As I walked towards my school today, I had a moment, about two blocks from the university doors. I was stopped by a light, waiting to cross the street. There were no other people around, save for a young looking girl wearing a hijab standing on the edge of the crosswalk waiting to walk the way I had just been.

As we stood, a police cruiser rolled up. We watched as a man struggled to get out of the car, as he straightened, it was clear that he was a big man. Almost without thinking, I reached into my pocket, curled my hand tightly around my phone.

He sauntered around the car to the sidewalk, began walking towards the other girl. He saw me watching, nodded. I pulled my phone out of my pocket. He was now walking directly for the other girl, I met her eyes for a second, watched her shoulders hunch in, her lips become a tight line. It is 9/11, I remembered with a pang, a dangerous day to wear a headscarf of any kind. The man’s hand went to his baton. My finger hovered over the film button.

I felt my feet shift to run, either toward or away from the scene I’m still not sure. He passed by her, almost brushing her skin, turned the corner, walked away. I watched the tension roll out of her shoulders. The light changed. We crossed the street. Me with my hand still clutched around my phone like a lifeline, her with her head held high.

I still can’t breathe, there’s a tight coil of panic in my chest. I was probably just being paranoid, but what if I wasn’t? This is the world we live in. I’ve always distrusted cops, but I’d never have thought to film before this summer. I would have never thought of my phone as an extra layer of protection. Even up here, far away from Fergusen, I haven’t forgotten, I hope I won’t ever.

Working as an intern for a not-for-profit organization

I know I have not really posted anything original in a while here, and while part of that has been my own laziness, it is also due to the fact that I have been very busy with my communications internship.

I am still not sure exactly how I feel about work experience requirements in academic programs. I think it’s a great idea to give students some real-life experience so that they know if the career they have been working towards is actually something they want to pursue, but I also think that it is ludicrous for students put in as much work as they do in exchange for nothing but experience in many cases, even if they are expected to work so frequently that they are unable to do any other kind of work on the side. Internships are often a full time job and therefore a luxury item that many people might not have the resources to pursue. I was lucky enough to have an extremely flexible employer that let me work from home often and was amiable to me having an outside life, even with looming important deadlines. Some people are not so lucky and have to try to balance it all.

That is where working for a not-for-profit came into play for me. I felt good about devoting my time to an organization that really needed my expertise, and did not have the budget or resources to bring in someone to do the much-needed work. Lousie Rehling notes in her work on internships that students who worked in nonprofit settings were exposed “to a wider range of writing forms, challenge[d] with enhanced expectations for initiative and expertise, and provide[d] with more meaningful work that has extended consequences”(p. 81). I am not sure if the projects I worked on were any more meaningful by any means than projects other students worked on, but because it was an organization I cared about and I felt like I was being truly helpful and not just given busy work, I definitely appreciated my placement more than I might have if filling a role in a more corporate setting.

Additionally, being placed with the ADR Institute of Alberta has afforded me a lot of opportunity to get quite familiar with Alternative Dispute Resolution practices and theory. These skills are becoming necessary in workplaces all over the world, according to Roche and Teague’s 2012 research on practical implications of ADR skills. What’s more, it seems to be working. The research found that organizations reported a direct relation to the implementation of ADR programs and higher productivity, lower conflict-related costs, more adaptive and creative organizations, and higher morale and commitment amongst employees (pp. 451-452). This means that as workplaces move forward, more and more companies are likely to adapt ADR styles, and that I will already have a highly valued skill and training (I have been offered a place in some of the group’s classes as thanks for my work) that can only benefit me in my future career goals, no matter what they might be.

Overall, I think the placement itself went well. I got to spend lots of time editing, which is what I love to do, and spend lots of time working on my professional writing, which is both something my portfolio lacks and a something I needed to work on. There were times when I wanted to pull my hair out due to communication errors, but everyone I worked with directly was super friendly and almost unreasonably patient with me, despite the age and experience gaps between us. Both the instructors that were brought in for consultation and the people I worked with on a day-to-day basis were very respectful of the skills I brought to the table, and patient with me as I fumbled when explaining myself.

It was also interesting to work with  such a strong team dynamic. While a project might be headed by an individual, everyone works together to make sure that the final product is exactly what the organization needs, from a professional and a personal standpoint, which might just be another attribute of working with a not-for-profit. Everyone I worked with really cares about the organization and the final product it represents, and that is refreshing and lovely and I cannot recommend a positive workplace environment like it enough.


 

For more information on ADR in the workforce and the positive impact of nonprofit internships please see the following sources:

References

Rehling, L. (2000). Doing good while doing well: Service learning internships. Business Communication Quarterly. 63(1), (77-89). Accession Number: 2974725, Retrieved from: ebscohost.com.ezproxy.macewan.ca

Roche, W. K., & Teague, P. (2012). The growing importance of workplace ADR. The International Journal of Human Resource Management. 23(3), 447-458. doi:10.1080/09585192.2012.641084

you

I hope you find someone who makes you laugh in bed, who warms your soul with delight, and who covers you with toe-curlingly wonderful waves of pleasure.

I hope you find someone with which you can spend rainy days curled around as surely as your fingers curl around a mug of hot tea.

I hope you find someone who is never afraid to hold your hand, whose smiles never fail to warm you, whose voice feels like sweet honey, whose touch is self-assured and gentle.

I hope you find someone to spend your days adventuring with, who is delighted with the prospect of going anywhere with you, whether just for a walk around the block or on a trip of a larger kind.

I hope you find someone with which talking come naturally, where the words spill over no matter how you feel, but that you don’t rush to fill the silence when it forms naturally.

I hope you find someone who fits you as comfortably as your favourite sweater, and smells just as good if not better.

This is my hope for you.

* this piece originally appeared on my tumblr. It is appearing here for cataloging purposes.

I wanted to write a story, but I couldn’t find the words.

So I wrote this instead.

I have a weakness.
The thing I’m housed in, the thing I am apart of whether I like it or not, is not in optimal condition.
I’ve always cared about my mind a lot more than it.
And I’ve not done my best to take care of it.
It has many flaws.

I have been taught from a young age to fear my body. Fear what it can do, what it means, to cover it up. Occasionally, to be ashamed of it.
Yet conversely, to care about it, not to shame it, not to express dissatisfaction with it.

I have had my body insulted.
I have injured it many times. Broken bones, ripped muscles, sprains, strained joints, bruises, cuts, scrapes, some of which have never fully healed.

I have been told that because of my body no one could ever love me.
I have been told that because it is a female body that I am weak.
I have been told that because it is not the ideal female body that I am worthless, that I am lesser, that I don’t deserve the notice I get.

My body has failed me as well. It let me down when I just couldn’t run away fast enough, fight off my attackers.
It creaks and cracks like a body much abused. It has little flexibility and sometimes that makes the simplest things hard. It hurts me. It disappoints me.
It has reminded me time and time again of my failures.
But it is still mine.

It tells a story, covered with marks as it is. I can trace white lines on my thighs, scar tissue on my knees, permabruises on my calves, toes, feet, elbows. A big white circle on my  left shoulder. Still healing cuts and scars from my own clumsiness. Soon, I will decorate it with ink and add more stories, the kind not made only of pain.

I am learning to get back on track with feeding it and exercising it and stretching it and  getting enough sleep and really listening to what it needs.
I’m learning to treat it as more than just an unfortunate shell.
I am learning to appreciate it’s strength, it’s strange fluidity, it’s femininity.
I am learning to love it.

But it is taking time, I have years of hatred to unlearn first.

Maybe it’s premature to talk about this, because it’s something still in its early stages, still on the very cusp of creation, in that warm tingly place where anything is possible, but I’m working on a new project.

I’m doing two things I never thought I would for this: I’m writing a script, and I’m working with my sibling.

We want to create a six episode series and release it into the world and let it go and it’s equal parts terrifying and exhilarating to think about.

A creative project, after all these technical things I’ve been doing.

A breath of fresh air and the chance to call something into the light that we both really care about and do it in a medium we care about.

Now if we can just get it off the ground and flying confidently on its own outside of the realm of possibility.

Loving you and other combat sports

1.
Liquid wax and smoke and flame
A literal baptism by fire
The cleansing criss-crossing of hot hot dribbles
A decadent inferno
Igniting the flush of my skin
Warming the blood in my veins
A slow burn building to a blaze

2.
The way our cycle
seems to end always on kindness
reminds me of patterns of abuse drummed
into my skin into my brain into my eyelids into my soul
but it doesn’t feel like a honeymoon it feels
like a return to our known balance
our ebbs and flows

3.
the fact that you’re madder
about the lie than the deed
speaks with such testament
to your unwavering loyalty
your never faltering character

i am not an honest soul
but god you make me want to be

4.
You are not allowed to touch me like I’m some broken, fragile thing.
Hold me firmly, grab roughly if you must.
But do not stroke my skin delicately.
Do not find beauty in the faded glass.
If you do not keep me firmly grounded—
Keep me here.
I’m afraid I’ll float away for good.

5.

Just enough alcohol to make me tired.
Just enough hair to grab onto a handful.
Just enough roughness to kiss with desperation.
Just enough anxiety to make us seek relief.
And we push and we pull until we use each other up and when we’re through we call it love.

Forest

You walk through the forest, trying not to wince as your breath begins to softly materialize, clinging to the low-hanging branches dropping here and there along the path. You are grateful for the warmth coat you wear, warm and soft, a shimmering grey that makes you feel like you fit into the scene in an almost ethereal fashion. The only light that spills through the trees is the eerily bright white of the full moon. You shake your hair back from your face and take a deep, shuddering breath as the cold hits you again. It’s expected that the wind bites and nips on an early October evening, but that doesn’t explain the way it seems to sink into your very bones, intensifying with every step you take.

You are terrified of being found.

You know there is little chance you won’t be.

You consider again the events of the evening. Leaving the hall, running, terrified down the cobbled streets, the way your steps rung out, seeming to bounce off every building. The shouts and laughter of the following group, the bundle you clung to– your clutch your arms around yourself at the memory, chafe along your arms absently, pick up your pace a little.

If they don’t find you by dawn you are free to go.

That’s what you’ve always been told.

But the path ahead will be lonely. You will be exiled. You will forget everyone you ever knew. It’s the forgetting part you feel most of all. You wonder what else might be changed by the process– you know the loss of memory has driven stronger people than the likes of you into insanity.

The moon is still high in the sky; you have many hours to go.

You wonder at the fact that it has been quiet for quite some time now.

You wonder why that makes you more uneasy.

With a lurch, you lose your footing, almost stumble to the ground, your hair flies forward, foreign in its tickling along your face, you over-step in your hastiness, your over-wrought nerves mistaking your own body as attacker, and fall to the ground with a muted thump.

You choke back bitter laughter after one hollow snicker. You feel like you’ve walked forever. You consider staying here, burrowing yourself in the spaces between the roots of a dying tree, you fancy it symbolic.

But something makes you push yourself up off the ground, stagger forward.

It has been quiet for too long. It would be just like you to get caught up in something now, through inaction.

You wonder when you became such a bitter person.

You begin to move through the forest rapidly, covering more and more ground, wincing at the noise of your movements in contrast to the silence all around you. You remember stories you were told long ago, when you were very tiny, about a time when animals used to live in the trees, even trees as close as these ones are to civilization. You wonder when they all left, where they went. You are about to become one.

You have instinctively avoided clearings, but the loss of landmarks that has afforded you has left you completely without any idea of how far away you are from the people, or from the fence. You have lost sense of direction, sense of time, and feel like you might just lose your sense of self. If you make it to the fence before you’re caught, they will alter your appearance, maybe even your mind if it contains too much sensitive information. That is the price you pay for entering the free lands you’ve been told sternly all your life. They will take your identity from you, you will have nothing but the clothes on your back, and you will be left amongst the insane, the unwell, and the deviants to fend for yourself. They don’t care for you there, you’re just another one of the useless. You’ve often wondered if that isn’t so different from what you are here.

You remember the story you were told about a man who was allowed to re-enter civilization after his time there, in the beyond. That he only got back through begging, and that he was never allowed to tell anyone who he was or that he’d been to the other side. Since his departure had been in pursuit of knowledge, they’d chained him to a desk in the library and charged him with writing out texts for the rest of his life, his tongue cut out to ensure his silence.

But that had been over a hundred years ago, you’d been assured. No one had dared to purposefully get sent to the gates since then. Not until you. You watched the hunts all your life, the ones where someone was punished, but you’d never seen any one volunteer, most would take death instead.

You never were very fast and you’re beginning to grow tired and numb, your footsteps faltering a little, your mind screaming with the knowledge that to slow down now would be fatal, but you never wanted to run, not really. You liked your comfortable life before this. You aren’t being a hero. You aren’t challenging the system in some meaningful way. You’re just a scared human who made a deal with the devil to see if you could free yourself from your sins.

The moon is clear and cold above, staring you down like your final judge, and you wonder if you’re imagining voices in your desperation. You see a break in the trees up ahead, and you hesitate again, contemplating. It’s then you hear a soft footstep. Panicked, you bolt straight for the opening in the trees, the sudden loss of shadow and shelter felt acutely as you clear the wide ground. You hit the trees on the other side before you hear a click and a loud, male sigh.

“Thirty nine minutes.” A cold voice declares. “They’re getting faster, better call it in.” Something cold is poking you in the ribs. You look around desperately, whipping your head about, but you can’t see the source of the cold.

“Take this one to the gate. Boss said full procedure. It’s too dangerous to kill. Might provoke outrage.”

“You hear that little bird?” A voice says softly, near your right ear. You flinch and you feel the cold thing press harder against your body. “You’re too important to kill. Pity. The next part is hell.” You can taste mint and winter and your own desperation, and suddenly you’re moving, but not of your own volition, dragged by something you still can’t see swiftly through the trees, moving much faster than you were under your own power. You wish you could at least see your attacker, your mind conjuring all kinds of images as to what could be this strong, this swift, but talk to you in a language you understand. You’ve never seen the guards before but you know the stories, everyone does. A different kind of chill, heavy and metallic in its nature settles in your gut. You should feel scared but you’re relieved that it doesn’t matter now, that nothing does, that no matter what the decision has been made and it’s out of your hands. You begin to cry, then to laugh in earnest, ignoring the jabs it gets you in response.

You have to close your eyes in response to the rushing of the scenery all around you, so when you arrive at the fence it takes you by surprise, your eyes jerking open when gloved hands seize your face roughly and turn it upright. You are looking into the eyes of a frowning woman. She turns your head roughly, up, down, left, right, unmoved by your wince of pain. Whatever was stabbing into your side has been removed you notice belatedly, but you are pinned by the gaze of the woman as surely as if you were staring instead down the barrel of a gun.

“You’ll do.” she tells you, stepping back and handing her gloves to a waiting attendant. You note the difference between this side and the other as you’re lifted to your feet again, led through the gates. On the civilized side everyone stands, cheers and jeers, watches you go, on this side there is no one at all to watch you fall except for the silent guards.

The gates close behind you with a heavy clang, and it’s the last thing you hear with your own ears. You look desperately up at the moon, crying silently by freely now, wanting it to be the last thing you see with your own eyes, holding your gaze steadily as you feel the painful pinch at your neck. You are grateful when everything goes black as the ground rushes up to meet you, the silent jury falling away.

 

 

On the use of judicious gore

I’ve watched a lot of horror flicks in my time. It’s kind of a hobby for me. Good films that gave me nightmares for days, bad films that made my stomach hurt from laughing, campy horror, satirized horror, psychological thrillers, I love them all. I even went to a horror convention this year, decked out in fabulous makeup by my incredibly talented f/x artist little brother.

Image

(Picture of my burned doll makeup for Horror Con 2013. Used with permission of James W. Hastings)

What I’m saying is that I appreciate well-done gore. I appreciate horror and fantasy makeups used to create amazing monsters. I appreciate a good blood splatter. I appreciate realistic destruction and the way it lends to both terror and fascination and shock value in a work of art. But I have no patience for gore for gore’s sake. If you want to terrify me, please do. I enjoy it. But if you think the way to do it is to bathe everything red, you’ll just lose my interest and leave me with a general feeling of uneasiness. I don’t just want to vomit, I want to be scared when I’m participating in a piece of the horror genre, so I’m asking the film, television, video game, and advertising industry to step it up.

To me, slasher films lack substance.  I feel that we should, as consumers, demand a better quality from our media. Give me villains that are the devil incarnate. Give me close ups on the faces of those being tortured instead of gratuitous images of mangled body parts. Give me gore with a reason. Give me violence that makes me care instead of boring me to death. Some good examples include: NBC’s Hannibal where the violence is offset by the chilling and stunning nature of Mads Mikklesen’s portrayal, the short film For Clearer Skies by arcilesfilms, where the violent, desperate destruction of the main character’s hand in the opening scene is suitably disgusting, intriguing, and disturbing, but never upstages the narrative, or 127 hours, where the five minute arm amputation scene makes use of both incredibly well-done, nerve-wracking sound and constant return to James Franco’s pained and overwhelmed face to deliver a lastingly visceral impression on the viewer. It doesn’t hurt that the last one is a true story in adding to its psychological impact, and it stands out to me distinctively for well-done gore usage in a way that few horror movies have done similarly, which is why it’s on the list even though it doesn’t fit explicitly into the genre.

I’m not trying to bag on the shock value of gore. I think, done right, it is very powerful and serves to drive home a message in a really impactful meaningful way. But if you’re relying on shock for shock’s sake, you’ll find pretty quickly that your audience has been desensitized to it long ago. In a world filled with constant zombie adaptations and gruesome car crash commercials and even works like The Human Centipede, we’ve about maxed out our tolerance for gore long ago and you won’t make a lasting impression upon us. We’ve seen it all before. And don’t even get me started on the naked women trope.

Give me a storyline so compelling I can’t look away even though I’m whimpering in terror and you’ve got me hooked. Then feel free to accent with gore. Just don’t make the selling point gut splatter. As the new generation of content developers, I really believe you’re better than that.

-Emileannya

On What I Do

Like any human being, a lot of labels can be applied to me. Some of them I’d even identify with, like student, or feminist, but the title I love best is writer. A lot of people talk about the separate identities that exist between an author as a person and an author as an author, but it’s always been such an integral part of my identity that there is no split persona for me. Without a writer, there would not be a me. Writing is what I love. It’s both a treasured hobby to me and hopefully a means to a profession for me in the future.

I write on multiple platforms both online and offline, and in a variety of different styles. I currently maintain both a regular and a health tumblr that regularly feature my musings on the world, and I hope to turn this WordPress into a space more suited for structured writing as it progresses. Don’t get me wrong, I love tumblr, but having a blog filled with 80% gifs doesn’t lend itself the same weightiness and seriousness a space dedicated only to my writing does.

I have dabbled in non-fiction criticism and poetry on the aforementioned platforms, but I also really like fiction writing. I have not yet established a large body of fictitious work, but in addition to dabbling in the world of fanfiction, I have also participated in NaNoWriMo for the last two years, where, although it was very challenging to work around my school schedule, I found that I wrote more towards original works of fiction than I ever had previously. I highly recommend NaNo to any aspiring authors and you can find more information about it here. If you do decide to join up, and you’re in the Edmonton area, don’t forget to add yourself to the Edmonton NaNoWriMo Ninjas group and don’t hesitate to add me as a writing buddy! My username there is emileyannya. (If you’re searching for me there please note the slightly different spelling than the one I use here.)

Outside of writing as a hobby, you may have noticed if you looked around this blog that I’m pursuing an education based in it. I’m a student in my third year working towards a Bachelor of Communications degree, and it is my ambition to go into editing work when I am finished there. I’m really enjoying my school experience and the opportunity it has given me to both work in new mediums I’ve never had a chance to explore and to finely craft those most important to me. I’m particularly interested in editing because it has always seemed to me that there is no finer thing in life that helping books come into existence as the very best books they can be. I am well aware that I likely won’t start out with editing books right off the bat, but that just gives me a goal to aim for, which is exciting unto its own.

This WordPress is still very new and shiny, but I’m hoping to polish up and move over some of the stuff I’ve written on other platforms that I really like to here to keep it all collectively organized in the next few days, as well as write some original commentary in the coming weeks. I hope you enjoy following me if you choose to do so, and feel free to contact me on either my tumblr (if you like fandoms and silliness mixed with feminism and politics!) or my twitter (if you’re more interested in the irl me) accounts, which can be found if you scroll up a bit and consult the header! I’m looking forward to doing lots of writing and reading on this wonderful word-filled platform!

Sincerely yours,

Emileannya