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Figured I'd post pre-Wednesday meltdown just to change it up a bit.

There's an industry group I'm part of that has monthly meetings. It's been a really fantastic way for me to, well, network; not only do I meet people I think are neat or who can teach me a lot about the profession in a ton of different ways, but sometimes I also just have time to chat with people I've formally met but wouldn't enter casual conversation with otherwise.

So, tonight I did some networking about ethical tropical forestry. Now, last week I also followed up on this, trying to figure out where and how I could work somewhere warm, doing interesting work, without terrorizing indigenous ecosystems or populations. From that I deduce that I might want to do this sometime, just to try, maybe mainly because I want to live somewhere I can grow fruit year round and yes it's winter here, how can you tell?

Chatted for awhile with head of alumni relations, which was an interesting conversation as well.

Also got to gesticulate a lot about urban forestry, then see another one of my people doing a presentation on it, in a lot of ways overlapping what I'd have said. On the other hand, same dude said some pretty terrible stuff about homeless people and I didn't know what to do as an audience member. Perhaps I should ask my ethics prof and see how she responds to a real-world situation. She's been keeping class away from those for the most part.

I've been eating a ton of veggies from the local Persia Market, because it's cheap and a joy to shop in and they're fresh. I say this as a lead-in to mentioning that they have seville oranges and they would make a lovely marmalade mead, and my goodness I'm making a lot of booze this year. It is definitely a stress relief valve. I really have need for the future these days, just as something to hold onto.

I miss my rabbits, I just haven't been home to interact much. Still loving this set of housemates; it wouldn't be long-term sustainable but is truly lovely for this timeframe. They remain a good channel to my mental health: when I came home this evening I found myself saying "you look so cute, is that so I'll keep loving you? I'd love you anyhow, you know".

Anyhow, don't have much time, but thought I'd touch in before Wednesdaypocalypse, which is pretty reliably awful and doesn't give a representative sample.

And yes, I ran yesterday.

Edited to add: apparently I posted yesterday and forgot. Memory is terrible lately. Oh well, overlap.
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I started running last week; it became apparent that yoga was going to take some working to make happen (I may have to drive to school for one of my classes on yoga days, to make yoga without completely sacrificing the whole evening, just with the placement of schedules and the general awfulness of buses) and my shoulders were sore and I'd just been generally neglecting my body. Starting to drink soylent in the mornings for breakfast got me past worrying about not having enough calories in the day (eating can be a challenge for me, let alone eating within my time and money budget) and so the next good body step was exercise.

So it has been a week. I'm starting the same couch-to-half-marathon schedule that injured me a couple years ago, but spacing it out a little but more to avoid that same outcome. It was pretty magical, last time, the way following a relatively scientific schedule got my body doing so much so fast, and I'd like to experience that again. I'd also very much like to be in good shape when I start work in May.

I still need to find a way to get yoga in, but in the meantime I'm not doing nothing.

And of course, my sleep is better now, my energy level is up, the swings in mood I was starting to experience have settled a little bit, at least so far. And... I'm feeling things better, as in, my emotional apparatus is working in a more nuanced way, and is more integrated with my thinking bits. Also, food tastes better, etc, all that normal exercise stuff. So I guess school wasn't as far from hitting my depression triggers this year as I thought, I was just maintaining a high mood while losing a bit of functionality.

Good save, self. Keep running now.

Incidentally, my mom completely self-medicates her depression with running. My mom's life is always both an inspiration and a warning to me, in this as in so many other things.

This whole thing is helping a great deal with sorting through my complicated poly/partner/identity/desire situation. My identity seems to be stabilizing somewhere between relationship anarchist and solo poly. I'm finding a middle ground between trusting my misgivings and just plain trusting. It helps to remind myself that I can place my trust in the future, in my ability to navigate the future, rather than in particular outcomes. It still leaves me in a shaky place sometimes, wanting things from people who in turn care about me and therefore don't want to hurt me (but maybe can't give me what I want) but wrestling with the issue is no longer taking up all my spare thoughts.

Without interpersonal demanding all my attention, I'm free to get back in touch with myself, and also with my career. The issue of stewardship is arising. Stewardship is forestry code for thinking in the long term, thinking in the bigger picture, thinking outside the axe and pile of logs that comes to mind with the word forestry (okay, fellerbuncher and processor, but those didn't start attaching to the idea of forestry till I started doing it). Stewardship over the forest is something that arose this summer: I was working with a 'stewardship-focused' person when I found a happy place this summer. Principles of stewardship also apply to friends and community. There's an underlying responsibility, I think, that if I can gently steer the future towards a place I consider to be better, I should do so. With forestry that might mean not cutting certain areas, replanting with a wider species mix than necessary, working in partnership with people who have other interests than I do. With community and relationship that has meant, lately, making safe space for emotions and human tenderness and just generally those things that make us feel a little vulnerable and also connected.

Well. Time's up, so have a lovely day. There will most assuredly be more later. And: this is also more, from later. For instance, my life will once again be mine soon:
greenstorm: (Default)
Hi there. It's been a bit longer than expected, hasn't it?

I've been up here a month now (I guess technically the fourth is tomorrow, but I've been here four and a half weeks. I've accumulated a ton of extra hours (over and above my expected ten hour days) and the person I was supposed to accompany into the bush today called in sick, so I was given a half-day. I came home and slept; I haven't slept well the last few nights and I really needed the rest. Now I'm prepping pizza dough for the next couple days, grilling a steak for dinner (to go with my korean potatoes and sprouts that I made last night and a nice greens'n'weeds salad), and listening to music in this space for the first time since my housemate is away for the evening. Please escort me/To the end/ Of this tome/Please destroy me/And discard me...

I'm feeling bittersweet lonely, and I'm thinking about people I haven't talked to in awhile. Specifically I'm thinking about Michael -- this music always makes me think of him, as does any mention of Williams Lake -- and I'm feeling that sensation of the past being so out of reach, feeling so garbled and distant, like a movie watched when half-asleep in a foreign language. All those steps in my life to which I was so intimately tied led me here but in doing so they have altered me so those times are beyond my reach now.

I guess that's a long way of repackaging the cliche that you can never go back. You're always arriving as a different person, to a place that's changed.

Sometimes those places still love you like home. Sometimes they don't.

Maybe this music always makes me feel like this.

I'm getting better moving through the bush. I'm feeling less useless at work. With this comes the crop of issues learning to get along in the company, to work with different personalities and positions. It's a little chaotic, there's not enough scheduling to make everything run really efficiently there. The people who work there have pretty diverse personalities. I think I made the right choice, both for career and for place to be this summer, but it's not entirely easy.

I'm homesick this week, last weekend I felt too far away from you to even write.

There are things I'm really enjoying. I changed supper plans and harvested the first cucumber from the greenhouse to make my salad. I have time to cook and I haven't eaten at a restaurant (except for a milkshake with Dave) since I got here. I saw the most beautiful landscape the other day at work, walked through it actually, all blueberries and Ribes and "balsam" and Lycopodium. I keep anticipating swimming in the lake, though I haven't gone yet since it's always cooled down by the time I get home. I love the curve of the mountains. Things keep blooming like crazy. People are so friendly. My housemate is wonderful.

I miss human touch. I miss sex. I miss my stuff. I miss yoga. I miss pho and sushi. I miss the ocean, and cedar trees, and trees of reasonable size. I miss green fields.

I miss my people.

I especially miss Dave.

I miss having a home.

But here I am, and it's not so bad. I'll just be settled in before I'm gone again.

Lots of love.
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So, my plan did not involve canning or brewing up here. I brought my bow, I was going to practice, and I was going to work a lot.

Well, I'm working a lot.

There is such abundance of foraging foods here, though; I guess that's what you get when you're not really in a city. There are so many dandelions and spruce buds everywhere that I've got supplies to do a small batch of dandelion jelly, one of pickled dandelion buds, and one of spruce tip syrup or jelly (likely the former). The Amelanchier alnifolia is in full bloom, promising a great crop in the summer. I suspect I'll do something about that too. I'll need to haul everything back down to Vancouver when I'm done here, but it's good for my soul to make these things.

I'm also cooking meals a lot. I have a lovely source of local beef, there are lots of greens growing around, I'm stocked up on flour and butter and bacon and potatoes. I've been making myself the kind of traditional meals that have different parts: a meat component, a starch component, a veggie component. I've never really eaten that way before, since so much of what I make has been single-pot foods like stews or soups or casseroles. I think the grill helps with this, since I can grill my meat and bannock or potatoes, and then just make veggies to go on the side.

This was my first full week of bush work at work. That is, every day (it was a short week because of the long weekend, so just four days in a row) I put on heavy spiked caulk boots, headscarf, vest full of equipment, and hard hat and walked multiple kilometers in straight lines through a mix of underbrush, standing, and fallen trees. I am covered in sweat after the first ten minutes, which continues until I get back to the truck. The moose tracks never really went in the direction I was going. The work when we got to the plots was not particularly hard, though it too involved some climbing, but getting there is one of the more trenuous things I've done. There are tangles of trees that go on for great distances, so I need to walk on logs (thus the spiked boots) which is nice, or climb over them crosswise through spiky dead branches which is not so nice. There are swamps or thick underbrush areas that require high-kneed steps and have considerably more drag than walking through water. There are puddles of ephemeral orchids and green things unfurling and soon there will be flowers. Everything smells like pine and fir and spruce. There are so many bugs: flies that bomb past but can't get at me because I'm entirely covered except for my face, mosquitoes that make it hard to concentrate and stay away from my sprayed clothing so I just have to worry about them on my wrists and face, and these awful terrible bugs that fly straight into the eyes and stay there until they're pulled out. I imagine, awfully, that they are laying eggs. Believe me, it's a lot harder to walk on a log three to six feet up with no handholds when there are things shooting into your eyes. I don't walk on logs higher than that, or the really narrow ones, though I suspect that will come with time.

I am covered in bruises from the waist down, where I hit short sharp branch stubs while climbing over trees. I am full of thorn scratches. I have bug bites on my hands and to a lesser extent on my feet from when I take my boots off for the way home. I am tired a lot as I build strength. Last night, Friday night, I came home and showered and the feeling of being clean was astonishing. I am, however, very happy. I'm reminded that in order for my life to feel meaningful and fulfilling I don't need to necessarily do any particular moral thing, I just need to be outside for three to seven hours doing heavy work four days a week. I really miss people. I really miss physical contact. There are plenty of things I'd like to be doing but all I have time for is cooking, eating, sleeping, and working. But, I am happy.

I also have a feeling I haven't had much before: I feel completely unsexualized, but at the same time very pretty. I'm not sure how to describe this. No one is looking at me. I am covered head to tow in shapeless garments with equipment strapped over. Even my hair and throat are covered. My form, including the tan on my face, is a direct expression of the function I am fulfilling and is completely secondary to it. I do not view myself through the lens of desirability, do not think of it. When I look in the mirror I see myself happy, I am nearly always smiling (I pretty much only look in a mirror in the truck as I'm leaving the field and right after work to see how much dirt I need to scrape off each day), and I feel like a part of the outdoors I've been working in. That is beautiful. I really do feel like I'm outside the trap of sexiness.

I am not entirely outside the trap of surface though. I am meeting strangers all the time. I am careful what I say to them, especially in regards to poly etc. There are office politics. I do not feel completely comfy with anyone, and I am not sure I should. I am not always sure how to act. So though I am more comfortable with myself, I am also more watchful. This doesn't mean I don't enjoy the company of people up here, it just means I am always thinking, a little bit, about how I should be behaving.

It's hard and frustrating to be learning a whole new set of skills. I've been landscaping for a long time; I haven't had to learn a whole job from the ground up for a long time. I am literally learning from walking on up with this one. It's been thee weeks (admittedly only one and a bit in the field) and I feel like I should be competent. I am not. I want to feel productive and useful. Sometimes I'm not the one responsible for a lack of productivity -- a new GPS and software system mandated by the ministry for what I do is responsible for at least a week and a half of downtime as it gets implemented, other people forget to charge their equipment, etc -- but I like the feeling of making good progress and I'm not doing that right now.

It is beautiful here. I miss Dave. I get to eat outside. The earth is generous. So many feelings. Now, though, I will go make chimichurri sauce and pick dandelion flowers and stop thinking about it and just enjoy.


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