Author: anachips

The dumping zone

Nothing in my house is new. I wonder if I could live among objects that don’t carry stories. Would I feel welcome at home? Or like I’m walking through a museum with blank placards, peppered with sticky notes of prophecy? You’ll have wonderful and awful conversations on this couch. Breakfasts will happen at this table, and here, maybe, you’ll rest.

This short telephone table here, it holds my keys and detritus, it’s the dumping zone. But before this, it sat in a living room with one purple wall. It held up a tacky blue lamp, next to the couch that was the only new thing in that house. My sister’s glitter-speckled nail polish spilled onto the tiny table as we piled together on the couch and floor, tangled dog and human limbs, laughing and arguing about movies over milkshakes.

This tiny table sat next to those moments of assemblage I remember as possible home – doors fully open but not mine every day. There were beds I could sleep on. Sometimes it was my sister’s, under the abstract floral curtain. Sometimes it was my brother’s floor, on a spare mattress, staring up at the shadows of a Lego pirate ship.

Sometimes I found myself on the hide-a-bed in the basement, in later years, in those times when I was banished from my main home.

From my own bed, I watched treetops sway out the fifth-floor window. I’d crack it open in the middle of the night and blow secret cigarette smoke out, looking up at stars and down at police cruisers, watching them while they waited for our apartment doors to open. And maybe the next day I’d be banished, grabbing a few dresses in a plastic bag before stomping out into the uncertain world. I’d bounce around other beds, and then finally back to my most possible home.

I’d never known such darkness as there was in that stony basement. I’d lose myself in Sims, building imagined fantastical homes suspended over pools, designing little lives that fit into neat patterns. I found a secret hack to refill the bank account. It was so impossibly simple on that screen, a dream I lived until 4 or 5 am before crumpling into the hide-a-bed.

Early morning felt no different than midnight. I’d stumble upstairs anyway, accept the offering of a sandwich in a brown paper bag and try to live the Sim-perfect routine, the one I’d mastered in the dark basement, except in the daylight world. Go to school, go to work, study. Find a home, go to it.

The basement could have been my home too. It was an offer to get away from the too-soon onset of adult life, from fighting. Just go to school and be a kid, they said. You don’t need to maintain home just yet, just live. Just live here.

But I fought and begged for my tiny corner, my room on the fifth floor. I pleaded, why can’t I just pay some rent and call it even? I wanted a door I could lock, a window I could quietly smoke out of, an explosion of branches reaching up into the sky, pulling me out of this mess on the ground.

Long after we left the fifth floor and the others moved away, I searched for new possible homes, for places that could hold the possibility of tangled dog and human limbs on a couch. I held onto what was left, bits of furniture and scraps of stories, patched them together, and called it home.

The dog lived out her years here and died on the kitchen floor, and I cleaned up a bit, then a bit less. I quit smoking and looked out the windows at the one spare treetop. And I pulled out this old table again, rickety but still holding steady. It greets me when I come home. It’s the dumping zone.

Spotty

There are a lot of things I see framed as choice, when they’re really about maintaining the illusions of free will, of not giving a fuck, or of resisting the dominant paradigm. I want to see my actions as autonomous, as a source of strength. But I’m coming up against the constraints of one so-called choice, and it’s a huge and tiny internal war, one that also shows quite plainly on my face.

When I discovered femme identity, I found a gender and aesthetic that felt like home. There was strength and softness there, and the recognition of beauty rituals for self-care.

Queer femininity taught me to uproot hidden strains of misogyny that lurked and lingered in myself and others, craftily masking themselves as authenticity, self-acceptance, or concerns for health. I could be pretty and tough and feminine, and none of these elements contradicted each other.

I never felt like I had to wear makeup. I enjoyed it. I’d go out without it sometimes, but more often than not I felt better with it. It was my femme armour and I wore it with pride.

Then this weird thing started happening on my face. It was a kind of acne or infection or I don’t-know-what. It hurt and itched, and it was always red and spotty. I’d never had perfectly clear skin, but I’d never been as blighted as this before in my life.

I tried maintenance and treatment: A different face wash, aloe vera, tea tree oil, and then concealer and some powder.

I soon realized that the spotty thing got a bit better when I was home all day, makeup free. The decision seemed simple, and an obvious tradeoff: take a break from wearing makeup, and let the spotty thing clear up. But I pouted. I insisted that I wanted to wear the makeup, it was my choice, and by my politics, my right.

Eventually discomfort won over. I committed to taking a break, just until the spotty thing went down, then I’d re-introduce bits of the makeup routine.

But the spotty thing would not go down. Just when I thought the last spot was healing, poof, another one appeared and brought its friends. And every morning I woke up to the same awful conclusion: My self-acceptance was bullshit. I hate my face.

It didn’t matter if I was in a good mood, if life or relationships are going well, if I was otherwise healthy, or felt secure in my strengths and successes. Every day, when I saw my reflection in the mirror, it was the same Face Hate voice. This sucks. There is no way you or anyone else could see this as pretty.

If I stay on that train, it hits all of the obvious points of self-deprecation, true or not. No one will love me like this. Anyone who says I’m pretty or even beautiful are clearly lying (and maybe they’re not, but they still say what’s going on with your face? No one loves the spotty thing.) The Face Hate voice is highly unoriginal, repetitive, and cruel.

I tried to embrace the face. I’d take a selfie and stare at my own mug, willing myself to find something to appreciate. That used to work in other periods of self-deprecation, but it was more like a pat on the head than a shift in vision. I stared and stared and saw nothing.

I tried to reason with the hate I have for my face, but it won’t budge.

Dear Face Hate: Don’t you know that aesthetics aren’t the most important thing about this human being? Why don’t you back off and consider all her other good qualities. Nope, it says. You’re cool and all but your face still sucks.

Dear Face Hate: Didn’t the gods of the spotty thing get that no-makeup sacrifice I made? I thought we had a deal here. Nope, it says. Spotty thing is gonna stick around, and so am I.

Dear Face Hate: You’re boring. Why are we doing this everyday? I don’t NEED to be pretty. And it laughs and laughs and laughs. It doesn’t need to say anything, because it knows that if I truly believed that, it wouldn’t be here. I have a choice, right? I can always pick up the brush, and apply pretty if I want it that bad. Do I?

I know that I have the privilege of choosing to wear makeup or not – none of my jobs require me to (overtly or not), so I can stick with this stubborn, uncomfortable experiment. But as much as it sucks, I’m learning that despite my femme politics, I’m so much more affected by heteronormative patriarchal standards of beauty than I’d ever want to admit.

The voice of the face hate sounds like mine, but it’s not. I didn’t put it there, but I also thought myself immune to it, and never noticed its insidious entrance until now.

I’ve come to treat it kind of like running the gauntlet. Get up, shower, brush teeth, then there’s the mirror and the tired refrain. Yeah ok, what’s new? Still hate the face. What’s next? Then I move on to breakfast.

Breakfast used to get quickly passed over in the morning chaos. But an unexpected benefit of skipping makeup is extra time for a tasty meal, and a little bit more room for groceries too.

I wish I could close with redemption, with some positive message about self-compassion, about accepting yourself, even about breakfast. I could post a token photo, bare all and invite reassurances, stand face-naked in all of my vulnerability and hope for absolution. But I know it’s not that simple. There’s no quick fix.

If there’s anything I can accept, it’s that love – for self and others – is turbulent and not always kind, it’s the imperfect state of progress and the slow nature of change. Something will shift, eventually, but for now it’s still spotty.

 

 

Five Star

Chair day

If I have to start somewhere, and I do, it’s going to be the chair.

I’m starting with the chair because before the chair, there wasn’t nothing, but there was nothing great. There were places to sit, and they worked in the way that a handful of nuts works in the midafternoon, just to keep dinner at bay. There were places that held up my bones and muscles and ligaments, this structure that supports me, but they didn’t give much in return.

I sat because sitting was necessary and I wrote and edited because that was necessary too, with deadlines and publication schedules and everything that just has to get done. Now the time to be bound by time is gone, but something needs to take its place. I turn back to the words because I know them and I want them to be home.

But I’m not just mind and words spewing out through fingers, I’m this bag of bones and ligaments that need to assume a posture, they need to settle – I need to settle – and focus, dig into the visceral feeling, burp it out over this keyboard, stretch, and then go back with the technicians edge and polish it up.

Enter the chair.

The chair is a place to sit, but more than that. It’s a throne, a glorious place to be, a solid foundation that yields just a touch with the gentle kindness of a minor lean. The chair is a commitment to diligence and discipline. It has to be, because I’ve never spent this much on a goddamn piece of furniture in my life, and if it isn’t a commitment then it’s a warning sign of reckless behaviour.

Or is it symbolic, a gesture that I’m taking the work that I do while I’m sitting in it, myself included, seriously? Does it really need to be anything more than a chair, why must I justify the writing by a chair, and then justify the chair by writing? Aside from this – this vaguely chair-focused word-vomit – have I even written, or written anything worth reading? Perhaps this was all just a rotten idea.

Pause.

This is the process, it always is, and it always looks the same, or close enough to the last round that I can discern the pattern. Commitment. Optimism. That first creaking lunge, an adrenaline rush. Settling in. An ache, a distraction, heads buried in hands, doubt. Paranoia, questioning, fear, fuck it just run away. Or not.

The trick is to start, and if I have to start somewhere, why not here? So I tell myself, start with where you are. Start with where you will sit. Start with the chair.

It takes two to Scissr

Originally published in the Technology section of the Uniter (Feb 4, 2015). One week, I tasked myself with exploring how this exciting new app could change the dating scene in Winnipeg. I didn’t get very far.

A new lesbian dating app features mostly tumbleweeds

Anyone who says dating is easy and stress-free is lying to you. If it was a walk in the park, most dating and hookup apps wouldn’t exist.

Many apps are designed for straight people, with same-sex options as an afterthought. A cisgender bias – assuming that sex and gender are the same thing – is pretty clear. Mix in a dash of monosexism, and you’ve got a scene that’s still pretty awkward to navigate for queer, trans, and bi folks.

I’ve spent some time on Tinder, and it wasn’t the worst thing ever. They have a slider you can set for only men, only women or both. Whenever I’d hang out in the women-only side, I got to know the There’s no one new around you screen really well after about 5 minutes.

I was pretty excited to hear that Scissr was available in Winnipeg. It’s billed as “The Bespoken Lesbian App”, so if you’re any other shade of queer, prepare for that oh-so-common mental leap. It’s an app for ladies to meet ladies, hopefully. Let’s leave it at that, and explore the Sapphic potential at our fingertips.

The main screen greets you calmly, in sepia tones. It features the back of a woman’s head, wearing a long braid that ends in a red bow. She has her hands on her hips and is gazing off across a mountain valley, confident that across those rocky peaks, she’ll find a lady lover.

I suppose the Winnipeg equivalent would be standing on top of Garbage Hill, squinting into the wind, then giving up and dashing back into your car. That’s about as long as it’ll take you to try your luck on Scissr here.

Like Tinder, the login is processed through Facebook, with a promise that they won’t post on your behalf and inadvertently broadcast your dating life. My login was rejected due to a lack of information, and I was told I could email tech support for an invitation. When my tour was cut short, I went looking for a guide.

Sally (not her real name) has used OkCupid, Plenty of Fish and Scissr. She found the interface confusing. “It’s definitely not as user friendly as the other apps, or as clear,” Sally says.

“It doesn’t tell you where people are – just how close they are to you. Which I think is the same way Grindr works – but, there’s only 3 or 4 other people in Winnipeg on it right now (and thanks to our small city, basically I just always know how far [my friend] is from me.)”

At press time, I was still unable to log into Scissr, but I’m not sure that I’m missing much. Sally put it best: “I honestly can’t imagine what it would be like to be in a city where you could go on there and see how many people are around you.”

An app can’t expand your local dating pool – all it can do is let you know who’s out there. And any app is only as good as the people using it. So if you want to Scissr, give it a try.

Where have I been?

I realized last week that I hadn’t logged into this site in what felt like forever. Really, it’s only been all of 2015, but that isn’t too much (yet).

The truth is that I’ve been writing more than ever, and immersed in other people’s writing as well, just not here. I took on the role of Arts & Culture editor at the Uniter, and it’s been a pretty exciting and intense few months. I’m working with a really strong group of staff writers, and some awesome volunteers as well. Of course, there are a few of my own pieces are finding their way into the mix, but most of my time is spent providing guidance in the pre-writing phase and feedback after.

I had some lofty ideas about being able to continue writing for the weekly yeah write challenges, but lo, that fell right off the edge of my desk. I do miss the community, the support, and the inspiration over in that little corner of the internet and hope to return soon.

But for the end of March – the last few weeks of the production schedule – are most likely going to be single-focused full steam ahead work weeks. I’m thankful that even though writing and editing is very clearly in the realm of daily work now, I haven’t lost the thrill or the joy in it. I’m still just as driven and inspired to hone my craft, and feel a particular specific delight in working with a gem of a piece from my writers. At the moment, that work and inspiration just hasn’t found its way over here.

But I’ll be back, and soon.

 

My year in Canoe

year in review

This year feels like 3 years, at least. Somewhere near the beginning I set out to deconstruct my life and turn it into something now. And now it’s…well, it is something, though I’m not sure what to call it. It’s like looking back on a long canoe trip. The retelling depends on my current mood, the audience, and the ever-rotating whirlpool of memory.

I could just make a list of big moments and life markers, but drawing a map in retrospect is much less of an adventure. Let’s say, for the sake of narrative, that my life over this last year was a canoe.

If I said I spent a year in a canoe to someone who isn’t fond of backwoods travel, or who’s never been in a canoe, they might recoil and horror and exclaim, “Oh, that must have been so horrible and stressful!”. And then, of course, the most strenuous of memories would come to the forefront, and I’d regale this poor city-slicker with tales of long portages, of being eaten alive by mosquitoes, of paddling through the night, never sure of when rest might come.

I’d try to describe the feeling of my fingers slipping on mossy rock as I flailed about in the rapids, watching that purple canoe (if my life is a canoe, it’s definitely purple, ok?) being tossed about and trashed downstream from me. Of finding it covered in cracks, irreparable maybe, and spending days going over it, trying to pull it back together with a pocket knife and some duct tape (who am I kidding? I ran out of duct tape long ago. That canoe, among many other things, is held together with green painter’s tape. Don’t underestimate the resiliency of that green painter’s tape. It’s hardier than it looks).
I’d pull my trusted friend aside and tell them of how, under the cold, indifferent moon, I lay awake and wondered how I’d ever be able to get back on the river the next day.

But I would get back on the river. I’d paddle sluggishly through marshes, canoe overfull and sinking. How did I pack so much into this tiny boat? I wondered, but it all seemed to be stuck together, piled in like a Tetris master, except with no layers magically disappearing to make room for more. My back hurt. My neck hurt. I think at one point I leaned forward and touched my toes, but then they stretched out far in front of me again, as if they were four femurs away. Damn those unattainable toes.

If I was telling this story to someone who’d spent a year or more in a similar canoe, it would sound much different. We’d lock eyes and share a hidden smile, both knowing the delight of steering your own way in the water.

I wouldn’t have to explain how it felt to make a slight adjustment to the tilt of my paddle and see the path change before me, to have the freedom to go at my speed, lackadaisical in the morning and big hustle at dusk. To know that I was neither holding myself back for another paddler to catch up, nor holding anyone else up.

With these quiet moments unspoken, we’d jump right into the brilliant, crashing moments of pure joy. Of scaling a cliff and diving down into deep, clear unknown waters, then floating for a moment on top, held by the river, and climbing out to do it all over again. Of the 21st time the canoe flipped, and I burst out into hysterical laughter because what else was there to do, and then even after I put everything back together again, I still couldn’t stop laughing.

I’d tell them about the nights when I thought I was all alone, pouring my heart out to that same quiet moon, and then looked over to find other canoes pulling up beside me. When I found new friends that had been down this way before and who promised to ring their bells loudly and keep the bears at bay. I swore to ring my bell too, to build a chorus for fellow travellers.

And just when I resigned myself to the idea that I was just going to have to paddle this whole canoe by myself, never handing that paddle over, it seemed to grow a little wider and longer. So I invited some of my friends, new and old, over to paddle with me for a bit. We swapped tips on building campfires and commiserated about the lack of maps. We patched each other’s holes and sang silly limericks to liven up the journey.

I’d never ridden in such a full canoe, but it just seemed to get bigger and bigger, fuller and fuller, yet even with the growing crowd on board, it just got more buoyant. It seemed to be the size of a yacht, though without the same amenities. It wasn’t a yacht, I told myself. This is an aberration, it’ll be just me in a tiny canoe again soon enough. That’s how it’s always been, that’s how it always will be.

But I’m sitting here on the dock now, at trip’s end, and I can’t deny the fact that this boat can no longer be called canoe. It’s some kind of freaky cruise ship, and it’s full to bursting. It’s a really odd shape, as if an architect was tasked with building something called “big ship” with the dismantled pieces of a long-haul rig and no instructions. It’s definitely held together with a lot of green painter’s tape, and mostly serves frozen pizza and soda. Lots of its mail comes on fancy red paper, but it floats.

Perhaps this year sounds less like your typical canoe trip and more like one of those dreams you have after you ate a slightly mouldy muffin, but I swear, it’s the honest truth.

Not Sorry Bus

"Canadian bus crash"

“Canadian bus crash”

Our apologetic buses are kind of a joke. Image and text, a bus front with its route banner blank, reading simply, “SORRY”. More text, added, explaining something about Canadianness in general, politeness, deference.

That one word, sorry, has the potential to hold much deeper meaning. It can be the introduction to considering the impact of one’s actions on others, to feeling some kind of regret, to intending something better for the future. On a bus-face it’s perfunctory. It’s a pre-emptive shield against future rage. How can you be mad at me? howls a cloud of exhaust fading into the distance, I said I was sorry.

It falls out of warm lips inside buses as backpacks swing into faces, bodies wrapped in parkas squeeze together more than they all would like. It’s held out like a torch to part the crowds. Excuse me, sorry, sorry, coming through, sorry.

We speak to each other like a bus marquee. Hello. How are you. I’m good. I’m sorry. Words scroll across our faces, meaning long frozen and faded, a simple redundant sound. We mean oops, we say sorry, then we scuttle off like an empty bus.

There’s a second line not shown in this bus-borne sketch of laughable Canadiana, though, the companion to SORRY. The marquee cleans, and it reads NOT IN SERVICE, then back to SORRY, and on and on as the driver races to the beginning of the route or back to the garage for either home or dead time in the middle of an all-too-common split shift.

Maybe the second line doesn’t suit the meme-makers in its factual abruptness. It’s a sharp ending to a casual tale of apologia. I have nothing to offer you and I’m leaving, says the bus. Not the meme bus, though. Maybe the meme form wasn’t made for second lines, for nuance, for both/and.

Yesterday, as the -40 wind froze my lips, I watched a bus skate by, blaring its usual banner phrase: SORRY. But the side marquee told a different story.

In a frozen half second, a moment tinier than an ice crystal, I saw the line before the second line, before SORRY was cleared and NOT IN SERVICE took its place. Right in front of my frozen eyeballs the bus nonchalantly announced NOT SORRY, and then sped away.

Those who disregard the second line won’t care that it’s now been reclassified as third, won’t care that a middle chapter has now been etched into this mini-synopsis of Canadiana, our symbolic personality edified in photos of buses poached from news sites.

But we of the icy bus stop, of the wiggling toes and dwindling hope, we who squint into the darkness looking for that familiar constellation of lights that we recognize as warmth and mobility, we care about the new second line.

Even if it’s the most short-lived of all bus announcements, it’s the truest message I’ve ever seen transmitted from public service to public.

And so I present to you the modified mantra of the frozen, passengerless, Winnipeg Transit bus:

SORRY

NOT SORRY

NOT IN SERVICE

Lessons in Music

We started with noisemakers, my brother and I. Spinning bells in rainbow colours and toy xylophone that made a joyous noise when held against the spinning bells. Use the mallets, mom would say. You’re going to chip it.

When I was 4, I got my first guitar. I suppose it was a parlour guitar, big enough to grow into, small enough to almost get my tiny body around it. It was cheap wood, but I’d pull a good 14 years out of it, until the body was held together with duct tape and the neck was warped.

And a few years later, I took piano lessons. A keyboard joined the fray at home, though I didn’t really practice much. I got the sheet music to “Imagine” by John Lennon for Christmas one year, a welcome departure from the unfamiliar lullabies I was learning from the piano teacher. I didn’t know these popular songs, the supposedly common songs from the piano books I tucked into my homemade tote bag. I knew the songs from my mom’s tattered folk song book, from the sections she liked, like Hard Times & Blues, and Mountain Songs.

There were some children’s songs mixed in, like “I Come and Stand”, a song about a child who died in Hiroshima, narrated by his ghost. We sang them together, songs about death and war and peace and aging and loneliness. We sang murder ballads, we sang the blues.

I took some voice lessons from the piano teacher too, but what she really wanted to teach me was the word of God. She sent me home with Bibles, including was a comic book version which I read, like any other book, cover to cover. It was a cool story, and good to know. The proselytizing crept up slowly, though, and began to take up more time in the lessons. I stopped going.

I jumped from the folk songs of the 60s to the rock n roll of the 90s, found a tab book for Hole and learned power chords. I got an electric guitar, and then a bass. My dad taught me how to use a distortion pedal. You can fuck up all you want and it’ll still sound awesome, he told me.

I never really played guitar out of the house, but I took my bass and joined a band, and another, and another. I took my dad’s advice about the distortion and extended it to my attitude: turn it up, and put on a good show. The lessons became more informal, more experiential. Advice in the van, before and after a show, in the bathroom over smokes.

I made the requisite noise at band practice, but at home I was silent. Hearing just my own parts with such precision, each solo sloppy bass note, felt clinical. It was too clean. I didn’t want to hear myself fucking up, I wanted to just throw my own little piece into a wall of sound.

I left a band, a band left me, I left a band, a band left me, I jumped around. Life got chaotic and I took a step back from bands, from shows, from playing with other people. I set up my instruments at home, in a little shrine of my own. I came home late at night and picked up my guitar. I’d learn a song and then work on it for hours until it was perfect. I’d rather sing and play than sleep, than eat, than work, than anything.

Those who knew me when I was always in bands would ask, are you playing with anyone right now?

No, I’d reply sheepishly.

There were times before this when I wasn’t in a band, and I felt like I didn’t exist. A part of me was missing without performing. I could barely go to a show without heartache, feeling trapped in the crowd. I want to be up there, I want to be on the stage was all I could see or think.

This time, though, it was harder to explain. I was playing so much more frequently, more passionately, more skillfully than every before. Just not in public or with other people. I felt like more of a musician than ever, but without that kind of public proof, that word – musician – seemed to land with a hollow thud. A short nod that whispered, yeah…right.

If you play at home with no one to hear it, are you still a musician?

Maybe if the short answer is yes, the long answer is yes and no and yes. There’s a part of this that can’t happen alone, and a part of this that can’t happen any other way but alone.

piano bag

My homemade tote bag, the one with music-sheet printed all over it that used to carry my unfamiliar lullaby piano books and cartoon bibles, is just the right size for records. And tonight I filled it up and carried it over to a new kind of music lesson, a mini DJ school for lovers of vinyl who also did a basic digital DJing class over the last few years.

We talked shop, talked music, practiced beat matching. We listened carefully to each other’s selections, learning a bit about different tastes. We all heard combinations of music we would have never thought about on our own. We were challenged to use our brains, ears, and hands in a new way, to try making cool sounds in front of a friendly audience.

None of us have turntables or mixing boards at home, so at this point, practicing at all is out of the question. But in these few short sessions, we can share our skills and love of music, and that’s what musicians do.

Day 26, or so

Well, it’s the home stretch, the final few days of blogging every day, or almost every day, at least. I may have missed one or two. I’ll have to go back and check.

I realize it’s a bit early to be reflecting, but at this moment, I’m really considering how this challenge has affected my writing and blogging practice.

There’s a lot I want to write about, and it crosses many genres and topic areas, and that’s fine. I think that there’s still room for all of it here. Room for politics, room for fun, room for reminiscing, room for exploring different writing forms.

But another thing I’ve realized is that if this is something I’m going to be doing, I need to make room for it too. This can’t just be an afterthought, as I’m brushing my teeth – oh, that piece that’s been swimming around in my head all day, it needs to be written (at 11 p.m.) And the night owl in me craves the night time for writing, but in the morning, I feel wrecked by the late nights at the computer, day after day after day.

In subtle ways, I’ve let go of other things to make space for this. Like writing for yeah write, which I miss. Like my bedtime routine, which was just getting its momentum back. Like a good chunk of doubt and self-criticism, which can keep running off into the horizon, thank you very little.

Continuing this kind of writing practice, I’m also reconsidering my role in a larger community of readers and writers. I’m considering my responsibility, and the kinds of messages I want to support and amplify. The world moves quickly, and if I’m to dive in to write about it, that needs its own kind of space too. Space to read, reflect, and then react in a measured way.

I often feel both relieved and nostalgic at the end of a project. As this commitment is coming close to wrapping up, I feel those, but I also feel motivated to move forward, excited. After almost a month of “just do it”, I know I mostly can. And now I want to do it better.

Hermit Girl Leaves the House

Is it the sudden darkness of an 7 pm that feels like the dead of night, or the weather, or the never-ending list of tasks, or a sudden turn towards introspection that inspired this longer-than-expected run of hermit-dom?

All of the above, maybe. But today, hermit girl has left the house, and not just in the daytime. Daytime and nighttime. She’s going to see a show, missing her brother who was going to be here with her, but is somewhere awesome instead. Off traveling and adventuring. So instead of brother, hermit girl is sitting next to her friendly backpack, early because the bus said so, waiting for the first band.

She’s wondering, as she’s heard many friends wonder for years, when she got so old and everybody else got so young. She thought they were joking, the friends. They didn’t seem that old, and everyone else (which, at that time, probably included her) didn’t seem so young. She hopes that if she said this out loud, someone would laugh at her like she laughed at her older friends when she was so young. She looks up and around, there are no faces she knows who would laugh.

Not yet, at least. Maybe they will show up.

Hermit girl looks around and tries not to judge. It’s a defensive reflex, a conditioned social reaction to the awkwardness of being alone, this sniping at others. It’s not really all that fun, but there ARE so many beards, does every guy wear a beard these days? Whatever. Live and let live. Ignore the beards, hermit girl. Alone is not so bad.

She turns back to her phone, pulls her jacket in from the aisle a bit, takes a deep breath, looks around. That girl over there is yawning, at least it’s not unusual to be tired this early.

It’s almost time for the first band. Maybe it’s time for a soda. Or maybe it’s time to find a new place to hermit down for the night, a little nook among the crush of bodies where somehow, in the midst of all these people, she can be comfortably alone.