Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Your friendly neighbourhood garbageman
I threw an enormous, sweating bag of garbage on the back of the camp truck the other day. It was the end of a busy weekend, and it was going to take a few hours to clean up the mess.
"This is what nine years of post-secondary gets you," I told Zack, the new 17-year-old maintenance guy at The Ovens. "You get real good at picking up garbage."
At one point I decided to perch a human-sized bag of garbage in the passenger seat (pictured above), only to have it leak grey stench in to the seat.
"My bad," I told Dan, my boss.
He shrugged. "Worse things have happened," he said, before wrenching the seat of the truck and spraying it down with a hose
My favorite part of most days is bundling wood with Rodney, a 65-year-old fisherman who lives down the street from us. He has deep wrinkles around his eyes, gray hair and bigger muscles than me. He's also lost 85% of his hearing, broke his back in a storm once, and speaks in the thickest East Coast accent I've ever heard.
While we stack the wood on a table, wrap it in twine and load it on the truck, Rodney spends hours telling me stories about being a scallop fisherman, about his family, about his karaoke business and about what it was like growing up in Nova Scotia.
I'm not exaggerating: at least 2500 words of my novel have been lifted verbatim from stories Rodney told me.
I called the police for the first time the other day, during my security shift. A rowdy group of twenty-somethings had broken into the pool the night before, and were disturbing the campsites around them until late in the night. I called the RCMP, partly just to see what they would do.
As soon as I informed the campers that the cops had been called, three cars went screaming out of the park before they could even show up. (Drinking and driving is something of a sport around here, apparently.) Within ten minutes the rest of the campers had retreated to their tents and shut up. Once the cop showed up, there wasn't really anything to see.
Another job well done.
Pretty much at least once a night I get offered a beer while I'm on security (and sometimes other substances). A few weeks ago a group of Jersey Shore-looking meatheads rented one of our cabins and smoked crack in it. Literally.
Darby has been working in the kitchen, which means she periodically prepares me something amazing (like a Greek salad with marinated chicken) and plunks it down in front of me while I'm working the cash register. She's busy, happy and learning lots.
At home, we're making our way through Breaking Bad. Darby says it's her new favorite show, much to my approval. I've also been holing away to write, and I recently passed 55,000 words with Sea to Sky. I think it's almost finished, and I'm getting anxious to have a complete first draft.
I also took some excerpts from my novel, and tried to shape it into a new short story. It's called "Knock on Wood", and I'm planning to submit it to The Malahat Review. Susan, Katie and Hilary are helping me edit it right now.
Today Steven Heighton called me. A few weeks ago I sent him an email, explaining that I'm adapting Sea to Sky into a novel. (He was the judge who selected my story for The Fiddlehead competition last year.)
Steven seemed stoked to hear from me, and enthusiastic about my project. He told me he'd help me get published, or find an agent. Exciting.
But first I need to finish this fucking manuscript.
Also, I'm working as a judge for the Little Fiction flash compilation, along with Andrew F. Sullivan and Troy Palmer. We've selected some really great stories (including some by people I know, more details coming soon), and its been fun to read other people's submissions for a change. I had a string or rejection letters in June and July, and I'm trying not to let it get me down.
Oh yeah, other news: On Saturday I'm flying out to Calgary to meet up with Darby's Dad Bill. We're going to drive from Whitefish to Nova Scotia in his enormous Yukon, tracing the same route Darby and I took two months ago. Two cross country road trips in one summer?! Yes, please.
Should be some good man-time.
Life is good,