Feeling Like It vs. Doing It

The crux of my procrastination is that “I don’t wanna” or “I don’t feel like it” emotion that serves no purpose. For me, it’s worse than laziness.

It’s apathy.

It’s not caring enough at that given moment to do something that I truly want done. It’s a thick blanket on my dreams and goals, and all the little steps it takes to complete them.

You don’t have to feel like doing something in order to do it—even if it’s a creative endeavour. The Muse is a philosophical idea. You don’t need to rely on this personification of “inspiration mixed with motivation” to produce anything. Sure, it may not feel as nice as it could, but that’s the point: you don’t have to feel nice about it. You don’t have to feel anything.

I’ve lived most of my life believing my actions and my emotions need to be married while doing something creative. Painting, drawing, poetry, writing, singing… These all sit within the arts (and there are others, which I’m not skilled at). And the arts need emotion, right?

Wrong.

A career (or intended career) in the arts has become so laced with an emotional investment that people think there needs to be emotion in the artist in order to produce emotion in the viewer. But that’s not true. In my experience, you just need to be saying something. That’s it. You just need to be saying something, whether it’s the truth or a lie, and some reaction will form in the reader or viewer or listener. You, as the creator, don’t need to do anything else but make a statement.

If you aren’t writing confessional poetry, then you don’t need to feel anything in order to write it.

You do not need to sit in a place where you want to do what you’ve decided to do. This doesn’t remain isolated to creative acts. It can be anything, whether it’s having a shower, going for groceries, or doing a school assignment. Why do you have to “feel like it” to do it? Can you imagine if you lived every action of your life invested in the desire to do that action? You would be exhausted after half a day.

What if a firefighter didn’t feel like risking their life? What if they didn’t feel like responding to a car crash? Do they let their lack of desire stop them from doing what needs to be done? No. And the arts are no different.

The point is that I’m not taking into consideration whether I feel like doing it. I may not feel like sitting and writing a blog post—literally how I feel while writing and editing this post—but I do it anyway. Because it doesn’t matter whether I feel like it. Because what matters is that, from the depths of my being, I want it done.

I want the end product. That’s what matters. It doesn’t matter how I feel going into the start, because I don’t care about how I start or when I start. I only care when I have something at the end. Even a shitty first draft.

My biggest piece of advice for anyone is the motto I’ve been telling myself.

You don’t have to feel like doing something in order to do it.

Here is my disclaimer: I have chronic depression. I often do not feel anything. How can I do something, whether it’s creation or housekeeping or hygiene, if I feel numb? If the abstract location for my emotions has turned into a void? If I let the black hole of depression continue to dictate what I can, can’t, will, and won’t do?

I will not let the whim of indifference control me when it is kin to apathy.

Feeling Like It Vs Doing It

Thoughts On Photoshop Retouching

Listen, I have an opinion when it comes to photo retouching—Photoshopping, if you will, though I know Adobe frowns upon that verbage.

Not all of it represents a negative or unrealistic version of a human body. I mean, most of it does, but not all of it.

We all want to look good in our own eyes. We all have a version of a self that we want to obtain, whether it’s through clothes, environment, general appearance, reputation, etc. We have standards for ourselves. (And if someone doesn’t, well… I have other opinions on those people that I’m not going to share. Because I’m legitimately, occasionally a bitch.) People will wear makeup to do something to their face. Maybe they want to show something artistic. Maybe they want to present a skill with an example—“I’m skilled with makeup. My current face is an example.” Maybe they want to enhance what they think is beautiful, with eyeliner or lip liner or highlighter. Maybe they want to cover up a blemish that will eventually heal.

The thing is, our faces and bodies change and move so much in real life that it’s impossible to photographically capture all that our faces and bodies are.

I recently retouched a selfie of mine that I absolutely adore. I love the way I look. I look at that picture, and I think: “I am beautiful. I want to feel this beautiful, and as beautiful as I did taking the selfie, every day.” It’s a confidence thing. I retouched the photo to remove some pimples and blemishes that are no longer there. Having them there would technically be an inaccurate representation of my appearance—I’d also have to add in new pimples if I wanted a really accurate representation. So I just took out the flaming red irritation on my forehead. I didn’t alter the way my bone structure looked. It was a simple retouch to clear up my skin.

Nobody has outrightly judged me for this. If they did, I wouldn’t care too much. I’d care a little, but I’d get over it, just like they would also (probably) get over it.

I’m not ashamed. The unfiltered and unretouched selfie is on my Instagram and I’m okay with that. I’m not trying to make a statement by showing my face as-is. But since I’ve started using that particular selfie across my social media, I want a more general appearance.

I wanted to show my face the way I want to be seen. So I gave it to myself. I opened the picture in Photoshop and quickly, easily removed what wasn’t there anymore. I’m allowed to do this because it’s my face and my picture.

Thoughts On Photoshop Retouching Selfies Self Confidence Technology

Snarky Thoughts

Romance

So sometimes people confess their romantic interest in someone. And sometimes it’s like, “Alright, fine, this is a little awkward, but I’m glad you felt confident enough to say it and in some way make peace with yourself.” And other times, they make it this display of loyalty. “I’ve liked you since high school!” and now they’re in their mid-20s and are completely different people and haven’t kept in regular contact. The best example of a terrible, terrible person who is very good at this annoying thing: Ross Geller. Who cares if you’ve had a crush on Rachel since high school? You entitled prick.

Don’t chase an ideal of a person. Don’t chase the shadow of a person. Don’t chase the past and dig up lawn-covered graves. Don’t think that your confession of love guarantees reciprocation. Were you friends in high school? Are you friends now? Do you know how they’ve changed as a person? Do you know what they want in their future? Love in the past is not love in the present or the future.

I can sometimes be critical of romance and romantic gestures. I mean… I’ll be weirded out if even my boyfriend stood outside my bedroom window with a boombox. I mean. Just knock on the fucking door or text me. Maybe my annoyance with grand declarations of love comes from my aversion to romance in general. Sometimes I think I’m a bit aromantic—maybe I should look into that.

Proving Yourself

You don’t need to make a damn show of something every time you get excited about it, especially if it’s part of your identity. I hate fandom mentality, and I hate how it can creep into some parts of life. Pride parades? They have a place. They’re like parties. They’re specific events. But when you become a narcissistic cow and try to bring that party into everything, it comes off as fake.

You like video games? Good. That’s fine. But you don’t need to shove it in my face. You don’t need to quiz me in a mirrored way by asking if I know a bit of trivia in order for you to answer it yourself. I don’t care.

I get it. You’re insecure. You’re unsure of yourself. You want to be accepted. And I know there is a bit of grace that is partly natural when it comes to building self-confidence. I’m blessed to have that, even though I’m also often insecure and unsure and desire acceptance. But seeking external and interpersonal validation for something that is entirely internal and intrapersonal (hobbies, interests, sexuality, gender identity, ethnic identity) isn’t the right way to go. Look for a community to share and bond with instead. I’m all about people seeking a community. I think that’s different from seeking validation—seeking a community is a search for safe spaces and similarities and growth. Don’t flaunt your interest in a way that makes people want to tell you, “Yes, I can see that. You are very interested in this thing.” It’s annoying.

Pesto

I really, really hate pesto. I don’t know if it’s the basil or the pine nuts, but something about it makes me want to spit all over bundles of herbs.

Sun

My eye doctor told me to avoid sunlight and I think that’s enough reason for me to hate the sun, but there’s more. My skin reacts badly to sunlight. The sun gives off heat, and I am incredibly heat sensitive. Intense sunlight leads to shittier photographs—diffused light, like on an overcast day or with lighting equipment, is much better. It’s no wonder I always fight the urge to become nocturnal in the summer. The moon is much kinder to me.

Snarky Thoughts

Thoughts On Gender

I think “male” and “female” describe gender the same way “spring” and “autumn” describe seasons.

You expect certain things of spring. You expect flowers and rain and milder weather. But that isn’t always the case. The weather can still be damn cold. The flowers can bloom late, or not at all, or only some of them. Maybe there’s a dry period of time, and instead of rain, you get wildfires. The hurricane season starts early. Maybe the weather, as it is while I’m writing this, is summery and disgustingly hot despite it not being officially summer.

But the thing is, you still call it spring, despite those variations. Something binds attributes with that time of year, in that hemisphere, and in that part of the Northern Hemisphere. Florida’s spring is starkly different from Yukon’s spring, but they’re both still called spring. They vary and everyone’s awareness of spring varies. Maybe it’s based on specific dates that correspond with astronomical variation. Even those dates change: some years it’s March 21 to June 21 and others, like this year, it’s March 20 to June 20.

For me, spring is when it beings to rain more than snow, regardless of how much snow there is. I anticipate spring’s arrival when I see the lush green stems of flowers, before the blooms. I see the buds on trees. Spring doesn’t correlate with a day of the year for me. It’s how the weather changes. Between Windsor and my hometown north of Toronto, I can feel two different seasons. Maybe it’s winter up north and spring in Windsor.

And if you go to the southern hemisphere, then the dates for spring are irrelevant. It’s not March to June at all. Now what? Do you think that spring doesn’t exist in Australia or Chile? No—you realise that it’s simply in a different time slot.

And autumn—the same principle.

What I’m getting at is that even within these descriptors, certain dates, personal traditions and indicators, there is no cut-and-dry definition of the season. Of any season. But there are patterns and associations that help to define them.

And that’s the same with gender.

There is no cut-and-dry definition.

And there are still things we associate with genders. Women with long hair. Men with deep voices. Women with wider hips. Men with broader shoulders. Genitals. Social roles. Those kinds of things.

But it can reach summer temperatures in spring and women can have deep voices and short hair. Men can have wide hips and narrow shoulders.

Let’s say “spring” is synonymous with “female” and “autumn” is synonymous with “male.” You get preconceptions and expectations, but you’re not going to say it’s still winter when it snows on May 12th (true story; it was such a weird day). You get thrown a bit, a little disoriented, but you take that snow in spring and still call it spring because you know it’s spring, dammit, and no amount of snow is going to make it winter again.

It’s what you label something that matters, regardless of the small variations, I think. It’s autumn if you think it’s autumn, regardless of the first frost or the first snow or an “Indian summer.” It’s autumn, not winter or summer, because that’s what it’s called for that kind of position in the year and weather and hemisphere and latitude.

I think this is why I’m okay with having genders—but not with a strict binary. I think gender has a place, but our notions of gender are a bit skewed. The binary thing. I’m not okay with it. But I am okay with specific genders. It’s a helpful label, like seasons.

That summery weather outside of summer is kind of how I think “transgender” should be seen. I often feel like it’s seen as the flip from the northern hemisphere to southern hemisphere: if you’re March to June, you’re either spring or autumn. And I think that’s wrong. You don’t have to go from male to female or female to male identity to be transgender. If someone tells you you’re autumn, but you feel more like a winter, then… that’s still transgender.

I just think it’d be easier if “transgender” weren’t a thing. If we had more than two genders widely accepted.

One comment related to transgender identity comes with how pet owners correct pronoun usage for their pets. I think it’s an inaccurate comparison. If someone calls your dog a she when it has a penis, and you call it a he, the person you’re correcting gets it faster. It’s based on biological sex. People are quicker to associate pronouns with biological sex, and using the pet comparison only emphasises the role of biological sex in gender. It’d be like telling an Australian they’re wrong for thinking it’s winter because it’s the middle of July. It’s not the same thing. (Also, pets and people are not the same.)

Gender is not your genitals.

Gender is your own version of a season.

Thoughts On Gender

Thoughts On Change

I personally don’t understand people who lament about change. The ones who get personally offended when a new house is built in the neighbourhood. Or a road is expanded. Or farmland is sold and upscale condos replace it.

I drafted this post while I walked in the trails winding through the village where I grew up. They had changed since the last time I walked them. Trees fell. Leaves covered once-loved paths. Water washed away chunks of cliffsides. Another rock in the rapids. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the changes, since erosion had affected the trails and I needed to find different routes, or the trail had gotten incredibly steep. But I wasn’t sad or hurt or upset. Two hundred years ago, before any of my ancestors left Scotland and Japan, these trails and this river housed water mills.

This is nature. It moves.

I know some people have difficulty adapting to change. They get anxious, or nervous, or angry, or confused. They have their reasons, and I’m not going to delve into why some people find change and changing things to be difficult. There are always a wide variety of why people can’t handle change. I have never been one of those people.

Sometimes I think back on how my surroundings used to be, compared to how they have changed. But the world does not need to line up with a single snapshot from my memory. Who even knows if that memory is accurate and truthful to what the past was? What if I’ve changed my memory based on how my life has changed since then? There’s no way to know, so there’s no reason for me to complain.

I think a large part of my understanding and acceptance of change comes from my childhood. Nothing was ever secure. The predictable aspects of life came from the disjoint and the sudden change. I could rely on change. I could rely on something abrupt. I could anchor myself and pretend that hectic chaos was normal.

Of course, that isn’t very healthy. Needing chaos to function? Only feeling security when something is up in the air? I’ve deviated from those childhood lessons. I plan things and prefer when things are either set in stone or set in motion. (Eyy, there’s a set of antonyms for you.) I don’t like when I can’t predict something, but it doesn’t matter what I like or dislike. Uncertainty or surety exist whether I want them to or not in a situation.

Even when there is a new rock in the water’s course, it flows around it. When a cloud is battered by wind, it doesn’t stand firm in the atmosphere: it shapes itself to the current. A flower wilts. A fruit ripens. A construction crew and a housing company sign a contract to turn the forest behind my childhood home into a set of unneeded suburbs. My grandparents put the childhood home on the market. I move from this village to Windsor to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. I contemplate—seriously consider, really—moving out of the province. My hair grows because I decide to change.

I think change and control go hand-in-hand. Maybe there is a conflict between them for people that makes them dislike one or the other. Even controlling something in order to get change, like controlling a diet or exercise regime to change your body. That’s an opposition between change and control. Using one to get the other. Changing something to gain control. Controlling something to incite change. If something is out of your control, then why the fuck are you getting offended? Or upset? Or disappointed? You can’t control everything, just like you can’t change everything. Maybe expectations and desires come into play too.

Thoughts On Ethnicity

My maternal great grandmother Tamako lived until she was in her very late 90s. She battled cancer numerous times through her life. She saw the Hiroshima bombings from a village 10 kilometers away, where she was supervising children tidying a schoolyard. She was born in Japan in 1914. She married a Japanese-Canadian farmer in Japan, and then emigrated to Canada in 1964.

I never met her. She died 4 years ago, and I still feel a deep mourning.

My grandfather, my mother’s father, is half-Japanese. My mother has his blood as well as Czech. Aside from her, I get intense Scottish from my father.

And this is the side that shows.

“Seeing is believing.”

It’s hard to be in touch with your roots when they are bleached with every generation. I don’t resent it, obviously. Love and marriage and reproduction happen.

I grew up in Canada. Most of my customs are Canadian, though I starkly remember only learning how to properly use a knife and fork when I was a 12-year-old. I knew how to use chopsticks so early that I can’t remember. When I was very young, I was enrolled in Japanese language classes, and I’m thankful I gained the phonemes. Perhaps that first class is what instilled in me a love of languages, but—as I said—I was very young. I don’t remember.

I remember the kimono my mother had in their boxes.

I remember the round and crinkly face of my half-Japanese grandfather. I remember his artisan woodworking skills and the carvings he makes. (Thankfully, he’s still alive and well.)

I don’t know “how Japanese I am” because every person is different, regardless of their ethnic background.

But I can’t describe the disconnect I feel when I think about my Japanese heritage. It brings me to tears.

There are behaviours and habits I have which I see so frequently in Japanese animation that I wonder: is this something I was taught? Is this a stereotype? Are these cultural facts that I inherited? The way I drink from a bowl. My undying love for umami flavour. My core belief that I should never be a burden to anyone. My value for order, simplicity, and practicality. Tofu and miso and rice. Light desserts. The experience of the sublime in nature without the association (or appreciation) of God. The awkward half-bow motion I’ve taught myself to suppress.

My research into the Shinto religion brings me peace. Like it is many pieces finally found that fit the corner border of a puzzle.

“Appearances can be deceiving.”

For some reason, I’m in tears and there is a weight like a small black hole near my heart. I am conflicted between my legitimate ethnic background and how close it is to my generation. I often hear white Americans being mocked for their “4% Cherokee” statements and whatnot. Like that kind of ethnicity is a fun accessory. And I don’t know if I’m allowed to own and possess my ethnic background.

I don’t look Japanese. If you look closely, you can find some features. My male siblings definitely have more Japanese features. We all inherited hair that is representative of Japanese genetics: my younger brother’s hair sticks straight out when it grows longer, and my oldest brother’s hair is coarse and unmanageable. My mother’s hair is pin straight and long. None of us, including my half-sister (same mother, different father, so she has the Japanese too) look our true ages—and as they say, Japanese people live long and have extended youth.

But I don’t know.

A classmate of mine told me that her first impression of me included the thought that I definitely was mixed race. That I wasn’t entirely Anglo-Saxon like so many Canadians.

All of this makes me want to do some genealogy. My paternal grandmother might have some information on my mother’s side, but considering she has more heavily researched her own ancestry, I’m doubtful.

I simply don’t feel valid when I claim “I’m part Japanese” despite the fact that I am. I just don’t look Asian enough for my own mind to accept it, I guess.

“Out of sight, out of mind.”

How can I describe a disconnection? How can I describe it aside from mourning and loss? Like I’m missing something. It’s cliche as fuck, but I feel like there is a part of me that’s gone because I didn’t get the chance to better understand my heritage. I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling (from the small selection of Aboriginal North American literature I’ve read, they feel it too).

I just don’t have a resource for this feeling. Do I try to reconnect? Do I visit my great grandmother’s grave? Do I visit Japan? Do I ignore it? I don’t know.

I don’t know.

Thoughts On Ethnicity