Archive for July, 2015

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yes

July 31, 2015

Just that. All of them.

ndiyo   (swahili – nndeeoh)
oui       (french)
haa’n   (hindi)
ia e       (irish – iss aa, it is)
oo        (tagalog – awe awe)
hai       (japanese)
sim      (portuguese, cape verde creole – sing)
si         (spanish, italian)
ja         (german, dutch, afrikaans, norwegian, swedish)
baleh   (farsi)
ken      (yiddish)
shi       (mandarin – shr)
na’am  (arabic)
já          (icelandic – yow)
igen      (hungarian)
evet      (turkish – aewet)
nai        (greek – nae)
bai        (basque)
tak        (belarusian, polish, ukrainian)
ydw       (welsh – uhdo)
yeebo    (zulu)
za          (mongolian)
taip        (lithuanian)
ae          (maori)
kyllä      (finnish)
ano       (czech)
hanji     (punjabi)
a-yo     (armenian)
ee         (inuktitut)
da         (romanian)
ioe        (samoan – ee yo-oy)
yesarva (rom)
co         (vietnamese)
aap       (greenlandic)
iva        (maltese)
yes       (english)

Every culture has a concept, if not a word for it. There is delicious freedom in a mindful yes.

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Xerophytic, xyloid, xylocopa, xenagoguery

July 31, 2015

I honestly never thought this alphabet experiment would take this long. I thought it would be a good 26 day exercise to push me to write every day. To be honest, I’m one of those people who, if pushed? Go slower. There’s this inherent rebellion in me that manifests in such a way which may or may not be a good one.
Even if it’s someone who loves me, who is trying to be encouraging. I will openly defy that love and insist that I will get there in my own good time. Stubborn damn wanker, I can be at times. So, I’m stepping outside the comfort (pigheaded? has anyone ever asked pigs how they feel about this?) zone and I’ve signed up for another 30 days of write yourself something more than you have been already. It’s actually called write yourself alive, but I take issue with that because it negates the life I’m already living. Which, let’s be honest, is pretty fucking good. Now there might be some out there who are wandering in state of half-life, biding their time until the amazing thing comes along and allows them to step outside of the regimen they’ve been pigeonholed into. I have those moments, I imagine other people do too.
Where I give myself permission to be like a plant that has adapted to surviving with very little water (which is the definition of xerophytic..see what I did there? No worries, I won’t rest on my clever laurels just yet, I’ve got three more obscure X words to work in to this thing..) because I convince myself that the trickle is all I need to get by. I can make do with the sparse, with the moderate amounts of air and water and love, it’s selfish to desire more than that when so many have so much less.

Fuck that. Give me a goddamn ocean of love, all salty sweet and overwhelming. Give me a riptide that drags me away from the safety of the shore and casts me into an unknown, where treading water isn’t enough. Because to an extent, treading water is a struggle, a fight, a way to keep my head just above water while having no awareness of what’s happening in the depths around me. Have the courage to sink below and become full, saturated and maybe then I’ll float, taken by tide to drift where I will. It works for wood, with all of its xyloid ways. Wood in water becomes heavy with it. It takes on as much as it can and then it stops taking any more. It might sink, it might float, but it never stops moving and it never fights the direction it goes. It just goes. If it finds its way back to land? It dries out and it waits, ever patient, sitting calm with the memories of the tree it once was. It hasn’t stopped being that tree. It’s just adapted to the present, representing itself in something we might see as less reverent, less majestic, but the essence it still there. Now I’m wondering about the tree that this desk I’m writing at came from. This could get very tangential, if I’m not careful.

So the writing course, I did it a while back in January? Yeah, I think January. And I was so resistant. It was hard to consider making writing a habit, because it was something I did so idly. Regardless of the fact that it makes me feel amazing when I do it. Why wouldn’t I cultivate habits of things that make me feel amazing? Instead of the things that don’t? I’m no damn cactus! Though there are days when I’m a prickly flower, to be fair.  But I know myself well enough to understand that the more I rebel against something, the more I need to stop it. I’m not talking about rebelling against a totalitarian government, I’m talking about rebelling against good things.
When I see people who are expressing themselves with appreciation and courage and open hearts and minds and my cynical little dark voice immediately reaches for the “cue eye roll and pour a nice glass of sarcastic bitter dram of mindblinders” I tell myself that I’m so glad to be here alone in my personal cave of wonders, at an arm’s length from anything that might hurt me or, perish the thought, get close enough to shift my perspective. And while there are creatures who live and thrive in solitary existences (carpenter bees being one, aka xylocopa) even they realize the benefit to sharing space, work, existence. Straight out of wikipedia, “Carpenter bees are traditionally considered solitary bees, though some species have simple social nests in which mothers and daughters may cohabit. However, even solitary species tend to be gregarious, and often several nest near each other.”
Even solitary species tend to be gregarious. Loners need tribes. Humans are social creatures and thrive when able to share themselves with those who reciprocate. How often I forget that. How much the group of friends, amazing writers all, have reminded me. But old habits die hard and my ability to withdraw and let go of the good habits not quite ingrained into my daily existence, mostly from not practicing them, have allowed me to slide into the comfortable zone where I tell myself I have enough friends, enough interactions, enough.

I recently started a heavy duty mechanics course. For the next 10 months, I’ll be interacting in a classroom and shop setting with a group of 17 other humans, the majority of which are half my age. Literally. It’s intimidating to say the least, especially since they know so much more than I do about what we’re studying. My first reaction to them was that I was going to ignore them and just learn from the teacher. But I’ve started to glean that not only do they have helpful perspectives on the things being taught, they’re ecstatic to share what they know with someone older. I’m also discovering that I have perspective on the world that they don’t yet, simply because I’ve lived twice as long as them. And sometimes it comes in very handy. It allows me patience (though there are times when I bite my tongue more often than other) because I understand that I was once young and impetuous and knew enough that I had a tendency to think I knew enough. Now I know I didn’t, and still don’t, but I’m still learning and they will too.
We all have the ability to be xenophobic, to have a fear of strangers. To worry that they’re going to take something from us, without giving anything back. But it goes the other way too. If someone is a stranger to me, I tend to forget that I’m also a stranger to them. I know what my point of view is, that it’s benign. I know that my motivation comes from a place of calm and sometimes excessively silly joy. Theirs might be too and if I live a life in fear of finding out, that’s a life half-lived (ooh full circle! Maybe write yourself alive is completely accurate..there are so many variations on life…it’s best not to be too narrow).
So that gives me an opportunity to be a xenagogue, to be a guide and to allow others, people I don’t yet know with perspectives I can’t yet imagine, to share their knowledge and their hearts with me, in the hope that I grow. Like Veronica Lake said to Alan Ladd in the Blue Dahlia, “It’s funny but practically all the people I know were strangers when I met them.”
So cheers to the first family I found with the original 30 days of writing I did. I love you all so much and how much suggests that I have space in this wacky poets’ head and heart to share that with more delicious creatures.
Myself included.

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Walking away from whatever and waking up with why not?

July 14, 2015

Earlier tonight I was sitting in the library of the university I’m currently enrolled at, like a motherfuckin grownup reconnecting with the world outside of it because I’ve been so damn transient lately and it’s hard to keep up. There are writer friends whose prose I’ve been missing and grants to apply for and houses to see (found one! It’s pretty, odd and sweet and surrounded by buttertubs of birds! True story) and couldn’t help but overhear (because I was at the table right next to him and he was speaking rather loudly..libraries are so liberal with their loud talker policies in universities where grown ups learn things) my fellow student’s intention to go dancing that night for 2.50! WHAT! That sounds awesome!

So I very politely inquired as to where and when this aforementioned dance session was happening and he replied, later that evening, not too far away. I got a tickly feeling and thought, wouldn’t that be fun? Maybe…maybe not. Eh. Whatever. I had homework to do and…it probably wouldn’t be that fun and…

And then I thought, Why not? And suddenly I was free. I don’t know why not? It might be fun. If it isn’t, I can leave. If it’s awesome, 2.50 well spent! If it sucks, it’s only 2.50! Seriously, why not?

So I went. And it sucked. Though I didn’t even make it through the door because I saw them dancing and gaaaahhhddddddd, ballroom dancing leaves me cold. They never look directly at each other, they never look happy, they somehow manage to make dancing (DANCING!) look like work. That they kind of hate. I did stick around long enough to see what the ballroom version of a tango looks like. Nope. Nope. Nope.

Want to know what a tango looks like when I picture it? When I dance it (kinda, I have a long way to go to be like Natacha Poberaj and Jesus Velasquez). It looks like this. It’s sweet and fun and sensual and yes, I know that it’s a lot of work, but it looks like the best kind of work ever. And if your tastes are inclined to things a little fancier, check this one out. Same couple, waay slinkier dress.

But this isn’t about my desire to dance better tango, though that’s pretty much in my top five all the time, along with surfing, writing, learn to do a one legged cartwheel and have healthy teeth.

It’s about showing up. It’s about kicking this attitude of whatever to the curb and jumping out of bed with why not on my lips.
No one is going to do it for me.

Apathy is not an option. It never was, but I was hiding behind walls I had forgotten I built.
The season of meh can go fuck itself.

I’m worth it. Worth the effort, worth the work, worth the time it will take to get better at tango, at writing, at surfing, at living to 111 because I don’t have blood poisoning killing me slowly because of my unhealthy teeth, at doing a damn one legged cartwheel.

Why not? I am a motherfuckin grownup after all.

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Vulnerability, variables, verisimilitude.

July 12, 2015

Vulnerability denotes a certain susceptibility to attack, harm, danger that might not apply to everyone. Certain demographics are more vulnerable to various predatory types than others. The term at-risk youth comes to mind. Deer in headlights. Babes in the woods. Small creatures that need protecting.
Monty Python warped me. The scene in monty python and the holy grail which involved the rabbit of caerbannog turned the idea of weakness on it’s very long and fuzzy ear when a small me considered the possibility that something or someone could appear to be quite vulnerable, but in fact be fierce enough to take out a banner (yes that is the collective noun for a group) of knights.

I spent years being tough. I spent a really long time not crying. I never wanted anyone to think that though small, though female, though young, I was not a force to be reckoned with. I read much and listened often (though not as often as I likely should have, but I think that’s somewhat common with a lot of youth..and some adults) and absorbed knowledge, assured that I was arming myself against a world that would eat me alive if I showed even a bit of weakness. I didn’t have much patience for those who didn’t protect themselves from the monsters at the door, I didn’t understand why so many were constantly in need of the knight to save them. I didn’t want to need anyone. I was determined to be able to save myself, if it ever came to that.

But vulnerability isn’t always about being preyed upon. Sometimes it’s about being open enough that the good stuff can find it’s way in.
Of course there are things I can do to protect myself against being hurt or taken advantage of, but I think for a long time I confused what those things might be with walls. Building walls doesn’t help keep one safe as much as it helps keep one isolated. Being isolated doesn’t help one grow, unless you’re a very specific microorganism. Which I am not, being that there is pretty much nothing unicellular about me.

I write things and I am scared to publish them. No. I am scared to submit them for publication because I am fearful that they will be rejected. There is a beautiful example of a wall I’ve built to protect myself from the pain of rejection, which also determines a certain inhibition of growth. How will I grow as a writer if I don’t submit my work to criticism or perspectives other than my own?

It’s the same with everything. I tend to live in the realm of don’t be it, dream it, going against everything Dr Frank N. Furter tried to teach me during all those midnight showings of the rocky horror picture show.
I dream big and I dream silly and I dream often, and for the most part, I’m content to dream. I know that sometimes it comes from a place of fear. A place where I am afraid to step outside of my comfort zone (which I acknowledge potentially looks much more uncomfortable than not, when compared to the comfort zones of others, especially the ones where shoes are an everyday occurrence) and take a chance on fucking it all up, for the sake of embracing change and growing in a medium that demands whatever the opposite of isolation is. Interaction.

Recently, I applied for, was accepted to, school. For heavy duty mechanics. Not necessarily because I’ve always dreamed of being a heavy duty mechanic. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Mechanics is something I always kind of admired, but was never really driven towards. I bought a van with the intention that I would eventually learn how to fix it. The first time I opened the hood, it was as though a rallying call sounded across the yard. The guys who lived on the property flocked towards it as though I had just cracked the seal on the ark of the covenant and before long, I was edged out while they perused and pored over the guts of my road warrior ford named Sonja, because she was red.
I allowed it. Little miss I can do it, I don’t need the help had to back down because it was always one or the other. This was a thing I didn’t know how to do and because of my face first fists up attitude, I didn’t know how to say, “can you show me?” because asking would mean admitting there was something I didn’t know. Better to walk away muttering about the sexism rampant in the world. Yeah.

There will always be something I don’t know. That someone else does. That they are probably overjoyed to tell me about because sharing knowledge is one of the most beautiful things we can share.

Pretty much exactly 10 years after the early days of my van dwelling existence, I found myself in Vancouver, working for my uncle. He is a mechanic, on boats. He needed a detailer type to help him get through the spring until he found someone who was more suited to the position of detailer/cleaner/painter/electrician/light duty mechanic/do all the things. Turns out that was me. Not only was I good at it, I loved it! The mystery, the problem solving, the troubleshooting, the goddamn LOGIC of mechanics and electrical delighted me to no end. After a time, the excess of the clientele started to get to me. Which is sad because if you earn money, what you spend it on is really none of my business. Especially since at least some of what you’re spending it on is paying my rent and keeping food in my fridge. It feels hypocritical to have that attitude, but there it is. I was working on super yachts for very wealthy people and having a hard time with how much they spent on stuff. Perhaps that sounds like a silly reason to move on, especially since I absolutely loved working for my uncle and I adored the work most of the time. But there it is. I have never tried to convince anyone that I am not a very silly person. It’s a point of pride.

So I moved away from the mechanics again, still doing light duty work on my own truck now and then, leaving the bigger jobs for actual mechanics, always with a small burr of frustration that I couldn’t do it myself. And then, while showing a friend and her young son how to do an oil change on their farm tractor, she said, “Why don’t you go back to school for mechanics? You’re good at it. You love it. I don’t know why you’re not doing that.”
This was pretty much 10 years after I had been working for my uncle on boats. I was between jobs at the time, had been most recently working in a cafe/general store and grocery store, would later end up in a bakery/cafe and while I’m good with people when I have to be, I’d rather be good with people because I want to be. Customer service jobs are not necessarily my forte. I said to another friend, “I’m too old to go to school. I’m nearly 40.” She said, “Do you want to be still just getting by when you’re 50?”

Because that’s what I’ve been doing. I’m working jobs that pay the rent, that feed me and the dog, but not much else. It’s time to try something different.
I have to be completely honest. Being a mechanic isn’t necessarily my dream.
But having healthy teeth and spending 3 months of every year surfing without a wetsuit somewhere amazing is. Sure, I like the idea that I’ll have these badass skills that will likely be helpful in a variety of scenarios, but that’s not why I’m doing it. I’m finally starting to grasp that life is both short and long and if I don’t get it done now, while I’m still able and healthy and strong, there won’t be time later.

So nearly 20 years to the day I was afraid to say, “Can you show me how to fix this?” for fear of making myself vulnerable to the possibility of someone making fun of me for not knowing, I’ve finally learned to not be afraid of asking. Because I don’t know.

But I’ll learn.
True story.

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