Thursday, June 30, 2005

32 Days

For those of us who have been counting, it has been 32 long days since Natalee Holloway disappeared in Aruba. The 18-year-old honor student from Alabama was celebrating her high school graduation with 123 classmates and 7 supervisors. Natalee was out dancing and took off with several guys. She has not been seen since.

Because Aruba is a Dutch protectorate, it follows the laws of the Netherlands. They leave much to be desired. A person can be picked up by the police and taken into custody and held for up to 116 days without any charge being pressed against him or her. That's pretty appalling! So far, I think five or six different men have been detained including several boys who were with Natalee that night, and a high-ranking judge, who was the father of the boy that Natalee saw last.

17-year-old Joran van der Sloot has changed his version of events 8 separate times, according to Nancy Grace of CNN and Court TV. It looks like Natalee and Joran took off for the beach with two other young men. Joran is now saying that he left Natalee alone on the beach at two in the morning -- an unlikely event and not his original statement.

Joran's father, 53-year-old Paulus van der Sloot, was arrested on suspicion of complicity to commit murder and kidnapping, but he was released last week. Joran and two other men, 18-year-old Satish Kalpoe and his brother, 21-year-old Deepak Kalpoe, remain in custody. However, very little progress seems to have been made in the investigation.

My heart goes out to Natalee's family, who seem so strong and brave. They are beyond frustrated with the slow pace of the search. Dutch law also dictates that certain details of the investigation cannot be disclosed; if that were to happen, the case might be thrown out in court.

Fortunately, the Prime Minister of Aruba has called in the Marines. We hate to think of a Laci Peterson scenario but certainly, the water should be scoured for any signs of the missing 18-year-old. For up-to-date information on the Holloway case, visit the Birmingham News at .

Sigrid Macdonald

Friday, June 24, 2005

When the Music's over, Turn out the Lights

I'm an audiophile. That doesn't mean that I'm an expert on the subject; it just means that I love music. It's been an integral part of my life forever and every memory that I have of a certain time period or event or person can be easily summoned by a sound clip of a particular song.

Although I enjoy all kinds of sounds from folk to jazz to hip-hop, my favorite is rock. And, I must confess that I have a bad case of arrested development in my musical tastes. I just bought tickets to see Simple Plan at the Ottawa Bluesfest. Actually, "see" may be a poor verb choice because chances are that I won't get anywhere near the band in order to see them, but I'm sure that I'll be able to hear them a mile away!

In D'Amour Road, I've attributed my musical tastes to younger people like the hot 24-year-old guy that 39-year-old Tara Richards likes or to Tara's 14-year-old son, Devon. Alain, the 24-year-old, loves Pearl Jam, Sam Roberts, Coldplay and Wheatus. Devon is a consummate rapper and a big fan of Eminem's.

I'm certain that I'm the only person who has ever mentioned Eminem in a book on total hip replacements, and I spent an ample amount of time talking about him in D'Amour Road, too. That's because I'm a feminist and I love Eminem. Sounds like an oxymoron or a contradiction, but the way that I view it is that firstly, Eminem is extremely talented. If we were to remove the lyrics from his songs, I would still love the rhythm. Of course, I would never want to remove the lyrics because that's where Marshall's real brilliance lies -- he is the most amazing rhymer that I've ever heard.

Secondly, I feel for him. Now before you get out your virtual pencil and start sending me hate mail, reminding me that Marshall Mathers is an egocentric, misogynistic homophobe, I will beat you to the punch. I know that. But what makes Eminem's rants about his wife and his mother so intriguing is that it's obvious that he was traumatized by his mother's manipulation, controlling nature, negligence and emotional abuse. Since I've been an advocate for women for years and have been active in the battle to fight sexism, domestic violence and child molestation, I had to ask myself, "Is it right for me to sympathize with women who've been abused as children but to turn my back on men who've experienced a similar plight?"

Yes, Marshall is hostile towards women but is this any different from women who have been raped or harmed and consequently fear or hate men? Unfortunately, many pedophiles and men who become rapists have been abused as children. That's another complicated issue that I address later on in D'Amour Road when I deal with the character of Ryan, the partner of the woman who goes missing. It's so easy for us to feel for men who were hurt when they were kids yet all that compassion disappears in a flash the minute they turn from victim to victimizer.

At any rate, it's been interesting to watch Marshall mature over the years. After all the screaming that he did about Kim, the wife who wronged him, he not only got back together with her but also willingly parented a child that she had fathered by another man. Marshall's rage? Fueled by pain, angst, humiliation, jealousy, deja vu back to Mommy, and the anguish that goes along with having someone you love betray you.

Recently, my 15-year-old neighbor and I were shooting the breeze on the driveway. I asked him what kind of music he liked and he said "oldies".

"Oh, you mean stuff from the 90s?" I retorted, in my usual sardonic manner.

"No! Led Zeppelin," he replied.

I led the boy down to my basement where I had about 200 old albums including five by Zeppelin, 10 by Hendrix and an original by the Sex Pistols. He and his little friend left an hour later carrying a big box of about 50 albums! I was so happy that the 15-year-old and I had found a common ground.

Music unites, exalts, provokes, and stamps an indelible mark on certain occasions. It's one of the few things in life that brings pure joy whether you prefer opera or punk. When the music's over, you can surely turn out my lights :-)

Sigrid Macdonald

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Those damn reading glasses

A few weeks ago, I was at a restaurant with some friends. We were celebrating my mother's birthday and my friend's husband's birthday, which both fall on the same day. I was the only adult at the table who could not read anything on the menu. Why? Because I never remember to bring my reading glasses out with me in public!

This might be understandable if I had just required reading glasses a short while ago, but I've needed them for the last 10 years. As Al Franken says, "Denial is more than a river in Egypt!" I think vanity plays more of a role than denial, however, they are closely related. By leaving my reading glasses at home, I can somehow manage to convince myself that I am someone who does not require extra magnification, and this makes me feel younger. Of course, I don't feel young at all when I'm squinting and whispering to the person next to me, asking whether or not vegetables come with the main entree!

Some people accept the aging process and the various changes that it causes in our body graciously whereas others, like me, fight it every step of the way. Everyone else at the dinner table was wearing glasses and glasses aren't even really a sign of being old. Lots of young people need glasses. My nephew has been wearing them for years. But I hate anything that draws attention to my declining bodily functions, which is a lot like living in Canada and disliking the cold.

Declining vision is part of the territory that we pass through with each decade. I'm lucky that my eyesight is pretty good. Some people struggle with glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa and other serious eye diseases. That doesn't make me feel any younger but it does help to put my trivial embarrassments into a more mature perspective.

Sigrid Macdonald

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Article about D'Amour Road in Nepean This Week

Nepean This Week
Friday June 10, 2005

Mystery simulates Baseline Road, murder of Louise Ellis by Christie Mailey

We often read about New York City and other high profile locations in the world of fiction. Alternately, we read about simple American towns and the interesting characters that reside there. But Sigrid Macdonald, author of D'Amour Road, is a resident of Nepean and she wanted to write about what she knew.

"How often do you pick up a book and read about Baseline Road?" asked Macdonald. "Reading about Ottawa is new information to readers."

In addition to Baseline, Macdonald also mentions downtown locations such as the ByTowne Theatre and Nate's Deli, and also Le Skratch Billiard Hall on Merivale Road.

D'Amour Road is Macdonald's first novel, but second book. Her first book entitled Getting Hip: Recovery from a Total Hip Replacement came out in November 2004 and has sold over 350 copies in just six short months.

"It was really great to write a novel. I loved it," said Macdonald of her transition from non-fiction to fiction.

"I found that I had to become a real observer. I had to really pay attention to things that had been in front of my nose all the time like people's accents and inflections. And how each person is different from one to the next whether it's a teenager, an elderly person, a Christian, or a fundamentalist."

D'Amour Road is the story of two female friends about to turn 40, Lisa and Tara.

Lisa goes missing and Tara is on a mission to find her. Lisa's boyfriend has a history of battery and Tara fingers him as the prime suspect.

The story is loosely based on Louise Ellis' murder, an Ottawa area writer who was murdered by her boyfriend who had previously served time for manslaughter, but Macdonald's novel and characters are completely fictional.

"I knew Louise Ellis and I was involved in the search for her. I met her murderer and had coffee with him because he was involved in the search too," said Macdonald.

"When women go missing it's not usually a happy outcome and I found it so hard not to blame Louise for picking someone with a criminal past."

Macdonald is a part of the Milgaard group against wrongful convictions and somewhat of an advocate for women.

"Women can sometimes choose unsavory characters and the subject matter of the book sends the message to be careful," said Macdonald.

Macdonald finds pieces of herself in the characters in D'Amour Road. Tara is a frumpy, straight and narrow-minded woman who has fallen for a younger man and is very insecure because of her age.

"The main character is much straighter than I am, but I dealt with her same issues of growing older," said Macdonald. "There's a panic reaction to turning 40. Before 40 it feels like there is so much left for you and after 40 is something else."

Because Macdonald's books were published so close together she has spent much of her time marketing the first book, which can be found in Chapters, Coles and online at

D'Amour Road is currently available as an online download from"

**I would like to add that D'Amour Road is also available in print from Lulu by clicking on the icons to the right that say "Buy Now." It will be up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in 4-6 weeks. Sigrid Mac.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Acclaimed author Dannye Williamsen calls D'Amour Road stunningly original!

"In an auspicious debut novel, D'Amour Road, Sigrid Macdonald draws the reader into the free-flowing associative thinking of Tara Roberts, whose mid-life crisis is punctuated by a desperate search for her best friend, Lisa, her life sponsor, the one to whom she turns when she trips over life. Lisa's disappearance drives Tara headlong into the complex psychological and social dilemmas that define her mid-life crisis.

With stunning originality, Macdonald thrusts readers into a non-stop ride that explores both the mundane and the soul-stirring themes that color the human landscape. In a well-conceived metaphor, Macdonald establishes D'Amour Road, the road of love, where Lisa's car is abandoned as the focal point for the search for Lisa as well as the psychological search for Tara. Beginning with doubts about everything, Tara's search ends in certainties that are rooted in love and trust in herself:­ certainties that transform the old age of her youth into the youth of her old age."

Review by Dannye Williamsen, co-author of IT'S YOUR MOVE! Transform Your Dreams from Wishful Thinking to Reality.

Monday, June 13, 2005

May and September romances

I've been watching a fascinating video series on Pierre Trudeau. As far as I'm concerned, he was Canada's most dynamic Prime Minister. Love him or hate him, you must admit that this controversial statesman was brilliant, inspired, and courageous and he had an epic vision for Canada.

He also fell in love with a woman 28 years his junior. Now, I'm not a Margaret Trudeau basher -- and while I'm on the topic, I'm not a Justin Trudeau basher either. I thought it was quite rude of the Ottawa Citizen newspaper to publish an unflattering article about Justin right after he got married -- but I know that Maggie is not held in high esteem by many Canadians.

Since I grew up in New Jersey, I didn't realize that so many Canadians were critical of poor Margaret. So she smoked pot and went a little crazy with the Rolling Stones. Let's try to put that in a cultural perspective. Moreover, Margaret was 19 years old when she met Pierre Elliott Trudeau. No wonder she couldn't adjust to the uptight, upright life of a politician's wife. I sympathize with her and I have always liked and admired her. But I digress.

My point about Pierre and Margaret is that somehow they transcended a huge age barrier. They fell in love and couldn't have cared less what other people thought about their relationship. Was it doomed to fail because of the age difference? Probably. Certainly, Pierre was criticized for his choice but just try to picture the scenario in reverse. What if Margaret had been Prime Minister and she had fallen in love with a 21-year-old university student? (ala Bill Clinton.) She would have been considered a laughing stock.

The whole business of older men and younger women reeks of sexism. Men have chosen younger mates for centuries. Just think of Jack Nicholson, Henry Fonda, Ed McMahon, Frank Sinatra, Tom Cruise, and the highly contentious relationship between Woody Allen and his step-daughter. Occasionally, we see the role reversal where someone like Demi Moore or Jerry Hall, Mick Jagger's ex-wife, is dating a younger man.

But I read a disturbing article about Jerry recently. Apparently, she's 48 years old and loves to go out with twentysomethings. But she doesn't want to bring them home to meet her four children, nor does she wish to meet their friends or have to suffer by listening to their music. She was quoted as saying that she thought that Demi's long-term relationship with Ashton Kutcher was "ridiculous" because why should anyone become "serious" about a young boy?

Jaded? You betcha! Sounds like payback time to me -- she got tired of her own Rock Star God husband cheating on her, so she decided to use younger guys as sex toys. Not very admirable as far whereas Demi's relationship with hot "You've Been Punk'd" Kutcher is sweet. At least they love each other and she treats him like a human being rather than a plaything.

In D'Amour Road, 39-year-old Tara falls for 24-year-old Alain. She's not trying to use him. She doesn't think of him as some stupid baby or trophy that she can show off to her friends. She genuinely adores him. It happens. It actually happens quite often in midlife -- think of American Beauty where the Kevin Spacey character went crazy for his daughter's friend. Was he a pervert? Nah. He was just having trouble coming to terms with his age. Instead of buying a Corvette, he lusted for the girl.

I don't think there's anything wrong with sex without love. As far as I'm concerned, they're two completely separate things. I'm not judging Jerry Hall because she doesn't love these young guys; I'm judging her for her contempt towards them.

Sigrid Macdonald

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Runaway Bride

I've been procrastinating about writing anything on the Jennifer Wilbanks' case because it's so complicated. On one hand, I would never want to blame anyone who was so anxious and troubled that she ran away on the night before her wedding. I'm not perfect. I've made mistakes in my life and I understand what it's like to have bad judgment or to do something really stupid.

On the other hand, what Wilbanks did was the equivalent of shouting "fire" in a crowded theater. Thousands of people went looking for her and she took up precious time, energy and money from law enforcement. Worse, her voluntary disappearance may have an adverse effect on the real disappearances of other women and children.

Last night I was listening to CNN and following the tragic story of 18-year-old Natalee Holloway, who was on vacation in Aruba with her friends when she disappeared. The newscaster asked one of the police officers if Natalee may have taken off on her own accord as Jennifer did.

I'm sure that those things happen, although I don't have access to the statistics at the moment. Not everyone who goes missing has met with foul play. But every single missing person case must be taken seriously. I think that Willbank's actions did a disservice to other people who are genuinely in trouble.

Simply disappearing is not a crime. But when Wilbanks claimed that she had been accosted, she lied to the police and that's illegal. Many people, especially women, believe that Wilbanks should not be charged or fined for her actions but I disagree. I think that the penalty that she received last week was appropriate.

It's a messy situation and by holding her responsible, it's hard to know where to draw the line with someone else. Should people who make false allegations of rape be charged? That's a tough one. IMO, if someone deliberately and maliciously makes a false claim, they should be penalized. But would that apply to the accuser in the Michael Jackson case if he was coached by his mother? Ouch! You can see why I didn't want to write about this one.

Wilbanks' case is different. She was simply trying to protect herself and her pride but her actions were negligent, irresponsible and criminal. Having said that, I feel extremely sorry for her.

Sigrid Macdonald

Friday, June 03, 2005

More reviews from my readers

"D'Amour Road is a page burner. The book holds your attention from start to finish. The writer obviously knew hospital operations inside and out and she must have done a lot of research in this area. The list of characters made sense. She has a great future in writing and I hope to read her next book."

Margaret Henderson, Edmonton

"Ravishing is one of the words that came to my mind when I finished D'Amour Road by Sigrid Macdonald. The commentary of Ottawa and its surroundings is fetching. The novel is full of humor although the story line is serious and melodramatic. The author is preeminently clever when it comes to defining human nature. Plaudit to Sigrid Macdonald."

Magnus Hardarson, Iceland

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Let's Hear It for the Physiatrists

Several people have contacted me to tell me that I have misspelled the word psychiatrist in my book. Now, psychiatrists are not my favorite people. The way that I view these professionals is that they are folks that we go to see when we feel bad who inevitably make us feel worse. However, I know that there are exceptions to that rule and I would never deliberately misspell their names in order to exact revenge.

When I checked this out in my book, I realized that I had been referring to a physiatrist not a psychiatrist. A physiatrist is a specialist in physical medicine. Since my main character works in a rehab unit at a large hospital, she is in touch with physiotherapists, occupational therapist and -- you guessed it -- physiatrists! But she also works with family doctors and a psychiatrist, so apparently there was some confusion about who I was referring to. I will probably go back in and clarify that info about the physiatrist so that my readers do not conclude that I am illiterate :-)

Sigrid Macdonald