Wednesday, October 5, 2011

OUTRO

Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit!

I did it.

365 days from the start with a yellow brick road of my own words paved neatly behind me. It worked, dagnabbit! IT WORKED! (And it has somehow strangely infected me with a Southern drawl this last month - but, ah hell, that’s alright).

In case you just tuned in, last October 5th at around 7pm, I haphazardly decided to declare to the world (aka my mom and facebook friends) that I was going to attempt writing online at least once for 365 days straight to rid myself of writer’s block. The blog was born. It sounded easy enough - and started out easy enough - until one month later, when I wanted to ram my head against a concrete wall and throw my laptop off a bridge at the idea of tackling this blinking cursor EVERY SINGLE DAY for a WHOLE YEAR!

But tackle it I did. (Actually, it felt more like arm wrestling- and I have very weak, freakishly long arms- you get the gist).

I hadn’t thought it through. I didn’t take into account vacations, my day job, or if I'd be under the weather. I didn’t realize how my social life would be impacted. But it turned out that the persistence of writing daily - no matter the circumstance- was the best thing I could have ever done. It coloured my vocabulary, organized my thoughts and built a solid discipline to make time to write. The fact that I had to face a blank page with every new day exponentially reset the odds of shaping a narrative that had no choice but to move forward - both online and offline. In consequence, whatever and whomever I exposed myself to, inspired me in some way, and became a part of the story. It started out as an innocent experiment to battle writer’s block and became this memorable journey of introspection and creative self awareness.

I never planned on revealing so much about myself here, but once I began, it seemed there was no place these posts could come from other than my heart. Honest and intimate was key if it was ever to ring true. And so honest I was - even if it exposed my heart, my vulnerabilities, poor grammar and an extreme phobia of both rodents and semicolons.

Hell, I didn’t think anyone would ever read this thing! (Except for maybe my parents. Love you, Mom and Dad).

But I was mistaken. What could have been easily lost in the wilderness of the blogosphere found a way to your screens and to your eyes. Do you know how astounding that feels to a girl that didn’t have the nerve to call herself a “writer”- to be able to now say I had “readers”? As those page hits climbed, so did my confidence. That’s because of you. Every single one of you lovely people scattered across thirty five different countries that tuned in - I don’t know how you found me, and I never imagined in a gazillion years that you would, but you did. And you regularly came back for more! That blows my mind and stings my eyes with proud and salty tears. 'Thank you’ falls short - like Danny DeVito short -but THANK YOU from the deepest part of my heart.

And to all my collaborators who occasionally co-posted throughout, you were the icing on this ginormous Upside Down Cake. If you will indulge me with a bad pun: Each of you are a talent in your own write. Thanks for agreeing to attach your names dangerously close to my improper use of commas. It was such a fun and educational delight to have someone of your caliber to ping-pong ideas with for a change.

365 Attempts At Life is exactly what this became. And even though I would bitch about not knowing what to write, in retrospect, it was a big year for me, and Life itself gave me plenty of content. Some difficult chapters on longing and rejection. Some sad chapters of helplessly shaking my fists at death. Others that celebrated innocence and beauty through the eyes of my niece and nephew (who as they grow, continue to be my greatest counsellors on all things Life). I had the chance to reminisce about my past, my friends and my wacky family. I pondered dating, relationships and the ever changing and mysterious thing that is Modern Love. I struggled with my own health concerns and grappled Loneliness vs. Independence. But most of all, I tried to have fun. To find a way to laugh at myself and have you laugh with me. I know I’m a lame-o, but hopefully you did sometimes.

As for this whole process; it wasn’t easy. Many, many, MANY late nights trying to beat the clock with something new and interesting to say. It was frustrating and challenging but this blog sneakily became a close friend that I was grateful to come home to. And like any good friend, it taught me to listen, to watch, to empathize, to appreciate, to be present, to understand the people I've connected with and most importantly to get a little closer to understanding myself. They weren’t all outstanding pieces, or Pulitzer Prize winners - there are maybe a few in there at best that I am really proud of, but the point was to play with words every day -to attempt a written piece - and I did that.

What’s next, you say? Well, for starters, A BREAK!! My brain and poor lil’ laptop are a wee bit worn out. I am taking a much needed Girls Trip to NYC to regroup, so that I can charge ahead with fresh eyes and a fresh mind. I do have a few things on the boil, including an interesting and exciting written collaboration with Irreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir. Please bookmark their site, it’s going to be lots of fun. Aside from that, my gut seems to be leaning towards script-writing. A whole new adventure that I’d like to embark upon! Please continue to stay tuned here on the blog. I plan on coming back to compile a Top 25. (I would LOVE to hear what your picks are, feel free to let me know in the comments below). Once my new website is constructed, I'll post the link here so you may keep tabs on my future projects - I have a feeling there will be quite a few. As this drawn-out post demonstrates rather well - now, I just can’t seem to shut up!

Am I sad this 365 day marathon is over? No- GOD NO! A bit. Yeah OK, a lot. This has been tremendously good for me. I shall probably print it and turn it into a coffee table book for myself. It is a time capsule of one whole year and will forever serve as a reminder: listening to my gut and doing the things I am afraid of, will always lead me back to my own heart. And friends, if you think you can't - you actually can. You just have to kick yourself in the ass and do the work.

I leave you now with some inspiring words from Ira Glass that perfectly bookend this experience for me.

Thank you, again, for holding my hand and being part of it.

Arrivederci,

Tanya
(365)





Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

Day 365: One.

Like a ballerina pirouetting across an empty stage,
As gracefully as she can,
She takes a giant leap and exits stage right.
No thunderous applause.
No symphony reprise.
No encore.
Just the soft rustle of the curtain fall,
A full, fast-beating heart,
A smiling face,
And the echo of one last dance.



Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 364: Rumours, Rainbows and All That Chaz

I mentioned there would be more from The Profit and I...

Below is a little taste of what you might find on Irreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir’s soon-to-be-launched blog (that I will most happily be contributing to). It will be a place of irreverent discussion on matters of theology, politics and soup recipes.

To quote The Profit: "No matter what our faith (or lack thereof), we are all someone's Godless Infidel, so rejoice! We’re in this together. Laughter is our one last great hope."

Trust me, you’re going to want to sign up to their mailing list. This isn't just a band in the making - it's a rallying point for reasonable, witty, relentlessly optimistic people.

__________________________________________________

Dialogue between Miss Daisy Cutter, a Southern Baptist minister's wife and The Profit, "respected" 1980s televangelist.


Daisy: Profit, I need to discuss something disconcertin’ that’s come to my attention through all them gossipers in the parsonage. Not that I listen to gossip none, I try to refrain from discussin’ other people when they’re not ‘round to defend themselves. But Mary-Ellen -such a beastly gal, so thick in them skirts -she’s just talks mean ‘bout everybody! Anyhow, I just thought I’d tell you what I overheard that she heard because it’s rather incriminatin’ --

The Profit: Now, now, Miss Cutter, settle down. It may be true that I have cavorted with the glitterati, and there have been some unfortunate misunderstandings between the Pope, Michele Bachmann, Jesus Christ and I. But I assure you, dear child, that was no flashlight in my pocket. I was genuinely glad to see them all, in that Westboro Mall Subway sandwich shop.

Daisy: I just love Westboro! It’s that EASTboro rabble that I can’t stand.

The Profit: And that’s why the clergy doth say to sit! Stay! Good pup. But now tell me, Daisy. What’s really on your mind.

Daisy: Oh you see right through me, now don’t you Profit.

The Profit: A man would have to be blind not to. Come now. Do tell.

Daisy: Well sometimes when I’m at home alone...

The Profit: Yes...

Daisy: ...I play that latina music.

The Profit: Now there’s your problem right there! Why on earth weren’t you listening to Irreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir (on sale now via Bandcamp or in all your local grocery outlets)?

Daisy: Who?

The Profit: Never mind. You were saying?

Daisy: I wasn’t snooping or nuthin’, but the maid left a cd out in her bottom drawer under some journals. So I played it and, sweet baby Jesus, somethin’ inside me tingled somethin’ fierce. At first I thought it was the leftovers, but no - it was the percussion. And I said to myself : Myself, we should dance.

The Profit: Your little voices kicking up a storm again in that head of yours?

Daisy: They keep to themselves, mostly. But you see, Profit, the real crazy part of it all, later that night I flipped on the television and wouldn’t you know it, there was this show that had all these people I ain’t never heard of dancin' to this same exact music! And then, I saw something that nearly knocked me off my lazy boy...

The Profit: Tom Delay.

Daisy: Chaz Bono!

The Profit: So now you want a sex change.

Daisy: YES!!!

The Profit: Daisy? You have my blessing. That’ll be 12 dollars, please.





Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 363: Brass Tacks

Don’t plague your head about it.
A fool’s gold is a bucket of kisses.
And an empty pocket of promises.
Love will turn anyone into a fool.
There’s not a soul that can escape it.
So walk on.
Never mind the rocks in your shoes.
If you feel the pain, that’s good, Son.
They’re just there to remind you that your feet work.
And they’ll take you far from the dirt of this old town.
Far away from the devil and the locks and chains that hold you down.
Let the ocean sting your eyes instead of tears, Son.
Feel the shift in the current of air as you get in close.
And then swim.
Heart open.
Arms flailing.
If the day comes where the water rises high above your head... shine.
Shine like you ain't ever seen a day of rain.
Just don’t plague your head about it.
A fool’s gold is a bucket of kisses.
And an empty pocket of promises.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Day 362 (2nd post): Careful What You Wish For

Do you see what has happened?
I got my homework (post) done early so that I could have the evening to myself.
To relax.
I cooked and I cleaned.
I organized myself for the week.
And when the ‘me time’ finally came to sit on the couch and watch TV, I didn’t want to.
Something pulled me here, to this computer.
To this keyboard.
To where I feel most at peace.
Most alive.
Most myself.
The evening is for words.
And my brain is buzzing with so many that they cannot be typed fast enough.
But what will become of them all?
What will become of this storm of words?
Will they drive me mad?
Almost all my dreams involve me writing something down.
And when I wake up in the night, streams of sentences paint my thoughts.
They are incoherent and fragmented.
But they are coming to me fast and furiously.
And during the day, I get flashes of scenes that I want to explore.
I want to sit and watch them unfold.
I want to write them.
It has resulted in a very scrambled and tired mind.
It’s happening.

Day 362: Helm's Deep

I've done the unthinkable: I’ve read through some old posts - the earlier ones. It’s quite something to me, upon reading them now, to see how much I have progressed emotionally since then. And because I have, my physical world feels different to me. The landscape is new, even though the weather was much like today when I started; crisp October wind, leaves falling, rain falling – the difference is, I’m not falling anymore.

I've realized that you can’t protect yourself like a fortress. What way is that to live? And is that even living? Hiding behind the safety of the armored walls you built to shield yourself from being wounded or judged? No. You need to submit to your demons, fears and insecurities so that you may understand how to battle them. Because never exploring their depths keeps them mystical creatures that can haunt you at will and hold court for as long as they choose. And they will if you let them.

Words have helped me face some shadows this year. And there in the dark I found a girl that is very human, very prone to mistakes but who could laugh at herself when she fumbled, and who could be strong when it was easier to be weak. And oh how I wanted to be weak. It was only by falling into my vulnerabilities and by facing the crossfire head-on that I could ever fight my way across that moat to be at home with myself again. And I am. So much so. Feet firmly planted. Legs strong.



Saturday, October 1, 2011

Day 361: Embracing Unconventional Whimsy

I’m an odd one – it’s true. (Well, after 360 days, I’m pretty sure you’ve figured that out for yourself). But I’ve noticed lately, that the oddities seem to be piling up considerably. Am I getting older and creeping ever closer to senility? Yes. But I think I'm just collecting quirks like most people collect stamps. (Do people still collect stamps? Do stamps still exist? I digress…)

I do silly things.

I eat regular flavored Ruffles row by row – line by line -slowly, letting the salt melt on my tongue. I can do this with an entire bag. And when I’m stuck in traffic, I make acronyms out of the letters on license plates. I do. I make up utterly ridiculous acronyms, I can’t help it! It makes the time pass and it sometimes makes me laugh.  In the winter, it’s not rare for me to get out of bed at 1:00am, wash the tub and sleepily take a very hot bath. And almost every night I read quotes on my iPhone app before bed so that I may test myself in the morning to see if I remember any (I never do). And when I walk in the rain, I like to twirl my umbrella to see the raindrops slide off and swirl around me before they hit the ground.

I could go on, but you get the idea...

I think they're piling up now, because I'm allowing them too. I strongly believe that all our idiosyncratic behavior is a resurfacing of all the childlike qualities that hid away when we got too busy growing up and changing into adults. No nonsense, make money, be a good person, be a good employee, sister, daughter… Someone can crack under all of that. So, now, I celebrate every single quirk.

And one day, when you find yourself splashing puddles just to get wet or smiling to yourself because you dunked the water bottle into the recycling bin from 5 feet away, you’ll know what I mean, and celebrate it too.