Tag Archives: equinox

Autumnal Equinox (Freewriting S.A.D)

Although I have a hard time identifying with any belief system, one’s actions can sometimes categorize one’s self into certain identities. With that said, I guess I’m fairly pagan–as wonderfully nebulous as that is.

I celebrate the solstices and equinoxes. They designate important time periods in my part of the world, and are particularly important as mile posts for the waxing & waning of the unfortunate side effect of northern latitudes: seasonal affective disorder.

That’s not a blanket side effect for everyone on the forehead of the planet. But it sure fucks with me. After floundering for too many years, I have found that observing the points where the sunlight increases or decreases is one small way to acknowledge the cycle.

That way, no surprises. The merry-go-round is there for all to see.

Unfortunately, I was born with a ticket and can’t get off. The freewriting piece below is awkward & unsettling & dizzying, kind of like a merry-go-round. It’s an older piece, but from the same period to come, between the fall equinox and the winter solstice. I don’t think it offers much hope, which is why I felt the need for this preamble.

 

~~~

—And can’t you go for a week without? Look at what you’re doing to yourself—

<<Doing? That’s exactly it, hun. I’m doing>>

—You’re doing nothing—

<<You’re doing nothing>>

—That’s exactly it, hun. I’m doing—

<<What are we doing here?>>

—We’re here again. You ever wonder if it has anything to do with a gain?—

<<It sounds more like a loss. To be anywhere again is only retracing your steps>>

—Unless you took a new way. What are we doing here again?—

<<I wish I knew. You’re no help>>

—No help is right. Look at what we’re doing to ourselves—

<<This is confusing>>

—That’s right. I’m doing—

<<You’re doing it again. We’re here>>

—And can’t you go a week without reminding me? Listen to yourself—

<<I feel it all over again. We’re here again>>

—God fuck it. Krishna suck it. Devil may share. Damn us all to earth for a thousand lifetimes—

~~~

<<And you would still just come back here>>

—Probably. I can’t go a week without—

<<What does it taste like?>>

—It tastes like we’re here again. I feel it in every nerve—

<<Must be close>>

—Must be doing nothing—

<<Unless you took a new way>>

—Naw, fuck it. You know it. There is no other way—

<<Did you just feel that?>>

—I think that’s the point—

<<No, it wasn’t sharp. It was full-bodied>>

—Why don’t we forget about it all and get a bottle of Malbec? —

<<Why don’t we just enjoy the tilt of the earth for once?>>

—You know there is no other way—

<<There must be another way around it>>

—Oh sure, we can circle it all day, but we’re just going to up here—

<<Here? Again?>>

—You’re doing it again—

<<That’s exactly it, hun. I’m doing>>

~~~

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Giving It My Best Shot

The approach of the autumnal equinox seems to usher a familiar feeling. I haven’t totally figured myself out yet, but fall always has some power over me. For one thing, my childhood ensconced September as “back-to-school”. That’s one thing I thought I had moved away from…but this year, I have summoned it back.

Of course, on a subtler note, the earth is tilting. The daylight swings wildly enough where I live that the difference between June’s all-night glow and December’s darkness is noticeable. Already, the days are shorter. The fifty-foot balsam poplar in my neighbourhood that serves as my seasonal barometer showed its first yellowing leaves over a week ago.

There is no burst of colours in the trees. The electric yellow canola fields trail off into a pale green before it’s piled into swaths which accentuate the topography. The other crops turn brown before they disappear. Trees denude back to twisted branches and twigs, their silhouettes etched like lightning against the sky.

2017-09 Brown Prairie

I can’t explain why the leading lines make my eyes shiver, or why the smoothed contours soothe me—but there is a certain space I can enter when that certain blend of summer and winter meet on an archetypal autumn day—and even when I’m outside for the briefest moment, there’s a quietness that follows the thought that I lose as it’s whisked away by the nippy breeze.

The geese are in the air, they know what that breeze brings. Soon flocks of hundreds of birds fly overhead, charting a magnetic path they can see with eyes evolved for the task.

Waterfowl move methodically and rhythmically, setting up shop when necessary or where food is available. Warblers are more blindly determined—they only pass through for days, as opposed to the weeks that it takes ducks and geese. Warblers cause tumults in the middle of the night, quite literally warbling like a comet made up of a hundreds-strong (yet short-breathed) church choir.

But I don’t hunt warblers. At least not with anything besides a pair of binoculars. The geese and ducks are not so lucky. Wild waterfowl makes for a delightful meal, which is a foreign concept for someone who was raised in a metropolis (like myself) and saw geese and ducks as companions to pigeons and seagulls (i.e. garbage birds). I had heard of homeless people in Toronto eating goose, and it sounded no different than someone eating a subway rat.

Now that I live in the fly-path between the Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico, I think I can appreciate geese and ducks as something more. These birds certainly reside in cities at some point on their journey, but they benefit from a lot more free range than their eastern (or city-bound) counterparts.

(Some of that, I realize, is an idealization; and I am okay with that dissonance because so far, all the meat I have tasted has been delectable, and if it had any garbage-infused flavours they paired perfectly with the heartiness of goose).

2017-09 Goose Supper

Hunting can be a polarizing activity. It’s a complicated issue, and cannot be painted with the broad brush it so often is. It’s not a familial or cultural tradition for me. I have no compulsion or obligation to hunt. However, it seems disingenuous to me to eat and enjoy meat, but refuse to be part of the process.

I say, if you eat apples, go pick apples.

In a similar vein, I enjoy being entertained—therefore, I entertain. I don’t think that’s a comprehensive reason why I write, but it certainly feeds into my overall creative ethos.

Hunting and writing have some parallels for me—they’re done alone; can be fruitless no matter how much time and effort is spent; and, can be done without any instruction.

But the latter is only true if the outcome doesn’t affect your lifestyle. If I dick around in the field for three days and come back without so much as a feather, it’s all good. We go to the grocery store and buy whatever we need.

2017-09 Horseradish

So far, writing has been similar. If it fails (as it so often does), it doesn’t really matter. I have a job that pays the bills. No one will starve or suffer because my story sucked.

North Korea might force our hand to need to know more about sourcing our food. In the case of creativity, I am being my own North Korea, forcing myself out onto the proverbial gangplank, where I either succeed as a writer or I flounder as a provider for my family.

Just like the apprentice hunter of yesteryear would seek a master to teach the skills needed to excel, I am also seeking out masters to help me excel as a writer. I am super-psyched to have been accepted into Stanford’s Online Writing Course for Novel Writing. It’s a huge opportunity…so huge, it feels too good to be true, like I’ll finally be outed as the impostor I have always been.

Until that happens, I have to trust it’s just a syndrome. An impostor can’t really try. And I am trying. Even if no one knows it—and of course, it’s this chink that my inner critic can still hang out and harangue me.

Because identity is everything—encapsulated in that millennial idiom I’m tired of hearing & writing: “If it can’t be shared, it didn’t happen.”

My family doesn’t value creativity, I have no friends to call up about life events, and the place I live & work isn’t a particularly cultured/artsy place. Social media is supposed to be the panacea for my kind of situation, but I can’t help but see it for what it is (a placebo, and not a very good one).

So basically, none of this is happening. My inner critic has a field day with that shit.

Not everyone seems to have the same hang-ups about pride. Anton Chekhov wrote a short story about a man who borrows a medal for a dinner party, only to find out someone is there who knows he didn’t earn that medal—only to later find out both of them are frauds trying to impress the host. Usually we never have that final reveal. Instead, we really buy into our borrowed medal and convince ourselves the illusion is real.

2017-09 Upside Down Prairie

All I can do is give it my best shot, I’ve convinced myself. Until I shoot my eye out or carpel tunnel limits my ability to type, I only have my best shot. (After that, I have pain medication).

As September rolls on, I am re-acquainting myself with that “back-to-school” mentality. I am looking for my fingerless gloves and cleaning my shotgun. I keep one eye on the skies and the other on my prize. And then I put my sunglasses on, because no one can know.

God is Whoever Will Recognize Your Sacrifice (A Spring Poem)

When the heat rose

It brought the ants out with it—


The bedrock slumbers under the shivering topsoil,

All winter huddled up—


Now comes the tilt of the earth—

Now comes hibernation hangovers—


The creak in your elbow

Only you can hear—


Now comes the sun again—

Now the snakes sun on gravel roads—


God is whoever

Will recognize your sacrifice—


So every bud, rosette, and bug eye

Turns to the blinding star—


Half a life

Lived in chrysalis—


Half a life

Lived in fits—


Spring demands stridency,

Summer demands sweat—


Autumn begs for acceptance,

Winter requires sacrifice—


No one pouts as the beetle

Strains over mustard seeds—


Whimpering is pathetic,

Go gnash teeth instead—

So There We Were On the Side of the Road

There is about a six hundred kilometre gap between the place where I pay my taxes and the place where my soul resides, if I were to have a soul, which I know I do because I greet it everytime I pass the gates of Jasper National Park.

 

Not to get deep or anything. I’ve had a fever for the past week and as per usual, my perception is distorted. Fevers tend to do this to me, which I assume happens to everyone, because of terms like ‘fever dreams’. But no one talks about fever dreams. It must take a real intimate bond to share the reveries that despotic brain-boiling viruses submit the body into—a bond that I can’t even share with myself, because even when I think, post-fever, about anything I had been so deeply embroiled in during my illness, I can recall nothing.

 

But when I’m in the throes of fever the terror is all too real. I have Proustian memories tinged with Thompsonesque loathing and Burroughsish plot lines. I can remember things I had not thought of in decades. I re-experience events that I had completely forgotten about. It’s like viral fevers activate my memory lobe, which is already fairly active. And  when I’m not catatonic with fatigue and waves of vivid memories, I fall into a sweaty sleep that seems as surreal (but acute) as an acid trip—except that I remember these with alarming accuracy, unlike the fever dreams. (It probably doesn’t help that when I am in the depths of sickness I am dosed with dextromethropan hydrochloride-laced medicines to help me breathe.)

 

The term ‘fever dreams’ does not do the waking daydreams justice, though—sometimes English is such a powerful language with no force—‘fuck’ is its greatest acheivement, and it is considered bad form to use it freely—and even though German usually has the granduer of introducing long-winded words for academics to throw around and pine for how beautifully intranslatable they are, I will go further and shit all over their tongues. I call these hyper-intense, fever-induced trips through memory carfie (from the Spanish, carcel de fiebre, or fever prison, which is much more attuned to how I feel about the whole situation, and doesn’t sound beautiful or musical, it sounds just as awkward and ugly and stupid as it is).

 

But carfie or not, I had a trip to Jasper planned. The eastern slopes of the Rockies are one of my favourite places in the little bit of world I have experienced, and are a prime location to celebrate both the spring equinox and an early birthday.

 

It’s a six hour drive. I have done it handfuls of times. But, you see, we have a 2000 sedan with 325,000 km on the odometer and a crack in the oil pan, so our method of transport wasn’t reliable by any stretch. It doesn’t help that after fourteen winters of ice, gravel, and broken pavement, the ball joint of the front passenger side creaks every time you turn the wheel more than ninety degrees. It’s a bad omen, and sounds like the car cries a little bit every time you change directions.

 

A hundred and twenty-five kilometres down a highway lightly dusted with snow and well-padded with ice is a great time to grab the wheel tight—which was great, because it was just then that the ball joint decided to crack in two and send the passenger wheel off into the ditch. The front axel dipped and threw up sparks as the car skidded around and around and nearly got pummeled into oncoming traffic by the loaded semi who had been tailgating me, waiting to pass.

 

So there we were on the side of the road—but wait—this never happened—I’m sitting back home eyeing the piece of shit car in the driveway right now—but we did go to the mountains, that was true—and the ball joint is creaky—but—

 

Fucking carfies, man. One minute you’re careening around the corner in a deathrace with the barricade of a bridge, and the next you’re in Batman pyjamas realizing the mug you’re drinking from has been out of tea for a long time.

 

Time for a Nyquil nightcap…washed down with NeoCitran…I mean, it’s been years since I experienced my ninth birthday, and the time is probably ripe to re-experience those hours with the linguist who spent weeks trying to get me to pronounce L’s properly when I was five…“But how would you sing la-la-la-la?” “Ya-ya-ya-ya-ya”…She would be so disappointed in how much I mumble now…I wonder if she would enjoy my new word…And I wonder if that guy who robbed me on the bus when I was fourteen still has my hash pipe?