Show me Bach, she said with her hands.
Show me love, I said with my lips.
Show me Bach, she said with her hands.
Show me love, I said with my lips.
There’s so much to say, and not enough time to write. It’s obvious that I haven’t been sticking to any kind of posting schedule lately. The benefit is that I don’t feel the pressure of having to write something every day, the drawback being the fact that things I want to get down are often lost. When I do get a chance to write, it’s like I’m perpetually writing about thoughts, feelings, and events that are a month old.
I used to write my thoughts quite often. Things I had to figure out or get off my chest. Now, it’s mostly things that happen in my daily life, and something random here and there. It’s like I’m moving beyond my confused adolescence into some sort of reflective dotage.
The entries from the first year were written with so much more frequency — roughly three times a day. Then that changed to once a day, then every other day. A few times, I tried to write less frequently, without a set schedule, but that never really worked. The writing itch was always there. At one point I took a month-long hiatus.
Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m trying to say.
The thing I particularly miss are the entries written late at night. Spilling my soul out in words, with the music, the sky, and the empty streets guiding me. As tired as I would be (I swear, sometimes it was the exhaustion that brought it out in me), I always went to bed after feeling satisfied.
Now, I’m not sure what this all is.
I have 106 unpublished drafts in my database.
Things I don’t feel like saying. Parts of myself I’m not ready to reveal.
The written word has always been my medium of choice. Photography is only an extension of that, when I need to express myself better than words can let me, and video goes one step further.
I used to be a terrible writer. During a parent-teacher interview in grade 10, my history teacher asked my parents when we came to Canada. They were quite embarrassed to tell him that I was born here.
Aside from picking up a useful word here and there, I’ve never made a conscious effort to improve my writing. The things I say are taken from my memories, experiences, and thoughts. How I say it is inspired by snippets of Nabokov (when I’m feeling lyrical or verbose), Cohen (when I’m feeling sad or romantic), Herbert (when I’m feeling dry), or Irving (when I’m feeling quirky or honest). The only way I’ve been able to gain any semblance of a writer is by mimicking to the best of my ability the lyrical styles I enjoy the most.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever stop. Writing is often a need, not a want. I do it when I’m feeling restless, when I have something to say, when things are unsettled, when I have things to figure out. And the case most often is that life is filled with these moments. Perhaps if I ever find some sort of permanent serenity, I’ll be able to stop.
But I probably wouldn’t want to.
Last class, Mike asked how I was doing, and as a somewhat phatic response, I told him I was doing well.
He told me, with a chuckle, that if he didn’t know me any better and went only by my writings, he would imagine me to be like Joe Btfsplk, with a perpetual rain cloud above my head.
So I went home and read through the last couple pages of my entries, and found that they painted a somewhat lugubrious picture.
I’ve always contended that happiness is too hard to write. When I feel like expressing myself, it’s often because of a problem of some sort, internal or external, that I need to figure out. Writing has always been a way for me to get my thoughts in line, and off my chest. Not much of a peaceful, detached, care-free Taoist, am I?
Perhaps I’ll always lead a Cohen-esque life, where love, sex, philosophy, and depression are the dominant themes.
The funny thing is that my life has improved tremendously after therapy. I used to be a very dark person. After gaining the stability of a house and a career, along with separation from my mother, not much else has changed. I’ve come to realize that it’s not so much the things in my life that’s improved in the last few years (aside from the struggle with anxiety), as my attitude. To be honest, I have nothing to complain about.
That doesn’t change the fact that my entries have been somewhat depressing.
Perhaps I’m still not truly happy yet.
Or perhaps I’m still not looking at things the right way.
Over the last while, I’ve been receiving some very nice letters and comments.
Two, in particular, touched me. This one:
I stumbled upon your blog a few days ago. I’m reading all your archives right now.
One of your entries moved me so much I had to pass it to my best, most initimate, most sensitive/sensual girlfriends. It wasn’t a big group, but a group I felt could hear what you were saying in your entry. It was about finding the spot on a woman that should be kissed.
I read your blog every day because I can’t believe there is a man out in the universe who is this intuitive, in tune, so aware of himself emotionally and physically. I wish you had gone to my college — you would have been so loved and admired.
So this entry distresses me, and I don’t even know you. I understand lonliness — I’ve never had intimacy, or rather, I’m very afraid of it. I don’t even know why I’m telling you all this because you don’t know me either and you won’t care, but this entry hurts. You must know by now that someone thinks of you everyday. Maybe it is your mom, maybe an ex-lover or girlfriend or male friend or co worker.
I think I’m more in shock that you can write so honestly and openly. I’m jealous of that.
well, I just wanted to let you know that. And that I have a crush on your blog. Can a person crush on a blog?
Please take care,
And this from a few months ago:
you don’t know me and we will probably never meet. It’s sort of interesting the way the internet has changed the way we can know someone.
Allow me to introduce myself, since you have already bore your soul in a very real way that has moved me to write to a complete stranger-something i have never done.
I am a 30 yr old interior designer, a born and bred new yorker currently living in brooklyn. It’s been slow at work lately, so to pass the time I have taken to reading blogs mostly design related, but somehow i read a comment that you had made on a random blog, looking back i can’t remember which one unfortunately, and it led me back to your personal blog somehow.
you see I am not like you at all. I feel similar feelings, and even have similar beliefs, but I don’t have the guts to put myself out there in that way. I dont even have a blog, and i can barely talk to my friends about the way im feeling. so for me your blog is very therapeutic and refreshing.
like most people who blog, im sure, you wonder if anyone out there is reading. Well just wanted to let you know that I really like your blog and will continue to read it.
I have added you as a flickr contact and i see that you have reciprocated-*armadilliz* I am not a stalker / crazy person, or anything like that, just a fan, so rest easy.
And while people tell me how much they appreciate me being open and sharing myself, it’s nothing compared to what they share of themselves in these letters. I don’t know what compels someone to write to a total stranger, but it’s a warming gesture, something that inspires me when I’m feeling closed and self-conscious.
Thank you to the people who’ve written me. Thank you to the people who share their own problems and issues and lives. Thank you to the people who let me know that I’ve inspired them to start their own journals. Thank you for supporting me when we’ve never even spoken.
It’s your words that make me feel like I’m not so alone when I’m sitting in my house, wondering what to do with myself. It’s your kindness that gives me strength when the world is falling down around me. It’s knowing that I’ve been able to make a difference that keeps me going.
I’m thinking this and writing this and I have to say something to someone but Pat’s busy, Julie’s out of town, and John’s gone missing. Not that they would understand anyway. Not that even I understand.
De-loused in the Comatorium is cranked on my speakers right now because it’s how I feel. Last week, my neighbour told me he’s never heard a peep from me. Now I question whether I’m pushing my luck. It’s like I stepped out into the darkness of a cool night from a production of Equus. These synapses firing. The jitteriness. It’s ten, I haven’t had dinner, but I’m shaking too much to eat.
I feel like I could write for days and days and days and days. Maybe I’m just happy to have something to write about. Maybe I’m just happy to feel this way again. This self-destructiveness, even in the face of certainty.
A little clock in front of the turquoise man says I’m away, but I’m here. Talk to me, Darren. Where are you? Only you would get it. Only you know how I feel, because you’re probably feeling the same thing right now.
We’re drawn to that which hurts us. In this way, we reveal our vulnerability, and only those who are so vulnerable recognize their own.
It’s time I turned down this music. It’s time I put some food in my stomach. It’s time I scalded myself in the shower. It’s time I got some sleep.
Sometimes you don’t know you’re alive until you’re burning.
I feel utterly intoxicated.
With a hammer and a ladder, we hung my pictures tonight, carefully deciding where to place each one to balance the colours, the orientations, the shapes, and the concepts.
Amongst the wine and the wood, the kids and the colours, we stopped to admire the art in the house. Adrienne dropped by to share her latest graphic poems with us, along with her alcoholic findings. “From The Desk Of” Penelope was written that day, dense and deep, full of details taken for granted. The words must write themselves, I thought.
Misun and I seem to share a kinship through our appreciation of expression, something I’ve never had with my friends. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, but I’ve always felt like they can’t relate to me when it comes to emotions or creativity. As I seem to be the creative brother she’s always wanted, and she seems to be the supportive sister I’ve always needed, we agreed to be adopted siblings.
In a recent interview, Frédéric said, in his ebullient Parisian accent, that one of the reasons he wanted to open the Salon is to promote dialogue and interaction. Perhaps it’s this hunger for dialogue that connects us. He also mentioned to me he was stressed out about being interviewed; being put on the spot made him freeze up. I told him I had the same problem with pretty girls. “You’re affected by beauty”, he said, something I knew, but not something that everyone understands.
I left, feeling like I was a part of something wonderful, something greater than myself.
For feedback, I showed Frédéric some of my initial work for the next exposition, a couple concept photos that capture the essence of my theme.
He told me I was being shy. That my work isn’t shocking or disturbing enough. Technically, it’s perfect, but lacking the qualities that make it art. For my subject, there’s a fine line between artistry and commercialism, and I haven’t yet crossed that line.
It made perfect sense, what he said.
My subject includes a lot of skin. But as a photographer who doesn’t have an established reputation, I find it extremely difficult to get people to take their clothes off, even for non-nude photos. I’m trying to work on a limited budget, with limited materials. I can’t afford to pay people to be my models, so I rely on the favours of friends1.
Working with models is a challenge in itself. There’s an element of uncertainty and unreliability when dealing with people, and being a control freak, this has proven to be extremely frustrating. It would have been simpler to photograph objects instead of people, but human shapes are the source of my interest.
It’s also difficult for me to photograph what is not considered “conventionally” beautiful (to my tastes, at least). Bless the beautiful, I once wrote.
In addition to all this, it’s hard for me to forget the meaning I’ve always placed in what I create. For this exhibit, I’m trying to create out of pure aestheticism. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I have to let go of these old habits.
At this point, the success of the show is still uncertain. Hopefully I’ll be able to pull it off in time. January will be busy. I know if I can overcome these challenges, I’ll be able to overcome so much more.
It’s become a test of myself more than anything else.
On the 25th of September, at 11:04 am, my mom Googled my e-mail address, and found this blog.
She visits every day like clockwork; around 8:30 am when she gets into work, and sometimes during lunch around 12:30 pm. Even though I told her never to contact me again, she continues to check on me.
It’s something I’ve known for a while now.
The existence of this website was a secret I kept from my parents for as long as I could. I felt like I owed it to them to overlook my childhood memories because they stayed together for my sake, so I never wanted them to know this seemingly unreconciled side of me. When they told me they were getting divorced, I wrote an entry (that’s never been published) about how I stopped caring. It was their turn to start caring about me.
Of course, this was only true in theory.
To be honest, I was devastated. Bronwen likened it to her mom finding her diary under her bed, and I tend to agree with the analogy.
Chinese kids don’t talk to their parents about much. Even after being out of touch for a long time, parents will only ask whether they have enough money, whether they’re eating enough, and how their marks are in school, if applicable.
Some were surprised that my mom would continue reading my blog, believing the things I say would be too painful for her to read. It makes sense though. This is the only way she can stay close to me.
So I have to ignore the entries in my server logs that constantly remind me of her presence. I can’t let it affect the only place where I can write unrestricted. I just have to let go, and continue writing. Damn the consequence, as someone once said. There’s nothing else I can do. After all, this is a public journal. I have no right to complain about who comes here.
When you let go, you can write about anything.
An ex e-mailed me out of the blue the other day. She blamed it on the fall weather, causing her to reminisce and Google my name. We hadn’t seen or spoken to each other in over five years.
After feeling each other out for the first part of the exchange, we caught up on each others lives. She’s been married for three years. Moved out to Kingston after living through the pollution and over-stimulation of downtown Toronto. She has a full-time job while working toward her Master of Education part-time. Her husband’s an artist at heart, she says, trying to make a living off creative writing. No kids yet, but instead, two cats, Emily Wednesday and Shadow.
Me? I moved to Ottawa for university, bought a house, recently got out of a relationship, been working as the marketing and IT manager at a dental laboratory. Oh, and I have one cat, but I’m thinking of a second.
There were some things I’d been meaning to ask her for a while. Going through a series of relationships since ours has changed my perspective, and I’ve always wondered whether she’s grown in this way as well. I put a few questions to her, but she told me, in an amiable way, that she wasn’t completely comfortable indulging my curiosities.
There are a lot of things I’d like to say to my ex-girlfriends, but the nature of a break-up can be that of rancor. Communication breaks down. People lose perspective. I’ve always had a tremendous need to express myself, perhaps to the detriment of my relationships, but digging up what’s past and buried for the sake closure seems a bit selfish. After having this ex tell me that she was uncomfortable, I realized that it may have been rather inappropriate of me.
It’s only here that I can say what I want.
Things have changed.
I don’t write the same anymore, or about the same things. I’ve lost my fervent verbosity. Every time I sit at my computer, my mind blanks. Writing has become a chore. Even this entry has taken me days to think through. I find myself writing and rewriting every point, every paragraph.
In the beginning, blogging was a form of catharsis. Developing cognitively beyond my adolescence was an emotional period, filled with confusion and growing pains. The only way I could make sense of it all was to write out my thoughts, forcing myself to reflect and learn from every challenge.
It was also a useful tool in figuring myself out, as a part of my life where I could approach things with the conviction that I lacked in the rest of my life. Now that I’ve gained enough confidence, it doesn’t seem so necessary to prove myself with words anymore. It would seem that I’ve become a victim of my own self-assuredness.
I could fill this blog with entries, finding solace in the written word, when I was going through something as simple as a bad day. As time has passed, I’ve eliminated most of the things that bother me enough to turn to this medium. It was a slow and systematic process, both internal and external. My new-found serenity has left me with little rage. I’m happier now, and happiness is too hard to write.
There have been few epiphanies, and even less inspiration, in the last while. Maybe it’s because I’m in the middle of a transition. It takes a foundation of stability, something I haven’t had in months, to grow. My life hasn’t quite settled yet.
Writer’s block is a sign that I’ve stopped growing, a testament to what and how much I’ve been through.
But more importantly, it’s a sign that I’m approaching where I want to go in my life.
You can’t be a proper writer without a touch of madness, can you?
—Madeleine LeClerc, Quills
Has this become my only refuge?
No. Not even this.
Even after three years, it’s still strange when people e-mail me, people I’ve never met before who mention my experiences and quote the words I’ve written. When they share a bit of their lives in return, perhaps from the guilt of finding themselves the unassuming and unabashed voyeur, it never ceases to be interesting. They’ll tell me of their pot smoking habits, recommend music that’s touched them in some way, talk about the abuse they suffered from their parents, share the kinky habits that are normally reserved for those with a physical familiarity.
It’s strange because even with these details, I really know nothing about these people, while they know some of the most intimate things about me, stuff that I hide from others in everyday life.
And the more I think about it, the more I realize that I’d rather not find out.
One of the keys to blogging is to never give a shit about what anyone else thinks. Never write for an audience. Never censor oneself based on what other people may say. Never be embarrassed or ashamed to admit anything.
Otherwise, one isn’t being true to oneself. If there are those who are nosy, those whom we’d rather not have reading, that should never be an issue. I may have my fair share of creepy internet stalkers (one is already more than enough), but I refuse to let that stop me from saying what’s really on my mind.
It may be difficult to let go, but it’s worth it. The freedom is completely empowering. Blogs are a personal space, as public as they may be, and should be treated as such.
Expression is an act that should never be hindered by something as harmless as opinion.