Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I just can't stay away

So the blogging break that I (somewhat melodramatically) proposed has lasted all of two weeks. Well, a lot can happen in two weeks, and in some ways, a lot has happened, even while not a lot has. The reasons that I wanted to stop blogging no longer apply, so here I am. Missed you, Miscellany.

On the personal front, I'm back at a fairly even keel, emotionally. Yes, this is an awful thing to have to deal with, on so many levels. Yes, it's a cataclysmic life change. Yes, I've got emotions and money and paperwork and lawyers to deal with. But I'm dealing. Those of you who know me outside of the blogosphere know that I'm a person who copes with change remarkably well, even embraces it, which is exactly what I'm doing now. I love the combination of excitement and terror that a complete life-180 brings. If I didn't know myself well enough to know that I'm highly self-aware, I'd wonder if I wasn't processing this properly (I know my mother has thought this a few times), but I really am. I think the reason that I'm not a complete basket-case is because I know that this is what is going to make my life happier, more exciting, more fulfilled, just...more. And the other reason is that the hubby and I are setting world-records for the friendliest and most dignified breakup, which certainly helps.

All of this change seems to have really shaken things loose in my head. I'm amazed, actually. Things that I never did, or never thought I was capable of doing, I'm doing now. I'm dreaming--REM sleep, eyelids twitching, improbable occurrences, dreaming, which I very rarely did (or remembered) before. It's fascinating! Of course, my dreams have been completely off the wall, but that's why they're so interesting. Have you ever had a dream where someone is chasing you, but you can't do anything but run in place, or at a snail's pace? I have. And then all of this happened, and a few days later, I had the same dream. Do you know what I did in it? I ran. Far and fast. I'm sure someone could tell me what that means, but I'm happy enough just to have had it.

I'm also writing. I've had the hugest block about non-academic, non-blog, writing for ages, but the "why the hell not try" switch seems to have been flicked somewhere in the back of my brain. Part of it is my shaken-up life, and part of it is the class in contemporary Canadian poetry that I'm taking right now, which is wonderful. I'm being taught poetry by poets--what a blessing. I'm currently working on some homolinguistic translations of Marianne Moore: translating the sound and the rhythm of the words, but not their meaning, from English to English, and seeing what happens. Having some sort of imposed stricture like that (and you can read more about the Oulipo movement if you're interested in constraint-based poetry, although homolinguistic translation comes more from homophonic translation in the tradition of Zukofsky) is useful in a number of ways: it takes away the potential block of starting from nowhere, it acknowledges that there is no such thing as "free" poetry (it all is influenced by the world/words around us), and it lets you seek out the potential in things you thought you already knew--like Moore. I'm very interested to see what happens. And there are so many possible strictures/structures that you can impose on yourself. One of the most extreme I can think of is Christian Bök's Eunoia, where each chapter is restricted to the use of one vowel only. Alongside this one major constraint, each chapter must also "allude to the art of writing. All chapters must describe a culinary banquet, a prurient debauch, a pastoral tableau and a nautical voyage. All sentences must accent internal rhyme through the use of syntactical parallelism. The text must exhaust the lexicon for each vowel, citing at least 98% of the available repertoire" (103-4). Bök uses all but four available words. It took him seven years.

After all of the confusion that I went through with contemporary poetry this year (hating it, being good at it, learning to love it), I'm finding out that I want to do it. For myself, and maybe as my academic focus. There's just so much out there to interest and inspire me, I hate the feeling of pinning myself down to one area. I love Canadian modernism, and I always will, but I think I need to keep seeing what else is out there before I make any firm decisions. Doing contemporary may well be career suicide (at least according to some people in our department), but getting a primo job and becoming part of the academy has never been my number one goal in all of this. I want to do what makes me happy, and what contributes something to the world, in whatever form that takes. In case you're interested in what contemporary Canadian poetry is like, well, I can't really tell you. It's all so different. But here's an example of something written by a contemporary Canadian poet, who also happens to be one of my professors. The subject of this poem is one very lucky woman.

On the non-cerebral front, I'm learning how to run. Yes, that sounds a bit funny--doesn't everyone know how to run? I can't run long distances, and that's what I'm trying to learn how to do. My aunt has proposed that I join her in running a 5k in September, and being the deadline-oriented girl that I am, I may just do it. It'll be good motivation, anyway. I haven't decided yet if I love it or if I hate it, but it's new for me, and difficult, and those are the things that I'm trying to push myself to do the most right now. Like keeping my room tidy. Yes, I'm a ramshackle, dustbunny-collecting disaster, but they say that it takes 21 days to institute a new habit, and I've been tidy and organized for 33. Victory? We'll see.

So that's me, for now. As always, contingent, confused, moving my way toward new possibilities. But isn't that everyone?