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There's a ghost in the machine. I'd forgotten.

I've been busy for the last couple years. School-- there's always something to do or to think about, something that should be done. I still have a couple things that should be done, in fact, on that front.

This was the first week of work and it's a learning curve. I'd managed to forget how much I liked learning; the knowledge of it was obliterated by the awfulness of huge classes; terribly planned timelines; arbitrary structure; and useless, required, and strictly measured outcomes. I couldn't remember how I'd come to start this whole path, couldn't recall the girl who liked learning so much she worked through a two-year diploma program just to gather the knowledge it offered.

Well, this week and for the easily forseeable future I'll be learning a lot. It's a whole mix of things from physically driving gravel roads and seeing precisely through a forestry prism to the liminal skills of pacing and awareness through to complexities like achieving the correct sampling error for lowest man-hours when double-sampling across multiple blocks where some are pretty far from the road and others are more heterogenous. I was a little nervous about it, but I think I can learn it, and I'm enjoying learning it. My current boss is an exceptional teacher, I know pretty well how I learn, and it's so nice to be figuring out a thing in the world rather than accepting an expert's word on something without any ability to fiddle with it myself.

That's not what this post is about.

I put an offer on a house today. I was originally going to put an offer on a different house, but the expenses of weird incidentals on that house was very high (heat, but also housing insurance and internet and property taxes and basically all the little things that *could* add up) and I got nervous about my budget so instead I went for one that is significantly more modest, on a nice 7 acre chunk. I will grow out of this house if I don't add on or put in lots of outbuildings, but for now that's okay. I have some debt to pay off and I'll be able to do that expediently this way, and if something goes sideways with my career and american politics (see also: softwood lumber) then I'm not as worried as I could be. I put in the one offer previously, for a lot that had a pretty run-down house but also a gorgeous gorgeous garden. This house is better, the garden will take more work. We'll see.

I feel much better about spending a little less right now.

That's not what this post is about.

Last weekend I was arriving here, this week I worked a lot, and this morning I ran around looking at homes and finalising my offer on the house. This morning I also went to look at a farm and talked for hours to the two women who ran it for twenty years: they retired into it and now are too old to keep it up. We spoke about orchards and brewing and bees and deep-mulch gardening and cows and fungus dyes and a ton of stuff and I loved their company and they offered me tea and seemed to enjoy mine. On the way to the realtor's place, driving, I waved to people in cars as they passed.

And now I'm done for a bit. I can feel myself slowing down. I can feel myself looking at things: the strawberry bed, the river. I feel like I'm becoming a person again, a being with *awareness* rather than merely an automaton doing all the things I'm supposed to do. Both partners keep talking about how happy I seem up here, even just this week. I suspect I haven't even begun to dip into the community here and how happy it makes me, and beyond that there's my life waiting, and how happy *that* makes me. And I may, soon, even be a person who's being happy, instead of a fleeting sensation on my way to doing the next thing.

I took time to email my mom.

I am lazily contemplating dinner.

I could wash my bedsheets or tidy up.

I could search the internet for more potential dogs or goats.

Or I could write, here, because I have the luxury of knowing what's going on in my life well enough to write about it. So here I am.

It's very good.

That's what this post is about.

Head Down

May. 11th, 2017 08:18 pm
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In Fort. First week of work. Busy getting up to speed, there's a bunch of learning curve around many things, both mind and body. Househunting, but don't have anything to come home to right now, so my days are mostly focused on work. Hobbies will come when I have a space for them and have settled in. It's nice, in a way, to be able to focus so much. It would be nicer to have someone waiting at home to distract me.

Josh is keeping himself very busy on the coast fixing up a new boat; there's a six or seven week span where I'm seeing him only for a single day. Tucker is coming up one week a month, but this is not that week. No new dogs till I have a home for them. I am getting my rabbits in two weekends, which will be excellent. My current landlady is really great to talk to and live with, but not the same as someone waiting to snuggle me.

More about work and houses when I know.

How do you decide if a house is the right house?


Apr. 16th, 2017 05:18 pm
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Spring used to be hard on me. There was a buzzing in me that wouldn't let me settle. I vibrated all the time unless I was in the garden.

These last years, with school, I've been disconnected from the seasonal cycles and spring has meant getting ready to leave. It'a been, perhaps, a fitting use of the energy and not as bad as it has been previously.

This year, well. School has been difficult. I'm usually okay with time management. I'd thought I wasn't great, but this year was nearly all group projects, nearly all the time, and I'm not sure I met anyone who worked on anything more than two days earlier than it was due, so I'm upgrading myself in my own eyes. I like having things due a couple days before deadline in case anything happens, and so I don't worry about it. But, with all the group projects, and in particular the capstone 10-credit course in which I worked with four other people who mostly didn't do stuff until well after deadlines, my time management this term was fucked up. I tried to front-load my parts of the work, but some things required group decisions that people wanted to wait on, some part relied on other peoples' parts being done, and I didn't feel up to just sitting out the last minute crunch altogether. So.

So basically I lost actual weekends off, maybe all in the last two months or so, because I was always worried about something or doing something last minute. There was always a deadline that was past but stuff wasn't done and my part was contingent on others' parts or somesuch. In a couple cases there was a deadline past and someone saying something was done but it just wasn't online yet, which was not in fact true. It was tremendously stressful, hard to plan (because then suddenly everyone would decide things should be done and work overnight to do them, without lead time to do them in orderly fashion) and intensely unmotivating (because if no one else is doing work, why should I? End product is gonna suck if it's not well-edited anyhow).

All school year I was in places I felt uncomfortable using the kitchen. Halfway through I ended up at A&T's, which was at least let me feel less guarded about clothing and whatnot, but the majority of my hobbies were curtailed. My sense of self lost ground, motivation to do even things I enjoyed lost ground, and I became pretty disinterested in anything at all. It was yet another semester I wasn't sure I'd survive, but because of the difficulty of getting in to counselling at UBC I didn't go see anyone.

And now it's over. It ended four days ago. I spent a day with Tucker doing errands (getting bike in to shop, cleaning house a little, packing up rabbits) and came up to Josh's for Easter weekend. I brought the stuff for marmalade I'd been meaning to make for a couple weeks at least.

The first day was very low-key. I've been researching animal options for a future property, even possible dairy animal options. I've poked a lot at nigerian goats, Guernsey goats (serves me right to fixate on a breed that is basically impossible to find), and highland cattle. The rabbits went to the vet to board for... well, until there's somewhere for them to go. The next day we got stuff for a rabbit hutch, rabbit-tractor-style, for them to live in outdoors over the summer wherever I end up. I cooked some stuff and made marmalade and wandered around the garden. By evening I was turning the main garden, which I hadn't planned to do.

Now the main garden is 2/3 turned and planted (doesn't sound like much but that's a lot of crab grass!), the sunny small fruits patch is mulched with straw, and I'm... not happy, but part of the world again. I'm sad that I may only see this garden once more during the summer, when I come through to go up to Fort. I miss the rabbits. My relationships are in a somewhat rough state. I don't remember much about the last eight months. But. I suspect I'm going to be okay, and that I'll be happy again.

And soon, I think, I'll be able to feel relief and happiness that school is over, and that I've made it out the other side.
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I guess there's a theme to this week. It's a theme I'm already aware of, but that's particularly highlighted by recent goings-on.

For instance, I'd been having some fairly rough motivation/mental health times this last few months. Got back into yoga, have set myself a 30 days/30 yoga classes goal, may add some running back into that, and my body is doing much better, as is my motivation to do, well, anything except the terrible arbitrary class at school. This is the one with no marking rubric, no feedback on what is supposed to be in the final product, and no grounding in the real world. I remember, now, that when my mental health gets back into normal levels, it rejects things that are bad for me: just pushes them out of my life so I can get back to doing proper life things. And school is bad for me, at least this course is. Means I need to put a lid on wellness enough to be externally motivated by school (ugh) but keep myself well enough to make it through (just a few more months).

The internal/external sufficiency is coming up in relationship stuff too. With Josh we're pretty hands-off about each other's stuff: help if we're able, but the default isn't leaning on each other. The newer relationship is a little different than that, and it's been running in a weird pattern the last several weeks: we've had big chunks of time, then big chunks of apart. I'm having a lot of trouble switching between being comforted/buoyed by someone else being here, and being happy/comforted by my home and my self after stressful days. Everything seems to run fine if I alternate days, but not if I alternate longer multi-day stretches. Part of the issue is that I set a default as to who to talk to about interesting/important things (myself via LJ, home partner, friends network, whatever) and have trouble switching that back and forth quickly.

And, of course, my future is a very large dependency/independence question: dependent on the job, independent in a house of my own, etc. It's pretty scary to be talking to mortgage brokers and thinking about making big decisions like this on my own. I want people to talk to about it, but so many of the people I know have a very different experience than I do. How do you weigh intangibles against each other?

But, time for yoga shortly. There's lots to say but maybe not enough of a pattern to write it out yet.
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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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Running today. Sunny out. Lots of homework but feeling above water; really I end up feeling above water whenever I do things un-school-related and manage to hit school goals at the same time. Today's un-school-related? I went grocery shopping. There will be ribs for dinner tonight (I'm enjoying my instant pot very much, thank you) and I'm contemplating going back to buy seville oranges for mead. The urge to brew, well, it's good to feel it again. It means hope for the future.

Yesterday I made soap. Actually, I taught a mini-soap workshop. I have some friends who have scent sensitivities, which I'm getting very sympathetic to as my own scent sensitivities get worse. We got together in a space that was safe for all of us to breathe (!!) and played with fat and lye. One of us was allergic to coconut, so my normal recipe (tallow, olive oil, coconut oil) was out of the running, and I don't like palm oil (which normally replaces coconut oil to make soap bubbly and extra-cleaning) so we all brought the oils we had and played around with an online soap calculator for awhile. We ended up making one soap with butter, which was fun and experimental, and one with just tallow and olive oil. It was so nice to bring a framework of knowledge and then just play with that knowledge for awhile, basically like getting instant colleagues or co-hobbyists or whatever, rather than doing a hierarchical knowledge transfer. It was, however, exhausting.

Day before that was some play that ended in a reminder that, as a top, I definitely need aftercare and reassurance. Fun though.

That said, it was a rough-feeling weekend; my reserves are depleted and so everything threatened to feel really awful when it didn't go just right.

I have some time to myself this weekend and I'm thinking of filtering and bottling some of my two-year-old apple boozes and starting a mead or two; maybe a seville orange and either the red currant or blackcurrant from my freezer. The apple boozes are long since unlabelled but I should be able to figure out which are which by taste (I'd better be able to!).

There's also a slow avalanche of homework deliverables now, but I find boozemaking and homework complement each other nicely; I do well at both as punctuated focused efforts which weave one to the other as I get tired of each.

I really miss gardening.

More another time; be well.
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So: Wednesdays are reliably not okay for me. Wednesday nights I can barely bring myself to stare at a wall. Thursdays, therefore, are difficult.

I need to figure out some strategies for getting myself through the next four weeks (at least) of Wed/Thursdays.

One thing that's always been difficult for me, and that's been slipping lately, is anticipation for activities I like. I tend to feel like I should husband my strength for other activities (mostly relationships because "people need me"), so I don't plan things I like (brewing, garden stuff, good emails, chatting with friends) for specific time slots, I just do them when time comes up. That leads to less anticipation, and thus, I can't pull myself through rough patches by looking forward to these things as much.

I think perhaps I should start planning Thursdays to be good-for-me days.

Also need bigger chunks of things to look forward to in February.
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Well, term's started; this is midway through week two.

Last term was okay. This term is not okay. Our schedules for the major capstone course weren't released until the first day of classes, and then of course they conflicted with absolutely everything I've been running around shifting my class schedule around a whole bunch where I can, but I'm still double-booked in a couple places (university says: just attend alternate classes from each). Meanwhile I'm trying to juggle a long unpredictable commute to school and poly scheduling and homework, which is starting off at a pretty intense level.

I'm scheduling fatigued. I'm burnt out already. I need both time to myself and time to plough through the considerable set of tasks ahead of me, and at least see progress. The idea of seeing or interacting with humans makes me feel like dropping water on a heated skillet, or trying to force the opposite poles of two magnets together. I kind of hate everyone.

And I've committed to a lot of social events and cooking this weekend, which seemed great at the time, but now--


Some of this is both time and emotional fallout from heading up to Fort on Sunday to view a mobile home I could have been able to afford /right now/, and deciding against buying it because it would require too much work. Some of this is emotional fallout from not getting enough sleep or exercise (I got back to yoga on Monday and it felt so good). Some of it is just living out of boxes and not having the wherewithal to unpack, then repack in a couple months, then unpack, then repack, etc. My printer power cable is in one of those boxes, and I need it for school, and when I find that it'll be something else.

I'm trying to decide if cutting back on people will help, or just make me feel worse.

I don't want to be doing all this self-care meta-work. I just want to get things done.

Anyhow, gonna start trying to record mood points on here and see what patterns come up.

No yoga yesterday, date with Tucker tonight: do those bear on it?


Jan. 1st, 2017 08:40 pm
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Just realized, perhaps it should have been obvious, that I am very very cautious about being happy around folks who are not either deeply trusted or strangers. Happiness is when I'm vulnerable, when anyone can step in with a cutting remark and actually cut me, and when there is actually something valuable to be taken away.

I avoid being happy around a lot of folks for this reason.
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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:


Oct. 12th, 2016 06:40 pm
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Well now, here I am again, and so soon.

I guess I have some things to say.

I guess I have some work to do.

I'm at one of those places in my life where everything is pointing me to working through something, making some mindful decisions, but where I'm scared because I don't think I can get what I want and I'd hate to choose a thing mindfully and then be left bereft.

Going to school was a risk like that, where I knew I could take my life up in my hands and shape it to get the things I wanted: a home, a permanent garden, some assurance for the future that wasn't dependent on friends liking me and thusly being supportive. I went back to school. I started going away for the summers. I did these things to further my own life. As happens when I work strongly on my life, other things changed. A relationship ended because there was no future for it with this new plan of mine. I met someone else. I met another someone else. And I have met another someone else.


What can I do with this, and what do I want to do with this?

The most recent someone is a conversationalist. We talk, we overanalyse, we pick things apart. In short, we do a lot of that internal work that I can only do if I'm writing or talking. I haven't been writing lately, but I have been talking. I've been poking around in there.

He posted something the other day about his wife, a fragment of poetry by Elsse Matthessen

"Only another fifty years,"
I say, "and then I promise
to let you go."

It has undone me. It's a couple words that have brought me to the heart of a thing that's been ravelling for awhile.

I have people who have been around for a long time, but the people who have been around forever have moved on, and the people that I meet recently come near and then drift away again, or sometimes are forcibly ejected. Either way, I have not found continuity in relationships. I have not found a relationship that could be made to fit actual-me forward into the future, one where I would not need to make myself smaller or resentful to maintain closeness. I have loved a lot of people; I still do. I enjoy time with people. I like knowing them deeply. But.


I've always wanted someone who knows my context; someone with whom I share my day-to-day until the patterns come clear to both of us; someone I learn to read and who reads me, and who can communicate volumes with a glance across a crowded room with that knowledge. I want... daily routine, not every day but often enough, and mutual caretaking, and the kind of trust that's built on years. I want that, and I thought I had it with Kynnin when I was fourteen, and many of my relationships since I've been hopeful about it.

I am well loved right now. I am so well loved. It feels impossible to turn down a gift like that, and yet I think it's what's giving me the space here to think about what I want.

Maybe thinking about what I want isn't good. I can think it to pieces, after all, and I *want* everything: Josh and our greenhouses and making a pizza oven and a still together and that lovely house (but not Josh who doesn't want other people in his space and cares for me very much but just cannot say yes unless he's sure of logistics when I want someone who is willing to bend logistics for me the way I do for other people?), James who loves me so much and a supportive, nourishing home full of the feeling of family and kindness (but not James who is dependent on me as his whole support network in a northern town and who prefers to background in the world rather than reaching his power out into it when I want someone who proactively creates their life and with whom I perhaps do not share so many activities as all that?), Tucker and who knows what yet with words and poetry and his way of catching the nuances of my meaning and his interest in opening up my insides (but not Tucker who is otherwise committed to his wife and life in Vancouver and who, well, honestly is so new to me I don't even know what else yet but that is a pretty big start). I want someone who takes joy in my poly-ness and who can communicate their needs in a household. I want someone I can hook into for a long time and who puts just as much shoulder against the universe, who pushes hard enough to change it, just like I do: but I want them to do it for me.

And I am not willing to give so much of myself up now as I was, so maybe the cracks will show sooner now, or at least I can't put as much hope in any on thing as I did. I am not willing to take a terrible job I dislike. I am not willing to give up my other loves. I am not willing to sacrifice a home that is open, hospitable, and welcoming. I am not willing to sacrifice my land where I plant trees from which I will, in my lifetime, harvest the fruit. These things are me, and to be permanently partnered would require these things to be loved *as* me, to be accepted as extensions of my actual-self.

I don't know. I mean, I do know. I'm that person for myself, I am my own person. Other people come and go but I am my own heart. I suppose that's sad and huge all at once. I know I haven't met anyone else who would have been as fully up to the task as I have been.

There's more work to be done on this, but this is as far as I can go for now.

it had something to do
with death . . . it had something
to do with love.
-Li-Young Lee


Oct. 8th, 2016 03:14 pm
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For the longest time there were two categories of people in the world: those I trusted and those I did not. You'll be shocked to know I took this to extremes both ways, and didn't know how to navigate the middle ground. It's been a long, slow process but I'm learning to put people in the middle now. I can place a little more trust in people I don't know personally; I can play around the edges of mildly risky interactions rather than keeping myself rolled up tight and safe. I can be close and open (oh, English, really?) with people and trust them so far, but maintain watchfulness and self-preservation. I feel like the whole process doesn't damage me anymore.

Now, in the kind of real, exciting news that drives the world forward: I am doing another cider buy, 5 carboys this fall near the end of the month, and I'm gaining confidence in my ability to write again after the accident. Cider is cider, the play will go over on my canning blog; writing is... like being whole again. Nearly being able to hold things in my head again. Interplay and structure of thought. Thank goodness. I hadn't realised the extent to which I was personally diminished by the absence until it came back enough to feel again. I imagine it'll come and go, but it's very good when it's here.

It's raining. Josh is here before he starts a new job which will offer a cycle of serious absence and then serious presence. I've been driving a lot and loving how it saves time and makes me not-sick on the bus (straight up time savings is one thing, but I'm really starting to notice the time saved by not having to lie down when I feel awful after the bus too). Finances are a little rough but I'm feeling confident about my ability to navigate them, at least subject to my talking to my bank.

Fall festival is coming up next weekend; I need some ritual in my life and I am so looking forward to it.

I've realised that after I graduate I'll still be in training (doing "school") for another two years anyhow, which somewhat reduces my drive to plough through as fast as possible. If I'm one course behind and need to do something by distance, well, I'll be doing that for awhile anyhow.

Nothing is perfect, but things are deeply okay and some are really very wonderful.
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Well. More love in my life, my ribcage stretching open like wings. Friends, sweethearts: I'm in the middle of a season of connection. I'm renewing old ties, and the age of those ties has meaning. I'm forming new ones.

I'm not spending an excess of time on school, and basically none that isn't in plain sight. That may hurt me long-term. Having written these words, between that last sentence and this, I was inspired to send off an overdue email or two. Writing is good accountability.

Another love post is ripening. My relationship landscape is shifting again and I haven't taken the time, yet, to feel out all the various ramifications. I'm noticing a new level of ...comfort? confidence? in my people now. I trust folks to stick around, not just in the manner best for them, but also in ways that are good for me. It's been a long road since my first couple of posts, since I couldn't believe I had anything to offer or that anyone would find me interesting over the long haul.

I like the long haul.

My car has become what my home used to be, the place I can sing aloud to myself and no one can see me, the place I can expand to fill the space. I am finding ways to exist in my home more-or-less happily. I am spending too much money. I am attending most classes. I am telling myself that I will take my bike to school, or do yoga, but I keep putting those off (yoga: see also: too much money). I am petting Mella the bare mimimum she will allow, but talking to the rabbits more.

I am daydreaming, a lot, about having my own home.

After such a hard winter followed by a numbingly difficult summer, I am back to feeling myself surrounded by love and warmth every day. I am interested in people. I am... human again. It is the paramount wonder of the world.
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It has been a very hard week, and now I'm happy again.

This post would be so different had I written it this morning; I'd thought to do so. This journal has never sought to be a dispassionate recounting of external facts, not even close, and any story I tell here would be told differently a week later, and then different again a year later, or five years. I'm glad to be telling the story now and not earlier.

I haven't been sleeping well, and I have just started bleeding. These are maybe the root of everything, especially the former. Josh hasn't lived with a partner before; I didn't really come up here with the energy or intention of settling into permanent patterns nor really thought about making patterns with him. Our sleep logistics have not worked themselves out well, and I have been spending time on James as well, and work has been running longer than I expected many days. Sleep, food, and time to think to myself are the three things I should never be without. I've been without too much sleep, and it has felt terrible. A little more of it and soon everything would feel like the end of the world.

I had a nap this afternoon, and maybe I can put these things in a way where they are not the end of the world.

Work is the first and biggest thing. The people I worked with last summer, my first forestry job, were first intriguing and then important to me. I'm having a harder time finding my way into this set of people; the summer students are diverse in personality but not so much in age, they are (we are?) very much thrown together without other people's involvement, and although I can get along with everyone ok, more-or-less, I'm having trouble finding my way into really liking or caring about them. You know me, you've been reading what I write for so long, so you know what a strange statement that is for me. I can usually like people I spend time with.

The whole office is a little bit like that, and maybe if I spent a bunch of time with the individuals it would help a bit, but there's this sense of group othering that I'm never very comfortable with. Conversations can centre around "can you believe this group of people did or said this thing?" without seeking to understand the ins and outs of why or how. I don't like those. I miss the folks from last summer. I both hope I find a way to like this place where I am now, and am giving serious thought to going back there next summer even though it is very far away from Vancouver. And from both Josh and James.

I was going to end this post with him, leave you on a beautiful note, and talk about the garden and the rabbits in the middle, but here we are and he's come up in the same way he came into my life in the last little while: abruptly, surprisingly, but at the right time. I've been embracing that.

Here's the story: over a year ago I went to a friend's... birthday party? It was near Dave's apartment, I'd just moved in for a month before moving up to Fort St James, and a handful of us ended up going for drinks and then back to Dave and my place to hang out. The apartment was all boxes halfway between being unpacked and put in storage, it's a wonder we invited people back, but there we were and it was a lovely evening. There was a person I didn't know who ended up back at the apartment with us, no doubt participating in the discussion: eye-catching long tawny-gold hair and compact assurance, quiet but expressive in face and gesture, some combination of elegant movement and solid sensibility, a little well of gravity in the corner of the apartment I spent most of the evening either looking at or looking away from. Honestly I did more of the latter: Dave and I hadn't discussed how we'd handle flirting or dating while we were both living in that one-bedroom apartment or really in small party situations like that, so I kept myself under wraps. The closer you get to a source of gravity, after all, the harder it pulls, and I was leaving the city's orbit.

I went so far as to get him on facebook and that was a month of job-seeking, packing, exams, rough times with Dave, little energy, and then I was out of town. The next year I was mostly absent; away in Fort, and also emotionally absent when I came back to school. The source of gravity was still there, a tiny trickle of awareness across facebook when I looked at it, a little temptation which I had no energy to meet. When my exams were almost done I suddenly came alive again and there he was, as apparently eager for a date as I was, less than a week before I left town. The whole thing moved at... I was going to say 'my speed' but it was remarkably mutual, and so here I am up in Williams Lake living delightedly with Josh and putting in a garden but with, again, a long distance relationship. A joyful, loving, competent-with-the-internet, visiting-soon, who knows what will happen next? long distance relationship.

I am very pleased. I am (when I don't get enough sleep) drowned in poly guilt but sometimes clear-headedly ok. I am putting in work when I can. I am happy. He is wonderful in every way I could want.

So that's James.

Josh and I are putting in the garden still; it's slow and we have less time and energy than expected, but the plastic is going up on the greenhouse today. We haven't had our last frost yet and so many plants get hauled into the garage when the temperature is forecast low; we may finally be able to move just to floating row cover for the tender things until we get the beds in the greenhouse built. We have been enabling each other buying things that grow; lately iris and daylily and roses in addition to the veggies we've started from seed. We have fruit trees to plant. My soul feels good.

Mella has bonded to the baby rabbits, and they don't fight at all. They lie around snuggled all up together sometimes, or groom each other, and when I'm petting Mella, Odin will come up to be petted and Juniper will come up to lick her in the spots my petting has missed. The little ones have un-litter-trained Mella, but that can be dealt with. It's good to have them with me.

Next weekend Josh and I are going camping at Chilko Lake, which is "out west." From Williams Lake everything is "out west," "out east," "down south," or rarely "up north". The coast doesn't really exist in this dry land except as a mythic place. It is sort of its own centre for the surrounding smaller towns; neither Prince George nor Vancouver really has a pull, though Kelowna is perhaps the metropolitan centre it orbits.

It's dinner time now, grilled hamburgers and salad and contemplating the garden-to-be. I'm ok. I will try to sleep more; I will keep switching strategies until I find one that works. I like being happy, and my afternoon nap gave that back to me after a week without.

I can get through this summer.

Talk to you soon.
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There's always a bit of a crash, some bouncing, like a cork shooting up and then bobbing in the water until equilibrium is established.

Here's the crash, or the front edge of it. My neck hurts; I haven't pinned down a physio up here yet and pain is wearing. I hadn't realised just how much mine was doing to keep everything functional. I'm tired. I'm... worn out, wanting to rest and curl up in a quiet loved space but there's still so much to do.

And of course I realised that, at least for me, there is no arriving. This is still journey, still passage through, rather than a stopping point. I have lovely things in my life: I do things to keep them lovely. I will have to work at my job, not merely doing the work but learning on a very steep curve both the work and the lay of the land. I will have to do a great deal of work on myself; poly guilt has been strong the last couple days and I'm feeling done with school being so bad for me and I believe I have some spiritual work that must be done in this next year. I will need to be driving daily for awhile so I will deal with the aftermath of my accident very soon. My body will be very demanding when I start physical labour again and I can't let that drown everything else out, though it always clarifies things immensely.

I need to put together my feelings about Dave, and how that ended. I need to go back and nose out what's going on with my end of my connections to people. When I came down from Fort I had essentially been in an environment without close connections but also without feeling obligated. When I left my last job the excellent therapist I had at the time suggested I could have close connections without that sense of crippling obligation. The idea of it was shattering. I seem to believe I am not allowed to have connection without heavy obligation; I jettison connections to avoid it? Maybe?

Here's where it all degenerates. I don't have a narrative to hang anything on right now. Some of my old stories to myself are changing. I need time to walk those old paths again and update my map as necessary. I need time to mourn losses and cherish things that remain valuable. I need to find my well here, to regain the source of my strength. I probably need to spend a surprising amount of time alone and undistracted to do this work.

The process of meeting a new person and getting close to him very quickly has jangled and stirred everything up in there. It's been too long since I've looked, seen, tidied. This is perhaps one function of long rambling nights with old friends: to re-tell your stories, to update someone who knows, to channel the whole chaotic storm of it into a story that informs the rest of everything. This was good for me, this was bad for me, this was a problem, this was safe: I guess these things change as we do.

I had hoped I'd sit down here and the narrative would emerge. I'd hoped that by channelling everything into words I'd understand. There are too many edges and as-yet disconnected pieces, though. This will take some time.
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I'm alive. I can't even tell you. Here I am. I'm finally shedding my winter skin. I'm becoming human, I'm alive, there's a beating flashing core to my soul, the world pulls me into it, I can love things, I can want things, I'm alive. I'm remembering how to feel the kind of joy that I swear is visible in an aura around me, pouring out of my skin. I'm remembering who I am. This is who I am. I had almost forgotten there.

It's been a bad four months. School is bad. It's autodepression, flick the switch on with the first contact in the semester and then off again when it finishes. What does this to me? Sitting all day? Accepting someone else's absolute authority? Having no freedom to plan my time? Anyways, school is done for four months, and basically with my last exam I came alive, I came awake, I felt like I turned on a light and unfamiliar nothingness suddenly gave way to my very favourite room. I am my very favourite room. I love living here. So many years making myself, that partnership where all the bits of me shape each other until they fit, and it's for nothing when I'm in school, but it is Very Good in just living.

I was in a car accident that I could well have not walked away from in February. My car rolled; Taoshi was lost. I could have died there, and I would have died unhappy and not-me, but I didn't die. Thank goodness, thank every blessed thing, that I still have the chance to die properly, as myself, at some future date.

I don't want that date to be soon. Words are failing me. I'm sitting in bed listening to music for the first time in four months and it's filling the house, the air is vibrating with it, and my skin and the music are one continuous physical sensation, much as my... happiness, I suppose? is one single continuous piece with Devendra Banhart's voice. In the room next door to me my rabbits -- Mella with whom I have developed a close relationship since we lost Taoshi, and the two babies I need to bond her to named Juniper and Odin -- and they actively enjoy my presence, they are happier when we engage, and they are mine for their lives and I love them very much. When I think a little further outwards I can see, in my mind's eye, the beginnings of my garden. We've started tomatoes (stupice, cherokee chocolate, green zebra, sungold, Siberian, San Marzano, black plum, and silvery fir tree) and four kinds of peppers, and the two cold-weather lettuces (warm weather varieties to follow) and herbs (summer savory, thyme, thai basil and romano basil and sweet basil, curled and flat parsley, lovage that refuses to come up, sweet ciciley) and so many greens (including sorrel and good king henry and lamb's quarters and purslane and strawberry blite) and several kinds of melons and two zucchinis and three new kinds of scented geraniums and three kinds of carrots and chard and kale and ground cherries (two kinds!) and tomatillos and celeriac and and and and... It's still freezing out at night up here in Williams Lake (this was my first night in Williams Lake) and today the sky is bright and clear and beautiful and I will vacuum with the windows wide open and sing and alarm the rabbits with my noise and scandalize the neighbors.

I'm alive. I'm inhabiting my personality. I want to say it again and again and again because it is such a strong combination of relief and joy. When I was in school this semester I was actively afraid that I wouldn't be able to come back to myself, but here I am. What's the best gift you could ever be given? Double it, triple it. That's the feeling.

There's a bunch of great relationship stuff happening in my life right now. I start my summer job with a new company on Monday, and I'm terrified but very optimistic about that. My place in Vancouver will be there for me when I return in the fall so I won't need to house hunt. I have excellent friends and I got to see some of them before I left. I have a future that I can enjoy anticipating. I have so many blessings. But... everything is overshadowed by the simple fact that I can appreciate, notice, and think about these things. I'd lost that.

And here I am, even enjoying words again, enjoying the sensation of spinning pieces of myself out into the void. I have enough of myself to fill a page now.

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I'm home. Back at my address, in the bed I've slept in from the beginning of May until two weeks ago. Now I'm in it and it is empty. There is no one here with me.

It's been awhile.

I went from the maritimes to camp with a one-night stop here. Josh was here that night, in town through a combination of luck and finesse. When I came back from camp he also came up; we went camping on the beach and now he's on the road back to Williams Lake and I'm here, in bed with my laptop, alone.

I didn't feel alone quite so keenly before. This was an adventure, heading north to work, and I accepted a level of isolation. That was part of what I enjoyed about it. Dave's visits were lovely interludes, and though I missed him he was definitely part of another life and when he left I returned to mine here.

Now I am building a life here in the interior, and there's a person in it. Not the casual friendly acquaintanceships I've made with so many people that I enjoy as an ambient source of companionship, but something that pulls so hard it burns and rattles and tears. More, I am bridging the two lives for much longer than I prefer; school will last two more years and in that time I am bound to oscillate back and forth.

And in the middle of that duality of a life I took a duality of a vacation. On the one hand I went to Dave's family, to the lovely family island in the middle of a lake with few walls and no running water and all his family that shared so many of his traits and time spent Doing Things. On the other hand I went to camp and then came back and nested in bed then went and nested again beside a lake where the only other people in sight were on far-away boats with a half-stranger to whom I am intimately and roughly tied.

I came back and went into a grocery store. It had walls and people, worse than Vancouver airport two weeks ago which contained more people in that moment than Fort Saint James. I am having trouble looking at the faces of strangers. I am missing trees. And I am missing rooms full of people who know me and care about me and who might have perspective on the kaleidoscope of my life right now. I feel as if the perspective has been knocked right out of me.

I own a car now. As of later this year I'll have a drivers' license. I can walk through the bush. When I've been outside I feel a hundred feet tall and glowing with well-being. I feel capable in so many ways.

Yet, I am still a student. I am somewhat at the financial and scheduling whim of school. I must live in certain places in certain times. I am transitory in a rented room, with the things I love in a storage locker. I can't negotiate for long-term work or settle somewhere. I can't complete my transition into my new life. I can't remain settled in my old one, so far away from where I am now.

And I am still feeling out a new love, sometimes quickly, sometimes so carefully and softly.

I don't know. But here I am, home.

Let's see if routine soothes the burn of re-entry.
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So I've been habitually posting on weekends. Then Dave came up for a weekend, then I went to a music festival for a weekend. This coming weekend my mom is coming to visit, and the one following that I'm going to hang out with a new um-maybe-friend in Williams Lake and eat oysters and see what physical proximity does to our interaction, then the one following that I'm heading to the Mission Folk Fest, and then to the other side of Canada for the first time to visit Nova Scotia with Dave. So there's a lot to catch up on, obviously, and I may not update lots.

I do, however, have lots of things going on in my head.

The level of casual friendly to strangers here is about the same as the level of casual friendly in Vancouver to someone you've been introduced to through a friend but not previously spoken to much. It's turned up a notch from Vancouver-stranger. I like it. It's ok to talk to folks, coworkers are more invite-able to things, every interaction is just a little bit closer or at least allows for more than the equivalent one in the city.

One of the fun/frustrating things about sex is that you basically reinvent it with each person (unless I guess you wanna follow the standard het escalator vanilla template?). You never quite know what's coming down that pipe.

The Smithers music festival was fun; it had more different types of music than I was expecting. I went up with two co-workers, Jeremy who was the instigator and who's my fellow summer hire, and Brett. It was nice to hang out with them some; they definitely viewed it as a drinking/hanging around experience, and were maybe slightly distressed that I wouldn't accept drinks. Thy hung out in a group together; I realized I'm maybe more independent than I think I am, an definitely moreso than my twenty-year-old self could have understood. I danced a bunch and stayed in a tent. It was really, really good for me. I discovered a couple local bands, one called Black Spruce Bog who write about things like salmon and who might play over here in Fort St James in the fall.

Instead of getting a ride home with my co-workers, I caught a ride with the okc person I met a couple weeks ago. It was basically an excuse to talk, and talk we did... and then the next night we spoke on the phone pretty late too. He lives about four hours away, towards Vancouver, so he's not entirely local, but he's close enough for visits. I'm enjoying the feeling of spark with someone. We'll see where this goes.

Interest in someone else is definitely making me miss Dave extra-much-a lot. Poly is always like this for me; my desire for long-term/current partners always flares up when I find a new connection elsewhere. I love how contrasts highlight each person's individuality. So even though Dave was just here, the separation is hard right now. I just got extended at work, so I'll be here, likely, till November. That's a long time to be away, and I guess that's also hitting me.

I have no idea what will happen in the future. My original goal taking co-op at school was to do a co-op term in a different place each time, to get to know different parts of BC and see where I wanted to end up. I really like it up here, though, I like the company I work for and I like the town. I likely could come back next summer no problem; it wouldn't let me go work on the coast or Vancouver Island to check them out. It's really far to visit.

I don't know.

An 8 month/4 month lifestyle split between locations is maybe even possible for awhile. Do I want that? It's early to tell. I need to sit with it. But, it's definitely in my mind as a possibility.

We'll also see how I feel about the town and the job in six months when I'm not flush with the novelty of it, or when the winter comes. If I'm here during snow, I've promised myself I'll learn to cross-country ski on the lake. How out of character is that?

Everyone here is really outdoorsy, not the Vancouver weekend-outdoorsy but they all seem to play on multiple sports teams and kayak and hike and camp all the time, not just once in awhile. And everyone means everyone.

And there are so many places that are logging-road or boat access only that you can go and there are trees and water and no people.

Yeah, typical poly dilemma of always feeling like, even when some things you love are here, others are distant. It's not like I'm any different with places than with people.

I want to write more, I may tonight, but now I have to (get this) clean my room for my mom. Ha. Since I'm going to install her here when she gets here, it likely shouldn't have clothes and sex toys in her way.

I'm really happy here. It's miraculous how repeatable and reliable the method for making me happy is. Outdoors all day, some space, some people, enough sleep.

Be well, folks. Love you.
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Swing, swing, swing. My mood is all out of kilter lately. I'm going to blame total lack of physical contact. I think I may prioritize seeking out a snuggle/sex person up here over, say, making rosepetal jam or sewing; fewer (the correct number of) hours in a work-week mean I do have some time to decide with.

I guess I've found myself in a distance relationship. I haven't been in a proper one since way back, when I was seeing Jan. I dug up the album Jan gave me then, downloaded it and looked at it in the music player and felt the sharpest and most physical manifestation of pain and quickly put on a different song by a different musician. That was a couple of hours ago, while Dave was out on a date and I was about to shower after my weekly two hours' lawn-mowing. Just now, as I sat down to write, I put on one of those songs and everything feels familiar.

I was speaking with Graydon the other day about the persistence of self of lack thereof, about continuity of personality. The conversation was about death, but I was telling him that I don't/can't remember what it was like to be me ten or fifteen years ago. I can go read it in this journal, but I can't immerse myself in what it felt like.

I was wrong. This music and this situation can do it. I remember this feeling. I remember how many years it took me to decouple the experience of love and pain, to feel them separately and not as one singular emotion. I have not decoupled them. I have merely sought out the rare, rare circumstances where I don't feel them both at once and spent long enough there that one does not necessarily echo the other.


I want to tell you something, but I'm not sure how to word it. I guess it's this: I know what I want out of my life. That thing changes, the knowing flickers brighter and dimmer, but the things which guide my knowing remain. I know what I like when I experience it. I know what's good for me. I want the things I like, the things that are good for me.

I also want to cast things which hurt away from me. Or, back up. There are two kinds of hurt: bruises and well-used muscles, adversity that feels good. And there's suffering that doesn't feel good and leaves lingering wounds, pain to no purpose, broken hopes and disappointment and self-imposed loneliness and capricious meanness. I want to cast that second kind out of my life; I go away from it automatically a lot of the time now. But it's not always clear which is which, and it's also not always clear when a little of the latter must be endured to get the things I like or need.

I'm circling my subject. I always do that. I tell stories, speak of the conversations which initiated my thoughts, wander through generalities, and eventually I even get to the point sometimes.

I'm in a long distance relationship with Dave. I initiated that by coming up here and not ending the relationship. But, this is my job, my career, it's what I'm doing. So. I need to have a conversation with him about what happens next. I also need to have a conversation with myself about what happens next. I've thought it might be nice to have seasonal relationships, six months away makes the next six months together so much sweeter, might fit my migratory tendencies pretty well and keep me from sealing my life too closely to someone else's and drowning them too. I need to play with these ideas. I need to maybe try them more fully.

I'm proceeding on my career front up here, but I feel like I'm waiting on my home and relationship front. I'm dawdling along, existing, not pushing anything, just waiting for things to happen to me. That's not my best position to be in.

I should do something about that.


Jan. 6th, 2015 05:16 pm
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I'm halfway through training for a half marathon I mysteriously signed up for that'll take place in February. I didn't think I'd ever be a runner, mostly because mom is one, and I still don't think I *am* a runner... but this sort of exercise regime suits me down to the ground. In building physical capability the basic idea is to do low level stuff for awhile to build a "fitness base" or basic capability, then to add intensity for while (in my case, distance) in small increments. So I got through the part where I built a base by running and walking various proportions of 2-4 miles for awhile, now I'm maintaining the base by running 4 miles twice a week and adding distance by running a long run every weekend.

Every weekend I add 1 mile to the distance I ran last weekend. A half marathon is 13 miles. My previous longest distance run ever was just under 5 miles.

So right now, every weekend, I run further than I ever have before in my life.

This is amazing and motivating to me. I may try to keep running as a sometimes-hobby-thing, not at this level of intensity, but I don't really like running. I do like something where I top my personal best once a week in easy-to-understand numbers (5 miles! 6 miles! 7 miles!). It's great.

Semester has also started; I'm two days in today. I don't know how it's going to turn out, but a couple of my classes seem to be going better than expected from the weird start-up stuff around them. We had a lab today that was tromping around the botanical garden looking at plants and I don't think the instructor thought much of me (I didn't need to look at a hemlock, I can ID it at all scales from a distance) but before I could feel too antagonistic towards him he mentioned that he has ghost tree moments on campus -- moments when he'll be in the middle of a building, or a road, and be aware of how not too long ago there were huge silent forests there, maybe a tree on that very spot. I feel that all the time, and I haven't met anyone else with that awareness, so it's hard to be antagonistic now, isn't it?

I also have a class that's four or five people, mostly masters students I think, and we're going to sit around and talk about the politics of land tenure in forestry and its effect on the environment and especially on different groups and also about the history of it. How great is that?

So we will see. I'm definitely too busy, but my first-ever student loan is coming in to fix that (I think) and I'm starting to get a handle on how my time will flow this year. I'm applying for summer jobs far and away, and making bits of time here and there to be social, and that's about it right now.

It's not perfect, but it is pretty good.


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