02.09.18

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I was walking to class yesterday. It was an early seminar, which meant that at the time I was walking to get there was around the same time as all the young school kids were walking to their little elementary schools, or primary schools, or whatever they call it here.

Where I’m from you go to elementary school. Then you go to a ‘middle’ type school. Then you go to high school. Then you get to graduate. And where I’m from you wear whatever shitty Walmart jeans your parents bought you in elementary school. Then you get to middle school and you start wearing makeup you bought from the drug store with your allowance. Then it’s all high-heels and short skirts in high-school (if you’re like that I guess.) But here, whenever I see these groups of young school kids, they’re all in the same thing: plaid skirts for the girls, grey slacks for the boys, white button-downs, and blazers or v-neck sweaters (jumpers) all around.

I’ve heard a few good arguments on either side, for or against the enforcement of school uniforms, and I agree with certain aspects of each. But I’m not here to debate the validity of such practices. It’s just that, it occurred to me, as I was walking through this group of school children, that their slacks and blazers do not actually fit them all that well. I supposed this was because they weren’t really tailored, and that they are acquired on a small, medium, large sized basis. And even though I know that if one had the money, or cared enough, or had the skills enough, that it would be possible to tailor a pair of slacks and a blazer to look like they were being worn by the children, and not simply hanging off of them. And then it occurred to me to wonder how you would even go about tailoring clothes to a child, as children have no shape whatsoever to tailor to!

Children are like Play-Doh. They are like little globs with no form that just get pushed and pulled in every which direction. They’re also not people yet, which is probably why I don’t like them all that much.

Then I started thinking, as much as I would like to consider myself more than a shapeless glob – that you could tailor clothes to fit my form, and therefor that must mean I’m more of a person (than at least those little brats), the truth is I feel more glob-like than I have in a while. I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. And that things are just happening to me. And life is just pulling my Play-Doh whichever way it chooses without my consent. And as it so happens, I take issue with that.

But, it’s only a feeling, anyway. It’s not some crises. It’s just that, looking at those kids made me really think someone should tell them it only gets more complicated from here on out. Maybe we never leave the glob stage. Maybe our forms stay malleable forever.

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05.27.17.

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Goodbye Farnham.

It’s a little bit crazy, right? I’ve been in the UK for less than a year and already I’m packing up and moving to an entirely different part of the country. I’ve moved house so many times in the past four years of my life I suppose I should hardly be surprised, but I must admit I never predicted it would come to this.

When I moved to this country it was specifically for the purpose of studying at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA). There I intended on graduating with a BA in Journalism and Creative Writing  at the end of a three year course. However, it only took a few weeks for me to feel like I wanted to transfer. The school did not have the big university atmosphere I was expecting – my only real experience with university being the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver. The campus was small, our class was small, the town was small, and as we tiptoed into the first weeks of the course I found the workload to be minimal, not challenging, and not always engaging.

I decided to give the place a fair shake, however, and tried to withhold my judgements and ride out the full year. And while there were some better aspects of the university and the town (I enjoyed the creative writing aspect of the course, and the pubs were pretty good), when an opportunity presented itself for me to transfer, I felt it would have been ludicrous for me not to take it.

I won’t go into details, but the crux of it is that UCA is discontinuing the course I was on, which in part resulted in two of the best lecturers on the course leaving the university. My classmates and I were then offered the chance to transfer to the University of Brighton and that is what me and three others are in the process of doing right now.

I don’t want to slag off Farnham or UCA – I had some good experiences there. I made some great friends, met a few incredible tutors, and got to experience a place unlike any other I had lived in beforehand. But, when it comes down to it, the reality is that the town is not student friendly – finding a job, let alone a place to live, was incredibly difficult, a prejudice against students being a very prominent attitude throughout the whole town. It was also a quite boring place to live, expensive, and somewhat far away from anything remotely entertaining. With regards to the course, I was not entirely satisfied, particularly the journalism modules where I felt I learned little, was not challenged, and did not have much faith in my tutor. It is for these reasons I am leaving now and have wanted to leave from almost the very beginning. I know it’s cliche, but they say when God closes a door He opens a window. More than anything I feel like the events of the past few months have been just the excuse I needed to make the move I was somewhat uncertain about making.

As I write this, I have officially moved out of Farnham. I am in a temporary living situation in Brighton for the summer while I look for work and a place to share with my boyfriend and two of our classmates. So far I can say I love the city. The atmosphere reminds me of all the best parts of East Vancouver; street art on ever block, a clutter of small boutiques, and vegetarian food everywhere! And the best part? It’s on the ocean, with a long beach and a flashy pier. I knew when I left my west-end apartment in Vancouver that I would miss the ocean, but I never imagined how good it would feel to reunite with it.

Now, as I tie up the remaining loose ends with UCA and prepare to embark on yet another new chapter, I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunities and support I have received in Brighton and that I get to make this big move among friends and don’t have to go through it by myself. If not for all this I would likely be staying at UCA on a course that did not fulfill me.

Of course, there are no guarantees that the University of Brighton will be everything I dreamed a university would be, but I am optimistic as I look toward the near future.

x

04.12.17

GRAPEFRUIT

Life feels like a sour grapefruit falling apart at the seams. Too tangy to eat, but pulled apart enough already that I am not able to put it back together, wrapped up in its stiff, orange skin.

I am trying to get myself together, but the truth is I’m not all that fond of grapefruit. And so I let it sit on the shelf in my cupboard day after day, growing steadily softer, until it is ready to bin.

I picture how I want my life to be. And somehow that picture always includes grapefruit. And yet, still, I can never seem to achieve it.

x

02.23.17

I walk a lot. Always have, ever since I gained any semblance of independence. In my hometown every section was an hour’s walk or less in any given direction and when you’re a kid with no car and nothing to do, you may as well walk. I guess it started when I realized my dance studio wasn’t that far from my elementary school. By grade seven I was walking to dance after school any time I didn’t want to carpool with my classmate and her bitchy mom. I would have been around twelve at the time – I was independent from a young age. My parents believed in treating my sister and I as our own people, not solely as their subordinates like some parents.

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These days I try to walk for an hour every day. I started doing this for weight loss purposes (I’m not even close to being overweight, but since moving continents there are lots of clothes in my closet that don’t fit me properly anymore.) There are few things worse for your health than being sedentary all day, and since I’m a writing student I do spend an awful amount of time sitting at a desk either reading or writing, so I started trying to break that up by going for an hour walk everyday – something I never used to have to worry about when I had a lifestyle that kept me on my feet all day.

These walks are great for thinking; coming up with ideas, solving problems. But they’re also great for not thinking. Sometimes I’ll put on an album, or a podcast and just disappear fully into the soundscape. Other times I won’t put anything on at all and I’ll just let the empty space surround me – the empty sky, the sound of the air empty of people and cars. I walk a dirt trail that runs along the fields behind my campus, you see. Aside from the odd horse or sheep, there really isn’t much there.

 

 

Anyways, these non-thinking walks have made me aware of how little dreaming I do these days. I don’t know if it’s a symptom of growing up, or drowning in school assignments I’m not overly enthusiastic about, but either way it was an upsetting realization to come to. I’m not necessarily trying to accomplish anything specific by writing this all out. I guess I just want to be more conscious of the way I am conducting myself in life. I want to be more conscious of stimulating my creativity, and actually producing content – be it photographs, writing, poetry, music, anything! I don’t want to forget about dreaming. As a creator imagination is the most valuable tool and I don’t want to lose sight of who I am when I am actively dreaming.

Dream on!

x

SIDEBAR – I wrote a blogpost for Paperfox Lit Mag which was published in conjunction with the most recent issue. Read it here!

02.04.17.

I have been living in the UK now for five months, and it has been four months since my last confession. I really do want to be more diligent about writing here, but uni can get so hectic. Sometimes I barely have enough time to get all my coursework done, let alone do all the things I need to do in order to be a functioning human being, which leaves even less time for proper reflection, which is what I aim to do here above anything else.

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I’m really finding it hard to take care of myself properly under the stress of my coursework. Back when I lived in Vancouver I ate very well, cooked all the time, exercised semi-regularly and walked everywhere, even when I was in school back then. Now I find myself excessively snacking on unhealthy foods because I want something that will bring me comfort, I rarely exercise because I rarely have the time or the energy, and I don’t walk nearly as much as I used to because I never really have anywhere to go. In Vancouver there was a certain kind of very healthy lifestyle that the city made very easy to live – it is not as easy in this town. I have to actually be conscious about the way that I’m living day to day – something I’ve not really struggled with until now.

I suppose the biggest change I’ve experienced since coming here from Vancouver is in my social life. I did have friends in the city, but somehow I still ended up spending a lot of time by myself. It was easy to be lonely in Vancouver. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out creative ways to fill my days. I did a lot of walking around and going for runs back then. Also took a lot more photos than I have been lately, but these were all solo activities. I also ended up going to a lot of shows and events by myself. The cinema was almost always a single person activity, as well as attending comedy shows, music concerts, and art galleries. I don’t do these things as much anymore, there isn’t a lot going on in this town and London can be horribly inaccessible at times, but that being said, I do spend a lot more time being social and hanging out with friends.

A large part of this, I know, is living in student accommodation on campus. I’m living with my classmates and the people I call my friends, so I just naturally end up seeing people all the time and it’s easy to make time to spend with them. It’s nice; we go to the pub often, otherwise we just hang around the flat kitchen playing games, and we share many things with each other. I feel a sense of community with many of these people – something I didn’t have as much of when I lived on my own.

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As for my actual course, well, there are good aspects and bad aspects to that, as with all things I suppose. The creative writing part of the course is going very well, I think. My teachers and the content is both interesting and engaging, and I get to produce a lot of work which I otherwise wouldn’t have thought to write, which is nice. I have also been hired on at the school’s literary magazine, Paperfox, which has been keeping me busy, adding to my resume, and a very fun experience so far! I hope very much to continue with this publication, and that it might help me down the road I eventually want to travel.

I only have one class which I really can’t stand and that’s my news writing class. I find it unfortunate that it is so wildly unenjoyable, as there is obviously so much potential for it to be engaging. I have been reading some outside texts about the subject which are really informative and interesting,  but the class just isn’t. All the other classes on my course are centred around ideas and the way we look at things, but my news writing teacher isn’t a very critical thinker which shows in the way she banally beats structure into our heads and leaves little room for the conversations and discussions around what it takes to write news. I find this very disappointing and I make no effort to hide my disdain, which often results in my teacher and I butting heads, but I suppose it is almost over and I just need to get through.

This has been a running theme in my life lately, though. That is, encountering people with whom I struggle greatly to find common ground. I mean, there have and always will be people we don’t see eye to eye with, but lately I have found myself specifically in conflict with these people, which I’d prefer not to be. I’ve started seeing this boy from London, you see. And he’s great, and he’s wonderful, and everything. But he’s a bit of a button-down-boy. And I’ve got piercings and tattoos and I prefer it when life is loud, and chaotic and wild. And his mother really takes issue with that. Or, rather, she takes issue with something, and because of this she finds it very hard to accept me for all my wild and chaos. Which really bothered me at first. To put it in brief, we had a very uncomfortable Christmas encounter which led her to overlook all the effort I put in. But at the end of the day, it kind of got me thinking. And as a result of this thinking I have decided that I would much rather impress a person who values original thought, individuality, and honesty than impress someone who equates politeness with keeping quiet and speaking only to conform to what your listener wants to hear. And I intend to carry that on through the rest of my university experience as well as through the rest of my life.

x

10.15.16.

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I have been here a month and a half now and I suppose this will be my first published account of this fact. My first published account on this platform anyway. For those wondering where ‘here’ is, it’s a small town in Surrey – that’s in England. I find myself in a shoebox dorm room on a tiny university campus in a sleepy English town filled with old people having left behind my shared one bedroom apartment by the beach in my home province in Canada. This is what I wanted I keep reminding myself.

It’s not that I’m unhappy with my choice. I’m so glad to be back in school again, finally working towards a degree. I’m happy to have left where I was living and to wind up some place new – all new things, all new people. If anything, my experience thus far has been like taking a lungful of fresh air after choking on smoke and dust for so long. But, I guess it’s also just easy to build something up in your head. And when you do it’s easy for that thing to not live up to what you want or imagine it to be.

Mostly I miss city life. Not Vancouver specifically, just the way cities are in general. I miss the chronic background noise – traffic, sirens, people duking it out in the street. I miss hole in the wall places where you can get food at 3am. 24 hour cafes that you don’t have to wait to open if you want to sit and have hot chocolate at six in the morning. The fact that you rarely bump into the same person more than once. I thought I would be close enough to London to live there part time – but getting there and back is kind of a pain and also expensive.

I don’t mean to sit here and complain. It’s just that everything is at once completely different, and not that much different at all. There’s a substantial part of me that somehow does not feel like any of this is real. Or like it’s of zero consequence. Like I’m just on vacation or something. I don’t know what it is. I knew when I decided to move halfway across the world that I wouldn’t change when I did so, but I did think something would be different. Instead I’ve just picked up more bad habits; smoke cigarettes, drink more whiskey and less cider, and eat salad slightly less often.

On a positive note I do find it a little easier and less painful to be creative and pursue my creative outlets. I am playing music almost every day again, a habit I lost for about two years. I am doing more writing for myself, the prospect doesn’t frighten me quite so much as it did when I was living in Vancouver. I am even going to have a poem published in a month or two. I am proud of this. I am happy to be making things. I just really hope it leads to something – that everything I am doing will eventually amount to something. But, hey, it’s only been a month and a half. I have a whole three years still to decide whether or not I did the “right thing.”

x

09.01.16.