accepting my slytherinness

I didn’t join Pottermore for the longest time. My relationship with Harry Potter was intense, but troubled. It oscillated between shameless joy and celebration to cheek-biting scrutiny and critique.

slytherin

In one past life, I’d enthusiastically dressed up in costume and painted signs, windows, and children’s faces for the midnight releases at the bookstore. In another, I’d spent two semesters engrossed in academic study as I wrote a dissertation critiquing Rowling’s implicit versus explicit ideologies. (Seems pointless now. Ten years later and Tumblr has my thesis covered.)

Anyway, I finally joined Pottermore and had myself sorted. This seemed a needless formality. I was Ravenclaw. I knew it. I had always known it. I was a Ravenclaw, just like I was a Donatello and a Miranda and a George Harrison. There was no reason to doubt it.

In fact, since childhood, a very significant portion of my self-identification stemmed from this very assumption.

But no.

Lo, I am a Slytherin.

I stared at the screen in shock for several moments and then I told Husband, dismayed.

He replied: “J.K. Rowling wrote that, right? That means it’s canon. That’s, like, the definition of canon.”

I texted Dr. Roommate. If anyone had insight, it was a medical doctor / my former roommate. Her text back read: “That makes sense.”

What. What, what, WHAT.

How the hell did that make sense?

But the longer I thought about it, layers and layers of self-perception began to peel away. I began to look at not what I did, but why I did.

What had made me think I was Ravenclaw to begin with? Well, I was a bit of a swot and I loved to learn. But did I care about knowledge for the sake of knowledge itself?

I was forced to admit not really.

Rather, I realized that I am aware just how much knowledge there was in the world and I want it all. I want to know everything. I don’t learn something and think “Cute. Add that to the collection,” I think, “How can I use that?”

Even when I was a kid, more than learning things, I wanted to be seen as the “Smart Kid.” It was the one thing that came really easy to me and so that is what I focused on.

I had never thought it possible to be Slytherin because I never saw myself as ambitious. I had always viewed ambition on a macro scale. It was the determination to succeed and the willingness to go to any lengths to achieve that success.

That wasn’t me at all. I stuck with a job I settled with. I give up on things way too easily. When something is hard, I back away. Something in my mind simply shuts to it. I avoid, avoid, avoid.

But once I realized that ambition can also work on a micro scale, then it all snapped into place. Anyone who has ever worked with me in any capacity will realized just how over-the-top organized and perfection-driven I am with something I care about. I’m shrewd. And resourceful. And cunning? At times.

Suddenly, it made sense. It totally fucking did. I was never a Ravenclaw. I was a Slytherin and always had been.

There is a reason I quickly give up on things. It’s not laziness, it’s pragmatism. As soon as I think I can’t do it perfectly, I don’t want to do it at all.

When school got hard to manage, I closed down. I skipped class, I curled up until it went away. When film-making got too frustrating, I stopped doing it. There was something so deeply unsettling about watching dailies and realizing there were imperfections I was never going to be able to correct. I couldn’t handle that.

Perhaps that was why I retreated into writing. That, I could control completely.

And perhaps that is why I sit on so many drafts. If I don’t know how to make it perfect, I can’t let it go. And I can’t let it be anything less than perfect. I’m determined.

I’m a Slytherin.

Christ, I really am.

travel and the art of mental maintenance: IV. Casablanca

This is part of a series I have been working on. The Introduction is here.

morocco 2

I was exhausted and burnt out. For short trips, you rally. But backpacking is a marathon.

I dyed my hair from blonde to brown before I left Vancouver because I knew I was going to Morocco, and I’d heard warnings—mostly I’d ignored them, but my mother also heard those warnings. If she felt better, I could deal. However, it faded back into a dark blonde by the time I arrived in North Africa.

In a perfect example of a tremendous oversight, I arrived on the first day of Ramadan. I had a hotel room all to myself. A hotel on the beach, where I took the closure of everything as a chance to relax. I slept all day, wandered the beach, and then ate candy and drank mango juice for dinner.

But I got to watch the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean from Africa.

morocco

The world started to feel small.

I wanted to explore, but I was feeling what I hadn’t yet realized was culture shock. I realized I had been incredibly naïve. I took short walks through this little part of town, sneaking photographs as if I were a cultural thief somehow. Most of my experience with the actual city was on the taxi ride from my hotel to the train station.

I cannot even remember how I called the taxi. Did my hotel call it for me? Did I flag someone down? I seem to recall few cars on the streets on the outskirts where my hotel was. I attributed that to Ramadan, I remember.

I feel slightly ashamed that my memory has failed me on this one little detail. I cannot even recall much about the taxi or the driver. I have vaguely blurred recollection of a typical cityscape passing by once we entered Casablanca proper.

I remember thinking, comically aware of my own absurdity, how absolutely nothing looked like the movie. I had expected this; I wasn’t an idiot. I harboured no false expectations on that front. I even knew that somewhere downtown, some enterprising restaurateur had opened a “Rick’s” and that it too was nothing like the movie.

So it goes.

travel and the art of mental maintenance: I. Paris, the five types of travellers

This is part of a series I have been working on. The Introduction is here.

the five types of travellers

paris

My first week in Paris was a crash course in backpacking. The first day, wandering from my hostel along Rue Moufftard down to Place St. Michel, took me onto the Ile de la Cite, towards Notre Dame.

I’d been expecting a cathedral, damn it.

And that’s what I got.

Only the intervening centuries did their best to make themselves known. Across the river was a Subway sandwich shop. A long queue fed into the building from the square outside. Perhaps I was expecting a sign, like in Disneyland: 30 minutes from this point. But Notre Dame is a working church. Inside, people were praying. They were praying as if five hundred years had not passed by since I thought this place was relevant.

I realized with a start that the problem is me.

I grew up on the edge of the world. In a sense. Vancouver, Canada: the last frontier. Even the islands west of the Georgia Straight were colonized first. Incorrectly, our culture says that history started when the white people got here. The earliest thing we have that gets championed is from the late 1800s: the gaslight era. Something we seem really proud of, a friend of mine from England once pointed out, but is a barely remembered blip back in the Old World.

Thus: Notre Dame made me realize what a disconnect I felt between anything “old” and anything “relevant.”

paris 8

When I said I was staying for a week, it seemed like a universal consensus amongst the other hostel mates that a week was too long. “Three days tops,” suggested Matthieu from Montreal. He should know, I thought.

As it seemed that this was what most people thought, I was able to bear witness to the whole gamut of travellers coming in and out of that hostel room. They set a template that was only reinforced the more time I drifted from hostel to hostel. There are certain types of travellers.

The college kids doing their backpacking thing (or, if they were British, the gap year traveller). I liked to assume many of them were trust-fund babies, but I don’t want to judge. I will just say that I ran into quite a few of them that seemed to not really know the value of a dollar. Hostels were not a necessity; they were cool. It was like Coachella applied to travel. A couple of the kids in my hostel were fresh off to Stanford when they got back to the States in September.

paris 7

The budget honeymooners. In the Paris hostel, there was a young couple who had just married after eight years together. They had a six-month-old baby girl and money was tight. They had a small, cheap wedding and didn’t think they were going to get a honeymoon until their family surprised them with this. I never got much chance to get to know them, as – naturally – they spent most of their time alone together, outside the hostel. But they seemed like the sweetest, most genuine couple I had met. I respected the hell out of them.

The Australians. I met many, many, many Australians. They were often living and working in London for two years on a visa, and travelling as much as they can while doing it. There was little else to define them as a group other than their nationality and something of a happy thousand-yard-stare. They could party, to be sure, but something about their experience so far had rendered them wide-eyed but a little world-weary. It was an odd combination. It was like they’d seen some shit but couldn’t wait to see some more.

The partiers. These were the worst. The absolute worst. I’m sure they’re nice in other contexts, in much the same way the guy who is really letting loose at the bar one night is usually nice in his daily life. I found they were often rich kids from around Europe or Britain, taking advantage of budget flights to spend the weekend somewhere else getting drunk and/or laid. They didn’t care that you weren’t. They treated the hostel as an extension of the party. Even when it was four in the morning. Those fuckers.

And then, most impressively, there are the life-travellers, those for whom the nomadic nature of travel is a way of life. These are the people we all secretly wish we could be. So much romance is tied into their way of life; doesn’t it just sound so grand?! Travelling all. the. time. All you own is strapped to your back and off you go, picking grapes in Italy in the summer, wintering on a beach in Thailand. These people float around, volunteering in exchange for meal, surfing couches, making friends (upon whose couch they might one day surf), and filling out ice-breaker bingo cards like nobody’s business. There is a whole sub-culture that exists for life-travellers. I love these people. They’ve got the best stories. I’m also incredibly jealous because they have a stamina that I just can’t live up to.

Because travel is exhausting.

paris 3

Travel is life magnified.

Especially when you are travelling alone. Travel is an endless series of intense days where you are always required to be mentally present. This is equally exhilarating and exhausting. Where life is shades of grey, travel is black and white. Life normally passes with an emotional range that wavers slightly day-to-day just above and just below “normal.” Travel is all kinds of extremes. Moments of joy are thrilling in a way that life rarely is. Everything feels magic and unique and special. It’s like falling in love. When you’re alone, you’re truly allowed to be yourself or even just some imagined version of yourself. Because no one knows you, no one has any expectations from you. No one is going to say “that’s a weird thing for you to say,” they will just think “wow, that chick’s weird.” And—you know what?—who cares if they do? You’re onto a whole new city tomorrow, so fuck those haters.

But on the flip side, moments of sadness are ever-the-more excruciating. At some point during my first few days in Paris, I cried at night. You’re never truly alone, but you feel it. All the anxieties of everyday life are rendered all the more desperate and extreme. If you lose your keys, there’s no one to call. Hell, you might not even find someone who speaks your language. You’re all on your own, baby.

paris 6

I wondered if this was all some horrible mistake. Had the Great Adventure all of life culture had promised really been some big, fat lie? That romance of running of into the sunset was total bullshit. Travel is hard.

But the next morning you wake up. And it is… in every possible way… a new day.

You’re kinda over the jet lag at long last.

There’s a new group of people in the hostel and they’re all kinda friendly. One of them asks you if you want to go check out the Catacombs, and since she’s a radiologist and you took one university course on osteology, this is going to be really fucking good.

travel and the art of mental maintenance: introduction

This is the introduction of what I hope will become a series / retrospective project / diary-after-the-fact / examination of memory-and-place-and-all-that-jazz. All the links to other posts about specific adventures and places are/will be below.

Whenever you get back from a long bout of travelling, the world always feels different (at least for a little while, until reality sets in again). For me, however, the world really was different. I was gone from August to November 2008. I have always meant to write more meaningfully about this trip. I’ve touched on bits and pieces here and there, but alas… I’ve never put together something huge.

I imagined that one day it would all be complete, as if I was filling in the pieces on a puzzle that would one day reveal the big picture. It seemed so easy, when I thought of it. That I would be able to simply sit and write. I would start at day one and then it would unfurl from there like a pulling the thread on a sweater.

But memory works in funny ways. Events are not always best discussed in sequence. Not when they are connected to ideas. Below is my itinerary, not as it was planned, but how it turned out when all was said and done. I will fill in links when I get around to writing them. And probably not in order. Although, that’s probably how it will start.

My parents bid me farewell...

My parents bid me farewell…

Less than an hour after touching down in Paris, I was sitting in a street café, eating a kebab with a guy from Newport Beach whose name I forgot as soon as I heard it.

It was August 10, 2008, and I would spend the next four months rolling through the epicenters of several western European cultures. At some point, my sister joined me and things got messier. The impact of those four months on the world were enormous and the whole time I was in a bubble lit by my own navel.

One Forrest Gump moment stood out: I happened up the financial district of London on the day of the Lehman Brothers collapse. I recall men in suits carrying boxes of office supplies and dazed looks. In retrospect, it made everything seem so much more important than it did at the time.

In fall 2001, I began university. Everything that followed was easily characterized by the phrase Post-9/11 and a campus perpetually peopled by anti-war protestors. It was here I met the boyfriend I would later break up with and have to run away to Europe to start over.

This was something of a theme for me, I realize now. I went to Europe for the same reasons a lot of people do in movies, if not in reality: I was freshly freed from seven years in university, five years of which were in a just-ended relationship, and I desperately needed to see something beyond my own milieu. It was simple: I needed to escape.

In summer 2002, I’d done something similar. I went to stay with family in England in lieu of summer classes to get over my high school boyfriend and my fear of the real world. The change of scenery provides a perspective easily lost when you’re stuck in the day to day.

Five years later, my husband and I would do the same.

But in 2008, armed with meagre savings, a line-of-credit, and poor financial decisions, I went backpacking. The entire thing reeks of middle-class white privilege.

Which brings me back to that kebab in Paris with a guy from Newport Beach…

I. Paris

the five types of travellers

Versailles

II. Madrid

the arrival

III. La Alberca

IV. Casablanca

V. Marrakech

VI. Some where in the the foothills of the Atlas Mountains

VII. London

VIII. Broken Down Somewhere in Belgium

IX. Oktoberfest

X. Dachau

XI. Kitzbuhl

XII. Munich proper

XIII. Amsterdam

XIV. Maastricht

XV. Paris Again

XVI. Disneyland Paris

XVII. Madrid Again

XVIII. La Alberca Again

XIX. Helsinki

XX. Hameenlina

XXI. Seinajoki

XXII. Huitinen

XXIII. Pori

XXIV. London Again

XXV. Lewes

XXVI. Doncaster, Thurnscoe

resolutions and pattern recognition

Aviary Photo_130360388134035931I’ve never much been one for resolutions but sometimes circumstances arise, flailing their fists, demanding action be taken. It’s never anything so banal as the ticking of the clock from one year to the next that does it; no, for me, it’s something drastic.

Often, these resolutions end badly. Why? Because I suffer from the horrible conflation of three horrible characteristics: impulsiveness, laziness, and hopeless romanticism. This means that I have the rationality of a Disney character and the ennui of the French New Wave.

After turning thirty, enough time has passed for a pattern to reveal itself: a major turning point comes every five or six years, often predicated by a major relationship change (historically a break-up). I run away to Europe for several months and then return to Canada with a renewed dedication to lofty artistic or academic ambitions.

The resolution is that ambition; the resolution is “SUCCESS.”

Eventually, however, those ambitions fade away, usually due to the realization that it’s going to be a lot of a work and I just don’t care enough to do that work.

But this time, it’s different. The relationship change is a marriage, not a break-up, and ambition is too harsh a word.

Our decision to come back from England in October held at its centre a resolution and a realization.

The realization was that life is not about achieving goals. Goals are empty unless they are some marker indicating a wider lifestyle or achievement. What I said in 2002, “I want to come back from England, go to university, reveal my super-genius, and change the face of academia!” was the same as what I said in 2008, “I want to come back from Europe, go to film school, and become a filmmaker!” I was looking at an endgame, not a lifestyle. I was looking at an illusion, not an achievement. I was concerned with how I would be looking to other people, not how happy I would be when alone with myself.

The reality is, I should have spent more time deciding what it was that actually made me happy as an ongoing part of my daily life, not as some end goal; I should focus on something that is a part of who I am, not what I do.

So that was the new resolution. You see, throughout all of this, for all of my life*, I have always been either writing or lamenting the fact that I don’t have time to write. I have amassed so many notes and ideas, with so little time and energy focused on actually developing them. They were always filed under “things to do later” and then ignored as I pressed ahead with a film script someone requested of me.

And the odd time I tried to publish, I was rejected. You know why? Because I was caught up in this vortex of time. Everything was a rush and I never got a chance to breathe and let myself develop as an artist. Things take time. Time changes you, molds you, builds you. When I read things I wrote ten years ago, five years ago, even two years ago, I cringe. I wrote those things without knowing what I really wanted to say.

Film is a fantastic medium, but it has a tendency to gloss over so many subtleties. It catches me as too short-sighted for my own ends. While I was developing so many other skills with film, I neglected to focus on the core of who I was. Film is collaborative and project-based, which is one of its strengths, but it never quite fulfilled me as an artist. I could never really be happy with something. I could never make it perfect. I could never impart all of my intentions; so much was out of my control. And thus it never felt right, like I never quite got out what I wanted to say.

I never developed my voice. What was it I was trying to say? What did I even have to offer? Simple stories didn’t do it for me; anything more elaborate I couldn’t quite pull off. I felt like a liar and a cheat. Like I was capable of so much more, but short-changing myself and everyone else.

There were a few times that something honest came bubbling to the surface (my script for The Year Without Hockey still strikes me as something I was proud of), but those moments were rare. The reality is, I felt like a hack.

I’ve managed in the last few years to finish a couple of novels. This rush of energy put into writing has been phenomenal. Every time I give Coal Dust another pass, I’m still pleased with it, but The Ashjar (my dystopian novel about pirates-in-space-but-really-so-much-more) has never felt right until the last couple of months. I’ve been reworking it over and over for about three years now. I finally think I have it. And that is because I’ve given up on trying to write to some external marker of genre or quality or statement. I’ve gone back and made it mine. I’m not worried about length or genre expectations anymore. If it finds a publisher: fine. If not, I would rather reread this on printer paper and love it than read it bound in hardback and covered in Heather’s Pick stickers and not be something I know is truly mine.

In focusing my energy on my work, I’ve been surprisingly successful with it in such a short time. It’s amazing to think that, all these years, all I really needed to do was make the effort. I just needed to write what felt real and then simply submit my work to magazines and websites, and – surprise – get published.

But getting published feels so secondary, because the greatest joy is reading back something I wrote after I’ve given it enough distance to feel fresh and really fucking loving it. That was how I felt when I read back Scenes From a Road Movie after letting it hang around for a year or so. That was how I felt when I read The Stars/Les Étoiles on the printed page.

It’s so profoundly rewarding that words fail me. (And isn’t that the greatest irony?)

___

*I think the most formative moment of my life might have been when I was only a few years old and had the sublime realization that books had to be written by people – that making up a book was something you could actually do. As soon as I learned to draw and/or write (it was a horrible combination of the two), I made a book about a dinosaur. It was beautiful.

the coolest I have ever been: a story about anxiety

The coolest I have ever been is the day I had eye surgery on my left eye. When I left the hospital with one pupil normal and one dilated, I looked the closest to David Bowie as I ever am likely too unless Tilda Swinton and I are in a horrible accident together and the only way to save one of us is to put my brain in her body.

But I digress.

I bring this up because the follow-up make-sure-you’re-healing-and-not-going-blind-instead appointment was tentatively dated to a time when I was immersed in the heavy production period of a film school would-be masterpiece. I cancelled the appointment and never remembered to reschedule.

Four years later it’s been something of a nagging itch. Did my eye heal? Or am I slowly going blind? Will Pirates in Space be the closest I’ll ever get to my Paradise Lost?*

The coolest I have ever been is still not this cool.

The coolest I have ever been is still not this cool.

So obviously the healthiest way to deal with this was by ignoring it. And so I continued to ignore it. Because things like doctors and dentists and optometrists give me inexplicable and near-intolerable anxiety.

Same with banks. They all make me feel like I’m being judged. Like, while flipping through a decade-old copy of Highlights for Kids in the waiting room, the receptionist is weighing my organs and placing them in canopic jars while cackling maniacally.**

Somehow, the bank teller knows I purposely buy the slightly more expensive organic milk and in her eyes this mismanagement of funds deems me evil or, worse, childish. “Pay into your RRSPs!” She will forewarn as the camera swoops into a low angle and the sky darkens.

Anyway.

So I’m moving to another country in a month and what went from well-intentioned plans has turned to cowering in a corner pleading to a silent entity to not make me have to talk to anymore strangers with advanced degrees.

I began with the rationale that these anxiety-inducing encounters will only be worse if undertaken in a foreign land, so I might as well get all those nagging itches scratched as soon as possible. However, it’s amazing what cold, squidgy rationalization can do.

Suddenly, there is nothing wrong with me. So what if I haven’t been to the dentist in several years. I’m going to Britain, land of bad teeth! I need to fit in!

But alas. I ran out of contact lenses. Sure, my eyesight has worsened in the last four years but I was always afraid of that second appointment I never had. But I sucked it up. I booked what I thought was a really quick prescription-taking eye test.

But this optometrist, he had a sixth sense for bull-shitters. Like Karl Pilkington’s alter-ego, the optometrist swooped in and called “Bullshit!” on my hand-wringing denial of any further concerns.

A set of eye drops later, he calmed my fears. I am not slowly going blind. No holey retinas here. This leaves me pondering the nature of my medical professional-related anxiety. I always fear the worst, but hate seeing someone about it, even if I know they will calm those fears.

What the hell, brain? Should I get you checked out? But then I would have to see a psychiatrist, which might just be the worst possible thing in the entire world. Do you have a disorder? Or a chemical imbalance?

Am I crazy? Or just totally normal…? Wouldn’t that suck.

Oh well. At least I’m not John Milton.

__________

*Apologies for the pretentiousness of a Milton reference. Apologies, apologies all around.

**Oh wow. More pretensions. Was that a reference to ancient Egyptian beliefs of the afterlife? Why, yes! It was! But with a little pop culture witch behaviour thrown in for added offence.

latch keys

Sometimes I think how you remember your childhood varies with how much time has passed since. Each year adds another coat of paint tempered with pop culture and shifting perspectives. Childhood takes on this orange hue, as if a perpetual summer. One coloured with the clichés we remember from movies: bare feet, tire swings, lakes, rivers, streams, creeks – how much of childhood seems to revolve around water? It’s as though youth finds itself in something at once both primordial and perpetual in its motion.

“Childhood” – when remembered as such – is just these images. They are probably not even our own. We have to think further to connect childhood to something. Time comes back in fragments. These are the “stories.” These are the pieces you slot together into a puzzle that can never really be completed. Do you ever start talking to an old friend or family member and they come out with an old story in which you are the protagonist that you have absolutely no memory of? It feels like someone else’s life. It’s a piece to the puzzle, but one you don’t feel comfortable fitting in because it doesn’t connect to anything else. It’s just this lonely jigsaw shape floating about in your life.

Aviary Photo_130301761252105093A while ago, my uncle told a story of toddler me that my parents didn’t even know: he took me for a walk and – toddling about as toddlers do – I found a small rock that I tried to push through a storm drain. When it didn’t fit through the grate, I kept pushing, punctuating each attempt with a “Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.” I guess I was able to take this “new old story” as my own because I can still relate to it today.

But these fragments, these pieces, become clichés – clichés like: bare feet, tire swings, lakes, rivers, streams, creeks, and the colour orange – because that’s what we need as an anchor.

But I digress.

Summer. Childhood always seems to take place in the summer because when we were kids, summer meant being free. And now, being free means being a kid.

Summer was your own world. For me, my parents both worked. And then my dad decided to go back to school. He became a full-time university student who also worked several part-time jobs (because my mother made too much for him to qualify for student loans, but not enough for us to, you know, have things.)

It is too hard now to construct a daily narrative. I cannot remember the pattern of the average day in the summer. I remember the freedom of being home alone. I remember the freedom of running around with the neighbourhood children, in and out of backyards, over fences, through carports; dirt under our crudely nibbled nails and scabs on our knees. I remember dates with my friend’s family who lived two blocks away (far enough away  to be another land). Last week I saw this friend for the first time since my wedding. I played with her daughter. Her mother stopped by. We conversed as adults. Time passes. Dynamics shift.

In those latch key summers, she would  drive us up to the free outdoor pool. Sometimes it would suddenly close because some kid pooped in the water. Just like in Caddyshack. We would pile back into the car in our swimsuits, barely towel-dry. Once, it was so hot inside the car that my half-exposed ass cheek hit the hot metal of the seat belt. It burnt, blistered, and left a scar that finally disappeared sometime in high school.

We came home and presumably let ourselves in. That seat belt burn left a perfect square in the middle; it was so clearly a seat belt. That brand was an emblem of summer. It marked me a child of free swimming pools, latch keys, and camping in the backyard.

One time we played house in the broken-down car sitting in the carport. We moved in a kitchen shelf, throw pillows and the cat. The “mother” sat in the driver’s seat but all of our bedrooms were in the back. When our game was done, we let ourselves out, made sure we locked the doors (as we had always been told), then realized the poor cat was still inside.

Luckily the car in the shade, but we had to wait a few hours for our parents to get home with the key.

It was the one key we didn’t have.

six signs I have moved past that weird ‘extended youth’ phase into the realm of “real adult”

1. My home has entered levels of cleanliness never before imagined or aspired to. I am well and truly becoming my mother (who, but a mere twenty-five years ago, became her mother.)

2. When I get an injury or illness there is very palpable fear that it will never truly go away. Just one little ankle sprain means I will forever and ever after for all my days refer to my right foot as “my bad foot.” I now have to drink cranberry juice because I have increased chances of kidney stones. Fuck you, aging body, fuck you.

Aviary Photo_1303017714573566873. I can no longer connect with the youth of today and I don’t care. This might seem like a cliche way to realize you’re getting old, but my lord if it isn’t a doozy. It’s become apparent to me recently that the dominant youth “generation” of today are the Millenials, and by gosh, I ain’t one of them. I exist in that strange netherspace between them and Generation X. We are the lost socks of a shifting zeitgeist.

4. All I really want to do all day is read and write. Is that so bad? Honestly?

5. I am getting married (to Boy Roommate Friend) and I’m okay with that. “The rest of my life” doesn’t scare me anymore because at this point “the rest of my life” is only about fifty years (at best), so what’s another fifty years wandering this endless plain of life? Tis but peanuts compared to the eternity that has already stretched behind me. Alas.

6. I am getting married (to Boy Roommate Friend) and I’m okay with that really happy about it. I’m honestly stoked. Ignore the drole irony of #5. My point was that I no longer fear commitment, because I no longer doubt who I am or who I will be. It’s been a journey but I’m finally at a point where all that desperate navel-gazing is done and over with. I know who I am now. I know what kind of life I want. I know who I want to be with. Sure it’s not going to be sugar-coated sweetness all the time, but it’s still going to be pretty awesome because I feel old and wise and totally zen.

Take that, Twenty-Something Ashleigh, take that.

apartment hunting as a metaphor for life

You enter the process with so much excitement. The possibilities seem endless: hardwood floors! 1000 sq ft! Mountain views! Close to Skytrain! In my price range! Utilities included!

You do a drive-by. Walk around the area. “I could live here,” you think. You find yourself dreaming of the future like it is some kind of golden age just around the corner; this beautiful utopia that finally seems within reach. Is this not the kind of adulthood you were always told you would have?

Aviary Photo_130301790433514813But then you dig a little deeper. Make a couple calls. Some internet research. Find out about the bed bugs. The past history of murders and muggings. Find out that we live in frickin’ Vancouver, where the kind of money that gets you a mansion in Toronto gets you a crackhouse here.

You cross a few things out on your list.

You widen your parameters a little. You try to tell yourself this part of town is “the next big thing.” That “I’ve heard they’re planning on gentrifying.” But, as Boyfriend noted: “This is definitely east East Van. See that big shadow on the horizon. That’s Burnaby.”

“But the price is good,” you tell yourself, “And the building is nice.”

Compromises are kicking in.

And this goes on. And on. Until you just find yourself thinking “I just need to find somewhere before the end of the month. Fuck it, anywhere.

state of the union: the more things change…

I know it’s been a while, but somehow, summing up the last few days of my life is remarkably similar to summing up the last month.

_____

Invited over for dinner with the parents on Thursday.

I had been thinking this was rather sweet of them, since there wasn’t anything like Glee that week to unite us as a family.

Anyway. Long story = short: they were babysitting for The Boy and The Boy’s Sequel*.

There was a lots of cuteness and lots of crying. The Boy wept like a tempest over the fact that we paused “Poke-In-Oh”** for dinner.

While the kids cried, Dad excitedly announced in an exercise in randomness that he was going to the zoo.

“Are you going for ice cream afterwards?”

He answered “No” in a way that suggested ‘Dont’ be silly.’ (Yet I could see the glimmer of an idea shine in his eyes.)

I returned to The Commune at ten at night with baby spit-up all over my blouse and a bit of a headache.

_____

On Friday, got to see The Oatmeal. That was fun.

But also, this was the day Dad went on his field trip to The Zoo.

Two fun (and slightly related) facts:

1.) My sister, Bri, is a zookeeper at said zoo. (And apparently a damned-good one; she was Employee of the Month).

2.) Dad and his colleagues did not actually take any students on this field trip.

While A Day at the Zoo sounds like a lost Marx Brothers film, I was told there were no mutes, outlandish Italian accents, or witty one-liners amongst their party.

And no ice cream.

_____

Met with Mum for lunch on Saturday.

“So! Did I tell you that I finished the fourth book?!”

She meant A Feast for Crows, which she’s arrived at rather rapidly following her enthusiastic response to Sean Bean HBO’s Game of Thrones.

She actually had told me that already. “Yes. You did.”

“Yes. Cersei is still a bitch.” (Fact.)

Mum sipped at her apple cider. The rain was beating down on the plastic roof because we were at a pub and we tried to sneak in my fifteen-year-old cousin but pretty soon the jig was up and they sat us on the patio.

“Oh,” she drawled as if adding a footnote to Cersei’s personality issues, “And your dad got bit by a cobra.”

“Um, what?” My natural reaction was shock, obviously.

But seriously: a cobra?

_____

Called Dad on Sunday to verify the cobra story.

Turns out: not a cobra, but a boa constrictor. Or, as Dad would have it: “Just a boa constrictor.”

Maybe it was like a Marx Brother’s film after all.

_____

*The Boy’s Sequel is two months old and looks so much like Orson Welles it’s a little unnerving.

**Walt Disney’s Pinocchio