Wednesday, June 21, 2017

both leaving and going home

After my plane took off I found myself staring out the window for a long time, looking down at the grey rock which had become so familiar, but now spotted with vibrant greenery still strange and new to me, and bordered by the recently melted Hudson Bay.

I stare and I think I may never see this place again. That thought is quickly followed by I must see this place again. My eyes water up because I know that it's true: I am going to return.

Partly this scares me, because living and teaching in the north has been so challenging. Beyond challenging it's been downright hard. Hard in a way which writing an essay-- with its stress and self doubts-- never was. Hard in a way which planting trees --with sore muscles, cold rain and blackflies-- never was. Life in the north involves true heartbreak: rage at the inequality, tears from the pit of your gut, and existential anguish at the futility of fighting social forces much more powerful than you.  But the heart is a muscle and to build muscle you need to tear it and then heal it and then tear it and then heal it.

My friend Kahn, who had been working at Innalik for nearly 20 years now once told me "Once you've lived in the north it'll never leave you", I agreed with him at the time, but it wasn't until I taking a cab from the airport in Montreal, telling myself "this is where you live now" that I realised how profoundly true it is.

Friday, February 24, 2017


I haven't written much here for a long time. Its difficult to talk about my life here directly, for various reasons, but I wrote a couple of poems this week, and I figure this is a good space to share them.


Its amazing how empty empty can get.
You feel like you've experienced nothing before,
then you're out there your dog chasing your skidoo
and stop and take in a true blank canvas.
You're overwhelmed by that jagged tree line
with so many subtle shades of green,
which, in the past, passed for nothing.
Even in Saskatchewan that wheat field
you peed on with your dog—even that
was a thousand live shifting in the wind
along the rolling hills. Now you try
to picture an emptiness which will bring to life
this sea of snow, frozen in so many waves.

You try and try but come up with nothing.


The absent h in the "ello" when you answered
became to me the focal point of my day.
Recounting my day, while you ate an avocado sandwich
the details became alive for me
only when I shared them with your absence.

You were scared the first time you saw my face
When we advanced our relationship into video chat
and I became real to you.
I was not scared yet

not until just before we met.
I hadn't been afraid of flying for years
but when the plane started down the runway
I had that familiar twist in my gut
which said that things couldn't possibly work out.

Yet I landed, and when I landed there you were,
with a piece of foie gras
And I savored the experience

flesh melting in my mouth

I guess the common theme is the bittersweetness of solitude, or understanding only through negative space. Or perhaps you can tell me some theme I'm missing out on.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A reflection on my excuses for my resent lack of reflections

Yesterday I returned from my vacation back south. It was a lovely trip I will write more on soon, here I'm writing to address something a surprising number of my friends and family expressed: the fact that I haven't written anything in this blog for a long time.

My unintentional hiatus could be blamed on the concussion disrupting my habits, and it could be blamed on the personal entropy which causes all good habits to give way to chaos given enough time. Another contributing factor is that I've become quite attached to another person, and my impulse when I find someone who understands me is to share all of my thoughts with that person. This in time, hopefully, corrects itself, as I calm down and remember all understanding partial, and that even when someone understands something it doesn't always mean they gain from hearing it. All this is to say, since my last post I've found someone who excites me and I've also managed to calm down about it (at least a bit).