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9

The city

Draft two - my attempt at tightening things up. Still writing on My iPhone notes with voice recognition- which does some random things-  but I did my best to be conscious of correcting spacing and capitalization issues. focusing theme: trying to find a slice of home when I am a fish out of water.
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     As a recently separated 37year-old woman who had already dyed her brown hair platinum blonde but still felt restless, I went to Vancouver because I wanted a change. From a small mountain town (Canmore, Alberta) to a city by the sea. From lodgepole pines and snow surprises in august to mossy willow trees and green grass and flowers in December. And all just a twelve hour drive away. Surface changes. Piece of cake.
     I landed in Kits, a trendy ocean front neighborhood with a hippy undertone, small grocers and streets named after trees. My first getting acquainted task was to find a movie store that resembled Canmore's avalanche video; where the staff knew my phone number and wrote personalized cards on films. And where "taladega nights", "that seventies show" and a documentary about a skateboard ramp in Brazil happily coexisted. Surely Kits could provide.
     Following a tip, I ventured east. Within minutes of walking, a man in a chicken suit screamed down a steep hill on a scooter and crashed  at the street corner across from me. He dusted himself off, and started back up the hill cursing, "shit ouch shit ouch!!!" with each claw footed step.
     Nature documentary, check. 
    Grinning and slightly disoriented, I wandered down a side street and ran smack into a woman walking a hamster on a leash. 
    Perhaps the differences between Vancouver and home were bigger than I had imagined. In Canmore we have wildlife but they are generally self-propelled!
    I sauntered on, briefly reminiscing about my escaped childhood hamster snowball, who was likely just seeking an outdoor experience. When I had passed three Starbucks in what felt like a three block radius I stepped inside a shop to find my bearings. Tada- I was inside blockbuster video- the Canadian Tire of movie stores. Even though the staff seemed friendly, the  fluorescent lighting and " blocky" layout kept me searching. I wanted an asymmetrical movie store where I felt like I belonged.
     I hopped on a bus heading downtown, and dreamily watched mossy trees and brick buildings whizz by. Shifting my attention to the aisles, I was struck by a sort of ipod headphone matrix. The majority of passengers were plugged into whatever device kept an impermeable pod of space around them.  I noted the irony of searching for "the movie store where everybody knows your name" on a bus I could name "this is MyPod ".
      My tendency to make eye contact  and smile warmly  made me popular with a few of those who chose to stayed unplugged.  A little banter was fun, but it escalated into a squall. Politely bringing a conversation to a natural conclusion or looking back out the window didn't stop the momentum I'd started. Wrestling with whether to carve out my own private  spacepod or remain true to my Canmore ways, I took out a book and start to read. And as if I had just cracked a code that conveyed, "change scenes now" I  was immediately left in peace. When I briefly looked up, a man holding a guitar smiled and made eye contact and I liked the vibe I got. I smiled back and was treated to a killer jazz riff. Ahhh. The best of both worlds.         
     As we crossed the downtown bridge I asked the driver about his favorite video store. He questioned why I didn't just stream films off the Internet. Apparently in Canmore we are a little in the dark ages that way. Or maybe we are  in the future if I consider what happened to vinyl. There wasn't time to explain how being wrapped in the warm vibe of avalanche video changes the context and experience of film watching. Like how food tastes better when you're camping. 
    Unfettered, and aware of what I really need, my search tilts from how do I find the right video store  in vancouver to how do I build a warm and kindred sense of community in a city of this size?
     I do find it. And one of the friends who is part of it made a movie about where our food comes from - and just happens to own a chicken suit.
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        i tried to create a story with a beginning middle and end using grace's advice to choose a task.  I am totally new at Writing anything remotely fictitious. So Creating a true story/ fiction hybrid  and compressing Events into one day, I found it challenging to find a writing rhythm. That said, here is my first first draft of a humorish truefictionish story. 
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 As a recently separated 35-year-old psychologist Who just bought a longboard (and who had already tried dying my dark brown hair platinum blonde Yet still felt restless),  i went to Vancouver  because I wanted a change.  From small to large. From lodgepole pines and snow surprises in august to mossy willow trees and green grass and flowers  in December. From A mountain being in my backyard to the ocean being out my front door. And all just a twelve hour drive (or one province) away. Surface changes. Piece of cake.
     I landed in kits,  a trendy ocean front  neighborhood with a hippy undertone, small grocers and streets named after trees. my  getting more acquainted task was  to find a movie store that resembled avalanche movies in Canmore. Where the staff knew my number by heart and wrote little cards on the movies they like, and had this perfect mixture of foreign and art films and blockbusters.  they Would cut late fees down and you'd run into neighbors there. Surely in a place like kits, I'd  find a suitable replacement. 
    Following a tip, i ventured  east. Within minutes  of walking, something   to my left went whoosh clunk. A man in a chicken suit had just flown down a steep hill on a  scooter And crashed  at the street corner across from me. He stood up, dusted himself off, and started back up the hill carrying the scooter, cursing (With each claw-footed step) shit ouch shit ouch !!! 
      Vancouver nature documentary, check.   
      Grinning and slightly disoriented, I started to walk North down a side street-  Where i ran smack into a woman walking a hamster on a leash. Gently tugging at the mini harness to keep hammy in line.
       I began to wonder whether the differences between Vancouver and home were bigger than I had imagined. In Canmore we have wildlife But they are generally self-propelled!
       Smiling at the hamster walker, She pointed me back in the right direction And I sauntered on - reminising about my escape of my childhood hamster snowball,  who was likely seeking such a grassy outdoor experience.
 
    When i had passed three Starbucks  in what felt like a three block radius I Thought that I must be circling  so I popped into the building in front of me to find my bearings.        
      Tada- I was inside blockbuster video- the Canadian tire  of movie stores, aptly named with it's blocky layout. I would have to venture further. i wanted an asymmetrical movie store where i felt like i belonged.
       i hopped on bus number four towards downtown.  Gazing out the window i dreamily watched lush trees and brick and sandstone buildings  whizz by. I tried to smile at the woman I was sitting beside but She was absorbed in some music and i didnt catch her eye. Then looking around the bus i began to notice a sort of ipod headphone matrix.  The majority  of passengers were plugged into whatever device kept an impermeable pod of space around them. I noted the irony of searching for a feel good community oriented movie store on a bus I could name "keep your distance." This would take some getting used to.
      My tendency to make eye contact  and smile warmly made me very popular with  a few of those who chose to stayed completely unplugged( and i think flagged me immediately as a foreigner).     I often love friendly chit chat on planes and buses and happily rode the initial wave of attention.  But Like a sudden squall in a lake that overtakes a boat out for a peaceful rocking paddle, it quickly became too much.and  politely  bringing a conversation to a natural conclusion or looking back out the window didn't stop the momentum I'd started .  Wrestling with whether to carve out  my own private  spacepod or remain true to my canmore ways, I took out a book and started to read. Immediately, like I had just cracked a code word  that conveyed "enough now, I might be back later, on my terms", I  was left in peace while I flipped through the pages . when i briefly looked up and a man holding a guitar smiled and made eye contact,  I liked the vibe I got. I smiled back and was treated to an impromptu and awesome jazz riff. Ahhh. the Best of both worlds.                
    I asked the bus driver about movie store stops . He answered  "why would you be looking for that when you can stream anything you want on the Internet". Apparently in Canmore we are little in the dark ages that way. Or maybe we are  in the future if I consider what happened to vinyl. Either way I Didn't think I had time to explain how much I enjoyed   watching a film whilst wrapped in the warm vibe of visiting a movie store where everybody knows your name. Unfettered,  and more aware of what I'm really looking for, my search tilts from how do I find an avalanche movies in downtown Vancouver to how do I build a warm and kindred sense of community and connection in a city of this size?
      i do find it. And one of the friends who is part of it made a movie about where our food comes from - and just happens to own a chicken suit.
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Eek I'm new at this.. Sorry for the late ideas! Here are three ideas launched from day to day things that I have found funny And my attempt to find some sort of story format for them. The third story is a bit of a mixture of comedy and philosophy And I'm not sure how that works for the purpose of this class. But i thought I'd put it in there Because it's a personal memoir that I want to write at some point. 
kids
Several years ago a four-year-old girl was telling me what she had learned about ants in her preschool class. She said with conviction that they have six sections 6 legs and...Hannah Montana ears. I guessed that's the closest thing phonetically that she could come up with to replace her spotty memory of the word antennas ( and surely it is just as adequate a description?) . Her sister recently asked her mom what spelling bees are like in University. When sitting in my yard drawing with another four-year-old neighbor, when she had some difficulty with the composition of her elephant she decided to just give it another trunk. Because why not?
 i Thought it might be interesting to write a piece about a job interview where the questions are answered  with the simple candor, ability to embrace fantasy (and assumptions about the world) That  comes so naturally to children...
the city
 I live in a small town in the mountains in canmore Alberta Canada . For nine months I moved to the much larger metropolis of Vancouver. Because it's just a province away and in the Same country (And a place that I've visited many times and already felt like another home) I didn't expect to be culture shocked. But living and visiting reveal different nuances. A few clues that I was in for something quite different include:The time I walked three blocks to go get a movie and decided it was more interesting to stay out- I had just watched a man in a chicken suit Come barreling down a hill on a scooter, crash at the bottom and Stomp back up the hill ( clawed feet and all) murmuring  shit, ouch, shit, ouch.  And then there was the hamster on a leash. we have a lot of wildlife around Canmore but They are generally self propelled and none know how to swear. And if you see a hurt animal you call the conservation officers. ...
And so starts a stumbling journey of questions to make about how  to respond to situations in my Canmore  way of doing things(Like whether to continue making eye contact on downtown buses, And if so do I  Go for total abstinence or allow myself occasional glances?)  and where (and if ) to adapt...
boots
Dealing with a foot issue,  I found myself only able to wear Birkenstocks one winter- an occasionalt minus twenty snowy canadian winter in the mountains. I tried on countless styles of winter boots including slipper like uggs, yet my Birkenstocks were the only thing that were comfortable. On the verge of putting thick socks and plastic bags over my birks and carrying around 3 inch heels in my pocket for fashion balance, I ended up  finding a solution in some Mountain equipment co-op extra-large expedition booties  Tada- comfy warm winter birk foot covers in a becoming charcoal grey. 
Despite the horror of my neighbor who  says that if she was in the same situation she would not leave her house because she's" too Scottish"...i seem to be in fashion with The twenty something crowd who  Want to know where to get some and get excited that they are some sort of Moon-boot look alike.  I personally am impressed with my creativity, huge step up from plastic, and general lack of caring abput others opinions - and I leave the house with excitement about stomping around in the snow and having the warmest feet of anyone canmore - albeit also the largest. A fashion story ensues. As I go back and forth between accepting this new fashion situation and occassionally playing scrabble wearing my tango shoes with my feet up between turns... I fall in love with my footwear  as one of the quirky adaptions needed to be made in life that lead to as much goodness as awkwardness ( like the number of Cool conversations with strangers that ensue).
 I come to believe that what a famous jazz musician  once remarked relates to both  music, daily life and fashion accessories:
Whatever the band plays is reality. You have to deal with that. You cannot play along with what should be played. You have to play with what is played."
And then you have beautiful music. Or  seventeen pairs of shoes - So you're ready for anything.

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