Friday, October 19, 2018

Jane Shi: My (small press) Writing Day—Every Day is Gay

You want a piece of my day. You want a piece of my day because you want to fill a piece of yours. I suppose I can tell you what I did today, but maybe I’ll tell you in a scrambled order, like how the eggs were this morning, and how my mind will be, if I stay up a few more hours. 

I sat on my couch thinking about how I am incredibly gay. I thought about how numb I am to myself when I deny that part of myself, that capacity to love. I don’t think it’s possible to understand a day in my writing life without understanding how love shapes days, prunes nights. 

Love is a mysterious, feline creature made from difficult feathers and scales. She’s pretty, sometimes. Bratty, others.

She helps me write. 

I’m often thinking about politics. And I often think politics aloud on big digital corporate entities that profit from my trauma. It’s hard not to contribute, I’m sure as many of our sore fingers know. Today I was a bustling pikachu burrito at home, and a uniqlo-uniformed fanny-packed millennial donning the jacket of someone else’s grandmother when I went out. I didn’t order a burrito at brunch. No matter what I’m wearing, my opinions will bore someone. I didn’t finish everything on my plate but drank a lot of coffee.

My roommate laughed at the flour in the cup. They laughed at me for holding my pee in for so long. We’ve run out of toilet paper. I steal one from downstairs. 

My friend and I watch bill wurtz’s “history of the entire world, i guess” on youtube. I mock it but must admit I learned something. 

I’m dancing to Kehlani and Calvin Harris’ “Faking It” and remember how earlier in the day my other friend shared that Kehlani is pregnant. I wonder about the songs that Kehlani would write during these next few months, or whether she wouldn’t write at all. How could anyone write with morning sickness? 

With the dishes neglected for three years I decide it’s time to hide in my room, and work on a poem my roommate will instantly call a love poem. But if it’s a love poem it’s a love poem to the sea, and I guess that’s socially acceptable but I’m not always sure who it’s socially acceptable to. 

I then start on my real love poem and it is a poet’s prose and sneaky attempt to hide even deeper inside my room. I think that is sometimes what poetry is for me—a way to escape prose (i.e. the pressures of needing to be fully present) and have a nap in another dimension.

Maybe a love poem is more like a nap in another person’s daydreams. 

And I guess words are sufficient teleportation devices. 

It’s just too bad it’s still physical labour, a kind of labour that costs physiotherapy appointments. If you’re lucky you get acupuncture and guashua to help your robot hands run better. It’s not a good idea to type until you realize you have to stretch and ice it. 

I write with extreme paranoia about whether the words will disappear. From the computer, my mind, the page. It’s a plot against time, feeding your mortality to a fading machine. It’s a little self-centred, but it’s also a survival act. I want everything I have—my thoughts, my dreams, my desires—to appear like a polaroid. 

But to survive we still have to eat, drink water, and, even if reluctantly, sleep. It’s a good idea to have regular poops. Eat multivitamins.

Today I remembered I am also a filmmaker. And I often think about my writing as film, but it’s hard. I am eating crackers and getting the little seeds in my Bluetooth keyboard. Getting saliva all over the keys is a regular part of writing. But if I were to make film and if I rented out someone’s camera… well. That would be ghastly. Maybe writing is a vocation for times we can’t help but be slobs. I know there’s probably writers who wear shiny makeup (glitter and all!) and iron their shirts before writing. I would have to delete Instagram from my phone then—just from catching them in the act.

I’d like to think the NSA or whoever watches me through my webcam is bored, unless they’re also looking at the words I’m writing. I’m just saying, looking cute and writing are totally different professions. Sometimes, though, all the parallels between the fashion and writing industries come out and want to play a silly yarn game together.

I didn’t schedule time to be sad today, but the writing life is unpredictable like that. I haven’t cleaned my room since I moved in and I guess it’s just like how I haven’t organized any of my writing folders on my desktop or any of my notebooks. Many of them also double as sketchbooks, where I draw strange faces. I imagine the faces know what the exact order and folds and curves of my days are. They are watching me from afar, taking it all in.

Remembering all of it.

I hope I don’t forget to vote.
I hope I don’t forget to sleep.
I hope that I don’t forget to save and send this document.

But maybe not the part where I am gushing and gushing. Because they don’t know how to process this happiness. This happiness of being able to write, and write, and write, and write, and maybe it all comes out a little funny, but it’s like going on a long run after your knees have finally healed from the last injury. And that is also what being in love is like, even if it is in fact a third or fourth language that you just don’t have the time to learn.

I am convinced these strange faces are waiting for me to fall asleep before they come out and talk to one another like on The Toy Castle. They wait for me and wait for me, while I also wait.

Every day I am writing, I am happy.
Every day when I am writing, I am in love.
I am not anybody else’s ghost but my own.

Jane Shi is a queer Chinese settler living on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish peoples. Her work can be found at Poetry is Dead, LooseLeaf Magazine, GUTS Canadian Feminist Magazine, Ricepaper Magazine, ditch poetry, Tributaries, and the forthcoming issue of SAD mag. She currently organizes Chinese seniors storytelling and art workshops with WePress Vancouver. She is also a student at The Writer’s Studio Online, and is writing a lot about the ocean and the moon. You can follow her work at Pipagao Poetry.

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