I’ve been taking a course with Michael Stone down on Granville Island (more on that soon). The Island —which is technically not an Island but a Landfill—is an urban wonderland of hidden treasures and oddities. My coolest new discovery is the big green dumpster in front of the trés-upscale Public Market. Yesterday a quick exploration yielded carrots, green onions, and a package of baby pattypans. The day before, a fine cabbage, a perfectly good red pepper, many red and yellow potatoes, and a small spaghetti squash. There was lots more, considerately layered between waxed cardboard boxes to prevent the goods from getting crushed. But I only took what I needed, as i’m sure that dumpster gets a lot of customers. For our class potluck I made a spicy asian dumpster slaw. When people tell me it’s so expensive to live in Vancouver I just smile and say, depends where you shop.
A daydreaming monk falls off a cliff. As the monk is plunging downward he sees a twig sticking out from the side of the sheer cliff, and he manages to grab the twig with his teeth (yeah!). He is hanging by his teeth, above certain death, when a student arrives on the beach far below. The student calls up to the monk: “Oh wise monk, why did Bodhidharma come from the west?!” Obliged to deliver the dharma, the monk knows that if he opens his mouth he will fall to his death.
The power of the question is lost in the answer.
It’s a big one, the question. How can i entwine my life with another? I love my solitude, my independence, my comforts, my habits. If I open my life, my heart, my mind, to this possibility—what will be gained, what will be lost? How can we work it out? I am out on a limb, hanging by my teeth. Caught by the illusion of control. So much to lose, so much to risk. The unlived life never known. The vexatious koan never posed.
There is no solution to this dilemma, because there is no wrong answer. All power lies in the question.
<with a deep bow to Onshin Michael Newton for today’s crunchy nugget of zen>
You see, I am the Kind of Person who carries a notebook all the time. It is the repository and record of my life, from to-do lists to major epiphanies. I get twitchy when I don’t have a notebook (and working pen) within reach. It is what people see when they see me. The notebook is me, it defines who I am. I am the Kind of Person whose notebook is black—serious, beat-poet, anarchist black.
My current notebook has been with me for almost two years, and it is full. A standard little moleskin bought in New Mexico, it has a Georgia O’Keeffe postcard glued on the front and a Cortes Bike Gang sticker on the back; it is battered and ratty and ready for the archive. This one actually isn’t black, to be honest—it is deep forest green. But even the green was a stretch.
I am certainly not the Kind of Person to have a hot-pink leather notebook. It’s not me and I don’t want it. But damn it. That pink notebook wants me. I look over my shoulder to see if anyone’s watching, pick it up, put it down.
I select a no-nonsense black moleskin notebook off the rotating display and take it toward the cash. But then I stop and turn back. The pink notebook calls again from the shelf, with the little kissing sound you would use to beckon a squirrel to take a nut from your hand. I pick it up again. I turn it over, stroking its cover and its cream-coloured leaves. This notebook, that wants me so bad—well it isn’t just pink, it is hot pink. It is the perfect size. A centimeter bigger than the moleskin, it has an inner pouch, nice opaque unlined pages, a place-finding ribbon, and a sturdy elastic band. The elastic is matching pink. The black moleskin is covered in fake leather, but the pink one is the real thing. Real buttery leather, smelling faintly of cow. It is perfect.
But, the pink. I can’t have a pink leather notebook; it is so Not Me. My notebook is a commitment; it has to be right. Who will I be? What will people think?
I come to my senses, put the pink book down. Carry the black moleskin to the counter and open my wallet. Take out my debit card. Stop. I turn back to the notebook section and i swear, the pink notebook winks at me. C’mon, it says. Take me home.
I open the pink notebook to the first virgin page. Pencilled lightly in the corner is the price: $14.99. The serious black moleskin is $17.99.
I am a person with a little pink notebook. I’m that kind of person. Who am I now?
This long-distance cross-border love thing—this thing that everyone says DON’T DO, it’ll drive you crazy, it’ll never work—i daresay, seems to be working. The naysayers are probably right, too—long-distance love never does work. For the young. But I am a grownup, and grownup love is different.
I am in love with an American man, and there have been times when it has felt utterly crazy-making. There have been days when i was sure it was all just plain over. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m well into knitting my life’s third pair of socks. And while they are certainly nice socks, they’re nothing spectacular. I don’t do fancy cables or intricate stitchery (and i have actually seen a pattern for socks with a stanza from Beowulf knitted into them, which is just plain insanity). They are plain, but they will be warm and fit just right, and they should last a good long time. But they’re pretty ordinary socks, and mostly they will just be hidden inside my shoes.
Sometimes when people see my hand-knitted socks they say hey—you could sell those! Yes. But, at $20 or more for the wool, plus at least 30 hours of knitting, thems would be some pretty pricey socks. Read the rest of this entry »
The a-word has been the most tenacious meme ever to infest the English language. Like some kind of evil invasive species, it has strangled out every native adjective. Ad-copy writers (oops i mean content providers) shove it into every slogan and tagline. CBC announcers and politicians hiccup it like some kind of chipper Tourette tic. It is everywhere, and it is boring. Read the rest of this entry »
I breeze into Vancouver Pacific Station an easy 20 min. before my 6:30am train time, all stoked for a little Amtrak adventure. A simple weekend trip, to visit Daniel in Pt Townsend. Snacks in my daypack, passport and train ticket in hand. Where you going, whatcha doing, who you visiting—nothing but the truth. My wallet is emptied onto the kiosk desk: bus tickets, credit cards, yoga pass. Please explain these. A second Homeland Security officer arrives at the gate. Problem here?, he asks. First officer replies: Possible 7A— but probably not. Sweat rises at the back of my neck. The questions get stranger, the air grows thinner. I am invited to follow the second officer into the back room—please, take a seat. Say nothing. Ask nothing. Over my shoulder I watch the last few passengers trickle easily through the gate. Not me. Read the rest of this entry »