Logistical Fail

It’s 8:30 pm and they just brought me a Super Bock stout. They’re gonna pair it up with some olives, because olives. I took a selfie to attach to this post but I couldn’t recognize myself so I’ll take a picture of olives. Ah maybe the selfie too. We’ll see.

I didn’t go out this morning because I discovered how nice the sunroom can be with the windows open wide. I wrote out there with my morning coffee. I meditated in the sun. Naked even. I watched a neighbour watch their cat.

I made breakfast for lunch and spent an hour or so trying to figure out places and events for my remaining ten days here. Mostly just ended up with a list of places to eat. I’m sure a lot happens here but to an outsider it looks mainly like lots of haircuts, cafes and cerveza.

The next X unit of time, I applied for a Ontario Arts Council grant. That sounds so casual. I wrestled with my will and self-doubt and forced myself to apply for an Ontario Arts Council grant.

I lost time in some conversations and in trying to decide if I can see the Fantastic Beasts movie here now and then it was 7:30 and I hadn’t dressed yet and low blood sugar was making me dumb and clumsy.

So I exchanged my comfy clothes for only slightly more acceptable comfy clothes and put on a hat to cover my day old bed head. Threw my Visa card in one pocket and two bags in the other and I was off to the local grocery shop. They know me there now. I thought they’d be proud I finally remembered to bring bags.

They were closed.

I can’t keep track of when places open and close here; though, I am also losing track of what day it is.

(just realized this artisanal burger joint is streaming an english jazz station)

Anyway so I can’t get food to eat at home and I’m dressed like a middle-aged, too lazy to bother, tourist hipster. I lurch down the street, past the understated whore house, around a corner that houses a restaurant I want to try but they’re full and find this burger place that has English on their menu with the Portuguese which is good because by now my eyes are getting blurry from hunger.

Luckily there’s no real way a tourist should look. I don’t take my hat off. Feels rude but it’s for the best all round. And anyway, my hat matches my hair.

The burger is one of the best I’ve ever had. Probably they eat all the time here because the food is so damn good.

Anyway, I could have planned that day a whole lot better. But I didn’t and it didn’t really matter and I got to bask in the sun and I beat the grant demon and I look bizarre but noone cares and that dinner was amazing. The only real downside is I have no cash so I can’t tip.

I don’t even remember why I started telling you all this. This jazz is smooooth. I think it’s Friday. Oh right. The olives. And the selfie. Maybe you’ll figure out who I am now.

Oh Honourable Thief

I resolved last night to accept that my things were gone. I cancelled my bank cards, changed pertinent passwords, got new hostel keys, and activated the lost iPad locking. I spent a bit of time feeling violated and fearful, then I went out to MAD About You improv in English. They have two guests per show who they interview and the answers become the offers to create the improv – one per half. I was selected and so I told the room about my backpack being stolen. It’s always good to talk these things out! It was the Hallowe’en show so the questions centred mostly around fear. To a question about nightmares I answered “I recently had a nightmare where I disappointed some important people in my life terribly and I woke up crying.” I love how theatre = therapy. The show was really excellent and the players were great people.

In the morning I got a message that the police had found my credit cards, driver’s license, and hostel keys! They had been left out and a citizen had returned them – I think the thief wasn’t going to sell or use them and wanted them to be returned to me. Jorge of the Lindyhoppers said petty thieves will never use the cards for fear of being tracked and are too unsophisticated for fraud. Unsophisticated but also thoughtful to leave them out to be returned. I wasn’t sure how to get back to the police station so I looked at Google Maps to see if it keeps a running record of everywhere I’ve been and it does, of course. So Maps took me back to the policia and on the way I got to thinking how I can recreate most of my journal from the Cloud. Google knows every restaurant I’ve eaten at, every place I’ve lingered and wandered. Every photo I’ve taken is somewhere on Samsung and Google. I’ve sent emails and Messenger messages and texts and WhatApp notes and I’ve posted on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. Really everything I’ve experienced is somehow documented on the Cloud. And so I came to terms with the loss of the journal.

That combined with the sunshine and the return of all my ID and my hostel keys made me so much lighter. My natural state is one of general joy with bursts of excitement. I had forgotten that fact until I returned to it after quitting the bank. I was so excited about the future! Then my Mom’s illness became more demanding and then, of course, she died. And the joy was gone, it was all grey and really I went to the UK because I was afraid if I didn’t do something rash I would wake up and find that I’d gone back to the bank and that twenty years had passed.

Somehow in struggling with the loss of all these things, I’ve found my way back to the joy. During this trip I’ve mostly been happy. Engaged, interested and on occasion excited and deeply contented with highlights of joy. There has been so very much beauty and I’ve been often moved, at times to tears. Walking along the street today I was able to be “in the moment”: joyful, excited about the future, and thrilled by the moment. It was good to be back.

I bought a little notebook that I really like and will carry in my new hip bag that prevents me from having to put my stuff down when I dance. Long journal entries I can do at home: the notebook is for jotting down things like “the cashier says Luton is not England… not anymore” but also things like the list of what to bring the NEXT time I’m on a red-eye flight.

Late this afternoon, I got a Twitter message from a new Jorge saying he thought he had found my journal! The photocopy of my passport was still in it and he used it to find me on Twitter. We made plans to meet up at a bar called “Oh My Game” – like a Canadian games cafe. I felt a bit nervous of course, so I used the Messenger location-sharing feature to share my whereabouts with an actress from the improv group and apprised her of my plan. There was no need for concern though – Jorge #2 was a pleasant young man who was out playing games and drinking beer with his friends. He had found the journal discarded in a public area.

The other items I’m sure are now being sold and I’m quite fine with that. The robber identified the items I most required back and left them to be found. I’m grateful to this honourable thief for the lesson, and for not making it sting too badly.

And I’m grateful for the dancers, actors and gamers who are out there being good souls. And for my many friends who sent me messages of love and support. All these people make this a world where joy is possible.

Knee Jerk Wow

Second Hand Costume at Shopsley Thrift Store

Let me start by saying I would never wear nor advocate for this costume. But I WAS delighted by seeing it at the thrift shop! I couldn’t really SAY anything to anyone there, most especially as it was populated by senior women exclaiming how must further their pensions went before the shop had opened in their neighbourhood. So I grinned and took a photo as one does. I am constantly entertained by such things. Just about everything is either humorous or beautiful or awe-inspiring or at least interesting.

The weekend before leaving Canada, I was speaking with my friend Liz about my concern that I wouldn’t be able to handle Europe. That the wonder and awe would do me in. I’m already captivated by anything novel or beautiful in the realm of the mundane. Surviving even the mundane on another continent seemed improbable.

Liz agreed that each day was essentially filled with wonder and new intrigue and commented that some people view the mountains or sunsets as mundane – in fact, they hardly view them at all – whereas she is struck each time she encounters them. It’s just a different world, she says, for those with a knee-jerk wow.

I love that. Knee-jerk wow. Constantly engaged, endlessly astonished, halfway wincing from the beauty and always reaching out for more. It feels at time like a kind of madness – as if one shock of awe or terror will push our wits beyond reckoning. I wouldn’t want to be any other way. I need only my curiosity and some idle time to be happily entertained.

That’s really why there is a picture of a second-hand costume here and not a proper tourist picture. I won’t be showing many shots of castles or tea shops here although my *Instagram might have dungeons and street signs (I seem to have a thing for signs).

If I do visit a castle and mention it here, it will read something like this – “Visited a fabulous castle today with massive iron gates and a terrifying dungeon. Afterwards, I went to the pub next door and was amazed to see seventeen different types of cheese on the menu!” and the picture I would give you would not be of the castle gates or dungeon, nor of the front of the pub, nor even of a variety of cheeses but rather it would be a picture of a menu, perhaps with a pint of cider just in the foreground – and knowing that this is how it would go I surmise that really to get any pleasure at all from reading this blog you need to have the following two things: a love of very long sentences, and a strong imagination.

 

*https://www.instagram.com/katrinitylife/   for dog cemeteries and sign posts