Archive for the ‘Guarded personal writing’ Category

Unexamined assumptions are powerful. Like when you see a radio personality for the first time and you’re all THAT IS NOT WHAT MATT GALLOWAY LOOKS LIKE* because without realizing it you formed a very strong idea of what Matt Galloway looks like just from listening to his voice…where was I? Oh yeah. Unexamined assumptions. Very powerful.

Your idea of what a thing is, what it looks like – your Platonic essence of a state of being – is not usually something you come up with consciously. I seem to have very strong ideas about what it means to be a singer, a writer, a SAHM; what success and happiness are; and somehow or other I’ve constructed these templates in such a way that they exclude me.

Yes. I have conversations with myself where I add caveats and qualifications to my identities until I’ve talked myself out of being, well, anything. Does everybody do this, or is this just me? I am not a real singer because [x], x being “some bullshit that is not really relevant”. Never mind that all that singer means is “a person who sings”. I sing! I even get paid for it every now and then, though not as much as I’d like. Similarly, a writer is…a person who writes. I write! Not as much as I’d like and never for pay, but I’ve written a bunch of opera libretti, a fair stack of poems, and enough blog posts to choke a horse. Why doesn’t that count? I spend the vast majority of my time looking after my baby; does this not make me a SAHM (if that’s a label I want to use for myself – not sure about that yet)?

So tell me, internet, what buggy bit of code in my brain that stops me from believing in myself?

*Matt Galloway, for you non-Torontonians, hosts the CBC morning drive-time show and looks like Kermit the Frog. He SOUNDS kind of like Zach Braff. You see my confusion here.

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Back when I was pregnant I would have random and baffling hours of depression – literally an hour or two when all of a sudden I would feel worthless and horrible. Though I knew it was a hormonal illusion, I did eventually pinpoint exactly what the feeling was: every now and then I would lose the sense of my own awesomeness.

I did not realize I had a sense of my own awesomeness. Like my sense of balance or my sense of where my body is in space, I had taken it for granted – that inner voice that told me over and over again “You’re awesome!” was just in the background until it was randomly turned off by progesterone or something. Fortunately this passed along with the fatigue and mild nausea by the 2nd trimester and I have been feeling my awesomeness pretty much consistently ever since.

But I seem to have another and contradictory sense: I always feel bad about my career. No matter what I have accomplished/achieved/done, I feel like a wastrel and a failure. Call this my sense of my un-awesomeness, and while it doesn’t dent my self-satisfaction all that often, it is every bit as omnipresent as its opposite.

And the only way to shut it off is to rewrite my resume. Seriously. Every now and then I rewrite my resume for something – I list my recent gigs I think “Oh yeah, there was that…and that…and that…I guess it’s not so bad after all” and that nasty undermining voice gets turned off.

I don’t know where this comes from, and I suspect no one cares (a combination of genetics, upbringing, and culture, like everything else, I assume), and as problems go I wouldn’t call it big compared to a lot of things, but…I don’t like that I constantly and instinctively devalue my own accomplishments. You could not by any stretch of the imagination call me financially successful in my chosen field, but artistically I have done some good stuff, and that is success; I need to honour and own that. And I feel like I need to work this out before I waste my entire life beating myself up for not doing stuff I’ve already done, if that makes sense.

Anyway. Sorry for being a downer! I assure you I am actually pretty happy with life. I just only seem to write here about stuff that’s bringing me down. I will try to post some cute pictures or something.


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Well, not exactly. Yes, I *am* posting, but I’ve hardly had the productive day I envisioned. I woke up feeling sort of bleh and continued feeling sort of bleh, so I’ve mostly spent the day coddling myself in hopes that I haven’t caught a cold to go with my ragweed allergies, because that’s a whole other category of medication I’m not allowed to take. I still feel a bit bleh but less so, so hopefully tomorrow I will be able to go about my business of…mostly sending emails and practicing and writing stuff. You know, the glamourous life of the artist.

Anyway. If nothing else, I can at least inform you that The Taking of Pelham 123 (the 1974 version) is not only awesome but on Netflix. That’s something, isn’t it?

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I can’t believe that I haven’t written since Giorgio Mammoliti called me a communist.

Nothing bad has happened, and I haven’t even been all that busy, so I don’t really have an excuse. I’ve just been sitting around the house, being pregnant, putting up a few posters, arguing with people on Manboobz, making more diapers, same old same old. I just keep forgetting to write.

The same thing that made my poetry output fall drastically has happened with my blogging. I don’t know if I ever wrote about it here, but around the time I turned 27 or 28 it became much harder for me to write poems. You see, when I was younger and a good phrase would pop into my head I would think “That’s a great opening/ending/middle line of a poem”, file it for later use, and write the poem whenever I had time. When I hit my late twenties, my memory degraded slightly – not a lot, but enough that when I archived those little phrases and whatever I thought they’d be good for, I would just forget them unless I wrote them down instantly.

And now the same thing with the blogging. I used to get ideas for posts, think “That’s a good idea for a post!”, then write it later. Now I think “That’s a good idea for a post!” and not only forget what it is, I forget to post anything at all. I am hoping this is just pregnancy-brain and will go away eventually, but it may just be the inevitable degeneration of Old Age.

Anyway. No excuses, right? I’m going to challenge myself to post something here every day for the next two weeks. I promise there will be no more than 25% dog and/or baby-related material. Maybe I need to find a routine for blogging like I do for practicing (which I haven’t been doing much of either, since it’s effing ragweed season and they’ve never tested Aerius on pregnant ladies).

So! Since you’ve missed out on over a month of minutiae of my daily life, some things I have done/experienced since mid-August!

– I watched all of Leverage. It is not a good show, but it is entertaining in a wildly improbable way. And it’s on Netflix!
– Have graduated entirely into maternity clothes, except for one or two stretchy skirts and my longer tops. Having an extremely limited wardrobe is sort of freeing, in the same way having to wear a uniform to school is; yeah, you don’t have to think too hard about what to put on in the morning, but you feel like people are constantly misjudging you, since you can’t make the fashion statement you want. In fact I can’t make much of a fashion statement at all other than “I am pregnant” or “Yes, I am pregnant and on a bicycle” or “All those times you thought how young I looked for my age, well, it was just the clothes”. I shouldn’t complain, as maternity clothes are apparently much more stylish than they used to be. I got some stuff from Thyme Maternity, which is pretty much Suzy Shier with elastic waistbands.
– My sister gave me a book of knitting patterns entitled Knit your own dog. So far I have made the dachshund, basset hound, corgi, pug, and scottie. I plan on making a mobile of knitted dogs for the baby’s crib. I figure that since I won’t be indoctrinating my children into any religion, it’s OK if I indoctrinate them into loving dogs.
– Hilariously, a large percentage of people who bought Knit your own dog from Amazon also bought Knit your own Royal Wedding. I want to know if anyone has ever actually done this, and what they intended to do with the final product. Set up a little Royal Wedding shrine, like a nativity set, only with the House of Windsor? Give them to their children to play with? Give them as an undoubtedly awesome but very labour-intensive gag gift?
– It’s actually cold here. As in, I closed the windows today and considered turning the heat on.
– Gus has a mysterious wound on his neck. I can only think of two ways he could have gotten it: he might have scraped it against something in the yard, though I don’t know what; or a squirrel might have jumped on his back and bitten him in the neck. It’s probably the former, though the latter would make a really cute cartoon short.
– I seem to be in the “nesting” phase of pregnancy and am starting to clean everything in sight.
– In sadder news, my mother broke her ankle last weekend. Gus was involved but not entirely responsible. She’s doing OK, considering, but it’s still a major bummer to be stuck on the couch for 6 weeks (at least). So if a lot of my posts start/end with “Just going to/just back from London”, you’ll know why.

I think that’s all. I have been planning on bringing back the podcast, BTW – I’m going to try to make an episode this Monday.

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As I know you are all consumed with curiousity as to why I have been light on the blogging and tweeting and podcasting lately, why I have been living the life of a tuberculosis patient in a sanitorium in the Swiss Alps, why I have been mostly hanging out at home and doing very little, I have decided to Tell All. About two weeks earlier than I meant to, but oh well.

The big secret: I am pregnant.

I think it looks a bit like a teddy bear!

I was intending to wait until 12 weeks to go fully public about it (though lots of people know already, since I had to tell anyone working on a project with me, and Ben told a bunch of his friends already), but it’s 10 weeks now and the ultrasound shows 4 legs, a heartbeat, and a head, so I figure it’s OK to spill.

This is rather an all-consuming thing, as you can imagine if you’ve never done it yourself, so you can see why I wasn’t eager to blog when the number 1 thing on my mind was off-limits. Also early pregnancy feels a bit like a mild hangover plus terrible PMS. I was lucky and didn’t have any vomiting, but I felt absolutely drained all the time until quite recently. I’m still taking it easy, partly because it’s A MILLION DEGREES outside and about 500,000 in here, partly this is pretty much the last downtime I’ll get before the kid hits junior kindergarten.

Anyway, as a pregnant lady who writes stuff on the internet, this is my pledge to you:

– I will not live-tweet giving birth.
– After the baby is born, I will not write anything about poo, unless it’s really funny.
– I will keep ultrasound pictures to a minimum.
– I will not replace my avatar with an ultrasound.
– I will not start writing in baby talk.
– I will not regale you with the gory details of my symptoms or medical visits. Unless, of course, it’s really funny.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go knit a squid hat.

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In – I think – 2006, before I really started doing coloratura rep, I sang Mozart’s “Exsultate, Jubilate” at a concert on Manitoulin Island with the Silverbirch String Quartet.  This being my first real foray into singing things originally written for castrati (no, really!), I had a really hard time learning it.  Now, of course, it seems almost too easy.  (What do you mean, it only goes up to C?)  But at the time I was absolutely banging my head against the wall trying to learn it.

About 10 days before the show I freaked out. “I’m never going to get it!” I said to Ben.  “I suck!  I should just quit!”

“Kristin, you do this before every show,” Ben said.

Of course I was highly offended.  I was certain I had never felt that way before.  So I called my friend Wendy to complain, and her response was:

“Well, you *do* do that every time.”

And, on further reflection, I realized that I did.  That I do. And it always feels like the first time.

So what’s the point? Why am I writing about this?

I have lots to do and no desire to do anything. I feel confused and directionless and unsure of what I’m doing. I also feel a strong desire to sit around watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer (but I can’t because it’s not on Netflix). Does this happen to me every year around now, when my season is pretty much over and I have only long-term projects to prepare for?

Apparently yes.

Oh well.

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I’ve been following via Twitter the launch of SunTV. That’s right, the newspaper chain dedicated to making you deathly afraid of pit bulls, PCP-crazed gangs, and flu shots now has a TV station. Because the airwaves aren’t clogged enough with right-wing rants of dubious factuality.

Anyway, as I said, I’ve been following this on Twitter, mostly via @Antonia_Z and @goldsbie. And it sounds like Sun Media Group gave their little station quite a launch. Launched it right into a wall. Lots of CBC bashing, an attempt to bring the “Sunshine Girls” to the screen, and Ezra Levant telling about a zillion lies.

But why, you ask, am I taking Twitter’s word for it? Why am I not checking out “Ezra Levant and his Amazing Tap-Dancing Ego” myself?




…I don’t have a TV.

Yes, I am a walking stereotype. I’m a leftist feminist vegan who rides a bicycle, works in the arts, does yoga, rarely washes her hair, and to top it all off doesn’t even have a TV.

In my own defense, I did used to have one. I never wanted to pay for cable, so we had an antenna and got the following stations:

– CBC English
– CBC French
– whatever Ontario’s French-language public station is called
– City
– Omni
– occasionally the Fox affiliate from Rochester if the weather was good.

The best reception was on TVO and French CBC, so all I ever really watched was Lingo (which is an awesome game show, if you speak enough French to follow it) and various British mysteries on TVO. I’m not complaining, since it introduced me to both Midsomer Murders and Rosemary and Thyme (two middle-aged ladies run a gardening business and solve murders? Sign me up!), but when we moved to this 12-foot-wide palatial estate, it didn’t seem worth keeping.

And now I am a TV freeloader – I watch TV shows streaming on my computer/IPod, or on DVD, or downloaded directly from ITunes or some other completely legal source. I am not holding up my end of the “watch TV for free, but sit through these ads” bargain. And I don’t feel bad about that at all.*

Anyway. Let’s hope Ezra Levant goes totally batshit and becomes Canada’s answer to Glenn Beck, complete with blackboard and Nazi flashcards. I still won’t buy a TV to watch him, but I will look up Rick Mercer making fun of him on YouTube.

*I know, this raises the free-rider problem: “How will TV get produced if no one pays for it?”, But honestly, it’s not my problem that the TV industry hasn’t figured out how monetize the Internet yet. There are lots of really good ideas for turning even file-sharing into something that brings in money for artists and producers (automatic micro-contributions from users, a radio licensing model, something like FACTOR where a small levy is placed on every computer to fund grants for independent producers, etc), but the networks prefer to defend the old model tooth and nail. And while I doubt that Internet revenues will bring in the obscenely massive profits the networks have gotten used to, I can’t bring myself to give a shit. They’ll bring in something, and the Charlie Sheen will have to settle for only $100,000/episode instead of $2,000,000. The horror.

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