Sunday, October 23, 2011

Not-writing

I am who I am
made by all that came before this
sights from the side of the highway and my life in different cities I've lived.
—Tanya Davis, "Made in Canada"

I'm not-writing a book about Toronto in that way of sneaking up on the idea when it isn't looking and pinning it to the page. Maybe it's presumptuous having only been here for two months. But I like the romance of discovering a city for the purpose of capturing a sense of it, wrapping it up in ideas, and turning it into something mythic.

For the past two, nearly three months, I've been making a collection of ideas about Toronto. I thought, surely if I keep stuffing them into a jar—don't worry, it's got air holes—they have to mingle and become something. For the longest time, I could feel the ghost of it haunting my peripheral vision. If I waited, if I was still and then turned quickly enough, I'd grab hold of what it was.

I have many, many fragments of what it is not. What it was. What it won't be any longer. I think it's a fable, a strange surreal folk tale wrapped in allegory and wanting to say something about community, about seeing the world in that magic-shrouded way the young can see places.

I think it also just wants to be weird and wonderful and not shackled to reality, not forced to give way to what is in lieu of what would be cooler if it was.

It'll probably get away on me; I'm going to let it.

Here's a paragraph of what it wasn't—not quite, but close:


Someone told me once that every city you live in will always get compared to the first city you called home. It’s inevitable, because cities want to mark you as their own. They want in your head and your blood—that’s the reason why different people fall in love with different places. Cities are an endangered species—there aren’t many of the giant sprawling omnivores left. Now it’s all communities, boroughs, neighborhoods. They say it’s because there isn’t anyone strong enough to channel all of that—to hold the entirety of a metropolis inside their heart.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanks given

It's late and I'm writing the post of thanks. It was the kind of slow-moving, unseasonably warm day that needs gratitude. Not because it was bad, but because the way you hold the telescope determines whether things are near or far. All things felt both near and far today, like the telescope pivoted because I was sharing it with someone unseen.

I'm not always certain I appreciate slow, sunny days—days without work, days with time to ponder and question—because they give me too much time to think. I feel like I should be doing something, even when I'm determined to practice the art of doing nothing.

Today the sun was bright and the air hot, and those curling leaves on the ground were still mostly green. But it is October, and soon enough it'll be another October gone. I don't know where the years are going; I'm starting to question how I spent the years that have passed.

Today, I was thinking about killing dreams, about letting go, and the permissions we seek to do so. I was thinking a little of how the passing of people like Jack Layton or Steve Jobs makes me question what I'm doing, and if it makes a difference. If I stopped doing it, would anyone notice? And should it matter if they did?

Also, I was thinking of gratitude, not just for the things in my life but the gratitude I express to others for the things they do for me.

I don't think I've ever been the type of person who finds it easy to ask for help. Some times the little gestures mean so much because they're an expression of kindness that hasn't been asked for. And I don't think courtesy is an empty gesture. We choose to be polite, even if we were simply raised to believe it's the right way to behave.

It's not easy for me to ask for help, because I want to prove that I can do it on my own. Even when I can't, I still want to try first. So today, I'm feeling grateful for people who offer without being asked. I'm grateful for those who reach out when I'm feeling too tired to initiate contact. For those who gently guide the conversation when I'm not feeling comfortable enough to direct it.

Mostly, I'm grateful for the time to be still enough to recognize and acknowledge those moments of kindness are what save the world. Because it's the good days, and the clarity they bring, that we have to hang on to. When our stomachs and glasses are full, and there's a sense of celebration, and we feel like what we've done—even those smallest of gestures—matters.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

2 months

I feel like I'm dating this city, and the first month was us feeling our way around each other. The let's get to know you, and maybe we both tried a little too hard to be impressive. For this second month, Toronto was incredibly thoughtful and gave me and 1000 of my demigod friends a Rick Riordan signing.


Of course, now I worry that it's on me to provide the awesome for our third month anniversary. It's not exactly easy to top meeting one of your writing heroes. On that note, never meet Neil Gaiman in person unless you want all other meetings of your writing heroes to pale in comparison. I'm kidding. He's awesome—and so is Rick Riordan.

Not so sure it's awesome, but definitely an interesting thing to note... I learned at the Rick Riordan event that apparently there are those who refer to me by title alone. As in "Oh, you know, Indigo Teen Blog." Like I'm the Doctor and my name is a great and terrible secret that will cause silence to fall. Ok, not really. Apparently, "Indigo Teen Blog" is just easier to pronounce. (Which I'm sure is also the Doctor's reason for going by the Doctor.)

It's good that Toronto and I had such a nice evening on Thursday, because this weekend the internet gave me this:

It's small, so you can click it if you need to. But according to the Chapters Indigo website, The Wild Hunt is now sold out. As in no longer available to purchase new from Canada's largest book retailer. The book is also no longer available through Canada's largest independent store.

Behold my hipster street cred: I am officially an obscure author! You can now tell your friends you enjoyed reading The Wild Hunt with the smug satisfaction that they can't just go out and buy their own copy.

To make them doubly envious of your refined totally-not-mainstream tastes in Korean comic tie-in novels written in English, I'll sign your copy. Better yet: I'll personalize it with a great message about some secret fun adventure we had. Or at least compliment you on your excellent taste in plaid.

You probably think I'm joking. I'm not. I personalize every copy of The Wild Hunt I sign. (Except for that one that got left at Anticipation and is on a shelf somewhere in the home of someone whose first language is French. I read enough French to glean that said person enjoyed the story.)

Of course, being an obscure author means I'm difficult to find, so you'll have to make an effort to get your book signed. I recommend trying World Fantasy 2011. I hear a rumor that I may be there, but then again, it may just be Indigo Teen Blog who's going.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

When I am a proper grown-up...

One day, I will have a coffee table.

It will be in a living room, because I will have a room that is separate for sleeping and living, and it will also have a couch. But not a white couch, because it's ridiculous to have a white couch. I mean, all the dirt in the WORLD finds a white couch. Especially if it's a new white couch that belongs to your roommate and you're really worried that your dark denim jeans are going to leave a faint inky impression after you're gone.

So no white couch. But not black, either, because then it shows dog hair and I have decided I will definitely also have a dog so I can walk him down the street and be like "oh dear, my adorable dog is peeing on a bus stop bench. Isn't he adorable? I'm so embarrassed by his dog-like behaviour." His name will be Jackson. I promise not to dress him in sweaters, but I may have to give him a brightly-colored plaid neckerchief, because it'll distract people from how he's peeing on a bus stop bench instead of in a park like nature intended.

In the living room, there will be a TV and my friends will come and we will drink wine—as grown-ups do—and watch Doctor Who (because it will never go off the air, ever). I look forward to the day when I have a TV and a PVR thing and all my digital recorded media that I watch at my convenience is considered legal and morally upstanding. Currently if I want to legitimately purchase media from iTunes, the files are so damn large that trying to catch up on The Vampire Diaries causes me to use up all my internet bandwidth.

It's ok, because in this future lovely time I'll either not be in Toronto or Ontario will cease to have a Second World internet system because the monopoly of a certain cable company that starts with an R will have been crushed well and proper. The future, it's glorious.

Right. Friends. Actual TV. Couch that isn't white. No one trying to get Jackson the Dog drunk on wine.

And at some point, one of my dear friends will look at the coffee table and see this book:


My dear friend will say "Why, Chandra, that looks like a highly sophisticated book combining your love of subways and a specific sans serif font made popular by Apple. How charming—and so perfect for your lovely coffee table."

And I shall smile and say "yes, I know."

I'm going to start with the book. The rest will come in time.