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 itch.io 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.

The last Emily Carr book at my library is Unsettling Encounters by Gerta Moray. It’s 400 pages long. It’s a hardcover, 22.6 x 30.9 cm, and 1.8 Kg (according to Amazon). It basically lives on my bedside table, and I read a chapter a night. This is the second time I’ve borrowed it, and I’m gonna have to renew it again to finish reading it.

In the same time, I’ve read a half dozen books on my iPad.

I love books. I love paper. But I also love choice.

I find myself thinking a lot about what will change about my life when Twitter inevitably collapses. For nearly ten years, it’s been where I’ve made and maintained friendships, found writers I admired, and learned from people (especially black women) wiser than myself. I both love it and hate it. The steady drip of feelings and news is a kind of mind-altering toxic drug, but the ability to filter events through the lens of people whose experiences are different than my own is something I’m not sure I’ll ever replicate elsewhere. I find myself mourning Twitter while simultaneously anticipating its demise.

Mandy Brown’s newsletter is one of my favourites. She recently returned from an extended hiatus (we all seem to be taking hiatuses since November) and wrote this lament for Twitter that hit me hard. I’ve been thinking a lot of these exact same thoughts.

For me, I was on Twitter in December 2006, and though I had been online and making friends since 2002 (Blogspot to AIM to Livejournal to Tumblr), I couldn’t convince anyone to join me on Twitter. It wasn’t until the celebrities joined that anyone believed me it was gonna be fun. And it was. Until it wasn’t.

I’m trying to take another hiatus from Twitter. I haven’t looked at my timeline since yesterday. Most of the people I follow live in the US, and the steady stream of news coming out of that country is more than I can bear.

I don’t know where we’re going to end up. But I know that I’m done giving myself over to websites who want to sell ads against my words. I own this space right here. This is where you’ll find me after the collapse.

I didn’t make this with Father’s Day in mind, but it’s fitting because my dad is the reason I love puzzles and games. Every occasion to buy gifts was an occasion for my brothers and me to try and stump our dad. This Christmas, I got a book of logic puzzles in my stocking, and while we both enjoyed the knight’s tour game, a couple remain unsolved. (Sidenote: that Wikipedia page contains one of the best gifs ever.)

I like an open-ended game, one that doesn’t give me anxiety about getting the right answer. This is Sequoia, a word game. You can play it on graph paper or just draw a 5×5 grid and play anywhere, like tic-tac-toe. The object is to create the most words and longest words possible, using each letter only once in the 25 square grid. The trick is that you have to place the letters in alphabetical order (and choose the best letter to leave out).

Download the PDF for more instructions. You can also find the game on itch.io.

Let’s see if I can make something every Sunday.

I just spent $150 for a ticket to see Harry Styles at Rogers Arena next July. That’s July 2018, more than a year away. Back when he first announced his solo album, I said, “Harry better not make me pay another $100+ to see him or we’re gonna be in a fight.”

So we’re in a fight now.

One Direction played BC Place in 2015. We didn’t know then that it would be their last tour before the hiatus, and I spent a long time thinking about whether I wanted to go. I ended up finding floor seats for $100 in the last few weeks before the show, Elisabeth decided to fly out to come with me, and I’m so glad we went.

But BC Place is where our football and soccer teams play, and Rogers Arena is where our hockey team plays. I love Harry Styles because he’s a weirdo aesthete, and I was really hoping I could see his solo tour in one of our interwar music halls, instead of a hollow arena.

But I love his music, his sparkly boots, and his commitment to trying something new, so that’s where I’ll be July 2018. Five years of being fascinated by Harry Styles, and he hasn’t disappointed me yet.

Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #10

  1. Casual Friday, when I wear leggings, t-shirt, sports bra to work because I teach elementary kids after school, and they literally don’t care.
  2. Last week, I met some of my friends from my yoga teacher training, and we all admitted we haven’t done much practice since graduating. And then we created a class on the whiteboard (“Coming back to yoga”), and it was the first time I had been on a mat since March. As much as I needed that break after the six months intensive, I needed to come back, too.
  3. I had almost forgotten about the OMs and the chanting. They’ve never been my favourite part of yoga, the biggest reason being because they’re in Sanskrit, which I don’t speak. I am not Indian. The chanting feels a lot like praying to me, and I am not religious. But I am spiritual. I do believe in connecting with yourself and the earth. When I meditate, a chant that works for me is, “I am OK.” It’s four syllables, like there are four elements, four directions, and four items on this list.
  4. This weekend, I have no plans. That feels so good.

If one looked solely at videogames, one would think the whole of human experience is shooting men and taking their dinner orders.

Anna Anthropy, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters

Anthropy critiques something important in this passage, but I laughed reading this because I really love those video games where you take dinner orders, make the food, serve the food, then collect the money. My favourite is the Delicious series. These games are part of the time management genre. They’re also called “casual” games because they’re not about shooting men.

I love games. I grew up through the rise of video games. Though my mom forbid my grandpa from buying us an original Nintendo, we had an Atari 2600. We had games on floppy disks. We bought used GameBoys one year with our Christmas money. I have played years of Microsoft Solitaire.

But there are a lot of men who wouldn’t call me a gamer. It doesn’t matter that I do crosswords, love Scrabble, play Trivial Pursuit. In their eyes, those don’t count as games. I wrote and designed a game with my dad as a family Christmas present last year. It’s a card collecting game called Ingredients. The object is to combine foods into dishes and create a full six-course meal.

Another “casual” game about dinner.

As I was reading Anna Anthropy’s book today, I started a list in my notebook. It’s now three two-column pages long. It’s a list of games I loved to play, I used to play, I still play. I texted my brother to help me remember the name of the police game we played on PC. I found SIX HOURS of Lemmings on YouTube.

I’ve been thinking a lot about books lately. I will forever be a writer, but my ideal format isn’t a book; it’s a blog post. Besides, what is the internet but a giant text adventure game.

I used to work a monotonous factory job, 7pm-7am. It was easy, but it was long, and the machines were so loud, we couldn’t socialise. I learned how to keep my brain busy while my hands were working.

One thing I would do was challenge my memory. I would write all the lyrics to songs I knew. I would recite poetry. I would make a list of every US president. It’s worth noting that this was the early years of Wikipedia, but well before the iPhone, so it didn’t even matter. If I couldn’t remember something, there was no way to look it up. I had to wait out my shift before I could satisfy my curiosity.

With all the publicity about the 150th anniversary of Confederation, I wondered if I could name all the Canadian Prime Ministers. We’re a hundred years younger than the US, and we don’t have term limits, so the list is much shorter than presidents. I wondered if I could name more US presidents than Canadian PMs. That would be embarrassing.

So I made two lists in my notebook. I looked up the numbers, so I knew what to aim for. I missed 9 from both lists, which is a weird coincidence. Of course, by the percentages, I lost my challenge. I named 80% of US presidents, but only 61% of Canadian PMs. The most embarrassing Canadian PM I forgot is John Diefenbaker, which is a name you’d think I’d remember. The most embarrassing US president I forgot is James Madison, who is a main character in HAMILTON. Sorry, Oak.