Sunday, December 20, 2009

Driving in Edmonton

I came across this today and had to pass it along to all my local and transplanted pals. It 's the funniest thing I've read all day.
THE NEW RULES FOR DRIVING IN EDMONTON

1. You must first learn to pronounce the city name, it is: 'ED-MIN-TIN'. 2. The morning rush hour is from 5:00 a.m. to noon. The evening rush hour is from noon to 8:00 p.m. Friday's rush hour starts on Thursday morning. 3. The minimum acceptable speed on most freeways is 130 kph. On the QE2,you are expected to match the speed of the airplanes coming in for a landing at the airport. Anything less is considered 'Wussy'. 4. Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. Edmonton now has its own version of traffic rules. For example, cars/trucks with the loudest muffler go first at a four-way stop; the trucks with the biggest tires go second. However, in Southwest Edmonton, SUV-driving, cellphone-talking moms ALWAYS have the right of way. 5. If you actually stop at a yellow light, you will be rear ended,cussed out, and possibly shot.

6. Never honk at anyone. Ever. Seriously. It's another offense that can get you shot. 7. Exception to Rule #6: If you are the 4th car back from a light that has turned green, you must honk your horn to alert the vehicle first at the intersection that the light has changed. Vehicle 2 & 3 won't shoot you as they are too busy trying to figure out how to ram the first vehicle through the intersection. 8. Road construction is permanent and continuous in Edmonton. Detour barrels are moved around during the middle of the night to make the next day's driving a bit more exciting, but nothing ever gets finished, and more construction starts everyday. 9. Watch carefully for road hazards such as drunks, skunks, dogs, cats,deer, barrels, cones, cows, horses, mattresses, shredded tires, garbage,squirrels, rabbits, crows, and coyotes feeding on any of these items. 10. Calgary Trail, Gateway Boulevard, Highway 2 and the QE2 are the same road. In the same manner, Whyte Avenue, Sherwood Park Freeway and Wye Road are the same road; Wayne Gretzky Drive, 75 Street & 66 Street are also the same road; got it? 11. If someone actually has their turn signal on, wave them to the shoulder immediately to let them know it has been 'accidentally activated.' 12. If you are in the left lane and only driving 110 kms in a 80-90 km zone,you are considered a road hazard and will be 'flipped off' accordingly. If you return the flip, you'll be shot. 13. For winter driving, it is advisable to wear your parka, toque, fur-lined mittens and mukluks. Make sure you have a shovel, food, candle and blankets in the vehicle, as snow removal from the city streets is virtually non-existent until the spring thaw. You also may run out of gas, waiting in Tim's drive thru. Ha hahahahahahahhaha!! So true!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Warning, danger ahead!

I've been debating whether to post this here or not. This is a story I wrote with the intent of being insulting. I wanted to step outside what was PC and just write with biased humor. There are lots of swears, but I think there's a lot of humor too. Be warned that if you read the following short story that this is your viewer discretion warning. I cannot be held responsible if you can't find the humor in which this story was written. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did writing it. Some of it is fact some of it is fiction. Let me know what you think.
The “Married Man” By Betty Blunt (AKA: me) So a girlfriend of mine convinced me to meet her and a bunch of her friends at a bar one night. I say, “Why the hell not!” all work no play makes for a shitty time. So out I go.
Now my first inkling that this was not going to be as fun as I wished it would be, was the location. It was at some place down on Whyte Ave. Now I know what most people are thinking.
“What’s wrong with Whyte Ave, you fascist?”
I’ll tell you what’s wrong. It takes forever and a day to find a parking spot you won’t get a ticket for.
You have to walk for days to get from said parking spot to the bar you were trying to park close to.
Being female and walking down dark deserted streets makes me paranoid. I’m constantly looking over my shoulder for predators like Moses looking for Pharaoh’s men. Unlike Moses though, I’m hot which only makes Pharaoh’s men more persistent.
Having to wait in enormous line ups…and I’m sorry, why in all that is sacred and holy should anyone have to wait in a line up at 9:25pm? Makes me want to scream bloody murder! I want to go up to the bouncer and yell in his ear, “Look I know you like playing God out here and all, but do you think you could let me into your empty ass bar, and don’t tell me it’s full. The only thing full around here is your head and I’m not interested in shit. So stop checking the stupid counter in your hand and let me in, I’m freezing my tits off!!” But instead I wait and simmer.
I hate being asked for money by the homeless, lazy-ass-mother-fuckers all over the place. “No. I’m not going to give you change for banging a drum! Immigrants who can’t even speak english are making livings working real jobs, and so can you, pecker!”
Anyways, that’s just a few of many reasons I don’t love going down to Whyte Ave, but on with the story. I get into the bar and it’s as big as a shoebox, yet another reason I hate this area. I can get from the bar to the bathroom and out the door in three steps.
Alright now, it’s time to start thinking positive. I find my friend and it’s been ages since we’ve seen each other. She introduces me to a bunch of her friends and they seem cool. Except for this one chick who has the phrase “That’s like, soooo random!” coming out of her crumb catcher every five seconds. She says it so frequently to just about everything that is said or done around her I find myself staring at her to try and figure out what the hell she’s talking about. I then figure out it’s the hottest thing to say because some chick on ‘The Hills’ says it all the time. I say fuck you! I don’t watch the bloody ‘Hills’ and the phrase is freaking stupid anyway. So I figure I’ll tell her a joke and I’ll forgive all if she laughs at it.
“A guy goes into a drugstore to buy condoms. “What size?" asks the clerk? "Gee, I don't know." The guy says. "Go see Sophie in aisle 4."
He goes over to see Sophie, who grabs him in the crotch, and yells, "Medium!" The guy is mortified! He hurries over to pay and leaves quickly.
Another guy comes in to buy condoms, and gets sent to Sophie in aisle 4. Sophie grabs him and yells, "Large!" The guy struts over to the register, pays, and leaves.
A high school kid comes in to buy condoms. "What size?" The kid embarrassedly says "I've never done this before. I don't know what size." The clerk sends him over to Sophie in aisle 4.
She grabs him and yells "Clean up in aisle 4!"
Everyone within earshot laughs at the joke immediately except random girl. She laughs timidly at the beginning and then after a minute starts roaring when she finally gets it. I realize she understands English as well as any parrot would.
My friend’s sister is there and we start having a great time catching up. I order a couple of the usual drinks, vodka sevens with lime because they don’t have any decent rum. I’m waiting for my drinks at the bar when a creepy old dude comes up to me and starts hitting on me so hard you’d think I was Rihanna and he was Chris Brown.
“So, you have a man?” He asks as he takes a swig from one of the beers he’s double fisting. He reeks of cigarettes, beer, and old man. Don’t ask me what old man smells like cause it’s hard to explain. Something between B.O., stale laundry, and Old Spice (Sorry LL Cool Jay…there’re just some things you can’t bring back no matter how much they pay you to try). I can smell this all with out even taking my eyes off the bar.
I turn to the creepy geezer and he smiling at me likes he’s all that and tube of hemorrhoid cream. Like he’s the shiznit and the rest of us just didn’t get the memo. What the fuck? I mean, seriously?
“Why? You got a son you could hook me up with?” I ask with a sarcastically sweet little smile on my face. He laughs awkwardly as I grab my drinks from the grinning bartender.
“Oh come on, I could show you a good time.” He persists and I have to wonder why some people just can’t take a hint.
Why do some people have to have it spelled out for them? Then I’m the one who’s a bitch after all is said and done. Here’s a note to all the creepy old dudes out there—fine women in a bar, dressed to the nines, don’t want to get hit on by someone fifteen years there senior. Try a trailer park for fuck sakes!
“I hate to break it to you pal but I don’t have Daddy issues.” I shrug my shoulders and get an evil thought. I point out random girl to creepo, “You might have better luck with her she loves a good joke.” I leave him propped up against the bar like a good loser and make my way back to my seat.
I’ve had about four drinks in about an hour and I’m starting to reach Nirvana. You know, that place were you have the perfect buzz. You’re not drunk, you won’t get a hang over, and you’re not slurring or stumbling. You’re lucid, relaxed, and wittier then you ever thought you could be. Yeah, that’s Nirvana, how I love thee. A couple more drinks and I’m there, then a drink every hour or so to maintain it and I’m guaranteed bliss.
I’m chatting it up when I notice an uber hot guy across the shoebox, I mean bar, with some friends. I watch him for a while to see if he has a girl with him, and he doesn’t seem to. He’s tall, got dark hair, a nice tan, and the perfect shoulder to waist ratio, which means he probably works out. He’s wearing a striped polo shirt pulled up to his forearms, which makes him look laid back. Even better, he’s wearing regular jeans not those retarded skinny jeans guys seam to be wearing lately.
Skinny jeans are the sickest shit ever on a guy, and I don’t mean that in a good sickest shit way either. Never, EVER, do I want a man walking around in nut huggers; a guys pants should never be tighter than my own. I mean honestly, if you’ve got to lie down to tuck your package in and zip up your pants, then I, and any other reasonably intelligent female doesn’t want you. Go find your own people! I think they are hanging out with the Emos. Ahhhhhh…Emos. I wish my lawn was an Emo, then it would just cut itself.
Anyways, back to the hot guy. We make eye contact a few times and we smile at each other. If he doesn’t come over here and start talking to me soon, then I’m going over there. Note to guys: If you see a girl eyeing you and smiling at you every time you look over at her, then grow a pair balls and go talk to her because she wants you too. I like a guy with guts. I’m about to get up and talk to him when some guy comes over and sits next to me.
“Hi, I’m Brian.” He says as he stares at me like I should know who the fuck he is.
“Hi?” I say.
“Hey, have you met Brian, he’s a friend of mine.” My girlfriend’s sister tells me. I’m relived he’s not some idiot, drunk on liquid courage coming over uninvited. But he’s still staring at me, and here is my second hint that the night is not going to go swimmingly.
He starts yakking about stupid shit I can’t even remember. All I can see is that the ‘hot stud’ across the room is ignoring me now and probably thinks I’m some kind of tease because of this moron on my left. This idiot is even fucking with my Nirvana, so I start paying attention to him so I can get rid of him or get him talking to someone else. He starts telling me about the ring on his hand.
“Yeah, I like to wear a ring on this finger to keep the girls away. If they think I’m married they don’t bother me so much.” He grins at me like I should agree that he needs some kind of protection against the hordes of women flocking at his feet.
He’s a good-looking guy, but not my type. He tries too hard. His eyebrows are too arched, his hair is too perfect, his clothes are too matchy, and he looks like a blonde Ken doll. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind if a guy waxes his eyebrows. Dude, if you got a centipede growing across your forehead, or some Burt action going on up there, divide that shit up! Do not, however, arch that shit so thin you look like some guy who forgot his drag costume at home. Pass! No thank-you!
I look down at this ring he’s jabbering on about and I pause, “Um…you know you got that ring on the wrong finger, eh?” I say when I notice the ring is on his right hand.
“Oh, yeah I wear one on each hand just in case the chick is real drunk and can’t tell which hand is which.” Again, he smiles at me like he thinks he’s some kind of Rembrandt.
I squint my eyes at him, and my mouth falls open slightly. What a friggin’ retard! I am beside myself at the thought that this is how he picks up chicks, I wonder briefly how often it’s worked. One thing is clear though, the best part of him ran down his mother's legs years ago.
I start involving my friend’s sister sitting next to me on my right, in the conversation. Soon they start chatting it up. As they talk around me, douche bag, I mean Brian starts leaning into me to talk to her. Before I know it they’re making out right in front of me. With the wall at my back and these two making out in front of me, I consider sliding down the banquet seat on to the floor to get out of there. I think about bar floors and my brand new black dress and think better of it. So I wait awkwardly for them to finish.
They finally come up for air grinning at each other, and I say, “Awkward!” and am going to excuse myself from their make out fest, when Brian chirps up.
“I don’t want you to feel left out.” He lurches toward me, as if watching him make out with my friend was the biggest turn on ever. I have just enough time to put my forearm up to block him.
Now here is where the night went terribly wrong.
Instead of my forearm catching him in the chest, it’s too high and gets him in the throat. He’s leaning in so hard that my forearm gets him so hard he chokes himself, and he barfs down the front of my brand new dress.
I. Bloody. Freak. Out!! Enter. Total. Meltdown!
“WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU!” I scream at him for about five minutes. Now usually five minutes doesn’t seem so long right? I urge you to try it, freak out at something and time yourself, I triple-dog-dare you, ain’t so easy eh? I lost my voice for the entire next day.
Now we have the attention of the entire shoebox sized bar. Immediately, everyone takes three steps away from the scene to get away from projectile puke boy and vomit covered girl. I catch the hot guy looking at me in disgust and I’m so humiliated I could dissolve into the sticky floor.
I run to the bathroom and the crowd parts like the Red Sea. I pass the women’s room line up and get to the sinks as two women who are applying lip-gloss and fluffing up their hair excuse themselves as they catch one glimpse of me.
Now I have a strong stomach, I almost never throw up for anything. But one whiff of puke and I can feel the up-chuck reflex in me start to clench as women run squealing from the bathroom before I can throw up on them. I fight the urge to ralf, just barley. I try to wash the puke and stomach acid off the front of my dress.
There are very few things on this Earth more disgusting than someone else’s vomit in you cleavage. I hope that the douche bag named Brian, hasn’t ruined my favorite Victoria’s Secret bra in the process of totally humiliating me, and defiling my dress. I grab for some paper towels hoping that they don’t only have hand dryers in this shit hole, when a bathroom attendant hands me a hand full of paper towels. I think that was the only time in my life when a bathroom attendant actually came in handy. I drench myself with tap water, use up an entire tree’s worth of paper towels to dry it up as best as I can. Use the attendant’s perfume, and pit stick, and after what must have been almost an hour, I can still smell the barf on me. It made me want to retch. I go back to the table after tipping the attendant a twenty, to grab my jacket and purse.
Brian is trying to mumble some kind of drunken apology but I can’t even understand him. He’s muttering, and spiting as he talks and he’s about as intelligible and eloquent as the Tasmanian Devil. I glare, it’s as if the sight of him may cause my eyes balls to explode! I tell my friends I’m going home, they don’t argue.
I storm down the streets and back to my car like I’m on a warpath. Bums don’t even bother asking me for change this time, must figure I’m not so charitable at the moment. Some drunk guys pass me and asks, “Hey you want to have some fun?” they must have caught a whiff of me because they don’t push their thought any further. I finally get to my car after taking a wrong turn. I am completely sober now, and my time in Nirvana is long forgotten.
Curse Whyte Ave and douche bags everywhere!

Monday, November 23, 2009

How to get a copy of Making it in High Heels

After many people telling me that they were unable to order the book my short story was published in, I contacted the project manager. He was unaware of the problem and said that the book is available for purchase on the publishers site. Click on the address below, and sorry about the inconvenience. Thanks for the support. Thank-you! Come again! ;) www.burmanbooks.com/node/198

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Counterfeit

This is a chunk of something that came to me today as I was grocery shopping. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy it.
Counterfeit
You all know me very well. Some of you have known me since you were children. Others of you have only now discovered me. You all know my name. It is imbedded in your minds like the names of the celebrities you read about in your gossip magazines. While some may argue my character, there is one undeniable truth. I am a fake. Fake, like the smile on the faces of your in-laws. I am processed, I am artificial, and I am sure I have no soul. But, I am convenient, and that is my saving grace. I am the product of your laziness, of your indulgence, and your negligence. Like all the pollution choking this planet to death, I am here because you need me to make your life easier. I have fans, but for the most part I am seen for what I am. I am a byproduct, a cheap imitation of my predecessor. Like a spit-polish shine on your oldest most worn out shoes, I look better than I should, but I will never be a new pair of loafers. I am not even comparable to my ancestor on a microscopic level. Scientists have created me, an unholy cheap replica of what I shall never be. I am an empty, second-rate, clone. I am like a forged bank note that cheapens the economy with my presence. But, I am here, and some would like to see me done away with, like the dirt you push under the rug so you don’t need to look at it anymore. They wish to stop the making me, they say that my kind will bring destruction to you all. They may be right, there is nothing organic in me, it has all been processed and altered from its natural state, like the petroleum powering your cars. I am a slap in Mother Nature's face. I am practically plastic. But what is real anymore? Not that make-up on your face to disguise your blemishes. Not the colour of your hair that came from a bottle. Not the height you would not have if it weren’t for those heels you wear. Not that ego you put on to hide your insecurity. Not that tan you spray or bake on to attract others. Not those contacts you use to change your eye colour. Not that diet chocolate bar you eat so that you can bypass your guilt. Not the things you buy to fill what’s missing inside you. You could never survive without me. You are fooling yourselves if you think you could. I am, Cheez Whiz. Bwah hahahahahaha!! LOL! ha hahahahaha! Ahem...so...whatcha think?

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Artery

I went to my first book reading last night. I wasn't sure what to expect. I've never been to a reading of any kind before. It was at a place called the Artery. It was this at this place just off downtown that I've driven by a hundred times before and never noticed this art gallery/club/cafe before. It's located two blocks east of the ritzy part of downtown, in the gritty part of downtown. Obscurity is often right next door to the lime light. Sarah came with me. It was an “Inventory of the New World” with local novelist Thomas Trofimuk and Vancouver poet Marguerite Pigeon. Chocolate tasting and salsa dancing. Home-town favourite Thomas Trofimuk read from his acclaimed novel Waiting for Columbus and Vancouver poet and bon vivant Marguerite Pigeon dropped in to read from her mesmerizing collection Inventory, as well as a taste of her soon-to-be published novel Open Pit. But that’s wasn't all. In honour of the ‘new world’ flavours of Thomas Trofimuk’s novel, the Literary Saloon also featured. . . “New world” chocolate tasting, courtesy of Edmonton chocolatier Kerstin Roos of Kerstin's Chocolates / Chocophilia fame. The first of the ongoing lecture series Skills for the Apocalypse. This month’s skill was in keeping with the south-of-the-border theme: Ten Minute Salsa Lesson with of Etown Salsa! Because apparently the post-apocalyptic Canada includes salsa dancing.

Performer Bios: Marguerite Pigeon writes poetry and fiction. Her first book, Inventory, a collection of 58 object poems, appeared this spring with Anvil Press. She also recently completed a novel called Open Pit. Originally from Blind River, Northern Ontario (of Neil Young fame), she currently lives in Vancouver where she works as an editor. Her first poem about a bruised banana was great, then things got a little angry. The poetry was good. Then her excerpt from her book was...um...a little...choppy. Keep in mind I'm an expert of nothing, but her novel--while sounding interesting--was a bit choppy and distracted with it's flow.

Thomas Trofimuk is a Canadian writer of poetry and fiction. His first two novels; The 52nd Poem and Doubting Yourself to the Bone were both critically acclaimed. His third book, Waiting for Columbus, was released in August 2009 in the US and Canada, and will be published in the UK, Serbia, Poland and Brazil in 2010. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife and daughter. This novel sounded very interesting and humorous.

From Doubleday:

“A man arrives at an insane asylum in contemporary Spain claiming to be the legendary navigator Christopher Columbus. Who he really is, and the events that led him to break with reality, lie at the center of this captivating, romantic, and stunningly written novel.

Found in the treacherous Strait of Gibraltar, the mysterious man who calls himself Columbus appears to be just another delirious mental patient, until he begins to tell the “true” story of how he famously obtained three ships from Spanish royalty.

It’s Nurse Consuela who listens to these fantastical tales of adventure and romance, and tries desperately to make sense of why this seemingly intelligent man has been locked up, and why no one has come to visit. As splintered fragments of the man beneath the façade reveal a charming yet guarded individual, Nurse Consuela can’t avoid the inappropriate longings she begins to feel. Something terrible caused his break with reality and she can only listen and wait as Columbus spins his tale to the very end.

In the tradition of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and The Dogs of Babel, this unforgettable novel mines the darkest recesses of loss and the extraordinary capacity of the human spirit. It is an immensely satisfying novel that will introduce Thomas Trofimuk to readers who will want to hear his voice again and again.”

Sarah and I had a great time at the reading. There are readings every month, I think we shall go when ever we can. Sarah got her copy of Waiting for Columbus signed, she is now officially star struck. LOL!! Kidding Sarah...ha ha...kidding. Ummm...please don't hurt me. LOL!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lest We Forget

November 11th, Remembrance Day.

I pin a red poppy to the collar of my jacket. I think about all the military men and women over the years that I've had the pleasure of knowing. Today is a tribute to them and the sacrifices they've made in the past and present. To our troops who are away from their loved ones, to those who will soon depart, and to those that never returned home: thank you.

In Flanders Fields In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved, and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields. — Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 - 1918)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Launch Party

Sarah and I started the morning with some nice breakfast. I like to start the morning with a hot mug of 'essence of life'. That's right you guessed it, chamomile tea. Ha hahahahaha! I'm sure that's what you were thinking. *wink, wink, nudge, nudge* We killed some time watching some TV, got ready and armed with a map of Toronto, took to the streets and used public transportation.

After a long bus ride we caught a train downtown (took almost two hours >_<) and walked around a bit before we had dinner at an East side Mario's. We then got completely lost trying to find the C Lounge. We walked in every logical direction until we stopped, asked for help, and were finally pointed in the right direction.

"Wait a minute, we were going that way when the numbers started decreasing. We turned around and came this way but the numbers started decreasing again. Are you sure that's the right way?" I asked the security guard.

"Yeah, it's a little confusing. Downtown's kinda messed up." He said. Sarah and I hobbled down the street in our high heels cursing civil engineers everywhere.

We finally got the the C Lounge. Yay!!

It was a Greek themed party and all the staff were dressed in togas. I got a chance to thank the publisher, and say a few words. Met a lot of interesting people including actors, movie directors, writers, project managers, and others. It was fun. The entertainment for the night was a performance by the Samba Squad. I LOVE samba! We had a blast.

Group photo!

My first book signing!

The night drew to a close and the club emptied. Sarah and I caught a cab back to the hotel. We stayed up talking about the evening and the opportunities that presented themselves. Sarah is also a writer. We watched movies until 3am, ordered room service for some late night a la mode chocolate fudge cake and split it as we chatted and laughed.

It was one good night!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Action packed weekend in T-town

As many of you know I was on my way to Toronto this weekend with my pal Sarah to attend the launch party for the book my short story was published in. The book, Making It in High Heels 2. The journey began on Sunday morning at 5am.
Here we are at Toronto's Pearson Airport and are pumped about what the plans for the next few days would be.
We checked -in to the Hilton across the street from the airport.
And marveled at the strange set up of the room. The beds were placed back to back in the center of the room. We each had our own TV. Sweet! We unpacked an got ready for our first adventure. We had bought tickets online for a haunted house tour of the Power House. The Power House is an old building that provided the power for a psychiatric ward in the 1930's. It was also were they had performed electro-shock therapy on their many disturbed patients. It is believed to be one of the most haunted buildings in all of Toronto. It's hard to see in the picture but there is a huge smoke stack in front of the building which adds to it's creepiness. We couldn't take any videos or pictures inside so we made a video before and after we entered.

We entered the building after one of the workers gave us chilling accounts of strange things that had happened while they had been setting everything up. He also told us about the history of the building. Sarah and I were pumped! Woot! Woot!

Ahem...for those of you who don't know, this is Sarah's scared face. LOL!

Any-who, we entered the building and a woman's torso that was propped up on a table informed us to not touch anything or else she couldn't keep the evil spirits from touching us. The bottom half of her was mutilated and stretched out on the floor below her, under the table. Awesome! We continued on and in a clear glass box was a little boy in a hospital gown, shaking, and begging us to let him out. Creepy and awesome all at the same time! On we went and turn after turn I was startled out of my mind. The actors, uh, I mean undead psyc-patients would pop out of nowhere scaring us into screaming, swearing, and uncontrollable scared fits of laughter.

These people had thought of everything. There were zombies, vampires, chainsaw packing lunatics, mental patients screaming as if they were still being tortured, deformities, torture chambers where the tortured screamed for help as the torturers chased us with knives. There was even a clown section. We entered a chamber and walked across a bridge as a circle tunnel of blackness and flashing lights circled around the bridge. It was so disorienting I had to touch the railing to make sure the bridge wasn't moving. Uber amazing! We ended up outside in a maze of a corn field where we relived the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. We ran as a masked lunatic with a roaring chainsaw chased us as we screamed and laughed ourselves silly. A woman was grouped together with Sarah and I. While Sarah and I wanted to go through the house slowly this woman kept pushing us forward, we tried to let her pass us many times but she never wanted to be first. Pffftt! CHICKEN! Lol! At times the fog was so thick in places we couldn't see four feet in front of us, allowing for murders to just pop out of virtually nowhere to scare us. We walked through a haunted rain forest were we had to duck out of the way to avoid touching spiders, vines and dead things.

We had so much fun! Here is the after video:

They even had a pimped out hearse.

It was totally worth the inflated cab fare it took to get to the Power House. Didn't help that our cab driver took a wrong turn. He even had a GPS. What gives?

I can't wait till Halloween.

Stay tuned. Next post shall be the launch party the following day.

Peace out!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I'm never lending my children--I mean-- books out again

For those of you who don't know, I am a very cheery, optimistic, and happy woman. The last post and this next one might have you thinking differently. But, know that I am not myself when someone abuses my cherished books. I've cooled down a bit now. I'm somewhere between mad and in a funk. Let me explain why.
Anyone who loves books like I do will understand my current issue. I lent a friend one of my books.
Now I know what you're thinking. "But Stella, it'll be okay. I'm sure they will treat your book with as much love as you do. They might even let it sleep with them if it has nightmares."
Well THEY DIDN'T!!
I was mad!!
They cracked the spine not once, no, no, no, that could have been a mere accident, yes it could have. They, however, cracked it twice, TWICE! They dog-eared the pages as well. The corners have suffered wear and tear they had never been subjected to in my care. If someone lends you something, you are to return it to them in the same condition it was trusted to you in! Errrrgggg!!!
They...they...they...I say "they" like it is synonymous with deadbeat, slob, and murderer.
Yes, they...
To make matters worse this is not just some book I can just waltz down to the local book store and pick up a brand new shinny copy of. No, my friends. This is an out of print book that I've cherished for the last eighteen years of my life. It is this book that I read at a very young age that had aided (along with other movies, books, and music) me in discovering what my future tastes, writing style, and opinions would be. Looking back I can see how this book had changed me from my soother wearing peers at the time. Don't pretend like you don't remember that whole soother wearing craze TLC brought in. Still drawing a blank are we? Check out the video below if your memory needs a refresher.
Now where was I...ah yes! THEY!!!
THIS is a crime so terrible...
...it deserves a chalk outline.
I must leave you now and mourn my book. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty's little know masterpiece known as Ms. Tree. I shall enlighten you soon. But for now, I must plot my revenge.
Kidding...ha ha ha...just kidding!

Or am I?
Duh da DAH!!!!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nevermore

So recently I’ve had the misfortune of reading a certain series of books. Thankfully there are only two books in this series right now, so I didn’t have to read more. Before I continue there is something you should all know about me. If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m trying to become an author, I know, I know, I’m a masochist. I am currently in the process of editing my first manuscript called “The Male Amendment”. Revising and editing is hard work and when I need a break, I either workout or read a book. I told you I was a masochist, didn’t I?

Anyways, when I read while editing I look for books that are page turners, that are effortless to read, who’s main character I like, and that can be a sort of escape for me. This has lead me to mainly the middle grade fiction genre. Now the following review is not a reflection of the genre it’s self but of these novels in particular.

For those of you thinking “Sheesh! What did you expect?”

My answer is, “More damn it. More!”

I've recently read the “Evermore” series by Alyson Noel. Lets begin with the first book shall we? “Evermore” the name brings thoughts of eternity to mind. That’s definatly appropriate for these books.

The book opens up with a girl who can’t stand the touch of others because since the car accident that claimed her family she has been able to hear people’s thoughts. The slightest touch of another person gives Ever (the MC) a glimpse into that persons mind and life. I loved it!


Ever could see spirits. She conversed daily with her dead sister. All was fine and dandy until a new student shows up at school one day. Of course he's hot, rich, mysterious, and her ability to hear the thoughts of others goes away when she is near him. Score!!! Of course, he is prince charming, an immortal prince charming. Instead of chugging back some red bull, this immortal, Damen, has his own homemade ‘immortal juice’ that is the source of his immortality…yep…that’s what they named it ‘immortal juice’. Don’t give me that look, I didn’t name it.

Misunderstandings ensue, of course, but all-in-all this was shaping out to be a pretty good book. Until, the end. The final conflict was so anti-climatic I had though I had missed a chapter. Then another conflict arose at the end which was resolved in a pretty lame way. Because of it’s lameness or lack of tension the end felt a bit blasé to me. But I’d give it 6 stars out of 10. Not bad!


But then, a sequel was written called “Blue Moon”. Hopes for a pleasant read were dashed against repetitive descriptions, stupid moves by the MC, and a recycled plot twist that one of my favorite T.V. shows used years ago.

If I could count the number of times an eye roll was used in this book, I’d be sure to win a Purple Heart…except that I’m Canadian of course. Each time I read these two words “eye roll” I literally cringed as if I’d been wounded in some battle of pitiable narrative. I found it hard to even concentrate on the story when I read these words. They were like eye sores, un-ignorable unless I gouged my eyes out. They were like speed bumps littered through out the novel for me to trip over, each one pulling me out of the story, and just when I had forced myself back into the story, another one popped up. Erg!!!

If that weren’t bad enough a character the MC hasn’t trusted for the entire book, the guy who tries to kill the love of her life, tells Ever (the MC) that he had made a mistake. She falls for it!! She falls for it!! Is she from Mars? Erg!!! The MC is now a screen saver to me, looks good, but useless!

Then the final blow. At the very end of this book, because Ever is an idiot and it’s all her fault, Ever and Damen cannot touch each other or else Damen will die. Wait just one second now. That sounds a lot like the twist for the second season of Dark Angel. While this book showed promise--like when Ever has to choose between changing her past to save her family from dying, or saving Damen’s life--it ultimately sucked. I give this book 4 stars out of 10. It made me want to retch (see picture).

The only thing that could make me feel better was pulling out my foam-missle gun! I shall sleigh the horrid book with this mighty weapon! Bwahahahahahahahaha! Ha...ha...Ahem!


So, that's my book review. Bad books make Stella mad!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Making it in High Heels 2

It's officially out. Woot woot!! Pick up a copy and let me know what you think. I am officially published!! I shall also be attending the launch party in Toronto on October 27th. I shall be chatting with the media and shall hopefully not make a spectacle of myself. Perhaps I shall pull a Kanye West. "The Da Vinci Code was the best book of all time, of all time!" ROFL!! Then Dan Brown shall walk out of the building and say, "Mmmmm hmmm that's right! Chumps!" just like Beyonce really wanted to say. Ha ha! Ahem! Anyways...
Buy the book at Chapters or Amazon (This is for the Canadians out there. I think Amazon has the better deal though):
Buy the book at Amazon (This is for the Americans out there):

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

So it's Wednesday night and...

It's Wednesday night. It's Wednesday night and I should be doing something productive with my time. Something productive like...oh, I don't know...like editing the next chapter of my book that needs to be finished before the end of the week. Like editing other writers works so that I can earn such a favour in return. But, it's Wednesday night and I am sitting in my hotel room, finished reading the two books that I had brought with me to help me relax this week because I haven't read anything for fun since Catching Fire(which doesn't count because I knew it was going to be amazing). Only to realize that the two books I've read in two days(a series) leave me irritated and...and...so wronged it's feels like I'm trying to pet a cat backwards. *sigh* More about these books in my next post. I must rant in order to fix my reader's chi. :S

So it's Wednesday night, and what am I doing you ask? I am watching HiLaRiOuS Youtube video's of one of my now favourite comedians, Eddie Izzard. I am watching, laughing myself into fits of dementia so sever I'm sure my neighbors are calling hotel security on me, when I find that some genius has put some of Eddie's stand up to Lego. Bwah hahahahahahahha!!!

Need. I. Say. More? Check out my favourites for yourself.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Moon Movie Trailer

Props must be given to the the director of New Moon. Chris Weitz, I salute you for taking New Moon to the next level and making Kristen Stewart look more like an actress. Although I still cringe at her over-acting at times, I see a huge improvement in this trailer alone.

I am now looking forward to seeing this movie. This trailer really brought excitement, anticipation, and racing heart beats to all that watch. Now I feel like this movie is worth sitting in a teenage crowded movie theater, where sighs, screams, and giggling are a product when ever Edward shows up. Well, maybe.

I hope you all realize that I'm taking my life into my own hands with that last comment. I may just die for my art. LOL!!

Click and enjoy.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Story of Success is Being Published

My story is getting published!! Available on October 1st is the book Making it in High Heels 2 for Role Models and Future Leaders. It's a chicken soup for the soul kind-of-book that focuses on how 40 different women became successful in their fields, and the struggles they dealt with along the way. I am honored to say that my story is among the 40 in this book. This is my account of how I became an Artistic Director with the largest haircare service company in the world at the age of 23. If you have an opportunity to buy and read it, please let me know what you think. The first addition of this book was a best seller and I hope this second instalment will be just as successful. Fingers crossed. I shall be shamelessly plugging this book every chance I get. Actors do it, and so can I! LOL!! Buy the book at Chapters or Amazon (This is for the Canadians out there. I think Amazon has the better deal though): http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/search?keywords=making%20in%20in%20high%20heels%202&pageSize=10 http://www.amazon.ca/s/?ie=UTF8&url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&tag=flipkartcom0b-20&field-keywords=making+it+in+high+heels+2+kimberlee+macdonald Buy the book at Amazon (This is for the Americans out there): http://www.amazon.com/Making-High-Heels-Future-Leaders/dp/1897404174/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1252856957&sr=8-1

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Harsh Sting of Criticism

Once upon a time there was a woman, whose sole desire was to share her work with others. She would pour her soul into all that she did. But there was a problem when her essence was attached to her work. When others criticizes her labor it was like they were raking her soul. Like what she loved and treasured had become the trash others wiped their feet on. This was hard for the woman, for she felt certain at times that she should surrender, for she was terrible at all that she loved. But at other times a conviction stronger than steal would tell her that this was her path to walk. So she persisted in all that she did, and the criticism stung less each time she heard it. She began to value even the harshest of remarks, because beneath the words that stung so deep, was an opportunity to make herself better at the things she held dear.

When I wrote the first rough draft of my novel The Male Amendment I felt exhilarated. I had finally finished one of the many projects I have started but rarely see through to completion. I thought it was perfect-aside from grammatical issues. So I started sending out query letters to literary agents. *sighs and laughs at her once naive self* I began my journey to actual authorship when revisions began, and boy, were my eyes opened and was a good helping of humble pie eaten. With help from a friend, Monica, who was much too kind to tell me how terrible certain parts of my novel were. My marvelous meetings with Canadian author Lynn Coady, who served me my criticisms with a kindness that can only come from humility and compassion. And by joining the Critique Circle-an online writers group-did my voyage truly begin.

I can now fully understand what Lynn had once told me. That the hard part of writing wasn’t the actual fleshing out of the story, oh no my friends, that, is the easy part. The creative juices are flowing you’re caught up in the story and are taken along for the ride. The hard part, the craft-as Lynn called it-is in the countless revisions and the discipline involved with that art. This baffles my husband. He has no idea why I am still “messing” with my book. He thinks the hard part of the whole process was actually writing what turned out to be a 130,000 word-approximately 500 page- novel. I would have agreed with him a year ago, but so much has happened in that year.

When I used to read my critiques, I looked a lot like the picture. Tense, emotional, and wondering if there was any point of writing at all, I was such a failure after all. I was never good at accepting criticism, I was always hard enough on myself. But things have changed. I welcome the callous words that come to me from cyberspace, from authors who forget that there is a person on the other end of that send button. I am guilty of such harsh critiques, so don’t feel bad for me. Hidden inside even the worst of these criticisms-among the ego and writing style clashes, the purple prose and fridge logic, the POV conflicts and genre bashing- there is at least one sliver of truth I can painfully rip from the unwilling flesh that is the crit, that will add to my growing arsenal. I owe many thanks to those who have read my work.

I grow into a thicker skin and a better writer everyday because of it.

Stella

P.S.- Yes, I'm in my pajamas in these pictures. I'm a writer, do NOT judge me!!! LOL!! ;)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

WOW!!



Was it as good for you as it was for me? I don't know, but here are my thoughts.





I finished reading Catching Fire last night. I soaked up the book like a paper towel dipped in a glass of water, osmosis was my weapon. Hours passed, the story hooked me and may I add, snaps for Suzanne Collins. With that said, do I think that Catching fire was as good as The Hunger Games? No. Let me explain. What I did like about Catching Fire even more than The Hunger Games was that it felt more like you're inside Katnis' head and the character felt more comfortable with herself than in the first book. I liked how She was even more isolated, and lonely in the second book. I liked that we got to see more of Gale in this one as well-although in my opinion, it still wasn't enough. You Peeta lovers can stone me later. ;)


What disappointed me a bit-I shall try not to spoil anything-was the twist the plot took halfway through the book. Don't get me wrong I still loved it once I got over the shock. It was just so, so....rerun?? I understand the whole reason Mrs. Collins went this direction, but to have everyone revisit the scenario that made book one so amazing spoiled things for me a little.

This takes me back to what used to be one of my favorite shows, Prison Break. It was so original and fresh, thoughtful and intriguing, witty, and funny. I was addicted. I loved the characters-except for Michael's perpetual scowl that was supposed to make him look ruff. Pftt! HA hahahahaha! Just made him look constipated all-the-time. So they're in prison, they break out of prison, they are on the run-this show was awesome- then, they end up in a different prison that they now have to break out of again-WTF!! This smacked of recycled plot that writers hoped would elicit the same emotions from the viewers it did the first time. Bleeeeck! *leans and pukes into the nearest receptacle* It was a huge let down. I couldn't watch the show anymore, the character ceased to mean anything to me. I was a Prison Break widow, my love was dead.

While Catching Fire went back to the premise for the first book, it still hooked me and I know why the author did it. It was vital for a televised revolt against the Capitol that could happen no other way. I can't wait for the next book.

Suzanne Collins, I salute you. Well done. You left me with another cliffhanger, and I love cliff hangers.

Is it September 2010 yet??

Stella


P.S. I don't smoke. It was a joke. HA ha!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Stella is unavailable at the moment...

Sorry, can't come to the computer, phone, door, or emergency evacuation right now. Please leave your name and a brief message and I shall get back to you when I'm done with precious. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeep!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The book I've been dying to read

September first is almost here, I've been waiting patiently-okay, okay, not so patiently-for about a year now. For what you ask. For the sequel to one of my favourite books, The Hunger Games. What I love about his book is how dark and and primal it can get. How it realistically depicts human survival instincts, and how far people will stoop in the name of entertainment. I also love the main character which is more than I can say about most books. While this book is middle grade fiction it's depth of story and characters makes it standout. Here is what Indigo has to say about it:


In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the other districts in line by forcing them to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight-to-the-death on live TV. One boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and sixteen are selected by lottery to play. The winner brings riches and favor to his or her district. But that is nothing compared to what the Capitol wins: one more year of fearful compliance with its rule. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her impoverished district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. Acclaimed writer Suzanne Collins, author of the New York Times bestselling Underland Chronicles, delivers equal parts suspense and philosophy, adventure and romance, in this stunning novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present.


The sequel is called Catching Fire. For those of you wondering why you might not hear from me the beginning of September, you are fore-warned. Who am I kidding, I'll probably read it in a day. I won't post the teaser from the jacket for the sequel because it contains spoilers. I'm not one of those people who ruins a good book by spoiling the end. For anyone interested in a good read, I highly recommend these two books. You won't be able to put them down. A girlfriend of mine-who I reccomended The Hunger Games to-even said that she couldn't stop dreaming about the book.


Is it September first yet??

Monday, August 17, 2009

Abomination Vexation

In the midst of the vampire themed pandemonium seizing the attention of teen and adult readers alike, I find myself nauseous. A theme I once loved is now being shoved down my throat from so many different angles it makes me want to rip my hair out. I’ve read three different vampire series within the last year. Even though I enjoyed reading all of them I am so tired of picking up a book at the store, reading the jacket, and finding the word ‘vampire’ on the back of it that I may very well gouge my eyes out with the nearest Twilight book mark.

I know Twilight was a hit! I know! I was there! I read them all in six days! I GET IT!! But, is there no end to the vamp hysteria that has been so over done it rivals my husband’s cooking? Briket anyone? I've read countless literary agents websites, seeking out the ones that could possibly be interested in my manuscript. Do you know what they all say that they want? Something original…here enters Stella’s long, hard, confused, yet irritated head scratch.

Original eh? Really? You don’t say? It seems that while literary agents are constantly seeking something fresh and different, it also seems that what is unusual is not what they are looking to represent.

So what’s the difference?

I don’t bloody know!

Hey, I know. I should just throw a vampire into my story to screw things up and then maybe an agent will find it original enough. Let’s make like a hors d'œuvre, and try it out: S

Sweat stung my eyes as the midday heat turned our vehicle into an oven.

“Gawd, it’s hot today,” Avery, the driver stated with a sluggish sigh.

Saying it was hot was like telling someone the desert had some sand, that the universe was kind of big, or that the ocean was sort of moist. The heat radiated off everything like radiation off nuclear waste. Of course the sand didn’t help either; it was lodged in every pore of my skin, every strand of my hair, and every fiber of my clothing. It rubbed between the toes of my sweaty feet like sandpaper. The lazy warm breeze only served to toss the sand at our entire entourage more effectively. How could there be so much sand anywhere?

As my platoon cruised along, I couldn’t help feeling oddly alert. As if the normal level of awareness had an intensity dial that had been turned to max.

What was once an alien, but now familiar world greeted my adapted eyes. The shells of sand colored buildings lined both sides of the streets. What stood out against the bland mushroom toned environment were the colorful signs of the businesses that somehow survived among the ruins. Every so often patches of lush green vegetation would seem to miraculously coexist with the surrounding desert waste, like jewels carelessly tossed among monotonously dull stones. The tropical palm trees, untamed grasses, verdant bushes, and pastel sands could almost make one feel that this was some secret vacation destination you’d travel long and far to enjoy. Almost.

Instead, those we tried to protect turned out to be the enemy. Suicide bombers, land mines, car bombs, IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devises) or open fire; the enemy was everywhere and yet nowhere to be seen until it was too late. The sparse patches of flourishing vegetation only served to further the sense of surreal shock it all amounted to.

I was always alert in this war zone, but today felt different. The weather had been too hot for too many days and when that happened, it was only a matter of time before something, or someone snapped. The heat had a way of escalating situations or tempers from zero to sixty in point five seconds. I couldn’t shake the hyper-edge I felt. It was like drinking three Red Bulls then trying to sit still, I felt like I was going to leap out of my skin at any second.

It had been a month since our platoon transferred here to Baghdad from Baqubah and we’d all been counting down the days until we were supposed to ship out. Seven days. One week. So close.

I looked over at Sadie, she sat next to me in the back of the Humvee. She noticed and nodded faintly. We were the only women in our platoon, so we banded together like misfits do, to help keep the men off our backs.

Something wasn’t right. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Did no one else feel it?

I scanned the faces of the crowd that pushed their way through the streets the way they did through their lives. They had to push; it took effort to survive here. I caught a few glances, but most looked away after a moment. Used to the presence of the U.S. military forces by now. Others stared longer with dead eyes. I’d seen these eyes before. Accusing yet hopeless, angry but composed, stoic but blazing, expecting yet resigned. I’d grown accustomed to the lifeless stares of those souls who had seen too much sorrow, anger, war, and death. Those eyes spoke volumes of the ugliness that men were capable of.

I saw those eyes in the mirror every time I looked. One week. I couldn’t ignore my instincts; they’d been what had kept me alive all this time, against countless odds. I kept scanning the crowd and saw too many dead eyes.

“Mia, you okay?” Sadie said in a low voice so the men didn’t hear.

The men always thought us women spooked easily. There was, however something eerie to be said about women’s intuition.

“I’m fine, why?” I mumbled back in a voice so low I wasn’t sure she would hear it.

I hadn’t taken my eyes off the crowds. Sadie was the only person in my platoon I called by first name. I couldn’t bring myself to call her by her last name, Grey. It was too formal, she must have felt the same way, she’d never called me Mitchell. Unless we were addressing each other in a group, last names had no place between two people who had been through, and were still in, hell together.

Sadie turned toward me slightly, or was I imagining it? It was hard to tell in a Humvee with no shocks, rolling over pothole-ridden roads.

“Gee. I don’t know. Maybe it’s the way you’re gripping that rifle like it's going to go postal any second.” She shot me that hard look she always did, it said “spit it out” without the verbage.

I snickered. Straight to the point, I liked that about Sadie. It figured that through my entire life of struggling pointlessly to get along with other females, the one woman I felt truly understood me, would be the same kind of crazy I was. I looked down at my M-16, I was gripping it so tight my knuckles were white.

I looked back at the crowd. “Something’s not right.”

“You're just on edge, it’s too hot.” Sadie wiped at her pale forehead.

The sweat was everywhere and the Kevlar helmets did little to facilitate the wiping, they only assisted the sweating. The lack of air conditioning didn’t help either. I could feel the sweat drip down from my own brain bucket and into the damp collar of my cammies where stiff salt rings would emerge later.

“I don’t know. Something’s going to happen. I feel it.” As I looked over at Sadie, I reached down to grab the water bottle rolling around on the floor.

Sadie’s fingers touch mine as we both grabbed the bottle. The feel of them startled me. I stared at her, finally aware of what I hadn’t wanted to acknowledge before.

Your hands are like ice,” I swallow the lump in my throat.

Sadie looked away from me, and again I realized how pale she was as I stared at her profile.

“I know what you are,” I said as I tried to stay calm.

Sadie turned her face to me, and her eyes searched mine. “Really?” She inched closer to me, “I want to hear you say it.” We stared at each other for what seemed like minutes, but I couldn’t be sure.

“You’re a vampire.”

She sighed as her head tipped back into the cushion of the seat she sat in. “Yes,” she whispered.

Our conversation was lost on the men in the front seat as they discussed which Beyonce song they liked best.

“I’m so glad you know. Now I don’t have to hide myself from you.” She smiled in a tender way but only one thought entered my mind.

I yelled, “Blood sucker!”

I kicked Sadie in the gut and she fell out the side of the moving Humvee. Avery stopped the vehicle. Sadie stood up, dusting off her cammies.

Avery yelled into the radio, “Blood sucker!” I let go of my rifle and threw myself to the hole in the roof of the Humvee, grabbed hold of the GAU-19 machine gun mounted to the roof and looked for the enemy. All hell broke loose. Civilians screamed. Gunfire lit the streets. Grenades thundered as they exploded.

I ignored all this and turned the machine gun to where Sadie stood. She crouched and hissed at me with her fangs bared.

“No you don’t.” I opened fire.

The vibrations shook my arms. The sound muted my ears to the yelling. Cordite filled my nostrils. Pandemonium seized my mind. The bullets rained down on the streets, raking the ground as they showered from directions all around us. Our rounds ate at the walls of the buildings as debris filled the hot stagnant air. Pock riddled walls crumbled, cracking like dry leaves.

“Die blood sucker, die!”




Bwah hahahahahaha! Ha…ha. Ahem! I wonder if any literary agents will ‘bite’ now? LOL!

Peace out!

Stella

Friday, July 17, 2009

Glitch Fix

I've ironed out the glitches in the "Some of my Works" section that has samples of my writing. Click, read, enjoy, and leave me a comment. I love getting comments. ^_^ Stella

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Serial Readers

I’m sooooooo not one of those people. I hate it when I’m asked whose author’s work I follow and adore above all others. Like to be an author’s groupie is the vogue thing to do. I honestly feel that if I tell the truth about my book selecting process, these Serial Readers will look down their noses and judge my passion for reading and writing as just some hobby or passing whim. The truth is when I pick up a book and decide whether to read it or not, the last thing that crosses my mind is the author’s name. I know, I know, how gauche of me! When I pick up a book I: Step 1- I read the title and jacket. I think this is because of my marketing background. I feel that if an effort wasn’t taken to present me with something remotely interesting and thought invoking than obviously no one else thought it was appealing either. The name of a book is so important!

Step 2- I consider the cover art and how it must connect somehow with the story. Again I feel that if an attempt wasn’t taken to present me with something eye catching than obviously no one else thought it was worth the time it took to think about it a bit more. Harsh, I know, but cover art matters. Warning: This is the artist in me going ape-shit at all the ridiculous covers of sci-fi and romance novels out there. Sure there might be a great story behind one of these eye sores, but I don’t want to be seen in public holding or reading it! Enter stupid sounding voice, “Hey look! This is what the aliens must look like. Holy shit! The chicks are hot in this book!” I don’t want a picture!! I want the author to DESCRIBE the aliens or characters to me than I will paint the picture in my mind! Erg!!

Step 3- I’ll maybe read the first few pages of the book. I don’t do this often though, if Step 1 and 2 didn’t clinch things for me and something is telling me to give this book a chance I’ll read a bit of it. I can never devote myself to a few authors I think write well; although I admire many. I like to sample numerous different storytellers works in a plethora of different genres. I rarely pick up a novel from an author I've already read unless it's a sequel or the title and jacket sounds amazing. I prefer the single magical encounter that I have when I read a book and the author is fresh to me. The voice of the story is spanking new and the plot is original and has nothing to measure up against. When I do read more than one book from an author I tend to find patterns in characters, story arks, and even dialog. Which allows me to predict everything that will happen in the book with almost 93.59% accuracy. LOL! I like to keep the author’s work unblemished and honored in my mind much like a chance smile shared with a beautiful stranger.

Are you a Serial Reader?

Peace out! Stella

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Until we Meet Again

Today marks three years since my father died of cancer. Time flows by without notice until this day rolls by and it trips into awareness. Three years. I miss him, I always will. I wrote this short story about my father to remember him and somehow keep the memories fresh. This story was going to be published but alas, there were too many of these types of stories going around apparently. I'm posting this here because I would like to share it with others, and it feels like I should. Until we Meet Again Hello, my name’s Stella, it is a pleasure to meet you. It must seem strange that I am introducing myself, but I thought it appropriate for what I am about to share with you I have never shared with anyone. I am the type of person that holds everything in and only shows the calm or control that I want everyone to see. But for once I wanted to be honest about my thoughts and feelings for the first time since these events took place. When you see someone you know or you pass someone random and they ask the familiar question, “How are you?” we automatically answer “Good” or “Fine”. If we delineate from this expected answer and actually share how we really are, we impose on the other person and are the constant “Party pooper”. Why couldn’t I just say I was fine? We all know however, that life happens to everyone, and life is far from the perfect world that we saw in our naïve years. In truth, I am not fine. I do not know if I will ever be fine. You may find this serious and poignant at times, but what I offer is only the truth. If what I have been through can help you to know that you are not alone and maybe that life is not as unfair as you thought, then this painful process was completely worth while. Please know that you are not alone, millions of people have gone through what you are going through now. I do not mean to belittle your pain, just know that there are people who understand. And of course life is unfair, but that, I have come to understand in my own way is what makes life so beautiful. It is the fact that life is so unfair to so many, it’s that which makes the good times so striking. Sometimes life will show you the most beautiful things but we are too busy, or in too much pain to notice. This Sunday morning as I lay in bed thinking about the scary prospect of writing this, putting my thoughts on paper and sharing with others, I realized I didn’t think I could do it. I thought of a song I wanted to hear that would inspire the right mood. Alas, it was a song on a CD that I did not own. As I listened to the radio in my bed on this Sunday morning, I longed to hear this song to stir me to begin this journey. As these thoughts ran through my head the next song on the radio was the one I was wishing and waiting for. I listened to it as a tear fell out of my eye. I rose out of bed and went to my laptop and began my voyage to the truth and hopefully inner healing. This is not based on a true story. It is not littered with extra events to make it more interesting or pleasing to a broader audience. It is the ugly truth, and as I write this I wonder why the truth has to be ugly. Why do we want to be coddled and sheltered from the truth, why does the truth have to hurt us so? I compare this to a good war movie. Yes, it is grizzly and gory and sometimes we turn our faces away because we think it is too much. But it is only after the movie is over do we realize…wow…how real it was. Such pain, such suffering. How much more beautiful the world is because of the ugly truth. I apologize in advance for clichés, redundancies, and very possibly boring you with the events that have transpired within the past two years of my life. I do promise one thing. That what you read is and was real, in a way that nothing had ever been in my life. For those of you whom have been through this and have healed, it is not my intention to whine. It is only that the wounds are still fresh and the pain so close, as some have told me, they always will be. This story is about my father, he was a very hard workingman. He worked hundreds of hours of overtime and after my mother got home from work she looked after my brother and I. My father never attended any parent teacher nights, school plays or volleyball games. When I was young this bothered me, I would see other kids with both of their parents, and there I was with my mom. I was happy that my mom was there I just wished my dad was too. I was a selfish child who of course wished for the one thing I couldn’t have. I understood that my father couldn’t really speak English, that either my mother or I would have to translate what was said. He would probably feel uncomfortable and out of place because he didn’t understand, but I wouldn’t have cared. I just wanted him there. I soon just began to expect it, his absence. I realized he worked hard for us to live a better life, but it still made me sad. In kindergarten for Fathers Day my school was having all the children’s Fathers come to school for the day to do crafts and make kites. I was so excited I had never made or flown a kite before. Kites were something I had only seen in illustrated story books, or seen other kids do. It was something entirely new to a first generation Canadian like me, something idealistic but normal to others. I was looking forward to Fathers Day to make my first kite. I never told my parents about it. I didn’t expect my father to miss an important day of work to make silly kites. That morning I was getting ready to walk to school as I always did, when I noticed my dad standing behind me. This was strange because usually he would have left for work already and he wasn’t even dressed for work. I remember he was wearing some beige pants and a brown and beige geometrically patterned shirt. He said he was coming with me to school that day. My mother must have read about today in one of those parent newsletters the school sent home with me every so often. I was so surprised and excited; I finally got to show off my dad. I was so proud to have him at school with me, I don’t think you could have drop kicked the smile off my face all day. We made crafts. I made this ugly picture frame thing that sat on the formal dinning room table for years. I translated for my father and my teachers, and we made my first kite. It had red, blue and green stars that I drew on it and we attached neon orange streamers to the bottom of it. The teachers had Polaroid cameras and were taking pictures of the children with their fathers and kites. This is one of my favorite pictures of all time, my dad and I. I’m holding my masterpiece of a kite, my dad smiling into the camera with his hand on my back and his huge sideburns. Years later I found out he always kept long bushy sideburns because he thought they helped to hide his large ears. I’m still not sold on the whole huge sideburn eclipsing ear thing, but that’s what dads are for. In the picture I’m smiling but not at the camera, I’m looking up at my dad. A moment caught by a Polaroid camera. I use to think that I ruined the picture. That I should have been looking at the camera, now I would never have changed a thing. I was just so happy he was there with me, and it shows in the picture. Now this picture sits tucked away with other warm memories, and now when I look at this picture I can never help but cry. This picture doesn’t belong in a photo album, it should be framed, to be remembered always, that day my dad didn’t go to work, that day he chose me. After the pictures were taken all the kids flew there kites with their Fathers and so did I. It was so much fun, I told my mom every detail about that day and she smiled. I realize now, that day wouldn’t have happened without her. Needless to say I have always been a daddies girl. I strove to impress him and make him proud of me. He was a man of few words and once his good impression was lost there was no getting it back. Maybe that was why his opinion was so important to me. I knew that no matter what stupid mistakes I would make in my life that my mother would always love me, anything less would go against her nurturing characteristics. But my father was a different story; he could hold on to things for years and be ashamed of them still. Our personalities were so similar, and we were very comfortable in each other’s presence in a way that came effortlessly. He was the only person I’ve ever known that I could sit next to for hours and not feel obligated or uncomfortable at the silence between us. On the contrary some times the conversation was the uncomfortable part. I know that seems strange but that’s the only way I can explain it. As if in silence we understood everything about the other and conversation disturbed this connection in a way. He was a tall thin man who after a few glasses of wine would become the life of the party, and he had a good sense of humor. He also taught me the value of my word, he taught me that once I broke my promise that everything else I might say was as good as a lie. He would always hold me to that lesson. I married my high school sweet heart at twenty-four, and my father and mother both gave me away at the ceremony. My mother told me before the wedding that my dad was having a harder time than he let on about me getting married. It was hard for him to see me starting my new life, but as I said he’s not the verbal type so this surprised me. My wedding day was one of the best nights of my life, we all danced and laughed the night away, it was better than I had ever imagined it would be. My husband and I went on our honeymoon and we enjoyed ourselves for the two whole weeks. It is true that God, fate, or circumstances which ever it is you believe in, work in mysterious ways. When I got home from my honeymoon, my dad was in the hospital for some tests. He was having some problems with his intestines and colon, no big deal, he was just a little backed up nothing to worry about. I would go visit him in the hospital, but I was also busy with my new life. One day I was driving home from work when my cell phone rang, in was my Mom on the phone, she sounded upset. She explained to me that the doctor said that Dad had cancer and that it was a very advanced stage of it. She said that I should come to the hospital immediately. I told her I would be there soon. After I hung up the phone my ears would not work, I couldn’t hear the radio the noise of the traffic, nothing. The only thing I could hear was the voice in my head saying this can’t be happening, this is what happens to other people, not me, not us. I reached the hospital and my brother got there a little after me. We sat in excruciating silence; any words were lost to us. What could any of us say? What could be said? Even now the silence held our bond, I could almost feel the fear in him, fear for his own life, his family, he never had to say it, I knew. The doctor told my mother that dad probably wouldn’t make it to Christmas, eight months away. My dads left arm had lost most of its strength and one day he walked into the hospital, but could not walk back out. That day was the last he would ever see home again. He became paralyzed from the waist down and in his left arm from five large tumors growing down his spine. The cancer had spread to his liver and colon as well. We never knew where it had started, just that we had found it too late. I travelled with my father in an ambulance; he was being transferred to another hospital. One of the EMS paramedics asked of my fathers’ condition. I told him that he had cancer, his face turned grim. He tried his best to instill some hope in me with the story of his mothers’ survival story with cancer. It was kind of him, a part of my heart felt better, but I knew deep down that the ending I had just heard wouldn’t apply to my dad. I thanked him again for his patience at the hospital, for waiting for our priest to finish giving my father his last rights, it was deeply appreciated. When we reached the hospital and my father was placed in his room, one of the doctors came by to check up on him, to ask a few questions. I was translating for my dad, they were the usual questions: Are you in pain? Rate your pain on a scale of one to ten. Suddenly while he was answering his face froze in mid sentence, his teeth clenched. I called out to him…no answer. The doctor tried to press down on his chin, it would not move. His heart had stopped, cardiac arrest. I was yelling now. “Papai!? Papai!?” Our word for dad, he wouldn’t respond. I was rushed out of the room when the defibulator came in. I would never forget the look on my dads face at that moment, face frozen, and his eyes wide. The doctor was able to start his heart again; it had probably been a blood clot he said. Over the next few months we tried to stay as positive as possible. We tried different forms of medicine when the medical doctors told us that there was nothing to be done. We would search for false hope in the twitch of a toe, how his feet were less swollen today, or how his appetite had improved. I would convinced my self all day long that he was going to get better, and at night I would cry myself to sleep. I would pray every waking minute, begging God to heal him, to make him well. When the nurses asked my mother if she would want my dad resuscitated if his heart stopped, she replied yes, disgusted at the idea of the question. My mother refused to have my father transferred to palliative care, she was afraid that if he was moved there that he would know he was dying and lose hope. In palliative care they also didn’t resuscitate patients, so it was like giving up on life. Months went by and he was a prisoner in his bed all day, we would always try to schedule ourselves so that there was always someone with him at every moment so that he wouldn’t be lonely. I would feed him his meals and urge him to eat as much as he could. He had lost so much weight; the cancer had also taken his appetite. He was so unbearably thin, the skin of his face was thin as wet tissue paper stretched over bones, aging him within months. I remember a new nurse asking my mom if the man in the bed was her father. It was so hard going to the hospital everyday after work and slowly watching someone you loved so dearly wither away, enduring unimaginable pain. I would help him brush his teeth, blow his nose, comb his hair, and shave him. These things were hard for him to do himself he was so weak. One day he was having difficulties breathing he was becoming weaker. The nurse took us all aside and asked us again if we would still wish him to be resuscitated if his heart stopped. She explained to us that in his weakened state that if they used the paddles on him that he may very well suffer from broken ribs. That would add to the enormous amounts of pain he was in already, and worsen still his quality of life. He was already on so much pain medication that he was unconscious most of the time. My mom didn’t know what to do she didn’t want my dad to die, but she did not want to see him in even more pain. My brother couldn’t speak, my mother turned to me. “What should we do?” Tears streaming down her face, I could never stand the sight of my mother crying, she looked so helpless and fragile it only added to my pain. I told her the only thing I could think of telling her. We had to let him go. I couldn’t keep him in pain any longer it was too selfish. I told the nurse to let my father who I loved so very much…die. It was a decision that I will remember for the rest of my life. That night on my way home from the hospital my prayers changed, I prayed for God to take my father, to end his pain. I repeated the prayer over and over a thousand times, and that night I had another dreamless night. My dreams had stopped months ago; I could not remember the last. My father was transferred to a private room he only stayed in for about a week. His condition worsened even further. He could no longer speak or move his head, he laid there propped up with pillows and gazed through us under half closed eye lids. His arms swelling with liquid from the intervenes that were keeping him alive, for he could no longer eat. He was in this state for a few days when I saw a tear fall out of his drowsy eye. I had never seen my father cry. I tried to rationalize it. His eyes were probably dry; he couldn’t blink anymore after all. No matter what I told myself to believe, it killed the little girl inside me who believed her father was indestructible. My father who always believed in me, who had entranced me with his pencil drawings as a child-who had smuggled large sheets of scrap paper from the construction sites he worked so that I could paint and draw. On Saturday July eighth I was on my way to a friends house from spending the night at the hospital. I am a hairstylist and I had promised to style her hair for her wedding that day. I was half way there when my phone rang, it was my mother, she was upset. She told me to come back to the hospital, things didn’t look good, he wouldn’t last much longer. My dad made me break one of my promises, I called my husband to tell him what was happening and for him to call my friend, I couldn’t call her, I didn’t want to upset her on her day. I made it back to the hospital and my dad’s breaths were so shallow, he was dyeing. His family who loved him surrounded his bed. My mother was holding his left hand my brother his right hand, so I stroked his forehead with my hand. I told him I loved him as my hand glided through his hair. Soon all I could do was watch his chest rise and fall with his breath. His chest lay still. So my eyes moved to his throat, I could still see his breath there. It wasn’t long before the pause between the breaths grew longer and soon they stopped altogether. I rushed out of the room to get a nurse and she called the doctor to confirm what we all knew, my dad was gone. He died at nine fifteen that morning, on the very day of my parents thirty-third wedding anniversary. July eighth a day filled with such joy and sorrow, my friend was married; my husband’s cousin had her first baby, my parent’s anniversary, the day my father died. We all cried in that small hospital room, devastated at his loss. I kissed his forehead, and as they wheeled my fathers body away covered in a burgundy cloth the tears never stopped, his body looked so small. That wasn’t him, he was no longer here, he was gone. Some like to say that I was lucky to be able to spend all that time in the hospital with him. That at least it wasn’t immediate that I got to say good-bye. But at least he wouldn’t have gone through the pain, I wouldn’t have seen him slowly deteriorate into the shell of the man he once was. Quick or slow, one way or the other you are spared from some things but suffer others. There is no possible way to make it better, no matter how much time you have to prepare you are never ready for it. To watch someone you love die right in front of your eyes, changes you in ways that others who haven’t cannot understand. As I walked out of the hospital numb, and silent, tears dried and crusted on my cheeks, I could not help but notice how painfully beautiful that day was. The sun was shining and the warmth of it made me think of how if my father were here he would be packing up his RV to go camping. That was his most beloved pass time. How fitting that the day he was released from his earthly pain that the sun saw it fit to grace this day with it’s ethereal bliss. My dad was camping, and I smiled at the thought. But the world was a very different place, I could sense it, his presence was gone. The oddest reaction I remember having was going through flits of different emotions so far from each other, it must have been some kind of shock. One second I was grieving for my father with tears, the next second I was cracking jokes and laughing with out a care; the next second I was back in tears. Laughter and tears I discovered are as close to one another as love and hate, two different sides of the same coin of emotion. It took a long time before I could find joy in anything at all, but in time I slowly could. I would visit his grave every day like I did him at the hospital, thinking he would be lonely if I didn’t. Latter I realized I did that for myself, for comfort. Everyone heals in his or her own way, but I should actually say that you don’t actually heal you learn how to deal. It was a daily struggle to get through an eight-hour shift without breaking down, but keeping busy definitely helped. In the car on the way to work or in the washroom at work I would cry. Then I’d wipe the tears away, give myself a little pep talk, put my mask of a smile back on and do my best to fool everyone into thinking I was alright. What surprised me was the anger I felt towards others and the things they would complain about. Things that I would brush off as just silly, infuriated me now. They would complain that it was too early to be at work, or that they would rather be shopping, or complain that it had been too far to drive to work and how inconvenient it was. The control it took for me to return to work, pretend that nothing had happened and focus on these people was amazing. Such small insignificant problems, but I learned another important lesson from this, you never know what is truly going on in someone else’s life, and what difficulties they are going through. Life happens to everyone. A coworker said to me that she had lost a friend to cancer, I know she meant to comfort me but instead it made me angry inside. She had no idea what I had lost, how dare she compare her sadness to mine, I realize my anger at his death now, that was a very uncharacteristic reaction for me. Every so often I still cry, I still haven’t been able to watch my wedding DVD to the end, but I live everyday with the goal of making him proud of me still. No one wants to see their loved ones in pain, my father wouldn’t have wanted that from me so I struggle every day to preserve his memory in my mind and smile at the recollections. I can talk about him now with out getting upset, I’m glad; there are too many good stories to tell. I take more pleasure in getting together with friends and family now, every moment precious to me, for every moment brings you closer to your last. The fragility of life so clear to me now, another lesson taught. What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger, if you let it. So I’ll finish this how I finished my Dad’s eulogy, something my dad would be proud of me being strong enough to do. I love you daddy and I always will. Thank you for reading Stella
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Copyright © 2009 by Stella Telleria
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