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love/hate with travel

I move extremely fast when traveling on my own. Reduce my possessions down to a backpack and duffel and I can weave through all kinds of human foot traffic. Airports? I’m on the plane in 20 minutes flat. Train stations? I’ll find my track and train. Buses? I’ll run through Port Authority like an 80s movie commuter cliche. Ferries, I’ve been taking my whole life, I can get in the cafeteria line on a Queen or Spirit class vessel in less than five minutes from when I drive on, less than two from walk on.

This is the part of traveling I like. It’s being in the moment, like a ninja. I’m totally focused on the next step and the next transport. I’m not thinking about my to do list or worrying about the million anxieties in my life. I’m just leapfrogging from step to step of a journey. And I do that best on my own, without checked bags, just carrying what I can sling over shoulders. It’s the same mental state I go into when I bike in New York City, a total focus on movement and the space around me, combined with the constant puzzle solving of the directions and airport and train station signs.

On the other hand, I’ve also been home for two days in the past two weeks. It’s hard to believe it was only two weeks ago we left for Orlando, for our Disneyworld adventure. It’s only been five days since I flew up to Toronto. But it feels like I haven’t been home for longer. I miss my routines. I miss the gym. I miss my friends. And after five days in Toronto, I miss my men.

That last one is really why I don’t travel like I always wanted to, like I thought I would when I could afford to. It’s harder to travel as a family. There’s more stuff. There’s more people. It costs more. Yet I don’t want to go alone because I miss my husband and son too much. I don’t get the same sort of sense of travel flow with my family that I do when it’s just me.

So I love travel. But right now I’m over it. Staying put for a few weeks sounds like a welcome reprieve from being on the road, even when it’s on the road to visit the people I love most. It’s wonderful being part if my family’s life in Toronto, with my mother and my sister and my nieces but it’s not my life. And I’d stay a month if they needed me to, without complaint, just to be sure everything was OK. But just because I’d willingly stay longer doesn’t mean I’m not grateful to be heading home, for some quiet time, in my own home

, with my men, and the ability to again plan my life in Brooklyn.

And I expect to get that quiet time today…just as soon as I finish running through Penn Station from NJT to the Q train, blasting EDM in my Bluetooth headphones, and pretending, just a bit, that I’m a backpacker transferring from the Eurostar to the London Underground.

still in toronto

Day Three in Toronto!  This is a Canadian city I never lived in, yet it seems strangely familiar.  This isn’t just because I’ve been here so much, but I think just because of the place Toronto occupies in English Canadian culture.  It’s the city that serves as a backdrop in TV and movies, and it’s the biggest city in English speaking Canada.  And even though it’s a world away from my home in British Columbia, it still strikes me as similar sometimes in the way the city is planned, especially in how many small parks there are.  Parks and public space seem to be a high priority in Canadian cities.  I appreciate that about my homeland.

I’m camped out at my sister’s house right now, at her new/old house: the home she’s lived in with her family since they moved back in 2013, which she has spent the past 18 months rebuilding.  It’s been an incredible effort on her part to manage the construction, acting as the foreperson, managing contractors, and overseeing the entire building site of a major architectural revamp.  Now, after a year of full time work, she’s been able to move her family back in.  There’s still construction going on, especially in the kitchen, but it’s a home again.  She’s done so much work, and put so much of herself into building this for her family, it’s incredible.  It even has a guest suite downstairs for when my family flee Trump’s America come to visit for holidays.

Still, it’s a bit crazy, as it is whenever a move takes place.  My sister and I are trying to dig through everything Mom brought from the West Coast, including a lot of random flotsam and jetsam packed by her moving crew back in late 2016 when she left our childhood home in Oak Bay.  We’re trying to get her room to a point where she can move through it with her walker.  Mom will be home tomorrow morning, after all: we’d like her to be able to manage in her new space.  But the cleanout has led to some discoveries of things that probably shouldn’t have made it from BC, such as:

  • A school project on the 1988 Olympic Games in Korea (mine)
  • My sister’s complete report card collection
  • A series of English pewter beer steins engraved as to my father and his first wife (ie. not my mother)
  • Shares certificates for the Racquet Club and the BC Resources Investment Corporation , total of maybe $5….if they were even still valid

With all this going on, it’s actually quieter visiting Mom at the hospital, even though that requires a cross-city drive.  Sometimes though, it’s nice to just turn on the radio, listen to CanCon, and look out at the Toronto neighborhoods as they go by.  Maybe that’s why Toronto seems so familiar, because I’m driving through it listening to 54-40 or old Metric.  Or maybe it’s because Toronto is to Vancouver as New York is to L.A.: the origin point of the white men who first laid out and built the city. Whatever it is, it’s like being home to be here for a few days, even in the wake of  a move.

hello toronto!

I hadn’t planned on visiting the homeland soon after my return from Orlando, but here I am, at YYZ, on an UP train into town. Unfortunately, it isn’t under positive circumstances. Just before she was scheduled to fly to NYC and travel with us to DisneyWorld, my mother shattered her lower leg in a compound fracture, rendering her immobile. She’s been in a rehabilitation facility doing physio and practicing getting around on her weight bearing leg. I’m up here to visit her. And I’m specifically here today because my sister is moving houses and needs some backup.

In the interest of Mom’s privacy, I won’t go into details on her injury and recovery, save to say that it is severe. I’m fortunate right now in that I can work remote from Toronto for the week so I can be with my family for any support I can give. While this trip definitely wasn’t planned, I’m grateful I could take it. And even though the circumstances are far from ideal, I’m also grateful for the extra time with the people I love.

welcome to the world of tomorrow!

We are in EPCOT today. It isn’t nearly as Futurama as I expected. It did, however, have a series of exhibits about the future that now require constant tending as the future changes faster than either Disney brother could have expected. The original future EPCOT displayed was expected to remain futuristic for longer. Now that the future seems to almost run in parallel with the present, technology wise, a central focus on the future isn’t visionary, making it mundane. As a result, the park seeemed a bit confused.

Out of that confusion though, comes a lot of SCIENCE. Including Paul’s favorite muppets, Bunsen and Beaker!

We’ve had a long day so I’ll have to detail the adventures in my own future. Suffice to say, it was a great day, ending

hello, spring!

Over the weekend at Frost Valley, the spring thaw began. Instead of the snow we expected, it began to rain. I heard the water begin running through the forest, little rivers and waterfalls throughout the campus. It reminded me of the part in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe where the sound of running water means of White Witch’s spell is breaking. It’s not a thaw. It’s spring.

The days are getting longer. It’s still light when I come home. I can feel my brain re-adjusting to natural light.

The air is going to be warmer. It’s chilly and bright today, but not with the same edge of Winter.

I only have five weeks of travel to New Jersey. Effective April 1st, my time on that client is done, and I return to my Midtown office, with all my coworkers – not as a lonely lone wolf on site at the client all day. And I’ll be able to ride my bike to work again because I can safely park it in the office there.

I’ll also be able to run outside again. My asthma prevents me from running in the cold, but as soon as it’s in the mid-40s, I can run without my lungs seizing up. Running in the park is like multitasking cardio endorphins and forest bathing in one 45 minute loop.

There is so much to look forward in the every day of Spring. I’m so happy its sunny today. I’m so happy the end of Winter is coming.

it’s like an animal farm, that’s the rural charm in the country

I sometimes wonder about the appeal of the country.

Or rather, let me differentiate: I love being out in nature, in forests, on beaches, places where there isn’t as much evidence of man made alterations.  It’s proven that “forest bathing” can actually help with stress. That, I get the appeal of: it’s why I camp.  There is a state of mind that comes from the combination of a total lack of distractions, combined with the absorption of the ecosystem around oneself, that can be transcendent.

Still, I can forest bathe within the NYC city limits, anywhere from Brooklyn to Inwood.  I’m more talking about the country, the concept of country houses, which were not a thing on the West Coast – or at least, not so much as I noticed.  There is an ideal here of having a city apartment and a country house, a dream of multiple residences, that is new to me.  And despite the fact that a country home is conducive neither to my preferred state of city living, nor to my other preferred state of being one with the forest, I am puzzled by why this is suddenly something with appeal.

I suspect this has to do with the place of Walden Pond in American mentality.  There is an ideal that, if one could only get to one’s own Walden Pond, a country house, away from the city, one would be able to think.  There’s a sense that a country house is required as a place to be while working on one’s art or craft, that being out of the city will free up enough mental bandwidth to be creative.

At least, that’s the appeal it has for me, the idea that if I could just physically distance myself from distractions, while being in an environment with fewer man made stimulus, my brain would automatically channel the extra energy into brilliance.  That’s why I occasionally look at a getaway house, one of the adorable tiny houses outside of NYC.  The owners of that business are genuises – they have prevailed on a trendy desire for minimalism, rolled it up with the echoes of Thoreau, and created a company based purely on overpayment for tiny forest cottages that don’t even have the amenities of an AirBNB.  (I saw them on Shark Tank once – solid business model, if one with limited growth)

So really, what is the appeal of the country?  Is it the space available in a non-NYC home for stuff?  Is it the ideal originally made popular by Thoreau in America?  Is it the proximity to the forest and to nature?  What is it that gets city people out of their city homes, for which they have almost definitely paid a great deal in both money and energy, and into places so far away they can’t even be called exurbs?  And why do think it’s something I “need” to do as well?


This is a sync test

Nothing to see here – only posting to test the setup with Beeminder.

Actually, that’s something I can explain.  I’m trying to commit to writing more.  Over the last year and change, ever since I went to Camp Nerd Fitness, I’ve been trying to revisit many of the things I lost along the path of becoming what I thought an adult looked like. Some of those are my creative crafts, my love of writing, and my love of playing music.  Therefore, I wanted to commit to giving myself the time to do those things.  And, of course, every time I block off an hour labeled “Write a Blog Post” in my Best Self journal, it turns into something else: cooking, cleaning, volunteer work, or even just goofing off. I spend more time reading terrible work by other people than I do working on my own craft.

So I set up Beeminder and connected it to WordPress so I will actually do some writing.  Now, when I post to any of my owned blog space, it will count towards my 3 post a week goal.  Hence the need to test the setup to be sure it worked.

I have, over the last few years, debated what to do with this blog.  I’ve kept it online because,  while there is PLENTY of inappropriate behavior recorded in it, it’s all Youthful Hijinks that were age appropriate at the time.  It’s not like a prospective employer now is going to read a tale of why I am banned from UBC Housing and think I’m less of a hiring prospect for it.  If anything, a prospective employer should recognize that the flip side of all those pranks and bzzr gardens was actual student leadership.  And none of my grownup friends, the friends who only know me as an adult, should think less of me because I spent my first year and a half in L.A. behaving like a normal twentysomething , albeit one who perhaps should not have documented everything in quite so much detail. (I was smart enough to keep some of it password protected).  Still, there is a level of vulnerability to writing about oneself as an actual adult, when there are fewer superficial things to write about, and only the meaningful things remain.

Still.  After listening to a season of Magic Lessons, I wanted to put some of that fear of exposure aside.  There is something terrifying about writing in a public forum, even one that garners so little traffic as my own page.  And yet, it is a positive challenge.  Part of the craft of writing is to be able to convey a nuanced thought through words, to someone else’s brain. That is a worthwhile craft to practice, even in a short form, personal blog medium.

Writing blog pieces is critical writing practice. It is the word equivalent of playing scales or arpeggios on the piano.

So yesterday, I created a goal to make myself more accountable to…myself.  To prioritize giving myself the time and space to engage in these small writing exercises that are blog posts.  To that end, I tested a sync between Beeminder and WordPress.  The Beeminder financial threat isn’t the big reason I prioritize writing, but it will be a small day to day impetus to do so.  And those small day to day triggers add up to a full resolve to re-engage in this craft.