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.

Getting into gear

I found this quote in Austin Kleon's newsletter — email I actually want to receive and that says a lot because I am drowning in email — sometimes I hit inbox zero and I'm like please no one ever try to contact me ever again so I can bask in the perfection of this glorious achievement.

It's about stuff, another thing I have just way too much of. I want things to be simple, and easy, but generally it feels like there's just a lot of stuff. Some of it I don't need — I am triaging some of my mugs before moving because apparently my new roommate also poses mugs and I don't want a box of them in my closet — but a lot of it I do. The light pad, the laptop stand, the camera, the lenses, the hard drives, the pens, the paper. I do too many things and they all come with stuff.

Having too much gear is one of the worst things in the world. The more gear you have, the less you do.
— Jim O’Rourke

I'm trying to get to that Goldilocks spot where I have everything I need and nothing more. One day.

I was on the Aquabus on my birthday because I've been missing the ferries in Scotland and thought it would help — it did. The boat operator noticed that I was taking a lot of pictures of the water and asked about my camera. He was a photographer too. I mentioned my wrist injury and he said that he has L Series lenses but they're really heavy so he never uses them, and likes the small and simple mirrorless way better. I couldn't agree more.

Unwelcome discoveries and setbacks

I thought I was making really good progress, that things were going much better than I could've hoped, that I'd be done soon.

Then I found a folder filled with folders filled with folders filled with folders.

Now I get to go back to where I was. Sorting files. Going through duplicates of duplicates of duplicates.

It'll take another week to get back to where I thought I was.

It's frustrating.

There are worse things in the world but that feeling where you thought you were making great progress only to discover that you missed something.

Alas.

I hope to be done by the end of the month so I can move on to bigger and better things.

This has to get dealt with. The chaos and dysfunction. Not knowing where anything is.

I need order and a good system in order to get started on things.

Once this blog was in a place I liked I started using it.

When I'm not doing something I want to be doing I'll stop and think about why. What is stopping me? There's usually a reason.

I can't do my creative projects and a bunch of stuff I have in mind until my files are in something vaguely resembling order. So I just have to keep plugging away.

It took me years to get into this mess. I'm closer and closer to getting out of it.

Time goes by

Growing up I loved the movie Practical Magic. It might be the magic, the storytelling prowess of Alice Hoffman, having a sister. Maybe it's the soundtrack.

I've listened to that soundtrack over and over and over again. It fits perfectly with the movie and goes great on its own.

My favourite songs are the two Stevie Knicks songs. They are beautiful and real.

Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Knicks were a part of my childhood. I was not named after the song Rhiannon, though I do love people who know it because they are familiar with my name. It is less fun when they sing it to me. That mostly just feels awkward.

There's a particular lyric in particular a song off that soundtrack that I've been thinking about lately. If I ever did believe goes a little something like this:

And the days go by
Doing nothing about them

I am feeling better generally. Mostly. Not always. There can be new fun unexpected things but mostly things are getting better.

I am trying to get back to normal. To routines. To being productive.

And I am getting stuff done. It just often feels like I'm not. Or that the things I'm getting aren't worthwhile or useful. That the days just go by and I have no idea what happened to them.

It's great working from home but it also feels unstructured and unmoored. Like I am always working but also getting nothing done. Just a long endless swath of time that I need to find something to do with.

The world cup doesn't help but I've felt this way a lot these past couple of years. My general goal is to do something, anything that is useful or productive. It helps if it's something that I really need to or ought to be working on but I will settle for whatever pops into my head and seems like it demands to be done. Clean out the cooler. Vacuum. Transfer all your old blog posts to this new website. Organize and sift through all the digital clutter that is making your head explode. Watch an hour and a half talk that is super inspiring and relates to stuff I am really interested in.

It is doing something. Over time there are things to show for it. Just not in a 9–5 structured kind of way.

I need to both try to be more efficient and focused as well as to let go of the anxiety and guilt about not doing enough.

The time will go by either way.

With a little help from my friends

I love the Swiss Miss newsletter. I hate getting email but I always open this one. It brightens my day.

The latest edition included this quote:

It’s as simple and as complex as that. You’re the only you that’s ever been. Keep showing up despite the chaos. Be humble in the pursuit of your art and ruthless about finding the time to make it. Find friends with whom you can weather the tragic gaps. Give one another loving, honest feedback and teach each other how to make money in weird, sustaining ways. Collaborate and commiserate. Make relationships that are reciprocal, not transactional. Make lives that aren’t easy, but rife with good material. Make art that matters.
— Courtney Martin

I am a sucker for a good quote. And this is a good quote.

It's got the simple and complex thing. Because it really is that easy and that hard. You just have to do it. As best as you can. Even though you don't really know how.

The main thing I like about this is the find friends part. Because I have found some friends, a crew of sorts, of the kind I've been longing for since I finished undergrad and the easy friendships that come with close proximity and common existences.

I had no idea when I took that job at that bike store or got involved with the Bike Root what would happen, where it would take me. I had no idea that I was finding my people, a group of fantastic wonderful people. That it would lead me to friendships and love and community and belonging.

Having good friends isn't something you should take for granted. When I was an undergrad I did. I don't anymore. Instead, tonight I am grateful for the friends that I have found because they are pretty fantastic.

 

Wind on your face

Cherry blossoms like so many things in this world are fleeting. You can try and chase them, to time the day right. You can also just enjoy them while you have them.

I've had Hitching Rides With Buddha by Will Ferguson for a while. The pages, when I actually sat down to read them, were fleeting. They passed quickly. Now it's over. I've finished this book and since I rarely re-read books I doubt I'll be back round this way.

I did very much enjoy this book. It was as easy to read as it was to misplace. It did not sit safely on a shelf. It is much underlined.

It's the type of book that reminds me of why I wanted to be a writer in the first place and why I am working on a travel book of my own. I've always loved travel writing — basically since I first encountered it in junior high or high school. It was what I wanted to do when I grew up.

I've been making progress on things. Feeling a bit better while also trying to make peace with the fact that I might feel kind of crappy from now on. I have three big goals for the end of August and I am on my way to achieving each of them.

This book is another lesson on getting stuff done. I spend a lot more time thinking about the thing and not doing it than actually doing it.

Sure actually dealing with my poor file choices made over a decade is a lot of work. Sure editing a book is a lot of work. Mostly I just feel overwhelmed or tired and make excuses not to deal with it.

Yesterday I went to a cute cafe, now with easel because of back pain, and edited my book. It could be good. I come off as being really anxious. Really anxious. I guess I am a lot of the time. It also has some of my Rhi humour at moments.

I'm glad I'm doing it. In high school a book, like the one I just read, was to me the greatest thing a human could achieve. You get there by doing it. Bit by bit. By actually doing it. Making the time, instead of the excuses.

It's nice to have these crisp and fantastic sentences to remind me of why I'm doing this in the first place.

Home sweet home: Some thoughts on this here dominion of Canada

Today marks the union of the original provinces making up Canada. It's a day of crowded streets and fireworks. Often it's a day or not much going on.

Perhaps it's a day on which we should all reflect on this big vast land and its diverse people, its past and its future, its charms and its flaws.

I am lucky to be a Canadian. There is such enormous privilege that I gain by being born in this place. I have a high quality of life and am well-educated. I have a passport that lets me do just about anything I want. My nationality gains me respect and favour I've done nothing to deserve. It's easy to forget this.

Then there's the voice in my head that is disappointed with Canada, with our mediocrity, with our lack of action, with our endless willingness to tolerate dysfunction, with our better than the Americans slogan. I often find this place and its culture and its policies and its institutions to be enormously frustrating. We are often not a land of best practices, or one that even tries very hard to live up to its own ideals.

I mean we are the land of universal healthcare yet we fail to ensure many vital services including prescriptions, ambulance rides, vaccines, dental, optometry and physiotherapy. It's a bit crazy for a country that picked Tommy Douglas as its greatest Canadian.

We also have a horrible record on the environment and climate change. Too much money to be made to think of the future.

I lack faith in our institutions especially those that through an outdated electoral system give us one of two parties, neither of which represent me or reflect my values.

So what am I doing here? I thought about moving to Europe. To Denmark or Sweden or the Netherlands or Scotland but then I came home. Part of it was Brexit. Part of it was that being in Canada is a lot easier. This place has to take me. It has to give me healthcare. It has to let me do whatever work I feel like. That's not true anywhere else.

It's easy to be here. It makes sense. I share a culture and language and set of values with the people around me. I don't have to explain things. It just makes sense. As much as I struggle to feel like I belong much of anywhere in this world I do feel like it's easy to be in Canada. This place feels like home more than anywhere else I've tried thus far.

I complain a lot about Canada, about our flaws and imperfections, especially healthcare. I want us to strive more and to do better. To not just shrug through problems but to actually want to solve them, to hold ourselves to higher standards on some of these issues. I do it because I want this place to be as good as it can be and because I think it's worth fighting for.

If anything I like the ideal of Canada. A decent progressive polite place filled with beauty and nature. A place of Canadian English, a magical and amusing dialect of English that I adore. A place that I am from and am in now. A place that I am happy to fight to make better.

True or false creek

I wish I was a calmer person. I sometimes joke that my goal is to be lukewarm because I'm never going to be chill.

There is one thing that without fail makes me feel calm and at peace: going for a walk by the water. It's like magic.

There is something fantastic and irresistible about water.

After hanging out with some friends tonight I decided to stroll along False Creek from Olympic Village towards where I can catch my bus past Granville Island. It's a bit of a ways but it's nice and there are only going to be so many moments in my life when I have the chance to take it in. 

It's a beautiful walk.

Starting with the Olympic Village. The fact that I will never be able to live there aside the built form is nice and quite successful.

The Seawall is Vancouver at its best. Nature, water, landscape architecture, the False Creek Ferries, towers and podiums rises on the other side. A seal. A fresh stretch of pathway with separate spaces for cyclists and pedestrians with nice benches in between.

Flowers, trees. I stop to say hi to them and gawk at how pretty they are.

Always the water. Rippling and reflecting and serene.

It makes me feel small and peaceful in that way humans really need to feel small and peaceful. When all else fails the water makes me feel calm and like it will all work itself out. It's been a hard few months. A lot of things have gone wrong all at once. No matter what I know that the water is there if I need it. For a few moments I can stroll and connect to the beauty and wonder of this world. The same way I feel when I wander the forest near my house or when I strolled up the Salisbury Craigs in Edinburgh and my troubles melted away.

There are some Buddhists who believe that nature is a religious experience. That walking in the mountains or feeling the wind on your face is the manifestation of enlightenment. Walking by the water I completely agree.

Sound and the City

A few years ago, and by a few I mean a few, my sister sent me an audio postcard from London where she was living at the time. It had recordings of different spots around the city. I really loved the concept of it. Little snippets of these places and spaces. Capturing the experience of what it was like to be there.

I've always felt that need to capture experiences. To share them. To document them. That's part of why I spent a big chunk of the last 24 hours going through old blog posts and moving them here. It's tedious but I feel a need to do it. Because then it's all here. Every post. Every lousy post. And a couple of good ones.

That way I can look back at where I've been and in a way see a bit of how I got to here.

I can see the work, the evolution and think about who i was and what I was doing.

When I look back on my life and all the things I've done I have words and images to document them and to place me back into that moment. I think that's pretty cool.

After receiving the audio postcard I came up with the idea of doing my own audio postcards. I came up with a project called Sound and the City that never went anywhere. I did some audio recordings and a basic design but that was pre-podcast and I didn't do much with it.

Nowadays I spend most of my time listening to podcasts. They are my main form of entertainment, a way to feel connected, to learn, to be challenged. I am who I am and I'm doing what I'm doing in large part because of podcasts.

I think about starting a podcast. A lot.

It started with me being annoyed that a couple of my favourite podcasts don't interview landscape architects and urban designers. Who else would you want to interview? If I had a podcast it'd be all built environment all the time. Then I was like I guess I'm the person who should start that podcast.

It's a thought and if it sticks around long enough then maybe it'll go somewhere.

I'm looking for a producer and composer if anyone is interested.

I'm also trying to think of a name.

Wild Thing: Conversations about the built and natural environment comes to mind. I think it would confuse people and be too associated with other things. Usually the name comes and then there's a project.

Maybe when I think of a name and wrap up that book I'm editing and settle into school and have a better handle on my health problems and all 500 other ideas I have I'll do it.

And maybe if I do do it I'll include little snippets of sound from spots around this city, audio postcards of sorts.

I've been reading this book for years

I've been reading this book for years. Literally years.

Not that it's a bad book. It just keeps getting left behind or misplaced.

I leave it behind in a pile when I move to another country. It gets kicked deep underneath the bed and I don't retrieve it for six months.

It's taken a long time. I lack focus. i am easily distracted. I am reading too many books at once and not finishing any of them.

I am here, then there. Stuff gets lost and left behind.

Now it's almost over.

It feels wrong in a way for it to end like this. Me reading, easily coasting through the pages. Because he's good. So damn good. And it's the type of book I love.

It's a good book and I probably should've treated it better.

I'm tempted to read something else and save the last ten pages for tomorrow.

Tonight, lying in bed, unable to sleep as I have been so much lately doesn't seem right. It's not what I want to be doing and the book competes with all these other thoughts. Why can't I sleep? How can I function and be happy if I can't sleep? I'll be tired tomorrow, the kind of tiredness that permeates your soul. The kind of tiredness that I'd hoped to shed by now but that I am still carrying around saying it gets better, it'll go away. But when?

Maybe I should just finish the book. Do something useful with this extra time that I have.

You can get a lot done when you can't sleep.

It's satisfying to finish tasks, to check things off lists, to feel like you've accomplished something. These to-dos and things you've started but never finished hang over you like piles of books you started and really do intend to one day finish.

I'm doing a thing

I've been wondering about what to do with all the stuff I've made and put up in different places over the years. My Wordpress writing blog has been getting weird spam follows and I want to take it down so I am planning on migrating the various blogs to here.

I think it'd be really nice to have a home for all my stuff. I'm not totally sure what the value of that is. I guess if someone had a crush on me and wanted to scroll through every page they could do that. If someone thought I was super brilliant and they wanted to read and see all the things they could do that too.

Platforms come and go so I guess I like the idea of all the stuff I've made just having a place that it can live.

That was one of my original goals when I started this blog/website here and picked this platform. Have one place where I can put everything. Get back into blogging. Deal with things.

I say deal with a lot lately. As in I don't feel like dealing with that, or it feels really hard to deal with things, or it's really satisfying to deal with things, or I haven't been dealing with that for a while time to get started.

So I want to deal with this stuff.

I want to deal with the feeling of having no idea what I am doing. Because let's be honest I have no idea what I'm doing. I don't know how to deal with all these things I've made or how to make many of the things I want to make. But the only way to get to the other side of that is to start and fumble through it cluelessly as ever.

Turning over a leaf

Aw jeez this is super impressive. I turned these around in less than twelve hours. That's gotta be some kind of record.

I am getting back into editing photos and it's been nice. It can also be hard and tedious but that's what happens when you leave stuff for ages. I stopped dealing with photos at some point during my MSc dissertation and never got back to it.

I've been in bad financial/mental shape ever since then and haven't really been up for dealing with it. Doing a couple of weeks of photos is one thing. Going through thousands (and I do mean thousands) of photos is daunting.

There's a part of me that wants things to be complete and orderly. Everything dealt with, in it's place. It's not great for the I was clueless and did this wrong and I'm less clueless now but just doing the best I can, which is probably woefully inadequate of life. I need to let go of this idea of every photo, every file, every this. Bit by bit. Some today. Some later. It gets better bit by bit, not all at once.

Sometimes you just have to lean into that being where you are thing. I also have to make sure to say no to that completeness voice. I am here and this is where things are at. I need to enjoy it and make it work.

I got into macro photography mostly by mistake. I did some flower pics for one reason or another with a low aperture and really enjoyed the blur effect and how they looked. So I kept doing more. There are lots of flowers and little curbside gardens in my neighbourhood so I've been thinking about doing some macro shots of them. It's really hot and bright during the day so it's good for an evening wander.

I have been hunting for a new doctor, which is stressful in general but extra for me because doctors make me super anxious. I hope this one works out. I spent far too long trying to find somewhere I could go and then decided to go to the woods because I was feeling super edgy. As they say the trees will heal you.

The trees will heal you

It's nice being so close to Pacific Spirit Regional Park — though I wish I was a bit closer. It's a nice forest and good for wanders. There are some things I find unpleasant about this community like the single-family homes and the drab suburbanism but it can also be nice. The Dunbar high street is cosy — and could easily be extended all the way along the road via good zoning — and I decided to go for ice cream after my wanders. My days here are numbered so I really need to do my best to get what I can out of being in this neck of the woods.

Pokemon + Bow

I have a thing for Pokemon cards. I remember thinking they were the coolest as a kid. It's fun to find them. Even if they are just dissolved and discarded and lying on the ground.

This spot where I was having a picnic with my parents is also a great spot for some classic yyc photos.