Rek Bell


We spent New Year's Eve on Julia's boat, with Peter and Finnigan the dog, playing Hanabi and Citadel. These two games keep us and our friends well-entertained, but this year we also got a double-twelve domino set which has become a new favorite.

Devine & I finished re-doing all of Pino's wiring (AC and DC), the inner workings of our boat are known to us now. We crimped every termination, fed every wire, connected every terminal block. The rewiring process had always been scary to me, there were too many unknowns, but as soon as the work began, we learned, new connections formed in our brains, existing pathways were made stronger, and then eventually the fear went away—what a feeling!

After completing the wiring, Dev & I re-released oquonie for uxn. I re-drew and re-animated all of the sprites.

We started Oquonie when we lived in Japan in 2013. This game meant a lot to us, it was a world that Dev & I loved returning to. We were sad when we had to pull it from the iOS store. We couldn't keep up with platform updates, and we wanted nothing to do with the hostile toolchains required to keep the game working. The game was then made available for desktop, but it was still depending on services and packages that could break, or disappear. Digital stores and services are volatile by nature, the market has no interest in preserving games, if we want our games to playable for many more years we realized we had to take steps ourselves. Now, Oquonie exists fully on Uxn. uxn is thoroughly documented, it can be deciphered, re-built and ported. Oquonie has been cast in amber. Did you know that '87% of classic video games released in the United States are critically endangered?'[Source].

I spent a lot of time this year making comics for hakum, putting together the bits of story that I sketched out in the summer of 2022. Then in May, I did a 360° and changed the concept of the comic, yet again. I had hit a wall, there were problems in the story that I could not solve, making big core changes was the only solution. The 10 sequences that I finished are still valuable, I needed to make those to develop the characters but they have been archived. night terror, the sequence I'm working on now, is in line with the new concept.

This year I wanted to spend less time drawing on the computer so I decided to start shading by hand in pencil. The outlines were drawn on paper, but now I would get to spend even more time away from a screen. When I do digital art I emulate drawing on paper, I do this by using rough brushes and textures, the result is nice but it isn't the same. As a kid I used to shade with pencils only(Kid Rek is always right). Now I have paper, an HB pencil, a 7B pencil, an eraser, and a smudge tool, and it's all I need.

Dev & I did a lot of what we call 'adventuring' this summer, we went to places that are not easy to sail to. We had not planned on it, but the conditions were right and so we went. We sailed to Princess Louisa Inlet for the first time, an anchorage that is tucked deep into mountains, it's the most inland we've been with our boat on this coast. That place has amazing forests, waterfalls, and precipitous cliffs.

Our trip there would have been perfect if it hadn't been for all of the large motor yachts running their engines in the inlet during the day. There's never a good time to run an engine in a beautiful and quiet place...

We've said 'I wish they'd stop running their engines' many times this year. This coast is home to many moneyed retirees(Americans and Canadians) who buy giant boats equipped with systems that require the constant use of a generator. For a lot of boats, independence from a dock means a dependence on fossil fuels. Sailing in the Salish Sea last summer was more pleasant because borders opened late in the season, we only had Canadian mega yachts to deal with, but this year we saw a constant parade of wealth. On land, people show status by having the biggest house, or the greenest lawn, on the water it means having the biggest possible motor boat, equipped with the biggest possible outboard motor. These boats occupy a lot of space, and make a lot of noise(sound travels on the water...).

At one point, I dared to imagine us contentedly spending our lives in this part of the country, but our experience this summer has dispelled that dream. These waters must have been pleasant back when motor boats were low-profile, wooden Monks, motor boats that cruise at a maximum of 6 knots. The Salish Sea is now the playground of the aging rich, to whom frugality is a foreign and undesirable concept.

This year didn't start well for me, I had a big fight with a sibling. They live on the east coast(my whole family is there), and me being away since 2012 has only soured our relationship. I went home in September, the last time I was there was in November 2021. I'm happy to say that we had a long conversation and things are now good between us, but me being away is still a problem. To build a good relationship I have to be there more. Being in Canada doesn't help because this country is big, traveling from BC to home in Quebec is long and costly(and we don't like to fly). Those who live in Canada know that traveling by train isn't an option, it's obscenely expensive. Trains here are for tourists, or for merchandise.

Devine & I would like to sail to far away places again, but I find it difficult to do knowing that my family misses me, and wishes that I was around more. I mentioned my sibling wishing for me to be around, well... that same feeling is echoed in the things my parents say to me. I love them, we get along, and I want to be there, but I also want to live on my boat. Living on Pino brings out the best in me. I love being subject to wind and tide, I adore being close to sea birds and wildlife. My heart... is in pieces, I feel like I'm constantly being pulled in different directions. Devine & I are now thinking of bringing the boat to the east coast, but then it would mean leaving the little floating community we've built here in BC for the past 4 years. I know that I can't be everywhere with everyone all the time, and I guess that means I will always be a bit sad. I don't know what we're going to do yet, it looks like this sadness will continue to weigh on my heart and mind for a little longer...

After coming back from visiting family in September, Devine & I pushed hard to finish corrections on wiktopher. On November 25th we finished the work, and the book was released. Many of the characters and ideas featured in this story date back to 2007, but I started fleshing it out when anchored in French Polynesia in 2017, back when Dev & I were circumnavigating the Pacific Ocean. I remember being afraid that this was a project that I would never finish, because building worlds takes a long long time and writing a book casts the rules of that world in stone-it's a scary thing to do, but at some point it needs to be done. I hope that I'll get to that point with hakum and mindbird someday.

I need to have stories and characters to be happy, I think I'll always have characters on the back burner, waiting to be finessed into a workable story.

This year I got better at not comparing my creative output to that of others. I've always known how to do it, but it is strange how even if I was armed with the knowledge to make my brain healthy, I couldn't internalize it. What changed? I found projects that bring me joy, and I made time to work on them, a little bit every day. In the past I felt guilty when indulging into a project that made me happy, one with no promise of remuneration, but my paid work was suffering because I wasn't doing what I really wanted to do.

My attachment to my personal projects is now so strong that nothing can snuff out that joy. It doesn't mean I have stopped having bad thoughts, but I am able to stop myself before I start spiraling. I realized that if I keep comparing myself I'll always lose, because there's always someone doing better, doing more. When explained that way, comparing myself to others just seems pointless, a recipe for sadness. I don't want to be the best of the best, I want to be happy. Besides, I know that even if I were to become the best artist in the world, I'd find a way to feel about my work and it wouldn't really feel like a victory(and I'd feel worse for it).

I am learning to measure my accomplishments by how good they make me feel, not by how well they'll be received. What others are doing ought not to impact my own happiness, what matters is what I like. Kid Rek used to be happy drawing alone in their room, filling sketchbooks that no one else would ever see, and that was ok, it was enough. I was able to find that feeling again, and now I am determined to never let it go.

I've written past yearly reviews mentioning that 'nothing that I do is ever enough', that even when I've done something great, that I'd praise others for, the goalpost has already moved out of reach, and the monster returns. As mentioned before, it doesn't matter how better I get, I'll never be happy unless I adjust my thinking. It is the same in regards to my body weight. My weight is fine now, but there was a time when it wasn't and I became very light. Even then, I couldn't see myself as light, my brain was still stuck in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction, the monster had moved the goalpost out of my reach again. There's no point in bettering your body, your hand, or your eye, if your brain doesn't get the same attention.

I can now recognize the negative self-talk, I think about the kind things I'd say to a friend in such a situation, and I am learning to direct that back towards myself. I've allowed myself to feel bad for too long over things that don't really matter and that I don't really want.

In 2024, I would like to continue improving how I think, about myself and others. I also want to learn how to sew more complex projects(with the new sewing machine Dev & I acquired!). 2023 was both a good and difficult year, but in all I feel pretty good about it.

To end, I'll say that my favorite book of the year was Le Péril Bleu by Maurice Renard and Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. My favorite films watched this year were La Belle Verte, Suzume and The Boy and the Heron.

Resume of the year

2023 reading list

2023 watched movies/series list

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