i’ve written a chapbook!

and I’ll be sending my little poetry baby out into the world within the next few weeks, hoping someone believes in my voice enough to publish it!

or, because I am sending it to contests, more specifically, that they like it enough to consider me as a finalist.

we shall see!!

but i’m super excited. i’ve finally completed a writing project. this collection is only 25 pages long, but it’s finished, and i’m proud of it.

i’ve always loved writing poetry, something about the short and sweetness of it, but yet how effective it can be at conveying something…and how fun and creative it allows one to be! i titled it revival, for now, as my header for this post reads, because in some way that’s what the story within this collection is about. it carries multiple themes throughout, but ultimately is the story of my journey over the past 4-6ish years, with threads of specific experiences/emotions interwoven throughout, such as doubt/uncertainty, relationships, hope, illness and the accompanying fear it brings, self transformation, identity and all the processes that come with that (questioning, wanting to be more, doubting, trying to change, confidence, figuring out who I am and what I stand for and what I want..). there’s a lot of facets to the narrative of it, but I tried very hard to make sure it worked as a collection, to make sure it told a story, and most of all, represented me and my voice in the most genuine way possible. i hope i succeeded.

so, although i’ve been especially focused on improving my poetry in the last few years, with the goal of publishing a chapbook eventually, and then hopefully a longer piece of work, this chapbook came to be in a very specific way. originally I had a different idea, but I was looking at chapbook contest submission guidelines as well as poetry I had written for my creative writing class last year, and a suggestion from one of the publishing presses gave me the inspiration I needed to envision this collection. Their advice was this: A good chapbook asks a question. An even better chapbook answers it. 

and somehow, that brought me to one of my favourite poems I’ve written, which I have shared before on social media, so I’ll share it here, and one of my poems that has been well received by those who have read it:

he painted the whole damn house red

the day you were born.

you wore the face of a newborn child

but he saw it

lurking behind your wide eyes.

wild. untouchable. resilient.

the kind of spirit that would crush rib cages

in the palm of one hand,

one that would climb mountains

just to stand at the top and say I did it

and look down at those who doubted you

you weren’t born for baby pink and pastels

you were born screaming,

angry at the world

for all the broken pieces you’d have to fix

you were born to wear armour and

dress in blood red

you were born a warrior

fighting since you took your first breath.

(I really wish that wasn’t double spaced but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to change it…sigh..)

I didn’t write this poem with myself in mind. I imagined a character, and I wrote about her. But I found myself thinking this might be a good poem to start my collection with. So I made a new document, pasted it on the first page and asked myself what questions I had about it. I asked myself: Who is this girl? What became of her? Is she still screaming?

I thought that maybe, this poem represents a part of me I’ve been trying to find my way to. So I dug back into the past, into some painful memories, some happy ones, I flipped through old journals, old poetry, trying to create a list of moments that were important in shaping me to who I am now. Honestly, writing some of this chapbook was really difficult. It reflects every high, every low, every struggle and every success, every hardship endured, but in the end, I think it reflects the girl in the first poem. But it wasn’t easy to write about all of those parts. It tells her story. It answers who she is. It answers what became of her. It answers if she is still screaming at the world.

I wrote this chapbook in three days.  Which is very fast, but, I had a goal and a vision and I wanted to have it done within the break. I had a very specific idea of the narrative I wanted to tell. I even outlined it. I wrote the last poem first, so I knew what the conclusion would be, and I built it from there. I brought in a few of my best and favourite poems I’ve written, and I found them homes in the chapbook. Once I’d had a few poems written, and in an order that made sense, and I really knew where I was going with it, I made an outline. I wrote down the theme each poem dealt with, and I decided what themes or moments I still needed to tell about to complete the story. I picked out a theme/emotion for each poem still needed, and I wrote each accompanying poem. I ordered them chronologically, but in some ways, strategically so they complemented each other best. I didn’t just throw my favourite poems together. I wanted this to be a story, I wanted it to represent my journey. I wanted it to be me.

And a narrative really did unfold. It tells my story. And honestly, I’m so very proud of this collection. It’s the story I’ve been wanting to write for years, and I finally have. I have let a few people read it and got great feedback. Their kind words mean so much.

So now, all that’s left is to polish it up, and I have a list of about ten different contests/publishing presses I’m going to submit it to, which I will do over the break….

Wish me luck!

Hoping you all will be able to read it soon.

happy holidays friends!

jc.

 

I survived first term!

and now that my final projects are handed in (a day early even!) I’m back to blogging since school has taken priority for the last few weeks!

after writing for the last few weeks non-stop I don’t know why I’m choosing my first day off to do this post, but here I am!!!

anyway- this is just a really casual update post as i get back into the swing of blogging and posting about ~important~ things.

so. life!

i’ve been busy tutoring (I tutor at the writing centre at uni and LOVE it), writing papers, overthinking (as per usual), having minor crises about irrelevant things, enjoying the cozy winter vibes, wearing flannel every day and lovin it, enjoying being engaged while also obsessing over wedding planning but trying not to because it’s so far away still!!!!! and also been spending a lot of time thinking about the holidays and getting super excited to go to little bvain and see my fam and friends ♥♥♥ like, super excited. i miss every one so very much!!! and it’ll be the first Christmas where Sky gets to spend it with both sides of the fam so I’m excited for everyone to meet her because in case you didn’t know, she’s pretty awesome.

 

i’m really in the swing of like, researching and writing right now, despite just handing in my final assignments, but luckily, i get to continue to do so over the break! i had a meeting with my research advisor and we decided on a direction for my research assistant project. I am going to be studying The Little Mermaid as a disability narrative (in terms of losing her voice and having a “nonstandard body”), so I get to spend my free time reading feminist scholarly work about Ariel’s loss of voice in the story, and other aspects (the story is often related to transgender and queer studies for the same reason..her transformation from mermaid to human)…and also watching all three of the Little Mermaid movies (which, what? there’s three??). For research. I’m just like, what is my life? I am getting paid to do this? What?! I love my job. I love my major!!                        I mean, like, I reworked a bridal magazine to be representative of diverse people and bodies for my feminisms class as my final project and wrote an essay about Emma Swan (kind of a feminist character study) from the tv show Once Upon A Time for my gender & fairy tale film class and I’m just like…this is way too much fun to be school? idk man. academia is pretty cool in some ways and i’m in it for the long haul (despite having a two day crisis over my career path and thinking i should be pursuing journalism. turns out all the reasons i saw for going into journalism can be applied to academia, so thank you, Sky, my love, for that insight and reassurance) and yeah! i’m just super happy with where I’m at right now and where I’m headed.

also not really sure what to do with free time?? i need to go to the doctor and get some cactus spines removed from my finger (pro tip: don’t grab a cactus with ur bare hands. just let the plant fall and the planter break. it’ll be ok) and i would love to venture around the city and take some wintery pics! i haven’t done a lot of photography lately and i’m itching to get back into it. so if ur in the city and want to adventure with me and get some pics taken, let me know!!!

also also!!! The CRA Disability Tax Credit thing was all solved re them denying t1 diabetics the credit so thanks to the national diabetes community for rallying for that and making change!!

also also also!! i made the Dean’s honour list as a student of distinction for the 2016-2017 school year so that’s pretty cool!!

so yeah. things are alright.

hope you all are enjoying the wintery season and have a lovely holiday. i’m sure i will be posting again before the new year!!!

peace out!!

jc. ♥♥

 

 

we do not always look like the heroes you want us to be

I know I said I’d write a post on epilepsy awareness. But this has been pressing on me, so it is taking precedence. Firstly – after having tried to edit this for coherence, I am going to state this: This may read more like a diary entry, of scattered, unorganized thought. But. There have been a lot of things on my mind that I feel need to be expressed, and publicly. So, prepare yourself for some honesty and some disorganization in my writing!

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about disability, from a social perspective, for research purposes. But some of the points are hitting home, and hard.

A concept raised is the “supercrip” or the concept of a person with a disability or other related illness having to have some extraordinary ability to compensate for their disability. It is expressed by Ann Schmiesing, as read in Disability, Deformity, and Disease in the Grimm’s Fairy Tales:

The supercrip…represents overachieving, over-determined, self-enfreakment that distracts from the lived daily reality of most disabled people.

My first reaction was, in capital letters in my notes: “WE DO NOT ALWAYS LOOK LIKE THE HEROES YOU WANT US TO BE.”

I am no different than any one else. I get through each day with one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. I didn’t choose my reality. It doesn’t look like “overcoming” my illnesses to get my happy ending. It looks like living, despite the frustrations, the limitations, the stigmas and every other high and low that comes with being chronically ill. I do not exist to be strong or inspiring to others. I exist for myself.

But still, I don’t know.  This concept of having some sort of compensatory characteristic to make up for my illnesses makes me uneasy. I guess I feel that it’s imposed on me.  I impose it on myself, perhaps, and others (maybe others in a perceived sense…) come to expect it from me. Specifically, I question its relevance to my high standards for myself. The question is this: Do I set my standards so high because I feel the need to compensate in some way, shape or form, for being chronically ill?

Or does this need, or expectation, for myself to be the very best come from somewhere else?

The answer?

I honestly don’t know. I think it’s a thing that is pushed on a lot of us, from many different sources, both systemically and individually. I don’t want to start talking about capitalism, or the education system, or social media, or whatever… I mean. It’s all there. We all live through the experience of feeling like we aren’t enough – feeling like we have to be everything at once and above all, productive and successful in measurable means, and somehow, we are always failing. Or so we think.

It’s a toxic thing.

But. Let me stop rambling. I am thinking about a lot, and I am trying to lay bits and pieces of it down here. For your understanding, your consideration, and for my own.

I guess – the takeaway point from this, the reason I am posting it publicly, is that I want able-bodied, “healthy”, people to understand this: disabled people, or those who are chronically ill, or otherwise not able-bodied, do not exist for your inspiration. We do not have to “overcome” our health complications to be happy, or to be successful. We do not owe it to society to be successful or productive in a manner that is valuable and measurable within capitalism. We should not have to be “supercrips” to be accepted. We should not have to compensate for the circumstances of our body that are out of our control. We should not have to change ourselves to meet society’s abled-bodied standard to be accepted. Society should change to be accommodating and accessible to people of all abilities. We do not have to throw ourselves into our passions or pursuits to cope with the struggles of our lived reality.

We are enough as we are. And we do not have to be inspirational, or strong, or constantly challenge our boundaries to be acceptable; to be valid in our identity.

We are not always “okay”. We are allowed to not be okay.

I’m tired of the facade.

I am not always strong. Not in the way you think I am.

I am not inspirational.

I am always tired. I am often frustrated.

But I am always enough.

 

 

love & spoons,

jc.

 

 

 

 

I’m a research assistant!

I just returned from a meeting with one of my professors which left me beaming the whole walk home. This is because I have been approved for a position working with her as a research assistant. I am super excited and grateful for the opportunity! Basically, she will be mentoring me to write, or possibly co-write, a paper about fairy tales and media, with the goal of having it published or presenting it at a conference. There are a couple other classes I am in where we are encouraged to submit our work to journals or for conferences, so we will see what happens in the end!

Considering we are rooting the research in women & gender studies, and that I am planning on studying disability in grad school, we narrowed down my topic to be disability representation in fairy tales. She said that not a lot of work has been done on this topic, so it’s exciting that I might get to be at the forefront of academic study on the subject!

She armed me with a list of books, articles and scholars to check out for background research and to familiarize myself with what has already been done. I immediately picked up all the books from the library and am so eager to start reading that I can barely focus on all the other assignments I have due this upcoming week! But yeah, hopefully after some reading, I’ll have a better idea of what specifically I’d like to study and write about.

It’s also really wild to me that I’m only in my third year of university and I have opportunities like this! I think a large part of this is thanks to being at a relatively small university. I’m not certain something like this would have been so easy to come by were I still at U of M.

And did I mention this a paid position? That’s pretty cool too.

Honestly, I am so excited! I feel like I can’t express it enough. I’m heading down a path that I’m super passionate about and it’s so cool to be starting my journey to becoming a published academic, and to be working with a professor that has such extensive knowledge on fairy tales and is fun to work with too. I mean, her office is full of books about women & gender studies, fairy tales, and pictures of cats, so I think we will get along pretty well. She also teaches two of the classes I am in right now, so it’s nice that we are already familiar with each other.

I will definitely post some more updates once I’m a little further along on this project and kind of know where I’m headed!

I’m also writing a paper for one of her classes on the tv show Once Upon a Time (which I’ve def been obsessed with for the last few years), where I am going to do a character study of Emma Swan, and explore whether she really is a feminist figure or if she falls somewhere along the lines of conventional Disney princess/strong-independent-female-cliché. Also very excited about this!

yeah, so, as I said to my mom when this position first came to my attention: this is what dreams are made of. (hahaaha).

 

anyways, back to studying I guess!!

thanks for enduring my overly enthusiastic rambling

& all the best,

JC. ♥

 

 

 

social media + “authenticity”

Maybe this topic is past its prime. But it’s something I think about a lot, and I still find it is relevant, as long as we are using social media, so I am going to write about it.

I find the idea of authenticity, in the sort of buzzword way, very intriguing. What do we even mean when we say “authentic”? At this point, I’m not entirely sure.

It seems that most of us are striving for some sort of authenticity in our lives, especially in our online presence, yet we are flooded with posed, over-edited and carefully cultivated representations of our lives on social media. Is this really genuine? Is it real?

I don’t mean to say that it’s wrong to post a picture just for its aesthetic value or for validation or to post a smiling selfie when you’re feeling sad. Social media is just as much for self-expression and creativity as it is anything else. Make it your own and do whatever you want with it.

I just question the narrative we create with a stream of idealized photos, often literally cropping out any less than perfect elements to frame the perfect moment, even if the moment we are capturing is far from perfect. What parts of the story are being left out?

I know that there definitely is a movement, a push, for honesty in what we post online, and I appreciate this. It is so hard to move against the grain, to be vulnerable. I value all of the hard work people do to create a presence that is real, that is truthful, that highlights the lows of life as much as it does the highs. I think it’s so important to have this, to remind people that social media is often framed in terms of what people think the world expects of them, not a reflection of reality. We are all far from perfect but we often like to pretend otherwise.

And no, I don’t have a problem if you only want to post pictures that are of those perfect moments. There’s nothing wrong with sharing happiness, or photos just for the sake of sharing photos. We do, however, need to remember not to compare ourselves to what we see online – and I know this is underlined over and over again – but it’s true. It’s too easy to take photos at face value and accept them as truth. This is rarely the case. Social media should come with a disclaimer, but it doesn’t. So it’s up to us to be honest with what we post, or to be critical about what we see when we are tempted to measure ourselves against the photos saturating our feeds.

I’m definitely not exempt from this falsified story-telling. A few weeks ago, I posted a colorful, inviting shot of the city and the river (it’s the feature photo of this post!). What the people looking at the photo couldn’t see, however, was the tears on my face as I took it, or the hour leading up to that, which consisted of a disheartening doctor’s appointment, some serious self-doubt and questioning of myself in almost every aspect imaginable, and the resulting flood of tears I couldn’t seem to stop or hide, as I walked down Main Street, trying to force a smile and hide my tear-streaked cheeks and puffy, red eyes. Honestly, I think I posted the picture as a way to make myself feel better. I don’t know if it worked, but I know I am prone to posting a photo on social media that represents the complete opposite of what I’m feeling, and I don’t know, maybe it’s a way to cope sometimes. But I’m not sure that’s the best solution.

I have been trying, lately, to be more honest with what I share. It’s so hard to do, but I’m going to keep trying. That’s part of why I started this blog – to narrate my life in a way that is honest and real.

Keep posting whatever you want, of course. I’m not trying to criticize anyone, I just think we need to take the time to question both what we post, and what we see.

 

Ultimately, what story are you telling?

And is it the story you want to tell?

 

& with that, have a great week friends,

jc. ♥

welcome

Hello & Welcome ;

After many failed ideas and attempts at starting a blog, I recently have been re-inspired (with a touch of anger-fueled motivation) to put myself out into the blog-o-sphere. I’m centering my blog around my life as a university student, a feminist, a chronically ill individual, a lesbian, and ultimately, a writer.

Previously, I had thought I had to have a very narrow focus on my blog to write it. Maybe, this is the case, if I were creating this blog as a business endeavor. I am not. I am here to share my life and its complexities; my failures, my successes, my insights and to connect with others sharing similar experiences. I decided a strict theme blog isn’t for me. I want to share what I am passionate about, and I want to write about my life, with an emphasis on intersectionality and my personal experience as a person with many faces to their identity.

If you care to follow along, expect posts related to everything previously mentioned (feminism, academics, writing, disability, LGBTQIA+ issues etc) and what makes my life uniquely my own.

New posts once a week, every Monday!

To learn more about me, please visit my about page.

Best,

JC