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Tricia McCallum is a Toronto freelance writer and also publishes fiction and poetry.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Please Stop.

Beyond what any of us could have imagined.
What anyone could have described.
Part of me wanted to say
Just take him.
I’m powerless: We all are.

This runaway train of tests and results
and the hideous waiting.
Shock and denial kicking in, predictably,
for a roller coaster ride that never stops.

Listening to the doctors I stand
slack-jawed, mute.
I appear to onlookers mildly interested.
Where are the incisive questions now?
The cut to the bone I’m famous for.
Even if they need asking
the answers would not be fit
to hear.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

To my Relay for Life Teammates (the morning after):

Hi Teammates:

I am on my fourth coffee so am actually approaching coherency once again (I am ever the optimist!)

Looking back on this Relay, I realize every year has its own character. There have been years marked by ridiculous weather, by personal and particular losses, by event size and location, and more. But each stands apart.

I think 2011 was the year of contemplation. There was minimal drama (I mean, not a water sluice, flying tent, or oil slick the whole night). And Mary Poppins was certainly a more demure theme than 2010's witchery. Couple our rather sedate evening of twinkling (literally) fairy lights while we dabbled with the Proust questionnaire, and yes, contemplative fits.

I think (and am happy that) we all came to know one another a wee bit better. As Bertrand Russell wisely said: "Just connect." And this year I felt we did.

Somehow it all comes together doesn't it? Some of us are mothers, meaning frenetic schedules and impossible demands, but you show up whenever you can and for as long as you can, and give your all. What great lessons for your children.

Bekah is the perfect example, who told me last night that she and Melissa and possibly some other friends may work toward having their own team next year. It did my heart good to hear that: Whether or not it happens is less important than that they want it to.

And burying the lead, which I am not inclined to do, here goes: We raised the most cash yet in 2011, am I right?

Just want to thank all of you for working so selflessly for others, people you may never know but whose lives may change dramatically because of the effort you put in here each and every time out.

I am proud to count myself among you.

Hope to see you out and about this summer. Enjoy your holidays wherever they take you and the roads leading to them.

I leave you with some favourite quotes about friendship:

Yes we are [friends] and I do like to pass the day with you in serious and inconsequential chatter. I wouldn't mind washing up beside you, dusting beside you, reading the back half of the paper while you read the front. We are friends and I would miss you, do miss you and think of you very often. I don't want to lose this happy space where I have found someone who is smart and easy and doesn't bother to check her diary when we arrange to meet. ~Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body, 1992

“I felt it shelter to speak to you. “ Emily Dickinson

“My mother used to say that there are no strangers, only friends you haven't met yet. She's now in a maximum security twilight home in Australia.” Dame Edna Everage.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Overnight Relay for Life fundraiser tomorrow night!

We have our overnight fundraiser called Relay for Life for cancer research tomorrow night in a town nearby. We raise money all year, my (our!) team of 10 women breakfasts: garage sales, barbecues, theatre nights, name it - and then one night a year – tomorrow! - we join up with dozens of other teams from our area to walk through the night together, at a local fairground. Two team members at a time walk for half an hour and then two more replace them, from 7 pm til 7 am.

We pitch our tents; share stories; I run a Trivia Challenge for everyone at around midnight every year; and we eat junk food and gab. Our team’s theme this year is Mary Poppins, thus our campsite will resemble a rooftop, complete with chimneys and smokestacks, and sprouting form these foam board cut into curls of smoke in various shapes. Suspended above all this will be twinkling lights, and a silhouette of Mary Poppins herself flying aloft (we’ll rig it somehow, not sure how quite yet, maybe good ol’ fishing line), her umbrella unfurled, her carpet bag in hand.

I am glueing plastic daisies to my hat today, and preparing my outfit – long black skirt, fitted tweed jacket, ankle length lace-up red leather boots, and of course, my trusty tartan umbrella. I even found an initial M to iron on to my jacket lapel. I bring the baking naturally. Doing a “high tea” theme this year in keeping with the very proper English theme of Mary Poppins. Scones, raisin and cranberry orange, homemade jam, mini-cinnamon buns and fudge brownies, and two decadent layer cakes, one filled with caramel, the other with chocolate mousse. My BAD. But my teammies need carbs for energy at 3 in the morning.

Reason for all this fuss? Only the best cause ever: Reducing cancer in our lifetimes.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Back from Book Expo America!

Just got back from New York and Book Expo America, where any author without a publicist is in the minority.

Confirms that the book business is indeed a "business," now more than ever. These are cautionary times in publishing, and if I hear one more time the phrase: "Poetry is a hard sell," I will no be held responsible.

Interest in poetry never wanes though, as judging by the number of people who expressed genuine interest in my book. That was very heartening. There was precious little poetry on display actually, which made me unique, without even trying.

The line to meet uber-writer James Patterson wound up and down several aisles and these people wait endlessly with seemingly infinite patience.

I handed out hundreds of copies of my book and chatted with, well, everyone, including security guards. I learned an extraordinary amount about selling books and most importantly that I need to "build my profile" in order to attract a distributor of any size. So that is my m.o. over the summer.

Back soon...

Following Seas

How the sunlight hit the mainsail just so.
The water sloshed good-naturedly between the hulls.
Van Morrison serenaded us
while the dented tin kettle sang
on the tiny harnessed stove.
An old man on shore stood waving to us
for the longest time.
Just stood there,

the fish we saw through our masks.
They looked like the drawings of a child
who had just discovered

Spent, slick with salt water,
we splurged on hot showers
and sang to one another across the deck.
we lay at the bow for hours,
fetching tea in turns,
how could one night
hold so many stars.

Cooper Island, BVI