Categories
Days in Pictures

RTFM: days 1096 — 1134

Twenty twenty started out much like previous years, in Montreal; and I kicked off the fourth year of my photo challenge with a squinty selfie because why not.

The following day, back in Ottawa, I went out to buy a new, real camera: specifically, a Sony α-7iii, which reviews tell me is the best all-around camera for my budget. And also to reminisce… It’s true, time does move on, and I guess some memories will never get a permanent monument. And, realistically, I’m sure Ottawa’s LGBTQ community is better served a quarter-century later. But still…

More reminiscing, more touristing: Parliament Hill, wandering into the Market, then a bit north, then hey why not walk to Hull? Didn’t walk the whole way but I did get a nice view of both sides of the bridge.

And look: my first picture with the new camera. Not too bad, right? Softer contrast (which is one thing that annoys me about my OnePlus’s camera) + a proper optical zoom (70mm, baby) + highest possible resolution = a great shot of a squirrel in our backyard.

Mind you, that’s when I started running into problems. Problem #1 being how to get photos from the camera to my phone so I can post to IG. It is possible to do it through the magic of wireless—that was one of my requirements—but the connection is… finicky. I’vegot the hang of it now, though, you just have to know the trick.

More generally, I haven’t used a real camera in over ten years, and I’d forgotten how many settings the damn things have—this model more than most, apparently. The reviews all said there would be a learning curve, but also that it would be worth it. They were right, but it took me a while! My first real foray with the new toy was disappointing in some ways. Some pics were kind of overexposed, some with slightly wrong focus (and a bit too dark). I was able to put the zoom to good use, though! And at least the blue / golden hours were white-balanced correctly.

The learning process is letting me do cool things, though. Like this shot of geese on the water, that I didn’t mean to expose and saturate like that; like the m-fing Moon (a few more times, actually); like this closeup of a pretty seagull; and other shots that I’ve always wanted to be able to do, like the lights of downtown from Granville Bridge or the foot of Davie Street from Cambie Bridge. The 70mm lens lets me get much closer to the local wildlife than ever before, too: sparrows, robins, crows, cormorants, ducks. Maybe that’s going to be my thing?

Or at least a thing. I haven’t forgotten architecture! After a PuSh Festival show and before stumbling on the moon rising above the cranes I wandered around for a bit and found these words on this old hotel. Awesome. It is super cool to uncover a bit of Vancouver’s architecture history.

Haven’t forgotten my phone, either. My camera doesn’t do macros nearly as well, and it’s more awkward to handle, so you get little experimental photos like this one or this one.

I’m still exploring, still sort of tooling around with it, going through the online manual. It’s pretty frustrating sometimes, because I feel like I’m doing the same stuff I’ve done over the last three years when I should be taking advantage of this new hardware and doing completely new things. I just don’t know what they could be. That’s okay, though! Everything is a learning process. Now that I’ve got a feel for this thing I’ll probably want to get some more versatile lenses to supplement by basic one before my Paris trip. That’ll get my creative juices going

Categories
Thoughts about Things

Hop, skip and a jump: looking back at 2019

I know it’s a whole new decade and everything, but I don’t really want to look back ten whole years… because, sad to say, I don’t feel I’ve done all that much for most of it. I’d been working at the same company since 2009; in 2013 I quit and tried my hand at freelancing, which didn’t work out, but I was lucky enough to be able to go back to my old job. Which, fair’s fair, I should feel grateful for, but looking back it really feels more like (a) failure and (b) settling at a job I didn’t especially care for. So… that didn’t do much for my self-esteem. On the other hand, just like Shangela, I was working my way and paying my dues, and all of this (even the less fun parts) was preparing me for what came next.

So no, we won’t go back that long. After last New Year I posted this on FB:

In 2017 I broke out of my holding pattern.
In 2018 I gained momentum.
In 2019 I’ll fly.

Because it’s true, 2017 is when things started happening, on a bunch of fronts:

  • I started my daily photo challenge on New Year’s Day; a few months later I started blogging regularly again
  • I travelled outside the country for the first time in decades
  • I started a new job, challenging and rewarding and with great people and a great work environment

I’m still at that job, still being challenged; the blogging comes and goes somewhat, but I’ve published 95 posts (not counting this one) in the last three years, plus taking and posting photos every single day since January 1, 2017; Brussels / Amsterdam in 2017 was followed up with Iceland in 2019, and Paris is coming up next May.

So I had to ask myself, what does it mean to fly? Does it mean to forge on ahead, do the thing and look back in surprise at how ready and unafraid you were? Does it mean consistency, little everyday flaps of your wings, that taken all together take you places? Does it mean putting down burdens, wrapping up long-unfinished business so as to face the future with a clean slate, clear eye and light heart?

All of the above, yeah? Yeah. And flight did happen in 2019.

I started the year out by taking my photography in a somewhat different direction, with all those morning shots of Sunset Beach from Burrard Bridge. It was just a fun little experiment at first, an exercise in Changing Things Up, but it turned into a nifty productivity tool as I pushed my wake-up and get-out-of-the-apartment times earlier, then held them there for months. My discipline lapsed after July when work moved, and I’ve been struggling to recapture it. I don’t want to do it exactly the same way, though, with a fixed time and viewpoint. I’d probably get tired of it after a while, and I want to keep both my motivation and my feed fresh.

Still, the experiment served its purpose. I’ve learned what I can do, and that includes the One Weird Trick™ of using one aspect of my life to help another. Good to know going forward!

More big events: presenting at WordCamp Vancouver, something I’d gradually been building up to in the last couple years. As awkward and nervous as I felt inside, the audience was receptive and engaged, laughed when I wanted them to laugh, asked plenty of questions and sent me lots of LinkedIn invites afterwards. So hey, thumbs up? Equally thumbs up was getting my AWS Solutions Architect – Associate certification which will certainly be a big boost for my career. For a while, I was juggling studying for that and preparing for WordCamp… but it’s all good.

More fun: volunteering for my NDP candidate Breen Ouellette during last fall’s federal election. I got quite a bit more involved than in the 2015 campaign, doing door-to-door canvassing and taking Election Day (or “E-Day”, as we say in the biz) off do help out more, which meant more canvassing in the pouring rain BY MYSELF, followed by inside scrutineering which is always a nerdy trip. Though Breen lost, the team is staying in touch to keep the momentum going for next time, whether that’s in six months or four years. Which is nice! It’s good to be part of something bigger, something I believe in.

So all in all, this has been a pretty interesting year. To be honest, a lot of it didn’t feel like flying. I get lazy or distracted, I still suffer from Imposter Syndrome every once in a while, along with assorted self-doubts (amplified by, and amplifying, the aforementioned laziness). That’s okay, though. I had moments. Enough to keep me moving forward. More moments than 2018. And less than 2020.

Categories
Days in Pictures

Selfie of the artist: days 1029 — 1095

So a funny thing happened on October 30 (day 1033): I snapped a couple of excellent photos in and then… figured I had enough and I could stop for the day. I was tired, and I could save any more potential shots for later, because they’d still be there.

And sure, they would. But was that enough reason to wait? No it was not. So I gave that grumpy ‘tude the elbow and set out to grab a few more shots—a nice one of downtown across the water and, for the first time, a video! I like it, though I’m not sure where to go from here. I tried to take another video a couple days later, of the SkyTrain from the Georgia Viaduct, as it swoops and banks out of Main Street Station, but I messed up and only recorded a couple seconds. Did better the next day, though.

At the time, I asked myself if this was something I wanted to keep doing. Was this “the next level” I’ve been going on about since hitting day 1,000, and which some of my friends even suggested? It was definitely new, but the fact that I haven’t done any more videos kind of answers that question.

It’s okay, though, because I think I learned my lesson: seize the day. There is an infinite number of photos for the taking, and I don’t need to ration them. And also, I don’t need to listen to the little voice (yes, I have one) inside wondering if people get turned off when I post too many photos. Whatever “too many” means. I do what I want and it’s stupid and it can’t tell me what to do. Of course, it’s okay to get tired and uninspired, but that negative self-talk doesn’t need reinforcing.

Speaking of voices: while on the Culture Crawl I got to chatting with one of the artists at 1000 Parker Street, and mentioned my IG. It felt like bragging, and like something I shouldn’t do with a real artist, and I had to fight the urge to use self-deprecating language like “Oh, I just do photography”.

Also—and probably related—I felt all awkward and babbly. Mind you, she probably appreciated the human interaction, babbly or not. But you know what she told me, that I think was the thing I needed to hear?

That she considered me an artist too.

So many times I’ve gone to the Crawl, honestly enjoying the art and creativity around me, but underneath it there were undercurrents of hunger for both inspiration and direction, and feelings of inadequacy. I wanted to create something like what I was seeing, yet didn’t know how or if that was possible. But 1,000 straight days of photography will change you; maybe what I really wanted now is validation. That the things I create, have worth. That they are special and interesting. And that they have a future.

Still haven’t figured out what that future is, though. But… I know it’s there.

Took a couple selfies too, in the month of December, which is still a semi-big deal for me. One while taking a sunset walk on Sunset Beach, and one volunteering for the VMC, as is my wont. Both were kind of planned. I’ve arlready done the selfie-in-church-in-nice-clothes thing last year, but this is the only time I ever wear a bowtie, so I should make the most of it. And for Sunset Beach, I just had a hankering, y’know? Can’t explain it, but I went with it. It’s nice to put my face out there… after like a dozen tries to get the angle and the smile just right, of course.

And as we close off the decade, I got a new phone after 2 years with my old Pixel! Night shots are sublime, macro zooms are excellent, I can do still lives and full moon shots better than ever. Colour balance on the OnePlus 7T sometimes needs manual correction, especially in twilight hours (morning or evening), which is annoying, but overall it really does take excellent photos. Like this lost bunny on Cambie Bridge, Sunset Beach with the half-finished new dock, Yaletown towers in the rising sun, False Creek at night and tiny wet berries.

BUT: partly because of these aforementioned flaws, and partly because I feel I’m growing as a photographer and smartphones aren’t cutting it anymore, I’m planning to get a real camera again. Got the make and model already figured out. I’ll be heading into 2020 with brand new tools to share my visions!

Categories
Days in Pictures

The year in pictures: days 731 — 1095

This has been a fantastic year for photography, and in the last few months I feel I’ve finally hit my groove. Maybe it’s the long seawall walks, and the lovely scenery I got exposed to? Or maybe it’s the cardio?

Morning commuters — January 9

My first morning photo of Burrard Bridge, I think? Already trying out new things just days into the new year. Nice job, me.

Fiery sunrise — January 28

Perfect magnificence!

Inukshuk and setting sun — March 28

Simple and already done, but when the shot’s right there you have to take it!

Dramatic sky over Yaletown — April 7

This might have been my first walk along the south seawall from Cambie Bridge to Granville Island, scoping out good vantage points for my eventual walking commutes. I found one.

Goðafoss — May 12

My first Icelandic waterfall, and it’s a lovely one!

Dettifoss — May 12

My second Icelandic waterfall, a bit harder to get to, but well worth the effort.

Resilience — May 12

Take a moment to appreciate the humble little things around you.

A lot of birds — May 16

Gorgeous and noisy.

Kirkjufell — May 16

Kirkjufell (“Church Mountain”) is a hella pretty mountain, dramatically standing there by itself. Interestingly, it looks very different from different points of view.

Orange and blue — May 17

A silly little photo I took on a whim, but I really like it!

I did an art — July 13

Just a one-time thing so far but hey, I’m not just about photography!

Davie & Denman — July 21

All about the golden hour with bonus rainbow flags!

Bumblebee — August 22

Overcame my twitchiness about stinging insects, with a phone that wasn’t particularly made for close-up shots.

The fuzziest caterpillar — September 5

LOOK AT THE FUZZ. Though apparently you don’t want to touch it. That fuzz is called “setae”, and they can break off in your skin if you touch them, cause allergic reactions or even contain stinging chemicals. BUT JUST LOOK AT IT

Speaker — September 28

Not my best selfie but a great milestone for me, being my first time presenting at a WordCamp.

Golden towers — October 8

I love this photo’s geometry: the stark angles of towers and shadows, the mosaic of lit and dark windows — and the soft soft clouds in the background.

Impression, morning — October 14

It feels like an impressionist painting, doesn’t it? The delicate textures of clouds and light rippling on the water, like brushstrokes. LOve it

Impression, dusk — October 17

It feels like another painting, with the moody clouds pierced by little bright spots of colour.

Frosted leaves — October 27

Chill out!

Geese flying low — October 30

There’s tons of life around False Creek, and here we see a flock of geese commuting to their hangout in Charleson Park.

Cambie Bridge lights — November 19

A bit of darkness lets you see more light.

Drizzly twilight — November 23

Yet another painting-like photo. This one feels perfect: balanced, harmonious, relaxing. I could drink it in all day.

Boats and birbs — November 24

I can’t get enough of this view.

As above so below — November 28

Just goes to show, sometimes all you need is to be in the right place at the right time. And also to look behind you sometimes.

Trout Lake — November 30

I was on my way back from Taichi class, driving along Broadway, when I saw the sky and made an impulse decision. I found my way to Trout Lake and found (a) a good vantage point, and (b) that the lake was frozen. Unexpected, but it didn’t hurt the view!

More golden towers — December 9

I love the contrast of grey and gold here, and how ground level is still in shadow.

Ferry dock — December 14

A little call-back to when I took photos of Sunset Beach every morning… except now it’s dusk, and there’s a new thing in town.

Science World and BC Place — December 20

I couldn’t make both these landmarks fit in one 16:9 shot, though I may try again from a different vantage point.

Surface tension — December 21

Not my first macro shot, and it’s a bit blurrier than I’d have liked, but look at the cute little twinned berries! Look at the surface reflection! Look at the surrounding berries reflected in the droplets!

(downtown + boats + bridges) × 2 — December 22

This view never gets old

Categories
Days in Pictures Thoughts about Things

Orange is the coolest colour: days 1002 — 1028

A lot of nice mornings this month! The days are definitely getting shorter, and that lets me see some new sights: Canada Geese flying low, a remarkably chill seagull greeting the rising sun, and crows also enjoying the sun. I wonder if they do, though? I am pretty sure they enjoy low tides, which I believe was the case in that last photo. Why, you ask? Because that’s when gulls and crows get all the shellfish living in the intertidal zone. Grabbing and pecking if the shells are delicate enough, dropping on rocks or pavement otherwise.

As much as I like to think I notice urban wildlife behaviour more lately, it did take me a couple days to twig to the fact that a lot of crows seemed to be gathering along the seawall, and being very noisy about it. So there you go, it’s all about that seafood.

The morning sun, whether shining bright or filtered through clouds, paints the city in beautiful ways I feel privileged to capture as far as I’m able. Like the stark geometries of Yaletown towers, breaking up the sky while themselves broken up by golden light. Like a dappled grey-on-grey sky reflected in ripply waters, looking totally like some monochrome Impressionist painting.

Now, I love Impressionist art. Is that what I’m doing? Well, no… Obviousy I don’t use paint, but I do like taking pictures of the city and the modern world in all its angles. So, I can’t help thinking about how my photos fit in…

Content-wise, would this trio here, of False Creek at sunset look out of place in Impressionist galleries? Or how about this forest of masts near Granville Island? Or this moody shot of Cambie Bridge under a leaden sky? Maybe it’s a bit silly to imagine being in the same space as historic artists, but hey, why not? Nothing wrong with tooting my own horn. Art isn’t something magic, something reserved for the elite in museums, art is something regular nerds like me can make. And make, and make, and make, over four-digit days and still going strong.

October is also the month Vancouver’s saved its best shows for: yellow and gold and red and super red and orange and more orange.

Speaking of orange, we had a federal election here in Canada. I got involved pretty late, only after seeing a debate on LGBTQ issues at The Junction, and being very impressed with the NDP candidate. It really wasn’t much of a leap, since I’ve been an NDP supporter for a long time, but I’d been dithering between NDP and Green. Not that my vote would make a difference either way in this Liberal-safe riding, but I had to think about it.

So I walked in the office a couple days later, started with some data entry, then moved on to canvassing, then the next Sunday a larger group of us waving signs and connecting with residents. Out of the downtown core, which was nice. Breen and the campaign manager did most of the talking, and the other volunteers and I basically added background colour. We hit Science World, Victory Square at the border of Vancouver East, and Emery Barnes Park in Yaletown. It was a good outing, and pushed my personal envelope pretty hard. I’d never done this in 2015!

Election Day (or “e-day” as we say in the campaigning biz) was my biggest test yet. I went out on my own for a last-minute canvassing blitz; on e-day that really means putting flyers in people’s mailboxes, but this being the West End, that means getting into buildings and slipping it under their doors.

Which, as a campaign rep, I have the right to do. But concierges and residents don’t always see it that way. So the goal is to find an NDP supporter (I have a list) who’s (a) home, (b) believes I’m who I say I am, and (c) is willing to open the door for me. Some did. Most didn’t. Together with the cold and the rain, it made for an exhausting and disheartening morning. The afternoon passed more pleasantly in the office, with data entry and organisation. And then I headed out to do inside scrutineering at Coal Harbour Community Centre.

When I returned to the office it was past 10PM, I’d been on my feet for half of the last 14 hours, and this was no victory party. Breen did come in a very distant second, so that was something. And disappointing as results have been, this isn’t the end: the team has decided to stay together, lay the groundwork for the next campaign, whether that happens in four years or four months. And I’m going to be a part of it.

Categories
Days in Pictures

The Thousand And One Days: days 968 — 1001

So. This milestone.

I’d figured out a while ago that Day 1000 would end up in late September, but I wasn’t really planning anything for it. Mostly, I think, I just wanted to not miss a day. I’d made it this far, after all, it would look damn stupid to drop the ball right at the finish line.

(Not that this is a finish line.)

But I made it to my milestone: exactly 3,100 photos in 1,000 days (plus 2 as of day 1,001). Damn, am I going to have to remember to add those comma separators now that I’m in the 4-digit range? Small price to pay, I guess.

I feel I should do something special to celebrate. Not dinner, but push my creativity in different directions. I started blogging again on day 100; I should at least take that up more consistently, right? But what else? Some wits suggested vlogging, as though I weren’t too shy and awkward to go in front of a camera and say stuff.

Then again, didn’t I do exactly that today? My talk on WP-CLI was recorded; and as awkward and nervous as I felt inside, the audience was receptive and engaged, laughed at the places I wanted them to laugh, asked plenty of questions and sent me lots of LinkedIn invites afterwards. So hey, thumbs up? I’ll be honest, part of me is still not quite ready to believe it, but I can’t ignore the evidence.

And I need to remember all this going forward into the next thousand days.

What have I been up to, photo-wise, in the last five weeks? Nothing super out of the ordinary: mostly, a lot of walking on the seawall. The weather is still mostly good, so I’m counting my blessings there. I’ve seen herons, gulls and… is that a cormorant?, a different seagull, duckies, pirates, AND THE FUZZIEST CATERPILLAR IN THE WORLD OH EM GEE.

Some gorgeous mornings featuring towers, more towers, Jesus lights, Granville Bridge, the Granville Island Giants, boats, more boats, and parks. Some gorgeous evenings featuring Cambie Bridge, Granville Bridge (again), boats on English Bay, a little red boat, and a shot from near Science World.

As the days shorten, I expect to see a lot more sunsets and sunrises. Prepare accordingly.

There was something special early in the month, though: my brother and sis-in-law came to Vancouver for a week. Her first visit here, and only his second (after my Master’s graduation, waaaaay back in ’99). I couldn’t take the whole week off, but we took the ferry to Victoria on Sunday, going by Hatley Castle and Esquimalt Lagoon. Wednesday we went on a walking tour of Stanley Park, with stories of lurid murders and displaced Indigenous settlements, and then capped it off with a delish dinner at the Teahouse.

Friday, we went up Grouse Mountain. Not the Grind, that would be silly, even though there were people doing it on that cool drizzly day, but to check out:

As I said, I’m going to blog more. I’ve got more time now that I’m not preparing for WordCamp, and I have to make time for it anyway because it’s not just for fun, it’s a mindfulness exercise. And it’ll help me figure out how to take things to the next level, starting with what that even means.

Categories
Days in Pictures Thoughts about Things

The 2019 Vancouver Queer Film Festival: days 948 — 967

Song Lang

An absolutely gorgeous film, weaving lush tragic dramas of mythical kings and princesses against the gritty reality of 1980’s socialist Saigon. Is it a bit heavy-handed with the symbolism and metaphors? Sure, though that’s to be expected in a story that’s half tear-jerking opera. Did it work? Hell yeah.

It’s not an explicitly gay movie, though, which I found interesting; however, if you use Cải Lương—a modern form of Vietnamese folk opera—as code for “gay” then it all comes together: rough and tough Dung “Thunderbolt” has a girlfriend, but he doesn’t seem to like her much, and should be read as closeted because his parents were Cải Lương performers and he loved watching from behind the scenes; the rather feyer Linh is completely committed to the theatre life, gets assaulted by some macho asshole in a diner because he’s an actor and some people don’t like them or something.

Even given that symbolic layer, I’d say the movie is not about sex, and not really about romantic love either. It’s about emotional connections, about two diametrically opposed people making each other better, and about a lost soul given a chance at redemption. Beautiful, dreamy and quite magical, this is a great start to the festival.

Queer Fear

Queerness and horror, two great tastes that taste great together! I’m not a huge horror fan so some of these shorts left me a bit cold, but I have to give a nod to Nite Ride and its badass quartet of queer Indigenous monster hunter ladies; also Pop Ritual, the Brazilian dialog-less story of a demon-hunting priest and his gay goth vampire prisoner / lover. Catholics, amirite?

The Gospel of Eureka

Welcome to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Population 2K and change, home of the biggest Jesus statue in North America as well as an annual Passion Play originally started by some white supremacist preacher in the 60s.

But also: home to a surprisingly queer- and trans-friendly population, a “Diversity Weekend” full of rainbows and dancing, a gay bar where drag queens lipsync to hymns and You Can’t Pray The Gay Away. Christians who see no contradiction between loving Jesus and being proudly gay or trans.

True, not all of them. But at least enough to pass and then uphold an anti-discrimination city ordinance in 2015, in defiance of yapping bigots, and apparently their own state government.

This small-town 21st century Christianity isn’t all sweetness and light—the narrative mentions the ghosts of lynchings and gay bashings, and how those ghosts might come to life again at any time—but it’s definitely not what us progressive big-city folks usually imagine when we think of places like this. The world is changing, even in Eureka Springs.

Coming Into Our Own: Youth Shorts

Shorts showcasing the trials and tribulations of queer / trans youth; some good, some great. My faves were First Day: the story of Hannah, an eleven-year-old trans girl at a new school (played by an actual trans actress, apparently); and Anemone, where a nonbinary teen comes out to their community in a very colourful way.

Night Comes On

Hoo boy, that was a hard one. Philly is not a pleasant place when seen through the eyes of a young black lesbian just out of juvie, with no one in her corner except her sassy little sister, and nothing to look forward to except revenge.

Heartbreaking, superbly acted, harsh in its look at an unfair and unforgiving system, I’m glad I got to experience it.

Transmission / Transfinite

This was not quite what I expected. The first short, Transmission, is the most straightforwardly sci-fi, with ideas of parallel timelines and revolutionary hacker groups, but still draws heavily from mythology—specifically Armenian myth, with references to the sea & storm goddess Tsovinar—and the need for the future to reclaim and reconnect with the past.

(These last bits are from the creator Q&A)

The movie feels incomplete, just the first chapter of a larger story, but it’s okay because that’s exactly what it is.

Transfinite leans far more on the “fantasy” side of things. It’s a half dozen or so loosely connected vignettes of pretty grounded magical realism where politics, gender, mythology, poetry and magic meet in a weird… stew… thing. I thoroughly enjoyed it, maybe because part of me is trying to label it, and failing. Most of the protagonists are people of colour, so it’s kind of like Afrofuturism? And also kind of like a film version of Starhawk’s first novel The Fifth Sacred Thing; which like Transfinite has the core message that gender / sexual liberation, anti-racism, environmental justice, indigenous justice, dance, magic, science, myth, are all part of the same thing. And also incidentally takes place mostly in the Bay Area.

I reread T5ST last week, for the first time in ages, and you know what? It holds up pretty well after 25 years. As earnest and anvilicious as I remember, and the mystical pseudoscience still makes me twitch, but the politics are still relevant today, so maybe those anvils need to be dropped.

Queer and…

Two medium-long shorts about what it’s like to be queer and something else:

Showcasing Vancouver’s own inimitable Maiden China and her drag + biological families, Yellow Peril: Queer Destiny explores difficult and messy questions of making space for queer Asian people, what it means to be “too Asian” or “not Asian enough”, and what traditions mean going forward into the future. Great stuff, and well deserving the Gerry Brunet Memorial Award.

Father Figure is a captivating look at Rotterdam’s Voguing House of Angels, whose all-Black members can dance, be free, and escape from racism and homophobia for a little while. And goddamn can those boys dance.

Queer Diaspora

Several excellent shorts about the lives of queer immigrants and refugees. Though their lives in Canada / the US are materially better, we’re far from utopias: they’re still dealing with various degrees of not-fitting-in or outright racism from the queer and mainstream communities, the need to stay in the closet to family / community members, or the stress of staying in legal limbo for years as their paperwork gets processed.

The best of these is She’s Not A Boy, the true ongoing story of intersex refugee Tatenda Ngwaru. Having fled Zimbabwe and now living in New York, she is deeply disconnected from the rainbow-waving mainstream queer community (itself generally ignorant of intersex issues) and misses her home terribly, but can never return because her life would be in danger.

José

This is typical South American cinema: suuuuper slow paced, very low key, no obvious story beats you can dance to.

But if you’re patient with it, you’ll get a bittersweet tale of drudge and loneliness; where religion, social norms and the harsh realities of poverty mean that gay space is a dream, and gay love only exists in the shadows. Where you have to choose between eloping with your boyfriend and supporting your hard-working mother. A tale with no easy answers and few happy endings. Though in a world where tomorrow is never guaranteed, maybe you should grab what joy you can now.

The Coast is Queer

Ten shorts. Ten winners. All different but all brilliant and beautiful in their own way. Funny or silly or inspiring or heartwarming or heartbreaking or sometimes a whole bunch at once.

But if I had to pick a couple? Everything’s Great for being the perfect mix of sad, disturbing and delightfully loopy, and A Typical Fairy Tale both for its excellent production values and the lovely tale of the princess that was a prince all along.

all our relations: explorations of indigiqueer kinship

A bunch of shorts preceded by poetry readings showing all the ways Indigenous queer people connect with each other: whether that’s romantic or familial relationships, a youth learning their first words of Anishinaabemowin, dancing their first traditional dance, or connecting with their ancestors through the elaborate ceremonial costumes they create. As I expected, the whole show was an education and it’ll take me a while to digest it.

The T

Good stuff, certainly engaging but not my fave. Also not really a movie: it’s all 6 (currently) episodes of a web series that follows two friends / exes (one white trans woman, one black queer man) over three months or so as they navigate life, love and HIV diagnosis in Chicago. So it doesn’t have any beginning, middle or end as such, just a bunch of (excellent and moving) vignettes.

The Spark

Some excellent shorts, and some that left me a bit cold. My faves: Lesson #8 (the hookup with the accountant accordion player) and the super-sad My Loneliness Is Killing Me. Honourable mention goes to shy, overanalysing Darren in Engaged, to whom I totally don’t relate at all, no sir.

An Almost Ordinary Summer / Croce e delizia

Y’know, after some very challenging films it’s good to end with something light and frothy and sweet. Add some gorgeous scenery and loud Italian gesticulating? Yep, I’m down. I wouldn’t exactly call it memorable, but meh, I had fun, and you need to end the festival on a high note.

Summary

Number of shows seen: 13

Favourite feature film: The Gospel of Eureka. It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s an education.

Favourite short film: Yellow Peril: Queer Destiny, hands down.

Movies I would have liked to see but didn’t: yeah, there’s always a few.

  • Troublemakers 4.0 and Black Divaz; missed because I had no time or energy on Sunday after my beach vball tournament
  • Vision Portraits
  • The Garden Left Behind and Fish Bones; mind you, if I hadn’t changed my mind at the last minute and gone to SFU GoldCorp I wouldn’t have found a lost wallet on Hastings Street and later returned it to its owner. Weird how life works sometimes, eh?

And now, the Days in Pictures part. It’s been three more weeks of walking to and work (mostly), and sometimes I still fret about routine and taking the same shots over and over. I’ve been through this before, and I know I’ll get through it again, but in the meantime it’s annoying. And hey, I’m still exploring, so I don’t know what my subconscious is even on about: we’ve got the underside of Burrard Bridge, some lovely views of Science World, the towers near David Lam Park, a sunset view from Burrard Bridge because we haven’t done those in a while, an amazing shot of Cambie Bridge

(seriously, that’s awesome)

Remember Khenko? It’s not just art, there really are herons hanging around False Creek, though so far I haven’t seen them east of Davie Street. Probably because they nest in Stanley Park? I’m not really sure. Here’s one. Here are two more. I assume there’s also fish and things to eat in False Creek?

And here’s a bumblebee at work. This one gets its own paragraph.

As does this action shot of the volleyball tournament on the 18th. I’m still not used to taking pictures of people, but with the right inspiration I guess I can make it work.

And here are some old (well, for Vancouver) buildings as I walked through Gastown on the way to the movies. I’ve always liked walking, and I like that I’m building my stamina and getting cardio. Bonus: I’ve noticed my weight has slowly but steadily been dropping! So now that the VQFF is over and I’ve got nowhere in particular to be most evenings, I can think about playing with my commute. Explore the south seawall, especially. Plan ahead for other things. In September I’ll mark Day 1000 of my photo challenge, and I need to celebrate that somehow. Career-related things will be happening around the same time, so we can celebrate and build on those two. And record it all as it happens.

Categories
Days in Pictures

Pride and a bit of a schlep: days 939 — 947

Let’s recap our Pride week, shall we?

Sunday, winning 2nd place in our beach volleyball league! It was a tough fight all summer, but Resting Beach Face triumphed! Or, y’know, was Miss Congeniality or whatever. Either way, it was great fun.

Monday, Paris is Burning. I’d only ever heard of it from RuPaul’s Drag Race, with the “reading is fundamental” bits and so on. Hey, you gotta start somewhere! I loved the movie: it was deeply moving, and excellent education, laying out the terms and concepts very clearly like any good documentary should, while also letting the people involved have their voice.

Kind of makes you think about Drag Race, too: how it cleans up an edgy and underground scene for the consumption of Middle America, making it safe and memeful… but also letting drag queens become celebrities in their own right, and making drag safer and more accessible. Besides, it’s not like they didn’t have their own nostalgia filter in the 80’s, and if RuPaul sold out, well, any single one of the queens we saw would have bitten off their right arm for the money and fame she achieved, so here we are.

Tuesday, not pictured: LOLGBTQ, a fundraiser for Out in Schools featuring a bevy of LGBTQ+ comics. Now in its 3rd iteration, it’s right in my hood and not to be missed!

Wednesday: the same grass volleyball I play every week in the summer. It is gay volleyball though, so I guess it counts!

Thursday, the Big Gay Sing! No, I didn’t learn to sing any better since last year. Let’s leave it at that!

Friday, more gay grass volleyball. Wasn’t looking for anything more, since I was physically tired (more on that below) and I’m rarely up for big dances and things at the best of times.

Saturday, the Dyke March! Same as last year, I didn’t participate, but same as last year it was loud and proud and wonderfully political. And same as last year they had things to say about TERFs. Lots of things. But, there was something new on The Drive: a plaque celebrating the neighbourhood’s queer heritage, which it seems was brand spanking new. I’m not sure exactly who’s responsible for these plaques (I saw another one later that day at Little Sister’s), but kudos to them.

Saturday night, the last day of the fireworks. I missed the previous two (yes, even Team Canada on Wednesday—tired after volleyball, I just wanted to go home and avoid the crowds). Good times! Again, I was right close to the English Bay water, allowing me to take some lovely shots. And some lovely meta-shots. But urgh, the crowds. And the fencing. I get why they have to have those fenced aisles so emergency services can get through, but I don’t know about the fencing. And you better hope you don’t need to go to the loo, otherwise you’ll be walking on other people’s blankets, and feeling kind of bad but fuck it, I’m not here to navigate a maze.

Sunday, the Parade. I mean, this was the third parade I’d been in or watched in the last week, but this is the main one. Or the biggest one. Certainly the only one with Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh. And the only one with masses of commercially-produced rainbow flags and whatnot, but behold: a handmade sign! And here’s another one! Thanks Aja.

Sign of the times, maybe? With the Pride Society flexing its power to hold some groups accountable (disinviting the VPD last fall, and VPL and UBC in the last few weeks), are we edging into a Pride that’s more mindful of disadvantaged groups within the LGBTQ+ spectrum, and not just, like, Scotiabank and selfies with politicians? Either way, I approve of the trend.

And then after late lunch with some of the VGVA crew, I deliberately did not follow them to Numbers. It was good to be invited, but… nah, really not up to it. Didn’t even go to the festival, though I kind of wanted to. But it was hot, and I was tired.

I usually spend Pride Monday vegging, but not this year! Because this year, I went on the Really Gay History Tour, learning all about Gone-to-the-spirits, an early 19th century transgender prophet; prosecutions for “buggery” and “gross indecency”; Vancouver’s sex-segregated beer parlours, sites of early gay cruising; the love letters of Constance Grey Swartz, a rare glimpse of historic bi visibility; the Castle Hotel where Winners is now, site of Vancouver’s first kiss-in; ted northe ( he spelled his names in all lower case), drag queen and activist, who spearheaded the campaign that led to the partial decriminalisation of gay sex in 1969; how Mike Harcourt proclaimed Gay Unity Week in 1981 and made Pride parades official… and just a few years later, lobbied by middle-class gays who wanted to clean up their neighbourhood, the same Mike Harcourt drove sex workers out of the West End. The lesson here is: even the politicians we may think of as heroes turn out to be a very mixed bag, and though gay unity is a nice idea, some members of the community will sell others down the river for more respectability and political access, and property values.

Some of these stories I already knew, but it was good to have it all tied together. The tapestry is still very incomplete, and probably always will be.

As I previously mentioned I’ve been walking to work. The long way, along the Seawall. And taking lots of lovely photos: David Lam Park, False Creek, the Yaletown skyline, public art, ponds and duckies. I’m used to a lot of walking, but this is still a lot, and it really creeps up on you at the end of the week! And… I’ll be honest, it’s not happening quite like I dreamed. I pictured relaxing strolls home, taking in the sights, but that hasn’t happened yet, what with volleyball and all the other Pride week stuff I need to do. I still feel… constrained, y’know? By routine. By work pressures.

And that’s normal. That’s okay. I’m going through a change on many levels, and I will adapt. One step at a time.

Categories
Thoughts about Things

My 2019 Queer Film Fest schedule

This one is coming a bit late, but here goes:

August 15

Just one film at the premiere, a sweet love story in 1980’s Saigon

Final choice: Song Lang

August 16

I’ve got either: earnest meditations on gayness and Christianity (Gay Chorus Deep South; The Gospel of Eureka) or… a lot of horror (Queer Fear; Lizzie).

Right now I’m leaning towards the gayness / Christianity ones. I did enjoy The Wise Kids waaaay back in 2011, and The Gospel of Eureka in particular should be a hell of a show. The horror shorts do look good though. So! Since International Village and SFU GoldCorp are only 5 minutes apart, and Eureka starts much later, couldn’t I split my viewing? Yeah, I think I could.

Final choice: Queer Fear & The Gospel of Eureka

August 17

Here I’ve got either women-focused stories (Shift Change; Tell It to the Bees) or youth-focused stories (Coming Into Our Own: Youth Shorts; Night Comes On).

Hmm… it’s Night Comes On that’s speaking to me most, so off we go to SFU GoldCorp again!

Final choice: Coming Into Our Own: Youth Shorts & Night Comes On

August 18

My first break. I’ve got a beach volleyball tourney in the morning and early afternoon, so realistically I wouldn’t have much energy. Add in a pre-indoor-season BBQ where we get to learn who else is on our indoor league teams, and modeling new jerseys? Sorry, no movies for me

August 19

So it’s a choice between queer & trans sci-fi and… nah, you had me at “queer & trans sci-fi”. This being a weeknight I probably won’t stay for the late show. Good thing it’s playing in my ‘hood!

Final choice: Transfinite

August 20

Either several shorts on intersectional queerness (Queer And…; Queer Diaspora) or a film on creativity and blindness followed by shorts on “longing, loneliness and parallel lives” (Vision Portraits; Have We Met Before?)

Huh, this is a hard one. I’m leaning most towards the second one, though

Final choice: Vision Portraits & Have We Met Before?

August 21

This is the Centrepiece Gala! Or, I could watch Song Lang again.

Final choice: José

August 22

It’s either The Coast Is Queer, or a second showing of José. And of course I never miss The Coast Is Queer. What’s the late show? A “slow burning indie drama”-slash-“coming of age”? Sure, I’ll take it. Or maybe I’ll go home early cos it’s way out on Commercial.

Final choice: The Coast Is Queer & Jules of Light and Dark

August 23

Hm. This is a tough one. A lot of dramas with no particular themes that I can see. The indigiqueer showcase is always good education for this settler, and I’m quite drawn to the late show as well.

Final choice: all our relations: explorations of indigiqueer kinship & The T

August 24

Again, more dramas. At first I had my eye on the collection of shorts on queer love lives (The Spark)… and then, a love story rising from the ashes of the Kosovo War (The Marriage)? Maybe…

But the other shows look good too! The story of an undocumented immigrant trans woman (The Garden Left Behind) and a college student’s struggle to reconcile modern life and family traditions (Fish Bones).

Final (ish) choice: The Garden Left Behind & Fish Bones

August 25

It’s the Closing Gala!

Final choice: An Almost Ordinary Summer

Categories
Days in Pictures

The art is to show off the art: days 921 — 938

Two weeks ago I let my inner artist out for to play and mess around with paint. I’ve doodled with pencil and pen lots of times, and designed a couple of my tattoos in Illustrator, but drip painting is a whole new medium. It was hella fun in spite of the frustration because I honestly didn’t know what the hell I was doing.

But hey, isn’t that the whole point? To let go of all my doubts and second-guessing, and just go with the flow. Yep, absolutely. And did it work? I’d say it did! And I’ve figured out a couple new ideas to try for next time. Because I want there to be a next time.

A week later I celebrated my own birthday. Actually, I celebrated it twice; one dinner on the exact day of, in a place I’d never been before but came recommended, and later in a rather more familiar restaurant that could accomodate a larger party. I always get a bit twitchy around my birthday; maybe part of it is having to count the years even though I don’t actually feel any older, and part of it is having to plan social things, which I don’t feel I’m very good at. Yeah, you’d think dinners would be straightforward, but it’s quite a workout when you second-guess every detail.

Forced me to clean up my apartment for guests though, so that was some good self-care.

And speaking of social, I went back to Quests and Queers at the Storm Crow after quite a long hiatus. I’ve missed it, and learned a fun new game!

Speaking more of social, I attended Black Lives Matter’s March on Pride last Saturday. I do enjoy the main parade, but I want to support the alternative events too—East Side Pride, the Dyke March, and this. I mean, it’s time I put my money and feet where my mouth is, because (a) I’ve been meaning to go since last year, and (b) I’ve gotten in enough arguments about BLM and police presence at Pride parades, and I figure being an ally also means doing stuff. I’ll admit I was kind of nervous during the march, but there was no incident. Before the march, though, I did witness the organisers get hit with a racial slur. Good thing we’re not the US and therefore OK, or I would have totally taken that the wrong way.

But on a more reflective notes, I’d like to mention two street shots I’m extremely happy with: Richards Street on July 19 and Denman Street on July 21. Different as they are in colour and feel, I think one thing that ties them together is the people. Anonymous people, unidentifiable, but they give these shots a dynamic oomph I’m really enjoying. I’m usually really twitchy about taking photos of people without their permission, but I feel this is safe and not intrusive. And you can’t argue with the results!

Fun fact: I almost didn’t post the July 19 photo, or any of the other ones I took that evening. I already had my daily photo; and I was tired, I think, not really in the mood for creative expression. Maybe the volleyball helped? In any case, I’m glad I told myself “ehhh, I guess I’ll post these.” There’s a time and place for self-editing, but I can definitely take it too far.