Why I Write & Other Shit

13 Jun

I say I have been writing for over 30 years, but really it has been much longer than that. I have been writing since I could speak in consecutive sentences. I wrote my first novel when I was 5. Well, I would have if my Kindergarten teacher hadn’t taken away 2/3rds of my construction paper. How was I to know that when she told us to go and pick supplies from the art cupboard to make a book, she meant a pamphlet. I guess the confusion lay in the fact, that I was already reading books on my own by then, and they weren’t picture books. So in my mind, I was getting enough paper to write something along the lines of “The Wizard of Oz” but with more cats, and horses made out of the night sky and emeralds.

I wrote all the way through my childhood. I wrote plays for hand puppets. I attempted a Nancy Drew type novel but with real ghosts, not people pretending to be ghosts, so that they could find the hidden treasure in the old house undisturbed, and my heroine was never a blonde.

I penned a series of fairytales and science fiction stories. Basically, I wrote everything I wished I could be reading. It wasn’t because I didn’t love the books I did read. It was just that I wanted more magic, or less logical explanation for the magic. I wanted my science fiction to be all aliens with no humans. I wanted my little girl characters to be as interesting as adult characters, just shorter. This is still something that defines my work.

Until I hit adolescence, and then I wrote to try and understand the people in my world and myself because at the age of eleven, just like Alice, I fell down the rabbit hole, only I didn’t end up in Wonderland, or maybe I did. Regardless of the shit, there has always been an abundance of magick.

I do not write because I love words. I write because I am obsessed with communication and I am fascinated by people. This holds true for what I read as well. I will never be a grammar fascist because I will do backflips in order to understand what someone is trying to say to me. I have no problem translating missing commas. I will even resort to drawing pictures and playing charades if need be.

Writing helps me process intense emotional experiences, my reactions to people, their behaviour, personalities, society, politics, ad infinitum and in many cases to resolve them.

If I can turn pain, rage, humiliation, into something so genuinely funny that it becomes relatable and not merely self indulgent then I have reached my creative goal.

I don’t believe there are no original ideas. There may be universal themes but there are always new directions to take them. There are always new things to be learned from an old stereotype.

A couple of months ago, I decided I was going to be a full-time writer/performer. I have not given myself a deadline. I have given myself a commitment. I am working out a structure, teaching myself about the business side of art, changing my outlook on money, creativity and  leaving the door open for magickal possibilities. Am I scared? Sure. But that’s why I became Danger Girl, when she is afraid she merely applies lipstick and laughs. I have 12 tubes of MAC lipstick in various shades including one called Lady Danger.

XO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25 May

I will be restarting this blog as of June 1st.

62 Going On 63

13 Apr

Tomorrow I will be turning 63, or as I like to say 9. I decided about a month ago that I was going to stop identifying myself with a number. It has nothing to do with being afraid of death, or being age phobic, I think of it more as being Age Neutral or Generation  Fluid.

I don’t know if everyone hits this. I know some people who stopped living with a capitol L a decade ago. Now they are just passing time until they kick off. I can’t imagine feeling like there is nothing more to experience or that all the best is over. And yes, in some ways this surprises the shit out of me because I am not a sunbeam. I am a complete failure at the Law of Attraction because I can’t live my life with rose coloured blinkers. I can’t ignore injustice or cruelty. I have to fix things and not just paint them buttercup yellow. And honestly I don’t think you have to pretend the crackheads you are tripping over are daisies in order to attract positive energy.

But despite all of this, I wake up every morning happy and looking forward to the day.

Has anything changed since my last birthday eve post?

My hair is dark again.

Now considering that dark is pretty much my natural colour with the exception of some silver at the temples, it took me forever to get used to it. It was the weirdest thing. I got incredible compliments from friends, clientele, strangers… and I do mean incredible and yet I found it such a shock looking at myself in the mirror. This lasted for about a month and yet at no time did I have any regrets. Somehow I just knew that there was something I couldn’t quite see yet, but I needed to trust that I was going to.

Going dark was like taking off the cloak of invisibility.

Last July I performed one of my favourite shows, Faery Tale Confidential, in my friend Serafin’s bay-windowed living room. I was terrified for a couple of reasons. The first was that I had almost convinced myself that I was incapable of memorizing and the second was that the audience was only 5 feet away from me at any given time and they were all pretty discerning. And I especially didn’t want to suck because a lot of these peeps had never seen me perform and had always believed in me regardless so… no pressure. Hard as it was, I exchanged my fears for trust in my ability to make this show magick.

Can you see the theme here? Yep. I needed to learn to trust myself. And let me tell you, now that I do, it makes being Danger Girl a whole lot easier.

That evening was a life changer for me. I am still learning things from it. In fact Friday and Saturday I learned from two separate people how much they value that experience.

So my next lesson is placing value on my work and not letting it mummify inside me.

This last year has been full of art, performance, music, fulfilling friendships and being comfortable in my own skin. I am feeding my head, living almost entirely in the present and slowly but surely erasing my comfort zone. I have discovered Maggie Nelson, Joan Didion, Underpass Park, I got to see Yayoi Kusama, fell in love with Nish Dish and thanks to my friend Shaun, dancing.

XO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lizzie Violet Loves Zombies

16 May

She also loves the 1920’s. This makes perfect sense, since she has the same wild, exuberance, sass and hair colour as the “It Girl”, Clara Bow.

Other things she is passionate about are silent films, Morticia Addams, knitting (she has her own Etsy store. http://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/KillerKitschDesigns featuring gorgeous vintage knitting patterns from the 1920’s -50’s) Toronto’s independent music scene, horror and spoken word.

In fact Lizzie won Now magazine’s 2015 Readers Poll “Best Spoken Word Artist.” Which doesn’t surprise me because she has performed at Nuit Blanche, Plastacine Poetry, Wordspell and the Secret Handshake, to name a few.

She has been published in some of Canada’s finest literary magazines like Carousel, Nest and NorthWord.

If you want to see her read live, she has a wonderful gig with another redhead Heather Babcock called “The Redhead Revue.” Their next date is 8:00, June 10th at the Imperil Pub, 54 Dundas Street E.

This year was a landmark for Lizzie because she became a full-time writer. She is working on a novel called Freaks and Grimm. It’s a ghost story and I am dying to read it.  She is collaborating on a short horror film with October Young, a project so secret, I can’t even give you the title.

The thing I love most about Lizzie, besides her incredible talent, is her generosity as an artist. I don’t know anyone, who is as supportive of their artist friends as she is. Lizzie constantly promotes her peeps on Twitter, Facebook, her blog and word of mouth. She does this tirelessly and sincerely.

Her writing is brave, dark, sometimes funny, often chilling and always memorable. Check out and like her FB Page “Lizzie Violet- Writer” and share her creative adventures. You won’t regret it, this is her year and she’s going to fly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside Looking Out

7 May

If you know me, you know that I spend a lot of time in my head. I have done this most of my life. I have very clear memories of analyzing situations exactly the same way I do now, when I was just starting school. And I often wonder if I was the only child in the playground experiencing existential angst.

To be honest, I don’t think I ever identified as a child. This used to get me into all sorts of trouble because it never dawned on me that I needed to ask permission. I lived my young life based on the premise, that since I was able to make a decision, I was able to follow it through. So when I heard an intriguing conversation on the other side of the wall, I climbed the wall and joined in. If I didn’t want to be at school anymore because the teacher hurt my feelings, I walked home. I would play with strange children, go to their houses even if they did not live in my neighbourhood, (one time it was Chinatown) and spend the day with them. Nobody had any idea where I was and it never dawned on me that I needed to tell them.

I used to wonder why I was like this, but now I realize, that I was never considered a child, by those who raised me. I don’t think this was intentional. And I don’t think they ever considered the consequences, because they couldn’t.

I believe that our ability to navigate life successfully comes from the nurturing, or lack of it, we receive growing up. I grew up with extremes. I can’t say I was neglected, or unloved because I wasn’t, not all the time. I was both loved and hated. I was neglected and smothered. I was lauded and torn to shreds. I was supported and opposed. This is what happens when your mother has Borderline Personality Disorder. It wasn’t her fault. She was simply incapable of being a mother to anybody.

But it did leave me scarred, and as they say “whatever doesn’t kill you, leaves you scarred.”

Therapy helped a lot. I would be completely unaware of grey without it. When you are raised in a world of black and white there is no midrange, you have to learn that for yourself. I can’t tell you how peaceful greys are. I’m not a fan of extremes. I try to avoid them, occasionally get drawn into them, have no problem walking away from people who have no midrange.

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever reach a point where I am not having to unlearn a pattern that fucks up my life. Will I ever be able to have a healthy, relationship with anyone, who is not a cat? Will I ever have ambition? Will I ever have continuity in my writing? Will I ever be comfortable living in a world that keeps getting smaller and smaller? Will I ever stop sabotaging my dreams? Will I ever stop doubting myself? Will I ever just write? Is being exhausted after working 8 hours an excuse or a death knell to creativity?  I am going to throw on some Monk and see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOpoet

3 May

Unlike most of the people, in the Toronto, spoken word scene, I don’t love poetry. I especially, don’t love poetry written post 70’s, with the very rare exception of maybe a handful of poets. Duncan Armstrong aka TOpoet is one of them.

It doesn’t take long, maybe just a line or two to realize that this is someone who really invests in everything he experiences. Whether he is writing about the roles we are cast in by others, ex lovers, the state/lack of civilization, or a father wearing shoes that once belonged to his dead son, like he does in “Breaking In Grief” from his new chapbook, “After The Falling”, you are not just reading a series of beautifully strung words, you are feeling what it is like to be there, and remembering the feel of shoes that didn’t belong on your own feet.

He is also incredibly funny. It’s not easy to write poetry, that cracks up a room full of people, let alone something that makes a person laugh out loud, all by themselves. Another of the pieces in “After The Fall” called “Hard On” does both. I’m not going to tell you why it’s hilarious, because you have to either, read it for yourself, or better yet hear TOpoet perform. And honestly, if you haven’t, do it. You will thank me.I have never seen Duncan give a reading without being rapt. He has a relaxed presence and a wonderful voice. His comedic timing is deadly. And yes, I will admit he has even made me mist up a couple of times. But if you bring this up, I will deny it.

The good news is that if you love his work as much as I do, he has a lot of it, available for purchase. I myself have an “Armstrong” section in my library.

TOpoet also has a blog. You can reach it by typing http://www.topoet.ca

Check out his serialized gay, romantic, fantasy “Lazarus Kiss.” every Tuesday. He also posts reviews, poems and most importantly performance dates.

 

 

 

On The Edge Of 62

13 Apr

I don’t know about everybody else but I can’t seem to get a solid plot line going in my life.   Sometimes I feel like I just keep reliving the same twenty years, only I am older and each time I relive it, I seem to get closer to solving whatever it is, that will enable me to move forward.

I watched a documentary about Fran Leibovitz called “Public Speaking” and realized that we had some significant things in common.

  1. Neither of us could tell time until we were 9.
  2. We were both expelled from High School.
  3. We both had sudden, early success. (Hers of course was MUCH bigger than mine)
  4. We both had long periods where we were unable to write. Bigger than writer’s block, she called it “writer’s blockade.”

She attributed hers to an inability to deal with her success. I’m not sure what happened to me. I could describe the events, that led to me doing the creative equivalent to hiding under the bed, but I’m still trying to figure out why, instead of standing up and fighting, I hide.

Or I do something even worse, I pour every ounce of love, creativity and focus into a relationship with someone, that is so damaging to me, I am bereft of everything by the time it finally ends.

The last relationship I had was incredibly toxic, I knew it, but I couldn’t get out. And I didn’t tell my friends what was going on because I kept going back into the relationship and I didn’t want anyone to think I was a complete idiot. I lost some friends over this breakup because he is a very convincing victim, and I rarely come across as vulnerable.

During our last fight he was screaming at me, that he was a published writer (he just sold his first novel) and I never would be. (I do have a short story published in an award winning short story anthology) And that I would never be the writer he is.

You would think that I would just breeze through that break up and immerse myself in writing, or performing or… I hid in my bed. Poured my guts out to two amazing friends, who allowed me to cry, scream, rage and whimper until I had nothing left to say over and over again. And just when I thought I was healing, he would call one of my friends, or show up at my job or perform drunk at a slam I was competing in. The very thought of running into him makes me panic. I realized that I can’t go to some events now “just in case.”

The reason I am talking about this is threefold. I am talking about this because I need to get it out so that I really can be okay, instead of pretending to be okay. I am talking about this because it might help somebody to know they are not alone. I am talking about this because I learned some valuable lessons about myself because of it.

Things I learned in my 61st year.

  1. If you are an empathetic person, you are going to attract narcissists. If you were abandoned by a parent, you are going to be vulnerable to narcissists.
  2. If someone doesn’t love themselves, they can’t love you.
  3. It is infinitely more rewarding to rescue a cat or dog than a person.
  4. You may not be able to control what happens, but you can determine what you are going to take away long term.
  5. If you don’t have the emotional stamina to handle big goals, set tiny ones.
  6. Friends who tell you who to be, want to be friends with someone else.
  7. Don’t keep things in.
  8. Don’t pretend that everything is fucktabulous, when it sucks.
  9. There is always a way to maintain hope.
  10. I am perfectly comfortable being 10,000 miles away from home, in an environment where almost no one speaks my language or looks like me.
  11. If you allow yourself to be open to it, magical things happen, like being taken to China, or being given free passes to HotDocs.
  12. Sometimes you need to reach out, and keep reaching out.
  13. Everything changes especially when you are desperate for stability. That’s when you need to learn how to float.
  14. I am not happy if I am not growing.
  15. I am not happy being inert no matter how much I think I am.
  16. I have no discipline or ambition and I really need to change that or I will have serious regrets.
  17. I do not have nearly enough ink.

Now with all of that out of the way I can turn 62.

 

 

 

 

Danger Girl’s Top 10 Tips On How To FB without Going Crazy.

18 Dec
  1. Don’t comment on crazy no matter how many buttons it pushes.
  2. Block and block often.
  3. Don’t forget why you chose to be on FB and focus on that.
  4. Never post under the influence, you could end up married or back with your ex or buying a backhoe
  5. Remember that humour doesn’t always translate well so when in doubt pass. I have had the worst fights with friends when I thought they were being hysterically funny and they were being deadly serious.
  6. Make the real world your priority.
  7. Focus on Pages and people that help you grow or laugh or come to your gigs etc.
  8. There is no shame in deleting or editing.
  9. Sometimes a picture or a youtube speaks 1000 words.
  10. Think about how you want to represent before you post or comment.
15 Sep

pm-11-copy

This is me when I’m shot by a fucktabulous photographer like David Hawe. And yes in case you were wondering I really do dress like this whenever I can. These are my favourite earrings, not just because they are skulls, which is reason enough but because they are laser cut out of vinyl. I like to imagine the exact album was Paranoid by Black Sabbath.

If you go to http://www.thegayguidenetwork.com and look under the word EMPOWERMENT. You will find an article written by me called The Evolution of Danger Girl or How I Became the Superhero of my own life. I wish I could figure out how they got the bright red Danger Girl across the bottom.

 

 

 

 

The Evolution of Danger Girl

4 Sep

IMG_2313

I got this tattoo to remind myself never let fear stop me from enjoying life. And when I say fear, I am not talking about sensible caution like avoiding the shortcut down Crack Alley at 4 in the morning. I’m talking hopping on a plane by myself to go to NYC for the first time ever, or writing a one woman show and going back on stage for the first time in more than 15 years not knowing if I’d even have an audience.

It wasn’t easy. But it didn’t take me as long to slay the dragon as it took to create her.