Aborted Words

Here’s my take on “silence.” This piece was inspired by the Weekly Writing Challenge. I’ve wanted to write this experience for a long while, but didn’t have the right form for it. This challenge, gladly, has given me the frame I needed for my silence.

It is a Tuesday and I’ve just finished my Process class. I sit outside the library on an old, wooden bench, waiting for my friend as restless, groggy university students stream by me. Some stop, looking up at the peeling yellow walls, some make a quick right to the Tim Hortons, while others artistically swim through idle students, running to classes they’re already late for or buses they’ve already missed. In this familiar chaos I see my TA and wave. She smiles back as she hurriedly walks on.

I turn away from my class and see my friend approaching. I get up, collect my books, and we walk towards the food court.

“Yo I am so hungry!” Books cascade to the floor as she drops her bags in front of a BMO. “I need to take out some money. Is that okay?” She shuffles forward without waiting for a reply.

“Why wouldn’t it be? You don’t need my permission to take out food. I mean money.” I follow her in the line, laughing quietly to myself, not wanting to sit on the bench again. “How was class?”

“Lord, lord. Hell if I know what that man was talking about. I hope class gets cancelled next week.” She slides her card into the ATM.

“I feel you man. This class is pointless. It was $2000. For what, I don’t know. The lectures could be taught by an undergrad. I don’t know what I’m going to do for the exam. This course has no structure, all she does is ramble on for an hour and let us go an hour early. I mean, I would like to leave an hour early if I actually felt like I was getting something out of this course. Honestly, if you were there—”

“Isn’t that your TA?” She asks, nonchalantly cutting me off with her hand at the money dispenser.

I jerk my head and look. I see a women with cropped blonde hair, brown rimmed glasses, green turtleneck and black slacks. She sees me staring and waves before she leaves the building with another woman. “Yup, that’s my TA.” I smile at myself and help my friend carry some books.

“That man-woman.” She forces out a laugh. It wasn’t a question.

I frown. “She isn’t a man-woman, she’s just gay.”

“Come on, who is she kidding. She’s a man. Where do you want to eat. Knowing you we’re going to walk around this building for two hours and end up eating nothing.” She opens the door for me and we walk towards the student centre.

I try to answer, but I’ve lost my hunger. Despite how much I try, my appetite won’t be revived, won’t be goaded, and won’t be stirred – like the words I let go, unformed and forgotten.

Here’s 99 other thoughts on silence. Check them out and let me, as well as these creative bloggers, know what you think.

  1. The Sound of Silence | Through the Peacock’s Eyes
  2. Listen to the silence | Master Of Disaster
  3. Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Silence | JGTravels
  4. Eight Things I Wish I Knew Before I Taught at a Boarding School | Kosher Adobo
  5. The Sounds of Silence* | Icescreammama
  6. underwood | yi-ching lin photography
  7. Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Silence | Under the Monkey Tree
  8. Moments | anonim0us
  9. Moments | anonim0us
  10. Silent Agony | Broken Light: A Photography Collective
  11. Silent crimes | Speaking Voiceless
  12. The Sound of Silence is a beautiful thing | Amanda Montomery
  13. Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Silence | A mom’s blog
  14. Hug Her Back | Fish Of Gold
  15. Media Blackouts Insult My Intelligence | Bumblepuppies
  16. As Loud as Silence | Chimerical Chicanery
  17. Unspeakable | Musings of a Soul Eclectic
  18. Aborted Words | The Backwords
  19. Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Silence | carojesu
  20. yesterday’s snow lets | y
  21. A SILENT SONG | Diary of a mind
  22. A Common Baby Myth: Babies Should Sleep in Silence.. Ssshhh! | Peek-a-boo: Baby and You!
  23. Silence « mediumblackdog
  24. Never Give Up, Never Give In: My Epiphany! | Hope and Faith
  25. Brady’s Silence (explicit) | Stories From My Mind
  26. Coyote Hill | The Seminary of Praying Mantis
  27. A Silence Louder Than Words | snapshotsofawanderingheart
  28. Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Silence | Tales from the Motherland
  29. When The Silence Almost Deafens You | Unload and Unwind
  30. Classy Broad
  31. The Day I Found My Voice | A Path of Living Stones
  32. When you said “Nobody loves you” | So Not Simple
  33. Finding what you didn’t know you were looking for… | Crap I Blog About
  34. WWC: The Sound of Silence | Learning the Anishinaabe Way
  35. Who Said So? | Buzzy Beez
  36. Silence challenge | knovak616
  37. The Silence Welcomes Me | StormieSteele
  38. Weekly Writing Challenge: Have you seen me? | Life of A Fallen Angel
  39. Silence | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  40. The Things We Don’t Say | A Sign Of Life
  41. Breaking The Sound Of Silence | At least we made it this far…
  42. In the silence of a word | MC’s Whispers
  43. From Silence Came Wisdom | Lifeinpawprints’s Weblog
  44. Blog challenge – The sound of silence « Defy The Narrative
  45. Could the end of ‘that time of the month’ be related to that time of the year? | Minnesota Transplant
  46. Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Silence | Echoes of My Past
  47. Good Grief | Wittyburg.com
  48. silence and snow | from dreams to plans
  49. Weekly Writing Challenge: Sounds of Silence | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist)
  50. Jumpers for goalposts… | Dreaminspice
  51. Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Silence | Pop-Culture-Referenced
  52. The Silent Sisters | 22 going on 33
  53. Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Silence | Bringing Out the God-Colors in the World
  54. Suicide no. 27: Vow of Silence | derekalanwilkinson
  55. Silent White | Mary J Melange
  56. Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Silence | Your Original LUPUSDIVA….
  57. Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Silence | No Apologies
  58. Cable Cut-off | The Zombies Ate My Brains
  59. Silence so Loud | My Weigh To Lose
  60. Silencing the Critics’ Chorus | V Learns Something New
  61. Silence of the Blog « ph.d. in creative writing
  62. Life: The Search For Someone Who Understands You | Paint Before Death
  63. Silence | Dandilyonz-4-U
  64. Remaining Silent | Bits of Life
  65. Inexhaustible Treasure | Love in the Spaces
  66. HOW DOES SILENCE SOUND? | SERENDIPITY
  67. A moment in Paris | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
  68. Weekly Writing Challenge | Fit 4 Life, LLC
  69. No More Honesty | Among the Whispers
  70. The Silent Storm | Martialing Art
  71. I’m excellent at taking criticism (see? that sounds weird, right?) | sincerelyimitated
  72. My worst nightmare is coming alive, the silence is the glue to it all | From One Crazy Life To Another
  73. This is the absolute FPiTS! | Thorough and Unkempt
  74. Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Silence | My name is Ellie and this is who I am.
  75. Ah-kya-kha-loo-i | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  76. Don’t Change That Channel-er ! | Once Upon Your Prime. . .
  77. Enjoy the Silence | Kokopelli Bee Free Blog
  78. “Oh” | Gnome Lover
  79. Breaking the Silence on Autism | Love, Support, Educate, Advocate, Accept…
  80. Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound Of Silence | imagination
  81. Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Silence | sailingthroughthefog
  82. Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Silence | alysslombardi
  83. Minnie’s Quite Silent | Minnie | A Personal Blog
  84. Silence Breaker | thenaturalprofessor
  85. I’m Hoping My Mother Ignores This One. | meg lago
  86. Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Silence – Silent-phobia | SA:ME (사메)
  87. Favorite quotes from Alabama literature | Andrea Reads America
  88. A resounding silence. | Multifarious meanderings
  89. Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Silence? | seikaiha’s blah-blah-blah
  90. What I Didn’t Say | My Newingness
  91. litadoolan
  92. Shamed Silence Broken | Ever Upward
  93. THE SILENT TREATMENT | DANDELION’S DEN
  94. #1 | Justin B.
  95. society | yi-ching lin photography
  96. all of life is a | y
  97. The Long Unspoken | the intrinsickness
  98. Being Silent Nevermore: The Psychology of Raising My Voice For Those that Have Been Muted « psychologistmimi
  99. A Borrowed Identity to Fill the Silence. | W.T.F.
  100. Footfall | Tell Tale Therapy
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There is no such thing as colour

When you’ve worn the coat of oppression or superiority as an identity, how can you simply shake it off: the suit makes the man doesn’t it?

What does Black History Month mean in the modern, Western world? People don’t practice racism. The colour of your skin doesn’t affect your career opportunities. Interracial marriage is universally acceptable. People, regardless of their skin, have access to education. It sounds so easy, forcing the image of democracy and freedom over inequality in the world. It is a comforting image; it allows us to function without guilt, but sometimes reality reminds us of the falseness of this image. The idea of democracy, freedom, and equality, now function as ideologies that don’t allow us to question the actual state of people. Sure I’m free, yes everyone is equal and colour doesn’t matter. If we think there is no racism, we’ll be blinded by blatant acts of it. Black History Month, among other things, reminds us that some features of our society (people, institutions, law), are still coloured by prejudices. I believe there is racism is the world, not because I go looking for it, but because the media lays the pickings at my feet.

Is race never an issue? To that I answer by asking: when you’ve worn the coat of oppression or superiority as an identity, how can you simply shake it off: the suit makes the man doesn’t it? Changing dominant views, societal conditions and prejudices towards people of colour isn’t something that occurred alongside freedom. Being a free black person did not mean that you were a living human being. Human recognition had to be earned by devoted people like Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X and others who took up the cause against racism. Freedom doesn’t equal equality, respect and love.

Great black people fought, made art and invented things so we commemorate them in February. A single month, out of the entire year dedicated to their achievements. People don’t have to think about racism, slavery and lynching in any other month, only in February. Are you witnessing something racist in your culture? Wait until February, that’s the appropriate time to bring it up. Just like there’s an app for that, there’s a month for thinking empathetically.

On Martin Luther King Day I read posts and heard rants from people saying that it doesn’t make sense for them to go to work. However, the argument I heard these people make was that Martin Luther King Jr. was a great man therefore it doesn’t make sense for them to go to work on a day dedicated to his greatness. Those two things – work and Martin Luther King – are unrelated. If you want a day off from work, that’s fine, but don’t use the pretense of a great man to get that. That’s not what the day should be about. What if we all demanded the day off because racism against people of colour is still prevalent; black men are stereotyped as stupid, dead beet fathers; black women are painted as loud, obnoxious, uneducated, ghetto characters; black people are asked to tailor their hair to Eurocentric ideals; inner-racism exists in cultures of colour; and sexism, homophobia and racism still exist even though they are rooted in biological occurrences that are under no one’s control? What if we demanded that we will neither participate in nor contribute to a society in which not all members are treated equally? Why don’t we talk about that, instead of using the sufferance of people for our own benefit?

My Music Mondays

What do you do when you write? What I mean to say is are you engaged in any other activities or are you solely focussed on the words? For me, I sometimes need complete silence. I can’t even take the clicking of the keyboard. Other times I need a song playing in the background, something to ground my ideas and words. Like I said in My Music Picks: Peaky Blinders, if a picture paints a thousand words a lyric evokes a thousand images. When I’m listening to certain songs I can see entire scenes playing out before my eyes. When I reach for them, try to commit them to paper, they vanish. It’s sort of like a musical trance where my stories are made vivid and tangible by music. And as soon as the music stops so do the moving scenes. It’s weird but I can’t be the only one out there who feels this way.

Here are some of the songs I listen to when I write. I don’t always go for these songs because I go based on how I’m feeling at the moment.

Anything Radiohead works for me. This playlist is one of the only playlists I can listen to while studying.

I love Soley’s sound and lyrics. When I first heard Pretty Face I wasn’t feeling it, but like anything good she has grown on me.

I’d love to hear what you listen to for inspiration. We can compile everyone’s personal music picks into an album of creative awesomeness. Leave me a comment with your music picks and I’ll definitely give them a listen. Let me know what you think of mine too.

I’m waiting for the right “opportunity” to change

Here’s a video celebrating 25 great African American women.

This is NOT directed specifically towards Cristen, but to the greater issues of Black History Month. I’m just taking offense to the idea of Black History Month as an “opportunity”. The video was very informative (and hilarious, as Cristen always is) and I learned a lot about the contributions of black women. Cristen explicitly says in the comments that her intents are not to capitalize on the opportunity, but to show some really cool women that most people otherwise wouldn’t pay attention to. Check out her other videos, she has a fresh and analytical take on women and stereotypes, norms and roles. She also has some down-right-choke- yourself-laughing videos that are just fun to watch.

So it’s Black History Month, as many of you know by the posts, videos, interviews and essays springing up everywhere on people of colour. Some choose to celebrate the accomplishments of black women and men, and others highlight how far we still need to go as people. However, with all the awareness and attention given not only to issues of prejudice and racism, injustices in sex, sexual orientation, mental health, disabilities and religious discrimination are discussed as well. A lot get’s done in these 28 days, yet I find fault with February’s identity as “an opportunity for change.” Black History Month is a means for discussion and change, but it is not the only month to discuss what’s wrong with the world. Did someone call you a racial slur in passing? Were you discriminated against at work for your colour? Are people giving you hell and their unwanted thoughts for being in an interracial relationship? Wait until February, that’s the appropriate time to discuss it!

Though Black History month isn’t blatantly advertised as the sole time to bring up issues of colour, we shouldn’t use the existence of the month as the only opportunity to be pissed off. Autism Awareness Month should be a year long event. Mental Health Month should be discussed everyday. If you are dealing with sexual assault, depression, racism, or anything else of that nature, your voice should be heard everyday of the year. And that’s the thing, people do voice their concerns, but we don’t hear them until their voices are amplified by their assigned time, and then we have no choice but to listen. These concerns don’t expire with the end of their allocated month, day or week, so why should we act as if they do?

With that said, I’m not going to ignore February and pay attention to racism only during the other eleven months. That would be no better, really, than paying attention only in February. Let’s force people to focus on what’s wrong with the world 365. Let’s see them constantly uncomfortable, squirmish and self-reflective so that the only way to make us stop blabbering about our issues is to actually listen to them. Everyday is a good day to disrupt societal norms and effect change.

Do you feel Black History Month, and others months and days dedicated to change, work towards change while simultaneously undermining their efforts? Do you focus on issues of race, sex, sexual orientation, environmental destruction, poverty, mental health and physical health on a daily basis? If yes, what are you doing to stir things up? What are your thoughts on the video and “opportunity?”

Inverted World, Christopher Priest

  Genre: Science Fiction

 Publisher: Harper & Row

 Release Date: 28 May 1974

 Where you can find it: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters

Website: Christopher Priest

 Character: Helward Mann is part of the elite, aware of the desolation that surrounds the  mobile city, waiting to consume it if they slow down. He is part of the dominant sex, as female births continue to dwindle. Where is the city physically located? What happened to the rest of the world? These questions, and others, cloak the mysterious city and through Helward’s character and his interactions with citizens and foreigners, we learn how the city came to be. We also get the perspective of Elizabeth Khan, but I’ve said too much.

Plot: The city must move forward, winching itself along mobile tracks. Despite the efforts of the city, they continue to fall farther behind the optimum, which if continued, will result in the city being crushed by gravitational forces. For Helward and his people the drudgery and strain, and attention put into their winching pace is a necessity; stillness means death. Death creeps behind them in the distance, with every sunset gaining on them. But why must they move forward, laying and removing tracks, what was life like before the winching? For this you’ll have to pick it up.

Review: The book started off slowly, setting up the context and layering the plot. While reading it, I have to admit, I was a little annoyed by this. But after distancing myself from the novel, I can appreciate Priest’s ability to mould a text, drawing the reader in with his distorted, backward, inverted world. Many mainstream novels depend on fast paced action, quick exchanges and cliff hangers at the end of every chapter to keep the reader interested. It’s a little insulting to us as readers that some writers think we need a shiny toy dangled before our eyes constantly or else we will lose interest. Not every single word in in a novel needs to excite us. And this isn’t a reflection of the base quality of novels, but of life in general. If a page doesn’t upload in five seconds we get mad. If an email takes longer than ten seconds to send we get panicky. God forbid a YouTube video not load instantaneously.

We need to slow down. We’ve become a culture of expectation and this has lessened our ability to appreciate the details, to read slowly with attention. Inverted World slows down the pace of the reader as well as the characters. Just as we read slowly, fingers tracing smudge lines underneath every word, so do the men of the city stumble slowly on, trying to escape the “past.” The need to pace seems greater for Helward than it does for the modern reader, for Helward risks death if he doesn’t. But what do we stand to lose by our quickened, skimmed patterns of reading? What worlds are left unknown to us because of our inability to slow things down?

People may be frustrated by this work because of the undynamic main character. However, this text doesn’t rely on the drama, intrigue and conflict surrounding its main character to tell the story. The events and situations strung together bind this text, making it science-fictional as much as it is philosophical. We don’t need to feel “sympathy” for the low-trodden, beaten character in order to have a thrilling story. And even so, I still enjoyed Inverted World. It’s refreshing to read something that doesn’t rely solely on the drama between characters, tensions are produced elsewhere.

Backwords Verdict: Certified Hooker

Following this grading scale of course:

Not a Hooker (I wouldn’t recommend this, even to people I hate)

Hooker in Training (Needs a lot of work)

Graduate Hooker (Really Good, but needs to fix some things)

Certified Hooker (Very satisfying, little to no complaints)

Distinguished Hooker (Flawless, I’d comeback for other services)

Other Works: This novel drew me in, I’d consider giving it another read. I’m planning on reading The Adjacent, so look out for a possible review of that in the future.

Black History Month: Such Strange Fruit

I was in an Introduction to English class and my professor played this video (this is graphic, if you’d rather not watch, the lyrics to the poem written by Abel Meeropol and sung by Billie Holiday are down below).

Abel Meeropol: Strange Fruit

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

We need to reflect on how far we have come with issues of social injustice, but be critical of how far we still need to go. Discussing racism, sexism, and homophobia should not be reserved exclusively to February,  we should be outraged all twelve months of the year. Though lynching may be outlawed, stones, guns, words, gas chambers, atomic bombs, nuclear weapons and words serve the same purpose.

Why the hell are you a writer?

Who inspired you to write, to dabble into the crazy, uncertain, beautiful world of the writer? For some of you maybe it was an inspirational quote,  a poem or a novel you were forced to read in elementary school. For some, it may have been a painting or a writer in their lives.

I know that for me it was a teacher I had for Gr. 11 English. That was probably one of the most essential courses I had taken in not only high school but in my education as a writer. We read King Lear, Death of a Salesman, Of Mice and Men and Lord of the Flies. She made the writing of dead men come to life. I hadn’t been exposed to writing the way I was in that class. I had never felt so much emotion while reading a literary work as I did while reading King Lear. So thank you Ms Solet- Louis for the gift I will never return but hopefully always re-gift.

Enough of me. Find what made you write so whenever you feel like it isn’t worth it you can return to that text, person or place and regain that wonder of writing. Writing is a journey, we’re always trying to move forward with our tales, venturing into unexplored places, but don’t fear the venture backwards. Don’t fear the backwords journey.

What, who, or where makes you write, paint, sculpt, compose and read?