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Author Archives: d.

6 feet in the rain

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 There’s a puddle on the floor just below my coat and it’s shedding a slow drip-drip of water.  It’s seriously raining and Hank and I arrived back to my place soaked. We of our matching purple coats. It’s a funny coincidence really. I’m a big fan of purple but I didn’t buy his coat. And even though we have matching coats he attracts a lot more looks than I do. He’s really quite handsome and a lot of people want to pet him. Yes, Hank’s a dog. A very striking little Jack Russell and I take care of him for a friend. We’re walking from his place to mine and I do my best to avoid some of the biggest puddles since he travels only about 6 inches from the ground. The route we walk today is different from the last. It’s different every time. I like to walk the half hourish distance a different way every time. There’s so much I discover on these journeys and it’s all my newly adopted neighbourhood. When I lived downtown before I lived across town by the park and I didn’t really come over this way. I especially didn’t spend a lot of time anywhere near Railway town where Hank lives except for the odd foray into Gastown.

Today our trip takes us more through Chinatown and I notice how gentrified it really is becoming. I mean, I know it’s happening but to really see the scope of it is sort of jarring. Expensive coffee shops, restaurants and shops have cropped up that I probably wouldn’t go into. They are the arenas of hipsters.

Normally, spending a lot of time in this sort of weather would make me walk all the faster to get out of it, but with Hank it’s OK, even though we are getting soaked. Although I imagine he isn’t enjoying today as much as he does the sunny days we walk through even if he’s a dog wearing a coat. 

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people watching

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Everybody people watches, in one way or another. Once upon a time a friend and I would sit on a bench at the beach with our morning coffee and watch people passing by. We sat drinking our coffee and as each group neared we concocted outlandish stories based on the impressions of what we saw. It wasn’t mean-spirited in any way. It was more an expansion of what we might think if we had simply walked by them on the street.

I don’t make up stories anymore, well not really, but now I want to know the story. I want to know the 5 W’s of their daily lives. It’s more because I’m curious and just a tad nosy. Now as I sit passively, keenly taking note of details, I wonder. It’s what I do out of habit more than entertainment.

Yesterday an Asian man sat across from me wearing a mustard coloured jacket and heavy boots. Both seemed like were far too big for him. He’s doing that obnoxious man spreading thing and beside him sits a giant bag (doubly bad). He would be what someone would call nondescript perhaps; a little mussed with a receding hairline and thick glasses. He held his hands in a strange manner and it immediately piqued my curiosity. Then he pushed the glassed up his nose and I caught a flash of colour on his thumbs. A little while later he checked his watch and I saw all his nails were painted a deep blood red. Then as he had before he tucked his fingers into a fist, tucking in his thumbs into his hands, hiding his nails and he became just another person riding the train. And there was me on the other side of the aisle, still wanting to know why. A phrase popped into my head “what’s your story morning glory?”.

paring down

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water-2045469_960_720At the beginning of January I decided to do a lot of things. More exercise is perpetually on that list along with a host of other resolutions of sorts. This year I decided to work toward decluttering and living smaller so I joined the #MinimalistChallenge2018 Minimalist game knowing full well it was going to be difficult. I also didn’t have a person to play against so it was just simply a challenge.

I’m sentimental in a great many ways and it extends to belongings. If I’ve carried things with me, moved them many times they’ve almost become an extension of myself somehow and I am reluctant to let go. Blue glass, boxes, pictures, a variety of doodads and whatnots. Look around and my apartment and you can see testament to that.

I was very gung ho and cast a baleful eye around my house looking for items to shed. I knew I can well live without or I am hanging onto a multitude of items “just in case” or in the event “i might need” it. For instance, I own a a veritable rainbow of scarves, purchased in crazy deals at one of those chain stores or discovered at thrift stores, even gifts I’ve gladly received, but I never wear them, not all of them. I have a few favourites I rotate through and there are a bunch in a fancy box by my front door. I also have a special scarf place in my bedroom and it contains seasonal scarves, the warm and cozy ones or ones not as popular as others.

So the premise of the game is that you throw away, donate or otherwise give away the number of items of the day: the first day you get rid of one thing and the second, two, the third 3 and so on. Every day I diligently sifted through different storage boxes and closets and stowaway places to triumphantly comply with the rules of the game. Every day it got a little more difficult until day 19 when I decided I couldn’t go any further, then on day 20 I managed to push it just a little further. It’s day 21 and I just have to tap out. Perhaps it’s just a little too ambitious and cuts to close to the bone for me. I’m not ready to live that simply just yet. I like to have some amount of doodads and colour around me. I like boxes of all varieties and shapes. I collect them, I’m going to allow myself to be a collector of some amount of things. Technically I lost and failed at Minimalist Game , not miserably however so I’m going to cut myself a break. I learned. I keep what I need and some amount of what I really don’t. Balance. Some clutter is quite alright, as long as it’s kept in check and I think that’s the most important thing.

Easy like…

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I went for a walk this morning, not willingly. I had to force myself out of the house. The sun is still hiding behind a thick layer of grey and I wanted nothing more than to curl up into the softness of a blanket and begin binge watching something. I went before my second coffee or crosswords or any distractions could give me an excuse to put it off or not go at all. At first it was just going to walk around the block to say I’d done something but I forced myself down to the sea wall. My hands thrust in my pockets I passed groups of eager runners and the occasional dog walker as the clouds dispensed a pit pat of misty rain. I managed 25 minutes of striding with some purpose before looping around back toward home. As I neared the paper box I realized the paper’s not published on Sunday although the happy reward was that someone had left the display paper behind. I’ll get some brain exercise as well. Look at me go.

Goodbye MX

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All of my other stories with poor metaphors and jumbled stream of consciousness will come after this one. Only because the solitude really sets the gears in my brain to churning. I set out not all that early, but early enough to be the first person up in the hostel. I surreptitiously gathered all my belongings in the way I learned as a child. Best not to make noise, even on holiday. I set off into the morning warm in the general direction of the beach. It may be ridiculous but anytime I am away somewhere that has a beach it is a tradition of mine to say goodbye to the beach before I go. Perhaps yesterday was too early to do that. You don’t want to rush things.

I pass the usual assortment of tourist/residents out getting themselves exercised: walking along the cobble roads, running along the sand, fighting with the surf on paddle boards. I don’t intend to go to far just to someplace I can sit and gaze out at the water as it plays tug of war with the shore. The water always wins of course but you can’t argue with the hypnotic effect of it. It soothes in a way almost nothing almost can. I’m not dressed for swimming because, well, I don’t want to go swimming. 

The surf has coughed up all sorts of detritus: an assortment of wood, shells and rocks that have been rolling around it the surf for who knows how long, made smaller and smoother with each journey in and out of the water. The water is unpredictable at this time of day and if you’re not careful you will be rudely awoken out of any reverie you may be in by a sudden surge of water. The odd Pelican bobs idly but strategically near the waters edge waiting for fish that the waves pull in with its force.

The sun breaks through the clouds and a sudden blast of its warmth heats my face. I can see myself in the screen squinting against the sun and notice I have a mild case of bed hair. More and more people dot the shoreline. Pads are put on beach chairs, the sand is being raked, strains of Mexican music begin to strain through the odd restaurant, but the surf still forcefully pushes up under my feet. It’s much more placid during the day, restraining itself to a much more sedate distance. It’s hours before opening time and hours before people will be laying in all these beach loungers slathered in sunscreen and ordering cervezas.

The sun is teasing, hiding behind a small bit of cloud cover that cover thins to less and less. It will be a good beach day and a good day to say goodbye.

Overwhelmed and verklempt

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I’m starting to flounder under the sea of words piled up. I know I should have attended to them before but I didn’t and now my plans have been dashed. The idea was that I would post something every week. Im going to claim problems with wifi as the main reason but we all know it’s me.As usual I’ve accumulated more than I can cope with, buried under my best intentions. 

My head is stuffed full of imagery and words clamouring to get out. I’m going to persist. Let’s see how well we do with that. 

Week 4 – Mexico Dispatches

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I always find myself on the same street regardless of how many left and right turnsI take. Here I am again on Lazaro Cardenas. I say hola to the family with the colourful woven bags. I am relieved to see that someone is caring for la ninas and ninos so they don’t have to tough it out on the cement in the heat. How uncomfortable must that be. I’m happy the bags don’t scream destination, even though they really rather do. I just want one that’s bigger but I’m beginning to think anything would be better than my backpack. Kicking myself for forgetting my practically theft proof roomy shoulder bag at home. 
It is a holiday. Something to do with the revolution. I’m try to find new accommodation for the end of December (not staying at the Cactus which was my original plan) My background noise is punctuated with a regular series of what sound like explosions. Every one of them stops me for a moment. I would blame that for ruining my flow, but I’ve just been hanging out with that old friend ‘lack of motivation and discipline’.

Stomach tells me it is time to make my way out. Nice breeze. Temperature cooler? Here I am again, walking past familiar buildings, businesses and landmarks. Hola to the hat guy. I end up buying another, a white one, a totally impractical. Now I own 5 summer hats, all of which I scarcely wear. Still, it’s polite to say hi. The 80 pesos ($4) isn’t a great expense. Really would like a coffee…thinking about Panino’s, beginning to think of a ham and cheese croissant. Really, how N. American can you get? A girl and I exchange Holas and then she gestures me into a place I’ve passed many times before. I’m credulous about whether there is a restaurant in there or not because the most prominently stated business on the signage is ‘Yoga’ being the business conducted inside. I am led through, past some tables, through the shop…keep going. Around a juice bar, oh here is where they must do yoga. It’s a big empty space, but there are two discrete small dividers and I’m seated at the lone table in the “top” of the restaurant. I am the only person in the place. It is airy, with smatterings of filtered sunlight creating dancing patterns around me. I get a satisfying cup of coffee (and it’s free!) and a delicious meal of Chicken Tinga. 

I check into hostel early so I can get the bus to SPCA. My luggage and other stuff stowed away. Sense of relief washes over me. Professional! 1464 pesos for 9 nights. A kitchen, tick; a cozy sofa, a place to relax, tick. No pool. Didn’t use pool at Hotel Cactus anyway, and it’s the reason I’m here, having cut short my stay.  It wasn’t an inviting pool anyway. It had that concrete compound feel, even with the funky slide. Methinks the place has fallen a bit into disrepair and only the bare minimum is being done to maintain it. It is more shower and bed sort of place, for cheap. Only one of my roommates has arrived to the hostel and apparently he and I are the only two there just yet. He’s a young guy, 21, from Mexico City working at a local restaurant. I didn’t ask him why but I am curious. Could he not have gotten this kind of job in Mexico City? The conversation turns a bit extentialist, him thinking that he should be in university and further along in his life and he’s already looking back at the choices he’s made. The coulda, woulda, shoulda, road not taken and all of that. I am a bit envious at how self-aware he is and also feeling a bit like if he tries to hurry up and speed his life forward to where he thinks he needs be, he may find himself regretting himself not savouring important moments.I told him about ‘Waking Life’ which was heavy on the existentialist theory, or at least so it was in my brain. That’s how I remember it but I could be wrong of course. I recommended the movie with this caveat. It also reminded me that I wanted to see this one again myself. My other roomies arrive but they aren’t English speaking, all Mexican. It seems they are working as well. Our small room is packed. Perhaps I should have booked sooner to get a semi-private one. At any rate, it’s all good.

Coffee Au lait & a version Jamon y queso croissant at the Frenchly named cafe right next door, handy. I hoover it up. I’m starving. The last night’s dinner at the Cactus was microwave popcorn. The view is hardly pastoral 8 lanes of morning traffic hurtle to and fro. But I am satisfied with my stiff caffe. Who cares!! I sip my coffee reading storefront signs and attempting translations; trying to work at developing some kind of Spanish muscle. I get one right away ‘barato’. Cheap…I heard this one shouted at me at the beach yesterday and one other occasion. I suppose it was in response to the fact that I would’nt buy what was being offered, a massage. I now only patronize Nikko’s tent and I tell every massage hawker this. There is one who ignores this and massages my shoulders as he talks to me; half flirting and half soliciting. 

I observe the obviously American and Canadian people go about their regular lives consisting of yoga, fancy dinners etc. with one simple difference: Constant sunshine. I can hear the barking instructions of the spinning instructor at the fitness place next door. Everyone calls it the Marilyn Monroe fitness club, there’s a giant colour Marilyn Monroe statue in front of it, dress flaring up in that famous image of her over the sewer grate; only in their depiction it is a red dress. It is a great landmark. I always look for it when I’m on the bus. I know this is where I need to get off.

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