Do you see? DO YOU SEE?!!

Heya,

Long time no speak.

About…a month ago I came on and deleted all the blog writing prompt posts where I didn’t actually say anything and got rid of the posts in the queue, because I know I’d be super fucking annoyed if I kept getting writing prompts sent to me on a daily basis (though I know some people would probably pay for that). I then planned on writing a post about how that experiment had failed.

Then I got distracted.

I have a job now. I mean, I had a job when I started this blog, but it wasn’t a show-up-at-an-office five-days-a-week kind of job. It was more of a part-time, fit-it-to-my-schedule kind of job. And my job has been in the process of moving offices for … oh, all summer up to the present. We’ll be on our third workspace in as many months soon.

There have been problems. There has been a lack of office supplies and space to spread all my stuff out in (I like to spread out–it’s a big part of why I always try to be early to … everything. If you’re early, you get first dibs on the available space).

But that’s not what I want to write about today.

I want to write about what I’m working on that isn’t work. As a rule of thumb, I don’t like to talk that much about creative projects. Not out of any sense of proprietorship or anything like that; more because I like to keep things loose and not feel like there’s any kind of structure being imposed on me. I feel like telling people about what I’m working means that I have to do what I tell them. And I don’t like feeling like I have to do things a certain way.

I think there’s also a danger of spending more time talking about the project than actually doing the project, and that as valuable as dialogue is, sometimes you have to just take the leap on faith that you’ll figure it out. Sometimes people introduce problems that make the project seem like something unattainable. And not in a sexy way.

Okay, so

Looming Projects

  • The Quarter: my friend turns twenty-five in the not-too-distant and her apartment is full of empty walls and canvas that she keeps meaning to paint, so I’m painting her a picture of a 1989 Canadian quarter. I was originally just going to paint it, but after a while, that started to seem like something that would only be interesting to look at for a brief span of time. Then I got something in the mail that was packed with a bunch of sheets of cardboard. I’d already painted the background of the painting. So I decided I’d paint the cardboard in varying shades of grey and jigsaw a quarter together out of pieces of cardboard in different tones of grey.
  • The Journal: my other friend is going on a Bedouin adventure across Western America. She has no particular itinerary, she just knows it’s going to be across Western America. She’s going to work on some farm communes along the way. I’m trying to restrain the part of my brain that is saying, “Cult, cult, cult, cult” but it’s hard. I’m trying to set up a weekly Skype date for us, both so that we can keep in touch and so I can subtly check her for signs of brainwashing. I’m only somewhat exaggerating. Oh, the journal! So, I bought a really plain, hardback journal and a road atlas. I’ve scanned a bunch of the maps of the west coast, and I’m in the process of covering the journal with them. So she can write in her journal, and also mark the places she’s been on the cover.
  • Dustwallets: I have inherited a hatred of dustjackets from my dad. When you try to read a hardcover with a dustjacket on it, it gets all bendy and slips off and is just generally a giant nuisance. About a month ago, I was reorganizing my bookshelves and found a cache of dustjackets that I’d stripped off my books. I was going to recycle them, but that seemed wasteful. So I googled paper crafts. One of the things that came up was how to make a wallet out of paper. So I’ve been gradually working through a pile of dustjackets, making them into wallets. Some are more complicated than others – you want certain things to fit on the front and back, certain things to be in the pockets, etc., for the look of the thing, and sometimes the dimensions just don’t work and you have to figure something else out. It is both engaging and kind of mindless. I’ve just started sewing them rather than just taping them together. Fucked my fingers up really bad on the first one. I’d never done enough sewing before to appreciate thimbles. I appreciate them now. That’s an ongoing project. When I have time or I’m feeling the urge, I paw through my pile of dustjackets and make one. I don’t know what to do with them. I’ve give a few away to friends and family members (I’m really proud of how the one I did for California turned out). I’m not entirely sure that it’s better to turn them into wallets if I don’t do anything with the wallets, either…
California by Edan Lepucki

California by Edan Lepucki

  • My Mother Says: This is a play that I’ve been working on for years now, at the behest of a friend of mine. It’s about the internment of Japanese-Canadians during WWII. I’ve done a lot of research into it, but I have a lot of trouble connecting with it. I come at story from a place of character, and I’m struggling to get a grasp on the characters. I also don’t want it to be limited, thematically or in terms of the time it’s dealing with. Because the larger implications are of history repeating itself. The internment is not widely known of, and it’s not the first time the government of Canada has done something like this. If you ignore your mistakes, if you believe you’re above those who came before you, you blind yourself. Everyone likes to think they’re not capable of bowing before that kind of pressure, that kind of fear, but most people have never been put in that position. And you never truly know what you would do in a situation until you’ve faced that situation and acted.
  • Merde Creek Chronicle: Is a graphic novel. It’s an online graphic novel. It’s sort of the inverse of My Mother Says. I feel like I understand the characters and the setting, I have an idea of where everything is leading. I have the URL (and now so do you – there’s one post on there right now. It’s from 2012 and it’s about building an author platform. Holy fuck, it’s almost 2015.) I just don’t know how to execute it. I can draw, but the amount of time it would take me to draw something that I would be satisfied with far outweighs the amount of time that it would take me to write something that I’d be satisfied with. And I’ve always been particularly attracted to the idea of doing really rough sketches, just pencil sketches, the minimum required to get the point across, maybe with some concept/character art on another page that’s had a bit more energy put into it, and letting people fill in the blanks. Use there imagination. That would also let me play with the format a bit more, with the minutiae. Make it part comic, part script, part short story.
  • Kindred (working title): fantasy with some sci-fi, in the Arthur C. Clarke sense. I don’t want to get too into it (commitment issues and all that), but I can say that there’s a civil war, a desert, and genetic engineering/mutation. At present. I’m not entirely sure what’ll get slashed in the end. If I get to the end.

And there’s the rub, really. The juggling. Always the juggling. In some ways the job I’m doing is deeply satisfying, in large part because it is so different from my creative projects. But it does absorb a lot of the energy I’d like to dedicate to these projects. It’s not a matter of finding the time. It’s a matter of finding the energy, both physically and emotionally.

I’ve started doing cardio in the mornings, in part because it’s good for my heart and lungs and anxiety levels, but also because I’ve been told that it raises your energy levels. We’ll see, I guess.

Oh, and in case you missed it, the title of this post is referencing South Park when South Park referenced Silence of the Lambs.

Love,

B

Reading: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (why the fuck is everyone called Petrov(na) or Romanov(na)(vich)? What is Russia?)

Listening: Zaba by Glass Animals

Watching: The Cornetto Trilogy on repeat, because I don’t have the mental capacity for anything more complicated, and I like how they make fun of movie cliches without being dicks about making fun of movie cliches

I just want to be a girl assassin

Heya,

Been a while. How are you? I’m alright. Super busy. And sleepy. I’m not a morning person, something I may have expressed to you before, but I’ve been forced to be one for the better part of … holy shit, over a year. Oh my god. You’d think I’d have adapted by now, right?

Anyway, today it occurred to me to check into when the next Assassin’s Creed game is coming out and I saw, with some excitement, that there are two expected to be out in the fall. Then I was sad because neither of them are expected to give me the option of playing as a girl.

This is not something that I generally care that much about, but in this case the fact that they went to the trouble of including cooperative multi-player gameplay but didn’t offer the option for one of those avatars to be a girl bugs me.

I just want to kill people as a girl. Why can’t I kill people as a girl? I beat that new-ish Lara Croft game and the new Final Fantasy forever ago. I need my fix of carnage wrought by another imaginary woman.

Aside from everything else, I feel like they’re missing an opportunity by not offering a female playable character. It opens up an opportunity for different kinds of interactions, different fighting styles. I’m thinking Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers franchise. A lot of the protagonists of the Assassin’s Creed series have conformed to a certain body type, and some of them have essentially been tanks.

I also think the Assassin’s Creed people would do a solid job of not making a female avatar all improbable tits. Aveline didn’t have improbable tits. Which makes sense, because if she had, they would have been an impediment when running/jumping/fighting/etc.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got for you.

Any gamers here? Any girl gamers?

Love,

B

Ripped from the headlines

Heya,

Sorry for the posting fail the other day, I thought I’d have wi-fi on the train back, and I did but not anything consistent. And, to be honest, I completely forgot. I slept most of the trip back from Seattle, folded up in a weird little ball with my knees jammed up against the seat in front of me.

Train beats bus. It just does.

I just looked at the prompt for that day, and I probably wouldn’t have done much of anything with that. Did you use it?

This is just a little check-in post, I’ll tell you about my trip to Seattle tomorrow when I’m a bit more rested.

How was your weekend?

Love,
B

Between you and the world

Heya,

I’m in Seattle at the time of this post. When it posts, at least. I’m not there now. While I will probably take pictures, or at least someone will, my friend has a pretty packed schedule for us, and I can’t see myself breaking away from it to do this:

“Run outside. Take a picture of the first thing you see. Run inside. Take a picture of the second thing you see. Write about the connection between these two random objects, people, or scenes.”

I don’t really take many pictures. I have an Instagram, but … what was my last Instagram post? Oh, it was a picture of “The Roughrider” that I took nearly two weeks ago.

1 1/2 oz. Wiser's Whiskey 1 oz. pureed black raspberries 1/2 oz. Chambord 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice Ginger Beer

1 1/2 oz. Wiser’s Whiskey
1 oz. pureed black raspberries
1/2 oz. Chambord
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
Ginger Beer

There it is. It was delicious, by the way. I’ll put the recipe in the caption (note: Chambord is fucking expensive. I’ve been putting a shot of it into my gin & tonics lately, and that is also spectacular. It probably exists as a drink of it’s own).

Anyway, I don’t take many pictures. I think my Facebook page has two pictures that I took on it, the rest are friends’ photos that I’ve been tagged in. It’s just not something that occurs to me to do. When I’m genuinely enjoying myself, I don’t think to myself, “I’m having so much fun! I should take a picture of how much fun I’m having and show it to people!” It’s like Twitter–I only really use it for work or when I’m super bored. Or when the train is being sketchy and I want to keep track of it. I never believe people when they say things like, “Having a blast!” with a selfie of them somewhere. Because if I were really having fun, a selfie would be the last thing in my mind.

But I wonder if that’s just me. Or if that’s something that’s gradually changing. My younger cousins seem to document their lives on social media, in occasionally painstaking detail. “Pictures or it didn’t happen.”

Maybe it’s that I don’t really care if anyone knows that something happened or not. I know what happened, I was there. If I were to get a picture with someone in a band, what would I do with it? I saw the band. I have that memory in my head. If I met a member of the band, I would also have that memory.

Also, pictures steal your soul.

Also also, putting a camera between you and an experience seems almost like a self-defense mechanism, a way of removing yourself from the role of participant and setting yourself one step back. Of becoming a voyeur of your own life. Because when you’re taking a picture, you’re probably thinking not so much of yourself but of the person or people that you want to show the picture to. About what this picture will tell other people about you. About the persona you present. And what does that say about the experience that you’re having? One of my cousins is a dancer, and I’ve been to so many recitals where there was a wall of parents ahead of me, holding up their cameras or their phones and recording every second of the performance. And I always wonder, what are they going to do with that video? Force polite but disinterested friends and family members to watch it? Probably it’ll just live on their computer, until they get a new one and forget to transfer it. Or they’ll put it on a DVD, which will go on a shelf, and eventually be unplayable because of the forward march of technology, which leaves obsolescence in it’s wake.

I’ve taken this to a weird, bitter, pretentious, and probably quasi-dystopian place. That was likely not the intention of the prompt.

I might just leave this as my response to that prompt, actually. And I might stop telling you guys what the prompts are. I might have said that before…

Do you take a lot of pictures?

Love,

B

1984

Heya,

Have you ever read No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre? If you haven’t and you intend to, don’t read this post, because I’m going to spoil the plot. No Exit is a play with three characters in a room. It eventually transpires that they realize both that they have all died and that they can never leave the room. It’s famous line is, “Hell is other people.”

The prompt for today is: “You’re locked in a room with your greatest fear. Describe what’s in the room.”

I think my nightmare scenario would be to be locked in a room with two perfectly incompatible strangers, in perpetuity. No books, no television, nothing but those two other people.

It’s not that I’m socially awkward or anything like that, I just feel like even the two most interesting people in the world would inevitably, eventually, become boring to me. And boredom makes me anxious. And anxiety can make me panic. The lack of alternative external stimuli would be such that I don’t know that I could keep from becoming a lunatic. To constantly be watched, to have nowhere to really be alone to gather myself, to have to choose between an endless performance for others or the raw vulnerability of being completely myself in front of others…terrifying. And I don’t know that we are ever completely ourselves, but our ourselves in reference to others. Facets of our personality are illuminated in reference to others. Self-hood is not a stable construct but shifts relative to our relationships to others.

Or, at least, that’s how I feel about it. I think you reach a certain point in your life and you change less, become less adaptable, but that human interaction is akin to chemical reactions that goes well or poorly or just produces a null result. Whatever the case, I think an eternity with two perfectly incompatible people would produce reactions on both sides of the spectrum. Which, when balanced over that eternity, would ultimately balance to an infinity of zero. Which would eventually drive a person crazy. So maybe what I’m really afraid of is losing my mind, and I think that this scenario would inevitably lead me there.

Or a room filled with wasps. But I feel like I would either become envenomed and die, or else dethrone and take the place of their queen. Like Sarah Kerrigan in StarCraft. And then I would conquer the wasps, then the world, then the universe. Though that might also drive me insane…

Well, this was a fun prompt. Fun fun fun.

Love,

B

Definitely Not Teacher’s Pet

Heya,

I did not like my kindergarten teacher and she did not like me. She was one year away from retirement (the classic “cop who gets shot in an eighties movie” refrain), and not especially interested in dealing with the trouble I presented.

It’s not that I was really a troublemaker. It was that I went in knowing how to read and write (not a lot, but at least kindergarten level). I knew the alphabet. I could count to a hundred. Basically anything she would have to teach me.

Worse, I would finish my work before the other kids and then want to play. Which would have been disrupted, and therefore wasn’t allowed. But, wonder of wonders, a five year old forced to sit at a table with nothing to do is about as disruptive as a five year old playing while the other kids are working. Kindergarten was the only time I remember being sent to the corner.

I hated school. I hated my teacher. I pretended to be sick a lot in that year. In fact, if I hadn’t come in ahead of the game, I probably wouldn’t have “passed” kindergarten. I think, altogether, I missed just shy of a year of school.

My kindergarten teacher had a huge impact on my life. She taught me that learning could be done outside the classroom. She taught me patience, and how to bite my tongue. She taught me how to fake sick, which may be part of why I enjoy acting and telling stories. I learned how to entertain myself. It taught me not to blindly accept authority.

I was probably a bit of a shit, I don’t know. No other teacher or caretaker ever seemed to have the trouble this woman had with me. It’s definitely contributed to me being a bit combative in classroom debates. A little punchy. But never, I hope, a dick.

She taught me that while I had to go to school, if I really wanted to learn I couldn’t make it my sole source of education.

Probably not the things parent wants their kid to learn when they go off to kindergarten for the first time, but it is what it is.

Do you have any teachers who, for better or worse, have greatly influenced you?

Love,
B

Fate and fatality

Heya,

Are you a fatalist? I’m not sure if I am.

I read an article a few days ago; I can’t remember what the actual topic was, but the part that stuck with me was a bit talking about fate. The author made the argument that being fatalistic was dangerous because if you accepted that something was going to happen anyway, even if it was a bad or unpleasant thing, you would let it happen and in some instances even help it happen.

I don’t have much else to say right now. The skytrain was down for much of the day, and navigating crowds of seating, angry people in an enclosed space has left me pretty exhausted at this point. Maybe I’ll talk to you more about this at a later date.

Love,

B

Exhausting days

Heya,

There are people fighting in a street somewhere near my friend’s apartment (where I’m staying this weekend while I’m manning a booth for work at a festival). It’s fascinating. I’m only hearing parts of it, but some guy is very angry with some girl and there’s a cat involved somehow. It’s probably much less interesting in full than it is in pieces. It’s like Mad Libs–filling in the blanks is what makes it fun.

Today was an exhausting day. The last two days have been exhausting days. I got up at 6am on Friday. Maybe I told you this already. I have no idea, and it’s already late and I’m not going to check my last post for repetitions. I got up at 5am today, actually, and had an early morning panic attack because for some reason my friend’s clock is twelve hours off, so it was telling me that it was 5pm. I legit thought that I had slept all day. I woke up, saw the clock and went, “Shit, what time is it?!” And my friend half-woke up and looked at the clock and was briefly equally confused. Then she woke up enough to remember the vagaries of her own clock, and said, “It’s 5am, not pm.”

I dozed off and on for the next couple hours. This morning I spent a good chunk of time trying to figure out how to get my work done while in an area without wifi. Other volunteers were late. And I was just generally very anxious all day. There are too many people at the event I’m at. Too many conflicting noises. I don’t know why I’m being coy about the event that I’m working, I’m sure you don’t care and that, besides, that it would be easy enough to sort out if anyone felt like trying. I’m working a table at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. My friend who lives in the city is helping me out and I’m staying at hers because I don’t live in the city, I live in the shifty suburbs.

People were late. I hate lateness. I get super stressed out when I am even five minutes late. I would rather not show up than show up ten minutes late. Lateness shows a disrespect for the other person’s time. During my undergrad, there was a girl who was chronically late, whose parents were professors at the university. None of the other professors ever called her on being late. And it pissed me off so much. How can you always be late? I mean, I understand once or twice, but she always came in to class at least fifteen minutes late. Drove me insane. Drove a lot of us insane.

Anyway, going back a bit, we were working at a booth at Folk Fest. I was a quasi-organizer. I was not told that we needed to bring our own tent/pavilion/thing and it was set to rain today. My friend had a tarp, and awesome Boy Scouts tarp skills, which were put to good use. At some point some other volunteers took over and I, suffering from sensory overload, left with my friend to get dinner in a place with fewer people and conflicting sounds. We went to a Greek restaurant. When we came back to help the other volunteers pack up, we sorted shit out and they left. And I realized, after they were gone that my cell phone was nowhere to be found.

Earlier that day I had watched another person’s booth while they tried to find their keys. I felt what they probably felt looking for those keys. Like the bottom had dropped out of my stomach. Angry and freaked out and tense all at once. I’ve come to the conclusion that I would rather lose my wallet than my phone. I can cancel my credit cards, I can get new ID, all for less than it costs to get a new phone. It turned out that one of the volunteers had picked it up at some point and put it in her bag so that it wouldn’t be out on the table where anyone might grab it, and had forgotten to give it back to me. I got it, we left the festival, all good.

Except that I am so damn tired, and I still have shit to do. Among them this blog post, which I know I’m not going to have time to write during the daylight hours tomorrow. So … hi.

Do you find people exhausting? I do. I feel really bad for my friend, because with the phone fiasco and my general too-many-people anxiety, I think she spent most of the day trying to keep me calm. Which, I know from experience, is an exhausting job to undertake.

Love,

B

On alarms and obsession

Heya,

“Take the first sentence from your favourite book and make it the first sentence of your post.”

I don’t really have a favourite book. The book I’m reading right now is California by Edan Lepucki. I don’t remember what the first sentence of that book is. My favourite first sentence of a book is, “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger follower.” There’s just so much there. A weight to the way the words follow one another. A foreshadowing that is too light to even be termed such. A shading of words in a desolate space.

But The Gunslinger by Stephen King is also not my favourite book. It’s up there, but it’s not my favourite. Especially given the progression of the series.

But that’s verging into spoiler-ific territory, so I won’t continue. Except to say that The Dark Tower series is among Stephen King’s best work, cumulatively, and that you should read it if you haven’t.

All my favourite books are sci-fi fantasy, and I don’t have any of them with me right now.

I’m currently in my best friend’s apartment. I have been awake for … eighteen hours. Which is far from the longest I’ve been awake, but probably longer than I should be awake. It has been a stressful day. I am an organizer for a music festival event thing, and … well, if you’ve ever been involved in anything like that, you understand, and if you haven’t, I probably can’t explain it. Certainly not when I’m as tired as I am right now.

My friend has fallen asleep, but I have other work to chip away at before I can crash. I’m also waiting for another friend to text me so that I can let her up into the apartment. Which, who knows when that will be.

Tomorrow should be better. More helpers, less hassle. Everyone a little more settled in, including me.

I said that I don’t have a favourite book at the start of this post, and that’s true. I don’t have a favourite book. Like so many things that I like, I reach a point with most books where I enjoy them but don’t feel that fervent devotion to them that I feel characterizes a favourite. For a span of time my favourite movie was Memento. Now, whenever anyone asks, I either say that it’s Princess Bride or The Nightmare Before Christmas. There are certainly other movies that I’m enamored off, that I find more stimulating, but those two movies have been such a lovely part of my life for such a length of time that, even if I’m not in love with them in a kind of wanna-fuck-you way that I think characterizes infatuation and adoration even in the mental sphere, they add up to being my favourite.

I don’t have that with music. I went through a massive Doors phase when I was about thirteen (I know, weird time to go through your Doors phase, right?), but now the only song by them I can listen to in it’s entirety is “The Crystal Ship.”

I regularly become obsessed with things. Right now, I’m vaguely obsessed with Chambord. Particularly the Gin and Tonic and Chambord that I discovered the other day and am drinking right this moment. While exhausted and waiting for the text that will let me sleep.

I say discovered. It’s the simplest thing. Get a tumbler. Put some ice in it. Add an ounce of gin (Bombay Sapphire), an ounce of Chambord (I don’t know if there are varieties of Chambord or if some family in France holds the patent), and the fill with tonic (Schweppes. Any other tonic is just sugar and nonsense). Add a lime if you have one (I didn’t). Drink. Feel at one with the universe. Finish you drink and feel really fucking tired. Repeat.

Or something like that. Kind of obsessed with Chambord right now. And peacocks, though that’s super recent. And with making my friend watch Orphan Black.

Speaking of my friend, she set an alarm for herself because she was going to take a “power nap” and then go out while I did some work, and her alarm has been going off for about five minutes now. “A Kiss with a Fist” by Florence and the Machine. For the last two and a half minutes, I’ve been going through all of the alarms available on my phone and playing them at high volume next to her ear. She has not woken up to any of them, not even the classic iPhone “Alarm” alarm that sounds like the nuclear plant is melting down. I didn’t think anyone could sleep through the nuclear plant melting down.

So that wasn’t a response to the prompt, really. But it kind of was. A little, tiny bit.

Love,

B

P.S. She just turned her alarm off.

P.P.S. Her alarm went off again, and she turned it off again.