Archive for the ‘Self-Realization’ Category

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The commodification of art, aka I made a thing you can buy!

May 25, 2018

Hello. It’s been a while since I posted here and the reason for that is because I’ve been writing a book. To be fair, the book was mostly already written, and it was just a matter of putting it together. But so I have, it has a cover and everything (THANK YOU AUTUMN!!!!) and there are just a few incidental details to take care of before it gets printed.

One of those details is, how many copies should I print? I was just going to pick an arbitrary number and print that many and if I sold them all, yay! And if not….. not as yay? And I’ll be honest, I was thinking it would be a very low number, because self-doubt and my ability to whisper from the back, ‘anyone wanna buy a book? No? Okay, cool. That’s what I thought.’ in an attempt to perpetuate the narrative my voice of unreason would have me believe is truth is a thing.

I sincerely believe that my voice of unreason played one of the false alarms in labyrinth and acted as an extra on some scooby doo episodes (you’ll never make it, turn back, certain doom awaits you, I’m sure you’d be much happier hiding under a blanket for the rest of your life wouldn’t you?) and obviously spends far too much time reliving those glory days within the confines of my head. Are your feet sore, voice of unreason? Because you’re stomping on my dreams.

But mum suggested I ask people, in advance of printing, if they want to buy one.

So. Here it is plainly.

I wrote a book.
It’s due to be released on or about the summer solstice. No later than that, but potentially sooner.
It’s a book of poetry called the Mechanics of Dreaming.
It has cover art designed and crafted most beautifully by my most talented friend Autumn Marie Toennis, for which I could not be more ecstatic.

If you want to order it, let me know so I can determine how many copies are reasonable.
It costs $15 if you get it from me in person.
It costs $20 if I mail it to you.
Email transfer works best.

There.
Cool?

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Accepting what is.

March 6, 2018

I have always envied those who knew exactly what they want from life. And take the steps to get there. Who see the trajectory clearly, with regard to marriage, family, travel, career, what to have for dinner, whatever.

I’ve always wanted to write. I think.
I have a pretty good memory, but I know that there is much about memory that blurs over time. Remembering how something actually happened can be difficult at times, unless there are touchstones that can expand that memory into truth. Conversations with my grandmother while we were standing in her front yard, smelling the yellow roses that grew there are perfectly clear to me because I have more than one piece of information to draw from. I remember the too hot to touch in summer black gloss of the thin railing going up the stairs, the spindly stems of the rosebush that seemed to have grown there forever, the chipped red paint of the cement stairs.
I remember the way June felt, the lackadaisical nature of it, how it felt separate from the school year because it was too close to summer to be included. I remember the bittersweet flavour of the heat in August, because September followed fast on it’s heels.
I remember how the weave of the library carpet felt, how I’d idly pick at the tiny loops while curled up on the floor surrounded by the books I would be taking home this week, how satisfying it was to stack them according to size, to pile them in the order I planned to read them in. How I would pore through the table of contents in the short story collections and determine what was the shortest story to the longest because that was sequence I preferred to read them in.
These are sensations, smells, pockets of time captured and recalled when triggered by both external and internal stimuli.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer seemed to change daily. Along with my name some days. I was constantly shifting, considering and reconsidering my options. I’ve tried on many hats, will try on plenty more I’m sure. But the writing, the stories, they stayed. Though I never really did anything with them because somewhere along the way I’d been told (not by my mum, she would never discourage me, which is amazing and I’m grateful to her for it) that writing wasn’t a practical endeavour. It could make a good hobby, but a career as a writer? Impractical, unfeasible, a waste of time. My grade 8, 9 and 10 english teachers (that’s only 2 different people) both suggested it might work out for me, but I was quite cynical at that point and didn’t put much stock in anything adults said. At least, not the ones I knew. It took me years to even admit that there might be talent here. I guess I’m just a late bloomer.

Whenever I read Patti Smith, it makes me want to write. And not just, ‘geez she’s a good writer, I should practice more so I can get as good as her.’ No, I mean, I’ll be reading her and suddenly put the book down, pick up my pen and get lost in the sudden flow of my own thoughts. It’s absolutely glorious. Any time I’ve ever written a fairy godmother/guardian/sage aunt who doesn’t say much but spits truth with more grace than a ballerina on top of her game, it’s her I’m thinking of. I owe much of my artistic development of late to her.
There is a passage in Just Kids, a book she wrote about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, where she recounts the moment both she and he (well before they’d ever met) decide they they are artists. And that is how it is.

I’ve never really had that level of clarity before. But I’m starting to get it. I tend to get lost in what the thing should/could be. As though, if I choose one medium, one genre, one format, then I’m trapped there. I’ve only recently started answering that perennial question, “What do you do?” with the response “I’m a writer”. That’s not my “job” necessarily, it’s not how I earn my living, which I know is what most people are asking. But it’s the most accurate response. What do I do? I write. Incessantly. Constantly. Even when there is no pen in my hand, no laptop within reach, I am writing.
When I found two hair pins outside a locked storage room at the end of the hall, my mind automatically started concocting a bluebeard type scenario, trying to imagine who’d been using those bobby pins to pick the lock and see if there were dead bodies behind that door, and what had happened when they’d been discovered doing so, the only evidence being the pins they’d left behind as a clue.
Perhaps everyone does that every moment of the day. I don’t know, I can only speak for me.

The hardest part about coming to this place, accepting myself as artist, as writer, as exploration expressionist, metaphorical meanderer, dark place poet, shadowdreamer, wordsmith sensualist, is that there is no end to it. I’ve so long dwelt within the when I have.. then I can.. narrative that stepping away from it is daunting at best, terrifying at second best and so many adjectives to describe the ever incrementally scary horror show that is doing the thing that makes you happiest because you’ve finally accepted that you deserve such things.
If one goes to school to learn a skill, there is a syllabus, which is a far less interesting thing than I think that word should describe. There is a set course to follow, by the end of which you will be certified to call yourself a such and such. But anyone who has ever done a thing knows that there is rarely a moment when one can say, yes! I am a skilled professional who has learned everything there is to learn here and I am done. I have arrived at the place where the thing I set out to do has been completed.

If I know that’s true, why should I find the tenuousness of art so much more disconcerting than any other passion? I have so many friends who aren’t afraid to admit they are artists, musicians, writers, poets, painters. I honestly don’t know why it’s so difficult for me. Accountability? If I admit to it, do I then have a responsibility to imbue the world with creations that improve the quality of existence? That sounds like a silly notion, and yet another argument my brain has crafted for not doing the thing.

Perhaps the best thing to do is to let my brain continue on it’s quest to find ways to keep me from accepting what is, and while it’s all crazy busy and occupied with that, I’ll just quietly sit over here and write some stories or something.

Because it’s just what I do.

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When sadness strikes

February 27, 2018

I’ve been busy. Very busy. Working seven days a week (but really really not complaining, grateful for the hours) and falling into a bath at the end of the day and bed shortly after that busy.
Today is a rare day. I don’t have to be anywhere in particular, though there are things that need doing (bring in wood, dig out van, path to propane tank, laundry, spend time with dog and cat friends, write write write). I slept in a bit but fired out of bed, made tea and breakfast, fired up the stove, got dressed and ready to conquer. And then realized it had been a minute since I’d just let myself feel stuff. So that’s what I’m doing.

I mean, of course I feel stuff over the course of a day, even a busy one. But those moments are fleeting and get pushed aside to make room for the pressing needs of the day. As grateful as I am for the way working so much helps pay for things and gives me stuff to do, it also gives me permission to avoid focusing on things too.

My friend John died recently. Before Christmas. I’ve had friends go, but for some reason this one is really really hard. Maybe it’s just the years of hurt I’ve been carrying around, finally coming close enough to the surface to force me into feeling something. Maybe it’s because he was such a consistent fixture in a world of summers filled with music and magic, friendship and family and no one will ever call me Trishly Delishly the way he did, ever again. No one will exasperate me and make me laugh and denounce me for insisting he eat this fucking sandwich and drink this goddamn smoothie and then thank me as angrily and affectionately as he would. It didn’t matter how much time had gone by between visits, our connection was such that I’m devastated to know there won’t be another. He could be a stubborn fucking asshole and he was one of my dearest friends.

I’ve not even really connected with his family beyond a tear soaked voicemail that was probably incoherent at best. It’s one of those scenarios where, if you don’t face it, it might not be true. And besides, I’ve been busy. So busy. Life moves on, he’d understand. He might even hate that I’m writing this about him.
That’s not to say that I didn’t spend any free time I had over christmas ugly crying in front of my fire, but those were brief moments that I would tuck away so that I could drag them out later and say, ‘see? I’m mourning and dealing and it’s okay that I’m not calling and connecting because they’ve got enough to think about and life moves on, just keeps going, and suddenly it’s february and now it’s almost march and look at all the things you have to distract yourself… and… and…’

And today I have a day where I don’t have to be anywhere. So I’ve decided to be as here as much as possible. Doing little things for myself that remind myself I’m still here, I’m still worthy of the good efforts, the sane habits.

I’m tired of starting new 30 day fitness challenges and falling down after day three and so quitting. Instead, I do as many pushups as I can when I think about it and have a moment. On the floor, against a wall, wherever. Or have a five minute dance party between laundry loads. Or go swimming for 15 minutes before work. Or tango dancing after.
I’m exhausted from all of the emails I get from various ‘so you wanna be a writer, here are prompts for you’ entities. So I’ve unsubscribed from the majority and instead will just write when I have a minute. In a book, on my laptop, on this blog or the secret one that no one knows about (because it’s filled with dirty dirty stories) or a napkin or a notepad in a room that I’m cleaning or wherever.
And I’m sad from losing people I love and from investing my time in caring about people who are too scared to care back and from watching people I love killing themselves slowly in real time while we all watch and dance around it and pretend it’s not happening because it would be impolite to say Janice, I’m scared that you’re going to drink yourself to death and after you’re gone I won’t be surprised like I wasn’t surprised when I heard that Paul died because I watched him flail all summer and I never said a word because it would be impolite to care enough about someone to say, What the fuck are you doing? Because you know that their response will be, I’m okay. I’m fine. I’m allowed to do what I want. Mind your own fucking business. I didn’t ask you to care about me.

Is it cowardly of me to say things like this from behind a screen instead of to your face? Maybe. But I don’t think you hear it when I say it. And it breaks me that you don’t see the person I do. The one who deserves to have friends who care enough about them to say, What the fuck are you doing?
So, my other option is apathy. To let go completely of any care I might have for your health and well being. If that’s really what you want, okay. I don’t believe it is, but if you insist, it’s your life, to live as you choose.

Just like this is mine. And today I’m choosing to be sad, because I miss my friend.

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Scary things – a drabble hat trick

February 20, 2018

“What’s the worst that could happen? Seriously.”
“I could live a comfortable and fulfilling life.”
“I’m being serious.”
“So am I. I think I’m addicted to the struggle. It’s not worth it if I don’t have to work hard for it.”
“What if you’re working hard to keep from having it? So trapped within the narrative that you don’t deserve it that you expend all this energy to keep it at an arm’s length? What if it’s not that hard, but you putting up obstacles make it seem so?”
“Telling myself I deserve happiness isn’t the same as believing it.”


 

“There’s been a mixup. You’re  not supposed to be here, living this life, at this moment. We apologize, you must be perfectly miserable.”
“I’m not sure what you’re on about, but I don’t see the issue. I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’m perfectly content.”
“Erm, according to my records, no, you are not.”
“I don’t see how that’s possible, as I’m here, living this life and it’s good enough for me.”
“Yes, that’s exactly the issue. You don’t see. The worst part? You’ve blinded yourself. Time to wake up. You’ve been asleep far too long.”


 

Her sewing skills weren’t terribly impressive, but they were perfunctory enough for what she needed.
Clearing a space on the table, she set down everything she needed. With a very sharp and very clean knife, she sliced a hole in her chest, making a slit just wide enough for her fingers. Gently probing inside, she pulled out her heart, and set it in a pie plate.
She wrapped it carefully in velvety soft red fabric, creating a pocket which she sewed closed and reinserted the organ into her chest.

Now her heart could break without a single piece being lost.


 

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Day 6. Clarity.

February 9, 2018

It’s not about what’s happening right now. I mean, it is. It always is. But not always. Does that make sense?

Writing is the thing that keeps me sane. If I’m doing it on a regular basis, all other aspects of my life seems to make sense. I imagine other people have that with other things, but honestly I’m not sure because (here’s that caveat again), I can only, truly, honestly, speak for me and my world.

But here’s the thing. When I write about something heartfelt, really and truly heartfelt, you have to imagine that it’s like spy tech. As in, it’s existed for some time now, it’s not new. Savvy?

This may or may not be true, I don’t know, I’m not a spy. (Though if I were, I would probably insist that I wasn’t because that’s how spies work.) However, it is my belief that when some new awesome tech becomes available for the every day human, whether it be fingerprint recognition scanning devices (my fucking phone has one! I’ve not used it) or chip technology or hoverboards or cars that drive themselves or sentient robots that make us coffee and remind us we have a dentist appointment (I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords), I have to imagine that tech has become available because the secret actual-in-charge of the world guys have already had it for at least 10 if not 20 years.

That was a convoluted way of saying, if you’re reading something on my blog that is intense and heartfelt and seems raw and painful, chances are I’ve been dealing and processing it for some time and have only now reached a point where I can express how I feel about it coherently and with clarity.
I mention it because I’ve had more than a couple of folks express concern that I might be going through something, as a result of recent posts I’ve made. When something happens, if it’s something that is powerful enough that I need to take a couple of steps back, that will most likely happen on paper.
I will bleed ink from every pore in an attempt to carve sense out of whatever might be happening for me, because that’s how my brain rids itself of infection. It’s like when a cut hasn’t been cleaned properly, the best thing to do is to open it up and let it flow freely until the poison is gone and there is only healthy red blood welling to the surface.

And then, once I’ve gained some perspective, I’ll probably share it here, if only to be completely candid and accountable about my evolution in real time. And not just for those who might be curious about what’s going on for me, but for myself. Having a chronicle of one’s existence is an incredible resource. I’m consistently delighted by the forward motion of my perspective most days.
Now, that’s not to say that I’m not well enamoured of the friends that check in, and please don’t ever stop doing so because I really do appreciate it but know that if you’re reading it here, it’s doubly good because a) it means I’m writing and b) it means that I’ve processed it enough to get to a good enough place to have made peace with whatever might have needed dealing with.

 

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Day five. This is where it starts to fall apart

February 8, 2018

This is the place where it starts to fall apart,
just far enough from the starting line to have engaged the heart,
And so obviously fear rushes in
To remind me that I never finish things that I begin
A schedule of stretching, writing, habits beneficial
The notion I can’t do it just fucking silly, prejudicial
Content doesn’t matter, more the act of pushing through
To ignore the fear and say, “I know I can, and so I do.”

Day five was supposed to be about last words. If you only had a week to live, what would you want to share with the world? Or whatever. Talking about death tends to make me uncomfortable but not in the way one might think. I’m happy to speak of the inevitability of it, but I hesitate to expound on the speculation. Perhaps it’s superstition, or an inherent belief that I invite those things I focus on, but it feels arrogant to pretend I would know what I would say, given a very real and temporal best before date.

The reality is, this kind of thing makes me think of my dad, makes me think of anyone who was ever handed a “you’re probably going to be dead by this point” endgame scenario. I wonder if there is a percentage in there who feels relief at the directness of that. The rest of us are wandering around, knowing somewhere in the subcutaneous layer of our being, that it could end at any moment, but there’s no way to know for sure when that moment is. Or how.
I’ve often said (and will continue to say) that I’m going to live to be 111 and on my eleventy-first birthday I will put on the ring and disappear from the shire forever, aka walk into the ocean. I feel like that’s a nice long time to experience some stuff, and a nice way to finish things off. Head back to the sea, the way the whales did so freakin long ago.
That’s my way of pretending I have any sort of control over what happens to me. Of course there are things I can do within my own sphere of influence to mitigate risk of bailing in advance of that but the reality is, anything can happen.

I think a better question than what would I say might be what would I do? There is much talk of bucket lists, of all the things one might want to do/see/experience before the final curtain call. I have a list that I made 12 years ago, on New Years Day 2006. I was laid up on a sofa with a really badly twisted ankle having missed a good portion of the new year because of hangover and injury, and was terrified that there were so many other things I was missing out on. So I made an extensive list.
I revisited it tonight.
Most of the things I’ve accomplished on the list didn’t come about because of my focus on checking them off, making sure that I did all the things like I was in some existential scavenger hunt. Most of it was incidental, incremental, showing up in those moments when I forgot to focus on all the things I needed to do to feel like I was succeeding, and just living my life.

And there are many things on the list that I’ve outgrown, because that happens. The things I desired when I was younger have evolved, become refined. I guess the most important part has to be, if I did have a limited time left (I do, albeit 70 years or so) is there anything on that list I would regret not having done? And that doesn’t suggest that there isn’t a ton of stuff I want to do/try/see/eat/climb/laugh with, but I’m lucky enough to say that the answer is no.
So maybe that would be the thing I’d say, the thing I’d want to share. Simple, but pretty goddamn accurate.

I’m good, thanks.

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Day 4. A letter to the person involved in my last heartbreak.

February 7, 2018

Dear me, well done. Brava!!

You’ve gone and had your heart broken one more time. How delightful this will feel once you’ve stopped lamenting how much it sucks. I know, right now it sucks, but it will get better. You’re intelligent enough to know that, thank fuck.

Thank fuck and all the other deities whose names are expletives that get screamed to the heavens, cried into pillows or whispered in the dark while having tribute offered in the form of fleshly delights that we do have enough of a brain to understand that all this heartbreak is the means to an end that will ultimately end well if we keep learning from it.

Yes, we could go with the Leonard Cohen perspective of cracks are how the light gets in, but honey, there’s plenty of light inside already. That’s not the issue. The issue is the same with us that it’s always been. Fear. Not of success, that’s bullshit and you know it. Nah, try the being afraid of sucking at something. In the bad way.

You’ve tested the waters a few times, considered that intimate relationships might not be so bad, until the feels showed up and then you ran, so so scared of the way a heart seems to so easily crack open and feel hunger once it’s tasted affection. And every time it cracked, it hurt so much that you swore to never do it again.

Remember that time you decided you wanted to learn to do a chinup? And started with pushups because you couldn’t do one of those either? And it sucked and it hurt but you kept doing it, one or two more every day and now we can do 10 pushups (so what if it’s from our knees! It’s still good! Boobs are heavy, fuck!)
It’s the same with love. It gets easier every time. Going slow is not a bad idea. You don’t build a fire with logs, you cut up some kindling and patiently let it catch, encourage it, give it air.
How are you going to learn to do a chinup from a dead hang when you can’t even support your body weight (boobs and all) while you’re lying down? Baby steps, girl.
And connection doesn’t have to be synonymous with shackle. Intimacy doesn’t have to suggest monogamy. Love doesn’t have to look the same to you as it does to anyone else.

So why am I writing this letter to me, instead of to the one who broke my heart? Because I am the one responsible for my heart breaking. Every single time it’s happened, I was the constant. I was the only factor present during each instance, ergo, I am the one who deserves this letter. 

I take full responsibility for the reality that sharing my heart does not allow me to have any expectations of the one(s) I choose to share it with. I’ve often said, what’s the point of having a heart if you don’t open it wide enough to break sometimes. But perhaps by exercising the muscle, it gets to a point where it doesn’t break anymore because it’s not so fragile, and strong enough to support itself, boobs and all.

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