Rain or shine?
Once upon a time I would’ve said rain but living in Ireland for several years changed that. Shine, definitely!
iPod or mp3 player?
iPod, although I usually listen to music directly on the computer.
Movies or TV?
Movies. The Toronto International Film Festival is always a wonderful time up here – it’s great to see people so excited about movies that they’ll spend hours in line to see films that aren’t your standard box office hits. During the past few years I’ve caught a couple festival screenings at the Elgin Theatre which is this gorgeous, ornate, old world theatre, supposedly the last double decker theatre in the world. When you’re watching a movie in that setting you can’t help but think this is how movies should be viewed.
City or country?
City. Especially walking cities.
Mountains or beaches?
Both. That’s what makes Vancouver so perfect!
Dots or stripes?
Dogs or cats?
Cooking or eating out?
Cooking, although I’m sure Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay would be dismayed to see what we considering ‘cooking’ at our place. There’s no herb garden. We don’t even have a food processor.
Coffee or tea?
Neither. I get my caffeine via Coca-Cola, which I’m pretty addicted to.
Books or magazines?
Books. I’m always reading something.
I hardly ever reread anything but a book I keep coming back to over the years is Emma Who Saved My Life by Wilton Barnhardt. It’s about this twenty year old guy named Gil who moves to New York in the seventies to become an actor. The two constants in his life, for years, are his feelings for Emma (his first roommate in New York) and the vibrancy (both good and bad) of the city itself. On a more general level I think it’s about that time in your life when everything feels like a possibility and you want it all so badly! You’re consumed with drama and longing.
Easons on O’Connell Street in Dublin. Every time I’m in Dublin this is one of the first places I go. Their flagship store has four floors and a café and I get to pick up all the Irish and British books that haven’t made their way across the pond yet. It seriously doesn’t feel like I’ve properly arrived in Dublin until I visit Easons.
It’s so hard to pick just one but The Year My Voice Broke, an Australian coming of age movie, is always near the top of the list. It’s set in the fifties and is about a fourteen year old guy in unrequited love with a girl a little bit older than him. She has a reputation for being wild, like her birth mother, and nobody’s sure who her real father is. There’s also a ghost, problems with the law and the tragic story of her birth mother. I’ve seen this movie so many times and it still breaks my heart. Am I cheating if I name a second one? Children of Men completely blew me away. I almost forgot it was a movie while watching it, and got a tension headache from that unrelenting feeling of the fate of the future hanging in the balance.
British protest singer Billy Bragg who is equally talented at writing love songs (he’s also incredibly funny and down to earth so most people at Bragg gigs are as happy to listen to him speak as they are to hear him play). I’ve been a fan for over twenty years and have lost track of how many times I’ve seen him play over the years. The last time was at an HMV appearance in Toronto and I actually gave him an advance reader copy of I Know It’s Over. It was one of those moments that’s going to stay with me.
Last spring a friend got me hooked on Africam.com, a site with live streaming video from a game reserve in Africa. I haven’t been on it quite as much recently (which is a good thing because I was spending way too much time there) but it’s highly addictive. At first I didn’t see many animals at the watering holes but if you stick with it you’ll be rewarded with sightings of elephants, gnus, giraffes, water buffalo, zebras etc.
I think my picture says it all – I’m not a designer person.
Since I don’t drink coffee I’m happy at any place that serves a good fruit smoothie.
Potato Chips. Lately I’m really into pistachio Jell-O too.
I like pubs with a traditional British or Irish feel that serve a good shepherd’s pie and fish and chips – places with lots of dark wood and not a lot of natural light so you can hide out from the sun when it’s too hot or from the snow in winter. When you’re in places like this you feel almost like it could be any time of year – any year for that matter.
Aqua. I never get sick of blue.
Have you ever:
I lived in Dublin on and off for several years during the 90’s. I was crazy about it but incredibly homesick at the same time. It’s a fantastic place and I met some really amazing people there and loved having the chance to hang out there but ultimately the pull to come home to Toronto was really strong.
Gotten a tattoo?
Stayed up for the midnight release of a movie or book?
Not yet but my friend and I went to the midnight release of a U2 album in HMV in Dublin years back.
Disliked your job?
Not the writing one but other jobs in the past. I once worked at a lingerie store in Knightsbridge for a week and the people running the store were the worst snobs. They didn’t even want you helping someone if they didn’t look like they had money. I had to tell a woman we wouldn’t do a bra fitting for her. I spent the majority of the five days I was there pointing all the hangers in the same direction on the racks or running errands for the manager. It was so boring. They were trying out me and another girl during that week and I was really relieved when they decided to hire her and let me go.
Cried during a movie?
Oh, yeah, quite a few times!
I’m an awful singer and have only done this once, with a friend in a Dublin pub at somebody’s twenty-first birthday party eons ago. I can’t remember what the song was. The experience is a haze.
If you were on a desert island, what 5 things would you bring with you?
Rice (that seems to work well on Survivor), a shortwave radio, one of those flashlights you can power just by shaking it, a good strong knife and a how to book on surviving on a desert island.
What’s on the list of things you have to do during your life?
I don’t really have a list but I’d like to travel more and live a few different places (before the homesickness sets back in and pulls me back to home base!). It would be cool to learn to play guitar at some point and write some songs.
If you could have one super power what would it be?
I’m having an inner debate between time travel and being able to use the Jedi mind trick. I’m going to say time travel because of the things that would allow you to see – dinosaurs, the building of the pyramids, the future.
What’s your perfect music playlist?
The Airborne Toxic Event song Innocence would definitely be on there because I’ve been playing it to death lately, also Nightswimming by REM, Optimistic by Radiohead, some Leonard Cohen, Bloc Party, Aimee Mann, Our Lady Peace, The Frames.
What’s the one food you could eat day after day and not get sick of?
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
New Zealand. Any images you see of it are breathtaking.
What moment in history do you wish you could’ve experienced?
It’d be great to have been around to see all the cultural changes happening during the sixties – the civil rights and anti-war movements and all that amazing music. I think the sixties is still an inspiration to us. It shows we really can changes things if the desire and persistence is there.
What does your dream library look like?
Kind of like the pub I mentioned earlier – lots of dark wood, tall shelves, a fireplace, lots of elegant, high-backed arm chairs. Since it’s my dream library you can even order shepherd’s pie there and of course they’d have an amazing selection of young adult books, graphic novels and literary fiction. Maybe it’d even be haunted by the ghost of a friendly librarian.
When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?
Most of the time the first place I hit is the teen section to see what new stuff is on the shelf.
If everyone had to read one book, what would you have it be?
Deaf Elephants by William Benton. It’s a tiny, tiny picture book I stumbled across in a gift shop about five years ago. It’s a simple, beautiful story about deaf elephants making their way in a world that doesn’t always have a place for them. The story had me tearing up in the store. It’s very short (you’ll have it finished within minutes) but had such important things to say about struggle, individuality and happiness.Thank you so much CK!
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