Tide pools, self portraits, and podcasts.

I’ve recently begun making more and more self portraits with a slightly banged up Olympus OM-1.

49791913022_e1dd7a3bfc_c

49791524686_975791515b_c

I got this particular camera after my beloved Olympus OM-G died (I went thru two bodies in about ten years). I am rough on my gear- it often sits in my purse or hangs off my shoulder and I would be lying if I said I was a delicate person in any way, so the fact that a lot of my photo gear has…ahem…character…is not surprising. After OM-G No. 2 kicked it, I went to my favorite store in all of Montana: The Darkroom. The owner, Michael, is one of the kindest people I know in Missoula. He processed every roll of film I shot in Montana for the last four years, and better yet, he sells used photo equipment, and doesn’t try to cheat you on price at all. He is fair, knowledgeable, and if you’re lucky, you will spot him ripping up the dance floor at the Union with a lucky partner- he is a great dancer. If you’re even luckier, you might get to meet his shy and sweet three-legged cat named Gitzo, after a Japanese tripod brand (if you don’t find this lovely we can’t be friends, sorry). He sold me the Olympus OM-1 I still use to this day.

49791015023_7529f665db_c

The trusty old machine is working hard, documenting picnics and cemeteries and early, 6 am walks around Victoria, before people are out and about. In our small-world, mostly-inside happenings, seeing a river otter last week was The Big Event. He was fat, sleek, and beautiful, with a fat fan of whiskers. We had just eaten some sushi in the nearby cemetery because it was…well, frankly, safer than being near the still-busy beach. Once the sun started to go down and people started dissipating, we went down to the beach and saw a little head emerge from the water, and soon an otter emerged!! WOOO ANIMALS! Can you spot the otter in the photo? I didn’t have a zoom lens and didn’t want to get too close and bother him.

49791542826_d3015d0c66_c49791606786_63bda3d0fd_c49791057228_d33c9d3f3d_c49791892132_fd6bca9d35_c

Besides the otter and tide pools, I mostly photograph Logan. On the beach, in our apartment, on walks, wherever we are, and I remember when he was in Brazil and I was in Montana how much I missed photographing him. It’s good to be stuck together during a global pandemic, as weird as it is to go from a year and a half of long distance almost straight to quarantining together with only a few months in between of normalcy. I’m so grateful to have a partner in crime, somebody to eat the things I bake and help do dishes and bemoan that somehow, there is an incredible amount of laundry built up in one short week, and that yes, we do need to go grocery shopping, as complicated as it feels right now.

49790999088_9b5114b385_c49791533226_28f5592e3a_c

What are the things that are keeping you sane, hopeful, or grounded right now? What are you listening to? What recipes are working out for you? For me, this recipe for a Dutch baby (basically a fancy, eggy pancake in a cast iron pan) has been so satisfying to make. It’s simple, takes almost no time, and is absolutely delicious. The Guacamole song by Kevin Johansen, a (rather handsome) Argentinian musician, is full of good memories from college and my dear friend Hillary showing it to me, and after that the random algorithm often leads me to some decent Argentinian music. We recently watched Julie and Julia on Netflix, and ever since I’ve been imitating Streep’s “Oh, Paul!” whenever Logan comes into the kitchen while I’m making something. (I also bought The Art of French Cooking months ago and mean to make a chocolate Bavarian cream soon.) I come back to Karina Longworth’s “You Must Remember This” podcast over and over, and if I need to cry the Carole Lombard episode will always get me. It’s so well written and dense with facts, but Longworth presents all the information she digs up in witty,  subtly light ways that trick you into thinking she’s built some frothy universe when in actuality it’s more of a carefully constructed powerhouse of information about Hollywood, the film industry, gender roles, the economy, fashion, and expectations about sex, bodies, money, and power. (Cheers, Karina, you badass!)

Thanks for sticking around this weird, often abandoned corner of the Internet. I’ve had this blog since I was back in college, and it’s changed a lot with me. It feels good to come back to it right now though. Stay safe and well, as always.

Weird Words from Wednesday

Post from this Wednesday that I forgot to actually publish:

Today I felt my teeth in my mouth with my tongue and registered how crooked they’ve slowly become, despite wearing a retainer every night religiously since I was 16. It is particularly sexy to pop in your retainer before sleep at the age of 29, my friends, trust me. I remember my orthodontist telling me he could take off my braces early if I just wore the retainer…and now, my teeth have shifted. They’re not terribly crooked but they’re not the $5000 smile my parents scraped together for. I felt bitter and small today, once-pliable but pathetically shriveled, with my mildly crooked teeth and minimum wage job, despite wearing my retainer and working hard for a master’s degree, both feeling like slightly broken promises. It was a pity-me day, where I wanted to cry about things that right now aren’t worth crying over.

meallthetimenow

Then I went to the Japanese market on the way to the park, stopping in to get a soda and a little red bean paste mochi and a bag of snacks for a friend. I tipped even though society doesn’t dictate my need to do so, but we’re all struggling and if I feel like I can spring for a $3 soda I can surely leave a tip for a cashier. How neat would be it be to be wealthy enough that if I wanted I could leave $20 here, there, anywhere for people working right now? Fuck, I’d leave $100 if I could. This city is rife with money, I walked past an Aston Martin outside the butcher’s shop the other day and a Mercedes that tricked me into thinking it was a Maserati with the grill this morning on my way to work (you know these things after living in a posh Swiss city for two years).

still_accurate

My friend was waiting at the corner of the park after I left the market, dappled sunlight coming in through some trees, and it was strange not hugging her. We walked, awkwardly watching our distance, and found a little meadow to sit in near some daffodils and a thick bush where a few small birds huddled inside, protected and rustling around. She was accepted to Cornell for a PhD program and one of the first things I asked was if they gave her a decent funding package, because if I know anything (other than how to bake a decent pie and spout useless facts) it’s that you never, ever go into a PhD program that isn’t guaranteeing you decent funding, in writing. She’s brilliant and hard working and thorough so they gave her a good funding package, as they should. Later I wondered if that was something I’d want to go after.

Here’s the thing. Right now, we’re all talking and thinking about what we will do when this is over. I already knew that by spring 2021 I needed to have a decision about a PhD program made. The fact that somebody I deeply admire got into a program and is actively going to change their life’s trajectory by pursuing it makes me tilt my head in that direction, tipping my cap at them but also getting ideas. Is that something I want? Or do I want to try and get out from under this shit-wage thumb that’s holding me down? Do I want to pursue a career? A lot of us are blessed with options, which we end up seeing as a curse, in a world where options are often few, skimpy, and more a devil’s bargain in one way or another. I’m lucky to feel like a withered empty shell on more days than I’d like to admit, because I get the time and space to be a pissed off little crab. That’s a lot more than most people get.

me_forever

It was wonderful to sit in the park and talk to somebody who isn’t my boyfriend. I love Logan but he’d agree with me that other people are awesome. It was weird to sit a bit farther apart than usual from my friend, but it was grand to see how the sunlight hit her face and have the weird lilts in conversation as we’re the first people we’ve social distanced with other than our partners in a month (and my coworkers, but seeing as we can’t really do any after-work bonding, it still feels weird to consider that socializing). I missed talking to a fellow historian, a friend, on a warm spring day. It was balancing, normal, comforting.

On my way home I called Costco. A poor, horribly busy woman answered and helped me get contacts shipped to my apartment, even though she was handling all the phone calls at the store that day, and I wanted to give her a hug. I wished her luck before hanging up, and while I know that in Canada it’s a stereotype to be nice, she wasn’t just nice- she was kind. She helped me, was honest about how busy she was, but never once made me feel rude or even a bother. I bought fennel, tomatoes, garlic, and some chestnuts at the store on my way home, dashing in and out quickly. The chestnuts were random- I remembered the smell of the roasting chestnuts in the piazzas in Lugano in the fall and winter, and what a weird time that was in my life; a naive American girl trying to pretend I was graceful and glamorous in Switzerland. Right now is a damn weird time too, so why not impulse buy some chestnuts? I’ll report back on the results.

Things are strange and today was a sad day with a happy ending, and hopefully the rest of the week isn’t quite so emotionally fraught. I hope that you are all doing okay right now, maybe not thriving (that feels too optimistic and almost flippant) but getting by and finding ways to smile and feel joy. Joy is a scrappy friend, we need to hold onto it.

Maybe I am kind of sad.

What do I write about right now? How there’s a knot in my stomach and the trees outside the apartment are finally decked out in leaves and there is one spectacularly feisty robin with a nest nearby that viciously harasses the squirrel that my landlord feeds?

I saw a Northern flicker yesterday on my way to work. It hid behind a boulder when it saw me, but I was still able to see the flash of rust red and the distinctive black speckles on it’s chest. I’m still working, in an old basement with hexagonal tile floors and a bathroom straight out of the apocalypse, with a ceiling that leaks questionable, smelly liquid. We’re working a little too close together to be considered truly safe, but we’re all in it, and we’ve been doing this for long enough that the motto has quietly become, more or less, a version of fuck it, we’re in too deep now. We have all joined in an unofficial agreement to not do anything remotely sketchy outside of work. I’m going to a park tomorrow with a friend to talk from a distance and it is the closest thing to a transgression I can imagine.

49763856837_19a9fb027e_c

We’re all writing deep things and have profound thoughts right now and I wonder how much of our own content is read by others or even considered. Are we collectively burrowing deeper into ourselves more than ever right now? Things feel creepily close to normal for me, because I still get up every day, make coffee, and trek to work, past the shuttered businesses I miss patronizing, especially the really lovely couple who run the Sushi Express in the arcade near my workplace. I force myself to dress decently for work, even though I’m in an ancient basement working in a shipping department that stays remarkably freezing.

On Friday morning I got up at 6 am because I knew my soul needed it. That was the point of moving here, right? For the mornings, early and isolated, by the ocean to soak in the salty air and the ocean breeze and look at the enormous cargo ships far off shore in front of the Olympic mountain range. This Friday, bobbing in the tide, was the headless and tailless corpse of a harbor seal, with multiple holes from being eaten. I couldn’t tell how it died. The tailbone jutted out from one end of it. Seagulls lined the rocks nearby waiting for the body to beach itself. I hadn’t ever been this close to a live seal. It didn’t feel disrespectful or sacrilegious to get close to the body, to photograph it, to notice what was there and what wasn’t, even though humans are really weird about death and dead things and I’m sure people will feel negative things about my photographing it and sharing a photo here. It was a dead body of an animal that hopefully had a long and vital life, and it was being recycled every step of the way, as we were all meant to be, and I just happened upon it. I felt like a child finding a dead bird in the yard, with all the why and how questions, wondering if it felt pain as it died, how lonely it would be to die in the ocean (though isn’t death ultimately a solo experience no matter where it occurs?).

49763006498_cb97ae0855_c

I walked to another enclosed beach area, warning a man with a dog about the seal, imagining our long-dead dog Cooper getting ahead of me and finding it before I could stop him, and how he’d found deer legs and other animal parts at my parent’s home all the time, and got so, so sick. Then I picked up sea glass, hundreds of tiny pieces, finding blue and green and brown pieces, some old and extremely pitted, others still clear and young, relative babies. A precious, rare, purple piece presented itself to me after my legs and back started to ache from crouching over the sand and it felt like a reward. I had found purple glass only once before, at an old hot spring resort in Montana.

I realized my thoughts were running together on the beach, turning into a fast-moving creek, too fast to see the shapes of the rocks and snags under its surface, and I was so glad that I’d left my own head. We’re all a bit in our heads right now, obviously, and it’s been hard to take leave from my hyper anxious brain. Books have been a good escape but nothing beats doing things I have done for years: collect sea glass, go on walks, feel the needed perspective of smallness: my existence is insignificant, in the grand scheme of most things, and this brings me some comfort. It doesn’t feel as shitty to go to a job that makes me feel like crap, and to feel worried and sad all the time, because when I go look at the ocean, I realize that most of these fears I have, largely linked to late capitalism and exacerbated by a pandemic, are not noticed by the tides and the moon hanging in the sky and the great blue heron wading for breakfast.

Until next time. I hope you are all safe and loved and have access to what you need right now.

Been seeing me in your dreams?

I think a lot about the women who wore the vintage clothes I have. There’s a 1930s maid uniform that fits me perfectly that came to me stark white. I tried to dye it black but it turned out blue-grey, which is fine by me. I imagined the life of the woman who was probably underpaid and overworked who wore it- it wasn’t deadstock, so somebody must have worn it, somebody my size, 80+ years ago. Knowing how hard being a maid still is, how you’re more likely to be sexually harassed, taken advantage of, and be invisible, makes me hope that whoever wore this uniform found better prospects for themselves.

Yesterday this sheer blue dream came in the mail. She’s perfectly imperfect, and if you love vintage clothes you know that part of the joy is discovering the personality and quirks of your clothes. They’ve lived too, right? They’ve been on living, breathing bodies, bodies that sweat and wear perfume and spill coffee and get mud on hems. Previous owners wore these clothes to go to parties, work, on dates, maybe experienced heartbreak in them- the imagination can go wild, and that’s partially why I love these clothes. What occasions did the previous owner find herself in while wearing this dress? One of my favorite films of all time is “His Girl Friday” (1940), in which the incredible Rosalind Russell delivers sharp barbs at a mile a minute, witty and confident and beautiful portraying a toughened newspaper writer (the title of this blog posts is from the movie). This dress makes me think of those fast-talking, sharp women, who hold cigarettes in alluring ways and set their hair and wear nice lipstick. Maybe, through some weird osmosis, some of that perceived grace and cleverness will come to me!

49431261121_f48ab5f265_b

There are other dresses I’ve got that make me feel this way. There’s a late 1930’s black velvet number that is sumptuous, very uncasual, and intimidating. I’ll wear to breakfast because I can. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it, all from other women, mostly because I think we see each other dressing for ourselves, and recognize the joys of doing so. The dress is not sexy, it’s a bit scary- no showy neckline, no high hem, something that I fall into spells thinking about. What was the previous owner like? I own enough vintage dresses that surely somebody who was quite a wench owned one of them!

While I’m here, here are some of my favorite online vintage shops. Know your measurements before buying vintage (waist, bust, hips, and shoulders)! It makes the process pretty painless and super fun. There is also a decent amount of plus-size clothing out there these days, because even back in the day not all of us had 24″ waists! Don’t be discouraged by your size, it can be harder to find but larger clothing is out there!

Strange Desires– she has an eBay store but you can also DM her on her Instagram. She finds the most gorgeous and also interesting pieces, from hand-knit wonders to liquid silk dresses.

August Anne Vintage– I found Kate’s store after finding her Instagram after finding her now-defunct fashion blog (the internet is WEIRD y’all). She works really hard to find these pieces and if you’re into romance, whimsy, and also quietly-cool-girl vibes she’ll have something for you

Thief Island Vintage- Ella somehow finds the COOLEST and sturdiest pieces! I’ve got two dresses from her, both outrageous and delightful and loud.

KidSheets Vintage– Mollie not only has the world’s cutest/best haircut (a pink bowl cut) but she posts the most amazing OOTDs on her Instagram. She finds everything from 1940s evening gowns to suits.

Guermantes Vintage– If I ever randomly get thousands of dollars of fun money I’m spending it in her shop ASAP. She finds museum-quality gorgeous lame, cocoon flapper coats, 1930s satin evening gowns, the kind of clothes that make you cry because you don’t have $800 to drop on some scandalous beach pajamas!

And with that, I’m back to applying for jobs! Wish me luck!

 

 

 

 

One year ago and other memories.

26086824702_f1521cf60e_c25576630893_c8b623c0b3_c24833985653_da88149c54_c24712998809_9b3396a2be_c24833985733_204f5f4f5d_c25574525744_12fbb0b269_c22421019856_490dd937e1_c22259045700_073b851a85_c

A little over a year ago I entered a room on the third floor of the building where I took a majority of my courses and spent many hours on campus, utterly terrified, holding my personal copy of the thesis that had occupied and been the point of two years of academic research, drafts, edits, feedback, and stress.

I don’t remember much of my thesis defense. I remember that many people came and that my family and friends and classmates being there meant so much. I remember that some of the questions were quietly brutal, but that my thesis stood up to criticism well because it was thorough and thoughtful. I remember feeling gratitude for my thesis supervisor for her eagle eyes and brilliant mind, who took me on and helped me take a woman’s enormous life and help make her story into something manageable.

The weekend there was far too short. I was inundated with the want to do everything- eat at Pho Vy, drink coffee at Habit, go to the graveyard, take my family to the tiny sushi place that I treasured so much. I remember crying on the ferry that took me away from Canada, wondering when I’d be back.

I miss that city so much.

2017, you can rot in hell, but I’ll remember you fondly.

31937824030_f8059aa080_c31954586930_68100c00b1_c33020714910_f591c7d579_c32600123600_2a03fbfb60_c33275465131_a7799043e5_c33275464481_244899b065_c (1)33845669966_c32fef24ed_c32723654133_9f86fe9e16_c

Wow, 2017, what a simultaneous adrenaline rush of a year. I felt like I was always battling a dumpster fire outside my house but also consistently smiling while doing it.

38223911822_a4fdda917e_c32181438222_409e63ee1e_b37370935935_6bbd4af893_c36084817294_dd0246849b_c32249167513_6c5ecd268e_c37386649280_52be0b1896_c

Biggest accomplishments: Writing a really, really solid thesis I was super proud of, defending it, and getting my Master of the Arts degree from University of Victoria. I got to write about an incredible, strong, funny, complex, and real woman named Evelyn Cameron, who settled in Terry, Montana in 1891 and died there in 1928.

Also, having a military professor at a school in British Columbia tell me he was grossed out by my conference presentation in Qualicum regarding blood transfusion techniques in World War I.

Getting to move in with Logan in our little yellow house. We dated long distance while I was in graduate school and have only ever gotten to spend a few months at a time with each other. Moving in with somebody, which I’ve never done, was terrifying and a fucking blast. We managed to get our shit together and put everything we owned (very little) and donated furniture (a lot) into a U-Haul and a truck and unpack it all, without injuries. However, at the end of it, Logan did say “you’re about 70% weaker than I thought”. Oops!

35809476910_473b9034e4_b35032325514_c6afeb2fe1_c34975650163_7fb06d0a46_c35744950606_6f11a16d26_c35566923041_5e818cc75c_c35575047426_1051152eb7_c35575036226_dab2987c23_c34740465843_76ae04417b_c8LLYHQA (1)35345052155_b4693e1d9d_c

Biggest setback: Spending four months unemployed in Missoula, feeling like a garbage person and having really really bad mental health days. Being unemployed as somebody with an advanced degree, a good work ethic, and an able body was humiliating and uncomfortable. Sorry to anybody I vented to a bit too much during that time- I felt paralyzed with frustration, anger, and fear.

31954583560_bc5c45d390_c36064623483_0eafe692cb_c35619866564_a423cbd267_c35619868364_b182531fdd_c35964885616_2fcf8da0ba_b

Places I went to: We went to Glacier National Park in July, and did some hiking and photographing up at Logan Pass! I made Logan take a picture in front of the Logan Pass sign, which he did but only begrudgingly.

Logan surprised me with tickets to see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in San Francisco, so we went and stayed with my friend Adrienne. We got to soak in an Edvard Munch show at the SFMOMA, which was absolutely a joy, eat some really good Malaysian food, pho, and see the famous/infamous San Francisco Bay fog creep up all around us. At the Nick Cave concert I openly wept a few times.  It was amazing.

In March I surprised Logan as he flew back to the States from Brazil and we got to see Patti Smith with our friend Mary, who has been busy kicking ass in law school. We also go to see the Guillermo del Toro show at the Minneapolis Museum of Art! It was so wicked to see the props and the art that influenced his films, which I love so much.

In May I went to Cape Cod with my family to see my dad’s side of our family, and I got to spend time by the Atlantic, bought a really lovely dress, ate a lot of amazing food in Provincetown with my aunts, and saw Exa, my amazing friend from Boston. 35305006476_a766fbd820_c

35345051815_225c5e9251_c (1)34168098654_e8d4b45142_b34972038846_1787a33ef1_o34008423964_8836b1acc0_c34719069365_edbd4f2de7_c34343257251_44df15e6b7_c34343257651_50d402432c_c33358089364_eacd9d07f2_c

Goals I set in 2017:

To photograph myself more, and not hide behind the lens as much. I did this quietly, in the morning, on my long walks before most people were out. I still get too nervous to ask people to take my picture!

To get my MA done this year on time! Somehow, with a really intense writing schedule from my thesis supervisor (Thanks Dr. Cleves!) it happened. It not only happened, but I got to write something I would call compelling, and I seriously enjoyed putting my thesis together and molding it from a pile of documents and a lot of muddled thoughts.

To roll with the punches more. I am a bit controlling and introverted at times, as I have spent much of my adult life living in places without a lot of friends or people to check in with, and as such I have become independent to the point that to this day it’s difficult for me to let others drive me around or trust that when Logan goes to the store he’ll get everything we need.

35956114803_829b34c1fe_c35619868364_b182531fdd_c36453480005_a446d7e25a_c36275413491_d40101828b_c35964872496_f265bba2df_c35166745634_3e93c67783_c35195505743_7f2a53ff08_c36015329380_63496d032d_c

For 2018 I want to: 

Learn Portuguese really, really well so that when I go to Brazil this year I can speak and understand what people are saying, or at least some of it.

Save more money so that the things I need (a visa to Brazil, plane tickets, student loan money) are taken care of and there’s a little left over.

To photograph more medium format film- I haven’t shot more than ten rolls of 120 film in my life, but I always love it, and I love scanning it in. The perfect square is also a very satisfying thing to look at, and the negatives are SO BIG and BEAUTIFUL!

To watch more film noir and crochet more. In 2015, while I worked a really awful job with the worst boss(es) you could possibly imagine, the only thing that saved my sanity was coming home, watching an old movie, and making something with my hands.

Make photographs I am proud of and get more creative with my photographs. Maybe even make a little money off of them this year!

34159675766_11814bce7f_c33368005233_7b638e5304_c32166705963_512ef1740d_b33064880495_97e19a9254_b33268742685_7248b71ae1_b33520876815_08f7c0868a_b33906724462_187cd08512_b33893782071_cdc15648aa_c33906725302_501a99a844_c33638607970_962dc888e3_c

 

My favorite food & coffee places in Victoria.

Hey y’all. I’m in mourning already for Victoria’s food and drink options, so I’ve decided to compile a list of my favorite places to grab a bite or a coffee! I want to do another for my favorite bars/nightlife places, so stay tuned! If you’re in Victoria, check these places out. I mostly lived on a really tight budget so the places noted below are mostly for those who can’t afford a fancy meal. Enjoy the pictures too! I don’t have pictures of every place but almost.

32425765774_5d1630a130_c32425767084_1273fe8ef5_c24788419483_c496184208_c32249167513_6c5ecd268e_c

PHO VY on Fort

This pho place, nestled in between a bunch of small shops on Fort Street, serves up amazing pho, bun, and other Vietnamese goods in a no-frills manner that I love. It’s a cash only place that has great windows for people watching and TVs that regularly show weird game shows and maybe an old X-Men movie or two. Fancy? No. Cheap? Yes. Delicious? Oh my god. This is my favorite place to come when I feel off, need a pick-me-up, or want to take visitors. Everybody who has visited me has been taken here, without exception. My loyalty and love for Pho Vy will never die. As a Montanan who comes from a pho-free land, being able to have cheap pho whenever I wanted was my definition of being spoiled.

33812354731_6b979fc199_c23875282079_792cdedcdc_c25119518320_f2a83a7672_c22967687511_e9ed2fce78_c

CRUST BAKERY on Fort

Literally down the street from Pho Vy, this bakery is tiny, with almost no seating, but has some of the most delectable pastries and other gluten filled goods I’ve ever had. Their sour cherry pastries are incredible, the ham tomato basil croissant a fucking work of art, and even just their regular croissants are a messy, buttery, legit ode to what butter and flour do together. I love going here after an early morning walk and grabbing something on my final trek home, or getting a croissant to eat later when I’m too lazy to eat real meals.

32906812553_2583d6e364_c

DISCOVERY COFFEE on Blanshard

There are multiple branches of Discovery Coffee, a Victoria BC staple, but I was lucky enough to live near the newest branch on Blanshard St. I went there 3-4 days of the week, usually around 7am, and sat in the same seat every day. The baristas got to know me, and they were super friendly. I love their cortado, and they have great cornbread and doughnuts brought in daily from local bakeries. The atmosphere is awesome- lots of locals stopping in every day, people reading, business meetings, etc. and the vibe was excellent. I can say I got about 65-75% of my best writing done at that little place early in the morning before most people are up and busy.

31520862803_7953e42d41_c32181436692_fe0fe4bdf2_c31954583560_bc5c45d390_c

HABIT COFFEE on Pandora

Habit Coffee has no Wifi, as they’ll sometimes tell you with a little more sass than necessary. That being said, they have good coffee and the downtown Pandora branch has great art, lighting, and atmosphere. I loved going in and perusing their awesome selection of magazines to read, and spent many a rainy gloomy morning tucked in there writing in my diary, writing postcards, or devouring books.

 

FERRIS OYSTER BAR on Yates

This place serves up amazing oysters in multiple varieties, makes a wicked sidecar and Negroni, and they know what they’re doing with seafood and pasta. I recommend making a reservation. The prices are steeper (think $20-30 per entree) but the food is always excellent. I’ve been there exactly three times and it has always been such a great place to take family or friends when we’re feeling fancy.

23616289573_33703af020_c

BEAVERTAIL STAND on Broughton

Is this a chain? Yes. Is it legitimately Canadian? Up for debate (my Calgarian friend noted that the first time she had a Beavertail it was at Epcot in Florida…) but damn, fried dough with delicious toppings and wicked gelato on the cheap will always be on my menu. The guy who runs the Beavertail stand in Victoria is also one of the nicest guys- he is always down for a joke or a small chat, and he will gladly cut a Beavertail in half for anybody who can’t handle a whole one (seriously though why would you not eat a whole one, they’re amazing!). My favorite is the Beavertail with Nutella or the Skor toppings.

SUSHI FIELD off Fairfield

Sushi Field is my little secret place in Victoria that is entirely underrated because it’s a bare bones sushi place in a strip mall near the ocean. But, dude, I can tell you that the best sushi I’ve had has consistently come from places like this- where it’s not fancy, dark, or sleek, but where the food speaks more than the setting. I love their sashimi (oh my god the salmon!) and the maki rolls are amazing. The food is all made in house, even the salad dressing, and you can tell that the quality is high as soon as you taste it. The sushi is also dirt cheap and it’s off the downtown/tourist track so it’s rarely full. Also, if you’re looking for a cheap date idea, get some sushi to go, walk through the graveyard (I find them romantic), and settle down by the nearby beach for a lovely picnic!

33140549531_73aa16f745_c32425788324_971be53cc5_c33140548811_376dff10a8_c33140547591_5da0dd1111_c

LITTLE JUMBO on Fort

This little tucked back restaurant on Fort offers super cozy dining with wicked food options. I ate there with Ella when she visited and I was so, so happy. Eating is my favorite hobby after taking naps, and Little Jumbo has amazing dishes (hello duck!) that hit the spot. At about the same price point as Ferris, this is a place you’d take a date or a family for a celebration, but super worth it.

LA TANA BAKERY at Fan Tan Alley

This tiny little bakery, tucked underground right near the entrance to Fan Tan Alley on Pandora, is run by a Milanese man, Claudio. Claudio can be found regularly speaking Italian in the kitchen while churning out delicious pastries and bread goods (one of his staff noted, “I don’t understand what he’s saying about 90% of the time”). The farinatas are amazing, the fagottini is delicious, and the bread stares at you from the walls with beautiful color and smells. After living in southern Switzerland, only an hour from where Claudio hails, I can tell you that this place is as Italian as they come- and it felt so good to find a little place that felt so familiar to where I was living in college. There’s also coffee! On top of this, I love La Tana because they compost and recycle and make sure that they have almost no carbon footprint. Woo!

33866280132_5a69983225_c (1)32425779514_7618b4b391_c32425777314_169552f994_c32425778424_95324b2d1a_c

CAFFE FANTASTICO on Humboldt (In the Parkside Hotel)

This little cafe serves local wine, beer, coffee, and little dishes. I love it for the location and the cozy corners- it was so close to my apartment, and a great place to settle in and peruse a book and sip a good latte. Located inside the posh Parkside Hotel, the bathrooms there are also A+ (yes I take this into consideration!) because they’re in the hotel lobby. They have good little breakfast bites, like egg sandwiches and bagels, and the prices are super fair. Caffe Fantastico has three branches around Victoria, each with their own vibe/specialty, and this one is the sort of cafe branch. The others are larger, with more lighting and food options, but this one had the exact sort of vibe for a rainy morning where I could escape my apartment and take a stroll and smell the outside world without having to trek.

The final foray- for now.

34719068615_9a61da4e2d_c34679064586_e197c4cc83_c34719069365_edbd4f2de7_c34719070005_786014b417_c34334780660_2ecd03f6ce_c34334781170_e3619d3e5b_c34334783920_b4f88421f7_c34334838420_46a60e87ff_c (1)34334838180_c5f987b757_c

I sit in a comfy plastic chair on a busy street in my new home. Our home is strewn with half-unpacked boxes and we ponder how to decorate the empty walls. Irises bloom in the front yard, making me think of Van Gogh and summer.

Meanwhile, as I look at these 35mm pictures, all the silence and noise of the woods comes rushing back. These wet, saturated, deep woods that fill Vancouver Island have seeped their way into my bones and soul the way that the water permeates everything there: slowly and deeply. The forest floor gives as I walk upon it, layers of decaying wood, leaves, animal scat, and other refuse creating a natural carpet. Squirrels chatter and birds sing, and deer quietly and shyly snack on edible foliage. I hear ducks quietly land on the water and smell the rich earth and look at the way the light changes seemingly every second, casting ever changing shadows into the recesses of the forest. It feels right.

Lingering/longing

34159675766_11814bce7f_c

33358089834_767446498f_c33358089364_eacd9d07f2_c34159674536_c6d28a5757_c33358088824_c3b6cab9c1_c

One week until our ferry departs to head back to my fucked up motherland (hey America! You’re still being run by that sexist, bigoted, disgusting Cheeto in a wig right?).

I should be finishing up my visa application, my thesis, and multiple other things. Instead I had to spend one last weekend morning on the beach. I had to listen to the seagulls and notice how the flower blooms are starting to fade in some places. My fingers felt the textures of the massive driftwood logs and picked up small pieces of sea glass. I feel a lot of things and like I might cry. The future is such a tumultuous, unsure thing and the now, the now is precious and fleeting and like grabbing smoke, but that doesn’t mean I cannot wax poetica about the now.

Good things exist in the future. In eight days I’ll see the smiling face of my partner in crime. In eight days I’ll see my dogs and the lake we live by. I’ll be back in a land where I don’t need a visa and where my old, beloved crappy car, Frank, waits to have me drive him around. My favorite brewery awaits me with a cold glass of my favorite single malt IPA and I get to go to Target (Canada doesn’t have Target and holy kapow I miss Target).

But for now, I’ll soak up the now.

In the gardens unabashed

33368001423_436e989c0e_c33368036173_28eaf699be_c33368038013_988802deab_c33336699554_b28c73b3d8_c34021613012_70cc974930_c33368005233_7b638e5304_c34138611906_1f579687f2_c33367996403_f91fcf2fdc_c34021579712_637f91a6b1_c34179034215_647d06dbee_c34138619936_3698953a19_c34179027455_dbdfd58cd4_c34021618282_3be57bd71e_c34021597552_969f9666f9_c

Had to put in a quiet Eve mention somewhere. Being in gardens, so lush and fertile and beautiful, surrounded by dozens of species of flowers, trees, bushes, and other flora, I often think that no wonder Eve bit from the apple of knowledge and fucked everything up. Ignorance may be bliss for some, but not for me. I want to know about everything. What tells flowers it’s time to bloom? Why are some petals soft, others rubbery, and others thick and dense? Why do humans enjoy causing some sort of terror to every living thing, whether it be tramping on gentle flora or ruthlessly carving our names on the bamboo in the gardens?

Regardless, yesterday Liang, Deb, and I all spent some much needed time outside in the gardens at school. We smelled all the blooms and quietly meandered and took pictures of each other. It was a lovely afternoon of quiet in the midst of what feels like multiple storms.

The final foray

33906729592_1c9a69bffe_c33906730852_6316e9e33a_c33906726672_c05dd9fe89_c33906728082_c07970d984_c33906725302_501a99a844_c33906724572_2748bb5cea_c34063268825_d8644a3bf5_c33220961524_46ffcd6e9b_c33906721072_359ece45a6_c33220961034_25cdc06eb9_c33220960574_93dfd2251b_c33906724092_0675b584ac_c

The final cabin trip at Lake Cowichan.

I held a Pacific Chorus Frog, saw a deer that shared a meadow and some sun-soaked forest with me, stood on the dock with some good souls and soaked in my final views of the fog-shrouded mountains. Large logs floated on the surface and the rain pattered on the lake surface, an almost mesmerizing thing to witness. A fire was built and we huddled around it. I went to bed earlier than most, sharing a wood and canvas tent with Isobel. We heard the loud sound of rain hitting the tin roof, and with flaps made from tarp the night air seeped in making us both glad we were cozy in our sleeping bags.

Having recently gotten back really positive if not downright amazing feedback from my thesis supervisor I felt giddy at the thought of almost being done with this degree. The cabin trip sealed this feeling of accomplishment- I deserved to be here, I deserved to feel my feet on the damp, fern-covered ground in the deep woods here. I deserved to take the time to notice how the light could change so quickly in such a light-starved place. Woodpeckers tenaciously poked away at tree trunks and I stood and watched them for several minutes at a time, their red feathered heads flashing.

Every forest has hiding places, evidence of life, and details worth looking at. Tree hollows, fallen leaves, the sound of fussy squirrels dashing among branches, and the chirrup of birds high above your head happen in most forests. As you walk you might notice a neat pile of deer sign, or an owl pellet, or perhaps even find the pale bones of something that has since been picked clean. Human beings, with our neat division of life and death, where the dead are buried or burned or quickly taken away, do not leave evidence of said death everywhere. In the woods, death and decay exist alongside birth and growth.

That being said, it is really nice to type those words from my warm, sunny apartment. I feel so lucky to be able to spend time outside when I can, but I’m so close to being done with this thesis! Time to go write some more (maybe).

 

Amarillo everywhere

33845674546_60fd8c230f_c (1)33845673576_39dc3dd24b_c

33845675176_2758535fef_c

33845669966_c32fef24ed_c33845670846_bca5b5eaf9_c33845671516_63ffcb147e_c33073230163_61810dd7fc_c

Millions of little blooms hang down the edges of the sea cliffs all over this city right now and the colors are so blatantly optimistic and invigorating that after long, soul-tired walks I cannot help but feel a little better about things. It is interesting though that all of these blooms are rife with thorns. Nothing comes for free or without consequences.

Quietly readying to say adieu

32739211594_264c57da06_c33452994231_0ddefa9072_c33541600756_d407184564_c32739199504_c327ebf72a_c33582051355_68d8020252_c32739204264_b2bf8db3ce_c32739202114_46104b0052_c

I am steeling myself for the inevitable goodbye and allowing myself to be consumed by the nostalgia that comes with it all.

In 23 days I will be on a ferry heading away from Vancouver Island, and I will have all my worldly possessions with me, plus more memories than a hundred terabyte hard drives could hold.

The future right now is tenuous at best. It is terrifying at worst. Plans are tentative out of sheer necessity. I will hopefully be returning here in August to defend my thesis and graduate with my Master’s degree and then off into the real world to find a real job and make real money to pay off those very real student loans. What happens after that isn’t really clear, nor where all of this will happen. It’s all part of the adventure though, isn’t it?

In the meantime, I will relish my time here with photographs, fresh baked goods from my favorite places, and breathe in this ocean air while I can, and I will try and share it with you all.