love/hate with travel

I move extremely fast when traveling on my own. Reduce my possessions down to a backpack and duffel and I can weave through all kinds of human foot traffic. Airports? I’m on the plane in 20 minutes flat. Train stations? I’ll find my track and train. Buses? I’ll run through Port Authority like an 80s movie commuter cliche. Ferries, I’ve been taking my whole life, I can get in the cafeteria line on a Queen or Spirit class vessel in less than five minutes from when I drive on, less than two from walk on.

This is the part of traveling I like. It’s being in the moment, like a ninja. I’m totally focused on the next step and the next transport. I’m not thinking about my to do list or worrying about the million anxieties in my life. I’m just leapfrogging from step to step of a journey. And I do that best on my own, without checked bags, just carrying what I can sling over shoulders. It’s the same mental state I go into when I bike in New York City, a total focus on movement and the space around me, combined with the constant puzzle solving of the directions and airport and train station signs.

On the other hand, I’ve also been home for two days in the past two weeks. It’s hard to believe it was only two weeks ago we left for Orlando, for our Disneyworld adventure. It’s only been five days since I flew up to Toronto. But it feels like I haven’t been home for longer. I miss my routines. I miss the gym. I miss my friends. And after five days in Toronto, I miss my men.

That last one is really why I don’t travel like I always wanted to, like I thought I would when I could afford to. It’s harder to travel as a family. There’s more stuff. There’s more people. It costs more. Yet I don’t want to go alone because I miss my husband and son too much. I don’t get the same sort of sense of travel flow with my family that I do when it’s just me.

So I love travel. But right now I’m over it. Staying put for a few weeks sounds like a welcome reprieve from being on the road, even when it’s on the road to visit the people I love most. It’s wonderful being part if my family’s life in Toronto, with my mother and my sister and my nieces but it’s not my life. And I’d stay a month if they needed me to, without complaint, just to be sure everything was OK. But just because I’d willingly stay longer doesn’t mean I’m not grateful to be heading home, for some quiet time, in my own home

, with my men, and the ability to again plan my life in Brooklyn.

And I expect to get that quiet time today…just as soon as I finish running through Penn Station from NJT to the Q train, blasting EDM in my Bluetooth headphones, and pretending, just a bit, that I’m a backpacker transferring from the Eurostar to the London Underground.


still in toronto

Day Three in Toronto!  This is a Canadian city I never lived in, yet it seems strangely familiar.  This isn’t just because I’ve been here so much, but I think just because of the place Toronto occupies in English Canadian culture.  It’s the city that serves as a backdrop in TV and movies, and it’s the biggest city in English speaking Canada.  And even though it’s a world away from my home in British Columbia, it still strikes me as similar sometimes in the way the city is planned, especially in how many small parks there are.  Parks and public space seem to be a high priority in Canadian cities.  I appreciate that about my homeland.

I’m camped out at my sister’s house right now, at her new/old house: the home she’s lived in with her family since they moved back in 2013, which she has spent the past 18 months rebuilding.  It’s been an incredible effort on her part to manage the construction, acting as the foreperson, managing contractors, and overseeing the entire building site of a major architectural revamp.  Now, after a year of full time work, she’s been able to move her family back in.  There’s still construction going on, especially in the kitchen, but it’s a home again.  She’s done so much work, and put so much of herself into building this for her family, it’s incredible.  It even has a guest suite downstairs for when my family flee Trump’s America come to visit for holidays.

Still, it’s a bit crazy, as it is whenever a move takes place.  My sister and I are trying to dig through everything Mom brought from the West Coast, including a lot of random flotsam and jetsam packed by her moving crew back in late 2016 when she left our childhood home in Oak Bay.  We’re trying to get her room to a point where she can move through it with her walker.  Mom will be home tomorrow morning, after all: we’d like her to be able to manage in her new space.  But the cleanout has led to some discoveries of things that probably shouldn’t have made it from BC, such as:

  • A school project on the 1988 Olympic Games in Korea (mine)
  • My sister’s complete report card collection
  • A series of English pewter beer steins engraved as to my father and his first wife (ie. not my mother)
  • Shares certificates for the Racquet Club and the BC Resources Investment Corporation , total of maybe $5….if they were even still valid

With all this going on, it’s actually quieter visiting Mom at the hospital, even though that requires a cross-city drive.  Sometimes though, it’s nice to just turn on the radio, listen to CanCon, and look out at the Toronto neighborhoods as they go by.  Maybe that’s why Toronto seems so familiar, because I’m driving through it listening to 54-40 or old Metric.  Or maybe it’s because Toronto is to Vancouver as New York is to L.A.: the origin point of the white men who first laid out and built the city. Whatever it is, it’s like being home to be here for a few days, even in the wake of  a move.

hello toronto!

I hadn’t planned on visiting the homeland soon after my return from Orlando, but here I am, at YYZ, on an UP train into town. Unfortunately, it isn’t under positive circumstances. Just before she was scheduled to fly to NYC and travel with us to DisneyWorld, my mother shattered her lower leg in a compound fracture, rendering her immobile. She’s been in a rehabilitation facility doing physio and practicing getting around on her weight bearing leg. I’m up here to visit her. And I’m specifically here today because my sister is moving houses and needs some backup.

In the interest of Mom’s privacy, I won’t go into details on her injury and recovery, save to say that it is severe. I’m fortunate right now in that I can work remote from Toronto for the week so I can be with my family for any support I can give. While this trip definitely wasn’t planned, I’m grateful I could take it. And even though the circumstances are far from ideal, I’m also grateful for the extra time with the people I love.

back to a somewhat less magical existence

And we’re back from Disney World!  That was indeed a world, more than a land.  We were thoroughly Disney Park’d out by the time we got back, although you would never know it by the enthusiasm Ben showed on Friday morning while hanging out with his visiting cousin from Savannah (shown here in Pandora: The World of Avatar in Animal Kingdom, floating mountains in background):


Six days is a LOT of Disney time, but it turned out to be what we needed to cover all four parks.  Two days each in Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, one day in Epcot and a half day in Hollywood Studios was indeed the right mix for our plans.  We were able to hit all the high points on Day One in the parks, and then take it a little more slowly while spending time with my visiting family on Thursday and Friday.  Despite my initial skepticism, this was indeed the right family vacation for us this year, especially since Ben and his second cousin Oliver are JUST the right age to be let loose to complete a pirate quest in Adventureland:


So now we’re back in Brooklyn, which is still magical to me, even if no one here is going to tell me to “have a magical day” as part of their mandated job scripts.  Ben has also made his list of Top Ten Favorite WDW Attractions:

    1. Star Tours.  We weren’t sure about this, since Ben had a panic attack after riding Flight of the Na’vi in Avatarland, and this was another simulator ride with some drops and a lot of movement.  Ben went on it with great trepidation, but by the end, was grinning broadly from the thrill of flying through the Star Wars universe, and asked to go on it three more times during the day.
    2. Kali River Rapids.  Identical to the Russian River Rapids in California Adventure, only with a different surrounding story of river rafting in India.  We all got drenched on this one, to Ben’s joy and delight.


  1. Haunted Mansion.  THAT’S MY BABY.
  2. Mission Space (Orange).  Again, it was the right level of movement and simulator for Ben’s anxiety and dislike of thrill rides.  Also, it is awesome.
  3. Soarin’.  I disagree with this and think it should be first since Soarin’ over California was my favorite thing at California Adventure and Soarin’ Over the World is an upgraded version, but I suppose my nine year old son is prioritizing the space rides as he should.
  4. Pirates of the Caribbean.  The movies are literal nightmare fuel, leading to a BEN WHY ARE YOU IN OUR ROOM IT’S 2AM incident the night before we left, but the ride remains a classic.
  5. Toy Story Midway Mania.  It combined the joy of fairground skill games with a movie Ben loved – of course it was a favorite.
  6. Buzz Lightyear Laser Blasters.  No surprise here either.
  7. Big Thunder Railway.  This was a surprise since Ben was extremely nervous about riding a roller coaster.  However, after riding Flight of the Na’vi, he decided it was actually awesome in that it was well balanced in its thrills.
  8. Kilimanjaro Safaris.  This is basically a big zoo, so we had to balance our appreciation for seeing the animals with our innate dislike of keeping animals in captivity.  It was a well done experience – a Jeep ride through recreated habitats for African animals – but still, not a Disney unique ride.

Ben’s top 5 WDW experiences:

  1. Rampaging Adventureland with his cousin on A Pirate’s Adventure
  2. Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, which combined Magic: The Gathering with a Disney scavenger hunt
  3. Dinner at Sanaa in Animal Kingdom Lodge, where we ate gluten free naan while watching giraffes outside
  4. The Jeweled Dragon Acrobats at the EPCOT China pavilion.
  5. The Big Thunder Railroad Shutdown, when we got to evacuate the train when the ride stopped with us on it  – and got to see the inside of the cave with the lights on (it’s apparently the one part of Disney World that isn’t cleaned, ever)


I think we can call this another Successful Family Vacation.  It was a much more exhausting experience than Disneyland, but totally worth the energy, money and time to make that many happy family memories.

welcome to the world of tomorrow!

We are in EPCOT today. It isn’t nearly as Futurama as I expected. It did, however, have a series of exhibits about the future that now require constant tending as the future changes faster than either Disney brother could have expected. The original future EPCOT displayed was expected to remain futuristic for longer. Now that the future seems to almost run in parallel with the present, technology wise, a central focus on the future isn’t visionary, making it mundane. As a result, the park seeemed a bit confused.

Out of that confusion though, comes a lot of SCIENCE. Including Paul’s favorite muppets, Bunsen and Beaker!

We’ve had a long day so I’ll have to detail the adventures in my own future. Suffice to say, it was a great day, ending

From symbolism to symbols

There is a moment, in the First Sex in the City movie, where Carrie realizes that Big isn’t coming to their wedding venue (because he is a ridiculous man child, obviously, who only showed devotion when he could buy his way out of it BUT I DIGRESS) Carrie, panicking, asks for a phone. Samantha throws her an iPhone. She looks at the screen, covered in the first generation of apps, and says, simply, I can’t use this. I don’t know how.

Thinking of that scene, it seems so quaint. How could anyone be so clueless as to not be able to use a smartphone? How could anyone have lacked the intuition to grasp the technology, driven as it is by pictures and icons? It is a moment made for empathy from the audience, as if to say, see this confusing technology? It’s OK not to understand it! Even sophisticated New York women cannot efficiently use this newfangled geek device from Silicon Valley!

Now, at the age that the character was in that movie, I think, how did we manage to grasp all this technology? How is it that most of us swam so smoothly into the tide of all of this change? All of these smartphones, all of these computers, all of this digital existence? How is it all of us, all of my generation, managed to transition from the first days of a text-only Internet, to the bright icons, shapes, colors, all of the wordless material that makes up the apps and pictures on our phones? How did our brains transition from having the information, in the format of words that we were used to for centuries, and just suddenly seeing it flow through in a completely different interface every few years?

Look at all these tiny pictures!

In the world of today, I feel fortunate enough to be from a unique generation. I remember A World Before the internet, but only barely. I am still able to see the internet as something miraculous, a conduit that allows for a flow of information and communication we never could have imagined in the past.

That, however, was words. The smartphones are all about images. They are a new way of looking at information, full of symbols. There are the pleasingly aesthetic squares of apps, the shortcut sentences of emojis, the flash of lights on the phone itself to represent a message from another person. My phone speaks to me in a code of shortcuts.

This is why I had to delete the Facebook app off my phone: the notification icon babbles at me otherwise.

How did the Xennials all learn this so quickly, changing the way we interpret information in so few years? How were we poised for this absorption of information? Words alone, I get – Western culture prizes ourselves on our ability to absorb words and change them into images and emotions in our brains. We have done that collectively for half a millennium, since the printed, widely distributed word accelerated the ability to read. The Internet as it was in 1995 makes perfect sense to me. The way we choose to communicate now though, it goes around the words. It is a direct transfer of simple information, including emotions, without the need to take in words and change them, in our brains, to a concept.


Pretty sure this means something filthy IN PHONE SPEAK

Maybe this is how we moved so quickly to smartphones and this image and metaphor laden technology. It isn’t that we went forward, it’s that we went backwards. Most of what is done in smartphone communication is images and symbols because it is too cumbersome to pull together a coherent set of words. Going without words entirely may be more efficient on this device, but it strikes me as lazier .

I’m actually typing this on a smartphone, using it as a small computer. It isn’t efficient, but it’s how I write on the subway. The concepts I’m trying to express, I want a reader to interpret through the nuances of words. There are no cookie cutter symbols that can replace original paragraphs. Maybe there are images, but I’d rather forces a reader to create those themselves. It’s effort for both the writer and reader this way.

Oh and that smartphone Carrie caught in the movie? Thrown to her by Samantha. Who is ten years older than the other girls. Proving, of course that anyone can learn this nerdy new tech, especially when it helps them run their successful small business. And I am sure the writers would have forced a gratuitous use of a series of sex icons like the ones above in lieu of dialogue on the extremely well spoken and articulate Kim Cattrall if the 3rd movie had taken place, proving my point about laziness as well.

hello, spring!

Over the weekend at Frost Valley, the spring thaw began. Instead of the snow we expected, it began to rain. I heard the water begin running through the forest, little rivers and waterfalls throughout the campus. It reminded me of the part in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe where the sound of running water means of White Witch’s spell is breaking. It’s not a thaw. It’s spring.

The days are getting longer. It’s still light when I come home. I can feel my brain re-adjusting to natural light.

The air is going to be warmer. It’s chilly and bright today, but not with the same edge of Winter.

I only have five weeks of travel to New Jersey. Effective April 1st, my time on that client is done, and I return to my Midtown office, with all my coworkers – not as a lonely lone wolf on site at the client all day. And I’ll be able to ride my bike to work again because I can safely park it in the office there.

I’ll also be able to run outside again. My asthma prevents me from running in the cold, but as soon as it’s in the mid-40s, I can run without my lungs seizing up. Running in the park is like multitasking cardio endorphins and forest bathing in one 45 minute loop.

There is so much to look forward in the every day of Spring. I’m so happy its sunny today. I’m so happy the end of Winter is coming.