Tag Archives: new times

Not For You: Undoing the Undoings, And Writing

Just another cliche sunset shot. Taken at Vancouver's English Bay, looking south, in December 2010.

I’m writing again.

Let’s not talk about resolutions. They’re stupid. I’m just trying to undo some of my undoings. There have been a few. Simply achieving the undoing of undoings will lead me to a pretty wonderful place this year.

With writing, my goal is very simple: Try to write every single day.

I’ve been forgetting that I’m a writer. I’m not sitting down to build word cities anymore, and I wonder why my emotional landscape seems so barren.

Writing is a verb. It’s helpful to remember it requires doing.

There are those who claim inspired writing is like trying to catch fireflies or something else as fleeting and unlikely.

Like, you see a bright spark and chase it. Sometimes you catch it, sometimes it eludes you. The point is, you give chase. You try. You look in the darkness and hope some spark finds you, that you can catch that spark and embellish it, create something illuminating and amazing.

Oh, bullshit.

The truth is, inspiration comes easily when you have work ethic. By writing every day at a certain time, it’s almost like you can turn inspiration on within five minutes of pounding the keys. I know, I’ve been there.

Only twice in my life have I resolved to write daily on matters that move me. Both times I managed to segue into the best writing of my life. The first time, it shattered six years of writers’ block. It was simply a matter of working on it, daily.

Instead of thinking a thought, write it. Simple.

I know this. I know it takes work. Scheduling, regularity, routine. These are a writer’s best friends.

In the manic ways of our modern world, it’s easy to forget how simple work ethic — a little every single day — adds up over the long term. Writing compounds like any other effort.

I’ve had a terrible time with writing in 2010. None of it went as I wanted. Much of what I did has been worthy of trash heaps.

A false start here and a false start there, sooner or later it all feels false.

Hemingway said he wrote as an exercise of truth-finding. Any writer worth their salt, he suggested, was one who sought truth and wrote truth. The truth shall set you free… and make for some pretty entertaining reading.

The kind of writing I aspire to requires exactly that. It’s easy to lie to you, but insufferable to live with lies. Through my year of failed writing and wrong-perspective-having, I feel like I’ve danced through a darkness filled half-truths and white lies — leaving stories incomplete because incompletion is better, more true, than inaccuracy. Why end a story when you’re unhappy with the conclusion?

Anyone who complains about how hard it is to find a pair of jeans to buy has never tried to find a story to write.

I’m at that point, too, in my writing journey, where I question my creative instincts. All of them.

Is that story really one with legs? Can I make it walk? Does the journey have a point? Should I bother?

Creatively, I’ve been filled with false hopes for some time. That fog is starting to lift. My clarity is returning. I’m remembering that writing must be a daily pursuit. More importantly… I’m wanting it to be a daily pursuit.

Two truths:

1) I like myself better when I’m writing well.
2) I only write well when I write often.

Pretty simple to add 2+2 on days like this.

For the first time in years, though, that daily writing will be private. All in the name of The Book That Will Be Written (TBTWBW).

It’s the new year. Ahhh, that silly marketing ploy to sell us calendars filled with puppies and bikini-wearing babes.

In theory, the year is unwritten. Unmarred upon the page. Waiting for me to give it adventure, love, humour, drama, pathos, and more. Just a naked page, yielding to whatever I desire to impart it.

I like that feeling.

2010 was a hard year for me. It started poorly and pretty much stayed there. I had a lot of moments of light-in-darkness, but I ultimately let my year get the better of me — personally, writing-wise, professionally, physically, and more.

Life happens.

I’m not a big fan of New Year festivities and think they’re largely overhyped, but this year I’m ready to flip the script on the Year That Was. And for whatever 2010 wasn’t, I’m grateful to the things it suggested could be possible. I’m grateful to experiences like speaking at Northern Voice 2010, the people I’ve met, the bucket-list items I checked off.

But those 2010 moments were few and far between.

I’m not in some “thank god it’s over” naive mindset that the date somehow implies everything has changed.

I realize my life is pretty much exactly where I left it last week. Financially, spiritually, and more. But I don’t care.

I know any change that comes this year will be self-driven. I’m aware any writing that comes from me will have to come from me, be OF me.

I get it. I’m nowhere better than I was before “2010” flipped off my calendar.

And yet.

Unbottled

I’m awash in lazy contentment like a kitty sprawled in a sunbeam. It’s been had a long week filled with accomplishments, lotsa physicality, and a whole lotta thinkin’ goin’ on.

Through it all, I’ve kept most of my stuff bottled up. Writing wasn’t on the landscape this week. Sometimes I put a lid on it all and let things simmer and meld for days on end, like an Italian slow-food-of-love cookin’ affair. Thought-stew. Stewing.

I’ve been organizing my home. Gruelling. 2 days, 48 flights of stairs, 14 Swiffer cloths, a roll of paper towel, a bunch of rags, 95 degrees, and a lot of elbow grease.

I’d actually written about what I expected of the experience, but got was so absorbed in my other work that I never edited or posted the piece.

This is how it began:

Big sigh. I’m on the verge of something I’ve wanted for a long time.

I’ll have the most space ever in all my storage areas. Nothing will be crowded anymore, anywhere.

I’ll have a cardio machine in a non-intrusive corner of my bedroom, my living room even more spacious for working out, and probably have the best floorplan I’ve ever had.

My bathtub works again and I haven’t seen a cockroach in two months. I even pad around barefoot sometimes.

I’m so fuckin’ thrilled I could cry.

Tomorrow starts the Great Ordering of the Steffiverse. Finally, chaos will be banished.

For someone who has a fear of clutter and a penchant for lapsing into mild-mannered agoraphobia, it’s been a hell of a few years on the home front.

My friends who’ve been by my side through The Decade From Hell can attest that my home has matched my life for much of that time. The more I’ve shed of worries, weights, and problems, the more my home has opened up and reflected my personality more than my drama.

And here I am, largely on the other side of that.

***

Basking in mostly order and slack today, I’m in the midst of defining what I want the future to be over the next year, as I figure out this massive application for a self-employment program I desperately want to take, deadline Thursday.

I’ve recently been putting the feelers out, talking to people, networking, all that. I’ve really been surprised in the last couple of days at just how many people have responded positively to requests from me to put in writing that they’d like to work with me one day soon, as required by my application.

Judging by the variety of people I’ve received letters from (and I only needed 2, have 10), it’ll be a really exciting 2011. If I do get accepted into one of the programs I want desperately to attend, I know it’ll throw doors open that only I can be responsible for closing.

I don’t have any doubt in what I’m capable of, I just question how well I’ll do at making that happen. It’s like writing — just because I can form an idea doesn’t mean I can translate it into words on a page, though I may try.

But in creating a new surroundings, I’m hoping to create a new mindset open to new possibilities and inviting of opportunity. It’s the proverbial “starting somewhere”.

***

Someone told me once that purging your belongings to create space is how you persuade the universe to gift you more. You know I’m not Frou-Frou / New-Agey Girl, but I do believe we have more power to create our life than we’re often led to believe, and in a less mantra-ish kind of way than necessarily espoused by pop-guru thingies like Eat Pray Love.

Photo by Ihtatho.

The reason it’s so important to me to get my home under control when it’s in a state of chaos, which was most of the time, is because I really feel it reflects who I am at any point in time. I really do. When it’s in chaos, I know I am too, and that inner-chaos is reflected everywhere around me, visually reminding me that I am actively failing at, well, just about everything.

So, I’m getting there. Every time I organize, there’s less to sort through. I don’t feel I’m done. I can live with less. Over time, I want to explore Less. For me, less will become more.

***

I saw a line on Facebook today — that repository of deep and meaningful [said dryly] social fluff — where someone proclaimed something like, “Don’t worry about people from the past, there’s a reason they didn’t make it into the future.”

I suppose that’s true of who I once was. There’s a reason that version of me didn’t survive. There’s a reason this version of me is in flux.

Simply remembering “there’s a reason” can be infinitely valuable, after all.

Though, I must say, sometimes it’s good to remember not everything needs a reason.

***

Sometimes, you know, I sit back and think, “Hmm, I’m glad I’m a writer. Maybe now I can find some sense [or pattern or direction or reason] in all of this.” I sit down, I write, and, yeah, at the end I’m just as lost as I was when I began.

Like now. I still don’t really have a handle on where my life is going. How could I possibly? I’m hoping. Like when I tried playing horseshoes last week, I had no fucking idea how I’d get the shoe around the peg, but I aimed and I hoped.

Life’s just like that. You can’t know. You can’t be sure. You can’t be decisive. Instead, you just roll with the waves as they land on you, and hope you catch the right breaks when they do.

That’s where I am. I know what I control, I know what I don’t. What I do control, I’m trying to rock. When it all comes down, I want to know I did what I could, and I did it as best I could.

Then we’ll see.

Then we’ll see, indeed.

***

I think September has often been the most change-inducing month in my years. Twice, I’ve kicked off September just being lucky to be alive, riddled with injuries suffered in motor vehicle incidents. Other times I’ve done wacky things like moving to the Yukon. Once I quit a job, told the boss to go to hell, and started the path for losing 70 pounds. Another time I blew my back out.

See? September’s a license to get wacky around these-here Steffparts.

But this year, I’m applying for something that could set me on a completely different path.

Last week, I laid the foundation by creating a new homespace that could allow for order, success, and new acquisitions.

This week, I lay a new kind of foundation in the hopes of gaining education. And other stuff.

Next week, who knows.

And that’s kinda what I love about it. September looms. A season of change. I’m ready for more.

Lightning Crashes… Or Something

There is a world of difference between saying what needs to be said and saying what you want to say. Words get taken the wrong way and intentions are often lost in the mix.

Hi, I’m Steff. I’m a compulsive foot-in-mouthist, and thinking before speaking is a lifelong fantasy I’ve yet to make true.

And you know what? Honestly, I just hope I keep on failing.

It’s so goddamned much fun when I get to actually say what I think. I do curtail it day to day, but not as much as you might think. I’m not one of these secret-other-self type bloggers who has a total alter ego they only bring out to play on a CPU. I don’t have to hit the bong or scarf a tab or guzzle a 2-4 in order to tap into that inner self. I just have to bite my fucking tongue sometimes so I can yield to convention. But, trust me, most people I know have known me to say incredibly crass things sometimes, and I’ve no qualms about playing a fool.

If there’s anything I miss about my old job, it’s that they’d long ago labelled me as “flippant” and knew me to be an absolute yutz at times, and, in fact, they embraced those moments of utter irrelevance. I miss that, and I miss the fact that I’m not feeling as comfortable being myself as I once was. I chalk it up to the oddities of the recent past: the lack of sex drive, the in-orbit levels of estrogen, the sub-terranean depths of depression, and all that shit. But I feel it coming back to me now. I’m waiting, like a lover in the night, I’m waiting for my own arrival, naked yet comfortable.

And that’s the thing, man. Being yourself. It ain’t just about saying what you’re thinking, it’s about feeling comfortable in your own skin and knowing, without a doubt, that the things you’re doing and thinking are all about who you are. It’s far easier said than done, and far harder to actualize than any of those fucking self-help gurus would have you believe.

Why’s that? Well, ‘cos we live in a shrink-wrapped society that thinks image is everything. Hell, it’s apologies-on-demand in our day and age. (I wrote a little ranty thing about just that on the other bloggie-poo of mine earlier today.)

Y’know, there’s two ways I write best: One, with music driving the cadence of everything I tap out, and two, like I am now, seated in unnatural (to you) silence — my little hearing aids turned off, or not even inserted in my ears. I find that if, one way or the other, I drown out the world, that all that’s left is the rat-tatty-tat of my heart and my fingers on the keyboard. Gone is the judgment, the cynicism, the self-doubt, the angst, the bafflement, the groan’n’drone of the world beyond my far too thin windowpanes. I can give in to autolatry and isolation, and, for once, being myself is just a little easier.

I have the misfortune of working at a company with nice people, but with extreme political aspects to them. And with politics comes correctness, and with correctness comes a realization that I might not ever fit in as I’d like to. But, then, I haven’t been there long, and it took me more than a year to gain the unequivocal fondness of my last employers. (But I was in a bad, bad place when I started that job — borderline alcoholic and drug addict, really.) I suspect I’ll beat the living shit out of that time-lapse this time around, but OHMIGOD does it feel like forever.

And I’ve been thinking about this for a little bit today, how weird it all is when we lose touch with ourselves. It’s like trying to dial up a friend and stoke an old relationship. It ain’t gonna be all love’n’kisses as soon as that cup’o’joe settles on the table between you, you know. Takes a little massagin’ of egos and checking in and tuning up and all, don’t you find? Yet we think that because we’re all of a sudden aware of the distance between who we are and who we’re being that there’s some kinda mental Band-aid we can slap on that gaping psychic wound and suddenly be our uber-ally self all over again. Not gonna fuckin’ happen, sweetcheeks — try though you might.

So, that’s where I am. I know who I am but I know who I’m seeming to be, and who I’m seeming to be’s just gotten her eviction notice and I want her ass on outta here, but I know there’s a holding period before that’s gonna happen. Meanwhile, just call me Marcellus Wallace, ‘cos I’m about due to get medieval on that waste-ass tenant if she ain’ packin’ in a friggin’ hurry, baby.

I’m trying to remember when in the hell it all shifted for me. When was it I lost touch with all the little bitty bits o’ Steff that make me grin when I’m alone? At some point during my recently RIP’d relationship, to be sure, and no, I’m not about to blame the ex for causing me to go AWOL. Sure as shit weren’t his fault, not one iota. He liked the chick I am, not the chick I became, and that’s fact that I don’t doubt. The problem was never him, the problem was that I, like most chicks have a tendency to do, managed to fall into that trap of being what I thought was the right thing to be in a relationship, and somehow, that coupled with the estrogen depression and the prevalence of strife and upheaval in my oh-so-tumultuous little dramatic life somehow sent this kick-ass, fun to be with, always witty, always snappy chick somewhere way the hell out into the stratosphere.

And, dude, it sucked!

There’s nothing (NOTHING!!!) worse than waking up with the side of you that you just don’t like. There’s nothing (NOTHING!!!) cooler than waking up with a grin on your face ‘cos nothing turns you on better than liking who you are at 6:53 am, all right?

And you don’t get to be that person if all you’re ever doing is kow-towing to convention and appeasing all the little perfect (read: no fun, dry, unenviable) people around you. You get to be that person when you say things that catch yourself and others off-guard and you bring a grin to their face. You get to be that person when that gleam in your eye sparkles and you find yourself walking down the street with an unwarranted grin.

Ah, well, I don’t know why I’m writing this, and I don’t give a fuck about it, either. I just felt like it. That’s reason enough, no? I wish like nothing else I had Live’s Lightning Crashes somewhere on this harddrive, but no. I do not. If you read this in the next couple of hours, (say, before 2am PST) perhaps you could email me the song and I can rock-the-fuck-out before work in the morning. Not that I’m condoning piracy. Okay, fuck it. I’m condoning piracy. Sign me up, matey, and watch me rock and roll on the pitch of those waves.