Are self-hating Polish Jews Nazi sympathizers? I imagine my city, my country, my ancestors —I imagine the children born of Nazi rapes walking around the destroyed Warsaw streets holding phantoms inside them. Children playing in the communal playgrounds, holding each other’s hands and gripping tightly unable to let go when the blood stops to circulate. They ask about their father and their mother answers the story she has tricked herself to believe, or maybe it’s true by now too — “Your dad died in the War.”
A child born of hate, orders and power. How many of these children were born? Hundreds? Thousands? How many women performed abortions only to die?
Now those children had children too, and I’m of that generation. I was raised to hate Jews, to blame them for the Holocaust and for communism. “It’s their fault” everyone would say, the newspaper headlines would scream, the elderly would grimace. And so I did hate them, because I didn’t think. I hated the Russians, I hated the Jews, I hated the ‘Western’ world. I hated how I was picked on for not looking Polish enough with my sharp face and dark features. I hated how much my family hated me and how alone I felt because I didn’t understand how adults can hate a child so intensely and intently for just being. The phantoms of my past and of my birth weighing so heavy. They were phantoms inside me because I didn’t know or understand the complexity of history and memory.
(I watched The Night Porter recently &&& I hope you’ll excuse the work in progress of my stream of consciousness notes but I need to figure out how to articulate this in a public space… tbc & all that)
I wanted to write something yesterday, about Canada Day and its phases of being intense and dramatic and shifting my whole self, but I hadn’t slept from the night before and was full of amorous energy that kept me in bed with my fantasies most of the day. I did manage to bike over in as little clothes as possible to Atwater Market to buy some fruit and eat lunch. I had my usual chicken satay as Alex (co-owner of Satay Brothers) sat down on the bench with me excitably remarking about the potential spaces he’s found for his upcoming restaurant. He could barely sit still and it was more like a dance with his eyes toward the world. I was too delirious from being under-slept to fully listen. Him and J made fast friends and call each other Mr. Meat Stick and Mr. Wood respectively since J will most likely outfit Alex’s meat venture with his wood. This humour is not lost on me, at all.
my summer wardrobe. spot the red square <3
Sometimes when I bike with draping skirts and dresses I imagine (it like) the scene between Lila and Chimo from Lila dit ça and close my eyes long enough to be a danger to myself and those around me.
A friend recently told me that my writing is defensive, not clear, and full of run-on sentences that are constantly jumping ideas. It’s clear that I have a certain writing style that desires poetry and flow, but because essays are academic writing, they need a certain structure and a certain style. I could write academic articles with poetic style, but in order to do so, I need to be self-assured. I am not self-assured. I hate academic writing. I hate sitting there watching the words come out of me because they are not the words I want. I stop every few minutes. I am distracted. I am upset. I see myself forcing the words out that never sound like the ideas I have. I am disparaged.
“One time in undergrad I had a prof write on my final essay evaluation that my writing is like searching for buried treasure in a deep sea. That the reader can see the shiny treasure and there’s so much of it, but it’s so deep and so difficult to get to, that once they are close they run out of air and have to be hoisted back up again.”
“How poetic… yes,” he nods in agreement.
I lower my head and start to cry into my palms, because I know this anecdote so well. I see this anecdote in my head every time I write. I have had variations of this evaluation said to me countless times by countless profs. Everyone who comes across my academic writing tells me the same thing. This started in high school. Once I received a 0/10 for writing style in a Grade 10 Media Studies Class. I had nearly 10/10 on everything else. How does someone have 0 style? I came to Canada when I was 10, I cannot blame it on that. What is it? I remember always receiving the highest marks in Creative Writing, always. But then what? Academic writing what? I wonder how it’s possible I’ve been able to receive top marks in graduate school, how it’s possible I’m in a PhD program, how it’s possible that there’s such a strong block that obfuscates the clarity and effortlessness I want for my ideas.
He says I need to practice, genuinely practice and focus on the structure, the form, the words, the sentences —without taking breaks every few minutes to waste time online. Then, I need to edit, REVISE REVISE REVISE, and give enough time to the writing. I know this already. I know this already. I have to change my writing behavior. I am faced with this now, more than ever before. I want to be a strong lucid writer. I do. I do.
Belly dancing has made me more aware of my body, my protruding neck and bad posture. I focus on parts of my body as they move, as others stay still and sometimes follow. I turn on Beyonce videos on full blast every morning and practice figure eights with my hips, stretch my legs and move my wrists in unison. Dancing moves should never be forced, they should flow out of your body smoothly, they should be a love making with the space around you, they should be everything my academic writing isn’t.
The sun tilts onto the wood table. Its sharp rays reaching north. A shadow of birds swoops over Sophticleas, the alpha-cat, letting his slit eyes dilate. The curled up leaves that have forgotten to be nourished wince away from the sun. The Italian basil plant soaring for the ceiling pushes its way toward the blinding heat, extending its large bright green leaves proudly. The little curly ones near the bottom sprouting from the already hardened brown stalk wave around excited to get a hold of more sun than the others. They’ve yet to feel the drought of my negligent hands. The nearby Thai basil plant, frustrated, has shifted its stalks considerably to be caught in the sun’s angle. Until the afternoon sun changed positions, the edges of the drawn-back curtain cover it. Sophticleas adjusts from side to side, positioning himself facing away from the sun but directly parallel to the sharp morning angle, with his back’s pattern turning a golden color and his dandruff shining. The dust in the air creates a hazy immersive screen around us. Every time Sophticleas moves, hair starts flying around. How come it’s more visible in the sun? How come everything is clearer in the/because of the sun?
The table’s age stares at me, worn out from moving around the city, worn out from the banal every day. The disproportionate coffee stain smirks in the sun percolating into the cheap wood, while the white coffee mug’s long shadow seeps off the table edge. Softlicious inches his way into the sun’s angles too, trying to push the other cat away from the table to try to claim his space. They’re both parallel now, away from the sun facing me with their slits for eyes. Everything seems positioned not in relation to each other, but in relation to the will of the north-facing sun. Everything seems to be shifting around to gain energy. Everything is gaining strength. We’re all in this together.
A friend writes on their blog how they write with a censor, so instead of writing freely, they write about the everyday, and their perspective on those experiences, asking questions like, “Can I lay myself bare and assume that people won’t draw conclusions?”
Over the past few days I’ve been thinking about this space here, the fairly secluded hill I’ve managed to climb and build a moat around, but I am not sure I want this to be so hidden. At least in such a way, that to find it, is nearly impossible. Would allowing this in the public change my voice? Allow me to write more, allow me to write differently? Although my stats show more hits than people I’ve given this to, I always manage to leak it here & there, but mostly to those close to me, because I want to be read by them.
The question asked though, is so obvious in achieving its answer. But, can we lay ourselves bare? Can we ever explain our motives enough for others not to draw conclusions? Everyone assumes it’s always about them.
For me, it is always, Can I write outside of myself? Can I write something other than my own feelings? Am I difficult to digest because of my focussed perspective? I think my most honest writing, my best writing comes in the form of letters. I have always been obssesed with conversations through words. Often, when I write about an experience, it is written to the person(s) involved. I don’t really know why I do this, not at first thought.
(If you read this, even from time to time, because I know some of you do, say hello, say anything!)
There is a novel brewing inside me. My muse is still here, I just have to take from the muse differently, even if it pains me now. Even if it’ll break me down by going inside it. If I don’t, then I lose doubly. But I knew it would break my heart from the start. I’m okay with that. I have to be. I(t) fulfilled its destiny. This is all so vague. I wish I could just split myself open, but if I did the whole world would explode. And that’s not ego, that’s self-realization.
I’m running a festival, all by myself and I’m anxious that the participants aren’t rolling in like the previous years. I’m anxious that the early-called election is taking full view.
I’m desperate for sharp conversation, but when it’s right there I in all my social awkwardness take over and mumble about something or other. Food politics! Down with Harper! Cocaine! Wobble basslines! The city’s arts scene! Everyone is dancing the same!
I wait days and then you have to take it away prematurely. But isn’t any time before forever premature?
I don’t write anymore. There’s no fiction in my words, there’s just running around selling my ideas, helping on projects, reaching out to everyone and anyone for grad school, for community politics, for my documentary. Everything is external of me. I enjoy the way it masks my depth by pronouncing my knowledge of current events. That seems like a contradiction but really it makes sense to me. By involving myself with everything around me and facilitating ideas that involve many, I don’t have to think about the hurricane that is subsiding at the slowest rate possible inside me. By being involved I can seperate myself from my grief, from the memories, from the reminders. But they are there, they were there when I ate the Dr. Oateker pizza yesterday, or when I think about getting my driver’s licence. Smell is supposed to be the most intense sense in memory recollection, but intensity of experience scraps smell and instead lingers on every sense.
The writing class I wanted to take was full by the time I was ready to register. I didn’t have to loaf, but instead I was too intimidated to let myself inside my own writing. It’s so easy to feel anxiety and cry about not being able to do what you want to, it’s way fucking easier than giving in and doing it. So instead of using the grief to write and write, I’m just letting it go away, even if it doesn’t seem to want to.
She pulled at the seaweed covered branch stuck between the rocks, trying to lift it up just enough to throw it over the stone’s edge.
“Come here!” She yelled after him, as he disappeared into the dark.
“Leave it alone.”
She managed to slide the long thick branch over the stones, just near enough to touch him with it at the other end, “You’re it.”
“You’re it,” he jumped over it and pummelled her onto the stones, catching the back of her head with his hands.
“You’re it,” he grinned looking at her so close, he could no longer focus.
“Always catch me. Ok?”
Do you ever stop & think maybe what you are reading never happened or maybe there’s so much more happening than is being told & recorded despite the honesty it portrays. Last year I had another journal & wrote in it parts of (my) life & autobiography is never complete honesty, just look at Simone de Beauvoir’s autobiography, which is so less telling then a book she wrote that contained the truth about her life, but people don’t understand that & it caused much heartbreak & turmoil in my life. Maybe because the context of a journal is ment to be autobiographical? I hardly ever write what happened to me on a day but rather fragments of feelings that I or those around me have witnessed or experienced. Or perhaps how I have interpreted their reaction to events, because analysing those around me intrigues me. I remember being younger & being like Harriet the Spy with my little notebook on the bus edging in on people’s conversations because it allowed me to peak into a different world.
Does the audience being aware of the blurring of fiction & non-fiction somehow discredit the art? the story being told? I read a certain person’s journal who can articulate feelings & experiences like no one else, but I am pretty sure not everything he writes about has happened, and I am the least bit bothered by it. Although I am not saying that my journal has become a place for make believe stories, but the emotions presented sometimes act as metaphors of experience. Or maybe they are just stories that I imagine happening or have happened but not in that sequence.
Does “it’s not you it’s me” ever mean anything, is it really possible? Why has it been twisted as this awful thing to say to someone on any level. At the end of one letter, he wrote to me, I love you, don’t ever change (unless you want to) but what if I want to & I can’t. What If I have?