“I gradually realised that I’m just not the muse type. Girls like me don’t inspire people. I’m just not muse material,I finally thought sadly on my 18th birthday, looking at a world wholly non-inspired by me. “I’m not a princess. I’m not a muse. Just being me isn’t enough. I’m going to have to dosomething instead.“—Caitlin Moran,“How To Be A Woman”

It’s been a little while since I’ve felt inclined to post over here. Chalk it up to the winter blues or simply a lack of anything truly different and interesting happening in my life, but blog topics have been few and far between. Sometimes, it comes to transpire in life that you have many thoughts and feelings you could express, but most are things you’re obligated to keep to yourself for one reason or another. When that happens, I notice that my blog gets a little quieter, but it’s easier for me to renew my habit of writing three pages a day in my journal, or to actually send letters to people.

Speaking of letters, I started out my day today by reading a beautifully handwritten letter from Randy of Narrative Urge, a project that’s garnered a lot of local publicity. He’s dedicated himself to writing a letter a day, each one to a different person around the world. It’s a little bit like a daily journal, I suppose, chopped up into bits and pieces and scattered around the world. It would be a very cool project for him to get back copies of every letter sent when the year is out, along with any responses from those he’s written, and turn them into a published anthology. Because I’ve recently become fascinated with the idea of human disconnection in a world that’s obsessed with making connection easier and more instantaneous, I think this is a wonderful idea on Randy’s part, and am happy he took time out to include me.

While I haven’t been the most productive blogger or worker bee, I have been keeping up with some reading and writing endeavours. I’ve completed the first draft of “Sophisticated Nothing”, a compilation of memoirs and short fictional pieces I originally intended to submit for publication as a short chapbook. The chapbook draft is complete, and I may send it off just to see if it is approved by a publisher and the idea is worth exploring. However, after I started work on it, I realised it had potential to be a much longer collection of short stories and personal memoirs. The concept behind it is, as mentioned above, about connection in an increasingly disconnected world. Every story is set in a different bar, restaurant, coffeeshop, or cafe, because these are public places where people interact, often forgetting they’re in a public place. They’ve also been inspirational places for people interested in observing people, or having exchanges with strangers. Once I thought of the overarching theme of the collection, I realised there were more stories to be told than could fit into a 50-page chapbook. However, I have a habit of allowing my projects to get too big, and therefore, never get finished. So, I’ve been debating what to do with my creative vision. I don’t really need another project that serves to make no money from distracting me from what should be a main goal in life—making money. *laughs*

I enjoyed reading two short but extremely witty books over the past two weeks. Both are by women around my age, and are part memoir, part sociological insight on subjects such as feminism, travel, relationships, independence, and self-esteem. It’s always interesting to me to read books by people who started off as bloggers, columnists, or writers for less-than-mainstream publications. They have different and more authentic voices—the kind Elizabeth Wurtzel and Alexandra Robbins got panned for before it became common for journalists to write about “myself and people like me”. It is still a style of writing that is reviewed quite harshly and described as “self-indulgent”, especially when penned by a female author, or one that can land you in the hot seat on Oprah if it turns out you made a lot of the colourful details up. I don’t really care; self-indulgent or not, fictional or not, I enjoy the kind of in-your-face style of writing that today’s version of diarists and essayists are putting out there. So, when many of them were on sale for $1.99 through Amazon, it was a good day.

I started with Caitlin Moran’s “How To Be A Woman”, which has been panned so harshly by critics and readers above the age of 40 with such passion, I determined I’d probably love it. (What are the chances that I’m not going to identify with a controversial book about feminism and being a woman in today’s society, written by a snarky British woman around my age?). I actually loved the book, and I don’t know what people were going on and on about, because there’s very little that’s controversial or shocking in what she has to say. Oh, wait. No. She talks about having an abortion and not feeling too upset over the whole ordeal. And she uses the word “vagina”. I guess that’s “controversial”.

A music journalist for Wired magazine back in the day, Caitlin Moran is the non-conformist cool chick who isn’t afraid to discuss how uncool and insecure she’s always felt about her place in the world. Moran’s stories alternate between being funny, heartfelt, and painful, and sometimes all at the same time. Since that’s rather how life is, I’d say it’s a successful book. It’s easy to read, and I don’t know the last time I used the “bookmark” feature on my Kindle so often, because she’s a quotable woman. I look forward to reading her other book soon, but I’ve added her to my favourites list for the time being.

After that, I moved on to Rachel Shukert’s “Everything Is Going To Be Great”, another happily settled thirty-something writing about her decade or so of finding herself. While Moran is a cool British feminist who hangs out with guitarists in drug-induced fits of being an asshole, Shukert is an American Jewish girl from a wealthy, suburban family that wants to live life outside of the “good girl” role. Needless to say, her exposure to the world without the security blanket of money, family, a supportive relationship, or even the comforts of living in your home country is not a seamless one. There are many points when I am reminded how the best part of the book is the ironic title, although it really isn’t. Even though all the sucky things that might befall someone traveling abroad seem to happen to this one rather lost and directionless girl, things always somehow get back on track and for a while, do indeed appear to be great.

Shukert doesn’t make any pretense about wanting to be a feminist or help a younger generation of women through the painful and funny journey of self-discovery, while Moran writes about these topics outright and seems to not only want to give you a dose of reality, but shock you in the process. These are clearly two very different types of girls, but the common denominator is they’re around the same age, both educated, both great writers, and end up finding a sense of self and stability in a chaotic world. If you’re looking for reading material for your next flight, either or both of these will entertain you for quite some time.

Although I myself haven’t done anything interesting in the past month (first, The Guy I Am Currently Dating was sick for 10 days, and then on the day he recovered, I got sick for 10 days, so February wasn’t the most action-packed of months.), I’ve used some of the down-time to be entertained by and proud of some of the cool things friends of mine have been doing. Dave Leach, a friend of ours for many years via my social group, appeared on the Jeopardy! Tournament Of Champions, and made it through to the semi-final rounds. After winning 6 times in 2012, it was really a fantastic way for Dave to put a cap on his Jeopardy! experience, and we’re all very proud of him!

Later in the month, long-time blogger-artist-friend-and-fellow-Philadelphian Gina Martinelli appeared on Lisa Ling’s Our World” with her rather colourful family. Gina is one of the voices over at Polyskeptic, and they all seem pretty happy about their appearance on the show. They were one of three families profiled about modern-day polyamory, and presented an interesting look at poly marriages and families. outside of the traditional primary/secondary partner paradigm that most people I know happen to embrace. (I’m still personally attached to a little more compartmentalization than these more “familial” relationships allow, because as it turns out, I’m remarkably private for an open and unconventional person who keeps a blog on the Internet. :P )) I have a number of friends who are actors that I’ve had opportunity to see on TV and in the movies, but somehow, it’s a little different when people are just being themselves in real life on camera.

Although I personally have been on the more introverted side of things, and am patiently waiting for the happy 70-degree days to arrive, I have more than a little travel wanderlust. I really just want a bag of cash and someone to watch my dog, and I’ll take off and see friends and family I’ve been missing over the past year or so. :P We’ve had some fun events, including dressing up and partying at The Shelter on more than one occasion, but sometimes, you want adventure and spontaneity that happens to lie outside of your Metro area.

Yes, a life of freedom and not being terribly concerned with money would make me a much happier person. I might even blog more. Perhaps that could be an Indiegogo campaign. :P *laughs*

Finally, if you do not possess a copy of my 2012 poetry anthology, “Ophelia’s Wayward Muse”, you can win one on Goodreads. Simply click below and enter the drawing. You’ll received an autographed copy with a personalised dedication. :)


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ophelia’s Wayward Muse

by Alayna-Renee Vilmont

Giveaway ends March 17, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

I don’t have much of interest to write about these days, and I blame reality TV. In particular, the excitement of Big Brother premiering on Thursday, and managing to get me sucked into the drama much more quickly than usual. Despite the absence of Rachel Reilly, I’m entertained to see another of my all-time favourite players, Janelle Pierzina, return as one of the “mentors” (who are essentially experienced team captains.) The other “mentors” wouldn’t have been my first choices: Britney from Season 12, who makes short people look annoying and mean; Mike “Boogie” from Season 2, who seems to have no problem with the fact that everyone in the house knows him as “that douchebag guy who isn’t Dr. Will”; and Dan, the religious football coach who won season 10, but is so unmemorable that I had to look him up to remember who he was, and I still don’t recall a single thing about his season.

Of course, all the “mentors” they’ve picked are people who seem to have settled down and started lives out of the spotlight of reality TV, are married, have kids, or both. This makes for pretty limited drama in the house, since there are 4 people who are married, two who are gay (but of the opposite sex), and two who barely seem old enough to hold hands in the hammock. I think the producers really wanted no “showmances” this season.

As I remarked to The Guy I Am Currently Dating (yes, he watches some reality TV, too…one of the few entertainment-related things we have in common.), it would have been a more interesting choice to put some of the more difficult/controversial characters on the show as “mentors”, and watch the general instability erupt. I wonder why, instead, they took in in the other direction.They seem to have created an environment that seems almost too peaceful and lacking in drama and impending emotional meltdowns.

They’ve also completely given up on the idea of casting random, average people unaffiliated with the world of reality TV, as one of the new contestants is an L.A. blonde who’s made appearances on The Girls Next Door, and the related Playboy reality TV spinoffs, and another is the brother of Russell Hantz from Survivor. Apparently, he intended to keep this a secret, but it’s really not a smart move when you look exactly like a guy who’s been infamous for being a huge asshole on TV for three years, and come from the same state. It’s impossible when you have returning CBS reality show members who have been around long enough to know Russell Hantz. At this point, CBS needs to give that family their own show. It can’t be any worse than the Kardashians, and well, plenty of people are still watching that.

Despite the fact that Big Brother just isn’t quite what it used to be, it still has a way of sucking you into their all-absorbing lives (which, in reality, are not more interesting than whatever you’re doing at that moment), and making you watch the late night feed on Showtime just because you wonder what’s happening. Usually, the answer is nothing, but it doesn’t matter. There are a lot of people with insomnia and a voyeuristic need for drama, and we’re still going to stay up and watch.

One of the interesting things about the Showtime After Dark version of Big Brother is you get to see endless promos for other Showtime shows. Most of them, I’m never going to watch, like Dexter and The Real L Word, but I’m a Weeds fan, and don’t mind being reminded to watch it on Sundays. Also, there’s a new show premiering called “Polyamory: Married And Dating”. While I haven’t seen the show yet, and it only seems to be focused on married couples pursuing lifestyles involving non-monogamy, I kind of applaud them for showing the various types of relationships out there, and how they do and do not work. One storyline focuses on a triad (a married couple with a shared partner), another on a couple that is in an open marriage (but each has separate partners), another on a couple with a guy who is exerting pressure on his spouse to share partners, and a group that lives together in Big Love commune style, with everyone forming a giant extended family.

(Note:This t-shirt is pretty funny. And, yes, you can buy it, if you are so inclined. It’s on sale here.)

Unfortunately, Showtime will probably turn the show into a largely sex-and-drama fueled reality show (much like The Real L Word has done for lesbians) to get viewers, rather than showing examples of the positive and negative aspects of polyamory, and bring awareness of all types of non-monogamous partnerships in the process, but it’s an interesting idea.

I’m pretty convinced that Showtime’s master plan is to turn any alternative lifestyle choice into either a reality show or a black comedy, one taboo subject at a time. Serial killers, drug dealers, weird folks from California, the guy who played Joey on “Friends”, single lesbians, poly couples, and “Big Brother” make for a pretty interesting line-up, which is why I ditched HBO, but kept Showtime! *laughs*

Work has had a tremendous slowdown, and while I should be using the time to be happy about chilling out a little more and having time to work on my own creative projects, I’ve found myself feeling kind of tired and a little bummed. I don’t know if it’s lack of direction and having a concrete task on which to focus each day—I know there are plenty of things, both productive and relaxing, to do with my free time—or it’s just me feeling a little worn out physically. (This is my first summer following the scary and disastrous heatstroke and associated problems of last summer, and it hasn’t been the easiest. Some days are great, and others very challenging. Migraine, vertigo, and heat intolerance seem to be the main issues with which I still struggle.) It could also be that Mercury retrograde is back today, and that always wants to throw everything in life…especially my sense of emotional stability and “life is fun/everything’s going to be OK” out of whack.

On the up side, I’m almost 1/6th of the way towards reaching my goal towards funding my very first book project, Ophelia’s Wayward Muse. I only have 25 days left and it seems like kind of a long way to go, so if you’re the kind of friend who likes me enough to buy me a drink when we get together, consider donating to this project instead! :) You can make a donation of any shape and size (well, maybe not octagonal) through my project’s Kickstarter link. With all the people I know, there’s no way I shouldn’t be able to reach my goal! ;) Thank you to the friends and readers that have supported me thus far..you guys are awesome!!:)

It seems like the weekend has very much gotten away from me…but it’s Sunday, which means time for relaxation and reality television!! I wish weekends were, in fact, just a little longer…*laughs*

This is really just a re-post for those who don’t keep up with me on Facebook, but it’s time to pimp out another awesome blog. :)

Since it seems I don’t have that many close friends who aren’t either scientists, atheists, or part of the poly community…or a combination of all or some of the above…much love should be given to this blog. :)

Plus, Gina = totally talented, awesome Philly chick.

In other news, I am slightly improved today, but still sick. Not terribly enjoyable. :( I am, however, going to drag myself out to appreciate art and general literary awesomeness with some friends…even if it means I’ll be back home in bed with my stuffed animals by 11 PM.

Life gets more and more exciting as I get older and older….*laughs*

Dreamlike Nymph
If the world of dreams truly is an interesting look into a person’s subconscious, a way to explore one’s deeper self, I’m a case study any Freudian would love. My dreams are so vibrant and real that they’re often a second life—or, since there’s a video game that’s already claimed title to that one—a third life. They run the gamut from realistic dreams that seem no different from anything that could happen to me in everyday life, often leaving me confused and disoriented when I realise those things didn’t happen, to fantastic, movie-quality scenarios complete with plots and well-developed characters (I once dreamed up an entire movie where a companion and I were forced to hide and then flee from Nazis that were pursuing us, all within a maze of an industrial-looking building.). I’ve dreamed up Law & Order episodes from beginning to end, as if I were watching them on television. Sometimes, I am a character in both sorts of dreams. Sometimes, I’m an observer, the omniscient third party watching or telling the story. I’ve had multiple dreams where I see/experience my own death, only from the third-person perspective, so that waking up upon dying (as happens in most death-related dreams) doesn’t always happen, allowing me a glimpse of this “after death” world. The thing I’ve taken away from these dreams is that death is not painful or scary; the moment when it occurs, my death in the dream world, I feel a sense of numbness, of everything draining from me, followed by a sense of lightness and non-being.

Again, a more spiritual or psychologically-intuitive person would probably have much to say about that.

Sometimes, DreamLand is populated by people I know, and the emotional attachments and feelings I have toward them reflected by my dreams. Other times, particularly when the story does not involve me, my dreams are populated by people and places I don’t know. This led to a period of me believing I had “psychic dreams”, as I’ve had a number of dreams involving scary and unfamiliar scenarios which then happen within a day or two of the dream. My earliest remembrance of a “psychic dream” was as an adolescent, dreaming about being stuck on an amusement park ride that wouldn’t stop…it just kept going faster and faster until it crashed. The next afternoon, a mishap happened at an area amusement park where a rollercoaster malfunctioned, killing 13 people and shutting down the park temporarily.

One thing that bothers me is that I will often have dreams about those with whom I have personal relationships, and it’s difficult for me to tell the difference between what is some form of intuition or future-prediction, and what is simply a reflection of my subconscious. I can clearly recall sleeping next to an ex-boyfriend, and every single time, I’d have a dream in which he’d cheat on me or betray my trust. In reality, he was doing exactly that, many times, though my conscious self didn’t discover it until months later. I also had a recurring dream when living with another ex-boyfriend, in which we were not together, but I could see his life with another girl, a person I’d never met, but I could describe in exacting detail. I’d jokingly told him my mind had found his perfect woman, because every time, she was the same person. After we broke up, he sent me a message telling me he’d met someone, and the odd thing about that was the resemblance to the girl in my dreams when we were together.

I often have dreams in which the Guy I Am Currently Dating and I experience some sort of discord. This is almost always based upon him blatantly ignoring me, physically walking away from me, or abandoning me for someone else. It makes sense that, on a subconscious level, this is a concern of mine. He is the type of person who hides his feelings rather than engage in conflict, is often busy with a number of obligations, and with whom I have a special connection, but frequently question whether or not it is that “soulmate” thing my idealistic self searches for. (although my rational self does not believe in, and hence the belief that I am essentially a non-monogamous person, always in need of a different person to fulfill different pieces of human connection that are dear to me.) I have had these dreams, of being painfully ignored or abandoned in different scenarios, almost since the start of our relationship.

Last night, I had a dream in which we were at an event, filled with people. There was a lovely woman in a long white dress—a person who does in fact exist—who was speaking at the event. I had completed something I had to do, when I spotted The Guy I Am Currently Dating talking to this woman. I went over to approach them, and they hurriedly rushed away together, pretending not to see or hear me, although I know they did.

In my dream, I followed them, and eventually found them, lying on a secluded grassy hill, talking to one another in that close but not necessarily physical way that people share when they are not yet lovers, or have a past history that’s difficult to avoid. Despite the fact that all they were doing was talking, the intimacy of their body language upset me, and I confronted them.

The Guy I Am Currently Dating looked guilty, and said nothing, while the woman accused me of overreacting, being irrational and crazy. I remember telling her, “Look, I don’t know what’s going on with you guys, but you can have him, because I deserve better”. When she insisted that she didn’t know what I was talking about and nothing was going on, I said, “I’ve seen the way he looks at you, and I’m so sick of the way he talks about you, like you’re this perfect ideal woman that can do no wrong. Whether you see it or not, I deserve someone who looks at ME that way, who talks about ME that way. I’m so tired of not being as perfect as you.”

I walked away, and neither of them followed me, confirming, in my mind, that what I said was the truth.

The woman in the dream is a real person, although not one that either I or The Guy I Am Currently Dating have regular contact with. She is pretty, extremely intelligent, and has a number of interests and a general self-sufficiency that make her a very attractive person. In the past, The Guy I Am Currently Dating has admitted to having a crush on her, and it has, on numerous occasions, irritated the hell out of me that whenever he discusses her or anything she’s done, it’s in terms of the-brilliant-loveable-person-who-can-do-no-wrong….whereas I often feel that things I do are taken for granted, or simply not understood or appreciated.

This dream confuses me, because I don’t know if it’s about simple jealousy, or about a petulant “You’re not my soulmate, and you don’t understand me or admire me in the way I need” outburst. Lately, I’ve been struggling a little more than usual with my committment to permanently embracing a monogamous lifestyle, particularly after a long conversation with a poly-oriented person with whom I significantly connected in the past, and who does understand the struggle of not being able to find everything you need from others within one person, but not being able to cultivate other relationships for fear of crossing boundaries.

Yet, in my dream, I was not willing to allow The Guy I Am Currently Dating to cultivate a relationship with someone who might be closer to his ideal mate in certain ways, and was upset by his attempts to do that, even on a spiritual or intellectual level. This tells me I am both expecting and offering monogamy in our relationship, even if I fear it is selfish and may make us both less happy.

Or, it was just a dream about something random where my boyfriend pissed me off. As I’ve said, it’s hard to tell which dreams are meaningful, and which are just there to add drama and entertainment to my life. :P