Thursday, September 14, 2006

It's not me, it's you

I met my friend 'Jon' (not Jon from Colorado, though that would have been nice..) at a local cafe last Saturday. We had lots to catch up on. I was reading this book by a Mennonite woman which I was quite enjoying. I read Jon one of the lines to demonstrate that he would like this book too. This father character had just been left by his wife.. His uncle came to visit him and asked how he was doing: 'Oh, unexceptional. Living quietly with my disappointments'.
Jon and I were really taken with that line. We immediately thought of how useful a retort that would be at work. We both work in office buildings inhabited by many people that we have to greet daily, and we are both rather anti-social people. Well, that's not exactly right. We are actually very sociable, love meeting new people.. But the environment of forced sociability is rather suffocating to us.. Yeah, that's it exactly.. And in office buildings when co-workers pass you in the hall as you're silently enduring your own private hell, it's very jarring to be asked 'How are you?' and knowing there's only one correct answer.. But now Miriam Toews has given us an alternative! We can respond, 'Living quietly with my disappointments'.. Jon got that happy twinkle in his eye, like he was really eager to try out this new line.. Then it hit me full force, and I couldn't stop laughing: Jon could NEVER use this line, because he NEVER lives quietly with his disappointments! He wasn't quiet after a race he ran a few years ago when he angrily berated his performance in front of anyone who would listen.. Or who was stupid enough to claim pride in their own performance.. ''Oh, you did good in the race? That's great.. I SUCKED! Yeah, my father got all the good genes, he was fast, but I've been SCREWED!' I must admit, my embarrassment at people looking at us took precedence over feeling bad for him.. No, he wasn't quiet then.. But I'll always stand by Jon. I know where he's coming from. That's why I didn't yell at him too much when he took the entire pan of Debbie's leftover salmon home with him.
Male friends. Give me strength.

Monday, September 04, 2006


I've been keeping a morning journal, a writing exercise designed to unleash creative flow. You may have heard of it, it's called the Morning Pages, part of a program created by Julia Cameron from her popular 'The Artist's Way' manual. It does work, as she said. Artists with artist's block all become 'unstuck', and go on to become successful with their art. I've experienced several small successes with seeing through certain artistic projects.. Like designing a big race t-shirt, putting together a mini-comic strip, finally getting some acting roles.. But all of these came with considerably more effort and struggle than I thought necessary.. Are we all in our own ways? Should this all be much easier to come by and fun, really? But our minds are adding on completely erroneous pressures that weigh the whole project down and make it seem as torturous as our dull routines we were trying to avoid in the first place? Well, here's a close up look at the process.. Cameron warns not to share the MP writings with anyone, as it's not meant to be read or critiqued, simply written to empty out the rubbish that's dancing about in your head to allow for the real good stuff to come out.. Composting, as some call it.. But the hell with that, I'm going to share with you the MP from 9/3/06 at 9:00 am (yes, I time EVERYTHING!) I'm sharing this not because it's great writing, it's not.. But because I need help.. I am stuck and I can't get out..

Morning Pages 9/3/06:
Still raining, a slight drizzle. I have Noam Chomsky's name in my head- I went to Border's before seeing a movie last night and was looking for books on The Bushmen, found none, so took out a book on Linguistics, since I'm mostly interested in the Khosian 'clicking' languages. Can I turn that into a career? I can contact a university head of a Linguistics department and maybe turn it into an MA- or just independently travel to South Africa- Botswana and Namibia and teach English and learn their language. How can this be of value to the world? Does modern America, the Jessica Simpson generation really have a need (yes!) to learn a Khosian language? Our link to history may be extinct if not documented. I could bring it to modern life. And then go to Kenya and run with the elites? I'd have to learn Swahili too. So many languages, so much time. Is this all a big plan for me to avoid doing something realistic with my life? Yes, I suppose it is. I really have no interest, never did, in working and living a conventional life. I need to stop running away from my creative side and embrace it. I've been doing this MP exercise for a long time now, and while I've had creative projects here and there, really not enough to sustain me-I'm still so wrapped up in my job but not investing the time I should be in art or writing. Oh yeah, my blog is good. That's writing. But it's so sporadic. I think the lonliness and isolation of these projects is preventing me from pursuing them, If I had the balance of friends, other artists, say, it would be more- helpful? I guess I thought, with my daily epiphanies on the next big project, that something would just come to me and I'd be off doing it. I think I can't get off the ground. I'm stuck. In so many aspects of my life. No friends, or few; No loves (more serious); a job that's crushing my spirit; The one constant positive thing is my running. It's really tough, especially these mile repeats. They're $!@&%#!$ endless. But I feel really strong and powerful of mind and body after. How many people, even amoungst competitive runners, are going to make themselves do seven times a mile at around their 5k pace with one minute rest in between? Huh?? And though I do them alone, the results will prove themselves in public, in a race. So this dedication, tolerance of pain and patience for a good successful outcome with progressive results is THE SAME PROCESS that I need to apply to- whatever the next phase I pursue. My project ideas are all great, but I need something I can do for a few years, support myself doing it. Teaching overseas sounds good- but I want that creative lement. Living in the city sounds great. All the African, theatre, comic, running connections in the world are right there in the city. Time to do it. Should I buy a condo? I should, And I'll need a job? Unfortunately. Teaching? I don't know. Maybe, Back to square one? Yep. This is what happens but I feel I shook something loose, not sure what. I need a career advisor- a psychic, someone big. If I ask Zhenya he'll say, 'You got me, kid' Dakota will say pursue acting! That'd be very cool. Sigh. Square one and a half?