These two questions come from my lovely kickstarter backers. Thanks again for your support! It means the world.
What’s the inner monologue like inside your head when you stumble upon an amazing moment or find yourself in an extremely tough situation?
I think to myself: When can I slip away to write about this amazing / tough moment?
No, but really. I keep a notebook and a pen on my person at all times to record moments like these.
Sometimes my mind is so full before bed that I have to stay up for an hour getting it all down before I can even conceive of sleeping.
I have been wrestling for months with some scenes that I’m just not ready to write. Heck, it might be years before I’m ready to fully process them. I’m learning to be patient with myself. Slowness is important. Fermentation. Something like that.
I’m a compulsive communicator. It’s sometimes a blessing and sometimes a proper pain in the butt.
If my mind is buzzing to the point that it’s too much to manage, I have non-writing coping mechanisms. Long bike rides (conveniently) are one of them. Running is another. If all else fails, I put on Prince and have a good dance party with myself.
On the bright side, my need to record things lets awful situations become just that bit more tolerable, because hey, I can write about this. Everything becomes fuel for the fire when you look at it in the right light.
What is the most afraid you have felt while on this journey and how did you get through it?
Back in early April I woke up in my tent next to a canal, made oatmeal for breakfast, and set about on a quest to find drinking water. I was completely out of water, which can feel a bit frightening when you’re cycling for hours on end. A few kilometers down the road, fortunately, I found a salmon farm. I propped my bicycle on its side and walked up to the little building where the employees were enjoying their midmorning tea break.
I asked one of the workers if I could fill up my water bottles. He directed me to a faucet. More employees came in for tea. I went back out to put the bottles on my bike and took out my “tell me a story about water” sign, which seemed like a good idea, given the context. Water! Salmon! It’s all linked, right?
Nets keep the fish in captive in the canal water. Every so often one jumped.
I struck up a conversation with two of the workers who are from Chile. They told me a story about agriculture and the dairy farmers sucking the river dry, how the wealth was benefitting a select few but not the many. The woman offered me a cup of tea and one of the pieces of toast she was buttering. “Do you have hunger?” she asked, the direct translation of the verb from Spanish. Languages make me so happy.
Then a man with bulging, bloodshot eyes, a legitimate rattail down his back, and a cigarette between his lips came over started yelling at the couple. “You can’t offer guests company tea,” he spat, “and you buffoons were ten minutes late to work this morning.” Then he went off on this whole tirade about people-hours and The Company and how they would have to take that time out of their timesheets when they clock out and work an extra fifteen minutes. He was yelling. No one intervened. All of the workers in their hi-vis orange vests looked down at their phones or into their teacups. “And you two just come dawdling in here for a smoker and you think you can take a break?! I’ll tell you what. Some clown is going to go for a fucking swim.”
I could see this supervisor man’s injured masculinity out for a walk on the tables and chairs. Does he really have such a small amount of self-worth that he feels the need to take out his personal problems on others? It was frightening.
My strategy: get away and stay away from said negativity, ASAP. Fortunately it was relatively simple for me to apologize to my friends for getting them into trouble and just cycle away and get on with my life.
What a toxic environment to work in. I have so much respect for the workers, and I hope they know that they shouldn’t have to put up with that kind of shit. That supervisor is a proper asshole.
I cycled away as my Chilean friends were sprinkling feed. The salmon jumped high above their nets.