Pride week: days 576 — 582

Being gay enough

We start off with… a big boat in the Coal Harbour Marina. For all I know it’s owned by some rich gay sugar daddy! So, you know, let’s count this as queer representation.

Tuesday was LOLGBTQ!, a fundraiser for Qmunity featuring diverse local queer / trans comics. All with different takes on the funny, and all fucking hilarious. It was a smashing success, and there’s talk of making it a semi-regular event.

Wednesday, fireworks. We got there after volleyball, just before the show started, so we had to stay at the southern tip of Sunset Beach. View wasn’t too bad, though, and it did mean I didn’t have to worry about blocking people behind me as I took photos.

Thursday, the Big Gay Sing! Take some VMC members, add a whole bunch of fans who may or may not actually have good singing voices, project lyrics on screen, and away you go. I think I missed it last year for whatever reason, and I’m sorry I did because it’s always a blast. The audience was loud enough that those nearest me probably only got minor auditory damage.

And on the fifth day, he rested.

Saturday, busy busy. First the Dyke March. Some friends were marching, but they were all nonbinary or woman-identifying, so I took the hint and figured hey, it’s been a while, why not just sit back and watch for once? I really do love the Dyke March, how small and community-focused it is, and way more radically political than Sunday’s Pride Parade. No big floats from banks or telecoms or whatnot, but you do see signs like this.

Home, nap, recharge, then briefly out for a little private cocktail party, then off to the final night of fireworks. Different crowd, different location: this time we set up shop north of the Inukshuk, right at the water’s edge, as close to the barge as possible while still staying on land. And when I say “at the water’s edge” I mean we worried the rising tide would reach our blankets. Still, it was totally worth it for these absolutely amazing shots.

And then, the parade. As per usual, I walked with Greater Vancouver Allied Athletics, an umbrella group of many of Vancouver’s LGBT sports organisations. Also as per usual, I had a great time. The crowds were fierce, the boys were hot, those guys with water guns on Denman were very much welcome. Though I say so myself, I looked quite smashing in a volleyball jersey, beads, the old freedom rings I’ve had for over a quarter century, and the Storm Crow rainbow pin with the BLM colours… but then you’ve got some people like my friend Zak who only need flawless pecs and abs.

Anyway, the day was great. After the parade I went to a late lunch with some volleyball peeps, then home to recuperate. They were going to Numbers for drinks and karaoke, but this little introvert was running on fumes; I needed a shower and a bit of “me” time before I was ready to face the crowds again. I finally headed out… and waited in line over 45 minutes with music from the dance floor blaring in my ear… and I was done. Full stop, batteries dead, I headed home, and that was the end of my Pride week.

Well, not quite the end, since I could hear the whole neighbourhood partying for a few more hours—that’s what you get for living in the West End. And I’ll admit, I felt the FOMO… I know there’ll always be a part of me that wants to be with the Cool Kids, going to the coolest parties and flashing the coolest pecs. I ironically captioned my selfie with “am I gay enough”, because I’d covered myself in rainbow crap and, well, on this day can you ever have too much rainbow crap? But a part of me feels the pressure to do Pride the Right Way, meaning partypartyparty in clubsclubsclubs.

I know that’s not me, and I’m (mostly) okay with it. I also know that I’m doing more and more social things at Pride every year, and I am totally okay with that too. Social skills are skills that can be practiced, and social stamina can likewise be improved with practice. I am practicing. And I am improving.

I dunno, maybe sequins or rhinestones on my outfit next year?

Pride prologue: days 566 — 575

Opening acts

We start on my birthday weekend, which was actually a week after my actual birthday. Blame my friends for having stuff already planned, and myself for planning things at the last minute. 47 isn’t a number with a lot of oomph, right? On the bright side, it’s just a number, and birthdays are arbitrary dates anyway. I can celebrate anytime, and did.

Sunday was the Pride Sports Day, formerly Picnic in the Park. Not only did they rebrand, they moved it from Brockton Oval to Second Beach. Probably for the best: more accessible, a bit more parking, more shade around the park, more stuff nearby. I kinda didn’t want to go, since it was hot, and I still had beach vball in the afternoon. But, a bit more practice wouldn’t hurt, I felt I should support Pride events, and it would get me out of the house. So off I went.

And it was fun! I ended up not playing much volleyball, instead sitting (in the shade!) in the VGVA booth. And eating popcorn.

Monday I saw pictures of BLM-Vancouver’s March On Pride. It looks like they added brown and black lines to at least one of the rainbow walkways at Bute & Davie, and I got the urge to see what it looked like as soon as I got out of work. Kinda faded now, but someone did helpfully point out that it was Art. And I agree.

Looks like the new 8-stripe rainbow (6 + brown + black) is spreading beyond Philadelphia. I wonder how it’ll compete with the old-school 8-stripe (6 + pink + indigo) even in the same city. That’ll be fun to watch.

Then, a bunch of non-queer stuff during the rest of the week. A little table under Burrard Bridge (do people actually use it? I guess that was queer in the sense of “odd”); a lovely shot of the evening sky from David Lam Park; some random sights and Canadian passive-aggressive graffiti on my evening commute.

On Friday I went to the Pride Premiere party at the Vancouver Art Gallery. It was a fun time, though I got there too late to see the main drag acts. That’s because I was hanging out at a friend’s rented condo in the Sheraton Wall Centre. A deluxe apartment in the sky, you might say. It’s a gorgeous view of both the city and the sunset, but my acrophobia was acting up something fierce. I could not live long with these floor-to-ceiling windows, and the occasional bout of vertigo. No, seriously, I lost my balance twice in an hour. Guess I’ll stay in my 2nd floor apartment a while longer.

Saturday, instead of watching the fireworks I decided to get the hell out of the West End to watch movies. A very good one (Ant-Man and the Wasp) and a very not good one (this atrocity. Wasn’t even the first time I saw it. I regret nothing). Sunday was the last day of VGVA beach vball. That’s… kind of bittersweet. The summer’s not over, but it won’t stay forever. Silver lining: I’ll be grateful when the weather cools down.

More Pride events coming up this week. Vancouver’s only just begun to queer.

Celestial: days 556 — 565

I’m seeing stars

It’s been quite the heat wave on the earthly realm of Vancouver. Hot summer days of bees pollinating rather dry lavender flowers or playing secret agent to save the city from a mad terrorist; less hot summer evenings of sunset reflections, dappled walls and green-roofed streets, and mornings of silly sticky things on city property.

And then you’ve got my birthday weekend. I hadn’t gone to the Folk Music Fest in many years and hadn’t planned to this year, but a friend asked me if I wanted to be in the lantern procession. Sure, I said, and made my way to Jericho Park. I wouldn’t anything to do until the sun went down, so I listened to some good music, ate some delicious food, and watched the scenery.

The lantern procession itself didn’t go so well, since there was so much wind we had to keep stopping to relight our lanterns—except for those fitted with electric lights—but I didn’t care that much. For however long it lasted, I loved being part of something this magical and beautiful. Most lanterns were five-pointed stars, painted in various pretty patterns. A few were rather more elaborate—hell, the photos don’t even do them justice, because that moth was actually carried on a little rig above the performer’s head, with mechanisms to flap the wings. Plus there was a TARDIS lantern that was unfortunately deemed too fragile to go out in the wind.

To cap off the weekend, on Sunday I witnessed some further-out heavenly bodies when the Moon and Venus appeared just a couple degrees apart in the night sky. I hadn’t gotten any good photos that day, and when I saw it all over my Twitter feed I realised this was my chance. It’s a great photo, if I do say so myself, way better than any other moon pic I took, even with my real camera. I do wish my phone had physical zoom, but c’est la vie.

Walkabout: days 551 — 555

Where do I go from here?

Last Thursday was the 1 year anniversary of my joining Gossamer Threads. Well, one year plus one day if you want to get technical. Since it was my special day and my choice, a couple of us went way out to Daisy Sandwiches to celebrate. Damn, I missed that place. It felt good to be back, with my new friends. It felt good to celebrate a whole year at a job I really, really enjoy despite occasional bouts of nerves and imposter syndrome. Here’s to another year!

Friday after work I walked up the Seawall headed for Stanley Park. My plan was to trek all the way to Lions Gate Bridge and shoot nice photos of the sunset… but I stopped at the marina. The rain was coming down, on and off, I wasn’t enjoying the walk so much, and worried the scenery just wouldn’t look good when I got there.

I gave it another shot the following day. I was feeling restless again, a great need to push against the envelope of my world though my feet were hella sore. I made it this time. It was good, but the best was yet to come. Because it was on the way back, and with my phone battery dipping below 5%, that I took the perfect shot of downtown Vancouver from the marina. I mean look at that, that is amazing. The colours are great, the composition is right, it’s an all-around winner.

Food after volleyball on Sunday, and wandering about Jim Deva Plaza on Monday. Not for the first time, and not the first time I shot those glowy signs either. A bit over a year ago, the night before my in-person interview with GT, I looked for…affirmations? revelations? something? Whatever it is, I think I’m looking for it again. Not out of nervousness about some easily quantifiable challenge, but worrying about finding my way forward, and how to build on what I have. I admit I feel lost sometimes and doubt my abilities, but I know I have the tools to connect the dots and pull me through—steadily, gracefully and strongly.

Road trip: days 546 — 550

Walkabout is good for the soul

Last time we looked back, but this time we’re going somewhere new: Surrey Pride!

I know Surrey’s in the GVRD, but it felt like a road trip, Holland Park being near the very end of the Expo Line. And true, it doesn’t look like much—some booths, a couple food trucks and a stage—but my friend and I had fun visiting the booths, getting our photos taken with the local Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and listening to some queer folk rock band from Abbotsford.

And here’s something I haven’t seen in a while: some Christian guy protesting a Pride event! When was the last time that happened? I do remember my first couple parades in Ottawa (’93, ’94), there were a couple guys at the start, just outside the park. Or parking lot. Wait, parking lot? Is that right? They weren’t big affairs back then… so yes, that does feel right. A high school or community centre parking lot, maybe.

Anyway. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, but it’s just a reminder that homophobia is not a thing of the past. This isn’t even about Surrey as such—I know it’s got a reputation, and the first time I went into Surrey was to protest SB36’s censorship of those gay kids’ books back in ’97—hate and bigotry can pop up everywhere. Even towns sporting a rainbow crosswalk (recently vandalised but now good as new).

Which I think makes it even more important for us Big City Folks to support the small Pride events. They have to deal with this shit a lot more than us. Next up for me would be Abbotsford Pride, yeah?

I was pretty much a hermit the rest of the long weekend, not helped by the iffy weather. So here’s a nice shot of Davie Street.

On Monday, though, I was feeling restless (maybe from too much hermiting?) and decided to take a long walk. The weather was better and I planned to just stroll through Davie Village and see what my camera could pick up. I ended up going all the way to the Seawall, then back via Denman Street. It’s beautiful, and I know I’d love living in that neighbourhood. I mean, if I could afford it.

Mind you, money isn’t everything. You just need to stop and smell the flowers… or zoom in on the ladybugs. This was as big as I could get it, though, which frustrated me a little. There’s no macro zoom on this phone, and when I moved in closed the camera wouldn’t focus. Oh well, at least I know my equipment’s limit.

The classics never go out of style: days 536 — 545

Same except different. Old except new.

A lot of familiar sights in this batch.

And you know what? That’s okay. I don’t have to strike out every day to explore new worlds and new civilisations. Sometimes I tell myself I should, that every photo should be totally unique. From day one I worried I’d run out of inspiration going round and round the same routine. The fact is, though, I don’t need to push every day. And I don’t need to feel super-inspired with every shot I take. Spur of the moment is fine, as long as I keep plugging away at the challenge. And even old familiar faces can be made new again.

Yaletown towers after volleyball. And again. Sunset Beach Park during volleyball. Urban Beach after volleyball (and before the rain).

Wow, that’s a lot of volleyball, isn’t it? And pretty familiar, right? But then: some weird shoots on a palm tree on Harwood. I must have walked down that street a thousand times and never even noticed there were palm trees there! And they’re apparently flowering structures, not some weird parasite as I first assumed. So hey: live and learn.

And then: East Side Pride. I don’t think I went last year, though I’m pretty sure I went in 2016. When did Pokemon Go start? It was that year. Some friends and I were catching Eevees at one end of the park, and apparently some people were giving us funny looks, thinking we were Christians with our heads bowed in prayer or something.

And then: Watching The Ten Commandments after The Incredibles 2. I’d never seen it before apart from the Red Sea parting scene and, no joke, it’s really good. Surprisingly engaging movie, with some good tweaking and massaging of the original story to make it flow better on the big screen, interesting camera work that seems reminiscent of theatre or silent movies, and no expense spared in creating a sumptuously epic experience. Janky special effects, but hey, it was 1956, and I figure they did the best they could. Not everybody’s cup of tea, sure, but I had a great time.

Tuesday I decided to walk home along the Coal Harbour Seawall, shooting super neat things I’d never noticed before, then up Broughton through Davie Village. That was a neat experience. Coming up to Georgia St I flashed back to all the times I came home from my old job in North Van. I don’t miss it. In fact, I regret staying as long as I did. Bright side: I can look back on it and reflect on how much better off I am. I can take more pictures of Davie Village without associating them with stress and an unhappy work environment.

And so we end with a lovely English Bay sunset after dinner with friends. Been there, done that? Sure. The geese, though, that’s new!

Proving myself: days 526 — 535

Everything is on the test

This has been a super busy and stressful week and a bit. My introverted self has been pushed to its limits, my insecurities have been tested, but I know it’s all good for me.

Sunday the 10th: first day of tryouts for the VGVA indoor league. I’m shooting for the Competitive division, as I have for the past several years. Actually made it in 2016, then last year I was pushed down to Intermediate. I mean, I get it, there was an influx of very high-level players that pushed everyone down. It still stings, though.

Tryouts were followed by an afternoon of beach volleyball. Part of me wasn’t really keen on it—the part that likes to just sit around playing video games—but hey, sun and exercise and hot shirtless guys? Can’t say no to that, even though it depleted my energy cells.

Monday, I should have gone to that vball skills clinic, but (a) I was exhausted, and (b) I was giving a presentation at a WordPress meetup, and meeting a friend to rehearse with. I was nervous, not to say terrified, but the rehearsal hammered through all the bugs. I knew my material was solid, and now my presentation was too. Others agreed the next day.

The story really started in February when I went through an all-day workshop specifically for people who’d never presented in WP meetups / WordCamps, but wanted to dive in. We came up with ideas, refined and polished them, then did a super-short presentation. So that was good. And then at the WP15 party a couple weeks ago, the meetup organiser asked me if I wanted to do this presentation for real. Though part of me panicked I said yes, and here we are. This is a huge milestone for me! I kind of expected to feel more changed, but I knew that was silly. A single act won’t remove all my fears and insecurities. But I’m chipping away at them. This isn’t the end of the story.

Also on Tuesday, not pictured: my semiannual checkin / review at work. It went fine! No worries there. Okay, that’s a lie, I was worried. Isn’t Imposter Syndrome tons of fun? Though it’s nice that I can tell the difference between that and rational worry. Most of the time.

Also on Tuesday, pictured: some interesting theories about God.

Wednesday, a dramatic shot of light reflected by and on downtown buildings, followed by an even more dramatic shot of Yaletown with angry-looking clouds in the background. No storm was actually coming, but… Thursday happened to be the first of three nights in a row volunteering for the VMC. I figured that mentally it would be freaking exhausting, especially after all the drama that week, and Taichi on Saturday and going to the OneCity nomination meeting followed by more tryouts and more beach on Sunday and back on the vball skills clinic on Monday and Jesus when would I get the chance to rest and grab some “me” time? It all seemed incredibly overwhelming, but I decided to just put my head down, wear a big smile and power through it. It felt like another test, another workout, and I would pass it like I’d passed those other ones.

What I found out is that it wasn’t as hard as I thought. Maybe I found some energy reserves I didn’t know I had, maybe I’d been fighting myself and expecting to have a hard time. Or maybe a little bit of both. I do know the volunteer pizza party on closing night helped a lot, followed by a quiet bit of wandering around Granville Island and shooting the mainland. Haven’t done night photography in a while, and people still can’t believe that photo was taken by a phone.

Second tryouts went well. It took me a little while to find my groove, but in the end I was playing (I feel) better than last week, with better hits and especially better blocks. So on average… who knows? I guess we’ll see.

And so the Very Dramatic Week ended. Now it’s all over but the pretty pics: a bit of beach vball, the #underbrella public art piece behind Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, taken on the way to the skills clinic, and a lucky shot of a seagull soaring in front of a shiny Coal Harbour building. Didn’t even see it there when I took the picture, but there you go.

And I’ll remember this: next time concentrated drama happens in my life, hopefully I won’t build it up too much in my head, because I know I can handle it. And maybe that’s the test right there.

Spots of colour: days 521 — 525

Joy under clouds

It’s funny how memory works. What sticks in my mind about these five days is the grey overcast sky, as it was last Tuesday. I took this photo on the way to the Y, and kind of felt conflicted about it. On the one hand, I like the perspective-y composition that a lot of my fans also seem to like. On the other hand, it’s grey, grey sky on grey street and even the brown hospital building and orange traffic thingies aren’t helping.

I’ve felt this before: whenever the weather gets bad, I retreat. I don’t get out so much, I don’t look around so much, I don’t get inspired so much. That’s normal, right? But it does mean I have to work harder at it.

And the thing is, though the weather’s been kind of iffy, overall it’s been pretty good. There are some clouds, but they just make those sunsets all the prettier!

Though not as pretty as this donation box, which some Mole Hill children put up. Where is the money going to exactly? Which country will benefit? Should I be worried they’re just leaving change for people to grab? Nah. I’m happy encouraging the youth of today to do good in the world.

Saturday was my first of four nights volunteering for the Vancouver Men’s Chorus summer show. I’ll have more this weekend. Only planned 3, but they were short-handed, so I squeezed in one more. Though don’t get me wrong, it’s not a chore at all! The VMC always puts on amazing shows… and this one was different. “Gays of our Lives” could mean anything, but this was a bit more conceptual and nerdy. They wove meditations on queer history, community and gender into show-stopping song and dance numbers, and I am super looking forward to seeing it again and again and again, picking out details and nuances I missed the first time.

I ain’t afraid of no bees: days 511 — 520

Buzzzzzzz happy Pride Month

There I was, resting outside the Roundhouse after a grueling volleyball skills clinic, when I spied a bee crawling on the ground. I used to be pretty scared of those stinging critters—only natural, right?—but I wasn’t scared at all. Mostly because I figured it was a worker honeybee that had just reached its expiration date. They only live for a few weeks, y’know.

Turns out it was a bumblebee. I didn’t peg it as such because (a) I’d never seen a bumblebee crawling on the ground, and (b) it was a lot smaller and slimmer than any other I’d seen. But apparently this is one of the first generation born in the spring; later in the summer we’d see big stocky ones like I was used to. Amazing. Live and learn!

Then on the way home, I snapped one more shot, of the sunset burning up the clouds over Davie Street. My god that’s gorgeous. I think I might include it in my 2018 retrospective.

Speaking of clouds though, the weather’s gotten more and more overcast over the last week or so. Right now I’m not enjoying it because everything’s grey and icky, but for a while, it meant a beautiful mix of clouds and blue sky.

Case in point!

And one more, Yaletown towers holding up a delicate canopy of clouds.

And then the canopy got not so delicate… It actually rained a little bit that day, though the weather did clear up later. Mind you, this was pretty good beach vball weather. Much more sun than that and the sand gets really hot. Downside: not so many hot guys taking their shirts off.

And, oh yeah: it’s Pride Month! A bit less meaningful in BC, since our Pride thing is in August, but still. I’ve had my eye on the Heart of Davie Village piece for a while, but was never quite happy with either the light or the angle. But there we go. Glad to live in this queer-friendly neighbourhood, in this queer-friendly city.

Gold and blue: days 506 — 510

That time of day

A lot of sunsets!

Sunset Beach from Burrard Bridge, at that most magical time of day. Don’t really remember what I was doing there on a Monday night… but oh well, there it is.

Tuesday was the first night of VGVA grass league at Creekside Park. I’m not in that league, but was asked to sub. So I ambled on down the Seawall, taking a few shots of Science World as I got near. I remember trying to do this from Cambie Bridge and it went nowhere. No worries, I was just too far away. Science World is really pretty, all that spherical silver grid that turns gold in the setting sun.

(My first title for this post was “Silver and gold”, until I remembered that was a Pokémon game. So, pass.)

Wednesday, first night of grass league at David Lam Park, which I’ve sorely missed. All through my games, I was looking around, anxious not to miss all these gorgeous sunset shots. But I got enough: sunlight off the towers (around 8:35PM), some pretty golden clouds (also 8:35), and some pretty orange clouds (8:50PM. I think it was in the middle of our last match, in the break between sets).

Not quite a sunset shot, just Granville Street as I came home from work. It was just another perspective-y street photo that was all the rage last fall, until I noticed the sun was low enough that the west side was all in shadow, and the east side was brightly lit. I can’t say I planned this effect, but it looks hella nice.

And we end the week with a couple of architecture shots… which, in hindsight I’m kind of meh about. It’s a nice contrast between the hard corners of 737 Dunsmuir and the curves of 1050 Smithe, but I dunno. I don’t feel like there’s a story here.

Plus, it kind of breaks the sunset streak I had going. Is that something I want to do, have themes? Ehhh… maybe? Nah, themes aren’t what I need. They can’t all be great winners.