of the biggest reasons: the Oprah Factor.

Surely, other people must think this. Others must have thought, when they first heard that Oprah Winfrey was endorsing Obama, that it could mean he would win. Oprah is the person who was sued by the beef industry because she had aired a show about mad cow diseases which she said "just stopped me cold from eating another burger." The industry thought that Oprah's opinions would be so detrimental that they sued her. This is the woman who, with one utterance can send a book to the top of the bestsellers' list. Everything, from books to jeans to bras to pizza to robes to apple pies can go from obscurity to super stardom in a day, based on an Oprah endorsement. Yet, whenever I hear the commentators on TV trying to assess why Obama is doing so well, I never hear Oprah's name.

Oprah said it herself, in her usually modest way, when she told Larry King that "My support of him is probably worth more than any check that I could write.". And people know it. Rachel Ray, Dr. Phil, interior designer Nate Berkus, James Frey, and, most recently Eckhart Tolle, can attest to the influence of Oprah. Tolle's book A New Earth was anointed by Oprah last month for her book club. Originally published in 2005, 3.5 million copies of the book have been shipped in the last four weeks since Oprah announced her new book club selection. That's people who are willing to fork out money to follow her lead and to read a book on spirituality. Then there are the estimated 46 million viewers a week of her television show, the more than 16 million who read her O Magazine every month. Read about the Oprah Effect on businesses here, here, and here, and you'll see people are willing to part with their money and even have cosmetic treatments based on what Oprah says. Surely in something free like casting a vote, her influence can be even more profound.

Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Obama enjoying Oprah's influence. Sad, yes, if people can decide on who should run the country based on one person's opinions, but it's certainly her right to say who she supports and he'd be crazy not to suck it up with a straw. I just wonder why there's not more talk about it on TV when the only person to ever get on Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World " list five times, picks a president.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Writing "The End"

Writing "The End" at the end of a novel is a pretty good feeling but it can also feel overwhelming. The thing is that the real work begins now. Taking everything you've written and trying to edit it so it can go out in the world. This is especially true of A Few Kinds of Wrong (AFKOW) for me. I've never had so many starts and stops with any piece of writing, never gone down so many paths only to completely go back and cut them out. It is mostly because it is a very different book for me, more character driven than plot driven and more melancholy than light-hearted. I kept falling back into using plot devices to move things along. Even the one that I did use (because, no matter what, things must move along with something), I had to have a talk and encouragement from my friend Trudy and my husband (always my first reader) to know it was okay to do it.

And, as anyone who has ever written "The End" knows, by the time you get there, you have spent so much time inside these people's heads and inside their lives, that you lose all sense of perspective. By the time you reach the last part of the book, you feel like this is the worst thing ever written and that you've just wasted all this time and energy on it. All the words seem stale and it feels like you've said them a hundred times already and you wonder who in the world will care about these dreadfully boring people and what is happening to them. Thankfully, I have a group of writers around me who I can say that to and they'll remind me that it's normal. And thankfully, I have a dog-eared copy of Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird I can turn to as well because no one can remind you of the insecurities and fears that live inside a writer's head like Anne Lamott.

For those of you who haven't read it (and you really should, whether you're a writer or not I think there are lots of life lessons in there), the title comes from a time when Lamott's ten-year-old brother had a school assignment about birds due the next day. Overwhelmed, with books about birds all around him, the boy was close to tears. His father sat down, put his arm around the boy's shoulder and said "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird." And as I look at my notebooks full of all those stops and starts, the completed sections of AFKOW with "[insert such and such a section here]", the unnamed text files on my computer typed on the Neo that I am not sure belong in the book or not, the whole vast, overpowering lot of it, I have to tell myself to "take it bird by bird, Tina. Bird by bird" and then it feels okay (well, kind of--the whole having a baby in less than three weeks makes it feel a lot more overwhelming too, but Lamott has a great book for that too).