After I had owned my DLSR for a year, I remember feeling frustrated that I wasn’t getting any better. Lightroom was a pain in the butt. I longed for the days of film. Now it’s been two years since I first got my camera – something I find extremely hard to believe. Every time I pick it up it feels like my third or fourth time. I’ve even got my first photos on this blog. I smile when I think about what I considered a big milestone back then – taking up my DLSR to Cypress Mountain for the first time, shortly after I had gotten it. Some part rational part of me said baptizing a $500 camera in wet environment was a bad idea, but I’ve since carried around with me in rainstorms and all snow conditions. I struggled hard to want to bring it along too since I was usually too tired to want to pull it out after backpacking to a destination. Yet, the extra pound or so it added inevitably ended up being a pick-me-up when something beautiful showed up and beckoned for me to capture it.


In high school photography was something I longed to get into. It was only really accessible to me via the a film photography class. So years later, when my brother generously offered to buy me a camera, I had to unbury that dream and dust it off and look at it for what it really was. A passion or just a whim? Well, I’ve been taking photos for two years now, and although I cringe at my agonizingly slow progress, the camera has consistently made it with me to all my backcountry pursuits. And it has showed me that beauty is everywhere, if I look.


But as I mentioned earlier, learning to photograph in the backcountry without any preexisting knowledge is hard. So this year, I’m hoping to do more city photography. I would like to improve at portraiture but also incorporate wild spaces in the city into my portraits. Now there’s so much more to consider than just pointing my camera at something beautiful that I want to remember – is this background distracting? Is the subject too small? Is there a subject? Is the photo capturing all the interesting things I want to capture, but in an interesting, uncomplicated and harmonious manner? Composition – this was something I didn’t comprehend at all when I started and am only starting to comprehend now. Camera settings – I’m a technophobe. But I’m learning. One thing I found out that photography, like art, is a lot like writing. The purpose of all art it seems, is to tell a story. An amazing photograph tells a story in just one still image, implying movement through frozen poses and linking seemingly unrelated objects in one frame.


My string of spending every weekend in the backcountry had been broken earlier this month due to a concussion/ I’d spent a lot of time indoors, reflecting about life, about art. At first it was impossible to think, and now it’s hard to think, but I think I’ve come to some conclusions. One is that while concussed, it was nearly impossible to “waste” any energy on anything non essential. Everything left me exhausted and I spent the majority of my days sleeping, so when I was awake, I was doing something at least somewhat meaningful and fulfilling to me, so that my days didn’t feel flat and empty. Secondly, I do like art – when words are hard to come for me, as they are now, visuals allow for creative catharsis. Sure, my photos aren’t great, but they are better – and if I continue practicing and pursuing and learning, because I love to and I need to, then they will continue to get better. And hopefully better writing will follow as I write narratives for how the photos were made and the people behind it.





random art

I was not a very creative person on the medication. My art was robotic; I drew with straight lines and couldn’t fathom new landscapes for the life of me.


I had no eye for composition or interest. I drew whatever snapshot I took or saw. cardCITYSPACE2Screen Shot 2016-10-27 at 9.39.03 AMI revisited this one and tried to complete it and failed.Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 4.19.52 PM



Haven’t drawn in a long, long time – sketched these at work at an outdoor day camp for kids at Mt Seymour. Jeffrey is our frog mascot. The top is a whiskey jack. I hope to get back into drawing – I think it’s improved in the 8 months or so that I didn’t draw (the artist in my brain never turns off apparently).


I’m slowly tapering off the medication. It’s taking way longer than I expected – although tapering was easy at first, as I passed the halfway mark, I had to slow down, and again when I reached the next halfway mark, I had to taper even more slowly. This is a lesson I’ve had to learn through trial and error. If I miss a dose while tapering on such a low dosage, I can barely function from the fluctuation of chemicals in my brain. It’s insane to think that I wrote an entry when this all started, and that here I am now, writing a wrap-up. I never thought I’d see this day; I might be counting all my eggs in the basket for all I know. Next term/year I will graduate and I will officially be an adult. The thought isn’t as scary as it once was.

Depression still isn’t a word I like to use. I don’t want to admit how badly it scars me that I’m genderfluid/queer/nonconforming. Dark thoughts about transitioning and being outcasted by my friends and moving through life without a social script threaten to tsunami. On the other hand, I have never been happier embracing my masculine side as well as the feminine one, and reading up about the queer experience and writing it all down. One day I’ll be spokesperson; but today, I suffer in silence, afraid of what opening up would do to my social life.

Anxiety: I’m anxious that people will find out my secret, that I’m not like them. Why am I so scared of that? Because I’m keenly aware that I’m different and that I can fail to pass. “Passing” – a terrifying word in its own right. In my head I fail to pass and I fail miserably. I lose friends and outlaw myself in my mind because of my difference. In reality this probably isn’t true, but the anxiety from it is so bad somedays it becomes social anxiety and I just can’t function. The energy required to pass is too great.

My head still really hurts from missing a dose last night and I feel vulnerable, but I did manage to have some great moments at work today, including a louder-than-life singing party in the company van ride down and fun with using 10 year old beacons with the kids. It’s not easy (nor is it easy for anyone) but it’s slowly coming together. One day I dream of having the life spent purely outdoors that I want and writing for a job…




Even when I am holding him, with his heartbeat in my hands

I can feel its wings, beating gently against the meaty breast of my palm

Vying for my attention

Uncaged, wild, it asserts its territory over my heart

Singing in a mother tongue I’d forgotten I knew


Like a half forgotten song sung half asleep,

I chase its delirious meaning from daybreak to dusk

Its melody inscribes itself into the line I trace with my eye to the next voluptuous figure and when I wipe the sweat from my brow to hide my gaze when we are out in public

I beg it to bide its time

And it begs to be let free


I try to explain

This cage is big enough only for one

I was happy the day she came out of the woods

But now I don’t want her and I can’t forget her melody

So while I hold onto his hand

I hum along gently

And we rest together in my cage

Three hearts beating in perfect harmony


The road winds on forever and ever. Rory can’t take it anymore. She can’t remember the last time her sunkissed skin rubbed anything other than the arm of her brother beside her, or the whine of their ‘95 Corolla didn’t permeate her entire being. Some vacation. Right now they were chugging up yet another cliffside highway, Mom gripping the steering wheel as if it were about to fly away and Dad silent as a tombstone next to her. She’d already read through her entire collection of mystery novels and no one had texted her. She’d rather be at home. (She wants to be let out of this car, this family.)

The only thing that calms her is her collection of rocks and other knick knacks. She’d picked one up at each stop they’d made along the way. There is a whole bag of them, some of them so tiny they almost slip through the cracks of her hands and out of memory. At first, Mom and Dad had prodded her to pick out the mementos, but as her collection grew, their enthusiasm abated. It sagged against her thighs, trapped in an old pillowcase and spilled past the invisible line between her brother and her. It sprawled like a city out of control, like someone who didn’t care. It made sweat pool at the backs of her thighs and glued her to the peeling pleather seats.

The stifling heat reaches a fever pitch and Rory licks her dry lips. “Dad, will you roll down the window?”

“Sure, honey,” her dad says in a zombie-like monotone. He clutches a few times before his hand lands on the window crank. Eeek, Eek, Eek. As the window inches down, a mosquito that’s been in the car buzzes, trying to cling on, and is sucked into the crack.

“Can we stop at the next next gas station, instead of the next?” Rory sucks in the new air, wishing the stale air would circulate faster. /as if that would make the stale air circulate faster.

Dad touches his neck. “Your mom will be the judge of that.”

To her left, Cory mumbles something incomprehensible and jabs his elbow into her side. Rory’s irritation flares slightly now that her brother is awake.

“Ow, Cory.”

“Are we at the washrooms yet?” Cory’s speech is slurred by sleep. His hair is dishevelled beyond repair.

“Can’t we wait?” Rory whines. Dad shoots a pointed look at her pillowcase. If they make another stop, Rory will add to it. As Rory shifts to unstick her thighs, the knicknacks make a plastic clack.

Cory rubs the sleep out of his eyes. “I’ve been holding it since the last stop. How long was that, Dad?”

“We’ll get off at the next stop,” Dad reassures him. But Rory can see the battle inside his head.

Rory glances into the rearview mirror to see how Mom reacts. She hasn’t. But by now, Rory knows that that the slightest thinning of her lips, carefully crafted to conceal her tiredness and burning fuse, means she’s almost reached her limit. She doesn’t dare call out: Mom? The last time she did that, the car nearly swerved into oncoming traffic.

Mom hasn’t spoken a word since they left their grandparents’ house two hundred and sixty miles ago.


Now that I’m on the other side of my long battle with anxiety, I can look back on my university career and ask myself: why?

Why did this happen? 
Why me?

But within all the why’s, the worst feeling of all is the how: how did I let this happen to myself? Most of all, is it my fault?

How can’t it be my fault if I can:

  • sustain a relationship now.
  • count on myself to show up to work on time?
  • How I essentially so different from the past me that I can now do what was once unthinkable?

There’s so much to be mined from what I write: from how my syntax unravels when I don’t read Great English Literature to how I fumble to express myself yet I still try to write.
And again I find myself asking myself that question: why? Why go through all that trouble when you’ll never be the best, or find your voice? 

I just want to be understood. And why would it matter that I’d never be the best? As long as I am most authentic to my own voice.

How did I do it?

I did the opposite of what I always do: think.

I stopped writing. I stopped reading. Am I supporting not reading and writing? No, that’s just the form my break took. Sitting for long periods of time exacerbated by anxiety. I mourn all the things I didn’t write, but really, I shouldn’t. I should look forward to all the things I will write and am writing, right now.

I took medication. I went to counselling. I missed counselling for a long time. I went back to it. I took it out on the people who loved me and loved them back when they did the same.

I still want to snowboard down that ravine on the way to Cypress Mountain Resort. I still want to be a man. Nothing will ever take that away.

That pain will always be there. But now I know it’s not all my fault. I know that if I try, something will become of me. Not of this, the struggle, but me, the person.

That struggle is worth something. It’s worth me.

And that’s why.


Georgia Straight

I Saw You


did the plaid factory do a recall for all ur clothes? cause im plaid for u. ditch those flowery ornaments n come tote vinyls with me. ur always mad typing away at ur macbook. u shared a link for ubc pride n i liked it.  show me ur plaid collection and ill show u mine.

where: ubc student union building

when: too late


Georgia Straight

I Saw You


saw u scribblin, not notes but snowboarding drawings. short boyish haircut plaid n white skateboard helmet. I showed u the i saw you section and joked that i wished someone would write about me. u shrugged and went back to shading ur drawing. u turned me from georgia straight to queer. im the girl with the long dark hair shading my eyes n snowboard. if u want me, write back here.  where: ubc english class when: too late, again


Yelp Review  Grouse Mountain, Vancouver                   1/20/2015 Rating: *****

The Y2Play season’s pass is a great deal, especially if you’ve bought tickets full price in the past (3X last year, even though I already had a season’s pass at Cypress, just so I could snowboard with you.) If you can work it into your schedule, you’ll get your full money’s worth (once a week, Tuesdays, when we both have school off). The snow is usually hard and sparse, but that’s the only place I can find you. There’s a lot of crowds and the food is overpriced, but I can always count on your plaid to pop out from the sea of strangers. The runs: trees border the sides the way you border my vision when we sit on the chairlift together. It’s always cold on the chairlift and drafts are prone to snake under your collar. Skiers visiting the mountain would benefit from tube scarf, and an extra layer, or a warm hug.  Bring goggles, because they spray artificial snow that catch on your eyelashes like fairy dust. Don’t joke about how those with perfect vision are lucky not to have to wear glasses underneath their goggles. Assume and dress for worsening conditions as storms often pass midday. Call lunch break when it gets too cold and scarf down the cheapest menu item. Later during the day is a good time to venture into the park, when the sun has softened the snow. There are a lot of beginner features for those who have never tried any park features, like miniature metal topped boxes. You had your game face on, but you recounted the times you had fallen and slammed this body part or another. The tops of the boxes were like ice rinks. I followed even though I was scared because I knew you were watching.  Insert: One picture of your jacket, splayed on the couch, taken after you had gone to the washroom. One picture of a half eaten egg salad sandwich, receipt crumpled up beside it. One picture of myself, with a trail of crumbs down my chin, grinning.


Yelp Review: A&W, UBC Campus, Vancouver         15/12/2015 Rating: ****

The A&W is nice and quiet on weekday nights when everyone else is in the pub. That was our plans after, but the food was cheaper here, so we decided to fuel up on artifical calories first. The apple pie, for $1.29, is a great choice. You had a large order of fries and burger and was swiping on your phone with your non greasy hand. I asked you what you were doing. You told me about Her, a lesbian dating app. You had a match and were waiting for her at the pub. Dark haired, blurry photo, just gotten off a flight from Malaysia and definitely gay. The food in front of you disappeared as quickly as you swiped. Later that night I downloaded the app so I could find you on it. I had to make my own profile, so I did. I imagined you sitting there, at the A&W, swiping before I came, fist pumping when you got a match with a girl you didn’t even know. I nibbled on my pie. The words I’m gay stuck in my throat like a stubborn crumb.


Yelp Review: Cypress Mountain, Vancouver 04/03/2016 Rating: *

We decided to try Cypress Mountain because it was the top rated resort on the North Shore. I hate to rate it badly, so hear me out.  We left the city just as dawn was cracking and spilling over the city. We were at the base of the mountain by 8:45 AM, so we didn’t have to boot it up from the lower parking lot.  By the time we pulled in it was 9 AM but the mountain still hadn’t opened. We waited nervously in the lodge. The operators told us they couldn’t operate the lift if the winds were above 45 km/hr. I asked if our tickets were transferable. They said no. We traded happy birthdays (yours today, mine three days later.) I asked for hot water and shook in bitter particles of instant coffee while chatting about snowboarding. (You said hadn’t been snowboarding for a while, to focus on your studies. I nodded, even though the inedible flavor of the instant coffee was threatening my ability to concentrate.) Forests of tables and chairs surrounded us. We were the only ones inhabiting it.  9:30 AM came and passed. Sun burnished surface of the freshly fallen snow, but gale force winds wracked the air just above it. The minutes piled up and threatened to avalanche. You cracked a strained smile but failed to hide the crack. You thanked me for the vinyl I found on craigslist and I sat back on my chair, balancing it on two legs, saying it was nothing. Wow, what bad luck, I said. You bit your lip and glanced out the window. Wind whipped snow violently against the panes, vibrating in a painful shudder. You didn’t say anything.  At 10 AM we were sitting in the car, watching our breaths fog the windows. It obscured the gale outside, but we could still hear it. We drove down in silence.



first starshots. find it hard to stay awake late enough to see the stars. i think I still love photo manipulation and what’s possible rather than capturing reality.