In The Winner Stands Alone, Paulo Coelho writes “life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.” I’ve never had any trouble at all with the former; the latter, however, seems to be less an occasional test and more the natural order of things in my life.
Even considering this, the last months have been completely out of control. It hasn’t been a flood of unmitigated challenges and hardships, though there have certainly been a metric fuckton of those; its been everything. There have been new jobs and crazy opportunities and dramatic changes; I’ve written and travelled and deepened friendships. There’s been so much excitement and joy. I’ve also been dragged underwater deeper and more often in the last six months than I have in the last several years combined.
I’ve moved to Montreal. My relationship to Toronto is like that of John Constantine to London: we are deeply in love. This city has been home in my heart since I was thirteen and spent a barely-supervised summer here while my mom worked, cutting deep grooves into my feet from ill-fitting sandals and getting chased out of the Condom Shack. When I was a little older, my friends and I would drive up after school just to go to the Silver Snail and have a coffee, then drive home through the night to be in class the next day. Moving here when I was almost 25 and getting divorced helped reorder and redefine my life; this is where my heart is and my friends are. Leaving again, even for a while, is one of the hardest things I’ve done. I am comforted, however, because at lease the move is for spectacularly awesome reasons.
I’m starting a PhD. I know. I KNOW. I’ve talked about leaving academia the way a lot of people might about getting out of jail. It’s not just that time has passed and I’ve gotten soft and forgotten the horrors (remember being so tired you hallucinated rabbits were running alongside the car, Zed? Remember the lung infection?). But. BUT. I’m starting a PhD in Interdisciplinary studies under the Humanities department at Concordia. I’m working between English, Journalism and Sociology with an indescribably badass team of advisors. I’m going to be doing a project on video games, feminist criticism and digital communities, and the adversarial relationship between critics and gamers. I get to work with the Technoculture, Art and Games Lab and Ampersand Laboratory. It is going to be so much fun.
A draft of the novel is almost done. Holy shitballs, it’s almost there. I am teetering on the very edge of having something resembling a workable draft, which I can ten tear into and start revising. I recently worked through a troubling bit of late plot fuckery and feel elated. The goal right now is to try and finish the draft before school starts in September, which would be all great and fine if things stopped happening for five minutes.
I joined a game writing group. Pixelles, a mega rad organization devoted to women in games, has started a writers’ group, and I dove on it. The first meeting went swimmingly and I’m looking forward to bringing work to an awesome group of women who actually know what the hell they’re doing for solid critique, rather than bumbling along alone.
Everything is also terrible. In the midst of everything bright and good that is also the impetus for all this life upheaval, there have been a lot of very hard things. My partner’s father is extremely ill and has been in the hospital since February; where we once thought he’d be home long before we moved away, it’s clear his recovery is still a long way in coming. So many of my dear friends seem to be wrestling with challenges and demons, and I wish I could be closer, offer more present support. There are chronic illnesses being fought and major life structure changes on the horizon. Most of these stories aren’t mine alone and so I feel really uncomfortable writing about them here, but suffice it to say that it has been hard, and constant, and not letting up.
There’s more, so much more, that is good and terrible and wonderful and shocking. I’m working through still how to write about most of it — hell, I’m working through how to live through most of it — but it will come. Everything is always happening at once. And it’s going to be amazing.