I was gonna write a post about how I couldn’t write today, but I’m watching curling while I’m blogging. Ben Hebert of Team Koe is the class clown of the curling tour. He hosts a feature called The Sheet Show every Grand Slam. At this weekend’s Champions Cup, he asked the curlers to read some mean tweets. I lol’d.

I love watching sports for the stories, not the numbers. I have favourites and home teams, but curling is different. I fell in love watching the Olympics, which means my home team changes every four years. (One of the hardest tournaments to win in sports is the Canadian Olympic curling trials. No team has ever won it twice.)

The regular curling season is a handful of events with a handful of the same teams. It feels smaller than other professional sports. But that smallness gets you closer to ice level. It feels more intimate than other professional sports. It feels more real. The Sheet Show feels like a kid making fun of his brothers and sisters, instead of a reporter trying to get a laugh. And curling feels like a bunch of friends playing a game down at the rink.

Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #3

  1. The iPhone 5 is the perfect form factor for shooting video. The sides are flat, even with my new case, so it doesn’t roll when you stand it up on a table. I don’t want to buy a bunch of equipment. I just want to make some videos, and this five-year-old phone lets me do that.
  2. Last summer was great for the garden in my backyard. It belongs to the family upstairs, but one day when I was leaving for work, the mom and her two daughters were picking vegetables. I said, hoping to influence some young minds, kale is my favourite vegetable. (Top three, at least.) The mom told me to pick whatever I wanted because it was way too much for them to eat. Nothing new has been planted yet for this summer, but the kale survived the winter. It’s grown two feet in the last month, and there is way too much for me to eat. But I’m enjoying the trying.
  3. The best chemistry on The Newsroom is between Dev Patel and John Gallagher Jr., so of course Sorkin ignores it for a whole host of romantic relationships repurposed from his other shows. I don’t know why I even started watching this (after avoiding it five years ago because I knew it would make me sad and angry), but these two are a bright spot that keeps me going.
  4. I just realised I have a copy of Magic Mike XXL on my external hard drive, so that’s what I’m going to do tonight. You might think it was a bad movie. “No, as I have said twice before, and will now say a third time, it was the best movie of 2015. Please do not make me go over this again.”

I made a video! As promised yesterday, I’m testing all week. Trying to figure out the best angle in my basement apartment so the light doesn’t wash me out. Unfortunately, it seems that angle is not against my wall of art, but I guess my wall of bookcases is good, too. Now I just have to rearrange all my books so I look smart.

I even tested all three pairs of my glasses to see if one glares less than the others. No luck. I spent extra on one pair for the anti-blue coating, the stuff that’s supposed to help with staring all day at electronic screens, but I didn’t like the way it made the whole world yellow, like I was living in the Mad Max filter or something. I don’t wear those glasses as often as I should.

This video isn’t a vlog. It’s a time lapse of me writing my morning pages at my desk. I’m a piler, so using my desk always means clearing off my desk first. I have got to start using it for writing more regularly. I do everything on my couch. The far left spot is my home base. That’s why I like to get out and write at Starbucks a few times a week. I need to push out of where I’m comfortable to find something new.

This is a tiny video, but it’s out of where I’m comfortable. It’s a first little step towards something new.

  1. Finally found the new Rolling Stone with Harry Styles’s face on the cover. It’s been forever since I bought a magazine. $8! This is the price I pay for something beautiful to put up on my wall.
  2. Speaking of the wall above my desk, it’s the perfect background for a vlog. I want to do an almost daily video, something short, personal, just talking about what I’m doing and what I’m working on. The working title is Still Life, and I spent seven minutes just describing all the pieces of art hanging on the wall behind me, like I was sitting in an actual still life. Funny how things come together.
  3. I recorded in QuickTime with my MacBook Air, and the audio was terrible. Today, I spent half an hour doing tests with my iPhone 5. The audio seems better, but I couldn’t get the lighting right. And the glare on my glasses bugs me.
  4. My plan is to record tests all this week, figure out post-production, maybe a title template. I want to make this as easy as possible so I can actually do it most days. I need to figure out the routine, then I plan to go live May 1st.
  5. It’s always nice to start a new project when the calendar turns over. May 1st is also the end of The Artist’s Way for me. This is week 12, the last week. Julia Cameron writes a lot about moments of serendipity, and I absolutely experienced that. I think I’m pretty good at paying attention to the world, but sometimes things just line up in wonderful ways.
  6. I started The Artist’s Way because I was curious, but also because I’ve been stuck this past year. This May marks one year since I stopped making a zine a week. By the end, I couldn’t see the point in continuing. Nobody cares about your thing except you, and I had stopped caring. I honestly tried to quit art. I’ve been doing this putting stuff on the internet thing for 20 years now, and where has it got me?
  7. But Julia Cameron was right. There is an artist in all of us. If we acknowledge it, take care of it, indulge it a little, maybe something amazing will happen. I wrote fiction again for the first time in what feels like forever. I’m excited about writing romance again, even submitted my story to an anthology. I shot a lot of video during my hike on Saturday, and I made the first draft of a video essay. And I want to do this daily vlog.
  8. I want to make something beautiful you can put up on your wall.

On Saturday, I woke up with that kind of sore throat that I sometimes get in the morning. It could be a cold, or it could just be the temperature and the air in my room. I went hiking anyway. I still have a Starbucks reward by some barista mistake from last week, so I was going to use it to try the unicorn frappucino. But as I headed home in the drizzling rain, I knew I was getting sick. I came home on Saturday, and I went straight to bed.

On Sunday, I woke up with that kind of all over ache that could’ve been from walking 15 km the day before, but which I knew for sure was the flu. I stayed in bed. I watched the entire Victorian Farm Christmas Special (again). I didn’t write. I barely slept. All I could hope for was that it wasn’t as bad as the flu that laid me out for two weeks in January last year. When you work with children, you spend a lot of time teaching them how to cough into their elbow.

On Monday, this morning, I woke up, and it wasn’t as bad. But I was still sick. It’s the kind of sick that’s mostly a runny nose and a sneeze stuck in your nose. I spent the morning in bed, drank lots of tea, had a hot and steamy shower. By the time I had to walk up the hill to work, it was warm and sunny outside. I survived (with a wad of kleenex hidden under my desk).

On Tuesday, I hope I wake up well.

I bought a selfie stick the other day. I found one that folds up, only $10 at my grocery store. I had been looking at reviews online, comparing prices at Amazon, thinking about picking one up when the night market starts for the summer, but sometimes the thing you’re looking for just falls into your shopping basket. It’s pink. It’s small enough to carry in my backpack every day.

I probably should’ve checked the weather before I left this morning because it rained, but it wasn’t so bad. That’s why I also carry an umbrella. I definitely should’ve checked my phone before I left because I got home with 1% battery. I’ve been shooting a lot more video lately. I’m going to start a video blog, but I won’t make a promise when. I did a test with my laptop and QuickTime, and I love how it looks (with my wall of art as background), but the audio was terrible. I don’t have a mic.

I went hiking in Coquitlam today, putting together more pieces of the Trans Canada Trail. I’ve hiked as far as I can go towards Abbotsford before the bus routes disappear, and I’ve hiked all around downtown without boarding the SeaBus. Two more days, and I’ll connect the two sections through Burnaby Mountain. Then I can continue across the water to North Vancouver.

I have a lot of video of the trail now, and I’m really not sure what to do with it. Shooting is easy; editing is hard. It’s the same with writing, except I’ve been doing that forever. That we can make movies on our phones and show them to the world still feels like magic to me.

Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #2

  1. On the shelf next to my PVR sits a pewter bud vase. It spent most of its life sitting on my mom’s bookcase, and I don’t ever remember it holding a flower. It’s very mid-century Scandinavian, maybe a little Bauhaus, though if I had to guess, it probably came from my granddad’s frequent trips to Asia. We accidentally inherited a lot of stuff when my grandparents divorced. They moved out of the house, and we moved in. I’ve been picking a new flower from the park each week, a little bit of spring to look at instead of the TV. Today, my pewter vase holds a millennial pink tulip which has opened up and turned south to the sun.
  2. I started anxiety management group therapy this week. Group is two things for me: a reason (other than work) to get out of the house and people to hold me accountable. We set an action plan each week, then report how we did. This week, my goal is not turning on the TV first thing in the morning. It’s so easy to waste the morning doing absolutely nothing. Even though I’ve reached for the remote more than once, I’ve stopped myself each time. Because I know I’ll have to tell the group that I failed. So far, I haven’t.
  3. I have a small apartment, so I have a small vacuum. It fits under my bathroom sink. But because it fits under my bathroom sink, I don’t think about it often enough to vacuum regularly. On Monday, I dragged it out and put it in the middle of my living room, right in front of the door. By Wednesday, I had done the vacuuming. Today, I’ll probably put it back. That’ll be a success.
  4. From the time I was 11 until I was 30, I never had menstrual cramps. Ever. I never had mood swings. I forgave the wildly unpredictable cycles because I thought I got the better deal. Except now my cycle is wildly unpredictable AND I get cramps so bad that they often make me puke. A few months ago, I finally started taking painkillers (I also hate swallowing pills). I bought generic naproxen because it was on sale at the grocery store, and it’s the greatest thing ever. Avoiding stuff you don’t like is so not worth it if you’re in pain. Sometimes you have to do the hard thing because it’s on the way to the good thing. Sometimes the good thing is just being able to sleep through the night.

I saw at my feet small black cat rubbing ecstatically round my shoes.

“Did you bring her all the way uncrated?”

“I did not bring her at all; does she not belong here?”

“Not a cat in the village.”

Wherever she belonged, the cat claimed me. It was as if she had expected me all her life and was beyond glad to find me. She followed my every step. We combed the district later trying to find her owner. No one had seen the creature before. At the end of my two months’ visit in the Cariboo I gave her to a kind man in the store, very eager to have her. Man and cat watched the stage lumber away. The man stooped to pick up his cat, she was gone–no one ever saw her again.

Emily Carr, GROWING PAINS (244-5).

She didn’t just love animals–dogs, parrots, rats, monkeys. Emily also had a black cat familiar.

A weird feeling when you write a letter on paper in the year 2017: you wonder, a few hours later, with the envelope sitting unsent on your coffee table, why your friend hasn’t responded yet.

You already know how much I love peanut butter, but even better is peanut butter and chocolate. Right now, in fact, I’m drinking my tea out of a Reese’s mug my parents bought me at the Hershey store in Las Vegas. That’s how much I love peanut butter and chocolate.

Ice cream was on sale at the grocery store last week, so I bought a tub of chocolate with peanut butter cups. It promised me “a ribbon of peanut butter,” but it was more like a thread, and all at the bottom. I actually added spoonfuls of my own peanut butter and let it freeze. A lesson in getting what you paid for.

I was redeemed this Easter weekend, though, because my mom bought Reese’s and Oh Henry eggs. Conversation wound around sweets. My dad admitted he had a Dairy Queen Blizzard last week, his guilty pleasure. I was reminded how much I love DQ’s Peanut Buster Parfait. We all confessed we don’t much care for Smarties (the Canadian chocolate ones). There was apple and blueberry pie with whipped cream for dessert.

But I don’t have a sweet tooth like I used to. We always had ice cream in the house. My mom baked bars, cookies, muffins. Pop was not a regular drink at home, but when we ate at restaurants, I drank root beer. I gave it up 10 years ago, and now my body can’t handle it. My cravings are for salty snacks. My body wants potato chips, popcorn, french fries. (Add a pinch of salt to the beans when you make coffee. You’re welcome.)

The other day, as I paid my bill at the restaurant counter, the waitress offered a piece of candy from the dish beside the register. I looked. They were hard candies in twisted cellophane and multi-coloured lollipops. I declined. I like a little salt with my sugar.