Writing During A Pandemic (West Coast Girl, Pt 17)


Winter 2020

After having a lovely holiday season with my family, I returned to Vancouver to start the year off living in a hostel-style Air BNB. It was close to Pacific Spirit National Park. The area was quiet and gorgeous so I took many runs and jogs around there after work. While the home was packed full of people – at one point there were people sleeping on the couches – it was an affordable place to stay and get back on my feet. I ended up returning back to the same company where I was promoted as a supervisor – except this time I was just going to work in the entry level position I started in. I liked it there, because the work was familiar and I was good at it. I also really liked my supervisor. She was very professional and no-nonsense.

When I couldn’t stand the cramped living quarters any longer, I moved to another Air BNB in central Vancouver. It was quite far away from where I worked, but it had more space. My first night there was bizarre – no one else was there and the home was warm, but dark. It was kind of cool having the entire place to myself, if not a bit eerie. It was also a prime location for jogging, so I kept that up as my main source of fitness then I’d do my booty workouts in the spacious laundry room.

I started to work on Marie, a thriller about a female psychopath, in the winter of 2019 and it was at this Air BNB that I finished her story. It was a good setting to write a moody tale. Her lavish lifestyle and cold character contrasted with my own and it was a bit of an exercise in escapism. When a friend posted that the house he was staying in had a room available for just $450/month, I jumped on the opportunity and messaged him right away. I’d be saving a lot more money living there than spending $950/month at the new Air BNB.

It was around this time that news of the pandemic started circulating. I didn’t think much of it considering how alarmist most news articles are. However, as talk of a potential lockdown was everywhere, I bought a ticket to an EDM show at the Harbour Event Center just in case I’d have to go an entire season without live music. Since it was march break for many college and university students, the night was already wild at 10:30 PM. Some people were almost falling over from being so drunk and/or high. One of those guys stumbled over to me and grabbed me in a bear hug, causing another guy who was more sober to push him away.

“I didn’t think you’d be okay with that,” he said.

“Thanks for helping me,” I said, feeling awkward. I’d only been able to dance to a few songs before the raucous began.

It was when a group of guys rushed over and offered me a cloudy drink that I knew it was time to leave. I’d had some time to dance, but this was not the vibe for me. It was disappointing considering it could be my last night out before a lock down.

“Maybe I’m just getting a little too old for that scene,” I said as I waited for the cab outside in the dark.

I felt bad that so many of those kids were already smashed and it wasn’t even midnight. I didn’t want to be a part of that culture. Then again, I’d been to other shows where people weren’t sloppy – some people do go to events for the music. It was probably just the fact that it was the march break before a pandemic – a lot of people wanted to party hard before the lock down. The cab driver commented on the fact that I was going home so early, which added to the annoyance, but staying at the venue didn’t seem right to me. It would have been a really uncomfortable night if I didn’t leave.

Alexei was the first person who held me after the harrowing evening with Sven in 2019. I looked at him as this saviour of sorts; I was trying to put him in a role that no one could possibly fill. I’d seen him a couple of times at the club in late 2019. I found myself wondering what it might be like to meet him sober in broad daylight. We’d talk about getting together to watch a movie, but the plans never solidified. He’d talk about wanting to hold me and we’d send one another cute snap chat pictures, but I was getting the impression I wasn’t the only girl he was talking to. Looking back at this situation now, I can see how much I desperately needed therapy. I was still not fully okay after what happened with Sven and his friend in their apartment. Alexei was just a younger guy trying to have some fun, but I was growing attached to him despite how little I saw him.

Sometimes you can become so involved with the idea of someone that you lose sight of who they really are – that is one downside of being a writer. You sometimes look at the world through this fantastical lens. It can be hard to face reality when you need to. Because writing was such a big part of my life, I used it as an outlet to express some of my emotions, but it was no replacement for therapy.

I’ll never forget how you kissed my collar bone the night we met. I’d posted about how I always wanted someone to kiss me there on Twitter right before I left for the club. I texted to Alexei.

I think it means we’re meant to be. 😉 He replied.

On the day that I moved to the new apartment, we were supposed to meet up, but he blocked me. It was so odd that he’d make plans just to obliterate them. It was hard for me at the time being left out in the cold after he seemed so interested in seeing me. I didn’t really connect well with my roommates and by the looks of things, I wouldn’t be able to meet anyone new with a pandemic on the rise.

I was out writing at a café when the lockdown began. A barista asked us to pack up, because all food and beverage businesses had to shut down for two weeks. It was surreal seeing everyone leave as the tables and chairs were being put away by the staff. I never experienced anything like it in all my life. No one thought it was going to last as long as it did. My heart went out to all those people who wouldn’t be able to pay for rent and other necessities due to so many businesses shutting down. This was going to be a hellish time for many people – not to mention for the vulnerable people who caught the virus. I was incredibly lucky that my line of work was still allowed to operate. It was awkward being the only person in the house who still went out to work everyday. Everyone else was working from home, but they understood I didn’t have a choice. The office stayed open all the way until the summer. It was bizarre being the only person on the sky train some days – the whole city looked like a ghost town with the empty stations, streets, and buildings. A strange, dark energy hovered over the beautiful place that I loved so much. Looking back, I’m a little surprised that I didn’t take any videos of those solitary commutes on the sky train, but I think I was in shock.

I’ve never been a poet in my life, but with everything that happened over the past year, my inspiration soared to new heights. I began to write a book of poems to channel my emotions and feelings, especially with what took place from 2017-2020. It was a story written in poetic format. It’s the darkest story I’ve ever written. Images of wolves, a fox, a knight, a raven, a ghost boy, and a black dragon haunted my inspiration. The eerie energy, isolation, and my emotional turmoil were perfect ingredients for a Gothic tale. I did enjoy this time – it meant a lot to me as a creative.

This was a golden time for me to create. I had so much spare time outside of work. There were so many beautiful nature walks I could go on since B.C. didn’t close their parks. The buses still ran and in B.C, it was encouraged to go outside and walk. Of course, many people were terrified of catching Covid, so the buses and parks were pretty sparse when I went out. This is the year that I got a Tik tok account – it was the perfect app to share all the moments of light I would have when I was outside.

I was at Whytecliffe Park on a beautiful grey day (as seen in the photo above). It was just before dusk and the beach was empty. I took a photo of the large rock formation before I walked over and climbed up. I stood at the front of it as a storm came in, facing the wind. It was such a sensory, intense experience. I felt like a true princess who stood awaiting for her dragon to arrive. Together, we would rise above the lands and glide over the sea. This was one of the most memorable hikes I’ve ever had and it did wonders for my inspiration. When I finished the book of poems, I called it Write To Survive.

With my roommates being a little stir crazy back at the house, I decided to leave and try living in another Air BNB. Everyone was becoming more and more paranoid about the virus and its spread; I wanted to ride out the pandemic in my own space. I went to a small home with a gorgeous modern room that was right by the sky train and a nature trail. The commute, moody spring weather, and cool location of my new home was the perfect setting for me to write another story called Voice Of A Storyteller. I was happy despite the bizarre era that my city (and the entire world) was entering into. I was so grateful to be working full-time and to have a purpose – writing.

The photos below are all from this period in time. When I look at them, I remember the exact mood I had when I took them. I hope their moody and exploratory notes can be felt by you as you look at them. It’s walks and sights like these that can conjure amazing stories.

I had recently discovered Apashe, a DJ and artist who combined rap/trance with classical/orchestral music. It went right along with the mood of my newest book. When I listen to his music today, it brings me an amazing wave of nostalgia to think back to that amazingly creative time in the Vancouver area. I loved the sky train ride from downtown to the Air BNB, because I get all into the mood to write by listening to music and taking in all the amazing sights. Every morning I’d wake up energized and happy to start the new day. I’d had my challenging times before, but the pandemic wasn’t a time of hardship for me (at least, not yet). I was in a phase of my life where writing was my top priority and the social isolation made this even easier. In many ways, my life hadn’t changed much.

Because this lovely modern place was so pricey, I had to remember practicality and move to a more affordable room. It was a fun experience while it lasted. I was working full-time, but I wasn’t making that much money. I moved back to the Metrotown area in Burnaby where there was an Air BNB for a single room at $45/night. It was an older building and not as nice, but it was safe and comfortable. I got a part-time work from home job that helped me pay for food and the monthly fees. This spot was closer to Deer Lake than the other place, so I could go there for walks at sunset. I finished up Voice Of A Storyteller as the summer approached. Unfortunately, after losing one of our biggest clients at work due to the pandemic, my hours were cut. I wouldn’t be able to keep paying $45/night on rent and there weren’t a lot of cheap rooms available at this time, so I had to bite the bullet and opt for another dorm type of situation.

Instead of going back to the place by Pacific Spirit National Park, I moved to a different dorm Air BNB in Burnaby. I really liked the area – it was close to the lake and the sky train. It was also another great area for jogging. While $35/night was cheaper, that still ended up being a decent amount of money per month. Pretty much all my income was going to rent now that my credit card was maxed out with a little money left for groceries and my phone bill. I could feel depression sinking in again. While it was obvious that this less than ideal living situation was temporary, it was still hard to accept that I wasn’t where I wanted to be and my income was too low for the lifestyle I wanted.

I kept reminding myself how far I went from being hungry and broke in early 2014 to thriving in my own apartment in 2017. I could rebuild the life I wanted – I knew I could do it.


I’m trying to do something different here …

Something that lasts


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