Monday, December 31, 2012

Obligatory New Year's Post: No Resolutions, Please

What I Learned in 2012

That I can survive:

… one child in Afghanistan and his triumphant return stateside,

… another child during prom season, high school graduation, and the first day of college,

… another starting middle school and going to his first dance—with a girl,

... another breaking a tooth,

I don't have a broken tooth photo. This will have to suffice.

… yet another year in the grips of the flaky film industry with a dollar that won’t stop rising,

… yet another rewrite for a book that seems to never find its end (please don't give up on me!),

... the Mayan calendar meltdown apocalypse end of days what-have-you thingie. We're still here. (I secretly knew we would be.)

And I’m grateful that this year, thus far (there are a few hours remaining in 2012), in this household:

… no one contracted Ebola,

… no one broke any bones,

… no one crashed any cars,

… nothing caught on fire (other than my cooking),

… we laughed more than we cried,

… we had access to the medical care we needed,

… I signed with the World’s Most Incredible Agent and have worked/am working with two of the best editors in the industry,

… I got some secret book news that I am dying to share,

… I felt swathed in bubble wrap by friends who love me, who lavished me with signed books, Oreo cookies, and rubber ducks from all over the globe,

… that the confounded U.S. elections are over so people can put their brains back on.

I also learned that …

… I complain a lot but I don’t really mean it. I’m mostly kidding,

… our school district really does have a lot of days off,

... that no matter what my agenda has scratched on it, patience really is a virtue, and if I want my dreams to become reality, I have to understand that the people I rely upon have a lot going on besides just little ol' me,

… there is no accounting for some people’s taste—case in point, everything on TLC,

… that I can shove a needle into the flesh of my ailing cat in order to save his life,

… that I can change out the shower diverter, replace the sink faucet, and fix the black thingie that makes the toilet flush, ALL BY MYSELF,

… that some people are just stupid and can never be changed,

… that Bag Chemistry makes the awesomest messenger bags (we have four now: a Mockingjay, two Shakespeare bags, and the Minecraft Creeper):,

… that every second of my publishing journey is THIS:,

… that despite being late to discover this, GAME OF THRONES is the greatest thing ever invented in the whole long history of cinema and television (#HouseStark!),

… that this is my favorite entertainment website: Disclaimer: It’s my daughter. But she’s comprehensive and really cute. Plus, if enough people like this, she can eventually monetize and, well, who doesn’t like a kid with a JOB?

… that I love Grammar Girl:,

... that there will never be enough hours to fix bad writing nor enough hours to read the writing that makes me drizzle those happy tears,

Thank you, Heidi ... I still can't believe you did this for me. *heart*

… that I have had the best editing clients ever this year, and every time someone emails and trusts me with his or her work, I am grateful and humbled,

... that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, no matter how much of yourself that you give, you can never be the right kind of friend. Conversely, sometimes it only takes an “I’m sorry, I screwed up” to get a friendship back on track. Never be too proud to say you’re sorry. And always be humble enough to say thank you to the people who count you among their friends.

I won't make a list of 2013 resolutions here because ... resolutions are made to be broken, and I don't want to fail first day out of the gate, especially because my brain is addled secondary to megadoses of antibiotics fighting whatever beast is currently inhabiting those squishy things in my chest that enable me to breathe. (Oh. Lungs. Right. Those.)

Here's hoping YOUR 2012 was better than expected, and if it sucked, take solace in the fact that only a few hours remain, fiscal cliff be damned. Thank you so much for being my friend. Please keep in touch.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Does a Bear Sh*t in the Woods? Not If He Can Use My Yard ...

Suffice it to say, when you move to Canada, you're in for some nature. Even city dwellers in urban Vancouver and way east over in Toronto will share their tales of urban wildlife--hawks, owls, raccoons, coyotes, and yes ... bears. I live in a suburb of Vancouver (about 35 km outside the city), close enough to make jaunts downtown not too painful but far enough away that I don't have to deal with, well, Vancouver. I'm a homebody. Too much traffic, too many people -- makes Mommy nutty. Granted, comparatively speaking, we still have an impressive population -- almost 216,000 in just the Tri-Cities area (Port Moody-Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam), enough that traffic is becoming a bigger issue every year, as is lack of infrastructure (schools, fire houses, grocery stores) and so many stupid drivers. Did I mention that I hate stupid drivers? Those, we have many.

But we live close to the woods and huge stretches of as-yet undeveloped land (sadly, I don't know how much longer I will be able to say that because of the gross greed of zealous developers). The Coquitlam River is walking distance from my house and is fed by a glacier over those mountains (I'm pointing -- just look north). Funnily enough, folks assume that because I live in the Great White North, we get tons of snow. Not true. Not around here, at least. Our weather is similar to that you'd find in Seattle or even Portland. So when it snows, it's an event. Folks forget how to drive (and get stupider than usual). Kids want to skip school to make snowmen. We sled. (Although around these parts, they call it "tobogganing." And winter hats are called "toques.") We drink cocoa and warm our hands over heat vents after a raucous snowball fight in the yard where at least one child (ahem*Kendon*ahem) will get nailed in the face by a tightly packed ball of white wintery delight.

Each year, we are typically satisfied with our assumptions that the creatures are denning in preparation for the Long Dark as the clouds are impenetrable most days. Sun? What sun? And of course, we think our walks along the river paths will be safer because the bears are finally asleep.

Or so we thought.

This morning, I looked out the bedroom window to the snowy yard below, hoping the neighbors wouldn't see my uber-frightening morning face/hair/penguin pajama ensemble, and I saw these:

First thought: "Damn, that was a big damn dog that traipsed through the yard uninvited. I hope he didn't poop."

Second thought: "Wait -- if that was a dog, then where are the dog's owner's footprints?"

Third thought: "That dog has a really bizarre walking pattern."

Best thought: "Holy shit, those are BEAR TRACKS!"

You can even see the imprint of his rather large claws in these images. Trust me when I say that these flat, full prints are about 7" long. THAT is a big bear. And he is very much not sleeping.

It's sort of dark so that I can show you the contrast of the pads of his feet and the nails.

Husband thought I was being silly. Until he too looked and saw that, though I've been known to have Random Moments of Crazy, this was not one of them. I posted a few shots on Facebook and was validated by folks who've lived here longer than I have -- indeed, these are bear tracks, made in the pristine snow just outside my bedroom window.

Good thing I've stopped sleeping with fresh cookies on my nightstand, or we could've been in real trouble. A few months ago, a bear broke into a car to get the remnants of a ginger-molasses cookie left on the passenger seat. #truth #gingermolassescookiesareyummy

The tracks lead to the neighbor's garbage cans in their carport and then disappear (the neighbors shoveled away their driveway snow like good humans are supposed to).

This probably makes me a big fat dork that I am so impressed by these bear tracks, but more than that, I'm sad for the bear that he's not yet hibernating, that he feels he needs to dig through the garbage because he doesn't yet have a full belly. Wherever he ended up last night, I hope he was warm. And I wished he would've knocked on the window so I could've seen his pretty face and given him a hug.

Okay, FINE, I know I can't hug a bear. But if we could have Fantasy Day during which we could hug all the animals who would otherwise rip our faces off with a single swipe of an outstretched paw or a chomp of the well-toothed jaw, add lion, tiger, honey badger, wolverine, and Smaug the Dragon to my list.

Happy Christmas or December 25 or Winter Solstice or whatever you celebrate, if you do. (If you follow a religion that does not celebrate a winter fest, then, um, yeah ... whatever floats your boat. Just means more marshmallows for us, so thanks.) I will be wearing fat pants and, barring any unforeseen natural disasters or acts of God, not leaving the house. Unless that bear shows up again and then I might follow him ... you know, for a hug.

Xs and Os ...

Postscript: The likely culprit here is a black bear, Ursus americanus. This photo is from Spirit Bear Lodge's website and is not at all mine. Just so you know which bear we're talking about ...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Brain Flash for Day 345: The Bard Said It First

As a huge Shakespeare fan--and I mean that in the sense that I am a fan of his work, not that I am a huge person, although since I've turned 40-ish, my pants aren't fitting properly, so huge might not be too far off ...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

BRAIN FLASHES: The Series In Which We Summarize 2012

In honor of the days of 2012 waning like my neglected, wilting houseplants, I shall now proceed to inundate you with my version of  THINGS I LEARNED IN 2012, or something to that effect. This will be a recap of stuff that I found, learned, saw, heard, ate, sang, read, drove over, posted on Facebook, slapped, or screamed about, all from this, according to you Doomsday-Zombie-Apocalypse-End-of-Days-Mayan-Calendar-Counting Eeyores, 
our Last Year on Earth.

I hope you enjoy. And please, share yours too. This is a team effort.

Xs and Os ...

And if you're looking for the Perfect Book to get that bookworm on your holiday list (or maybe you just have a List of Shit I Should Get For Those People I'm Legally Tied To or Else 2013 Will Be the Worst Year Ever), my personal hero, John Green, has a fun video chock full-o-recommendations:

 (Oh, and SHOUT OUT to Mr. Green for the honor of his fantastic book, The Fault In Our Stars, being named Time Magazine's #1 Read for 2012. Totally deserved. Best book I've read in years.)