thursdays: first draft

08/07/2010 § Leave a comment

There seems to be a flow of things, like rivers fed by streams, rumbling towards a purpose. Waking up and being aware of the way things had begun and where they may end up has been a process of discovery that I — and many around me — have recently become familiar with. Being open to change has broadened the pastures of growth.

So it was, on this fine Thursday morning, that I begun my day — laid my foundations — with a cup of coffee and a pen. With the caffeine juices flowing through my veins, sprinkling my mind and impulsively coursing through my fingertips, I finished my first draft.

For the past couple of months I have pulled my hair and wondered if I could muster the courage to complete something so personal such as this. These months I questioned the direction that I was going with a story that started out so personal and has ended in a way that I could not have foreseen. The process was exhilarating yet exhausting. Perhaps, now I can sleep.

One thing I have discovered — not only through creation but real life — is that you never know where you are going to end up and when. It’s as though time and space conspiratorially work together to pull you in a certain direction while making you believe they are pushing against you. Some-times one will slow down so that you can enjoy the view and other-space will be missed in the blink of an eye in order to appreciate the moment. In both circumstances, we long for the other.

However, it is on a beautiful Thursday morning after a relatively comfortable rest — I actually used my blanket last night — that I was able to appreciate time and space simultaneously. I guess by opening up one’s perception to the “grand scheme of things”, that is if one believes that a bigger picture exists, can one accept the path that has been trodden. Such are the conversations that I have had of late.

A couple of months ago, L & I:

– I know what you mean, things can be tough, but looking at what I have gained, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

– Yeah, girl. Sometimes I feel like I just want to be a kid again and not have to worry about this stuff. Sometimes I think it is too much.

– Yeah, sometimes it’s nice to think about. But, I would never want to unlearn all that I have already learned.

I remember last summer walking through Kensington Market and two guys on the sidewalk hollered me a question that most ponder:

– Think about it! You will, like, never be 10 years old again. You are going to keep getting older, man. Doesn’t that bother you?

– Yeah, I guess so, sometimes. But, to be 10 years-old is to be naive, to want to be 10 years-old is just ignorant.

– Whoa, girl.

I guess wisdom comes in waves.

Yesterday, eating lunch with my parents, I felt that impatience that is typical of the youth — or so my parents tell me. I felt unaccomplished because I hadn’t even finished my first draft of a story I have been working on for months. I felt that familiar feeling that I was giving up on myself.

Moms & I,

– Listen, don’t rush it. Stories can take years to write, rewrite, edit, copy, publish and promote. It all takes time. Finish it when it feels right to finish it.

– Yeah, but I want to finish it now. I just don’t have the time to do it.

– Maybe you are just in the wrong space.

She was right: Time and space needed to align in order for the final touches to be put on paper.

This morning, sitting on the balcony, armed with ink and paper, it seemed as though my space had opened and things began to flow like they had months ago, sitting at the kitchen table in our Once apartment in Buenos Aires. After only an hour-and-a-half, I popped on the last punctuation mark of the first draft.

Now, all I have to do is give it time and space to foment.

So far, Thursdays are still my favourite day.

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what april means to me

04/04/2010 § Leave a comment

I find myself relishing all that is Argentine nowadays, now that the countdown has begun. I have slightly abandoned my writing in order to take a stroll through the city, snap some photos, talk to people, just sit, reflect, tear up a little bit.

A very wise friend once told me, “be where your hands are”. He told me this at a very pinnacle stage of my journey, of my sojourn in Buenos Aires, where emotions were high and my want of physical activity, like leaving my room, was low. I had, for so long, my entire life, lived outside my body and used my mind to create fictitious scenarios that were always more romantic and better-off than they ever ended up being.

In Toronto, before I left, I had an idea of what life in Buenos Aires would be like. Suffice it to say, it was nothing like I had imagined, at least not the life I ended up living. I thought that taking tango-classes would be cheesey, that going out and dancing would be against ever fibre of my moral being, and I definitely didn’t consider riding horses or going to Patagonia.

In the end, the tango classes have opened a new group of friends who are laidback and enjoy good conversations. We went to a milonga and got to see an old-school tango band play beautifully. I remember thinking at that moment, “if I died tomorrow, I would be happy because I got to see something extraordinary” — one of my main goals in life, other than being the best person I can be, is to experience extraordinary things.

Going out and dancing here is different than back home. There is no bumping and grinding, perversions and girations. Instead, it is like dancing a contemporary classic, where they spin you, salsa with you. They just want to dance, even if it’s solo, with no hidden agendas of “picking-up” — although I am sure they wouldn’t protest to it seeing as Buenos Aires is the 9th most promiscuous city in the world.

Then, there was getting back into the saddle, a love of mine since I was a kid and dream I had since leaving it 6 years ago. Buenos Aires will forever be the place that brought me back to horses. The culture here is captivated with horses and gauchos. You can buy a gourd for mate with images of a horse, or a pancho — also the word they use for a “hotdog” — with a criollo horse woven into it. A painting done by a local artist of a horse’s head. Argentina made it easy to be around horses.

However, the topper of the list was reaching Patagonia. I didn’t think it was an option until I read Bruce Chatwin’s, In Patagonia, knowing that it was the perfect basis for a story I had formulating in my head. When I read that book, referred to as “travel literature“, I was going through a tough time in my head. As if it was a sign, a signal, the opening page indicated something to me: Chatwin was chasing Patagonia, in search of a piece of skin from a brontasaurus. Not only was the brontasaurus my favourite dinosaur as a kid, but I knew that I needed to go on asimilar  journey and, most importantly, to do it alone.

That I did, and it changed something inside me. Things aligned and my perspective became larger. I was able to look at the bigger picture, off into the horizon, instead of focusing all of my energy onto something that rested on the tip of my nose. Although I still have emotional spills, like any normal human being, I now believe in life’s greater purpose, something beyond the Divine, beyond the Conspiracy, something that radiates from within.

Patagonia meant a lot to me. That is why I have not extensively written about it. It wasn’t just about the people I met, or the sights that I saw, there was a comfort limit that I had pushed. At times, I thought my heart would jump from my ribcage and explode at my feet, or that I might get dizzy on a precipice and plunder to my death. For two weeks, my life was literally flashing before my eyes whilst awake and asleep. It was like a prolonged death, never knowing when it was going to end or if it would be painful. Seeing those images of the things I had lived through — the people I had loved and loved me back, the capacity of forgiveness, the inherent good in all those I had met — put me in a place of blissful contentment that I had never experienced before. I was buzzing. Sending off good-vibrations.

I learned to be where my hands are. To be happy at home. Home: Where my heart is, the heart that beats within my chest. Now I know that I am home wherever I am as long as my heart is still beating.

So, as the countdown reaches zero, and a slight sadness ripples through me like the waves of Lago Puelo in El Bolson or tears crash down like the glacial-ice at Perito Moreno, I know I am a stronger person. I am whole. I have filled the cracks and crevasses that permeated my mind and my soul with a cushioning glue, binding my self to my heart and my hands. I know who I am through becoming this person. I have come to terms with some flaws that I want to work on. I have also come to terms with some of my flaws that I want to keep. I have seen my beauty and ugliness in the reflection of bus-windows and crystal-blue lake water, in the windows of shops on the streets of Buenos Aires, the toothpaste-spattered mirror in my apartment, and I know that I can live with it, change from it.

Evolve.

So, when I go home, I will not pine for the days spent in Latin America. I will use what I have learned, keep what I want, — like mate and mantecol candy — discard that which I dislike, — like the anxiety of returning to Toronto, a different city for me now — and just be where my hands are.

This is what April means to me. May will be different, too, and I am ready for it.

making a decision

01/04/2010 § 1 Comment

Probably this generation’s greatest gift and curse: Making a decision and sticking to it.

Provided with so many options, we really don’t have to make up our minds on a lot of things like careers, life paths, having babies, getting married (why should we right?) Personally, I think it’s a societal evolution to not make up one’s mind about certain things that have a long-term impact. Life changes fast, nowadays. We have to be able to adapt.

However, with recent occurences, I have realized that making a decision can be very enlightening and empowering, taking control of a situation that, very much, should not be left up to “fate”. In fact, making a decision can be considered the very act of fate. Today, I like the word: very.

I have seen indecisivness in many facets of many people’s lives and it strikes me as odd and hilarious that we are so unsure of our actions, still intrinsically attached to some thought of divine determinism, trying to step away from culpability. I have thought about this for some time: When times are tough, people turn to God. The only explanation for that is that no one can fathom, believe, have faith, in their own capacity of change, how one decision can change the rest of their lives.

To me, the human mind is a very powerful thing and it frightens people. Sometimes, I am scared at the strength and determination expressed by some people. Because everyone is so scared of their own capacity, they created religion. Over and over, throughout the dawn of post-primate progression, we have marvelled at our evolution with a sense of unfathomable awe and wonder. We are frightened that we have become so different from our fellow animal inhabitants. If there was a God, He was the one who put the “why” in people’s brains in order to enslave them, to make people follow Him.

Even science tries to justify our evolution in a physical and chemical sense. When we learn not to touch fire, chemical signals are being sent from neurons in our finger-tips straight to a reactionary region in our brains. “Pull back!” Doesn’t that just prove how powerful our mind really is?

To come full circle: People are afraid of their true potential and power of their mind. They are afraid to make a decision because, ultimately, any consequences fall upon their heads. So, in order to escape from any ownership from their actions, people put their power into the hands of gods and fantasy, hoping that following fate will lead them to happiness and heaven.

I understand it’s scary. But today, I made a decision that I want to live with for the rest of my life because I choose it: Always respect yourself and others.

That is my personal commandment.

This idea has actually inspired a twisted ending in Chasing Patagonia that I cannot reveal because then it wouldn’t be twisted. I hope to get it finished one of these days, to share it with friends and family, get some real feedback.

The main point is: You can take life into your own hands and change it by making your own decisions.

chasing patagonia: a beautiful realization

05/03/2010 § 1 Comment

It is only at certain times of life, points and pinnacles of a great change, that people have epiphanies and realizations. It is through discomfort of the unknown that humans are forced to adapt, ultimately for the betterment of the species. So it was, for this girl and this boy, that being apart allowed them the space to be and grow to their full potential, outside each other yet within themselves.

During their time together, stifled and suffocated, drowning in demands, not due to their lack of love, but too much of it, their growth was slow, if not regressing. Devolving. For their individual survival, space was necessary. She knew that she was toxic to his creativity, given away by her sad, glassy eyes, like rain-dropped windows. She saw herself destroying his gift without him even knowing it. He could see that he limited her exploration to discover her own talents, her episodes of panic being proof enough. He noticed she would spend all of this exploratory energy on making him comfortable and happy. He watched her drain the last of her reserves and then she was gone.

Only through freedom, without chains of seeking approval, were each able to escape the fear of loneliness. Now, both alone, becoming everything they could have been from the beginning, made each discover the strength of solitude that exists only in the greatest of creatures, like bears.

Now, as two whole beings, they could go on living with or without one another, never needing one nor the other because their hearts beat within, not in the others’ hands. What they discovered was that true love is the kind of love that you don’t need to hold onto, but can enjoy as a completed experience. What they learned was how to release their grasp on the heart, because if they didn’t let go, they would have choked it to death.

patagonia chased

02/03/2010 § Leave a comment

All I have to say about that dirty, desolate desert is: wow. The only place that I have ever gone where there is nothing to see, nothing to analyze, which releases, allows you, to only look inward.

I have seen ostriches, if that is the spelling, guanacoes, kind of like llamas, condors, funny guinea pig-like rabbits, and flamingoes. Yes, they were pink.

I can honestly say I have never felt more like myself until now. Ever. It was a real boundary pusher, not only travelling alone, but travelling for a reason, a story, a person, that person being me. Although all the places I saw had a raw beauty about them, I doubt I could ever live in any of them. However, what I did learn is that your home is where your heart is and I found mine, beating in my very chest.

excerpt: a long day for boy

16/01/2010 § 1 Comment

This morning I just finished a small chapter on the boy’s thoughts. The whole story is a flip back and forth between the girl’s and boy’s thoughts about where and why the girl had left. In the story, she just disappeared one day and left a message saying that she was going to Patagonia and that shew as ok. That was some pages ago. Since then, she has been exploring Buenos Aires, getting real with herself. The boy has been very understanding and these are some of his thoughts:

“Today, was a long day ever since I woke up. Time had slowed down or ceased to pass. I woke up early with a jolt. I didn’t know if I was having a nightmare or if my body thought it needed to, but I went from a deep slumber to wide awake in seconds. It confused me for a minute, kind of disoriented me. I didn’t know where I was or even who I was. Just for a minutre. I decided I must have had a bad dream. I must have. I looked over to where she used to sleep and I had a burning pain in my chest, not unlike heartburn. Maybe my heart was actually burning. It had been 3 weeks since I had seen her. I tried thinking of her face but it was weird because some of her features were distorted. I knew they were distorted but I couldn’t fix them. Her cheekbones appeared wider, her eyes larger, her hair darker and mouth more narrow, yet fuller. I didn’t want to think about that anymore, I didn’t want her changing in my mind. I decided to get up and have a shower. I checked the time, 9:14AM. What was going on? I never woke up early. Without a struggle, without any sign of grogginess, I got up, grabbed my towel and headed to the shower. For some reason, I realized right then and there that we used to take our morning showers together. Sometimes, I would roll over and she would already be awake. Sometimes, she would look sweet and adorable. Other times she would be staring at me, bulging her eyes. I would jump a little and she would erupt with laughter. She would pressure me to wake up, push me a little, kiss me at the base of my neck, between the shoulder blades. This never made me want to get out of bed. It made me want to stay in bed all day. She would eventually win by convincing me that we needed some coffee. I never drank doffee before I met her. I didn’t care for the taste, either. I think I liked the social aspect of it. It was almost like coffee became the necessary beginning of our day. The routine just seemed to fall into place. I didn’t fight it, I just let it slide into my life. I thought about all of these things while standing in the shower, letting the hot water just fall on my shoulders. I didn’t even remember stepping into the shower. I watched the streams fall off my body, my elbows, my nose, watched them dive into the pool that was forming at my feet, swirled around and headed down the drain. There was a drain catcher where everyone’s loose hair was collected. The water may have found it difficult to get past this net of intertwined, soapy, lost body-hair, but eventually it made its way down. After I turned the water off, I stood in the tub, water was still dripping from my hair, my ears, and waited for the water to seep past the furry net. When the dirty, yet soapy, water made it down, I grabbed my towel, dried myself off, wrapped it around my waist and went back to my room. I sat at my desk and opened my laptop. I put on FEELIN IT and surfed the internets. The internet. There was no one there to correct “internets”. No one to roll her eyes and tell me to get dressed. No one to tell me she needed a coffee, not wanted, needed. I quickly checked my email and found there was no new message from her. For a minutre, I didn’t know what to do next. Then, I realized maybe I should get dressed, like normal. But, there was something not normal to this day. I had the strangest urge to just reach out and hold her. I felt like all she needed was to be told that it would all be ok. Of course, I couldn’t. I didn’t even know where she was. She could be in Patagonia right now. I just did not know. It was a strange feeling not to know. I didn’t know if I wanted to know anymore. All I wanted to know was that she was ok, but I did know she needed her space. That was always what started a quarrel between us. A quarrel, we never fought, we just had differences. The quarrels would be about her not knowing what to do with her time or not knowing who she was. She would kind of turn on me and say that I had it easy becasue I knew what I wanted to be since I was eight. I would tell her to pick one or two things and just do them. She would sneer and say she wasn’t good at anything. I would tell her to get good at something and to go from there. The frustration would make her roll her eyes at me and she would say something along the lines of me trying to change her. Days like this were frustrating, as much as I wanted to hold her and say it’s going to be ok, I also wanted to walk away and give her some space. These moments often led to her getting dizzy or her heart racing. A couple of times she would hyperventilate or passout. She had more and more of these episodes right before she left. I guess I should have seen it coming, but who could ever really know with these things. It was sad to see someone who enjoyed life so much hate it just the same. It’s like never really knowing how you feel because you are always torn or divided. She was always scared of the future, I guess she didn’t like knowing if she would love it or hate it. The thing that drove her crazy is that she could never control it, channel it or harness it. I tried telling her that you just got to go with it. She would roll her eyes. I didn’t like it when she rolled her eyes. She would do it to silently protest something which is worse than just saying it. It’s like having an opinion, making everyone know about it, but then wipe your hands of it because you didn’t actually say it. She knew how to get me going. Sadly enough, I missed those moments, too. All of these thoughts I had all day, just memories of her. Not concrete memories like going to an amusement park or where we went for a date. Those times never really stuck out in my mind. I remember having good times traveling with her, I remember our first holiday dinner together, but they didn’t mean as much as the little, everyday things. None of those big memories had the same impact as the little ones. It was as if my feelings for her bound the little moments and spun a string of them, or a thick yarn. This yarn tied all of the big events together, connected them, attached them as streams of memory, but the yarn of little things was consistent throughout all of out time together. Maybe that’s why they meant more to me, because inside the small things was the persistent emotion, pure and raw, of how I felt about her. Untainted by rollercoasters, the MOMA or tuk-tuks. Throughout the day, I guess I realized how simple it all really was. The day was a long one of contemplation. I didn’t have my coffee until 10PM. After the coffee, I went to my room and started drawing. I didn’t eat anything all day.”

excerpt: and then she woke up

15/01/2010 § 1 Comment

After existential moment with a few, perhaps a lot, of moments in between…

“I woke up for the first time without a headache or a pain in my heart. My head was not spinning, my heart felt content, almost pleasant. It was also the first time that I woke up and I greatfully thought of him, the way he was, the way we were, the way we never could be. I thought that thinking those things would surely bring on an episode, but they didn’t, I just lied there, literally feeling my heart swell. My heart felt more complete, it’s hard to describe, but it almost felt like a loaf of bread that had been baked to perfection. It was tough on the outside, not callous, yet warm and soft and dense of the inside.

I looked out my window and saw the sky, crisp with the morning. I didn’t crave coffee, I just wanted to drink it, to taste it, to take it in, to take it all in.

I almost-boiled the water, measured my fresh-grind, and waited the four-minutes to plunge the French-press. Something was different today. My movements seemed fluid and unhindered, like life had become the lake, and I was merely swimming through it.

Once my coffee was ready I tasted it. There was no bitter aftertaste, no sour-fuzzy stuff that I had tasted a few weeks before. No. This time it was smooth and a little bit salty.

It reminded me of a taste I had not encountered for quite sometime. It reeled me back to the past, the moments I had shared with him. This time I didn’t cry, this time my mind didn’t spin out of control and my heart leap from my chest. At that moment, I realized how much I loved him.

However, love became a peculiar thing to me. It no longer held the connotation of possession and demands, in was better than that, it was more complete than that.

I suddenly had the urge to laugh at my sincerest stupidity as the child I once was. Why would anyone want to strangle something she loved?

Even though I was waiting to black-out, it still didn’t happen. I was actually able to muse about the pain and the joy. It felt like I literally stepped away from my brain and body and just looked at my contentment from afar.

My love had grown more deep, more profound than I could ever have imagined since coming here, and it was at that moment that I realized I had to let go. The fear, the pain, the sorrow, the joy, the laughter were all things that tainted something that had become cleansed and purified. It had been nurtured and it had grown to proportions that I had never thought possible. There was no sense of control, no anger, and most importantly, no fear. In its place was a stream of thoughts and feelings, able to change with the  shores and the moon. It had come full circle.

I decided then and there that seeing him again could ruin everything that had just been created. However, I looked at my self, as I was standing away from the physical me, and decided to not make any promises, to ebb and flow with the tides and changing streams.

I looked around and heard the twittering of birds, the rustle of leaves and the shiver of the wind. No unit of time or space could measure the place that I was, how far I had come, or what was to happen next. I exhaled and for the moment realized that I was unmistakably alone.

And, I was ok with that.”

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