March 17, 2017, 9:24 pm
Filed under: runaway

The office building sits beside an old mall, always under renovation.  It’s almost as nice as a downtown building, mirrored and staffed by a concierge, but not quite.

We enter, wait.  Exchange information with the others in chairs about the process.

The meeting starts.  Documents are wrong.  Dread – the fate of this day is in the hands of the woman across the glass.  All this way for nothing? Listen without demur, polite smiles, signalling respect with every answer and posture.

Then, she says”it will be fine.” Just send fixed up versions in the next two months and pay the cash and you can have permission to enter today.  Give me your passport, here is a sticker that solves that problem.

After so many months of agonizing research, document renewals, frustration: it’s pretty much over (for now).  The cold air outside feels less cold, the sun a little brighter.


February 5, 2017, 11:04 pm
Filed under: runaway


Activities on procrastination Sunday.

Make pancakes (with blueberries) and french press coffee.

Skim real estate listings, pretend this is useful.

Load and empty online shopping carts, infinitely.

Repeatedly refresh the news cycle sites, be disappointed when nothing seems to have happened after a non-stop barrage of world events.


Add up all money available from all sources.  Make a spreadsheet.  Make a plan.

January 26, 2017, 1:20 am
Filed under: runaway, voyageur

The agony and ecstasy of attempting to legally live in other places.

When starting travelling, it seems easy.  Arrive somewhere and stay.  Work, maybe under the table, maybe with some visa cobbled together.  Advice to navigate passed along, anecdotes about consequences shared.  It was almost all a dare, roulette, an experiment.  Failure meant packing a bag and trying not to be detained for overstaying, maybe a black mark in a passport.


The first document arrives – an address is wrong.  This wouldn’t be a big deal except we know someone for whom the wrong address led to months of delays and an attempt to cancel the application completely.  Eventually, a portal opens and a change can be registered online… which takes effect in fifteen days.  Fifteen days in the digital age, amazing.

The first round went unexpectedly quickly – a year was suddenly four months and everything was thrown forward.  The next step seemed accessible until the rules all changed.  Now, again, it’s hurry and wait.


Every document has a price tag and an inconvenience.  The police checks, health clearances, unabridged everything.  In three months, the documents change, in six many start to expire.  Luckily, the kind lady at the station did a few sets of finger prints.  And then? There are no instructions available what should be done with this painstakingly gathered, increasingly valuable package.  Submit in person, thousands of kilometers away, or via tracked mail and prayers?

Message boards warn about more than a year, about unanswered calls and questions.  Some hint about legal applications to force decisions.

What if it doesn’t work out? If it wasn’t a serious plan it wouldn’t be worth the trouble or cost.  But what if it doesn’t work out?

January 18, 2016, 12:27 am
Filed under: Canada, runaway, voyageur | Tags: ,

Mexico.  Going to Mexico.  To sit on a beach, eat tacos, drink beer and horchata, be reminded of a lack of Spanish fluency.  Because it’s reasonably priced in a year of currency chaos and one direct flight.  Because the ocean is clear and moving.  Because it’s been nearly twenty years?

For the first time as an adult, staying at a resort.  Not just a resort, an all-inclusive resort.  Please hand your rough travel credentials in at the door, bourgie life.

It’s pragmatism.  The hypothetical of having everything set up to run smoothly, of not calculating exchange rates and whether more cash needs to be converted, of in-room conveniences like beach towels.  It’s not having to decide at the airport to spend cash on a cab versus spend a hour on local transport with a significant language barrier praying you’re not actually off to an inaccessible part of the city where it may be dark and you may be robbed.  It’s the option of pre-travel research without the sense that if you fail to put the research in you may well not know about the entry visa/ridiculous airport ATMs that charge high fees and only let you withdraw $30/ferry that only runs on Tuesday at 3pm from the town with no accomodation.

Three years four months in one place has made the world feel smaller.  Quiet comparisons to how things are done elsewhere have faded.  An index of places to go and return to has more question marks than clarity, the world is not static.  A former sense of being able to critically evaluate information diseminated by the media is dulled, too few points of reference.

As though nothing else is out there.

In three years, four months, a complete summary.  A long weekend taking all forms of transit through the PNW until Portland.  About seventeen days on Oahu, mostly North Shore, split over two trips.  A day trip to Washington state, a wedding in Ohio and a flyby few days in Vegas.  No passport stamps, no new continents.  All Anglo. Not enough time, less than ten days per year, which is not even 3%.

Maybe this creates opportunities in the future, deferring the short and inevitably expensive long haul trips in favor of the better part of a year.  Maybe the world shifts and it doesn’t work out, or there’s another dream to chase.  I guess we’ll see.

I’ve Got Love For You If You Were Born In The Eighties
November 23, 2011, 10:06 pm
Filed under: insight, runaway

I woke up calculating if it is too early for my liver to deal with pain killers, and thinking about watching the sunrise. Yes, no.

Highlights included being sung to by a table of melodious bikers, actually through the day being sung to more than ever, and drinks with some kids not born in the eighties. We talked MTV and text booty calls. Facebook booty calls.  Whether x x makes it more sincere.

On my own, I went out for coffee and a stroll around town in the sunshine. Ate nice cake. On my twentieth birthday, relatively alone in a new town I bought myself a bottle of Merlot and an Edith Wharton paperback. This year, apothecary moisturiser, a pot for my face and a tube for everywhere else. Both years felt awfully similar. I think I spent my birthday that year doing something academic, a term paper or studying for exams. I spent this one mostly working. Both years found me more or less alone in a strange place following a wild card life decision, both days relatively undefined by close relationships.

(Can I say, though, I love my twenty year old self choice of presents?)

It doesn’t really matter who remembers as long as someone does, or what the cake is like as long as there is some. I was glad to have avoided the circulated office card that feels on level with the email greeting my bank sends, and more grateful for anyone who overcame the time zone obstacles to call. Mostly though I was happy to tick the clock over another year and look out on this last one as the beautiful messy thing it was.

November 18, 2011, 12:20 am
Filed under: insight, runaway, unrelated thoughts, when I grow up

I have taken to scotch on the rocks to try and ease a throat infection, which finds me wedged between patrons after my shift.

Truth told, I never pay for a drink in this town, something I accept because I can attribute the offers to being in lieu of tips instead of advances.

He was sort of belligerent at first, then we found common ground in annoyance at the duty manager, then he asked what someone my age like me was doing in a place like this.

(I had revealed my age earlier during yet another round of Guess the Ages of the Barmaids, a game that usually ends up offending most of our chain smoking staff)

It’s funny how few people put that together. My answer this time was that I had a real job and wanted to do something less serious for a while.  He asked what I would do after. I said, immediately, that I would go back to my job.

Suddenly I knew.

The same way I knew five nights ago that my favorite musician probably is Jack Johnson – I have never had an answer to this question before in my life but speeding down an empty road I realized that I can listen to that music over and over and still enjoy it and that being considered cool due to artistic predilection is, well, like being considered cool at all.

As my birthday rolls on I have thought a lot about the idea of Saturn Return.  I’m not really superstitious but after this year I can trace so many shifts in my consciousness, and life in general, that I’m near accepting the idea.

It has a better ring to it than Growing Up.

Life at the beach
October 31, 2011, 11:28 am
Filed under: nomadisms, runaway

One week down, fourteen to go. 

Last night, staff took the leftover jelly shots from the bar halloween party and  headed to the chef’s house for a halloween party of our own. Everyone from management to kitchen hands shows up for the sunday night session after a long week. Sausages are grilled, guitars come out, bottles drain. Girls dance in the living room, the chain smokers cluster on milk crates in the back yard.

Time off here is beaches, booze and afternoons in coffee shops. There are worse ways to refill a bank account.

The regulars are a shipping port mix; fishermen, sailors, offshore riggers. Little old men who drink small glasses of beer all afternoon and tell big fish stories. It’s a mellower crew than the last job.

For those of us on the three to six month tour, it’s not a real grown up life.  We live in freshly painted motel rooms on the beach where everything from sheets to dishes was already waiting.  Groceries are optional because meals are a docket away in the dining room and included in the package. The biggest question is when the washing machine will be free. There is a lot to be said for never having to pay utility bills.