Thoughts on Life, After the Death of my Father

Some very emo writing for Father’s Day 2k17, aka exactly 12 weeks since my dad became a spooky ghost. I used to write intimate essays like this all the time, and then I got super depressed and that stopped happening, but this is the first thing I’ve written in a while that I actually liked and wanted to share.

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We’re in your parent’s car and I have no idea what time it is or where we are. You borrowed the car to drive to a hill in the suburbs where we can check out the view of Vancouver from afar. I chose this viewpoint from a list of other viewpoints suggested to me by Google because I figured this one would look the best at night, which was when we were meeting up, and I was correct. The city from high up on a cold, rainy night. It made me feel so small, but in a calming way. It was beautiful. And you’re beautiful, even though you maybe don’t know it. And even though it’s maybe in a way that’s– I don’t know, unexpected? Not unconventional, I saw it before, I just hadn’t really thought about it. So: unexpected. This whole thing is so unexpected.

And now I’m thinking about how my father died less than 10 hours ago, which was also unexpected, in a hospital in a suburb, and here I am with you in a car in a different suburb and you haven’t asked me about it, you’re distracting me, which is just what I needed. You are just what I needed. It’s funny how the second you give up on a passionate desire for something, that thing appears in your life. The second you don’t even want it anymore, that’s when it shows up, gift-wrapped with your name on it.

We’re still in your parent’s car, I still have no idea where or when we are, barely a second has passed since I first thought that. My mind keeps racing so quickly I couldn’t even dream of catching up with it. Is that a bad thing? I don’t know. At least that way when I think of my dad it doesn’t have enough time to really sink in. He’s dead. He’s dead he’s dead he’s dead. And I know it, kind of, but then that thought gets replaced so quickly by something else. That’s how grief works, right? You start with denial?

But then I catch myself in the rearview mirror and remember I’m wearing all black, because I’m in mourning. And because I like dressing according to a theme, I guess. It seems appropriate. I don’t really know what is appropriate, though, I don’t really know how to go about grieving.

We’re in your parent’s car and I have no idea where or when we are, and I don’t really care anymore. I’m running my fingers through your hair and thinking about how it doesn’t matter, how nothing matters. Life is this strange, unpredictable collection of good and bad, and nobody asks for it, but we do it anyways, and then we die. I’m running my fingers through your hair and thinking about how whatever this is, it’s probably the first good thing to happen to me this year. But no pressure, because when life throws you nothing but lemons in 3 months, you don’t make lemonade, you just get used to the sour. Or, no– you never get used to pain– but you come to expect it. So if all of this goes to shit, you don’t have to feel bad.

Now I’m running my fingers through your hair and I’m kind of laughing at myself, at my nihilism, my black comedy. I think I came out of the womb a nihilist. But I’m not entirely wrong, am I? It’s like that Arthur C. Clarke quotation, “either we’re alone in the universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” Either what we do matters, or it doesn’t. Both are equally terrifying. The universe doesn’t care that my dad is dead. I’m one person on one planet in one solar system in one galaxy in a universe so massive I can’t even fathom it. It is literally unfathomable. Sometimes, I think about how complex humans and the languages and cultures and societies we’ve developed are. But despite all that complexity, we will never be so great that we are literally unfathomable. We won’t even be great enough that the things we do impact the universe in some big way. Ultimately, none of this means anything. Everything we ever experience is just… passing phenomena.

But, somehow, despite that, something tells me this isn’t gonna go to shit. Or, it will, eventually, because everything does, but not immediately. And it’ll hurt, in the end, and that used to scare the shit out of me. But now I know pain is inevitable, and fearing it is a waste of energy. And something tells me this will be worth the pain. Something tells me it’s gonna be good until then. Something tells me I’m ready now, and I can get it right. And I’m falling for you, but then my mind goes back to death again, and it’s a little hard to be romantic. It doesn’t seem appropriate. I don’t really know what is appropriate, though, I don’t really know how to go about grieving. And for all the practice I’ve had over the years, I find I don’t really know how to go about loving, either.

And then I remember the city from high up on a cold, rainy night. And how it made me feel so small, but in a calming way. And how it was beautiful. And how you’re beautiful. And yeah, I don’t think any of this matters in the grand scheme of things. Not the loss, not the love, none of it. But that… doesn’t have to be terrifying. As of late, I’ve been in a place where I can make an active decision about how I react to and feel about things. I can’t always do it, sometimes the depression and anxiety sinks in and I lose control of myself, but not right now, despite everything, not right now. It doesn’t have to be terrifying. I can choose to see it as something else. As… liberating.

Instead of being scared of the void and the blackness, I’m wrapping it around myself like a blanket. Because it’s comforting, thinking about the absurdity of it all is comforting. Sometimes, yes, we make mistakes and the shitty things that happen to us are our own damn faults, but sometimes life just fucks with you. And it’s so unfair, and it’s so hard to let go, to go on. And the only way I know how to let go is to remind myself of the meaninglessness of it. I don’t need to seek out meaning where there is none. I can simply… be. In emptiness, there is so much room for creation.

We’re in your parent’s car and I have no idea where or when we are, but we’re going forward. That’s all you can do. And then you make me laugh about something or other and I remember that I can still enjoy the ride. Life is this strange, unpredictable collection of good and bad, and nobody asks for it, but we do it anyways, and then we die.

 

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Alberta, 2017

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My friends and I went to Alberta for a week in April to kick off the summertime. We spent a day in Edmonton (at the Fantasyland Hotel in the West Edmonton Mall) and the rest of our week in Banff (surrounded on all four sides by the absurdly beautiful Canadian Rockies). It was my first time spending more than just a layover in Alberta, and being in the most artificial place in the world for a day and then the most naturally gorgeous place I’ve ever seen in my life for a week was a strange and wonderful juxtaposition. I’m so happy to have done it with such a fun trio by my side– my friends really made this trip the kind of thing I’ll remember forever and tell my future children about when they ask for tales from my rambunctious youth. Spending a week exploring/hiking during the days and dancing/laughing during the nights was such a privilege and just what I needed at the time to get me out of a weird funk I had been in.

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along Bow River
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left: along Bow River | right: along a highway
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highway views
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my dumb friends
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left: at the Vermillion Lakes | right: at the Dancing Sasquatch– one of two clubs in Banff, and the one we went to several times because COME ON, the DANCING SASQUATCH?? How could we NOT????
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at the Edmonton Greyhound bus station
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at the Vermillion Lakes
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on the banks of Bow River
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#squadgoals ???
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left: highway views | right: at the top of the Tunnel Mountain trail
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along the road to the Vermillion Lakes
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left: at the Fantasyland Hotel | right: at the Edmonton Greyhound bus station
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at the Fantasyland Hotel
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highway views
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on a rollercoaster at Galaxyland, in the West Edmonton Mall
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views from the Tunnel Mountain trail
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at the Banff Upper Hot Springs
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the whole fam at the top of the Tunnel Mountain trail

 

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March Mood

The opposite of dissociation is connection. Late February and March have been a time for connection— or maybe for re-connection— in my life. Re-connecting with myself, re-connecting with my loved ones, re-connecting with my art. I’ve discovered that sometimes, giving up is the only way to make yourself want to keep going. Here are some photos (and above, some footage) from this strange/good time, and the songs I’ve been playing a lot throughout it.

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left: 03/05/17, vancouver aquarium | right: 02/21/17, temporarily dyed my hair teal because QUARTER LIFE CRISIS
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left: 03/05/17, vancouver aquarium | right: 02/06/17, snow day
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OOTD from 03/05/17, peep me hoppin on that winter layering trend REALLY late

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03/05/17, vancouver aquarium, highlight poppin
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left: 02/21/17, bell sleeves | right: 03/05/17, vancouver aquarium
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left: 03/05/17, vancouver aquarium | right: 02/25/17, bruised hands and holo nails

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03/05/17, vancouver aquarium
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left & upper right: 03/05/17, vancouver aquarium | bottom right: 03/05/17, walking along the sea wall downtown
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03/05/17, walking along the sea wall downtown

 

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Paris, 2017

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The very last week of my five week trip to Europe in December and January was spent in Paris. The plan was to continue travelling until mid-March, but– and I should really expect this by now– things didn’t go according to plan. I touched on it briefly in an Instagram post, and maybe I’ll talk specifically about it in the near future, but throughout the entirety of my travels I was increasingly overwhelmingly depressed and anxious. It was in Dublin that I made up my mind about going home early to take care of myself, rather than continuing to travel when it was obviously exacerbating pre-existing issues. I found myself both eagerly counting down the days until my flight home, while also trying desperately to get out of my head and just enjoy whatever was right in front of me.

It’s kind of fitting then, I think, that my journey ended (or paused, I suppose) in Paris. It’s overwhelming. It’s gorgeous and lively and full of people and history and art and ridiculous extravagance. “No one does ridiculous extravagance like the French,” became a near-daily comment I made to my sister. On our first full day in the city we explored the Musée d’Orsay, and while it was already a beautiful building filled with beautiful art, we didn’t really expect to turn a nondescript corner and walk into an ornate, gilded ballroom. All my sister and I could do was turn to each other and ask, “what?” It seemed absurd, and unreal.

That feeling of disbelief followed me throughout the week. By our last day there, which we spent at le Château de Versailles, I was about 99% sure I was in a dream and not an actual place. None of this wealth and excess and luxury could possibly be real. The blues and blush of sunset reflected in the windowpanes of le Grand Trianon matched the pink marble of the building itself, like it was a painting, like its colours were chosen specifically for that reason. It didn’t make any sense. Even now I find it really strange to look back on pictures of that day because I have trouble believing it actually happened to me.

It was a strange surreal week of my life, in which I was at almost all times both incredibly sad and incredibly amazed. I debated just posting my video and photographs and not addressing how shitty I felt the whole time (like I did in all my other posts about this trip) but during this week it was just impossible to ignore, impossible to not address. My mental shape is obviously going to deeply affect my perception and experience of anything. I’m not sure I’d be able to write about Paris without also writing about being sad. It’s easy to show off the highlight reel, but the more I do it the more its inherent dishonesty puts a bad taste in my mouth. I’m not really interested in lying to other people or to myself about how I was feeling. But it’s been tough to be honest about it, it’s been tough to talk about travelling with depression or anxiety (or any illness, for that matter) because the general response is “well I haven’t had a vacation in 27.531 years” or “just enjoy it! Live in the moment! CARPE THAT DIEM! NAMASTE!” It took a lot for me to realize that– while of course I want to be enjoying myself– I don’t owe it to anyone to have a good time while travelling, and I don’t have to pretend like I had the time of my life, even though it is a wonderful opportunity and privilege. #firstworldproblems

So, yeah. It was a complicated week. Weirdly enough, despite everything, I think Paris was my favourite place that we visited on our trip. That’s how cool a place it is, even though I was straight up dead inside I still enjoyed being there. So just imagine how great it would be for a real live person to visit! My video sums up what we did on each day, and I have a whole lot of photos to share…

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left: at our hostel | right: Musée d’Orsay
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on the rooftop of the Galleries Lafayette
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the view from the Basilique Sacré-Cœur
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Musée d’Orsay
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left: Tour Eiffel | right: a bridge I can’t remember the name of
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left: sunset reflecting on the windows of le Grand Trianon | right: literally just the GARDENER’S house at Versailles like are you kidding me????
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Musée d’Orsay
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le Grand Trianon
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left: being emo on the steps of le Grand Trianon | right: Château de Versailles
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gazebo at Versailles… fun fact: I was trying really hard to remember the word ‘gazebo’ for like 10 minutes and could only think of the word ‘garbanzo’ which I knew was definitely not correct…
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Musée d’Orsay
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left: Château de Versailles | right: Napolean’s apartments at the Louvre
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left: the Louvre | right: Château de Versailles
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wandering through the Bois du Boulogne, which weirdly looked like an Emily Carr painting even though Emily Carr is, like, aggressively Canadian
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sights along the Seine
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watching the sunset from le Grand Trianon
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Manchester & Liverpool, 2016/17

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So my sister and I spent a few days in Manchester over Christmastime, and then spent three days there in January a couple weeks later. Three of our very good friends– Cosette, Ilja, and Phoebe– live there, making it a convenient little stopover between cities so that we could take a breather from being constantly surrounded by NEW PLACES and NEW PEOPLE and NEW THINGS.

While we were there the first time I didn’t film or photograph much (my video diary covers Manchester Trip #2) but we did spend one night all hanging out together in a café, and I dressed the boys up in the vintage clothing sold there, and we took model pictures of them and laughed about it for ages.

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I also took some portraits of Cosette:

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When we came back for Trip #2, we spent one of our days exploring Liverpool– going to the Tate, walking along the boardwalk, and eating yummy vegan food.collage5 thumb_IMG_0960_1024

Our last night there was spent getting some stress from the day out by dancing to ABBA and drinking wine and having deep talks until waaaay past our bedtimes. When my sister and I flew to Paris early the next morning we were not the happiest we’ve ever been in our lives…

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