port alberni

Hello blog,

How ya doing, ugly? Funny how when life is most eventful, you sit dormant and boring. Maybe it’s because I (still) do not have the Internet at home, so when I do get access, I am all busy looking up homework-related stuff and Google-stalking folks* and paying the VISA bill, rushing to do it all in the hour or so of wi-fi granted by the purchase of a cup of coffee.


I am leaving Vancouver. Beautiful, beautiful Vancouver. Land of bike lanes, hairy armpits on girls, open-late cafes, many sexy libraries, and the murmuring sea. I am moving to Port Alberni. THE DEVIL, YOU SAY?! But my husband has a new job there. In fact, R. has lived there the past 2 months, while I finish out Semester 2 in bachelorette squalor in the old apartment. I can transfer neatly into the Nursing program offered over there. Tuition is even half the price as in the city! There is really no reason not to go. We are already gone, basically.


When you Google “Port Alberni” the first results that show up: it was recently decided to be the Worst Place in Canada to Live. However, since the same deciders said some unpopped boil of an Edmonton suburb is the Best Place to Live, I say nuts to them. (Nervous sweat.)

Port Alberni is pretty bad, though. The downtown is all boarded up and there’s no bicycle infrastructure and there is not one, not one vegetarian restaurant, and there is a pervasive funny smell courtesy of the institution from which we’ll derive our bread-and-margarine (paper mill).

But I’m only going to say it this once, about the dumpiness. I told my husband we must break the habit of negatively framing the facts of our existence.


*I’m looking your way, Nikola Tesla

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field notes

I realize in this uniform I feel like nothing. Isn’t that the opposite intended effect of uniforms? Yet I also feel like a machine as long as I am in this off-tone green, surgical green. Efficient, faceless, a carrier of nosocomial infections.

We call patients ‘clients.’ Clients often want me to tell them something I don’t know yet. 

Nursing school evokes olden days of purity or effacement. Short nails, no nailpolish or else, hair back, no make up. 

My pet peeve is workers without name tags. Even now I’m still catching on who is a care aide, an LPN, an RN. God forbid you mix them up. Wear your nametag! 

‘Luanne, I need to change mr x’s fentanyl patch. Can you come to the narcotics cupboard with me?’

‘Actually, my name is Eileen,’ she answered, addressing a detail of my query but not the point which was a patient In pain. She went back to her task. Well fuck, Eileen, whats MY name? Bet you care less. Oh right, I have a name tag. I look like a crazed Muppet on It but my name and rank…annoying student….is plain.

Antineoplastic drugs work by a nonselective killing mechanism. They are excreted in shit and spit.  Gloves and a gown and a mask must be worn by healthcare workers when providing petsonal care of such clients to avoid damaging our own DNA.

I pictute bone cancer like the muck that grows on rocks in stagnant water. I picture it creeping like a ghost ship through blood.

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for better or nurse. bleh heh heh.

Level II Nursing draws to a close. Just three more final exams and 1 month of clinical practice. Hmm, put like that it doesn’t seem like ‘drawing to a close.’ Anyhow. Things are very different these days, compared to my old schlubby ways. I have short clean fingernails, a watch on my wrist for the first time in this life, a head full of knowledge, and… soon…the license to use it. Funny what knowledge will do to you, how learning can change you.

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sea grass

Sometimes the world seems big, with room enough for me in it. Other times, I know there is no real place. I will always be running.

I could pick my poison: constant movement is one. Travel is the affliction of my generation. Because we can. We are mobile unlike any others in history.

Jets are cheap. It means nothing to quit a job.

“Just go.”

Road trip, airplanes, last-minute online deals to everywhere.

Sublet your place, get a storage unit, have a stoop sale, stash your shit at good ol’ mom’s.

Work visas, under-the-table jobs, it doesn’t matter. The secret is to always be moving. It is a rite of passage, it is a boasting point.

Not so much anymore: Who are you? What do you do?

Now we have: Where have you been?

Insider knowledge. Restlessness a common language; action shorthand for accomplishment.

My other option: I could become still.

Do you know my favorite thing to do, even in the city? It’s to find the beach. To find a spot to sit, summer or winter, and just look at the horizon. Where the sky and water inevitably meet is an intriguing line, like piano wire. I eventually will feel a related breathlessness as I stare, into the farthest distance humans can absorb. (Space doesn’t count.)

The distant line of tear-grey water has a promise. It can’t be reached even if I dive into it, I can’t set sail and ever get any closer, I can’t fly to where the water falls off the edge of the planet. So I would love to be a blade of seagrass, a dot of chlorophyll in one blade of seagrass, waving all day and all night long, able to see how far away the horizon goes, but not obliged to chase it.

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the problem with fiction

This is the problem with fiction – you have to pull back. You can’t tell the whole truth. Not because you’ll step on toes. Worse.It’s because no one cares. You will open old cupboards, excavate bones and mouldering bits, you’ll recount your blushes and violences down to the glistening hair, the rotted tooth of fact. You’ll be fishing hair clots and receipts out of the garbage can (if you are being completely honest and brave, if you let yourself go, let that third eye blast off).

Yet your old ghosts won’t amount to much more than a bad stink, a rusty moan – already getting dimmer in the din.

So much is going on in life. Everyone’s head is jumbled with their own here, now, why. To cut through you can’t speak so much of yourself, you have to be decorous and find a way to talk about them. Writers are just more pitchmen. We use words like ‘truth’ and ‘humanity’ but we mean something baser.

We just mean: me-me-me.

And if you can say ‘me too’ when reading someone else’s words, – well, God bless you and keep you. Let’s remember each others’ names.

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