DSLR-Day 1

My grade nine self will probably say it best for me, because I haven’t thought that critically about photography since then and it has the typical teenage candidness, and probably also shows my tendency to be overstimulated. In the same way, its prevalence makes me hate it and be unable to live without it. The dream of taking beautiful photos of outdoor pursuits and things I love seems so far away, but it’ll only be further the longer I put it off. I used to only read pop novels too, but after thinking about it/studying it critically for years it’s become much more rewarding and easy to think about it in more useful productive ways. Like English, like photography, like anything else – critical thinking and practice leads to achievement. Just be patient.

So today my brother bought me a camera, probably knowing I’d never buy one for myself and use that as an excuse. 200 photos later, there were really none that I’d call “good” and one that I’d call “crisp”. I used that one to edit. And although I didn’t feel like a ninth grader anymore it led me to realize I had done some critical thinking of photography since then. And that I liked it.

Some mishaps:

-not realizing there were two adjusting rings (surprised because the SLRs I’ve briefly used had two)

-being unable to focus (due to above) and also

-not knowing what shutter speed and aperture to use to keep images in focus

-shake

DSC_0151

One of the clearer shots (aimed at the tree/sky, testing different apertures and shutter speeds, hence the lack of subject) gardengirlThe only RAW shot that turned out clear, so I tried editing a RAW photo.

My grade nine self on photography:

What they make me see

Photography has changed my vision of everything-in the sense that everything here in Canada is made, manufactured. Every day we are bombarded with hundreds of ads-and the majority conversing in graphics. If I didn’t see so many pictures wherever I am, where would my brain get the notion to “want” the most random things?

As of now, I really like a good photograph; and because I see mostly product photography, that’s what I relish seeing most often. I love the white-with-detail backgrounds, the smooth surfaces of a shiny new clock, the evenly lit, oh-so-textured furniture. And jewelry-oh! The textures! The perfection! In reality I would never want a chunky orange necklace but in the picture, it’s perfectly formed edges and shiny sheen is so alluring. Thanks to controlled, diffused, golden light and digital editing to enhance details, these things are being shown in the most perfect and hard-to-replicate situation. But whether it will make me buy more or not, it has insidiously, almost regretfully, worked its way into my life. I am now interested in graphics, product design etc. etc.

Everyone can like a good photograph, like what product or place its recording. Because photography is for everyone, everyone can see and appreciate an image that makes them feel good or curious. When I see perfect textures I can’t help but want to feel the real thing. It makes me think that there is something to be had in manufactured goods showcased in every magazine when all I had to go on before were dollar store trips. Photography opened up the world of money and buying to me because usually I wouldn’t go to a store and observe the various racks of makeup, bags, clothes etc. etc.

It makes my brain more busy. As the images flash by my eyes, they settle down in some temporary store, because sooner or later the better ones will probably incorporate themselves in a new image-a new design in my head. If I hadn’t seen so many images I don’t doubt that I couldn’t come up with more ideas; but it’s the fact that they inspired me to keep on thinking outside the box that changes my way of seeing and thinking.

And now I can’t help but look for these images. It’s like I always want to be in a dollar store, because all the various imitations that are helplessly creative amuse me. They make me think that by seeing more, I’ll find more of that amusement and ideas. When you are exposed to too much of something you feel connected to it and grudgingly accept it, want it; even if you don’t understand why, you agree with it. When you see the image of a gold, shiny, sculptural ring, you automatically assert its money-status value; you may not have seen such a unique ring in a local store ever in your life without photography. But now you know it’s ‘important’ because of its flawless photography, or least you think so because the photography is so good that this thing shines like a modern standard-this is a sign of prosperity.

But now with the environment on the brink of everyone’s minds, I see the perfect product images in a new way. I see wasteful leaps into extravagance, like bags, seemly to be made to be captured into still images and then discarded a month later; and they are still beautiful, but also so empty. Images of beautiful landscapes, however, make me more than look out the window and go outside.

Photos remind me of parts of the world that actually exist, parts of the world that I’d never see otherwise. It expands my point of view, changes my point of view. It forces me to see irrelevant things, selfish money-making things, but it also makes me aware that these things are being made and continuously being replaced, when there is so much natural beauty to be experienced. If only we were subjected to more of those photos instead of plastic messes.

Photography has changed my vision of everything.

Snippet: YA Again

Age: 10-13

Today is the second day I’ve had a story workshopped really well, being the second out of three stories we have to submit for creative writing class. The people who are there are mostly creative writing minors or just people with an ardent interest in cw/looking for an easy class. What I learned, to my surprise, was that the best writing was still always writing that you write from what you know, even if it doesn’t seem as interesting. I was told the emotions and dialogue were vivid although the language and mood was overwrought. The emotions and dialogue I wrote from personal experience, transmuted onto a different character.

Anyways.

Back to school stories.

Am I writing what I know about?
This could be a beginning that sets up a story about a guy who feels like he’s a dork and does things of heroic status but has to come to terms with actually being a dork. In that case, that would be authentic.

~

In grade five, I was told by someone I didn’t even know that I would amount to nothing. That was traumatic in and of itself, of course, except that this person also took the liberty to spit on my beat up shoes before spinning around to walk away. This person was actually Shelly, by the way, and yes, she was a girl. I don’t think it would have helped if she were actually a guy. A name like Shelly might scar a guy forever.

We had just finished recess and were running back into the classroom. It was now craft hour and all the supplies were in the corner farthest away from the door. We knew whoever got there first would get the first pick, so we made a point to all beeline for it, which you can imagine, got quite chaotic.

“Will, you’re going to rip the bag of feathers, NOOO!”
“How many times do you I have to tell you, it’s MY turn to use the glitter glue!”
“I put dibs on it THREE WEEKS AGO!”

I spun into the classroom a little late, on account of  Tyler needing to go to the washroom. To my surprise, someone’s hand was already on the bottle caps when I reached into the box for them. Death gripped around the fistful that was left was a girl wearing a smirk and all black. “I’m using them for a bottle frame,” the girl said, towering above me.

“Alright.” I backed off, realizing I’d never seen the girl before. “I’ll wait next week.”

“Don’t bother, there won’t be any left then, either,” the girl hissed and a little globule of spit fell out of her mouth and onto my shoe.

Now that I’m in grade five I’ve learnt what perspective is. Shelley was nasty because she had just moved here from New York and they didn’t have recycling there. We of course, had multiple recycling programs at Fernhill Elementary; Ms Rose collected the bottle caps herself and there were no hard feelings between us for letting Shelley take all those caps that day because there were plenty more the next. In a funny way things worked out that way: a bottle cap here, a bottle cap there, and something big came out of it. It was an economy of small efforts that amounted into something bigger. Perhaps that was the reason why Shelley was fated to come here, because another thing perspective gives is the idea of fate.

Fate is a topic I’m an expert on. I received an A+ on my assignment for Ms Rose about it in the spring, partially because it was based on real life. Projects based on real life tend to turn out better, because your imagination can be pretty bad at filling the holes. Like for example, when I was in grade four I had calculated that I was five pounds lighter than Tyler, and so I could definitely carry over the stairs at the front of our school if I started skating from the front door. To lower my weight even more, I took off my helmet for the stunt. We flew over those stairs, even Tyler. It was the second time that didn’t turn out so well. Tyler was pooped already, but I was pumped on adrenaline.

“I can’t believe we did that. We have to do it again!” I insisted to Tyler, who was lying with his baseball cap over his face and his head on his board.

“No thanks,” Tyler mumbled sleepily. “My brother broke his arm last time he did something risky twice.”

“But that’s because he wasn’t good. We’re good.

“Tony is a dork,” Tyler agreed. “But I’m actually really tired.” I looked at him incredulously. That wasn’t like Tyler. He saw me looking at him. “It’s the growth spurt okay? Tony told me he went through one when he was my age, too, and it hurts like hell.”
“The curse,” I joked, and we both giggled at the reference to the female period.

So it was that only I planted both feet back on my board and slid with impending doom towards the stairs and fell and broke my arm and it hurt like hell.

Maybe that was fate, too.

Shelley had partially hit a nerve. I was a decent skater but not not known for anything in school. Even Mom sometimes took me aside and swept back my hair, smiling kookily.  “You look dorky, sorry Charles. It’s adorable.”

“No one wants to be a dork.”

“Adorable, not a dork.”

But maybe I was a dork.

Snippet: A Halloween Story!

Snippets: a spontaneous, mostly unedited piece of writing, whatever I felt like writing spontaneously at that moment, shared here for no purpose other than entertainment.

“Hey, Brian, do you mind doing a favour for me?”

“I…can’t….”

Bob could tell by the sound of his voice that his brother in a state of rapture. Something was glowing faintly blue from his room but the light wasn’t on. Obsessed, thought Bob. Who didn’t have enough self control to play video games after breakfast?

Pulling out his chair, he sat down with a contented sigh as he relished in the rattle of Lucky Charms falling into his bowl. It was Sunday morning. The prospect of tomorrow shimmered with the raindrops tapping on the kitchen window. With their parents away on a business trip, Bob was content to spend the rest of the week playing video games with his brother. And not to mention, but there were still those butter loaded overripe blueberry strudels waiting for him in the oven. The heat of it thawed his toes and eased the circulation back to the tip of his nose. Paradise…

“Hey…Look!” With an muted plop, the toy dropped out of the cereal box and into his milk. A plastic sword! It was about four inches long and a painted plastic, but sharp. He ripped open the small, moist plastic bag encasing it without waiting for his brother. “Brian! I found the toy! Come down or it’s mine!”

No response. The moment was oddly anticlimactic, with no one to witness it in the empty kitchen. Still that should teach his brother, who had been waiting to open this box of cereal all week, not to obsess over video games over his own flesh and blood brother. Isn’t that a choking hazard anyways?  

Bob considered running up into his brother’s room, brandishing the mini sword heroically in the air, before swiping it out of reach as Brian inevitably grabbed for it, but instead he set it aside on the table and picked up his spoon. He stared at it for a moment, letting a little disappointed “This toy sucks” slip out from his mouth, before resumed to eat his cereal. It sounded like Brian was fighting a hydra in Cosmic Creature Wars; he’d just ignore Bob anyways. With a background of tinny electronic noises to compliment the clack of his spoon, Bob worked away at his Lucky Charms until he only had colourful milk left.

“Come down here! I’m not washing the dishes again!” Bob yelled, at last, as he tossed his dirtied spoon and bowl into the sink where three dishes crusted with orange powder and a cup were already piled. He had no more patience left. The kitchen certainly got grubbier when his parents weren’t around; Bob would attest to that. Navigating a kitchen when dirty bowls rested on every countertop and bits of slippery food lined the ground wasn’t always fun. Still, that was no matter though when you could have mac and cheese five times a day and not be told you’d die of malnutrition.

From Brian’s room, Bob heard the thundering of footsteps and then a thump as his brother jumped from the third step down as he customarily did. The sound of scurrying feet directed his mind’s eye, zeroing in on the a mental picture of Brian disappearing behind the washroom door to mess with his hair or brush his teeth lest he inflicting his slightly foul breath upon him. And then as Bob slowly rotated his head from ten to forty five degrees directly at the doorway he saw something he might never forget…

“Bri -”

Bob screamed. It wasn’t Brian. It might have once been Brian, but this was definitely a zombie. “What did you do to my brother?” Bob screamed shrilly. All he could see was the advancing bloodied face and empty, cold dead eyes as he felt his psyche detach from his body. The two flaps that were its lips opened in reply but only a disgusting thick gurgle came out while globules of blood stitched the two lips together. “Did you kill him?” A sob caught in his throat as he realized what Brian’s conditioned entailed; his older brother, his reluctant idol, his beloved brother, killed! And him…was he next? The thought almost didn’t even seem to matter after the fright of living with such a sight. Then as he calmed down a rational thought settled in his mind. Wait. This guy looks familiar, but not because he’s my brother. He’s familiar because he’s from Cosmic Creature Wars! Bob screamed again. “Where are you, Brian? Stop hiding, I’m your little brother! Save me! Save me!”

It came to him in slow motion as he sweeped the scene, detached, from above. The toy sword! He had a weapon! Quickly, jumping onto his chair and swiping the toy sword off of the table with  white knuckles shaking, Bob realized he wasn’t as afraid as he thought he’d be. He’d have to save himself. There would be no Brian, no time for tears. There would only be revenge. Brandishing the sword, Bob squinted his eyes and braced for the oncoming figure. Through his squinted eyes, he could only see the red of the blood and plaid of the figure’s shirt. The horrible, moaning cries were all he could hear, save for the rushing of blood inside his own head. In five seconds, the figure was within hacking distance and Bob reared his hand back. He closed his eyes and felt hot, putrid breath against his face. He screamed. The knife burned like a sparking branding iron in his hands. He plunged it forward.

Pop!

He opened his eyes.

His hand was bloodied from his fingers to his elbow.

The head popped cleanly off.

It and the body fell backward and rolled down the stairs and down out of sight.

Bob fainted.

The next thing he knew, he was on the floor, breathing hard, feeling faint from his head down to his toes. There was a wobble in his vision. He flailed until he felt the railing.

“Hey, Bob?”

For the upteempth time, Bob screamed. And he almost lost his grip and rolled down the stairs. “But you’re dead! I killed you!” For, incredibly, it was the sound of his brother’s voice. Bob clutched at the air wildly, feeling for his sword. Slowly, like in a dream, a familiar tousled head of not yet brushed hair poked over the ceiling. He was holding a bloodied head in his arms. “Did I trick you?”

“Trick me?” Bob stared at his brother incredulously, forgetting for the moment all that had transpired before this morning. What was he talking about…? Why, it was the second day their parents had left for their business trip. It was the day they had planned to unlock the next level in Cosmic Creature Wars. And it was the day before Halloween.

Bob had had to hide his fear many times before, lest Brian take advantage of any break in his fortress, but this time he found it troublesome. In a comic manner, Bob feigned tripping and grasping the railing only to fall down a few steps until he was within clipping distance of his brother and gave him a good clip on the head. Brian yowled and dropped the head, which rolled down around the winding curve of the stairs to the basement door. Bob yelped as he felt his momentum carry him too far and he lurched into the railing, jabbing his ribs.

“Save it for Halloween,” Bob said as brusquely as he could while righting himself, smiling inwardly at Brian’s grimace.

“I worked all night on it,” Brian whined, wiping his hands where artificial blood at stained them on his pants. “I even skipped out on my morning shift on Cosmic Creature Wars. My team needed me. Why should I wait until tomorrow?”

“Because.” Bob couldn’t think of a single reason why as he stared at his brother, who he now noticed seemed slightly off for some reason he couldn’t name. Was it just his frightful hair? No, it had to be more than that.

“Because,” Bob continued, the unease creeping up on him, “Because, I’m your brother. And I’ll laugh at you tomorrow if you wear the same costume.” There, he said it. Lame, but he said it.

“You’re lame,” Brian said right on time, inflaming Bob’s cheeks. Raising his fist for a second punch, Bob felt, for the second time, a shiver of unease. And then he got it. His hand froze midair. The pattern of Brian’s paisley shirt blurred in his vision for a while, in denial, before it suddenly sharpened into a focus along with everything else. He abruptly terminated the insult at the tip of his tongue and spun around to flee up the stairs.

“What’s wrong?” Brian asked, grabbing a fistful of his brother’s shirt and sensing that his usually impulsive brother was disturbed.

“Let me go!” Bob screamed. “Let me go!”
“Calm down! You’re acting like an idiot.”
“Y-your shirt!” Bob’s eyes were frantic and wide, jumping from spot to spot like a maniac’s. “You’re wearing a different shirt!”
“What do you you mean? I’ve been wearing this shirt all morning. I just woke up from the basement. I spent my night there last night after making my zombie head.”

Time seemed to slow. Or, for Bob, it seemed to stop entirely. “You mean, you were never up in your room?”

“That wasn’t me,” Brian said. “You should know that. I told you I’d been working on my costume last night. I’m serious about this.”

Bob pushed Brian’s hand away from his chest. Then he looked over the stairwell.

There were two heads at the bottom of the stairwell.

One had a small plastic sword stuck in its neck.

Snippet: Zombies

Snippets: whatever I felt like writing spontaneously at that moment, shared here for no purpose other than entertainment.

“Hey, Brian, do you mind doing a favour for me?”

“I…can’t….”

Bob looked up to see his brother in a state of rapture. Something was glowing faintly blue from his room but the light wasn’t on. Obsessed, thought Bob. Who didn’t have enough self control to play video games after breakfast?

Pulling out his chair, he sat down with a contented sigh as he relished in the rattle of Lucky Charms falling into his bowl. It was Sunday morning. The prospect of tomorrow shimmered with the raindrops tapping on the kitchen window. With their parents away on a business trip, Bob was content to spend the rest of the week playing video games with his brother. And not to mention, but there were still those butter loaded overripe blueberry strudels waiting for him in the oven. The heat of it thawed his toes and eased the circulation back to the tip of his nose. Paradise…

“Hey…Look!” With an muted plop, the toy dropped out of the cereal box and into his milk. A plastic sword! It was about four inches long and a painted plastic, but sharp. He ripped open the small, moist plastic bag encasing it without waiting for his brother. “Brian! I found the toy! Come down or it’s mine!”

No response. The moment was oddly anticlimactic, with no one to witness it in the empty kitchen. Still that should teach his brother, who had been waiting to open this box of cereal all week, not to obsess over video games over his own flesh and blood brother. Isn’t that a choking hazard anyways?  

Bob considered running up into his brother’s room, brandishing the mini sword heroically in the air, before swiping it out of reach as Brian inevitably grabbed for it, but instead he set it aside on the table and picked up his spoon. He stared at it for a moment, letting a little disappointed “This toy sucks” out from his mouth, before resumed to eat his cereal. It sounded like Brian was fighting a hydra in Creature Combat Wars; he’d just ignore Bob anyways. With a background of tinny electronic noises to compliment the clack of his spoon, Bob worked away at his Lucky Charms until he only had colourful milk left.

“Come down here! I’m not washing the dishes again!” Bob yelled, at last, as he tossed his dirtied spoon and bowl into the sink where three dishes crusted with orange powder and a cup were already piled. He had no more patience left. The kitchen certainly got grubbier when his parents weren’t around; Bob would attest to that. Navigating a kitchen when dirty bowls rested on every countertop and bits of slippery food lined the ground wasn’t always fun. Still, that was no matter though when you could have mac and cheese five times a day and not be told you’d die of malnutrition.

From Brian’s room, Bob heard the thundering of footsteps and then a thump as his brother jumped from the third step down as he customarily did. The sound of scurrying feet directed his mind’s eye, zeroing in on the a mental picture of Brian disappearing behind the washroom door to mess with his hair or brush his teeth lest he inflicting his slightly foul breath upon him. And then as Bob slowly rotated his head from ten to forty five degrees directly at the doorway he saw something he might never forget…

“Bri -”

Bob screamed. It wasn’t Brian. It might have once been Brian, but this able bodied, but severely injured looking body was not Brian. “What did you do to my brother?” Bob screamed shrilly. All he could see was the advancing bloodied face and empty, cold dead eyes. At that moment, Bob his psyche detach from his body in horror and float indifferently above the scene. The two flaps that were its lips opened in reply but only a disgusting thick gurgle came out while globules of blood stitched the two lips together. “Did you kill him?” A sob caught in his throat as he realized what Brian’s conditioned entailed; his older brother, his reluctant idol, his beloved brother, killed! And him…was he next? The thought almost didn’t even seem to matter after the fright of living with such a sight. Then as he calmed down a rational thought settled in his mind. Wait. This guy looks familiar, but not because he’s my brother. He’s familiar because he’s from Cosmic Creature Wars! Bob screamed again. “Where are you, Brian? Stop hiding, I’m your little brother! Save me! Save me!”

The toy sword! He had a weapon!

…TBC

Wedgemount Lake

IMG_3587 IMG_3549 IMG_3552 IMG_3575

Wedgemount was amazing. Wedgemount was better than I could have asked for. Wedgemount is the reason why I collaborate with people in the outdoors and where I find my greatest joy in life.

The beautiful lake drew me back, but, with good but not optimal weather the lake wasn’t spectacular. There was no golden sunlight to dazzle in its unfathomable azure depths. It didn’t seem to glow like a huge undersea gem, because fog pushed at its edges and diminished its presence. But, to be plain, none of this mattered. This wasn’t actually why I came here. I came here because I would enjoy it even if I were blind; to peruse the landscape with my feet and hands; to feel light rain and pre-winter chill in the air; to be slightly afraid of the dark when it fell, with the clouds obscuring the stars. I came there because that’s the landscape I thrive in, a place where I will never be bored and can never finish exploring. And I’m there with people who value the experience as much as I do. Do you ever go to an event or place with a friend only to find they aren’t enjoying it on your level and wish to find some people that do? You can either change your friend’s mind or widen your social circle. There’s too much to lose by waiting for your best friends and loved ones to join you, because what’s better than friends to join you? More friends and like minded people joining you.

I miss the feeling of my legs feeling out the landscape as it rolls from beneath me in an endless pile of scree down Mt Cook and I miss meeting new people-adults who have made it in life-through my hikes with an online hiking group. I miss meeting a diversity of happy people showing that success comes in many forms and you can thrive in any environment. But to have all these people call the outdoors home, too, tells me that an important bond is formed when you venture outside. It’s really not just an idea of freedom, it’s a physical space that is a playground. And my god, how much I miss it already. I like the rooty ground and slanted ground Elfin Lakes this weekend has a more manicured trail (I believe) and less elevation.

The more rough, the more to like. I think and hope I’m finally getting into the camping/hiking mindset again this season. I can’t think of a better feeling than relishing in what makes you normally curl up inside. By far, this was my favourite camp for a long time, with both the people and the landscape and how comfortable I felt.

Snippet: Gone

You say it’s enough, but it isn’t. That is what is standing between you and him, in the dead of night, when you wake up but don’t feel comfortable enough to rub his shoulder until he relents, inch by inch, to spin around and reward you with a comforting smile. It is this that makes you lay awake longer than you should and learn how in the moonlight shadows grows long, just like sunlight, and what makes you hear the tick of the clock like a bomb defuser knows a bomb. These are nights where wakefulness knows no bounds, because nightmares are ever more radical, and as you count his breaths-one, two, in out-you know that the night isn’t the reason why. It is ever more deeper than that, fathomless as the sky. Stars persist in the fabric of the day as they do night. This ticking away of time does not scare you as much as that other thing does.

The nights go on and on and the days pass with the same breathlessness as a stopwatch. The sunflowers you planted push their nubs out of the soil and grow. The sunny window side plants collect sunshine and close when night falls. Once you had awoken and reached for water on the nightstand. When the slippery glass jumped from your fingertips, your heart flew onto your sleeve. The quick glug of water as it was returning into the ground nearly made you puke. But you do not.

Now you wake up and he is not there. The word family stirs through your sleep ladden brain, sinking through layers of translucent thought before finally settling in an uneasy silt. Isn’t a family supposed to stay together? Wake up together?

That is when you remember.

He has been gone for a month.

Children’s Lit Class

(snippet written in 1.5 hours)

Dan will always attribute that day to a stroke of luck. It’s Provincials, and mud is flying everywhere because thirty milliliters of West Coast’s best efforts have shown up to the game. One minute he’s standing shivering in his soccer shorts when, almost subconsciously, he angles his leg back like a pendulum, readying for a penalty kick. The bam! of the ball is very much like the bam! of reality as applause erupts from all around him. Unrealistically, insteading of intensifying, his sense of sound melts away. He has kicked the winning goal for Provincials. He is a hero. Over the next few days, the fact dawns upon him like a cat, pouncing on him in the most mundane scenarios. He will be slurping his oatmeal, thumping down the stairs to watch TV or crouching to hide in the backseat when he remembers. Things escalate. The average Dan is discarded as the soccer guru Dan rises to stardom. What no one knows is that Dan commemorates the day by reenvisioning not the kick but every shade of green that the sunlight knifed through in the grass as he kicks the ball.

Oh well.

Dan never really wants to go into soccer, but he is indifferent towards kicking flying objects. He likes to do it more for the dirt than the game. There are stories he might find shut below the ground’s earthy divide. When he slaps clammy, writhing worms on your hand you assume he does it as a prank. But really, Dan is really introducing you to the friendliness of limbless lifeforms.

After all, soccer is just a game where you kick around a ball.

And if it crushes him…then what?

The ball is just a ball.

It wasn’t like sometimes he would stand shivering in his soccer shorts  and not realize he was cold until someone said so.

Swear on the spit in the frozen unbaked-cookie dough ground.

People like Dan might pass off as popular kids. But Dan is not that type. Because, although Dan is alright at soccer and is friends with most of his class, it is Brian who is his best friend. Brian and Dan have been best friends for a long while, but now they are finally classmates.

But still. Dan is your average very nice classmate, your good student and your occasional comedic.

More about Brian later.

There are very few schools without a likeable person like Dan.

Summary of Being There is Enough

After receiving news that his father has abandoned the family mysteriously for northern BC, Dan Brooks wanders around all night, where he witnesses the clandestine abandonment of puppies. Though the secret eats away at him, more immediate problems like his brother Brian being bullied and his mom crying occupy his mind, until one day Brian is bullied mercilessly and the only way Dan can think to help is to name them both as witnesses to the puppy abandonment. The story of two child heroes hits the news, leveraging the brothers into popularity and hitting the news channel Dan knows his father watches religiously. Dan and Brian’s relationship become even more important as Dan’s lying forces him further away from their mother. Dan realizes Brian’s bully Tyler’s brother is responsible for the puppy abandonment and feels the pressure to name a perpetrator as media campaigns mount. At the same time, Dan’s father contacts the family, stating he sustained a memory impairing injury and asks Dan to meet him. Torn, Dan has a terrifying face down with Tyler, managing to get Tyler’s brother to confess, when Brian wanders in  as a result of Dan’s lies and is hurt. The family meets in the emergency room, Dan confesses his lies and he and his family make the journey to reconnect with his father.

Characters

Dan-a 12 year old with tidy dark hair that swirls to the left and big eyes, likes animals, sports and is tenacious. He keeps a secret book of parrot stickers because they are sparkly.

Brian-Dan’s 9 year old brother, petite, freckles, brown hair and wide mouth, likes dinosaurs, smarter than Dan but is more occupied with his own wants.

Tyler-Brian’s bully, Dan’s enemy-a 12 year old with a pinched but good looking face, high pitched voice, and a good athlete. Secretly admires his older brother, who bullies him.

What will the 2015/2016 Season Look Like?

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Screenshot copyright Cypressmountain.com

By now you must’ve must of heard one of 10 conflicting snow forecasts:

  1. 10 % likelihood of lots of snow

2. 20% likelihood

3. 30% likelihood

4. 40% likelihood

5. 50% likelihood

and so forth…

But really, it’s forecasts like these that capture our interests:

  1. 0.1% likelihood of good snow, 99.9% warmest season on record

and frankly, it’s these forecasts that dominate.

Even if we didn’t look at the sources, I think it’s fairly clear: for someone who started riding (at least buying season passes) basically at the start of this terrible 2+ year drought/heatwave on the BC North Shore mountains, low snow is the expectation. If you want more snow, move out elsewhere or move to Whistler.

The season at Whistler will no doubt be better than the one on the small local mountains. The small local mountains will surely suck. If there was a lack of progression last year on the small local single green runs, there will be even less this year. Or, maybe you can be more creative and somehow learn to do amazing things on flat, slow beginner runs. That prospect doesn’t even sound like death to me anymore; my finances are so bad Whistler isn’t really in the question. School, that crux of my life, takes on more meaning than it ever did before. And so does global warming. The more I hike, the more I see of the beautiful earth. After one year of hiking I could throw in the towel and say I’ve seen enough and the fad is over. But look: the local mountains are melting and nature needs our appreciation more than ever. Even the small local hills. Nature is nature and we need to feed our stoke for it.

If you want to go somewhere with good snow, don’t worry, because there is no shortage of recommendations. Hokkaido in Japan, Big White, Revelstoke, Banff etc, Europe (everywhere?)…and I barely named any. Snowboarding will always be happening somewhere on some facet of the globe, and you don’t have to worry. If you have the means to get there or find that fact comforting, I encourage you to meditate on it. While we in the PNW cry and make sacrifices to Ullr and brace ourselves and the bottom of our boards and skis, snow is falling naively, abundantly, unfairly, thankfully, elsewhere. You needn’t worry.

I never want snowboarding to be a “trip of a lifetime” kind of experience. I want it to be something that I can do weekly, even if it sucks. I want to have something to look forward to everyday without having to pin a lot of importance onto it; I want a steady source of happiness and not a vacation memory I put too much importance on. That’s a function of the financial situation I’m in and how I can maximize my own enjoyment of snow.I hope it differs for you and that you get as much snow as you want, as often as you want, to the end of maximum happiness. The rest doesn’t matter.

I hope that the stoke never dies and that the snow is always, always drifting somewhere on earth. I hope that someone of it drifts near me, but if it doesn’t, I will be on the search for it anyways. When that first chill slips below untolerable and the first flakes begin to fall, I want the snow to know that I will celebrate it any way I can. Snow will not make me jaded. Snow will always be a sign of newness, vitality, and possibilities.

Pre-Trip Post: Wedgemount Lake Revisited

That’s crazy. It’s been 10 days since I’ve posted (and that last post was so half hearted.) I’m a journal writer and everyday that I don’t write/think about writing a journal is a day I’m not plugging into my emotions and going to sleep knowing I understand something a little better.

Still, it’s been busy, so even if I did process everything, it’d take a long while to slowly digest everything. My life has been really sedentary, and also predictable. There hasn’t been any adrenaline rush chases, no hikes with interesting strangers, no escapes by myself into the woods. These formed a big part of my spiritual life, so what of being deprived of these things? For one, I supposed it still possible to pursue this lifestyle, since I’ve alternated between staying home and completing work and staying home and staring tiredly and blankly into a computer; for another, it’s really hard to be calm after a great day meeting new people and settling down sometimes. Or maybe not. Anyways the fact still stands that for the 1.5 months since school started, my life has been predictably sedentary with the same people and not at all like my life before, where I chased the unpredicted.

Why have I been doing that? Well, I’ve been trying to be more successful at school. News flash: It’s not really working. I’ve crapped up some marks, royally. I’ve only gotten one good mark (Damn.) So what have I been doing with the 100’s of hours that I’ve been at home, when I’m not at school or in transit and without a job? Well, I’ve been trying to calm down with some success. In the process, I’ve inadvertently not reflected much, or felt flat most of the time that I did. I felt excited for maybe so few times that I can count it on one hand. Anyways: what did work: just slogging through work, contentedly. Keeping up the morale and just doing it. What hasn’t worked: caffeine. Lack of sleep. Trying to work through my emotions at 1 am instead of 8pm. Am I still the same person? At the end of the day, that’s the question that resonates within me and scares me the most. I don’t want to be some highly efficient but unfeeling machine that has emotions but not spontaneous and volatile ones. I am spontaneous and volatile and in repressing them, I’m making them even more volatile to self express as they please.

Anyways. I thought I had my eggs in one basket at the beginning of the term. It’s now halfway through; the real tests are about to come. I’ve not read most of my course readings; I will be tested on these in a few days and I only have 2 of those days to study. Wish me luck. If I’ve made it, I can do it. But tomorrow: Wedgemount Lake. At Rock Party I scarily lost all motivation to move and didn’t rock climb. My limbs were limp and heavy simultaneously; the lack of spontaneity and deadness of reaction (I tried so hard to be more “stable”) put me in death lock. So here I am; regaining that spontaneous fervour that I hate for ruining my plans but apparently can’t live without. I am more stable when I’m unstable. Now let’s see how I attack next week, which will be the crucial defining week of my life: Literally everything about this year rests on my performance next week.

Oh, perhaps I should actually mention Wedgemount: the third backpacking trip I went on last year that I survived due to pure adrenaline. The hike up was hard, I recall, but not bad because I had done the grouse grind that week (whereas the only exertion I did this week was run 30 seconds to catch the bus). But the scramble up Mt Cook? That was brutal. I lost all motivation like I did on that rock I was climbing and I felt depressed beyond belief. Now how can one destroy that feeling? Maybe you can’t. Maybe the only thing you can do is make enough meaning in your life to embrace every single challenge and fear. But here’s my time to try it again and see if I got any braver. Maybe next spring I’ll go climbing again (right now I’m too afraid of being depressed like I did climbing Rock Party) and it won’t be depressingly hard, either.

And there was a bite in the air a few days ago. I remember last year when I wrote a post; I skipped class to go to grouse. I wouldn’t do that now. Why? Not because I don’t value the chill in the air, but because that part of my spontaneity was destructive or disruptive. I didn’t do well at all last term, and moreover I always spent that time by myself. It was like I was running away and I did feel guilty afterwards. Eventually. It was awesome and cool and lovely to be able to run away from adult responsibilities but everything has a time and place. The more I ran away (even if I enjoyed myself) the less I would be suitable to hold down a job and not resent the work day, etc. In fact, I actually did learn that through my unpaid internship. As crappy as being unpaid is, I owe everything to it: it helped me sit down and be calm and be normal. Being a functioning person is essential to using those academic skills you learned in class and the only way forward to future days where you can just take the day off work and enjoy it when the weather has something to offer.

I’m happy to be twenty one. I’m happy I haven’t screwed everything up yet and am still here to fix what I did.

PS It’ll be cold up there. In writing this pre trip I noticed that I feared a lot less about food or gear and thought more about the experience. I do worry about gear but by context I know the trips that I do are so low-level hardcore that I didn’t worry about my abilities. With a calm head on your shoulders and the essentials, you’re bound to be okay on such a short trip. It’s like a walk in the park, just longer and harder.

Party

Rock Party is an annual gathering of over a hundred people, with the intent on initiating new members and teaching the uninitiated to climb. After dragging myself out of an intense round of schoolwork, I managed to only get one climb in. I saw a lot of familiar faces. The spotlight to this weekend was partying.

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Setting up in tent city

IMG_3347Gathering for the BBQIMG_3353

Going through hundreds of patties, half of which were veggie.IMG_3362

Rock climbing themed games: climbing over a partner in order to reach as far as possible across the room to place your Nalgene on the ground, without actually touching the ground.

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Table bouldering; climbing around a table and reaching for the next table and climbing around that without ever touching the ground.

“This is the only party where there are more people doing rock climbing related games than on the dance floor” -quoted

People were doing the limbo under strobing lights. They made it hard to see and judge space if you weren’t used to them.IMG_3364

1:30 am guitar and ukelele singalongs. I was dead the next day.

*Note: I have NEVER legitimately partied before. The kind of party where there are 50+ people, organized music, venue, and a roomful of people you don’t know and of course alcohol. I don’t drink.

It was a mixed bag. But ha, I’m not cut out for partying with 100 people and no adrenaline rush from hiking or beautiful landscapes to keep me inspired or tired. At least not yet.