May 3, 2014

“You are capable of tremendous creativity.”

Blake fucking ditched me today for a hot tub!

He worked in the city all week this week which meant he didn’t get home before 8pm ALL week and I go to bed at 8:30 or 9pm.

Then last night? Bachelor party for a guy at work.

Now this morning he tells me “oh by the way, today is Bare Oaks‘ day of helping [or whatever the fuck it’s called], I totally forgot…” and what that is, is you go to Bare Oaks, which is a naturalist park, to help them prepare for the season. Last year we went there and painted deck chairs. Nekkid. But it was like, 20 degrees C and Blake got sunburnt. Today it’s 10 degrees and rainy out so everyone’s going to be clothed and it’s going to suck but Blake’s like “it’s part of the community…” and I get that, I do, so I was like, FINE, whatever.

So then he gets his shit ready and he stands in the doorway of my office and then he just couldn’t contain his excitement over Bare Oaks’ hot tub any longer and voiced it and I’m like, “NOW IT ALL COMES OUT! YOU’RE DITCHING ME FOR A FUCKING HOT TUB!!!” He’s like, “yes, yes I am…”

Since Bare Oaks is near Stouffville and next weekend is Mother’s Day and we would have been going there anyway to get Stouffville Pizza because it’s the best pizza on Earth, I asked Blake if he would pick me up a pie both to save us a trip and because fucker’s ditching me on my hardest day of the week where I need like, hours of mental preparation to be able to psychologically handle my job for 9 hours straight so he can buy me dinner.

Speaking of dinner…

Do you believe in fortune cookies? Because I totally do. I believe that they are little prophecies or messages from the universe that you’re meant to get and I save every single one I get. They’re all over my journals and notebooks because a fortune is a little smaller width-wise than a piece of tape so they’re easy to preserve and I know it’s kooky but they’re just like…sacred to me. Fortune cookies as a taste, are actually my favourite cookies too, so bonus.

I got that one last week and it was exactly what I needed to hear. When I opened it I actually cried and I like it so much that I’m considering it as a candidate for my next tattoo.

That said, I’m actively giving up on poetry. I wrote one really shitty stupid poem and realized that I am just way too long-winded and literal for poetry. So much poetry like, actively angers me because…okay so Blake explained to me about this superhero whose name might have been Silver Surfer? Anyway, this character goes super fast, like the Flash, only apparently much cooler because I think it’s Marvel and not DC or whatnot. Blake said that this character was a dick all the time, he was just constantly angry, and in one comic he explained it like…y’know when someone’s going super slow at the ATM, like painfully slow and you get mad and you’re just like “jesus christ, what are you trying to do, renew your mortgage?” Well for that character, the whole world is that slow and after a lifetime of that, you’re going to be an asshole. That’s me and poetry. Poetry is painfully slow to me. You can’t just read it and immediately know what the fuck the poet is talking about. You have to analyze it and consider every word and that is slow. I don’t have the patience for that shit! Also when I’ve asked people to explain certain things to me, they haven’t had an answer so I kinda think poetry might be a little bit of bullshit where you just make up the rules as you go along and if you do it in a way no one else has ever done it before then you’re a genius. Which is fine (and can be applied to most things I suppose), but not my thing. I don’t need to be a genius. BUT! Do keep in mind that I said I am ACTIVELY giving up on poetry, if one passively slips out by accident, then hooray for humanity, I guess.

What I have been doing though is writing the world’s most terrible short story and guess what, though? I FUCKING *FINISHED* IT! I, Sarah Danielle Crittenden, on Thursday, May 1st, 2014 finished something for the first time in my entire 35 years so far on this planet. It’s weird, I never really considered the short story as anything that I’d ever be interested in. I’ve never heard of any writers famous for short stories – I’m sure some exist – and “The Yellow Wallpaper” is probably literally the only short story I’ve ever read. A long time ago I asked Blake how long a short story had to be and he said something like, “I dunno, shorter than a novella…? There are no set rules.” (Answers like this annoy the shit out of me. I like specifics, which is part of the issue with poetry, but whatever.) The answer was so sort of…not “dismissive”, but I guess sort of off the cuff maybe, that in my head I just kinda moved onto the next topic and put the idea away as something not for me.

But then three things happened.

1. I subscribe to a t-shirt website’s newsletter and every day they send out an e-mail about a t-shirt on special or a t-shirt battle and 98% of the time I don’t even open these e-mails, I just read the bit of subject line my e-mail allows for, select and delete. Well, a few weeks ago they sent out an e-mail where the t-shirt was called one thing but in my head when I read it, it sounded like another thing and that sparked a TERRIBLE creative idea (I cannot stress enough what an absolute stinker this is) that I didn’t know what to do with.

2. I started reading more about Kerouac and how people thought it was a big deal that he’d written a million words by X amount of time or whatever, so I was like, “hmmmmm, I wonder how many words I’ve written just in blog posts alone?” just out of curiosity. So I counted. I’ve posted 5,779 blog posts on Live Journal and my average blog post is 2000 words. That’s 11,558,000 words.  I feel like all of those words were wasted and that number really bothers/ed me.

3. I realized that a lot of my blog posts are between 3,000-6,000 words and that’s gotta be short story territory.

I decided to put #1 + #3 together to alleviate #2 and the next thing I knew, I had a complete 6,086 word story sitting in front of me. And now I have no idea what to do with it. I mean, I am fucking RELIEVED to know that I am capable of finishing something. I know one short story is not a big deal to most people but considering the winter I’ve had and hell, the lifetime I’ve had, this is like a single, bright green sprout on a scorched landscape and with the 46 *other* writing ideas I’ve come up with in the last few weeks, that sprout could grow to be a mighty beanstalk and the giants are waking up.

My stinker story needs some tweaking and polishing. My narrator is supposed to be 14 years old but Blake says she doesn’t sound 14. He’s literally the only person who’s read it though so I don’t know if that’s just his opinion or if it’s true and I need to tweak it that deeply. I’m terrified to show anyone else but at the same time, as soon as I was done, my first instinct was to turn it into a free PDF for EVERYONE to read, for free, but for fuck’s sake I gotta quit doing that man. At this point in my life, there is zero benefit to me doing shit like that. If this turns out to not be as terrible as I think it is, maybe I’ll try and get it published. Where, I have no fucking clue and I’m probably just talking out of my ass and I’ll just post it here for free in the end anyway, but right now I feel like this thing is so fragile that I only feel like I can trust a few people with it and unfortunately, those people are busy and probably don’t have time to read 9 pages of anything so I don’t want to bother them. I sent it to someone who is IN the story as herself for her approval and even she hasn’t read the whole thing yet and that’s driving me crazy because I don’t want to release it outside of this house to anyone without her permission. I will because I can’t sit on this for much longer but I don’t want to.

Anyway, I have to start work in 2 hours so I’m going to medicate and make myself a bagel sandwich. Cya on Instagram and Twitter! @SunnyCrittenden!

April 22, 2014

Forsythia

I’m having a really hard time with this whole poetry deal. I find it incredibly frustrating. Right now I’m reading Collected Poems 1947-1997 by Allen Ginsberg more or less one poem every time I go to the bathroom (I’m not JUST reading it on the can) and I’m frustrated because I don’t understand why it isn’t more literal and why lines are broken up the way they are. It makes no sense. No one talks like that.  And even Allen has some pretty foofy rhymey crap, but I’m forcing myself to even read those ones because I think the only way I’ll understand why people write poems instead of prose (just say what you mean! fuck! dammit! Jesus!) is if I read it and if I don’t read it, I won’t be able to do it.

I figure it’s like comic books. I never used to understand comic books. They just didn’t make sense to me because the pacing of them pissed me off. The only comics I read as a kid were some of the comic strips in the Saturday paper, my mom’s For Better or For Worse books, which I now know are trades, and Archie Double Digests. I bought some comics when I was a kid because I thought they’d be collector’s items, and as such, I never read them (and they ultimately ended up being thrown out), but as you can see, when it came to comics I was used to reading a lot more in one sitting than your standard little flimsy paper comic. Plus all the comics I ever saw were superheroes and I have zero interest in superheroes then or now, so I just wrote comics off completely until I met Blake. (With the exception of Princess Ai but that’s Courtney Love and I didn’t like it.)

It started with the tv show LOST. Blake said, “hey, since you like LOST, maybe you’ll like this Brian K. Vaughn comic about all the men on Earth dying but one and his pet monkey”. Next thing I knew, I was nose deep in Y: The Last Man and I ended up getting all the trades of that between Xmas/birthday/Mother’s Day and I loved it. It wasn’t about a goddamn superhero, there were obviously a lot of female characters, it was an interesting story and the art was decent. I didn’t know comics could be like that. I didn’t realize that after a while some comics become trades*. I forget the order of things after that but I read the Scott Pilgrim comics because they’re Canadian and so was the movie and I started reading the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics but didn’t really like Scott Pilgrim even though they’re thick like trades (I don’t think they were ever flimsy paper comics) and couldn’t get into the Buffy ones. I still plan to revisit the Buffy ones because I didn’t read all of the ones I have, but it’s one of those “when I get around to it” kinda things. Disappointed in Buffy and Scott Pilgrim, I gave up on comics for a few years.

Then The Walking Dead TV show happened. I knew it was a comic because Blake had been reading it when it first came out, but it wasn’t until I found out that there were fucking COMPENDIUMS, (PLURAL!), I obtained those and devoured them. And it was good timing because the second compendium came out at a time where you could pick up with flimsy comics where the compendium left off, so that’s what we did. Except again, the timing of issues and the fact that each one only tells one snippet of story, it just pissed me off so we buy them and Blake reads them and they pile up on my shelf and what ended up happening was we downloaded all of them onto the iPad and I read a year’s worth of Walking Dead comics in like, 45 minutes or less, in the car, in the dark, on the way to Florida. And I think that’s how comics should be read. This one issue thing is bullshit.

After Walking Dead I tried out Pretty Deadly, at my friend Diego’s suggestion and it was just beautiful. I didn’t know comics could be like THAT! Again, I hated the pacing and since it was only 5 issues, I ended up reading them all again in one sitting after the last one came out so I could read the story as a complete thing. Because I liked that so much, I gave Itty Bitty Hellboy a try because I like the Hellboy movies and it was cute. I still have not read them, however because every time I think about reading them, I think “comics blah” because while I’m learning, due to being exposed to different things, that comics can be good and not annoying, I’m still biased against them for some reason.  Having said that, now that I understand how they work a little better, they just make more sense and my brain can comprehend them. I’m not there with poetry yet. All I’ve read so far is Allen Ginsberg, a TEENY bit of Sylvia Plath (just peeked inside the book, said, “oh dear” and closed it), I gave Walt Whitman a shot (just no), Percy Shelley (Blake’s favourite, I don’t get it) and I’ve just been paying attention to the poetry all around me, which there is actually a surprising amount.

I have a lot of doubt as to whether I’m capable of writing a poem at all, let alone one that isn’t complete garbage. I’m so petrified of not being able to do it that I haven’t actually tried. I have pages and pages of poetic snippets of things from my days but I have no idea what to do with them or how to assemble any of them into a poem. I’ve started a running list of things I could write poems about and the list is sitting at 42 items right now. All I fucking have to do is pick one and try but I stare at the cursor blinking in Word and my mind goes as blank as the page. I told Blake that I wasn’t sure, at this point, if A) I were capable of writing anything other than worthless blog posts or if B) I was capable of writing outside of WordPress, like maybe I need the clutter of WordPress to not be intimidated by the page. For the longest time I wasn’t capable of writing anything outside of the Live Journal client Semagic. I would write blog posts in Semagic and paste them into WordPress. So dumb.

In case it’s never been completely fucking evident: change freaks me out. I’m (almost) always the last person in the pool. I still use SquirrelMail because I have e-mails saved in there from like, 2003 and I’m not sure how to preserve them if I switched to gmail. I also don’t know how to make all my domain e-mails work with gmail AND SquirrelMail colour-codes all of my e-mail by e-mail address (different domains) and I don’t think gmail can do that. Eventually I’m going to have to switch to something because SquirrelMail isn’t even really supported anymore but I will go clawing and scratching.

I have one REALLY simple idea for a “poem” but it’s very difficult to execute and I’m not sure if I’m up to the task since it’s something, as far as my googlings tell me, has not yet been done.  If it were easy, it would have been done by now, I figure. I also figure I have my whole life or until someone else thinks of it for that one though. I spent most of yesterday thinking about it as hard as I could and now it’s time to forget about it and think about other things because usually that’s how the ideas come. So I guess technically I did try a “poem” but if you knew what it was so far you’d think “not really” too because it’s not yet…

Soooo begrudgingly I have Instagram. I know I ranted and raved about Instagram “photographers” being annoying with filters a while back (and I still pretty much think that) but a couple of weeks ago maybe, my friend Leora, who lives in Vienna, asked on Facebook who all had Instagram because she just made an account to document her time there. And then I watched as so many of my friends one by one said “I do!” so I decided to follow my friends and give Instagram another chance, this time looking at it more as a social networking site than just a site to share photos with shitty filters. So far it’s been okay. I like that I can post to multiple places all in one shot (if it would do Live Journal, that would be great but I don’t foresee that ever happening), the editing tools are simple and easy to use and I think square photos look nicer than the rectangular ones my phone automatically takes.

Tomorrow I see Stephanie the dietitian. According to Wii Fit I’ve lost another 5 lbs since I saw her last, which isn’t great, but right now I’m eating okay because of this cannabis strain I have, as I’ve posted about before. I’m not eating a lot but what I eat I try to make “count”. Last night I actually ate an entire hamburger with ketchup, mustard, relish and onions. Normally I would eat 1/3 of that same burger with just ketchup. Furthermore, my comment after it was gone was that it would have been better with cheese, which is what I asked Blake for originally but he didn’t see cheese in the list of toppings (I wrote “I want a cheeseburger from South St…” and since I would never ordinarily order that, he saw “hamburger”) so there was no cheese to be had. But still, I ate it and I normally would not have. So that’s good. I can’t remember if I posted this at the time, but when I saw my shrink a little over a week ago, she went over my bloodwork and my anaemia is out of control which could be contributing to my depression and the fact that I’m tired all the time. She also wants me to have them draw blood again to check my B12 levels because apparently that can have an effect too. I told her if my B12 was too low then that was too damn bad because the treatment for it is never ever going to happen in this lifetime or the next, which I told her in those exact terms. She wants the bloodwork done anyway.  Godammit.

And that’s all I can think of posting at this very moment and I think I need macaroni and cheese, so I’m gonna go get started on that. Blake’s not going to be home until like, 8pm tonight so this will be lunch and I think for dinner I’m going to either have a hot dog or a P.L.T. because I need meat and those are my options. (Newly formed food rule because the idea makes me feel like barfing: I don’t think I can eat eggs and macaroni and cheese on the same day.) Peace oot.

(*My friend Diego says ALL comics become trades. Is that true?)

April 10, 2014

Vocation Advice from Anne Rice

Posted at 3:27 pm in: Art , artists , Books , Creativity , Misc. , Poetry , Spring , videos , Writing , youtube
April 6, 2014

Rhymes With Orange

Can you believe that 20 years ago yesterday, Kurt Cobain killed himself? It won’t be until 2 days from now that the police would have found his body. I was 15. I’m listening to Nevermind very loudly this morning, the neighbours be damned, because Blake and the kids are at swimming so there’s nobody in the house to care. In Utero is actually my favourite Nirvana album but I’ve already been listening to the Nirvana tribute Milkin’ It (google! it’s amazing!) in the last little while, which is all of In Utero plus a few other b-sides so I’m a little In Utero‘d out.

So yesterday was potentially lifechanging. My whole life I thought I hated like, 99% of poetry. Basically if it wasn’t a haiku, I wasn’t interested and even those got tiresome eventually because they all blur together after a while. Until yesterday, with the exception of one poem I never even read, I just heard about, every poem I can think of ever hearing would fall under the “foofy” category. Or it was a greeting card. Or it was someone I know’s poetry and I had to be supportive but it was secretly really not any good. Or at least I didn’t think so.

See, something most people don’t seem to understand about me is that I basically have a grade 8 education. My grade 9 year – 20 years ago – was so messed up due to suicide attempts, crazy family drama that is more or less ancient history and 3 different schools, that I only (barely) earned 4 grade 9 credits (science, math, history, english). I got that math credit with a 51%. I think they passed me because they felt sorry for me. Then I got kicked out by November of grade 10 so any classes I had been taking, I never completed. I tried going back in grade 11 but I got kicked out again. In between, I did correspondence education through the government (I wonder if they still do that?) and I remember completing grade 9 art, grade 10 basic math and parenting. Correspondence was the slowest way ever to gain a credit, my god. I went to college as a “mature student”. All I really had to do was write an essay about how awesome at advertising I’d be and send a small portfolio of specs and then *boom* I was in ad school. But ad school’s not like “college” like…by the American definition.  Ad school was not University. Ad school was a 3 year program with only room for 1 or 2 electives per semester and I didn’t finish that either. The only electives I remember taking were a stress management class (holy bird class!) and a class on myths, but I know there had to be 1 or 2 others.

My point, and I have one I swear, is that poetry is not something I’ve ever really been exposed to. I was never taught poetry. To this day I’ve never read a poem by Shakespeare because reading Romeo and Juliet in grade 9 was torture enough. Anything not in plain english, I just get annoyed with. I have no time for foofy and “all poems are foofy”, said I, therefore I have actively avoided poetry like the plague for most of my life.

Until yesterday. Yesterday my brain split wide open and from within the seed of a spectacular flower begins to grow…yesterday I met Allen Ginsberg.

I have been so fucking wrecked since just before Christmas. Everything’s been grey, lumpy mush and I’m honestly a little surprised I made it out of this winter alive. I’m not sure it was totally the winter though, I think that was just the catalyst. Anyway, as I’ve been writing about, nothing had any meaning for me and the things I previously enjoyed doing, I just stopped enjoying and every day was (is?) just a series of wasted hours and minutes, staring at the internet, counting down the time between getting off of work in the morning and going to bed at night.

Blake keeps saying I’ve changed or that I’m changing and he’s suggested that I try changing willingly because it’ll be easier that way, and we’ve both decided that staying open to everything right now is probably the best way to go about things.

Enter Kill Your Darlings. We watched this Friday night and it’s the story of Lucien Carr murdering his ex-lover and the time surrounding that, meaning that the movie was basically about Ginsberg with a little William S. Burroughs. Harry Potter plays Ginsberg and I thought he did a really good job. I liked the Ginsberg in On the Road better, but that’s being nit-picky. At the end of the movie there’s an epilogue and it said that Allen Ginsberg published his first book, Howl and Other Poems, with a dedication to Lucien who in turn requested his name be taken out of future editions. I thought that was interesting. I thought the movie was just kinda “meh”, but it did get my brainmeats jiggling and by yesterday morning I was convinced that Allen Ginsberg was my salvation and I think I may be right.

First we went to the library to get a copy of Howl because I am poor as fuck and if I don’t have to buy something I’m not sure I’ll like, I’d prefer not to. The library did not have a copy. THE LIBRARY. DID NOT. HAVE A COPY. This shocked me, but it’s Elmvale so I’m not sure why. Next the plan was hatched to drive to Chapters in Barrie and buy a copy because I checked online and there was a pocket edition that was only $10. So that’s what we did. I also picked up a Charles Bukowski poetry book that I’d tell you the name of if it wasn’t all the way across the room and completely unimportant at this very moment. I didn’t even know he was a poet and I know absolutely nothing about him. I just know that I see a lot of quotes by him, often quoted by famous people I like, and I usually like them so I figured I’d give him a shot too. It took us at least 20 minutes to even find the “arts and letters” section of the store which comprised their entire poetry catalogue and was only one small, waist-high shelf unit. That shocked me too. They had a million copies of Dante’s Inferno and Carroll’s Jabberwocky. I’ve never read either but probably wouldn’t because long boring poems are long.

After Chapters, we went to a breakfast place called Cora’s that was actually pretty awesome and I wish we could go back today but like I said, I’m broke, and during breakfast, Blake told me stuff about poetry. He has an English degree but specialized or whatever in 18th century sumpin sumpin so while he’s read a lot of poetry, he hasn’t read a lot of contemporary poetry which is all I’m interested in because old timey poetry is foofy and boring unless someone proves otherwise with zero cost to myself.

When we got home from breakfast, we talked about poetry some more and I read the title poem in Howl, which was the first one. I cried when I realized that poetry is like art art, that it’s as wide open as that, both because I was inspired and because I was scared by the idea of infinity. The lens by which I view the world cracked and went from slighty fuzzy big picture to macro kaleidoscopic, like a switch had been flipped and the lights came on behind my eyes and it’s GOOD but I am so so scared that it’ll just be a fleeting thing so I’m going to spend my Amazon gift certificate on more Ginsberg and ask you guys, if you know anything about non-foofy contemporary poetry, what else I should add to my wishlist or find at the library. I think my only real criteria is no eroticaZzzzzzzZZZzzzzzZZzzzz. Or just tell me what you know about poetry! Thanks!

Blake is home so I’m going to go participate in the day.