So I’ve not been blogging on purpose. Didn’t have it in me. For two years. Yeah, I know. You can fake it if you wanna, but I don’t phone it in.
What you don’t know is, the more annoyed or passionate I’ve been of late, say the last six months, the more I’ve been writing, and never doing anything with, new posts.
So it occurs to me that I’m, you know, one read/edit and a click away from having a shiny new blog post. Yeah! Something to ACTUALLY read, for you, the reader-person.
Doesn’t that just blow your fucking mind? A click away, man. A click!
But that’s the thing that’s been missing — the desire to write for public consumption. Or even write at all.
Lately, though, I’ve actually stopped what I was doing just to write something. Write a thing that doesn’t even pay me money! Lemme tell you, friendly reader: That blows my fucking mind.
You got your writers who’ll tell ya that writer’s block doesn’t exist. I’d agree with that. I can write six ways to Sunday all day long, but it doesn’t mean it’s got anything worth saying. And sometimes the saying of it is just a thing that keeps you hemmed into an already-troubled mindset. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
You wanna yammer on because there’s “no such thing” as writer’s block, or wallow in your you-ness, you knock yourself out. I know when I’m writing crap I wouldn’t even line a birdcage with. Let’s call 2012 and 2013 my “Bird Sanctuary Years,” okay? The Epic Saga of When the Crap-Writing Canary-Cage-Liner Sings.
But I got out and dialed up my creativity for photography and cooking, things a brain can pause for. Pause, a nice thing to use. Lovely. Pause. We should all pause a little but more, but petting zoos should have unicorn rides and shoulds don’t mean shit. Creativity is creativity and a writer doesn’t always need to write, I discovered. But now’s a different thing entirely.
So here’s the deal. I’m back. Not in a blogging-daily type incarnation, but then who knows? Maybe. I used to do the EB White write-500-words-a-day and it mostly wound up on here when it went well. Far be it for me to eliminate anything.
But wait! There’s more!
There’s something in this for me too. I’m writing ebooks. Not just one. I have a very crafty scheme in mind for taking this whole entire blog and giving you a radical reinvention of it in ebook form. This one will remain as it is, but I’ll have my fun. I need to get you all riled up about it. All in due time, reader. The grand tease thing. I’m shameless, friend. I’ll admit it. But I’ll make it worth your while too. Found my mojo, after all.
Thus it’s time for me to resume blogging for public consumption. I had my break. It was groovy. I have several things kicking around I can fire up and finish off. Longform stuff too.
I have mounting anger about the stupid-ass bullshit in the world and a raging hard-on to tell you why. I want to write. I’m twitchy. I’m ranty. I’m occasionally funny. I’m freeing up time in my life to take back writing and to own my voice.
Giving myself permission to just not write was what made me eventually write for the hell of it. It’s like rediscovering your golf-swing. You can’t just order it on Amazon. It’ll find ya when it finds ya.
So… I said Hey, reader.
In case you missed them, I have blogged lately… three times this year in larger posts I wrote and stuck on Medium. There was this about Philip Seymour Hoffman that got widely read and was an Editor’s Choice, and then there All The Fucks I Give, my thoughts on people who self-censor and the act thereof, which also was an Editor’s Choice, and finally this on how Twitter Doesn’t Suck, you make it suck.)
On Friday, I spoke at this year’s Northern Voice Blogging Conference at the University of British Columbia. I spoke on a panel Saturday, too, but that’s another story for another time.
The conference was great, but I’ll leave the recaps to others.
Speaking? Whew. I was fucking terrified of my speaking engagement.
Not because I think I can’t talk. I know I can. Just because I knew where it had to go.
In a nutshell?
I started “sex” blogging to discover where I really stood on my own sexuality. I went from 75 hits a day to 1,000 inside of my first three weeks, then as much as 5,000 within 7 months. I was getting raves all over the web in places most writers hope to get mentions — Nerve.com, Salon.com, Fleshbot, et al.
At the same time, in “real” life, in only a FOUR-MONTH period?
I ran out of unemployment insurance four months earlier than expected, came close to losing my home, started onto a birth control pill that would cause a massive chemical depression for two hard years and lead me to suicidal thoughts within 3 months of my blog’s peak, with a cry for help to a therapist when I thought I was gonna harm myself, lost a job for sex blogging, got laid off on my first day at another, had a relationship go horribly awry then end, and a few other little things.
I mentioned the whole going-completely-suicidally-nuts-with-chemically-induced-depression thing?
The gist of my talk?
Wanna write a blog and have people read your story as you figure out where your little blogging journey’s gonna take ya?
Careful what you wish for, honey. The worst thing that can happen to you is to have 30,000-plus people a week reading your figuring-shit-out journey every time you post something. Especially if you start the wrong meds a few months later and take a walk on the Dark Side.
What DIDN’T I get to say in the 30-minute speaking engagement?
That I would do it again — I’d walk away from a failing blog and say “Fuck it” and focus on my life. In a heartbeat.
I kept blogging, but I didn’t care about traffic, I didn’t try to get ads or advertising product, I stopped reading blogs so I wouldn’t be writing much about “hot-button issues” that might draw attention to me, I didn’t try to write great content or be relevant to any cause or way of life, I didn’t engage my audience anymore or even try to gain their loyalty.
I just… wrote. For me.
And I’d do that again. I’d walk and figure my shit out and use my writing for me and only me.
(But I’d share it still. We all need to do that more. We owe our truths to one another. Strength in numbers isn’t just a cliche.)
Know why I’d walk so casually again?
Because I wrote the content that made me a success in the first place. When I wrote that early content, my life was going much as it is now — fairly smoothly. I had time to write and a willingness to do so.
Now, though, I’m different. I don’t doubt I can write, I don’t doubt that was my “golden” period in writing. I don’t think I’m done for. I’m not really sure where I want this to go right now. I’m just… ready to give it a shot, ready to say something.
Ain’t worried at all. Because it’s about just being real, going where you need to go.
I have the guts to go there. It’s my THING. It’s what I DO. Truth is good. Knowledge is power. Like I said Friday, rip the fucking Band-aid off and just go.
I’m looking forward to the journey back into sometimes-sex-blogging. I know where I’m at in much of my life, and this is a path I’m willing to retake. It’ll be a fun ride. And I’m pretty confident my voice and what I have to say on the matter is relevant. I’ve got that part covered.
That’s one thing about having had the ticket to ride, getting that acclaim and that success so easily before — I know precisely how I got there. I think I can get there again. It’s about content. Period.
And how do I feel about my speech?
Fantastic. I’m loving how many people took the time to tell me how much they got out of it. I love that I got to talk to a lot of my audience over the two days, and how genuinely they seemed to dig what I had to contribute to the Northern Voice experience. People who pulled me aside to make sure I heard what it meant to them really rocked my weekend, and I thank them for returning the sharing.
It was a big fear, getting up there and being raw and talking about my experience with mental illness and how it crushed my creative soul and killed my opportunity, and the price I paid to win that fight after I made all the horrendous decisions through which I killed my blog and walked away to quietly lick my wounds and return to figuring myself out.
I mean, that’s vulnerability, man.
“Hi. I’m a fuck-up who went a little nuts and wrote really hot shit about sex, got lauded in important publishing centres as an exciting new voice, and sorta became famous for five minutes and then pissed the opportunity away. LOVE ME. Hear me!”
For 30 minutes.
But I really, really, really wanted to go there.
And it was a fucking awesome ride for me. Awesome audience!
I knew it’d be scary — the first real time I’d addressed a crowd since I was 20, in college, in 1993. More importantly? First time I’d ever talked in person to a crowd about sex blogging, why I do it, what I wanted, how I fucked up, or how nuts I kinda went.
And I barely scratched the surface, but that’s why I want to write the book, I guess. Whew. There’s a wild ride, baby.
My only goal?
I wanted to tell the truth and be honest and raw. I wanted to make no excuses and pull no punches. I didn’t want my shame to get in the way of what I had to say, I didn’t want to hide behind my pride at the expense of not teaching others what to learn from my mistakes.
I know it’s powerful when people tell the truth, and I really wanted to be genuine and honest.
I told my two best friends Mark and Jon on separate occasions that all I wanted was to be like I was in our quietest, most real conversations. I wanted that conversational and open tone, the snarky humour and the quiet vulnerability that I get when I’m with a really good person I trust.
I just wasn’t sure I could conjure that side of myself for an audience of 125, plus standees.
That I’m told I did conjure her just blows my mind and makes me so happy. I loved it. I’m thrilled I’ve given people food for thought, and I look forward to speaking more often and being a part of a new dialogue on both mental health and healthy sex.
My engagement was probably as cathartic for me as some people in the room tell me it was for them, too.
It’s a really, really, really great gift of an experience on a weekend that, for 10 years, has usually sucked. I hate Mother’s Day thanks to the Dead Mom Factor. I miss my mother a little today. But for the first time in a long time, I’m not sad this Mother’s Day and I’m not angry.
Getting the fear of opening up in public speaking off my back? What a gift.
I’ll probably be writing about things this weekend has stirred up for a while.
It might not be the kind of conversation and end product Northern Voices normally results in, but I think it’s true to the life of the conference — the belief each of us needs to not only find our voices but sound them out.
It’s a message I’ve been on for years.
Speak up. Being heard is a beautiful thing.
Own who you are, live out loud.
The video will be aired on the web someplace and soon, when it is, I’ll post some linkage for those who are curious and couldn’t be at the engagement. Thank you to everyone who wished me well.
I’m tired of women who get into a relationship, lose all of themselves in the man, the relationship ends in a matter of weeks, they come apart at the seams, and it’s “Oh, I’ll never love again.”
And to moan and piss and whine like this publicly, on social media sites?
I’m not lying and saying I’ve never done that.
I have, and I’m not proud of it, but it’s been a few years since. I don’t respect myself for having been that way, but at least I know it was because birth control fucked up my estrogen. Even then I knew it was shameful, the way I was coming apart over this guy I knew didn’t really deserve me or my heartache, not now, not after all I’d come to learn about him.
It’s a few years later and I know now that, this dude I came apart for, I wouldn’t even date today. I’d be friends. I probably wouldn’t get turned on by him, and I sure as hell wouldn’t be having the delusions of marriage I entertained then, but maybe it’s because I saw how he became in times that got bad.
All of us are pretty undesirable when our lives go off the deep end. We’re not ourselves. That makes sense, it should be apparent to others.
Times get bad. Hurts happen. Sadness is inevitable. Anger bubbles up.
These are human elements and we’re at home with each of them.
But I draw the line at tolerating victims. I draw the line at anyone who thinks shit keeps landing on them on purpose and that they have nothing they can do about it.
In the last decade, the amount of shit that’s come my way — man, if I thought someone had it in for me and it was happening to me intentionally, I’d just cry. And I’ve kept my head on reasonably straight about this throughout more than one depression.
Just an example: This back injury that debilitated me for a year? Rehabbing it repaired most of my other long-ailing injuries, and taught me that I finally understood how to eat properly to maintain my weight, and gave me insight into really seeing what living a long-term compromised life did to others, and I think the whole horrible year made me a FAR better person.
Almost every negative that has found me — including my mother’s death — has resulted in incredible personal growth and insight.
Am I tired of the endless struggle? Fucking right I am. But am I feeling like a victim? NO.
I’m feeling like someone who’s woken up and realized all the fighting I’ve been doing just to survive has been completely misplaced — those energies can be better spent, my attitudes & goals can be refocused.
If anyone can do it, I can, and don’t you even think I don’t know it.
I know I’ve overcome incredible odds, but the odds I’ve overcome are the kind that HURT the bank account and HURT the bottom line, not help them. To the outside, I’m some underachiever getting by in an expensive town with a job that doesn’t nearly compensate me for my skills and talents, working too little to really get anywhere, with a stubbornness about “selling out” to get by.
TO ME, though, I’m an incredibly resilient person who’s been kicked somewhere new by life almost every 6 months for 10 years, but I still keep improving, I still get better, I develop more empathy not apathy, and I grow from every single thing that hits me.
I don’t need to be a social butterfly or the talk of the town. I don’t need a fancy car or pretty things. Like Atwood says, as a woman, I need a man like a fish needs a bicycle.
What do I need?
I need to respect myself and know I’m doing what a girl’s gotta do. That’s it.
I got that. I’m down widdat. On it like Oprah on a ham, baby.
I still like the directions I’m going in. I wish I could have more — I wish I had a man on this beautifully full plate of mine, someone to sink my teeth into and a relationship to take shelter in on weekends, but space to enjoy during the week. I wish I had the energy and money for friends and good times.
But money and love, they’re out there, and I’m getting to them. They’re usually the icing on your life cake, and patience is needed.
I know, deep down inside, that I’m changing at a clip I can’t believe. The last thing I need is to get into a relationship with someone who’s where they want to be while I’m going a mile a minute. I need some stability and some comfort with where I am before I think I can choose rightly as far as man-things go. The more of this “self” I enjoy discovering, the more I’ll have to offer in a month or two or three, as my newly changing realities take firmer hold.
A month or two? Yeah, I’m not biting at hooks TODAY but I’m looking as of now. Why not? What’s the worse that can happen? I love a little, get left a little, hurt a little? Okay. So be it. I’ll try.
Because I know, who I am has nothing to do with a man. My attitude, my goals, my abilities, my dreams, they’re all me. Would I like to share them? Sure. But no one’s co-opting them or taking over the driver’s seat. Not now, and hopefully never again.
I think, biologically & anthropologically, something in women hardwires us to pairbond for security and protection.
But what happens in 2010 when a girl’s forced, through economic & social realities, to survive on her own? To get her own security taken care of? To protect her how interests?
Then what’s she looking for in a man? What’s she need now?
Does anthropological history and biological predisposition still kick in? Or does a different quality of pairbonding happen? “I’m the queen, I’ll let you rule in my kingdom alongside me. You, your chair is there. Don’t even think about sitting in mine.”
I don’t know.
But I know I look at men differently now than I did four to five years ago.
And I know I’ve proven I’m a survivor of the kinds of things that most people would rather not test themselves through.
So, a girl’s got to wonder.
What am I really looking for, and what’s it going to take to get it delivered? (Grin.) I really don’t know. I really don’t care. ‘Cos I know I’m gonna find out. Don’t know how, but I’m gonna. So are you.
And if, or when, it goes south, since there’s 95% chance of that when every relationship starts, well, I’ll try to hold myself with a little decorum, because I’ll be pretty confident in the knowledge I’ve overcome bigger things than a boy.
Another probably painfully tiring day awaits me tomorrow, before what is liable to be a mockery of a weekend, on which I believe I need to work Sunday, but the verdict is not yet in. (No, not real work. Taking a bunch of kids to a space museum. Yeah, who’s your sex goddess NOW, huh?)
I should not be writing, but I am.
You see, I took a terribly sinful break earlier today on what has been a gruelling couple headtrip days, and I acquiesced to the evil that lurks within: I submitted to my craving for poutine. If you’ve never had poutine, then you’re probably not Canadian. A pity for you, you poor fuckers. You’ll hear about it, and you’ll think, “Ew, ick!” but really, that’s just your ignorance talking, or perhaps it’s the silly little granola-loving freak you nurture deep within. Either way, it’s all about the fat. Mm, fat!
Poutine’s french fries smothered in cheese curd and gravy. In other words, it’s potatoes that died tremendously worthwhile deaths. And I salute them! So do my lovehandles. But I do digress.
There, there was a paper lying about. I shouldn’t be so brash as to call the Province a newspaper, because it’s hardly a good newspaper at all. It’s a tabloid. It’s the McDonald’s of news for people who are news-tritiously challenged. Or chronologically challenged, and I was the latter. Oh, and apparently the former. How convenient.
Dammit, again with the digressions!
Lemme get to my fucking point, shall I? They had a story today about seven Vancouver chicks (you go, girls) who’ve opted to get married to themselves.
They’ve all got the gowns and they’re doing a public ceremony down on Vancouver’s Jericho Beach, and when it comes to the “Do you take this…” part of the ceremony, I think it’s going to be changed to, “Do you take yourself, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, until your dying days?” or something like that.
I wanted to fucking stand and cheer then and there.
It ain’t some feminazi gig or anything, boys, so don’t get your panties in a bunch. It’s about saying, “Hey, I don’t need no man for happiness. I can provide that to myself.” None of us really needs anyone… it’s just nice to have them.
Like Margaret Atwood once said, “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” I happen to believe that goes both ways, but too many women are too fucking obsessed with getting a ring on the finger and being validated by having some studmuffin by her side. It’s a sad state of things, and I would have thought we’d be farther along by now, but here we are: same shit, different story.
I made a brief comment about the “How to Get the Guy” show the other night, a show that still pisses me off on premise, even though the things it’s saying are sort of on the money. Yes, good ways to get a guy. Just bad ways to keep them.
If you’re not yourself when you snag a guy, it’s gonna be pretty fucking hard to keep yourself in that hyper-perfect state. And when you’re not that woman anymore, is he still going to be interested? Or are you just the dating equivalent of spam – building up an average product into something extraordinary, only to have it fall flat? Only you can know.
These chicks, they have the right idea. They might be being weird about it and taking it a bit far, but hey. Whatever gets you through the night, baby. You want to embrace yourself, love yourself, and make a commitment to yourself, then I say more power to you.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this week, wondering what all my stress and frustration about this job search is coming off as for the masses. I mean, you all look to me for whatever the hell it is you want to find here on these pages – mantras about your body type, tips on hand-jobs, profundity on being single, scathing commentary on whatever the hell the flavour of my day is… Honestly, I have NO idea what you’re here for, but I’m thrilled you tumble onto my doorstep, and I thank you for it.
But here I am, in all my flawed glory: Stuck in a financial conundrum that I know will end, but I’m terrified won’t end on schedule, my fears and my horrors hanging out for all to see, and the fact that I’m brutally, completely human. I’m as fucked up as anyone, man. I don’t have it all together, and I probably never will. Do any of us? No, probably not. We just play the roles well.
It’s that old, “I’m not a doctor; I just play one on TV” schtick. I ain’t no guru, baby, I just play one on the ‘net. I hurt, I get vulnerable, and, baby, I get scaredy-scared some days.
In the face of all that, I found myself there on Commercial Drive, strolling around in the mid-afternoon sun, a few minutes to kill, when my cellphone rang. Yes, yet another job interview call. (I’ve sent resumes around for just under two weeks, and by Monday’s end I’ll have had eight interviews, all for “real” jobs, so let that tell you what it will.) The funny thing was, this was an agency, and I responded to an ad of theirs earlier this week. I got The Big Rejection Letter. And there she was, calling me now, about an ad I responded to earlier today, knowing full well they’d already rejected me once this week.
She goes, “Your name sounds familiar!”
“It should, I applied earlier this week and got The Big Rejection Letter. But I’m stubborn, and it sounds like a great job for me.”
“Well, it’s a new posting, and I’m glad you’re persistent! I’d like to have a chat with you and see if you’re a good fit for our client!”
I got off the phone (the appointment’s at 9:00am, for an advertising co., one of two interviews tomorrow) and felt SO FUCKING SMUG.
The thing is, keeping your head together and being strong and loving yourself in the face of adversity’s the hardest thing in the world to do. When you’re single, it’s even harder. And that’s why I love hearing about women like this, the ones who say, “You know what? Fuck convention. This is about me.”
Oscar Wilde said my all-time fave quote that I keep citing here and should finally just put in my fucking sidebar, that loving yourself is the beginning of a lifelong romance. It’s times like these when I need to consciously try to love myself. It doesn’t come with ease. It’s work. Every damned day right now, it’s work. Every employer I talk to, every resume I send, my first thing I tell myself is, “I fucking ROCK. I can DO this.”
I don’t really believe it… but I play a guru on the ‘net, you know, so it’s convincing.
My Sunday mornings are something I greatly enjoy. Typically, it involves rolling out of bed sometime around 9 or later, then some lazy TV until I get up the energy to make a nice breakfast. Then, I’ll take my nice breakfast, my coffee, and settle in to watch one of my many movies (if nothing worthwhile’s on telly, and usually nothing is) until the urge to write has struck.
Guess which part of my morning I’m at now? Well, to my right sits too-strong coffee with a bit of milk, and in the VCR is one of my really old videotapes – An American Psycho. My breakfast was eggs scrambled with caramelized red onions and red peppers with sundried tomatoes and basil, and back bacon, and good toast. I’m pretty much in my happy place now. A shower eventually looms, and then a trip out into the world for a Solo Day of Fulfillment.
The movie, a psychological classic, has got me thinking. If you’ve never seen American Psycho, it’s a remarkable study of the psychosis of the Type-A serial killer, chillingly portrayed by Christian Bale. The writing is top-notch (as most of Bret Easton Ellis’ work tends to be) and the acting makes it pretty surprising that Christian Bale ever got another job after that movie, since he became the killer, which generally slays an actor’s commercial appeal. (Much like how accurately portraying Ted Bundy put Mark Harmon’s career in the toilet for a decade.)
As I said, the movie has me thinking. There’s the old cliché, “How well do we really know anyone?” Not very, not usually. We think we know people, but we tend to go on face-value more than any real criteria. There’s a segment at the beginning of the movie when Bale’s character, Patrick Bateman, goes on at length about his skincare regime. The inference is, his face is the only thing people have to go on, and its perfection is his façade, covering his whirlwind of anger, insecurities, and need for approval, all of which drives his merciless, brutal killing of women.
We find “love” by comparing likes. Ooh, we like the same movies, the same books, we have fun the same way, we laugh at the same jokes; it must be love!
The thing is, even the most stark-raving lunatic enjoys culture and movies and has favourite foods they can’t live without. Likes and interests are superficial, at best.
When it comes to people in my life, be it friends or family or lovers, I watch The Little Things. The insignificant things that we often brush aside are the greatest tells as to who and what the people around us are like. It doesn’t take me long to assess a person’s character, and it tends to make me fiercely loyal when I see them behave in respectful, goodly ways.
Ignore the big picture and turn on the macro lens. Do they respect people providing them service in stores and establishments? Do they come to the aid of someone in need? Are they helpful when someone asks them for info on the street? Can they chat amiably with a perfect stranger? Do they ensure they’re including you in conversations with friends? Do they arrive on time, or let you know when they’re going to be late? Do they drive aggressively, tail-gating every car they come upon?
You get the picture. I’m not saying a person should be dumped for any of the above transgressions, but you sure as hell ought to be taking note of it. For instance, one could assume that I have a very quick temper by the way I get so snappish when riding my scooter, or one could at least assume I’m very quick to get on the defensive. And they’d be right. It’s true, I get very defensive. It’s one of my worst qualities. It also speaks to the fact that I’m a perfectionist who overthinks things, so when someone begins to point out a flaw or an error on my part, I might well put up a wall to protect myself. I know this to be my character weakness, and I at least have the guts to own up to it with those around me. It doesn’t make the flaw go away, but at least I’m accountable about it. As flaws go, it could be worse, but it’s still a character flaw.
I’m forever astounded, though, by people who seem to blatantly ignore endless flaws and attitude problems in partners, all because they have ‘so much in common.’
So many of us hide a great deal of who we are. We’re fools if we fail to suspect others might be doing the same. We have insecurities, fears, hatreds, weaknesses, and they all combine for a lethal cocktail at times. How we behave in the Little Moments is indicative of our character at its deepest levels. Yes, we have flaws, but are we inherently good and kind people? Look deeper than the surface. Our daily insignificant actions are the only true evidence we provide – the things we do so naturally that we don’t even think before we act. These are the moments when who we are comes through, and those are the moments to take note of who’s at heart of the person you think you know.