write

Restless

I’ve gotten into the idea of rest and what it means for us that rest is so absent from our society, what it means for me that I’m part of a discipline where rest is seen as optional, to be part of an educational pedagogy where resting is seen as frivolous and optional, where the impossible is endlessly demanded of me.

It seems that in a world that doesn’t know how to be still I am unable to rest.

My body needs rest, craves rest. Still it also doesn’t know what that feels like.

By going back to school I accepted that I was going to be pushed to the brink mentally and physically a lot of the time, that the hobbies that keep me going and time and space to meander that make me content would be gone. I don’t know why I am expected to give up so much of myself and my life by being at UBC.

I am a human. I need rest. We all do.

Today I was feeling tired. I’m not sure why. I am cutting back on coffee because various people who are involved in professions related to my well-being (including numerous doctors and two therapists) have suggested that I drink far too much of it and that perhaps that is linked to my anxiety and insomnia.

I don’t disagree so I am attempting to cut back.

It’s painful. I think it’s gonna take several attempts. The mornings are harder and slower.

I don’t miss the feeling of being buzzed from alcohol (I don’t drink these days). I’m already tired and out of it enough of the time. I don’t need substances to do that. I can get there all on my own. I do love the feeling of sharpness, focus and energy that coffee gives me.

Still, as someone who has never been able to sit still and has generally had trouble sleeping perhaps it’s a bit much. I feel like I’m vibrating.

This past year all my established wellness rituals died fast. In my SALA life coffee was a substitute for taking breaks and sleeping. When I couldn’t focus I drank coffee. When I was exhausted I drank coffee. When I was overwhelmed I drank coffee. When I needed to be on and wasn’t I drank coffee.

I wasn’t drinking coffee because I loved it but because I didn’t have time to take care of myself. Coffee is not a substitute for rest or wellbeing.

I know I need to be gentle with myself as I ride the rocky road of shaking that easy kick in the morning. I no longer have any caffeinated coffee at home and the mornings are much harder. I miss that feeling.

When I first got the suggestion that maybe I should think about cutting coffee I was resistant. I was raised on a steady diet of Gilmore Girls. I’ve already lost enough parts of myself recently I didn’t want to lose that too. I am the coffee girl, the one who drinks far more coffee than is reasonable.

But I am also the girl who is very logical and likes research and evidence based decision making so here we are. I will try and it will be rough.

The point I started with, my digressions have digressions, I felt like I couldn’t stay home all day even if I felt crappy. Granted I don’t want to live my life if I feel lousy, because feeling lousy is just a part of life. I couldn’t tell which thing my body wanted from me. Go out or stay home. It’s hard to tell.

I feel like every day I need to be useful and productive and do stuff. I finished two books today yet that doesn’t feel like much. I organized and cleaned.

Still it’s not enough.

The summer as much as it’s a time to rest is a really short window to do all the stuff I don’t have time for during the semester. I have all these ideas and interests and if I’m not making myself useful then it’s a waste right?

Writing on my phone

I’ve been going through stuff I wrote on my phone either in Notes or Google Docs and putting it up as blog posts. It’s working well for me.

The writing stuff out by hand days are behind me and I rarely feel compelled to sit down and write a post. Writing on the go was jiving with me. As I waste time on the b-line (yes making students bus to UBC from the other side of the city because of terrible zoning is a huge waste of my time) I might start writing blog posts.

I want to post more. I want to be more on top of shit.

I’m not gonna be a student forever so documenting and sharing this moment seems worthwhile I’m just usually too exhausted to do it.

Travel + fragility

When I read over my draft of Set Your Watch to Moscow Time I’m always struck but two things.

One, I seem so anxious and hesitant. Its like in afraid of my own shadow. I wish I was bolder and braver but instead those pages and filled with my worries and unwillingness to dive in and trust the world.

Two, how fragile I felt. Travel is intense and demanding. It leaves you exposed and vulnerable. It’s great but it’s also scary. I was sick before my first flight landed, before I’d even left Canada. It was not an auspicious beginning to a seven week trip.

I spent the rest of the trip painfully aware of the limitations of my body and how much harder it is to feel crappy when you don’t have he security of home.

I’ve always been the sickly one in my family. My plan for the zombie apocalypse is to die early.

There are echoes of how I felt the last time I was here. The weirdness of sounds altered by injuries. Ringing in my ears. The oddness of how loud everything is. How peaceful and quiet the city is at 5am while it waits to awaken from its slumber.

I’m not who I was. You don’t get multiple injuries in three months and have your life  fall apart and have your body or mind come out the same on the other end.

It’s been a year. Instead of driving back to Calgary to rest and take a break from how badly everything went when I arrived in Vancouver I am in Japan.

I am doing so much better. I am okay but in some ways I’m also not. That dull ache that haunts my wrist is more of an intense and urgent twinge. I’m going to be leaving my camera behind, not convinced that this is the place to try to answer the questions I have about photography.

Can I still do this? Should I try?

Is photography something I should let go of? Is it something I can adapt to?

Travel is intense and physically demanding. I question whether my arm can take the things I used to ask it to do without a thought.

Now I know that I am far from my dumbbells and yoga mat, and that I probably shouldn’t push it. I must balance the NO that pain shouts loudly with Keep Moving, words I try to keep fresh in my mind.

I don’t know what the pain means or what to do about it. I just don’t know.

The uncertainty and fear. The feeling good sometimes and bad others is one of the hardest parts.

I just don’t know anymore.

I miss that person I used to be, the way I used to exist in and experience the world. I would meander and click. Photography the reason to go outside, the main activity when I traveled, a way of seeing and noticing the world.

If not to take pictures than why go outside?

I have gotten better about just being. Just going out into the world.

I am okay but I’m also not. The damage of that sprain haunts my sinews and tissues and decides what I can and cannot have. I am filled with grief and gratitude. I feel so much better than I once could’ve imagined. Still I miss who I used to be and wonder whether I can hold onto parts of that or should let go.

I am constantly aware of the precariousness of my existence and my body is a way that I never was. There are things I worried about not being able to do that I can now do and I try to enjoy the heck out of them. I feel lots of confusing and contradictory things.

I have my phone. I can snap photos with that while I am here. That’s good enough I guess.

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.

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.

Back to blogging

I keep telling myself I should write more, that I need to actually do blog posts. Something something daily goals.

I've had allergies that are kicking my ass and my knee hurts but honestly that feels like progress. Neither of those two things have anything to do with the injuries I've been recovering from. If I am more concerned by them then that feels like a good sign.

I am mostly back to normal, not at full working out again but mostly. So I aspire to blog. More. A lot more. I aspire to share stuff and to use this thing that I once really loved and think I still do.

I have stories to tell and I want to actually bother to tell them. I want to turn to-dos and ideas into things.

So I am going to blog more. I swear.

No answer

Long time readers of my assorted blogs will know that I have issues with my phone. My father believes that I am cursed. I believe that my phone hates me and actively wants to make me unhappy. Who really knows.

I really just need a new phone but I need money first so that's not happening for a while.

Until then I have old Clunky McClunkface.

Clunky's latest move is to not let me answer calls. Some of the calls Clunky will deal with. Some of them Clunky is like nah I'll show you the call but I won't actually let you do anything about it.

The joys.