Wednesday, July 29, 2015


I wonder if I'll ever write on here as consistently as I did...

There are some new exciting things going on in my life. I have a book done and ready to send off to publishers. I have a fancy new sewing machine that I'm making my book covers on...

 I have a studio space and Mr. Nacho is the coolest cat. I keep thinking I don't do all that much here in Thunder Bay but I guess that's just not true.

I've been part of a writing group that meets once a month. I'm going to school and working on two books. I'm on track to meet my goal of reading 50 books this year. (see that here)

I've also gone through a spectrum of hair... this was the last one and I just chopped it all off today. 

Well there's a mini update.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Don't be just a tourist

"Please be careful." My dad said before we hung up on Skype. It was in reference to my up coming Cuba trip. "Of course!" I replied, "What could I get up to? I'll be staying at a resort." 
He just gave me a knowing look and repeated, "Be careful."

About 20 minutes later, in between texting with Tara about bikini's, cameras, sunscreen, departure times, if I should bring the crib board, I threw in "Wanna be a legal mule for medical supplies?"

As it happened, a mere 5 minutes after talking to my dad I found something on the internet called Not Just Tourists. A non-profit organization that has three ways to support other countries around the world when you're traveling. Their website seemed legit and it linked me to a Not Just Tourist-Toronto branch, and within a few moments I was calling to see if I could volunteer on such short notice, my flight left in just a few days. They assured me they would try to get a suitcase together that I could pick up when I stopped in Toronto the day before my Cuba departure.


Or so I thought... until I told my partner. In a very happy-go-lucky tone I said something like, "I decided to volunteer to take medical supplies to Cuba. Yeah, I'm just going to pick up a suitcase when I land in Toronto and then drop it off somewhere in Cuba..." 
"You're what?"
"The website has pictures."

To which Dan was the voice of reason and brought up some really good points that hadn't even crossed my mind. The main ones were:

1. Cuba doesn't mess around, especially when it comes to drugs (further research after this talk found that association with drugs in Cuba is a crime punishable by death) Who is packing this suitcase?

2. I had no idea where I was going to pick up the mystery case (something I really didn't see as a problem, I knew it would be downtown and I knew I'd know before I landed in Toronto)

3. I had no idea where I was going to drop off the suitcase. To which my retort was "... the city I'm dropping it off in is called Moron." (You can't search for streets in Google maps of Cuba and there is no street view.)

4. I didn't know anyone personally who had done this before. 

I'll address #4 first, this made me see a whole other way of thinking that gave me even more conviction to follow through. Other people probably thought this way, my friends probably felt this way, and now having done it I want to encourage everyone I know to give it a try.

The address of the pick up was figured out quickly and I was explicitly told to unpack and repack the suitcase so I'd know all the contents. When I got to Tara's that evening we looked at the goods. Everything checked out, there were bandages, vitamins, syringes, pretty much a closet full of supplies.
Not knowing exactly where I would be going to drop the supplies off didn't phase me. I had four addresses of drop off clinics in a town nearby the resort Tara and I would be staying at. 

Fast forward to the Cuban customs. I was nervous, all the warnings people had given me rang in my mind, I had my paperwork handy just in case. But no one asked, no one cared, I had zero problems and easily grabbed my bag and left the airport. 
Fast forward to Moron trip, we grabbed a cab and headed to the hospital.

Hospital in Moron, Cuba
Walking with receptionist
Waiting with cockroaches in the hall
my eyes are closed but the logo is there
Now... as much as I'd like to I'm not going to sugarcoat this. We got there and looking at the outside of the hospital I thought I was making a huge mistake. The place looked great from the outside and I thought I was about to offend someone with my "gift" (I was told explicitly NOT to call it a donation and practiced saying 'Regalo' in my head over and over.) So we got inside and immediately knew we were doing the right thing. This looked more like a converted middle school than a hospital. We were taken down many corridors and eventually were asked to wait in a hall for the director. It was then I realized I wish I hadn't spoken Spanish. Wishing that I had just played dumb and handed over the suitcase and walked away. After waiting for a while, getting hot and bothered, and squeamish for watching so many people pass by a giant cockroach flailing its legs while laying on it's back as if it were a normal thing, we were finally let into the room. The director explained (in Spanish) that he was not allowed to take the gift. It had to be given to a different organization who would distribute it fairly.
My spoiled Canadian self expected him to boot up his computer, connect to the internet and give me the address, directions, and phone number for this other location. But when internet is $6/hour that was not happening. He called his reception, who then called back with a phone number. Then he called that number and surprise... no one answered. No one had another number, or address, or directions.
I was getting annoyed by this point, I wanted to do a good thing and there seemed to be some hoops to jump through. There was a lot of back and forth until I finally got into my thick skull that this man could lose his job for accepting these supplies, which moments ago the receptionist seemed so excited about. So we up and left. With the bag. There were three other clinics on my list that I had gotten from the organization.

I'm going to jump ahead through the minutia, we found the other clinic, we dropped off the supplies, and were not too worse for wear.Apparently there was a doctor coming in later that day for a clinic that only happened at certain times, the lady in pink was the receptionist. If it wasn't for the logo on the door and some randomly placed chairs slightly representing a waiting room, I would have thought it was someone's house.

It's something I would do again but give myself more time.


Alright. WOW. Life is just a wave of pretty damn cool right now, so I wanted to share my beam of happiness. 2015 has started off with a bang. I actually submitted two things in January. A play for 10X10 and an application for Correspondence program of the Humber School for Writers. Today I just found out I got both. AND I got my Puzzometry puzzle in the mail. AND yesterday there was a huge snowfall covering Thunder Bay in an awesome blanket of hip level snow. AND I'm in an online writing class which made the whole correspondence program at Humber seem like the best way to go to school ever.
So open the pink champagne, do the work, show up, follow your dreams folks.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Questions for the New Year

It's become a new year tradition to do this list. Either on New Year's Eve or sometime in January. I review the previous year and make a list for the year to come. I've added two new questions this year. If you have new questions please send them my way! Happy New Year!
1. This year name one person that you will make the attempt to have a stronger relationship with?
2. This year what is one risk that you promise to take?
3. This year what is one aspect of your personality that you will be willing to change to make yourself a better person? (How does this question make you feel?)
4. This year, what is one daily ritual that you can commit to?
5. This year, what song could you choose to represent the year you are going to have and will you
download that song after reading these words?
6. This year, who is one civil servant that you will say hello to for the entire year?
7. This year, what is one body of water that you promise yourself you will swim in?
8. This year, name one person that you will truly thank who rarely gets thanked.
9. This year, what is an artistic experience that you promise to have?
10. This year, what is one argument that you will no longer have?
11. This year, what is one thing that you will do to give back to the world or community that you live in?
12. This year, what is one thing that you will learn?
13. This year, what is one thing you will let go of knowing you don't have the power to change it?
14. This year, where will your quiet place be?
15. This year, name three people you will surprise with a random gift?
16. This year, what is one thing that you will teach someone else?
17. This year, what is one fear that you will overcome?
18. This year, what is one food that you will eat more often?
19. This year, what is something wonderful about your personality that you promise to consciously appreciate?
20. This year, what will you do that you have always known you had to do?
21. This year, what is one book you will finally read?
22. This year, what is a completely new experience you will give a try? 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Best Of 2014

Movie: Frank

TV show: BoJack Horseman

Graphic Novel: Saga created by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples

Novel: Annabel by Kathleen Winter
(I didn't read any novels that were published in 2014, so this was my best read of 2014)

Video game: Child of Light

App: Scrabble

Coffee: Kicking Horse's Kick Ass

Tea: David's Vanilla Chai spiked with Amaretto

What is on your list for Best of 2014?