Our Stories

When I was in high school, my best friend and I used to write what we called “our stories.” (Typing that phrase now makes me think of my Grandma Dot and her devotion to Days of Our Lives.)

Basically, it went like this, we’d choose a theme: the dance, the drive-in, the date (forgive us, we were teenage girls. What else would we write about?), and then one of us would start the story. If it were me, I’d write 3 or 4 pages in the evening, leave it at a cliffhanger, and then in the morning before classes started, I’d read it to Emmalyn in DM’s foyer. She’d balk at the cliffhanger, wonder how she’d write her way out of it, and then she’d do the same to me the next day. I clearly remember how excited we were to hear what the other person had written, and then being extra-excited to rush home and continue the story. We did this for years, but then it kind of petered out once we went to different universities and couldn’t see each other every day.

Emmalyn has been the keeper of all our stories for the past two decades. She gave them to me a couple of weeks ago to read, and man, it’s hilarious to think about what was so important to us back then. The CFNY dance? And it wasn’t just one story about a dance, there were several. All of them starred the two of us, plus one of our friends who went to a different school, and of course, our current crushes. We all had aliases just in case the stories were misplaced somewhere. Looking back, everything little thing was so huge, vital, something to exclaim about: “Did so-and-so glance at us? Ohmigod. He looked this way. Is he going to ask me to dance?” Totally embarrassing, but I love to think of us back then writing away in our rooms about that kind of stuff.

The majority of the time our stories had no plot; they were more like a snapshot of some event that we thought was important. However, as we hit the older grades, we branched out. There was the Australian Outback adventure, and Emmalyn did a great story about Miss Scrimmage’s Finishing School for Young Ladies, which was a riff on Gordon Korman’s “The Boys of MacDonald Hall” series. That reminds me, I have a whole bunch of his most recent books to read. One of my favourites of his books is I Want to Go Home, about this boy Rudy Miller who is sent to summer camp and spends every spare minute trying to escape. It came out in 1981, and I remember thinking it was so funny and ridiculous. I must get it from the library.

All this to say, I’d like to recapture that excitement of writing just for one person, namely Emmalyn. So when she suggested that we start writing our stories again, I was like, sign me up. I’d like to think our stories are a little more mature this time (we are in our late 30s, after all), but who knows, and who cares because we’ll be the only people reading them. We can make them as embarrassing as we want!

Free trip? Yes, please!

I entered the CAA Discoveries travel-writing contest today. Hard to believe, but this is the first time I’ve ever submitted to a writing contest. I couldn’t resist, though. Basically, you write a 200-word account of your favorite “travel,” and then CAA travel experts pick the best one. Winner gets to go on a free trip and then write about it for their magazine. I wrote about how Trevor and I went whitewater rafting along Kicking Horse River. That was a thrill ride. The winner is picked in June, so I’ll just have to wait and see. I can’t imagine if I won. South Africa, Ecuador, China…where would we go?

Kobo thoughts: I like my new Kobo. (Trevor got me one for Christmas.) I’ve always been curious about e-books; I even bought a few close to ten years ago when there were no such things as e-readers. However, I found it hard to read a couple hundred pages on a computer screen, and quickly “shelved” the idea of electronic books. But now I have to say that with the Kobo, it’s very close to reading a physical book. It’s not back-lit so there’s no stress on your eyes, and wow, is it ever easy to download books from the Toronto Public Library! The only thing is that the new releases are always gone. You have to go on a waiting list and wait for readers to “return” them, which is fine, I guess. They are library books, after all.

One problem I’ve had is that a couple of the library books came as pdfs instead of e-pub formats, and the font was too small. I couldn’t read them and also couldn’t figure out any way to make the text bigger, except to zoom in, which sure, made the font larger, but then you had to scroll the page up and down and side to side. My only other complaint is that the Kobo is extremely light. This is one of their selling points: it’s better than dragging around heavy hardcovers books, which I’m prone to do. The only thing is that I like to read curled up on the couch, with my knees up, and the book resting against my knees and my stomach. The Kobo is so small and light that this reading setup doesn’t work. The Kobo keeps slipping down my knees. I know, wah, wah. I’m almost over it.

Back to Blogging

Well, this blog can’t be just about our BC adventures anymore; that was last summer’s trip. Sniff.

Enough crying. I’ll see those mountains sometime soon. I wanted to get into the daily habit of writing again; it’s been years since I wrote personal stuff that was just about me and not work-related writing. Talk to most working writers, and you’ll find out that the last thing we want to do is sit down after a day’s work and write for ourselves. Alas, my “own” writing the past several years is almost non-existent.

So this blog will be a mishmash of topics: my thoughts on freelance writing, books, and personal finance. Yeah, how’d that last one get in there? Well, I love reading about money, budgeting, finance, etc. My best friend calls me a cheapskate at heart (I used to complain about paying 5 bucks to get into a high school dance, but hey, that’s a lot when you only made $20/week babysitting!). I like to think of myself as financially aware.

Anyway, one other aim of this blog is to keep me on track with my 2011 “no-buying-books” rule. Those of you who know me, I know what you’re thinking—this will be impossible for Tara to do. I almost agree—my fingers itch when I merely walk by a bookstore; I can’t help but go in and browse. Oh, how I love the feeling of turning pages.

The thing is, Trevor and I have so many unread books around the house, it’s ridiculous, and yet I still buy more. So, my plan is to read those books, use the library, and borrow off of anyone who is willing to lend.

The only wrench in this plan is that, just today, I received a $25 Chapters gift card as a “goodbye you’re leaving present.” Okay, I’ll bend the rules: someone gives me a gift card, I can use it to buy books.” That’s the only time. :)