Letter from Joy
July 9, 2018
Well, I asked for a hot, dry summer and it’s here with a vengeance. We’ve had record-breaking temperatures for more than a week, and I have to say, I love it! Last week was absolutely gorgeous and this week promises more of the same. It was a little tough going on the golf course, but still much preferable to previous weekends that were rainy and cool. The only problem with summer is that it’s always over way too soon. Already half the store windows are filled with fall merchandise. And then once September hits, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump till Christmas! (Okay - I’m getting a little ahead of myself here! I have to calm down.)
I know I said I was going to try to get this letter off at the start of every month, and I’m a week late, but I have a good excuse. Two excuses, actually. Their names are Hayden and Skylar. I had the privilege of their company every day last week before their day camp starts next week, so my week was very busy with grandchildren. My daughter dropped them off by 8:30 in the morning and I drove them home at 4:30. Of course, it’s rush hour, so it was at least five o’clock before I got them home, then it took another half hour to drive back to my place. By then, I was too pooped to do much of anything. And it looks as though I’ll have them for a few days this week as well, as there was a mix-up with one of the day camps they were supposed to be attending. They’re wonderful children, but very active and it’s not always easy to figure out what to do to keep them occupied, especially on the days that were too hot to go outside. But we went to the spider exhibit at the museum, which was terrific, and also saw an absolutely sensational exhibit by Iris Halperin of computer-generated 3-D digital clothing! (Don’t ask - I have absolutely no idea how this sort of thing is accomplished, despite the written explanations. It’s mind boggling!) Definitely worth a visit to the ROM (that’s Royal Ontario Museum), if you’re in Toronto this summer. We also went swimming one day and to the park. And we spent an hour or so one morning making chocolate chip cookies. (I now have enough cookies to open my own bakery.)
The rest of the summer promises to be a pretty lazy one. We’re going to the cottage of friends for the weekend, which I’m really looking forward to. I have absolutely zero interest in owning my own cottage, but I do love visiting other people’s, especially when they’re on the water, as this one is. Plus, it’s not too long a drive, which is always nice. And then toward the end of the month, we’re going to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to visit friends and golf at one of Canada’s premier resorts - Cabot Links. Hopefully my golf will have improved again by then, as it’s been pretty lousy lately. (Just when I think I have it, it disappears!) And August is looking pretty quiet, so that’s nice. No big trips planned for this year.
And as much as I’ve always loved America - and getting more political than I normally choose to get - I have to admit I’m pretty disillusioned with the current political climate in the U.S., and not particularly anxious to travel south of the border. I simply don’t understand why the leader of a country would go out of his way to alienate his friends and allies, deliberately badmouth our Prime Minister, and openly embrace dictators and tyrants. His reasoning is faulty at best and disingenuous at worst. He either doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to trade and deficits, etc. or he deliberately lies. Plus he has no curiosity, no desire to learn. The U.S. has a population of over 330 million people. We have approximately 33 million, one tenth the number! There is no way we could take advantage of the U.S., even if we tried. Putting aside whether one is a Democrat or a Republican - and we have friends of both political persuasions - I’m honestly very worried about the state of democracy in the U.S. I see the country - and its predominantly good people - marching inexorably toward fascism, and that’s a horrifying thought. Hopefully I’m wrong, and hopefully Americans will see that their current would-be emperor has no clothes. Time will tell.
On a lighter note, I’ve seen a few movies lately, although not many, as there is very little out there that interests me. I saw the wonderful documentary, RBG, about Supreme Court judge, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, that I would recommend to everyone, regardless of their politics. She’s one extraordinary woman and has had a most interesting life. I also saw Sicario, Day of the Soledad, which was reasonably entertaining until its unbelievably stupid ending ruined the whole picture. It was as if the writer and director didn’t know how to end the story, so decided to avoid the whole issue by jumping ahead a year and getting cute. It doesn’t work, leaving the audience confused and frustrated instead of satisfied. Big mistake, as Julia Roberts says in Pretty Woman. Huge.
TV has been a wasteland. Most nights, there is nothing at all to watch, and when there is, I usually have to choose between two shows that are on opposite each other. I do enjoy The Bachelorette, even though I know I shouldn’t. So far, I’m rooting for Jason. He seems like a genuinely nice man. I’ve been so desperate, I even watched a few episodes of The Proposal, but I think I’ve reached my limit. The show is just too awful, even allowing for my tolerance of crap. So tonight I’m going to watch The Affair, one of my favourite shows on HBO, which I didn’t watch last night because I wanted to see the first episode of Sharp Objects, starring Amy Adams. It was okay, although I’m not buying the mother character and her husband at all. They’re just not remotely believable. Plus I’m getting a little tired of heroines - and heroes - who drink all the time. (I had the same problem with the show, Patrick Melrose, where Benedict Cumberbatch spent the entire first episode drinking and doing drugs. These things are much more interesting to the person doing the drinking and drugging than they are to anyone watching.) It’s one thing for a lead character to be flawed; it’s quite another to be so flawed the audience (or reader) loses all sympathy for them. Ditto the characters of Succession, another show where the entire cast is borderline despicable. (I had the same problem with Ray Donovan, which started out pretty good and degenerated into something unwatchable after the first two seasons.) I’m reduced to watching reruns of Mom and Major Crimes, and looking forward to Better Call Saul in August. And when is Game of Thrones coming back?
As for books, I finally finished Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan, and I have to admit it was a struggle. Try as I might, I just didn’t like the damn thing, and I skimmed the last fifty pages just to see how it was resolved, although I really didn’t care. Now I’m reading Robin, supposedly a definitive biography of Robin Williams. It looks to be much more satisfying. And returning to the movies for a minute, I do plan to see the latest instalment of Jurassic World, even though the reviews weren’t great and I’ll probably be disappointed. But come on - it’s dinosaurs! I’d love to take Hayden and Skylar, but they’re too young and sensitive, and I think it would be too frightening for them, so I’ll probably end up going with either my daughter, Shannon, or my sister, Renee.
As for my writing, I finished my latest manuscript and sent it off to my agent and editor, and am currently waiting to hear their reactions. Hopefully they'll be positive, although there is likely still work to be done. Other than that, I’m trying to let my subconscious sift through a bunch of ideas for my next book. Having written so many novels, it’s getting harder and harder not to repeat myself, and I want to make sure I’m sufficiently excited about whatever I choose to do next.
And that’s about it for now. I wish you all a safe and happy July, and look forward to speaking to you again in August.