Mouse says “Thanks”: days 226 — 250

Okay, another not-planned break. Blame the Queer Film Fest, maybe, and blame the new job, which is still good and fun and WordPressy and hella challenging, but is not leaving me with much energy. I’d toyed with the idea of doing reviews as before, but turns out I couldn’t do that and my regular posts. Turns out I couldn’t do either, for a while. Oh well, this regular blogging stuff is still new. The important thing is to move forward.

As of Monday August 14 (day 226), I was still getting used to having blue skies again. So I took a picture of Stanley Park and the North Shore mountains. It’s nice. I love having a view of the North Shore that I can get to at lunchtime. Bad news, though: yellow skies came back for a few days, but I think as of today they’re gone. Amazing what a little rain can do. Today the air smelled all fresh and petrichor, instead of like a campfire.

On August 15 Gossamer Threads held a big clients BBQ, and I was asked to be a photographer. It was awkward—as it always is around strangers—and occasionally I’d disengage to look at some bees.

August 21, a solar eclipse! It was a pretty eerie experience, though honestly a little disappointing. The sky didn’t get nearly as dark as I expected from a 90% full eclipse, though it did dim somewhat, and the air got noticeably cooler. But then again, that might have been my eyes adapting to the gradually fading light, and I wouldn’t notice any big difference unless the sky was much more hidden? Huh, that never occurred to me until just now. What was cool was the light distorted into crescents, as you’d see by making a fist, or just looking at the shadows of leaves.

This was only the second eclipse I remember seeing, the first being a lunar eclipse in February 2008. Which was honestly a lot eerier. The moon turning to blood beats somewhat dimmer sunlight any day. Or any night.

Speaking of sunlight, I found an interesting spot the next day (on Cordova, just east of Burrard): having shamefully skipped the gym and taking the long way to work, I almost discovered how an ant must feel. I scoffed at the idea of that curvy building actually focusing enough light to be harmful… but apparently it does happen.

I could spend months just cataloguing the public art around. This piece at the Law Courts is not the first and it won’t be the last. Nitpicky as I am I had to take half a dozen shots until I was happy the bits were nicely concentric.

And hey, another train photo. Not my first by a long shot, even if you’re not counting this year. I took many, many pictures of the West Coast Express and assorted trains around PoCo Station. It felt like freedom, y’know? Trains must feel that way to most people, and after visiting Europe and taking lots of trains, I can see why.

Had another company barbecue the other day, where I made a stunning discovery. They grow a few veggies and herbs up on the rooftop deck, including Brussels sprouts. I had no idea this is how they grew! I’d vaguely thought that they grew like lettuces, each on their own. But no, turns out they grow like… tumours, on the stalk of a bigger plant. Weird. How did that happen? What do / did wild plants look like? Wikipedia says they’re related to cabbages, which isn’t that surprising, but nothing about their origins.

Not gonna lie, it can be a little embarrassing to admit to not knowing something… but then you learn something new, and that’s cool. Then you’re one of the lucky 10,000.

Speaking of learning… So the PNE has a special exhibition every year, with a different theme. This year, it was “Toytopia”. Games and toys over the decades. Board games, stupid old crap simple wholesome entertainment from before Kids Today ruined everything with their indie rock and their Yu-Gi-Oh, Legos (of course), train sets, action figures—oh yeah, I remember these babies, my brothers and I had them all. That little droid in the middle, the R5-D4? I loved that thing. I didn’t care (or remember) that we only saw it for one minute in A New Hope before it got fried, that little figurine was way cooler than R2-D2 in my eyes. He’s taller and orange, what’s not to like?

Anyway, games! The exhibit included a few old-school arcade games from when you had arcades, from when you put quarters in and games cost only one quarter. Although you didn’t put quarters into these games, that wouldn’t be any fun. I wanted to try Dig Dug or Ms Pac-Man, which I had rather enjoyed back in the day, but they were taken. So I chose Missile Command, which… I don’t think I’ve ever played before, though I’d watched it and knew the basics. It’s not too bad at first, but then gets overwhelmingly fast-paced. I wonder if there’s a way to predict where the bombs will go, just like I hear you can do in Pac-Man?

And I’ll end with a heartwarming story I only learned about from a poster: a lost cat that was returned to his human. I’d been walking around the Village looking for my daily pic and… well, there you go. I don’t know either of them, but I’m glad they’re together again.

Here comes the sun: days 221 — 225

In 2007 I was working at Accenture, and at some point it dawned on me I worked literally across the street from the Vancouver Public Library, and it might be fun to get a library card and check out some books.

I don’t remember what else I read, but I do remember it took me about a year to go through Les misérables, on and off. Now that I think about it I finished the book after being laid off—that was in November, and i took it with me back to Ottawa over the holidays.

If you’re curious, Les mis is one of the greatest works in the entire history of literature, French or otherwise.

Incidentally, though I don’t work next door anymore, the library isn’t far out of my way. Maybe I should reactivate that card and see what else it has to offer…

August 10th (day 222) was the Vancouver Queer Film Festival’s opening gala. I’m still not blogging reviews this year… except maybe one. I do have many thoughts about the opening gala film, I Dream In Another Language / Sueño en otro idioma. We’ll see how it evolves.

Friday, a quick look up Cordova Street from the Granville walkway. I think I took a daily pic in the opposite direction at some point, but that was a while ago and I can’t be bothered to look it up.

Saturday, clouds started forming. Real, rain-bearing clouds, not this apocalyptic smoky haze. Actually, he haze was gradually clearing—by Friday you could just about see both the North Shore mountains and Burnaby Mountains from Waterfront. But this promised to instantly clear all that grime from the atmosphere.

Which, it did during the night. Starting a little before 11, I think, a fine little drizzle came down. Nothing big, but we didn’t need anymore.

In fact, the rain was exactly what we needed, not just for the smoke but for volleyball. I played in VGVA’S Sets on the Beach tournament on Sunday and really enjoyed it, way more than all the other times I played this summer. The sand was all right, cool and damp at first and never getting uncomfortably hot even after the sun came out. And though the day started out overcast the sun did come out, so I got enough eye candy. And I got a little dirty from diving and rolling. That was fun. Taking a shirtless selfie (however partial) is also kind of a big step for me.

And now outdoor vball is over for me. I think there are still beach leagues going on, but I won’t be playing in them. And next Sunday is the first round of evaluations for VGVA’s indoor league. Sigh. The summer’s almost over…

PRIDE: days 216 — 220

It’s that time of year, and it’s been ages since I blogged about Pride. I think this resolution is really good for me! This weekend is always a bit rough for me; as a socially awkward introvert, it’s hard to look at everybody else having fun and partying without (a) wishing I could just join them and (b) knowing I wouldn’t have much energy for it.

But hey, I’m much more relaxed than I used to be. It’s all about building up social stamina and pushing my comfort zone a bit at a time.

I began celebrations with the Davie Street Party on Friday. I went by myself, but I knew I’d run into friends and then we’d just walk up and down the street running into other friends, checking out the hot ginger juggler. Lana Wachowski and some of the cast of Sense8 were in town, and they did a little fan meeting thing, but I didn’t get much out of it. They were behind a fence, got some selfies with a few fans who weren’t me, and then security hustled them out. I think I got half my face in one of Max Riemelt’s photos, though. So I guess that was nice?

Saturday I slept in waaay late and missed the pancake breakfast, but I was in time for the Dyke March. Which wouldn’t have happened without me. Well, the march itself would have happened, but the BC Humanists would not have been a part of it this year. I wanted to go, but didn’t want to go by myself, so I put out the call on FB, and enough people responded (including the guy with the banner, who was saving it for Sunday) that we had a group. Yay! And we walked behind some grumpy old dykes!

Afterwards we had a bite to eat at Storm Crow Tavern. They had a special thing going on, where they gave out and various Pride buttons with their logo on it. I got a Trans flag, and asked for a rainbow one. Imagine my surprise when I got the special Philadelphia one, with a black and a brown strip on top. I seriously didn’t think I’d see that outside of Philly, yet here we are. I believe it’s as good a Pride flag as any other, and I was happy to wear it for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday night: a little fireworks party. From a West End balcony I saw a very red sunset—it looks like the smoke’s clearing now, but damn did it look nasty for a few days, followed of course by some lovely fireworks courtesy of Team Canada. I was quite impressed with my little Samsung Galaxy S5 camera, it did quite well in the low light, even differentiating colours pretty nicely.

And then Sunday: the parade! My friend Colin went as a bearded and beglittered Wonder Woman, and as soon as I snapped his photo, I knew it would be my official daily pic. Although I’m kind of liking this other photo of me between Peter (who is maybe 6′ 6″) and Colin (wearing about 6″ heels).

Since I was helping to carry the GVAA banner in front of the truck, I had the chance to snap a few more pictures of the crowds. Sometimes I think it’d be nice to just watch the parade—from a nice comfy balcony in the shade, naturally, I ain’t sitting on the sidewalk for hours—but there’s a real rush to walking and drinking in the crowds. It’s kind of exhausting, but it feels amazing. With no plans afterwards, I checked out the festival at Sunset Beach, hugged a couple more friends, then went home. I could hear people still partying in the streets, but I was good.

Monday: nothing, and it felt great. It took me the longest time to get off my ass, and then I just didn’t know what to shoot. So I shot Davie Street, which is what I do when I’m not inspired.

Tuesday, walking through the Village for the first time in a while, I spied a quaint old fire station that I’d seen a million times but for some reason looked nice. Ending a weekend of modern, progressive things, with an old thing. Ehh, why not? It’s a heritage building, built in 1907, rehabilitated in 1988. How many people lived in the West end in 1907? Couldn’t have been that many.

On fire: days 211 — 215

Jesus, this heatwave. The smoke wafting in from the Interior isn’t helping things either—kind of maybe cooling us down a tad, but the grey sky, orange sky and smell more than makes up for it. I don’t feel it’s quite as bad as the last time this happened two years ago, mind you. Most of the time I don’t smell the smoke, though for a couple days my throat has been scratchy and sensitive, and I think my sinuses are reacting too.

Last time I played beach vball, I didn’t enjoy it that much. Yes, hot guys in skimpy shorts are a definite plus, but it’s really hot and dry and exhausting. I’d much rather play grass vball in the evening when it’s relatively cool, and there’s still quite a bit of eye candy.

But I still kind of wanted a photo of the place… so, avoiding creeper shots because they’re creepy, I spied a bit of green snuggling in the shade of a pole. Didn’t think anything could take root in this sand, which they supposedly rake regularly, but I guess life finds a way.

Monday I didn’t feel that inspired, so you got a photo of Granville Street. Not the first I’ve taken. Not even the first of the Vancouver Block Building. But meh, that’s okay. I can’t be on all the time.

Tuesday things got very bad for the Lower Mainland, when we got a little taste of what living in the Interior must be like. I’ll be honest, the orange sun and grey sky makes me feel helpless and scared. I don’t want to get used to this. I don’t want it to be the new normal.

Wednesay night, fireworks provided a nice distraction.

Thursday, a bit of construction on the way home. No real point to this, except I liked the composition and colours, and this is an angle I’ve never looked at before. So hey, let’s celebrate the whole point of this year-long exercise!

Coming up next: PRIIIIIIDE

Towers and burbs: days 206 — 210

It occurred to me a while ago that I was working almost right next door to a place where I worked in 2008 for about 8 months: Waterstreet Technologies, located on (you guessed it) Water Street in Gastown. I couldn’t remember the exact address but figured I’d recognise the place, so I went up and down Water St a couple times; but nothing rang any bells in the 300 block where I thought it used to be. Eventually I gave up and checked out their website, and… it’s at number 55? Really? I guess the 300 was just the suite number. The place still didn’t look familiar, and part of me is still thinking they moved in the last 9 years. But no, it’s just my weird brain playing tricks on me.

Anyway, I then decided to take the scenic route home through SFU Woodward’s, where I snapped a picture of coloured flags on… power lines? Is that what they are? It seems I’ve been noticing them a lot more recently.

Wednesday is volleyball at David Lam, so I took the usual pretty shots of Yaletown and False Creek. But it was the building under construction at Pacific & Richards that caught my eye. The Charleson, I think it’s called. Which is also the name of a nearby park right across the water from David Lam.

Thursday night a lot of queer (and other) nerds congregated on Jim Deva Plaza for a few hours of tabletop gaming. I’d made plans to meet a couple friends, but what with one thing and another we kept missing each other, and everybody already seemed to have their own boards and their own groups. But not to worry! Turns out playing giant Jenga is a great way to meet people. It’s loose and fast-paced, a lot of it is spent standing around either judging the active player or shouting suggestions, and when the thing comes crashing down, we all get to commiserate, and welcome new players. Hella good fun.

Friday I kept up the theme of “exploring Gastown” and on my lunch hour snapped this and that, finally deciding to post a nice picture of trains, with Canada Place and some cruise ship in the background. That‘s a blast from the past too: I took the West Coast Express for about two years when I worked downtown but lived in PoCo (including those 8 months with Waterstreet) and took many, many photos that I posted on Flickr. A few times I toyed with the idea of taking the train out past PoCo to see what life was like in the far-far suburbs. Which I did do once, stopping at Pitt Meadows, the next station over. It wasn’t that interesting, just more… suburbany. I didn’t like it.

Although I did like the ride, crossing the river in the still of night… I do like trains, but until my Europe trip only went on them a handful of times. It’s not something you can really enjoy out here.

And hey, speaking of blasts from the past. On Saturday I went into those same burbs for a games night with friends, and I had a hankering to check out my old stomping grounds. I stopped at the Shaughnessy Station Mall and hiked up the pedestrian overpass—I remember when they installed that thing!—and enjoyed the intensely suburban panorama. And then I got artsy. So that was fun.

Who knows, maybe I’ll take the train out there one of these days? But nah, I drove through Mission 10 days ago. I’ve seen the place. I’d rather not spend the night there if I can help it.

Too good to be true: days 201 — 205

Question: Is it that more interesting things are happening to me recently, or is that my new outlook on life is making me notice the interesting stuff more?

It’s the chicken and the egg, Will. The chicken and the egg.

It’s the same thing as photography, when I think about it. I remember being so worried about finding anything interesting to shoot, every single day. I figured it would just highlight how boring my daily routine was, or I’d just drop it after a while. But I learned there are beautiful things everywhere all the time, even on streets I walk every every day. I just need to keep my eyes open and yes, get off the beaten path once in a while.

Sometimes life comes at you fast. Sometimes life takes the form of out-of-this-world delicious donuts. Or attending a geeky wedding out in Harrison Mills where guests played board games, Mario console games, and I found a Blue Eyes White Dragon card in one of my cupcakes. Apparently it was the only BEWD in the whole lot, so I feel pretty damn special.

And sometimes you see something so perfect but you have to work to make your camera see it. So on Sunday I was walking along the seawall; it was windy, waves were high, and I saw a bunch of logs / large branches stuck amongst the rocks. Plus, a bunch of little inuksuit.

I didn’t want to make those the focus of my daily pic—been there, done that—but the crashing waves and setting sun were too good to resist. Still, I had to take a couple dozen shots until I found one I was happy with. The end result was absolutely perfect and totally worth it, though.

Besides birthday donuts, you know the other nice thing about working at Gossamer Threads? The rooftop patio overlooking Granville Street. Gawd, I love being downtown. I mean it’s kind of grey and a bit claustrophobic with the high-rises and sometimes I wish people would just walk faster already… but right now I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The big Two Oh Oh: days 196 — 200

And here’s a milestone: 200 days of photos, at least one a day! Some days, way more than that of course. My blogging sort of fell by the wayside after coming back from Europe, but I’m back now! And I’m blogging about more than just photos, which I figured would happen eventually. Focusing on 5 photos at a time was just a way to kickstart my creative brain, get it going through the motions on a regular basis. Plus… it’s not a coincidence that I started blogging again on the first day of my new job. Because finally yes, in spite of that damn imposter syndrome, I feel positive about where my career—and indeed my life—are going. Finally, I feel I have something to write about.

On day 100 I took my creativity to the next level and started blogging again. On this multiple-of-100 milestone, I’ll… stay the course. I’m still feeling my way forward, blogging-wise, and I’m nervous about committing too much. One photo every day and one post every 5 days is good for now.

But speaking of that “one a day thing”, I really need to stop overanalysing how I number photos, and worrying about which photo is the “official” one. And whether it’s okay to change my mind. I think that line of thought is really limiting how many photos I post per day. At least one, yes. But hardly ever more than one, unless I’m in Europe.

Anyway. These 5 days were fun and nicely social, from my birthday party at the Storm Crow to seeing Phantom for the first time (fantastic), and snapping some geese at the park.

My 2017 Queer Film Festival schedule

It’s that time of year again! Let’s see what’s out there…

Thursday August 10

The opening gala, so there’s only one choice. It looks wonderful, though: dying indigenous languages, magical realism, and what looks like a deep meditation on cultures and communication? Yes please. Oh, and apparently there’s a long-lost love story between two guys, which makes this a queer film.

Final choice: I Dream In Another Language / Sueño en otro idioma

Friday August 11

Either gay horror and murder mysteries, or touching lesbian personal dramas. Hmm… Yeah, let’s go for the horror. When will I get another chance to see a zombie apocalypse in a bathhouse?

Final choice: B&B and DTF: Down To Fright

Saturday August 12

I’ve got plans that night, but I could catch an early show, one of the lesbian dramas I missed Friday. Don’t know if I’ll have time, that would cut into my Taiji. But we’ll see.

Final choice (maybe): Signature Move

Sunday August 13

At first I hadn’t planned anything for Sunday. Maybe because nothing really caught my eye, or I just wanted to pace myself… but I do have choices. Seems to be a lot of biographies and documentaries. Half focused on North America (and one just on Vancouver), half international. As interesting as some of these international stories are, I’m in the mood for something local.

Final choice: Troublemakers 2.0

Monday August 14

Either a look at LGBT communities and what anchors them, or a lot of weird sexy gay dramas. I’m feeling the former more.

Final choice: Stay Gold, March Forward and Jewel’s Catch One

Tuesday August 15

Either two sexy gay love stories, or a double-bill of Indigenous femme stories. I had settled on the early sexy gay love show (again, pacing myself)… but now I’m not so sure. Though now I’m thinking I may want to take in some queer First Nations culture.

Final choice (tentative): Center Of My World / Die Mitte der Welt

Wednesday August 16

The centrepiece gala, a documentary on the incarceration and aftermath of Black trans woman CeCe McDonald.

Final choice: Free CeCe!

Thursday August 17

Either a lot of short stories exploring intersectional queer identities, or a couple of bittersweet lesbian love stories. Originally I didn’t put down anything for Thursday. Do I have other plans? I don’t even remember. But either way, I think I’ll pass on the lesbian drama.

Final choice: The Migrant Mixtape

Friday August 18

Okay, you all know I’ll seeing The Coast Is Queer, right? And hey, the late show in that theatre is a biopic of one of the leaders of the Stonewall rebellion.

Final choice: The Coast Is Queer and The Death & Life of Marsha P. Johnson

Saturday August 19

I’ve got plans that night too! But, I think I’ll catch an early-early show, which would have been the late show on Thursday. It’s too bad, I really enjoyed Kumu Hina a couple years ago when it was just a short film, and would have liked to see the feature-length version.

Final choice: Taxi Stories

Sunday August 20

There’s only the ending gala to see. Fortunately it looks fun!

Final choice: Handsome Devil

Crepes and nostalgia: days 191 — 195

“Happiness is”

You know, I haven’t used that word in a while, and really meant it. “Happy” is a big word, but I do feel… good. Better than I used to be. For the first time in a long while, I feel like my career is in motion, and with it, the rest of my life.

All that and strawberry shortcake crepes. Good thing I’m also going back to the gym! And I could make a crack about getting a Pride body, but fuck that noise. Body pride, not Pride body.

But speaking of bodies, I did something a bit unusual this week. On Thursday I attended a Pride reading series at the Jim Deva Plaza—a nice little event celebrating LGBTQ+ literature. Pride isn’t just about parades and parties! This event was MC’d by Cicely-Belle Blain of Black Lives Matter Vancouver and Qmunity, and I had the urge to take a picture. Which I then posted, after asking their permission. Photographing people, that’s a pretty new thing for me, especially strangers. It’s a lot more interactivity than usually I let myself get into.

Friday, Bastille Day, the day before my own birthday, I attended a birthday dinner up at SFU. My gawd, the place has changed since the last time I saw it—2004, maybe? Development all over the place, even a new observatory. Jupiter was there to greet us, though I didn’t look at it through a telescope. I’d done that before and to be honest, it wasn’t as inspiring as I thought it’d be. So I was happy with the twilight sky and little Jupiter shining over the AQ.

Afterwards some of us went for a walk around and under the AQ, and I felt on more familiar ground. I drove some friends to the nearest SkyTrain station… and then instead of going home, I hauled ass back up the mountain. When would I get another chance to reminisce like this?

My first stop, of course, was the Applied Sciences Building, where I spent so much time between ’96 and ’99. Hasn’t changed much at all, as far as I could see. I think the couches layout has been tweaked, and I could have sworn there used to be photos of all the profs and staff, but that seems to be gone. Pity, I would have have liked to see how Fred Popovich, my supervisor, was doing. (He’s still around, actually.)

Naturally I couldn’t get to my old desk. That section, next to the upstairs grad computing lab, was (and evidently still is) behind keycard-controlled doors.

Next: quietly ambling down the AQ, 3rd level. That part hasn’t changed much either, except for maybe more vending machines? Plus a couple new concession stands. And desks where students could burn the midnight oil on a Friday night.

The Convocation Mall was all dressed up, with chairs and tables. What was the occasion? Graduation was long over, wasn’t it?

And then, my second main destination: the Transportation Complex, housing SF-PIRG and Out On Campus. And holy cow, OOC was still there, right where I left it, at TC 314N. Amazing… but maybe I shouldn’t be amazed. It’s great real estate: a nice space with a little lobby for picking up pamphlets and whatnot, right next to SFPIRG and the Women’s Centre.

And that’s when I went home, tired but happy to have strolled down memory lane.

Day 195/365: clouds and Jupiter #dailypic

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In transition: days 186 — 190

I’m still feeling lost and unrooted. A new job, a more challenging job in many ways, but I know it’ll be so much more rewarding. Even now, I’m in a better than I was… but it’s still hard. Imposter syndrome was hitting me hard, and though it’s lessened, I don’t expect it’ll go away soon. I understand what it is, I understand it’s an irrational reaction. This too shall pass.

And then there’s all the little details, like where to eat: I was going to the same lunch place for years week in, week out—and don’t get me wrong, they’ve totally earned my loyalty, but I’m a creature of habit and I’ve been spoiled. So I must strike out on my own, find a new good place. Or find many good places; this is f***ing downtown Vancouver, after all, not North Van. I have many more options available here.

Not all those options are good, though. One of them gave me indigestion (or something) Thursday night, which kind of ruined the last day of my first week, but there you go. It’s all part of the game.

Photography-wise, I feel like I’m starting from scratch. My days (and my evenings) are in the more populous downtown core, not Davie Village, Lions’ Gate Bridge, or North Van. The stress and insecurities of the new job are also probably not helping with the whole creativity thing… So looking back, it kind of feels like a lot of “safe” shots, you know what I mean? City shots. Alleys. The Gabriola Mansion. The only one that really speaks to me is the public art piece by Jen Brisson near Harbour Centre.

Ah well. I’m still in-between. I’ll get my bearings soon.