the hiatus and moving on

It seems like every time I return to regular posting after something of a hiatus, I have nothing but complaints about what kept me in hiatus.

And I feel like I’ve come out of one of the most stressful times of my life. There are two kinds of stress I experience: time-related stress, where a million things need to be done ohmygodlikerightnow; and, the deeper, more existential stress… the stress that keeps you up at night and never really goes away, only morphs and mutates as you age.

Earlier this year, it was the former. For the second time in less than a year, we had a landlord tell us they were selling the place. It’s definitely not as bad as getting reno-evicted, but it still kinda sucks. The uncertainty is what plagues you. Will you have to move? Should you move preemptively? Where the hell will you move to?

Now, we’d been saving up for a down-payment for a while, but in a real estate market like Vancouver’s, the downpayment milestone is a milestone that always lies on the horizon. You reach your goal but suddenly whoops! Sorry, you ain’t getting a studio apartment in Chilliwack with that!

But maybe we were close enough that we could manage it.

And, oh my god, am I glad we tried. We started looking at townhouses in Surrey.

We love New West and called it home, but, damn. Those townhouses were well over half a million to begin with. For a townhouse. Not even in Vancouver proper. Good luck with a detached home anywhere.

We were just priced out. Simple as. We could have gone for a condo and that was Option #2. We had just heard way too many horror stories about new and old condos alike.

In the month or so that we were looking, prices on townhouses kept going up and up and up. The average price rose by almost $100K in the short time we were looking!

And looking was hell. Multiple cash offers were coming in after one open house. Offers were going for $50K over asking.

So we did end up getting a townhouse in Surrey. It definitely quite suburban and several concessions were made, but, hey, we’re homeowners. And that’s an incredible privilege.

And we got to paint the walls bright colours, which was nice after so many years of white rental walls.

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And there is a farm market a two minute walk away. And a huge park with nature trails.

So it’s been nice.

But the instant that time-suck stress ended, the existential one set in. Life was suddenly entirely different. I miss New West a lot. I don’t really have a routine yet. I’m coping by moping. It’s a time-tested strategy of mine that has never worked.

I’m like a frigging plant that’s been repotted and is a total wuss about it.

Anyway, I feel like I say this biannually, but I’m trying to get around to posting more often, and perhaps about far less navel-gazing crap. That’s the thesis statement.

 

the optimism continues

Today I was given the much-needed reminder that, even though some of the shine has come off the Trudeau Liberals, they are still an infinite improvement over the horrors that came before.

I started working in the Social Planning section of the City a few months ago, and since then, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing non-profits and service providers who do incredible work in Surrey.

I was reminded today how much their jobs have improved tremendously since November 4. Even though we’ve all been much busier, it’s been a “good” busy… more funding, more initiatives, thus more work… from a government that actually seems to care about people.

Even the little things, like giving non-profits a break on their mortgage rate, means a lot for organizations that operate on a shoe-string. It’s a huge turn from a Harper government who told a colleague that affordable housing “wasn’t their mandate.” Ugh.

Anyway, with the state of the rest of the world right now, I am feeling incredibly lucky.

the granny square approach

Momentum, like Mr. Darcy’s good opinion, once lost is lost forever.

Or so it seems.

Something like a particularly nasty cold that lasts a week (especially when it is followed by Husband spending the whole next week sick with said cold) can wreak havoc on my momentum.

Like coming back from vacation, or from an illness, or from a mental rabbit hole of writing on one project, returning to the status quo is difficult. You feel like the Campbellian hero, returning to find the world the same but himself drastically different.

Only  your arc was a helluva lot more pathetic than the hero’s. You find yourself wondering just how the hell you did this day-in, day-out, once upon a time. What was I? Superhuman?

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Losing your momentum is like losing a little bit of yourself. What is all this yarn and how the hell will I ever make it anything?

I kept telling myself there has to be some technique for dealing with this… something I could fall back on when I find yourself in this situation… some easy trick to convince myself it’s all not as difficult as I thought.

I realized when crocheting once, that the idea of holding in my hands the tiny fragment of what will be a finished product is too overwhelming. How can I have this brief string of stitches and imagine it an entire blanket?

It’s so much easier to just… not  do it. I accepted the lack of momentum and gave up.

But obviously, if I kept doing this, I’d never accomplish anything.

So I tried this. I wasn’t going to make an entire blanket, I was going to make one granny square. That was easy. It just took an hour.

And then, when that was done, I made another.

Before I knew it, I had a bag of granny squares. I had a whole fucking blanket!

And, funnily enough, I didn’t even want a blanket anymore. I made pillows instead.

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My point is that everything can be broken down into manageable chunks. Don’t worry about writing that novel; write that chapter. Hell, write that one scene. Or even just two hundred words. Just focus on that.

Just that. And don’t worry about anything else until it’s time.

Before you know it, you’ll have a pillow that’s as sexy as hell.

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Or two. 

Aw, yeah.

upon the difficulties of getting your sh*t together

It’s been a very upside down sort of world I’ve been living in, for good and bad. Which is how it goes, I suppose, when you’re trying to get your shit together, as they so figuratively say.

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What is it about being an adult that means having your shit together? What does that even mean? There’s no textbook definition, obviously, but everyone just seems to know what it means. It requires no analysis or deep thought. It just is. It is your shit. All together. At last.

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When you’ve never had your shit together and this shit has just been all over the place, like all over the place… I’m talking shit in every closet, shit stuffed under the mattress, shit flung at the walls by proverbial monkeys… everywhere. 

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How can you possibly get it all together? This isn’t some easy cleaning, where you just Windex and shove things into drawers. Because the drawers are already full of shit and Windex + shit = messier shit.

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It’s like spring cleaning. You’ve got to haul that shit out, polish it off, throw some away, and then put it all back neatly.

That’s where I’m at. Things are going to be better – my shit will be together – but in the meantime, it’s getting a helluva lot shittier.

Interview with Ashleigh Rajala

Another shameless plug. This time an interview with Quarter Castle Publishing. Behold, my majesty!

I have to admit that I love talking about my writing process.

It forces a level of self-reflexivity that I think is healthy, as well as provides a valuable time to reflect on the effectiveness of my process.

Also, I am vain.

(Also also… that picture of me had a plate of pierogis artfully cropped out.)

Quarter Castle Publishing

Author InterviewAshleigh Rajala of New Westminster, British Columbia, is the author of Working Title, the winning submission in Quarter Castle Publishing’s first short story writing contest.

Recently Quarter Castle Publishing interviewed Ashleigh.

QCP: When did you decide to become a writer?

Ashleigh: I remember a moment as a book-obsessed child where I realized that someone created those books and that I too could do that. The first story I wrote was about a dinosaur, and my mum sewed a cover onto it and everything. Sadly, this opus has been lost to history. So I never really decided, it was just something I have always done.

QCP: Do you write every day? If not, how many days do you dedicate to writing?

Ashleigh: I write every day. Sometimes life gets in the way, but that’s okay. But I try to never let myself stop if I’m feeling blocked or less than…

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Introducing Ashleigh Rajala

#shamelessplug

Quarter Castle Publishing

Ashleigh Rajala of New Westminster, British Columbia, is the author of Working Title, the winning submission in Quarter Castle Publishing’s first short story writing contest.

Here’s a sample from the short story.

We fade in as the sun sets. In Hollywood, they call this “Magic Hour”. It’s brief but timeless in that way so few things are. The first we will see of Nick is a thirty-five-year-old man: some wrinkles but ultimately boyish. The production company ensnared a former portrayer of superhero sidekicks and sex-obsessed teens. “Nick” is the actor’s chance for emotional redemption, career resurgence, even an awards show run, perhaps. So Nick is now tall, dark, bankable and far-more handsome than he should be.

But in this world of magic hours he is awkward and pitiable. We know this because his suit is wrinkled and mismatched. He is wearing it only because it would not fit in…

View original post 449 more words

it’s been a while…

Sorry it’s been so long since anything’s been posted. August was a doozy.

But hopefully I will be posting more soon. And things are afoot….

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UPDATE (12:51 pm)

I’ve decided to publish on here several short stories that I have published previously in various print media. These include The Stars / Les ÉtoilesTicker Tape Kings, and Kings Cross, all of which I’ve been incredibly happy with and am desperate to share.

Beauty is pain, so they say, and thus the beautiful medium of print is so painfully ephemeral that it would otherwise be nearly impossible to track down some of these now.

The above gif remains applicable to my current mood.

Werk it, tubby bear, werk it.

obligatory july post

I know I haven’t posted anything in a while. I have no real excuse other than I have been writing, just not any blog posts. The body of one book is barely cold and I’ve already started on another.

This one is a comedy, which is a nice change. It certainly makes life lighter.

I am finding a slight frustration, however, in the fact that I seem to keep jumping all over the place in terms of genre and style. I find I switch modes for each project and sort of adopt a different voice for each piece. Perhaps the differences are only really apparent to me, but it makes me feel reluctant to pick one and run with it, lest I find myself tied to that genre or style.

But anyway. The current piece I’m working on is what I think of as my “Default Mode,” which is basically the same writing style I use writing my blog pieces. It’s how I write when I just write and I suppose there’s something refreshing in that.

It is also a genre piece but only in the sense it riffs explicitly on genre. Perhaps I have been implicitly working through my frustrations.

We’ll see how it goes. It’s a fun, fairly episodic project, so I’ve been toying with the idea of posting it online. Maybe when I’ve got a bit more of it under my belt.

Anyway. Writing aside, life goes ever on as it does. Husband and I are moving. AGAIN. We found out a few months ago that our landlord is selling the place, so we’ve been keeping an eye out for a nice condo, and we found one…. ACROSS THE STREET.

As this is our fourth place we’ve had in New West, I realized we’re perilously close to forming a golden spiral across the landscape.

Is this cause for concern?

Mildly concerning. If I were a character in a Dan Brown novel, perhaps.

Whatever. I love New West. Unabashedly. We have good craft beer, good food, and they just put in a rainbow crosswalk for Pride Week. I imagine it’s only a matter of time before I dedicate a whole post to it.

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– Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Peak Performance” (S02E21)

written by David Kemper