We are standing on the razor edge of cherry blossom season. Cross your fingers for sunny weather this weekend because the trees will be full-on.

The US men’s curling team is sponsored by Kwik Trip, prime left shirt pocket space, so I’m gonna go ahead and assume Kwik Trip is the American Tim Hortons. 

I took an accidental vacation from everything over spring break. Even though I took three Emily Carr books with me to my parents’s house, I didn’t read any of them. Granted, one of those books is a hardback catalogue sized beast called Unsettling Encounters by Gerta Moray. It’s the critique of Carr’s cultural appropriation I’ve been wanting to read, but it’s definitely a couch book. I’m almost wishing for an epub.

As I continue importing old blog posts over here, I’ve been finding a lot of songs on YouTube to replace dead links. Out of curiosity, I searched Emily Carr, wanting to see the Heritage Minute, but also whatever else popped up. This 15 minute NFB film, directed by Graham McInnes, is what I found. Directed in 1946, the year after Carr died, it shares many of her attitudes. It presents the aboriginal people of BC as a “dying” culture.

And then there’s this, the closing paragraph:

The canvases of Emily Carr are themselves an inspiration. They show that if an artist feels overwhelmingly the urge to paint, it matters little that he works alone, for from the images of his land, he can create paintings that will always arouse deep emotions in the hearts of his fellow men.

Like, are you fucking kidding me? It matters a lot that SHE works alone, because women didn’t do that in Emily Carr’s lifetime. It matters a lot that HER paintings aroused feelings in the hearts of HER fellow WOMEN. When we’re talking about Emily Carr, who did everything she could to remain independent, it matters a lot that you give her that credit. She’s the most famous artist from BC, and she is a woman. Don’t take that away from us.

Instead of reading the blogs of fellow writers, I read a lot of blogs by software developers. I suppose it has something to do with wanting in your free time the exact opposite of what you do in your work time. My brother is a chef and butcher, and the last thing he wants to do at holidays is cook. My work is all about books, and the last thing I want to do is read book reviews. I have too many unread books on my shelves to even think about buying more.

But I find a lot to learn from software developers, especially those who run their own businesses, usually one person shops. I run a one person shop, too. We both sell digital products. You spend a lot of unpaid time making a thing, but when it’s done, you have a product you can sell without extra labour. You don’t have to build app or ebook again; you only have to copy and paste.

Keep building your catalogue, and keep building your audience. Eventually, the one will find the other.

Before spring break, my boss asked for some recommendations for what to do in LA. She knows I have friends in the city and how often I’ve been there. The first time I went to LA was just driving through on the way to Disneyland when I was 12, but I’ve been going to visit internet friends who live in the city for almost ten years (NYE 2008!). The last time was for Megan’s 35 birthday in November 2015.

For my boss and her family, I recommended:

  • Santa Monica Pier, for the amusement park
  • Griffith Observatory, for the best view of the city
  • La Brea Tar Pits and LACMA, conveniently next door neighbours
  • Brite Spot, for the huge pancakes

and today, back from their trip, she reported they went to Griffith Park and Santa Monica, and it wasn’t just their 10yo son who loved the amusement park.

I’ve been to LA four times now. (I think? Off the top of my head?) I usually go for more than a week, and though I stay with friends, I’m on my own for a lot of that time, due to work schedules. Every trip is different. That list up there reflects some faves and regular stops. But the view in winter is different than in summer. The exhibits at LACMA change. I walk down a different alley. I take a different bus to see a different part of the city. LA is so big; I could live there and not see it all in ten years.

And I change, too. I want to see new things, and I want to see the old things with my new eyes. I’m always up for a museum, a diner, but now that I’ve hit the highlights, my favourite trips are the ones where I just wander. You see a lot at street level.

Ten years ago, I spent my 27th birthday with a road trip up to the town of Solvang, and then we got back to the city in time for a New Year’s Eve party. It’s much more common for me to spend my birthday alone. It’s a weird day, I know. Most people have better plans. And I like to do what I want to do. But there’s something tempting about spending my 37th in LA.

So, I’ve been watching a lot of music videos lately. Mostly the Retro channel, but Loud had some good new stuff that I wouldn’t have heard elsewhere. (I listen to a lot less new music than I did a decade ago. It’s weird.) Because Loud is a 24 hour cable channel, with no commercial breaks, the videos repeated, like they were on shuffle rather than a loop. Over the last two weeks, I saw Sixx: A.M.’s “We will not go quietly” a lot, and it grew on me.

Sixx: A.M. is one of Nikki Sixx’s bands. He was also the bass player in Mötley Crüe (and primary songwriter, which I didn’t know). He makes the kind of music that I think I don’t like. I don’t hate heavy metal, but it’s never been my thing. Still, there are songs by heavy metal bands I enjoy.

I enjoy this song by Sixx: A.M. It’s super simple and catchy, it’s not at all my “thing,” but I never changed the channel when it came on. It’s a protest song for our new world. It’s a reminder that you can find your “thing” anywhere.

Six days left in March, and I have a lot of pages to fill in my notebook. So many pages, in fact, that I haven’t even counted them. I usually do that once I get into the last week of a month. Ever since I made the goal to fill a book a month, I’m always aware of how many pages are left.

It’s not about whether or not I can do it. I know I can. It’s about what is it going to take. I wrote my three morning pages. I made a note of the Cubs season opener. (Weird moment seeing the commercial during curling when I wondered how David Ross can be on Dancing with the Stars if baseball season starts next week, and then I was sad when I remembered he’s retired.)

Today is a spring cleaning day rather than a hiking day or a writing day. It’s a shame, because the weather is actually nice, where “nice” means “cold, but not raining.” But my parents are on their way home from vacation, which means I have to clean up their house before I go home. Monday brings the end of spring break and the return of most of my students. Back to the routine, and back to writing at Starbucks. Gotta fill those pages.

It started to rain late yesterday. The kind of coming from all sides rain. Coming up from the ground rain. I can hear it pounding the roof kind of rain. Still, when I woke up at 3:30AM just now, Jack ran to the back door, scratching to go out. Cats are so weird. He won’t drink water that isn’t fresh or running out of the tap, so of course he wants to go out and play in the puddles.

Three stories about curling:

  1. In 2005, Team Gushue came out of nowhere (Newfoundland and Labrador) to win the right to be Team Canada at the 2006 Winter Olympics. The skip, Brad Gushue, was 26. He had barely won anything, never mind the Canadian championship, but he won the first gold medal in curling for the Canadian men. (The Canadian women’s team won the first gold in 1998.) 11 years later, he still hadn’t won the Canadian championship. This year, that championship, known as the Brier, was in his hometown, St. John’s, NL, after more than 40 years away. 13 times Brad Gushue has been here before. He finally won #14, and watching that last rock makes me cry every time. 
  2. Canada is really good at curling. Since the sport returned to the Olympics in 1998, we’ve never not medaled. They say that curling was born in Scotland, but it grew up in Canada. When players retire from the game in Canada, they travel the world, coaching other countries to make the sport better. The women’s world championship is happening in Beijing right now. Scotland’s coach is from Ontario. Korea’s coach is from PEI. Team Canada has won the women’s world championship 15 times, but not since 2008. Because the world is getting better. The world is falling in love with the ice.
  3. But don’t worry about us. Team Canada finished the round robin undefeated, 11-0. I feel good about this team. The skip, Rachel Homan, is a three-time Canadian champion, winning bronze, then silver at her previous worlds. She’s 27, and she’s been curling for 23 years. The on-screen stats curiously always include this fact for each player, as well as their day job. Yes, as big as curling is in Canada, most players can’t curl full-time. (Unlike many other sports, this isn’t limited to women.) There are lawyers, chiropractors, financial planners, and the ambiguous “business owner”. It’s a bit of comfort for us artists that even Team Canada needs to work to pay the bills.

Today I learned Sade is actually a band, not a solo artist. Yes, the singer’s (stage) name is Sade, but she has always released albums as the lead singer of a band of male musicians.

I grew up in the MTV era (in fact, we were born the same year), but I didn’t grow up with MTV. We had a TV with a rabbit ears antenna and five channels (six with good weather). Even now, after a decade of YouTube and a concerted effort on my part, I’m still seeing music videos from the ’80s for the very first time. This is Sade’s Smooth Operator, which sent me to Wikipedia this morning, wherein I learned this new fact.

Two years ago, I decided to read only female authors. This year, I doubled down on that resolution and deleted (most) male voices from my iTunes collection. (I kept a few duets and songs by male artists with featured women.) During the last week at my parents’s house, I discovered two cable music channels new to me: Stingray Loud and Stingray Retro. It’s a nice change from MuchMusic to watch a music channel with just videos and no ads.

There have been a lot of dudes singing on Loud, and not even as many silent female bodies as you might expect in music videos. But Retro has been the permanent “last channel” on the remote all week, a regular source of memories, new and old. While I’m watching Team Canada play (undefeated!) at the women’s curling world championship this morning, I just flipped back now to catch Nena singing “99 Red Balloons”.