OWLS be happy

He who is ashamed would like to force the world not to look at him, not to notice his exposure. He would like to destroy the eyes of the world.

Erik Erikson

There are times when it will go so wrong that you will barely be alive, and times when you realise that being barely alive, on your own terms, is better than living a bloated half-life on someone else’s terms.

Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

For those who follow me on Twitter (I am told you exist), you may wonder where Owls Be Happy When You Cry came from. It is a combination of my two favourite titles– Owls Do Cry and Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

The owl as the wise old sage. The hero. The all-knowing–from a distance–figure. I prefer the street smart raccoon. Janet Frame wrote Owls Do Cry. Here is a poem I wrote for her:


Well I had the meeting. I promised not to write about it but that seems silly now, there is nothing I could say that’s negative that I haven’t said before, and there are some positives. The positives, of course, are and never could be enough. But that has been what this has all been about–the courage to want even when

it will never be enough.

The difference is–now I am enough.

They weren’t happy but I didn’t cry. And they weren’t OWLS. Nor was I a raccoon.

For the first time in 19 years I met as an equal and as a human with Haven.

No, that will never be enough. And I am still saying what it wasn’t–still living up to my own standards. One leader used to tell me that my problem was that I had standards of integrity that no one could live up to.

OWLS: it is possible to live up to these standards! Many people do! I do!

-inadequate follower

-more than adequate, more than human, human

Dear Reader

Every moment alters what came before. We reach across layers of time for the memories of their memories.

James Gleick

It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.

Lewis Carroll

I realize that, although I have confessed this truth several times, I still live my life as if I were writing it, and write my life as if I were living it. This has many advantages and many downfalls. I want to write an ending. Intro, climax, resolution. As if even a one-night stand is so simple. As if I can put an entire history into a drawer–send it off to a publisher–move on.

Several people have told me that I shouldn’t even be meeting with Haven. I struggle to not defend. And not defend myself against the conditions put on me. Of course I never was planning on recording anything. If I asked you to agree not to kill me, I would only be worried for my safety if you weren’t offended.

The truth is? I offered to not write about it. I was desperate. I had been trying to be heard for… Well, you know. They added more to the list, not recognizing that as the complete act of sacrifice and surrender that it was. I have surrendered, I have forgiven, I have lost… I am the only one with conditions on my existence.

The constraint of writing something without writing about it is an interesting one. Believe it or not, I still look for silver linings. But I believe I have done my share of searching.

At least I no longer let someone else write it. If I were truly simply not responsible (as is claimed), I would have gone over everything I did that my gut told me not to, but a Haven leader told me I should do.

Reader, I haven’t mentioned one.

Reader, can you live a story and write it simultaneously?

I gave up on erasing it–that is a start. I fear there is no ending. Hallelujah-oh fuck.

But please do not lecture me on what I should do unless you were there from the beginning.

Hint–you weren’t. Nor was I. This is why I have gone backwards.

Reader, trust me, I have wanted to give you the exit sign you have grown to expect.

Apparently it lead nowhere.


I’ve always resisted anti-stigma campaigns and claims about writing as saving me from insanity, or healing me from trauma…

I’ve started to re-evaluate. Some of the same people who worship honesty when it’s in a top-tier literary magazine criticize it when it’s in person, on Twitter, in a blog…

Who does my silence benefit? What do I have to lose or gain? Whose comfort is this about?

That Amber Dawn and Evelyn Lau should be honest only when getting grants is absurd.

I cannot pretend my life has been normal then bleed onto a page. Healing is a full time job. Furthermore, writing is about more than top-tier publications. 

I tried to hide for a long time. Didn’t really work out so well for me. The lies you want me to spread, for whom are they meant to comfort? 

I’ve been far too ironic lately. Avoided the pain and the blank page. Avoided the mirror. Avoided that sometimes my invisible super anti-hero pajamas fail me, and are apparently never invisible enough.

I was invisible for a long time too.

Basically, you’re saying you want me to remain that way unless it’s published in The Malahat.

The Malahat cannot contain all this. That my life can only exist in The Malahat is not a premise I’m willing to accept.

There Is a Place

(title taken from Haven YouTube video)

This is a place is a place,

But is not a place.

A place is not a place

When you are in the place

While simultaneously


Elsewhere. I was homeless

When I showed up to this place

That is not a place. But being homeless

Was more of a place

Than this place ever was.


Let’s get one thing out of the way,

I am not a nature poet. I may not even be

A natural poet. I am most at home

In the homeless places. At least they never

Pretend to be something they’re not.


I have been out of place in this place

For years now. Picking 4 leaf clovers

Out of ashtrays. Wearing old places like badges

In the place where poetry is forbidden

And broken plates lie waiting

For the poet to come and say

This place is not a place

And nobody is forgiven.


But don’t take that out of place.

A homeless poet is only as wise

As the place she’s in.


Just beyond the place where North

& South road meet—That has never made sense

To me— I never took the road less traveled,

But always the one polluted with too many

Signs—East meets West, this place declares;

Why have one when you can choose

The best delusions of both?


A place that is North, South, East and West

Is only as wise as traveling the road

Where rocks fall at night and owls hoot

Knowing that a place is not a place

When it declares to contain all.


If I am only as wise as the poem I am in,

I may be in trouble. A place is not a poem,

When you get down to it. A poem can contain

East, West, North, South. But only by

Mocking itself, which this place never will.

Something (not) like a resolution

Every time I think I have come to a conclusion or resolution, I go backwards. So this time I will do something different, I will set a date.

September 12 is the hearing in Nanaimo for the investigation. I will probably want to comment on that. Then I will be done. Then I will move on, regardless of whether or not I have been heard (I doubt I will have been.)

If you think you’ve got the full story, you haven’t. If this blog has taught you anything, it should be that there is always more.

I do pay attention to blog stats but I got rid of Google Analytics ages ago because it got way too creepy and obsessive (I could pin down individuals sometimes, if their data was unique enough.)

One day the story will come out in a different form. One day I will not need invisible super anti-hero pajamas.

But I am starting to sound like I am coming to a resolution again.

For those of you who have supported me, I deeply appreciate it. For those of you who haven’t, no one will be able to say no one told you. I doubt you will again do a so-called work/study, or again let a kid do a phase, or again insult rape victims or racial minorities, but I know that you will continue on with other patterns because I am watching you do so now. And because change requires acknowledgment. Now where have I heard that before?

It has now been a year since I broke free, 9 months since I reported a counsellor, and 4 months since I went public. Seems like more than enough time to move on but remember, it was moving on from a lifetime.

I recall in detox when I was expecting too much, a worker would always ask me how long I had been clean. A few days, I would say. Then she would ask how long I had been using. This conversation happened during a few different detox visits, so the years changed… But always years compared to days.

My Haven history runs deeper than heroin. A year is really not very long.

For now, I have a new play to write.

I recall one of the quotes that started this–what else can you do? You can’t do anything else!

I guess we will find out.

PS on September 12, don’t let me say that I have a resolution. We know how that will go. Let’s call it an intermission. Sometime in the fall I will also hear from the new complaint task force, and discover the findings of the (separate) hearing/investigation, so it may be naive…

Just an intermission. That is all. Even I can handle that.


I was thinking today on what ultimately started this blog–the virgin journey and my first play.

I have been struggling to get to work on a new script. I have some good dialogue, interesting characters, but that’s about it.

Of course I would struggle with scripts. More so than any other format, a character has to really want something. Why would anyone dare want something?

This ties into the warped version of existentialism mentioned in my last post. If one focuses on what they want, personal growth is an unavoidable consequence. Haven views awareness as the goal, and what you want as stupid and irrelevant. I say the opposite. There is yet to be a well known and successful (unironic) story where the protagonist wants awareness and personal growth.

It also places people like me who have had hard lives in a position of automatic inferiority. Furthermore, it explains why people who attend Haven briefly then move on with their lives are successful, while those who stick around get stuck (from my observation.)

This topic started because I asked someone if it really is as easy as presented in Good Will Hunting. Overcoming attachment issues.

The truth is, I didn’t need to ask.

I don’t want to write a story with a protagonist driving off into the sunset as the credits play.

But what if I do?

How would a story where a protagonist strives for awareness end?

It wouldn’t end. They call that a virtue.

Wanting nothing is not a virtue, nor is navel-gazing, nor is insulting. Wanting to be successful is not an ego thing. Wanting to get out of the gutter doesn’t mean I want to be special, it means I want to be human. They clearly don’t want to get off their thrones.

Courage is in wanting something. Perhaps I have failed because I started with the virgin journey and somehow got sidetracked into hero territory–to defeat the enemy.

This enemy cannot be defeated.

The point of existentialism is that there is no meaning in the world, and we have to create our own meaning. Not in playing some sort of master game, sitting on a throne and mocking all those people who were brave enough to want something in life.

On writing

You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.

Anne Lamott

That is all.