Working for the weekend

So I received a lovely comment the other day from an equally lovely reader (and one who seems to have fashioned his own form of English – reading his phonetic language is at time akin to deciphering some kind of code) asking me if instead of toiling away in employment obscurity, I am living off of the royalties of a amazing invention or product (seeing as though I don’t talk all that much about my place of work on ye olde Rant and Roll.)

Alas, as much as I wish this were true, it is in fact not the case.

At least, not yet.

I do work, and while my experience with my job doesn’t require me to write long-winded diatribes about the injustice and inhumanity of it all, it certainly isn’t all satsumas, rainbows, and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies (cut out in the shapes of owls and otters.)

Sometimes I stampede about my office, ready to rip out my hair and the vocal chords of whatever poor sap who just happens to be shuffling by with the printer paper refill order.

Sometime I am all rage, all the time.

But honestly, when it comes down to it, I like my job.

I get to research and write policy recommendations to the provincial government. I write news releases, speeches, and editorials, ghost-write and edit for professionals who need help with their pieces, conduct interviews, manage social media, and do some pretty large scale event planning.

And when I say that I bloody-well love some of my co-workers, there isn’t one kernel of untruth in that statement. There are four ladies with whom that I work whom I love dearly, and I can honestly say that if they weren’t there for me day in and day out, I would have packed up my bags (and Mr. 8”X 11”s vocal chords) one heck of a long time ago.


But despite all of this, there are times when I feel myself getting restless.

On the surface, everything is a-okay. My head bobbing above the water, I am the spitting image of perfectly calm, perfectly collected.

Just keep swimming…just keep swimming.

However, peer a little closer – down, deeper into the depths of the lake (or whatever body of water it is in which I am swimming) and you’ll see me limbs thrashing about every which way, desperate to propel my body into a new direction. I crave to be constantly on the move – doing new things, making new plans, setting new goals.

Which is why outside of work I take on as many ventures as I possibly can, pushing myself to do as much as possible, driving myself to the brink of sanity and exhaustion.

I have been a Big Sister with Big Sisters of the Lower Mainland for almost four years, and since January have been working as a media ambassador for both their mentorship initiatives and the organization as a whole. I volunteer with Vancouver Co-op radio as a co-host of the Storytelling Show, a program dedicated to the telling and sharing of women’s stories and I’m constantly in the process of training for a new competition – my next race is the Fall Classic Half Marathon taking place November 18, 2012.

My next big goal is to finally, FINALLY give stand-up comedy a go.

And of course I have my blog (my baby!)

Rant and Roll is one of my most favourite projects and because I am so darned in love with it (and even more so with all of you gorgeous jerks) I want to make sure that every time I push ‘publish’ the product I am putting forth is as brilliant as it possibly can be.

Writing so much every week has been such a phenomenal exercise in getting me back into “writer” mode, that I believe when the time is right I will be able to make the full switch from writer-in-training, to Writer (capital W – no training wheels, no manager looking over my shoulder making sure I’ve memorized all the correct produce codes.)


But back to work.

Currently I have been in my position for a little over one year. This is the longest I have ever been in a full-time position.

Going from undergrad, right away to grad school, I never had the time (or attention span?) to stay in one specific place for long.

Grad school grad-u-meation.

I live day to day with a very serious affliction: I have an incurable case of nomad-itis – it’s  the way it’s always been, and the way it will always be.

But for the time being, work things are good. And all my extra-curriculars are fabitty fab, brillo pads.

I don’t need to complain here because whenever I start to feel overwhelmed, I take comfort in the absolute brilliance of my love, my family, and my friends.

Because those are the things that I focus on. They are the things that make my heart sing.

Book em, Dano

M and I received some pretty great books for Christmas this year. He was gifted some Stephenson and Pratchett, and I, some Murakami, Richler and Mantel.

Bliss folks – for us, THIS is bliss.

I am currently 600+ pages into 1Q84 by Mr. Murakami and if you were to catch me at any given time today you would have found me in a position similar to this:

Aomame and Tengo are my new best friends.

What happens with me is that, although I read quite a bit, and for the most part, I enjoy everything that I read (and even those books that I do not enjoy, I slog through them anyways. I finally finished Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare only a couple of months ago, after what seemed to be an on-again-off-again relationship with the book for close to eight months) I tend to go overboard on those works that I do enjoy, like, A LOT.

You see, there are some authors that I find so transcendent, that I develop an almost perverse obsession with findingand reading all of their published works, lest I miss out on experiencing everything their genius has to offer.

And I really mean everything.

Three of our bookshelves. I really fear that we will be crushed to death once the big one arrives. At least we'll go with the things we love...

The earliest memory I have of this phenomenon is from grade four, when I first discovered the great Canadian children’s author Kit Pearson. I picked up The Lights Go on Again not knowing that this book is in fact the third of a trilogy that explores the journey of two young English siblings’ experiences as war children, evacuated from a (fictional) small town in England and sent to live in the posh Toronto neighbourhood of Yorkville.

To say that I loved this book (and then the rest of the books in the series) would be an understatement. I am sure that I read each novel close to twenty times. This fascination with Ms. Pearson’s writing was then transferred onto her other works, The Daring Game and A Handful of Time.

So you must understand what a soul crushing blow it was to read her newest work (at the time) when it came out, hot off the presses, and to feel no connection whatsoever with the narrative or the narrator.

In fact, I remember despising the protagonist, and feeling utterly morose by both the story’s flaccid narrative arc, and (what I felt to be) rather limp conclusion.

To paraphrase Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda, I was DISAPPOINTED.


In grade five I started reading “grown-up” book. Pilfering from my older sister’s collection, I read most of Anne Rice’s

Bedroom bookshelf. Now will more Gene Wolfe.

Vampire series, (do I regret this? No. But, erm, next time, I think I may take the left turn atAlbuquerque and forgo any literary adventures with Mr. Lestat), and pretty much everything John Grisham and Michael Crichton had written up until that point.

I remember passages from both The Firm and Jurassic Park as if they have been burned into my cerebral cortex (or whatever part of the brain is used when flipping those pages over, and over again.)

The one big mistake however? Reading Misery. Yeah, not about to get those nightmare filled sleeps back anytime soon!

In grade eight I started my five year love affair with Mr. William Shakespeare, obsessing over King Lear’s poor decision making processes, despising young Hamlet and his gutless procrastination, and emulating and loving (and therefore memorizing) Beatrice’s lines and soliloquies.

I read every one of his plays, including the ones that that most people probably wouldn’t recognize. However, I am sure that if you asked me right now, I probably couldn’t even remember the simplest of story details of those plays (let alone two hours after I had finished them) because they left no discernable effect on me what so ever.

I am sure I decided to read the entire canon not so much due to my burning desire and admiration for the Bard and his words (although this did, and still does very much exist,) but because I was fifteen and thought I was misunderstood and brilliant.

Kerouac I was not.

When I first met M, he gave me Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions to read on the long flight down to Nova Scotia and I almost died with shock and delight within the first few pages. During those next two weeks I inhaled every work of his I could find.

As I mentioned before, in first year of my undergrad I read Dostoevsky’s Devils and my brain (metaphorically) exploded all over my room. I gobbled up Crime and Punishment with an almost maniacal zeal, and after that devoured The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov.

These are a few of my favorite things!

The next year I discovered the fabulous and hauntingly beautiful writings of the Swedish author Henning Mankell, and spent my summer telling everyone I knew to, “check out this guy from Sweden because holy frick you will never read anything so bloody good in your entire bloody life!!!”

I received a lot of strange looks during that time.

I could go on at length about all the books that have shook me to my core, but I think it may be impossible, and I really must try to reign myself in.

I just get so overwhelmed and confused when I hear that so many people don’t read anymore, and I get panicked and desperate when M tells me that his students at school are hard pressed to even read their assigned passages, let along deign to pick up a novel outside of class.

I even get anxious worrying over whether I’ll die not having read all the books I want to read.


I just want to create a place where everyone can live peacefully, and where I will read to them from Thomas King, and Neal Stephenson, and Robertson Davies, and Hanif Kureshi, and Gunter Grass, and Terry Pratchett, and George R. R. Martin, and Richard Russo, and, Michael Palin, and Hunter S. Thompson, and Gene Wolfe, and J. R. R. Tolkein, and Robert Heinlein, and Richard Matheson, and Ray Bradbury, and P.D. James and well, this list grows ever long, and I’m sure, your patience short.

One day I will find the Dolphin Hotel

My great friend A gave me my first Murakami book this year for my birthday. A Wild Sheep Chase is gut busting hilarious, and heart breakingly sad. Reading it alone set in motion my newest “author” fixation, and I have blown through a good portion of his works to date.

So now, I sit (please consult the above picture for the exact positioning), reading his latest tome, and I am so inspired, and intimidated, and just plain breathless by what an extraordinary work it truly is.

I am trying to take it slow, to savour the process, each page, each line, each word, each letter.

But it is hard. So very hard.

I have around three hundred pages left, and I am sure to be done before I know it. I am sure that I too, like the characters in the book, will be living in a slightly altered world, because of this work.

So with this, I can’t help but say: “Bring it Murakami.”

Bring it.

Welcome to Rant and Roll!

Why hello there!  Welcome to Rant and Roll, a new blog project by Ethel the Dean.

I am a twenty-something Canuck, who divides her time between the two Canadian coastlines.  My passions are many and all encompassing.  And it is my passion – for politics, literature, sports, fashion, media, humour, history, pop culture, and of course, the written word – that ensures there are times in my life where I feel overwrought, indeed almost paralyzed with the need to express these thoughts, to subdue the panic, or at least ride out the wave.

HOWEVER, as I am continuously weary of coming across as a shrill harpy, I take extra care to punctuate my discourse with as much humour as possible.

And of course sometimes the thoughts spilling forth from my brain are anything but eloquent, sophisticated or educational.  Sometimes I’m just plain weird.  And I may or may not jump to conclusions – say, about how much you, dear reader, may have in common with me, the giant weirdo.  For instance:

Do you remember that time you spent an entire weekend watching episodes of MI-5 and then spent the next week pretending that Matthew MacFayden was watching you have sex with your husband, because even though the idea of having actual sex with Matthew MacFayden is hot as hell, your internalized concept of fidelity wrecks terrific havoc with your stupid and fairly lame fantasy life?  Or the time you decided you could no longer go running with your ipod because a serial killer was going to run you over coming out of his drive way and there would be nothing you could do because the music blocked the sound of his murderous, murderous tires?  Or that day that octogenarian hip-checked you into that garbage can as he made his way to the bus stop, in an effort to ensure his passage on transit while simultaneously blocking yours?  Or the time you were so enraged by what you heard on your local sports radio station you could hardly sleep for two days, an experience that culminated in you and one of your best friends discussing the endemic sexism in hockey culture, nay, athleticism in general, on another local station (bringing the whole situation full circle in some strange, but oddly poetic way?)


No?  Damn.

Okay, to be specific, I have much too much unchecked, frenetic energy circulating throughout my body, and at any given time I feel as though I am about to jump to my feet and begin waxing eloquent on how important it is for CBC to finally bring back Double Exposure, like, NOW.  However, I’m like to believe that no one actually likes a spontaneous pontificator, much less one whose references are at least fifteen years old.

Hence, the blog.

Here at Rant and Roll I’ll do my best to entertain.  Looking at issues close to my heart, whether serious or silly, important or impetuous,  I’ll prod, poke – perhaps even provoke – and please, always feel free to join the discussion.  Make yourself at home and feel free to check up on ol’ Deaner here in the coming weeks and months to come.  Supervision around these parts is never discouraged.