Friday, January 22, 2010


I have no major theme or connective tissue for today, just a little things I've been thinking of and would like to share with you. Please do not attempt to take them as a whole; they certainly do not come to more than the sum of their parts. I'll try to visually separate everything on the page for you.


I like rules. Maybe more than a so-called creative person should or is expected to, I enjoy being told what to do. I gleefully tell potential employers that I take direction well, and I really mean it. My friend P calls this my desire to "outsource my thinking," and she's spot-on--I appreciate it when someone will bother to form a plan or opinion where I have none--saves me the trouble, and provides the illusion of an ordered universe. Obvious, this won't work well with things that matter a lot to me (ie., my writing, my clothes, what I'm going to eat), but I am really appreciative of advice (or imperitives) on such low-stakes issues as where to put the butter dish, when to send thank-you notes, and where I may wear my hat.

Yep, I'm an etiquette junky. When I was a tiny, I somehow picked up the Emily Post Book of Etiquette a great aunt had given my mother for high-school graduation (in a much much different edition than pictured here). And I've been a lifelong devote to her newspaper columns, and now the family (there's dozens of'em) have a website. Lately, when I've been feeling blue or harried or as if the world just weren't up to the white glove test, I've been turning to the Post family's Etiquette Daily blog, and it's been making me feel better. I thought I'd share my story, and the link, in case it might make you feel better, too.


Kerry Clare wrote this amazing post I think you should read, called Escape the Ego. Don't be alarmed by the fact that it seems to be about a book called Eat Pray Love--I'm not sure what that is either, but I'm wary enough of the title that I'm not going to Google you a link (sorry!). Anyway, the post isn't really about that book--it's about why we read, and write, and what happens when we do. And it contains this beautiful paragraph:

"...I read, I think, to break it down and enable me to see the world in miniature, as manageable. Which, however conversely, is to be able to look at the big picture and regard it all at once, perhaps for the very first time. Fiction is a study in the hypothetical, a test-run for the actual. An experiment. What if the world was this? And we can watch the wheels turn and this bit of sample life run its course to discover. And I don't mean that literature is smaller than life, no. Literature is life, but it's just life you can hold in your hand, stick in your backpack, and I'm reassured by that, because the world is messy and sprawling, but if you take it down to the level of story, I am capable of some kind of grasp. Of beginning to understand what this world is, how to be in it."

To which I say, yes. Also, wow.


Paul Quarrington has died, another hard blow in a rough week for CanLit. I hadn't, in truth, read much of Quarrington's work, but I was a big fan of his live performances--a great reader, a great speaker, a surprising good singer (I saw his band, The Pork Belly Futures play in Winnipeg because I was all alone and it was either that or stare at my hotel-room wall--and they were brilliant!!) He had a wonderful big warm presence, and an off-the-cuff joy in performing. I actually went to so many Quarrington events, and just ran into him randomly at so many litsy things, that he started smiling and saying hi to me, even though he had no idea who I was. I was in the process of working up the nerve to introduce myself, and now I am not going to get to do it. Which is sad. But I will be reading the books.


And so ends another miscellaneous week. Hope this finds you well!


Kerry said...

Isn't it funny-- when I wrote that, I was thinking of you. I was pleased when I was finished because it seemed like something you might write. I am glad you liked it. xo

Amy said...

If you like rules, you might enjoy The Ethel Cotton Guide to Conversation. After my grandmother died, we found this among her things, complete with her handwritten notes in the back. And she was a great conversationalist!

Rebecca Rosenblum said...

Oh, good tip, Amy! Another such gem here. It's a bit over-the-top, and 100 years old (or so) but actually, a lot of it makes perfect sense!!