08/01 Direct Link
It has been ten years since I last wrote 100words a day. The world is a pretty shitty place right now. I think I'm making things worse for myself with the constant onslaught of news, be it in social or traditional media. The internet seems to bring out the worst in people, and that alone is depressing enough. But what is so soul-sapping is the sheer magnitude of the hate! So many horrible, stupid people saying and doing horrible, stupid things. And it's not even confined to online forums anymore, it's spilling over into the real world as well.
08/02 Direct Link
I need to believe that there are good people in the world, and that there are more of them than the bad. I do think there are. When I step away from my phone, they are all around me. They are my family. They are minding my daughter at daycare; they are in Tipis protesting for justice, by the lake camped out in the middle of thunderstorms. They are at my work, sparking children's curiosity with science. They are my neighbours, championing progressive causes on the local council. They are there, and they are many. Think positive and shout loud.
08/03 Direct Link
The other issue I struggle with right now, is guilt over ignoring things. I have quit Twitter, at least for a month, because it is just not good for my – or anybody's – mental wellbeing. I can't cope with the stories of family separations and children in cages in the US, or neo-Nazi's running for Mayor of Toronto, or people starving in Yemen or Italy refusing port entry to the humanitarian rescue ship.I have the privilege to be able to turn off, unplug from it. Shouldn't I really be using that privilege for something more useful? If so, what?
08/04 Direct Link
As my beloved Canada seems to be swinging further to the right, here's my feel-better lists:

Things we have here that the US doesn't have:

Universal healthcare
Compassionate border control agents
Harley Davidson
Unarmed toddlers
Separation of church and state
Melting arctic ice
Temperatures equivalent to the surface of Mars
The tendency to apologise unnecessarily

Things we share with the US:

Inherited leadership
Huge portion sizes
Addiction to cars
Systematic discrimination against Indigenous populations
Whiskey with an E
Religious fundamentalism
Neo-Nazis running for elected office
No concept of long-distance public transport
Armed police
Refusal to use the word “whilst”

08/05 Direct Link
Buck a beer? Come on, Ontario... You elected a Trumpanzee - I hope, not as dangerous as the one south of the border, but definitely as ignorant.

A buck a beer? Is that really your priority? How about 'buck an hour daycare?' Or 'Buck a bus ride'? What about universal pharmacare? Surely that's a popular platform. A dollar for a prescription would be nice. A buck for an insulin shot maybe? Or a buck an epipen?

But no... they'll screw the environment, education, social security... but hey, cheap beer! Woohoo!

How stupid do they think we are?
How stupid are we?

08/06 Direct Link
Five days in, and already I am enjoying and feeling the benefits of forcing myself to write again. And getting off Twitter is still a relief. The writing is all good practice, at least that's what I'm telling myself. The only way to get good at something is to do it all the time, right? These entries may only be ranting and stream-of-consciousness-drivel, but it's a start.

My editor from the Actual Real Official Publishers got in touch again, and is graciously allowing at least some of my Britishisms in the book. Thank heavens for small mercies.

08/07 Direct Link
A friend of mine recently announced that he is looking for a Stage Manager for a one-act play he's directing in October. It involves zombies, so of course I have volunteered. It's going to be fun. Bring on the black t-shirts, over-caffeinated and festishization of duct tape! I remember that life all too well.
He said he's looking forward to getting back into theatre after a long absence. By 'long absence' he means about a year. The last time I stage-managed anything was during my MA at Durham, twelve years, two babies and one emigration ago.
08/08 Direct Link
Notes from the Techie Script. The Scottish Play, 2002

“Standby LX 34.5 – ok, ok, sorry, I’m just reading what it says. Which one is the half-a-light?”

Ed: “It is a fully functioning Tomb you know.”

“Is that dark enough to kill Banquo in?”

Director: “Can you possibly die a bit longer please?”
“We’ll teach you how to murder, don’t worry.”

“Oh! Banquo is a ghost!”

“Katie looks like she needs the toilet.”
Director: “Banquo, this is not the place for Funky Eyebrows.”
“MacBeth, with these Ferrero Roche, you spoil us!”

“When I die, will you catch me?”

08/09 Direct Link
Tonight I am running a Science of Coffee workshop at the Science Centre. What started as a vague suggestion as a means to fill our extended opening hours on Thursdays has now, as per usual, turned out extremely elaborate.

My workshop participants are going to try Cupping - that is, the scientifically controlled, supposedly empirical and objective taste-testing. The coffee equivalent of being a Sommelier in the wine industry, detecting subtle flavours and aromas in different coffees.

Can they taste the difference between my nice freshly roasted stuff and the beans from Costco? Or does it all "taste like coffee?"

08/10 Direct Link
I am feeling a little ambivalent at work right now. It is coming up to my 1st anniversary here, and I have finally stopped feeling "new". I do love this job most of the time - it offers me a huge amount of freedom to do my own thing and use my initiative, it's very creative and I get to learn and try a whole range of things that I never expected to do: I can now solder, for instance, build basic circuits, 3D print things, and handle dry ice and liquid nitrogen.
But despite all this, sometimes I'm still bored.
08/11 Direct Link
Entrepreneurship is an addiction I have either fought or embraced on and off for the past decade. I thought that if I finally got "the right" job, I wouldn't want to take huge risks and set up mad schemes on my own any more, but not so. I know only too well how hard running my own business can be, and what I have now is as close to 'the right job' as I can really hope for. But even so, I give up my weekend to go sit on a quiet market, trying in vain to sell my coffee.
08/12 Direct Link
I keep telling myself we need the money; with husband out of work at the moment, everything is uncomfortably tight. This means, 'the side hustle' - the coffee at the market, is a necessity just for 'breathing room' money for emergencies or unusual expenses. It also means I feel I can't not do it, leaving me very little time for Other Things, like writing properly or spending time with the kids. But because of the intense financial pressures, I also couldn't contemplate jacking in the day job and going all out self-employed either. I am stuck, and I resent it.
08/13 Direct Link
News from my editors: photos are required! I wrote a book. An actual, sensibly coherent narrative in 60,000 words. My premise was celebrating failure. I read so many books about business success stories, and about famous entrepreneurs, but I never saw myself in them. What happens to those that don't make it? Write what you know... So, my book is called "It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time". I wrote it for National Novel Writing Month in 2015. I edited it for another year, then started sending it out. Another year later, and I am Officially Published!
08/14 Direct Link
The advent of my book coming out immediately put me on the quest for a New Project. I know this is ridiculous because the book hasn't even gone to the printers yet and I expect there to be a lot to do when it does finally come out, but in some sense, that story is done. I do have two more vague Ideas for attempts at fiction, and one of them even has a Plot! But I find fiction is HARD. I also fancy doing something themed with these 100 word entries. Finding, and Writing 100 Happy Words a day?
08/15 Direct Link
Tonight in Adventures with the Science Centre, we attended Cinema Under the Stars with our Outreach banner, and proceeded to make 110 elastic band guitars with kids who had come down to sit in the park and watch Coco. The 'science' may have been dubious - it was loosely about sound waves and vibrations, but we knew that the outdoor cinema sessions are really well attended and it was mainly a marketing exercise. The turnout was enormous as ever. What could be nicer than sitting in the park on a warm evening, watching a movie on a giant screen for free?
08/16 Direct Link
I miss Big Beastling. Beastling the Elder - who wasn't even thought of when I first began 100 words - has recently turned 8 years old. We ran out of ideas (and funds) to amuse a sassy, bright and horribly grown up girl for the epic two month summer vacation. So, we sent her to "English Finishing School" - that is, over to stay with my parents in the UK for a month. She was ridiculously excited and every time we skype her, she seems to be having an amazing time. But we miss her. "I miss Sister" says the little one, sadly.
08/17 Direct Link
It is nearing the end of the summer already and I have barely seen my friends. Most of them did their bigger trips already, and we are off next week, so we figured it was time we had a Serious Wine Session. Sadly, only two of them could make it, but we polished off three bottles of wine and put the world to rights for a while. We Brits (the two of us who have actually lived in Britain) attempted to explain the stupidity of Brexit to our Canadian friend. "That's ridiculous!" she says. "Why would anyone vote for that?"
08/18 Direct Link
What is the least 'Big Hairy Biker' thing you can think of to do? Today we were invited (in a work capacity) to the Bikers Against Child Abuse fundraiser event. Loads of Harleys parked up around the play park, and plenty of large, tough looking people in studded leather vests. And a bouncy castle. And sparkly face painting. And us,the Science Outreach team, making hundreds of chromatography butterflies, which most of the kids put in their hair.
I cycled my baby blue bike over there. It has flowers on the basket. I parked it next to a huge motorbike.
08/19 Direct Link
I've just seen the video for Britney Spear's song in the Smurfs movie. It was awkward viewing. I am the same age as Britney Spears, I think. Hit Me Baby came out when we were in Grade 11. I also lost the plot a little in 2007. Not shaving-my-head batshit crazy, but definitely a self-destructive period, and I didn't have the pressures of global fame as an excuse. Part of me wishes I could look that good in my mid thirties after having two kids. But most of me thought, why are you doing that in public?
08/20 Direct Link
So, after saying that work is still occasionally boring, I am feeling Overwhelmed again. This is the frustration: it's never consistent. My two colleagues have a thing they call The Whelmed List. They seek out the feeling of Whelmedness by sharing their respective stresses to balance the load. The goal is to be Whelmed, just whelmed, neither over-whelmed nor under-whelmed. Whelmedness is cyclical- in my job, it's roughly two weeks of struggling to fill time constructively, followed by two weeks of hecticness and running about like a blue-arsed fly. To be whelmed is to even that out.
08/21 Direct Link
Last day at work - tomorrow we are off to the UK to collect Beastling The Elder. She has been gone three weeks already, and it has been very quiet in her absence. She cannot fly by herself (there's no way I'd let her anyway) so we have to go spend a week with my parents and bring her back safely with us.
The three week absence has had a profound effect on Beastling the Younger. It is impossible to tell what or how much she understands about Big Sister's absence, but she's had random episodes of Being Sad and Solemn.
08/22 Direct Link
Aaaand, we're off!

Budget has dictated that the cheapest possible flight to "somewhere near" my parents' house, is actually the furthest possible flight. In fact, we have to fly right past our final destination, spend two hours in Germany, then fly back west, and get a taxi for an hour and a half as well.
The guy in front of me on the first flight (of three) has The Worst Halitosis In The History Of Air Travel. And, in Toronto at least, it is stuffy and hot and he has the fan on blowing the foulness straight into my face.

08/23 Direct Link
We are here, and we are very tired. There are pork pies and the parents and the Beastlings have been reunited.
Beastling the Younger arrived, after a day and a half's travelling, naked from the underpants down, but still rocking her new Turtle socks. After getting through 3 diapers, 3 pairs of underpants and 2 pairs of leggings, we stopped fighting her love of traipsing me to the tiny weeny toilet on the plane and the violent sucking roar of the vacuum flush. Pick your battles. But, potty training still sucks as hard as aeroplane toilets, if you ask me.
08/24 Direct Link
It's raining, it's pouring, the husband is snoring...
Little things I'd blissfully forgotten about life in the UK:

The Unending Rain - unending is the wrong word. There was a glimmer of sunshine for a second. The inevitability of rain. Rain is the default, no rain is a luxury.
The traffic. So many people in single-occupancy metal boxes. Cars are smaller here, but there are far more of them.
Tininess. The roads are narrow and curvy - what would be single straight lane at home is dual lane and full of twists and turns.

It's too peopley out there. It's terrifying.

08/25 Direct Link
I may have had a few pints of beer. In a proper pub. No music, no screens with sports on them, no wifi. Just beer, and people. And people are entertainment enough.
First we met a family whose eldest son, Dan, had lived in Quebec and written his dissertation about Quebec separatism and colonial economies. So we talked Weird Canadianisms for a while. Their younger son was just starting at Durham University. So I told them what I remember of student antics there.
"You must be talking about Durham University" said a voice from the bar.

The World is Small.

08/26 Direct Link
Family have arrived, in the form of two of my cousins, Frances and Peter. Cannot remember the last time I saw them, but they are both enormous. I remember Pete as a toddler, I took a photo of him on my first camera when I was 6. He was butt naked and holding his own diaper. Frances was an adorable little flower girl at our wedding, fourteen years ago. They are now 29 and 26 and have got Good Grown Up Jobs. Still, they delighted Beastling the Elder by playing highly imaginative games of Murder In The Dark with her.
08/27 Direct Link
More Murder!
Detective Beastling led us around Shrewsbury today, following clues and hunting for evidence to solve a case (that we downloaded from a tourism website). We eventually uncovered the truth and found out Who Done It, but only after the trail of clues led us through the play park and bouncy castle, via an ice cream van and, coincidently, past a toy shop. I surreptitiously searched for a cryptic clue in the coffee shop too. Given I just found the game by accident, it was really enjoyable, engaging enough for an 8 year old and really made us walk!
08/28 Direct Link
I finally got to see my BFF of twenty-something years, Hilary, and D, her partner and equally silly person. They drove up from London to see us, and even bought me Moomin-themed gifts. Hilary did the valiant sobriety thing as the designated driver, but we had a great but all too brief catch up.
Carl and D had a LOT of beer and talked about flight sim. We climbed up the Stiperstones rocks too. D moaned about it.
Nice to know that despite nearly seven years, half the world away,and the onset of children changes absolutely nothing.
08/29 Direct Link
I had my hair cut! Quite dramatically. Fancied a change, and that much I have achieved at least. Beastling says I "look really really different". I am pleased about that. I got a big fringe cut in, vampire style. Think Mavis in Hotel Transylvania. The hairdresser - who has been doing my hair for years (at least, on my trips back to England anyway) - didn't know what I meant at first, and then was a bit hesitant to do it. It is very different for me. However, I can't get past how much the fringe makes me look like my Mum.
08/30 Direct Link
So, I am sitting on n aeroplane, somewhere over the Atlantic.I think it's 9.30pm, but I've no idea what time zone we are in now. This week went far too quickly! Especially when the journey is so long. Carl and I couldn't get seats together on the longest lef between Frankfurt and Toronto; instead I am sat with the Beastlings, trying to watch Deadpool 2 with crappy earphones and constantly rejigging the small one's screen or headphones, or finding things from the overhead locker. Beastling the Younger has eaten nothing but pretzels and chocolate cookies all day.


08/31 Direct Link
This brings me to the end of my first batch of 100 Word entries in ten years. I confess,I didn't do it faithfully every day, but I did complete it, playing catch up occasionally. I also handwrote it all and then typed them up, which was a) a good excuse to buy a new notebook with llamas on it and b) means that technically I wrote them all twice. I found I was surprisingly accurate at guessing how many 100 words actually is without the automatic word counter. Could it be typing muscle-memory from all those years ago?