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It’s been awhile…

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It’s been awhile since I have said hello here. Things have been a bit quiet this summer. Pushing through some personal issues, relaxing on the beach and seeking inspiration for all those words I love to write. The good mingling with the bad.

I thought I would share my newest author pic with you, actually my only author pic. I like it. My fabulous husband took it, and I think he has a good eye. It feels weird to have an author pic. I suppose that makes me an author. It’s pretty exciting.

Also I thought I would share my latest publication: ‘Green on the inside‘. I was thrilled to be published by Flash Fiction Online and not only that, but someone reviewed my story! Thrilling.

I hope your summer is full of sunshine and soft waves lapping smooth shores. ❤

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RLXP – Role Playing for Life

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My husband and I like playing role playing games. 

For those not in the know, role playing games (RPGs) are storytelling games where you create a character and someone narrates an adventure. I’m sure you’ve heard of Dungeons & Dragons, it’s the most popular RPG but by no means the only one.

So Ben and I play these games together, sometimes with other people, but most often on our own and luckily for me, Ben is an amazing storyteller.

Recently, we have been playing a game inspired by the awesome book ‘All My Friends are Superheroes’ by Andrew Kaufman. In this game I am a superhero—an empath named The Empath (or Em) and I do what I love to do in real life: try to solve people’s emotional problems. Ben takes on the enormous task of playing all the other characters in the game and he does an amazing job at coming up with tricky emotional situations to inspire me and make me sweat.

The game is small and personal. Smaller and more personal than many role playing games you tend to see played. Often role playing games are massive, magical adventures in faraway lands, but our game is focussed on interpersonal relationships so there’s no demons to slay (except perhaps internal demons) or gold to be looted. And I love that about it.

I’ve played many different role playing games before and this by far is the most challenging and the best. It’s emotional, realistic (with a hint of magic), in short it’s the kind of stories I like to write and therefore it’s the kind I like to play. For the first time in a game I have to face having romantic relationships and even though it’s Ben I’m having them with, because he is playing a character I don’t know that well it feels new and awkward and hard. I have a brother in the game too, which presents me with hard familial choices (he’s on the rocks with his wife who is also my best friend) and as I play a social worker who deals with Superheroes I am constantly encountering people who need my help in a way that often feels out of my league.

I know, I know, it’s just a game. But because it is so small and personal it feels very real and because it’s just me playing the protagonist I want to do my best and help everyone in the best way I can. It’s intense.

Ben’s been running games like this since he was twelve and you can tell. He’s awesome. And because he’s so excited about the art of role playing he’s started a site called RLXP. He has this theory that you can get some real life benefits from role playing and he wants to test that out. So every week we broadcast our games and talk about the real life feelings they inspired. It’s fun and awkward and I think it’s pretty interesting too.

If you want to check out Ben in action and our games you can find all you need to watch us live stream at Ben’s website: http://rlxprpg.wordpress.com/. Also, you can follow him on Twitter @MrBadgerGM to find out when we’re online!

Stop by and check it out!

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Random Conversations: Our cab driver

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Me: Hi!

Driver: Hi! How are you tonight?

Me: Good, how are you?

Driver: I’m 1000% better than I was last night!

Me: Wow! Really? Why?

Driver: Well two weeks ago I went to bed…if you’re interested I’ll tell you my story…

Me: Of course!

Driver: Well two weeks ago I went to bed and I laid down on my left side, I started feeling all dizzy. On my right side no, but my left side so dizzy. I think it’s called vertigo…

Me: Wow, yikes!

Driver: So I ran to the pharmacist because I thought maybe I was having a heart attack…but no, my blood pressure was fine.


Me: Whew!

Driver: So I went to the doctor and he looked in my ear and I had an ear infection and ear wax! So he gave me some drops…

Me: That’s good! Ear infections are bad! I get wax buildup too, it’s bad.

Driver: So then I had this head pain…

Me: Oh no! Like a migraine?

Driver: No, like…I don’t know how to say it…like my head is empty…(laughs)

Me: (Laughs) Oh that’s not good!

Driver: No! So I went and had my ears…well they put a thing in and lit the end on fire…

Me: Candling?

Driver: Yeah candling! There was so much wax (holds up fingers to show how much wax). And my head feels better!

Me: Oh no, I think that’s not real. I think it’s a scam…you should have your doctor clear the wax out for you. They use this big metal syringe and fill it with water and shoot the water into your ear. It’s not very nice, but it works!

Driver: It’s a scam? No! I don’t think so! (Looks weirded out)

Me: Yeah I used to do it, but then I found out it was a scam!

Driver: No!

Me: Did you ask your doctor?

Driver: Yeah. And my naturopath.


Me: (Internal sigh) Oh, well I could be misinformed, I’ll ask my doctor, but I’m pretty sure it’s not real.


Driver: (Shakes his head)

Silence.

Driver: Well I was on Facebook the other day and I saw something about India…you know they were going to hang a prisoner.

Me: What?!


Driver: Yeah he was a criminal, so he was going to hang…that’s what they do there.

Me: Yikes!

Driver: Yeah, so they asked if they could do an experiment and the government said yes, so they took him and said instead of hanging, they were going to kill him with a cobra. And they showed him a cobra. Then they blindfolded him, because that’s what they do when they hang you, and they took two needles…they wanted it to feel like a cobra bite and they ‘bit’ him. Then guess what? He died! And they found cobra poison in his blood!


Ben: (Quietly) Maybe he had a heart attack.

Me: (Louder) Maybe he had a heart attack!

Driver: No! But they found cobra poison in his blood!


Me: Well maybe he got bit by a snake earlier!

Driver: (Laughs)

Me: I don’t think people just randomly have snake venom in their blood without getting bitten.


Driver: Well the body had lots of things in it, so maybe…

Me: Probably not venom…we would be in trouble if we were just walking around with venom in our blood!

Driver: (Laughs) Yeah…

Me: I’m surprised the government let them do that experiment.

Driver: Oh you can do anything you want in India. The government doesn’t care, they just want to get rich and for their friends to get rich.


Me: That’s kind of scary.

Driver: Yeah.


Me: Is that where you’re from? India?


Driver: Yeah!

Me: Oh cool, how long have you been here.?

Driver: 25 years.

Me: Oh, a long time then! Do you like it better in India or here in Canada?

Driver: Oh here of course. It’s much better here.



Me: Do you ever visit India?



Driver: Oh yes I went last month. We visited my wife’s brother…

Me: Nice!

Driver: Yes.

Long silence, Ben and I talk amoungst ourselves.

Driver: (Eventually) You talk about scams, you can’t trust anybody you know…you know even Volkswagen scams people!

Me: I know, it’s very hard to trust people, you have to be so careful. Oh! It’s a right up here and just drop us on the corner! Thank you so much! Goodnight!

Driver: Goodnight!

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How we won at summer

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It started with Auggie’s Ice Pops.

We picked a couple up from our awesome local cupcakeitorium Life is Sweet and headed back to our place to do some good old fashioned summer stoop sitting with dripping popsicles. It was epic. The sun was beating down and melting the popsicles to a perfect drip down the stick and onto our fingers. The day was hot and there was a lovely breeze rustling leaves of the big maple tree out front of our old apartment.

We live in a hundred year old walk up with about eighteen apartments in it, right next to a twin building with another eighteen apartments. The place is full of ‘character’ but it leaks like a sieve so it’s stifling in the summer and freezing in the winter. The amount of character in it is a fair trade off though and we stay because it’s pretty sweet digs, the rent is cheap and it’s a block away from the beach.

Back to the stoop. We’re eating our ice pops (crammed with fresh Ontario fruits with some crazy delicious flavours like Ontario blueberry lime mint and strawberry basil lemonade) and they’re melting all over the place. We’re on the concrete front steps of our building and I say, “This is some pretty good popsicle eating/stoop sitting” and Ben says, “Yeah but wouldn’t it better if we had some nice Muskoka chairs?”

Ben’s the kind of guy who always wants to get just the right bit of equipment for the moment. That’s one of the many things I love about him.


It just so happened that we’d passed some of those Muskoka chairs on the way home with our ice pops at the local hardwareitorium Home Hardware.


So we finished our ice pops, smacked our blueberry stained lips and took off to grab the chairs.

I wanted to get purple, but after a lengthy discussion we decided on a nice, tasteful red. Ben said it was more Canadian and ultimately (although I love purple) I agreed.

We lugged them over our heads to get them home, much to the delight of our neighbours (the Beaches is like a small town, very sociable and everyone has a comment when you are doing something slightly odd).


Then we plopped the chairs down on our tiny slice of front lawn and wrote our address on them with a Sharpie (to dissuade someone from stealing them because they would have to look our address every time they went to sit in them and feel the burning guilt of the theft).

In our desire to eat future ice pops on Muskoka chairs though, we couldn’t have known that our simple purchase would cause a building revolution.

Word spread fast that we were the bringers of the chairs and people started congratulating us when they saw us around the building. “Amazing chairs” they would say. “They raise the property value of the building!”. But what’s more, those chairs quickly became occupied. And the next building over got some chairs of their own and soon the whole front of our building changed into the place to be.

There was food and wine being exchanged, people hanging out with beers and guitars. The building cat became an active presence by the chairs and neighbourhood dogs on their way to the beach were treated to dog cookies by the guy across the hall from us.

People thanked us and offered to somehow (in some obscure way) return the favour of the chairs. The chairs (and us by proxy) gained a bit of a celebrity status. Someone brought out a chain to chain them together to make them harder to steal because “Those are our chairs”, the building loves them and has claimed ownership.

Somehow these two red plastic chairs changed summer for us in the building. People hang out with each other more, because they have a nice place to sit. It’s amazing what fifty bucks and a whim can accomplish.

Personally, the chairs have improved our summer too. There was something about the communal outdoor activity of it that made me crave more summertime fun. We went swimming in the lake for the first time the other day, bought ping pong balls and paddles to play at the table they installed at the park down the street and I jogged for the first time in my life three days ago and kind of loved it.



The chairs were a gateway drug to summer.

And now I’m hooked.

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The oddity of (very) minor celebrity

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Ben and I are (extremely) minor celebrities.

We’ve been on TV a couple times now, once on a game show where we won cash for complying with a talking ATM and the other time a reality TV series where we talked about watching TV.


When we were first on the game show we lived in Etobicoke and apparently everyone in Etobicoke saw the show because people were constantly coming up to us and saying: ‘you were on that show!’. We would smile and say ‘yup!’ because what else can you say to such an open ended statement?

And now that the reality show we were on is playing on repeat on every possible channel we’re getting a lot more recognition on the streets.


Being a celebrity, however minor, is weird.


Because people don’t really want to talk to you. They want to say something at you and then walk away. Some people even come up to us and start talking as though continuing a conversation we were just having, launching into something random like we’re the best of friends. Then, when we’re thoroughly confused, squinting at them like we’re trying to see them better, they smile and say ‘I saw you on TV last night’.

They want to wave at you too, we’ve had some of that. But surprisingly no random stranger ever wants to, you know, have a conversation.

I’ve never fully understood the appeal of talking to celebrities. Sure I’ve had my moments as a kid, starstruck and hugging Drew Barrymore or Kurt Browning (woot woot professional figure skating), but as I got older I started to realize the people we see on TV are just people and I don’t really have much to say to people unless I know them or am forced into a socializing situation with them. 

So I guess that explains why people don’t say much besides ‘you’re on TV’ when they see us. Because ultimately we’re people and unless they’re planning to actually try to befriend us, we are strangers and they don’t really have anything to say to strangers.


But it begs the question of why they even bother to talk to us in the first place. Sure some people tell us they like the show, or that we’re funny, and the other day we had some kids who wanted us to do a shout out to them if we were ever on the show again (hi Adrian!). But some people don’t say anything about it, they just point out the fact that they recognize us and leave it awkwardly hanging after that.


So why do they do it? Is it just for a story to tell? Like are they going home and talking to their friends about how they saw those wacky kids from the TV? It seems unlikely, but possible. Or is it just a knee-jerk reaction to seeing someone vaguely and distantly familiar. Like that person across from you on the subway who you know you know from somewhere and you smile at just to be sure you’re not being rude? Do people feel it’s the polite thing to do to offer recognition to the recognizable?

It doesn’t bother me, it’s just kind of weird sometimes and fascinating (because humans are always fascinating to me).

And ours is only a very minor celebrity. I can’t even begin to imagine the strangeness or the disconnectedness of actually being famous.

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Random Conversations: A man who took our picture

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Ben (looking at a crowded bar): Hmmm…do you wanna go in?

Man (comes up behind us): Naw don’t go in there…it’s too packed…

Me & Ben (turn around, eyes wide): Oh…

Man: I bet you’re wondering: who is this weirdo talking to us?

Me & Ben: (Nervous laugh)

Man: Remember? Click Click? Can I take your picture?

Me & Ben: (Look puzzled)

Man: I’ve been looking for you for months…I thought I saw you the other day by the Juice & Java so I parked and hopped out and ran to look for you, but you must have gone inside somewhere.

Me & Ben: Oh…yeah…probably…

Man: Well here you go! (Hands us a little photo folder with two copies of the above photo in it)

Me & Ben: OHHHHH…..

Man: Yeah, I took your picture…

Me: Holy cow, thanks…thanks so much!

Ben: Yeah wow…thanks!

Man: Well see you later! (Runs across the street to his car)

Me & Ben:
Bye…

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Introducing…my agent!

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The message from London (England) came at 7am right when I was about to step out the door to go take my first science exam in 15 years. I was pumped on nervousness and I did a final e-mail check before I left. There was a message from Conville & Walsh agency in my inbox. The email said that I had won runner-up in their ‘Word of Mouth Prize’ and they wanted to offer me representation for my first novel.

To be honest I didn’t think it was real. I didn’t actually remember entering the competition.

I read the e-mail again.

Then I looked at Ben and started laughing. Then I cried and laughed at the same time.

I shoved my iPad into his hands and said: ‘read this…is it real?’

There wasn’t time for much celebration before I hauled myself out the door to write my science exam (which I totally nailed BTW).

So that is how I came to work with the absolutely lovely and fabulous Carrie Plitt of Conville & Walsh in London. I’m so excited about the agency, Carrie, and the future of my career now that I have such a wonderful champion for my work. I look forward to working with Carrie to bring my books to the world and I’m sure we will have a long and awesome relationship.

Woo!