December 1995: my first visit to New York City. The Big Apple. So much to see. The famous World Trade Centre was definitely on my “must-see” list. However, I never got past the lobby. Being holiday season, the queue to go up to the observation deck snaked through the lobby and I was short on time. “You can always come back next time,” my friends suggested. So we left. There was never a “next time” for the Twin Towers.
After the Twin Towers were destroyed on September 11, 2001, “Ground Zero” became almost sacred ground. It was the resting place of almost three thousand people. When the dust settled (literally), discussions began about the best way to honour the victims, including the First Respondents who perished during the rescue efforts.
One thing was agreed – that new towers would not be rebuilt where the old towers stood. Instead, a 9/11 Memorial with two reflecting pools featuring North America’s largest man-made waterfalls, would take the place of where the original towers were.
April 2013, construction in progress behind the reflecting pools
Cancer sucks. No point beating around the bush. It’s a reality. Each one of us has been touched by this terrible disease directly or indirectly. If you, like me, have been lucky enough not to have lost someone in your immediate family to cancer, then chances are you probably know someone close to you who have: a neighbour, a friend, a teacher, a colleague or a distant relative.
In the past decade, I have lost a school friend and family friends, and watched close friends grieve while they lost their parents, and I thank God that my own family is healthy.
Today is Daffodil Day – the Cancer Council’s annual national fund-raising day. The daffodil signifies the arrival of spring, new life, vitality and growth which makes it the perfect symbol of hope for all those who have been affected by cancer.
2016 marks the 30th anniversary of Daffodil Day and my first time volunteering to help sell their merchandise in my local mall. I had been looking forward to this day for weeks and it proved as fruitful as I had hoped.
Every four years, I find myself glued to the television watching sports that I know nothing about but somehow find myself an expert in. Some of these sports seem like activities I did in the schoolyard or friends’ backyards: trampoline, badminton, table tennis, handball. How many people knew which sports are included in the Modern Pentathlon? (Which leads to the question a friend of mine asked: what was the Ancient Pentathlon?)
Here’s a sample of my armchair commentary:
Platform diving – “Oh, that landing was terrible!”
Swimming – “She didn’t have a strong enough push off the starting blocks!”
Hockey – “What kind of refereeing do you call that?”
Long jump – “Watch that takeoff board!”
The reality is that I am as unfamiliar with the rules of pretty much all of the 28 sports that featured at the 2016 Olympics in Rio as the millions of people who watched around the world. Still, this two-week event dominates the news around the world and captures the imagination of even the least sporting of audiences. Why?
On August 3rd, 2015 (exactly twelve months ago as I write now), I set off on a much-anticipated holiday to London. It was a trip that I had put into motion twelve months before that, when a few friends and I agreed to meet there to see British thespian Benedict Cumberbatch return to the stage to star in Hamlet. It was unusual for any stage production to start selling tickets a year in advance but Cumberbatch’s popularity was on the rise (and continues to do so) and the anticipation for his return to the stage was beyond belief.
I love travelling and seeing the world. It is one of life’s privileges that I do not take for granted. These days, travelling seem to require a little more care and thought. I remember my first solo trip some twenty years before, when my biggest concern was being mugged or losing my traveller’s cheques. Getting lost was not such a big deal as you know you can always rely on some friendly locals to help you out. The world has changed a lot since, some for the better and some for the worse.
It seems like a lifetime ago now that I was obsessed with a little show on the USA Network called White Collar, starring the ever hard-working Tim DeKay and a little-known Texan named Matt Bomer. Well, it has now been about eighteen months since we bade au revoir (which, incidentally, is the title of the series finale) to the show that inspired me to write fiction for the first time since high school, and also helped me make friends around the world through the power of Twitter. In the years since the show premiered, I have met many of these friends in person, and most of the writers from the show as well.
Over the course of the show’s six seasons, I, along with thousands of dedicated and loyal fans, followed the cast and writers on Twitter and looked forward to behind-the-scenes photos of the hardworking team goof around in between takes. Oh, how I have missed those!
My visit to New York in April 2013 was planned around the season 5 production schedule to allow me to visit the cast on location, however, a production shift meant I missed out on meeting the cast in person but the writers were kind enough to meet me for a drink in Los Angeles. Despite that disappointment, I was ecstatic when I was given the opportunity to participate in a press call with Matt and Tim (for the second time!) on behalf of LenaLamoray.com ahead of the Season 5 premiere. You can read the full report here but below is an excerpt from my Q&A with Agent Peter Burke and Neal Caffrey about Season 5.