Knitting project # 1.
Make, make, make.
Receipt of knitting project # 1, on Christmas morning.
Give, give, give.
Receipt of knitting project # 2, on Christmas morning.
Tis the season to fall out of routine and into sloth, indulgence, mirth, and despair, seemingly overnight. The highs are high and the lows are low. I did not follow my own advice from holidays past, and suffered as a result. Eating, drinking, socializing, lying around in pajamas. It sounds so peaceful, so relaxing. And then the house is a disaster, and somehow I, too, am a disaster: pimpled, lank-haired, moody, tired yet restless. (Basically I turn into a teenager again, albeit a teenager capable of cooking up a turkey dinner for twelve.)
This morning I got up earlyish and met a friend for a walk/bitch session, then went to a yoga class, and therefore all is rosy again.
I can even face, with some measure of equanimity, the fact that today is my last day in my fourth decade of life. Which is a fancy way of saying that I turn forty tomorrow. I don’t feel old enough to be turning forty, but the calendar disagrees. When I turned thirty, I didn’t mind it at all. I was preoccupied, newly pregnant with my third child, and thrilled about that. I enter this new decade with less of a sense of purpose and occupation. Maybe that’s not true. But maybe it is. A decade ago, I was hip-deep in the care of small children and had published my first book. The path ahead looked clear and certain.
The path ahead looks less clear, less certain right now. I admit that freely, even though it unnerves me, a bit. It unnerves me not to know, exactly, what it is I intend to do or accomplish. It unnerves me to be out here looking around with a sense of freedom, wonder, and possibility. It unnerves me, but of course it also thrills me, intrigues me. I think my viewpoint for this coming decade is going to be broader, wider. I won’t be looking down into the faces of tiny, needy creatures looking up, with arms raised. We can talk about so many things, as a family, that we couldn’t a decade ago. We can consider, debate, plan, set goals. I can set individual goals, apart from them. They can set individual goals, apart from us. Or we can set goals together.
I figure I spent the first decade of life mastering the basics: to stand, to walk, to run, to talk, to read, to write, to get along with others.
I spent the second decade of life experimenting: with identity, with relationships, with my own morals and values and sense of self, with education. (I messed up a lot during this decade, for which I forgive myself; and expect the same from my own kids–the messing up, that is. It’s the only way to learn. I’m still doing it.)
I spent the third decade of life framing in my version of adulthood: continuing education, working toward a career, getting married, parenthood.
I spent the fourth decade of life shifting focus and experimenting with identity once again, as the children grew and I began to claim space and time for myself. Sometimes I think the best parts of my day are made up of hobbies, all of which began in the past decade: writing this blog, exercising, taking photos. I feel like I should call them something more profound than hobbies, but I don’t know what. They aren’t money-earning activities. Yet I value them more than almost anything else I do, for the stability and sanity they provide, which colours every other aspect of my daily life.
The fifth decade is a mystery. I want to imagine it as a really exciting decade, with momentum, experience, and confidence underpinning my efforts.
Here’s hoping. And here goes…
I just received the cover art for the Polish version of Girl Runner (titled “Biegaczka”; any Polish-speakers out there? does it translate as Girl Runner?), and thought it might be fun to line up the covers so far, and see all these versions of Aganetha Smart running, flying, leaping, winning, or standing pensive and strong, as in the Dutch version, which will have the title “The Rosebud Athletics Club for Women.”
Because the images appear on the screen in a different order depending on your browser, it doesn’t work to tell you what cover comes from where by going around clockwise, but included here are covers from: Poland, the United States, the UK & Australia, Spain & Latin America, Canada, and the Netherlands. (I should run a contest–which cover comes from where!)
I also just got off the phone with Owlkids, the publisher of my first children’s book, The Candy Conspiracy, and will take this opportunity to note that although the official pub date isn’t until April, 2015, it’s already available for pre-order on various book-selling websites in Canada and the US. Here’s what it looks like.
Will it be different to be a children’s author than an adult author? I guess I’ll find out soon enough. And I will let you know, but of course … One difference will be the launch party: way more gummy worms. (This launch party basically plans itself.)
I’m putting a timer on everything I do today, in an effort to maintain a disciplined schedule. Blogging was not on my to-do list, but I have to report that I found a cure for November, at least a temporary one. It’s called December. Yesterday, we started December a day early and dragged the tree out of the attic, which the kids decorated (the younger ones with greatest enthusiasm). AppleApple and I also decided, impulsively, to start a new advent tradition: Christmas-cookie Sunday, or, as her big brother said, as he dashed through the kitchen, “Hashtag CCS!”
Other cures for November included cooking a big supper while the older kids were at soccer practice, and the younger ones played games together (and then watched the Pokemon cartoon on YouTube): an Indian-themed feast. Just because I wanted to. While listening to the radio. I also did my physio exercises while listening to the radio (#projecthamstring). I love the radio.
It was quite late in the day when we started our baking project, and I had my doubts about the five-ingredient, flour-less, oil-free cookies chosen by my daughter (and in truth, our version looked only sort of like the polished shining cookies in the cookbook’s photograph), but it all came together smoothly; moreover, I highly recommend these cookies. They are crunchy and chewy and lemony. Plus you can tell yourself that eating one is almost like eating a tiny little protein bar. That’s what I told myself when I ate one after coming home from spin class this morning.
Now, to return to my disciplined day. Timer just went.
Zimtsterne, or lemon cinnamon stars
Grate the zest from one lemon into a small bowl. Sift 2 and 1/2 cups icing sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add 3 cups ground almonds, the lemon zest, and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix together. In a separate bowl, beat two egg whites until stiff. Fold the beaten egg whites into the almond mixture, and stir until the batter comes together. It will make a stiff dough. If it’s sticky, add more ground almonds.
Divide the dough in two to make it easier to roll out on a lightly floured surface. Cut out cookies (we used a tiny star cookie cutter from the Bulk Barn), and lay onto baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for 5 minutes in a 400 degree preheated oven. Use up all the scraps by gathering and re-rolling.
Let cool on rack. Ice with a lemon glaze made from 1 and 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice mixed with 1/4 cup of icing sugar (or more). We used three batches of glaze to ice our cookies.
PS Next week we plan to try Pfeffernusse for #CCS. If you have suggestions for favourite Christmas cookie recipes, please post them or email them.
PS#2 I’ve opened shop. Signed and personalized copies of my book are now available for order on the sidebar. Optionally, for a better price on Girl Runner, my Canadian publisher, House of Anansi, is offering a one-day deal, 50% off (TODAY! DECEMBER 1!).
But my bag is packed and I’m leaving again in, oh, two minutes. I’ve got readings tonight and tomorrow with my fellow fiction finalists for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Award.
But I wanted to say hello. Hello! I’ll be home for Halloween to carve pumpkins and take a small secret agent and a slightly larger vampire girl trick-or-treating. (The two eldest are declining to collect their quotas of candy this year, which saddens me slightly. Oh, how they grow. And mama wants those Coffee Crisps!)
Well, there go my two minutes. Time’s up. I’m off. More to come, soon.
In less than 24 hours, I will be home.
eating a potato scone in my hotel room
after a run in the rain out past Kitsilano beach
& prepping for my last event here at the Vancouver Writers Fest, a panel at 5PM
thinking that the return to reality is going to be steep, rocky & uncompromising
knowing too that this shall pass
wondering what I’ll keep from what I’ve found on this adventure
wondering what I’ve found
The long-shot has happened: Girl Runner is a finalist for the 2014 Rogers Writers’ Trust Award for fiction. It feels like a lightning strike, which is what I was thinking about prize lists this morning, before hearing the news. And when I heard the news, via a tweet that my cellphone casually blinked across the top of my screen, it felt like a zap, an electrical shock. I guess that’s where the phrase “feeling shocked” comes from. Somewhere real.
This is what the jury said about Girl Runner in its citation:
Carrie Snyder’s Girl Runner delivers us one of the most memorable characters in decades. In 1928, Aganetha Smart won Olympic gold for Canada in track. But at 104, she is confined to a wheelchair in a nursing home, forgotten. In plumbing the depths of Aganetha’s story, Snyder has this incredible woman whisked away on one more adventure, during which she brilliantly explores the twin natures of memory and loss. Girl Runner is a witty, poignant, and finely plotted novel that offers us a character possessed of the wisdom that arises only from a life well-lived.
To which I have nothing to add. I’m speechless. This could all be very bad for my ego and my super-ego and whatever other subconscious unconsciouses are floating around inside a person, but then again, maybe it’s just all good, today, right now. I’m going to go with that. Gratitude for right now.
P.S. To celebrate, I’m considering splurging on a celebratory ukulele! That way I can join my girls, who’ve both taken up the ukulele recently, and have been singing and playing together in the evening (there is literally nothing more heart-warming than hearing them sing and play together, and I do mean literally) … look out for a red-haired sisterly folk duo in about a decade or so ….