stories and ideas

Everything, everything, everything comes back to the stories we tell and the ideas bound up in them, this constant riot of interactive expression that encompasses and shapes who we are. At the heart of all communication: the exchange of ideas, the trading of perceptions. The bigger the idea, the harder it becomes to make ourselves known.

At the heart of all storytelling, the desire to express who we are, who we were, who we might be. Personal and universal fear and truths, the ideas that drive and define us.

We’re all just a collection of stories and ideas, rippling through pages of thought and hope, looking for the connections that make us real.

and then.

in the quick flip quiet slip
of fingers tracing lines
of poetry

he asks me:

are you looking for anything
in particular?

I’m looking for everything,
I tell him

and he smiles.

sunblissed solace and
words on pages
prayers and promises

and the places they take us

things that are broken
and things that have opened

and the sometime stirring
of lingering maybes

where hope was swallowed
silent, in the unexpected

press of yes, of you,

sudden, consumed.

so, anyway.

You are razorblades and hope

And I am thin-skinned truths,
dwelling too close to the surface,
everything and nothing
anybody wants:

the loudest quiet
teacup tempest
reigning unrestrained
raging temptress

howling mayhem
unchecked and uncontained
feigned indifference,
unbidden, indiscriminate.

You are all of the questions,
and I am none of the answers.

I am the current rushing,
unruly ideas,
impossible.

You are sense and I am
incomprehensible,
unexpected, unbearable

You are thought
and I am action, reaction
swirling disorder and disarray

You are the push
and I am the edge

You are here
and I am now

the quicksilver flash
of hope

and razorblades.

there and back again

I’ve had a hard time keeping my head above water for much of 2013, which meant I was off radar and out of touch for a lot of people who are dear to me.

This was the year I lost the plot, lost the map, lost my sense of self. Again. I fell down a lot. I learned more about what I don’t want than what I do want. I guess all of those things are necessary sometimes, but it really wasn’t fun.

I took on challenges I wasn’t ready for, with predictably disastrous results. (No, but seriously. Beginning the year with intensive academic demands while simultaneously going off medication that dramatically alters my brain chemistry seemed like a great idea at the time.)

I decided to try out something more than a wild romantic fling for the first time since my marriage ended. Aaaaaaand I sabotaged the whole endeavour by choosing to fall for the least suitable, least available, most awfully wrong choice I could find. But y’know, at least failing on purpose means I’m still in control. And there was some spectacular adventure involved. No. I probably still won’t tell you about it, unless you get me really, really drunk.

2013 saw me confronting the multitude of ways I fail, or intentionally subvert my path to avoid the things that scare me … even when they’re things I want. It was hard and ugly and lonely and it was the year I created for myself.

But I still managed to do some really amazing things this year. I landed myself in the writing program of my choice and I loved and hated and aced the first term. It was exhausting, exhilarating, and pushed me in every direction out of my comfort zone. I still have no idea where I’m going. But I feel like I’m probably going to be equipped to make it somewhere. Maybe. Which is about as decisive as I feel safe being for now. It’s progress, right?

And while a lot of it was lonely, some really important people walked into my life this year as well. People I’ve laughed with, learned from, and fallen a little in love with. I’m so grateful for all of the gifts they brought with them, grateful for the continued kinship of everyone dear to my heart. More convinced than ever that the most important thing we can do is build and foster community around us.

So that’s what I’m inviting into my world for 2014: Less fear. More community. Connections that spread in tendrils of wonderful, unexpected things. Love and hope and wonder and growth. More art, more laughter, more trust. Just … more.

Bring it on.

every new beginning …

End of term is closing in and I’m freaking out. I thought I was freaking out because end of term means an avalanche of deadlines and crucial assignments and being judged and what if I fail because really I probably deserve to, right?! (Never mind that my current average means there is no way I could possibly fail anything.)

It hit me today that I’m freaking out because end of term means end of term. Over. Complete. And … I did it. And I did it means I’m capable of more. I’m freaking out because … success. Success is just as scary as failure. I don’t know if I can handle it. I’m pretty sure I can’t live up to it. Maybe I could just hide now?

Also problematic, end of term means finally processing the massive shift in self-concept that may or may not have taken place over the last three months. I don’t know. Three months is just not a lot of time to have your whole entire sense of self turned inside out, y’know?

And it tweaks my C.D.O. to lose a routine I’ve grown comfortable with. Don’t get me wrong — I’m looking forward to the time to read what I want, write what I want, and do what I want. And catching up on housework will be a huge relief. (Speaking of things that tweak the C.D.O.) But … I’m going to feel a little bit lost and a whole lot shell-shocked when the doors close behind us on that last day.

And finally, that. Right there. That “us“. This group has become an us, and there are relationships that have claimed space in my world.

Which fact is the weirdest and scariest of all.

So, yah. School is doing its job, I guess?

because, too

Steady me.

I am nothing less
than precarious

stretched

whirling dizzy
high beam faltering
high wire suspended
and the snake

pit

beckons.

fallout
falls in

dropping echoes

they conjure the slow pitch rhythm
of your broken

hello

and it steadies me.

by inches, forward

It’s all a muddle. I want to tell you about before. I want to show you now. I want to explain the way it all comes together. But. The rush of sense, ungoverned doesn’t translate and my vocabulary stretches to encompass a thousand ways of knowing. Truth and stories live in every gesture, gifts of breath and blood and secrets colliding.

Gather me, scatter me, undone and unbecoming, yet. Becoming. This very moment, everything. And nothing.

Begin with careless heed to know and then, begin again. It’s always and never the same, so. It goes. By inches, forward, and I wander through, now.

And before:

Thoughtfish won’t swim. Resistance to offend, reluctance to reveal. Mind slides elsewhere, anywhere but the places I want to explore. I can submit to anything aside from myself, it seems.

Meanwhile, universe continues in elaborate efforts to make some point I am steadfastly refusing to grasp. I die a thousand little deaths

reincarnate as myself again

and again,

too obstinate even, to consider alternatives.

a whispered chant of galaxies’ notions

the lingering ache of things that didn’t ever fit

roles cast thoughtless and cast-offs

scattered heedless, lines

cast regardless,

Thoughtfish dart, reckless.

passion, reason, truth, wisdom

… and wizards shouting in towers.

(Yesterday it was rainbows, butterflies, inadequacy and madness.)

I feel too old to credibly muse on any of these things.

I feel too young to know anything about anything.

Between school and social media, life is all opinions, all the time. It freaks me out. The truth is not one thing; there are so many contexts and filters and legitimate perspectives. I cannot possibly reflect them all, and putting thoughts in boxes labeled ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ makes me shudder.

I know I can be strident, or seem that way. I get excited about pretty much everything and that passion bubbles over when I share my thoughts. But I don’t believe passion makes me any kind of credible. In fact, more often than not, it’s been used as an excuse to dismiss my point of view.

School is forcing me to take myself seriously, which is both traumatic and empowering. Most of the time, in academic terms, I’d rather pretend my opinion doesn’t exist and hide behind the comforting armour of Technically Correct. It’s safe, but kinda boring, and it doesn’t leave much room for creative discourse.

Unfortunately — or fortunately, I still can’t decide — creative discourse is basically the driving force behind the entire program I’m enrolled in. Read, respond, write, discuss, write some more. The other day, I confessed in a message to a friend that I was procrastinating on a book review because I don’t feel qualified. I don’t feel qualified. To write an opinion piece. About a book I’ve read. Which reality breaks my heart a little bit, when I pay attention to it.

Homework involves a lot of frantic pacing, mild panic, the ranting manufacture of Reasons This Assignment Is Stupid, occasional throwing of pens, and, eventually, actually completing the assignment. I’m learning to surrender to the process.

wait, where was this going?

Pondering.

Among the homework assignments for the week, a writing prompt, stirring up thoughts on process and intent, learning to make strategic decisions, weaving narrative through a landscape to represent or invoke a character’s inner journey.

So I’m pondering.

What do I need to tell you, to tell you what I want you to know? What do I need to show you, to reveal what I want you to see? What do I want you to see? I don’t know. Most of the time, I really, absolutely do not have a clue. And I find this embarrassing. Distressing. Real writers have plot — they know where they’re going. At the very least they have a general destination. They write with intention.

Most of the time, I don’t. I don’t want to tell anyone anything. I am no great dispenser of truth or wisdom or even entertainment. I’m not here to represent a movement or an identity or an era. I’m just here. I’m just me. Sometimes the noise of being here and being me demands expression. It’s nothing more or less significant that that.

As writers we are all on a quest: to reveal, to illuminate, to express, to communicate something. But once we put it out there, we can only hope it will be received as we intend. Maybe the act of expression is enough for our part, and we don’t always have to feel responsible for the interpretation.

I dunno. To be fair, I don’t generally have a whole lot of power over the thoughts when they’re in my head, so I don’t expect to have any control over them once they’re expressed. (This particular blog post was yet another attempt to tell you about school. You can see how that went.)

Just, y’know. Pondering. Whatever.

School’s great. In case you were hoping I’d get to that, any time soon.

progress, of a sort

Being happy strides hand in hand beside self doubt, general uncertainty, ridiculous questions about worthiness and value.

Life’s a jumble. That’s okay. Just keep going, y’know?

So. I’m a writer who doesn’t want to write, with such a pathological fear of my own voice I’ll do pretty much anything to avoid it.

I’m also the most contrary human being on the planet.

Clearly, a full time program forcing me to write, all day every day, several days a week was the only rational choice.

Really, I just want to survive the program and settle into a quiet little life as a back room proof-reader somewhere. My long-suffering, endlessly patient and entirely awesome professor of design and computer applications will vouch for the fact that no typographical or grammatical error ever escapes my notice. Ever.

Orrrr, maybe I’m hoping endless exposure will break down my resistance, and eventually, some far off day, I’ll be able to
just . . . write things.

Yeah. It’s a long shot. But that’s okay.

Actually, I was fairly prolific for a large part of That Silent Phase, when I wasn’t really silent so much as off-the-record. I wrote a bunch of stuff I don’t even think I hate, sort of, but then I probably would if I made it public, so.