When You’re Reading EVERYTHING

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Dear Reader,

Sometimes curiosity strikes, and it strikes hard. You know how in a film, a bell will toll in an eerie way, indicating that something dramatic is about to happen. Basically, that is how I feel at the moment, but with a lot less eer, ear? eerie? Good grief!

I am currently working on the first episode of my podcast, and I have been meaning for it to go up sooner than later, but I have been waiting on some sources to arrive via the post, and I also wanted to make sure I really got into all the sources I could before I put the first one out into the world. I know that I am putting a lot of effort into this first go, and I am so happy to be “creating”. That feels good. It does leave me slightly apprehensive about what future podcasts will look like. The book I am working on is not that long, and I’ve really spent a lot of time on it. I want these podcasts to be monthly, but I need to evaluate how much work needs to go into each one. I’ve re-read the book, gone over and over passages, read secondary sources, read primary sources—honestly, I don’t mind that it has taken me the time it has taken me, simply for the reason that I needed to read those sources ANYWAY. There is a point in your life where you just need to sit down and read the hard stuff. And I firmly believe that you should spend time on those things. You don’t have to rush that. You want to linger in it—go right ahead. I feel like maybe in the future if I’m teaching a class or someone is on a deadline with me, they might reference this blog post and say, well you said it was okay. Uhh, alright, but at least make sure you’re really getting to know the material. That is one of my biggest loves–I love when one is given the opportunity to really get acquainted with history, theory, methodologies, philosophy, critiques, criticisms, ideas, art, tragedy: DO THOSE THINGS.

So, in the last little while, I’ve read and re-read some Foucault texts, I’m re-reading/reading the whole book for the first time Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy, and I’ve read Plato’s Symposium. I also read this little legal book I bought in England–back in the days when I wanted to study law–about the legal case(s) of Oscar Wilde [I mean, really, past-self, you bought the book about the literary guy you love, and you thought you were going to do law…rightttttt!] So, lots of pride there for me. Remember to be proud of the effort you put into reading. That’s amazing stuff! Feel really good about cracking those spines–both the books and yours as you remember that your back bone does not like to be discombobulated into that contortionist pose in which you must read.

I wanted to touch in because I know I have been absent for a while. I’ve been harnessing that instinct to hop on here and share all of the excitement I have for what I am reading and putting it into my podcast. I’ve got tons of notebooks and papers scattered around my room, and it will soon be funnelled into aural communication.

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Another thing on my mind is the fact that I really need to organize some of the books next to my desk. It would be helpful if I could just live in this idealized space that grew as I acquired books, but marshmallow-world is not yet a reality. So, until then, I’m going to have to spend time organizing. But, I mean, that is also a rather soothing task.

Also, I want to add, you should read books that make you happy. I know that sometimes we try to force ourselves into loving things that aren’t necessarily right for us at the time. So, if you’re not feeling something, just put it down and respect that feeling. You can come back to it, or not. I think we put a lot of pressure onto ourselves about needing to read certain books because it is what other people are reading. I think we should always challenge ourselves in our reading careers, but I also think we need to remember to enjoy what we read. I’ve wanted to read The Idiot for a while now, but, at the same time, I also did not feel like reading that kind of book. And, there will be a time, maybe in November, when it’s frigid AF outside, and I pick up the book and I think: why did I wait so long? But that is the paradox of reading, we can get so much pleasure from one book that, at another time, might have been a massive headache or thorn in our eye. So, respect how you feel when you read. Don’t be afraid to put the book down: unless it’s an assigned reading and your grade depends on it–then, my airy-fairy, free-will advice sort of goes to pot, you can call me kettle.

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So, I’ve got to go make Nietzsche peachy, create some queer book words, and share my voice. Women are doing it! We really are (women is not an exclusive identity, that is, you do you!).  Be free, my pretties! (How on earth did I just go to giving off wicked witch vibes? YOLO! Just don’t splash me with water!)

 

Heaps and heaps of love,

Word Play, Xx

Why it annoys me when people tell me not to swear.

Dear Reader,

Please cover your ears, there are about to be a lot of expletives. Or, rather, maybe none at all.

When I was in secondary school, we read The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway, who is a Cree author. We had to do an assignment in relation to the play that examined whether or not we should swear because there was quite a bit of it in the play. Does swearing add value to our lives? Is it disruptive? Is it something that we should look down upon? At the time, I didn’t have a clue. I don’t think I referenced the play once. I basically made the argument that there are SOOOOO—emphasize that SOOOOOO, feel the O’s bouncing off your tongue, feel like the snake you sometimes are as you Sssssssssound it out-OOOO many words in the English language that you did not need to swear. Although, at the end, I went for a plot twist and said: fuck it.

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My problem with the “there are so many other words” thesis is many-fold. I am mad at myself for making that claim and that I did not reference the play, at the time. Swearing became about me and my context. I negated that swearing can be a release, particularly for a colonized and marginalized peoples. A peoples whose land I and other Canadians occupy daily. I did not think about what swearing meant in the play. It showed anger that erupts in the daily lives of women, of marginalized communities, of forgotten communities, of persons of colour. Swearing bluntly locates the play as one that deals with inherited and ever present systematic oppressions. The inheritance of this anger, from generation to generation, is highlighted as one of the characters is unable to have children. Swearing is a device in this play. It dictates class, as defined by white, western society. It expresses exasperation and the fact that sometimes there are no words to even begin to describe what colonialism means. There is a divide between those who have faced oppression and those who oppress and/or hold privilege. The privileged cannot fully grasp that experience, and swearing operates along a common language with which we can all empathize and understand.

So, I guess if I could go back to being fifteen, that is the answer I hope I could give.

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When I think about swearing and how people react to me swearing, I often think about that assignment. I always want to walk up to the person who judges me, and I want to explain, as I hold their hands in mine, really up close and personal, that you perceive swearing to be a marker of someone lesser, that is, holding lesser societal value. I do not. I’m not saying I always like to hear swearing, but I’m saying that your or my discomfort is not enough to tell people they cannot express what they feel.

Swearing is identified as lower class, in particular if its done by a woman–even more so if it is a woman of colour. Swearing is understood as something rich men can do but they might choose not to. Swearing is also understood as something that poor people and people of colour cannot but do. It is a constructed signifier for all of these classist, racist, and sexist societal trappings.

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Older generations make fun of younger generations for using text speak in spoken conversation such as YOLO and lawl. But, we also acknowledge that language changes. It is so important that we recognize that language is not immutable; it is varying and ever-changing. Comedians use YOLO to garner laughter, employing the older generation’s disdain for how younger people talk and communicate. But self-expression is meaningful, even if it seems stupid to unintended audiences.

 

If you’re angry or you’re scared, your fight or flight kicks in, and you react viscerally. Sometimes, people swear. Sometimes, you hear a story that someone tells you, and it is so gut-wrenching that all you can utter is a long, quiet: “ffffuuuuuuuucccckkkk….” Other times, you’ve explained something to someone many times, they begin to ask you again, and you say, “for fuck’s sakeeeeee.” Maybe someone uses their privileges, without even realizing they have those privileges, to silence you….so, you swear as you think or talk about that silencing experience. Employing a wide variety of language is so important. And, at the same time, we shouldn’t be restricting language like some ideological police from 1984. Swearing can be raw emotion. Sometimes, it’s funny AF! Sometimes, it’s shocking AF! But employing a wide variety and ‘language’ is the privilege of colonization and education. That does not mean that those who swear are uneducated, but if your argument against swearing is that there are so many other words that can be used, you don’t realize the privilege you hold.

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Additionally, swearing is seen as something that women cannot do; it seemingly defies constructs of domestic femininity and elegance. But that’s just it,”Woman” is also a social construct. The negative meaning we give to swearing is a historical process. I remember being young, and one could not swear because it tainted one’s innocence. Innocence is such a terrible construct. Let’s stop with that, too. Go read some Foucault.

I want to use language; I want to feel the letters fall off my tongue, resonate in my nasal cavity, and boil from my belly. That doesn’t mean we have to be rude to one another; it just means that we should stop coding swearing coz, m8, it’s all made up fluff, anyhow.

 

Heaps of love,

WordPlay Xx

Great Expectations⎟ When Books Gobble You Up

Dearest Reader,

Do you remember when I was reading Great Expectations, and I even did a lot of legwork to do research via methodologies and theory? Well, a strange thing happened; I read Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. I then got a massive book hangover. Yes, I know that the book is intensely flawed. It is full of white feminism, and that is super problematic. But, boy, oh boy, is it such a good love story. She also does an extremely good job at representing 19th-C strikes, and the need for employers to listen to their workers as they communicate their needs. I even purchased the audiobook because I know that I am going to want that shiz in my life pretty much always. Cue Snape references, now. After this dramatic and rather romantic literary interlude, I got sucked into E.M Forster’s Maurice (that’s Morris not More-eece, for the non-Brits out there). Dear lord, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Well, as you can imagine, I got sucked into a whirlwind of really good reading material. It totally detracted from my Great Expectations of producing multiple podcasts for you guys. Sometimes, books just manage our lives more than we’ll ever know. Please read these books and get sucked away with me.

This means that I am rather unsure if I should try to write a Dickensian podcast when I am no longer in the mood for it. My somewhat odd mood is due to the fact that I am now reading George Gissing’s The Odd Women. It feels like the type of book that every feminist should read, except that they should not. I am almost halfway through the text, and I find it dreadful. The writing is not awful, but it is too close to the daily lives that women lead. It isn’t telling me anything new. At the time, it was super revolutionary because Gissing’s female characters were espousing a marriageless life in favour of a working life.  The book is also super classist. Only a particular type of woman could have this life. Some women, according to some of the characters, are just to weak-willed to marry. Or, the poor women, they were too unintelligible and unrefined to be ‘saved’. Ugh, how patronizing. Additionally, women of colour do not feature at all. I suppose I wanted to read this book and hear myself go ‘YES!’ that is exactly how I feel about this and this. Rather, I find that I am forcing myself to read through it. I’m almost tempted to ‘did not finish’ (DNF) this book. It isn’t exactly the book I want to open my podcast. If I am not enjoying it, then how will a listener?

In all likelihood, I will finish it–haha! But, I do not think I am going to make notes whilst reading. I’m just going to read in the moment. Maybe, I might begin with Maurice. It made me love EM Forster so much. I have not been the biggest fan of A Room with a View. It felt a little hollow for me, but I am also struck by the thought that I may want to revisit A Room in the future to have my mind changed. That is one of my favourite things about reading; you don’t have to like a book the first time you read it. You can leave it there, or, on some future date, you can pick the book up and give the relationship another chance. And, in this case, you won’t feel like your ex is still as annoying as ever.

Books I’ve Been Reading: 

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I’ll leave it there, dear Reader. Keep very well!

 

Heaps of Love,
WordPlay Xx

Conspiring with You-niverse.

Dear Reader,

Have you ever had that moment when you wish the Universe would conspire with you? I dearly hope the Universe conspires with you, and all your dreams are fulfilled.

This is me, shouting out to the Heavens, that I’m ready to climb some mountains. I am a champion of grit!

Heaps of Love,
WordPlay Xx

 

Updates

Great Expectations: I am currently doing secondary research to prepare for the posts; I am convincing myself to do a few-part series of podcasts with this book. It might be a short while before they’re ready, but it is a rather large project that I’ve started.

Reading: I was going to start A Tale of Two Cities, but I decided, instead, upon The Old Curiosity Shop. This was the first Dickens novel I bought myself. Two Cities seemed a bit too melodramatically romantic for me, at the moment. It did not suit my mood at all. I think, also, the introduction of my edition insisted on blaming girls for seducing Dickens. That seemed questionable, to say the least. I think I am going to try and read them in a more chronological order, too. But, mood will out.

Misha: She is currently quite asleep beside me. I should be asleep, too. I don’t know if other dogs snore quite so much as pug-faced dogs, but their little snores are the most adorable. She gave me a look a little while ago, warning me to go to sleep because the light was bothering her.

 

a no-poem day⎟pea

Dear Reader,

I really want to write a poem today, but I happen to have all of these images flooding my mind that aren’t adding up to the phrases I like. Right now I’m enjoying a Mediterranean sea-scape, sunshine, honey, and happiness–and that’s all just from my head. I’m actually sitting in a room lighted by bulbs for it is a dark night and actually quite cold. I think because my thoughts feel like a vacation, my mind is kind of fully at ease. Additionally, I am listening Zayn’s album to death. I remember that I tutored a young girl who loved One Direction, and the boys at her school teased her for liking them. I’m basically of the attitude that you like who you like. I didn’t listen to them because they weren’t quite my jam. I mean, feminism sometimes clashes with pop music. Ya know? But, if a young listener wants to enjoy their market, I say, let them. Encourage them to think critically and at their own pace, but let them know they can be proud to like what they like. I had a set of stickers on order for her for 1D in my amazon cart, but I had to relocate before they’d arrive. That’s life –eh?

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Me to Zayn’s album.

So, I’m busy proudly listening to Zayn, not feeling as self-conscious about it as I did about listening to Justin Bieber’s new album and enjoying it. I don’t know. You live and learn. I think that’s something that we all have to recognize; we won’t always like everything–that’s fine. You don’t need to TELL people it’s stupid or dumb. Things aren’t always for you. That’s the way it should be. It would be so dull if mass-marketing actually succeeded, and we all had the same tastes. Gross. Let’s be critical thinkers, together, and found our own little niches of happiness. I mean, I say that listening to Zayn, a former member of a widely-loved, tween-audience, pop-star group…

I might post a poem later, but I might not. I guess this will have to suffice for today. I’ve just been having a lot of emotions at the moment. Sometimes, we have to take a day to sort of file them, distance ourselves, and understand ourselves. Today, is one of those days. I’m going to go back to reading Great Expectations so I can do work for the podcast.

Heaps of Love,
wordplay xx

 

¶ No Poem 5 April ⎟ PEA

Dear Reader,

Sorry about missing a poem yesterday. Misha threw up in the morning, and we were worried it might be indicative of something worse because she is nearly 13. It seems that she was okay after she had a good sleep, but we were a bit stressed out. I didn’t have my computer until really late in the evening, and, by then, I was REALLY tired. So, I think I will leave this post sweet and short and include today’s poem in a following post.

Thank you for your understanding and compassion.

Heaps of Love,
wordplay Xx

 

 

Misha Update ⎟ Escape from mount doom

Dear Reader,

I thought I would keep you updated about Misha. She has an ulcer on her eye, likely, from puncturing it. She has cataracts, so her vision isn’t quite top gear, and it is likely she bopped her eye on a bush or something. Before Thursday, her eye was red, occasionally, but I always did a salt wash and put soothing eye-drops in. Unfortunately, she must have rubbed her eye into the carpet and opened the wound. So, for two days she had her tail down. It was so depressing to see her so upset. I mean, she ALWAYS has her tail up. Even when she’s pissed off you didn’t share your food with her. She always wags that tail.

Her tail is back up, and wagging. That is such a relief. She has been under constant watch. She gets (new) anti-bacterial eye drops every 2 hours with some freeze-dried strawberries for a treat. I think she puts up with the drops because she loves those strawberries so much. Her eye is looking a lot better than before. She is still squinting a bit, particularly when she is tired. It will take some time for it to heal fully, and I’ve been on constant watch to make sure she doesn’t rub her eye. Believe me, this clever pooh-maker has tried to fool me. I didn’t trust her on her own, and I don’t like to put the cone on her because I want her to be encouraged to drink (because of her heart issues). So, I brought her in the bathroom with me, and she started to cry. I let her out once, and she face planted the carpet to rub her eye. I grabbed her, brought her back in and made her wait. I’m washing my hands and she starts crying again. I let her out, and she immediately face plants. So I had to pick her up, and Misha became the new paper towel advert. Need to dry your hands? Spilled some milk? Here is the super-absorbent Misha-nator.

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I know that some people are really skeptical about dogs and pets, but they are just so unequivocally lovely. They make your heart feel so whole, and your heart breaks when you think of them in any sort of pain or discomfort. I don’t know, they make life have meaning because they’re existence is so dear and precious.

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Other updates:

I’ve decided to re-read Great Expectations because I’m a little forlorn over the fact that I don’t know how I am going to fund my PhD. I’ve been accepted on a course, but as an international student, I don’t know if I can afford it. The programme is so specific to what I want to study, and it breaks my heart to think I might not be able. I don’t know. I decided to read some Dickens because, honestly, he gets the reality of not having money. It’s rather a chronic problem for a lot of people lately, and it has driven a lot of people to be mean and cruel to one another. To divide one another based on race and class and accuse each other of terrible things. Isn’t that what the proverb says, divide and conquer? It seems to be working.

I’m not giving up. No. Every fibre of my being wants to study. And, this book is so good. It can’t be right that such goodness exists in a world without hope. There are other beautiful goods, too. I guess that what books are. They remind of us goodness. They remind us of hope and dreams. Sometimes, they shock us with their reality and their honesty and their blunt vitriol. Yet, words give us the vehicle of mobility–that is priceless.

I’m going to add this book to my Serial project. And, I think this is one of those books that wakes you up. Mostly, because I read it before, and re-reading it reminds me of the comfort of words…and how we can go back to books and change our minds about them. We can go back to books more or less wiser and see and read things we didn’t before. We can share our thoughts, still miss things, and ten years later, re-read the book and say, ‘I see this, now’.

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Read with me 🙂 I’ll be tweeting <<here>> and blogging about the book at this site. As you can see I’m about 1/5 of the way through the book. Let me know what you think of the book or Dickens, generally.

Heaps of love,
wordplay xx

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Misha Update ⎟ The Eye of Sauron

Dear Reader,

So, unfortunately, my planned schedule to upload the podcast last week did not happen. I am still working on the material, as planned, but I think I might need more time than I anticipated. My dog, Misha, as we know has a heart murmur, which means almost all of my time is devoted to her. But, recently her right eye has been rather red. So, we took her to the vet, and it turns out she hurt her eye quite a bit. She is on antibiotics, and really very sleepy. It’s also a lot stressful and really worrisome, too. I think, right now, most of my heart is going into hoping that she is going to sleep a lot and get better.

Anyway, I am sorry for the delay, but Misha is my heart, so, let’s see how it goes, coz I’d go to Mount Doom for her.

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Xx

The antics of Misha ⎟ The Yuppy Puppy

Dear Reader,

I wrote a post yesterday about how indecisive I was about which book I wanted to read after A Room with a View. For some reason or other, my internet crapped out, my dad wanted dinner, and my dog, Misha, spent the next four-plus hours being really needy (so the post disappeared into the ether). Don’t get me wrong, I get a serious sense of validation when she is being needy…she is quite independent.

My dad had chicken, and Misha operates under the law that chicken is her food. We make her food, rather I (or my mom) make her food. It’s homemade–chicken, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, and carrots. We are going to rejig it a bit because they shouldn’t have too many sweet potatoes. She also eats bananas, strawberries, low-sodium cheese, yoghurt, and sneaks the occasional cookie from me. She really likes Italian cookies, like Lady Fingers. Those were my favourite when I was growing up. In fact, I loved them so much, I used to say, when I’m older I hope I have lady fingers, as in my  hands. I have quite long fingers, so I owe that to the youth-fueled diet and wish fulfillment. In any case, the smell of chicken or sweet potatoes are scents that Misha associates with being hers. So, she was being really naughty about my dad eating chicken. I took her pee, fed her bananas and yoghurt with her medication (for her heart). I tried to take her upstairs so I could do some work. However, that was not in Misha’s schedule.

Instead, Misha flew off my bed and began to sniff every corner of my room. This actually drives me nuts. SNIIIIIIIIIFFFF. SNIFFSNIFFSNIFFSNIFF. SNIIIIIIIIIFFF. Don’t forget, she shouldn’t be doing that because it can make her choke. So, I gave up and brought her back downstairs. No one was eating anything. But Misha was convinced that they were. I got myself a glass of water, and Misha came and said, ‘I WANT THAT, NOW’! She was overheating and it had ice, so I put it on the ground for her and she drank it. I had to take the rest of it to water plants, but what is soap and dishwashing for?

I took her for another walk, a forty-five minute walk–she was choking a lot from her heart, and the exercise helps to stabilise her heart. I had to carry her home because Misha only walks in one direction. Honestly, you need to say that with a soft French accent. ‘Only in zeee one direction, if you please. Misha’s magnetic poles are seriously disturbed if she is required to turn around to walk chez moi’.

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Misha, ze aristocrat française

Then, as she was hot, I took her to the front door and held her up, with it open, so she could get some nice cool air. She was breathing deeply and relaxing. I put her down, and she remembered that my mom comes home from work about then, but she had the day off. She started crying at the door and running between the front door and the garage door. She had just gone out; it was unlikely she’d have to go out again. So, I picked her up and brought her to my mom and said, ‘Misha, look, mummah is here’. Misha hopped off and went back to crying. Then my mom goes, ‘She wants to go in the car, doesn’t she’? Did I forget to mention that? Misha bloody loves cars. We do a lot of standing about as she watches cars drive by, on her walks.

It turns out, Misha considers the car to be another entity. My mom doesn’t leave for work. My mom and the car mutually leave for work. An equality between human and machine. How very Heideggerian of my dog. So, finally, my mom and I gave in and decided that we might as well take Misha in the car, and I could run into the shop to grab some odds and ends that we needed. Misha sat on my lap, on a pillow, staring out of the window. She was so happy to be in the car, going for a ride, you would think that she had won a lottery. Perhaps, a lottery wherein her humans would take her for a car ride in the evening. Haha. So, Misha got to go into the car and be pampered the ways the little princess knows best.

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Let’s not forget, I found a book I am going to read next. They finally came out with AMAZING copies of Stephen King’s It. GOOD JOB SCRIBNER. I’ve been absolutely distraught at the rather ugly covers of olde. I think I’m going to read that alongside another Forster novel, and add it into upcoming podcasts. We’ll see how that goes because I normally dislike reading multiple books at once, but I think I’ll try to do a book-as-buddy-read. And, I think the anachronistic comparison of novels of manners and horror should be a fun task.

 

Heaps of Love,
WordPlay Xx

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Please consider donating to my Patreon page for $1/month. Support from you guys helps to make these posts more regular.  Posts like these will always be accessible. Xx

 

 

 

Spring Clean⎟ Admin

Dear Reader,

I hope you are very well. Earlier this year, I wrote a New Year’s Resolution list that insisted I would write two blogposts per week, beginning February. Unfortunately for that blog schedule, my February has been quite busy. And, in that time I’ve actually changed my mind about how I want to structure my input on my blog.

My plan includes uploading once a week on Tuesdays, and I will also do a podcast every other week on Thursday. There will be a blogpost that week, but then there will be an extra post with my podcast embedded. They will be about 30-45 minutes, and they will include a deeper discussion about the book or books I am reading. I didn’t want my blogposts to become unreasonably long, so I settled on fleshing out discussions aurally. Initially, I had hoped to make videos, but I think the kind of discussions I want to do really lend themselves to the podcast medium a lot better.

I will begin uploading podcasts the second week in March. When I start to get a little more comfortable with the flow of how it is going, I will upload a proper schedule.

Blogposts: Every Tuesday

Podcast Predictions: Thursdays: 10 & 24 March; 7 & 21 April; 5 & 19 May.

See you this Tuesday!

Heaps of love,

WordPlay

Xx

p.s Here is a video journal I am doing of my dog, who, as we know, is almost 13.