A Funny Moment

It’s the little moments. The time when something makes you smile, or laugh. Jasper Fforde’s workshop at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference was all about humour in writing. Over breakfast the next day, we chatted about how you can write about the most horrific event and still make the audience smile.

Writing humour wasn’t on my mind as I assisted with the Diana Gabaldon book signing later that day. Everyone was already smiling! My job was to help people by taking their picture with Diana. Capture the moment so they could hold it forever. This was fun!

No one was expecting a medical emergency.

As we were wrapping up one of the fans collapsed. Since I was the closest, my emergency/first aid training took over and I stepped in.

There’s no need to tell you the scary and grisly medical details of what happened over the next precious minutes as we waited for the paramedics to arrive. It’s one of the most intimate times you will ever spend with someone. The surrounding world disappears; it’s just you and them.

I start talking. I pray my voice will keep them with us. I pray that what I say and how I sound can focus their thoughts and keep them here.

Last time I was in this position the man later told me he zeroed in on that sound and it made him calm, gave him a beacon to hold on to.

When everything is going wrong calmness can help. A place far away from the fear of what is going on all around you.

I hoped the same would happen on that floor where just minutes before a crowd had been waiting for Diana to sign their books.

As the worst of the symptoms subsided and the wait for medical help dragged on I could see she was starting to become aware of what had happened.

I leaned in a little more and said, “I don’t know about you, but I hope one of the paramedics looks like Jamie.”  Jamie Fraser is the hero of Diana Gabaldon’s books and a stunning Scot.  The smallest smile appeared, just a faint movement of her lip. In the midst of the mayhem she heard my joke and reacted. In that second I knew she would be OK, I knew we would get through this mess.

The paramedics and firemen arrived and to be honest, I can’t tell you what they looked like. My relief that the professionals had swept in to save the day was too overwhelming.

People came to the conference to attend dozens of workshops and hone their craft.

My experience was different but in some respects the same.

We are people connecting with people.

Great writing has the ability to make that happen. Words can perform miracles.

A writer can conjure up a feeling that supersedes everything else.

Diana Gabaldon created Jamie Fraser and he can make someone smile in the most horrendous circumstances.

Jasper Fforde reminded us that during those darkest moments it’s OK to say something funny.

And sometimes that is the best medicine.


Spending time with the amazing Diana Gabaldon


Pooh and Penguin

There were many stories crowding the headlines this week.

Bowls of Skittles, The Megga Breakup, Dancing with the Rioters, Platitudes at the UN, Hillary’s Dead Again and the one that annoyed me the most, Gord Downie is back for another concert.

When will we start to notice the things that really matter?

When will we stop accepting the press releases about “Late Breaking News.”

There was one story that captured my attention. I really really hoped it was true and not someone playing a stupid internet game with the intent to make people look stupid.

I don’t want to look stupid.

The reason I wonder if it’s true? I have asked at least 15 people about the big news and I seem to be the only person to hear about it.

Which makes me wonder who my friends follow on Twitter.

Everyone has said it cannot be real. Some are appalled. One person said she was deeply offended.

I think it’s the best piece of literary news I’ve seen in months, maybe years.

This is better than any Harry Potter rumour.

I’m starting to suspect it’s a hoax but fear googling for the facts.

Instead I’ll just enjoy this picture and bask in a world that loves penguins.


“It’s very nice to walk with you Pooh.”

Melanoma Strikes Back

Maybe I hadn’t done enough research? Maybe I was ignorant and in denial?

Or maybe it was Melanoma’s revenge?

Last week I was comical and said it would not get the best of me. I think the Big M was just having a day of sweet payback. It would not leave easily.

Yes, this is another blog about my Melanoma. Please note that I’m bringing it into the fold and being friendly with this disease now. “My Melanoma”  Very lyrical… it almost sounds pleasant.

I thought I was prepared. Bought a pile of large bandages. (How ridiculous was that?) Cleared my clients for the day. All set for the little procedure. Even had a pleasant walk to the hospital to enjoy the perfect morning.

Mel 2 blog 2

Then this lovely young doctor with a British accent told me what he planned to do. I wish I could have seen my face as he drew the lines on my leg where he would be making the three large incisions. To my credit I didn’t try to run away.

Maybe that’s because he started the conversation by reminding me that melanoma can kill.

The next hour was not pleasant. But afterwards, when your leg is still frozen, it’s easy to smile for the camera.

Mel 2 blog 3

Since then I’m fully aware when it’s time to pop more pain killers. My leg starts talking to me. “The melanoma’s gone but I’m hurting here.”

This is how I’m going to look for the next two weeks. It’s hard to keep your leg elevated and type.

Mel 2 blog

On the plus side…

I’m one of the lucky ones because my bandages are visible. People are kind when you look wounded. Out for my walk (limp) last night, passerby’s nodded and gave polite smiles. They might have been thinking, “Are you an idiot!” but I will opt to think that people are nice. Most see someone in distress and react well. We are all basically good.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not really as positive as I seem. I had no idea I would end this journey with three big scars on my leg.

Life isn’t always fair.

But it did make me stop and enjoy the view.

Mel 2 blog 6