Saturday, November 29, 2014


i've heard a lot of people say or write it in a bunch of different ways and i've always mostly believed it.. what you think is what you get. the power of intention, thoughts manifest reality, however you want to put it. attitude in general tends to shape our experience.

every time i change my mind, so changes my situation. perhaps i'm more in control than i allow myself to believe. i have a hard time with decisions most of the time, and i tend to wait for some sort of a sign before making a choice. but i can't help but wonder if those signs were mine to begin with. the signs are perhaps from my subconscious finally deciding, and showing me what i want to see. follow the yellow brick road..

what seemed like the toughest decision at first has become clear to me, no matter what way i cut it, i'm dead set on giving up my Ontario residency. but i have to pick a province.. my driver's permit is only good for so long, and i'll have to choose a place to be to upgrade. for years i didn't ever want to drive, but there are so many opportunities i have allowed to pass by because of saying no to the ultimate mode of mobility. if i stay in BC it'll take two years before i can take a test for a full license that will be transferable to other provinces. in order to stay here though i need to make a lot more money, and in order to afford to drive, i need a better job that requires me having a license. so..

at the moment i'm living on a prayer, and gently leaning on a line of credit. it's a little unnerving not knowing if and when i'll be able to pay it back, but fuck that shit anyways it's numbers on a screen. i can't help but worry about it much like 99% of the population, but at the same time.. it's hard to give a shit about money at times. maybe that's why i never have any.. but i'm working on that.

anyways.. as soon as i made the decision to finish getting my drivers permit, more opportunities immediately began to present themselves, and even line up for the time i'll be able to drive. i'd been batting around the idea of going to Alberta for the past couple weeks, and during that time dozens of job opportunities have been screaming my name there for double the pay.. but that winter tho! seriously.. seven months of bullshit cold, shortest growing season, and crazy far from the sea. all things i'm not really down with, especially considering my excitement regarding finally existing in a place where the ground doesn't freeze solid and get a ton of snow.

other things too. like when i decided that having a social/party life was of ultimate importance my schedule reflected that. i only worked one shift on the weekends for a month straight. as soon as i had the thought 'if i keep going like this i'm going to destroy myself'' everything changed. my days off coming are Wednesday and Sunday. that seems a little safer. thanks, i think?  yeah. right down to the people in my life.. near and far. sometimes it's hard to remember at the end of the day it's your choice who you allow to be a part of your life. for a while i was overcomplicating my process of decision making by allowing far too much input from outside sources. lately i've been far more 'selfish' than usual, having more concern for my own needs before considering what others want from me. it's... liberating.

work tonight, off at 4 in the morning. which reminds me, i have something to say about that... later.

Monday, November 17, 2014

a simple life

after a few months of freedom, wandering, and generally having no plan, it's nice to have settled down somewhere for the winter. a warm bed and a space heater are heavenly when the overnight temperature hits zero. of course to pay for the luxury of my very own room and bed, i had to get working again.

before my leave, my life had become a pattern of escape. everything i did, every dollar i spent beyond my basic needs, and every moment i could spare was devoted to escaping the routine of my everyday life. my credit card is still suffering from multiple out-of-town bus trips and the last couple pieces of camping gear. now that i've made the biggest journey of all, i no longer feel the tension and restlessness of feeling stuck. i can just relax and enjoy the simple things.

being so far removed from what was once my life, i have come to realize, as one does, what is really important in my day-to-day. i don't really need a lot of the things i had accumulated, but it wasn't so easy to see when i was surrounded by them. so many things that i held on to i'm now more ready than ever to let go of. so much unnecessary clutter, memorabilia, stuff. people too, 'toxic relationships' i think they're called... yeah. anyhoo, i'm still anxious as ever to return home and sort through the storage locker i'm paying to hold on to. three more months..

i'm grateful to have found a job with a simple role. show up on time, bust ass, put the things where they go, go home. no further responsibility, no telling others what to do, just good old fashioned hard work. the simple wage only affords me the basics, which is likely for the best in keeping me out of trouble. the schedule might kill me a little, but my lack of attachment allows me to look elsewhere for other opportunities and play whatever cards i choose.

having this clarity and space along with other random happenings turned quick lessons, i'm now remembering the comfort that comes with detachment and transience. my focus in the coming months will be to get rid of as many things and expenses as possible, while trying to remember not to accumulate anything i don't particularly need at the moment. every time i think of buying something i think.. do i really need this? i try to do this all the time now, question my 'needs' and give it a day or a week to simmer. for instance there's some small appliance type things i'd like to have for the kitchen, but i have to think how long-term am i planning on staying in this house? i'd just purchased a bunch of such things and yard tools for my house a few provinces away, and clearly they're no use to me here.

 it's difficult to project too far into the future, which is to say, i suppose i'm succeeding at becoming impermanent. the furthest into the future i can tell is that i have a job until the end of January where i'm at if i can stick it out, and a bus ride back to Ontario. so far at this point i plan to keep the room in Vancouver while i'm gone which will give me a chance to either come back and continue living in it while seeking other employment, or come back and retrieve what little will be left behind while i go home; my gear and most of my clothes. so far i'm thinking to get on the bus with nothing but a few changes of clothes and some food, and pillage the locker for all that i can upon my return.

that is, of course, if i decide by then that i'm staying on the west coast..

either way, from there, i'm back to living a little more day by day as i was when i first got out here. scrambling, and beyond broke of course, but happy to be alive. for now i'll take a moment to enjoy the simple life. for now, that's all there is.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

before i forget..

six months ago already. something changes when the mother passes, something..

a sudden silence. i still remember that night. it was the last night of my vacation, i'd spent the week prepping the garden so that my brother and i could bring her to see it for mother's day. i couldn't sleep... it was warm, the first warm night of the year.

earlier that week i'd talked to her on the phone. she sounded happy, but her voice was distant. she had finally knocked the last thing off her list, she found her best friend. and there was one more surprise, a baby kitten. new life.. pure joy. she named him punkin, after the first kitty i remember having as a child.

months before, after the last of many attempts at taking her own life, we had a conversation about happiness. i remember telling her the very same bit of advice that had gotten me through the darkest days of my own journey.. you can't rely on a single other person in this world to make you happy. not your parents, not your children, not your husband or your best friend.. the only person in the whole world that can make you happy is you. and then i asked her, what is it that you want? what can you do to make you happy?

she sat quietly for a moment.

she turned her head and looked at me, and flashed a smile full of broken rotted teeth. "i want my smile back" she said, and laughed. she started to make a list. dentures, dignity. some way to get out of this house, a car was out of the question.. scooter. she missed her best friend.. a phone call. to find a new apartment.. home.

there were a few other things on the list that i was not aware of. she wanted to speak to her sister again, something she hadn't done [without a fight] in years, which she finally did the day before. she wanted cable television. she wanted to know that her children would live a good life.

it was a long and terribly cold winter. i didn't get to visit her often, but she'd gotten herself a cell phone so that she could text. one day i got a message saying that she was going to have all of her teeth pulled. the start of the process. for months after, she would wait toothless until she could be fitted for her dentures. she had to pay quite a bit out of her disability pension to get it done, but she didn't seem to mind.

one day in february i received a frantic phone call. she was on a mission uptown and her loaner scooter crapped out on the side of the road. it was far too cold for the battery to keep going, and not knowing what else to do, i paid for a handycab to go and pick it up. she was on a waiting list for that too, to have a new scooter of her very own. it was starting to look more and more like it wouldn't happen, they kept telling her she wasn't 'eligible' for a new one. she remained patient.

at some point in that jumble of time and spending of money, she had missed a rent payment. she was about to lose her home. by some grace of god or the universe or something, after the threat of being put out in the cold, she came up with the money to make the rent. she realized then that the place she was at was where she wanted to remain. she could check home off the list.

a couple more months had passed as she sat waiting. even though it was starting to look as though she might not get everything that she wanted, she refused to give up hope. one day out of nowhere she got a phone call from the mobility specialists, 'your scooter is ready, we will bring it by tomorrow'. she was so happy she called me right away. it was even candy apple red, just as she'd hoped for.

within the next few weeks everything was coming together. she had reunited with her best friend and partner, she finally got herself some cable tv, she even got a hand-me-down big screen from my brother to enjoy it on. and spring was coming, with her new wheels she could get out to enjoy the sun.

the most exciting thing for her had to be the teeth. she got them just in time for easter dinner. i told her, whatever she wanted to eat with her new teeth, i'd make it happen. i already knew what she would say.. chinese! on my way to her house that easter sunday, i picked up a serving of all of her favourites. fried rice, sweet and sour chicken, wonton soup and all the fixins. she had the biggest smile i'd ever seen when i came through the door. i wish i had taken a picture, had i known...

and then the questions. 'are you alright?' ..i wondered why she was asking. yeah of course i'm alright what do you mean? she meant in general. she asked if my brother and i were well. i told her that finally after years i'd found a place to call home, and somewhere to start my farm. i have a decent steady job, and good things to look forward to. my brother, he's alright too. he's about to get his full license, is making more money than i do, and has a lovely girlfriend that treats him good. all the things a mother loves to hear. her children grew up successful and happy despite everything. we talked for a while longer, she said she was happy too.

that was the last time i'd seen her. i had to leave, and for the first time when we hugged goodbye, she didn't cry. she smiled again when i turned around to close the door, so i put down my backpack and returned for one more hug and kiss.

many years of her life were spent in the throes of physical and emotional pain, addiction and mental illness. the last decade her body slowly gave out. she was due to have a pacemaker, a section of her intestines removed which would mean shitting in a bag the rest of her life, and three times a week dialysis. she'd suffered a heart attack, had a brush with skin cancer, and lived with a degenerating spine for as long as i could remember. she had far surpassed the point of no return as far as her health goes, and yet she still managed to pull herself together to find peace, joy and happiness in the last few months in her body.

cause of death: organ failure due to overdose. no one will ever know for sure if it was accidental or on purpose, especially given her history of attempts. what i do know is she was ready to go. this time, i couldn't be angry. this time, there was no text message, no letter, no phone call. just a silence in the night. this time it was not in anger or fear or despiration. there was no spite, or hatred for the world that consumed her. she was happy, and she made it all happen herself. not a single other person in this world...

"for the first time in my life i can say, i'm finally happy. i got my wheels, i got my teeth, i got my cable tv... i have my best friend here, my kids are happy... i have everything i need. oh and guess what, i got a kitten!"

i could hear a little meow, and she was laughing. i was standing in the garden covered in dirt when the phone cut out. that was the last time we spoke. no last i love you, no last goodbye.. the line is still open.


mom, i miss you every day. even though it breaks my heart to know i'll never hug you again, i'm glad you no longer have to suffer. thank you for this life, for my brother, and for all the lessons. thanks for holding on long enough for us all to realize what is important in this life. family, hope, happiness, helping one another, and above all, love...

Friday, November 7, 2014

all for what?

there's a few mistakes in my life that i'm glad i made early on.. one of them is doing things for the sake of others without really considering myself or how i feel about it. i've done that a lot in my past. most particularily returning to and staying in a place i didn't want to be. all in all i'm glad i did because friendships and positive relationships came to be that wouldn't have otherwise, but in the grand scheme i was fairly uncomfortable.

being at where you came from isn't easy, especially when where you came from houses the demons of your past. these demons are not just my own, i shared them with the other streets, other addicts.. and they're still out there doing the dirt. i think one of the most uncomfortable things about being in my hometown is not being able to walk down the road without them seeing me, calling at me.. hating me for rising out of the dirt to become a working-class citizen, able to afford shoes without holes and food from the market. they feel entitled to what i've earned.. a couple would threaten to jump me. having my back up all the time, i never realized how much tension it was causing me on a daily basis. anxiety welled up in my throat every time i'd go to leave the house or work.

i had a sort of sanctuary in my back yard. the garden we would build in the summer was tall enough to block the view from the road, and private enough to camp and have a fire. when my garden was suddenly under attack by vandals i felt like my bubble had been burst. the last place i could feel safe was no longer mine. the garden i'd built in memory of my mother had to be sacrificed.

she's a big part of the reason i stuck around. i'd use other things as excuses, like a boyfriend or some other situation, but really i felt horribly guilty for leaving her to rot in that place alone. even though i'd only see her seldom as at times we could barely stand one another's company, i couldn't go far for long. a lot of what i did i did for her without even realizing. i think she realized it before i did, and the weight of that guilt added to her discontent. staying in the city that consumed her was another big factor in my urge to take leave.

i'm not saying she gave up on life to let me live mine, but i know that's how she felt at times. she would tell me that she felt like she was holding me back. though i insisted otherwise. now that she's gone it's almost like she isn't gone at all. she's more with me now than she was when she was living. people talk to god when they witness the beauty of this life or become afraid, i talk to my mother. she's around. i know she'd be happy that i made it out alive. and when i hit a hilltop or venture down by the water and say, 'hey ma, check this view!' she can hear me.

so what am i here for? do i want to go back? am i homesick? these are questions that have been coming up these days. i'm here for the adventure. everything is a challenge, it's all brand new. i think i'd like to enjoy that for a while. i'm here for me, because i want to be, because it makes me feel good. i like being surrounded by mountains and close to the coast. i thoroughly enjoy the view from my part-time landscaping job up on the harbour. i love that i can hop on a ferry and leave the mainland from here. i love that there's salmon and eagles and bears all within reach. i'm stoked about this place that i'm staying in, that there's new housemates every week from all over the world, and i get to tell them about all the places in Canada they want to hear about because i've been to most of them. i love the climate zone here, and that the spring comes early and fall drags on. i love not having my back up all the time...

the only reason i would want to go back is the people i miss. my friends and extended family, a lot of whom i'd seldom see. though it's amazing to have them close by, the discomfort i'd have to endure to keep them at arm's reach almost makes it moot. thanks to technology it's a lot easier to keep in touch than it was even the last time i took off from the homeland, which certainly helps. i do have a select few friends where i'm at now, thankfully so.

am i homesick? ...i am home. maybe it just hasn't hit me yet, but there's been no urges to go back. i'm waiting for it, still giving it a chance to sink in, and another 'major holiday' to pass, christmas and the new year. if i make it through that, i think i'll be okay. i'll miss going to my folk's house out in the country to sit and talk life with them around the white tree sipping kahlua and listening to the trans siberian orchestra. i already do miss random roadtrips with my baby brother, and latenight tea with my girlfriend down the way. i miss my team, i miss my housemates and the animals and my partner in crime.. will it bring me back? maybe. but not right yet. this is for me.

Monday, November 3, 2014

November in Raincouver

i was warned about the weather. yeah sure there's no snow in the winter, but there isn't much to be seen of the sun either. for the most part it's working in my favour right now, the overcast skies and sundown at five makes for easy day sleeping when working the night shift. my two new housemates however are not as impressed.

one comes from France, and the other from Australia. both are overwhelmed by the rain thus far, but both had made the decision to start their Canadian journeys here in Vancouver to dodge most of the typical Canadian winter.. sub-zero temps and lots of snow. well, it doesn't rain all day every day... but yeah, every day.

like most other things so far on this adventure, i even managed to luck out on my work schedule. i work every other night and a day shift Friday, so the only overnight on the weekend is Saturday night. better than no weekend at all.. and it just works out that i can still do the gardening gig wednesdays before working wednesday night, then i can crash out all day thursday. i'll have to either find another part-time job for days in the winter, or pick up more hours at this place to make it through. this place is expensive.. but still worth it.

a monthly transit pass here is a worthy investment, especially in the winter months. i was starting to go a little stir crazy there not being able to speed around town besides work and back, now i can go on random mini adventures even if it's just to an Asian market downtown to get some cheap fruit.

halloween was pretty sweet. and once again, my weekend was blessed by some unexpected good company. i handed out candy to a couple hundred kids while we hung out on the front porch waiting to hit up a punk show. by some sort of miracle, it stopped raining early afternoon on halloween, and the sun came out the next morning for most of the day. after partying all night long it was nice to crawl out onto the back porch with a big cup of tea and soak up the sun. after days of not seeing it, one can't help but smile regardless of the level of hangover.

ahh life is good. crazy, unpredictable, and somewhat out of order, but good no less. i love that i still never have any idea what day of the week it is. i suppose i should take a nap or something to prepare for work tonight, at least my schedule is just as awkward as my natural lack of a sleeping pattern. so far it's working out well. i need to go fall over now.. happy November. onward!