Sunday, April 27, 2003

I just got home from my week's trip to Vancouver Island, wherein I discovered no computers, at least not any fast enough to attempt to check my email on (as I get roughly 1.3 spam per half hour, from people named Gilie and Leslie, inviting me to watch thier sexual exploits or learn how to enlarge my penis). So the other option was to ignore the web completely, and as it turned out, I was quite adept at it. This is what I did instead of emailing folk or blogging:

Tofino: we ate at the awful Fisherman's Net, (consider this a warning not to eat there if you visit Tofino), then we slept the night in a B and B which was a well cozy little place. We woke up happy to hear the sound of rain on the roof, lying there in fine linens under down duvets, and were fed a delicious breakfast to boot. Then we checked out The Common Loaf (if you're in Tofino find this bakery, it's not hard to do) and then we went to MacKenzie Beach. I think in the sunshine this place would be the bomb, it's your typical West Coast beach, long and fat with sweet surf rolling in, but we were there in the pissing rain, so we did the only available thing to do and got well soaked. Mat found a sand-dollar and even though it smelled like rotting insisted on taking it home with us.

Cathedral Grove: This is just after Port Alberni, a huge stand of old-growth forest along the highway. We took the interpretive paths around and were astounded at the size of the trees, which is pretty much a mandatory reaction. Some of these trees were 300 years old back when Columbus was kicking. There was one with a big split in it that you could stand in, and there were odd lime green fungi growing in there so we didn't hang around. There was also an alder about 400 times the size of an alder on the east coast, sticking its long languid limbs out over a river, so we sat in it. Most of the highway wound through stands of enormous trees like this so it was a really nice trip up to...

Port Hardy: we drove here after Tofino. It took us a little while and most of the trip went through very rural mountainous areas, plus it was raining and foggy so whatever views there were you couldn't see. Frankly I was wondering what sort of town we would find at the end of this trip; whatever it was, I thought, would have not much but loggers, fisherman and Natives. And for the most part, you know, I was right, but it was also a lot more than that. For one thing: this is where my mother spent five years, on and off, back when she was in her twenties, before I was born; for another, it's where I was conceived. To name a few others: we got to know some of her old friends, the ones who hadn't left long ago, and we stayed there just long enough (4 days) to get a feel for the place. It was sunny most of the time we were there, and for those of you who know that end of the island, its a rare occurence. I turned 19 there and went out drinking twice, playing pool both times (I'm getting better!) and generally having a grand time, the kind of grand time you can have in bars where there are no reputations to uphold (except that of being a dive) nor presumptuous clientele to cater to. It seems a lot like Cape Breton, that end of the island, an economy based on natural resources (while ours is dying, North Van Island's is still kicking), the kind of people who live in small communities like that, and the beautiful scenery half-ravaged by humans.

Nanaimo: after a lengthy stay in P. Hardy, we stayed here a night. Mat and I wandered around the sunny town, me searching for the perfect magnolia tree. We saw lots of tugboats and scrappy little watercraft, and then found an old closed museum, where Mat tried to push an old train cart off the track bit it was kept on. It didn't fall for it. Then we were followed suspiciously by a pseudo-Pete character (not like you Gielen, this guy was creepy) until we veered off onto a side street, and then we crossed Terminal Ave. again and made our way up the hill to the Old Village Quarter or some other tourist-y name. This is where we stumbled upon an art gallery opening, and wandered in to enjoy the free wine and, uh, art. After this we walked until I found a rhododendron to put in my hair, and we took pictures by a parking lot enclosed by yellow flowers of some sort.

So then we took the morning ferry back this morning, and I got back to Whistler around noon, feeling very out of place. It's odd to leave your home-town for a week--just long enough to miss some things, not long enough to feel like you've really left.

Has anyone played Disc Golf (or Frisbee Golf)? I want to find courses back home on CB. I played today, a very extreme course involving a lot of uphill climbing and run-ins with trees. But that's Whistler for you.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

I had a Special Guest pass for the WSSF today, and a lot of good it did me. I take that back, it got me up the chair for free, presumably to see the Crossmax tryouts, or whatever it was, but I didn't go. I visited Sarah in her high-stress job as a busser at the Rendezvous on Blackcomb and then rode up the Whistler gondola. I also tried to get onstage for a picture of the Swollen Members, but I had to have a Media pass and they wouldn't, surprisingly, let me on with the Media guy who was behind me, although he seemed keen. It was fun while it lasted, I got to feel all important with a pass around my neck on a Royal Bank lanyard. At least, little kids seemed impressed. And that's all that matters...

I'm going to book my tickets tonight, at least some of them. Also, everything I'm not taking with me on my trip is in two cardboard boxes, ready to go home with Mum and Mat. After I get back from Vancouver Island I'll be heading to San Francisco, and then back to Vancouver to catch a train to Montreal, and then to see Claire for a bit, and then to NYC to see my grandparents, and then to New Hampshire to meet up with Einar, and soon after, arriving home. Where and when possible I'll post, but if not, don't you worry about me. I'll be alright. Anyway, I don't leave Whistler til May 5, so your trusty correspondent remains til then.

Friday, April 11, 2003

A More Refined Whine

Am I whining online because I'm premenstrual, or because I'm just having a bad day? As one who lives in this skin, I know the feeling of PMS and this is it. So that answers that question. Am I ticked because I feel 'fat', or is it because I feel out of sync in this town, this body, today? Is it because Eli won't post in my comments? Is it because it feels like spring and there's parties happening all around and I'm not at any of them? Is it because I'm too young by 2 weeks to get into any of the clubs, and I really want to go dancing? Is it because I saw someone today, around whom I made a complete fool of myself a little while ago, and nearly ran into someone else's cigarette trying to change direction so I could avoid being seen by him?* (Gotta love my grammer.) Is it because my just-washed hair did ugly things with itself in public? Is it because my PMS-face is breaking out? Is it bigger than those little things, is it that during WSSF I feel very out of place and alone, especially on the verge of leaving, with some of my friends gone already? The verdict has just come in, the jury has just read out their decision: PMS is coloring everything a nasty shade of blue.

Then there are the happy things of today, that I have to force myself to recognize: that crazy grove of huge cedars on the walk into town that I discovered today, trees so monstrous it is hard to describe being in thier company. You feel a distinct force there, and then most of them are leaning precariously over the Fitzsimmons, with only thier root systems holding them in the ground. I sat on a root of one of them and got my butt wet and let my eyes drink in the other 3 or 4 in front of me. I can't at this moment describe them.

There's something about whining on the Internet as opposed to one's journal: at once more public and feeling like it has to be more polished. Maybe I'll go drown my sorrows in Tom Robbins. Hey Eli--word up, yo.

*This would be blind-date-boy.

Wednesday, April 9, 2003

I smelled a skunk cabbage today, and now I know why they're called that. I still like them, though, most likely because of the novelty of them. The whole woods filled with bright yellow stubs!

I smelled one on the side of the trail that runs from the village to Spruce Grove, the trail that Lara showed me the other day. She showed me on a bright sunny wonderful day, and today it was pissing rain, but it was still a good diversion. There were funny trees with lumps of moss only at the joints, and of course skunk cabbages, and little ponds with birches growing in them, and some of the birches had big black clawmarks from bears. Running chlorine-white beside the trail was the Fitzsimmons Creek, although I don't think it's full of chlorine. It may not be the healthiest river, but it ain't that bad. Looking at the funny lush mossy trees I thought about studying biology, and how I could surround myself with an ecosystem and learn all about its various parts; go live in some unknown little place and immerse myself in it, know the names of all the plants just by looking at them, have at the core of me the fact that everything is connected to everything else.

Then I thought about the hour I'd just spent reading the Globe and Mail at the library, and about how I'd adore history and political science. I thought, "you could do all that and still be a writer", and then I got to thinking about baggage, mental baggage, and emotional too. How you're never rid of it, and in relationships it feels like something heavy you carry around, but in reality it's just who you are. You don't wake up in the morning fresh and clean, someone new; who you were the night before stays with you. That's why it is possible to do so many different things in the course of your life, and to have a job that is not your passion, and still find that passion somewhere else. I can choose one thing to study and still learn about other things; I'm not closed off from biology and anatomy just because I'm becoming a historian or a teacher. These things seem obvious but they are not things that they tell you in high school. In high school the guidance counsellor (who is usually a very busy man, and sometimes a woman) sits you down and answers your college questions, and tells you some things, but not often the right things.

(I picked my guidance counsellor out of the three available because he wasn't everyone's favorite. That honor went to Mr. Neville, a man with flyaway grey hair and round glasses, who would rush around the halls of Memorial with his hair flat out behind him like a cartoon character. The other guy was too big and brusque and had too many other responsibilities, although he was nice enough. Mr. Rodriguez* was the third one, a grey man with grey clothes and a grey office, and for the most part a grey personality, but he was never too busy and I figured he had just as sensible answers to my sensible questions as the other two. And for the most part my suspicions were correct, he was pretty gray, but he was also a person, with stories, and we would get to talking. At first I wasn't sure how he would react to my plans to go travelling, but it turns out he was pretty supportive, and thought it was a good idea, although never did he say it was smart to give up my scholarship.)

Anyway. I came out the end of the trail, and walked up the steep gravel slope to the road, and thought about the fact, the cold hard truth, that I can't do everything, be everyone, see every place. I am just me, just this little being wandering around, looking seeing hearing saying feeling, with my biases and my past and my 'emotional baggage', my love of light through stained glass windows, my cooking, my preconceptions and my desire to be happy. This truth comes up a lot, but today I thought I should really accept it. I'm only part of the whole, there are millions of other little people like me running around. At this point an image of marbles was in my head. We're all marbles? That's the epiphany? And the world is one of those plastic mesh sacs that they come in? I wonder if that makes the universe the 1-2-3 Dollar Store.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Tuesday, April 8, 2003

So there's this chick, and she's got this cute little blog called huminbean, except that she only writes things like "i'm tired and am going to bed" in it. Then she wonders why no-one's horribly interested in what she has to say. The problem is that she's telling the truth, she really is tired, and when she's tired can't think of anything to say. No, that's not entirely it, it's also that what she would most likely say she's already said to a lot of other people that day or written in her journal, and as much as there is evidence to dispute this, her brain doesn't like to go around in circles. Maybe it's that her brain goes around in circles enough in normal life that in her blog she wants to be Fresh! and New! (tm) but then she's too tired to be so.

Enough talking in the third person, you all know I mean me. Or did I...? (Cue sinister music here)

You can't escape having emotional baggage once you start dabbling in sex, love, relationships. There will always be 'the one who left me', 'the one I left', and so on in variations until you keel over. I'm missing someone a little these days, and I have my reasons (he was tall, and was good to lean on, among others) but it's not something I can pick up again. It's like an oil painting I never finished but it's too dry to work with now. I wash my dishes and I tell myself to stop thinking about him, and sometimes it works.

And then there are all the other boys I don't feel for but are here and have interests, which I have entertained to varying degrees. And the wreckage of those is small, and easily left behind, mostly because there were no feelings on my side to start with. I don't feel bad about this; on the contrary, I feel as though I am single and happy at it, and this is a manifestation of it.

You thought I would write something intellectual, didn't you? No, no. Nothing about war or culture or life. I figure you can make your own decisions. Plus, I'm tired, and going to bed. Natch!
'Months before I go' turns into 'weeks before I go'.

The season winds down, 'last drinks' happen with everyone. Everyone's question turns to "are you staying for the summer?" instead of "where do you work?" That used to be the most popular way to start a conversation here. Not the most interesting, granted, but most popular. Kind of like the Steak Potato and Cheese pie, but I digress.

I think I may go up the hill one last time, before I go and before the snow melts. But I really have to get my ass in gear and my fear of getting hurt conquered, all at once, and then go rent some stuff and get up there. Getting my 'instructor' for the day helps too--yay Will!

Enough shout-outs. Time for bed.

Friday, April 4, 2003

Skunk cabbages. This plant grows everywhere in the swamps around here, and it looks like an alien invasion of bright-as-yellow hoods, skulking around the undergrowth. Don't they know they don't blend in? Maybe it's like crickets, how they can't actually hear the noise they make when they scritch their wings together: maybe the alien skunk cabbages are perfectly camouflaged in some sense that they have and we don't.

Spring is coming, if not already here. The mountains are still amazing and alive, huge beautiful presences around me. I don't care if that sounds all touchy-feely-hippie, I really don't.

I'm packing, and planning my trip home, and still trying to remain sane. I think I'm doing an admirable job. Pat me on the back, wouldja?

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