January 3, 2020

Ferry breakfast

Today, on the third day of the new year, I woke up thinking of ferry breakfast.

The BC Ferries ships that head to the Southern Gulf Islands all have a small cafeteria on board with a kitchen that makes a variety of meals throughout the day. If you hop on a ferry that sails before 11am, you’ll be right on time for ferry breakfast.

(I’m not sure when we decided to stop calling it breakfast on the ferry” and instead started giving the meal its own noun, ferry breakfast,” but the name has stuck.)

Ferry breakfast is similar to other cafeteria breakfasts in many ways: the standard selection of eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage, waffles, and oatmeal dominate the menu, and while all of it tastes decent, none of it is particularly excellent. The hollandaise, if you choose to get it, is lacklustre, and the scrambled eggs taste like they have been sitting in the warmer for a long time. Lineups are long, but the service is quick and cheerful; a plate of hot food will be placed on your tray within minutes of ordering. You pay at the counter, and you take your tray to your table to enjoy your meal. When you’re done, you clear your own table.

Ferry breakfast, however, is extremely unlike other cafeteria breakfasts in a few important ways: the view is the most obvious. It’s not every day that you eat breakfast while sailing over the ocean, with mountains rising up in the distance outside your window. Occasionally, you will see other ferries pass by, and from time to time, some wildlife—birds, otters, and even whales, so I’ve been told—will appear between the boat and the islands ahead of you.

The best part of ferry breakfast, however, is that there is nothing better to do for those few hours. The cafe is quiet, quieter than during the lunch or dinner rush, with people either emerging from their slumber (particularly during the early morning sailings) or just in a slower, more reflective mood. Everyone is going somewhere, but there is no rushing to get there. We are all beholden to the speed of the ferry, of this big ship carrying cars and bikes and people and hopes and stories and reveries; the ferry will take us where we want to go, back to the hustle of the day, but for those few hours all we can do is feel the gentle roll of the ocean below us, watch the sun rise over the mountains ahead of us, and think about all the adventures we are going to have once we arrive—all while sipping coffee and eating hash browns.

Ferry breakfast is a meditative meal, one that encourages mindful bites and a deep appreciation for the wonders of the natural world around us. It may not be the tastiest meal of our day, or the most memorable, but it will likely be the most calm, the least hectic. The eggs and waffles are secondary; the two hours of contemplation are the real reason to take a seat in the cafe.

It has been over a week since my last ferry breakfast, and definitely a few months before my next one. In the new year, I’m going to make all my breakfasts similar to a ferry breakfast: eating slowly with no consideration for time, staring out the window at the world around me, letting the sunrise awaken my soul and my body. There will be no roll of the ocean or otters playing in the water outside, but I will be quiet, slow, and contemplative.

Likely, however, my eggs will be much tastier.

View of mountains and islands and ocean from the ferry

Two poems

The Conditional
Ada Limón

Say tomorrow doesn’t come.
Say the moon becomes an icy pit.
Say the sweet-gum tree is petrified.
Say the sun’s a foul black tire fire.
Say the owl’s eyes are pinpricks.
Say the raccoon’s a hot tar stain.
Say the shirt’s plastic ditch-litter.
Say the kitchen’s a cow’s corpse.
Say we never get to see it: bright
future, stuck like a bum star, never
coming close, never dazzling.
Say we never meet her. Never him.
Say we spend our last moments staring
at each other, hands knotted together,
clutching the dog, watching the sky burn.
Say, It doesn’t matter. Say, That would be
enough. Say you’d still want this: us alive,
right here, feeling lucky.

— — —

Chelsey Minnis

I can’t have many things I like. For example, I can’t have a pinto horse.
I apologize to my country for being bad at math.
I am getting self-incinerated by boredom, so that’s fair.
In fact, I think this is the uppermost of boredom,
like a tiger chewing on a velvet sofa cushion.

I don’t try to seem very intelligent anymore.
I am beyond such effects.
Like a false limb full of stolen pearls.
Do you want me to write a poem?
Then hold my flask.

I’m not a blooming wreck, if that’s what you mean.
A thousand times I’ve almost decided to throw everything overboard.
You mustn’t get any silly ideas into your head about me.
I’ve never flopped on you yet, have I?
I’m a howling success, darling.

If someone’s really happy, can they be no good?
Now, don’t start trembling without me.
I demand several pittances!
Don’t worry. I’ve known myself forever.
One word of praise would cause me to act contrary to my own self-interest.

It’s just a poem, not a platter of brains.
So don’t give me any lucky breaks.
Is it our fault no one fawns on us?
Let’s not get forced into the mirrored casket of greatness.
It’s easier to write this than to write nothing.

I’m a stranger but not in my poems.
This is not an emerald mine.
It’s for somebody alive!
The only real disgrace is the refusal to believe in or listen to your fellow man!
Somebody better kiss me when I say that.

View of mountains and islands and ocean from the ferry

Instead of reading any books over the holidays, I decided to catch up on my Instapaper queue. (I got through about 30% of it, so there’s still a lot to go.) I read and watched a few hundred articles and videos; here are some of the best ones that I think you should add to your reading/viewing lists, too.

(Oh, and I shared my 2019 year in reading review last week. Feel free to check it out.)

Nothing time. - The Jungle Prince of Delhi. - We are a determined household. - This economist has a plan to fix capitalism. - The cultural canon is better than ever. - How an opera gets made. - Queen & Slim’ could be one of the great love stories of all time — if you let it. - When you mix the Missy with the Prince. - Lizzo Is TIMEs 2019 Entertainer of the Year. - Too anxious to press play. - We are all we have. - You could wear Nike’s new modest swimsuit anywhere. - The 100 memes that defined the 2010s. - L’Express, the beloved Montreal bistro where so much began. - A Cree artists redraws history. - Boomerspeak’ is now available for up parodying please. - Fifteen ways to survive the coming collapse of civilization. - Feral pigs roam the South—now ever northern states aren’t safe. - Bodily curiosities. - Finally getting somewhere. - I’m a 37-year-old mom & I spent seven days online as an 11-year-old girl. - The prayer rug of tomorrow, today. - The extraordinary story of the only B Corp in Afghanistan. - America’s shrimp gluttony is bad for us. - We need a major redesign of life. - Hair love, the short film. - The 2010s were the end of normal. - A primer on South Asians and Desis. - How America’s elites lost their grip. - Food education programs that focus on obesity” do more harm than good. - On My Hometown Sucks’, place, and shared sameness. - If I have no hope for the planet, why am I so determined to have this baby? - We learned to write the way we talk. - Twitter made us better. - How to flake gracefully. - The rise and fall of the 90s muffin. - Guide to the cold-industrial complex. - Is it sourdough or sourfaux? - Parasite’s perfect montage. - A like can’t go anywhere, but a compliment can go a long way. - Letter to a young climate activist on the first day of the new decade.

Enjoy some slow, contemplative breakfasts—on ferries and in your homes—over the next few weeks, my friends. See you in a fortnight.

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