Back home in Santa Cruz!

I’ve said it many times before, but Santa Cruz is effectively my home, and I’d never felt that more than when I arrived in town! I was given the warmest welcome by everyone that I knew, and it was the type of thing to bring a tear to my eye! I missed y’all so much, and it’s so flattering to have people so happy to see me once again! I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for the first few days!

In some ways, it almost felt like I never left. I still found myself hanging out regularly at the level-up video games store, meeting cool people, and getting involved with whatever was going on. I did take some opportunities with my new camera and tripod to explore some of SC’s more iconic spots, such as the beach and boardwalk, and got some of my favorite photos from these locations.

I checked up on a few things I left in town, and traded them with some of the things I had in my luggage already, including getting out a new jacket, and a few of my older plushes. I also took a day to head up to the UCSC campus, which I’d surprisingly never done before, despite my huge amount of time in Santa Cruz. I was told that there was a really nice spot with a view of the entire town, and I thought it’d be a really good spot to record a video

Finally, on the last few days of my time in town, there was a video games art show in the level-up store, and I just had to come in there with my plushes and video game, to chat with the people who came in, and other artists. It was completely free, so I had no reason not to come along!

After this, I actually had plans to head to LA where I’d stay for a few days, and then get a cheduled bus to San Antonio. However, this plan fell through when I fell extremely sick just a few days before I intended to go to LA, and wasn’t in a position to go anywhere. After a few days, I’d recovered a little, but still wasn’t in great condition, but had no choice due to my LA bus being scheduled on a fixed date. As such, I had to skip on my intended visit to LA, and just head straight in to then immediately catch my bus out. It was a bit of a disappointment, since I really wanted to visit LA, but I’m sure I’ll have another opportunity at a better time.

Now I’m in San Antonio, and still recovering from whatever I caught last week. Hopefully I should be better soon!

Adventures in Portland

Well, a short trip back toward the north, and i find myself in a wonderfully charismatic city. This time, I’m staying with a host that’s an older woman, who I’m helping out with some home decorating.

I’m actually really enjoying my time here. Portland really has a character to it that I very much appreciate. a lot of hipster cafés around, good food, gorgeous views and scenery, and fun little markets that pop up in various places. I noticed a very heavy African influence in town, as I visited several shops selling African clothes or decorations, and I found myself buying a really nice African shirt. This might have just been the short visit I had, but I don’t remember seeing much of thing kind of thing elsewhere.

On the last day of my visit, my host took me for a thanksgiving meal with her family at a large cabin up on Mt Hood. It was my first time ever getting to experience thanksgiving, and I really felt welcomed to their group. The kids were adorable and loved playing with my toys. There were a few other people that some of the family members had brought in with them, including a student from Alabama, and an exchange student from Saudi Arabia. At one point in the evening, one of the family members offered to take us even further up the mountain, where it was a lot colder, and snowier. I was excited at the opportunity, and jumped in the car alongside the other two students to witness a stark change in climate, as the cool slightly rainy environment we had lower town the mountain soon turned to below freezing weather, with the floors blanketed in snow. We found a small hotel up in this area, and had an explore around in the night-time snow, before getting in the car and driving back down into normal weather again.

The day afterwards, I hitched a ride from Portland all the way to San Francisco. I was riding with a girl who was an American Student up in Canada, and travelling back home to (presumably) visit family. We were actually driving down with very unfortunate timing, because the entire state of California seemed to be on fire, and we actually saw several parts of charred woodland as we passed through. We also went through some areas that were so covered in smoke, that we could barely see anything ahead of us. It was a little worrisome, but I was confident things would be okay, and they were! Now I’m in San Francisco, staying in a hostel for the night, but I’m going to make my way down to Santa Cruz next, where I know a guy, and I’m gonna stay with him for a bit.

Washington and Oregon

Well, November 5th, and I crossed the border. Now I’m officially in the United States!

My first stop was Seattle. Essentially the easiest place to reach from Vancouver, and mostly a pit-stop on my journey. I stayed with a friendly student girl for about 3 days, and she was sweet, and really nice company. Her boyfriend was someone that I actually ended up chatting with quite a lot. he works as a Chinese teacher, and makes educational Youtube videos teaching it online. I watched him recording one of his videos, and even saw him get devastated when he forgot to press record on a really good take! We ended up chatting a lot about how he once flew over to China with very little knowledge and experience, and then got his money and passport stolen, and was stranded with no real way to support himself. He ended up getting taken in by people over there, survived off their kindness, and got fluent in the language during that time. It was a story that resonated with me, as it’s something that I’m able to relate with, and I’m glad that we seemed to be on a very similar wavelength.

My next stop was Salem, Oregon. I was speaking online with one of my British YouTube friends, and I brought up the idea of meeting a YouTuber he knew in town (Lockstin) while I was making my southward journey. The guy seemed down with it, and we actually went out for lunch together with his wife and editor, which was honestly an outcome I wasn’t expecting! He was a really chill guy, and his wife was so incredibly sweet! She seemed to love my game concept too, and I feel like I’m on a good track if I’m getting positive comments from people of that kind of high profile! I stayed in town with a guy I met on a Discord server just a few days before, and it was mostly relaxed while I was there. Salem is somewhat of a small town, so there wasn’t too many points of interest in town, although I did seem to make pretty decent friends with a homeless man in the area, who was quite lively, fun, and a joy to talk to. I’d often head out and find him, and then just sit on the floor chatting for hours. It was really nice company.

There was one thing that Lockstin recommended I check out in town, which was a place called Coffee in Motion. It was a café built in a double decker bus just on the outskirts of town. For anyone who knows anything about me, this is totally something that I find really cool, since I want to be able to eventually build a house out of a bus, and it was really great getting to chat with a guy who built a café in his.

Anyway, that aside, things haven’t been too eventful in the last few weeks, but things should probably pick up again once I reach Portland. I’m actually backtracking slightly on my southward journey, but I never actually stopped in Portland on my way down, and it’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit.

Goodbye Canada!

It’s honestly been an amazing experience, but the time has come! I’ve made a video giving a bit of a summary of some of the things that have happened during this long and exciting journey. Honestly, I barely scratched the surface in this video, and will probably return to talk about specific events sometime in the future.

These have honestly been the most amazing 5 months of my life. So many ups and downs, and so many wonderful people that I’ve met along the way After all this, I personally consider Canada to be a home of mine, and I really want to make it my home one day!

Now my journey takes me into the United States! next week I’m going to get a bus into Seattle, and start making my way down the west coast, and toward Texas, where PAX is going to be. I’m sure I’ll hav many fun and interesting adventures in the United states too!

Fan Expo

So things have been pretty relaxed these past few weeks since moving int my new place, but one thing that I had my eye on for a while was Fan Expo. I was pretty excited to attend this, as it’d be a nice opportunity to hang out with with my friends, and meet some new people. I originally intended to attend the convention normally, (which would actually be a first for me this whole year), but here’s where things get really interesting.

So back in September, when I was staying with my friend and her sister, they introduced me to a guy in a mall who I ended up chatting with and exchanging contact details. He was a local artist, and seemingly a pretty well-connected one at that. We chatted for a bit, and after bringing up wanting to meet and chat with artists in the convention, he invited me to a discord server set up as a community for artists in the local Vancouver area. As the event approached a lot of them started preparing for FanExpo, but someone in the server seemed to have a family emergency, and had to drop out of her table, but wasn’t able to get a refund for the space she bought. I thought about it a little, and decided to step-in, and give her the money she paid for the booth, in exchange for being able to take over in her place.

So here I am. Setting up a table at a convention with a friend I made on the server with literally 1 day of notice!

Honestly, the whole thing was such a fun experience! I didn’t get the chance to bring any plushes that I’d be able to sell (since I didn’t exactly have the notice to make anything), but I met some more amazing people, and I got some good attention and feedback on my game. It’s also my first experience running a table at a 3-day convention, which will definitely be a good trial run for my big one in PAX South next January.

I saw some cool cosplayers come by my table that I just had to take photos of. I also took a few runs around other artist tables, and bought a few nice things including a cute Articuno plush, a cute lanyard, and a few more stickers that I put on the back of my laptop. I also saw a lady with amazing patchwork clothing that I totally wanna pick up when I get the chance, and I’ve got her etsy store on hand for whenever that moment comes!

As always, I made loads of friends at the event, and it was a really great time!

No gays allowed!

Okay, so I’m gonna get a little bit angry in this one. After afew weeks of hopping around in this city, it started to become apparent that if I wanted to stay in Vancouver (which I did, because there were a bunch of things in town that I wanted to stay involved with), couchsurfing wouldn’t cut it, and I’d have to find a sublet for a month or two. I started looking for places that were affordable (lol), and appropriate for the month of October, and was having quite a bit of difficulty. I ended up visiting a few places, but I got repeatedly rejected from each one in favor of another candidate, which was honestly extremely demoralizing. As October 1st loomed closer, I was getting increasingly more anxious, as I really needed to find something basically immediately, but was having very little luck.

I finally came by a place that seemed promising. A female shared room really close to downtown, and the cheapest I’d seen on my entire search. The landlord was a really nice guy, and we got along well, but during our conversation, I accidentally let slip that I was gay when I spoke of a date I had in town, and forgot to obscure their gender. This is typically common practice for me, as I usually tend to use vague genderless terms, often just to fish for people assumptions, but also for safety in situations like this. The guy didn’t seem bothered by it though, and by the time I left, it seemed promising that I’d get to sublet this room for the month. The next day I got an email that just felt so crushing:

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I was honestly speechless when I read this email. The guy tried to brush it off in his second paragraph, and tried to suggest me “moving in with my beloved“, which seemed extremely presumptuous, given that I’m pretty sure I implied it was a first date, as I’d only recently been in town. Also, not exactly the kind of thing I should be expected to do, just because some cunt can’t deal with sharing a living space with someone different to her.

I responded b saying: “I'm actually astounded that of all things, I got rejected a room because of my sexuality...”

I got back this:

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The funny thing is: I didn’t actually bring up discrimination at all; he did. I wasn’t making any accusations on the thing he just did, but he decided to go and dig that hole for himself anyway. I’m already far too busy and stressed to really care about this, and was just going to abandon it and move on, since I only had one day left to figure out my entire situation. However, this pathetic attempt to justify blatant homophobia really just pissed me off. Gay people are not some kind of dangerous predators that you have to be scared of being around. I’m not going to try and rape you in your homes!

At this point, i had one day left, and I was extremely on edge. I needed to find a new place the very next day, and my experience so far was not putting me at ease. However, in a stroke of luck, the pendulum ended up swinging right over to the opposite end of the spectrum, because the place I ended up going to on last day was an explicitly lgbt space with an out-and-proud trans woman, several lesbian roommates, and a general atmosphere that I really needed after that last place. Admittedly, it was a little further on the extreme end than I’d personally agree with, given that some people there had rather explicit views about straight/cis people, but it’s not like I’d be given any trouble, and it was a place that I could be comfortable for the month. They accepted me to move in the next day, and I breathed a sigh of relief as I’d just majorly dodged a bullet.

Nostalgic journey through Vancouver

Things have been interesting since arriving in Vancouver. I’ve found the experience to be quite nostalgic, in fact. I haven’t been t this city in almost exactly 5 years, and yet, I remember so much about some of the places I was at, and the people I met here!

I spent a bit of time jumping around a few different places in town for the last few weeks. First with the friend who picked me up from the island, then with her sister who lived on the other side of the river, and then later with another host I could find close to the city. My friends have been real sweet with me in taking me around various parts of town, and showing me cool places. I’ve also gone around exploring a bunch on my own too. I’m finding that despite the difficulty I’m having in trying to find arrangements to stay in or around Vancouver, it’s worth saying for the amazing company I seem to have up here. It’s honestly such a shame that I never came back to Vancouver sooner!

Alongside my local friends, I also made friends with several tourists and travellers. I spent a few days hanging out with a girl from France, who I decided to tag along with for a few touristy walks. At one point we head out into North Vancouver to explore the Lynn Valley park, where we got to walk along a beautiful river, and walk along a really high wooden bridge, which is actually way scarier than it looks!

Oh also, to round things off, I made a new plush while at my friend’s house! Mega Medicham!

Goodbye Salt Spring!

I’ll be honest, I was really hoping it wouldn’t come to this, but I ended up leaving the islands today, and made my way into Vancouver.

I honestly thought I’d be sticking around for months, but things just really weren’t going well between me and my hosts. I’m really torn about this too, because the people I’ve been meeting here are great, and we recently had 2 exchange students move over from Japan and Germany, and both are wonderful. I’d been chatting a little with the Japanese girl, and she seemed to be a total Pokemon nerd. In fact, when she saw the plushes I made, she went into her suitcase and pulled out a bunch of Japanese Pokemon magazines she brought over.

I can see why the British guy left on my first day though. Whilst the environment itself is great, the hosts are kind of rotten. More specifically, the husband in the couple seems to have many toxic and manipulative tendencies that honestly make me extremely uncomfortable, especially as someone who comes from an abusive background. Some of the ways he talked to and treated me just reeked of disrespect, and he seemed to be very condescending to me about the things I was doing for him, even though he should know that sewing is something I am very experienced in. He also had a very nasty habit of trying to control the way I behave by cutting the internet access to my living space, which was a pretty scummy thing to do to someone who is offering you help voluntarily. To top it all off, another of the walk-outs, a French Canadian guy pointed out to me that their operation really does cross the line on what counts as volunteer work, given that they’re selling our work at artists markets, with no credit or compensation besides the accommodation. This in fact, angered several of my artist friends online when I told them, so I did what I do best: walk out the door with 0 plans!

To be honest, I was fully with the intention of sleeping out on the beach, or somewhere isolated on the island. I’d rather have been out rough than spent another day in that environment. I’d actually took a trip over to Victoria the previous weekend to cool off over an incident with the host that straight-up, caused me to break down crying, due to triggering old ptsd related to my upbringing. I ended up spending time with a woman I previously met in Ganges, and helped her out with a booth she had at a festival. It was also a nice opportunity to see a bit more of that city, and I picked up some nice things while I was there, including my new favorite necklace! The woman I was with was really lovely, and grateful for my help, and it really felt like the appreciation I deserved from my hosts. I checked up on her after my walk-out, but she wasn’t at the shop that day, so I was a little stuck. Her sisters tried to do what they could, and after a bit of scrambling around, a really old friend from Vancouver offered me to come to her place if I could make it back to the mainland.

At this point, it was 7pm, and the last ferry was about to leave. I made a snap-decicion, and bolted for the boat, on my way to Vancouver. We met up at the ferry terminal, and we drove with her mother to her house in Surrey. I haven’t seen this girl in over 5 years, so it’s really refreshing to finally meet again even if the circumstances aren’t ideal. I’ve now got to somewhat deal with the pressure of figuring out on the spot, what to do next…

New friends

One thing that I forgot to mention in my last post is that the hippie house I’m staying in typically has quite a few travellers in a one time. When I arrived, there was a Belgian student, an older French Canadian, and there was supposed to also be a British guy there too, but he walked out pretty quickly after I arrived for reasons I’m not really sure about. The company was pretty alright, but honestly nothing special. The hosts were nice, but I got someone pretty nice to hang out with after the first week. A German girl came in on pretty short notice after supposedly having a really bad experience in Yukon, and was looking for a new place to bounce to. She and I ended up sharing a bedroom, and we quickly made friends.

We took a trip up to Ganges during one of the week days, which is the main town on the island. It was a pleasant place with some cool little shops. There were a lot of really nice spots for photos, and she helped me get some really nice shots. The next weekend, we decided to get a boat off to Victoria together. We explored around the town, and bought a few cool things including the coolest soccer ball I’ve ever seen that’s covered in flags, and is exactly the kind of colorful thing that I want in my home once I start on that project.

We also took some time to explore around Salt Spring island too, and found some really nice spots to climb, walk, or relax. We saw a small beach that we sat and relaxed at, while watching the occasional boat pass, and taking a few nice photos. We heard that apparently there were regulars at the beach who’d go swimming nude, but unfortunately, we didn’t get to see that. In fact, clothing-optional is something that the island itself seems to have a generally lax attitude to, and that’s something I really would be interested in exploring one day.