2014 reads [part 6]

An English Lit degree won’t necessarily get you a high pressure job out of university, but it will get you into high pressure conversations over turkey dinner.

Over Christmas this past year my mom’s best friend asked if I had ever read Jack Kerouac. Shocked that my answer was no, she told me I had to read On The Road. I added it to my list but, to be honest, without any particular priority. It sounded like a very course syllabus-y selection that I had somehow dodged throughout years of literature lectures, and shouldn’t waste my post-graduate freedom reading.

Now, I wouldn’t consider myself an innately competitive person, but when I come across those “how many of these classic novels have you read?” posts on my Facebook feed it’s a whole other story. A few months after Christmas I was (all too proudly) filling out one of such questionnaires when On The Road came up. It bugged me that I couldn’t check it off, conceding a point to CBC in what was clearly a me vs. them competition. It moved up a few spots on my to-read list.

A few weeks ago I was on my way to Pulp Fiction Books to pick up some summer reading material, when Paul Simon’s A Simple Desultory Philippic came on my shuffled iPhone playlist. Sure enough it dawned on me where I had first heard Kerouac’s name (I was Union Jack’d/Kerouac’d/John Birch’d/Stopped and searched..) and if there’s ever a sign I’m going to take seriously it’s one that comes from Paul Simon.

The girl working at PF didn’t exactly boost my confidence in the syllabus standard (“I didn’t like it at all…. but my best friend did..?”) but I figured my own literary pride was worth the $9.95.

And, in the end, it was. While I wouldn’t necessarily call it relatable (Sal’s journey of finding himself was nothing like Mindy Kaling‘s), it still struck a chord here and there. More so than anything it further aggravated the travel itch that’s been tickling me for the last few months. In fact every time Sal and/or Dean hopped in a car and drove across America, I became more inspired to hop on an airplane and transplant my own life.

My flight to Calgary for the Stampede this weekend didn’t quite satisfy my travel bug, but I guess it will do for now.

Bicycle Diaries: The Vancouver Version

I’ve had a bike in Vancouver for almost 2 weeks.

To clarify, it’s a hand-me-down mountain bike from my father, then my brother, and makes me look neither cute nor cool as I pedal to work. The other day I joked that my dad has probably had it since before the turn of the century before doing the math and realizing that there’s a very, very strong chance that’s actually true.

My intro to city cycling has taught me 2 key things:

1. Any chance of rain is actually a high chance of rain

I have one single rainy bike memory from Kelowna, and it’s a bittersweet one. After countless sunny morning rides, my dad & I faced the orchards in the rain one day to clear our heads and let out some emotion prior to a loved one’s funeral.

All in all it’s a fond memory, and one that has allowed me to view rainy bike rides as refreshing, cleansing, invigorating. However Vancouver rain is a bit stronger than Kelowna’s showers, and having already found myself caught in a few surprise downpours (/flash floods) I’ve also quickly learned that…

2. This bustling metropolis is truly covered in trees

It’s a big ol’ city, yet almost every street has a protective archway of branches and awning of leaves all way more interested in soaking up the rain than my little red bike and I are.

Don’t get me wrong – I always knew Vancouver, proudly the country’s greenest city (thanks largely to all that rain!), had its fair share of stately trees. But searching for shelter as I cycle home in my favourite leather boots I’ve realized just how plentiful they are. We really do have the best of both worlds.

And somehow all these trees smell a little better from a bike too.

Wake up and smell the city

 A new motto? Maybe it will do a better job of getting me out of bed than my six (all too snoozable) alarms.

Major(ly lazy) Sundays

I had a whole plan for a productive Sunday: afternoon yoga, market groceries at Granville Island, miscellaneous errands by bike. The perfect Kitsilano day.

Two blocks from home I ducked into a little vintage shop I have been meaning to check out. A dangerous decision, as it turns out. I found beautiful stationary and typography kits mixed among preserved typewriters, re-furbished baskets, rusted trays, and retro suitcases. Next to a stack of vintage stamps re-purposed as fridge magnets (what’s not to love?) I found the Dictionary of Names – and more importantly, this entry:

image-4

Naturally I took it as a sign, turned around, made a big mug of Bailey’s & hot chocolate, and loaded TSN’s live coverage of the U.S. Open. After all, I can’t think of a better way to pay tribute to my own golf-nut father on Dad’s Day than to sprawl on my brand-new-hand-me-down couch (excuse the oxymoron) and watch the final round of a Major.

It will be particularly fitting when the future father of my children takes home the title in a few short hours. 

Saturday logic – aka: don’t panic just blog

This week I saw a writing deadline come and go while a blank document remained blank. Actually that’s a lie – the blank document was never even made. Each day the task got bumped to the next as any & every other option took precedence.

Yesterday was no exception. My daily “blogfeed” email, linking me to a number of blogs I followed two years ago (and haven’t since taken the time to unfollow), popped up on my phone just as I was finally sitting down with my interview notes and a dedicated evening.

Instead of my typical left swipe > archive, I opened the email. Then I spent an hour browsing blogs I had long forgotten. Then 10PM rolled around and realizing my article wasn’t going to write itself I quickly hammered out 1500 words. Then I went to sleep – something I began anticipating the moment my blank document actually was created.

This taught me two things (or three, if you count that some of those blogs are pretty cool and deserve a little extra attention every now & then). First, I can still hammer out a lot of words in a little amount of time. Second, writing profiles and interviews has become more so a burden than a creative outlet.

Six months ago I was confident that getting paid to write was the dream and magazine publication was the vehicle. I took a job in the industry as a foot in the door and a paid writing gig on the side as extra experience. All systems go.

But this week I left work uninspired three nights in a row; my mind more focused on what industries offered room to grow in all of the ways I hope to, than on anything I had accomplished that day. And last night I spent twice as long distracting myself from an article than I did putting together the first draft.

So maybe I don’t have it all figured out yet, and maybe this won’t all be as easy as it (momentarily) seemed. But, for now at least, this lack of direction doesn’t terrify me, so maybe it’s not so bad after all.

Enough blogging for today – I have an article to edit (aka US Open coverage to watch). Bring on the procrastination.