Friday, December 16, 2011

Learning to Fall

My crampons aren't ideal for ice climbing and my dad has already lost an axe, martyred to the ice gods below.

He's at the top of the 2nd pitch on the left side of Gibraltar Falls. We communicate through walkie talkies because I can neither see nor hear him.

I'm looking up the steepest pitch of vertical ice I have ever attempted to climb. The crux. I get my axe into a bomber hold at the top when my feet give way and I fall ten feet down the ice, my knees soon to look like some one took a baseball bat to them.

I fell.

And with my ice axe 10 feet above my head I had no choice but to give up.

I failed.

Having grown up with annual father-daughter trips into the mountains I learned at an early age to never fall. Falling while alpine climbing can have deadly results. So I never did.

My dad taught me to ice climb when I was 18 years old and in all that time I have never given up on a pitch, some of these times it was my dad who wouldn't let me give up. He always told me I could do it, and I always did.

But I would rarely ever fall. Some of the toughest times I have experienced while ice climbing have been to trust the rope. To fall and trust that my dad has me on belay. To clip onto a lousy screw in the ice and just hang back. Sitting on the nothing that only being hundreds of feet in the air can give you.

I am finally learning how to fall.

And although it feels a lot like failing, I count this as one of my most successful days of ice climbing so far.

And one more thing: thanks dad. For everything.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Three Things

It always seems to be what people ask.

If your house was on fire what three things would you grab?

It's easy to answer that question when your house isn't on fire. I've heard camera, laptop, pets, photo albums...stuff that's expensive or not easily replaceable. In the past I've answered photo albums and portfolio which morphed into flash drive as life turned digital.

When I woke up to a smoke filled apartment two weeks ago, I wasn't thinking about what I should grab because I wasn't fully aware of what was going on. I put on pants, grabbed a jacket and scarf and as I was calling 911 I reached into my school bag with the intent to grab my flash drive and came out with my wallet. By this time the operator was telling me to get out of the apartment and the smoke was so thick I couldn't even find my shoes.

Outside flames were exploding out of the kitchen window of the apartment next door. The fire continued to eat up the building and initial feelings of panic collapsed into terror.

Every resident made it out.

Hours later and the fire under control they told us everything was gone. The second floor had collapsed into the first. It was unsafe to enter the gutted, skeletal structure that had once been our home.

Everybody tells you that the most important thing is that you survived. But nobody tells you that survival can feel like drowning, treading water to keep your head just barely above water. That even little decisions like choosing a pair of shoes because you no longer have any can feel overwhelming. That sirens in the middle of the night will wake you up in a cold, terrifying sweat. That the last two weeks have felt like two years.

That fear can be an isolating and lonely place.

(But you survived.)

Peeking in the window of my bedroom later that day as my now former landlord literally looted the place for anything that had made it, a twisted, wet ball of fabric caught my eye. It was a vintage dress that I had only worn once. A memory. Something bright to cling to amidst the wreckage. Something strong to hold onto in a space crowded with doubt.

(I am so grateful and touched by the outpouring of support from the London community and the help and support of my classmates and faculty as well UWO. My heart is so full from their generosity that it is sometimes difficult to find words to express my utmost thanks.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day

I'll remember the war later

A day to recall.
Closes her eyes, makes a wish.
Please remember me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The sky is falling

There is a crack in my ceiling. This is no hairline crack. It looks as though a mini earthquake took place above my head and the world was too busy to notice because of the lack of casualties.

It reminds me of when I was a child and I had a hankering for Asterix and Obelisk comics. The Gauls' biggest fear in those books was that the sky was going to fall on their heads, and even a magic potion made by their druid couldn't save them. This crack looks like that. Like the sky is going to fall on my head.

I lay in my bed and I contemplate this crack and what could potentially happen if the sky were to collapse above me. I imagine a bathtub or a couch, maybe a fridge just missing me and how I would spend the rest of my days appreciating life again. Maybe I would even give a few inspirational speeches to university students on how it feels to die. Almost.

I surmise that if the bathtub or assorted pieces of furniture were to fall on me it would probably make the local news, but nothing more because it's just me. One person. In the production of a fifteen minute newscast last week at J-school it became apparent just how jaded I was becoming. I barely even flinched at the fact that the death toll for the Indian earthquake had risen to 100 casualties or that 35 bodies had been dumped on a street in Mexico. All I thought was, that's it?

I still have roof over my head for now, but I've only just realized that the sky has already fallen. It's been falling for years. I just never took the time to notice.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The power of three

I left London Ontario three days ago to attend my brother's wedding in Canmore.

Three days.

Three days and I have already forgotten that I live there yet at the same time I have a sense of dread in the pit of my stomach when I realize I only have three weeks left before I have to go back.

Three weeks ago I wrote the first poem I had written since I started grad school in May.

I last posted in my blog three months ago.

Stephen and Ali, now husband and wife, started dating three years ago.

Last night after cracking a fortune cookie in Windermere my fortune read: Remember this three months from now. Good things are in store for you (in bed).

It had better come true.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Haiku Day! Haiku Day!

Haikus for Distance

The phone sits on her ear
Balancing his poets voice on
The nape of her neck.

Her body listens
Entwined in intonation
Words beget kisses.

He sings her to sleep
Long after he has told her
Goodnight but goodbye.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Moustache Matters

"Khanne mukhlai jangaale chhakdaina"

The literal translation of this Nepali phrase is "a moustache does not prevent a person from eating." Or as we better know it: "where there's a will there's a way."

I love colloquial Nepali having spent five years there as a child. I also love moustaches having dated many hipsters in Vancouver. Welcome to my new favourite phrase.

My dad's Nepali language teacher teaches him a new proverb everyday. In turn my father has taught this to me. Although I have been told "where there's a will there's a way" many, many times during my lifetime it has never quite resonated so much as when I was told it in moustache form. Perhaps I have been hanging out with too many hipsters and it was the moustache reference that got me or, perhaps, I just needed to see the phrase in a new form. Never deny inspiration when it presents itself to you, dressed up in perfect language or not.

I have just moved to London, Ontario and am a few weeks into my journalism program. I left Vancouver and the first man that I have been crazy enough about to not eat or sleep for the past month. He told me before I left that he just couldn't do a long distance relationship and I believed him. That it was him and not me.

In J-school we have been discussing the concept of small "t" truths. Telling the truth. Always tell the truth. This begs the question, however, of what is Truth. Capital "T" Truth. My Truth is this: If someone or something is worth it, go for it. Don't make excuses as to why it couldn't work because yes, it may not work, but what is to be gained from not trying? What is to be taken away from choosing the safe option? What can be achieved from staying clean shaven for a lifetime?

Where there's a will there's a way.

Just make sure there's a will first.

Lesson learned.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

They forget. We remember.

My grandpa had a fall. He broke his hip and he is bleeding in three areas of his brain. He will never walk again. He spent the week in the hospital and came home this weekend. My grandma, however, doesn't remember who he is. Next year they will have been married 70 years and when she is told that my grandpa is her husband she claims she isn't married.

How quickly Alzheimer's robs us of our identities: my grandpa is no longer a husband, my mother is no longer a daughter and I am no longer a granddaughter. How slowly this disease has crept into my grandma's brain and taken us away from her; her grandkids were the first to go, her kids followed one by one, but grandpa was always her husband. I always felt she couldn't live without him, that they would follow in the manner of the elderly couple from "The Notebook," dying within minutes of each other.

My father has always told me that having kids has been the greatest accomplishment of his life. I am incredibly flattered by this statement seeing as my dad has done some amazing things and is one of the most intelligent men I know, but I digress. As someone who cannot wait to one day have a loving husband (who will hopefully also take care of me once I am old and claimed by Alzheimers) and children I can't even imagine not knowing them as I gradually fall into old age. We are a part of who she is and we are here because of her.

I have three black and white photographs that were taken of my grandparents just after they were married. In one they sit on the lawn and my grandma is looking at my grandpa and laughing. Although the photo is black and white you can see the sun spilling into the frame; a second hand illumination that captures a moment of pure happiness and love. They are beautiful.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Crying in public places

Here is a list of the public places I cried in yesterday:

1. Front porch
2. Parking lot
3. Restaurant
4. Street
5. Bus stop
6. Restaurant #2

There is something very honest in allowing yourself to cry in a public place. While I was completely mortified at the lack of control I was exercising over my emotions, I also felt, in a shameless, self indulgent kind of way, completely and utterly free. It was as if I was reverting back to a time of childlike innocence when I didn't understand what emotional hurt was. And was surprised by it.

Despite the constant tears streaming from my smudged eyes (I made the mistake of wearing mascara yesterday, one I did not repeat today), I was able to observe the reactions of the people that surrounded me. Most people either stared or pretended not to notice. There were a few dirty looks directed at my friend and a busker wished me a good day from his microphone before he proceeded to lose himself in his violin.

So here is what I am puzzling about. Why is it so taboo for someone to cry in public? Why does this certain display of emotion make us, as a society, so uncomfortable? Why is it considered pathetic and undesirable? As blessed as I am with the life that I lead I still experience periods of unhappiness and instead of hiding what I feel I have decided to whole heartedly embrace this crushing feeling of loss (and consequently share it with one thousand strangers on Granville street). It is what it is.

7. Airport.

Goodbye Vancouver.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Endings becoming beginnings

“How quickly then, how quickly all of this will end…” – David Vertesi

I begin.

For the first time in years I have a computer that runs on battery. I am sitting five thousand feet in the air on my way to Phoenix. As a girl who prefers winter to summer I am still puzzling about how I ended up here. In exactly one week I will be on a different plane heading in the opposite direction to London, Ontario. One week. One week and my life will turn upside down. But this is good. I think. I cannot organize my thoughts or decide what I should be writing about. I do know this: I am doing the right thing. I do not know this: if I am doing the right thing pursuing someone in the spur of the moment.

I was told last night that my ability to live in the moment was inspirational. This floored me seeing as I feel one of my biggest weaknesses is my tendency to dwell too much in the future. I can barely walk down the street without thinking about what is going to happen once I get to my destination, what will be happening twenty minutes from now, what tomorrow will bring, months, years…

The past month has been the most trying of times; to not dwell in what is going to happen in the future. I met someone who makes me feel…complete. His hands feel like home. When we are together I experience absolute happiness. He makes me want to be a better person. But this begs the question, was I silly to let this situation unfold when I was knew I was moving away?

(note: five days elapse between these two paragraphs)

No. I would not wish away the last month of my life for anything in the world. And while my mindset as to what will happen once I leave has changed slightly, I refuse to feel compromised or disappointed. If I can take anything away from dating someone with an expiry date, it is that I cannot underestimate what I have learned in the last month. I am strong enough to say goodbye (not see you later), I am able to make decisions based on what I need and not what someone else needs me to be, and if nothing else I have learned that there are people out there who can make you feel:

Lovely. Beautiful. Joyful. Whole.

I have no desire to pursue any type of romantic relationship while in grad school but I have a feeling I may eat my words in a couple of months from now because if I am anything it is romantic; open to anything despite how much it could potentially hurt. This last month has taught me that it is never beneficial to close your heart to anything the world wants to give you.

Accept. Love. Lose. Heal.

I continue.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why Worry?

This picture is backwards because I was too lazy to scan it and upload it onto my new computer. The writing is unintelligible anyways because the picture is sixteen years old and was taken on a camera that cost 200 rupees, the equivalent of five dollars at that time.

The camera was a birthday present. It was the first camera I had ever owned. The picture was taken at a trekking lodge in Marpha and I was nine years old.

Sixteen years and many lifetimes ago I came into contact with this "poem" (simply for lack of a better word) for the first time. It is entitled "Why Worry" and the gist of it is, is that we shouldn't worry because even if we get sick and die we will either go to heaven or to hell. Thats right, there are no other options. At least not in this poem. Heaven is not something to worry about and neither is hell because as it is so succinctly put: "you will be so busy shaking hands with old friends that you will have nothing to worry about."

Two days ago I was out and about with a friend on a beautiful sunny evening in Kits. In between arguing about which houses were the best on the block (dead trellis' aside) and gardening tips (yes I know how to spot wild strawberries now) we encountered an old man who had a smile so large it overtook his features. Wrinkles aside this man was as sprightly as a garden gnome who has been invited to Brownies for the first time. Lively as he was, his beef with us young ones was this: that we (young people in general) do not smile enough. After I assured him that this was most definitely not the case with us he proceeded to pull a small piece of printed paper out of his wallet. He commanded me to read it and I did. I couldn't suppress a nostalgic smile when I realized it was the "Why Worry" poem that I had photographed so many years ago.

The elderly man wasn't interested in this nugget of information as he proceeded to reminisce about a time when he had told a couple of teenage girls to smile on a bus in Latvia. For me, however, I was once again transported back to another time and place. Why did I take a picture of that poem? Was it because it made me laugh? Did I understand the significance of the message at the time? Was this encounter simply a coincidence?

After we managed to maneuver our way out of the conversation and were once again along our way, the talk turned from housing to what could we take away from that conversation. Life is full of worry and stressful situations. It is easy to get swept away with concern. My friend informed me that he realized that he needed to let go of some of the worry in his life; live in the moment and enjoy it.

This meeting between the old man and me didn't happen with the twenty five year old me but with the nine year old me, holding my very first camera. The worry free nine year old me. What a feeling! At this pivotal time in my life where I am about to leave behind everything I know and everybody I love it was so important to be reminded of what is valuable in life and that I can't waste a minute wondering what if. I have been so lucky to have found such good friends (old and new) in Vancouver and I now have a whole storage unit full of fantastic memories to carry with me into my new life out East. It's time to let go and embrace every situation with open arms and an open heart because, after all that I have been blessed with in life thus far, why should I worry?

Friday, April 1, 2011

The best game ever played...tribute.

When I was eleven I left the British Primary School (now known as The British School) to attend KISC (Kathmandu International Study Center). I was stoked beyond stoked. As the youngest grade in the school we were also the biggest, a whopping twenty kids. My brother, four years older than me and in the highest grade at KISC, was the only boy in his class along with three other girls. I do not believe he took advantage of the situation but that is another story.

I will always remember this year as one of the best of my childhood because it was the year when I participated in the best game ever played.

When I tell people that my class at KISC went on a week long trek it is usually greeted with buggy eyes and an incredulous exclamation that usually goes something like this: "What? They REALLY let you go off with your teachers for a whole week?" I wouldn't have thought that was weird until I moved back to Canada and field trips consisted of a trip to the pulp mill for the day (insert sarcastic thumbs up here). But yes, our class trip was the week long Gorkha trek. A historical area of Nepal where kings conquered and were conquered subsequently, but also a place where twenty boisterous youth had the time of their lives.

Day six outside of the village of Chiplote we discovered that the sloping hillside next to where we had set up camp is a natural maze of bushes. Awesome? Yes. Even better: the natural tunnels and hollowed out holes that just screamed "PLAY IN ME!" 25 year old me cannot remember the rules of the game excepting that there were two teams: the chasers and the chase-es. While struggling to recall the details of the game I am reminded of the Tenacious D song, "The Greatest Song in the world."

"This is not the greatest song in the world, this is just a tribute...couldn't remember the greatest song in the world..."

So this is what this blog post is all about. A tribute to the greatest game ever played. A tribute to the scrambling through dirt and bush, avoiding pursuit at all costs. Diving into holes, tearing our clothes on brambles, adrenaline pumping through our bony, pre-adolescent bodies. Hearts pounding holes through our skin, not yet realizing you can never go back to a time when you were truly happy (sorry Wordsworth). This is a tribute to the times before television, video games and ipods, when kids still played outside and invented their own games. A tribute to the times before kids demanded to be entertained.

Six years later I happened to end up a boarding school with my childhood crush from Nepal (I wasn't allowed to date him back then and didn't want to when we became re-acquainted but that is, once again, another story). One of the first things we reminisced about was that game. I was heading back to Nepal in a few months and all we could talk about was how epic that game was and how it could never ever be re-created. Eight years after that conversation here I am remembering it still. One thing for sure is that I will always look back at that time in my life and never doubt how good I had it, and never fail to miss it.

She was a smart girl. Until she fell in love.

Last night I was jolted out of my zzz's by the sound of chairs being thrown down the stairs. How did I know that it was chairs and not say a table or body (though I would not have been surprised by either)? The throw down was followed by my neighbour shouting "I fucking hate these chairs in my hallway!" The subsequent crash was followed by much banging on the other neighbours' door and the shouting that ensued should not be repeated due to its graphic nature. All of this happened at a lovely 2am. Luckily for me I was not on my usual 6am wake up call but I still lay awake in bed for an hour gripped with fear and anger about the following things:

1. Crackheads banging on my door (anger).
2. Crackheads breaking down my door (fear).
3. Crackheads arguing in the middle of the night (anger).
4. Crackheads in general (fear).

I grew up in Cranbrook, BC so I should be used to crackheads by now but the reason I fled Cranbrook the second I graduated from high school was to get as far away as I could from that scene. Thanks to Facebook I cannot escape the reality of my upbringing and get to experience a new type of fear: well known drug addicts reproducing [children]. Bring on the next generation.

But I digress. This is not the first time that I have been woken up by my conscientious and caring neighbours, who, interestingly enough, I have never seen or met before. They generally like to save their episodes for the middle of the night, the later the better. He usually storms off and she shouts after him "You are coming home right? RIGHT? ANSWER ME! ARE YOU COMING HOME?" I could almost feel sorry for her if she wasn't continually interrupting my drama free sleep. After he has made his way out of the house, making as much noise as possible, she proceeds to moan and cry and rock in place (the last one I do not know for sure but this is what I would imagine to be happening).

I realize I may sound cruel and callous but it is a well known fact that these people are hard core drug users. They are clearly both stuck in some kind of horrific,destructive and circular relationship that makes them dependent on the other so neither can ever leave. Hey, there may even be love involved. We always hurt the ones we love the most right? I know first hand how intense love can be and when combined with something as harmful as substance abuse I would have said, back in the day, that I couldn't even imagine what kind of life that must be. Now I am experiencing it first hand and it is not pretty.

I gave my notice today and will be moving out in a month.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

If God were to blog

My father and I have been exchanging emails for a few weeks about how God doesn't directly communicate with us because a genuine connection is hard to achieve and words are so difficult to infuse with real meaning..."if that were not so, even God might have a blog!"

Some days I wish that God did have a blog. Imagine if we could gain access to God's innermost thoughts and concerns! Perhaps this is just wishful thinking, however, that God would blog about his feelings. Maybe his blog would consist of healthy living tips or of amazing photographs...each one accompanied with a proud "Yeah, I made that. Lets see anyone else try to do better."

I believe in God. I have believed in God since I can remember. I grew up in a Christian household and went to church every Sunday. It was only in my late teens that I started to doubt my religion. I never doubted God I just doubted the fact that I called myself a Christian. I have never had that "a-ha!" moment that Christians tend to have with God. A time when they felt him so close and so dear that they decided to dedicate their lives to him. As a camp counselor in high school for a Christian camp I had to give my testimony on a yearly basis, on why I was a Christian. I can't even recall now what I said. I felt that the camp experience should be about showing those kids love and showing them that good can exist in the world rather than just forcing them to learn a handful of bible verses.

The abuses of the church and the hypocritical nature of some of the Christian institutions that I have attended and the behaviour of some (not all) Christians towards me have forced me to think long and hard about how I label myself. I would never call myself a non-believer but I certainly hesistate to call myself a Christian. I do not expect perfection from myself or anybody for that matter as I believe, as humans, that we are frail and fallible creatures. Some of the best people (my parents, my siblings) I know are Christians and have set such an amazing example of how to live one's life to the fullest and I have nothing but respect and love for them. Simply put I am just choosing a different path.

I have always questioned what I would believe had I been given the choice; if I had grown up in a secular home and as a twenty-something was confronted with Christianity or simply the idea of belief in a god. In university I sought out electives that would educate my one track Christian mindset about alternate religions. I immersed myself in the teachings of Buddha, scratched the surface of Hinduism, Jainism, Confucianism, bought books on Zen Buddhism, read Sufi poetry, analyzed the differences between Christianity and Judaism...I could go on and on. It all came back to what I was raised to believe, that there is a God and what all religions have in common is that they believe in God and believe in living a life that is good. A common goal, a common people.

I strive to live a life that is good but I am still trying to figure it out and I believe that it will take a lifetime. In the meantime I will hold out hope for a blog with some answers!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Oh. So. Romantic.

"I'm a romantic; a sentimental person thinks things will last, a romantic person hopes against hope that they won't."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

Unfortunately romantics still feel. But better to hurt than to feel nothing at all, right? Right?


You see. My love. My lover. I love you the same way that you love me. Sexual feasting of the body. I writhe. My fingers. Into your. Liver. Entwined. Intestine. Quivers-

Sway like. Wheat. Gyrate. My hips. And thrust. Into your. Canvas. Moan and. Lick and. Twist and fail. To mention-

I love you. I love you . My love. Just. Not. Enough.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Love (or lack thereof) Poems

“In a perfect perfect world you could fuck people without ever giving them a piece of your heart. Every glittering kiss and every touch of flesh is another shard of your heart you’ll never see again.” –Neil Gaiman, Bitter Grounds.

The Poetics of Desire...

Of course like all real life love stories the issue isn’t love or lack thereof. It’s about how one behaves in the confines of a relationship that really makes or breaks the couple. Time lays heavy on those with heavier hearts. Slog through each day and search for the light at the end of tunnel that I am told exists. I want to believe that it exists. Don’t fight, don’t scream expletives at the top of my lungs, choke back tears that steam in October air because in the end they are wasted. Don’t say it—I love you—I love you. I said don’t say it. Empty words like empty air explode like firecrackers on Halloween night. The unresponse like rain but colder.

I’m not built like a computer on command. I can’t press exit, there is no delete button, no return to previous screen. If only I could re-wire my hard drive. Become more like him. Then I would still feel it. Then he would still feel it. It’s all about you—it’s all about you. Next time can we make it about me? Press command button relax. It’s there. Search harder. Search deeper. It will all be okay in the morning. But what if it isn’t?

Dear Future Lover

Dear future lover:

Please forgive me
for the mistakes I will make
while trying to get you
to love me.

Bonsai - (Haiku series)

A bonsai, Chloe.
I gave her to my boyfriend.
A housewarming gift.

His house was too cold
for Chloe to survive in
so she lives at mine.

Bonsai should bring luck.
The longer she lived with me
the less that he called.

He left me last month.
My life changed, hers stayed the same.
What luck Chloe has.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

It's kind of random but YES!

The week in review: Christy Clark became the new Liberal leader much to my chagrin. However, this piece of depressing political news was offset by my acceptance to grad school not only by UBC but UWO also. The news of my acceptance was followed by fifteen minutes of jumping up and down whilst screaming unintelligible words at the top my lungs which led to a friend on the phone asking how many people were with me in my apartment at the time. It was just me.

Not wanting to get my hopes up I figured I wouldn't get into the Masters of Journalism programs that I had applied to because of the extreme competitive nature of the schools and my lack of experience. But now, faced with two acceptances, I have to decide where I should go to school and yes I am losing sleep over the decision. A friend advised me to follow my heart. Solid advice except I no longer trust my heart. I have spent my life following my heart. My heart has led me to move to Abbotsford and that should have been warning enough. Sparing the gritty details of the last eight years of my life I have spent the last year with my walls and guard up. From one extreme to other. If I am honest with myself though I miss letting go and letting myself feel without fear of consequence. I miss the excitement of not knowing but of falling into my decisions head first without looking back. For the first time in my life I am making this decision based on myself alone without letting extraneous factors affect my head. Or my heart. I am letting go. I am saying goodbye. I will be moving across the country in less than two months, (hello UWO!) and I am utterly terrified of leaving everything and everyone I know behind. I am also more excited and feel more alive than I have in. A. Long. Time.

Some found poetry. For my [scant] following! The first two are from articles in a New Yorker mag (date or month I cannot recall)


A Wife.
Absurd person singular
With three kitchens,
he da mythic man

low class geechy concedes
progressive bravado.
Sizzle in daft potency and

Eloquent, iconic,
white society stick figure.
Flinging hodgepodge
No understanding except of
notional, prefab kitchen.

The Wife.
Theatrically satisfying.
A placebo.
An ass.


Use me in church
while maids co-habit with men.

God danced dizzying
and said
take your time single sister.

Don't love half heartedly
and lose me baby.


Hell no.

On a broken down bus in Clinton, BC

Use spring as your alibi
don't fall prey
to sparkling caribou

leaving gold nuggets
on the gold trail
for self service.

Make your way to the blue barn
in this shady bus.

Become a used bookworm
or, perhaps, sales merchant.
Just don't look at the catalogue first.

Revel in this flea market
that was once an amber emporium.

Friday, February 25, 2011

My Grandpa's Stories

I am blessed with family. It is rare for someone my age (25!) to have both sets of grandparents still around. However, on my last visit to my Grandma and Grandpa, I was unsettled by how diminished my Grandpa looked. Watching some of the fantastic movies that have come out this year (Barney's Version, Another Year) led me to think hard about my mortality, and with that the realization that my grandparents won't be around forever. I have become accustomed to the fact that they are always there, and always have been. Perhaps not in the same shape as when I was a kid, (I still miss Grandma Enns' wareniki) but simply there.

I am not sure why this last visit affected me so much. My Grandparents are old. They have been married almost seventy years, have four children, eighteen grandchildren (not counting wives and husbands) and countless great grandchildren. They have led full, interesting lives; the stuff stories are made of and have been made of. It shouldn't come as a surprise to me that my Grandparents are aging, but it has.

When I got home from brunch I tried to put into words how it felt to see my Grandpa in the state he is now, but the story sounded too much like poetry (or as some may say too much like CanLit). For the past couple of years, in order to stop my poetry writing from stagnating, I have decided to play with form. I cut up the story I attempted to write about my Grandpa, put it into a bag, shook it up and dropped it onto the floor. The lines of the poem became where the pieces fell, with a bit of tweaking of words so it makes sense. Dada poetry. Here it is:

My Disappearing Grandpa

His secret is that he is more than a human being
but the fact is that when I hug him
he feels more like a lesson on anatomy.
(that is the spine...)

And when he tries to speak
urging his mouth to form words
they tell us that my Grandpa's kidneys are failing him.
(the tailbone is located there...)

To me, however, he's just my Grandpa
and I wonder what the failing kidneys would think
if they were in my place.

I watch him. Coaxing the thought in his head to reach his mouth
He can barely lift his skeletal arms
but he still eats three muffins and I wonder how he stays so thin.
(those are the shoulder blades...)

Two pieces of ham and egg soufflé later he hesitates.
I want to tell him that I miss his stories but I'm failing him because
if he were to hug me goodbye, it's connotation would be dying.
And what scares me the most is.
(those are his rib bones...)

My aunt has brought us brunch.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hello Again Jimi

"All I'm going to do is just go on and do what I feel" - Jimi Hendrix

I have one memory of Jimi Hendrix. I was ten years old and trekking with my family in Nepal. Now that may sound pretty rad already without throwing Jimi Hendrix into the mix but yes folks, believe it or not, it does get better. This particular day we ended up at a lodge called the Jimi Hendrix Hotel. Calling this place a lodge is a bit of a stretch for the received accommodations but this was Nepal and in Nepal anything goes. My sister and I climbed up the rickety stairs and entered our even more rickety room. This particular room consisted of two beds, (once again for lack of a better word), a side table and a pair of the dirtiest, [once upon a time] white pair of pants; the type that soul searching hippies favor purchasing from Thamel (tourist district in Kathmandu that consists of shops, bars and guest houses). These pants weren't just randomly splayed on the floor as a forgotten souvenir by some lazy tourist but were tacked to the wall with a signature on them. The signature belonged to Jimi Hendrix.

At the time I had no idea who Jimi Hendrix was. Surrounding those pants were the scrawled messages of hundreds of fans. I remember reading the messages, questioning what the word "cock" meant or wondering how come "cum" was spelt wrong (even back in the day I was a precocious speller). I remember wishing I could write on my pants without receiving hell from my mother. I remember thinking this is more than just a room.

This was my first experience with feeling connected to someone or something famous. And even though I had no idea who Jimi Hendrix was just being in that room was somehow enough to sense greatness, achievement and, although I didn't realize it at the time, failure and hardship.

I came upon the quote at the beginning of this post eating the world's best nachos with some friends at Foundations. So far removed from my first memory of Jimi Hendrix it brought about a rush of emotion and, alas, a rush of uncertainty. To do what one feels. To go on and just do what I feel. Can I trust what I feel? Could I trust what I felt that day? An innocent ten year old with no idea of a world beyond the haven she had built for herself in a remote part of the world? I have spent my adult life making decisions based on feeling, based on idealistic notions about how my life is supposed to turn out. I have had success but I have also had bitter failure. How do I go on doing what I feel when every time I think I have it figured out, that this is the direction my life is supposed to take, everything changes? I doubt what I feel daily and yet here I am still making choices and failing to be sure of anything that I choose to do and still thinking "what if?"

I wish I could return to the Jimi Hendrix Hotel. Stay in that same room, look at those pants and hope that inspiration hits me (and this time understand the innuendo). Perhaps, however, just being there would be enough. Enough to learn to trust in the twenty five year old me that is not so far removed from the ten year old me after all.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Begrudging Blogger

After spending three days in Victoria last week watching the first season of Californication I have come to this conclusion: my blog will never be as cool as Hank Moody's. I have come to face the facts, my life is hardly a blogger's dream. A twenty something that is constantly bemoaning the fact that she isn't writing yet isn't really doing something about it? Cliche. A middle aged writer who is constantly bemoaning the fact that he isn't writing yet is living it up with sex, drugs and rock and roll? And lots of it? Hilarious. Poignant. Depressing. Worthy of our attention. Granted the latter may be conditional and the rock and roll part non-existent (as this is no longer the sixties), but there is something to be said for the fact that this television show is a hit.

As viewers we should hate Hank Moody if for no other reason than he hates us. He is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with our society: the drugs, the laziness, the lack of respect for humanity in general and the sex coming from every direction. I am not naive I know that many people would disagree that there is anything wrong with the list (or parts of it) I have just laid down, but there is something to be said for living a life in which these certain pitfalls can be avoided. So why don't we hate him? Why is he so entertaining to watch? Because it is a life that one cannot get away with living? Or, at least, not for very long? Are we just bored? Using television as an escape from the rules and regulations that we impose upon ourselves?

In his first blog post to Hell-A Magazine Moody is raw as hell. He is witty, stimulated, and dirty to the core. It is fantastic. I only wish that I could write in such an I-don't-give-a-fuck-what-you-think-of-me kind of way, and he isn't even a real dude. I continue to drink his antics in and don't even bat an eye when he buys a Porsche, despite the fact that he hasn't written a book in seven years, and doesn't even wince when it is stolen at gunpoint.

I do not watch a lot of television but this is one show that I will continue to follow, at least until internet data usage charges slow me down.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Dear W.H. Auden

Dear W.H. Auden:

This one is for you.

Tonight I re-read In Memory of W.B. Yeats. Over the past few months I have been struggling with the lack of creativity that my current way of living has afforded me. The truth is I am unable to find employment doing something that I love and in order to make a living I am doing something that I hate. As much as I despise cliches the one that is standing out in my head most right now is the tried and true saying "find a job that you love and you'll never work another day in your life". While I wait to hear back from the grad schools I have applied to I am frantically trying to figure out just what the hell I am doing with myself.

Nowadays an undergraduate degree is, for the most part, useless. I read an article a couple of months back that compares the undergraduate degree of today with the high school degree of the past. Nobody told me that studying the subject that I am most passionate about would lead to a severe struggle to find employment in that field. Granted I was not disillusioned about the whole starving artist mantra but I genuinely did not see myself still working as a server two years after I graduated.

The one undergraduate class that still stands out for me years later is a second year English literature class in which I was shaken from my hungover stupor with the misquote of the famous Auden poem previously mentioned. "For poetry makes nothing happen..." My professor was using "In Memory of W.B. Yeats" in order to refer to Elizabeth Browning and the poem she had written on the plight of children in England ("Cry of the Children") during the industrial revolution. His point was this: the poem didn't change anything. Working conditions remained the same and life? It moved on.

I had never read "In Memory of W.B. Yeats" before this day and I was so struck by that particular discussion that I mulled over it for several days. Years later I still think about that class and the apparent uselessness of my degree. Writing. Poetry. Why do I feel the need to write when I can hardly hold out hope that I will touch even the smallest or most insignificant life with it?

Looking back history is littered with writers who have committed suicide: Hemingway, Plath, Sexton, Woolf...why is this? Talented writers. Writers who's works outlived their short lives and will outlive mine. The classics we call them. Novels that have stood the test of time that their authors could not bear to face. What do we take away from these stories? From the poetry? What change has happened because these books exist? The art of writing is a daunting, sometimes frightening task. Perhaps these writers took their lives because the immensity of what they know and what they are trying to portray is just too much for them and not enough for the critics. For the readers. The fear of inadequacy, the fear of not being heard or of not being understood overwhelms.

"...From ranches of isolation, and the busy griefs,/Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,/ A way of happening, a mouth."

I continue to hold out hope.

Monday, January 24, 2011

One Call. That's All.

Last night I was sitting at the back of the bus quietly chatting with a friend of mine. So engrossed was I in our conversation about the steak and lobster we would be partaking in during dine out Vancouver that I failed to notice a surly old man sit down next to me on the bus. However, I was soon unable to avoid this man and the temper tantrum he threw during the next fifteen minutes all directed at yours truly. My offense was this: I was talking on my cell phone. On the bus. While he proceeded to shout about what a terrible person I was and that I was incredibly rude and disrespectful I attempted to ignore him. It was only when the shouting reached a fervor pitch that I stood up for myself (for the record I am generally a passive aggressive person who avoids confrontation at all costs), and asked him how he thought I was being more of a disturbance than he was. It was at this point that the boxing gloves came off. An empty beer can (whose it was I do not know) happened to be rolling around on the floor and this only fed this crazy curmudgeon's fire: "She's drunk! She's drunk! That's her beer! That is why she is talking on her phone while on the bus! The bus driver should kick her off! Thank goodness my stop is coming up."

Thank goodness indeed.

After about ten minutes the man quieted down but continued to chunter about how he was appalled by my behavior and how much of a bitch he thought I was. Yes he called me a bitch. For talking on my phone.

The man eventually exited the bus and although I felt discomfited by the scene that had occurred it raised my thoughts as to what exactly is proper cell phone etiquette. I couldn't help but recall the commercial in which a wife in sexy lingerie is ignored by her husband or how a man cannot even take a piss without putting down his phone. Is this what I have become in a sense? Unable to put my cell phone down?

At the restaurant that I work at we have a certain regular. Lets call her Veleste. Veleste is the most miserable woman I have ever laid eyes on. Not only have I never seen her smile I have also never seen her display anything that could remotely be called manners. However, one day she was sitting, eating a "brown" scone, and observing the table next to her. Three Asian women were glued to their cell phones while having high tea with no conversation to be heard. What followed went something like this:

Veleste: "What would those girls do if they didn't have their phones?"
Server: "I don't know. Talk to each other?"
Veleste: "Well wouldn't that be a reeeeeal pity..." (Veleste proceeds to roll her eyes).

I am not sure if I was more surprised that Veleste had a made a joke or about the truth of her statement. Through text messaging I have given up real conversation and through my cell phone use I have the potential to alienate those around me. I left my phone at work the other night and couldn't access it for the next fifteen hours. When I finally had it back in my hands I felt like I could breathe again. It's sad really when I think about how my parents didn't even have answering machines when they were my age, and once upon a time the telephone didn't even exist (God forbid). I suppose it is too late for this modern day and age to discontinue a complete reliance on our phones, especially when they can be particularly convenient at times. But one thing I know for sure is I will think twice before chatting on my phone while on the bus. And while there is always text messaging I will wait for the day when my fingers tapping the screen become too much of a disturbance for the stranger next to me...