Reason #47 to Keep Living: Achieving My Goals

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Tomorrow I will write the final exam of my undergraduate degree.

Wait, what?

Ehem, yes. Tomorrow I will write the final exam of my undergraduate degree!

If you’ve been following my blog for a little over a year, you might remember my post, Time and Too Many Monsters: Why I am Leaving Formal Education, in which I professed my reasons for dropping nearly all of my classes in the early spring of 2016. For a short synopsis, my decision had both to do with persistent mental health issues and a stagnant, frustratingly dreary existence that went along with university life. Continue reading

Reason #46 to Keep Living: Passing Time

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The photo I wanted for this blog post was one of me completing the final essay for my undergrad degree, but it just so happens that not many people like to hang around taking pictures of me sitting with my laptop, especially when I usually tell them to bugger off because they are distracting me. Instead I have this photo of the sunrise on my cottage lake. The water is quiet and mist-covered at six o’clock in the morning, and this photo will serve well enough to represent the passing of time.

I am usually the opposite of grateful for the passing of time. I don’t like to see years go by, let alone months or even weeks. Recently, however, the passing of time has seemed the greatest blessing. The passing of time means the end of summer school, monotony, and exhaustion. The passing of time, in fact, means more time. Continue reading

Reason #45 to Keep Living: Movement

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After reading through my last 101 Reasons to Keep Living post, I decided that “Movement” would be a fine companion to “Naps.” After all, movement (of the mind or body) is what makes me tired enough to nap, and the energy I gain from naps gives me the ability to keep moving.

Movement, for me, has always been a confusing dichotomy. On one hand, I love travel. Going from country to country, getting little to no sleep, learning new languages, making fast friends, experiencing foreign cultures, partaking in spontaneous adventures… These things have always held me enraptured. On the other hand, I have perhaps unrealistic dreams of owning a farmhouse complete with fireplace, overstuffed bookshelves, deep couches, rugs, cats, maybe two or three rambling kids… You get the picture.  Continue reading

Reason #44 to Keep Living: Naps

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Busy days, filled with family and friends, sluggish with work both for school and paid, stuffed to the brim with exhaustion and weird stomach pains, nearly always require naps. Here’s the bed in which I slept this afternoon. It is sufficiently, if not exceedingly, cozy. I remain grateful that I have this extraordinarily piece of furniture to curl up in. Continue reading

“She would not say of anyone in the world now that they were this or were that. She felt very young; at the same time unspeakably aged. She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time was outside, looking on. She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxicabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day.”

— Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway

Reason #42 to Keep Living: Leisure, Distraction, Variety

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Please refer above to the image which depicts a cat scratching at the face of a woman with buttons for eyes. Yes, those are beetles dropping from her clothing and hair. Yes, this picture should be a bit shocking, considering it comes from a children’s colouring book.

This image is of the “Other Mother” from the book Coraline, of course. It’s one of many fascinating drawings by Jill Thompson in The Neil Gaiman Coloring Book. Where the images in this book may disturb others, they calm me; they have provided me with leisure, distraction, and a sense of variety at the end of my long days of teaching and study. However much I adore my job and the children I teach, and however much I am stimulated by the literature I study, my brain is in desperate need of a break by evening.  Continue reading

Couplets Episode 10: Catriona Wright and… Me!

Do you like poetry? Do you like experimentation? Do you like Thursday evenings of art and writing and literary surprises? Come see me and Catriona Wright give a collaborative hour-long performance on June 29 from 6-7 pm at The ARTS Project in London. For more details, follow the links below!

Also, did I mention it’s free admission?

https://coupletsreadingseries.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/episode-10-catriona-wright-erica-mckeen/

https://www.facebook.com/events/427829680923669/

New Writing, New Reading…

Finally! My creative writing has once again entered the public sphere!

The lovely literary journal, Persephone’s Daughtersfor which I am a reader, published one of my short stories today. It is called “Married Life,” and it delves into the psychological and emotional confusions of rape culture, submission, and a society entrenched in manners. The writing style differs from a lot of my other works: it is abrupt and purposefully artificial, verging on metafiction.

Have a read, tell me what you think, and feel free to check out the other amazing pieces in this issue. The journal focuses on all areas and ideas surrounding the abuse of women — it is stories of survival through art.

I think it goes without saying that communication and understanding regarding these issues are unutterably important to me.

Read my story and others like it here.

Reason #41 to Keep Living: Understanding

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This photo was taken during a transition period: in the space of an hour before sundown. The world was not yet dark, but I could sense the shadows settling in. I couldn’t see the darkness, but I could feel it.

I am now sitting within my own transition period, and this moment before sundown has made me realize a number of things. It has made me realize I have been happy for a very long time now. That I have been very lucky. Through these bi-weekly blog posts I have been trying to be openly grateful for all of the minuscule, beautiful things in my life, but the words are not enough. I cannot express my gratitude for the health I have experienced, in body and mind, for the past eight months or so.

This moment before sunset, this dusk, has made me realize that mental illness has the tendency to be like the pain of giving birth. I have been told — because I myself have not had the experience — that labour pains are terrible, but after they are finished, they are finished. The memories fade. The scars don’t weigh deep in the brain. The same has held true for me and my mental illness. While I am sick, I am flabbergasted that many people don’t understand psychological sickness, that they think it a weakness and something to just “get over.” When I am not sick, when I am able to move through my days with ease and not much struggle at all, the darkness of mental illness lightens until I can see clearly again — or so I think. Continue reading