Chaos and Madness

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The chaos and madness is heightening – growing in depth and intensity as it rolls, snowball like, towards me and around me. I am drowning in it. I am buried in stacks of it. I am freefalling through it. My mind is rushing with a hundred thousand thoughts as it plans and dreams and attempts to make sense of things. Life is currently one giant adventure.

Let’s start with the most obvious source of the chaos. I am currently running BC’s oldest and largest independent newspaper – on my own. Usually there’s two of us, and my boss is the genius behind it. She’s taking a month off however, and it has fallen to me to write and edit text, book and create ads and inserts, deal with distribution, update the website, edit photos, process cheques and visas, lay out the paper, proofread the finished product, and ship the whole thing to the press. I have my boss to help me occasionally by email, I can phone one of our writers if I really need help with the text, and my boss’s daughter is going to help with the proofreading – but there is no one in the office but me, day after day. To add to all that, the advertising has suddenly picked up to a speed I haven’t seen since last summer. I am swamped in emails and phone calls, advertising rates and accounting.

Time for the next thing on the list of insanity. I decided that now would be a good time to apply for college. Actually, if I want to start in September, it’s the only time. The deadline is April 30, but – as I’ll explain in the next paragraph – all of April is off limits for me. So what with rushing to write resumes, set up a time to do the entrance exam, and research every news story of the last four months that might come up on the test, I have a lot to do. I’m super excited about the program I’ve found too, and I really do want to get in. It’s a two year journalism program at Langara College. And of course, it costs money. So add researching bursaries, scholarships and student loans to my list.

And then there’s my beautiful travel plans. They are rushing to meet me. Time is ticking and there still remains much to do. I plan to leave April 5th or 6th – in little over a month. I still need to set up a new bank account, and honestly, banking gives me the biggest headache of all headaches. It makes me want to run into the woods and live life as a moneyless hermit. So there’s that. Then there’s my plane tickets, rail pass, and travel insurance to get – which I can’t do until I get my bank account. There is also still plenty of the fun bits of the planning to be had – looking at hostels and deciding where I’m going to go, what I’m going to do, and how I’m going to get there. If I’m ever bored – which, for some weird reason, I’m not – I can always wander around google street view scouting out the beautiful old buildings I want to visit.

On top of all this there is my writing. My sister tore my poor novel to pieces, as I knew she would. I now have to weigh her advice and pick which suggestions to follow and which to discard. I need to do some rethinking, some rewriting and some reconsidering. There is lots to think about.

Other little things that cloud my mind include the looming threat of doing my taxes for the first time – somehow I have to do all that before I go travelling – and the decrepit, falling apart state of my house. I have to figure out what’s going on with my semi-broken composting toilet, bug my landlord to reattach the drainpipe to my sink because it keeps falling off, and keep a watchful eye on my bathtub to make sure it doesn’t fall through the floor and send me and my bathwater to the underworld.

All this means my mind is constantly doing cartwheels. It’s fun and interesting, and super exciting. It’s also damn stressful at times, but I have begun to really like the feeling of having awesome new ideas to plan and undertake. So it’s a little bit of fun, a little bit of adventure, a little bit of stress and a lot of tired. A pretty good mix of chaos, if there ever was one.

Fictional Crushes

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So I thought I’d have some fun and divulge a list of all of my fictional crushes. Actually, it’s mostly just a list of anyone I’ve ever had a crush on, minus one or two people who actually exist. Fictional men have ruined me for reality.

1. George Cooper – As my longest and greatest obsession, George has to come first. I was in love with him for literal years…. not only that, but I was actually obsessed. Heck, I wrote poetry about that man. From the land of Tortall – created by Tamora Pierce – he had a wicked sense of humour, a crooked smile,  a kind heart and a bad-ass nature. He cut off people’s ears if they annoyed him, but I was willing to look past that. He was the King of the Thieves, after all. It was his duty to cut off people’s ears and keep a collection of them.

2. Aragorn – How can anyone read Lord of the Rings and not fall in love with Aragorn? Head over heels. He’s sexy. What’s more, my favourite quote in the entire world is based off of him. Not all that glitters is gold, not all those who wander are lost… I won’t rehearse the whole thing, but if you don’t have it memorized I suggest you go memorize it. It is the most beautiful bit of poetry the world has ever seen. And it belongs to a strong, brave, epic king of old. They just don’t make people like that anymore.

3. Faramir – If you’ve just watched the Lord of the Rings movies and not read the books, you might not understand how damn awesome Faramir is. Nonetheless, awesome he is. He was never proud, like his brother Boromir, and the power of the Ring could not break his resolve. He was strong and kind – but humble also.

4. Sirius Black – For some reason I have no crushes on anyone in the younger generations of the Harry Potter universe. But I love padfoot. His younger self had a carefree grace about him that was impossible not to love. His older self had a deep well of wisdom – of wisdom and strength.

5. Remus Lupin – Shippers of wolfstar, please don’t say anything. I know you’re dying to, but just… don’t. I think I love Remus a little more than Sirius. He had the maturity that the other marauders lacked. I think it was because he had been on the outside so often. Along with his maturity came modesty, and  determination to do what is right – whatever the cost.

6. Fred Weasley – I’m not sure why, but I always liked Fred more than his twin. Even though they were so similar… I loved Fred more. Him and his brother were the perfect carefree mischief makers, capable of laughter in the hardest of times – they knew how to turn on a light even in the darkest of times.

Alright, that is it for now, though I’m sure there are others I have loved over the years. I’d also just like to point out that all of my Harry Potter characters share a common trait – they’re all dead. Yeah, thanks JK Rowling.

As you can see, I’ve had more crushes on fictional people than real ones. As for guys in the real world, well, I’m fine without them right now. I’m good with just me, myself and I – and the a hundred and one fictional people in my head. But one day, I hope to meet someone from reality who meets the standards set by fiction. There. There’s my challenge to all the guys out there. Can you be as mature as Remus, as strong as Aragorn, as humble as Faramir? Can you be as kind as Remus, or as much fun as George Cooper, Fred Weasley, or Sirius Black? Can you be as brave as Aragorn, or as empathetic as Remus? I don’t just want the bad boy side of Sirius or George either – I want the kindness, the intelligence, and the ability to actually care, with the entirety of your heart. I want someone who can make me laugh, like Fred, treat me like a real human being, like George Cooper, and strive always with a purpose in their feet towards the betterment of the world. So if you want to know how to get a girl and be a better man, don’t read magazines – read books.

Valentine’s Day

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I have gone through stages. When I was little, Valentine’s Day was a time to give cards to family and to look forward with wistful eyes to a future when my knight in shining armour would appear. By the time I was in grade nine, Valentine’s Day had become a day to be cursed. I had learnt that knights in shining armour either didn’t exist, or were just douchbags in tinfoil trying to play the part. Naivety had died. I had stopped listening to Taylor Swift songs about romance, and my new favourite song was called ‘Broken’. I was young and already I was tired.

Now, I am still young – but I am no longer tired. My eyes are bright. Over the years, cynicism transformed into desperation, desperation back into cynicism, and then, finally, both transformed into the sparkling realization that I don’t need a knight in shining armour, or any other partner besides that. I have come to learn that being alone is compulsory, but being lonely is optional. There is far more to this life than love of a partner – there is love for the world and love for yourself. There is love of the way a word sounds in your mouth, love of the smell of rain, love of the way the light slants through the window. There is so much to do, to learn, and to become that ‘love’, as specified on the hallmark cards, has faded to the background of life. I have become far more fascinated with discovering how far my own feet can take me than with searching for someone else to lean on. I am learning instead how tall I can grow, how big my heart can get and how open my eyes can become.

I’ve realized that love – of a partner – isn’t everything. In a world where 90% of songs are love songs, it can be difficult to realize the glorious truth of life – that there is so much more beyond relationship love. It is an incredibly freeing realization. Suddenly, life seems a lot less empty.

We as a society are obsessed with the wrong definition of love. Poor Valentine’s day has become incredibly misinterpreted. It has become centered around hallmark cards and flowers – love of one person for another. But that type of love is only a fracture of the true feeling. Love is so much more than that. Love is empathy. Love is kindness. Love is the feeling of wanting to hug the sunbeams streaming through your window just because they’re there. Love is confidence.

What if everyone woke up tomorrow morning and realized that they loved themselves? Can you imagine how much the world would change? First of all, hundreds of businesses would go bankrupt in a manner of days. Wars would stop, empathy would grow. Tears would dry up.

I’m not sure how my desperate loneliness transformed into this gorgeous freedom and confidence – I am simply glad that it did. I am ready for the world. My heart and eyes are open.

Happy Valentine’s Day – from the bottom of my heart.

Revel In the Chaos – Be Wild, Be Free

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The world is chaos, the world is chance,

A tumbling madness, a spiraling dance,

Life is a question

without an answer,

A lilting tune;

And you are the dancer

Let the music take you,

The only rhythm is change,

Fall through the chaos,

Revel in the maze

Nothing stays still, nothing is stable

Free fall through adventure,

You are strong, you are able

Throw yourself from the brink

To see if you have wings

You are not a puppet –

Cut lose from your strings.

Life is short,

Life is changing,

Don’t waste it believing

You can keep the pieces from rearranging

Our time was not meant to be spent in fear

We weren’t meant to stick to these labels we adhere

Let your control go –

Fly with the wind

Be brave –

Chaos is not a sin

Life cannot be pinned –

It cannot be captured

Throw down your hair,

Lose yourself to rapture

Be wild –

Be free

What is life for –

If not to be?

First Readers

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I am in a state of advanced panic. My breathing is coming fast, my heart is pumping loudly, and my nerves are wound tight like a braid. My hand is continuously flickering over the ‘send email’ button on my computer. I am freaking out. REALLY freaking out.

There’s nothing more for me to work on on my novel anymore, not until I get feedback from people. I need actual, real live people to read it. Hence the panic. The magic email is waiting to be sent. I have read every word of my book so many times I have scenes memorized. I have been tearing apart sentences, rearranging scenes and rewriting dialog for the last three months of editing. I’ve got to move onto the next stage eventually. Now is the time.

It feels like handing people a roadmap to my heart and telling them to tear it apart. It feels like standing naked in a crowd of angry mobsters. I am giving people the key to the door to my world of words. The key to the place I have dwelt in for so long. My obsession. My escape. I am sharing my paradise with others, and telling them firmly to break it into pieces and expose its core. It’s like inviting the dwarves from the Hobbit movies – not the books, those dwarves are much more polite – into my home and telling them to smash everything to dust.

The message must be sent and received. I must open my heart and spill my daydream. I must take every blow I instruct my reader’s to hit me with. I hope they love it. I don’t want to put pressure on them. I’m sure it will be fine. But right now I’m panicking. The message sits in my outbox. Just do it, I tell myself. And I will. Soon enough.

To my three chosen first readers: welcome to my world. I chose you because I trust you. I chose you because one of you will be too nice, the other will be too mean and the third will be honest. You know which ones you are. Hopefully it will all balance out. You are my best friends. If I can bare my soul to anyone, I can bare it to you.

One.

Two.

Three.

Send.

Strange Dreams

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I used to have the usual variety of dreams: weird and convoluted, but containing people and places I know well. It’s the type of dream that makes telling people about it nearly impossible because they can’t understand what you’re talking about and you get lost halfway through and realize you don’t know what happened after that, or how you got from your basement to the top of the Eiffel tower with no transport. And yet you can tell them who was in it, and where you were, and often where in your head the ideas came from.

Now though, I have two types of dreams, both which are collaborating to make me lose touch with reality entirely. The first is the most potent in its quest to unsettle me: incredibly short, very realistic dreams, about everyday things, that are not immediately distinguishable from real life.

For instance, when I was doing my laundry recently I was short one quarter and ended up coming home and draping my clothes up to dry in front of the heater. That night, I had a two second dream in which I found a quarter and was happy that I hadn’t lost it after all. I woke up in the morning not remembering that I had had the dream until I was walking home from work wondering whether my clothes were dry yet and thought to myself “At least I found the quarter”. And then I stopped and was confused. I thought to myself, when did you find the quarter? I couldn’t remember. Where did you find the quarter? I had no clue. Looking in my purse, there was no quarter. All I had was a two second, vivid memory, with no context surrounding it, of me stooping down and picking the coin up. I, um, guess that was a dream?

I feel I can never really be sure whether or not it was a dream. Imagine waking up in the morning being absolutely sure that you finished the peanut butter yesterday, because you had a short memory of doing so. You go to the fridge – there’s your peanut butter jar, perfectly full. These short dreams make it so I’m not entirely sure what happened, what didn’t, and whether or not I’m possessed.

The second type of dream is more along the lines of a traditional dream. There’s a strange, sprawling story, various characters and plenty of chaos and madness. One catch: I’m never actually in the dreams. I do not exist. Instead, I inhabit the head of the protagonist, occasionally switching to the perspectives of other supporting characters. It’s very similar to when I’m writing. Lurking in the back of the scene, half sub-conscious, is the real me, carefully building the setting and developing the plot. This me barely has any part in the experiences of the dream except to make satisfied comments or voice concerns every once in a while. Other than that, I’m on my own in the heads of other people. I’m not me at all.

Can you see why these two dream types might make me lose my marbles? When I’m asleep I spend most of my time as other people. This has been causing me to wonder if its just me in my head or whether there’s several hundred other people wandering around in there. When I’m awake, I am forced to doubt some of my own memories as being shards of dream thought.

It’s a weird world we live in, that’s for sure.

Inspiration

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Inspiration comes from strange places. For instance, I first got the idea for the novel I’m working on – and am almost done – from admiring my cat’s eyes and picturing what a person would look like with cat eyes. This now has almost no relevance to my story. It might be mentioned once. And yet from it a whole strange world exploded, full of political intrigue, epic fight scenes, weird and wacky characters, and interesting places. How the hell did that happen? I, for one, have no clue. My novel is beautifully unrecognizable from its beginnings.

As Jack London says, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” Don’t expect inspiration to take you unawares and dazzle you with its fireworks. Don’t expect it to fall into your lap, or strike a match to your potential. In my experience, inspiration is something you find when you are looking for it – just in a completely different spot then you thought it would be. It’s something that was there all along, an image, a sentence or just one word waiting at the back of your mind for you to remember it. It’s an unformed thought wandering the hazes of your mind. It isn’t going to complete itself on its own and waltz up to you with a smirk on its face. It needs to be found and carved into a sculpture by deft hands.

People spend ages waiting for inspiration when it was there all along and they never recognized it. It is that strange half-thought lurking in the shadows, waiting to burst into the bloom of a flower big enough to envelope your mind. Go after it. Chase it down. Catch it. And don’t disregard it for something too small to matter. The smallest ideas can have the biggest potential.