Experiences

I spent all of last week in New York with a housemate for Spring Break. As a brief summary, I had a fantastic week, but just traveling and having no real job but to experience things and sightsee and take in the world was really relieving and eye-opening.

 

I love to write (if the blog or the numerous posts up until this point didn’t clue you in already). In junior high, I wrote a short book, published entirely online, and then removed it all a little while later in an interesting teenage attempt to erase myself online. It wasn’t a particularly good book, but it was a story that possessed me and wouldn’t let me go until I’d written in out. I don’t even remember how it ends, or even what happens. 

 

I recently felt another story coming on, like those sneezes that tempt you and then don’t actually manifest. And being in New York gave me a lot of ideas, just because it was a break in the norm — I was away from home and away from the routine of going to my parents’ home on breaks and seeing new things. I started to remember when I was younger, bored with school, and lived to have those new experiences and to condense all the things I loved about the museums and the travel and the stories into narratives of my own. 

 

I tried to puzzle out what happened between then and now, when I’d stopped seeing stories and hearing songs in the small things I met with every day. I put it down to college, basically. But its also a neglect on my part. I feel as if a redirecting of my creative brain away from analytical papers and back to artistic endeavors may be in short order (at least for a little while). 

 

What I’m eventually trying to get at here is it all comes back down to openness. Interruptions, reversals, sudden stops and falls wake us up to where we are and who we are with, and make us listen to the world around us more. For me, that looks like stories, and sometimes pictures that I may or may not draw. It may look different for you, or not.

 

Seek out the new, or the unseen, even if you don’t like it, experiences are precious.

 

-B&C

“who?”

Identity is a really big thing. And complex. There are probably tens of millions of books and theses and just as many frustrated researchers toiling over and dissecting this topic in all its myriad forms.I understand that however messy the things are, they can be kind of necessary as a way of understanding an individual’s relationship to the rest of the world, their country, their community, or even their family.

 

Over the past few weeks I’ve found it amazing how identities can come not-so-neatly wrapped; and arrive to you like a gift you’d assumed was meant for someone else but was actually yours all along. After beating this subject over and over again with several friends and acquaintances, I’ve found that they do not always fit the way we think they will. In trying to make sense of who we are, we struggle to define based on an astounding amount of established and understood identities that do not necessarily work.

 

You’re bisexual, but you lean towards one gender/sex. You hold more than one citizenship but relate better to one or the other. You get anxious when someone asks where you’re from because there are three beloved cities in which you left parts of your childhood and you don’t know which one is really “home.”

 

This is a rudimentary (and probably ridiculous) distillation, but identity for me is a theory. It’s an outline. The words that people use to describe me (and the words I use to describe myself, for that matter) are expedient. They are the best fit, and they are by no means perfect. The ways in which you deviate and contradict the “theory” are just as relevant, if not more so than the ways in which you follow it.

 

[I should just retitle this blog as "people are complicated" and just cut right to the chase.]

 

-B&C

a moment

sundown in Siwa Oasis, Egypt, spring 2013. taken by Rachel Stainer

This is for those moments in your life when you are mysteriously assured that everything is fine. That nothing really matters (in an existential way at least) and things you thought were confusing and incomprehensible suddenly make sense. You may not see the connection, but something is quietly assuring you that they are connected.

This is for when a tiny part of your brain is realizing that those things you did are not completely separate from each other – and that they’re showing you slowly and bit by bit who you are and what you’re doing.

 

Happy Friday everyone!

-B&C

 

on the magical crises of uncertainty

“You never know until you try” is, I am discovering, one of the most ludicrously and widely accurate phrases ever to be introduced into the English languages. I’m sure it’s out there in other languages too, but that’s irrelevant.

 

I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I’m going to be finishing my undergraduate education in the next few months, and anything after that is an absolute mystery to me. I’m so fed up with people who I barely know sauntering up and asking:

 

“So what are you doing after you graduate?”

 

And they’re not trying to be mean, I know, they’re either just curious or are desperately searching for a conversation facilitator appropriate for someone of my age and situation. There’s nothing wrong with that. I am, however, so damn done with being asked that question that I’ve set up a small arsenal of slightly-feasible-but-fantastic answers as rebuttal. A sample:

 

“I’m moving to the Gulf and marrying a rich man.”

 

“I’m going to become a lumberjack.”

 

“I’m going to become a high-class escort.”

 

“I’ve decided I work best in this world as a chalkboard.”

 

That last was not feasible, but you get the point. Because I didn’t enjoy at all facing up to the fact that I didn’t know what I wanted to do after I graduated. That tense made it sound like I’ve figured this out–I haven’t, even now. So what’s spurring this post is that over the last few days I’ve been pressed to put out applications for internships as part of my major’s capstone project. Just doing that alone has done so much for my own benefit — I hadn’t really critically thought about how to apply myself and my knowledge into the practice of being a functioning adult with (maybe) a job. But applying and making those connections has at least helped in taking the small steps toward understanding what I liked about my studies, what I want to do more of, and what more I have yet to and am in fact desperate to learn.

 

In short: learning slowly that uncertainty is paralyzing, and the only way to not be uncertain is to try something (even if it’s awful). You’ll at least learn what you don’t like.

 

That’s all for today,

-B&C

 

Logistics: I think I’m going to aim for a weekly post, probably on Fridays/Saturdays. I’m trying to write a little bit every day during the week and then condense them or pick the best for a weekly update.

Resolutions 2014

Image

[Old Chemainus Rd. outside my Granny's former house in Chemainus, BC, Canada, taken December 2008]

 

School is out, the holidays are over, and loads of people are sitting around in a food-induced daze making promises to themselves for the new year that may be slightly lined with bullshit. Not always, but it’s nice to start out the new year optimistic, eh?

 

I really didn’t get what the point of resolutions was until a few years ago, when I suddenly and violently realized that you don’t really get anything done if you don’t have a goal as to what you want to do. It’s okay to have a goal to figure out what you’re doing if you really have no clue, but in many cases goals are necessary (even if you don’t reach them) to serve as markers as to how far you’ve come and how far you want or need to go.

 

I have some resolutions. The one I’m going to share so far is that one of them involves a tattoo I have wanted since May and served as part of the foundation for this blog. I also want to learn how to better connect with people, and how to be less afraid to love things. The point is, without some idea of where I want to go and what I want to do as a human in this year I’m not really going to progress at all. And if there has been anything I have learned well over the past year it has been that if we do not continue changing, we cease to be really human (or at least we just become very dull and subconsciously unsatisfied with our lives). 

 

In sum, this is my New Year’s wisdom (aside from the fact that I need to make my liver stop suffering on this one particular holiday): continue to look critically at yourself and continue to change and improve. This is probably obvious knowledge to everyone, but it’s something that can be repeated.

 

Happy New Year,

B&C

 

——

 

Mildly logistical things: I’m going to try for a once-weekly post on this in order to just keep it going. I am also not going to share anymore of my poetry from high school because I am actually more ashamed of it than I was of the last one I posted (though I can’t promise no more poetry, really). 

 

I am right now in the midst of translating things for my research project (I work over breaks, it’s a problem I have) in a dark and empty house, and I suspect the rest of the people who live here are down at the pub and have forgotten me, ALAS.

Poetry

This is a poem I wrote in High School and (I think) submitted for the Poetry Out Loud thing either during my Junior or Senior year. It’s bad but I kind of still like it so it’s going up here. Judging on content, I was probably having boy problems. Typical.

 

He walks into the room

a deadly (Noble) gas

his presence touching all corners.

 

You wait. You watch.

Inhale, deep breaths

a glance outside—

the world is wide and sky cracked open,

sweet, solid blue

 

He is only so big as these flat walls,

expanding filling up the space

in your home and in your head;

 

but the doors are open,

gas is not enough—

a hot-air balloon against an eggshell sky.

 

- B&C

ps. Dead week/finals are still in full swing. 

Research/Life

Hey hey hey. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m in my last year of undergraduate learning and I’m writing a thesis (because I’m the type who wanted to/volunteered to do it). This is my own personal experience, but doing research and putting together this project is teaching me way more about life, research, and academic work than literally anything else that I have encountered in my whole four years of undergraduate education. And I go to a pretty well-known university.

 

This is the main thing that I wanted to just throw out there today. It’s basically just “figuring it out.” 

 

Being an academic perfectionist (strong studier, always highly prepared, et cetera et cetera) with the various tests, midterms, and papers I have had that I have slowly realized don’t really matter in the long run, I always sort of snobbishly assumed that academic work happened in two stages: (1) Prepare, study, “learn”; and (2) Perform/write/express.

 

This is not how it works. This is probably something that is very commonly known and I’m only just realizing, but I am finding it profound and relieving. The whole process is teaching me essentially this: you are never fully prepared. You will never know everything. In fact, you will come closer to knowing everything you need to know by blurring the lines between these two constructed “stages” of academic work — you “learn” some, then you maybe write down some of your own ideas or analysis, and by writing realize that you really don’t know enough about such-and-such and need to go do more research.

 

In short, a more serious approach is far more interactive between the project and the researcher. You cannot know all and then start writing, you must start and do a bit of each in order to find the direction that you want to take instead of a huge mash of facts. It will never be perfect, but then again neither are you, nor anything else in this world.

 

- B&C

 

(ps. this is not a cop-out, but I’m entering the endgame of this particular semester so posts will either be few and far between until about Christmas or happen frequently as study breaks/procrastination)