Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #12

  1. Not exactly sure yet what the Twitter app is doing for me this week, but we are what we repeatedly scroll. I didn’t have a cell phone when I joined Twitter in 2006, but in 2010, when I bought my first–the iPhone 4–Tweetbot was among the first apps I bought. This time around, though, I’m trying the official Twitter app, and except for the ads in my timeline, I like it.
  2. As I look at Twitter now, at 9pm on the west coast, all the brands are firing up their social media celebrations for Canada Day tomorrow. If you, like me, are looking at that celebration and finding a lot of emptiness, follow @resistance150 for some different voices.
  3. My anxiety management group ended this week. In two years, I’ve worked my way through most of the groups the mental health program has to offer. Now I wait, my name on a six-month list, for the last group, the next level: advanced self-reflection. Until then, I’ve expanded my list of little achievements in the back of my notebook to an hourly time log. It’s too easy to let the morning get away from me, but having to face the truth of catching myself four hours in a row on Twitter makes me get up and do something else.
  4. Häagen-Dazs gelato was on sale at the grocery store. Little achievements lead to little rewards. That’s how I get myself to the end of every week.

It’s the 20 year anniversary of sorting ourselves into Hogwarts houses. I still haven’t read all the books (or seen all the movies), but I’ve always been pretty sure I’m a Ravenclaw. Turns out I’m right.

Human beings love names for things. We are pattern-seeking creatures, and when we can’t find them, we make them up.

I put the Twitter app back on my iPad a few days ago. It’s a tacit admission that I’m reading Twitter anyway, so I might as well make it easy. I added more people and a few bots, which lead me to @sortingbot. All you have to do is follow, and the bot sorts you, with a clever little rhyming couplet.

As I was reading through Darius Kazemi’s post about how he wrote the code to make the rhymes, I switched back to Twitter to check if I had been sorted yet. (This app was a mistake.)

When the world is telling you something, you need to listen.

Go back to Kazemi’s post. Scroll to the bottom. All the way.

But how does it sort followers????

Oh right. That. The actual sorting part is totally random.

You need to listen, even if the world is totally random.

While I may have finished reading all of the Emily Carr books, I have not finished my Emily Carr project. I plan to put together the quotes, my writing, some drawings and photographs, and turn it into something. I’m just not sure what that something is, whether it’s a webpage or if it’s a book.

For now, I’ve picked up A Gentlewoman in Upper Canada again, which is the journals and letters written by Anne Langton, a British woman who came to Ontario in 1837. That’s 34 years before Emily Carr was born in British Columbia. I went to Wikipedia to figure out what was happening on the west coast of Canada at that time. It wasn’t even part of Canada then. Yet the first piece of history on that page is this:

The first British settlement in the area was Fort Victoria, established in 1843, which gave rise to the city of Victoria, at first the capital of the separate Colony of Vancouver Island.

In fact, you have to scroll and scroll to even find the first mention of the Indigenous people who were here first:

First Nations, the original inhabitants of the land, have a history of at least 10,000 years in the area.

As we get closer to July 1st and the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Confederation, I’m thinking a lot about Canada. To be honest, I’m often thinking a lot about Canada. Our identity is so tied up in what we are not. We are not British. We are not American.

It may feel like a hard question for me to answer as a white person today, but I cannot know what it was like to be an Indigenous person then. To know this place is your home, to know who you are, and then everything changes when a group of white people arrive.

The better Wikipedia page to read is the full History of British Columbia. Tomorrow, I’ll be at the library, now that I know what I need to read next.

In those days a man did not fritter away so much time and strength in running to and fro.

Emily Carr, in a lecture to the teaching students at the Normal School in Victoria. That was in 1935, not 2017. There have always been “those days.”

Emily Carr was born in 1871, the same year British Columbia became a province and joined Canada. She was in her 30s before she started travelling to First Nations villages, before she started her project to paint and document all their totem poles. She was in her 40s when she gave up painting after her project failed to gain any real attention from the art world. Instead, she became a landlady, the dog breeder, a potter, a rug maker, anything she could do to make money.

She was 56 years old when the director of the National Gallery in Ottawa requested her paintings for an exhibit that included the Group of Seven. Emily Carr was 56 when artists she respected told her that her work was good. She was 56 when she started painting again, going deeper into the forest.

When Emily Carr was 66, she had a heart attack and had to stop travelling and painting. She started writing instead. Her first book was published when she was 70, and it won the Governor General’s award. Emily never quite believed that she was good enough. She didn’t have a lot of people in her life who told her that. She was the youngest, and her sisters didn’t seem to understand her. Emily Carr did her own thing anyway.

It’s so easy to believe that it’s too late. But life is so damn long, and you can be a lot of things in that time.

Every night I tell myself, I’m going to go to sleep early, and I’m going to get up early. Some nights that happens, but most mornings, it does not. It doesn’t seem to matter what time I went to sleep, or how many alarms I set, I will always find a reason to stay in bed just five minutes longer.

The good thing is every night is another chance, and every morning is a new day.

Today was decidedly not tiny yoga. Today was my alma mater’s celebration of International Day of Yoga, and while I’m glad I went, it was four hours on a mat. I really earned that savasana.

But then I drank my juice box and ate my fig bars, and it was such a nice day (27C!), I didn’t want to waste it. I walked from W49th to Marine Drive via the Ontario greenway. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many Vancouver Specials.

Out in the suburbs, every new house is a fake Craftsman or a fake West Coast Modern. It’s a lot of flat roofs (so dumb in a rainforest) and a lot of pointy gables. Downtown, they build condos because there’s no space for anything more, and we have a lot of people who need somewhere to live.

But there’s a lot of Vancouver history still standing on Ontario Street. I didn’t know this Vancouver still existed. We’ve always been a city quick to demolish and start again. I had almost given up hope that any of our messy past was still here.

Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #11

  1. My sleep schedule still needs work, but the one habit that’s sticking is showering and getting dressed first thing after getting up. It’s too easy to laze around all morning in my pyjamas, but if I’m dressed, I’m motivated to find something to do. Maybe even get out of the house.
  2. When I do go out, I’m trying to pack food and not spend money. In my Christmas stocking one year, I received Rubbermaid Take Alongs: segmented plastic containers. They’re perfect for lunch on the go. There’s a big compartment and a small compartment, and you can put anything you want in them because they don’t leak.
  3. Another way I’m saving money is growing my own vegetables. My grandmother started the plants, and then I took over. I have big sunny windowsills, but the containers weren’t thriving there. Now they live on my patio where it’s more shady. The basil hasn’t done well, the parsley didn’t survive my landlord power-washing, but I still have chives, kale, and Swiss chard. (The tomatoes aren’t ready yet.) I pick a few leaves when I come home from work, and then figure out what to make for dinner.
  4. Container gardening is so much easier, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how my best work is tiny work. Short stories, blog posts, zines made with a single sheet of paper. Tiny art, tiny books, tiny yoga?

After therapy on Thursday mornings, I go out for lunch before work. I could go home for the four hours between, but I live down a steep hill, and I work at the top, and it’s been so hot. I go out for lunch, I write in the food court, I browse the library, and then I go to work.

Lately, I’ve been going to the same restaurant, around the same time, and today my server said, “Nice to see you again.” It was a little moment that surprised me, a genuine recognition that so rarely happens in the world.

It had me thinking about why the baristas at Starbucks don’t seem to recognise me, though I’m there often enough. It’s the difference in the interaction. A server at a restaurant is with you through a meal, which is longer than a coffee. The time of day is more structured, too. There are breakfast customers, lunch customers, dinner customers, but people stop in for coffee at all hours.

I go to the same Starbucks, but I don’t always order the same drink. I’ve never worked food service, but I used to work in an alterations shop, which means I saw the customers when they dropped off and when they picked up. I recognised them because I associated them with their pants or dress. My mom’s Starbucks knows her because she orders the same thing every time (except when she gets a frappucino with her rewards).

Even with my ever-changing coffee, when I go to Starbucks, I usually get a mug to stay and write a while. I get my free refills. I do the crossword in the paper. Maybe I just need to be better at small talk while I wait for the app to load. Because some days I really feel invisible.

Sundays have worked for me before. I don’t love a deadline, but I do love creative limits. Making yourself do a thing within the lines. When I made a zine a week, my line was a single sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper, folded into quarters, to make a tiny 8 page book. All I had to do was fill those pages.

I’ve been looking for more podcasts by women, and recently started listening through the archives of Less Than Or Equal. The episode with Adriel Wallick, a game developer, reminded me that I had downloaded Twine ages ago to experiment with interactive fiction. But her Train Jam project really interested me.

A game jam is a group of people making a game with a time limit and a theme. We used to do this kind of thing all the time in my early days on the internet, except we were writing stories with a time limit and a theme. Games are just a different kind of story. The first jam that jumped out at me when I browsed was the Emojiam, and I was hooked.

So even though I just posted a game last Sunday, and even though today is Wednesday, I had to post something for Emojiam. Long walk at sunrise is board game you can print on a single sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper. It’s also a love story, in case you didn’t know who I am. Go download it, print it, cut it up, play it, and let me know what you think.