Tuesday, May 24, 2011

friends and anemones.

The ocean has got to be the most spectacular and magical thing on this earth. It's an underwater world of which we barely get to scratch the surface of. It's mysterious and strong, and I was just lucky enough to catch a glimpse of it this long weekend in Tofino.
Top: Surfing at Chesterman's Beach, Bryce, Teresa and Ben. Also, the crew skim boarding. The bottom photo was taken at Long Beach, a 10-mile long beach that is absolute paradise.
Ben and I camped for the weekend at Bella Pacifica Campground with some friends, and spent every hour of the day on the beach, myself completely mesmerized. On Saturday, I zipped up my wetsuit and took in some lessons from our friend Teresa on surfing at Chesterman Beach. I'm weak, the ocean is strong, and 15 minutes was all I could take. It was incredible though to feel the fast speed of the waves as they break. Next time I'll have to better prepare for the energy it takes to "paddle, paddle, paddle."

The following day we made out way to South Chestermans, where I walked along the beach to Frank Island for some exploring. The tide was just coming in and I was able to get to the rocky shore where sea creatures of all sorts reside. Sea anemones, sea stars, fish and clams.
The Green Surf Anemone (top and bottom). I'm not sure if the creature in the middle is an anemone. The anemone is a predator and eats all sorts, including a hermit crab (about to be eaten on the bottom).
 There was also hundreds of mussels attached to these rocks on Frank Island. The mussels emit strong byssus threads that harden upon contact with sea water and thus are able to attach securely to the rock. They call a collective of mussels such as the ones below "mussel beds."

The little sea animals are so intricate in both their colour and their design, as you can see below of the shells, the sand dollar and the purple shore crab. Shells offer up shelter for animals like hermit crabs, and the sand dollar is worth nothing in Canadian dollar exchange. This little crab was hidden under the first rock I overturned, and was the only crab I saw the entire weekend.

Shells, sand dollars (which are actually herbivores that have spines to move along the sand) and my friendly baby purple shore crab.
 My favourite thing to do at the ocean, which is evident in my photos, is to take my camera and just explore. I feel there is so much to discover in doing that, and my favourite discovery was the sea stars. Below you see the Ochre Sea Star in orange and purple. They feel hard to the touch and are just one of many species of sea stars. Another one we commonly saw (and held) was the sunflower sea star.

Unfortunately three days during the long weekend was not sufficient enough to see the sea on Vancouver Island. Thus, there is no other solution than to go back and stay longer the next time.Visit, meet new friends and see for yourself how incredible the ocean really is.

A Cup of Sugar

A couple of weeks ago my neighbour, an old, quiet and reserved man, knocked on my door and asked if he could borrow a cup of sugar. I, being the cookie fanatic that I am, obliged, invited him in and got him his cup of sugar. He said thanks and was on his way.

Last Thursday I got another knock on the door. I opened it, and here was the same neighbour, clean-shaven, dressed in a suit, holding a small boquet of pink flowers. He said, "These are for you, for lending me that cup of sugar."

He handed me the flowers, gave a bit of a bashful smile, and I gave him a giant bear hug. The simple gestures that one never expects often are the most heartwarming. So thank you, neighbour.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011

Book 13

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

With all this time on my hands I at least get the chance to knock off some books on my "25 Before I'm 25" list. All Quiet on the Western Front is a classic in itself, a little peak inside the soldier's trials at war, and it is a book I can't recommend enough to those who haven't had the chance to study World War One. I took a European history course last fall and it was incredibly insightful, and this book just open's up the most important thing to be understood about any war: that it was old men talking and young men dying.

The protagonist, an 18-year-old German soldier barely an adult, is thrust into the war with the Germans, fighting against Britain and France, but continually questions what exactly he and his commerades are fighting for. He writes with such vivid detail the blasts felt from a hand grenade, the hunger in the soldier's belly, the brown, torn earth.

In particular, some favourite excerpts from All Quiet on the Western Front are the ones that give the reader an idea of war. On page 114 he describes the ferociousness the soldiers embrace, transforming "into murderers, into God only knows what devils; this wave that multiplies our strength with fear and madness and greed of life, seeking and fighting for nothing but our deliverance. If your own father came over with them you would not hesitate to fling a bomb at him."

We are so fortunate a generation to not be forced to fight for our country. Later still he writes this, my favourite: "I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another and, in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another" (p. 263).

Please read this!

sleeping on the balcony after class.

There are certain milestones in life that one cannot simply ignore, milestones that bring about a certain amount of feeling of accomplishment. I believe graduating with a degree is one such milestone, and it often goes unacknowledged, but in truth, it is a huge task concluded.                                                         I don't often post photos of myself on my blog, and if I do they usually involve being with friends, or are taken for an artistic purpose. Generally, unless one wants to become entirely self-absorbed, I discourage self-indulgent posts. But I will post my graduation picture. Why? Because I feel like I've done something that I need to commend myself for. I don't say this selfishly, and I don't by any means mean to gloat. But there are certain things one cannot avoid feeling pride for. Graduating with a degree is my "certain thing."

So, for the last five years (technically four, but a year off in between makes it five), I have learned how to write, how to develop stories that the public will care about. I've interviewed a woman who was 101-years-old, I've met Olympic athletes, I've seen the cursor on my word document flash on and off as I try to decipher how it is I am going to write what others will hopefully read. It's a huge challenge. At times I've felt vulnerable, incompetent. I have questioned, "Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life?" I've made mistakes, crammed for papers due in eight hours, received criticisms I'd rather avoid, cried at my desk, pulled at my hair. But I've learned that I am capable. 

To be capable is to be independent, to be able to jump in head first even if you aren't quite sure what you're jumping into is a pool of water or a pile of boulders. It's taking risks, throwing yourself out there to editors and instructors and publications and hoping that what you get in return is a warm greeting, a "we'd like to publish your story," but understanding that the response may not be what you'd hoped. It's having the confidence to pick yourself up off the ground and jump right back in.

If I've learned anything, it's that you can do whatever it is you want, if you just apply yourself to do it. So, I finished school late April - it's May 9 - I'm unemployed. I have a few dollars to get me through, I am sitting on my couch going stir crazy that I don't have a job. But I refuse to settle for the minimum wage job, for the routine that is stocking shelves or making frappuccinos, for a job you hate going to every day. I've applied myself. I submitted a paper to The Tyee, I applied for a reporter/photographer position at Metro. I'm sitting here, crossing my fingers, saying secret prayers, that it will work out.

I went to school so that I could enjoy my work. I don't plan on giving that up anytime soon. 
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