Choose One of Five

It has been a tumultuous couple of months, personally and professionally. Personally, there have been some issues I won’t get into. Professionally, I chose to end what had been a previously cherished relationship, one that had not worked for me for a long time. Maybe one day I’ll talk about it, but not today (and probably not anytime soon). 

I suppose the reason I’m writing this is that lately I have been searching for a different approach to life. I was told recently by a valued teacher that something I’d been doing to get by just isn’t working anymore. It was a mask I slipped on, that I have been using since I was a teenager trying to find my voice. That mask has disintegrated and now I’m left figuring out how to go about it all. What is beneath the mask, and do I care for anyone to see it?

Literature, my normal outlet isn’t helping. I read widely, but I’m not finding what I’m looking for in books these days. I don’t know why. Books have always been my sanctuary against the world. 

This morning, I realized what I want is for people to speak words of truth to me. It’s why lately I’ve been seeking out the most powerful speeches (fiction and non-fiction), letter readings, essays, that I can find. And today, I’ve spent this entire morning listening to and thinking about Andrew Scott’s reading of Edith Sampson’s commencement address to North Central College in 1965

It’s brilliant, and so moving. I hope you find as much inspiration in it as I have. If you do, let me know. 

To all my Torontonians...

(April 10, 2019)

I’m at the Albufeira train station, waiting for my train to Lisbon, to visit the oldest bookstore in the world. Shawn Mendes and Drake come on the television in front of me, one after the other at this little cafe I’m at. Two Toronto boys, played on TV in Portugal while this Toronto girl waits to go visit a bookstore, an institution, to see if her book is there. What a life!

UPDATE. My book was at the store. Started from the bottom now we’re here, baby. 

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To the people on the beach below me (except for that one man in speedos—you can keep moving, friend)

(April 8, 2019)

I’m up high, drinking a half bottle of Douro in the Algarve. There’s a floor-to-ceiling window at my elbow and the sun is behind me, heating up my back. It’s evening, and I’ve been waiting for the sun to disappear for two hours now. It should be dusk, but it isn’t somehow. It feels as though time has stopped. 

The seagulls are out, playing their games. It must be a sign of old age, that I’ve grown so fond of these modern dinosaurs. I must have given up on life in some way because I”m this close to abandoning what’s left of my youth and becoming an ornithologist. Just one more terrible date or bout of earnest mansplaining will push me over the edge and into some elastic-waist pants as I search through the sporting goods store, looking for the best deal on a pair of binoculars. 

I digress.

The reason I’m in the Algarve is Shakespeare! I grow weary of life, friends, and when this happens, I take an acting class. My favourite, by far, is Shakespeare vocal training. And you thought being an aspiring ornithologist was nerdy enough. But no. I am THAT nerd, the one who has to take it to Bard levels. It makes me so happy, truly it does. When you’re doing Shakespeare, you can’t do anything else. Not if you’re doing it correctly. You can’t write. Can’t procrastinate, or wonder what the point of life is. You can’t be weary of it because, as my coach likes to say, verse is hopeful. 

For the past five years I have written every single day. Good day, bad day, travel or no travel. The only exception is for these Shakespeare classes, when I settle for some light editing at night. 

Since I have two books out next year, I do have an untold amount of editing to do. Normally this would make me a basket-case, but right now I’m not going to worry too much about it. 

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