like + as

Now that social media scheduling is up and running well I am relaunching the + project.

It's an idea I just can't shake and I think it might be interesting. So here goes + 2.0.

I've picked just one colour combo. That'll be all. I keep getting bogged down in the possibilities of what it can be and it's overwhelming. Eventually you have to make choices and go down one road.

2018.08.22 like + as.jpg

Sit down

Just sit down — or stand if you want to be ambitious like that — at your desk. That's it. That's as much as I usually force myself to do.

I don't have a grandiose theory of creativity. I have lots and lots of ideas. A whole cue card stack with projects to get to lingers nearby. Another pile is all of the things I've had ideas to draw. That doesn't even touch the lists. There are so many lists.

There are ideas and inspiration everywhere. I am a scavenger. 

I am also boring.

A lot of this is mundane. It's the same thing over and over again.

It's doing it until you get good.

Things I learned in fencing. Do it 200 times. Do it 200 more. Over and over again.

If you just sit down you'll find something useful to do. My hands, my brain they want something to do. It might not be the thing that desperately, urgently needs doing. Likely as a freelancer drifting about trying to make something of the time before me I don't have enough structure or deadlines for that anyways.

No there's just a lot of time and I need to find something to do with it.

So I sit and I know I'll find something to do.

It's written blog posts. Helped pick a new name for my photography store. Gotten me started on some photo editing.

It's unstructured and lose but it generally does the trick. If I sit here long enough something will happen. No promise it'll be good but it'll be something.

At home

Last week I was volunteering, which mostly involved spending time chatting with someone — a super easy gig. The person was an urban nerd who spent a couple of years living in the Netherlands. We had a lot in common.

It didn't take long to get to how much we missed Europe, how life there is easier and better, how most of the streets and buildings in Vancouver are awful compared to where we used to live, that the only reason people in Vancouver feel good about the quality of our city is that the rest of North America has somehow managed to be worse, that our social programs are a joke and our healthcare dysfunctional. It's not that I hate Canada so much as that after living in places that are doing things way better — in easy totally achievable ways — it's hard not to look at Canada with a critical eye.

I am getting better at not being annoyed by these things but it was nice to talk to someone who knew where I was coming from. Once you live in Amsterdam or Copenhagen even the nicer cities in Canada still feel sprawling and awful and trying to endure the dysfunction that is our government is pretty brutal. 

I want to do what I can to make Canada better, to fight for my beliefs. I'm in this place, I have to do what I can to make it better. Still, sometimes it feels like I'm far removed from what everyone here seems pretty happy to shrug their shoulders over.

When I planned my studies in Scotland I had it in the back of my mind that there was a good chance I'd stay. I thought about moving to Sweden, there's the eternal pull of Copenhagen. I felt very at home in Scotland. Too bad about that whole Brexit and anti-immigrant sentiment thing. If they were independent I'd peace out for a cheap flat in Glasgow pretty quickly. As is when I left it felt like a place where even white well-educated Canadians weren't very welcome — this is more a reflection of UK policy than how people act in Scotland.

So I came home. Back to this place that I like a lot more when I'm not actually here, when I'm far away, when I go on dates with people I can only kind of understand even though we are both native English speakers. There is something nice about being in a place where everyone just gets things and you don't have to explain as much, where people have heard of where you grew up and went for undergrad, where saying give 'er once doesn't elicit stares and confusion because no one has ever heard it before then becomes a catchphrase.

When I told my sister about my conversation during my volunteer shift she said that she thinks I should go back to Europe. It's something I think about more and more as time goes on. I wonder where I can go that will be safe, that will be mine, that will feel like home.

My plan when coming out to Vancouver was that this would be it. I'd move here, settle down, build a life. Then I figured out what the housing crisis really looks like and my life kind of fell apart. I'm doing a lot better than I was but I still can't picture a future here. I want a decent affordable place to live that is mine that I can fill with well-designed things and paint various pastel colours.

Today the smoke is so bad that I can't go outside without having trouble breathing. It's only going to get worse. That's another knock on this place.

I'm editing some of my photos from when I visited Copenhagen when I was in Edinburgh. Those streets will always feel like home. I liked that place. Life there was good and I was really happy. It was one of those rare times in my tumultuous twenties that I felt like I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing exactly where I was supposed to be doing it. I had my crew. I had a nice bike and a nice space to live in. I had everything I needed and it was great.

I'd like to feel that way again. I'd like to settle down and find somewhere that I can feel at home. More and more I wonder where that might be.

It goes on and on my friend

Recently someone asked me if I ever thought I'd catch up on my old photos, if I'd ever manage to go through them all and do whatever it is that I plan to do with them.

I answered no. Partially because that would take a really long time, even if photography was the only thing I was doing, which it's very much not, it would take a really long time. Then it would reset. Every photo, every new platform, every new disruptive technology is a new photo that needs editing and posting and doing something with.

Those photos in my backlog, for the most part, I did do something with. They're on Flickr or were on a blog. They got posted somewhere at some point. Just in a place that I no longer spend time or that is no longer up or a blog that ran out of free storage so I migrated to another to another to another.

It never ends. I'll always be dealing with it. I just hope I can do a smarter better job.

I'd love to get more of my photos up but I don't even know if that's really the point anymore. Having the files in order, tagged and well backed up, that's a good goal. Having a place where I post all of them, nah.

If I get them all up here or on Instagram or wherever who knows if it'll last.

These things generally don't. They're fleeting.

I have this place now. I can do what I can do and then deal with whatever's next when it hits.

In this age of crisis and chaos it's hard to think about the future, honestly I try not to because it just feels too scary and sad. All we have is this moment, we are promised nothing else. So for now I'm trying to keep Hootsuite fed. I'm trying to get print on demand running again. I want to post here. One day when money is less of an issue I'll do right by my files and have hard drives upon hard drives and some cloudy meatballs.

It's an imperfect mess but it is what it is.

I can still take pictures. I am going to enjoy it. I'm going to try not to repeat the file management mistakes I've made in the past.

Door closing

When I was a teenager I thought a great way to end a movie would be to have a scene where a person walks through a door of a home they're leaving, moving out of, and then closes it. The camera doesn't follow them it just stays focused on that door and that's it. The end. The end of time in that place, that part of their life, the end of the story.

It seems simple and elegant.

I think of that image whenever I move.

Leaving a place, somewhere you have lived, always feels strange and surreal. Sometimes I'm sad to go. Sometimes I have other things on my mind. Always the chaos of moving and packing and trying to decipher which possessions you actually need and want. That feeling like you own all together too many things and they might just eat you. The frustration of knowing that you have something but that it's in one box or another.

I just moved. Something I knew was going to happen, something I should be excited about.

The last several months of my life has been hard and a lot of things have happened to me. I was more than happy to leave where I was living and get a new start. A bold period was the punctuation mark of choice. Over. Done. New start. New home. New part of town. No reminders, no walking by the things telling me how much of a mess my life was.

Then there's the boxes. You have to unpack, make it work for the new space.

It's bigger and I like the furniture better.

I am trying not to fixate on the various ways in which the building and location are probably toxic and killing me. I did it for the last building and I'm sure I'd do it for anywhere else. Part of it's reasonable, part of it's not. I should spend less time thinking about how the world is toxic and killing me. Then again the world should be less toxic and more should be done to stop things from killing me or slowly poisoning me.

It's nice being closer to things, having more to do nearby. It's nice having a bigger room. It's nice to finally have this hard chapter in my life end. For so long all I wanted was for the housing drama and the injuries and health issues to end. For the door to close, for me to be ready to move on.

After getting here, to this new place, that I will slowly feel more and more settled in, I decided to listen to Sun In An Empty Room by the Weakerthans. It's moving related:

Now that the furniture’s returning to its Goodwill home
With dishes in last week’s papers, rumours and elections, crosswords, an unending war
That blacken our fingers, smear their prints on every door pulled shut.
Now that the last month’s rent is scheming with the damage deposit

And:

Know that the things we need to say
Have been said already anyway
By parallelograms of light
On walls that we repainted white

Sun in an empty room

Take eight minutes and divide
By ninety million lonely miles
And watch the shadow cross the floor
We don’t live here anymore

It fits right?

There's also another song that I can't place or track down that feels like it's by the Maccabees and has a lyric referring to box cutters. I can't figure out what it is but I can picture album art from my high school cd stack and hum a tune.

The beauty of the door closing image is that in a movie, or book, any kind of story really, there's just the end. It keeps going but you don't get to know what happens — blah blah sequels but that's not the point. I really like the ending of Firefly because it's so mundane. They are just doing their thing. No drama, just life.

In reality you don't stay on the other side of the door. You are in a truck or taxi going somewhere else, going to what's next. Tired, wondering. Trying to say goodbye as best you can while dealing with life as it comes at you.

Disheveled

"Do you ever wonder where Harry's family got their money from," my sister texts me.

"No," I write back.

"I know how they got their money."

And I do. Partially because I read it on Pottermore at some point and partially because it relates to one of the things that I always noticed in Harry Potter: hair. Not the sexy cool chique kind of hair, the it has a mind of its own and does what it does kind of hair, the I'm kind of baffled by how to deal with it and am always vaguely disheveled kind of hair.

Several times during the books — which I kind of want to binge read just to find every mention — it is noted that characters, especially Harry, have hair that is out of control and that they look and feel somewhat disheveled. If I could pick one word to describe my hair during the top bun era spanning from my time in Copenhagen until a few weeks ago disheveled would be it. I guess I always connected with those passages.

For those of you who are wondering why this somewhat rambling blog post — clearly not longtime readers — still hasn't explained the Harry's money link here it is: his grandfather invented that hair taming product that Hermione wears to the ball during the Triwizard Tournament. It tames any hair with just a couple of drops and is apparently very lucrative.

When I was a wee Rhi I loved Harry Potter — during the sixth grade I may or may not have been super obsessed with it — I don't really do moderation. I was so enthusiastic that when my school was asked by CBC to find a student in grade 5/6 — split classes were the most fun, I always had friends in the other grade and had to start again the following year — my teacher selected me to go to the premier of the first movie at Chinook Mall and then to review it on TV filmed at the old Plaza Theatre. Feel free to try and track down footage. There may be a copy on a VHS tape somewhere in my parents scary basement.

During that CBC review I'm sure I said it was fantastic and the best ever just like any obsessed sixth grader hand picked for a really cool opportunity would. But later on I never quite liked the Harry Potter movies. The hair just wasn't quite right. It didn't look disheveled in the way I'd imagined it being. Daniel Radcliffe just didn't look the way I'd thought Harry would. It always threw me. Still does.

Lynn Valley

From hiking at Lynn Valley. I've been meaning to check it out for a while.

I made it across the suspension bridge. It was harrowing and my heart race took a few hours to go back to normal but I did make it. Bridges are not my favourite thing. Suspension bridges are basically the worst thing ever. So I was pretty proud. Overcome your fears and what not. Try not to get stuck or curl up into a ball halfway across.

I did find a route that involves not crossing a suspension bridge so if I'm there in the future I'll probably do that instead.

The hike was pretty. I find the cliff diving thing confusing. At first I saw the signs and was like well that's a bit much then I was like oh yeah that makes sense.

I mean I hardly managed to cross the suspension bridge so there's no way I was gonna jump off a cliff.

Humans are weird.

It was cool watching the splashes after people jumped in. And the water was a beautiful greenish colour. Fantastic.

As usual I felt over dressed and hard core. Having a father whose catchphrase could be "Ticks really freak me out" has motivated me to take tick precautions whenever I hike even if everyone else is in flip-flops. I already have enough nerve damage going on. Not looking for any more.

Trees in black and white

I spend a fair amount of time in parks and forests — something something landscape architecture.  Something I've noticed is the intense contrast between the light in the shade where the leaves block the light and the light where the sun gets in and makes it to the ground. It's a big difference. So I figured I'd take some shots of it and edit them into black and white and push the contrast.

I don't know if this works.

Jump

At some point when I was a teenager my fencing coach decided that it was really important for us to be good at skipping. Every training session for a couple of weeks he'd pull out some skipping ropes and we'd be forced to use them for five or ten minutes.

I was terrible. Really really awful.

Apparently I don't have the rhythm or timing or something. There is something about me that just doesn't get how to make it over the rope and keep it going.

It didn't last. He gave up. It was just one of those things that he was not going to be able to make me good at.

I've been dealing with some shoulder/arm/back injuries lately. Now that I'm back to being able to workout post-concussion I'm trying to find things I can do to try and strengthen the areas associated with those injuries as much as possible. Basically I confer with Pinterest and try whatever exercises the cool graphics tell me — I am broke so going to the gym is out.

Well they have recommended jump rope. It's good for several parts of me that are messed up. It's good for cardio. It basically would be perfect if only I was more capable of doing it.

First step was going and getting a rope, not a random too big one, but one that meets my needs and I can adjust. I got a light Nike one that the dude at Sport Chek recommended.

I figured out how to cut it down in length and adjust it.

Still I am pretty awful. Three or four rotations is an accomplishment.

Getting both feet over, getting a rhythm going, not happening.

This morning I googled it. Looked up technique, length recommendations. So I now am looking better while failing about the same amount.

That's not entirely the point. I know that I am terrible, I know that doing ten in a row would be huge. The goal is to spend a few minutes every day more or less failing horribly at this thing.

Maybe just maybe all these years later I will be the skipper that my fencing coach desperately wanted me to be.

Jose

I had this plan. That during July I'd work really hard on my files I'd be basically done.

Shockingly that's not going to happen.

I could just work really really hard on it, feel like I'm getting nowhere and be miserable. Or I can go with the system that works much better for me: sit/stand at my desk and find something, anything useful to do. I don't really care what. If I am here something will happen. If I draw great, if I write great, if I sort through the files great.

I do need to remember that the files never end. That this is something I have to do all the time like cleaning my room. I need to set aside bits of time consistently to be on top of it every day. This one hard drive will not solve it.

Cumbersome outdoor laptops

If there's one thing in the world that makes me crazy it's leaving my house with my laptop. It's weird and doesn't make sense but I really hate taking it with me when I'm doing stuff. I don't even really like walking a few blocks to a cafe with it.

Now that I have the stand and the keyboard and the mouse and am trying hard to take care of my back and shoulders and neck better it is even more cumbersome. There's a lot of stuff.

I am at a cafe, going out into the world, because it's nice to leave home and be near other humans. I also know that at times I need to take my laptop outside. And by at times I mean every day for the next three years. I know it's going to bug me and that I need to get better at dealing with that.