In Calgary, 2009.

Walking home along the frozen river. I had thought I would be cold in my skirt, thick tights and legwarmers but I was fine. Snow was falling down lazily and sticking to my wool coat, my eyelashes and the tips of my hair. Someone was cross-country skiing on the river. I kept pace with her and watched her, noticing her movements. My mother used to cross-country ski in Finland. I thought …

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we the animals of prey

Today I went to the library to write, a new library, which I like much better than my local one. This new one has many staircases and little nooks with desks and comfortable chairs, and windows with trees and light on the other side, and a fireplace. And it was quiet. I wrote so well. I’m working on a story that has a teenage boy as the protagonist and I …

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nine hours of sunlight

White wine on a sun-setting balcony as the humidity fades. They talk about Europe, about where they’re going and where they’ve been. I don’t say much. Instead, I slurp my wine and daydream about Germany, though my time there was too short and the things seen were too few. I daydream about Finland and Estonia and Slovenia and I daydream about Europe in general. The buildings, the people, the languages, …

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me, writing

slow progress

After an hour and a half of reading my novel draft, making notes, and doing research, my eyes look like that. I take breaks to look out of the window of the coffee place, noticing how many people seem to mutter to themselves on their way to the subway. I try not to audibly exclaim over how good my chai latte is. Sometimes I feel weird about things like writing …

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good morning other world

If I can’t sleep, one thing I like to do is to look at webcams of cities where it has just turned morning. Sometimes nobody is out of bed and sometimes people are already having long chats outside in the dark. Sometimes the spaces look so eerie without people. I always feel like I should preface this by saying “I’m not some weirdo,” but can it be weird to watch …

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in praise of vintage books

I finished this book on the way back from Montreal. It was the first time I’d ever read it (I know, I know). It was found in a laundromat by a family friend and given to my mother. Look at the gorgeous cover! Old book design is unmatched, in my opinion. Old books are great, especially when they’ve been used by a student in a mixture of relevant class notes …

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blustery beach(es)

My parents used to live near the beach, when there was a racetrack across the street. Now, houses are there, painted in too many colours. We walk slowly down the boardwalk and my mother points out trees to my father – “This one is so big now!” She tells me that when she was my age, when everything was new, she dreamed of living in the little building in the …

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where i write

An oil lamp from Istanbul, a present from my brother. In the background are buttons with the Berlin “walk/don’t walk” symbols. My old Goose on a Moose print and various old photos of my mother and Finland. I’m not really a fan of Doris Lessing’s fiction, but I love her as a writer. If she catches me not writing, she shakes her finger at me and tells me to get …

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morning in your childhood home

There are certain sounds that will be comforting forever: slippered feet on that creaky floor, early morning radio debates, water being poured into a kettle, screen doors sliding open. I stretch and kick the metal footboard as I had done every morning, and before I am fully myself I forget the last nine years have ever happened.