Sunday, 26 August 2012

Dead-Tree Diaries

That sounds like the name of an HBO drama, but what I'm talking about is actual paper journals and diaries.

I used to keep them religiously.  I still have most of them and sometimes I go through them, and it's weird to remember things from when I was a kid that seemed so important at the time, but I would never even remember now if I wasn't reminded.

I still have a journal, I always have one on the go, but I've gotten really bad at keeping it up to date.  It's something I actually beat myself up over a lot.  I feel like maybe if I wrote in my journal more, I'd be more at peace, or something along those lines.  Like it would help me sort out my thoughts or something.

But I don't know. The journal I have on the go now I've had since I started university in 2006.  It literally spans six years of my life, my entire undergraduate degree, and I plan to get a new one in January when I start grad school - I feel like that's a good time to end it.  It's one chapter of my life and I don't think it would do it justice by including the next chapter as well.

The thing is, to fit six years in one journal, I definitely did not keep very good track of my life.  There are times when I wrote incredible regularly, and times when I wrote once every few months - one gap is almost a year, I think.

I tend to get mad at myself for that.  I look at the gaps and think, "When I'm ninety and losing my memory, these are all I'm going to have to hold on to, this is going to take the place of my memory, and I am going to have these huge gaps..."

But, I'm starting to think that maybe that isn't a bad thing.  Maybe some things are better off not being remembered.

I wrote a little 'epigraph' in the front of my journal (which, when I got it, I named "Tapping the Dream Tree" after a collection of Charles deLint stories) a few weeks ago when I flipped through it and realized it spanned my undergrad.  This is what I wrote:
It's amazing what can change in six years.  This is an entire chapter of my life, my years as an undergrad, in one book, and it simply gets progressively worse and more miserable.  I hope the next one goes the other way.
And, mellodramatic as that sounds, it's true.  My initial entries are really hopeful and excited.  Three long-term boyfriends, two sad breakups, one unrequited puppy love, estrangement from my family, a year and a half of near-crippling depression, and one really, really awful breakup and heartbreak later, it's a depressing fucking read.

Of course there are good things peppered throughout it.  And of course I am glad I documented the awful things that happened to me.  But I'm also glad that I didn't document every passing ache and pain and moment of fear.  Because, to be honest, these last two years have been some of the hardest of my life, and I feel like I'll remember them for long enough.

When I'm ninety and losing my memory, maybe that will be more of a blessing than a true loss.  There's enough of it in that journal for posterity, a history of my life could be cobbled together well enough.  Any archaeologist could easily fill in the blanks if they knew my online usernames.

I love the idea of paper journals and diaries.  I think there is something special about them, and there will always be a part of me that wants to leave something more tangible than my web presence behind (well, you know, in a post-apocalyptic future, we may not have the Internet anymore, and maybe journals found in ruins will be all the archaeologists have to go on - that is seriously the logic that silly part of my brain takes).

But I think it's important that I remember that it's not a bad thing to leave some stuff out.  Not everything needs to be remembered and recorded.  Some things are better off forgotten.  It's okay if I leave things out, purposefully or not.

In the end, life should be more about living it than recording it, anyway.  And while it is a good exercise and a good way to organize your thoughts, it's just an addendum.  It's not really the story.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Why I Hate Being Single, And Why That's Okay

We live in a society where women have fought very hard for what freedoms we have.  The feminist movement and women's rights movements in general have worked their asses off to gain the right to independence that women deserve because they are human beings.

However, because we (as a collective, over time) have fought so hard for it, I think we can get a little tunnel vision.

I really hate being single.  I so much prefer to be in a relationship.  And when I tell people that, they usually respond with "But you're a strong, independent woman! You can do it on your own! You don't need anybody to be successful and happy!"

First of all, I know that.  When I say I prefer to be in a relationship, what I am not saying (but always seems to be interpreted) is the following:
  • I can't go on without a man (or a woman, but people mostly assume man because I am straight looking/acting)
  • I don't know how to live independently
  • I can't do things on my own
  • I will never be happy if I'm not in a relationship
  • If I don't have a partner, my accomplishments are somehow diminished
  • My success must be measured first and foremost by my relationship status
I am not saying any of that when I say I prefer to be in a relationship and single life is really not for me.  I like being interdependent.  Not co-dependent, where you can't go on without the other, but having somebody around who you can rely on for support when you do need it - because none of us are islands, no matter what anybody tells you.  The feminist movement was not meant to alienate women from their communities in order to make them completely independent of other people.

And I prefer to have an intimate partnership with someone.  The casual freedom of being able to hook up with whomever I choose without having to take into consideration another person's feelings is nice, don't get me wrong, and I've taken full advantage of it.  But I much prefer being intimate with people that I have a deeper connection with.  It makes everything so much better for me.

And I like the companionship.  I know I can get that from close friends, but we all know it's not the same.  And it isn't supposed to be the same, and that doesn't diminish the relationship I have with my friends.  It's jsut different.  And the companionship of an intimate partner is something that I want in my life.  Because for me there's always friendship embedded in my intimate relationships.  I can't imagine being someone's girlfriend without them being one of my closest friends.  I like the blending of intimacy and friendship that those relationships bring.

I find it frustrating that I have to justify to people that I would rather be in a relationship than single.  I find it frustrating that people think that me saying that makes me weak or naive or not independent enough.  If I never find someone, I know I'll live a happy and successful life.  But if I do find someone, I know I'll be that much happier.

And this is just my experience.  In no way am I writing this to be prescriptive and trying to tell all women that what they need is a partner to make them truly happy.  You do what you gotta do, because you know yourself better than anybody else does, and only you know what will truly make you happy.  Don't let anybody tell you that you do or don't need a partner to be happy.

And, I'm taking that advice.  I know I can live my life as a happy, single person.  But I'd rather live it as a happier, partnered person.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  Knowing that about myself means I can strive to make myself as happy as possible.

And I'm not going to push it.  I'm not going to settle for less just because I'd rather be in a relationship.  I don't mean that either.  I still want the partner(s) in my life to be truly compatible with me.  I don't want to end up in some loveless marriage just because I don't want to die alone.  I would rather be single than in an unfulfilling relationship.

And that's how I really know it's okay for me to prefer to be in a relationship.  Because when I say that, what I really mean is I prefer to be in a healthy and happy relationship.  I won't settle for less than that.  They're never perfect, I know that.  And my politics and lifestyle might make it difficult to find the right person(s) for me.

But in the end, I know that I don't have to feel ashamed, or weak, or naive, or traditional, or like I'm setting back women's movements just because I want a partner in my life.  Because as a woman, I have the right to live my life as I choose.  And I choose to include having happy and healthy intimate relationships in my definition of a successful life.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

I'm on the YouTube

For some reason, I haven't blogged about this before, although it's mentioned in my about page, but I'm on the YouTube.

I am currently running a series of videos in which I do dramatic readings of my crappy teenaged poetry. The poems are bad, the result is ridiculous self-depracation. I figure if I don't laugh at me first, someone else will, so I may as well jump on the bandwagon first.

Secondly, as of tonight, I'm launching a more or less daily vlog attempt. I say more or less because I don't want to promise anything daily because I'm a lazy person, and I'll probably just not do it some days. I say attempt because, well, it's an attempt.

The video and sounds quality isn't very good. I have a B.A. and a job as a hostess at Boston Pizza - I can't afford anything more than the camera and mic that are built into my underpowered netbook. I edit my videos using Windows Movie Maker. Pretty sad, eh?

Anyway, you can go check it out, if you'd like. It's a barrel of laughs and monkeys. The first vlog isn't actually up at the moment, but will be shortly, as my poor netbook is currently slowly slogging through saving it as an appropriate file.

If you have any suggestions for future videos, or blog posts, let me know in the comments.