histories + travel stories

I realize how I and other humans like to categorize things, remove ambiguities, put things tidily away in boxes. But life is so much more than that, it is so fluid and interconnected and layered that simplification seems an injustice to all the people and places and histories and experiences that occur and are occurring. History is being created by the moments of the present. You will look back on this moment and judge it later, differently perhaps than how you judge it now.

Can we just ‘be’ and live the events as they unfold? Keep the memories alive? Learn and adapt and challenge as we move through time and space? Why does one narrative have to be all we know? There is more than one road, more than one traveller.

The air is close today and the hum of activity is pulsing through it instead of my blood, which is a nice change. I spend an inordinate amount of time talking things through with myself, as the bubble which was small and resilient to begin with some decades ago has had to adjust to these new realities of 2020 during pandemic times and mass protests, economic shifts, social injustice, environmental collapse. My goals: stay home, stay healthy, keep the faith in peanut butter! participate in discussion and take what action you can.

Honestly, self-reliance has never seemed so necessary. I don’t have the energy to create a movement, I can’t wait around for others to take action or invite me in. So I work to be as present here as I can.

Early in the year, when we had a dump of snow and the city stumbled, the sidewalks were in chaos and everything I wanted to accomplish took twice as long and double the energy, a stranger offered me a ride the last few blocks to work.

“You should be knocking on doors!” she told me, meaning, I assume, that I should take time out of my day to ask people to clear their sidewalks of snow. It’s hard enough for me to get my boots on and off and my groceries packed to and from my own front door, without traipsing all over the neighbourhood asking people to contribute to the common good of usable wintertime walkways.

It gets ridiculously hard to do stuff if the underlying system is broken. And right now, many systems are broken and multitudes of people are struggling.

I’m getting fatigued. You ask for help and few step up. You advocate change and so much stays the same. I’m developing a stronger preference for staying home, scrambling tofu and DIY because otherwise the cost is just too high.

I took myself out to the movies, and to Tim’s for a snack. I’ve watered my garden and caught up on my correspondence. I bought a mask that works well and sanitizer that kills just the germs and not also my desire to ever draw another breath. I’m pursuing my own leadership roles in life and work and have coped well so far, now that ‘bubbles’ like mine are the status quo. “We must not be hasty” –I’m reading The Two Towers finding wisdom and laughter in some of Treebeard’s teachings.

Real names tell you the story of things they belong to in my language, in the Old Entish as you might say. It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time saying anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to.

Treebeard, The Two Towers

When I was last home on the Coast, my mom and I spent several days watching home movies on our old video camera, going through old tapes of birthdays and camping trips, creative projects and candid moments, milestones and memories.

When I returned, other highlights of past events kept surfacing on the radio, in conversation with friends and the books and movies, music and art, and other life I’ve been digesting.

The outcome is this post.

Thanks for stopping by.

–Sam

timed_troubles

Recently, someone on the radio, a nurse or doctor working in the hospital on the front lines during COVID-19 said that, “A day feels like a week, and a week feels like a year.” That is accurate.

I have actually seen the number of case-files for our team more than double overnight. In other news, I have successfully revived a severely depressed office plant.

I’m reading and journalling, walking and working. I’m kept busy perusing my home libraries of music and movies. I alternate between that, and the radio shows, and if stuff starts feeling repetitive, I just move from English to another language. Probably French is the one I can comprehend best, but it’s always entertaining to hear Harry Potter speak Spanish, or the weather forecast announced in Punjabi!

I’d like to indulge once humanity is on the other side of this, by having a good dinner with my family, and watching a decent movie or show with popcorn. To just be present and under no pressure, even for just a few hours. And hugs. Lots of hugs.

-Sam

Good things (10)

New year, new leaf. Much gratitude.

  • Noteworthy reads: The Library Book, An Echo in the Bone, and Split Tooth
  • Work team at full capacity and I’ve reclaimed my regular hours
  • Jan 18: Jon & Roy concert on Bowen was fantastic — especially in combination with sibs, nachos, burgers, beer and apple pie à la mode 🙂
  • Jan 22: Happily ended work early, made some excellent stir-fry and polished it off with a heavenly bowl of popcorn and a movie
  • Babka on points today!

light-hearted

I have such gratitude for the past few weeks of slowing down and enjoying the rhythm of the days: Christmas eats, beach-walks, books and movies, to name just a few of my favourite things. I hope in 2020 I can be more clear-headed and light-hearted and continue to find paths of wellness and gratitude going forward 🙂

From the film The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King:

Home is behind
the world ahead
and there are many paths to tread
Through shadow
To the edge of night
Until the stars are all alight

Mist and shadow
Cloud and shade
All shall fade
All shall
Fade

Cheers to surviving the 2010’s and stepping with confidence and inspiration into 2020.

–Sam

 

Where I went:

Those times when someone might ask: Seen any good movies lately? And everything short-circuits and I stand there looking silly… Here are 35 I came up with by putting myself on the spot, for your entertainment -and mine 🙂

staircase grayscale photography
Photo by MING-CHENG WU on Pexels.com

Charlie Wilson’s War
The Lego Batman Movie
The Biggest Little Farm
Shoplifters
The Vigilante
A Private War
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Buddy
Young Frankenstien
Antz
The Karate Kid
Becoming Astrid
The Fencer
I, Daniel Blake
The Black Panther
Wild Rose
Counterpart
The Little Prince
Million Dollar Baby
Brooklyn
If Beale Street Could Talk
Tolkien
Ice Age
A Star is Born
The Art of Racing in the Rain
A Hologram for the King
Rocket Man
Beauty and the Beast
The Snowman
Tracks
Jane
Inception
The Lion King
The Grizzlies
First Man

 

Adrift (13)

October 18: By Air to YVR

By the time we got on the plane, I was an emotional mess. I wanted to hit something. Instead, I squeezed into my seat, threw my coat over my crutches to avoid any further scrutiny and their possible removal and tried to settle down enough to enjoy the 8.5 hours it would take to land back at YVR.

Dinner and breakfast on the plane was a stomach-turning affair, and I was glad of the supply of Japanese snacks squirrelled away in my pack. I did not sleep.

I watched the film “Tolkien” for the first time, and Heddy Honigmann’s documentary on service dogs and their partners, “Buddy”. Both improved my mood considerably, as did snippets of “The Fellowship of the Ring”, and “Just for Laughs Gags.”

Adrift (4)

Oct 7: Decided to try ordering lunch to our cabin… Due to some confusion on the part of both guest and kitchen with a bit of a language barrier we ended up with small mountain of eats. Even getting it all into the room was a challenge for the delivery person, let alone into our stomachs! 

2 plates of quesadillas, 1 order of roast chicken and veggies, 1 bowl of chile with cornbread, half of a club sandwich and chips, 1 panini, 2 slices of chocolate cake and probably a dozen cookies later 😀  I personally was surprised we could stop laughing long enough to actually chew. Only the panini went to waste, but everything else went down well with a Heineken.

Oct 8: Still digesting… Watching movies, journalling, reading The Fellowship of the Ring. Life is good.

October 9: Gala #3. Captain announces that a Category 5 Super Typhoon named Hagibis is on the radar and tracking towards our ship and en route to Japan, just like us!

hunter-gather

man walking on road with orange bag surrounded by trees
Photo by Emre Kuzu on Pexels.com

Fall is my season. Especially after this summer. I’m not sure there was a day in there where I was not profusely perspiring. It was bloody hot. Hello climate change.

The world seems a bit less frantic in fall. Spring, everybody is hopeful and full of energy. Summer everyone is running around trying to get everything done while the sun shines. Winter and everyone gets tired of the dark and the snow and the rain. But fall is just a vibrant little season merging out of the fast lane, full of comfort foods and plans for cozy hibernations, and that is why I enjoy it so much.

I like being inside watching the sun’s light fade, hearing the rain fall, making some curry for dinner and curling up with my book(s), or a movie(s), or making some music. In the past 2 weeks, I’ve already started making a dent on my music, literary and film libraries, watched a few sunsets, made a grown up blanket fort, and have broken out the canned goods, soups and teas!

Listening to Bruce Cockburn’s album, Nothing but a Burning light, I had a vision of home on Malaview. Mom and Dad, my sister and brother, the two dogs, all of us home at the end of the day after work and school and soccer practice. It was dark and raining outside, Mom had made fajitas, the lights were soft, music playing from the stereo in the living room. We were hungry, happy and in that satisfying state of being just wet and dirty enough to know the outdoors have been throughly enjoyed and explored! And just coming together as a family for dinner. The atmosphere is one of absolute comfort, the food smells (and tastes) amazing. It popped into my head like a little movie and definitely made me smile.

>The last few days, it’s like I’ve been breathing in clouds of smoke and now in being provided with real oxygen, can actually breathe easy again. I need to find ways to get myself some more oxygen.

Looking forward to an honest to goodness holiday which begins in a few days. Really hoping to do quite a lot of eating, sleeping, visiting, exploring and enjoying of everything. Mom and I are off to Japan! Eeek!!

That’s the latest and greatest,

Hugs.

–Sam

 

more miles to the road (7)

Humanity is the spice of life! But honestly, guys! Where did all the genuine human beans get to? I’d like to meet a few, carry on a real conversation, have some fun, be in the same room, for more than 20 minutes every few months.

~

I mean, all of this wonderful, terrible and everything-inbetween stuff happens all the time, and I have almost nobody to share it with. Everyone seems too busy, or too tired, or just not interested in stuff I find captivating: dogs, books, food, people watching, movies/music, housing, voting, common sense/life-skills, exploration/adventure, mindfulness, mental health, science/climate change, current events, community & friendship.

>Had a great conversation with a friend about life in general, books, movies and food last week. (And also a movie and sushi with Forrest and Rube 🙂 ❤ )

>I went to the Passport Office recently and was anxious enough that I got nauseaous and gave myself a real, live, headache. I wanted to cry and disappear, but instead I problem-solved, tried my hardest to be grown up and sensible and spent a good 3 hours recharging at the library. (Fill out the application, drop it off, it’s that simple; well, it is and it isn’t! I did it, but it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns).

>The fire alarm went off at 4am on Monday, and boy was that an adrenaline rush! Was not impressed with the collective response, though I thought I was decently prepared myself: dressed at least, all the essentials, timely evacuation and communication with others. Recharged by star-gazing and eating peanut butter toast, watching Beasts of the Southern Wild, followed by a very early breakfast at the Waffle House and off to work by 9am.

>Listening to an elderly couple ordering breakfast was hilarious:

wife: “I’ll have the Special, and he will have the same thing but without the bacon. No bacon.”
husband: “I’ll have the one with the bacon.”
wife: (muttering)
husband: (adjusts hearing aid) “What?! No bacon? I want the one with the bacon!”

>Ironically, that evening, I conversed with a fellow transit traveler for a good 30 minutes about the neighbourhood and conversations with strangers, emergency response observations and shared experiences around vanishing shared spaces and meaningful connections. It was wonderful! 🙂

>Usually, it turns out that people I meet out in the world turn a blind eye, or are really excellent at making me really uncomfortable so that I end things and go home. Right now, there’s a highly intoxicated, talkative, possibly homeless, mentally ill person muttering and wandering the library, who everyone including me is pretending is invisible. They aren’t hurting anyone, but they are disruptive and nobody has any good ideas. This library has a security person, and he did just now engage with the individual appropriately and ask them to lower their voice, which is better than nothing. But what other options are there? People are people, not hot potatoes to be passed from place to place and resource to resource without ever finding the right supports.

So often I want very much to trade stories of the day with friends/family, get so that each of us feels connected and supported. But so often I feel so far removed. Sometimes I write it down instead (today) and sometimes I engage and use the space and speak with people in person or via phone. However, the library vibe is no longer conducive to writing at the present moment and I’ve come to the end of my retelling, so I am packing it in.

Looking back, it’s been a bumpy week, but overall a good one — though it is only Tuesday!

Make time for the people you love. Take care of yourself. Be well. 🙂

Thanks for reading.

–Sam

Good things (9)

agriculture animal black and white bull
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

  • fixed my work computer
    made a dent in the work faxes
    got work kudos
    ate good food
    played cello for hours
    slept for hours
    self-care IRL
    talked with mom
    saw the new lion king movie!!!
    sunday+monday = unremarkable + remarkably good
    feeling once more like a human being in the land of the living
    teamwork with people who understand what that means = YES!!! ❤

>AND, trying to reframe my busy mind from looking at things with a mechanical metaphoric lens (cars, roads, streets, cogs) to one of teamwork (herds, flocks, ecosystem) instead. I think this should help me take some of the pressure off, all around.

MOO!