september 1 » another september, another VEDS
july 12 » doomed love
june 28 » castle bird
june 21 » the light in june
june 14 » where do the dreams go?
june 8 » fan song from a fangirl
june 2 » you add the songs, we donate
may 31 » ukulele & cringe
january 22 » a new domain name and email
january 18 » film diary & Big Finish recommendations
january 17 » what I'm reading in 2021
january 6 » it's a new year out here.
just dashing off a quick note to say...it's VEDS! the greatest time of year!
if you're not up to speed, not to worry—that's what the VEDS 2021 page is for. but the gist is, for the month of september, I will be posting a vlog every day. the first one is out now:
I am joined by a number of other VEDSies, who I've linked to in the video description. the best part of this crazy endeavour is the community it creates.
my friends and VEDSies, I will see you tomorrow.
what do you think—song first, then sad update?
the song! it came out quietly yesterday. I feel like I'm finding my sound on the ukulele.
the sad update! presently, I feel very much like I'm living underground. I've retreated from the world. last week, I finally arrived at a metaphor that I thought described the feeling:
it feels like being caught out in the rain, the cold, hard rain of late autumn. each time I head out into the world, I become hunched and small against it. despite knowing that rain is just rain, despite knowing it can't really hurt me, it is hard to focus when I am constantly uncomfortable. things I might otherwise find pleasant—a coffee date with kind coworkers, a sunset walk through the park—are only temporary, imperfect shelter. they are the equivalant of standing under a tree; I am still wet, though not actively being rained on.
I can't seem to get dry. I feel a bit damp even when I am warm and safe in my bed.
I think I'd like it to be autumn now. solitude feels different in autumn. in summer it feels wrong somehow.
the season will change, in time. and maybe...you know how it is when you're soaked through to the skin and think, "well, I can't get any wetter," and you find some kind of peace with it? feel more freedom to stomp in puddles or turn your face to the sky? maybe I'll get there. who's to say?
until I find the words again,
after a week's hiatus, I am back with another monday video.
I wrote so many variations of some of these verses, you may as well imagine me surrounded by crumpled-up balls of paper. quite pleased with the final result, though 😊
while I'm here, I'd like to thank everyone who's left comments about my songs. y'all are the best. it is hugely encouraging and gives me the warm fuzzies to read them. one of my goals in the coming weeks is to create a home for my songs here on the site. if it's august and I haven't done that yet, bug me about it!
P.S. one of my favourite bands, Lawrence, just released a new single: "Don't Lose Sight." the video is rad; check it out! I love their sound, their style, and this song is a surefire cure if you've got a case of the Mondays.
just listen. see what story your mind creates around the words. is it the same as the one I imagined? I wonder. listen first to remain unspoiled:
it surely comes as no surprise that I am a lyricist first, musician second. no matter what it is—song, poem, or story—my creative writing starts with a seedling. a small, growing thing. I say seedling rather than seed, because sometimes the seeds stay locked away in a drawer or scattered on the earth. but once a thing has begun to grow, I can tend to it. observe:
don't come any closer, stay where you are
I can't see what is right in front of me...
the key pieces are there: the melody, the rhythm, most of the words. a mental image is starting to form. then things shift as I find words for the chorus:
don't be afraid, little bird
you can still fly...
the phrase "little bird" lodged itself in my brain back in march thanks to a song by Sports Team, which was on repeat for days.
suddenly I could see a castle. a princess singing to the bird outside her window. I knew the princess had been there a long time. in my mind, I could see her downstairs at a ball—beautiful, eternally young. an object. she couldn't remember anything different. there was only a small window with a glimpse of sky, and a bird who was free to fly away.
the bird takes pity on her, I think. or perhaps it is startled when the thing sitting so still in the window reaches out to it.
I've built songs before around a specific image: a light on a mountain, a ship out at sea. this time, none of that imagery really made it onto the page. instead, it informed the shape of the song, its tone, its mood. the song was the spell I cast to bring the tale to life.
if you're interested in more fairy tales, I read several back at the start of the pandemic. I remember their darkness well.
be free, little birds,
today, a prose poem and a listening recommendation.
four years ago, I published a video called "summer wonder." I'd gone on a walk in a nearby park, shot some footage, and then wrote a prose poem to tie together the montage. it's one of my most-viewed videos, and I still occasionally see new comments on it. it's also one of my favourite things I've made.
I've never made anything quite like it again. I think I came close with "the lightning strike," a piece of writing I love (and a video which could use a remake). that piece was inspired by the Snow Patrol song of the same name. today's video is similarly inspired by an audio drama.
Circular Time is a Doctor Who audio drama from Big Finish featuring the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa in four stories, each corresponding to a different season. My favourite is "Autumn." Here's the synopsis: "In the recent past, Nyssa spends a romantic golden autumn in an English village while the Doctor plays cricket." Not your typical template for a Doctor Who story. it's brilliant though, right from the opening monologue:
"Something is added to cricket by the angle of the sun as it stands at four o'clock in early September. The shadows are longer. There's a suggestion of colder days approaching, of circular time, of aspects of our lives dying away and returning."
I was so struck by this style of writing that I wanted to emulate it. in contrast to the transition to autumn the Doctor observed, I wrote about the transition to summer, the vitality of the long days at the peak of the year:
this week, a heat wave rolls across BC. it is already underway, the temperature reaching 31°C this afternoon. outside, everything is vibrant: the cloudless blue sky more like a child's painting, the intense green leaves and grass dotted with yellow and violet and pink blossoms.
it's a funny thing, summer. in june, it all feels new and vibrant. by july, the heat becomes stifling, exhausting. then, by august, I'm nostalgic for the summer nearly gone and yearning for the autumn almost here.
cheers to summer days ahead,
if you give me an instrument and time to spend, I will inevitably write a waltz. you're welcome.
today, much like the day I recorded this video, is bright and grey. do warm, overcast days send you into a hazy state of mind, too?
I'm back with more uke! this is number 2 of 3 ukulele videos I've got queued up. they're all original songs, but this one I've actually shared on my YouTube channel before, singing it a capella during VEDS 2019. it is a song inspired by Cath and Levi from Rainbow Rowell's book Fangirl, which meant so much to me when I was Cath's age. it still means a lot to me.
my chords are buzzy. I am forgiving myself for the buzziness of my chords. learning a new skill is hard when some part of you believes you must be exceptional at everything in order to be worth anything. which is so beside the point! I enjoying playing, and I shall embrace the fun and freedom of "play" no matter the end result. (affirming this in writing is good for my brain—that's the idea, anyway!)
Cath calls herself crazy a lot in Fangirl. I know some people really object to that term, and I wouldn't use it to describe another person, but in the book, it made me feel seen. when I was 18, I called myself crazy. I felt "slighly crazy and socially inept," as Cath puts it. I've always remembered this exchange between her and Levi:
“I don’t think I’m any good at this. Boy–girl. Person–person. I don’t trust anybody. Not anybody. And the more that I care about someone, the more sure I am they’re going to get tired of me and take off.”
Levi’s face clouded over. Not grimly, she thought—thoughtfully. In thoughtful clouds.
“That’s crazy,” he said.
“I know,” Cath agreed, feeling almost relieved. “Exactly. I’m crazy.”
then a few lines down:
“It’s okay if you’re crazy,” he said softly.
“You don’t even know—”
“I don’t have to know,” he said. “I’m rooting for you.”
the song lyrics, especially the chorus, were inspired by lines from the book. what I saw in Cath and Levi were two people who had different strengths and insecurities and eventually learned to communicate them, so they were able to support one another. they got to a point where they were figuring things out together.
here's to figuring it out together,
hey team - if you've got a moment, I've got something to share. TW: residential schools, death
a few days ago, a mass grave was discovered at a former Indian Residential School in Kamloops, BC. the grave contained the bodies of 215 Indigenous children. it's a heartbreaking reminder of the atrocities that my country has committed against our Indigenous population and the generational trauma we've caused.
so my friends and I are trying to do our bit. since November, my friends have been releasing a Spotify playlist every month—it's called the Perfect Playlist Project. this month (June is National Indigenous History Month, as it happens), we're inviting everyone to add their favourite summer song to our collaborative playlist. for every song added, we will donate $5 to the Indian Residential School Survivor Society (IRSSS). here's our Linktree.
playlist closes June 20 / one song per person
if you've got a minute, I welcome you to add a song to the playlist, and perhaps take a minute to learn about what the IRSSS does. reconciliation is ongoing work, and I hope that this small fundraiser can help contribute to it.
writing to you from the unceded territories of the Coast Salish and Interior Salish Peoples, including the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
hello friends and neighbours! here on the west coast, the days are long, the weather is warm, and the vaccine roll-out is giving us cause to be optimistic about gathering.
as for me, I'm treading water and I'm tired. so, this weekend, I set aside time to do things that make me feel like myself. on Saturday, I got up around 6:30 for a morning walk and did some field recording. (I should make a page for my field recordings.) got my 10,000 steps in by 8 am. on Sunday, I downloaded some footage from my camera and edited a couple videos. the first of those is up now:
I cringe a little at my voice and my playing. my ambition exceeds my ability, which is always awkward. I also find myself cringing at my appearance—why did I wear that, why did I style my hair like that, why is my face shaped like that—and have to flex my under-used self-compassion muscles.
lately, I've been all input and no output. (okay, I'm exaggerating, but that's how it feels.) the uke has been a good way for me to get offline and to finish things—songs. another thing about learning ukulele is that it's a simple instrument, easy to pick up quickly. makes it a good fit for my casual approach to music. I don't want to be great, I don't want to make this a career. I just want, after a day full of dread and stress and hollow accomplishment, to come home and sing something.
you can hear more uke on YouTube soon, and I'm sure I will find a place for it on this site too. eventually.
didn't get a chance to post this yesterday, so here it is!
I bought a domain name! this proudly canadian site is now thedigitaldiarist.ca. I also have a new email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, so your messages don't get lost among my dozens of newsletter subscriptions anymore.
added two more pages:
as I say in my site welcome, this place is a central repository. the media I encounter and engage with is a big part of my life. one of my goals this year is to keep better track of it all, here, in one place. and if you engage with any of the same media, hit me up! I'm happy to chat about it.
have you seen the new section over in reading? go on and take a peek at my reading journal for this year. so far, I've finished two books: one fiction and one non-fiction. I won't be posting reviews, per se; this is just a fun way to track the books I pick up this year. if you have suggestions, please feel free to email me, particularly if you have a good mystery to recommend. I never read mysteries, but I would like to give it a go.
wish me luck with my reading goals!
a few updates to bring us into the new year:
this was a hard day. (what with the assault on democracy happening in the US.) but I will instead choose to remember the inspiring, wonderful, fantastic fungi resources people sent me this afternoon upon hearing I was interested in the subject.
the start of a new year so often feels bittersweet. I struggle to imagine the future. I get caught up remembering all that I didn't do, missed out on, and failed at. and yet, here I am, sharing what I'm reading, happily learning about mushrooms, and cultivating my own digital garden, here.
my aim in 2021 - less goal-setting. more small, beautiful events. more friendship.