Thursday, May 21, 2009

The J-Stroke

I have written three blog entries, all of them potentials for being the next entry on this blog, but in all of them I felt like I sounded self-righteous. So I didn’t publish any of them.

Instead, I will tell you about my day.

One thing I have learned about myself while being at home, is that if Jessie has no motivation for getting up, Jessie will not get up. Because the earlier that Jessie gets up, means the longer the day will be that Jessie has nothing to do. However, Jessie hates, hates, hates sleeping in. Her body screams sleep in, but her heart screams, “See the sunrise! Go running! Feel the cold air, and the dew on your frozen feet!” waking up early, sometimes, it makes me feel like throwing up. Some mornings, when I wake up reeeeal early, I’ll even get diarrhea. But I love waking up early… when I have motivation, or something to do in the day.

So, with no motivation, I reluctantly rolled out of bed at 1:00 in the afternoon, but I hated doing so, because I would have loved to wake up fresh and excited at 7:30 in the morning, with a full day ahead of me. My parents were working, and my sister was at school. Mom took the vehicle, so I had no way of getting into town. Our house has no cellphone reception, and no chance of getting wireless internet either. In fact, the only phonecall I received in the entire day was from Hurontel, telling me that no, there is no hope of getting wireless internet. I also can’t leave the house to go anywhere, because my dog is afraid of being alone, and will break things if he’s left alone. I ate some toast with peanut butter, had a cup of tea, and read the entirety of Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller for the second time, because I’ve been going through a dry spell with writing, and I thought that reading something by a fellow writer could help me get back writing again. I then sat on the couch and stared at the ceiling for an hour or so. I did this multiple times in the day.

There is great value to be found in solitude. There are some experiences that must be experienced on your own, without the company of others around. And that’s valuable. God speaks to us in solitude. When we went on a canoe trip last year on YB, they dropped each of us off on an island to be in solitude for the day. I had a great day. I don’t know how many hours it was (at least six, but probably more) and I was not for a moment bored, or lonely. One of the reasons why living at EBC and bussing to Waterloo everyday was a good idea for me, was because I relished the 40-minute bus ride. I used it for reading, but more often, I loved that bus ride for simply sitting and thinking. I liked to use it I suppose to empty my mind of clutter, and sort through all my thoughts and ideas in the day. I loved the solitude.

But we need community. We would go absolutely insane, and lose any ability to socially function in the world if we spend too much time in solitude. Goodness. Human interaction, more than that, human relationship, is so important. I kept on thinking multiple times throughout the day how badly I missed crowded dinner tables with grilled cheese sandwiches, and watching movies, with other people that talk throughout the movie, and it kind of annoys you, but it’s a greatly preferable alternative to watching a movie alone. All I really wanted throughout the day was other people, not even that, but the assurance of other people, that I could see them and be with them. I didn’t want them for conversation, but just to sit with me, or so I could touch them, and know they were there.

Later on in the day, I felt so lonely, that I decided that I would go canoeing, and teach myself the j-stroke. I took my dog with me. My grandfather and uncle had found the canoe in two pieces wrapped around a cedar tree. They took it out, patched it up with some fiberglass, and cut down an aspen tree and used that for the frame. My uncle thought the canoe was too big and tippy so he gave it to my dad, and it sat in our garage for years. Now the big old thing sits outside next to Yorge’s kayaks, and I dragged the old thing onto the sinking dock, as I coaxed my dog into the vessel, threw Blue Like Jazz into the bottom, and launched off.

I started out well, doing the j-stroke and everything. Matt Lockhart would have been so proud of me. But it was windy out, and I barely weigh enough to hold the thing down, and the wind, like a giant hand, was pushing the boat back and forth, much to my avail. I paddled fruitlessly but the wind kept on playing with me as though I had turned into some Barbie doll, with no control over where I was going and what I was doing. Surprisingly, Mickey, my dog, who is afraid of thunder, fireworks, the dark, EVERYTHING, actually likes canoeing. He loves running back and forth, hopping on my lap as I’m paddling and looking out over the side, wondering how on earth we can be on something that feels stationary, like land, yet is moving at the same time. The wind pushed us onto the shore of a farm, and despite my yells, Mickey hopped out, and immediately sunk into mud. I walked precariously forward up the tippy canoe, and stepped out, sinking up to my knees in mud too. I retrieved that dog of mine from that big old mud puddle, and tossed him in the boat… only to have him hop out again, back into the mud. This made me laugh though, and I pushed the boat half out, holding onto him, nevermind the fact that he was now covering me in mud. We finally got out, and were back in the water again. I paddled hard, doing my best j-stroke! But the wind only pushed me around in circles. Finally I grew frustrated, and I flipped myself around, so I was no longer at the back of the canoe, but the front. From there, I pushed as hard as I could, and got us back to shore, quite unprofessionally. Gavin Wark or Matt Lockhart would probably laugh at me if they saw me. As soon as I got close enough to shore, Mickey made a brave leap and hopped onto dock, and promptly started rolling around in leaves. I pulled up, got out of the canoe, and tossed my now-muddy, soaked copy of Blue Like Jazz onto the dock, and dragged the canoe a bit up on shore. With the happiest, most-trusting voice I could muster, I called my dog over and picked him up.

“Mickey, I apologize profusely for what I am about to do to you.” I said to him. “But please understand that we cannot allow a muddy dog into the house.” (Just so you know, we’re still friends, and I followed him in, and he wasn’t permanently traumatized by what I did next)

And I dunked him in the lake!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


When I was a child, I liked radishes for their vibrancy of color. But one day, I eagerly bit into a radish, only to discover that my toddler mouth utterly rejected the bitter-strong taste that those vibrant radishes had to offer. I ran crying to my mother, let down by that bright radish that stung me so, and after that, it wasn’t until I was much older that I entertained the thought of radishes ever again.