Saturday, April 9, 2011

A finished project: my husband's first demo CD!

You may have noticed that my blogs have been few and far between. I will admit that keeping up to date here in the blogosphere has not been one of my top priorities. I do still want to share with you all the happenings in my life and the latest big news is the finished CD project my husband has produced.

I don't know if any of you remember a few blogs back when I mentioned that my husband is a singer/songwriter and that we were taking a leap of faith by making a CD of his original songs. The project was started last September and the finished product was finally in his hands at the end of February. I am very proud of his work and would like to include some links so that any of you who are interested can see his awesomeness for yourselves. His musical style varies (which I see as a plus because it appeals to a broad audience) from blues to country to pop to folk. He hired a bassist and drummer to help out with a few of the songs, the rest are acoustic, and all of the guitar and vocal parts were done by him in the studio through layered tracks. If anyone really likes his music, we are selling CD's (they come in an eco-friendly sleeve) for $10 plus shipping.

His music page is

He also has a couple videos on YouTube. One of his favourites, which is set to a montage of pictures can be found here:

Though my life has been incredibly busy over the last year, I still hope to finish my own project (my novel) and feel that incredible sense of accomplishment that comes with the seeing the realization of a dream come true!

Monday, February 14, 2011

'Blind' - My non-fiction short story that made the shortlist in the SIWC contest last fall

Ok, at the request of a friend, here is the non-fiction short story I wrote last fall. It is based on an experience my husband had as a teenager. I actually want to write a book of short stories based on his life because, well, after reading the story, maybe you'll understand. So here it is!


The bus crawls over the pavement at a pace I am unsatisfied with. We have thousands of kilometres to go and I am already bored. My unread comic books are burning a hole in my bag as I glumly stare forward at nothing. It is hard to stare at nothing, much harder than one would expect. At first it takes effort and I wonder if they will catch on. After the first few hours I stop caring. I want my comic books. I want a normal family. I am fourteen and I am not blind.

The bus makes many stops between Quebec and British Columbia and I am always the first person off. It is company policy, you see, to let the disabled passengers disembark before the regular folk. I try to hide my embarrassment as my mom guides me down the aisle. They all stare and I know they feel sorry for me. How terrible that that young man is at such a disadvantage. Has he ever seen a sunset or a naked woman or his own reflection in a mirror? What would be worse, having seen these things and then losing your sight to never see them again, or never having seen anything in the first place? I want to scream, “I’ll tell you what is worse, having parents that are too damn cheap to buy a bus ticket.” In my resentment, I trip a little as I step from the last stair onto the pavement. My mom winks at me. She thinks I’m putting on a show for the benefit of our audience. I contemplate giving them a show they will never forget. Of course, that would be the end of our free ride. I regain my footing and stalk off at an appropriate pace.

My brother meets up with me in the bathroom. He thinks that I am not convincing enough as a blind person. “Give me the cane,” he says as he tries to tug it out of my hands. “I could do a much better job than you.” I know that he is my twin but I wonder if I somehow ended up with all of the brains, leaving him empty space where his should be. “Yes,” I say sarcastically, as I struggle to keep hold of the cursed stick of dishonesty, “it makes perfect sense for us to leave the bathroom in reversed roles, with you suddenly struck blind and me miraculously healed and able to see again.” It is not as if we are identical twins. I don’t know how I am even related to such an idiot. Maybe I kicked him too many times while we were in the womb. He grudgingly agrees that maybe a switcheroo isn’t the best idea. I refrain from hitting him over the head with my cane. It shouldn’t hurt that much, being as empty as a whistle and therefore devoid of any nerve endings. Instead, I do my business and then put my game face back on as I step out of the bathroom. My mom is waiting for me. I try not to glare at her. We continue our charade.

We are halfway there. The stuffy air in the overcrowded tin can is repugnant and I am thankful that I am not really blind. If my sense of smell was any sharper, I would probably lose my lunch in the aisle. For some reason, the other passengers seem to think that I am deaf as well as blind. “Poor thing,” they mutter to each other, “he is so young.” They stare at me unabashedly and when they address me, they yell in my face, their eyes wide as if they are making up for what they think I cannot see.

My mom has made a friend and they chatter like two hens about whatever middle-aged women talk about; I don’t pay attention as I really don’t care. My brother has the luxury of being able to watch the movies offered as entertainment by the bus driver. It is tempting to try and watch along with him, but I have already noticed people studying me out of curiosity, and I don’t want to be found out as a fake. Instead I look straight ahead and lose myself in my thoughts. I am surprised as the hours fly by. We have just passed Calgary and as I see the Rocky Mountains looming ahead in the distance, I think of new beginnings and maybe a chance for a more normal life. If this bus ride is any indication, I have little chance of that, but I still hope for what the regular kids have: a stable home, a warm meal each night, a friend or two to shoot the shit with. I’ve had it with the monthly visits to the Salvation Army and my parents making us move every time the rent comes due. I hope that maybe this time my brother and I will have our own beds instead of a mattress that my dad decides to cut in half. I absentmindedly rub my hand down my thigh, over the foot-long scar where the sharp end of a spring gouged through my flesh, down to the white of the femur. My dad failed to notice the sharp edges of the exposed metal springs, but then, he is the one who is actually blind. I am too self-conscious of my pasty white legs to wear shorts, but if I did, I would be tempted to tell anyone who noticed the scar that it was the result of a shark attack. That would be more exciting than the mattress story.

My mom’s new friend engages me in conversation. She asks about what it is like to be blind and how I came to be that way and I give her the scripted response. I am feeling a little more generous because we are now only a few hours away from Chilliwack. I add a few embellishments to make the story seem a heartfelt triumph of the human spirit over adversity. Later I will find out that my mom filled her in on our little scam on day two of the trip and that she was yanking me along for some kicks as she and my mom snickered behind my back.

We finally pull into the bus depot in Chilliwack. This time I don’t mind being the first off of the bus. As always, I shuffle my feet down the bus steps and reach my hand out to my mom so she can guide me onto the platform. She is tired after the four-day long trip and swears at me in annoyance as she bats my hand away. She seems to have forgotten that she is to be playing guide to her poor blind son. The passengers seated at the windows of the bus have not forgotten. They gasp at such a heartless gesture in dismay, the pity in their eyes painting my body like little red laser pointers as I try to shrink inside of myself to avoid the embarrassment of being related to such a bitch. I follow my mom and my brother to get our bags. There really isn’t any point in trying to continue with the act now. I grab my backpack and think about which comic I am going to read first. Probably Spiderman.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 last.

It has been a good month and a half since my last post, the one where I bemoaned my current living situation and announced my serious intent to find another home. Well...we did! After two weeks of intense apartment/house hunting, we found a place more suitable and have moved all of our stuff (lots and lots and lots of STUFF) in. Now I have the wonderful task of finding a place for everything. I guess I have been slacking because we have been moved in for four three days now and I still don't know where any of my pants are (thank goodness for hubby's old sweats that I found on top of a box of CD's), but I've been extra tired lately and the baby has decided to work on her audition for the role of banshee.

Regardless of the current chaos, I am very happy to have a place that is warm, carpeted, bug free (as much as any place can be), large enough to fit our incredible amount of stuff, and.....HAS A DISHWASHER!!! Though, the dishwasher isn't working right now. Hehe. Anyway, I am content.

I plan to give myself this week to clean the place up and get settled and then next week it is on to something I have neglected for far too long: writing.

Speaking of which, I am pleased to announce that I entered the Surrey International Writing Contest again this year and made it to the shortlist. My piece was a non-fiction short story, and though I did not win (sigh), I did manage to make it to the top nine out of 300 entries. I may post the story sometime this week. clean :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Misery, sweet misery

I. Am. Miserable.

Though I would love to blame my current case of the grumpies on my husband's excessive gassiness this evening, he is not to blame, though his foul stench is not helping ease my mood. Maybe I should just stop feeding him.

My crankiness is mainly due to my unhappiness with our current housing situation. Until today, I thought I could manage. I was prepared to be strong, suck it up, and savour these days as our 'trying times' know, the time in your life you look back on as character-building and all that crap. (well, its not crap, but I'm Miss Frowny-Face right now, a'ight?).

The last time I felt this glum, I downed my sorrows in a nice tall glass of orange juice and vodka, heavy on the vodka. I'm currently a breastfeeding mom, so that isn't an option. I have instead decided to gas myself silly by sitting downwind of my husband's toushy.

So...I hate my carriage-house/hastily-constructed part-garage/insect-infested house of horrors. I could manage to overlook the lack of a dishwasher, which has been taking hours of my precious writing time each day as I try to get all of the dishes done (seriously, where do they all come from?!), or the lack of any storage space whatsoever. I've tried hard to ignore the constant musty, moldy smell upstairs and the impossible task of keeping the floors clean because our front door opens right into the living room/kitchen area(s).


Fighting the little ones for control of the kitchen every day is one thing (crawling across the stove, making webs from counters to the piles of dishes, making webs in the broom closet, making webs in every corner, playing tag on the stairs, making webs in my shoes) but the bigger ones have decided that 'tis the season to invade the Guillemette household and I'M HAVING NONE OF THAT!

#$%& you, spiders! I'm the freakin' spider-Grinch and I had no sympathy for Charlotte's Web.

Thus, I have decided, we are moving. I don't know where. I don't know if we can afford it. I don't care. I can't even open my front door anymore without the extremely bold ones dashing in, unannounced, a little smirk on the smug faces as they shriek in their little spider voices, "Catch me if you can, red!"

I'll squish you with a garbage can, I will. Of course, then I will spend several hours fighting off the anxiety attacks and tears and frantically scanning every square inch of my home for vengeful relatives.

For all of you who think I'm being dramatic and have that wonderful advice, "Just get over it," I tell you -- I wish. Do you think I like being subject to such a ridiculous phobia? Yes, they are a one-thousandth of my size. Yes, they are harmless. Yes, they are just as afraid of me as I am of them. If this were easy to accept, wouldn't I have done so?

Phobia = irrational fear

Guillemette family = looking for affordable, spider-free home

Friday, August 27, 2010

Taking a risk even when you are scared silly

I think sometimes you just have to do it. Take a risk. Attempt the improbable. Fight the statistics.

For most of us, life is about working a job that we don't really care for but need to do to pay the bills. Inside we dream of doing something we really love, something that thrills us, delights us, makes this crazy world just a little more enjoyable.

We spend so much time dreaming about the what if's that I think it becomes easier to let our dreams stay dreams. Then they stay perfect, untarnished by reality and by the possibility of rejection and defeat. What happens if you take a risk, try to put yourself out there and then fail miserably? What do you have to look forward to then?

My husband is a singer/songwriter and has been dreaming about recording his original songs for quite a few years now. This year we decided to make this dream a reality. He is nearing the end of his twenties and as we start a family, we both know that if we don't make the effort now, it may never happen. I don't want him to be sixty and grumbling about that record that he never ended up making.

Now that we are only two weeks away from his studio time, the realization that he will actually be accomplishing a life-long goal seems to be a bit overwhelming. I've had to encourage him not to cancel the recording almost every day. You see, he keeps doubting himself. He doubts his ability. He questions why we are taking such a financial risk when we are already facing a bit of debt. He is afraid.

I told him this: You have to do it NOW. You have to TRY. The small financial risk is really nothing when compared to the opportunity to show a beautiful part of your self, your talents to the world.

And that is the truth. He writes beautiful music. What a pity it would be to keep that hidden.

There comes a point in our lives where we need to take a risk. How else are great things accomplished? It is important to believe in yourself, to see your talents as having a purpose, because without the beauty of art and self-expression, this world would be so incredibly bland and boring.

Delight in the passion that thrives within you. And if you get the opportunity to share that with others, do so. It is inspiring. It is beautiful. It balances out the tragedy and sorrow of this world.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Looking for tips on writing creative nonfiction....

This year I plan to enter the SIWC writing contest again, though I am mixing it up by entering a non-fiction piece. I have never written non-fiction before, so if anyone has any tips or advice, or knows of a good website that explains how to write non-fiction, I would love the help!

Other than that, not much writing has been done lately. I started working part-time at a video store a month ago, so it has been an adjustment taking care of a four-month old and working a couple evenings a week. Plus I somehow managed to catch a cold. And I threw my back out. is good! Being one who has always battled anxiety and a constant dissatisfaction with the present, I've finally reached a point in my life where I'm completely content day-to-day. I still have the nagging feeling of wanting my novel to be finished, but as a whole, I feel very complete right now. Becoming a mother is probably a large part of my happiness. There are still a lot of uncertainties (what do I do when my mat leave runs out next February and I have no job to go back to?!) but I have faith that things will work out.

Now if I could just get my back to cooperate.....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Still kicking around....

I am truly horrible at blogging. Part of me thinks that I should just put my blog on hold and wait until I've finished my novel before starting up again. It has been tempting. I can't make myself do that, though, because I don't want to lose touch with everyone I have met here, and I am also really stubborn.

So...I will try and keep the postings coming.

Today I am in a rather melancholy mood. I just finished reading Stephen King's 'Under the Dome,' and as it happens with any other exciting read, I am experiencing the withdrawals of finishing a really good book. I also am not sure what to think, because although I loved his newest novel, I also found the end to go in a direction I wasn't extremely fond of. I found myself wanting to hold my daughter close and never let her go after I read the last page. Great novel, just very dark. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll leave it at that.

As for my own writing, I'm still plugging away, every so slowly. I have decided to enter the SIWC writing contest again this year, though this time I plan to write a non-fiction entry, a first for me. My husband is the inspiration for this piece. His experiences growing up in his family are so beyond anything I have heard before that I decided they should be captured in writing. This should be fun!

Well, I hope all of you are enjoying your summer so far :)