So yesterday, I was on an airplane, and as usual, I had the map up on the screen for the whole flight. I always find it oddly satisfying to track the plane’s progress across the country. The green line that marks the plane’s journey is generally quite straight and smooth, though sometimes, at the end of the journey, the plane will circle around the airport in order to approach the runway from a more convenient direction.
This time around, something different happened. The image above is genuinely the map about ten minutes before we landed (I was probably not supposed to have my phone out at the time, but ah well). The plane did a loop de loop a bit south of Collingwood, veered east towards Markham, veered west towards Milton, and finally headed back to Toronto. The captain mentioned “headwinds,” but aside from the map, that was the only indication we had that anything weird was happening.
2018 felt a bit like that plane trip, especially where this blog was concerned. I had a plan. At one point, I even had a daily routine. I was reading through the Earthsea series and then blogging about it, and I was going to do the same thing to other books too, and then I had to mark multiple hundreds of assignments in a month, and I just lost track. I should probably promise to start again now, but I’m on the Sunburst Award jury this year, and I seem to have committed to read about three hundred novels in the course of the next two months. So, you know, maybe adding more reading commitments now would be a bad idea. I do want to return to my Earthsea readthrough eventually.
2018 was the year of worrying about how Weave a Circle Round was doing while simultaneously working on a new book I can’t talk about yet. It was the year of terrible politics and mysterious health problems and a grim determination to learn to read the damn bass clef bloody properly. It was the year of many headaches and of missing my mum and of making earrings shaped like little swords, and it was the year of award nominations and kidlit galas and apartments that wouldn’t stay clean, and it was the year of Random Thoughts and tiny harps and mysteriously broken lamps and the Thirteenth Doctor and huge novels and flash fiction and Duolingo and multiple writing groups and missed deadlines and good reviews and bad reviews and the usual amount of anger. In a New Year’s Facebook post, I called 2018 a weirdo, and I stand by that characterisation. 2018, you were a great big weirdo.
Here are a few things to remember you by:
- The giant calzone I ate in Pittsburgh.
Okay, technically, what I should be remembering at this point is that Weave a Circle Round was nominated for an Andre Norton Award (the YA version of the Nebula), and I went to Pittsburgh for the award ceremony, and it was a lot of fun and I met lots of new people and got to see my editor, Diana Pho, in person for the first time, and I signed some books and was rescued from a creeper in a bar by some of my new friends and heard the guy who provided Mr. Snuffleupagus’s voice give a speech, but the bit that really stood out was that enormous calzone, which I ate when Diana took me, Tracy Townsend, and one other person whose name I cannot for the life of me remember out for a meal. Holy moly, that calzone was huge. I ate the whole thing.
2. The pen pal who replied to my letter 31 years after the fact.
In early September, a 43-year-old Italian guy named Guido contacted me to ask if we had once been pen pals, as he had just found a letter I had sent him in 1987. I was a bit cautious, as I didn’t remember being pen pals with him, but he then sent me one of my letters, as well as this picture of myself at twelve:
Why, yes, I did have a mullet. Moving right along…
As it turned out, I faintly remembered being pen pals with Guido, mostly because he never replied to my letters, and I was disappointed with my unsatisfying pen pal experience. I’m wondering if 31 years is the longest gap that has ever existed between the correspondence of pen pals. I’m guessing not.
3. The time I helped organise a FREAKING GALA.
(I’m about 99% sure that picture was taken by Debbie Ohi, so there you go. Hurrah for acknowledgements.)
This fall, it became apparent that due to circumstances beyond the control of anyone, a big party that was usually open to everyone with membership in a particular professional organisation was now going to have a much more limited guest list. In consequence, Claudia Osmond, Ishta Mercurio, Star Spider, and I recklessly decided to throw our own big party. It worked out very well, and much fun was had by all, but I am here to tell you that throwing a big party is a lot of work.
The big party was also a masquerade. In the photo, you can see the mask I made. It isn’t particularly elegant, but it does contain, in outline, the plot of Weave a Circle Round (the party was kidlit-themed, so that explains that). Discerning readers will understand immediately why the pictures go around in a circle.
4. My sister’s amazing Christmas present.
Once upon a time, my mum started to make me a quilt. She was very much into crafts, and she had a lot of patience: so much that she was able to complete a queen-sized version of what a friend of mine tells me is called a “flimsy” (i.e., the intricate bit on top of the quilt). Unfortunately, even as she worked on the flimsy, the Alzheimer’s was stealing away her ability to make beautiful things. She died with the quilt still unfinished.
This fall, my sister Jan finished it for her. Jan had ended up with all Mum’s sewing stuff, and she found the completed flimsy. She got a quilting shop to do some of the remaining sewing via machine, but Jan hand-hemmed the quilt herself. It has come back to Toronto with me, and it is utterly beautiful and absolutely wonderful. I am in the process of trying once again to clean my bedroom properly so I can put it on my bed, preferably without accidentally covering it with bike-chain grease in the process (my apartment is very small, and there is limited space for my tiny folding bike).
That’s about it for 2018. I must now go savour the delights of my traditional first-day-of-the-year jetlag headache. May your 2019 be a great big weirdo.