The Backson Post

Gon Out. Backson. Bisy Backson.

I have happily spent the past long weekend doing social things with lots of different friends. I have managed to connect with people for many hours at a time every day since Friday. As such, I’m feeling pretty good but have consequently had little time to compose any new posts. And despite having ideas, the drive has been muted somehow due to full on exhaustion. You see, I’ve been spending time writing and researching when I should be sleeping. I’ve been doing this for months now because it’s the only time I’ve really had available to me without the three-ring circus soundtrack of my beautiful boys bickering, brawling, and begging for this or that. So it appears I’ve hit a bit of a wall with the sleep debt, which means that posts here will be a little less frequent than the every 3-4 days I was managing for awhile. I will be back when I’m able to make some writing time for myself.

In the meantime, I’ve been listening to Caroline Myss’s Energy Anatomy cd series and have been reading her Anatomy of the Spirit. Completely right up my alley. Will be finishing up my level one reiki certification this weekend with the fantastic Paul Lara at QiBelly. I’m totally digging this energy thing. It’s like we’re made of it or something. 😉

Time for sleep.

The Beauty in Aging: Love

I’m a sexually liberated woman, finally – at age 80

This is an absolutely beautiful piece of writing from Laurie Lewis. She talks about an expanded definition of sexual liberation in the most poetic prose. An expanded definition of love.

What I really liked is that I dared look at the comments and they were all positive! The one I most enjoyed was this exchange between a commenter and the author herself, the contents of which lends a greater understanding to the article itself.

When I looked on Laurie Lewis’s website, I came across the loveliest poem. My brain already does that with words and I’m less than half her age. I wonder if that’s normal…. Maybe it’s because my children are still young. Maybe I’ll discover a heretofore unknown intellectual cohesion once they’ve grown a bit, only to revert to this level once I’m Lewis’ age. A bell curve of accessibility. A life lived on a sine wave.

Notes from the train

On May 8th, I took a train to Windsor, on my way to the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, MI. This part of the trip was 4 hours long, so I managed to write a little between reading and prepping for Congress. What follows is what I wrote while riding.

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I’m on a train!

My, this seat is terribly uncomfortable.

A few minutes later, I find myself wishing for seat belts. I like the secure feeling they give me, wrapped around my middle like a life-saving hug.

I am in 9C. 9D is a woman attentively working on her tablet, sorting email, shoe shopping. People are chattering as they settle into their seats and she’s looking around periodically, intently searching. I ask if she’s looking for someone and she says no, she doesn’t understand why people have to have conversations loud enough so that everybody else can hear them. She finds it terribly rude. Ooookay, I reply. I hadn’t even noticed the woman on the other side of the aisle a few rows back having a phone conversation. I will be quiet as a mouse next to Type A seat companion.

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I have pulled out a work of fiction, perfect for the 4-hour trip. Helen Marshall’s Hair Side, Flesh Side. A collection of stories with threads of the middle ages woven through.

I typically don’t read fiction, but this spoke to me for several reasons. I discovered her book at a table at the Bazaar of the Bizarre. Two tables covered in books. A man by the name of Peter Chiykowski had a comic book he’d drawn and self-published displayed for sale. Flipping through the pages, I was moved to laughter by his sweetly cynical wit and his artistry.

We began a conversation and I don’t remember how it came up but he mentioned the middle ages. I perked up. No, that’s inaccurate. What actually happened is that every ounce of my attention suddenly shifted to him, like thirsty plant cells opening up to receive life-sustaining rain. Even in a town as middle-ages-rich as Toronto, I remain starved. Granted, that has more to do with my own life than it does with the shortcomings of this fine city. I asked if he had gone to U of T. He graduated from Dalhousie and is doing writing and publishing now. I was in the MA program at CMS at University of Toronto. When I said that, he said I should check out Helen Marshall’s book. She’s in the PhD program at CMS and this is her first book of short stories. She focuses a lot on manuscripts –> hair side, flesh side.

He said all the right words. CMS, manuscript, newly published writer. I have a train ride in the near future to get me to the International Congress on Medieval Studies, I think to myself. There and back. This would make an excellent way to pass the time and beg off on all the other stuff I “should” be doing.

I hand over $20 and bring home the book.

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On finishing the first story, I feel like I got the wind knocked out of me. It’s as touching as it is horrific. The second story leaves me amused and intrigued. With both endings, I am left wanting to know more about each of the characters, more about the world they live in. It is all very compelling for me. I’ll pick this thread up later.

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Coming into London, there is a man who has started to seize. An announcement comes on asking if there is a nurse or a doctor on the train who could come to this car. There is a doctor. He ascertains that the man is likely diabetic and is seizing from a lack of medication or sugar or both. He wants to test the man’s blood sugar and give him some sort of medication. The man, dopey from sugar-starved brain, refuses. On stopping at the London train station, EMTs arrive. They don’t really find him any more cooperative, but he’s able to be led off the train. Thankfully, this is where he wanted to get off anyway. We are all grateful it wasn’t any worse.

_____

A little while outside Windsor, a man behind me sees me working on my macbook and asks if I have a charge cord for an iPhone. I don’t. Suddenly, 9D perks up and offers him the use of hers. She IS human. That’s heartening.

Pulling into Windsor, on time, despite the delay in London, the first leg of the trip is done. Now for a car ride to Kalamazoo.

NaPoWriMo Success!

I did it! I managed to write and post 30 poems in 30 days. That posting part is important because I’ve always been so covetous of my work. Even now, I think, “but but but some of those poems had the potential to be really good!” And maybe I’ll rework some of them and find somewhere appropriate to submit them.

Do I feel accomplished? Most definitely. I have a few friends who are pretty into NaNoWriMo and I’m just so not a fiction writer. I’m really not. The demands of character development and story arcs, story cohesion and tying up loose ends over pages and pages of text… it’s enough to make me wet myself in terror like a neurotic yorkie. I work best in snapshots and symbolic language. I don’t like needing to make complete sentences and I enjoy the ambiguity of phrases maybe possibly running into each other and blending or maybe not.

I received the loveliest compliment on my writing yesterday. A wonderful friend wrote to me and said, “You have a talent for capturing complicated spaces in such a tiny, concise handful of words.” Seriously the best thing anyone has yet said to me about my writing ability. Makes me feel so good!

And I’d like to take a moment to thank Alexis Yael for inspiring me to actually go through with this. She’s been an online friend for close to 10 years and she has always been super supportive of any writing endeavours of mine. This April, she offered a NaPo-oriented e-course called Poeming Into the Now and, while I didn’t sign up for it, she added me to the facebook group and I’d peek in every once in a while to see what others had written so that I could get inspired. I think the one poem that came as a direct result of one of her prompts was the pantoum, Immersion. I’d wanted to write a pantoum ever since I first saw that my friend, Jackie, had posted one some months ago, before I’d even gotten back into the writing thing. She’s another wonderful writer who has really been integral to my getting where I am now: I have a website! I have a real, honest-to-goodness chapbook! I am enjoying a successful completion of my first NaPoWriMo!

So thank you to both Alexis and Jackie. I am so grateful for your support and the talent you have shared with the world.

And thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read what I’ve created here in this nuanced little corner of the web. Muchas gracias! Moltes gràcies! Grandmercé! Merci beaucoup!

Now to write and write and write. It feels good. Happy Beltaine! Happy May Day!

Several reasons why I love Caitlin Moran

She wants people to be on a mission, believes that “the world needs constant finessing”, muses whether communism was ever given a fair chance, lays out what socialism and feminism actually are and does it all while being on the humorous side of Real.

Moran’s new book will cover not only personal experience of self-harm and nervous breakdowns, but bulimia and ‘fucking around’; terrible things that she wants to remedy with laughter that removes the fear. She’s imagining The Bell Jar written by Adrian Mole. Instead of spearheading the campaign though, Moran prefers to think she’s just clearing a space for people to speak without a fear of being bullied, or hurt, or feeling like a freak. Moran believes it’s important not to let yourself be defined by other peoples’ standards.

The Interview: Caitlin Moran: “And that’s why I’m running for Prime Minister”

She’s a woman after my own heart. Except for the cigarettes. And Obama. He’s hot, all right, just not hot enough for me to want to actually shag him. Michelle, otoh… I could go there, given the right circumstances.

But seriously, Moran wants to talk about all the shitty things we experience as human beings and wants to do so fearlessly and without inciting more fear. This is huge for me. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the heart killer. Fear is the body killer. And yet, fear can also motivate much-needed change. It’s a state of mind that I find deeply intriguing.

And to see someone working through that is something I find vastly admirable. ‘It’s important not to let yourself be defined by other peoples’ standards.’ Yes. This. Because when we let this happen, when we let ourselves be defined by other peoples’ standards, we’re buying into fear-based thinking. We’re shutting ourselves down, shutting down who we actually are, who we have the ability to evolve into, in favour of holding on to the unrealistic notion that if we are who others want us to be, we’ll be safe. We won’t ever be rejected. We will always be loved. And if your friend came to you with this attitude and laid it out for you that this was how she lived her life, you’d want to smack some sense into her, but we all succumb to this romantic notion of “toe the line, fall in with the status quo, and you are guaranteed to live happily ever after”. And it’s bullshit.

Whistleblowers. I love’m. Moran’s a whistleblower on our cultural perceptions and I love her for that.

Honesty in rawness: an unrefined and self-conscious NaPoWriMo

Here I am, half-way through my first National Poetry Writing Month.

I’m rereading a few of the poems I’ve published so far this month, and I’m feeling such agony about wanting to go back and fix all the glaring errors, fix the flow, fix the lack of cohesion in some of the pieces.

I’ve purposefully spent less than a day on each poem I’ve posted during this whole NaPoWriMo experience. There is a terrifying freedom in this: it means the poem doesn’t have to be good. But it also means that it probably won’t be all that good, either — especially the longer pieces.

I find myself wanting to post a note at the end of some pieces, excusing the poor quality, the ambling nature, the inconsistencies. I keep wanting to shout to everyone: I’m Not This Bad! Honest!

I think the reason why I gave myself the particular stipulations of not spending more than a day, and only writing new pieces was that I’m a recovering perfectionist. I self-censor a lot of what I’ve written, believing, mistakenly or not, that it wasn’t worth the pixels it was digitized into. I’m working to bypass that inner censor in a pretty public way, not that I have much of a readership yet! But this is a site that anyone with an internet connection can access, so, unlike my past experiences with the interwebs, this is seriously public for me.

I figure, if I can give myself permission to publicly not be 100% all the time, but to also publicly continue to strive for perfect enough, more writers might say, oh, hey, I can do better than that! and then they actually put pen to paper/fingertips to keyboard and do better. That would be awesome.

Does not being perfect make me a bad person? No! It really doesn’t. I’m human and I make plenty of mistakes. Does it make me a bad writer? No. It really doesn’t. It makes me a human writer striving for a particular goal. Does it speak poorly of me in cultivating a good readership? Well, it runs counter to all good and sound advice about making the effort to put really good work on the blog… but as I’m doing this purposefully, I think there’s a difference there.

Regardless, I’m feeling a little self-conscious still about this project, even while feeling pretty damned proud for putting so much of myself into this. Not too shabby, I’d say.

The BS We Believe About Love

why most dating advice tends to suck ( + an interesting definition of ‘soulmate’)
by Justine Musk

holy… this is exactly exactly where I’m coming from. This this this this this. Her insight is spot-on and very useful for me for a project I’m working on. So flippin’ awesome that we’re slowly moving in this direction. Have a look at what I’m talking about. I’m super excited that she’s — that someone — is writing about this. It’s time. It’s is so very much time for this shift in perspective.

edit: It looks like Justine and I aren’t the only ones writing about this shift in perspective. I ended up writing more about this in another blog post about redefining love.