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dispatches from the wobbly.

March 18, 2012

i’ve been terribly remiss, and i’m sorry. i just emerged from thesis-land (‘it has its own geography?’ a friend of mine asks, laughing) and it’s funny because from february 1 to march 7 i don’t remember much because i was writing – a lot. the breadth of my thesis didn’t quite double, but almost did. so there’s more words to worry about – whether they’re right, whether they’re offensive. i find that i have to have tunnel vision when i do write this story because there are so many real life people who might get offended by what i’m writing. people who have a connection to the story. i found myself worrying too much about how different people would get offended by it, so finally i just had to say NO NO NO! and shove it all to one side of my brain. luckily, that’s sent off, so while graduation is still up in the air, at least i have a brain-break from that for a little while.

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i always find myself wanting to share photos of my sweetface with you, but i’m far too paranoid, even though i have a notoriously loose mouth about my thesis topic (which has gotten me lots of information, which is great) but that’s the back of a polaroid from 1984, so that should be enough for now.

now that my thesis has gone for the moment, i find myself feeling really sad, which is ridiculous. i’m not done the story, and i can return to those silly characters anytime i like, but all of a sudden i feel a little empty, like i need something to fill my life. last night i dreamt that i was in love, so maybe that’s foreshadowing, or maybe it’s just the empty maw of my heart cracking its jaw and raising complaints. something feels a little funny right now, and i can’t figure it out, so to fill the empty, i’ve been practicing writing query letters and honing my pitches and starting to tap the american and overseas markets. in good (but not yet official) news, i’ve been chosen to participate in a poetry mentorship with arc magazine’s poet-in-residence rob winger, which is very cool and very exciting! and unexpected! and a magazine is offering to publish one of my kesagami memoir pieces (about boat pull) in their summer issue, which is extra radical because i’ve never written or submitted non fiction prior to this, so i feel really thrilled. (aka ‘yahooligans!’ as i would say). don’t worry, i’ll have a defiant, self-sunny moment of ego when those are confirmed, and i will let you all know, but for now i’m quietly thrilling in the success of march this far, and wondering if success in one field of my life means that another is made negative by my tunnel vision.

but i also feel really slow. i can’t decide right now if a job in the industry (The Industry, in capitals perhaps? meaning the publishing/words/wordy/book/writing/magazine industry) is a good idea. well, that’s not the only thing holding me back, is it? because there are no jobs in that industry right now. nothing that i’m qualified for. you can only really get a job with one of the major canadian magazines if you have a foot in the door, and you can only get a foot in the door if you’ve had a job with one of the major canadian magazines. it’s a little ouroboros, isn’t it? something chasing its own tail. i don’t know what’s a good idea right now. i don’t know what my path is right now. all i want is to look forward to my job, my career, whatever it is that i wake up to every day. is that naive? the generation of my father – they think so. gen ys are under so much scrutiny in the press right now, this righteous and narcissistic generation, and here i am trying to be a writer (or am i a writer? maybe that’s a sequence of words i need to work on) thinking what right do i have?? they say in yoga that when your legs shake, it’s your muscles reforming themselves. so maybe the shakier i am, the stronger i get? well, i have a 5 year plan (I’LL BE 30!) but i must keep it secret so that it doesn’t lose its power!

it’s really always hard to remain magnanimous when colleagues in the program get success, which sounds awful when i type it out loud. but i love my writers in the program, and they know that, and so any gritting of my teeth is only my own unsureness in my self, my own negative self image. i can’t compare myself to others, but now that i’ve started going to book launches and other events, and people i know start asking me in earnest about my ‘own book’ i do often feel wanting. that’s something that i’m going to have to work on. hence the ‘wobbly’. wobblybobbly all over the place. what is my path? what is my timeline? did coming into the program so young and – let’s face it – naive provide a deficit against me? or is it good because it gives me space to expand and publish? oh, i don’t know. if i think on it, i get lofty and idiotic. so i don’t think on it, just like i never allow myself to think about vancouver (because i start to miss it too much, the dead seals on the beach with the northern lights over the mountains).

the longer i live at home, the weirder i realise i am. sometimes i say things to my parents and they look at me with this look on their faces – it’s nothing as judgmental as disgust or anything, but i stop to think about what i’ve said and realise… oh dear. it’s times like those that i miss the writers. i think that my resolution for the next little while might be to talk less, stay quieter, and observe more. save the words for the page and the editing, and take in the human interactions around me, as people start to shed their winter chrysalises and stretch. to the sun! of which we’ve had some, here, in toronto, and warm weather, too. summer has never been the ripest fruit for me, but with the guidance of one wild chris urquhart, i’m hoping that this summer will be a bit different in this feral city. maybe, as she says, my life path right now is to just kick back – anathema, for me, but … necessary, we think.

in the meantime, maybe you should listen to this until at least 3:08 because that’s when the top of your head will blow off. it’s like the knife mixed with vampire weekend, i think.

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