The final week of my 3-month Book Writing Tour 2013 concludes with me writing at Musette, my Vancouver neighbourhood bike-friendly café. Inspired by my Parisian café and Torontonian coffee shop writing experiences, I trial this tradition in my hometown as well. Also before concluding, the latest iTouch drama of my Book Writing Tour 2013 – that is: the mysterious disappearance of my crucial historical Calendar entries, which I reported in my Decidedly Foodie Return to Vancouver story – gets somehow resolved…though I now have 2 copies of each of those entries on my iTouch and no Apple technical support to assist with resolving that glitch. I am once more reminded that, sometimes, you just need to accept imperfections!
With the following week’s return to regularly scheduled programming at my paid day-job with NRCan, I reduce the frequency of my story posts here. My current goal is to post bi-weekly stories, with the intention of having this external motivator to keep me living my life as I transform my past into a useful and publicly sharable tale. Ideally, this frequency will allow a good balance between my book writing and my storytelling about parts of my writing process.
I now resume my various routines in earnest. My weekday morning smoothie ritual of fruit-protein-and-a-green-veggie is once again complemented by my weekly juicing of carrots and ginger, with a mix of beet, apple, cucumber, spinach or kale, and red pepper added in turn into the vitamin-rich rotation. A new addition to my homemade drink preparation is the delicious and somewhat healthy, travel-inspired Mojito, in which Jamaican Rum instead of white rum greets some organic sugar, soda water, and fresh lime juice and mint. While fresh produce abounds at the downtown farmers market during the summer months, I work into my weekly routine a Saturday morning stroll there through “my secret garden” passageway. I manage, also, to keep up with my twice-weekly Pilates classes at the nearby YMCA in order to keep strengthening my core to give my wiggly body some added stability, along with gaining other physical and mental health benefits. I practice using my strengthened core posture while cycling to the monthly Pacific Mobile Recycling Depot with my unmarked plastics and other materials, like almond milk cartons, that are not currently recyclable through the municipal recycling collection system.
While I continue deliberating the intensity with which I will continue improving my French in the foreseeable future, I take advantage of 3 conversational French opportunities in the past week. I drop in at 2 Vancouver French Meetup events, which both happen to be a little before and on the way to the writing events I participate in that week. I also reconnect with my new Parisienne friend for language exchange practicum, which we started after meeting at one of these French Meetup events I frequented in preparation for the Paris portion of my Book Writing Tour 2013. Perhaps I will return to France some day in my reincarnation as a full-time writer… We all need dreams, and it is wonderful when we can come up with some – and think that there is even some possibility of attaining them.
To sustain my artistic soul, I take myself on several Artist Dates these past two weeks. A friend invites me to another outdoor Shakespearean performance, this time at Sunset Beach: “Romeo & Juliet” (also with a twist). Similar to the gender role twist in the Hamlet performance I related in Back in Undecidedly Sunny Vancouver, here both Romeo and Juliet are portrayed as women, played by women, in a story of love – one that “transcends sex, sexuality and gender.” Even classic stories can become fresh and relevant to current times when a twist is introduced.
As part of my Artist’Dates, I also attend 2 evening Summer Writes Lectures at the downtown campus of Simon Fraser University. The first one, “Going Places: A Writerly Perspective on Travel”, quite timely for my last week of my Book Writing Tour 2013 discusses how writing is a journey, and uses the excitement, uncertainty, and discovery of travel as metaphors for writing. From this Lecture – by short-story writer Marina Sonkina, originally from Russia and the Communist Block all too familiar to me from my childhood – I am reminded of the importance of humour in storytelling. The following week’s Lecture, “Personal Tales: How a Country Boy Became a Poet”, reminds how the places and physical objects that flit through or linger in our lives, shape us. In this Lecture, George Bowering – from the small BC town of Oliver – highlights how taking notice of the details distinguishes writers from non-writers, and speaks to me of the importance of being comfortable in one’s own skin.
The Summer Writes Lectures are accompanied by 4-hour writing Workshops conducted over 2 days, of which I take the one on “Personal Tales: Form and the Narrative Essay”. Invited to bring a physical object from our past to serve as a memory prompt, I narrate the forgotten story that the object commands be told. Only it works even more effectively than I expect, and the process of writing the narrative induces some surprise discoveries.
Back at my apartment, my little herb garden – planted only three weeks earlier upon my being Back in Undecidedly Sunny Vancouver – is already nearing harvest. My cilantro, arugula and mesclun salad greens are reaching heights of up to 10cm. Though the days remain warm, the evenings are now getting chilly, so perhaps they will not grow much in size but will ripen even more in flavour.
My return to my day-job coincides with my celebrations of my 16th anniversary of coming to Vancouver. Only two weeks since celebrating my 29th anniversary of coming to Canada described in my Decidedly Foodie Return to Vancouver story, I don the same pretty Desigual dress – which I first feature in the London Calling story – and indulge in some rich French cuisine of French onion soup, truffled poutine, and crème brulée, at one of my favourite restaurants in Vancouver, the Franco-German: La Brasserie.
Additionally to my weekly Special Dish for the Week creations – of which I had 3 in the past two weeks: Fig and Green Peppercorn Soup, Spiced Swiss Chard with Butter Beans, Pineapple Shiitake Thai Curry with Shrimp and Chickpeas – into my other cooking, of late, enter dishes containing chicken livers along with other iron sources (like oatmeal in my smoothies) and iron supplements to counter the recently measured iron deficiency, which may be causing my ongoing fatigue and muscle weakness.
As I recount my writing-related endeavours and other life-affirming activities of the past two weeks, it all feels incredibly productive but a tad overwhelming. I feel my body is speaking up in mild protest this week, and I am listening. I will be taking it a little bit easier, and the upcoming long weekend – quite fittingly celebrating Labour Day – should help with that plan as well.