Saturday, January 02, 2010

Free fall and I don't even mean writing

As you approach the Niagara Falls Freefall Indoor Activity Centre, you hear the roar of a jetplane engine. The blue and red figure floating on the tower looks vaguely like Superman, a hero from my youth. The other part of the building is a triangle made of glass triangles.
Now I don't feel like a superhero. In fact some of my joints ache and the warning poster inside says people with injuries, sprains, fractures and SORE JOINTS shouldn't participate.
I ignore it for my craft.
I hand over my Visa and get talked into adding the video, it's only $15 perhaps I can extract bits for a powerpoint presentation on writing the book. Then I head into the brightly lit classroom with the television at the front. Imagine, the tv is a teacher. The video demonstrates hand symbols and body positioning. As quickly as they're mentioned, I forget them and feel nervous that I should quit. Each student must demonstrate the correct posture lying across an ottoman. How much more stupid can I feel.
Then we sign the waiver. Those forms are the scariest part of this adventure as they keep mentioning death. How can anyone die bouncing of cushiony walls?
I could probably find a way.
Next we suit up in huge parachutey jump suits, helmets and goggles. We're given earplugs to mold and insert. All set?
Into the wind tunnel we go and position ourselves along the bumper of the round room.
The jet engine roars louder and louder.
We have a coach in the centre and he guides us, one by one, into the air. Me last, thankfully. You can't tell how high you're floating or whether the coach is holding on to your jumpsuit but watching the others, he never seemed to let go.
So you kind of jump up and stretch your arms out, bending your knees and lets up. You float bellydown. The wind from the engine inflates the parachute like suit and you look like a marshmallow person. (I only saw this in the photo after) The sensation is much like the one you get blowdrying your hands in those highpower dryers in the Go Station and in the washrooms on the 401 leading to Montreal. You know the ones that kind of look like they're blowing your skin off?
This sensation is mainly directed at your face and as I was grinning (from the sheer stupidity and embarassment) my lips were being blown back and I felt my spit leaving my mouth.
How did I feel doing it? I felt like the master of my universe, conquering all fears. Everyone should tackle something that scares them, it makes you stronger.

Indoor Skydiving--Part of the writing process

Because my main character Jade in Death on Youtube makes a list of ten things she has to do or achieve before she dies (a second time, she's on a two week replay) I felt I had to try something she would do in order to write the scene authentically.

In the late part of 2009 I visited classrooms for three weeks at both Canadian Martyrs School and Brant Hills School and as part of writing workshops asked them to tell me what they'd most want to do if they only had two weeks to live and couldn't really tell anyone, exactly as my character's circumstances dictated. Of course some of their suggestions will appear in the story. However, one thing that repeatedly came up which kids under 18 are not allowed to do is skydiving. Not even with parental consent.

Happenchance, while catching up one clips of one of my favourite shows: Rick Mercer, I noticed he went indoor skydiving at Niagara Falls. I quickly googled and found that even 7 year olds can skydive, provided they have a parent on site who signs insurance waivers and consent forms.

So I debated: this is expensive, I've already broken my wrist once rollerblading, the orthepedic surgeon will really freak if I come back after indoor skydiving. I posted my query on facebook and found the response leaned towards yes. So today off I went.

Best Christmas Card of all--from Beauty

I liked all the Christmas cards I received. Friends are another of the treasures of life. But feeling that you've made a difference is probably the most exciting aspect of being a writer. It's not always reflected in royalties, reviews or awards. This Christmas card made me feel as though I have contributed significantly to Canadian children's literature. So I want to post it here, in case I lose the actual physical photo. Samantha read Bringing Up Beauty in grade 4. Now she's at U of Guelph and works part time at Canine Vision Canada. She fosters many dogs but a couple of months ago she told me she was finally raising a chocolate Lab that she named Beauty after the two dogs in Bringing Up Beauty, A Different Kind of Beauty and Beauty Returns. I feel honoured.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Best of Christmas

The presents weren't the highlight of Christmas. I guess they never are. Enjoying the Spencer Smith Park lights are a tradition. Going to Hunter's Teddy Bear Concert is another. We took William and Jadzia to the free train in Gore Park, downtown Hamilton. Previous years it was Hunter. We liked taking him to the movie A Christmas Carol, in 3d. A new event was celebrating Jadzia's birthday, her first, a delayed event that took place on Boxing Day instead of her actual birthday on Christmas. The best part of Christmas was family for sure.

Harry Potter at the Science Centre--writing and its perks

Hunter appreciates the perks of the writing career. He told me how lucky we were when we attended the press release for the new Harry Potter exhibit coming to the Ontario Science Centre in April. You can see the television cameras lined up in the back for the sneak preview.
An owl delivered the message, smoke rose and the flying car appeared in the background.
Best was that we saw the Body show after which I had missed the press date for as I was teaching in Brant Hills School at the time. I fell asleep during my favourite star show in the planetarium, Hunter nudging me when I snored. He slept all through the drive home. Happily it was easy for me to stay awake. I have to agree with Hunter, being a writer is the best job in the world.

Leading up to Christmas

The holiday season began with a field trip to the Royal Botanical Garden in Burlington/Hamilton to get photos for the magazine. Jadzia and William enjoyed the outing among palm trees, koi fish and other exotic flora and fauna. Later in the month, we took a horse drawn wagon ride in the rain through Burlington and bought most of our gifts in the small, uncrowded, downtown shops that wrapped for us. Snow would have been nicer but it was still fun and free except for the shopping.