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

Advertisements

Gonna make a record in the month of May

Heya,

I’m not, I’ve just been listening to a lot of Arcade Fire. Do you listen to Arcade Fire? They’re awesome, you should listen to them.

So…been a while. Sorry about that. I have good, valid reasons, which are different than excuses because they count. Except they also kind of don’t.

I have three jobs right now. And all of them know about one another, which is nice. I remember being concerned at one point that it would be a kind of “cheating on my job with my other job(s)” sort of thing, but nope, totally cool. It helps that I’m not full-time at any of them. Though with three, I think I may nudge into overtime hours most weeks. One is a publisher, one is a newspaper, and one is a media company. And I’ve signed NDAs with all of them (I think), so that’s as specific as I’m going to get. I’m sure you could figure it out if you wanted to, but why would you want to?

Anyway, in trying to sort out my “work-life balance” (terrible phrase, let’s all remember to think of a better one), the life side of things definitely took a bit of a hit for a while there. Or, at least, this blog took a bit of a hit for a while there. It’s been near the top of my to-do list pretty consistently, but is continually pushed down by more time-sensitive things. Today, I had a brief window of time that was free of pressing responsibilities and was feeling what a friend refers to as “Phantom Homework Syndrome” as a result. PHS is when you feel like you’re forgetting to do something important, and you feel both guilty and panicked. You can’t do other things, because you’re sure that you’re forgetting something. Something is due, you just know it is. It is a common neurosis among students and … well, neurotics. Of which I am certainly one and possibly both. A handy trick to remember it is the acronym is also the sound people make when you tell them you have Phantom Homework Syndrome. “Pffs.”

I decided (and believe me, it was a decision) that the important thing that I was forgetting to do was write a blog post. Which is both true and bullshit, as are so many things in life.

I’m going to write a different blog post now, I just felt that my failing to write a single post in over a month should be acknowledged before I launched into a diatribe about cyclists not wearing helmets and the phrase “work-life balance” (oh, yeah, you thought that was just a throwaway comment? Nope.)

Love,

B

Stop trying to do everything so fast

Heya,

I think it’s occurred to many of us that all of the things in our life that are intended to make things easier do anything but. Or, they make aspects of life easier but introduce their own problems. A friend of mine was saying that the problem with technology is that we get attached to this idea that new technologies can and will solve all of our problems. And while it’s true that they might solve specific problems, they also bring their own sets of problems.

I’m going to talk more about work here than science, but I do want to note that there are many examples of things being quickly created and rapidly adopted, only to be found to be vastly harmful. Like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which devour ozone and were for a long time the go-to compound used in refrigerators, aerosol cans, air conditioners. These have been phased out of current production, but efforts at regulating existing CFC levels have been largely … well, there hasn’t been much effort to regulate existing CFC levels.

Anyway…

I know, from watching old TV shows, that there was a time when it was considered rude to contact someone around dinnertime. Obviously a relic of a time when you were only really calling people in your time zone, or an immediately adjacent one. Now, time is compressed. People can and will call you, text you, email you, anytime of day and expect a response, as immediately as you can send one. Which is why I turned off “Send Read Notification” on my phone. So I don’t feel pressure to respond to something on someone else’s time. So that I can unplug, or at least pretend to myself that I have.

It’s interesting that, where before work-life boundaries were at least in part supported by society, now it’s something you have to work out for yourself. You see articles about “work-life balance.” I’m interested in working in marketing and publicity, and I fully expect there to be a sharp learning curve. I expect to have issues setting boundaries, especially when I’m starting out, because I know myself well enough to know that, in my desire to please people, I might be more accepting of work-creep. I’ll answer emails at two in the morning and step away from dinner to answer phone calls. Because that’s life, right? Especially in certain businesses. You’re never off the clock, even if you’re not at “the office.” If you’re ever at the office, maybe you don’t have an office. You’re always on call. There will always be someone who is pissed off if you don’t respond immediately to some bullshit that you could just as easily have sorted out in the morning, when you were well-rested and on your game. And maybe if you’d waited until the morning, you wouldn’t have called them an asshole over the phone, but you’ll never know now, will you?

Wow, sorry for that tangent.

More on compressed time, and time in general.

We’re constantly trying to squeeze more of everything into less time. Usually work gets privileged over other things. It’s not always that we’re expected to spend a lot of time at work (though 9-5 jobs usually still want you to be in the office for those eight hours, they just want you working outside of them, too. And not charging for it), but that work is expected to consume a lot of our time. Which is to be expected, I suppose. But I wonder what we’re giving up for it. I get up at about 6am most days, usually skip breakfast or just drink one of those meal replacements, and end up eating at noon. Or I run out when I get hungry enough and grab something reasonably inexpensive that won’t make too much noise when I eat it at the back of the class. The first actual meal (with all the food groups in it and actual sitting-down-to-eat-ness) I have in the course of a day is dinner. I’m not complaining about this, I actually don’t think about it much, but it is what it is. To have three square meals a day would take more time and energy than I’m willing to give. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

For reasons of time compression, I kind of love the train. I’m on the train for about two hours a day. It’s when I read. My mobility is (ironically) limited, it’s not a social situation where I’m expected to engage with the people around me, so it’s the perfect time for me to engage with time-consuming, valuable things that I have trouble dedicating time to when the world keeps knocking on my door. Reception is spotty in places, so I don’t always get my text messages or emails until I’m at my car. And I don’t text and drive, because it pisses me off to no end when I see other people do it, so there’s another half hour or so of relative freedom.

On a related note, I also have the Freedom app. And I wonder if things like that are the way of the future. If we’re gradually realizing that having things more quickly doesn’t necessarily make us more effective or productive people, and we’re going to see more and more applications that are slow or provide impediments to connectivity by their very design.

Anyway, the point of this whole ramble is that I think we have to stop trying to do everything so fast. That if we spend more time and energy on things, we’ll be prouder of what we produce. I’m happy to wait for something worth waiting for.

Love,

B