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Pickle Me This

October 22, 2019

Reading All Day

The Turning the Page on Cancer Read-a-thon took place the very same day as the Waterfront Marathon here in Toronto, which got disproportionate media attention, really, considering that some slackers had completed their race in a couple of hours, but I was reading all day.

The event kicked off at 8:00, and I was so excited that I woke up before my alarm, taking a quick shower and donning my read-a-thon gear, which was track pants, my “Bookmarks are for quitters” t-shirt and “Fuck Off, I’m Reading Socks.”

I started off with a reread of Eula Biss’s On Immunity, which the Mom Rage Podcast will be discussing as a book club pick next week. (I read the book for the first time in 2015, and loved it. So happy to revisit it.) Reading with a pen in hand, which I never seem to do anymore, though I keep resolving to. But the read-a-thon was all about immersion, and I’d already marked up the volume the first time around, so there were underlines and notes in the margins. I look forward to writing a bit more about the book soon.

We’d envisioned buying my children whistles so that they could dance around the house cheering me like good coaches, and the idea of whistles appealed to them a lot of noise reasons, but then we remembered our resolution to avoid plastic crap (and also noise reasons) so the whistles would be metaphorical. Everyone in my family was terrifically supportive of my endeavour, which was basically lying in bed all day disguised as altruism. Stuart made waffles, and brought me tea, and Iris and Harriet both joined me for a while so I wasn’t reading all alone. (And yes, I loved that Harriet was so happy reading Anne of Avonlea.) Later, I would be delivered the most terrific grilled cheese sandwich.

True confession? 8 hours weren’t long enough. Around 11am, it occurred to me that I could keep going all day, which surprised precisely no one. Too much reading begets more reading, really, because my brain is tuned to focus and concentration. There was also a prize for most pages read, and I was really hoping for a solid chance at winning it. When I finished reading On Immunity, I read 25 pages of Ducks, Newburyport, and then moved on to my second book of day, Cherie Dimaline’s latest Empire of Wild, and if you’re ever doing a read-a-thon, I’d recommend a book like this. I LOVED IT. Unputdownable. Funny, suspenseful and rich, and yes, it would be a difficult task to follow up her incredibly successful novel The Marrow Thieves, but she’s done it properly here. (I am surprised it didn’t show up on awards lists this fall. With a handful of exceptions, the awards lists have forgotten a lot of the year’s true literary standouts.)

Sunday was a beautiful day, so I spent part of the afternoon outside in my dilapidated hammock, which has only just survived the season and will probably be thrown into the garbage soon, because when I lie in it, my entire weight is being supported by a couple of stitches. But they both held me safe for one more float, as I drank more tea and was enraptured by Empire of Wild. And then there was just an hour left to go. (No! My stamina knows no limits. Who knew that time could past so fast?)

So I read a story by Penelope Fitzgerald, and then 25 more pages of Ducks, Newburyport, and had enough time left to fit in 31 pages of Laura Lippman’s 2011 novel The Most Dangerous Thing, and then it was 3pm. 8 hours were up. Why must we ever stop reading? Why? Why???

Well, because my husband had been taking care of our children all day, and I’d promised to make dinner because he’d done breakfast and lunch, and it really was such a beautiful day that I ought to venture out in before I end up with bedsores. But in the meantime, I’d raised more than $1500.00, with a ton of donations rolling in that morning. (Thank you!!) Cumulatively, the Turning the Page on Cancer campaign raised nearly $22,000.

My #todaysteacup for the read-a-thon was my “Nevertheless, She Persisted” mug, not because I would need to persist through 8 straight hours of reading (turned out to be no chore, guys), but because this is what women happens to women who are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, the disease whose research we were fundraising for. There is no cure for metastatic breast cancer, but women diagnosed can go on to live and even thrive for years. The embodiment of nevertheless, she persistedship, with with more research these women can be better supported and live longer, and there will be a whole lot less to “nevertheless” about.

Thanks to everybody who supported me, to the other champions I was reading along with (including my pal Melanie), and to the amazing Samantha Mitchell, who made the whole thing happen. It was so much fun.

PSSST donations are still open! And thanks.

September 11, 2019

Turning the Page on Cancer

Did you ever have a dream of devoting AN ENTIRE DAY to reading? Did you ever dream of helping to wipe out metastatic cancers? Ever thought of you doing both with one fell swoop? I sure did, which is why I signed up for the Turning the Page on Cancer Read-a-Thon, which takes place October 20, with proceeds going to research for metastatic cancers. I heard about this fundraiser from my friend Melanie, who I met online more than a decade ago through Canada Reads and who was diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer in 2015—so a place where books meet raising funds for metastatic cancers in a non-tacky way seems like an incredible way do something to support my friend. She is also taking part in the Read-A-Thon and you can donate to her here if you’d like to. Both of us have surpassed our initial goals (AMAZING!!), but please donate if you are able, or join the team yourself if you’re in the mood for some marathon reading (ALWAYS).

In the meantime, I’m in heavy training, building up my arm strength and stamina. I’ve promised to buy my children whistles and hope they’ll spend the day in tracksuits bringing me water bottles and cheering me on as I read from 8am until midnight. I’d love to break $1000 by the Read-A-Thon day, and really appreciate everybody’s support.

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