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Behold! Is this a thing of beauty or what?!



Come chat with me and you could win!

On Wednesday 10 September, I'll be doing a live chat at, with a contest for a $75 gift card! RSVP here to get an extra 25 contest entries:

I wrote a book! So now I'm having a party!

Hey, if anyone reading this (is anyone reading this?) is here in the GTA, this post is for you!

As I may have mentioned, my first book, The Midnight Queen, is coming out OMG NEXT WEEK ACTUALLY.

So I'm having a launch party! The lovely people of Bakka Phoenix Books will be on hand at the North York Central Library on Sunday 7 September, from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m., to sell books. There will be snacks! And balloons!! And a reading (at about 3:00). And possibly (you never know) singing!

I’d love to see you there :)


Back in the saddle

So, I meant to blog a lot from Calgary. Whoops, that didn't happen. I mean, I did blog a bit, but I don't think 3 posts in 2 weeks qualifies as "a lot".

I did do a semi-reasonable amount of writing, though, so I'm happy about that. Although not as happy as if I'd done, you know, a WHOLE BUNCH of writing.



Kites! and Canada Day

It's Canada Day! I made waffles.

And we walked up the street to Nose Hill and flew kites.

Also have a look at this bee:


So this post has literally no purpose except to show you guys this photo of a meerkat I took at the Calgary Zoo today.

In the ancestral homeland

... well, not really. In Calgary, where I was born and (mostly) grew up.

It is lovely here. People are complaining about the cool weather, but after 5 sweltering days in New Orleans for a conference, I'm quite enjoying it, TYVM. It's been raining quite a bit (but not enough for the rivers to flood again, so not to worry), so everything's lovely and green. We've been doing nothing much for two days now. We should do some things. Today perhaps the zoo, if anyone else ever gets out of bed ;)

After the flooding this time last year -- which I didn't witness first-hand, but heard about from family and friends here, and watched on the television and online with a weird combination of shock and horror and fierce pride (that's my city, I would say, all those people making do and helping each other out and, G-d help me, going rafting on the bloody Bow, seriously, what is WRONG with you, dear G-d THAT BRIDGE IS UNDER WATER, I've walked across that bridge, HOLY SHIT) -- it's strange to come here and see things looking perfectly normal. Of course things look perfectly normal because I haven't yet been anywhere near the flood zones. (If we do go to the zoo today, then we'll see: the Calgary Zoo is on the banks of the Bow River -- part of it's actually on St George's Island, in the middle of the river -- and took a terrible beating in the floods.) But also because it's been a year almost exactly, and this is a city where people buckle down and get things done ... and because this city, and the province it's in, currently have a lot of resources at their disposal.

Which brings me back to NOLA. I had never been there before, and I was there for a conference so didn't see much of it outside the hotel and the French Quarter. It's been 9 years since Hurricane Katrina, and you can definitely still look around and see where the damage has been repaired. What you can't see unless you go looking is that there are still people who haven't yet been able to go home. The keynote speaker at the conference was John Biguenet, who was there at the time of Katrina and began his talk by telling us, "Whatever you think you know about what happened, it's probably wrong." Go read his blog.

Extreme weather events happen. You can't always do anything about it other than getting the hell out of the way. But you can make it worse by failing to fund reasonable precautions (like making sure the levees in NOLA were actually up to the task) that would help keep infrastructure solid and people safe. You can make it worse by blaming the victims and making it difficult for them to get away, to find shelter and water and food, to pick up the pieces afterwards. You can make it worse by going on TV to rant about how their misfortune is their own fault. You can make it worse by insisting on lower taxes at the expense of maintaining infrastructure and social safety nets.

I really wish we could stop always making it worse.

Mommy, who's Jim Crow?

I was reading Atlantic this morning, the June 2014 issue whose cover has no art, just some stark and lovely typography related to Ta-Nehisi Coates's article about reparations for slavery in the US. (You can see it here.) Which is an excellent and depressing and eye-opening and heartbreaking article, and everyone should read it right now. SP was sitting at the other end of the couch doing whatever it is she does on weekend mornings when she's avoiding getting dressed and brushing her hair and getting breakfast, and she looked up and read the top two (biggest) lines of type -- "250 years of slavery. / 90 years of Jim Crow." -- and said, "Mommy, who's Jim Crow?"

So we ended up having this long conversation about the legacy of slavery in the US. And then eventually, somehow, about the preponderance of black NBA players. Conversations are more complicated when your child is edging towards adolescence, but some things are still impossible to explain in a way that makes sense. Like why anyone ever thought it was okay to treat people like property because of the colour of their skin, and how much we are still refusing to deal with the fallout of that all these centuries later. (Coates notes that there's a guy, John Conyers Jr., who's been trying for a quarter of a century to get Congress to at least study the question of reparations. He can't even get his bill onto the House floor. WTF. Is Canada any better, with our ongoing refusal and/or inability to listen to what our First Nations are saying? Yeah, probably not.) I suspect I didn't succeed very well, because, well, I don't understand it either.

(I also had to try to explain Alan Turing a few weeks ago (because we were discussing The Imitation Game, which I may possibly be a teensy bit obsessed with ...), specifically what happened to him that led him to kill himself. Why would a grateful government prosecute, convict and chemically castrate a man who made such an incalculably critical contribution to winning a horrendous war? Whenever we have conversations like this, I find myself saying "I really don't know" a lot. :P)

SP kept saying, "But not in Canada, right?" And ... no, but still in some ways yes. COMPLICATED.

The thing is, I'm glad and grateful to be raising my kid in a place and time where systematic, legal discrimination on the basis of race or sexual orientation seems bizarre and wrong. So glad, so grateful. But it would be so easy to say, "People used to think like that, but they were wrong, and we don't think like that anymore!" -- easy, and self-congratulatory, and wrong. Because maybe we don't, but lots of people still do. Or ... maybe we don't think we do, but we don't know what we don't know.

I'm cis, (primarily) straight, white, with a university degree and a full-time job: I have a whole backpack full of privilege. I'm also Jewish, a woman, and grew up in a female-headed household with an emotionally abusive father on the side: I have an inkling of what it's like to be on the outside looking in. But only an inkling. We went without things, but never food or shelter or winter boots; I've been told I'd never be good at certain things, or didn't deserve to have certain things, because I was a girl, but never that I didn't deserve to live; I've been bullied and talked down to and belittled, but never literally beaten; I've been sexually assaulted, but lived to tell about it; I've had to explain my religion/culture to people who've said unbelievably ignorant things to me (as well as to many people who've asked perfectly reasonable questions), but I've never feared for my life as a result.

I live in this hugely multicultural city in a multicultural country, and it's easy to focus on how great that is -- it really is great, and I love it -- while eliding and ignoring the problems we still have around race (certainly first and probably foremost, Canada's uncomfortable colonial history and the brokenness it's left in its wake). I want to raise my daughter to value the diversity of humans, their cultures and their languages and their experiences and their voices and their colours and shapes. I have to be conscious that I'm coming at this from a position of privilege, and when I sometimes fail and say something stupid, I need to not be that person who pitches a fit when called on their stupid.

Just a memo to myself.

Behold: Book cover!


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January 2015


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