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I am literally amused by this

 

Literally

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November

Hell Month.

I got used to it when I was doing my English degree – the gradual buildup to the worst imagineable month possible. September is a breeze because you’re getting started, October seems like a normal workload, and then November is insane. For English it was a matter of writing about 5 term papers in three weeks. For Science its midterms midterms midterms.

I’m not necessarily behind, but I’m not where I want to be and I have a lot of work ahead of me this month. Not to mention the fact that we’re trying to figure out Christmas etc. and we’re moving to a new place in January (somehow), and I’m trying to work on my applications for Masters programs next year.

Yikes.

ALOHA Andy Irons

Andy Irons.

If you don’t follow surfing, it means nothing, but if you do it means everything.

Andy Irons, 3x world champion surfer from Kauai passed away yesterday in a Dallas Hotel Room from Dengue Fever. He was 32 and on his way back to Kauai after withdrawing from the Rip Curl Pro in Puerto Rico due to illness. He left behind a wife with a baby on the way.

Irons was the only Hawaiian ever to win more than one world title. He was the only real competition for Kelly Slater in the 2000’s. His career seemed to be cooling down until a 2009 win at Teahupo’o. Everyone was looking at him and saying “he’s back”. I thought that ten years from now I’d still be watching videos of him surfing – he’d be like Tom Curren is now, travelling and giving aged wisdom.

The smaller sadness is that Kelly Slater’s tenth world title, the big 10, is only days away from being won. All of the happiness is drained out of that for everyone. Despite all of the trash talking Andy did, he wouldn’t have wanted to ruin Kelly’s 10th.

It makes me emotional. I’m not a celebrity person and I know I never really knew him but I felt like I did.

Mahalo for all your surfing AI. Aloha.

Andy Irons – Why I surf

Lucid Dreaming

"as i recall, that's the very last time i...

Image by paula rúpolo via Flickr

I have never remembered my dreams well. I probably have between five and ten dreams a year that I am able to recall with any clarity.

I don’t know how I feel about that. I have always been jealous of friends who describe being able to manipulate their dreams or recall long dream sequences. As a postmodernist writer I love dreams in media, and kind of feel like I’m robbed of something by not having them myself. On the other hand, I kind of like the solitude and peace of remembering nothing, and I’m afraid that disrupting it will end some vital process.

Anyway, I’m trying. I put a pad of paper down beside my bed, and I am attempting to condition myself to write down my thoughts immediately after waking up. I’m two days in and so far- nothing.

The last dream I remember was sitting on top of a moving train and eating a bag lunch. I’ve never done that, so I found it strange that my brain was able to produce it so convincingly.

Notes on Leaving – Part 1

Southeast asia

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I recently read a book by Nancy Huston called Losing North about her experience as a Canadian expatriate in France for over thirty years. I have to say – I have always had a lot of questions about what it means to be an expatriate and I haven’t been able to find many answers.

Huston writes – I have betrayed my country, and I have lost her. She also writes – you carry your childhood with you everywhere, and there is nothing you can do to escape it. She makes a point of emphasizing that the people you love and care about will eventually forget about you if you leave. Of course, there is the perennial reflection that those who leave are often looking for something that isn’t there or trying to escape something that will follow them.

These are painful thoughts, especially for me. For a long time I have intended to settle permanently outside of Canada.

My rationale for wanting to leave is probably more complicated than I let on, but it is certainly not for a lack of love of Canada, and in particular the provinces of Atlantic Canada. I know that I grew up here and that this place shaped me, and it hasn’t escaped me that this place is better than 90% of the world to grow up in. I love all of the connections I have made here, and Emily and I are both invested in keeping our families close to us.

Yeah – it’s about surfing, it’s about language and culture and the proximity for travel. It’s about seasons and precipitation and population density. It’s about cost of living and access to education and job markets. It’s about poisonous critters and it’s about making friends. It’s about a million things that are just so important for the way the future plays out.

Consider this -when our ancestors left Africa they moved immediately into India and across the Southeast Asian continent all the way to Australia. Why did they keep moving through the fertile jungles of India, across mountains into Burma and all the way down to Indonesia? Why, when their numbers were so small and food was so plentiful? It’s the human spirit. It’s really kind of stupid. We want everything and we want to go everywhere and when a seed falls it should be far from the tree.

I still want to find some place that feels strange while also familiar, like Hawaii felt or like I misremember Hawaii feeling. In my mind all these years later it seems like – it felt like waking up. We drove through sugarcane fields on the way to the beach and I remember or misremember thinking that the smell had rang a chime in me somewhere.

I still intend to leave, and I expect that it will probably hurt.

Although I don’t have the time or motivation to construct cardboard props and videotape cats all day – somebody does.

WATCH THIS!

Holy F*&# – Red Lights

My best ever stirfry

Washing peppers

Image via Wikipedia

When I started my “slow-carb” diet I only really figured out a couple of meals I can cook that meet all the criteria. I’m a notoriously picky eater and vegetables have not traditionally been my forte. Luckily, I adjusted some recipes to produce this meal. It tastes great, it’s pretty cheap, it fills you up, and its low on calories.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon curry paste

1 chicken breast, cut up

3 bell peppers (any color)

2 large carrots

1 onion

A handful of snap peas

Sauce:

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp Thai fish sauce

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tsp curry paste

1 tablespoon peanut butter

3/4 cup water or veg stock

1. Cut your chicken up into cubes or strips. Use more chicken if you are feeding hungry carnivores, or change it to tofu if you’ve got a lot of vegetarians. Coat your chicken in curry paste and (ideally) marinate for 30mins to an hour. When you’re finished, put a wok on medium heat and throw in your chicken.

2. Cut up your carrots, onions, and garlic and throw them into the wok. Add some water to keep them from burning, but not too much. Stir your ingredients into the chicken.

3. Make the stir-fry sauce. I usually mix the ingredients in a mug to save on dishes. You really don’t need a lot of this sauce, and making too much will cause your veggies to get soft (which some people like, but I find less than ideal).

4. Add your crunchy veggies (bell peppers and snap peas) and the stir fry sauce, and keep stirring it for about 5 minutes. You want your chicken to be cooked completely (and it should be because you added it first), with the veggies hot yet still crunchy.

This is a tasty meal without too much cook time. You can replace chicken with beef, fish, or tofu. You can also serve it on rice, or just eat it by itself like I do. Hope you try it and like it!

Sometimes there is positive news in the media.

The “It Gets Better” movement is using social media as well as traditional media to get their message out to teens and young people everywhere who are gay and cannot reconcile this with their environments and the messages they are receiving. Every year there are suicides because some people believe the message (that is actually one stupid side in a stupid debate we are STILL having) that they are unnatural, and that their sexual orientation is a cosmic mistake that should be erased.

I was raised in an educated area, and surrounded by the children of educated people, yet the environment was hostile, ignorant, and homophobic. Out of fear and uncertainty I said homophobic things I regret. I heard  “If I were gay my parents would disown me” in a tone of bizarre pride pretty often.  I was around for that period in the nineties where “gay” was a casual adjective used to describe anything negative or bad in any way (do kids still say that?).

Last week I watched an episode of John Oliver’s NYC standup show – an hour of standup comedy that contained 3 positive references to gay culture and 0% homophobia. In a standup show! Is it possible that the world is actually becoming less ignorant gradually?

Kudos to everyone who is wearing purple and supporting this. It’s an unconditionally positive movement and it’s going to save somebody’s life.

I love my Part-time job

Medieval illustration of a Christian scribe wr...

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If you’ve got some writing savvy (read: If you graduated with an Arts degree), working from your computer is entirely possible, and sometimes really rewarding. The difficulty is finding the jobs and patching together revenue streams to make enough money at it. The best bit of freelancing advice I ever got was on the forums at matador.com when I was in Taiwan and fancied myself a travel writer. The person who gave this advice was the co-creator of the website, and he prefaced it by saying “this is what I do whenever I’m travelling and I run out of money -”

Here it is *drumroll*. Go on Craigslist for every major city in every English speaking country and got to “writing/editing jobs”. If you search through enough postings, you’ll find something really great that others might not have picked up on.

After exhausting other avenues (elance.com, associatedcontent and a handful of others) I tried it out. It definitely didn’t pay off right away. I sent dozens of emails for a diverse slew of jobs and got only a few responses. Eventually I found a posting for a position as a proofreader/editor for essays. It was more than six months before I got my first job (due to computer lags and the advent of the off-season for essay editing). Now I’m editing several letters and essays a week, and actually getting paid to do it.

Today I was particularly excited. I read through a grammatically abominable letter only to discover that it was written and signed by the Minister for the Department of __________, in the Asian country of __________. I know that it is only a bizarre loophole of globalization that I am granted the responsibility of clarifying and finalizing his words in English, and that it is possible he didn’t even dictate the letter and someone in his office wrote it, but I feel strangely touched to know that I’m somehow involved in the daily work of the leader of a country. Cool.

Print shows a futuristic view of air travel ov...

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It’s Turkey day, and I’m working by brain to the bone trying to be thankful for everything, when Douglas Coupland rains on my parade by beginning the Massey Lectures on how terrible the future is going to be.

43) Getting to work will provide vibrant and fun new challenges

Gravel roads, potholes, outhouses, overcrowded buses, short-term hired bodyguards, highwaymen, kidnapping, overnight camping in fields, snaggle-toothed crazy ladies casting spells on you, frightened villagers, organ thieves, exhibitionists and lots of healthy fresh air.

Coupland basically paints a portrait of the future that reminds me of a less severe version of Cormac McCarthy’s “the Road”. Our oil has run out, there is no middle class, and the infrastructure that once allowed us the luxury of bitching about everything has collapsed into a ruin of violence.

As a member of my generation, it has always been difficult to know what to take seriously.

On one hand, they tell us to relax and live our lives normally, getting jobs and starting families and paying mortgages. At the same time, they tell us we’re going to be starving and scavenging for food in ten years. I’m not joking. MacLean’s just ran an article on the cover called “third world America” in which it describes the decline of social programs to a third world level. Moreover, Coupland seems as serious as he gets about the fact that we are in decline and unlikely to pull out of it.

Although they are likely right about some parts of the  future, this commentary is misleading. One thing Coupland mentions is that the future is always unexpected, and it always feels strange because it isn’t the way you thought it would be. The future will be different and it probably won’t be more luxury than there is now, but that doesn’t mean that everyone will be living in cardboard boxes. The things I worry about are things like air-travel. I love to travel and I can’t imagine that planes will be flying affordably for much longer. Sad in its way but inevitable. I worry about jobs too. How much longer can society pay for people who don’t contribute the essentials?

Here is the important thing. Fear corrupts the present. Regardless of what the future will be, living in fear now is a mistake. The future doesn’t exist yet. This has always been an important reflection for me, because my mind will spin out in circles unless I anchor it. The present is everything.

So my advice for the future is – enjoy things. They may not be perfect now, and they may not be perfect later, but… just enjoy things.