Okay, it’s the end of August now and I’m re-reading the post I wrote at the beginning of summer and things didn’t turn terminate so dramatically. Not to say it was not dramatic – PKG was literally flip-flopping between Mayo and UofT with every 6 h interval until the very last moment.

In June, PKG went back to Rochester for the summer and went on an epic 3-week canoe trip through the Boundary Waters, spent time (in a less epic fashion) at home, and then as if echoing the start of the summer, biked back to Toronto (1400 k over 11 days?!) for the start of school. I am happy he is back!

I had a great summer too. To sum it up with one non-descriptive phrase: busy. I climbed a bunch (nearly every weekend), went to my friend’s beautiful cottage in Dorset, twice (maybe this was my only retreat and opportunity to read), traveled to Minnesota to visit PKG and ate ice cream nearly everyday, moved into a new place that is still not furnished, published a paper, went to a summer school on Arctic research, and started to think about my qualifying exam.

Not to complain, but the kind of busy summer I had did not have room for a lot of self-reflection, meditation, exploration. It’s like I recently experienced a personality or philosophy switch that I’m not really that comfortable with. I’m not certain if I can operate like how I have been this past summer- although it has been fun, my body feels tired and my mind restless. Lately, I find myself more interested in the idea of things or the thought of doing without actually immersing myself into the activity… like a conceptual life-artist who oversees and manages a life-factory. I feel like I have too many commitments (climbing, research, HN board, other friends) and I really just need to spend time by myself and reconnect. I need to calm down and refocus and engage in a meaningful way, somehow.

Weirdly (although I should be careful to not conflate these occurrences), I have found myself reading a lot of sport-journalism type articles. For example I read about BASE-jumping in the NYT mag and the feature on Novak Djokovic in the New Yorker. What does this mean? This sounds stupid and silly but can this a transformation I am witnessing?

I was sick for the last 3 days and all I wanted to do was sleep and sleep. I feel exhausted. Maybe this panic and delirium will pass too. 


PG was accepted to Mayo and he is deciding whether to go there or stay in Toronto.

Related, we need to move out of the apartment by the end of May so I am savouring the last week of this co-existence. We’ve been making our favourite foods (tagines, cookies, waffles, clafoutis, caramelized onion and cauliflower, random quinoa salads), doing things that we like (getting milkshakes to go from Rose and Son’s, movies, late night bike rides, hanging out at the Islands), and doing everyday things (going to Kensington for pupusas, waking up early just to stay in bed). All these things make me sad.

This past week, I’ve noticed that a lot of our conversations begin with, “Do you remember?”



Climbing at Lion’s head May2013

For several weekends in fall, PG was busy with interviews at Mayo, MN, NW, Case, etc. so I spent many of them in Markham. My brother and I mostly occupied ourselves with biking.

When we first started in September, we had barely left behind summer. I recall wearing shorts and a sleeveless tank, lugging 2 L of water, and sweating profusely. It was so hot in the afternoon sun. We headed west and it was pretty unmemorable aside from joking about the decrepit state of Mimico.

On a subsequent Sunday, we headed north to Lake Simcoe and back (almost). A combination of waking up at noon, poor planning, getting lost, slow biking, and an earlier than expected setting sun, we abandoned the remaining return leg and opted to be picked up instead. We still managed 100 k.

Then there was the time we stumbled upon a farm that baked sourdough bread in a brick oven, took shelter under a tree during in a hailstorm, and stopped for tea and a ginger cookie. On another occasion, we carried our bikes across half-built roads because we failed to heed construction signs.

We spent most of October biking leisurely, never exceeding 50 k, always returning before dusk. We biked in search of apple trees along the side of the road. During these trips, we climbed trees, picked enough fruit to fill our empty backpacks, and upon returning home, baked crumbles and canned sauce.

This past weekend was anomalous; it was both sunny and warm (15 deg in mid-November)! So we biked again like it was fall. I don’t think I was as acutely aware of my surroundings. When we were still biking every weekend, I sensed constant change. The landscape turned vibrant as the leaves acquired their brilliant fall colours, then more drab and damp, and finally, becoming completely desaturated. I didn’t register very much this weekend, except for how mild and spring-like the breeze felt. At times, I found myself not thinking at all, just cycling and hearing the wind.

Côte  Normande

Côte d’Azur

Not much has changed since I was last here five years ago. Tourists walk up and down Champs Elysees and pose at Trocadero in front of the Eiffel Tower, queues form outside LV’s flagship store, patisserie counter tops are lined with rows of colourful macarons, the metro is still sketchy at night, window boxes are overflowing with flowers and herbs, and the roads are turbulent filled with pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and cars.

We have already spent more than one week here:
Collecting lavender flowers from Paris and beyond
Having multi-lingual (Chinese, Vietnamese, French, English) conversations at dinner with grandmothers, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, boyfriends…
Eating delicious breakfasts every morning: strawberries and figs and yoghurt, croissants (aux amandes), coffee, mirabelles
Going on day trips to neighbouring towns, visiting the Buddhist Temple that keeps Ton Ton’s ashes, museum outings

Like the rest of the flock, we are heading to the south in a few days.

Saturday – The sunlight, filtered by trees and the glass pane, flooded into room and I woke up realizing that I did not entirely know where I was. I love waking up in unfamiliar places and the brief sensation of disorientation. I put on my bathing suit, walked to the edge of the dock, suppressed my apprehension, and jumped into the lake. Later C., P., and I went on a canoe trip pretending we were coureurs de bois. After circumnavigating the island, we headed up the creek leading to an adjacent lake.

I haven’t been on a trampoline in eons, but there I was jumping up and down. We played games like trying to dampen each other’s jumps, seeing who could jump the highest or stay in the fetal position the longest, until we were too tired to do anything. Breathing deeply with outstretched limbs, looking up to the trees that encircled our field of view, we laid there until lunch.

I helped A. with a few repairs around cottage: fixed the mesh for the porch, assisted in a failed attempt at picking a padlock, and set up a water intake system. Then I returned to the dock to read Cloud Atlas until the sun’s rays were obscured by trees and it was too cold to be outside in just a bikini.

Sunday – Some had to head back to the city earlier. This is when C. reminded me that its two kisses when greeting hello/goodbye. The lake was not as tranquil but it still warranted a quick dip. Afterwards, we made French toast and berry peach compote and ate until we could no longer think of food. With full bellies, P., A., N., and I read a play, In the Shadow of a Gunman.

I still think you’re mysterious despite all of our conversations.  It’s hard for me to figure you out; you dedicate so much energy into denying conventional human responses, sometimes I just don’t know.  You have this voyeuristic fascination with social interactions– you look for prevailing archetypes, individual perceptions, underlying values and motivations– but you actively distance yourself from them.  Is it possible that this effort makes you disingenuous?  I wonder if you know that you’re not exempt from the human experience.  We are so different in so many ways and sometimes I feel so vulnerable around you.  But it’s things like the light squeeze you give me when we hold hands or when we tumble in our sleep and our bodies end up cradling one another, I know you are there.

What an incredibly interesting place.  Located at the foothills leeward of the Rocky Mountains in central United States, this town basks in intense sunshine and  its upper-middle class glory.  The tulips are well-appointed, lawns are lush in defiance of the ‘Semi-Arid Climate Zone’ designation,  and families own some variation of a SUV (asserting mountain cred).  It’s also the healthiest city in America.  I’ve witnessed barefoot running, herds of dedicated cyclists,  and midday yoga sessions along Boulder Creek.  And for the epicurean in all of us, there’s an abundance of local, organic, “all-natural” products, microbreweries, and restaurants catering to dietary restrictions like “gluten-free” or “vegan.”

Through its manicured perfection, I can see the contradictions.  But I’ve also enjoyed this surreal place.  I’ve picked up groceries at Alfalfa’s and the Boulder County Farmer’s Market,  gone to yoga classes and climbing gyms, hiked many kilometres along scenic trails, and spent an evening going from restaurant to wine bar to pub– it has been a bunch of fun!

For everything there is a season