Xmas break; CPL Writers Weekend

The gents are off for a another skate with their buddies at our community rink, which is only about 300 meters from our house. So I have a quiet moment, in which I could be doing laundry, wrapping gifts, and many other things. Instead, I’m finishing my coffee and posting here, as I may not get another chance for a while. Though I have to say, we’ve pulled back from some of our holiday commitments this year and it does feel like more of a holiday. This could be the start of something big. Besides, I’m getting over a cold. Need to take it easy.

So an update on Calgary Public Library’s Writers Weekend, which takes place on February 5, 2011. There are free writing programs all day, with Rona Altrows and yours truly doing a session on writing fiction at 11 – 12. Other presenters include Susan Toy from Alberta Books Canada, Betty Jane Hegerat, Marcello di Cintio, Oana Avasilichoaei and a publishers’ panel. It think it’s going to be a great day! Spaces are already filling up, so register early to avoid disappointment.

If I don’t get another chance, I’d like to wish one and all a Merry Xmas. Here’s to joy and contentment and lots of good writing in 2011.

All for now. I hear the patter of big Sorels on the front step.

We All Shine On

I just can’t let this day go by without remembering John Lennon. I was appalled to note, while driving around doing errands this morning and hanging around at home, that as I switched around my radio stations (CKUA, CJSW and CBC FM) none of them played any of his music that I heard. However, I’m confident that David Ward will come through on CKUA this afternoon; he always does on December 8th. In the meantime, here’s a short excerpt from my story “Across the Universe” which is included in my collection Nothing Sacred. The main character, Maggie, remembers his murder:

When it happened that Monday night in 1980, I was working in Jeunesse, formerly the Misses’ Wear department, at the downtown Bay. We’d just started opening Monday and Tuesday nights for Christmas shoppers, and it was dead, dead, dead. I finished my homework by 6:30. Could have shot off a cannon and not hit any one, said Peg over in Career Wear. Pretty much the only customer who came by was the old transvestite who wanted to try on angora sweaters. I wasn’t really supposed to let him into the ladies’ change rooms, but I didn’t care. There weren’t any managers around. I hoped he’d come out and show me how they looked, but he didn’t. Later, I took an extra long break in the cafeteria. It seemed that night would never end.

Finally, I got home and sat in my room flipping through my records, trying to decide what to listen to. I was so brain-dead from my shift I couldn’t think. Then my friend Kevin called.

“Hey, Kev. What’s up?”

“Are you by a radio?”

“Yeah. Why, is your band on CJSW again?”

“No, Maggie. It’s so weird. John Lennon’s been shot.”

“Get out of here. Who would shoot him?”

“I’m not kidding. Turn it on to CBC.”

I sighed, switched on the radio and tuned it to CBC, expecting to hear a Neil Young song, or something even worse. Kevin was quite a prankster. But this time he wasn’t joking. John Lennon had been shot outside his New York apartment building, the announcer said. He’d been rushed to hospital, but they couldn’t save him. He was dead.

I remember being in shock for weeks after it happened. I went to school the next day, but I couldn’t concentrate on anything. Crystal and I skipped classes that afternoon and went and hung around downtown, wandering aimlessly, trying to understand it. We eventually ended up at Records Galore. Dave looked about the way we felt, just kept shaking his big bearded head. He said he’d sold every Beatle-related item he had in the store before noon. The three of us just stood looking out the front window of the store a long time, watching people trudge by through the snow.

Yep. That pretty much sums it up. I’ll never forget that day.