I’m now Squaremeat

squaremeat.wordpress.com

 

I couldn’t understand how someone else beat me to the username “squaremeat” until I attempted to log-in using my gmail address, and discovered that I WAS THE ONE WHO HAD TAKEN THIS USERNAME. OF COURSE.

 

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Canada’s capital and the wilderness.

On Thursday morning, it took Yann and I nearly three hours to pack for our camping trip. Why did it take us three hours? We decided to fully load the Jetta wagon with everything from Alcohol to Zing Tarp, and install the bike rack so that we could incorporate cycling into our three-day adventure in parc national du Mont-Tremblant.

The cats know when we’re about to leave for an extended period which, in this case, was 21 “cat days”. Right before I left, I found Enfoiré (aka the fat one) laying underneath the side table in the living room looking indignant. I put my hand out in preparation to give him a “goodbye” stroke, and he bit me!

It warmed my heart to know that he cared that much. Enfoiré isn’t a mean cat nor the type to bite hard. He bites to “communicate”, and in this case he was saying, “Fuck you for leaving us again.”

It’s true: Yann and I had only just gotten back from our overnight stay in Ottawa. Surprisingly, the purpose of our visit to Ottawa was neither recreational, nor political: it was a work trip. Yes, Yann and I are both bike mechanics. Oui, we drove two hours to Canada’s capital to fix bikes. With our presence, we were undoing the carbon footprint these Ottawa cyclists were trying to save.

The bike shop in Ottawa is affiliated with the one we work for in Montréal. They, like us, have a service standard of four days but had fallen so behind that they needed the extra four hands. The day Yann and I arrived, we worked on jobs that had come in on May… 3rd. (!!!)

When the idea of going to Ottawa for work was proposed last week, Yann’s initial reaction was, “Fuck that.”

What? The guy doesn’t like opportunities?! As somebody who doesn’t get very many opportunities, whenever one comes up that doesn’t seem completely awful… I VOLUNTEER AS A TRIBUTE!

They were also offering a rental car, a food allowance, paid lodging, and a bonus on top of our regular hourly pay. It was nothing like the Hunger Games. Our food allowance was even $70 per person per day. The hotel we stayed at was the Best Western… PLUS. We couldn’t figure out what gave this Best Western that extra something.

A quick Google says: “Our upper-midscale Best Western Plus hotels focus on providing guests with that little something extra.” Even their employees aren’t sure.

I don’t stay at hotels very often, but when I do, I check to see if there is a bible in the nightstand. Not because I need one, but because I wonder how essential the bible is still considered in the hospitality industry. In the case of Best Western Plus, it *is* essential.

A trip to Ottawa can’t end without the compulsory photo in front of one of the parliament buildings, right? Well, this one did. If you’re a believer of the “pics or it didn’t happen” premise, then I guess Ottawa never happened, and those bikes never got fixed.

This, however, is proof that Yann nearly dumped me over a tarp: the $500 MSR Zing Tarp.

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Yann has no zing for the MSR Zing.

We’ve been together for long enough that we have arguments over things like my inability to attach the guy lines from this weird-ass 8-point tarp in a way that the nylon won’t suffocate us.

As Yann quickly discovered, the setting-up of this particular tarp wasn’t intuitive after all.

What I love about camping is how I lose that constant sense of urgency to get things done. The wilderness is the one place where I am able to meditate, and I wasn’t going to let an extremely expensive (but borrowed!) tarp ruin that for me.

Anyway, the canopy was eventually deployed and Yann stayed dry as he cooked me some misshapen Mickey Mouse pancakes.

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Mickey Mouse and a circle made from flour and water.

It also helped that it didn’t rain while he made me these pancakes.

The dry weather meant that the ranger went around on Friday yelling, “NO CAMPFIRES UNTIL NEXT RAINFALL” (but in French). Having arrived on Thursday, we were able to spend one night in front of a fire.

That night, Yann learned about my “Deaf Survival Instinct” where visual cues mean everything. Whenever Yann heard something, he would spin around to investigate, and I would then demand to know the result of his investigation.

“What was that?” was a question he had to answer repeatedly.

“It’s just leaves.”

“Our campsite neighbours are using an electric toothbrush.”

“Just raccoons fighting.”

He didn’t understand why I was reading his every reaction as if we were in danger. Try being outdoors and only being conscious of things within the light of the campfire! Hearing people have no idea how often I use their hearing.

I don’t just use hearing people, I also use hearing cats. The cats I have may be far from being certified assistance animals, but when I’m home alone, I know when there’s someone at the door just by observing the cats’ reaction. The cats even have a specific reaction for when it’s Yann who’s at the door.

We weren’t in danger that night, but I found amusement in the couple from Vermont’s electric toothbrush. I was also secretly jealous because I had forgotten my manual toothbrush, and had to borrow Yann’s. I was grossed out, but found it to be slightly less gross than going to sleep with s’more residue on my teeth. My teeth received only a very brisk bristling out of concern that Yann’s DNA would become permanently embedded into my gums.

As I mentioned earlier, we brought nearly everything else, including our bikes.

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Plage de la Crémaillère.

The above photo does not show a bicycle, but trust that I don’t just visit beaches wearing my cycling clothes.

I was able to add two new bruises to my collection five kilometres into our first ride. My front wheel grazed a foot-long stick, causing it to spin into the air before jamming into my rear wheel. I unclipped like a pro, leapt over the handlebars at 15km/h and magically landed on my feet. I think this happened to compensate for the embarrassing fall I had last weekend.

This camping trip had it all: love, pain, anger, and fighting raccoons. I’m happy to be back home with the cats, and they are happy we’re back.

Le P’tit Train by nightfall.

In Montréal, we like to ignore the transitional period that is springtime. While crocuses symbolize spring in Vancouver, it was the reappearance of Bixi (public bike sharing system) docking stations that made me realize that winter was finally over.

Within a week of the installation of these bike docks, Montréalais emerge from their goose down cocoons wearing shorts, even when it’s only 10 degrees out. Summer’s too short to not wear shorts.

Our refusal to recognize spring means many of us prematurely dive into summertime activities. Last week’s hike in Parc national du Mont-Tremblant was a cold-blooded reminder that in the mountains there’s still snow. Lots of it.

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Loads of snow, yet not enough to necessitate snowshoes. There was snow ranging from 1cm and vanishing, to 1 and a half-foot; dry packed dirt; and mud. This includes incognito mud which only reveals itself when your foot shoots through the path’s snowy crust. It was a difficult hike full of inconsistent consistencies. I would have totally worn shorts that day, but I expected insects to be the problem, not the snow.

35km closer to the city than Parc national du Mont-Tremblant lies the village of Val-David. In the seven days that had passed since our hike, we’ve seen real shorts weather in Montréal, so Yann and I were like, “Fuck, yeah! Time to wear our spandex shorts with the built-in suspenders!” Our friend Ruth was all, “Yeah, me too!”

I warned Ruth that Yann and I were planning on doing a century ride and she was all, “Bitch, I’ve done 230km in a single ride.”

Ok, she absolutely did not say that, I’m just so impressed with this feat that I made up a fake quote just so that I could mention it.
There was very little snow on the Le P’tit Train du Nord trail, but the trail was supposed to be in recovery. The three of us started at the 42km marker and rode about 10km before we hit a temporary barricade with a sign that read “Piste Fermée–Accès Interdit”. Yes, this means what you probably think it means: sections of the 232km trail was still closed. The trail had not been maintained since the snow had melted and needed its spring break.

The chain securing the two temporary fences was wide enough to insert our bikes, suggesting that we could pass through at our own risk. The 6ft gates had to be the biggest obstacle, right?

Nope.

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Ruth going over one of the smaller downed trees.

There were sections of soft gravel to skid in, as well as crisscrossing ruts waiting to trap our tires. I barely made it past the closed section before I finally toppled over:

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“I’m ok. Take a picture first, though.”

Yann had stopped after clearing the gate and said to me as I was squeezing through the posts, “Ruth fell.” I looked over my left shoulder, unclipped my right foot even though most of my weight was on my left, causing me to clumsily tip over on the side my pannier was clipped onto, crushing Ruth’s crackers in the process.

I was only a bit hurt. That’s about 26 pounds of steel and rubber you see resting on top of my left leg.

The trail re-opened at the 72km marker which was also where the paved path began. From there, it was an easy ride to our next resting spot, St-Jovite, home of the tiny man.

“What tiny man?” (Actual quote from Ruth)

“You’ll see.”

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Curé Labelle is more of an endurance buttoner than an endurance cyclist: I counted 26 buttons on his tiny cassock. I didn’t have any oranges to offer to this tiny man of God, and instead offered a cookie dough protein bar the size of his forearm.

Wikipedia tells me that the real Antoine Labelle was 5’11” and 335 pounds which makes me wonder whether whoever created this statue was trying to be ironic. Perhaps the village of St-Jovite simply couldn’t afford the full-sized version.

Our turnaround point was at the 107km marker in a municipality named in his honour, Labelle.

We left Labelle at 5pm, which meant we had to ride 65km before sundown. Neither Yann nor I brought our lights, as we had expected to do the whole ride in about 7 hours, not taking into account the time we’d spend eating, chatting, and doing a photoshoot with the tiny man. Ruth was only slightly better equipped, with a 10 lumen front light which is meant to make yourself visible to others, rather than making things visible. In short, she still couldn’t see the squirrels, but they could see her.

With my lack of inner ear balance, I needed to be able to see my way back in order to not fall over for the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time. It really didn’t help that I decided against bringing my eyeglasses in favour of my non-prescription sunglasses.

By 8:30pm it was twilight; we were still 10km away from Val-David, and riding on the “closed” section of the trail. At one point I rode over a bunch of craters causing my head to bobble so much that I couldn’t see what was coming up next. I may have hit a chipmunk, or whizzed past a moose, but the tiny hand of Curé Labelle must’ve reached down and safely guided me to the end of our 129km ride.

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Back when I was happy because it was still light out.

I hope it’ll be summertime by next weekend because Yann and I have reservations to sleep under the stars.

Squeezing money out of my juicer.

I’ve been over my juicing phase for a year now. Was it time to get rid of my $200 Breville Multi-Speed Juice Fountain? What if I were to suddenly end up with a surplus of carrots? Then I’d have seller’s remorse. On the other hand, it’s appallingly large for something considered a “small home appliance”. Even $50 in pennies would probably still be smaller than the juicer.

Craigslist it is.

Except people in Québec prefer the ad-laden classified advertisement service that is Kijiji. Kijiji is garbage, and the people who use it are garbage. Slightly moreso than Craigslisters. I felt unclean making that post for my juicer, but I did it. Here’s exactly what I posted:

Breville Multi-Speed Juice Fountain – $50.

Want to drink so much carrot juice, you’ll turn orange?! This machine will help you achieve that!
There’s a crack in the top attachment from when I dropped that piece. The juicer works perfectly, and the crack doesn’t affect the functionality in any way. You can’t even see it when it is attached to the machine itself.
Why am I getting rid of it? I don’t use it enough and it’s taking up too much space in my new, small kitchen.
I posted three photos to show its condition, including one that clearly showed the superficial crack around the top attachment.

Prospective Buyer #1 wanted to know:

“What model is it?”

There’s an Amazon link to the exact model I’m selling. It’s in the very first line of my ad.

Still Prospective Buyer #1:

“Ooh, but I see a crack.”

Yes. I mentioned the crack AND posted a photo specifically to show the crack. I have also kindly directed you to a retailer who will sell you a crack-free version for just $199.99!

The last question from Not-So-Prospective-Buyer #1 was:

“Does it make apple juice?”

WHAT ARE YOU, FIVE?! Even if you’re wanting to make apple juice for your five-year-old, it horrifies me to know that someone who was unable to gather this sort of information from a super-detailed post such as mine has procreated.

No, it doesn’t fucking make apple juice. It can only juice the following:

  • iceberg lettuce
  • jujubes
  • fish
  • colours (except for orange)
  • numbers (except for prime numbers)
  • grape juice-soaked cotton balls
  • clam, but only in conjunction with tomatoes

Apple juice, though? I am insulted. I’m not giving up a huge small home appliance that I once loved to some spaced-out wastrel.

As a rule, I don’t sell anything for less than $50 on Kijijijijiji or Gregslist. I refuse to be inconvenienced for anything less than $50.

In the future, each time anybody asks a question that is already answered in the ad itself, I am going to raise the price of whatever I’m selling by $2. I am a monster.

As a buyer, I am perfectly lovely: I don’t haggle on items under $100, and the transaction will take place at the seller’s convenience. I show up on time, sober, and carrying exact change. I will even ask if I should take my shoes off if they invite me in.

Then again, I haven’t bought anything niche like a juicer, or a bong. Before my “Sell Nothing Under $100 Rule” came into effect, one of the things I sold in preparation for my move to Montréal was a bong for $40. You’d think it’d be easy to sell a bong in a city like Vancouver, but while I got a lot of responses, these responses were coming from the sort of people who would buy a secondhand bong from a private seller online. Therefore, they read like:

“Is this still available? Can I come and get it now?”

“I’ll give you $10 if I can get it now.”

“Does it make apple juice?”

…and they mostly came at weird times of the night, like 2am.

The bong ended up in the hands of a girl who described it as being “beautiful” in her initial contact. (I would have described this bong as being translucent cobalt blue, with bukkake patterning, but I guess “beautiful” works too.)

The flattery was a nice touch: I like knowing that I have great taste in cannabis filtration devices. Anyway, she showed up on time–at a sensible time of the day–and looked to be no more than 16 years old. But, she was a 16-year-old with the $40 I was asking for.

Millennials are ruining Generation Z, I know.

I’ve had a Gen Xer who showed up nearly an hour late to pick up an Ikea swivel chair. She arrived at my 3rd floor suite out of breath, and said to Yann who had answered the door, “Sorry, just walked up five flights of stairs.”

It was a Hagrid-looking Boomer who bought my Fluevog boots. If they were for him, I don’t think they were for his *feet*.

Anyhow, there’s no need to be ageist: selling stuff online is inevitably annoying.

Ultimately, it was Prospective Buyer #2 who cycled off into the sunset with a bulging backpack containing a well-loved $50 Breville Multi-Speed Juice Fountain.

Flamboyant rats.

It’s my laptop’s 10th birthday today.

…Is what I would say if I knew when exactly I purchased this laptop. It is approximately 10 years old though, and often struggles to connect to our wireless network. On these days, I sometimes resort to using a 3-foot-long ethernet cable which essentially tethers me 3 feet away from the cats’ shitting den as our modem is located above it.

At this point, there is no need for a new laptop, merely a want. “Laptop” isn’t going on my shopping list anytime soon.

If it isn’t the smell of the catbox keeping me away from mashing at the keyboard, then it’s the squirrels. They are so distractingly cute!

Yesterday morning I set out to pick up some body wash and mail a parcel. The pharmacy/post office is only a 10-minute walk, yet the mission took me an hour to complete.

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Behold, my favourite city-dwelling animal with my favourite cookie in its mouth!

There must have been an old lady on a park bench nearby, yelling out, “Chips ahoy!” as she chucked double chocolate chip cookies like frisbees at a scurry of squirrels.

And then you have me, an easily-distracted millennial, stalking squirrels, for the purposes of sharing a video on social media.

Could this be the next pizza rat? I should get better footage:

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I was starting to wonder if any of the neighbours were looking out their windows, watching me follow around a squirrel with my phone, and whether they were filming me filming the squirrel.

I opened the gate to one of the buildings, and slowly approached Cookie Squirrel, who had stopped to enjoy his chocolatey disc in front of somebody’s door, but he quickly fled leaving behind his prize.

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I wasn’t that into squirrels until I moved to Québec. The squirrels here maintain a certain “je ne sais quoi” not found in the squirrels of Vancouver. I thought about this as I continued my walk down the garbage lined street.

Oh, that’s it.

To humans, it was garbage day in the neighbourhood of La Petite-Patrie, but to squirrels, it was buffet day. In Vancouver, household garbage gets tossed in a large metal waste container in the back alley while residents of Montréal are forced to showcase their wasteful ways on the curbside once or twice a week.

Montréal’s archaic waste collection system played a role in my interest in squirrels.

Somehow, the raccoons have not taken note of this. I am not even sure raccoons live in Montréal: I’ve never seen one. I have gone three years without seeing a raccoon!

Last year, I made sure I’d never go a day without seeing an image of a squirrel by adding this to the back of my left calf:

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Tattoo done by Evan Dowdell.

Sometimes I get distracted by my own leg and trip over it.

In spite of all the distractions in my life, I am still able to get things like mailing parcels done. I am a successful squirrel-obsessed woman who smells like tea tree oil body wash.

 

Prelude to Le P’tit Train du Nord.

When it comes to cycling trips within a 200km radius of Montréal, I leave the planning up to Yann. Yann was born and raised in Montréal, and although I’ve already lived in this city for three years, I can’t even name five surrounding suburbs. For an overwhelmingly Catholic province like Québec, it’s somewhat comical how Montréal has bungled the cardinal points. I realize there’s nothing actually papal about the “cardinal directions”, but let me show you how how nefarious Montréalais cartographers are with an example of how the island looks in Google Maps:

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Look at where Montréal East is. Doesn’t that look more north to you?

So, to compensate, this is how the island is often presented in maps around the city:

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They just fucking tilt the island just so that Montréal East can actually be in the east. I find this to be a real mindfuck, but Yann thinks nothing of it.

For that reason, it is always his job to lead us out of this condemned island where vehicles cannot even make a right turn on a red. (I swear I’m not making this up!)

Yesterday, he proposed doing our first century ride of the year. That seemed over-ambitious, especially since I had only just begun to commute to work by bicycle a week ago. Prior to that, we spent 6 weeks using the bike trainer for 30 minutes every other day, and in this time I climbed six of the major passes in the Dolomites from the comfort of our living room: Falzarego, Pordoi, Sella, Gardena, Giau, and Campolongo. This was done watching GCN’s training videos on a laptop balanced on top of a speaker.

We had a lot more than just 30 minutes to do the 100km, so I accepted the challenge. We were to spend the majority of our ride on a dedicated bike path that would take us from our home to Saint-Jérôme, where our favourite cycling path, Le P’tit Train du Nord, begins.

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Yann sighted a marmot on the way, and tried pointing it out to me, but I was too distracted taking a photo of him that I completely missed the marmot. Here’s the photo of Yann trying to show me a marmot:

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When we passed through a residential area, I did not miss the plastic pony that somebody put in their front yard. Here is the pony:

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If fake owls are good enough to keep pigeons’ shitty little butts out, then imagine what a phony pony is capable of. Piss off, marmots!

This is also the perfect time to mention that somebody living near the Olympic Stadium has a fake moose parked in their front yard. If I could afford a yard, I’d be sure to one-up this person with a brachiosaurus.

Truthfully, there isn’t a whole lot to look at during this ride, which partly explains why I started thinking about how I’d landscape my hypothetical yard. The monotonous scenery is also likely why the bike path wasn’t made a part of Le P’tit Train du North.

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Not only do I train like a pro, but also I eat like one.

Let’s go back to the pony photo tho:

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Note the park bench in front of the driveway. Why would someone choose to sit right in front of their car? Behind the bench, is a basement window. I know one can’t hope for much when looking outside a basement window, but the decision to put this bench there was likely made by the same person who installed the pony. Did they really not have any better ideas? If you’re that inconsistent at being cool, are you really even cool?

Back to me:

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I did it. I rode 115km, and my legs feel fine today.

I think I’m ready to ride Le P’tit Train du Nord, and see some real animals on the way!

“I’m going to pay a thousand dollars to go over there.”

I don’t know where “there” is yet, but at the end of August I will be going somewhere so far, that I’ll need a plane ticket to get there. Once I get there, I will be navigating this undecided location by bicycle for two weeks.

I’ve said since 2013 that I’d like to go cycle touring somewhere overseas. This is a vague, but cool-sounding plan; merely saying you want to explore a faraway land by bike is one of the easiest ways to seem courageous. With a bicycle, I could explore a country at a satisfactory pace, and see all the things in-between point A and B, all while looking super-sleek in spandex.

The year this idea first dropped in my mind, I successfully installed a rear rack on my aluminium city bike, but I was unsuccessful in making the panniers work. My bicycle’s frame was too small, the chainstay too short, and my feet too… long?

This was when I realized how far away I was from my goal. I did, however, do the Whistler Gran Fondo (122km including 1700 vertical metres of hills) that year. I knew I was capable of doing long distances on my city bike, but only if I didn’t need to bring anything that wouldn’t fit in the back pockets of my cycling jersey: I had a three-banana maximum.

My other excuse for not going forward with my bike touring plans was my complete lack of mechanical knowledge. In 2013, I could change a flat, but even then, I had such poor technique that it’d practically take me half a day, hundreds of broken tire levers, a pile of ruined tubes with the telltale “snakebite” found in pinch flats, before I could roll again.

Five years later, I’m getting paid to fix bikes. I can lace a wheel in the time it used to take for me to replace a flat. I’ve replaced my aluminum city bike with a steel frame bike equipped with a rear rack. While my feet are still long, my heels no longer strike the panniers as I pedal. For good measure, I even have a front rack so that I can pack gifts for the locals!

These locals would likely be Portuguese, Spanish, or French. The Spanish edition of the Sierra Nevada range looks like it would be a lot of fun, but super challenging. To play it safe, I could get a sight of one of the Spanish costas with a relatively easy ride from Barcelona to Valencia and back.

The first option would allow me to bring a tent to sleep in somewhere in the mountains, while the second option would likely station me in a resort town for the nights. I’d prefer to sleep inside a mesh shelter somewhere devoid of people, to paying to sleep among the kind of people who go to resorts, but the latter would allow me to enjoy more than just nature.

As for Portugal, I could ride a portion of the Atlantic Coast Route (EuroVelo 1), and the Trans-Pyrenees would take me in and out of France.

My biggest problem with realizing this dream is now deciding where to go! I already know I want to take Yann with me. Yann is such a gifted bike mechanic that I wouldn’t be surprised if he were able to fix a broken chainring with a rock and some twigs. “Laura, I made chain lube out of crushed beetles.” Mainly, I’d like him to come along not because of his bike wizardry, but because he’s a delight to pedal alongside. If only he had any idea where “there” will be.

From now on, whenever someone tells me they did an overseas cycle tour, I am going to mostly be impressed by their decision-making skills. Can somebody please help me decide?!

The opposite of outrage isn’t inrage.

Hi!

I’m a former hearing person. I was born in Canada, and grew up in a middle-class hearing family. I’m also white, straight, and cis. This means my life began with pretty much just one disadvantage: being female. Oh, and being an infant, but I outgrew that horrid phase.

Then I got deathly ill.

Do you know what happens when a cute little blonde three-year-old gets sick in Canada? Everything that could possibly be done to save my life, was done… and at no expense to my family. In the process of saving my life, though, the drugs that were administered destroyed my hearing.

From that point on, I could never expect to have the things I would’ve otherwise had as a hearing child. I had figure out how to navigate a world that was largely inaccessible to me, when I was too young to understand why everything had suddenly gone silent. I thought people were playing games with me when they’d move their lips, and no sound would come out. I couldn’t make sense of why the sound had also disappeared whenever I tried to speak.

I even had to re-learn how to walk as my cochleas had ossified completely, ruining my balance. (Fun fact: I cannot get dizzy. I can spin around endlessly, and still be able to run in a straight line.)

Without sounds to guide the natural development of speech, my parents hired a speech-language pathologist in an effort to preserve my ability to speak. I was child who spent her Saturday afternoons training for the hearing world, instead of chasing after assorted sports balls like other kids. These lessons worked, but did not stop a “deaf accent” from eventually surfacing.

When my parents took me out trick-or-treating the year after I went deaf, a woman refused to reward me with candy because I was not responding to her questions. When my mother informed her that I was deaf, she not only withheld the candy, but also slammed the door in my face.

Maybe it was because I didn’t make a convincing sad clown, but it was most likely because I was not convincing as a hearing person.

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Sad clown is sad.

In my professional opinion, Deaf children deserve more candy: all the caramels in the world couldn’t stop us from coherently expressing ourselves in sign language.

But, not everybody knows sign language. In the past, whenever I needed to communicate with somebody who did not sign, I would attempt to speak to them. I was sharing a part of myself that I was unfamiliar with–my own voice–to a stranger. By doing this, I was accommodating them, but it was rarely seen that way. If I couldn’t make myself be understood, they usually wouldn’t try to understand.

Now that I feel more comfortable with writing, and don’t feel that people generally appreciate the effort it takes for a deaf person to speak–and even go as far to make fun of our “deaf accent”–I accommodate hearing people by scribing my thoughts on paper, or by tapping my comments on the phone. Still, this is often perceived as being onerous for hearing people; people who only need to spend a tiny fraction of their day communicating in writing. For me to have to communicate in this manner 99% of the time for the rest of my life is simply reality.

Indeed, there are people who find it preferable to wait to ask a question verbally than to get an instant answer from a deaf person if it requires a different kind of interaction. Strangely, many of these same people have embraced text messaging.

I am expected to accept this. I am expected to be grateful that I was allowed to live. People I should expect support from often feel that it’s a better use of their time to remind me that people are ignorant, rather than educate those people. Apparently, that’s my responsibility too.

To be better understood by people, this blog partly serves as a way to share my experiences as a Deaf person. I even have a space for comments for those who aren’t bothered by having to type out their questions.

But, I won’t tolerate the intolerant. I won’t even tolerate the out-tolerant*.

*Not a real word as of April 30, 2018.

Final travelogue.

I have just concluded my first week back at work post-vacation, but I’m still not finished talking about my vacation.

On Thursday the 19th, I took my gym-loving sister, Jenn, to the gym. Not the kind she usually goes to, but the kind I usually go to. My preferred type of gym has almost entirely padded flooring, and a lot of chalk dust. Jenn is a Crossfitter and, yes, she talks about it a lot but come to think of it, climbers also talk about climbing excessively.

Her being a crossfitter has the family commenting on her burly physique a lot. Dad in particular is strangely interested in the physique of others. He mentioned no less than four times that my brother had gotten really fat, and when I told him that I had visited two of my childhood friends, he asked whether either of them had gotten fat. It did make me wonder how Dad describes my physique.

On that note, the night I arrived, Dad’s wife put her hand on my abdomen and asked me if I was pregnant.

Hmm!

For starters, I most certainly do not look pregnant. I’m not even one of those skinny people with a mini potbelly.

Secondly, Dad has been with this woman for three years. It is a well known fact among my friends and family that I have zero interest in having children. Did this really never come up in the three years they’ve been together?

Lastly, (and most importantly!) it is an unwritten rule that one should never ask a woman if she’s pregnant. Maybe the woman wants children, but cannot have any. Maybe the woman’s just bloated. Maybe it is actual chub. Maybe it’s a tumor?

Even as a child, I knew better than to ask this question.

Too bad I didn’t have as much guts as Dad’s wife did, otherwise I would have told her bluntly: “I do not appreciate you touching me like that and it is inappropriate to ask anybody that kind of question.” Instead I told her I hated kids in an effort to shut down the discussion.

What bothered me even more than that was how this awkward exchange took place right in front of Dad who didn’t seem to register how fucked-up it was.

My buff sister did, though. THANK YOU, REASON!

So, she and I met at the bouldering gym where I was able to show what my sinewy arms were capable of doing. Jenn had brought along her DSLR, and captured my body twisted in awkward positions (a big part of climbing, really) along with my try-hard faces. My signature try-hard face appears to involve sucking in my upper lip.

 

I’ve always been envious of crushers who have a compilation of professional-quality shots of themselves looking impressively agile.

The photos I took of Jenn were a letdown, but there will be a next time as she loved bouldering. YES. I’ll have another person to talk about climbing with!

The next day, I muscled my way up the Stawamus Chief aka the Yosemite of the Northwest; however, this was done in my hiking boots and not in climbing shoes. I’ve climbed in Squamish, but I’ve never climbed The Chief, nor had I ever hiked it.

It was unexpectedly difficult, and I couldn’t have done it alone. I mean, someone had to drive me there: that someone was András.

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The chipmunk didn’t hitch a ride with us, but it was nice to be greeted by this little dude when we reached the last peak.

Speaking of peaks, this is the shot everybody comes for:

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It’s yours truly atop peak three of the Stawamus Chief, with even more peaks in the background. Then there’s the Howe Sound, as well as assorted clouds, with a special guest appearance by a happy tree.

Could my trip have possibly gone better? Of course it could have: I could have paraglided down the Chief, or spotted an endangered Vancouver Island Marmot while in the Comox Valley, or won a free MTB to take home.

Mainly, it would have been nice if some people didn’t waste my time by flaking out on me at the last minute. One person even did it… twice. I am still trying to process where I had gone wrong. Did I misinterpret our plans?

“I would love to see you!” Is usually a good indicator that the person really does want to see you. Usually.

I was even offered a couch to sleep on so that I didn’t have to catch a ride back to the suburbs with Dad in the early evening. I was good with leaving early in the morning the following day. After all, the next thing I had planned was the Stawamus Chief hike which was supposed to start at 8:30am.

On the morning I was supposed to see this friend, I received a message saying that our plans were no-go because… work. Some people don’t have the luxury of having a job with stable hours like I do, but I have a friend who works sometimes as an on call pharmacist. She’s always given me a heads-up before we schedule anything on those nights. Exhibiting this sort of courtesy shouldn’t be hard.

Anyway, the workload in the bike shop is pretty nutso right now, but if I had an out-of-town friend visiting, and work asked me to do some overtime, I would have turned it down. Come on.

I couldn’t get mad though. Get mad, and you definitely won’t be able to re-schedule. I was willing to re-schedule! I really wanted to see this friend! They suggested meeting up for dinner after my hike.

I contacted them as promised when I was on my way back to Vancouver from Squamish. The response was more or less, “Sorry, gotta work until 9:30pm.”

Wait, didn’t you tell me yesterday that I couldn’t spend the night because you had to work at 7am? What kind of shitty-ass job makes somebody work from 7am until 9:30pm?

Friendships can be tricky when one person likes the other a lot more than the other. Sometimes I find myself in the position where somebody I don’t vibe with is pursuing a friendship I’m not really interested in. I just don’t lead them on; that’s borderline malicious.

If this truly wasn’t ill-intentioned, then I’m certainly baffled as to how this person expected me to react: “I am so chill that I don’t care that I said “no” to other people so that I could spend time with you. Yes, I would love to make time for you when, and if, you come to Montréal!”

I have no chill, I guess.

Overall, I do have some amazing friends who sincerely love the shit out of me. I shall focus on cherishing the ever-loving crap out of those people!

This Island Earth.

Ever since last winter, I’ve been warming up to the idea of moving somewhere warmer. As a disabled person over the age of 30, my options are pretty much limited to Canada, which isn’t very warm.

My issue with Montreal isn’t that French is the primary language. I can read French well enough to get by; I just can’t seem to dress warm enough to get through another winter.

My options?

There’s Vancouver with an average high of 22C in the summertime, and average low of 6 in the winter months. But Vancouver is expensive. I know it’s not London, Tokyo, or San Francisco, but since leaving just 3 years ago, the cost of rent has gone up a LOT. When I moved out of my one-bedroom in the Fairview neighbourhood, I found it listed at $250 a month higher than what I had been paying. Similar places are now going for $1,600+/mo. Also, it rains a LOT there.

Next, we have Victoria with even milder temperatures and slightly less rain. Rent is a little less shocking. The size of the city is perfect: it has that small-city feel with all the big-city amenities. Plus, Tammy lives there, along with an unusually high number of cotton-headed coffin dodgers, but that’s okay because with my hair the colour it currently is, they’d likely accept me as one of their own kind.

When I left Tammy in Victoria on Tuesday the 17th, I was transported three hours up the island by a dear Deaf friend, Alana. I’ve known Alana since the 1st grade and she was probably my closest friend (distance-wise as well as she lived a few blocks away) in my early teens. She was the type of friend who mostly just wanted to do fun stuff like rollerblading, cycling, table hockey, driveway hockey,  and video game hockey (ok, not video game hockey, but we did play lots of Snoopy’s Silly Sports Spectacular and Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers on her NES).

She moved to Ontario after high school and lived there for years. Even after she moved back to BC, she was still living very far away from Vancouver. Our reunions were rare.

Although she had been up since 3am that day for a four-hour shift, she drove all the way from Courtenay to pick me up in Victoria because she wanted to show me her new hometown and possibly convince me to be her neighbour again.

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Courtenay and the two surrounding towns (Comox and Cumberland) share a very similar climate to Victoria. There’s the ocean! AND MOUNTAINS. Rent is cheaper!

On the downside, there aren’t a lot of places available for rent for most people just own homes. Jobs are, of course, more limited in smaller towns, but with Cumberland being paradise for insular mountain bikers, there is likely an above average per capita demand for bike mechanics.

Maybe Yann and I will end up moving to the Comox Valley with the two cats, our four bikes and then be forced to get really creative with our living space when we throw two mountain bikes into the mix.

But how could I possibly make a decision like that if I had never been on a mountain bicycle… outside of a parking lot. Sure, I know how to fix them, but the sensation of going over thick roots and stones of assorted sizes with a suspension fork was unknown to me.

Enter Sarah

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…a short cyclist among giant trees.

I felt compelled to warn her repeatedly that me being a roadie ≠ good at mountain biking. Also, just because I can un-fuck a MTB doesn’t mean I can un-fuck myself while riding one.

Her boyfriend was chill enough to let me borrow his back-up bike. Before we went down the trails of Thornhill in Maple Ridge, Sarah gave me some useful advice such as “No, you don’t really sit down at all,” and “You should totally get a mountain bike.”

The bike I was riding had excessively large disc brake rotors which I had a difficult time modulating especially since both my bikes have rim brakes. Besides, like a true roadie, I ride clipless and had a hard time keeping my feet planted on the flat pedals.

In the end, I don’t think I sucked as badly as I expected to, and I actually enjoyed it more than I expected to!

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