Ashleigh Rajala is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in numerous journals, both online and in print. She is passionate about using story-telling to build community in Surrey BC, where she lives and works on the unceded traditional territory of the Coast Salish peoples.
Indulge me this: you’re a time traveller. It’s an ordinary day. The fate of the world is not in jeopardy. No damsels to save. No timelines to correct. To angst to stew over. Everything is perfectly fine. You can enjoy yourself.
So you go to a bar.
And who do you see in that bar, but yourself.
You don’t know if it’s past you or future you. But it is definitely you.
This blog has packed up and moved spawned and spread out!
Find me now at ashleighrajala.com, especially if you’re into writing tips and advice and progress reports. Please find me there and follow!
It’s something of a departure for me to leave behind this mess of irreverence in place of something clean and professional, but alas. (Picture me straightening my half-Windsor as I say that.)
I might still pop in occasionally, as circumstances permit, but, in truth, a lot of this was predicated on the fact that I haven’t really had all that much to blog about besides writing, so I thought making a proper writing blog made the most sense.
I used to blog a lot about family and work and travel, but now my family is kinda off-limits as they’ve sprouted a new generation; my work is much larger than me and difficult to speak about in a humourous / critical way; and we just haven’t been travelling as much because… well, mortgages and stuff. There is so little free time that most of my writing energy goes to actual, honest-to-god writing.
I guess this is what your thirties look like. I do have pictures to post of a Disneyland trip with the whole gang, so that might be fun. That was back in August so I might be able to mine a few posts from that nonsense.
It’s rather sad to leave behind a blog with 2000+ followers and realize that the new one currently has 2. Help me please. Once again: ashleighrajala.com
Our kitchen was boring. At least after we stripped the children’s wallpaper and metallic faux-tile adhesive back-splash. I mean, that was a tad more exciting, but still… the interior design equivalent of a six-year-old’s sticker collection.
For the better part of the last year, we’ve been starting at blank plain cupboards, desperate to do something about it. What is your home supposed to be but a reflection of yourself, if you so wish? I’m so sick of the idea of keeping everything in this chrysalis of beige just in case you decide to sell soon.
So, on Sunday, I thought, “Fuck it,” and dug out what paint I had and went to work.
I still have blue paint under my nails and our kitchen now looks like the interior design equivalent of a scrapbook mom’s sticker collection, but that’s something of an improvement over a six-year-old’s.
I noticed this post was sitting in my drafts folder with nothing more than a heading. It’s been sitting there nearly a year. Who knows what the hell I was thinking when I came up with that title.
If the past is a foreign country, one’s past self is a stranger. Or least someone you went to school with a long time ago and now no longer have anything in common with except for a lingering adolescent love of first gen punk rock.
What was that post supposed to be about? The shapes of stories? What can that mean?
It was Vonnegut. Of course. How could I forget.
Borrowing from this general idea, if mapped in two dimensions, there are five story shapes:
Up to Down – Tragedy
Up to Down to Up Again – Comedy
Down to Up – Boring Biopic
Down to Up to Down Again – Oscar-Award Winning Biopic
Flatline – Vonnegut says Hamlet, but I think a lot of us can generally agree that shit is pretty fucking tragic.
Why did I think this was worth blogging about a year ago? I can’t remember.
Why do I think it’s worth blogging about now?
So I can make a stupid joke at the expense of biopics. That’s about it.
This is part two of my re-capping of the last year or so.
2016 was all-around a year of horrors. It is known. Somewhere in the middle of it, Husband and I found out that the apartment we were renting in New Westminster was being sold. This was the second time that had happened to us in less than two years.
This is hardly the worst story anyone who is a renter in the Greater Vancouver area had, but it’s probably about par for the course. In a nutshell, the housing situation in Vancouver has always been terrible for everyone for anyone below upper middle class.*
But in the last few years, housing prices have been swooping upwards at an alarming rate, just like those line graphs of how fucked we are by climate change. And, inversely, rental vacancies have plummeted, just like those line graphs of how likely we are to survive climate change.
Husband and I had been diligently saving for our down-payment for a few years now and, while this was a little ahead of our planned schedule, we thought that rather than just rent another place only to get reno-evicted in a few months, we might as well look to buy.
Our plan had been to first buy a condo in New West, similar to what we’d been renting. We love New West and it really feels like home. We like the small-scale urban feel, as well as the sense of community we have from all our familiar haunts.
The plan was to eventually upgrade to a townhouse somewhere in several years, maybe five. You know, when we were ready to hit the suburbs. But with the way prices were going, we realized that if we didn’t buy a townhouse now, we were likely never going to be able to afford one.
So we started looking at townhouses in Surrey, south of the river and another ‘sphere of influence’ removed from Vancouver. Thus goes the pattern of suburban drift. The four years we spent in New West, we watched it gentrify. We were even at the forefront of that. We are not blameless. It just feels like it all happened overnight.
Trying to buy anything was a nightmare. Each place would go on the market, have one open house, and then start taking offers even as early as that night. And forget the listing price. So many offers were coming in, you needed to go sometimes as high as $60,000 or $70,000 higher than listing on your initial offer. There was no negotiating. No saying maybe we should get an inspection first?
For us, with our typical mortgage and financing, we were competing against cash offers. Mostly boomers who just sold their detached house for over a million (God knows how little they paid for it in the 1980s or 1990s.) and were now looking to downsize. It was a shitty time to be a first-time home-buyer.
But, hey: we are the lucky ones.
I know this. I keep telling myself this. We are insanely lucky. But so it goes: you always look up but never down. You see those even luckier people who bought a few years ago or who have their parents bankrolling them but never those who will likely be renting the rest of their lives or who will be waiting for a government sea change in order to even have a roof over their heads.
The place we ended up snagging is a bit out of the way and a bit of a fixer-upper. But it’s ours. So now it’s time to learn some DIY.
*If you live in the Greater Vancouver area and have had nothing but blue skies in your housing situation (and if you have actually *gasp* MADE money in the last little housing bubble), then fuck you. I don’t wanna hear it. The rest of us are livid.