waiting on the front porch

she just stood there on the front porch waiting for her will to come and get her she was packed she had a suitcase full of noble intentions she had a map and a straight face hell bent on reinvention she was learning about please and huge humilities then one day she looked around her and everything up til then was showing and she wondered how did i get here without even knowing where i was going? ~ani difranco

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Location: montreal, quebec, Canada


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

'"You are acting like rabbits*," he says. "It is time to act like wolves," and these are the perfect words. I can almost hear the backs of the men around me stiffen and the hairs on their neck bristle and it is exactly this, to be the hunter and not the hunted, that will keep me alive. This law is the same law of the bush. Turn fear and panic into the sharp blade of survival.'
-Joseph Boyden, Three Day Road

i have been thinking a lot about perspectives lately, and how words have the power to not only describe, but create reality. i am the first to admit that some times (more often than not) the words i use to shape my truth are harsher than they need to be: i have bad eyesight, my left side is weak, i am selfish, i suffer from depression, i am constantly blocked...these are some of the phrases i use with regularity. i think in the beginning i used them to define how much i'd survived, but now i see how they are damaging my growth, holding me back.

i hate being called "a victim". it's the proverbial red flag waved in front of me-as-bull, and the term ignites my infamous temper like nothing else. tonight, waiting for a friend to meet me at the metro, i remembered the last person to call me a victim to my face - that cop in downtown east-side vancouver.
i wish i could link back to that post, but i can't, so a quick synopsis: i was travelling in b.c., and it was something like my third night from home. i'd forgotten my keys to my aunt's place, and knowing how much it would piss her off to be woken up, i grabbed a cab downtown, to try and find a hostel where i could crash for the night. the cab dropped me off on cordova, a block away from east hastings, which is one of the worst neighbourhoods for heroin addicts and prostitutes in the world. in the confusion, i walked there to try and find a cab home, where two things happened: 1) sketchy guy in unmarked car pulls up to curb to offer me a "lift"; 2) the cops pull up, sirens blaring, to arrest the two of us for shady dealings.
once it became apparent that i wasn't a hooking junkie, bad cop informed me that i had "victim written all over my face." at which point, i gave him a piece of my mind, telling (read: yelling - i was tired, it was 3:30 am, i was defending my honour) him it was no wonder that people didn't trust cops, etc., etc.
it's a wonder that i didn't get arrested. or beaten. in the back of my mind, as i was mouthing off, i was fully expecting both.

tonight, on the way to the bus stop, a creepy thing happened. i was walking along, all glittered up, when i heard this honk behind me. not even thinking twice, i looked over my shoulder, and the car whose horn it was slowed down to a complete stop in the road beside me. i stopped too. the car, and the driver in it, didn't make a move. with the way the sun was slanted, i couldn't see his face, so i put my hands on my hips, and deliberately said, in a loud voice,
"what? what the fuck do you want?" and the guy, who turned into some old man with white hair and an unbuttoned shirt, put up his hand to me, waved, and drove off.
i felt threatened. i felt like i had been sized up, tapped like a melon, and randomly discarded. it was the strangest feeling.

yesterday, met took me on an excursion to rid me of the depression that had been lurking for a few days. we had a number of destinations in mind; one of the places where we ended up was a bookstore. i wandered the aisles in that book-stupor i always get- oh, the pages smell so good; that's a really cool font; they have pablo neruda? and had a few finalists - met, at one point, basically took me aside and told me i should buy something. at the time, i was so not in the mood - it was one of those funks that shopping therapy was definitely not going to cure, but also - he was tempting me to buy books. it was fair to assume that i'd capitulate.
one of the finalists was three day road. honestly, i wavered before i brought it to the counter - do i really want a story about two men, fighting in world war one? how up my alley is that, really? and i know it's a silly bias, but normally i like to support women authors - but something in me stilled that impulse. i'd been hearing great things about the novel, and boyden himself, and i'd been picking it up with the intention of buying it for months.
so i bought it, with met's discount card, and brought it home. and have been falling deeper into the story ever since.

and there was that one section of the novel, the quote that started this post, that really stopped me in my tracks. the metaphor of the rabbit versus the wolf stayed with me until i got home to write about it. i know i am strong, even if sometimes i undermine my own strength. and if i recognize that i am a warrior, a wolf - then why do i insist on labelling myself a rabbit? why do i make myself more timid, more insecure, more bad, through the choices of words that i make?

no more. i will not be a victim; i will be a survivor. i will not have a weak left side; i will have an unique body. i will not have writer's block; i will blast through it. it will be a challenge, to invert my thinking and accept and honour the person i am, but i am committed to doing it.

and if you are so inclined, have you been (unintentionally) labelling yourself a rabbit? how does this affect your reality?

*some people who read this post may love rabbits. it was not my intention to offend.


Blogger Jessie said...

I learn a lot from my wolf dog about being fully alert and in the moment. She teaches me how to live life fully. But, truth be told, I know that half of the time she's just a big baby. There's a little bit of rabbit in every wolf.

And as for us, that's what makes us human. You've made an interesting point and sometimes I wonder what my own over-dramatic language does to my self-identity. hmmm...I guess it's a matter of accepting the good, the bad, and the ugly--then doing the best you can with it.

Great post Pixie. You've got me thinking.

10:07 p.m.  
Blogger Spiky Zora Jones said...

Hey Pixie, I was a victim at 14 and a wolf I became. Each day I became more the wolf till eventually the rabit was no more. You would not want to know me back then, but then maybe you would. It took some time for me to get back to that girl I once was, though not fully. It's okay to have a little of the rabbit inside the wolf. It's not the wolf inside you that makes you a survivor...it's the rabbit.
I don't know, tell me I'm full of crap...maybe I am. I'm still here though, a survivor. Who would have guessed that, not me. later baby doll.

9:46 a.m.  
Blogger Egan said...

I was probably a rabbit in my early 20's. I'm happy to have put those years behind me.

Your incident on East Hastings sounds awful. I know that area well. Rumor has it, the postal code for East Hastings is the poorest and the weathliest in all of Canada. Very bizarre to have the opposites in one postal code.

Please, give male writers a fair shake.

10:44 a.m.  
Blogger bee said...

i like this whole "rabbits inside of the wolf" line of thinking that we're going on - i tend to agree, i think...anyways, i would HIGHLY recommend three day road. it's fabulous.

egan, your comment inspired a long discussion about affirmative action today. i LOVE authors of both genders, but what i meant by my "bias towards women authors" or, however i phrased it, was simply that faced with the choice between male or female at the counter, i'm more apt to pick the female one, because i see how underrepresented they are.

12:32 p.m.  
Blogger Claire said...

Hey sweetie! As a fellow survivor and non-victim, let me just say how awesome I thought this post was! I love how you're always able to face up to things so honestly and fearlessly...you are such a strong and virile writer!

Stay safe!

2:31 p.m.  
Blogger Egan said...

Vraiment? My comment about male authors really inspired a long discussion? I'm impressed. What was the outcome of the conversation? Pro or con affirmative action? I'm pro. A plus tard!

9:09 p.m.  

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