Recent Journal Entries

choosing hope

My level of anxiousness about the new book is zero. I don’t know for sure, but I may not care anymore. I arrived at this state of not caring by getting worn down by anxiousness. So, this not caring is weird. It is neither optimism, nor hopelessness. It’s a pragmatic grey. I have asked myself a thousand and sixty times: Why do you write? And: Why did you write this? And: Why is it important to have written this? At this point, I can choose to wallow in hopelessness, or let the walls down and live in hope. Because being hopeful is risky. You have to open to it. There is a possibility of getting whacked up-side the head. But you can choose it. This morning, I chose it. I will surround myself with positive people only. Tonight, I will light my favourite candle and have a sip of good whisky. And I’ll just live in hope for a while. And wait… Unlike Carl Lubinski:

(From a project called – The Grand Distraction)

Carl Lubinski wakes up with the birds. He wakes up on a Saturday morning in May at 4:33 a.m. and tries to take a full breath. He only gets a half inhalation and immediately considers the possibility that he’s having a heart attack. How old was his dad when he had his first heart attack? But this isn’t a physical kind of pain. Not entirely. It’s more a matter of not being able to breathe as well as usual. This cold fact causes him to start to panic. His mind starts to cycle. He begins to feel uneasy about being alive. He was dreaming. Just now. Just a few seconds ago. He was dreaming a conversation with God again, and this time God told Carl there was no such thing as God – that God was an imagined thing. And Carl asked, “Well, why are we here then? And how are we having a conversation? What are we supposed to do with this consciousness? This life?” And the imagined God shrugged and said: “Fuck if I know.”

“But I know that I exist,” Carl says. “I know.”

“So?” God says. “What’s the problem?”

“It’s a problem because I don’t know why I exist. Why am I alive?”

God looks irritated. He sighs. “To goof around and have a lot of sex,” he says.

“That’s it?”

“Hey, I don’t exist. What do you expect?”

hope

Tweet

Here’s the thing – it’s ridiculous to think one innocent (and ignorant) Tweet could destroy all of social media for me, but I’m teetering on the brink of utter disgust and abandonment. You see, I got back to my office after standing for an hour at the side of the road as a funeral procession for a policeman who was working with the hate crimes unit and was shot dead while trying to make an arrest. I stood there and witnessed thousands of his fellow police officers from this city, and across the province, the country and North America parade by. I stood my ground with thousands of my fellow citizens and I sobbed. I was drained by this experience. It kicked me in the side of the head. In my office, I look at Twitter. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because I was so moved – this unexpected grief floating on the surface of my skin and I wanted to see if others were moved too. The first Tweet I see is from some smiling woman in my city, who wants to know a good “watering hole” so she can go for drinks with her friends on the weekend #YEGdrinks #YEG wateringhole. The juxtaposition of this Tweet and my standing witness on the street is shocking. If “outraged WTF!” was a picture, it would be mine. I hate this woman. I hate her ignorance, her stupidity, her banality, her ass-fucked question, her picture, her cheerful and utterly inane disposition, and I hate her awful timing. I want to ask her if she has any idea what’s happening in her own city. I want to ask her if she thinks the world is just an entertainment for her. I want to know if she’s really this stupid. I want to not care if her feelings are hurt by me. I want to offend her as much as I am offended by her. Okay, really, I hate myself for looking at Twitter, like some addicted teenager whose greatest fear is not been seen every ten seconds. So you see? One Tweet, and social media is pretty well wrecked. Just like that.

transcendent dance moment

How did it get to be May? It’s a Sunday in early May and it feels like fall out there. The sun is warm on my face and then the clouds, and then it’s cold. Regardless, green is everywhere, and there are three daffodils in front of the big Buddha. I’ve got Al Green playing in my office… “Let’s Stay Together” and more. And tonight, a dance-off at the University of Alberta’s Meyer Horowitz theatre…the daughter is in four dances! Four! She never reads this blog so I can gush with no fear of her being embarrassed. I am so freaking proud. She works so hard, they all work so hard, at these dances, and it is amazing to see the groups perform. The coolest thing is, the turn outward to be part of something bigger than the self, and then to have that thing be excellent. Yesterday, near the end of the day, I am sitting in the darkened theatre, watching dance after dance, and suddenly, there was a dance that was such profoundly subtle bit of story telling – the song, a cover of a Kodaline tune called “all I want,” sung by Ellie Goulding. “If you love me, why’d you leave me, take my body, take my body…” And I am choked. The tears filling my eyes. It was a perfect moment of dance. Those dancers, from Shelley’s Dance Company, somehow embodying the sadness of that song, feeling it and showing the sadness with their bodies and their beautiful faces. I was sitting there for free. I would have paid $100 for that moment. It was such sweet story-telling. There it was, on stage, that transcendent moment as those dancers moved from being just dancers to being artists. It takes discipline, and love, and talent, and hard work to get there. And it takes a brilliant choreographer who knows how to manufacture a doorway like that – and then that question …well, are you going to walk through? This is a long-overdue nod of acknowledgement to Shelley Tookey and her troop of talented teachers/choreographers. Brava! A thousand times, brava!

The potential of this moment is in every art, inside every artistic endeavor. In writing. In music. In painting. In sculpture. Everything.

Since I’m onto a dance theme here, this is a poem from way back about the warm-up ritual.

warm-up in the rehearsal hall

Nobody is supposed to be watching this – It’s not meant
for this sort of scrutiny.

In the dim light of the rehearsal hall, young dancers
go through their ritual warm-up. They stand in rows and
move to a gentle music. Each dancer in solo space.
Each dancer connected to every other dancer inside this
designed movement.

No one speaks. No one leads.

They know what to do. This is ingrained. They breathe this stretching –
remember balance together. It is not a chore. It is
serious business. Essential in being dancer.
And here, rehearsing, individuals. They are not
in costume – not yet.

A boy in the third row peels off his sweatshirt.

A girl in the front line drops her hoody to the floor without losing
her place, without missing a breath, a beat, a move.

I think of Degas and his ballerinas captured in that chestnut brown
and sepia lighting. Always off stage. Always before, or after the dance.

This is not a stage. It is only a dimly lit space leading up
to being on stage. It is otherworldly to watch them. This moment
of such focused peace: turned inward, and yet, they move
in unison – bodies talking to one another.
It is ‘belonging’ to a company. It is belonging to
something bigger than self.

And this ceremony of
belonging moves me.

I forget that I have coffee.
I try not to watch directly. Open my journal and start to write
something/anything, look up – only glance and half-glance.
As if watching these dancers is the same as watching a deer
at the edge of a meadow, and if the deer notices me watching,
it will disappear.

I do not want these dancers to disappear.
I do not want the warm-up to end.

This ritual may not be the dance, but this elongated moment
is as beautiful as any dance, on any stage.

The softly weeping women of the 1950s

You can tell that I’ve been working the new book over the past few months. All my energy has been there, and now the book is gone off to the agent and hopefully the publishers. What am I to do now? Hang some Buddhist prayer flags in the back yard. Meditate. Drink scotch whiskey at 3 a.m. and listen to Miles Davis records in the living room, with the cat. Read books from the ever growing “to-read” pile.

I think perhaps, I will not stop writing. There are ideas and sketches, and there were projects put on hold. I will not stop writing.

Here’s last week’s sorbet for your viewing pleasure.

The softly weeping women of the 1950s

In one of my father’s dresser drawers, there were perhaps two hundred
white cotton handkerchiefs. I thought of that drawer this morning, as I jokingly
offered my silk pocket square to my wife, who was looking for a Kleenex.
She was horrified that I would offer her a pocket square. I told her about
that drawer, and she told me about the drawer her father had that was also
filled with white cotton handkerchiefs. It’s as if there was a period of time,
say, in the 1950s when women wept more often in public, when they needed
to wipe their eyes, or blow their noses, and men were there, offering their crisp,
clean white handkerchiefs – with no thought of getting them back.

I do not know what life was like for women of the 1950s. They certainly
did not all look like Marilyn Monroe, but she was a curvaceous measuring stick.
Maybe there was more to cry about. Maybe not. Perhaps eye makeup was not
as waterproof. But loneliness, melancholy, broken love? Joy and sadness.
These things, we take with us as we move through time. There will always be
constants about which we will cry.

Perhaps you are sitting in a movie theatre in September, 1957. The popcorn
has real butter on it and didn’t cost an arm and a leg. On the screen
is an image of Cary Grant standing alone on the observation deck of the
Empire State Building. He is waiting for Deborah Kerr to show up
because they love each other and this rendezvous was their promise to
each other and to that love. But the Deborah Kerr character, in her rush
to meet him, has been hit by a car. The woman you are with is squeezing
your hand, hard. You glance at her and can see the tears streaming
down her face. The Cary Grant character believes he was rejected when
he really wasn’t and it’s so sad. Wouldn’t it be nice to offer the woman
squeezing your hand a soft white handkerchief? So she could wipe her tears?
Apparently, my father could have. My wife’s father likely would have.

Top Sheet

Happy New Year. It’s 2015 and cold as a well-digger’s ass. Here is last week’s sorbet offering for your viewing pleasure. Can you imagine Sasha? A full-bodied brunette with a tattoo of a Rumi poem on her right shoulder blade. Dark, questioning eyes. Strong hands. Shy until she has a drink, and then, perhaps too outgoing and needy. Here she is:

top sheet

Her whole life, Sasha needed the top sheet tucked in. It was a prerequisite for sleep. If the top sheet was not tucked she felt undone – she became anxious. Even if she were dog tired, she would get out of bed and remake the bed, frantically tucking and folding the edges until it was just right. In the past few months this trait had reversed itself, so she now felt claustrophobic if that sheet was tucked in. As if she needed to stay connected to the air – as if she needed the air of the world around her feet. Something small and contained had burst into this need for the wide open world. She needed the open-ended possibility now. Nothing about her bed was tucked in, or folded, or tidy anymore. This reversal did not upset Sasha. She only noticed it. As if she were sitting in the wooden chair by the window looking at two realities, watching the infinitesimally small space between, and smiling.

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Welcome

Thomas

Thomas Trofimuk is a Canadian novelist, poet, and musician based in Edmonton, Alberta. He's the author of Doubting Yourself to the Bone, and his most recent novel, Waiting for Columbus. More.

Below, are the paperback covers for the UK, the Canadian, and US editions.

Waiting for Columbus

Columbus Cover (UK) Columbus Cover (Canada)

Waiting for Columbus (McClelland & Stewart / Knopf-Doubleday / Picador / and Blackstone Audiobooks) was released in Canada and the US in 2009 and in the UK in 2010. Read reviews and more about the book here.

Columbus Cover (United States)

UPCOMING EVENTS


"Waiting for Columbus" is featured as part of the WILDLY popular RICHARD AND JUDY book club in the UK!!!
Waiting for Columbus is featured on the WH Smith website here. And here is the awesome video!

SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
TBA

BOOK CLUBS
TBA

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS for "Waiting for Columbus"
A few suggested discussion questions for "Waiting for Columbus are here. An interview with Trofimuk that might also spark some discussion is here. Enjoy....

Key Dates for Waiting for Columbus

The paperbacks are here! The paperbacks are here!!! Canadian, US and UK paperbacks of Waiting for Columbus are on the shelves!!

Release date Brazil:
Pending

Release date Poland:
Pending



“…And therein lies the best career advice I could possibly dispense: just DO things. Chase after the things that interest you and make you happy. Stop acting like you have a set path, because you don’t. No one does. You shouldn’t be trying to check off the boxes of life; they aren’t real and they were created by other people, not you. There is no explicit path I’m following, and I’m not walking in anyone else’s footsteps. I’m making it up as I go.
It’s harder, for sure, and kind of scary sometimes. But it will allow you to look at yourself in the mirror and know you’re playing by your own rules…”

-- Charlie Hoehn

“coffee should be black as hell, strong as death and sweet as love...”
~ Turkish proverb


 

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