It’s after 11, and it’s too hot to sleep. All the windows are open. I’ve thrown off the covers. Siri says it’s currently 17°. On my way home at 7 PM, it was still 24°.

This isn’t normal where I live. This isn’t what the Julys of my childhood felt like. The reason people love to live on the southwest coast is because it never gets too hot and it never gets too cold. We get a little bit of snow, and then it’s gone. We get a little bit of heat, and then it’s gone. That’s how the seasons are supposed to work in the Lower Mainland.

I would spend all winter waiting for snow. I would spend all summer waiting for it to get hot enough to go swimming. This year, I wore my parka from November to March. This year, I could’ve gone swimming in May.

This isn’t normal, but I’m afraid it is now.

Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #14

  1. Even if I’m not posting here, I’m always writing. That’s why I take a notebook with me wherever I go. I even take it with me when I move from room to room in my house. (Except the bathroom.) (Usually.)
  2. This week, it would be more truthful to write about what’s not working for me. But that would be a very long list, and I’ve committed to picking four things. I’m really liking the number four lately. It’s a nice structure for a lot of things.
  3. I bought pre-ground coffee recently. It was on sale, plus there was a coupon, and it’s kinda local. (Portland, Oregon.) I don’t have a coffee grinder, so what I usually do is grind the beans by hand in my mortar and pestle. It’s not my most favourite thing to do in the mornings, but I’ve turned it into a kind of meditation. Still, not having to do it this week has been nice.
  4. I forgot my prescription sunglasses at my parents’s house last week. So this week I have been wearing my non-prescription huge pink plastic sunglasses. (These ones.) They don’t fit as well over my new regular glasses, so I’ve been wearing them without, which means I can’t see further than six inches in front of my face. As much as I believe it’s important to look around when you’re walking, the world can be a lot. You don’t have to let it all in.

The park down the block from my office is called Bakerview. I was sitting under a tree and researching the namesake when I realised it’s named Bakerview because you can see Mount Baker. At least I’m assuming you could in 1933 when they named the park. There are too many houses in the way now.

Mount Baker is across the border in Washington, but it’s a constant in the skyline. In the suburbs south of Vancouver, if you see a snub-nosed, white-capped mountain in the distance, it’s probably Baker. It’s so dominant in our landscape that many businesses, on both sides of the border, put Baker in their names and the silhouette in their logos. It’s on the Washington state license plate. But before this week, I had no idea who Baker was.

The places Canada has made into parks are filled with our stories—every mountain, every valley has a name and a history for Indigenous peoples.

Robert Jago writes about Canada’s parks as “colonial crime scenes”. It’s easy for those of us who are colonisers to protest condos and malls and casinos built on unceded Indigenous land. Those developments are very obviously evil. We can’t be as bad as them, right? Because the parks mean more to us. We believe they matter because they preserve Canada’s wilderness. We believe we’re saving Canada. Instead, we–and Parks Canada, which is offering free admission this year as a reminder that you normally have to pay for access to the land–are erasing Indigenous stories and names.

We are living on stolen land.

Mount Baker has an Indigenous name I had never heard before I looked it up: Koma Kulshan. It has as many names as there are Indigenous languages in the area. Baker, on the other hand, was the name of a lieutenant on George Vancouver’s ship. He gets his name on the most prominent mountain in the skyline because he “saw it on April 30, 1792.” He was standing on a ship and pointed at a mountain, and now his name is on the park where I spend a lot of my summer afternoons.

Emily Carr (I know, sorry, but she’s my project for the year) has many sketches and paintings marked with the initials “Q.C.I.” Those three letters stand for Queen Charlotte Islands, the northern archipelago off the coast of BC that we now call Haida Gwaii. Carr visited and painted the islands in the 1920s and 30s, but when I was in school in the 1990s, we still called them the Queen Charlotte Islands. The official name change happened only 7 years ago.

Nunavut, our third Canadian territory, didn’t exist when I was drawing maps and learning Canadian geography. That happened in 1999.

Down the hill from where I live now, beside the commercial waterfront of White Rock Beach, there used to be a park. In 1996, the Semiahmoo First Nation took the land back from the city of Surrey.

Reconciliation will not be as simple as renaming Canada’s parks. But this is something I can do right now. July 1st marks 150 years of Confederation and hundreds more years of European settlement in Canada. It’s the start of summer and the next 150 years of Canada. If we’re going to survive as a country, we have to change. I’ll be spending more time outside among the trees and paying more attention to the names that don’t belong.

I’ve claimed this land as my own too long. I need to learn more about the people who were here first. I want to hear their word for mountain.

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.

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.

After a pretty bad morning of getting out of bed at the absolute last minute, skipping breakfast, hiking up the hill in the rain, only to get to therapy and find out it had been cancelled, I found $10 on the sidewalk. Sometimes the world is looking out for you.

With some time to kill before work, I stopped at the dollar store and spent five dollars on a few things to make me happy. I bought a package of those eraser caps that go on the ends of pencils. I’m writing with pencils these days because I have dozens of them and because pens are so much more expensive (at least the ones I like). I bought a rubber ball (“Hi-Bounce Pinky”), the kind you throw against the wall and catch when it comes back at you. I bought two cans of Play-Doh (pink and blue).

All of my students have fidget spinners now. (I’ve been looking, but they’re not in the dollar store yet.) Today in class, a grade 2 boy explained how he doesn’t bottle flip anymore because it’s too 2016. Fidget spinners are 2017.

Play-Doh is the 1950s, but I loved it in the 1980s, and it’s still on sale today. It’s not a trend, and it’s not a memory. It’s right here in my hand. And it makes me so happy to feel it squeeze through my fingers.

I have been trying so hard, for 6 months now, to not look at Twitter. It hasn’t been working. Even from this side of the border, the US govt has my brain so fucked up. I can’t sleep. I’m eating crap. It’s really hard to convince myself the future will be better. This isn’t all the US election’s fault. Brexit stole an entire continent from me before I even had a chance to use my British passport. And my chance to find a job and save for a house was gone before I graduated university. The thing I struggle most with in therapy is “should” statements. “I should be settled by 35.” “I should have met someone by now.” “I should know what the fuck I’m doing with my life before it’s over.” I can’t stop these thoughts. I know they don’t help. Even typing this now is making me cry. Life should be better. And I don’t know what to do to make it so.

Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #4

  1. I really wasn’t sure I wanted to watch Riverdale. I adore Archie comics. I grew up with them. I read more Archie than books when I was in elementary school. And this series looked like it was trying too hard to be the “gritty reboot” for a new generation. But it surprised me. I really loved it. I described it in my rec to friends as “Archie comics crossed with Twin Peaks, Teen Wolf, and Gossip Girl.” So if you like those things, you might like this.
  2. Somehow, I had way more Starbucks rewards this month than my stars should’ve allowed. I know one extra happened because the barista voided my order when they ran out of quiche. I finally got the quiche yesterday (lots of spinach), and I tried the s’more frappucino on Wednesday (needs more marshmallow). I know rewards programs are all about tracking consumer spending, but if I’m gonna be spending there anyway, it’s nice to get something extra with my late stage capitalism.
  3. I’ve made five daily videos in a row! It’s been way easier than I thought it would be. And it really helps that nobody is watching right now. I’m not even watching them. I just turn on the camera, talk for a while, then upload without editing (though I have started adding a date title). It’s good to have a goal for my mornings.
  4. I’m really really lucky to be Canadian, and I never want to take that for granted.

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.

This weekend, I’m doing first aid. It’s the final requirement for my yoga teacher training, and then I can start teaching classes. I used to be certified when I was in Girl Guides, but it’s been so long, I have to do the full course again. So much has changed since the 90s. They don’t recommend the “doughnut” bandage for impaled objects anymore. But calling 911 isn’t nearly the problem it used to be. AED machines are smaller than my laptop, and they raise the chances of surviving cardiac arrest by 70%.

I started writing this post with the intention of telling the story of my lunch break  I was sitting on a bench, shaking my Starbucks salad, when I heard an oddly quiet voice say, “shake, shake, shake.” I almost didn’t think it was real until I looked up to see a 30something guy in the passenger seat of a car waiting to turn. He put his fingers up in a peace sign. I tried to scowl, but I was mostly confused.

These are the kinds of stories women tell, and men say, “So, what? He wasn’t being rude. It’s not like he called you a bitch.”

He interrupted my lunch. He inserted himself into my life. He is a strange man who demanded my attention and then disappeared. Imagine every time you try to take a bite of kale and brown rice, a man taps on your shoulder and says, “Hey. Pay attention to me.” That’s what it’s like to be a woman.

But then I ate my salad, and it was delicious. The sky was blue, the clouds were fluffy, the sun was warm. I know a little more about how to save a life. The world is still amazing, so hold on.