Monday, May 28, 2007

ah, Neruda...

An excerpt from Neruda's Letter on the Road

Farewell, but you will be
with me, you will go within
a drop of blood circulating in my veins
or outside, a kiss that burns my face
or a belt of fire at my waist.
My sweet, accept
the great love that came out of my life
and that in you found no territory
like the explorer lost
in the isles of bread and honey.
I found you after
the storm,
the rain washed the air
and in the water
your sweet feet gleamed like fishes.

Adored one, I am off to my fighting...

[photo by]

Sunday, May 20, 2007

oh yeah, I live in a rain forest

As the dime-sized raindrops pelt my summer motorcycle jacket (read: not waterproof), and my windshield fogs up I remember, oh yeah, I live in a rain forest. It sounds so nice when you say “rain forest” doesn’t it? I imagine sitting in some cozy cabin, fire blazing, cup of hot chocolate warming my hands, a beautiful indigenous woman warming my heart with her smile as we look out a huge picture window at all the lush, wet green, out there. Sigh. I try to distract myself with such imaginings as my wet fingers go numb and as I squirm a little in my seat, the build-up of water from the moto draft slides off my pack down you know where. Nice.

It was sunny when I left Port Alberni in the morning. The afternoon torrential rain is characteristic of west coast weather. I’m a west coaster, even by blood. I should know better. Knowing that I still have about 45 minutes to go, all I can do is laugh and think of how I’m going to blog this little experience. Although these adventures are mundane for the most part, and utterly inane at times I do try and make some links, however far-fetched, to the indigenous world of decolonization, rebellion, and revolution.

I heat up for several seconds later in my ride, but I’ll save that for the end.

So the water is seeping through my jacket, through my hoodie, and my Greg Norman golf shirt (great gallery wear, courtesy of a thoughtful and generous mom), and my BMW summer riding pants (also not waterproof – who makes $275 pants that are not waterproof? Better yet, who buys them?). My winter riding gloves must be getting long in the tooth, cause they used to be waterproof. About the only thing holding out is my trusty Red Wing motorcycle boots. At least my feet are warm and dry, which brings me to my next point.

Among many coastal peoples there exists a ritual of bathing in very cold water. This was done in rivers, lakes and the sea. As I understand it, one could merely jump in, get clean and jump out, or one could observe a more spiritual rendition, praying and adhering to protocols, often specific to each family. I will not speak of the latter, but more generally about the benefits of cold-water bathing. It’s supposed to toughen you up, physically of course, but the more you do it the more you begin to appreciate how it can strengthen your character and resolve because next time, you know, you remember.

I don’t liken my 75-minute commute in the cold rain to this practice necessarily, but it did remind me of it and I was also reminded of the benefits of growing stronger through action. It’s not hard to notice, when you look around (especially in the mirror), that we are perhaps not as tough as we used to be, or should be. This whole process of decolonization and community resurgence requires strong, committed people. Our ancestors understood this clearly, and acted on a daily basis to grow and remain strong. I think we can too.

Now to the matter of my instant and fleeting warming sensation. No, I didn’t pee my pants. Here is what happened (Moms, you can stop reading at this point). As I round the last corner before the orange bridge (which is now silver) and am momentarily distracted by the new Tseheheh band office, I do not notice that the red Dodge truck in front of me has stopped at the end of the bridge. Evidently, the car in front of him has stopped in order to turn left and is waiting for a break in the oncoming traffic. You’re not supposed to break hard in the rain. I think, in the milliseconds that I have, that I have to break pretty damn fast. I begin to slide as if on black ice. It feels so smooth. A shot of adrenaline pulses through my body and I feel instantly warm. I put my feet down, lest my bike decides to kick out, and I subtly steer toward the two-foot gap between the truck’s back end and the high curb. I’m not sure if the driver noticed me sliding or not, but the road clears and he moves just as I get close enough to see the tiny rain droplets on his red paint. Deep breath. I sit up and take a few more. I certainly don’t think I defied death yesterday. I did not hear the angels sing, but it would not have been pretty. I give thanks and I inhale all those memories good and bad.

Again, I’m reminded that there are no ordinary moments.

[photo by David Heller]

Thursday, May 17, 2007

what dreams may come*

[click on the photo to enlarge] After dining at the Beijing Grand, IMHO, the best Chinese restaurant in Port Alberni, I received two fortunes in my fortune cookie. My favourite read, "There is new hope for projects you had almost given up on." I wondered, "does that include people?"

Over the past academic year, I've probably been negligent with my not-always-humble opinions, what with my diverted focus on books, papers, and all that fun stuff. I intend to make it up to you here, recently inspired by a muse, a fictional warrior, a real warrior, angry Indian chiefs, and knight-errant: Don Durito de la Lacandon.

Poetry works with the sweetest
ideas, and becomes the sweetest,
the nobelest, most sober and wise
Oh lady, delighting all eyes,
Accept my soul in these lines,
And by letting my earnest praise
enfold you, you earn yourself
Envy for the rest of your days,
And find your fortune raised
Higher than the moon in the skies.
-Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quijote

Ya basta!

So the "chiefs" are getting frustrated. The taps have run dry. There is a call for a "Day of Action." I hate to be a cynic, but I find it hard not be suspicious of their motives and of their genuine connection to the people. At the same time, division does us no good either. How can we come together, or are we really apart to begin with? Hish-uuk-ish Tsa'waak. Everything is one.

Perhaps some people will rise. Perhaps enough will rise. Perhaps the moderates and conservatives will have more on their hands than they can handle. That might be an adventure. Ebb and flow. Ebb and flow. Perhaps we can catch a wave and ride it for awhile.

Power in Movement. A day of action? How about a life of action.

Don Dubya, aspirant Jedi Knight-errant
From the shores of occupied Vancouver Island

*I borrowed the title from the critically unacclaimed movie with Robin Williams

Sunday, May 13, 2007

to the mothers...

One can always comment on the oddity perhaps of celebrating one day a year in honour of mothers, especially when they often do so much for us, give so much of themselves for our well-being. A rant however, is not appropriate here. Quite simply, I wish to give thanks to all the mothers in my life, especially my own and do my best to remember this gratitude the rest of my days.

Kleco, kleco for everything that you do, the magic and the mundane, from healing our cuts and scrapes to healing our souls. In retrospect, it is all magic, all wonderful, all beautiful, every last moment. I love you mom.

P.S. I cannot forget all the other mothers and grandmothers and aunties. I have too many to name, seriously, but I love and respect you all. And of course all you newer moms in my life, not my mom, but a mom to my nieces and nephews. My sisters, today is also a special day for you, newer at your jobs, but no less loving and caring, and appreciated. My sister, Ger, and mi hermanas y companeras, Chiinuuks, 'Cilla, Em, Bev, Andrea, Di, Jusquan, Amamas, Kristy, Mare, Kinwa, Dawn, Gloria. Salud to you all!

...and before it gets too late, time to get my butt outta bed (yes, on my laptop writing a bedblog), and see about making some coffee and breakfast for the mothers in this house!

Friday, May 11, 2007

an ode to a kitten

Tonight, I part for the coast and a summer of new memories. Soon, padawan Kitten leaves for the valley of the mighty Nass River. Sooner or later all Kittens grow up and go home. We've had many a thoughtful conversation, pondering the mysteries of indigenous decolonization and resurgence. We've walked and talked our way through the same disillusionment, we've looked near and far and hopefully, we've glimpsed the same hope. Our battle is righteous and honourable. The red pill can sometimes be hard to choke down but it is what it is. Aaniikwaa.

We've also pondered the mysteries of the human heart. Perhaps they are one in the same. The force is strong in this one. She has a resilience and power that is already formidable. Honed and focused, and our enemies best watch out. It is true that she is my clan sister - We are Killerwhales from neighbouring nations. And Kitten has become more than a protege. She has become a friend and a sister in spirit and reality. Although our paths part ways for a time, we will remain steadfast, headed in the same direction.

It has been an honour and privilege.

welcome to this world Noelani

On Monday, April 30th, my good friends Ken and 'Cilla became the proud parents of Noelani Georgia, a beautiful baby girl and yours truly became the proud uncle of a 3rd baby in as many months (after babies Margo and Kimiwan). Congratulations my friends, and of course you too, T. As an elder brother you will be expected to care for and always uphold the dignity, honour, and happiness of your little sister. I will be here for you in every capacity I can for one can never be thankful enough to have friends as close as family.

Despite the ongoing problems of this world, it is moments like this that give us hope of a different possibility. It is not without a sense of paradox and irony of course for what other reality can we have than the one laid out before us? I believe in our ability to roll with the punches when we need to and create change when we must. Our struggle for peace with dignity and lives worth living will not be in vain. Today is indeed a beautiful day.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Goin' Coastal

It looks like W is goin' coastal this summer. I've just received word that I'll be working in the Du Quah art gallery in Ucluelet for my summer job and I have to say that I'm pretty damn stoked. :D (is "damn" still considered a swear word?)

This also means that my moto will be on the road very shortly as well! Woo hoo! Sausage Creatures be damned!

I have a feeling that it's going to be an awesome summer. (do people still say "awesome?")

It is time to make some new memories.

Hasta la victoria siempre!

[photo by Kevin Ebi]

Monday, May 07, 2007


The Nuu-chah-nulth word for "love" also contains the experience of "pain."

They are linked, intertwined, inseparable.