30 June 2007

A new definition of "work."

Every day here in Muskoka ends with the feeling of total, yet pleasant exhaustion. Hours and hours under the sun spent lifting, cleaning, schmoozing, painting, towing, fixing, and mowing can leave one with very little other than all-consuming weariness. But I say this not to complain, but rather to compare it to my previous position. In Portland, I passed eight to nine hours per day behind a desk, answering phones, writing letters, and compiling documents. And, in all honesty, I actually spent many of those hours procrastinating on such intellectually stimulating sites as gofugyourself.com and perezhilton.com (I'm not proud of this, ok? I'm just an addict! I did manage to maintain a love affair with salon.com as well, but Miriam and I often spent far too many hours with the Fug Girls to concern ourselves with international affairs). I would often return from the office bored and unchallenged, and would use my evenings to burn off the excess energy I had managed to accrue throughout the day.

Here at the marina and at the cottage (and yes, I understand that I am dealing with a novel, short-termed situtation), the hours fly by with barely a moment to catch one's breath. There is always work to be done, this work is always an outdoor task, and it always involves manual labour. I am so grateful to have this time in my life to help to contribute to my parents' business and contribute my own strength, sweat, and energy to their life's dream. Tonight I spent an hour cooking an elaborate vegetable stir-fry for my parents - I even got my dad to enjoy tofu - and they were unbelievably appreciative of someone else preparing dinner for them after the first day of the Canadian Long Weekend.

Tonight, like every night thus far, I will collapse into bed and sleep for at least eight hours. I have been here at the lake just over a week, and already notice my body slipping into a deep, healthy, and invigorated relaxation. Now, I could use this entry as an starting point from which to rant and rave about obesity and boredom and the lack of self-sufficiency in our culture today, but instead I will simply express for the opportunity to live simply for a few weeks this summer. India will certainly bring about a new set of challenges, and I am fortunate to have the time to pause, reflect, and work hard before I move to Asia.

Sweet Dreams!

24 June 2007

Am I home now?

I made it to Canada! I'm staying at Mountain Trout House Marina, the business my parents own on Kawagama Lake north of Toronto. They were incredibly busy today, probably because it was officially the first Saturday of Summer and the cottagers are arriving in flocks. What blows my mind is just how many people frequent Muskoka these days, and how many of them have huge wake board and ski boats. I remember when the tincans with the 10HP engines were the most popular boats on the lake. Now I sound like my grandfather, who continues to lament the arrival of the jet ski ("Damn things make too much noise, those people act like they own the damn lake").

Leaving Portland was really difficult, although not in the way I imagined.
My going away party at Amnesia was a ton of fun, and Vanessa had better send me her pictures asap! I thought that leaving work would have been more emotional, but I really felt as if I finished out the year and made a real contribution to the program. It felt good to see my chief resident and friend Gautam complete his training, and I'm glad I ended with the Finishing Dinner. I met much of his family, including his mother-in-law and grandmother, both of whom are from Chennai! I have contacts there now, which is very reassuring as I have a feeling there will be many days when I will really need a touchstone from home. Three of my doctors at OHSU gave me contacts in Chennai, and I will certainly ignore the British mannerisms in me and be sure to reach out to these friends-of-friends while in India.

There are already things I miss about Portland: walking into work at 8:30am and already laughing with Miriam, the smell of the flowers and trees in our neighbourhood, cycling about town and exchanging knowing glances with other riders, the all-local, mostly organic grocery stores, omnipresent recycling, coming home to Adam and Dan, cackling with Vanessa and Holly, Wendy's spinning class.
I'll be out and about in the next six weeks, and have decided to post the tentative schedule (more for my own excitement than for general interest or posterity)
  • July 3rd-July 9th: Dave comes to Muskoka, we've got 3 birthdays to celebrate, and my uncle Scott, aunt Matina, and cousins Stephanie and Jamie come up for a weekend of tubing, picnics, and eating!
  • July 10th-12th: Don, Dawn, and I attend the Stratford Festival of Canada, this enormous and prestigious Shakespeare and theatre festival. We are seeing Merchant of Venice, King Lear (my favourite of Shakespeare's plays, ever since Professor Mike Bristol reenacted the Gloucester eye-gouging scene), and Oklahoma!
  • July 13th: Kathryn's 23rd birthday (party location TBA). Of our 14 year friendship, I have not been around for enough of her birthdays, and this year I will celebrate with her, come what may!
  • July 14th-21st: Jeff visits from Seattle! Boat rides, dinners cooked on the grill, G&T's, a three-day Montreal excursion, and even a Motorcycle Bar and Museum in Toronto. Oh, and the Ping Pong Championship of North America, winner-takes-all.
  • July 21-27: Elsey Family Reunion! Mark, Laurie, and their crew are coming down for just over a week. There will be trips to Canada's Wonderland (hopefully without losing our feet on the Drop of Doom), tube wars, and long dinners at the 15 Finchley house.
  • Late July: Road trip to New York City to visit Dave and hopefully catch up with Leigh, Sarah, and Maggie. Oh, and the real purpose behind the trip is to see The Simpson's Movie with my brother.
  • August 6th: Leave for Chennai (via Buffalo, NYC, Dubai) - arrive in India at 8:00am India Time on 8/8/07
See you along the ride!

On the stereo, as usual these days: Anything by Patty Griffin Make sure you check out "Long Ride Home" (thanks V!)

15 June 2007

Umm...there are no words.

12 June 2007

Happy Birthday, David Abel

Happy 20th Birthday to my "Zany" (his own words) Baby Brother.

This morning I woke up to find a beautiful e-mail from my mother. She wrote a long e-mail detailing her and my father's memories of Dave over the past 20 years. I can only attempt to imagine what it must be like to bring a life into this world and then suddenly see that life blossom into an intelligent, funny, and caring young man. I remember David running around in his Ninja Turtle pajamas as clearly as I remember him giving me a tour of the NYC subway system. My parents must look at us and see us as the Trafalmadorians would see Time - like a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, equally age 3 and age 20 in the same moment.

I was talking to the woman (Jill) who is replacing me at work today. Jill is a sixty year old woman with a thirty year old son and two baby granddaughters. She told me that she is very proud of her son because he is such a good father, because he isn't afraid to take risks and have adventures and make mistakes in front of his children. Jill remarked that it is important for parents to show their children how to adventure, and I almost started to cry because I realized that is exactly what our mother and father have shown us our entire lives. And I owe a great debt of gratitude to "The Dons" for their brave spirit - I think it helped to raise two rather interesting, motivated children (if I do say so myself).

So Happy Birthday, Dave. I love you very much.

06 June 2007

Detroit Annie, hitchhiking

by Judy Grahn

Her words pour out as if her throat were a broken
artery and her mind were cut-glass, carelessly handled.
You imagine her in a huge velvet hat with great
dangling black feathers,
but she shaves her head instead
and goes for three-day midnight walks.
Sometimes she goes down to the dock and dances
off the end of it, simply to prove her belief
that people who cannot walk on water
are phonies, or dead.
When she is cruel, she is very, very
cool and when she is kind she is lavish.
Fisherman think perhaps she's a fish, but they're all
fools. She figured out that the only way
to keep from being frozen was to
stay in motion, and long ago converted
most of her flesh into liquid. Now when she
smells danger, she spills herself all over,
like gasoline, and lights it.
She leaves the taste of salt and iron
under your tongue, but you dont mind
The common woman is as common
as the reddest wine

05 June 2007

Good Souls, all.

Do you ever have moments where you are overwhelmed by the people in your life? This morning I feel a gratitude and a sense of awe towards the brilliance and kindness of my friends and family.

Tesla is in Koriyama, learning about Samurai culture and loneliness and what it means to be a truly urban, intellectual Canadian in the midst of rural Japan. Leigh graduated from John Hopkins, ran Barnstormers, touched hundreds of people's lives in a surprisingly personal way (Facebook whore!), and has a full scholarship/travel fund for her PhD at Princeton. David is an intern at an indie music label and lives with his two high school buddies in lower Manhattan - he often calls me from Battery Park where he writes or takes photographs. Miriam is in an inspiring marriage with a man who loves her deeply, she has been my saving grace and catalyst for contentment here in Portland, and she succeeds at one of the most difficult jobs I can imagine. Jeff is this soul who just popped into my life and yet somehow managed to bedazzle me

with his vivacious outlook on the world, his day-to-day lifestyle, and his ability to evaporate my naive understanding of relationships. Don and Dawn spend every day in Cottage Country, Ontario, working harder (in many ways) than they have before. Kathryn has accepted that she must go home after university to work off her debts, and has comes to terms with her reality with strength and determination. Doug and Li are eternal survivors, my Uncle Scott is an incredible risk taker, and my Grandma Moe and Grandpa Norm raised an entire clan of decent, loving human beings. Again, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and absolutely consumed with love for each and every one of these individuals. Good souls, all.