the creative conundrum

a) I don’t know a single prolific writer that I admire who isn’t messed up mentally

b) If I were to write creatively again, I don’t think I’d be able to withstand the depression of engaging in/waking up from long periods of introverted, unbounded, and often nightmarish imagining.

c) Writing terrific prose helps order the brain and encourage problem-solving creativity

d) Not reaching that terrific prose makes makes me feel as if I am falling short of my potential/want to create unnervingly attractive art, which is depressing

e) Watching other writers crash and burn as well, I think the solution is to sharpen the mind on words and be educated before being an artist. To go further along the line of rationality, instead of emotion, until you have total control over your faculties. Still, I hear a lot about great writers who are highly educated and still benefit from being high or drunk as they write prolifically, or are suppressing something, in lieu of creating great art that everyone else gets to enjoy. Not to be confused with drinking/getting high=instant wordsmith=sham.

d) We were probably born like this, so fuck everything and most of all, fuck you.

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What is “humanity” in a story?

In literally one of the three creative writing classes I paid attention to this term, one caught me the most. I snaked up the side of the rows, inconspicuous in my fear of conspicuousness. I was shaky from the unbelievable words I had heard prior to heading to class; but, knowing I had two deadlines that were non negotiable, had jumped on the bus and gone to school anyway. Three heart pounding-yet eerily peaceful-hours later, I had met those goals, and there was nothing left to tether me to school. Well, going to class would raise my chance of not failing creative writing after missing previous strict deadlines, because quizzes were entirely dependent on classes, but, stretched thin from all that I had just done, I yearned to go home. Looming in the future was also my two hour volunteer shift with obliviously occupied children. Go home. Although I had no intentions of losing my focus, the second I walked by Starbucks and saw they had chocolate I went and bought it and ate the whole thing. The best intentions go awry anyways. Instead of being on a total sugar high though, scarily or not, I felt a tolerance to it, and decided to attend the last hour of class anyways. What I heard concretized the feeling that I had not come in vain.

A well oiled looking student was standing self assuredly under the bright lights behind the podium. Inane words reached my ears-some macabre piece-my first reaction was derision. Using sensationalism? As if I hadn’t heard the worst this morning. Almost unfortunately, I found a seat and was forced to stay. To my annoyance, my interest was also definitely piqued. As saccharine this story was, I couldn’t help but enjoy the escapism.

Something boring was next. I forgot it. Then something macabre again. I remember that one. A cannibal story. Nasty, and not particularly original. Finally, after a slew of more uninspiring stories-I was also having trouble staying awake-a student with a distinct amble and sharply intelligent looking face stepped up. I could not place his ethnicity and somehow this bothered me because it was obvious he had written his story in relation to it. But something beyond that attached me to the continuation of his story, even after I had registered the name of his ethnicity.

And after that was when our professor said, grandly, “Writing is about showing humanity.” His sweeping arms suggested he embraced every story, but in particular, I thought it embraced the last student’s. Indeed there was a humanity in there that I struggled to expel just that morning. In it the phrase “But we don’t want to/We’re scared” was repeated, underscored by the fact that the words were spoken by grown war-weary soldiers. What was once sensational became personal as the short story wore on. Other people packed a day’s worth of action in their stories, but this student packed a lifetime and more. There was emotion in there that could survive death.

So while the other students frequently exposed vulnerability in their stories, their introductions were simply not enough to carry out through the rest of the story; they would lose momentum after the first paragraph and slip into monotonous action. Those who were more sly jolted us back awake with a final stunning sentence meant to shock. But only that one student wrote a story that confused us as to how we should feel for the main characters-pity, admiration-before gradually, after changing our minds several times, ambiguously gave us enough of a shock to seriously entertain a complex pitying/admiration. It made us think, “Did something just happen?” more than”What just happened?” In a cheaper story, the shock is obvious, showy, and there’s no question that something happened, even if there seems to be mystery shrouding how it happened. In a great story, the crisis is threaded in so inconspicuously, but so inextricably, that it makes us re examine our own life to try to understand how it could go unnoticed. Emotional depth reached through that, rather than shock, results in a more story with more “humanity”.

A story with humanity becomes a part of your life. A story that doesn’t invoke that self reflection of how the world makes sense to you is just entertainment that affects your future choice of entertainment than it does future decisions you make.

Uncertainty

And I’m feeling like this:

Who am I?

What have I just done, buying another Cypress season pass?

Have I changed, or am I just believing my lies to avoid the horrible pain of being frowned upon, forbidden to do “what I love”, be ridiculed-am I sure of myself, or am I not?

I’ve always thought of myself as someone who was sure but recently my world has quite expanded, as I’m sure it will continue to from now on. Complicated not just by money but now by experience, I have no idea who on earth I could be. Perhaps I am no one yet, because I have had really, so little to base my life on. University years have certainly been an eye opening experience for me. My love for the written word and reading harder texts is growing; I haven’t enjoyed a single creative writing class and perhaps that isn’t for me-I’ve always had a rational slant and non fiction feeds that, maybe it’s not science that I want but non fiction and pretty prose-all I know is, the more I want to love my family and the more critical reading I do, the more I conform and at the same time rebel against popular texts.

I don’t want to have a good board, I want to wear crappy gear, and I want to be able to focus single handedly on the pleasure of hitting a feature.

But I haven’t ridden my bike in since the summer, so I haven’t felt the itch to “jib” and at the moment it sounds like too much time and energy to me. But I’ve always loved the mental pleasure of it.

But how much of time do I have, when this studying is all-consuming? Am I just giving it too much of me, like I always do?

Or am I afraid to take risks and devote myself?  Both sound true.

Beyond that, I want to be in the human-powered outdoors so bad. I’m afraid of status-symbol riddled places; at the same time I see the only authentic status of oneself is in situations where you only have yourself and others to rely on.

I wanted to see the salmon run, but I never did; I wanted to see nature, life; but all I did was hike, like a robot, a handful of times, because it was safe and I wouldn’t even get off the couch if no one was leading me. I want to see life, guided by people who deeply care about it but all I saw was the sweaty backs of well meaning people I never got to connect deeply enough with. But that was enough; I wanted to connect with people outdoors, all the time, everywhere, anytime.

I also love to just sit there and absorb information that way. This is the most conductive attitude towards my academic standing. It’s hard for me, right now, devoting so much energy to psyching myself up for the scary novelty of being out of my comfort zone, to switch back and forth between mind frames. That is I either crave safety and reading or throw caution to the wind and indulge in some discomforting and exhilarating activity.

I could go any way; which way will I go? Is school+inevitably my reputation most important (I do not like being a bad student)? Is being ‘true to myself’ most important (I have always loved and dreamed of doing this sort of stuff, but not having done much, I am not sure if it is essential, because I can be both extremely still and unable to sit down) ?

I have no idea who I am anymore, and the only comfort I take is in interacting with other (new) people, in the process learning more about who I am. I, the introvert, love to be with people. Who the hell am I seriously?

Nov something

***

Either all of this is true, or I’m just overly tired, which I am. I’ve reached a new level of sleep deprivation, and if it’s possible to feel worse and still function, I don’t want to know…It’s nearly 2015 and after a year of this lack of sleep, I’ve definitely got to make it a top priority to sleep early before 2015. Just for something concrete.

Recently, I’ve made friends with two girly girls. They’re type A and beauty and fashion obsessed but not verbal about it. They just have a profession air about them, girly but not dainty, pretty but not self consciously so. I guess this is the type of friend I’ve always made in high school. They also happen to have some asian ness in them, but not act asian. This was the type of person I used to be, too.

This is the type of person I rejected entering university. I had, what I didn’t know to be, i think, serious issues about how society perceived me. Personal ones-I don’t think I really want to look like a boy or act like one; I’ve just gotten in so much trouble in the past for being girly and being denied the western norms of being a girl that I’ve likened my self perception to that of a unisex, unsexable being. I couldn’t sleep at night thinking about it and I watched videos of youtube accounts of transgendered people-I could identify with them, to a degree. More girly than I ever have been in three years, I’m scared for snowboarding. Fact: guys who lift weights in a pink room lift less. How will this change me? How do I get over this? I have no idea. Being around people who don’t think of this issue certainly helps. But in the end, I need to find out why I really feel this way-if it’s shame, then I have to undo it-if it’s something else, well, dude, be yourself, it hurts undeniably to fake being something else.

Being girly does not being an airhead, or fashion freak, or a hopeless romantic. Being girly means just being comfortable you.

I’m pretty sure I’m just a girl who’s scared of being a girl. And being a snowboarder is a great disguise. But sooner rather than later I feel those hormones coming on, and I don’t want to be mistaken for a boy. I can wear my short things and be self respecting too. I want to own my sexuality. But I’m scared. It was, in my teens, not okay to do so. I feel so ashamed when people compliment me on my long hair and if I am told I look somewhat preferable, I hunch my shoulders and ruin my walk so I am definitely not; I feel incredibly horrible inside, like I want to distance myself from these once undesirable female traits. If I dress like a boy, it must be out of my own will, and not because I’m ashamed or coolly defiant. I’m not. For all my talk, I’m just scared, and I want to love just like anybody else.

For now, I have a few crowds that are good for me. I’m not a that much of a tomboy to them. I’ve got nail polish on right now, and I accept the idea of wearing a dress. I like to think I like to be called pretty, instead of just smiling when I’m called tough or crazy. I hope that by next year none of this will be out of the ordinary. I do better in school when I act like a normal, self respecting smart girl who is proud of her femininity. I do worse when I think I am a nearly-boyish failure of a daughter that nobody could possibly like.

I do not have problems in my life really: my biggest problem is just being obvious to the fact that my actions are out of character. Until I saw more of how other girls acted, I didn’t really realize how odd I was. I can acknowledge, change, forgive, and move on.

And I’m afraid, even though the hill-as the classes-are full of boys, I will just be one of them. Again. I do not want that.

I think.

Winturd Has Come; Are You Coming?

It’s November. For ski and snowboard enthusiasts, it means the oncoming season. The time of the year when we impatiently wait for our waiting to pay off, in the form of the first big snow and the anticipation of a great season begins its onslaught. Here are some of the sentiments skiers and snowboarders might have while waiting for the snow to begin.

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Warning: this article contains strong sentiments from an author who is stuck in summertime mode. Winterites may be offended. winturd

Cypress, the last time I saw it. Yeah, that’s winturd all right.

Being normal is overrated. Just kidding, being normal is just fine, not being able to be normal and getting mad about it is definitely overrated. Overusing words and talking back to oneself is definitely also overrated. And you know what else is “O–“? Opening day.

Is it really winturd already? I sure haven’t felt it. Between shirking readings and palm sweating fruitless essay-writing sessions, or just plain procrastinating, I never really got to observe the changing leaves outside. While the air was getting colder, I was just complaining of higher hydro bills, cursing the inadequacy of my sweater and just being cold. Did I say I was cold? Well, that was how I started to know everything was wrong. With the grouse grind and some running to keep my blood flowing last summer I was never ready to sit down for a standstill (I was simply depressed when the grind closed, since that was my pre- this summer’s grand total of five day hikes) I enjoyed getting physically into it…you pervert. It was fun to feel alive and young, not decrepit and…No wait, I don’t feel that way, I can’t, I’ve got my board waiting for me. Stop getting hung up on being lazy already.

Well, winter called, man made winter that is. There’s not a fleck of real snow on the mountain. At least, even if there was, it’s so derelict it isn’t even worth promoting. As the cash rolls in for the local mountains, we here a scant hour away wonder: what is this thing called winter? What is the essence to going away into a mountain, hibernating there for half a year by ripping up the snow, and then going back to the slums-downtown? What are we going to do?

The non lazy me says action is action. The me that was me for about the last 8 years is saying it wants to rear its head into the snow again already. The newly minted 1-year-total-sleep-deprivation-me says fuck no wait till the real thing. And in between all of that is this white space, which I imagine every other skiier and rider embodies, too, after their first season and/or being roughened up by life.

It opened, okay. Mcdonalds’ opens 24/7; does that mean you celebrate it constantly? What’s the line? Some wait until that line is buried in snow. Others jump off their skateboards and run for the hills the moment there is any chance of slide-a-bility. But “life” I tell you, is just a huge excuse. If you actually read to the bottom of this, you can also be there.

Thank you.

Snowboarding on the Cheap

(This post is a repost of a deleted post, rescheduled as close to the original date as possible.)

To be honest, so many of my good memories are centred around having shit stuff. I’m honestly worried about staying poor the rest of my life because I like being poor. I hate buying something that magically solves all of my problems. I like having to figure out how to fix something. It also means if I want to actually buy a house one day, I’ll have to stop the poor mentality and save up. And lots of simple good things cost $$ too: eating well, new experiences, paid social settings, useful things.

Among my favourite things, although it irked me at the time, was having to rent a board. It was always incredibly magical; the pinnacle of the moment. Only the crowning moment was successively followed by more and more crowning moments; the whole ordeal were a string of unforgettable tactile experience and emotional memories. I was jealous of the kids who already had their own board, intensely jealous, but at the same time, once I was ‘reunited’ with a board-each time different, yet carved out of the same essence-nothing mattered. Only when I had to part with it was I was most sad.

The other thing was realizing that I never had the proper size anything. And it didn’t matter. It’s a total load of hooey nowadays: I shop to find the perfect fit. But it isn’t so important as they make it. I know now a men’s small is gigantic, but that was the size jacket i wore.Before that my piano teacher, whom I realize now was much kinder than I could ever understand, would lend me HER jacket. I believe it wasn’t even hers, as it was large even on her. Actually, she wasn’t such a tall or built lady: she was just big when I was twelve. Anyhow. Wearing a jacket 2X too big, and pants handed down to me that miraculously fit (but, snowboard wise, ALL pants fit: I’m starting to wonder why baggy is the standard, and if it has anything to do with hand me downs) and using a rented board, I was infinitely happier than wearing my chosen right-size (almost) jacket, pants, and board. After watching two TED talks ( http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice) and (http://www.ted.com/playlists/164/how_we_make_choices? I can’t quite remember )  I can’t deny the science. Too much choice is making me unhappy. And I’m used to no choice.

pinnacle of awesomeness

It was better when I just got one photo, taken by someone else because I had no phone, instead of the choice of having a million selfies. Agreed?

And I’m subsequently also used to crappier conditions. My memories are largely focussed on the conditions more than the actual experience themselves. Sort of sucks, but I’m more likely to recall experiences related to being cold (ie leaving early) than wanting to stay forever because I feel physically awesome. Even though I’ve subconsciously been trained to turn a blind eye to wet everything, I’m still leaving earlier, leaving with less experiences, etc etc. That part i regret. Sure, everyone regrets not doing more, but if there were a little bit more money to go around, I might be able to buy that hot lunch etc and stay a little longer for lunch and have more conversation with others who are also eating hot, longer lunches.

Then again, it used to be so special just to have the coins to access the goods inside a vending machine. These days, I’m sinning in a lack of self control if i use a vending machine. Back then, it was the epitome of shopping experience. I never got a hot lunch, so I used $2.75 towards a bag of Ruffles All Dressed instead. I would bring it back to my brother to share, and although we oohhed and ahhed over $2.75 for a bag of chips ($2.75 was incredible compared to the $0 we usually had) we mostly oohed over the simple act of buying a bag of chips (whereas parents would normally buy it for us, if we so deemed they were on sale enough)

This weighs on my life heavily as I progress into being an adult. I love, loved my childhood: I would be in an ignorant angry mood when I say that I hated being frugal. Yes, I was angry a lot as a teenager for being denied experiences that I worked monetarily for, but I cannot stress the happiness of having less choices. When you’re denied something you fixate on that one thing, but when you have no choice to make, you fixate on no particular thing. So you move on. It’s almost bad that I became a consumer, and like all things in life: social media, consumer culture, popularity: I knew they would corrupt me the moment I realized they existed, but I also knew that hate as I did the more complicated nature of society as compared to my simplified microcosm, there is no reversing the brain.

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I absolutely love how I look in this one photo: how I feel inside, like an unassuming kid. Also, my friend looks awesome in this photo too, but I cropped her out for privacy reasons.

The harder part is remembering that money can equal progress. Less financial burden means more ability to focus on and learn from the experience, not how cold you are. It’s a good excuse, truth told: stay poor forever and never have to accomplish great things. Like, even if you get rich, deny the money and live your simple life. As I just illustrated, money will allow you to focus on boarding and not just being in awe that you’re the mountains and making your way down slowly to avoid the biting chill on your uselessly-gloved hands; or focus on hitting that feature, rather than spending more time in the lodge because you’re soaked, your jacket is like a rag, and you’re simply too cold to go back out again. Gear matters. Money matters.

But how many people throw themselves at work AND FORGET that they are working to get that better experience? And instead waste that money on smaller comforts, like showy possessions? Me-I unashamedly raise my hand. Don’t lie to me that I intrinsically love slaving at a minimum wage job just so I can impress strangers or friends with my new wardrobe or that I don’t do it. I DO IT OK. AND I KNOW it’s because using money to make a bigger change in life-which requires that I work even more, to sustain it-isn’t something to do without job security. That is, I can only ever look short sighted, on possessions I can have now, that are used the most, and not the waterproof jacket that I use only when I’m on the mountain (Thanks to my parents, I now have a fully waterproof rain jacket-although I’m eager to report how long this waterproof $140 jacket STAYS waterproof.)

I’m horribly frightened, is all. $100 doesn’t even exist in my vocabulary. A season’s pass, several hundred dollars, is a one time payment. Every other day of the year I’m squeaking by, because that’s what I’m used to. I can’t imagine paying even $20 for a piece of clothing, I can’t imagine buying my own shoes one day, which are all over $50, it’s like in my life everything has to be under $20. And with the smallest budgets all my life, it has had to be that way. I don’t think I know how to think big; and moreover, I’m terribly frightened of doing the unthinkable, and that’s totally breaking budgets and being fearfully, end-of-the-road broke. (although I have been there many, many times)

The structure of life presents me with 10000000 different choices, even just on toothpaste. But I wasn’t raised to have choice, and even if I were, I’d hope I’d have the good head to believe that only 2 choices are ever needed. One and a half years later with free reign with more money than I’d ever admit without shame, I’ve hopelessly spent it because I can’t deal with CHOICE. And generally, I have pissed away a fortune over $15 or under things. The choice of $15 things was so overwhelming I ended up buying them all, creature comforts that amounted to nothing.

I am 100% sure even if I was miserable with crappy wind bitten equipment and a shoddy amount of true social outings due to a low budget, I am less happy with unbelievable choice. TED was right, and I knew I was right. I just hoped that I knew how to handle it. And after all, or MOST OF ALL, the world makes CHOICE seem like the 1# favourite activity of the world. Is it yours? It’s my nightmare.

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My friends paying $100+ to join me in the crappiest snow conditions. Was it worth the steep price? I think so.

Although I had months of regret, at this moment I 10000% do not regret spending extra to get the other season’s pass, which cost A LOT extra. All told, excruciating days of deliberation & $300 later, I will now have 2 mountains access to friends,which can only be extremely good. Ya see? I don’t see it now, but $300 and great memories with friends look very different in hindsight. But CHOICE will always look like it intervened and blind sided you into believing you were making the better choice. It’s the same thing, but very different. The end product may be the same, but in the process, one mindset has you thinking you will buy 2 passes because dammit, your cheaper friends will only go there, but 2, you feel totally roped into a marketing gimmick because that’s what you were, it was never in your plans. Two very different mental processes, but same result. In the simplified life-has-only=one=choice life, you leave feeling happy. In the 2nd you leave feeling as if you had made the wrong choice, and spent more money, even though it was all really the same. Fascinating? I think so. My goal is to try to reach that pre-corrupt stage of no-choice-is-good-choice but with the second implication I detailed (CAREFULLY used $=more, LIFE SHAPING experiences, rather than paralysis and discontent) this is complicated. You must think as if there is only one choice, but god help you, it had better be the most beneficial one.

The scariest thing about turning 20 is perhaps losing that “popularity” notion of teendom. I never knew quite how radically it changed our lives. A lot of life’s discontent was about not fitting in or looking weird or looking hot or being heard. Indeed, with such a homogenized small space it made sense. Turning 20 however, makes you look back and realize your world has grown quite considerably; that everyone works their ass off, sometimes at min wage, to look like a glamorous rock star; and you can say, who is it for? Well, it is for an imaginary audience or group of judgemental friends; that is to say, nobody. Past the extent that you dress or like things for your own pleasure, there was a time when I truly believed “If you’re not hot, your life is going to suck”: the mirage was that complete.

Now it’s blasted. What is praised depends on what group of specialization, casual happenstance or friends, you’re with. I used to want having a nice board to show off so badly in high school or have neon flashy gear but now, even if I had that, it’s not going to make a big impact on my life. I’m not in a small fish bowl anymore; if any thing, neon is a reflection of my tacky taste; and no one in my imaginary audience will think I’m cool. So basically, I’ll be that person who looks like they’re stuck in the past, which I suppose looks actually less try-hard than being up to the minute and cringingly still high-school mentality, but really, appearances aren’t meant to be judged, but expressed. All in all, there’s only one audience: you, the people you love, and your fingers’ and toes’ tolerance of soggy gear.

*

This year-the short 1.5 months remaining-I’ll probably relive my friend’s hand-me-down rental board dream before her less-inclusive pass expires. I can’t resist the impulse to provide as completely as I can, but at the same time, that slap-dash experience was where it’s at. That’s what made me me. I can’t be too mad at all the trouble I went through to snowboard. That would be saying I hate what made me me. And I like me. In the very end, whatever life throws at you, you still like you. It’s one more way of getting to build yourself-no, know yourself-better. You have a lifetime to spend with yourself and getting to know yourself should be a #1 goal.