No Exodus for Me

I’m not leaving !

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Today I read a Vancity buzz article written by someone likely my age, contemplating staying in Vancouver or leaving. I thought it was annoying. Millennials are very annoying. I would know, because I am one. I’ve also spent most of the last decade moving away from Vancouver or moving back to Vancouver. For the record, since graduating from university I’ve lived in Surabaya (Indonesia), Ankara (Turkey) and Gold Coast (Australia). About 4.5 out of the past 8 years has been in flux. Most recently I had the opportunity to move to London (England).

But, for once, I decided to stay !

Lately there has been a lot written about the general doom and gloom of the Vancouver condition – the city is going to be a ghost town soon ! Foreign ownership ! Millennials can’t buy houses! It rains ! It’s boring !

I’ve myself written, ranted and cried about the struggle of living in Vancouver many times over the years.

As one would say in organizer circles – “suffering is optional“. If you are suffering the rain, the expensiveness, the weird west coast Vancouver specific doucheyness, and also hate skiing, hiking or camping – I’d say, get out.

But if you do love these things, or can at least put up with these things, I say – stay ! If everyone accepts defeat at the hands of corporations and poor government policy (housing, wages …) and packs up – who is going to fight for what’s left? And I think it is important to remember that …

People are fighting, and sometimes even winning.

Remember that election we had, oh, a few months ago? I don’t think many people anticipated that kind of change. But people worked hard to get the vote out and people voted for something other than the status quo. When I moved home most recently I started volunteering with Dogwood – which identifies itself as an environmental democracy group. Environment. Democracy. Two things I love about Canada and the west coast.  Dogwood had some wins this year and you can read more about them here.

Maybe that’s  not your interest. Fine. Do you really care about affordable housing? So does the Metro Vancouver Alliance.  They do more than sign petitions and protest, they take action. That was from their website, but the alliance does work with dozens of community groups to facilitate change in areas like affordable housing – by working together, showing up, and taking a stand.

Democracy only really works if people are engaged (and enraged?). It is very easy to do shitty things to the public if not enough people are actively pissed off. On Sunday a group of protestors went and … protested. At the site of a perfectly good monster house on the Westside set to be demolished, to build another monster house. City Councillor Adriane Carr was at the protest, and agreed that the zoning bylaws need to be changed. Even if it was just for a photo op – if enough people are kicking up a fuss eventually the powers that be are forced to listen.

We are still fortunate to live in a democracy that more or less functions.

It’s not going to be easy to fight for affordable housing and living wages while balancing foreign investment / ownership over local concerns and priorities. We’ve all got a choice. Fight for your home, or pack up for greener pastures. But if nobody fights, well, I guess we all lose.

So, I’m staying and fighting for …

Wreck Beach – Is this not the chillest beach, like, ever?

(No photos, because it’s kind of frowned upon)

The Cambie Bridge – Walking to and from downtown over this bridge, at anytime, provided it is not pouring rain.

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Chicken Fingers at Red Robin on Robson, walking it off on the Cambie Bridge … gt’s, gt’s

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That air.

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A bluebird day at Whistler

Skiing, hiking, camping, kayaking, walking … (yes, if you are going to live here I would suggest you like at least 3 of those things.)

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The author coming down from the Squamish Chief

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Lynn Canyon

Food. 

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Fresh (very fresh) seafood at Superstore

Food.

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Cantonese Food at the Admiralty Center in Richmond

Food.

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Nepali food on Davie Street

It’s just beautiful, a lot of the time.

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Sunset Beach in July

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Waiting for the fireworks in Kits

 

** I have had many adventures, and hope to have many more. Living abroad is an amazing experience, but you will only ever have one real home. It might be a place that you’ve chosen, or a place that wasn’t chosen for you. I just hope that when you do find your home, you fight for it.

AYear in Review …

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Well…

Well, I spent $100 USD to renew this website. Which is approximately $136 CND at this point. Or, $70 ish GBP.

I haven’t been able to write at all. But this cash investment shows I have faith that I might. Just like an expensive gym pass.

When you’re a teacher, you tend to see the year in terms.

The terms will vary depending on the school When I worked at the university in Turkey, life was divided into 8 week increments, with a week or so holiday in between. The summer was a full 8 weeks.

Working in an office was probably the hardest. Only 2 weeks? How do you divide up your year?

I’m teaching High School now, so life is in 4 terms. September – December, January – April, May – June, July – August. The last term of 2015 is ending this week.

One morning recently, after seeing someones confused Facebook post, I thought it was 2016 right now. I’d lost 2016 entirely and was already moving into 2017.

I digress.

I can’t write, I don’t know why.

This year many things happened. Some were mundane and some were funny, some were sad. Sometimes I was very happy, very angry, and very anxious.

This past term I was obsessed with current events. I cried at school (quietly, more a tearing of the eyes really) because of terrorists and refugees and occasionally cute baby animals. I couldn’t believe what happened in Canada’s federal election, I can’t believe what a train wreck American politics has become. Daily, I’m surprised at the capacity for people to do kindness, and also spread hate and ill-will. I taught lessons about terrorists and refugees. I tried to talk to kids and co-workers about not delving into fear and mistrust of people that are different. I got frustrated. There were small gains and losses.

Gain: Following Pumpkin the raccoon on Instagram.IMG_20151202_073019

I spent the summer term convinced the world was ending.

There was a very awkward week long period in Vancouver in which the sky smelled like burning, and it looked like a regular afternoon in, say, Beijing. I decided that I no longer needed to worry about personal finances because it was the end times. “Hey – End Times” was something I said quite frequently.

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Beautiful End Times Sunset (because of all the pollution in the air from the forest fires)

I went to London a lot, perhaps as a result of this “Hey – End Times” mentality, or because of falling madly in love. Mad being what you have to be to decide to be with someone so far away (but really, I’d be even crazier not to). After the Spring term, and in between the Summer terms, and now again at the end of the Fall term – to London I went / go.

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Hampstead Heath from the “I Can’t Live Without You and Finances Mean Nothing Because the World is Ending Anyway” tour

*If you are going to try to be in love with someone long distance – it does help to have good passports, live in nice places to visit, and have your own apartment or accommodating roommates.

I also went to Alaska, to see an old friend and Alaska. It was gorgeous. People had guns, and unfortunately this is going to be one of the things that sticks in my mind about Alaska. The beauty, friendliness, and that random dude with a handgun sticking out of the back of his pants down by that gorgeous lake where we were trying to take those cool floating photos (where you time your jump in the air …)*See below.

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I did try to go skiing in 2015. It was depressing.

Many outdoor activities I enjoyed in the winter turned into weird introspective jaunts into the wilderness. “What is happening to the planet”, “Is it ok to have kids still?” “Where is the snowshoe trail?” *Snowshoe trail missing due to lack of snow. I missed out on the summer activities because I simply gave up. Which was sad.

The winter in 2015 at Whistler was like none I had ever seen. It was very, very cold initially. Then warm. Then cold. Most days the snow was a sheet of ice at the top and slushy near the bottom. I fell down a lot. I became a much better skier after two years off – just trying not to kill myself or others as I went down the hill.

I realise how this reaks of privilege.

But I really enjoyed skiing during university. During university reading week in mid – February there was A LOT of snow. There was quite a lot LESS snow during the same time period in 2015. Shit got real.

So, in 2015, I went to London (and Scotland) and Alaska. I fell in love. I decided to forgo responsible financial decision making for a few months, but am now back on track. I still think the world is ending, but I see some hope now. I know some people are calling the Paris Climate Change Agreement a game changer, but other people I know are saying no, no it is not a game changer.

I think that Canada is doing good things. I don’t think Canada is taking enough refugees, but, at least they are showing that taking refugees is something that people should do, and can be proud of doing and supporting. It is a start. We are being a good example and this is important too.

I was briefly afraid of terrorism. Especially going to London again shortly. But then, as my Australian friends would say “sometimes you are just unlucky” while they were talking about bull sharks and poisonous snakes, I think it is an effective when dealing with life in general. Unfortunately, sometimes we are just unlucky.

But, looking back on this year, however,

I have been very lucky. Lucky indeed.

 

 

I’m Younger Than That Now

I don’t really remember my first decade.

From zero to 10, a lot happens. We learn to walk and talk and go to the bathroom. Hopefully, we learn some of the basics of being a human:

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If we could follow this everyday, all day, what a better world we would be in.

Your next decade – double digits. 10 – 20. Big years. Developing an identity outside of your family, going to school, learning to drive, maybe moving out of  your parent’s house, working a bit, more school, romantic relationships. I actually found an old journal circa 2003 with a life plan in it. I should be finished law school, married with a child and well into my political career by now.

Because, just like that, myself and the other 1985 babies are 30.

What a weird bunch of 30 year olds we are. Some own houses and have babies and husbands/wives. Some own nothing. Some have careers, some are still finding themselves. We are the millennials, you know, and people that are not millennials (born in the early1980’s – early 2000’s) like to talk about us a bunch. Actually, I think millennials like to talk about themselves just as much. I love talking about myself.

Despite turning 30, I’m still planning on celebrating in a big way. A 30th birthday is enough of a milestone that regular excuses to miss an obnoxious birthday don’t apply. It’s already come up. One of my best friend’s husband’s agreed to forego their camping trip after he found out it was actually going to be my 30th birthday. The conversation was “It’s not like it’s her 30th birthday” … “Actually, dear, it is”.


Back to the last decade. The decade I am leaving behind – 2005 – 2015.

What do you have to show for it?

Well – my parents at 30 had bought and sold a home and bought another home, had two kids and were married. They went to Singapore (even though they had no business travelling and spending all that money ! (their words)). I remember when my parents turned 30 because I was 5 and my brother and I spent 2 weeks with my grandparents. I wasn’t allowed to talk on the phone with my mom because we would both cry and it would take my grandma some time to get me calmed down again.

In comparison – I’ve been to Singapore twice. I’ve been to lots of places, actually. I am living on my own for the first time minus roommates. I have less debt than my parents, but also less house (or car) (by which I mean I own neither). I have two degrees – but I’m making less than my dad did with a two year diploma. No babies, no kids. I do have a job. I have vague plans to buy an apartment sometime in the next 5 – 10 years (although I’m not entirely sure how). I also have vague plans to maybe buy a car. I think the highest priority now would be to decide whether or not to continue living in Vancouver, and, if staying, acquiring a place that would allow me a dog.

I’m not going to complain about how shitty the world is for me because of the baby boomers. The men and women that came before us brought the millennials as a generation a lot of good things. Things like how I can work at any job I want ( it might still pay me less than a man – but I’m allowed out of the house) how there is less pressure to be a mom and a wife and more support to do whatever it is that I am doing. I’m reading a book called Gumboot Girls about women that moved to northern BC in the 70’s to literally live off the land. It was women that did those things 40 years ago that gave myself and my buddies the breathing room to travel, go to school  and authentically live our lives. Because of these boomers we discriminate against difference less. We talk about our feelings more. The internet ! Millennials changed the internet, but we did not invent it. I’m not going to call the Boomers the greatest generation, but I think it is important to also give credit where credit is due.

Many of these boomers supported their kids financially, emotionally and physically and are still supporting their “kids” well into their 20’s and 30’s. I had to borrow my parents car just last weekend (and my dad texted my uncle to make sure I got there ok). I love this. I try to support my parents too, although the ways and means i can offer support are different than what they may have done at 30. I can’t really write a check or pick up the tab for expensive dinners – but I can hang out with them, listen, and say thank you. I can be present. I can acknowledge how important our relationship as a family is.

I think we are richer, even though I’m probably poorer in a physical sense.

That is how I will describe the last decade. The expectations you have for yourself at the start of your 20’s – career, family, stuff are so much different than what you end up with, or even want, by the time your 20’s are over.

And you can understand what the hell Bob Dylan was saying when he said – I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.

Who am I, anyway?

The Liberal Agenda:

Since moving back to Vancouver, I’ve gotten involved in a few things.

I started volunteering with a non-partisan, pro – environment, pro – democracy group that is working to ensure that BC’s coast is protected from pipeline expansion. They do other things too, but most of what I do, is spend one weeknight per week with my team, entering the signatures of people that have signed a petition (the signatures would be used should the provincial government move forward with pipeline expansion – so that we could submit the signatures and we would be able, as a province, to vote on the issue). There are better ways to explain it – but this is the most straightforward way I personally can.

While the organization is non-partisan, most of the volunteers are not. At meetings we can all congratulate each other for hating the Conservative party, and wanting to Stop Harper. And buying ethical coffee, and wearing ethical clothes, and riding our bikes or taking transit to meetings, and not being into consumerist garbage (well – unless it’s ethical)

That’s me.

In the summer I’m going to ride my bicycle to Wreck Beach, and hike in the mountains, and love up on the planet, and feel really good about myself and my alternative life style choices. Really stick it to the man, my friends and I, with our acceptance and respect of people’s life choices and tolerance of difference.

This is  my life on the Vancouver side of the Cambie bridge.

The Conservative Agenda:

But, everyday I jump on the train and commute to my school in Richmond (with a very large Chinese community, and a very different point of view in general).

For Chinese New Year, one of the teachers organised for our students to get to meet Stephen Harper. He volunteers with the Conservative party in Richmond. The students loved it. Many of them would never and had never volunteered for anything. They got blue t-shirts. They did something outside in the community. They stopped looking at a screen for several minutes. They now know who the Prime Minister is, and the Conservative party.

I didn’t go.

I was invited. But I didn’t go.

I joked “blue isn’t my colour”.

I went to a clothing swap at a friends house (which was opened by a group meditation) and then out to go bowling with some international friends downtown.

In short, I did exactly what I do when I live in Vancouver. Hippy dippy, granola, international, hipster, ironic stuff.

Does that make me a better liberal thinker? That I looked at my instagram feed and thought “That’s my worst nightmare” Looking at all of my beaming students in Conservative t-shirts?

A tutoring student is discussing the car they want to purchase for their graduation. The budget is $50,000 (ish). I sat and listened and told him to give me $10,000 and I’d find him a decent car. That he should spend the rest on a trip or equivalent. How far could you go on $40,000? A long, long way for a long, long time.

My teacher friend:  Well, that’s really putting your values onto someone else, isn’t it?

Am I a better liberal thinker, or a better person in general, for assuming that money should be prioritised for airplane tickets and adventures? Bearing in mind the ecological damage I would do with the number of flights I would take, would surpass whatever that car would do over its lifetime.

Would the money I spend abroad help more people than it would buying a luxury car?

(We aren’t talking about someone suggesting charity instead of a nice car. We are talking about someone suggesting travel over a nice car.)

Because the life lesson I’ve learned/been taught/that’s been reinforced through most of my relationships with anyone I relate to – is that travel is the best things for everyone, always.

What I’m starting to think now is – there is, and there should be, room.

We aren’t talking to each other.

Climate change, social change, government change.

Whatever your political bent – we aren’t talking or listening to people outside of our bubbles.

And we aren’t going to get anywhere if we keep it up.

And I don’t know who I am.

And that might be ok.

Getting Older is Giving Me Vertigo

And not the type that Bono sings about.

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Well..maybe. I don’t know what he is singing about in Vertigo.

Today at school I was sitting at my desk, as I generally do on Wednesday afternoons. Then, I thought there was an earthquake, because suddenly the ground seemed to shift quite drastically to the left. Vancouver is supposedly due for a big one. During the big one, Richmond, where I work, is supposed to sink into the sea.

Put a row boat on the roof.

I looked at the half-asleep teenager in my classroom and asked if he felt it.

Felt what?

…the earthquake?

It was at that time I started to also feel like I was on a sailboat. And seasick. So I went home.

I got home ok. I called my dad to ask him if I was ok.

(My dad has had a couple of strokes – so he is a bit of an expert on things that can happen to your brain).

I also wanted to check whether he thought I needed an MRI or something.

Apparently, he has had vertigo plenty of times (a little ominous, I guess – considering his propensity for strokes).  But it happens when you have a cold and the infection gets into your ears, or if there is something wrong with your ears.

Me: “Dad – does this have something to do with getting older?” … “This has never happened to me before. I feel like Lucille II in Arrested Development”

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Dad: “Yes, yes it certainly does”.

Thanks dad.

**But if you want to suddenly feel 12 years old again, tell your parents you have a weird health issue, and they will call you every 2.5 hours to make sure you are still alive.


Now I am home, lying flat, dealing with the dizzies.

Today I was talking about being a teenager with another teacher and getting very nostalgic. It was also my two best friends’ birthday party this past weekend, both are my first year university roommates. It’s amazing how quickly you transition from complaining about people talking about the “supposed good old days”, to talking about the good old days.

Reflections on recent history include:

Cell Phones:url

I remember when Joyce Lee went to Hong Kong for the summer, and came back to Grade 8 – and was sending text messages on her phone. Oh yeah, she also HAD a CELL PHONE. Which was a big deal circa 1998. I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was 16, several years later.

Remember when text messaging cost money per text. And it was expensive?

imgresCrushing on someone:

When you liked someone before Facebook, you couldn’t Facebook creep them, or Google stalk them. No – you had to literally creep on them. Learn where they hung out after school and plan to bump into them, join activities you had absolutely no interest in to spend time with them, construct awkward plans involving friends in the person’s classes to glean more information and find out if they might like you (or more of those “fun” activities you could join), eventually add them to MSN and post suggestive MSN statuses, until, finally, one summer evening at around 1:30 am, you both finally confessed that you liked each other (ok – that’s getting a little specific). Do you remember MSN’ing the kiss or heart emoticon to your significant other, before signing off at night?

Online Stuff:

My online activities in High School included: MSN, downloading music from Napster/Limewire/Bearshare and burning CD’s, playing the Sims, reading other people’s Live Journals, writing crappy poetry on my crappy website, and sending /receiving dramatic emails to my boyfriends. All in all, I probably spent 2 hours a day on the computer.

Truthfully – the computer would 3fe59370-ffe1-0131-6fe1-0add9426c766eventually get boring. Mine was really slow. Netflix did not yet exist. We didn’t have access to every book, movie and song ever created. I couldn’t cyber stalk my crush (I had to leave the house for that). If none of my friends were online, I had no reason to be on MSN. If they were online, we’d usually transition to doing something in real life. There are also only so many bad poems and dramatic emails you can write, only so many times you can drown your Sims in the pool.

facebook_2005The Invention of Facebook:

I actually remember the first incarnation of Facebook – in 2004, UBC got Facebook. Remember how it was only open to university students for awhile? And no one understood really what we were supposed to do with it?

The first post on my wall, from a friend in UBC residence was, as follows:

If I could say two words about Kath.. I would say tuna town… not that she smells of tuna.. or salmon..maybe jerky… but she makes really good tuna sandwiches… and sometimes.. if you grow sideburns, she’ll wink at you in that special way.. i would know.. sideburns are my thing.

For context – the reference to tuna was because my student job was making sandwiches in the cafeteria, and I liked tuna sandwiches. I hope it was reference to sandwiches. Fish and vagina references went hand in hand a lot at that time. I also had a gigantic crush on a guy with sideburns. A guy I had to creep on, until I finally made a move sometime in my second year of undergrad. We didn’t know how to use Facebook yet, you see.

I think we thought we were supposed to make recommendations about our friends, or leave notes like in a yearbook.

Pearl (whose birthday we celebrated this past weekend) decided to sign off on her post:

haha erin haid you’re funny…but kath makes good sandwiches..or wraps, since that’s what i get. but that’s 2 totally unrelated things, but then again…randomness is my middle name right?
erin forgot to write: mixed fruit salad…and i’m supposed to write muffin gala…..
~pearl

Yup. We didn’t get it yet. I don’t think we could share as much then as we can now. Everything I share now is either a) funny b) political c) related to education/language learning or d) an attractive or cute (yet totally down-to-earth and fun) photo of myself. Like this one, of myself and the birthday girls.

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It’s not the good old days, though. It wasn’t necessarily better to grow up when I did. Kids today have access to so much information, and I think they are developing the skills to deal with the world they live in. They need to be tech savvy. They are more open minded. They can do things with their computers and phones that I can’t. They can figure out a lot more on their own, without professional/teacher/parent involvement.

Sometimes I think they are lonely? Connected to each other all the time, but not in a physical sense…

I watched Netflix today, in an episode where Jack is looking for a new mentee, a “Gen Y DBag comes into his office:

“Hey are you Jack? Sorry I’m late. Bee tee dubs, I gotta leave for my ironic kickball  in about ten. Also, I’m not interested in this position unless I’m going to be constantly praised. And I won’t cut my hair.”

So that’s me. A Gen Y. So obnoxious. Praised within an inch of my life – into ironic sports and not interested in conformity to the point of conformity.

What will this generation be like? What will they be defined by?

I’m now old enough that the teenagers today ARE a different generation.

…It can make you a bit dizzy.

Everyone gets yuppie pizza today.

 

Rainbow

Rainbow over Yaletown.

 

Today was the first real rainy day since I’ve been back…

I’m writing this post after some drinks / a pizza in Yaletown. So obviously, I’m loving the rain today.

It is very easy to slide into old favourite habits and routines. Especially post work beverages. Especially when it’s raining. It’s like putting on a comfy sweater. A comfy waterproof sweater (for your brain).

After catching up with a friend I went to buy a bus pass from 7 – 11. The counter lady joked that I was teasing her with pizza. I told her it was cold pizza, but that she could have some. “It’s from the Yaletown Brewpub” … “I’ve never had that before” … “Go for it!” (She did.)

Everyone gets yuppie pizza today.

Then she gave me some advice re: buying the monthly bus pass or faresavers. We can write off the bus pass, but you can’t write off faresavers. And you never know when you’ll want to take the bus.

Sold.

Damp pizza box. Waiting for a bus. Phone calls from friends, “well, I’m going to yoga, but after maybe we can go for a walk”. These people love the outdoors.

I guess I’m one of these people.

I bought rain boots today.

I don’t think I’m going anywhere for awhile.

Also – it’s poncho and cape season.

XO, Vancouver

Ponchos and capes