Eileen Cook Author, Writing Consultant, Editor

This is an addiction I know ALL too well


The World’s Most Boring Person

Have you ever seen the beer Dos Equis’ ad campaign with the World’s Most Exciting Man? I am the exact opposite of this- possibly the world’s most boring person.

I came to this realization a couple of weeks ago. DH and I had gone to the fireworks competition. We were excited because a) we were out for a big night on the town and b) we were awake past ten pm so we felt like rebels. We sat near a group of people, one of whom had just moved here. She asked up what kind of exciting things we could recommend to do on the weekends. Before thinking about it I spit out that I like to spend the weekend reading. I managed to avoid mentioning that I also like to nap.

That’s when it occurred to me that I’m boring and upon reflection I found more evidence to support this theory:
– I am a huge fan of oatmeal for breakfast
– The color I wear most often is grey
– It’s possible I have more imaginary friends than real ones
– I actually get a shiver of excitement when I hear from the library that a book I requested is in for pick up
– My wild hobby is knitting.

I think I am going to embrace my new status as world’s more boring person. Maybe have a t-shirt made. Add the line to my business cards.

I am beginning to think it is a lie

A little over a year ago DH realized that despite our best attempts to remain immature forever, we were alas, getting older. We decided that rather than grow old gracefully we wanted to go kicking and screaming so we have made a concerted effort to become healthier. We already ate fairly decently, and given that we both think kale tastes like a weed, we knew that to make a change what we needed to do was exercise.

I’ve never been an athletic person. My parents who gave me several good things (an ability to cook, a love of reading, sense of humour) did not provide me with a single athletic gene. I was the person you knew in high school who forged notes to get out of gym class. When forged notes did not work, I was the one who was constantly hit in the face with a ball, who fell, who twisted something, and generally would always be chosen last when making teams. I do not like the gym. Or sweating. It is not a case of not “finding just the right activity.” I have tried all most all sporty things. The truth is that my idea of a good activity is reading on the sofa followed by a nap. When I’m feeling really wild and crazy I like to knit. If reading burned calories I would make super models look like hippos. Alas, it does not.

So I started running. That’s a lie. I started walking and then slowly added in periods of running. People around me told me that there would be some kind of runner’s high. I have come to accept the truth- they lie. It’s been close to a year now and the only high I have is when the treadmill beeps indicating that I can stop.

I share an office with a lovely woman. T is incredibly bright, a great critical thinker, funny, kind. She is also an amazing athlete. Some days she talks about how when she doesn’t get to run she really misses it. I can honestly say this has never happened to me. Nada. Not once. She also looks great when she runs. I haven’t looked in a mirror, but I’m pretty sure I look hideous. At the very least I feel hideous and I’m never smiling.

My good friend J became athletic later in life. She used to be a couch potato like me. She told me once that she was intending to run for about an hour- but she was having so much fun that she just kept going. She “didn’t even realize how much time had passed.” This has never happened to me. Much more common is that I think surely the time must be over only to realize that time has slowed to crawl and that I still have forever to go.

On the upside I’ve lost some weight and my cardio is way better. So I’ll live longer. Or it will just seem like longer. I’m not sure which it will be yet.


There are good days and bad days

So those of you who follow me on Twitter (and if not, why not? @eileenwriter) or on Facebook already know that this past week had it’s challenges at Chez Cook. Our dog, Cairo, managed to somehow rupture a disc in his spine. This led to a trip to the emergency vet, a CAT scan, and a visit by a canine neurologist. (yes, my dog has his own neurologist now.) Emergency surgery was the option on Wednesday and we were lucky enough to get him home after a few days at the hospital.

Pets in pain is never a good thing and having to make life or death medical decisions has a way of sucking the joy out of an otherwise perfectly good day. Cairo would point out that having surgery and a row of medical grade staples holding your back together, along with needing to re-learn how to use your back end isn’t any treat either. We’ve had to re-jig schedules as Cairo can’t be left for long periods. We moved our mattress to the floor so there is no risk that he will jump in or out of bed. He can’t walk without a leash and if you aren’t supervising he has to be in his crate. (Don’t ask how he feels about it- it will have him singing the song of his people all over again.)

Oddly despite all of this I was reminded of some silver linings. First off that I’m married to the best guy ever who left work early and rushed home so he could drive me and the wee guy to the emergency vet. We’re fortunate enough to be able to pay for the surgery- it means giving up a planned vacation, but not giving up things like rent money or food. We were able to find humour in the situation and when we couldn’t we were okay with just holding hands. I’m grateful that my primary job is being a writer- which thankfully can be done at home while holding onto a dog leash so that someone doesn’t try and run and jump. I’m grateful that I’ve had this dog in my life at all, as his joy in the most simple things is a good reminder for me that anything can be an adventure. I am so very grateful that he and I will have more days together.

In the meantime my dog is going to have a bitching scar down his back. Our plan is to tell people he fended off a shark attack. Or took out some terrorist. Maybe a terrorist shark.

It’s weird in my brain

I have weird dreams. Always have. Maybe it’s my creative nature. Or some kind of sign that all is not right in my head, but as long as I can remember my dreams are vivid and odd. Here is a prime example from last night.

In my dream there are a rogue group of vegetarians who are consumed with the idea of making everyone swear off meat eating.*

In order to get people to swear off meat they decide they must convince the younger generation so they are stealing stuffed toys from small children and then cooking and serving them to the kids to cause trauma. Picture here tiny Molly being served the head of her stuffed bunny Beatrix in an orange sauce, or wee Tommy finding the side of his stuffed pig Oliver served up crispy on a side of eggs. This is causing mass panic.**

For reasons that are unclear in the dream, the police and authorities seem to be unable to address this violent stuffy massacre so DH and I decide that we alone must right this wrong. ***

The dream then had a montage of various crime fighting/ninja like scenes where DH defending small innocent plush toys from being made into sausage, fondue or a roast.

Then I woke up. I have zero idea what type of interpretation a psychologist would put on this dream other than I might be in need of heavy psychotropic medication.

I told DH about the dream. He summed it up as: “you’re weird.” then again what would he knows- he rarely remembers dreaming at all. His are probably so weird that his brain won’t even let him remember them in the morning.

How about you- do you remember your dreams?

* Let it be said I know many vegetarians and while enthusiastic about their lifestyle they have never tried for world domination or to my knowledge even thought about it.

** I think you do want to get people to swear off meat this is not the way to go about it. Rather than getting young kids to embrace a healthy plant based food source it seems to me this would make them potential serial killers.

*** Given that DH and I have trouble motivating ourselves to do beyond the basic home chores (Back yard overgrown garden I am looking at you) I find it implausible that we would take up a life of crime fighting as it would break into our regular routine of knitting, reading and making robots.

For no other reason than it made me laugh


Travel between the covers

I’ve been lucky enough to be editing the new book by Laura Bradbury the past couple of weeks. If you haven’t read her books about her adventures in France you are truly missing out. Laura does food porn better than almost anyone I know. The way the woman describes cheese results in me drooling onto my keyboard and then going to the kitchen to rustle up a snack. (I’m still not sure I’m convinced on trying the snails- but I will give her this- she has me considering it.

It’s more than the food- Laura paints a picture of France that makes you itchy to dig out your passport and see if Expedia has any deals on flights. It made me reflect on the interaction between reading and travel. I’ve always been a huge reader and long before I ever got out of the town I grew up in I traveled inside my mind thanks to a number of writers.

Once I was able to travel I found that I developed a habit of seeking out not just travel guides or non-fiction history books, but also novels set in the location I was planning to visit. There was something about seeing my destination through someone else’s eyes long before I stepped off any plane.

A friend recently told me that she burst into tears while reading The Fault in Our Stars, not because of the plot line of teens with cancer falling in love and dying, but because the descriptions of Amsterdam made her heart ache with a desire to return.

My recent trip to Italy has provided me with a setting for a new book. I want to slip as many details of what I saw and experienced so that anyone who reads it can taste the tomatoes and feel the warm stone steps in their own mind.

Laura’s books have inspired me to start planning my own trip to France. We’ve set up a bank account and will start to squirrel away a little each month so we can try the bread, cheese and wine for ourselves. In the meantime I plan to read a lot more.

Do you have a book that reminds you of a favorite destination or has inspired you to want to take a trip to see it for yourself?


My Celebrity Besties

I have decided that Amy Poehler and I should be best friends. I base this on the fact that I just finished her book YES PLEASE and realize that we have millions of things in common. Or at least four including:
– We both grew up in Irish Catholic families
– Growing up she would play these elaborate imaginary games and so did I.
– She knits, I knit. People who like yarn automatically score high on my people to like scale. It doesn’t mean you have to like to knit- just that it works in your favour.
– She’s funny. I like to think I’m funny.

It may be harder for Amy to figure out why she would like to be friends with me. However, she notes that she is quite short and given that I am tall, I would promise as one of her friends to always get things down from tall shelves and never pick her up. In my experience short people hate when you pick them up- or make jokes about working in a chocolate factory, or living in Oz. They can be touchy about those things and as her good friend I would never deliberately upset her. That’s just the kind of good friend that I can be.

Then there is the fact that Amy Poehler is real life friends with another one of my imaginary celebrity besties- Tina Fey. It seems only natural that we would all hang out. I’d even help them come up with jokes for random award shows.

I should point out that I am not a celebrity stalker by nature. I don’t want to be friends with just any star. For example, while I think Angelina Jolie is an amazing actress and her work with the UN is impressive, I don’t picture us having much in common. Once we covered how things in Nepal sure do suck, the conversation would likely trail off into awkward silence. However, I am pretty sure Amy would make me laugh until bourbon came out my nose. Amy should feel free to call me anytime. Especially if she has something up on a high shelf.

How about you- any celebrities you would want to befriend?

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