Letting Intel Percolate

One of the things I’ve learned from The Fluent Self is to let intel percolate. The things I know about myself and the things I’m learning about myself might be big things, but they don’t have to be overwhelming if I can just let them happen in the back of my mind while I’m doing other things.

For instance, I just had the thought: Presence scares me.

OK, interesting. What about being present is frightening to me? Past Me would poke that thought until I scared it away and came no closer to figuring it out. Current Me noticed it, asked the question, and is now moving on to doing some annotation work while the quiet part of my brain wonders about presence.

As my tidying coach (not a proxy!) used to say: Let it be easy.

And You Shall Love

Yesterday I attended Kabbalat Shabbat at The New Shul for the first time in years. As some of you know, I have a complicated relationship with my Judaism. I’m an atheist, so although I love many of the rituals of the religion, I’m often uncomfortable in services that mention God too much. I certainly don’t feel that I can say the Sh’ma, the primary tenet of the faith, without perjuring myself.

Still, Kabbalat Shabbat, the Friday evening service, at The New Shul is always a special event, with gorgeous music (especially gorgeous now that they’ve started incorporating Sephardic and Middle-Eastern Jewish traditions) and lovely community. And, incredibly, last night rehabilitated for me one of the core prayers that I am uncomfortable with, the V’ahavta.

The change was in the custom guidebook for Friday Night and it was in the translation of the prayer. It was a very minor change, just one word, and actually the word wasn’t even changed, just bracketed. But that made all the difference. Here’s how the first lines read:

And you shall love (God) with all your heart,
and all your soul, and all your might.

That’s all. But once the word “God” is in parentheses, the entire prayer becomes not about the divine being I don’t believe in, but about love. Instructions for how to love. You shall love with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your might, and you shall take these words and speak them in your house and on the road and teach them to your children and bind them on your arm and between your eyes and write them on your gates. What shall you love in this way? Why, everything that you love. No holding back, if you love something, love it fully, and teach others to love just the same way.

Somehow, that really resonated with me last night. Maybe because I’ve been second-guessing myself around the topic of love and winding myself up in tangles trying to strategize the feeling away. But if this prayer is true, I don’t have to manage it, I just let myself feel the thing with every (as another translation has it) “inclination of my knowing heart” and let that be enough.

Wishes for the New Year

We are ten days into January 2016 and I think I am beginning to know what kind of a year it is. Taking a cue from Havi Brooks and her 52 wishes for the new year, I’ve decided to seed some of my own wishes with no explanation. Here they are:

  • remember my panther self
  • sleep, rest, trust in plenty (these are all connected)
  • courage! heart! I ask for what I want with ease and without apology.
  • my body moves in just the way it needs to
  • sleek and satisfied

May these or something better reveal themselves for joy in the coming year.

And I invite you to share your wishes, in whatever form you’d like to share them!

Blogging is Hard But Probably Worthwhile?

So that hiatus ended up lasting 2.5 months instead of just one, huh.

I really want to do creative things publicly more often. I’ve thought about starting a vlog more and more lately, since I tend to be pretty personable face-to-face. Maybe I could embed videos in here, so as not to have created this space in vain?

I’ve thought about posting poems here more often, but I’m a little nervous about what that might mean for things like journal submissions (which is probably a moot point, given that I haven’t completed any submissions since I applied for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship earlier this year (I didn’t make it into the finals, in case you’re wondering).

It’s also difficult because I’ve been making a concerted effort to do my paid work on a more regular schedule. I freelance, doing linguist annotation for various folks on contract, so if I don’t force myself to work, work doesn’t get done. And I get paid hourly, so I have to put in the hours to get the money. So that’s been a priority for me, which has led personal creative endeavours to fall by the wayside.

Still, I do think blogging regularly is worth doing. I’m going to try to stick to a more regular schedule, probably something like once a week, though we’ll see. Any poems I post are gonna be reposts from elsewhere on the Internet, which’ll be good because I’ve been meaning to consolidate all of my scribblings into a single location. Other than that, it’ll probably just be ramblings about my life, kinda like this.

If anyone has any ideas about formats, contents, and just general blogging advice for a total newbie, that would be much appreciated. Also I’ve been thinking a lot about zines… so perhaps something may come of that.

Going on Hiatus for July

Hey folks.

I’ve decided to take the month of July as a blogging hiatus so that I can build up somewhat of a buffer in posts. Scrambling to write a post every week last minute has brought me much stress and led to frequent weeks when I haven’t posted at all. So this will be good for both my mental health and my future consistency.

In the meantime, here’s a list of some of my favourite blogs on the Internet; I’m really bad at writing descriptions, so just go to the links to see whether it’s something you’ll like or not:

These are all excellent people doing excellent work, and I highly recommend supporting them in whatever way you can.

See you in August!

Tiiiny Horatio Hornblower Reaction Post

(inb4midnight!)
I might do a more thorough one with prior planning, but a) it’s just about my bedtime and b) I only just finished the books, so this is gonna be a tiny post describing my reaction to the Horatio Hornblower series by C. S. Forester.

  1. I now want to go sailing more than I want most things in life
    The descriptions of nautical life are excellent, and by all accounts, thoroughly accurate. I now know a lot more about different sails and wind terminology than I did before—although this does mean that I had to read the entire series with my Google search app open so I could look up terminology as needed.
    I have since looked up what it would take to become a sailor (on a sailing vessel) and it’s easier than you’d think, so come September, I’ll be saying farewell to the shore (hopefully).
  2. Holy racism & sexism, Batman!
    It wasn’t so bad at first… in Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, you don’t see much other cultures, except the French, and hardly any women, so I didn’t expect the bigotry that comes in the later books when Hornblower is a captain and in the Americas (and elsewhere). The use of the N-word to motivate his crew, the hypersexual Black servant woman (I’m not even kidding), the fact that Hornblower initially prefers his women feeble and soft (really)… It was like getting a tour of cis straight white British male privilege in the 1800s—all the stuff that led to what we’ve got here and now.
  3. Incredible portrayal of depression & low self-esteem in the main character
    This is the main thing that I loved about the Hornblower series. Pretty much throughout the books, Hornblower feels that he is a fraud, is morally bankrupt, and generally unworthy of success, love, etc. At one point he thinks about how he doesn’t want to pass on his “accursed unhappy temperament” to any children, and that hit really close to home. Given the bleakness of the last half year or more in my own head, it was refreshing to see somebody so accomplished be so sure that his accomplishment was empty. Watching the Hornblower series depressed the hell out of me, because how could I compare to the main character described therein… reading the Hornblower series was a reassurance.
  4. It was weird being on the side of the British Empire
    Especially when they were fighting against revolutionary France. Like, I recognise that the French Republic was a bloody regime, but I’d rather be on their side than on the side of, well, Empire. When they were fighting Napoleon it was a bit better, but even then, every time they described him as a Corsican Tyrant (while casually pressganging people onto their ships) I was all like, you’re one to talk!
  5. Fun adventure with interesting characters & relationships
    There’s a reason I read through the whole thing even though ugh bigotry—it was a fun read, very well-written, and lots of interesting & mysterious adventure.

In all, I think I recommend it. But if there were a queer, POC, anti-oppressive version, I’d prefer to read that first. 😀

NaPoWriMo Poem 10: My Hearth is No Sanctuary

NaPoWriMo Poem 10:

I have a suspicion that I will be your death–
You, who protect the wilds of your heart,
Cannot but see me as an adversary.
You fight with honor, but you have no art,
No vision that your mind can marry
To the clockwork certainty of every breath.

Your soul is mine now–I have thrown the dart;
You’ll have to trust me that it’s sanitary.
You’d better guard your flank and watch your back
The threat you…

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