Thursday, 24 May 2012

secret: dear diary, this coffee was too strong.

dear diary,

i'm comfortably set up in a coffee shop on campus, looking at the uni students, reeling from a caffeine high because i ordered a 20oz latte, forgetting the fact that i've nearly given up coffee and so i don't need that much to feel alert and perkified. is it normal to have tingles in your hands and the left side of your body? am i dying right now? should i be alerting the authorities?

perhaps we'll just make this blog my official cry for help. perhaps i need to give up coffee.

you know you're on holidays with nothing significant happening in your life when the small issues become bigger issues, and you have nothing to distract yourself from the fact that your boyfriend now lives in germany, while you, in fact, live nowhere really. nowhere! who would live there? and who would live in germany when they could live nowhere, with me? (the answer to that is of course aaron, and if you're reading this, it's ok, i'm just using this factor for dramatic effect... loooooove yooouuu!)

other pressing issues in my life include the weird sleeping patterns (5am til 11am is not right. just not right at all), the fact i've nearly watched a full season of grey's anatomy and am somewhat convinced i could be a surgeon if the necessity arose, the fact i've been window-shopping university webpages and have picked several different career directions for myself. there is such a thing as too much spare time.

i'm not unhappy to be on vacation, i'm just amused by my own choices in how to spend this luxurious leisure time. things i should be doing include organizing to ship my crap to australia from canada and writing an updated resume. things i could be doing include restringing my guitar and then actually playing it, learning german, doing yoga, writing sensible blogs that don't reek of coffee and crazy...

but where's the fun in that?

that is all. love, helen

Saturday, 19 May 2012

secret: gravity and seriousness

i think it's important to acknowledge change. change is the factor that keeps life moving along. change is inevitable, despite the white-knuckled grip we have sometimes on the present.

i haven't really figured it out yet, but i've set myself up to have time to take the time to consider the myriad of ways that everything about my life just changed. it wasn't even involuntary; i chose this outcome for myself, as many factors as i could control, anyhow.

i wrote myself a brief reflection the other night which goes like this:

          "I had built up this empire of people; these arms and hands, legs and feet all hovering about to meet the needs for 'human' that I had always tried so hard to avoid acknowledging. 
I had built it all up around me and in just over 1 week I lost the bunch. They all up and got left behind by me, and I moved onto some solitude, some deep thoughts and a small amount of bad poetry, relegated to a leather-bound journal where my secrets will be kept.
You think you're a lone wolf, an artist, a philosopher, but take away your empire of those to hear your words and share your oxygen, take away the lover who wakes you up with kisses on the back of your neck, take away your mountains and your sense of how things work and where they go and how they live, take all your empire away and you're really just a person pretending not to care about how lonely they feel."

i've always found that time to reflect helps to keep me sane, and i have craved it from time to time in the past months, but now i realize that people are really what i need. i feel silly for not having come to this realization earlier in my life. i guess what's nice to know, that i know now for sure, is that i have people everywhere. i've even got a bit of people collected in corvallis to be my people until it's time for australia.

and australia- i honestly haven't processed the implications of Going Home yet, beyond the endless creation of a story by way of repetition to all and sundry questioning my plans. i just leapt into a ticket-booked frenzy. all i really know about home is that my mum will be there to collect me from the airport, and that both of us will probably cry. beyond that, very blurred visions of gumtrees and drinking beers with brothers, and a birthday party for dad. 

what i aim to get beyond as i prepare for home is the waiting. for honestly, not one person knows when my love will set foot in australia. a waiting game is only possible when you have a date, and even then, there's the little voice in my warped brain which insists "what if you get hit by a car and the only thing you've been doing for the past 3 months is waiting for aaron to arrive from germany?". i don't want to waste a day. 

wish me luck with that.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

travel: west coast oregon

while there was a car at (sort of) my disposal last week, it made sense to travel about the countryside and see some things and stuff. kate, phill and grace were in oregon with me all of last week, so we took the opportunity on thursday to venture towards the ocean.

with kate having studied some maps on the interweb plus a little bit of luck and a sense of adventure (and optimism) we set off with the intentions of visiting a brewery and seeing the sun set over the ocean.

a few u-turns and some sheepish laughter later, we found ourselves in eugene, where ninkasi brewery lives. they were practically giving the beer away at $5 for a 5 sampler tray... yumyumyumyum...

i'm quite partial to the more hopsy of beers; IPAs and double IPAs. top vote for me was the tricerahops (see what they did there?) double IPA. the believer red ale is also pretty darn good, even taking into consideration that moya has biased me with her own preferences. we had a lovely old time sitting in the sun, pretending to be beer experts. then we bought tshirts which totally ruined our cool factor, but we'll be cool wearing them in australia... winning.

after blowing a wad of cash on souvenirs we went for a very wholesome and tasty lunch at a bakery nearby, and then onto searching for downtown eugene, to get some local culture up us. no luck though, and i'm sure we just weren't looking in quite the right spots, but we drove away empty handed.

onto the coast, through some stunning back roads... the forest is so green you need sunglasses, the road twists and winds its way to the ocean. and when you get there, and step out of the car, it's... fucking windy.

yep, you heard it here first folks, windy windy ocean. lovely to look at from the warmth and safety of your vehicle. i enjoy nature more when it's not whipping sand into my legs and ears and mouth and eyes. after looking around outside very briefly and stopping to use the washroom (pit toilet... who even heard of that anymore?!) we drove on along the coast, north to newport. we passed a sea lion cave, all organized for humans to look at for the small fee of $12 admission- no thankyou- we saw some more amazing coastal scenery from the safety of the car....

we ate dinner in newport after seeing a real live sea lion for free, just off the dock. all sorts and flavors of seafood were on offer. we ate several. whoever invented things wrapped in bacon as a concept, i take my hat off to you good sir.

the sunset, which we tracked down a pretty good spot to see, was lovely. well, we didn't quite make it to the part where the sun hit the horizon, mainly because we were all in the car on account of the windiness, except that after dinner there turned out to be quite a lot of wind inside the car also, and sitting in a car full of fart loses its charm quite speedily.

so we wound down the windows a little and left town. there is something lovely about winding your way through the darkening forest with mumford and sons playing. especially when someone else is taking care of the driving part, and you're simply looking out the window, singing along to the music and daydreaming about whatever it is you're most obsessed with currently. for me it's picking people up from airports.

i love day trips- when you arrive back at the place you left that morning, and things have happened to you, but you still get to crawl into your cozy bed at the end of the day. bliss.

travel: portland

so i decided i love portland a little bit. i went there on the weekend with my posse, which is kate, phill, grace and annica. my lovely cousin moya and her also lovely man-friend dusty showed us a few sights, fed us some whiskey and gave us some things to giggle about.

i've decided to share highlights by way of a list, as i am always fond of a good list. you guys like lists too, right?

reasons i love portland:
  • the sensible layout: N-S and E-W. i can deal with that. no curves in the roads thankyou.
  • the copious brew-pubs: we visited deschutes, rogue and rock bottom breweries. tasty and delicious. deserving of their own post really... we'll see how that goes.

  • the weekend markets. there were witty tshirts, there were hot dogs, there was beer, there were preachers and buskers with piano accordions and feather earrings (i am powerless before feather earrings)! we enjoyed these things and many more. love me a good market.
  • the river. the willamette river runs right through the centre of the city, which means it is a city of bridges. on the weekend there were many local folk taking full advantage of the shady trees and grass in the riverside park.
  • the people. most of the ones we met were friendly and happy. the enthusiasm for the beautiful weather over the weekend meant everyone was joyfully soaking up their share of vitamin D, and loving it.
  • cartlandia. the food carts open during the week, and saturday (not sunday as we very sadly learned), and oh the wonderous foods that you find there. $5 pad thai! german sausages! bubble tea! elephant ears (not real ones, portlandians aren't monsters)! 
  • powell's book store: a city block with 3 levels of books. 3 levels! city block! books!
  • eggs benny at the place with the funny books... i can't remember its name though, ask kate.
  • the hotel and the guy who always opened the front door for us. made me feel famous.
  • warm nights conducive to sitting outside with drinks, talking some talk and passing the last night with some of my favorites.

of course my favorite thing was the time spent with my friends, who i will miss for more than their good looks and their charm... but that's a story for another day.

Friday, 11 May 2012

treasure: the calm after the storm

i'm writing to you with a blue moon belgian white ale on hand; cold and delicious. i've made it out of whistler and into the grand old U S of A; Corvallis, Oregon.

it would be a lie to say it was easy to leave whistler; there was one freakin goodbye after another, and these people have been my family away from family in my home away from home for almost 3 years. i love them all to tiny little pieces, and will miss them more than they know. saying goodbye to people that you love is heartbreaking.

putting someone that you love on a plane when you're not sure when/if you'll be seeing them again is also more than a little heartbreaking. it's what i get for falling in love with someone from germany, i guess it serves me right.

still i'm sure some of the best literature is conceived of in dire romantic straits; no motivator of words quite like being apart from a person you love. i'm optimistic about how this story will turn out, but it won't stop me from writing some bad poetry and perhaps even a song or two in the meantime.

anyhow this is not a sad story of love, this is about ME, ON VACATION.

leaving town in a flurry of goodbyes and tears (i tend to cry in high-emotion situations), we set off on our adventures. my trusty travel buddies kate, phill and grace, plus swedish emma who needed a ride to van, provided light banter to distract me from the actual bit where i left whistler never to return (or, hopefully, to return with loads of cash for an actual holiday). the music was mostly jaunty and tasteful (it was from my iPod, so... duh).

we left emma in the middle of nowhere  at a skytrain station a little ways out of downtown vancouver, and set off for the border, thinking to sneak through quietly in a smaller, more out-of-the-way place.

40 mins in a line of traffic and we got to take on the american border security. these are the folk, bless 'em, that just want some power. any power will do, and they're giddy with their ability to deny you entry to the United States of America, the very best country there ever was, they take your passports and insinuate you're probably in for torture and punishment, as well as ruined plans and general unhappiness.

the guy at the first point caused grace to drop the c-bomb as a general description. he scared us all, boy oh boy were we polite in response to his questions. we were all a little shaky when we got inside, only to find that the men we needed to deal with one-on-one were actually capable of making jokes... we stood in shock until one of them observed that in response to their general hilarity we were allowed to laugh (i thought there was a law against that, but it was kind of funny when they told the korean family next to us that one of their passports had been shredded).

we won! america, fuck yeah!

after getting ourselves some cheap american gas and refueling our bodies with subway (it's a local delicacy, don't you know) we made a path for ourselves southbound. we passed by seattle, we admired portland (we'll be seeing you later), and we warbled along to the Flight of the Conchords and gradually found ourselves in little Corvallis, a university town in the Willamette Valley with town streets that run numbers one way, american presidents the other. my aunt and uncle live here, and are graciously putting the 4 of us up for the week, in order that we might enjoy real life; the bedrooms, the supermarket, the garden.

we hit up bombs away cafe for an awesome show by dusty, the great man who envisioned a tribute night to both weezer's blue album and green day's dookie. such an awesome show, and so nice to see my cousin moya, as well as a few familiar faces amongst her friends.

it's a revelation to get out into the real world and realize that most people don't want to just talk about the snow forecast and their new board or their latest hike. instead of one-upmanship over avalanche stories, people compete over other things; uni workloads and general beer expertise (this one is localized to oregon, microbrewery capital of the WORLD).

i love being here. i love meeting people who are artists and musicians and folk of creative substance. not that i don't love ski-bums also; it's just nice to be reminded of What Lies Outside the Whistler Bubble, seeing as i have officially left the bubble now and must soon fend for myself.

so here i find myself with 3 bestest buddies in corvallis. mainly we're drinking beer, but we did partake in several barbeques, mixed with some locals in green grassed backyard with an impressive vege garden set-up, finally sampled the bonfire delicacy known as "s'mores", confusing grace, who simply heard "are you down for some s'mores?", followed by a guy saying "if you give me the money i can go to freddy's and get the stuff, and be back here with everything in 10 mins". grace thought some sort of illegal substance was coming her way, but it turns out marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers are totally legal and quite tasty.

we've mowed some lawn and weeded some garden beds, and had plenty of beer-drinking, strolling and reading in the sun. i got sunburned! high and giddy on vitamin D, there have been bike rides (i opted out and walked down to feed my coffee habit).

also, we saw the avengers. it was explodey.

this week has been a delicious blur of low-key activities, but this weekend we're heading to portland to up the ante; annica, the bestest birthday buddy i've got, is meeting us for a few days of what i expect will be a whirlwind of party, beer and fun.

not a bad way to spend my first week away from the whistler bubble. now i'm free, there'll be more musings, some wise and some not at all helpful. and i might start learning german.