My entries used to be filled with so many details, moments, thoughts, and emotions. I used to believe everything I wrote was important. Not that I was ever a particularly good writer, only a person trying to be honest with himself, and that was the way for me to sort out the things in my head.
Now that need isn’t there anymore. Instead, I write to keep track of where I am, knowing that in time I’ll be wondering how far I’ve gone, and let my pictures fill in the blanks.
On my birthday, Lisa treated me to all-you-can-eat sushi at my favourite restaurant, and cleavage.
The new Leonard Cohen biography is out and Genevieve tells me it’s amazing, or at least a great deal more informative than the course we took last year at Ottawa U about the birth of the romantic troubadour. I used to be completely obsessed with this man, but now I can’t remember the last time I put on one of his albums for a straight listen through. I knew he was coming to Ottawa this Friday before tickets went on sale, but never bothered trying to get my hands on one, even though it used to be a goal of mine to see him perform live before the booze and sex took him like a true rockstar. He represents a part of my past I hardly relate to now, and it’s left me feeling like I need a new hero (who has some very big shoes to fill).
Little boy’s birthday parties involve a little less sexy and a lot more chaos.
I have so many friends with their paths set out for them over next 20-odd years cause of jobs and kids, yet just as many who’ve arrived at adulthood and are now wondering what’s next. After finding a career, buying a house, and getting married, they’re learning that these were goals they never wanted for themselves, only things people have always been telling them they should have. Now they’re wondering where to go from here, and how to find a true sense of fulfilment.
I went through the same crisis years ago, but feel no less uncertain about future at this point. It’s only natural to go through constant cycles of struggle and resolution if we’re determined to grow and improve, not to mention the curves life tends to throw at us. I’m starting to view it with a sense of freedom instead of doubt.
In those moments between ourselves and the rest of the world, it’s hard to think of anything but how good you look with curls in your hair, and how you never worry about tearing your delicate dusty-rose dress when you think it’ll look suspicious if we’re gone for too long.
I need moments like this — like goodnight kisses and the things you tell your friends about me — all the little details so many take for granted. That’s why I haven’t been able to write. Not because I’ve been too occupied with life, but because I’ve become numb to everything else, and inspiration has always come from my capacity to feel.
So brush your hair behind your ear, take another walk with me, and give me a reason to speak to the world.
Lila’s been my inspiration lately. Her photos are of such routine subjects, but every frame is more than that moment. There’s something about them that exudes glamour and intimacy, as if her entire life was filled with champagne and Channel.
I asked her what theory she follows, what equipment she uses, expecting to learn some basic technique I’ve somehow missed. Instead, she tells me she doesn’t do or use anything special. She doesn’t even know what she sets for exposure and tone, cause she always plays around and changes them for every photo she takes. A true Taoist when it comes to photography, and a true photographer after my heart.
“best birthday ever.”, “coolest guy on the block”, “he is the one”, “London, I love you”.
One of my favourite subjects is her perfectly-coifed, impeccably-dressed Norwegian boyfriend. Sometimes he’s just lying by the window, and with his shirt off you can make out the fabric creases that have marked his back, revealing that he’s recently turned over on the bed. It makes you wonder what’s happened, or what’s about to happen. These are the details she’s chosen to capture. These things were important enough for her to pick up her camera. There’s such affection under it all, and perhaps that’s why it’s so fascinating to see how the girl looks at the guy.
It’s the same with Aurora’s old entries:
Rolf is sitting a few feet away from me on a Sunday night and we’re about to play Settlers Of Catan online together. He’ll wake me with a kiss in the morning and we’ll drive to work together. I’m full of a tasty new supper that he introduced me to. We’ve just fucked on the floor.
Do I love him? Or do I love this? How big is the difference?
I’ve always wondered what a person would say if she ever wrote about me the way Aurora wrote about him. To see a lover learning and growing, figuring out their life and the world, and discovering what part I play in all of that.
I always wonder if I’ll ever reach such a complete peace that I’d stop writing completely. One of the reasons I started this blog was to have a place where I could get things down and sort my thoughts out on a page, but I don’t need to do much of either nowadays.
I know so many people who’ve continued writing, even after finding that kind of happiness in their lives. Unfortunately, happiness has robbed them of literary inspiration, and now they have nothing interesting to say. It wouldn’t be so bad if they stopped writing, but they post for the sake of posting instead of having something to say or express or vent, and it reeks of desperation and insecurity.
I used to worry that happiness would make me a boring person too, but now I wouldn’t mind as long as I realized it and gave up this blog. It’s so embarrassing to write out of a belief that it’ll make you interesting. Or even worse, to be oblivious to the fact you’re writing about the most inane things.
It was this succinct wit. She could say so much in a line or two, and anything left unsaid would only serve to feed your curiosity. You’d be given the punchline, this blow that would knock the wind out of you, then wonder what circumstances could have led up to that. I’ve always been after that style, that ability to move people with words the way hers used to move me.
Of course Dolly has to sleep on anything new in the house, regardless of whether it’s your sweater or not. It’s part of the sass, and yet one can’t help but reward her with cuddles and love.
For a few years, I lost her to the happiness (where I hope to lose myself one day) until we spent a rainy day together, blissed out and hopefully obvious only to the check-out lady who scanned all our varieties of chocolate.
Dear Lisa believes in me, and that’s the only reason I believe in myself too.
Take a leaf off a tree. Is it still a tree? Take a single twig off a tree. Is it still a tree? Remove an entire branch from a tree. Is it still a tree? Take off half of the branches. Is it still a tree? Cut down the whole tree, leaving only the stump. Is it still a tree? Many people would say no, it is no longer a tree, though the roots may still be in the ground. Well, where did the tree go? Removing a leaf, it remains a tree, but not by removing all of the branches and the trunk?
In the real world, there aren’t any things as we commonly think of them. A ‘thing’ as we refer to it is only a noun. A noun is merely an idea, a mental construct. These ‘things’ exist only in our minds. There is no tree, there is only the idea of a tree.
I’ve been writing here for almost a decade, pouring 10 years of my life into this blog. I recently considered cleaning up the content by deleting a significant chunk of my old entries; I’m not the same person as when I wrote them, and I don’t even like who I was back then. Not to mention the fact that some are rather embarrassing, like reading your old diary in high school when the biggest problem was what people thought when you wore your uniform cause you forgot it was a Civvies Day.
The problem I was faced with was deciding what should be deleted. People aren’t static; they’re processes, events, evolutions, made up of cells that continually renew themselves on a daily basis. At what definable point can I say these entries are no longer me? It could be argued that even posts as recent as a few months ago aren’t an accurate representation, though there may still remnants of the old me in the habits of my thoughts.
Then I came across this passage in The Tao by Mark Forstater, on the subject of how using human language to encompass and describe a concept such as the Tao is logically suspect: “Reality can’t be enclosed and described by words. Symbols aren’t real in the way that a tree is real, and however much we may delude ourselves that they are, we’ll eventually find that the word ‘water’ won’t quench our thirst.”
I came to accept that the things I write here have never been and never will be a complete reflection of who I am, so I’ve decided to keep all the entries. The ones written by my old self serve as a reminder of who I was, and at the very least, they tell me where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.
John asked me, “Why? Why do you write these things and post them, when it clearly shows that you’re not over things?”.
I told him I’d rather post them now than in a year from now, because they have to come out sooner or later. This has always been necessary, even if it’s a little embarrassing at times, and I’ve never cared who reads, and who judges me. It’s my catharsis, my way of dealing with what can’t be changed. Sometimes, people find relief in knowing they’re not alone in having painful emotions, in making mistakes, or experiencing unrequited love. I don’t write for them, but if they can take something away from my words, then it helps me know I’m not alone as well.
Sometimes, I write these entries in my head over several days, but when it comes to getting them on the screen, I can’t. Not because I don’t feel like it, but because the words come out with such difficulty.
So I sit in my room with the lights off, hoping for something to give me courage, something to move my mute fingers.
Instead, I procrastinate. I buy myself time by playing a game on my iPhone, or surfing the net. It’s like I’m stalling, I’m building up for a moment that’s no more important than any other, like a nervous schoolboy trying to ask his crush to the prom; picking up the phone, dialing a number, and hanging up again.
Maybe if I bury it after a bunch of inconsequential thoughts — like how it’s hard for me to write about something — then people will get bored and won’t bother reading the rest. I try to convince myself that everything will be forgotten much quicker than it took for me to write this. Nothing works, when all I’m trying to say is that every time I listen to Letter Read by Rachael Yamagata, I imagine she’s listening to the same thing at the same time.
So sometimes, you just have to say fuck it and write it anyway, even if you’re afraid and you can’t breathe, and put it out of your head that you’re left vulnerable, that anyone could read it, that people know something that you probably shouldn’t share, that you’re still thinking about her when everyone is telling you not to, because none of it matters when it’s the truth, and telling the truth is what makes you you.
Pat and Jen bought me this feather fountain pen set from their honeymoon to Europe. It comes from an Italian sculpture store, Fabris Giuliana in Venice, Italy.
The nib is super fine; I don’t think I’ve ever owned a fountain pen with such a small nib, which is perfect, because I tend to have small handwriting. You can’t even tell which direction the stroke is going. So far it writes a little rough and scratchy, but with enough use, the nib will break in to my writing style.
I’ve always enjoyed writing. Not just the concept of putting ideas into more a tangible medium, but the act of writing itself, whether it’s on a keyboard by night, or flowing lines on a sheet of paper.
A reader recently sent me an e-mail. This was the last paragraph:
Lastly and please don’t take this as being bold, I want to keep reading and one day read that you are nothing but happy and fulfilled. I would never post a comment because I am too shy and also pretty prone to being embarrassed by people who are cooler than me (and I consider people who blog as people who are cooler then me), but many times when I read your entries I feel like I am watching a protagonist in a favourite movie or re-reading Siddhartha. Does that make any sense to you? I’m cheering you on and I’m in your corner.
It made me wonder: if she wants to read that I’m happy one day, does that mean that I’m not happy now? It forced the realization in me that the answer is no. Obviously no. Life isn’t great. But do I only write about the bad stuff? I’ve always believed that you have to suffer to create. I’m one of those, so maybe this is the case. I imagine it’s the opposite with my Tai Chi or table tennis partners, who must think my life is perfect, because of how happy I am when I’m doing those activities.
It also made me wonder how much of myself is revealed here. Someone once told me that she sees two different sides of me: one who is serious and intimidating from the things I write, and another who is easy-going and relaxed over the phone.
So what comes through in my words? Certainly not everything. But it’s the same as anything else, because it’s hard to get a total picture of someone, unless, perhaps, you spend an appropriately uncomfortable amount of time with them.
The about section of my site has always remained somewhat spartan. Even though blogging gurus say you should have a blurb about yourself so your audience can “identify” with you, it’s always seemed pointless to me.
I’ve never been one to describe myself. I prefer to let my writings be my description, especially since I’m evolving all the time, and it’s reflected even more in the changes to my writing style. In English class, you learn “say, don’t tell”. So instead of writing, “Tim was scared”, write something like “Tim’s forehead tightened as a bead of sweat fell across his trembling face”.
About sections are the telling, but entries are all about the saying.
I also tend to write without explaining things. Like the fact that Dolly is my cat (although I don’t think many people are named Dolores nowadays), or that John is my best friend. Entries are a stream of thought, instead of stopping to make sure that new readers are caught up. That means anyone who follows me here is jumping right into my life. Sure, it’s probably hard to follow without all the context — like trying to watch 24 by starting in the middle of a season — but I’d rather assume that people already know what’s going on.
It doesn’t make me very accessible, but the things I say probably aren’t that accessible to begin with.
I admit that I not only save other people’s posts, but entire blogs.
Sometimes, there are entries I like to read over again. Other times, I just like to be reminded of how right I was. But more often than not, it’s the ephemeral nature of blogs in general, combined with the fickle nature of adolescent writers still trying to “define themselves” on a free medium, that gives me the itch to save. So many writers I used to follow have changed domain names, started protecting their entries, or deleted their blogs.
Some things are garbage and should be forgotten or thrown away — but some things deserve to be kept too. Word-for-word, exactly the way it was spoken, because that’s the way it was expressed.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your point-of-view, our words do last. Just because they aren’t there anymore, doesn’t mean they were never spoken.
There are consequences to the things we write, whether we want them or not.
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.
Perhaps another evolution in the way I write.
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.