About Kittie

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I promise to play nice

Nothing says holidays like a cheese log — Ellen DeGeneres

Christmas is next Monday. And cheese logs are disgusting. Maybe I should be more excited about it. Christmas, I mean. But considering I don’t have children, I don’t have the opportunity to see it through their eyes and experience that child-like wonder about it and re-think the whole concept of Christmas.

I suppose I could be more excited if I had a significant other to share the holiday with. But I doubt that would happen. I’m not a traditionalist in that sense and it wouldn’t make any sense for me to be in a relationship with someone who puts in a lot value into something that strikes me as commercial and a bit capitalist. How much you love someone is equal to how much you spent on their gift. That’s my take on it, so no thanks.

Don’t even get me started on the religious aspect of Christmas. I respect all religions. Just don’t shove it down my throat or I will make sure the last words you say to me will be “You are going to burn in Hell for that.” To which I might reply, “I’ll see you there.”

I’m really not Scrooge. And let’s be honest, Scrooge has nothing on me.

I enjoy the holidays, usually on my terms. If that makes me sound a little inflexible, well… too bad. For me to enjoy the holidays in the company of others (regardless of whether they are friends or family), I have to want to be in their company. Seriously, who wants to be around someone who doesn’t want to be there? Serious killjoy vibes going off and who wants to feel that? And quite frankly, for anyone to tell the person who doesn’t want to be there to loosen up and give it a chance, just doesn’t understand or is at least lacking some empathy for that person. Guilting someone, bullying someone into putting on a happy face for a certain occasion will lead to nothing but grief in the future. Passive-aggressive, anyone?

Yeah, I’m speaking from experience. And this is not just tied to the holidays. It’s tied to expectations laid out by anyone who expects you to put forward your best face at any type of social gathering.

You have no idea how often I’ve wanted to disappear or how often I amused myself with guessing how the person standing in front of me or beside me would die. Like I said, Scrooge has nothing on me.

To be honest, I’d like to reduce the number of times I have to amuse myself with guessing how someone will die. It gets boring and tiresome. Give me lots of room to breath (and I mean LOTS of room) and I’ll be amenable to playing along… unless I really don’t like someone and I don’t care to be in their company.

It hasn’t been bad this past year. I’ll admit there were times where I did not care for the company of others because there were things that needed and demanded my attention, and I was sure as hell, not interested in letting life get in the way.

For 2018, I have one very specific goal I want to complete. And it will entail finding a way to not let life disrupt the pursuit of that goal. So, yes, there will be times I will be distracted or seem anti-social. I’d prefer to be described as laser-focused or hellbent. Actually, hellbent is a good description for me during these times. And if things get a little bumpy, you can call me murderous.

So now that I’ve given you the warning, I’ll be roasting a turkey, something I haven’t done in at least ten years. It’s probably more than ten years. So, why am I doing this now? Because a family member is obsessed with having turkey for Christmas dinner. Is this family member a traditionalist? I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know. Am I doing this to keep the peace? Yes. I’m also doing this to cut the wistful whining down to a minimum.

I enjoy cooking but there are far more interesting things to do than cook. I have stories to tell. I have research to do. I want to expose myself to things that inspire me. Right now, cooking is a function and not necessarily a pleasure.

For one day, I just have to cook a turkey and prepare the stuffing and sit with family. As a non-traditionalist kind of person, this is stifling and a bit claustrophobic. I’d rather have the simple pleasure of drinking tea, listening to music and working on my writing.

Yeah, yeah, Christmas comes once a year. Just do it for one day, right? Let me think about it.

Okay, I’ve thought about it. Still doesn’t change how I feel about expectations that are put on me during the holidays or any special occasion for that matter.

But I promise to play nice this Christmas. Well, I’ll try.

Not normal

Normal is not something to aspire to, it’s something to get away from
— Jodie Foster

For most of my life and without realizing it, I tried my damnedest to fit in, to blend in, to be perceived as normal (or at least live up to the perception, rightly or wrongly, people had about Chinese/Asian people — i.e. book smart, docile, non-confrontational, amenable), at the urging of my parents and to those I admired, respected or wanted to be friends with.

As I grew up and became an adult, I came to understand that fitting in, being normal, blending in with everyone around me was something that came at a price. My self-esteem took a beating. My place in the world, in society, was put into question. My value as a human being was under scrutiny, too. The opinions of others superseded my own opinions because I thought they somehow knew better than me.

Now, it’s clear that they don’t. Yeah, we’re all in the same boat but that doesn’t stop certain individuals from pretending they know everything. Everyone is trying to work within a set of parameters that have been constructed by someone else. (Patriarchy, I’m looking at you, you fucking piece of shit.) Everyone is trying, but that’s about it.

I’m more comfortable being the outsider, unable to truly fit comfortably within a set of parameters set up by some idiot who thinks I’m some sort of social and emotional chameleon/contortionist. Fuck that. You want submission? Bend over. I’ll give you a taste of submission. There might be a colostomy bag waiting for you after I’m done with you. I don’t imagine it will be fun.

I went to the monthly writers group meet-up over the weekend and I was reminded by my mentor how much my writing had changed once I gave up trying to follow his instructions. Apparently, he didn’t know how to get through to me during the early days of my developing my storytelling skillset. It wasn’t that I didn’t listen to him. I was. But the end result of my writing exercises/attempts were stilted and far from what I believed I could do and it left me frustrated. He arrived to the same conclusion.

Eventually, I said fuck it and I went off script to figure out the writing thing. As soon as I did that, something clicked. It was something that surprised him. Me? I wasn’t concerned if it surprised him. I was just thrilled that I was off and running. To paraphrase my mentor, the change was akin to letting a colt off its halter and letting it bolt around the pasture to find its legs, to explore the world around him and to taste a bit of freedom.

I appreciated his use of an equine analogy. It reminded me of my horse, Chaplin, when he was still alive and the leader in his little corral. He was the boss. Thankfully, he had a wicked sense of humour. But he was the boss. None of the other horses ever forgot.

My mentor said we both learned something from me going ‘off halter.’ I’m not sure what he learned but I learned that following tried and true constructs doesn’t work for me. Doing that leaves me frustrated, angry and homicidal. I have to get to the same place as everybody else by taking a very different path.

Is it juts a case of learning differently? I don’t know. I think it’s a case of looking at something differently, figuring out the approach from that perspective and running with it.

I don’t remember what I did specifically that was different, to be honest. But I think the difference might have been trusting my intuition and following my gut. My mentor believes that to be true. He believes the ease with which I access the right brain — when I do it my way and not follow some prescribed method — is a big reason for the shift in my writing and the way the story for my second novel has evolved.

I guess following my intuition might not be the norm? If it’s not, good. There is nothing ‘normal’ when it comes to creativity. Normal is a killjoy. Normal is a soul-sucking, non-life affirming way to live.

Fuck normal. I’m all for doing things my way.

In pursuit

Anyone in the pursuit of art is responding to a desire to make visible that which is not, to offer the unknown self to others — Hettie Jones

Anything that I have done, that would be considered in the realm of art, was done in the pursuit of self-expression, self-acceptance and maintaining some semblance of sanity.

That’s how it was with flamenco and piano. And that’s how it is with writing and photography.

Doing things to please anyone other than myself has always ended in eventual disappointment for me. For the others, not so much. The disappointment is something that everyone else fails to see or doesn’t want to see. Or if they do see it, they either ignore it or start shaming you for being for not being selfless enough. They want to ostracize you. They decide that you’re socially dysfunctional. They decide you’re not nice enough, not friendly enough. What they really mean is they decide that since you haven’t done enough to bend over backwards for them, you are not a decent human being.

To borrow from Darth Vader: Your lack of self-sacrifice and commitment to some form of servitude is disturbing.

Three words: Go. Fuck. Yourself.

In the personal pursuit of self-expression, self-acceptance and my version of sanity, I forget that there are folks I know who have read my writing (specifically the first novel), and who are asking me if there is another book in the works.

I was asked that question last week. Judging by the looks these three ladies gave me, they seemed to be chomping at the bit to read anything I produce. Instead of feeling daunted by their expectations, I still found myself surprised that anyone would want to read a bunch of words I string together in an effort to tell a story.

I told them they would see something eventually. They asked me politely to hurry it up. I guess I’ll have a meeting with my boys and the rest of the crew from the next novel about that this week.

I’ve come up with a general idea of when the next book will be ready. Can’t be more than that. Let’s just say the possibility of it being ready is a more tangible concept now than it would have been six months ago.

Now, if I can only get the rest of my life to co-operate with my plans…