Sunday, March 13, 2011

chopstick basket, part two

A friend on Facebook commented and asked about what it looked like, folded up. So, there it is. The chopstick basket folds up, and that's what it looks like when it does. So nifty! I love this basket more and more each day. And don't worry, Grandmaman, I have no intention whatsoever of painting this puppy.


Over on Kal Barteski's blog last week, people - mostly women - have been responding to Kal's request for "ugly beautiful truths." Kal started it off by admitting she writes thank-you cards but never mails them, she feels lots of pressure to keep up with the Internet's bloggers and crafters, and that she only washes the sheets once a month. It touched a chord in lots of her readers, and people felt compelled to leave their own ugly + beautiful truths. Some left their real names, some didn't. It's in the vein of "Post Secret", that website where people send in anonymous postcards with secrets. There is something very freeing about reading them, and also about writing your own. A release. 

It's gotten me thinking, certainly. Also this week, I started doing a writing exercise where I write for 10 to 15 minutes, just free writing, whatever comes to mind. Then at the end I rip up the page. Just rip it up so no-one can read it, or put it through the shredder. It's been really interesting - an exercise, literally, in letting go. I'm so used to writing in order to keep information, in order to be able to refer to it later. But with this, you really can't. You write it, then it's gone. No way to hold on to it. Even if you like the images, even if it would make a great poem, rip it up. Try it - it's really freeing.

Earlier this weekend I found myself in another town with a whole morning just to myself. No-one could reach me, I was on my own with a room (with an adjoining bathtub! So exciting for me, at home we only have a shower) and some time. So I took advantage of it. I did my daily writing exercise. As I was ripping it up, I liked the look of the random scraps, with little pieces of writing. Like mosaic shards. I arranged them. I took a picture to show you.

I also had the Globe and Mail, Saturday edition. Feeling a little guilty ("Oh, I'm ignoring world events!") but trying to let that feeling go, I only read the Style section. I came to a piece I really liked, about a designer who works with type and had made a table with her own letterforms etched in to it. I thought about keeping the page, and using it down the road in collage or somehow or other. But I decided instead to engage with it, then let it go. Here's what I did:

I didn't have any scissors. I just had my hands. So I ripped up the quote I wanted to save, and arranged it so I could fit it all in one photograph. Once I'd done that, well, there was nowhere else to go but into the recyclables. Rip up and squish the pretty, perfected plan. And then look - there's beauty there, too.


Then I got to writing. This past week was also International Women's Day. Some people question having such a day. "We don't need it anymore," they say. I feel like what happened on Kal's blog (what's still happening - have a look) dovetails with this holiday. Here's the free-writing I did that flowed from it.

The ugly beautiful truths

We are all here. We are imperfect. This is news? Yes, it is. Because: we live in an age of glossy magazines, of TVs that blare at us, we can't see for the glare of perfected images. Sexy and sexiness and giving in and giving it up for rewards - as women especially we are told to part our lips and make a low moaning sound. These roles can be fun but it is not all of it. It is not our every day reality.

The whole, the perfect product, comes after a lot of hard work. This is what the ugly beautiful truths is teaching me.

And I expect the opposite, I expect to just snap my fingers and have it be done. A great poem. A cake baked. A bed made. A relationship crafted and loved. A house dusted and vacuumed and kept that way. A body honed, toned. Babies raised and taught and helped to become good people. A world fair and just, with punishments for shitty deeds. A job where you feel competent and creative and conscious. A connection to the world around me, to the leaves and the trees. Actions made, having thought about them (instead of just posting crap out into the world, typing it out and hitting "post" or "send" without rereading, rethinking, letting time do its distillation of truth).

And reading these comments that women are leaving on Kal's website I see I am not the only one. We are all here, we are all imperfect. This is news? Yes, it's the daily news. It's breaking news, heart-breaking. And then, heart-making. (You've got to break things apart to make new things. Mosaics - sharp bits of ceramic.) We are all poems, we are all stories, we are all houses waiting to be dusted, we are each an equal and hearty part of a relationship in the middle of being crafted, loved. We are blood, we are feet and toes and hair and bellies, weight that stayed after making a baby, weight that came without warning, without reason, weight that won't go, weight that goes too fast, weight that just is without trying. We are hearts, minds, loves, hates, annoyed and convinced and contented and mild and strong and and and - all emotions and adjectives that men have too. We are the reason International Women's Day exists. Jill Scott asks "what would you do if I were gone?" I can't even believe the questions still exist, questioning that feminism has a need, a place.

But then again I can't believe all these amazing women have all these ugly, beautiful truths, and are ashamed of them,

and yet we do. I do.

I pick my nose.
I change my sheets three times a year, at best.
I am jealous of other women, who I should actually be supportive of.

I could keep going, for a long time. But I'm going to put that out there and use this exercise to get stronger. To get better at recognizing my own beauty. My own worth and inherent right to be here, imperfect as I am.

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