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Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Photo

Recently, Christmas has been happening. Travelling has been happening. Friendsing has been happening. Shopping has been happening.

Blogging has not been happening. Reverb10ing has not been happening. 750wordsing has not been happening either.

In the next week or so, there are a lot of things that need to and/or are going to happen. Taking my brother back to the airport tomorrow will happen. New Year's Eve will happen. Playing my new piano music will happen. Playing Mario with my mom on her new Wii will happen. Formatting two sets of a minutes needs to happen; working on my honours thesis should happen; packing to go back to Halifax will happen.

I find myself with seven missed reverb10 prompts, and two more to go. I can't do everything. There just isn't time. I'm going to skip some prompts and focus on the ones I find more inspiring. So, I'm moving past a couple of other ones and tackling the one from Christmas day.


It was raining that night: no great surprise, in this city. From our basement apartment where the windows are either high or small and covered with blinds that can't be raised, it is so difficult to tell what the weather is doing. All I could tell it was raining, and they'd been calling for a lot of rain, so I assumed it must be a downpour out there.

It was that mid-evening time when I tend to be tired of doing homework but not yet done, and not yet tired in general. It's that time of evening that my roommates and I tend to all end up in the common areas of our apartment by frequently-occurring coincidence. As we finished the night's shenanigans and prepared to return to our respective rooms and our respective academic sorrows, I glanced longingly up at the tiny living room window, seeing the drops of water gathered on it.

"Do you think I could go outside and dance in the rain?"

Roomie J assured me that this seemed like a not unreasonable thing to do.

I paused contemplatively. "Do you think I could dance in the rain in a dress?"

This one earned me a sceptical look. "You know it's November, right?"

I did know that. I wasn't planning to stay out too long, though, just enough for a bit of a romp.

I skittered into my room and re-emerged after a few minutes. "Do you think I could dance in the rain in this dress?"

"Ha. You chose that one because it would dry quickly, right?"

It's true that it was a nice heavy weight fabric, and didn't have too much to get wet in the first place. All that was just an added bonus, though. "No... when I looked in my closet this one sparkled."

I slipped on a pair of flats and scampered up the stairs and into the night. By this time I had Roomie J intrigued enough for her to grab a camera and follow me out. It actually wasn't downpouring at all but just barely sprinkling. I was disappointed by this wimpy weather in my normally wet city, but was too far invested in the adventure to turn back now. I performed a few silly dance moves and spins while Roomie J shot a few pictures, before rushing back in for my sweatpants and a hot chocolate because it was, as she'd pointed out, November.

This is a picture of myself as I'd like to be more often. Spontaneous. Impractical. Unafraid.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Future Self and Travel

Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

I feel as though I've been belligerent about several of the most recent prompts, but, well, I'm not doing this one either.

Actually that's a lie. I did do this one. Then I re-read it and realized that what I wrote had nothing to do with how I imagine myself in five years, but was simply a collection of all the reassurances I would like to hear now. So I started over, and really tried to imagine myself five years from now, but I just couldn't do it. I have no idea who/what/where I want to be. I came up with absolutely nothing. So I'm going to pass on this one.

I tried to do the bonus question too, but it was equally unsuccessful. There was nothing I could tell my past self. Past self gets by pretty well and present self is content with the way things turned out. There is nothing I would ask past self to change. Besides, I wouldn't want to spoil the surprises. I would never forgive myself. I love surprises too much.




Heyyy look at this prompt! I can and will answer it, gladly.

How did I travel this year? Mostly by foot. I walked to and from campus every day that I had class. I walked to and from work every weekday this summer. I walked to the grocery store, the drug store, and every other store I had to visit. I walked to appointments. I walked to friends' houses, restaurants, festivals, the library, the bank. On sunny summer Saturday mornings, I walked to the farmer's market, and my favourite coffee shop, and then the thrift store on the way home. Sometimes I even walked to or home from the mall, which is far enough to usually be a bus trip. My friends and I went on our annual camping trip, where we walked six kilometres into the woods with our gear. This year, I walked.

I travelled by bus occasionally, mostly in the winter semester when I had an evening class and by the time I left it was cold and dark and my desire to be at home with a mug of hot chocolate far outweighed my desire to not be on the bus.

I was in cars now and then as well, mostly on trips home, but sometimes when friends from out of town who have cars came to visit.

Also of note, I travelled by plane for the first time ever, when my parents and I went to visit my brother in May.

As for next year, I'd like to keep travelling in more or less the same ways. If I live somewhere that actually has bike storage, I'd like to have a bike. It's like walking, but faster! I would also really like to take a train trip across Canada, but that might not be in the cards for next year.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Beyond Avoidance

What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

This year, I should have written more. I should have exercised more. I should have cleaned more often. I should have spent more time with friends. I should have called my parents more often. I should have studied harder, eaten healthier, laughed louder, and taken more chances. Causes: worry, busyness, laziness.

Mostly, I should have dealt with interpersonal problems instead of being passive-aggressive about them or just being bitter and never speaking to people again. Main cause of this problem: fear.

As for the bonus question: I will do my best to do all of these things, but I only have so much time, energy, and courage. I'll make what improvements I can, and those I can't will wait for another year.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Try and Healing

Another reverb10 double-up, since I didn't have time yesterday.

What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did/didn’t go for it?

Next year I want to try:

Law school
Communicating properly with people
Spontaneity
Doing things that are impractical, because I'm just so sick of always choosing the most responsible options, instead of the things I really want

I set out for this year with the goal of trying new things in general, and I didn't really do as much of that as I would have liked. I guess I tried new things in the kitchen, mostly, which was generally successful.




To be honest, I take issue with this prompt. It demands that I had to be broken or damaged or wounded in some way, and I really don't think that I was. Maybe I'm just a pretentious jerk and don't realize that there's something wrong with me, or maybe I'm just too young and privileged to have been damaged yet, but one way or the other, I'm just not feeling it.

I am a whole and complete person. I am not broken. I did not need healing.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Lesson Learned

What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

I learned, this year, that I run away too much. If there's a problem, especially a problem that involves interaction with another person, I tend to do everything in my power to pretend like the problem doesn't exist.

It doesn't work. I can deny and repress as much as I like, but it never helps. Avoiding problems doesn't fix them. A lot of the time it makes them worse.

I need to stop doing this. I need to learn the art of confrontation. And communication.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Friendship

How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

I've been turning this prompt over in my mind all day. I've started to write and stopped again about five times. I'm just not coming up with a good answer to it. I have friends who have changed me, and my perspective, for sure, but not really this year in particular.

I could give a partial answer with the friend I talked about in my post on appreciation: that a friendship gone sour made me appreciate my healthy friendships more.

I could also give another partial answer to the friend I made volunteering at Jazz Fest (as mentioned yesterday). This was the first new friend I made in what felt like a really long time (seriously though, a year, maybe?), and it changed my perspective on social interactions and my own self-confidence.

Neither of these answers sit quite right with me, I think because they're not specific to those friends themselves. It wasn't anything special about either of those friends that changed me, simply the situations we were in.

To be honest, 2010 was the year of wrapping myself up inside myself, away from the world as much as possible. Maybe in 2011 I will emerge and let others impact me again.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

5 Minutes

Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

I want to remember:

Lying on the bridge at our campsite with Roomie J and JB, looking at the stars and talking about our lives.

Ice cream and lemonade and roommate hangouts all the time this summer.

Picking up garbage at JazzFest in the pouring damn rain with my newfound friend Team Cups.

Dancing the night away to the Mellotones at the Seahorse with Roomie J.

Being together with my family in Newfoundland at the start of summer.

L telling me the birthday present I made for him was the nicest thing anyone had ever given him.

The night of the EMSP party when I went crying to JDFL, who let me bug him for the rest of his shift while doing silly things to cheer me up.

Sneaking into the CSP party.

Being a member of the Canadian Studies secret seminar.

Floating in the massive Hurricane Earl waves at the beach with my mom.

Sitting on a bench in the middle of the night in the freezing cold, with a boy I had a crush on, saying that we liked each other, kissing and holding hands.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Action + Appreciate


I find this prompt difficult, not because I don't know what actions to take to make my aspirations happen. It's because I'm not exactly sure what my aspirations are.

I don't know, at this point, where exactly my next move is going to take me. I guess that means my next actions need to be decision-making, but I don't have all the information I need to make those decisions yet, and I don't have any control over when this information will be available to me. The activities of law school admissions committees fall far outside the realm of things I can control.

A lot of the other things I want from my life are dependent on this too. There are a lot of things I don't want to commit myself to until I know whether or not I'll be moving in 4 or 8 months.

So for now, my next step is waiting. In the realm of much smaller aspirations, I will occupy some waiting time by continuing to pursue my freshly-set deadline of completing the sweater I'm knitting by the end of June. Next step: finish the back!



I think the one thing I've come to appreciate the most this year is healthy relationships - romantic, friendships, and otherwise.

In the first part of this year, one of my friendships was souring and becoming very unpleasant. Due to the situation at the time, this was also someone that I had to deal with every single day. Instead of discussing our issues, we just became extremely passive-aggressive with each other, which meant, of course, that the situation just got worse and worse.

I was also in a sort-of relationship. We had started dating in 2009, but due to our busy schedules and lack of commitment, we saw each other very rarely - we saw each other in class a few times a week, sure, but only actually spent time together about once a month. I let myself get far more attached than I should have for that sort of "relationship," and thus felt a lot more distress about the situation than was really healthy.

Being far enough away from both of these situations now to have some perspective on them, it's helped me to appreciate what healthy human relationships feel like, and how valuable they are.

I really don't show my appreciation well enough. I should probably let my friends know how much they mean to me, and a good way to start would probably be by actually acting as though I want to spend time with them, instead of being a reclusive antisocial hermit all the time. Let's add that to my action list.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Body Integration

This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

The moments when I feel my mind and my body integrate are when I'm swing dancing and I just get it.

Most of the time when I'm dancing, my thought process goes "one two three-and-four, back straight, five six se-ven eight, keep arms tense, sink weight downward, oh and remember to smile, shit, now I've lost track of my footwork..."

There are rare moments, though, when everything just goes right for a few seconds. Usually this happens when I'm dancing with a more experienced lead and they do a move that I haven't actually learned yet. My mind stops trying to force my body do what it's been taught to do and just lets it respond to the signals I'm being given. For one brief moment everything is motion, mind and body simply move, together, without worrying about where they're going or how they're getting there.

When the motion stops, I grin and think "that was cool!" Then I realize that I have no idea where my feet are supposed to be right now...

11 Things

What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

I like this prompt.

1. Indecision.
I need to learn to make choices. I will eliminate this by listening to my gut. It will change my life by allowing me to be more spontaneous, and less stressed about everything.

2. Fear.
I don't really have a plan to eliminate this one. I don't think I can eliminate it. I can make it more manageable, though. I need to just do things I'm scared of and let myself see that they're really not so bad. I think the key to this one is going to be starting small. This will change my life in more ways than I can probably even imagine. Not to be crippled by fear of change, of social situations, of being wrong... it would make my life better in a million different ways.

3. Procrastination.
In the past week or so I've been using mytomatoes.com to help myself deal with this one, and it's been fairly effective. I'll continue to do that, and be on the lookout for other ways to tackle it. Cutting procrastination out of my life will free up more time to do meaningful things.

4. Laziness.
My life requires more physical activity. Getting rid of procrastination should also help with this one. Also, I'm considering signing up for some sort of fitness class at the university gym next semester, which would basically obligate me to do it. More exercise = more energy + more endorphins + better sleep, which are all things that will make life happier.

5. Loneliness.
I will fix this by not being a hermit any more. I will not turn down offers to go do things with friends unless homework is really actually urgent. I will actually invite people to do things instead of always waiting to be invited. This will change my life by making it happier.

6. Perfectionism.
I am not perfect. I will never be perfect. The good news is that no one (aside from myself) expects me to be perfect. I can get away with lowering my standards to at least slightly lower than perfection. This will save me a lot of worry.

7. Not asking for help/refusing offers of help.
See explanation to number 6 and add that sometimes I just can't do everything alone, no matter how much I might want to. It's okay to ask people for small amounts of help sometimes. I need to learn how to open my mouth and say the words.

8. Self-doubt.
I may not be perfect, but I am capable. I just need to convince myself of that on a regular basis.

9. Staying up too late.
In any context other than "staying up to hang out with friends," it just isn't worth how miserable I feel the next day. I might have to set an alarm to remind myself to go to bed.

10. Complaining.
"If you complain nothing happens; you might as well not bother." Monty Python, as always, tells the truth. Complaining is a useless practice primarily intended to draw pity or out-do someone else with how bad your life is, which is a stupid competition. It needs to end.

11. Clutter.
My desk is getting out of hand. As are my dresser, my closet, and my floor, come to think of it. Yeesh. I need to clean my room thoroughly more frequently than once every four months. Decluttering my physical space tends to help me declutter mentally and emotionally, so this will hopefully help me even beyond not tripping over a stack of books every time I go in an out of my room.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Wisdom

What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

I really struggled with this prompt. Not because I doubt I have wisdom, but simply because I don't feel as though I've made a lot of decisions. On the day-to-day level, sure, but I don't feel like I can cite my wisest decision being the time I decided to have falafel for supper instead of spaghetti, or something like that.

In terms of major life decisions, the only one I really made was to probably go to law school, and I'd really rather not judge the wisdom of that until it actually has played out.

Basically, I have no answer. This one's got me stumped.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Party

What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

Had you asked me this question about 2009, I would have had a hard time choosing because there were a lot of really good parties. But you're not asking about 2009, you're asking about 2010.

The problem with 2010 is not that there weren't any parties. There were some parties, and they were almost all enjoyable. The year started with a fairly chill New Year's Eve party at my house. There were some sick dance parties (and some non-dance parties) at the household of Loud et al. There was the exclusive party on campus that I snuck into with some friends. They were all lovely parties, but none of them stands out as having "rocked my socks off."

I think my best answer to this question is that my favourite parties are the ones my roommates and I have whenever at least two of us happen to be in the kitchen/living room space at the same time. It's a new party every time. Last night it was a Trying-to-figure-out-how-to-do-the-worm Party, as well as a Balancing-pumpkins-on-our-heads Party (Not at the same time. That would be intense). Sometimes it's a Make-up-silly-dance-moves Party, others it's a Standing-on-the-furniture Party. It can be a Climbing-our-doorways Party, or a Rolling-around-on-our-spare-wheelie-chair Party, or a Making-random-beats-by-banging-on-things Party. We get up to shenanigans like nobody's business.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Beautifully Different

Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

I used to feel different all the time. I very clearly remember that it started in grade six. Before that I'd always been part of the group (my elementary school was very small; there were only seven girls in my class), but that year everyone else started to care about clothes and make-up and boys. I was a year behind on boys, and about nine years late on the clothes and make-up (if you're thinking that brings us to about last year, you'd be thinking right).

I was picked on a lot in junior high for differences that it was difficult to put a finger. In high school, I learned to embrace my differences and had amazing friends who were also different from others -but just like me.

My years at university have taught me that no one is really different. I've learned to challenge my assumptions about people and see the things that connect all of us. Now I see that we're all just looking for our place in the world; trying to find happiness and figure out who we are and where we belong. We might express it in slightly different ways, but deep down, we're all the same.

There is not a single quality I have that you couldn't find just as good or better in someone else. That goes for everyone. We just have different combinations of these qualities. There is nothing about me that I can cite as being the one special thing that makes me different from everyone else.

We're all the same. We're all beautiful. I find that there can be a lot of pressure to be different and unique in order to express yourself. No one ever tells us that it's okay to be the same. I'm not saying we should conform to every standard society sets. It's just that sometimes I feel like striving to be different prevents me from being myself. In a lot of the ways, I'm exactly like everyone else. Why shouldn't I be allowed to embrace that?

There's nothing specific I do that lights people up. Sometimes I'll smile at strangers I pass on the street and be rewarded with the most beautiful smiles in return. Sometimes it's some small chore or errand I do that has my roommate proclaim that I'm "her favourite" (her "favourite" changes frequently). Sometimes it's because I listen well, or because I laugh at the right time, or because I know how to explain something. Little things. Little things that anyone else could do just exactly the same.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Community

Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

I feel like I could very easily coast through #reverb10 answering most of the prompts with "I didn't." It wouldn't be lying. I could do it. Will it be a useful practice? No.

I think the reason I keep wanting to focus on the negative aspects of the the year is because I'm in a shitty mood right now. End of term plus super gross weather tend to do that to me. Was it a bad year? At times, yeah. There are things I would go back and change if I could, for sure. But I don't want to give off only bad reverberations. I do need to recognize the bad things so I can think about how to fix them next year, but I also need to remember that good things happened this year too. Lots of good moments.

So, community. Were there times this year that I felt like I was growing so far from my friends that I just wanted to cry until I fell asleep and didn't have to think about it? Yeah. Were there times it felt like I had absolutely no one I could talk to about anything? Absolutely. Were there times I listened to the song below over and over again just to sing along to "I would go most anywhere/to feel like I belong"?


You better believe it. Does that mean I should stop writing here, like I considered doing when I first read today's prompt? Absolutely not.

So does this mean that I have no community? No. It just means my community is changing, and I'm taking some time to adjust. I still have my very best friends to lean on when I need them.

I guess the prompt is technically about where I have discovered community this year, and I do have a few answers to that. I took a fourth year seminar course this year that came together sort of haphazardly and somewhat under the official university radar, which we lovingly refer to as the "secret seminar." It consists of seven students plus the prof, and we just discussed everything and supported each other through the tough issues we were approaching. I was by far the quietest and shyest one in the course, but it still felt like a community, especially on the last day when we went out for lunch together. We like each other and the course so much, in fact, that we've decided to carry on as a discussion group, just for fun, next semester.

As far as online communities go, I found a forum for law students, where I've connected with some of the other applicants at one of my prospective schools. We've been helping each other through the application process and the admissions wait, and it's great. We are well on our way to our goal of having the longest thread ever on that forum. Plus we've already started planning a party for when we theoretically all end up at that university together.

In 2011, I want to connect more deeply with the community of the swing dance society I'm a member of. I've been hovering around the edges, but I need to dive right on in.

I want to join the community of whatever law school I end up at, really join it. I want to be involved in everything and know everyone and be right in the thick of things.

I will find my way.
I can go the distance.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Make.


Technically, the last thing I made was the garlic fingers I had for supper. If you're from somewhere stupid that doesn't have garlic fingers (No offence to wherever you're from. I'm sure it's lovely. It's just that they don't have garlic fingers, which is stupid), they look like this:

(At least, that's what they look like when I make them. Usually they're a little less, um, lumpy. My dough skills could use some work.)

and they're delicious. They're also easy to make: pizza dough + garlic butter + mozzarella, cook at 425F for 15 minutes. Our garlic butter recipe is as follows:

1 c. butter, softened
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
1 tbsp garlic salt
1 tsp italian seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika

Anyway, I didn't even really want to talk about garlic fingers because they're just food, and to me cooking is just a fact of life; it's not usually something I consider creative, which is how I interpreted this prompt.

So really the last thing I made was this little fella:


I imagine most people probably need me to tell you that it's Teen Wolf. I made it as a birthday present what feels like forever ago (March) for the then-boyfriend. Materials were:

miscellaneous scrap yarn in brown, orange, and black
yellow fabric
thread
crochet hook (size F)
needle
Sharpie

This is the first thing I ever crocheted, so I was kind of proud of it. Also, crocheted? Weirdest word. I have a hard time not pronouncing the "t" whenever I read it.

As for projects I want to work on: SO MANY. The main one right now is that I would really like to finish the sweater that I've been working on knitting for just shy of three years. So far I've finished the arms and about a 3rd of the back. It looks approximately like this:

I hadn't touched it in months, but I actually just picked it up over the weekend to do some work on it. I think my problem is that I always wait until I have large blocks of time free when I can do a lot of work at once. That doesn't happen frequently. According to the rough calculations I guesstimated the other night, if I work on it for just half an hour a day, I should be able to finish it in about six months. Whereas if I continue this strategy, it will probably be another three years.

I think I can make time for a half hour a day. Maybe not every single day, but a lot of days, yes. In the past month + 6 days I've made time for blogging every day, and for five days now I've made time for writing at 750words every morning. I've had to re-evaluate how I use my time and realized that my time management skills have gotten much slacker than they used to be. I also just really like knitting as a break from my academic world of ideas and books. I find that working with my hands to create something physical is a good way to get out of my head and grounded in the real world.

New goal: Complete sweater by the end of June. That gives me just under seven months. I'm gonna do it. For real.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Let Go

What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

I really can't think of much that I let go of this year. In fact, looking back, I think I've probably spent much of the year desperately, desperately trying to hold on. I've been hanging on to anything and everything, just to prevent things from changing. Friendships, relationships, traditions, music - everything. I just want it all to stay the same.

Next year will be my year of letting go, I think. I'll be finishing my BA and almost definitely moving away; very possibly all the way across this great big country. I'll have to let go of a lot of things to make that work: my province, living close to home, my Hali-friends, a bunch of material possessions, my sense of security, and most importantly, my fear of change.

I could respond to the "whom" part of this question, since I have let go of a few people, but I'm really not comfortable talking about it on a blog they could easily access, so I'll just leave it at that.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Wonder

How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

The only answer I can give to this question is: I didn't.

Wonder, for me, is really not something I cultivate so much as something that just happens. Mostly, it happens when I look at the sky.

There's that line in the Regina Spektor song "Oedipus"that goes "the sky'd be so big that it broke my soul." That's how I feel about it. I'm so blown away by the fact that we all share this great big blanket that I can't even handle it.


This effect is also multiplied by about a million when I actually get out of the city to see the stars.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Moment

[Before I start today's reverb10 prompt, I want to make a quick update on yesterday. Right after I finished my post, I signed up for an account at 750words and wrote. I did it again this morning (just one day away from being a turkey!). I didn't necessarily write good words, but that's okay. I wrote. That's the important part.]

Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

My moment for this post came to mind right away. I actually wrote about it when it happened back in May, but I will re-iterate here, since it didn't exactly have vivid detail the first time around.

One day near the beginning of the summer, my roommates and I went for a walk around our local park. This is probably my favourite place in the whole city -- mostly because it's the one that feels the least like the city. It has forest, and ocean, and ponds, and it's lovely.

While we were walking the path around the perimeter of the park, we stopped to read every sign and plaque we saw along the way. At one point we ran up a little hill to look at something or other, and we ended up just standing at the top of the hill for a minute or two.

The hill looked out over the ocean, and the wind was blowing in off the water. It buffeted us, whipping past my ears and making my eyes water. Between the wind and the sun, I had to squint my eyes nearly shot. I couldn't bring myself to shut them all the way, though, and miss out on the beautiful sight of the wide open sea spreading before me. The wind, of course, carried the most fantastic smell in the world: ocean.

At that moment I felt like my heart was swelling up inside me and the wind was blowing all the bad out of me and filling me with the joys of existing near the sea. I was so alive I thought I might burst.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Writing

What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

There is the obvious answer to this question, which is: I spend too much time on the internet. Facebook. Twitter. Forums. Pointless flash games. Solitaire. Heck, this blog can be a distraction, at times. Can I eliminate them? Yes. I'm not even particularly attached to any of them, aside from blogging. They're just things I do to pass the time (or put off my homework).

Then there is the less obvious answer, which is also the reason why I do the above things: I doubt. I fear. I run away. I hide. Writing is scary. Even though a lot of the time it's something I just do for myself, and it makes me feel better about life when I do it, there are the days when I stare at a blank page and nothing comes. On those days, I feel like the shittiest person alive. I ask myself what kind of loser can't think of a single word to put down on an empty page. How boring and stupid and unimaginative do you have to be to not have a single thought or idea to write down?

I avoid writing because I'm always afraid it will be one of those days. I'm terrified of being a failure, even if no one knows it but me. I attended a small writing workshop a few years ago, and the woman running it asked us each to take a few minutes to come up with an object to symbolize our writing style. We went around the room and shared what we chose and our reasons for it, and she made what seemed like pretty perceptive comments to everyone. I don't even remember what the object that I choose was. But I remember that almost immediately after I said it, the first words out of her mouth were "you're afraid." She elaborated on it beyond that, but all I really remember is how much effort I was putting into not crying. It was a little bit scary how easily she had seen right through me, and upsetting because now someone else knew that I was a failure.

Can I eliminate fear? No. Probably not. Can I face it? Yes. Can I make it something I only deal with when I have to, rather than every day? Yes. Yes I can.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

One Word

Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

This first prompt for Reverb 10 was posted just a few minutes before I left for class this morning. My first thought was "oooooooh that's gonna be a tricky one." I find it really hard to sum up whole years nicely. I'm sure this is difficult for anyone; condensing 365 days into the space of a few letters is not a simple task by any means. Over the past few years I've found it especially difficult for the student life, because the year is very definitively divided into three four-month chunks which usually involve pretty radical changes from one to another - school to work to school, new roommates, new friends, old friends leaving/returning to town, new extracurricular involvements, etc.

I spent all day thinking about what one word I would use to sum up this year... well, all day except the parts where I was reading my latest law school acceptance letter (for the regular readers: Dal, meh), giving a presentation on my research, having lunch with my secret seminar classmates, and writing an exam... but to no avail. I just couldn't think of anything. So instead I focused on thinking about how I would introduce the subject, and thought "well, I could start off saying how it was really hard to come up with something and I spent all day thinking about it... well, except for when [insert all the stuff I just mentioned]. Man, what a full day this has been!"

At that moment, I had my answer. The one word that encapsulates 2010 for me is empty.

That answer is not as sad and pessimistic as it perhaps sounds. My year has been good for the most part, and I am in general pretty happy with my life. I've just been wanting something... more.

It was largely empty because I have been a huge hermit and spent way more time with my homework and the internet than with all the wonderful (wonderful wonderful wonderful) people in my life. It was partly because my summer job could easily have been done by a trained monkey; I yearned for challenge and interest and spent a full third of my year being bored out of my mind. It was partly because I did not dedicate very much time to creative pursuits. It was also partly because I spent the first part of the year pretending that a sort-of-but-not-quite-a-relationship was yeah-totally-a-relationship (absence of a relationship does not make life empty for me (I am fully capable of being happy single: life has felt more full since I got over it) but being in a non-relationship relationship can). I also have had moments when I felt like maybe it was time to give this religion thing another shot, because sometimes I wonder if that would fill in a few of the holes and bare patches.

This makes my word-wish for 2011 very easy, though. Of course I want next year to be full. I want to see my friends more often. I want to find a job that is fulfilling. I want to spend my spare time writing and knitting and baking and generally creating, rather than on twitter. I don't want to pass up on interesting opportunities because they're scary and/or I don't think I have the time. I will make time. There has to be more to life than my homework. Education is great, but it is not everything. Sometimes I forget that.