Saturday, 13 December 2014

The fog that lifts, and then descends

The first time I got depressed, I was twenty-three. It was 2005, almost summer. I was in my second-to-last year of university and working full time. I was also taking seven classes--writing, workshops, philosophy, Latin. In retrospect (and if I'm honest even then, a little) this was not a good idea. There's only so much space in the day, so much you can do, and I was experiencing for the first time the reality that one cannot do everything all of the time, not always, not for long. I cried in the shower. I cried in my kitchen. I cried on the bus.

I had just recently broken my heart over somebody, and I thought that's what it was. When my mother suggested, ever so gently, that maybe I should go to a counselor, maybe just to talk somebody, maybe you're just suffering from a little bit of depression, I thought she was well-intentioned, but wrong.

It's okay, I told myself. It's okay, it will be okay, it will all be fine. You just have to work harder. You just have to smile more. This too shall pass, etc.

I did end up going to a counselor at the school. One of the first things she asked me was how much work I was doing. I told her about the seven classes. And then I told her about the job.

"Have you ever thought," she said, "that the crying might be your body's way of telling you how tired you are?"

I still remember the look on her face when she saw it sink in.

"Well," I said. "Well, no."

I had a few sessions with her. I slept a lot. I cut back on my course load as soon as I had the chance to do so. And it passed, eventually.

The second time I got depressed, I was twenty-nine.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Stories and other things out there in the world

Irony of ironies, especially coming so soon after my most recent post, but just thought I'd note here that a few more of my stories and essays are kicking around the world as of today.

  • My short story, "Dog Days", has been published in the November issue of Found Press. You can read it here, though it will cost you a not-very-dear $1.99 to do so. Or, better yet, pay $12.99 and get access to an entire year's worth of stories! (Hint: I think the story is worth $1.99. And $12.99 for a year's worth of stories is a STEAL. But maybe I am biased.)
  • And finally, a personal essay of mine, "The Places In Between", was published today at The Butter. The essay was hand-picked by none other than Roxane Gay herself (all hail the Internet Queen! All hail!), and I am particularly, splendidly thrilled that she saw fit to give it a home. 
I also have a short story, "Graduation", forthcoming in the next issue of PRISM International, out early next year. 

And...more things in the pipe, as always. Because of course, what is writing for if not a few moments of joy in and around all of the existential drama? :)

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Thoughts on a quiet Saturday

Today was the first day in a long stretch of days that I had all to myself. No work, no lessons, no errands, no visits anywhere. It was heavenly. And tomorrow promises much of the same, for which I am grateful.

I have been thinking, over these past few weeks, about not writing anymore. By which I don't mean that I want to give it up, or that I will ever give it up, really--it's too ingrained now, too much of a habit, too something-I-can't-find-the-word--but only that it seems that much easier now to say goodbye to things, to the idea of writing. To content myself with a job that pays more than anything my degrees have given me, with the ability to pay my bills and buy food that I like and purchase things just for the hell of it. To play music into the afternoon hours and turn my mind off after work.

I bought good winter boots last week. I paid the same amount of money for them that I paid for two months' worth of groceries back when I was living in Scotland. When I was happy and miserable all at once. And I didn't really flinch at this at all--this fact of so much money disappearing for something I could carry out of the store in a bag. I need good winter boots, I told myself. I don't want to be cold from the toes up this year. And as luck would have it, the day after I bought them the cold came in earnest. I walked to work in those expensive winter boots and I was happy, or content, or something. How cosy my feet were. How snuggled. How warm.

I feel the same way about the bookshelves that I bought from IKEA two weeks ago. Two bookshelves and two frames, another purchase that I wouldn't have entertained at all five years ago. Why spend money on something like that when you could go on Kijiji and maybe get something for free? 

But they match. They've brought an entirely different air to my house. And suddenly I find myself thinking: I need new shoe racks, and maybe more picture frames, and maybe it's time to trade my old Kijiji bookshelves in for something else that also matches, and maybe I'd like a new couch, too. And the thing is--maybe I don't want to sit in front of my desk now for hours on end. Maybe I just want my life to expand.

And still, the day comes when there's no need to go outside and I don't. I sit inside and stare at my computer screen for hours and push out five hundred words, maybe a little more. I think: I hate this book. I think: I love this book. I think: I want my life to be more than this book. 

And somehow more suddenly means nothing to do with this book, or any book of mine at all.

I am reading Alison Pick's Between Gods right now and even though it's about Judaism it's reminding me of what it felt like to grow up in church--the same hushed sounds, the idea that so many things could be holy. I miss that, I think, which is part of the problem. The holiness of good winter boots doesn't feel quite the same. They feel like lesser joys.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Full-time Life

How do people--writers, specifically--have full-time jobs and children and somewhat active social lives and still manage to get any writing done? I know it's all about Time Management, that most prized of skills, but at this point it feels less like a skill and more like magic. Like, something that I'd need to wrangle a witch or a shaman into procuring for me. Please give me some Time and some Energy so that I may continue to work on this godforsaken book. Much abracadabra required, sorry. 

Friday, 31 October 2014

Sometimes I am afraid of disappearing.

It has been a long week, and I am really tired. I shouldn't be tired because all I've done is go to work and come home, but there it is. Tired in body and also tired in soul, a little bit sad, a little disappointed. More than a little.

Everything that I could say about what's transpired in Canadian media this week has been said already, by people much more in the know (and much more eloquent) than myself. Go here and here and here for some excellent examples.

What's left to say? I am sad for these women. I am sad for a society that's so quick to believe the voice that sounds like chocolate. I am ashamed of myself for thinking it too, at least at first, at least a little, even if that little voice deep down inside of me also knew otherwise: maybe it's a misunderstanding. He seems so nice. Maybe a little smarmy, sure, but that doesn't automatically mean he hurts people, does it?

Well, perhaps, yes it does.

Mostly I am just tired, though, and it's almost winter, and I have revisions to do and now there is shift work all of the time (and money, thank God, thank God) and I'm just...sad, so I'm rambling. I can't believe that we live in a world where these are still the questions people are asking, where people still believe those with power over those with less.

I went to BC for two weeks in October, though, which was nice. 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Sing me a song of a lass that is gone

I had such good plans this month.

Such good, smart, rigorous blogging plans. I was going to blog about Mad Men! I was going to talk about Emma Watson and HeForShe and Roxane Gay and all of these other Important Things, besides.

I was going to finish that draft first, of course. And then I was going to blog.

Instead, I have mostly been watching Outlander. 

I did also manage to finish a draft, though, so there is that.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

On Bad Feminists, and Mad, Mad Men

So I read BAD FEMINIST a few weeks ago. As expected, I loved it cover to cover. The grace, the wit, the humour, the love. It's all in there. In spades.

I have, for quite some time now, been struggling with the feeling of not really having things of note to say, and also not sure whether I have any platform -- or deserve any platform -- on which to say whatever things do happen to come into my mind. Which is all a bit rich, I'm sure, in a blog post. What I mean is: I've been so lucky. My whole life. I've had a few struggles, sure, but by and large I've had it pretty easy. I've had many opportunities. I have taken advantage of them all. I studied hard and glorious things came about as a result of that. I've also been lonely--most of my life, if I am honest, in one way or another--and I've been poor, but really none of these things have lasted for very long. Even the loneliness, when it comes, has a temporary end to it.

But over the past few months I feel like the news has shown me so many ways in which this is not true for other people. The struggles are real, folks, and for so many others they are so much worse. And so I think: why talk? Why natter on about being worried about my writing (don't you have the opportunity to write at all?), why worry about this job that suits my life well but doesn't thrill me (don't you have a job in the first place?), why worry about feeling stuck and sad here, even in the midst of knowing how beautiful it can be, how much your life has given you, how much you still have yet to do? Why worry about any of this, really, when the fact of the matter is that you're already privileged in a hundred ways that make your struggles that much easier than those of other people?

I try hard to remember that everyone, no matter where and who and what and when, struggles in some way. You don't know what other people face. You don't know what demons they carry. So what if someone is privileged? Aren't privileged people--or people that we assume are privileged--allowed to be depressed, to be sad, to worry? Didn't I write a blog post more or less to this effect a few years ago, in defense of Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed and the inevitable comparisons that come up between the two?

Still I worry. Still I feel paralyzed, afraid, sure that my words don't really matter. There are so many other people, I tell myself, who do this better. Women who know more about what it means to truly fight for equality in all walks of life. Women who have fought more than I have. Women who have had it harder than myself. People who know the world so much better than I do. They should talk. They should be given space.

I read the book, though. This wonderful book. And now I'm feeling a little better.