Janus, Part One

Here we are–December 31, the end of the year, New Year’s Eve. And, just as in previous years, it’s a mixed bag for me.

I have had to restart writing the latest draft of my first novel more than once this year; it is now the end of the year, and I still haven’t finished writing this draft, nor is it ready for me to submit to an editor. I’m halfway through my latest attempt at writing this particular draft, and I’m hoping within the next year I’ll have it ready for an editor.

I’ve just looked over my records of everything I’ve done this year; I haven’t accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish, but I’ve done quite a bit. My exercise routine has faltered within the last couple of months, but I intend to make physical fitness a big part of my life, alongside my creative projects. Oh, and making a living. Among other things, such as cooking healthier meals and packing up my house.

I admit I had a pessimistic attitude towards my activities in 2019, but, having taken a more or less objective glance at my accomplishments within the last year, I refuse to be so hard on myself, while I’m determined to improve.

Does Life Begin at 40?

I attended the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival (VanCAF) this weekend, and I’ve developed an interest in adding writing comics and graphic novels to my oeuvre/portfolio. But, of course, I need practice. Lots of it.

I turned forty last month, and only now I’m developing an interest like this. I’m also interested in video games–an interest I’ve developed in my thirties–and various forms of technology. But I realize I’m not getting any younger, so I’m determined to do something about these interests now.

I didn’t know why I didn’t develop these interests when I was younger; now I realize it may be because I was a cultural snob, starting when I was, at my youngest, a pre-adolescent, if not sooner. I could go into ‘coulda-shoulda-woulda’ mode here, but what’s done is done, and I have to live with that, and the consequences.

Now, back to the present.

In terms of my career, I still have gotten nowhere, though I am trying. In terms of just trying to survive, I’m lost at sea. Conventional wisdom states you’re supposed to have everything figured out, and be settled down, at the age of thirty years old; I’m forty years old, and I’m still not where I want to be. And I’m torn between being ashamed and being grateful I’m still alive to do something about my circumstances. For instance, I’ve started writing out a chapter outline for the latest draft of my first novel after I’ve lost count of how many attempts to get the the damned draft written (again, I could go into ‘coulda-shoulda-woulda’ mode here, but I’m doing the outline now, before I’ve shown the draft to an editor), I’ve gone back to doing practice sketches, and I’m now interested in learning how to create and produce comics. (I know, at this point, I should do things in bits and pieces, but I’ve got ideas, and I like to at least write them down and start work on them while I’m thinking about them.) Also, I’ve increased my exercise schedule, and I’ve decided to start eating healthy, while tidying up my place and preparing to move house within the next two years (which I’m doing now, as opposed to waiting until the last minute and scrambling).

At this point, I’m asking myself if life begins at forty, or if I’m just using that as an excuse for wasting the previous years of my life. But I guess time will tell.

New Year, (Hopefully) New Me

A new year has begun, and I enter it with the best of intentions. I have made my plans for this year, and have even found at least one way to make myself accountable for achieving my goals. At this juncture, I would do anything to make sure I have something to show for all of my efforts at the end of this year, especially since I’ll be turning forty this spring.

The one way I have found to make myself accountable for achieving my goals this year is what’s known as a bullet journal, which I’ve created to keep myself on track vis-a-vis my tasks for this year and which I plan to use often. I’m sure I’ve made some mistakes in creating this journal–it’s my first bullet journal, after all–but it’ll definitely serve its purpose.

My goals for this year are: complete a novel I’ve spent a good decade trying to write; finish planning another one; start saving money again, and get my finances in order; get on a regular exercise schedule; eat healthier food than I have been; get most of my belongings packed up (I’m moving house in 2021, or before), and improve my housekeeping habits; increase my visual art and photography skills; find other income streams besides my current job; increase my output on my blog and vlog and start a podcast; and return to political activism, if only part-time. I know that sounds like a lot, and I’m going to try not to spread myself too thin, but these are things I feel I need to do.

I don’t know if I’m set for 2019, but it seems I’m on my way.

National Novel Writing Month: In the Winners’ Circle

Yes, I know it’s been a while since I’ve last posted, but I felt I had to put this, among other things, on the back burner while I participated in this year’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It was worth it, though, because, on my second attempt with this particular contest, I made it past the 50,000-word benchmark, and made it into the winners’ circle!

Make no mistake, it took some doing on my part to make it to 50,000 (or, in my case, 50, 682–50, 482 according to the NaNoWriMo web site) words. Yes, I experienced frustration, especially during the last week of the contest, which was also the last full week of November. But I did it, and now I want to take a breather before getting back on that proverbial horse.

National Novel Writing Month

As many of you may now know, it’s the first of November here in the Northern/Western Hemisphere, and I’ve spent the better part of the day writing the first chapter of my entry for this year’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), as today is the first day of that event. One chapter down, twenty-nine days and nineteen chapters to go.

I’ll confess I didn’t adequately prepare for this year’s NaNoWriMo: I didn’t storyboard, and I finished my chapter outline for my entry only late last night, after wrestling with it for less than a week; truth be told, I squandered my preparation time watching YouTube videos. But I managed to get through this first day relatively unscathed; however, I’m hoping my novel doesn’t suffer too much on account of my lack of proper preparation and planning. But waking up this morning was like waking up on Christmas morning–there was joy and excitement in the atmosphere in my immediate environment, and the feeling that anything was possible. Here’s hoping I can keep up that mindset until the end of the month.

Anyway, it’s been a long day, and I want to relax before going to bed, and then getting up early tomorrow morning to do it all again.

Back to Work, 3-Day Novel Contest, and New Blog

Labour Day weekend is over, as we all know, and it’s back to the bump and grind.

I am now back at the job I quit back in May; I recently realized I may have quit prematurely. More about that at my new blog, http://chloe_desilets.livejournal.com/, as soon as the wrinkles get ironed out (I’m having trouble posting my first entry to my actual journal).

On a happier note, I participated in this year’s 3-Day Novel Contest, and I am now half-way through typing it; I’m hoping to have it completed by the end of this week. All I need is a character witness statement declaring I wouldn’t cheat on something like this, and I’m set. The sooner, the better.

On all fronts, I have high hopes.

The Pemberton Music Festival Through the Eyes of a First-Timer

I returned yesterday afternoon from Pemberton, British Columbia, where I worked four shifts as a parking lot attendant at the Pemberton Music Festival–the first ever I attended, in any capacity. So, in short, I got to attend an event I would not, at this juncture, under normal circumstances, be able to attend, and I got to make money while I was at it. Not a bad deal, if I do say so myself.

My impression on the Pemberton Music Festival itself (remember: I’m a first-timer), is that it’s equal parts fabled spring break (only in the summer) and fabled Summer of Love, with some cosplay thrown in for good measure. Thousands of perfect strangers bonding, however temporarily, over their favourite bands who played at the event. OK, there were some elements I wasn’t particularly fond of–most of them falling under the camping category–but, other than that, I’m glad I went. I left the festival with a couple of regrets: I left the first show I attended early so I could make my second shift on time, and I never took advantage of any opportunity which presented itself to make the acquaintance of a young man who so closely resembles my brother it’s surreal, solely out of chronic nervousness when even considering initiating interactions with people I don’t know.

Regrets and peeves aside, I would attend the music festival in Pemberton again. Depending, of course, on the lineup of musicians.

Home Sweet Home (Be It Ever So Humble)

I know I should be sleeping off my jet lag right now, but I guess I got too eager to get on with things. Besides, I can take naps throughout the day.

I got up at 4:30 AM New York City time (1:30 AM Vancouver time) yesterday, so I could catch a cab to LaGuardia Airport and thus be on time to catch a 7:00 AM flight. Not having access to a printer before I arrived at the airport, I printed my boarding passes at the airline kiosk, but forgot to check my suitcase, so one of the clerks helped me. Upon leaving the scanner and gathering my things in the security area, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a young woman get arrested. From then on, it was smooth sailing–or, in this case, smooth flying.

Until I got to Seattle.

At Seattle-Tacoma Airport, I tried calling the station where I was dropped off last Monday to see if I was to catch my train home there, but nobody answered. I wandered around until I found an information booth, and there learned about Seattle’s LINK Light Rail, and thus took that downtown; I’m pretty sure if I’d known about LINK Light Rail when I first arrived in Seattle, I could have saved myself some money on cab fare, and some worry in New York about how I was going to scrounge up cab fare from Sea-Tac. Once in downtown Seattle, I asked a couple of police officers to direct me to the train station–which was indeed where the bus from Canada dropped me off last Monday–where I sat it out for the next five hours–and had some empty calories to ward off hunger pangs. But then, how was I to know they would serve food on the train, and I could get what actually passed for a meal (a veggie burger and a cola)?

My train got caught behind a freight train some time along the journey, and apparently the freight train moving faster than it did (molasses, I’m sure, would have moved faster) was too much to ask, because the train I was on was basically on stop-and-go (slowly; though it did gather speed at some points along the journey, only to have to stop again). Couple that with the time I spent at the border checkpoint–which, by the way, is at the Pacific Central Station here in Vancouver (something else completely new to me)–and it was after midnight this morning when I finally got home and fell asleep. Oh, and I caused myself some embarrassment on my declaration card, when I initially overestimated the monetary value of the goods I had purchased in New York which I was bringing back into Canada, and added that value to the amount of money (US) I still had on me. So many lessons to learn for next time.

I love New York City, though I’ve only been there once, and I have every intention of returning, hopefully sooner than later. But Vancouver has its charm, too, and, like I’ve said to so many people over the years, I’m in no hurry to leave. And it feels so good to be home.

Last Day

Knowing I had mere hours to see more of the city, I once again got up early, showered, then walked about three blocks to catch a bus to the ferry station so I could get some photos of the Statue of Liberty. I had another somewhat embarrassing moment when the bus driver informed me I needed a receipt as proof of purchase to ride that bus, as it was a special bus, regardless of the fact that I had an unlimited New York City transit card; he was nice enough to wait while I obliged. It also helped that there was someone else riding the bus, and he helped me to navigate the machine nearby so I could get the receipt I needed to board the bus. (My right knee was–and is–doing much better, and my feet held up as best they could, under the circumstances.)

I decided to take a ferry to Liberty Island so I could get a decent photo or two of the Statue of Liberty; I paid twenty bucks, then, along with the huge crowd there, went through self-described airport-like security; one of the officers pulled me aside so he could check my laptop for any dangerous materials, then let me go as soon as my laptop was cleared. It was worth it, though, because I got some decent photos of the Statue of Liberty and a portion of Liberty Island, as well as Ellis Island. I was only one of two people who did not get off the boat on either island, but instead returned to the mainland.

From Battery Park, I went straight to Times Square, where I got some photos, particularly of the Port Authority; to be honest, I don’t know what the big deal about Times Square is–other than the Port Authority, the theatres, and attractions such as Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and Ripley’s Believe It or Not, as well as the New York Times office, it’s just a collection of stores and businesses, particularly those people here in the First World can find practically anywhere in the First World, and I can’t understand why that’s the first place people hit when they come to New York City, when there are far more interesting places to go. (It helped me, though, that the first place I saw upon exiting the subway station was a Walgreens–my camera insisted it needed new batteries).

When I had had my fill of Times Square, I traipsed down 42nd Street in search of Grand Central Station; when I found it, I took photos of its exterior and interior, and located and exited out the station’s Lexington Avenue exit, thinking I could catch a bus to 50th Street from there. Little did I know there was a car-free spring celebration on Lexington Avenue, ergo I had to walk to 50th Street, to see, and get photos of, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center. I found St. Patrick’s Cathedral easily enough; it’s under construction, but I still managed to get some decent photos (I didn’t go inside this time). I wandered around looking for Rockefeller Center, then finally decided it was in my best interest to ask one of the cops at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for directions–which one of them very nicely gave (he even let me know I addressed him correctly, as ‘officer’). It still took me a while to find Rockefeller Center, though, and I needed to use one of the city directories. But find it I did–and got some great photos.

After that, I decided to head to Greenwich Village; I located the New School and Union Square easily enough; at Union Square, I asked a couple of police officers to direct me to the Flatiron Building–one of them told me it was north of where we were, necessitating another subway ride north.  Before that, a gentleman guessed I was from Puerto Rico–I think he said San Juan in particular, but I don’t remember now; when I corrected him and told him I’m from Vancouver, he told he and some other people know it as ‘the purple city,’ because its skyline appears purple at night.

From Union Square, I soldiered on towards Washington Square and New York University; after consulting one of my maps several times, I found Washington Square Park, and photographed the buildings across the street which were affiliated with NYU before heading to the subway station. Upon exiting the 23rd Street subway station, I lost my sense of direction until I gained my senses and headed in the right direction of the Flatiron Building–which, if I’d been thinking, I would have seen, and thus photographed, on Tuesday, as I had been in the park across the street from it–Madison Square Park–then. Another live-and-learn moment.

I decided to hop on a bus after locating the Flatiron Building; the one I took went to Franklin Delano Roosevelt Drive. I took some more photos of a couple of gems after getting off that bus–a portion of FDR Drive, Peter Cooper Village, and Stuyvesant Square Park (which I saw on the cab ride to my hotel from LaGuardia Airport, and decided I wanted a permanent record of–now I have it); afterward, I stopped by a burger joint for a veggie burger, fries, and cola, then boarded a bus to Cooper Square to get pictures of Cooper Union and the Village Voice office; by then, it started to rain, and steadily, so I’m hoping those pictures turned out OK. Then it was one more photo–of an intersection I’d seen in the movie The Devil Wears Prada, which only yesterday I realized was mere blocks from my hotel, and not in Soho, like I thought it was–then it was back to my hotel to shower, take care of some business, and prepare for tomorrow, and my trip home.

Though I’m looking forward to going home, I had a great time here In New York City, and I can’t believe I have to leave, and so soon; I don’t want to leave. And not because there’s so much more to discover. Shit, I only covered Manhattan. But I’m determined I will return to New York City–it’s just a question of when.

Endeavouring to Persevere

I got caught in a thunder-and-lightning storm getting off the bus a block away from my hotel, so I don’t know how long I can stay here–and I still need to upload photos onto my Facebook page.

Despite my feet being sore from popped blisters, I managed to photograph almost all of Central Park, as well as parts of Harlem, Morningside Heights–including Columbia University–and The Cloisters; while I was looking for The Cloisters, I learned it’s actually in Fort Tryon Park, in Washington Heights. Unfortunately, I could only photograph the outside–I’m sure I didn’t have enough money to pay the admission, and still have money for the rest of my stay here in New York, and for my trip home.

I had a hard time finding Columbia University, but only because I had royally confused myself whenever I looked at the map in one of my New York City guidebooks; as I once again consulted the map in said guidebook, a complete stranger offered me assistance (which looks like it could be a recurring theme here), and pointed out Columbia University was right across the street from where I was consulting my map!  It turns out Columbia University takes up four city blocks, if not more, in Morningside Heights.  Needless to say, thanks to that stranger who helped me, I got some great photos.

While strolling, as best as I could on aching feet and sore right knee, along Central Park North, a couple of streets along that stretch taught me Central Park North borders Central Park and Harlem; but I guess that should have registered with me this morning, when I should have noticed better than I did that, immediately after Central Park North, Central Park West turns into Frederick Douglass Boulevard, which stretches along Harlem. So it’s too bad I only noticed Central Park North borders Central Park and Harlem when I noticed Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Malcolm X Boulevards–which I saw in Harlem earlier today when I was looking for Marcus Garvey Park–went as far as Central Park North. Live and learn, I guess.

I had a Becky Bloomwood-esque moment getting on the bus at Fifth Avenue and 109th Street (I’m going by memory here, so please bear with me) so I could see, and get photos of, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Obelisk, and the fare receiver noted I had no money on my fare card, but the driver was nice enough to wave me on to the bus. After getting some fabulous (if I do say so myself) photos of the Met, and the best photo I could get of the Obelisk (which had scaffolding around it), I walked until I found the closest subway station, and attempted to refill my transit card via machine, which wouldn’t cooperate, so I went to the attendant, who informed me, because I had gotten unlimited time on my card (smart move on my part, now that I’m recalling this), and it won’t expire until Sunday, it doesn’t matter if I have no more money on my card. Bullet dodged. After that, though, my feet and right knee decided it was time for me to call it a day–but not before I grabbed a bite to eat.

So, here I am, nice and dry in my hotel room–though my shoes, socks, jeans, shirts, and jacket are thoroughly soaked–and I’m going to give my feet and knee some hours to rest before tomorrow’s sightseeing adventure.