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dilly.

meet dillinger.

he’s my big bro’s four-month old puppy.
he drooled all over the inflatable mattress and chewed on my fingers and took it upon himself to be my alarm clock by jumping straight on my back with all his morning joy.

i love him.

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drawing new mountains.

these are the questions.
they’re simple. they’re common. and there’s nothing wrong with them, i ask them myself. all the time.

what’s it like to be home?

it’s good. it’s a relief, like breathing out.

there are wheels in any travelers mind that are always turning, some slow, some way too fast. wheels that are culturally adjusting, wheels that are always trying to maintain a certain level of patience. wheels that are trying to downplay the barks of a constantly annoyed stomach.
and the simultaneous hum of all these wheels is something i’ve become very used to.
but as i lay in my bed in a house sitting on three alberta acres on wednesday night, that clicking and clacking of wheels hushed…and stopped.

and i breathed out.

it’s that kind of relief.
an entire portion of function can hit the brakes and rest.

how was the trip?

good. great. entirely hectic. full. insane. wonderful. thick.
it was a trip that further solidified my belief in this:

you get this one shot at life, this one crack. and standing next to a river in zambia, stuffing my face with popcorn while keeping a lion down the way within eyesight…it’s just, for me…it’s a loud crack. it’s why we’re alive. to do shit like that.

it’s why i travel. why i pay cash to be really uncomfortable in random places on the map. why i keep jumping down rabbit holes and yelling for someone to get the tightrope and opening the door to these big bullhorns deafening me with their lessons.

i want that. i want to learn.

it’s why i’ll voluntarily raise my hand to being stuffed into a crowded bus on the east coast of africa, with my backpack at my ankles, dirty, sweaty, have to pee, really hungry, dehydrated, can’t understand swahili, want to ask the driver to see his valid drivers license, no watch to check how far in to this 14-hour joyride we are…

it’s a classroom. and you better be taking notes or you’re going to wonder about nine seconds in why the hell you’re doing it.

what are you going to do now?

i’m getting to know my post-trip stride pretty well. and i know that, for better or for worse, it doesn’t take long in between deplaning and taking off my chinked armor to sharpening my pencil and drawing new mountains.

it takes about a day.

so i can already tell you the next move is back to vancouver.
to take on the stationary industry. to write more. to dream of owning a motorbike and meeting a dude who drinks his coffee black.

more stories to come…


a sort of finish-line joy.

“{she} carries a lot of suitcases but all of them are empty because she’s expecting to completely fill them with life by the end of this trip and then she’ll come home and sort everything out and do it all again.”
story people. 

it was a fifty-pound backpack, my grandpa’s camera bag stuffed with books and a giant neon sack with stressed-out zippers.
they were filled with life
journals, postcards, ticket stubs, photographs, worn books,  film rolls.

and i was hauling them under a sign that said, “welcome to edmonton”

God nudged me as we gradually lowered into the arrivals gate on the escalator. i turned to Him as He whispered,

welcome home.

His eyes had a kick in them, a sort of finish-line joy.
so did mine.

last week. this week.

this was the crowd last week.

and this is the crowd this week.

i don’t think i’ve ever felt such a ridiculously huge chasm between worlds in such a short time, in all my travels.

last week, i was arguing with this dude to give us a shitty room for five bucks each on the slopes of kilimanjaro, northern tanzania. 
i had physically and culturally bottomed out.
i don’t remember the name of the village. what i do remember is how the tap for the sink would run full blast when i turned the nozzle for the shower, and how the shower would run full blast when i turned the tap for the sink.
hot water didn’t exist.
tim and i quietly watched the endless death announcements play on a flickering tv channel on the dimly lit porch, which i guess is normal, in africa.

this week, tim and i are staying in the most prestigious hotels in london, perched on park lane.
they come with personal butlers and living rooms and expensive champagne. doormen in white gloves open all our doors. a woman brings us fresh flowers and makes sure my slippers are put just right.
the windows overlook hyde park and the parking lot is literally full of lamborghinis and bentleys. and every manager shakes my hand as though i’m someone important.
angelina jolie, before heading to her premiere, gets ready in an adjacent room and we come home at night watching prince andrew’s girlfriend get bombarded by paparazzi outside the hotel doors.

it’s literally one extreme to the other.
extreme poverty. extreme wealth.

i don’t know how to describe how such random and unreal experiences get handed my way, but it’s absolutely surreal.

the last month, surreal.

i spend most of my time shaking my head in bewilderment.

we fly to ireland in the morning.

just try to be brave as hell.

so this is it. for nearly a month.

tim and i are off to livingstone, zambia this morning. our country hopping starts there, then continues east to malawi, then north to tanzania, and finally to nairobi, kenya. we fly out of there august 11, make little flight pit-stops in addis ababa, ethiopia and entebbe, uganda before flying back in to cape town.

we’ll be in cape town for one quick day, before we both fly out to london, england on august 13. we get there at the same time on the 14th, but lucky for tim, he doesn’t have to leave 12 hours earlier like i do to make room for a hard tilefloor sleep in the dubai airport.

but anyways, that’s the plan. 

to go and behold victoria falls, one of the seven wonders of the natural world. to paddle around lush islands on lake malawi and hopefully see the great lions of africa in south luangwe. to brush by the infamous serengeti and stand before the towering kilimanjaro. 

to see, and feel, and be, in the heart of africa.
i can’t wait.

step 1. delete facebook. stop blog. ignore all e-mails (except for good ol’ ma and pa), but generally stay away from computers.

step 2. bring really good tunes and a really good book. 

many of my stories have been defined by the soundtracks and words that i hauled around in my backpack at the time. (durban? jimi hendrix bio. malaysian bus trip? simon & garfunkel. bondi beach in sydney? rita marley bio. dts bunk in lower crossroads? mew, “she spider”. bali? surfer michael peterson’s bio. virginia? blue like jazz. indo motorbike trips? modest mouse.) 
i found this ancient and roughed-up blue book in a used bookstore in kalk bay. it’s called “personal adventure and romance” from 1931. it has all these bits and pieces about travel and conflict from books titled, “the adventures of a younger son”, “letters from high altitudes”, “sketch book”, “citizen of the world”, “reminiscences”…the authors: william wordsworth, jonathan swift, kingsley fairbridge, thoreau…
i’m in love with the idea of bringing these old words, with their old smell, into africa by backpack. bringing these great authors who came so many decades before me on the road…
i also slipped an old picture of my parents in the 70’s into the front page, which makes it that much better.

step 3. pack light.

step 4. be prepared to hitchhike, or eat weird things, or meet random locals at a dirty shebeen. (actually, hope for these things.)

and

step 5. do the thing that often gets lost in regular life: spend time just sitting in Gods company. undisturbed. and devoid of outside noise.

i find i get lost in to-do lists and e-mails. and i let a lot of things darken out what should be at the top of the pile. 

Him.

i want to have conversations with Him. to cut myself out of regular life and go trailing after him.

i want to go into the thick of africa – no kids, no husband, no mortgage, no daytimer, no cellphone, no school, no car keys, no career – none of it. and get into the middle of the story He is writing me. and to let it encompass and throw shade over my heart.

i want to talk to Him about the story we are writing.

“theres the truth about telling stories with your life. it’s going to sound like a great idea, and you are going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it. it’s like that with writing books, and it’s like what with life. people loved to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. but joy costs pain.” – donald miller.

you are telling a story. it should be one that you are proud of, one that you would knock on stranger’s doors to tell. 

just try to be brave as hell, and go live it.

have a rad month!

xo.

 

bali, indonesia. 2009.

surf. surf. surf.

get in on this. and flip through these.

whitaker.

duru.

d. hobgood.

slater.

staples in the water. perrow with the busted board mid-heat.

burrow.

de souza.

buchan.

wright.

dunn.

wright.

current #2, south africa’s jordy smith.

we’ve logged in nearly 16 hours of surf watching in two days. it’s pretty ridiculous.
today the swell is expected to be at its biggest until next thursday, so it’s looking good for a third full day of comp.
and considering there are only four days of rounds, we are too lucky to have been here for three before we have to drive back to cape town tonight.

round three is all the front-runners, with the potential to get into round four…slater is up again around 9:30, so down to the sand we go.

what a bloody lucky three-day lot in life we have to sit in front of the world’s greats.

surf. surf. surf.

xo. 

finish line.

so my journalistic career with these numbers have faces is done.
it was a rad little run and i’m really proud to have been a part of what they’re doing.

find my last piece with them here.

i’d definitely get your read on with their site.
get to know what they do, how they do it, who it’s affecting. it’s good stuff, and i know being a part of their mission, and personally being involved in sponsoring xolani, has changed my life and the direction it’s going.

it might just do the same for you. actually, i think it will. 

if you’d love to get involved in donating, get over here
and if you do, thanks for taking the time to check it out.

xo. 

ocean! you fury!

i’m pretty terrified of the ocean.

currents, rip tides, reefs, undertows, rocks, dark water…waves any bigger than my hand.  it’s this untamable beast that doesn’t obey anything other than itself. it’s scary.

but with two whole days at my most generous friend marj’s family beach house in still bay, with its garage stocked with surfboards and wetsuits, the surfing attempt was for the taking, despite the raging ocean i fear.
(and the last thing i want to be is one of those people who goes on and on about surf, turns up “the drums” and is all hang ten…and never touches a wave. this is retarded.)

so with my one day of surfing experience (last year in durban. i got tossed.), and despite a tiny scare the day before on a boogie board, i waded in.

at my knees, i could already feel the tide’s pull. and i literally stood there for 10, 15 minutes, just looking at the waves.
yes, these tiny waves. these weren’t titans.

but still, ocean. scary.

yet with the words, “forget this” almost at my lips, i thought about who i want to be. and how much it sucks that we so often let things conquer our ability to try.

maybe people will die laughing on the beach.
maybe i’ll look beyond idiotic.
maybe the sight of it would lose me a cute date who would buy me steak (that would suck.)

but who gives a shit if i’m forever the surfer with training wheels.
you have to start somewhere. you have to try.

so i walked into the waves and after a few passed by, i turned around, furiously started paddling, balanced both my hands…and got up.
and stayed up.

for five really great, conquering seconds on my very first wave.

i did a little fist pump, “ocean! you fury! you can’t contain me!” and fell off.

and now, a week later, we are in jeffreys bay. it is the eve of the billabong surfer pro, the fourth stop on the world tour to decide the 2010 ASP surfing world champion.

so practically every dude that knows his way around a wave is here. 

and nope, i couldn’t pick any of them out of a grocery store line-up besides slater. i’m not even going to pretend that i know.

but as tim and i sat on the beach while the sun stole away its light, we watched them practicing and started figuring out who is who.

you have to start somewhere. might as well be while they’re all in one place.

beneath African skies.

come thou fount of every blessing
tune my heart to sing thy grace.
streams of mercy, never ceasing
call for songs of loudest praise. 

teach me some melodious sonnet
sung by flaming tongues above.
praise the mount, i’m fixed upon it
mount of thy unchanging love. 

here i raise my ebenezer
hither by thy help i come.
and i hope by thy good pleasure
safely to arrive at home…

Jesus sought me when a stranger
wandering from the fold of God.
He to rescue me from danger
interposed His precious blood.

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
daily i’m constrained to be.
let that grace now, like a fetter
bind my wandering heart to thee.

prone to wander Lord, i feel it
prone to leave the God i love.
here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it
seal it for thy courts above.
 

You ask Him to teach you a song, He will.
sung by flaming tongues above, 
literally. 

He has never failed to show me who He is when i have asked.

never.

eat those cupcakes.

does anyone remember this?

i wrote these words in the first days of january, just as i had moved to whistler. 
and last week, waking up on the day we were going to hike up, i smiled. and went and bought a four-pack of cupcakes, and since a beer would have been warm by the end of the hike, i replaced that idea with a djarum. 

i put them in my neon side sack and went to live out my climactic scene.
the scene i thought about when i had to put with dumb drunk dudes and zero-tipping foreigners and idiot teenagers falling around the dance floor.

“i’ll sit in the grass way up high in the sky and eat that cupcake and drink that beer. and as the wind blows, the simpleness of the whole thing will feel so suddenly profound.”

it was simple.

and it is simple.

write down what you want to do, do the work to get there, and then when the day comes, climb that mountain, sit in the grass way up there, eat those cupcakes and smoke that djarum.