forcemyselftowrite

This is an attempt to encourage (force) myself to write more. We'll see how it goes.

Blue Raspberry Lollipops (part 1)

This is the first part of a piece that I had planned to submit for the CBC short story “Creative Non-Fiction” contest… Until the deadline came and went, and it was not quite finished.

I call this “Part 1,” but whether I’ll ever get around to posting part 2 is anybody’s guess.

Blue Raspberry Lollipops

I remember eating my lunch in the elementary school cafeteria—it was as far away from my classroom and locker as you could get, and settled right across from the East Gym (not to be confused with the West Gym on the opposite side of the school, which I could look forward to using during assemblies and my high school physical education classes).

I used to save up my two-dollar-a-week allowance, and then spend it on sour candies and curly fries, which were perfectly brown and crunchy and potato-y (as proper fries should be).

The 25 cent lollipops were a favourite amongst my group of friends and I, where the challenge was to get through the hard candy layer of sour lemonade or bitter blue raspberry in order to get to the bubble gum inside; “Warheads,” too, where again you were sucking and sucking to get the sour flavoured dust off the outside, your mouth watering insanely the whole time, waiting to get to the sweet candy underneath, before you are surprised again by the hard candy shell breaking open to reveal a liquid blast of pure sour on your tongue. In shock, you make a face, although you always try not to, and your friends laugh, because they know: you’ve reached that final layer. The final challenge of the sour blast.

They weren’t just candies, really—they were a trial, a test.

You could go for the win with these candies in two different ways. You can amuse everyone with a terribly over-acted reaction to the sour, or you keep your cool by holding your face steady and not letting your eyes or mouth contract with the sour. This was always my game—the game of keeping control, of keeping a straight face. Don’t show how much the sour is affecting your taste buds and nerves, as your tongue comes up with more and more saliva in a desperate attempt to counteract the battle being waged on its territory. Keep your lips relaxed and loose, and your eyes calm. Don’t look panicked, don’t look shocked. In fact, try to look as if you’re enjoying the sensation. It’s not a lie—on some level, you really are. Let yourself feel the triumph as the sour finally gives way to sweet, and you know that you’ve won. Sure, your friends will only be impressed for a second, but you get to add this moment to your list of victories, which, at the age of nine or ten, are surprisingly numerous.

This is important.

Later in life, all you will remember are the losses, but at least you will have this store of wins lined up behind you. All of the times you managed to face the sour enemy with composure and strength, and won.

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Play Your Ukulele

Back in the crazy writing-driven month of November, about two, maybe three weeks in, I found myself in a bit of a slump.

Talking to my brother, I used the term “creatively bored.”

I had been working on the same story for almost a whole month at that point, and was feeling as if there was no purpose to it, and, frankly, hated my story at that time. I had very little time for other creative pursuits, and felt a little unfulfilled by the awful writing I was forcing myself to do.

So, being “creatively bored,” I had to come up with a solution—another outlet—fast. I turned to my brother, and I’m sure I had never thought of this before that moment, but I said to him, “Natey, I think I want to get a ukulele.”

The idea was planted. I didn’t go out and buy one at that time. Budget and time management wouldn’t allow it. But then, about a week ago, I thought to myself, I think I’m going to buy a ukulele this week.

Some credit has to go to Laura Benanti, who is a fabulous Broadway soprano who, on her live performance album, played a song on the ukulele. That did it for me. Ukulele was no longer just an instrument for folky hipster trendsetters (that’s an oxymoron, right?), but for regular ol’ classically trained performing artists like myself!

And so I have found myself with a new creative pursuit. A new way to accompany myself when singing, and a better use of my time than TV (which I already get enough, if not too much, of as it is).

…and here she is!!!

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Winter Poems

IMG-20131121-01010Cold, cold, wicked cold,

It freezes, cuts, and blinds.

Icy crystals cover all surfaces

Foolish enough to challenge them.

Breath freezes in the lungs,

Snot in the nose.

Eyes tear up

And become icicles on your lashes.

Faces turn pink

Fingers and toes go numb

The world—so silent

You can hear the ground freeze

And the tree creaking with cold

And the wind howling over the land.

White. White everywhere,

Glistening, pristine.

The winter may be hard,

And may be dangerous,

But it’s a challenge we face together

And the inside of your house will never feel warmer, safer, or cozier.

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Fuck, it’s cold!

(Snow brings out the curses)

You rub your hands together furiously

And stamp your feet

Trying desperately to stay warm.

I love the cold.

I love the snow.

I love the winter.

I look outside

At piles of snow

And a thermometer that reads 20 below

And I am excited

And I can’t wait for it to get colder.

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Day 4 Woes

Oi. Four days in, and I’m already sick of this story I’m attempting to write.

NaNoWriMo seemed like a really good idea back in October, but now that I’m having to write 1600+ words a day just to keep up, it’s feeling a little overwhelming.

That, and I still don’t know where my story is going. With short stories and blog posts, I don’t worry about this as much. It takes less than an hour of my time, so if it doesn’t end up going anywhere, I don’t feel bad putting it aside and moving on to other things, but with the 50 000 word mark looming before me, I feel like this has really got to go somewhere.

So here’s the question: is it worth it to spend all month working on a lengthy pursuit like this if, in the end, no one is going to see it? Heck, I didn’t even reread my 30 000 word trial story from July, so what’s to say I’ll bother looking back at this current project.

I suppose you could say that it’s worth it just to complete a goal, to set myself a challenge, to keep myself occupied, to see what I’m capable of, to have a project to work on, to be committed to something… And I guess you would be correct in all of those things.

Of course I’m not quitting. Of course I will slog through all 50 000 words, 100 at a time if I have to. And, of course, I may not enjoy a single second of it (although I certainly hope that that’s an exaggeration), but it may just be worth it in the end to have finished something.

So here’s to finishing something. Wish me luck.

Day Trip to Vimy Ridge–Photos

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A beautiful little piece of Canada in France

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Making our way through the Canadian and German trenches—which were only about 25 metres apart

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Hilary, Jesse, Sophie

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Walking up to the monument

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Lady Canada

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It was a really beautiful, and very touching trip. Nice to get out of the city, and visit a little bit of Canada. The monument is just as picturesque in person as it is in all of the photos.

Tourism, From Paris to Edmonton

In Paris, a majority of the photos I took were taken with my Blackberry. I’m no professional photographer, but I like preserving the memories, and my phone takes pretty great outdoor shots.

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Then of course, after coming back to Edmonton, I’m constantly finding scenes, people, and things I want to photograph in my everyday life. Thus, I’ve taken to continue being a tourist… At least in the picture-taking way. Conveniently, my grandparents were visiting this past week, and we decided to take a trip to the Muttart Conservatory (would you believe I’d never been before?).

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So, all in all, I’m discovering the benefits of capturing memories, whether or not they may be particularly unique or separate from your day to day life. That, and enjoying the scenes happening all around me.

November

November has turned into a month of goals. Finishing off the contract in Barkerville felt great, but left me moving back to Edmonton with very little external purpose in life.

Now, after a vacation in Paris (which I’m sure will have many posts dedicated to it in future), I’ve returned with goals and aims and purposes galore.

NaNoWriMo

NaBloPoMo (which I confess I only found out about ten minutes ago–just in time to not miss a post for November 1st)

Auditions/Job interviews

Classes

Solo cabaret work

It’s all adding up to a very exciting, very stressful month, but I’ve realized recently that I really like having just a bit of stress in my life; it helps motivate me, and I find it easy to feel fulfilled when I know I’m accomplishing things that are meaningful to me.

So here is my commitment and my challenge to myself: write my 50 000 words for NaNoWriMo, as well as my 30 blog posts for the National Blog Post Month; audition as much as possible, and prepare a demo reel for myself or future purposes; prepare a solo cabaret for the new year/early December.

Closing Day

Today is the last day of the Barkerville 2013 summer season, and after taking a day to pack and clean up the apartment, Jesse and I will be onto the next. For us, this means a trip to Cranbrook, BC, to visit my extended family (most of whom he hasn’t met yet–wish us luck), then back to Edmonton for a couple of weeks before our fabulous trip to Paris!

It’s sad to say goodbye, though. Like the closing of every show I’ve ever been in, once you’ve immersed yourself so fully into this lifestyle, it’s sad and somewhat numbing to leave it behind. Sometimes the tears come, but often you’re left feeling a little disconnected–unable to register the change all at once. Slowly, it will come to you; you’ll get caught up in the next phase of your life and be able to look back with perspective and an interesting mix of fondness and amusement and, often, a bit of regret as well. You’ll flip (virtually or physically) through your photo albums of the adventure, remembering the best and the worst and some of the most mundane times. But for now–right before packing the car and leaving, or taking down the set and moving out of the theatre–you just feel a little “off,” and possibly a little sad, because you’re not sure what else to feel, and probably a little relieved to have finished another something.

That’s where I’m at right now. Sitting on my couch, laptop on my crossed legs, and feeling a little strange to be heading into my last day of a 21 week contract. Excited to be onto the next: seeing family and friends again, looking forward to and putting together an itinerary for Paris, planning some little projects of my own, and signing up for dance, theatre, and voice classes; while at the same time, knowing how much I’m going to miss Barkerville, the Wells community, and this beautiful Cariboo Country I’ve been living in for five months, I feel sad in anticipation of all the missing I’m going to be doing in the near future. Special mention is due to our “street interpreter” friends, Dayna and Dylan, who are headed back to Langley. We’ve worked together, watched movies together, played games together, taken crazy photos together, and sung together, and it’s been wonderful being so close to such great people and great friends throughout this summer. Shout out to Katherine, too, who left a month ago, but hopefully we won’t have to miss her for too much longer–she lives in Edmonton!

So goodbye! Goodbye Wells! Goodbye Barkerville! Goodbye loved-and-hated hoop skirt and temperamental hurdy-gurdy! Goodbye friends! Goodbye fabulous fur coat! Goodbye unbelievably star-filled BC skies! Goodbye summer!

Leaving for Paris

From my family trip to Europe in the spring of 2008

From my family trip to Europe in the spring of 2008

Back in May, I got it into my head to take a trip to Paris. That little yen grew so strong that it became a plan and then a travel itinerary. Now Jesse and I have a trip booked at the end of October to spend 9 days in France, staying in a little hotel between the Moulin Rouge and the Paris Opera House. I’ve spent the last few weeks compiling lists of places to see, stores to shop at, things to do, things to buy, etc. Your essential travel lists, really.

While we’re in the city, there will be not one, but two operas playing: “Aida” at the Bastille, and “Cosi fan tutte” at the Garnier. Cheap seats (nosebleeds) can be bought an hour before showtime for only 5/10 euros!

I found a theatre–the Theatre de Essaion–and there is a woman who does a cabaret featuring the songs of Edith Piaf every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night.

I’m really excited to go back to Notre Dame–I remember reading “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” during my family’s few days in Paris more than 5 years ago. And while we’re in the area, I’ll definitely be checking out the Shakespeare and Company bookstore.

Jesse’s mom is contributing to our trip a 6 day Paris Museum pass, so we’ll be checking out all of Paris’ museums and galleries whenever we aren’t out and about doing anything else.

Of course, in the next few weeks leading up to the trip, I’ll be searching and planning and listing some more. These are just a few highlights I’ve come up with recently. If you have any suggestions/corrections/additions, feel free to let me know! For now, it’s all just excitement with only a little bit of actual planning.

Being Alone

I used to consider myself to be an “extroverted introvert”… Whatever that meant at the time… But lately I’ve been thinking that I may be exactly the opposite.

I don’t like being alone. It makes me feel lazy and unproductive, no matter what I’m doing, whereas I find fulfillment and motivation in simply being around other people. Even though too many social engagements tend to be very draining, with them I find it easy to feel a sense of purpose, in simply having some human interaction. Of course, I still value alone time, but for me alone time, ironically, is best served with another person around. At the very least, having Jesse or a member of my family in the next room.

Especially in the morning, I enjoy having a couple of hours to myself, to shower, and sit down with breakfast and a coffee in front of my laptop to do some writing–all while Jesse is still asleep. As the day goes on, I find that I like being alone less and less. Ideal quiet time turns into reading while he plays video games, or watching a movie together.

So, although I often find myself complaining about my need for a night off of people, I really just want a quiet night at home with Jesse, or a movie night with Dayna and Dylan. Same goes for my days off: as much as I’m happy to have some time away from work, I really dislike spending so many hours alone. I feel numbed and unfulfilled.

It will be exciting for me to get back to a city where lunch and coffee dates are just a phone call away. As much as Wells is a friendly community, while everyone else is at work on my day off, I’m stuck at home alone, with only the Gilmore Girls for company.

I’m very much looking forward to getting back home to Edmonton. This summer’s been great, but I’m ready to move on.

My excuse to get out of the house on a lonely Thursday

My excuse to get out of the house on a lonely Thursday