Friday, November 4, 2011

Two Weeks in the Hole

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, but an interesting one.

I’ve been asked to play guitar in a band that’ll be doing a bunch of shows in the winter and spring. This has kept me busy improving my guitar skills. I hadn’t realized how rusty I’ve become, but it’s all coming back quickly…

Sailing is getting costly. Along with my monthly club fees (I knew this would go all year, it just sucks to pay and not utilize the club for the winter), I had to take a couple more prerequisite courses before my live-aboard one in February. I attained my VHF Marine Radio license (ROC-M), and just signed up for 2 weekends of Coastal Navigation. When I was budgeting for the February Caribbean course, I hadn’t taken into account having to take (and pay for) these other classes. They’ll be handy, and are fun and interesting, but still – more money NOT paying down debts.

Speaking of the sailing club, I missed the awards dinner but won 2 of the 5 awards: I was deemed “Rookie of the Year,” and also won for “Best Timing.” This was due to my boat getting slammed by a really bad squall (I believe the remnants of the tornado that hit Goderitch that day) while down below peeing into a water bottle. Specifically, realizing that I was going to overfill the first bottle and frantically looking for a second one. Looking out the companionway hatch and seeing the black sky, at the same time hearing the crew shouting, pinched that off quickly. Nobody was hurt, and it was an exciting fight to keep the sailboat under control. And apparently nobody else had such unfortunate timing this season. I suppose other contenders might have been the person who wasn’t paying attention while her boat was docking, and stepped off 2’ before reaching the slip. SPLASH.

I’m also ½-way through reading The Pirates of Somalia, by Jay Badahur. Fascinating, it seems to be an honest account of what is happening over there along with it’s causes. Jay is a Canadian journalism student that (without telling his family) made his way to Somalia and lived with pirates and supporters for a few months. While showing both sides of the equation, I still think these pirates should be dealt with in the traditional manner. But that’s my opinion. Anyone looking for a good read to pass the cold winter should pick this up.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Weird Night

I was very angry with a lot of people, and couldn’t understand why. Daily, strangers would set off my temper. Living in a constant state of fury was draining, and somewhere down the line I forgot an important task. I forgot to take my medication.
As the remaining chemicals in my system wore away, I began to question these problems. It turns out that I had forgotten a lot of my past. The people that angered me were in fact angry WITH me. Apparently I went on a killing spree and murdered people they cared about. I had been arrested, charged, and convicted of multiple murders. However, I had been found mentally unstable and not accountable for my actions. Instead of prison, I had been medicated. Along with suppressing the violent urges, I also suppressed the memories of my actions.
As the memories returned, I understood how to fix my life and become happy. It was up to me to force a positive attitude in, while deleting the jpegs in my memory folder.

After dreaming this, I woke up at around 3 o’clock this morning. I wasn’t sure if it was a dream or reality, and was very worried about what I might do. To protect OLK I nearly went to the living room to sleep on the couch. keeping her safely out of harm’s way. I didn’t leave the bed, but also woke up every 30 minutes or so worried about what I might do. I was glad to get up 15 minutes before the alarm clock and head to the shower…

Weird night.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Liar or Fool?

A white, nazi-looking guy from suburban ontario goes to a hockey game. As the only black player on the ice skates towards the net, MiniNazi throw a banana at him.
In court, he says he didn't realize there would be racist overtones.

I think they should give him a week in the penitentiary, just to make sure that those overtones are addressed...

Friday, September 23, 2011

No Rest For The Wicked

What a busy couple of weeks!
OLK and I are trying to move into co-op housing. Unfortunately, before getting on the waiting lists, we have to be interviewed. We can't seem to schedule an interview!
Originally it had been scheduled for Monday Sept 26.

To take my sailing course in the British Virgin Islands in February, I have 2 prerequisites to attain. I have to get my VHF Marine Radio license, and take a Coastal Navigation course. Unfortunately, last Tuesday I discovered that the ONLY VHF course for the rest of the year is NEXT WEEK! Monday, Thursday, and Friday. So I had to book it and bump the interview.

OLK testily agreed to reschedule it, and booked it for Oct 1 (she didn't tell me the date before booking). A Saturday should be safe, right? Wrong. Because of the course taking up my evenings, I had to schedule a work project for that Saturday. So OLK had to call and change it AGAIN. Now they've booked us for the middle of October. I'm not sure if that's because they're booked up until then, or they're just annoyed that we keep changing it. It's frustrating, but we're just too busy to get to it before then anyway.

My upcoming week:
Tonight: Sail
Saturday: Sail (committed months ago, important catch-up stuff for the competitive teams)
Sunday: 1 Year Anniversary (wooooo)
Monday: VHF course
Tuesday: See The Odd Couple with OLK at Soulpepper
Wednesday: Sail (committed ages ago, same as Saturday)
Thursday: VHF course
Friday: VHF course
Saturday: Work
Sunday: Fall over

And hopefully at some point in the next few weeks, i'll have time to demo the new songs that have been bouncing through my head...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Family Man

I spent the past weekend visiting my family.
I arrived at their house around noon, and as soon as I got there my Dad and sisters rushed out for a few hours. At first I was annoyed, but then realized that they had been looking forward to an afternoon without having to babysit my mum. Then I realized my role for the weekend, grabbed a book and went upstairs to read beside her.

She occasionally asked me questions: "What is your girls name? Do you want to get married? Does SHE want to get married?" It was worthwhile being there, for her as well as me. It was nice to look up every once in a while and see her watching me and smiling. On the Sunday, my brother and I were both keeping her company. She was so excited, grinning and exclaiming "MY BOYS! MY BOYS ARE HERE!"

Also, my brother and father needed a break. One of them is always home with her, and they both valued being able to go out for a few hours without having to juggle their schedules or compromise. I need to visit more often, to take my share of the load. Besides, it's a good time to get some reading logged.

The visit also reminded me how important family is. My dad is showing more devotion and patience than I've ever seen. It's really endearing. And when OLK and I are old and decrepit, I hope we can show this level of support to each other. For all the time that spouses take each other for granted, or forget all the unseen acts of kindness, it's important to remember that you're there for each other.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Reinforced Goal

I spent the entire weekend sailing. Saturday was fun, 3' waves, hot sun, and a warm breeze.
But Sunday was THE day. Two of us sailed out to Ashbridges Bay, about a mile from the shore. We cleated the sails and tiller to keep the boat floating and not anchored (way too deep), but stationary. It's technically called "heaving to." This was the first time I'd performed the maneuver, and I was actually quite excited to see if it would work. It worked perfectly. We sat and chatted, eating a huge homemade lunch. After that, we just laid on the deck for 30 minutes or so, soaking up the sun and enjoying the quiet.
There were a couple of boats on the horizon, and the only sound we heard was the small waves lapping at the yacht's hull as they rocked us almost to sleep. PERFECT.

I really want to find a way to do this every day. All I need is around a million dollars. Or $200,000 and a low-paying internet-based job.

Friday, September 9, 2011


I haven't visited my family since May. It's been for a few reasons. OLK has been busy, and I know she wants to join me - she likes them too. I've been busy, sailing, working, and just enjoying my summer.
And also because it's uncomfortable to see my mother in her current state. I think she occasionally recognizes us, but often doesn't appear to. She keeps that smile on her face that I know she uses when she thinks she's supposed to know someone she doesn't. It's hard to see that.

But I've decided to spend the weekend after next with them. OLK can't come, it'll just be me, but it needs to be done. I'll take a couple of books and just sit beside her, so if she looks up she might see her son. And I'm NOT looking forward to it…

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sociopath In The Making

Everyone complains about their job. But mine seems progressively worse and more disturbing.
I worry that I'm becoming something of a sociopath.

Last week, one of my coworkers died. I've known her for nearly a decade. And I really don't care. I wish I did, and it worries me that I don't, but to be completely honest, I don't.  I'm not going to her funeral because I don't feel like putting on a tie and blazer to sit in a church for an hour.
This morning, after having 2 arguments in my first half-hour of work, I fantasized about a plane ramming into my office floor. If everyone onsite right now disappeared, I have a feeling I'd be most upset about my personal effects.
I've also started mumbling racist epithets when people annoy me.  I don't believe in any sort of segregation or superiority, race has always been irrelevant to me.  But i'm using these words (quietly) simply for their "hurt value."  It's getting harder and harder to stop myself, and i'm only thankful that nobody has heard them yet.

I don't like what's happening here, but don't know how to reverse it without just quitting. And I can't afford to do that...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Twiggy Crap Sex

Seven men in Whitby, Ontario were charged with having sex in a park. In a couple of days, I expect to see some sort of "discrimination" complaint against the police, and that's not right.

Illicit park-sex was a significant part of gay culture. Back when you could be jailed for your orientation, some gay men would marry women, live "the straight life," and sneak off to the playground to … well… to play. I can't imagine how hard a life that would have to be, to hide such an intrinsic part of ones self. But that's for a generation (or two) before mine.
In 2011, in Southern Ontario especially, there is no excuse for this. Get a hotel room and do whatever you like. Go to a bathhouse for $10. Whatever. There's no reason to still roll around in the twigs and dog crap. And don't forget to remove your used condoms if you do, because chances are the leftovers are what caused the complaints in the first place!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Opposing Forces

When I'm out sailing, I feel fantastic. There's an old saying that "a bad day on the water is better than a good day on land." And from what I've seen, I believe it. I'm picking up the sport quite quickly, and excelling by most accounts. I'm excited when fighting strong winds and big waves, and I'm relaxed when becalmed. So far I haven't experienced fear, but I'm sure it's on it's way. And it is a challenge that I'm somewhat looking forward to.

This weekend, I picked up my guitar and wrote a new song. I probably played it for 8-10 hours non-stop, developing and building the track. And I was elated. I loved every minute of the process - the inspiration, the creation, the mistakes and back-tracking…

Then I find myself back in my office. Biting my tongue, going for walks to calm my anger. At most 20% of my coworkers are worthy of any respect. The rest are useless dolts that are a drain on society. In my humble opinion. I actually hate these people.  Unfortunately, quite a few of the dolts are higher up the food-chain than I and can (and do) put me in stupid, frustrating, pointless positions. I'm looking for a new job, but until I find that I loathe half of my life at the moment.

As the days get worse while the evenings and weekends get better, I'm really noticing the disparity between the two. I really wish I could find a compromise, or a way to work my loves into a reasonable income...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

So Hard

It's hard not to drink when you spend your day surrounded by those you loathe.

It's also hard not to hit or kick them, or simply quit and walk out into unemployment...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dry Day Ten

It's been ten days since I had a drink.
For the most part, it's been pretty good. I'm still hanging around drinkers, and even mixing a few for other people. Just none for me.
But 5 or 6 times a day, I still think "goddammit, I need a drink."  The hot weather isn't helping - i pass so many patios on my way home each night...

It's not like when I quit smoking four years ago - at that point, I contemplated tearing off someone arm to suck the nicotine from their fingers. But I'm still craving an ice cold beer, or a G&T, or a gimlet, or even a glass of scotch (and I'm not a whisky drinker).  So far it's water, Pepsi, and i may start on Sprite soon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I quit drinking four days ago.
When I was a teenager, my father told me that I could do whatever I wanted in the evening as long as I still got up and did what needed to be done the next day. And I've always gone by that logic - as long as your responsibilities are covered, you're free to do what you like. And this weekend that failed. After getting abominably drunk on Friday night, I was too hungover to go to a friend's birthday on Saturday. That was the first time I've had to shirk my responsibilities because of booze. And it will be the last.

I've had some good support from the friends I've told. A couple had worries about my drinking, but didn't know how to address it. Only one has said "nah, you're not an alcoholic, you just need to cut down a little." And she's an alkie too, but hasn't accepted it.

Monday night OLK and I went to the theatre. Unfortunately it's right across from the Mill Street Brewery. It was a humid summery evening as we sat across the street from the brewery patio, OLK eating her gelato and me eyeing the full pitchers of ice-cold deliciousness… I admit, that was tougher than I had thought.

The sailing club last night was expected to be a tough experience. How do you compete with $2 beers and friendly companions? They were really accommodating, with only one person winking and saying "I can't even buy you ONE glass of wine? Even wine?" And I think she was joking. I drank 4 or 5 bottles of water instead of beer. And peed more than any other evening I can remember. But I didn't drink. The next couple of weeks will be tough, as there are sailing adventures with liquor-related completions, but I'm sure I'll get through.

This is NOTHING compared to quitting cigarettes, and that was over 4 years ago.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


I don't know if i've mentioned it, but my sailing club has extremely cheap beer.  It's actually cheaper to drink there than at home.  And since I'm at the club at least three nights a week, I'm drinking a lot.  A lot.
Last night was another drunkfest.  At around 3am, I went to the club bathroom and threw up all over the place.  For the next hour, friends force-fed me water inbetween my delving into the bathroom with a mop and bucket.  Then I got a cab home.
Once or twice a year, I get this drunk.  I embarass myself terribly, usually puke everywhere, and then decide to stop drinking until I get the volume under control. 
Then I start again, and the cycle restarts.  I drink cautiously for a couple of months.  Then I drink like a man who likes his booze.  Then I hit Hollywood-style.

I've looked it up online, and binge-drinking is definitely a form of alcoholism.  I don't need booze every day, but when I have it I have too much.  So I guess I'm an alcoholic.

And I'm about to stop.  I don't want OLK worrying about me like she has for the last few months.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Nurse, by Wm. Shakespeare

Last night I went to Brampton to see OLK play Nurse in Romeo & Juliet.

I hate Brampton. I had to leave work and go straight to the commuter train - the same train that I took when I lived in BF-Nowhere with the Ex-Wife. The train was 20 minutes late, as usual, and this meant that it was "squished standing room only" for the hour-long ride. It was disconcerting to see commuters that I recognized from 5 years ago, sitting in the same seats, talking with the same people, probably about the same crap. Kinda like this blog…

When I got to Brampton, I had to quickly find a place to eat dinner in an unfamiliar town that has an obese populace but relatively few restaurants. I found a pub, wolfed down a 1/2 pint and BLD, and rushed back to the concrete park where the performance was about to start. It was outdoors, so I happily lit up a cigar and prepared to relax. 2 minutes later, an announcement was broadcast asking people not to smoke. I was not about to throw away my $10 cigar, so I simply moved away from the crowd. The ushers kept giving me dirty looks, but I think my tattoos kept them from actually confronting me.
The play itself was great. The actors were all quite good, but the atmosphere wasn't appropriate for live performance. Along with a sound engineer that didn't bother to activate the actors' microphones until they were in their 2nd or 3rd line of the scene, there was music blasting out of the pub near the stage. And lots of old people and children that didn't have the respect enough to sit quietly through a performance.

Still, it was nice to have an evening with OLK, and it's always a pleasure to see her act.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Civic Holiday Weekend

I just returned from a fantastic long weekend.

Two good friends of mine have a trailer at a campground, and I joined them for 3 days.

Friday afternoon, J and I drove up to the site, stopping for a disgusting lunch at Dairy Queen. I felt squidgy for a few hours, J's stomach problems lasted for 2 days.
We got to the trailer, grabbed a handful of beers and headed for the pool. It was a quiet night, early to bed.
Saturday was spent either reading in the shade, or swimming again. Saturday night we all headed to bed early again. J and I are usually the rowdy ones, but neither of us felt up to an evening of debauchery.
Sunday morning OLK drove up to spend the rest of the weekend with us. It was great to see her, and she even arrived early enough to enjoy the breakfast we set aside for her. More swimming, reading, and chatting with so many friends. As the afternoon wore on, we pulled out the 100-proof vodka for VODKA SLUSHIES! They went down fast and easy in the hot sun, and we got drunk quickly.
Monday was disappointing - we just packed up and headed home. OLK for a rehearsal, and me for pizza and TV.

A very good weekend.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Weekend Update

Sorry, it's been a couple of weeks since I dropped in.

Life is good, if busy. If I'm not working, I'm sailing. If I'm not sailing, I'm working. That's life this summer. I'm trying to log as many hours as possible, as each hour on the water makes it a safer sport. I'm still learning new tricks almost every time. Besides, I won't be able to do this in the winter, so I'm packing in as much outdoor time as possible.
One point of contention is that OLK and I are spending very little time together these days. We're blessed with benefits. She's busy with acting roles, and booked most evenings that I'm home. Unfortunately neither of our schedules are flexible, so it'll have to stay this way for a bit.

Having said that, I could have done better this weekend. I went for my usual Friday night sail from 6 to 9pm. At nine, we brought the boat back in and opened a few bottles of beer. At 4:30am the last 5 of us decided to leave the club and head home! Plastered. OLK woke me up a few hours later when she was leaving for work, to let me know that she was mad. If she'd woke up at 4am and noticed that I wasn't home, she apparently would have phoned the police, worried.
Later that morning, I woke up and went back to the sailing club for a social event. Only half of the previous night's endeavor were able to get out of bed. Unfortunately, the event organizers were in the "stay in bed" crowd. We had a great time anyway, but got home before midnight.

It's way too easy to drink at this place. Friendly people, and a neverending supply of beer means I often stay for "1 more." I'm going to try to abstain on the weeknights, as I agree that it's getting to be too much. Working out at the gym is getting harder again, and I'm going to start looking my age soon.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Last night, one person in Canada won the $40million lottery. I have a ticket in my wallet, and haven't checked it yet.
If I win, OLK gets a house, I get a yacht, and we both get to quit our day jobs to follow artistic pursuits. We both get to tell a few people where to go (and how to get there).
I know I didn't win, but for now my fantasy is one step closer to reality. That dream of sitting at the bow of my 37' Tartan sailboat, strumming my guitar while smoking a Cohiba, reflecting on the 4-5 day sail I just did down to Bonaire.

After spending some time in Fantasyland, I'll close down my fantasy and check my numbers later this morning. It may be a 20,000,000:1 chance, but there still the '1'...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Biggest Losers

Tuesday night was spent racing at the sailing club. It was really windy, so we put on a small foresail and reefed down our main (to make it smaller too).
All eight boats ran along the starting line, and when the horn went off we were at the head of the pack. The wind blew our hair back, the waves splashed against the hull, we were speeding through the harbour.
About 10 seconds later, a 2' rip appeared in our mainsail. It turns out that the reefing line wasn't reinforced (cheap sail), and the force of the wind pulled it through the fabric. Our night of racing ended immediately.

Wednesday night was also spent racing at the sailing club. This time, we didn't hear the 5-minute warning horn, and thus weren't ready when the starting horn went off. Still, we headed up the course and had caught up to the pack at the turning buoy. Unfortunately we hit some bad wind and wandered aimlessly for around 5 minutes while watching all the other boats escape. Finally back on track and with power, we bumped into the buoy. This meant that we had to circle around it before getting back on track. While circling, we hit the bad wind again.
We were so far behind the pack that when we were 1/2 finished, the commodore (ref) thought we were finishing and rated us 3rd place! Unfortunately this meant that we were only 3/4 finished the first race when he started the second.
Again, we managed to find some good wind and sped back up to the rest of the pack. We didn’t finish last on that second race, which was quite an accomplishment considering we started quite far behind everyone else.

This was not an ideal week for sailing. Still, I'm discovering the truth in an old saying: A bad day sailing is better than a good day in the office.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Holiday Schedule

Sorry, I forgot I had a blog.

I took last week off work, desperate for a break.  I spent the first weekend helping a friend move, the last weekend celebrating OLK's birthday, and the week in between following a strict regime:

Wake up.
Lounge around for the morning watching Sons Of Anarchy.
Have breakfast at noon and work on music for a few hours.
Have lunch around 4pm, then go sailing.
Get stinking drunk at the sailing club, and head home just before the subway closes.

It was a good week.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


You're coming across the pond in October. And I see that you've got four days off between New York and Cleveland. Will there be a Toronto detour on this tour?

I'm watching you, Mr. Ferry...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Family Update

Yesterday I called my dad to wish him a happy Father's Day.

My brother answered the phone, and we chatted for a few minutes. Surprisingly, he then handed the phone to my mum. She sounded really healthy, happy, and lucid. She asked how I was doing, what I was doing, and how OLK's acting career was going (awesome, she'll be playing Mrs.Crazy on a TV near you quite soon). Within a few minutes, her hearing started to slip. Another minute later and she started advising me that if I had anything important to say that I should tell my brother and he'd write it down for her. She repeated the suggestion 5 or 6 times within as many minutes. Then, thankfully, she put my dad on the line.
After a short conversation with him, my mum shouted that she urgently needed to talk to me. Back on the line, she told me to prepare for some bad news: "Your brother is dead. He passed away yesterday."

I could hear him in the background saying "I'm not dead - I'm right here!" Then she got confused, wondering who had died. I tried suggesting that perhaps she got my brother mixed up with Clarence Clemons, but my joke really didn't help. Then she laughed uncomfortably, and cackled "Sorry, your mother is going crazy."

I was glad to end that phone call.
I've read that one of the most painful aspects of Dementia is that the victim shows signs of lucidity and improvement. This gets your hopes up right before they come crashing down again. Still, at least I got a few minutes with her...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Racing, But Not

Racing last night was a little anti-climactic. It was my first time as a member of the new crew, and I was determined to not let the side down. I had to pull the main halyard to the point where my right arm is aching badly and I'm popping T2s like candy.
This is a 'low-end' club, and not all the boats are equal. To make it fair, the sailboats are rotate between teams each week. This was our week on the crap boat. Our goal for the night was not to come in last. And in that we succeeded - first race had us in 2nd Last Place.
Our second race got cancelled midway through, when the wind completely disappeared for over 30 minutes. It was demoralizing, but again we weren't (quite) at the back of the pack.

It wasn't racing, so much as floating with an intended destination...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I have been sailing for 6 weeks now.

I have nipped off the tip of my thumb in a cam cleat.
I have slipped (thanks to a bad helmsman) and landed on a winch that left a 4'-diameter black circle on my thigh for 3 weeks.
I have jammed something metal under my thumb. It came out, but bled like a m***erf***er.
I have been hit in the head by the boom at least 8 times. Last night, something echoed. Unsure if it was the boom or my skull.

Still, I'm getting quite good. I've been asked to join a competetive racing team, and have my first race tonight. I'm at "the club" 2 or 3 nights a week, and enjoying the members, the sailing, and the $2 beers… (hic).

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Marriage #1. Day 256. 
February 28, 2007. Evening. Nowhere, Ontario.
Wife and I are shouting at each other. I'm so angry that I'm sitting on my hands, uncomforable with my urges as I look at that ugly mouth. That sneer curled with hate and anger, shouting and insulting. I picture putting my fist through it, and that scares me.
Instead, I slide off my wedding ring, slam it down on the table, and shout "Shut the f**k up, it's done." I had realized that the marriage counselling wasn't working, the wife wasn't trying, and I was about to hit a woman for the first time in my life. So I dropped the bomb. Dead silence followed.
I stood up, walked out to the garage for a cigarette, and enjoyed the quiet.

Marriage #2. Day 256. 
June 8, 2011. Evening. Toronto, Ontario.
Wife and I are walking home from her play. I'm so proud of her. In the last 3 days, her and a writing partner have written, directed, and performed a 10-minute clown skit. We're walking down King St in the summer heat, holding hands and discussing where one's clown originates, and critiquing the other performances that night.
In this relationship, we haven't had a fight with 10% of the fury involved with the dozens in Marriage#1.

This is what a marriage is supposed to be.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Goodbye Sir

Jack Kevorkian passed away today. Whether one believes in his ideals or not, it takes courage and conviction to stick to your guns on the issue of assisted suicide. Especially as a physician.
And for the record, I agree with his intent (surprise surprise). If I'm ever at the point of a terminal, painful, illness, end me.

What a morbid week.  My last 2 posts promoting death... wow.  I'm glad it's sunny out today!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Vengeance Is Mine, Sayeth Dickeybird

Luis Estrada-Lemmon raped Michael Struc's family member.
Michael killed Luis in response.
Michael was arrested, and was just sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 10 years.

Michael, I respect what you did. If I ever end up in your circumstances (god forbid), I hope to have the courage to stick up for your loved ones as you did.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Adventures At Sea.

Yesterday morning I headed down to the Sailing Club to write my tests.
I like how casual this place is - halfway through the second test, an instructor walked in to see how i was doing.  I told him i was doing fine, and planned to go sailing afterwards.  We chatted for a few minutes, and then he left and I finished the tests.  Aced them.
After lunch, a friend and I took one of the J24s out with the plan to sail a loop around the Toronto Islands.  We got out the Western Gap, and floated for a while under the flight paths of the landing planes at Billy Bishop Airport.  After that we headed south to get some room away from the islands and enjoy the giant waves (and cigars).  We tried to sail east past the islands, but this was exactly where the wind was coming from.  Given that we had also dillydallied too long, we gave up and just sailed back in through the Western Gap. 
The Western Gap should be renamed The Western Tinyroutetosqueezeintotheharbour.  With the wind blowing hard on our nose, we had to zig-zag (tack) every 2 minutes to make it through.  This took 20-25 minutes.  Unfortunately, there's also an Airport Ferry that races the 100ft channel every few minutes.  I was just approaching the ferry terminal, and was thinking "all we need is for it to stay docked for one more minute, and we're good."  Of course, this is when the jerk decided to blow his horn and barge (no pun intended) right into my path.  I swerved the boat quickly and de-powered it.  We floated randomly for a bit, waiting for the ferry to pass, and then restarted our impatient zig-zag.  I was getting impatient and thought about starting the engine and DRIVING in, but my friend pointed out that this would be a failure.  So we sailed the whole way in.
FINALLY we got into the inner harbour, took down the sails, started the engine, and headed into the marina.  This is when we saw the TV crew on the dock, interviewing someone.
We watched the cameraman point his camera at us, and record us coming into port.  Did i mention that this was the first time I'd sailed a J24 and was worried about the momentum it held as it slid towards the dock.  The added pressure of a TV crew was not welcome.
Of course, we were going turtle-slow and pulled in so smoothly that we looked like seasoned professionals.  Threw the lines around the cleats, closed the sailboat, and headed into the club for a handful of beers to reward ourselves.

I got home around 7:30 last night, quite drunk and over-sunned, and went straight to bed.  Apparently so did my friend.

A very good day, and i can't wait to do it again.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Temporary Escape

I booked this week off work.
Friday afternoon, i headed to a friend's trailer park for the long weekend.  There, we spent our time drinking, eating, building decks, and generally having a great time.  It was tough to return on Monday.
Tuesday I worked on music, and now have my new album half mixed.  Then I went down to my sailing club for a casual race.  I spent 2 hours pulling jib sheets as hard as I could, often not able to pull as hard as the skipper wanted.  Yesterday I realized that although I had the lines wrapped around the winch for relief, I wasn't actually turning the winch!  D'oh.!  I won't make that mistake again.
Yesterday I had a quiet morning, and then walked downtown for my singing lesson.  Then, back home to study for today's test.
Today I'll be writing my Basic Cruising Standard.  It's expected to take 2 hours.  Some of it will be complicated, and some will be simple.  From the study guide:
What indicates that fog is on the way?  A fog bank closing in.
"A buoyant heaving line must be able to float...." Ummm, isn't that what makes it BUOYANT???
There were lots of intelligent stuff, but i'm generally focussed on the silly.
After writing the test, a friend and I will be taking a boat out for a sail around the Toronto Islands.  It's too foggy to ogle the nudists at Hanlan's Point, but we're hoping the rain will hold off long enough to enjoy a cigar during the slow downwind (eastward) run.  Then we'll be getting drunk in the clubhouse.
Tomorrow I'm planning on more mixing.  I really want to get a solid preliminary mix of the remaining songs before we leave the city for the weekend.
Saturday we go to Kingston for a "cousinfest" with OLK's family.  They have 7 or 8 cousins within a 5-year age gap, so they all get together with spouses a couple of times a year.
Then Sunday we'll be visiting my family for the afternoon.  I'm not sure how that will go.  Along with my mum's dementia, my aunt is over visiting from England.  This is the aunt who kicked me out of her house on New Year's Eve when I was visiting, causing me to book a costly hotel for the week after.  We didn't speak for 2 years, and have been civilly emailing each other with concerns about my parents.  OLK is curious to meet her, but i'm a little wary.
Then, Monday I'll be back slaving for a wage.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Free Time

I'm starting to have free time, and don’t know how to deal with it. I was thinking the other day, about how busy I keep myself.

When I moved to Toronto, I was getting used to a new city. I eventually got a midnight-shift job which took most of my time and energy. Any spare time I had was spent partying.
In 1999, I worked the day shift at a gas station and played in a band. Those both ended at the same time, so I took a corporate day job and spent my evenings apprenticing as a tattooist and volunteering at a youth-support phone line.
When the tattooing ended, I joined a band that took every spare minute I had. Days, evenings, weekends, whatever.
When the music ended, I was dating polyamorously. Often going out on many dates a week, I always kept Wednesday aside for laundry. That lasted for a couple of years.  Then i realized that I wanted to be monogamous and found a long-term girlfriend.  That time involved lots of drinking, arguements, and generally causing trouble.  That went on until I met my first wife, and I moved to Georgetown to live with her.
Upon my return from Georgetown a couple of years later, I immediately started night school. That just ended.

There has been VERY LITTLE spare time in my life. And I think I'm scared of it.
I grew up in a very small town, quite isolated. I was bored and became very self-destructive because of that. I was suicidally depressed, with no visible opportunities in my life. My hand, arms, and shoulders still bear the scars of growing up lonely. 
When I moved to Georgetown, the same feeling set in. Isolated, alone, bored, with no visible opportunity. To (quite literally) save my life, I left my wife and moved home to the city.
Now I have a 9-5 job, and no formal responsibilities for my evenings. My singing lessons vary, happening on random evenings once a week. I've got my second weekend of sailing, and then hopefully crewing once or twice a week.

God only knows what will happen with downtime, and I'm apprehensive to find out...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ahoy Mateys!

This weekend I started my Basic Cruising sailing course. And I LOVED it!
Saturday and Sunday were around 9 hours each, with a very quick lunch (nobody wanted to wait, and hurried back to the yachts). The classes were supposed to finish at 5pm, but went until around 6. It was nice, it showed that the instructors were enjoying themselves and not just watching the clock tick away. Also funny was the sea-legs that came quickly. We all swaggered for a few minutes after getting back to land, as we were used to the rocking of the sailboats!

There were a couple of downsides, notably 2 of the 4 people assigned to my yacht. This couple talked on their phones throughout the in-class sections, or mumbled with each other instead of paying attention. When we got into the boats, the wife kept looking in the opposite direction to where she was steering, nearly ran into both the dock and a huge ferry (both at around 3mph), and would move to the sunny-side of the cockpit and ignore her duties! I'm actually a bit worried about next Sunday's test, when we have to be in the boat together but without the instructor. At least if she crashes the yacht we won't be in the lake for long.

I'm enjoying it enough that I'm looking into a membership at this club. For less than the monthly fee for my gym, I can rent their 20'-24' boats for free, race a couple of nights a week (learning more than this 4-day course), and drink cheap beer in their quay-side clubhouse.

B.O.A.T. = Bring Out Another Thousand
And I believe it. $500 for a 4-day course, and I'm ready to funnel my savings and future earnings into a sailboat. Sell the house, sell the children, sell the watches. Buy the boat.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

Last Friday I tried to buy a Mother's Day card for my mum.
There were 'joke cards', about my letting her still do my laundry. There were sentimental cards. There were bland cards. There were no cards that seemed right.

I didn't buy her one. I doubt she noticed, and if she did she probably doesn't remember.  But I DO feel a bit guilty for not sending anything.

On a similar note, when I phoned on Easter Sunday, my dad handed her the phone. She aske "Who's this?" She didn't believe it was me. She kept asking how I was doing, but I had to answer in the third person. It was sweet, she was really interested to know how I was doing.  Weird...

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Luxury of Wealth

I'm a member of a very expensive gym in Toronto's financial district.
I like it because there is a lot of equipment. I like it because it is clean. I like it because it is the only gym close enough that I can go and have a solid workout during my lunch hour.

And yesterday, I discovered another reason I like my expensive gym: I did my workout, and returned to find that I'd left my locker wide open. I had a wallet with around $100 in it, a $1000 watch, a Blackberry, and my wedding ring all sitting in full view at the front of my locker. And for the full 40 minutes I was in the gym, nobody stole anything.

I don't believe it's because wealthier people (the kind that usually use this facility) are more honest. Far from it! But I think it would be less enticing, not worth their time. I'm likely one of the poorest members. Scum. Filth. The tattooed freak with Ministry and The Jesus & Mary Chain blasting from his (outdated) iPod. Not worth stealing his worthless possessions.
And hooray for that.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Last night I bought underwear. I HATE buying underwear.   This is an item that you can't try on in the store, and can't return it due to the hygienic concerns. So once I find a brand/style that I like, I am religiously loyal.

Unfortunately, after spending $75 for 4 pairs last night, I got home to find that they'd changed the design. These are unwearable, and wouldn't fit a 10-year-old boy.

I've emailed the company to try to rectify this, so let's see what happens. Ideally they'll give me a refund. If they brush me off, there'll just be one more business on my boycott list (along with Bell Canada and Joe Bidali's Restaurants).

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wet Wet Weekend

This weekend I start my sailing course at the Toronto Harbourfront Centre.
For the next 2 weekends, I'll learn an incredible amount of stuff (complete list here). I'm quite prepared. I already understand the mechanics of the sport, which sail does what, etc… I have bought and read Sailing For Dummies, The Complete Sailor, and The Sailing Bible (apparently it's good to keep a bible in the house, and this is my preferred version).  I have also decided on the $250,000 yacht I want.

I got a bit of a shock this morning, though. Along with the 3-degree (Celcius) temparature this morning, the weekend is now expected to be cold and rainy. GREEEAAAATTT. That sounds like the perfect environment to be out on Lake Ontario!

Then again, if I enjoy myself this weekend, getting out on the lake in iffy weather shouldn't be a concern later this summer.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Return From Whence You Came

I live 19 floors above the ground.  I have my windows wide open, enjoying the fresh air.
At least I was.

For the last hour, my living room has stank of Indian food.  Specifically poppadoms.  We have no Indian food in the house.  You can't smell it on the balcony, so it's not coming from outside.  You can't smell it in the hallway, so it's not coming from the neighbours.

Weird.  And not a good weird...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Things Seen At Work Today

I was at work today, passing a coworker's cubicle.
Without meaning to, I glanced at his screen   The page looked familiar - it was a forum i used to be a member of.  And i'm pretty sure it was a kinky one.  What he's doing reading it at work i'll never guess.  Iiiinnnnttteeerrrresssssttttiinnnnnng.

Also today at work, I saw a coworker's sailing calendar.  "Oh," I remarked.  "Is that a Tartan?" 
Now I have a regular sailing gig once or twice a week for the summer on my coworker's yacht.  That should be fun, and keep the devil away from my idle hands.

And during a little bit of downtime, I checked my University Website.  My marks have been posted.  I'm done, graduating an A student.  Woooooo.  That and a twoonie will get me a coffee at Starbucks. As long as I don't want a big one or fancy stuff in it.

Not a bad day.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Location, Location, Location

Yesterday I was watching a documentary about World War 2.  They were referring to a man who enlisted in the United States Navy in late 1944.  "He was only 15 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour," they told.  "He tried to enlist but was turned away for being too young.  On his 18th birthday, he returned and joined up."
Quite an admirable ideal, but it really struck home.

My grandfather was either 16 or 17 when Britain declared war on Nazi Germany.  Like the American would 2 years later, he rushed down to the Enlistment Office.  The difference?  My grandfather was told "you're too young.  Walk around the block and come back when you're 18."  He left, walked around the block, and when asked upon his return he said he was eighteen.

The point?  America was thousands of miles away from the threat.  England was within rocket distance.  England didn't have the comfort zone to be picky about who they chose.

I think we should keep that in mind, with all the conflicts going on half a world away.  We're looking at Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention the widespread revolutions going on) from the eyes, values, and security of an incredible distance.  Assigning our morals isn't working.

I'm not trying to say what (or that) we should change, just that we should keep in mind that we're still somewhat outsiders in these situations...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Last Thursday I wrote my last exam for university.  I'm done.  Certified, as opposed to certifiable.  I either did REALLY well, or REALLY badly.  It was suspiciously easy.
Then on Saturday I finished an exhausting project at work.  Lots of hours, lots of chaos, only one problem.  And I stomped the problem down quickly.
Saturday night I went out for a great dinner with OLK and a couple of friends who were also celebrating their anniversary that night.  Steaks, wine, and funny stories... wow.  The shocker, to be honest, was being told that my first wife habitually short-changed our share of the bill at restaurants!  I was mortified to discover that!  For all the issues we had, I never would have thought it.  But apparently she was.

Last night I came home at 5pm, and it felt like i was playing hooky.  Running home at lunchtime...

So much free time now, it's wild.  I feel like I'm floating.  I've got a singing lesson tomorrow, but after that?  Nothing until next week's singing lesson.

Well, time to sign off and put on a StandUp Comedy compilation DVD that Old Lady Katy gave me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Still Here

I will write my last university exam on Thursday night. My final project was submitted last night. On Saturday I'll finish a 6-figure, last-minute, frantic mess of a project at work. Hopefully that night I'll be able to go out for a birthday dinner. And Sunday I will sleep.

I've got a heavier workload than I did last December, when I finished my previous course. But I'm dealing with it much better this time. Then, I was living on coffee and Tylenol 2s (and occasionally 3s). I was barely sleeping and was virtually a zombie.
This time, I'm fine. I'm sleeping well, I'm not having mood swings. It's comfortable to the point where I'm wondering what is missing.
I think the difference is that I've been working out 3 or 4 times a week. I have more energy, expend my frustration in the gym, and don't get as stressed because my day is broken nicely by the gym, sauna, and shower.

Still, I'm pretty tired. But I'm so close…..

And to boot, I think I'll pass the course and graduate even if I fail Thursday's exam. It's a nice, safe, feeling.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bog Life

Sorry for the lack of posting lately.
I'm ramping up to finish my 3-year university endeavor. Considering I also work 40-50 hours per week, this has been a rough schedule and I'm looking forward to a loooonngg summer off.
And at the moment, it seems like my employer is doing everything he can to sabotage me. I've been assigned overtime work one or two evenings a week, as well as big projects over the weekends between now and April 14. They know that I'm bogged down with my current workload and can't handle more. While I don't think it's intentional, it is still in line with the general disrespect I've been given for pursuing a university education…

See you when the light at the end of the tunnel gets close enough to give me a tan.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Howdy Sailor!

Just sit right there and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip...

For some reason, over the last couple of years I've developed a fascination with sailing and long-distance powerboating.
I just signed up for a sailing course. For the first two weekends in May, I'll be spending my days desperately avoiding the sludge splashing up in Toronto Harbour. God knows what's in that water…
And after that, I'll have my PCOC and some experience with the basics of sailing. I've already read "Sailing for Dummies," and am quite sure I qualify. The book went through the mechanics of the sport, along with safety tips, suggestions and ideas.
I'm really looking forward to it. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Higher Learning

Last night was a beautiful, abnormally warm evening. I had an hour and a half between finishing work and starting my night-school class. It was a great opportunity to buy a fancy cigar, a large coffee, and peoplewatch for an hour. Since OLK won't let me smoke them indoors, now that it's starting to warm up I'm enjoying them while I can.  Unfortunately I didn't see the group of drunk university girls flashing passersby, just around the corner out of my sightline...

I also ran into an old professor while having my smoke, and we chatted for 15 or 20 minutes about our jobs, Project Management, and he even apologized for arguing with me in class one day.  We'd had a large (public) disagreement, and in the students the following year, someone else had disagreed like I did.  The prof then realized that he'd been wrong, and cited me as an example of a Project Manager that stands up for what he thinks he knows even when it conflicts with "the authority."  It was strange and unexpected, but reassuring.
Class was interesting: we had to submit our take-home midterm exam. Out of the four classmates who compared our exams before handing them in, I seem to be the only person who did it correctly. And I DO believe I did it correctly…
For the next month, I will be bogged down with the large class project before writing the final exam April 14. That will be my last day as a university student. For now.

I won't be resting on my heels though. Next week I'll be signing up for May sailing lessons at the Toronto Harbourfront Centre. Once I complete the first-level course, I've been invited to a weekly sail on a co-worker's boat. That should keep me interested and occupied through the summer.

Also, I've been taking singing lessons for the last ten months. Unfortunately this will also come to an end in the next few months as my teacher is moving out of the city in the summer.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Athletic Support

At the gym, many people wear flip-flops in the steam room, sauna, and showers. Apparently this protects you from Athlete's Foot.
Today, after working out, I headed to the steam room with a towel wrapped around me. Two other men arrived (separately) not long after, both buck naked except for their flip-flops.  They sat down for a good long sweat.
If you're worried about your feet picking up a disease, wouldn't you be a bit more concerned about slapping your sweaty genitalia on the tile seats???

ed.note:  Let's see how many hits I get from dirty perverts searching "sweaty genitalia."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Sorry I haven't had a chance to write much this week. Not a lot has happened.
I've been working on my take-home Mid-term exam for university. And that's really about it.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see my parents. I was worried about my mum, not really trusting the assessments my brother emails me about her health. He sees things differently than I.
She's happy. That's the main thing. The last time I saw her she was in the hospital, begging relentlessly to be taken home. She'd forget that she had just asked, and ask again. So now she's home and surrounded by familiar places and faces. Unfortunately her mind is pretty much gone at this point. On Friday night, she spent a couple of hours singing the theme to The Beverly Hillbillies. Emphatically, and every time she got to "next thing you know ole Jed's a millionaire" she'd raise her hand and point at one of us. When I left for the evening, she looked at me and asked if I was coming back tomorrow. Saturday she didn't talk, just reread the same magazine all day, occasionally peering over the top to smile at me. When I left to come home, I told her I was leaving. "Yes" was all she replied. She didn't even look up.
So my mother, as I know her, has gone I think. But at least she's happy, in some sort of 'pleasant Groundhog Day'.
I left reassured that she's getting the care she needs, and isn't suffering.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bad Start

This morning, I got into the elevator at the top of my high-rise apartment building. There was a mother already in there with her son. Her son had pushed EVERY BUTTON between our floor and the lobby. The mother idiotically smiled and shrugged.

When we finally made it to the lobby, the mother decided to teach her son some independence, and had him open the doors while setting up their umbrella. Keeping 4 or 5 of us frustrated and trying to squeeze past these morons.

When I made it to the subway station, a different MoronMom left her stroller blocking ALL THREE turnstiles while she dug through her purse to show the attendant her pass. Again, keeping everyone else from heading to work.

As I came down the stairs to the subway platform, a grey-haired man ahead of me stopped, in my path. Blocking the only way from the staircase to the platform.
I grumbled ‘excuse me’ and pushed past, hoping to not miss my train due to the 3 obstacles so far.

Of course, the subway doors opened to display a nearly empty car. That is, it was displayed over the two teenage boys that were standing in the doorway with their backs to the platform. They hadn’t looked to see if anyone was trying to get on, and didn’t seem to care. At this point, I pushed through angrily, shouting “f***ing MOVE!”
One of them looked at me, puffing out his chest, and confronted me. “What’s YOUR promlem?”
“A***oles like you are allowed to live with the humans,” I shouted. “get the fuck out of the way next time, or somebody might shove you under the f***ing tracks!”

I’m not having a good day.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Weekend Ahead

Two months ago I visited my parents. This was the first time seeing my mum since her dementia kicked in.
At that point, she was halfway through her month-long stay in the hospital. In late January, she was allowed to go home with nurses visiting a few times a day to take care of her.

I haven't been able to visit since, but that's where I'm going this weekend. I normally wait longer than this, but I want to spend more time there if possible. Let them know I care… And I don’t really trust the status updates I get emailed from my family, they're too subjective. Aside from the time it takes out of a busy life, it's pretty expensive to go there often. Car rentals are an expected chunk of change, but hotels are adding up too. I don't want my parents to feel pressured to play host if I sleep at their house.

Last time we stayed there, we were stuck at a $150/night hotel, which is pretty pricey for small-town Ontario. This time I racked my brain to remember the less-fancy hotels in the area. I phoned a few for rates and information, and decided not to stay at any of those run-down dives. I discovered a mid-level Comfort Inn that's more affordable but still clean, so I booked that.

As well as visiting the family Friday night and Saturday day, I'll be spending Saturday night going out with an old friend that I rarely see. The only one-on-one time we've had in the last few years was the morning after my bachelor party, and I miss that. OLK won't be coming with me as she has to work, and i'm sure she could use some time alone or with her friends.  So the two of us will go out barhopping and then I'll be crashing on her sofa (while she's safely tucked away with her husband - don't give me grief).

Sunday I'll simply drive home, before going to dinner and then a standup comedy show that OLK's friend is in.

This should be a productive weekend. Will it reach 'good' status?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Darwinism At It's Best

Apparently Colin Rutherford needed a holiday. So of course, you don't have to go far down the alphabet before discovering Afghanistan as a world tourist mecca.
And now, he's been kidnapped by the Taliban.

I can maybe understand if you're Afghani and have family back home. Maybe. I've never met Colin Rutherford, but I'm going to make an assumption that this isn't Mr. Englishasanamecouldbe's heritage. He went to Afghanistan as a tourist. And now he's in trouble.

The Canadian Government is going to spend a lot of time and money trying to rescue him. The Canadian Military will likely risk soldiers' lives trying to rescue him.
And this fool is responsible for anything and everything that happens to him. I hope there are no losses related to his predicament, that would be unfair to those men and women risking their lives for Queen and Country.

If I was the Canadian Prime Minister, I'd have someone make a phone call to see if the Taliban would be nice enough to let him go. And then I'd close the book on him.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fifteen Years

This month marks the 15th anniversary of my moving to Toronto.

I was living in B-F, Ontario, and I hated it. I had spent a couple of months living in the Annex neighbourhood the year before, and it felt like 'home'. That was a feeling I'd never experienced before, and knew it would keep me from committing suicide in the small town I was trapped in. I would rather have died quickly than spend another year in that hellhole.
Thus, early February 1996, I spent 3 days sleeping on my city friend's sofa while looking for an apartment. I acquired a room in a clean-looking rooming house on Bathurst St, and headed back to town to close out life there. I wrote my last high-school exam to obtain my Grade 12 diploma, had one last dental visit booked to pull my wisdom teeth, and my bags were packed. The day after my teeth were removed, I was in my friend's van headed to a new life in the city. I may have been loaded up on T3's, but the high was due to the excitement of escaping the small town.
Moving to Toronto, I had no job and $3000 in my pocket. Losing $800 of that to rent and deposit, and another $1000 to bartending school, gave me a very short window to find work and catch up. After my second day of school, a week of living in the city, I was walking home and passed a psychotic-looking drunk. Avoiding eye contact, I was surprised when he called my name. It was an old friend from school! I had made another contact in the city! We went for a coffee, and renewed a friendship that would last for quite a few years before Toronto ruined him.
And so went the struggle up to the sunshine. It took a couple of months to find a job, learning to live on $7/week for food, starving in a rat-infested dump (rooming house wasn't as nice as appeared), and one month on welfare (nightmare).
I ended up getting a job working the midnight shift at a gas station. This gave me a steady, if small, paycheque. Then I was able to upgrade to a clean bachelor apartment. Then I switched to a management position at a busier gas station. A little more money, and a better bachelor apartment.
Then, another old friend moved to Toronto and found a job in the mailroom at a large law firm. He got me a position there too. At this time, I was making friends quickly and enjoying city life. With basic art skills and connections, I got a paid apprentice position at a tattoo studio. I quit when the owner and I argued about the 'paid' aspect, but it was due to his failing, crack-addled memory. Then I joined a band and recorded a CD. I was fired from that group after a few months. I joined a new one, made 3 discs with them, played a lot, and quit a few years later.
I made a lot of good friends, lovers, and had many, many, many crazy experiences.
I temped through a few random jobs before getting an entry-level job on Bay St. I got a NICE apartment, and shortly after that I met my first wife. I moved to the 'burbs for a couple of years. I hated it, and disliked her. I left and came HOME. I got an even nicer home, and started going to university at night.
Then I met OLK, she moved in, we got engaged, and married.

Life is great. It's strange to remember how I felt 15 years ago. I was depressed, hated myself and my surroundings. I felt that I had no future, and disliked my past. I didn't want to BE. Now, I'm not depressed. I love my surroundings. Toronto is still 'home'.

I wonder where I'll be in another 15 years?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Healthy Dickey

Well, it’s been a week.
Last Wednesday I set foot in a gym for the first time ever. Each day since then, I have spent my lunch hour running 3 miles, and sitting in the steam room. And I’m not hurting like I had expected.

The showers were a mixed bag. I have never in my life used a communal shower, so it's a litle uncomfortable. In high school, it wasn’t an issue: I spent my Phys Ed classes smoking while playing, and doing as little as possible. In 2 years of that class, I don’t think I broke a sweat once.  The two nights I spent in jail were simple overnighters. No showers (thank christ), just time to sober up and wait for the bruises to fill out.
After 5 days, I’m more or less used to showering publicly. It feels great to go back to the office after lunch, fully refreshed and feeling like the day’s just started. Actually, that’s the biggest benefit to this.

I’m 36 years old.
I started smoking when I was 13, inhaling almost 25 a day for 2 decades, quitting when I was 33 years of age. I started drinking regularly around 15, and am only just slowing down now. I have a social drink, or cigar now, but am avoiding the binges.  But there is a 20-year span of this to account for, and this is probably the best way to do it.
Also, I realized that my dad was less than a decade older than me when he had 2 massive strokes. Heart disease and strokes are in my family like distant aunts and uncles.

I've been going to the gym for a week as a guest. Today I paid for the membership. I’ll have a “fitness assessment” next week, and a couple of $60 personal trainer sessions to show me how to do whatever it is that I need to do.
And then I’m off – 4 days a week, 1 hour a day, Fridays stay free to have a congratulatory cocktail.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pizza and Coke. No, Other Coke!

15 years ago, I worked the midnight shift at a gas station in downtown Toronto.

I spent a good chunk of my paycheque having lunch delivered from the local pizza joint. A run-down place on a quiet side-street, I never knew how they stayed in business. I found them because they were the only pizzaria open until 4am.
From this unusual schedule, I discovered that they had the best pizza in the city! An independent store, with reasonable prices and good food.

This morning, it got busted with more than $1million dollars worth of marijuana, crack, and oxycontin. No wonder the pizza was so good!!! The owner has been charged with trafficking and possession, around 15 charges in total I think.

I miss that pizzaria.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Antigua Escape

Sorry it took a week to write up, but here’s the lowdown on the holiday OLK and I took 2 weeks ago.
Saturday. Saturday was pretty uneventful. A mid-afternoon departure from Toronto got us to Antigua at around 9:30pm. It was interesting to approach the tiny island in the dark, with minimal lighting in the coastal villages. The bus trip from the airport to the resort had me a bit worried – OLK and I were around 30 years younger than the other 4 couples making the trek! I really worried that we had mis-judged the trip, and would be surrounded by fuddy-duddies that were more interested in the local price of the gasoline than the driver’s must-see list of the country. A fast check-in, and we headed down to the bar for a drink and a cigar. Then, an early night.
We had already planned to do nothing on Sunday. We woke early, and had a surprisingly bad breakfast. This resort is the only place on Earth where I have tried the bacon and refused to eat it again. Still, a quick meal and we were off. I wanted to go to the nearby supermarket to replace my sunglasses that broke on the plane. The rest of the day was spent lounging by (and in) the pool and reading. Recuperating. I met a guy from Pickering who was there with his family. We struck up a conversation and he had me intrigued with tales of sailing from The Canary Islands to the Bahamas. We ended up drinking together most evenings at the hotel bar. There was an evening trip to Shirley Heights that was highly recommended, but we didn’t think it was worth $60US to see a picturesque lookout from the middle of a huge crowd of tourists and steel bands. Instead we went to the hotel bar, where they were having a Karaoke Night. An American got up, saying “This is for my ex-wife” and sang Like A Rolling Stone. We all had a good laugh. He sat down next to OLK and I and formed a quick friendship. OLK decided to sing Life On Mars, by David Bowie, but was horrified (and confused) when they started playing a horrible techno/dance remake of the classic glam ballad. She managed to get through the song, but was pretty pissed off that she’d looked so foolish and tasteless. She agreed to sing a duet with the Bitter Dylan Balladeer, but was in the washroom when their song started. I held up the family honour, and ran up to sing with him instead. Awful, drunken noise, but fun.
On Monday, we booked our excursions for the week: a catamaran circumnavigation of the island, and a zip-line adventure. After that, headed into St. John’s, the capital city. It was quite rundown, and we felt somewhat unwelcome there. 45 minutes after arriving and wandering the streets, we decided to give up and head back to the hotel. We parked our bums beside the pool, swam in the Caribbean Sea, and wandered through Jolly Harbour Marina to ogle the yachts and have lunch at the marina bar. Enjoying a super-spicy Caribbean chicken dish, I was attacked by a gecko that leapt onto my shoulder and quickly ran away. Friendly little critter. Then, an afternoon nap before dinner. I spent the evening in the bar again, while OLK had an early night (this was the usual night routine – some guests didn’t believe OLK existed!).
We got up early Tuesday morning to board the huge catamaran to circumnavigate Antigua. We met a couple that were making a pit-stop from their cruise liner on this trip. They were friendly, and also from Southern Ontario. Heading around the northeast coast, we sailed into the Atlantic Ocean hitting giant waves unimpeded since Africa. They were huge, the yacht was rolling heavily, and I LOVED it! When the bows buried into the oncoming waves, the spray would shoot up 20 feet to hit me. Fantastic. We stopped for a couple hours of snorkeling, lunch, and booze. The snorkeling was good, and there was a nearby shipwreck that wouldn’t sink due to the coral reefs. It just sat on the water, begging to be climbed. Unfortunately it was close but inaccessible. After the swim, I sat in the shallow water with a beer and cigar. This left me the last person in the lunch line. Unfortunately they were short ONE food allocation, and I only got a spoonful of rice. And rum. Still, I had a good time. After the yacht tour, we went back to the hotel for dinner, then OLK to our room and me to the bar. Again.
Wednesday was another do-nothing pool day. We swam, drank, tanned, and read.
Thursday morning we went into the jungle for some zip-lining. We had a great time, and it was pretty exciting. After the zips, there was a treetop “adventure tour” which was terrifying at times. Specifically when we had to step off the ledge and drop around 30 feet. There was a safety line, but it was the stepping that was freaky. Jumping would have been fine, but we had to simply walk off the edge. Unnerving. The zip-line adventure tired us out, so we spent the rest of the day lounging and reading by the pool. We had dinner that night at a nice Italian restaurant in the marina next door.
Friday we lounged. We were disappointed to not be able to book the hotel’s ala carte restaurants (they were full) as we were tired of the buffet fare every night. There weren’t many places close to the hotel, so we were pretty much stuck with the bland, disappointing buffed restaurant each dinner.
Saturday I managed to take a quick sailing lesson and whip around the bay on a Hobie Cat. The wind was really gusty, and the watersports staff were considering shutting down. It was lots of fun, and I’m totally hooked on sailing now. I spent an hour nearly capsizing the boat, burying the bows into oncoming waves, and generally misusing the techniques I’d just learned. A few people caught huge gusts of wind and capsized the boats, but I wasn’t one of them. Then, at 6pm, we left to head to the airport. While waiting, I looked through the Duty Free store. They had my favourite Cuban cigars there, but the prices were exactly the same as what we pay in Toronto. The cashier heard my comment, and knocked $15 off the price. Who haggles in Duty Free? The sketchy mofo probably got them for duty-free prices, and then randomly added his extra profit. I didn’t get a receipt either, which made me a little nervous when coming through Canada Customs. Our 8:30 flight was delayed an hour and a half, which meant that we would be leaving after all the Antigua shops closed. With this delay, I was roped into buying an EIGHT DOLLAR (US) small bottle of water!!! Bastards. The flight home was uneventful, we landed in Toronto at around 3am, and arrived at home at 4am. We went straight to bed, exhausted.

Then, life got back to normal too quickly: grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, and work work work.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I'm a busy guy. You can tell because I still haven't been able to write about my holiday…

I work Monday to Friday 9-5(ish). There's also overtime/ evening/ weekend work on top of that.
I have singing lessons on Tuesday evenings.
I go to university on Thursday evenings.
On Sundays, the only time I'm alone, I try to work on my music.
This leaves me 3 evenings and Saturdays for myself. Given that I was told recently that the homework/ classtime ratio should be roughly 3:1, that takes care of my other weekday evenings.

I'm also surprisingly flabby. I've wanted to exercise for a couple of years now. I gained around 30lbs when I quit smoking. Combining that with my taste for beer and a desk-job, I'm in need of some shaping up. A couple of times a year I try to set a workout regimen, but after a couple of weeks I get bogged down with life and drop out. By the time I finish work I'm often tired, hungry and frustrated. Not exactly the best shape to do anything.

A coworker invited me today, to get a membership at a fancy-pants "executive" gym with him. I don't need the fancy, or the inflated costs of a Bay St gym, but the lunchtime schedule might be just what I need. It'll give me an excuse to NOT work for an hour. It'll give me a way to expend frustration in my day. And it'll give me something to do other than head to the pub for a fattening comfort-meal, returning with beer on my breath and gravy on my tie. 
Plus, with us both committing, there's someone to shout "Hey, it's time." Backing out on someone else who expects the company and support makes it much harder to shirk.

Another bonus is that I'll have to go shopping for workout clothes…

To be honest, as Kevin Spaces shouted in 'American Beauty', I JUST WANNA LOOK GOOD NAKED!

I'll let you know if I actually go through with this commitment.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Hi All,
We're back from Antigua, safe and sound.  Unfortunately i'm swamped with work and haven't had time to write about our adventures.

Give me a couple of days, i'm still on "Island Time"...

Thursday, January 27, 2011


A couple of weeks ago, I helped out a friend and had a great time doing it.

An extremely talented pianist, he now wants to learn how to play the guitar. He knew enough to spend a reasonable amount of money for a quality instrument, but didn't know what attributes he wanted. So, he asked me to accompany him. Whatever instrument I liked best in his price range, he would buy it. Great for me, I get all the pleasure of shopping but without the cost!

I knew the best options off the bat, so when the salesgirl approached I noted requirements for a built-in preamp and dreadnaught-style body. I played quite a few guitars, and we narrowed the options down to two really nice Tanglewood guitars. I'd never heard of them before, but they're pretty awesome.  My next acoustic might just be the same one we bought for my friend.

Checking the resonance and intonation, I was playing chords that involved droning open strings along with frets up at the high end of the neck. For some reason, I started playing "I Wanna Be Your Dog" by Iggy & The Stooges. An old punk classic.

Suddenly our salesgirl, replete with pompadour and shitty rockabilly tats, got excited. This old fart with grey in his moustache and a Blackberry on his hip… was hip! She gave me "props" for "rocking some acoustic Iggy."

For the brief moment that I held some long-lost cred, I encouraged her to buy "Please Kill Me," by Legs McNeil - a compilation of fantastic interviews with 1970s punk legends.

That "cool" feeling kept me going for a few days.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gearing Up

I'm really excited. 72 hours from now, OLK and I will be at Pearson Airport ready to board our charter flight to Antigua.
Why Antigua? I have no idea why, but I've always wanted to go there. It could be the yachts in Falmouth Harbour, Nelson's Dockyard, the world-class beaches around the entire island, the shipwrecks to dive… it could be any number of things. Honestly, it's probably just because Antigua is the first island listed alphabetically in lists of Caribbean islands.

Our passports were taken from the safe deposit box. Banks and credit card companies have been advised of where we'll be, so they don't put a hold on our cards. We bought our currency (both US and Eastern Caribbean dollars). Lactaid, bathing suits, and sunglasses bought. OLK's cousin will be cat-sitting for the week. Tonight I'm buying a new bag of catfood and sunscreen.

Then it's a matter of OLK getting a haircut and stuffing a few outfits into suitcases.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Denise Natalie Rogers, You Have My Heart

If I am damaged beyond reasonable repair, I want to die.  I don't mean to pull my plug when I get the flu, but if I'm likely to wake up a quadripilegic or with severe brain damage.  I think my tipping point would be if I were unable to feed myself or use the toilet without a personal wiper.  I don't want to live like that.
I've felt this way for my entire life - the quality is much more important than the quantity.

OLK and I are in total agreement about this, and I don't doubt that she would honour my wishes no matter how hard it was or how angry it made my parents.

To take it one step further, I have recently been contemplating getting 'DNR' tattooed on my chest in large, easy-to-read letters.  Just to make sure that a well-meaning paramedic doesn't crack my chestplate and break a bunch of my ribs trying to resucitate my unconscious and fatally damaged body.  OLK was okay with that idea as long as she chose the font (i'm sure she'd vote for a conservative Helvetica or Arial - no gangsta "old english" for me).

Researching the topic online yesterday, I realized that a DNR request in this manner would never be respected.  How could our friendly paramedic be sure that it wasn't someone's initials or that I had changed my mind after getting tattooed?
I was at the point where I was going to schedule my session at Exotix for the Saturday after returning from Antigua, just to keep from procrastinating (not because of the DNR, just because the chest is such a painful place for a man to get tattooed).

Alas, after discovering that it would likely be a huge waste of time, I'm not getting the tattoo.

Friday, January 21, 2011


I started my latest course at University last night. This is the last of my 8-course program.
It was a strange first night. Almost everyone in the room knew each other. I was having a conversation with someone I'd studied with last fall, when someone from my Procurement Management course (early 2009) walked over. Turns out they had worked together too!
It was a very communal evening. Everyone cracking jokes and mumbling "oh, I forgot he did that…" occasionally. We all seemed to appreciate being in a group of knowledgeable, like-minded people with the same goals in mind.

The only downside was having to read a history on Quantity Surveying.

But it looks like it might be a good end to my education.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


The news this morning was discussing the clip I've posted below.
Basically, a girl was walking through a mall and texting at the same time.  Oblivious to what was going on around her, she walked headstrong into a water fountain. She quickly jumped out and left the mall.
According to the newscast, she is contemplating suing the mall! Along with Security not finding her for 20 minutes, the other customers just laughed and jeered at her.

I'm out of patience with dummies like this. Seriously - how could anyone lay blame anywhere but at her feet? This instance hints at the surge of irresponsibility growing in society these days, along with the expectation to have one's desires met without earning them.

I saw this clip and thought it was hilarious. If I see someone walking on a collision course with me, if they don't look up in a reasonable time I DO NOT change my path. I have no objection to walking into someone who's distracting themselves. Maybe we should just paint signs on the bottom of each mall water fountain that says "Watch Where You're Going, DUMMY!"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


In ten days, OLK and I are going to Antigua for a week. To afford this Carribean holiday, we spent our honeymoon in… Halifax.

Preparations have started: I went to Chapters last night to buy a couple of books that varied from that "I shot up and walked onstage" story.
I chose my selections and approached the cashier. He thumbed through my three novels and look at me. "Irvine Welsh, interesting writer…"
"Yeah," I said. "I'm going on holiday and other than these it's Keith Richards and Ozzy Osbourne autobiographies."
"If you read all four of those books in a row, you'll probably be the strangest man in Toronto."
He's probably right.

Monday, January 17, 2011


On Saturday, I went to the Toronto Boat Show. I've never been to one, and didn't really know what to expect.

My friend Col and I arrived early in the morning, to avoid the crowds. The first thing we saw at the entrance was a huge powerboat worth around $400,000. All leather and lights, it would fly atop the waves. Electronic removable hardtop, two roomy bathrooms with showers, autopilots, barbecues… With the twin 500ph motors, it was a perfectly phallic mid-life crisis moment. The floating Porsche.
We crawled over a few of these, and they all seemed the same. Plush, comfy, and incredibly expensive to run. $500 of fuel will get you to the horizon.  But boring.

Then we headed over to the sailboats, and that's where I fell in love. Not with Col (although many of the vendors assumed we were a couple), but with the boats. Balancing at the bowsprits of the 3 Beneteau yachts, we analyzed the benefits and drawbacks of each.
Then we headed over to the Hunter yachts. Similar qualities, just a little uglier. Then the Jenneau's: They were more expensive and nicer outside. But inside there were problems. Random steps with no apparent use, laid out in a claustrophobic way… not somewhere I'd want to spend a lot of time.
We checked out a 34' Tartan yacht, and it was beautiful (and expensive). Full of dark wood, it was cozy and reminded me of being in a humidor. When we climbed off, I commented to the salesman that "of all the yachts we've been on today, this is definitely the nicest." He just turned away…
We saw a few others, but nothing really struck our fancy. Unfortunately, there were no Nordhavn's, Selene's, or Kadey Krogens. Those would have been nice...

Getting thirsty, we headed over to the snack bar. $8 for two small Minute Maid OJ's. Yup.

Not long after that, we left. The crowds were starting to get thicker and we'd seen all we came to see.

The followup? I'm hooked. I want to buy a yacht, find an internet-based job or one that only requires face-to-face meetings a couple of times a year, sail to warmer climates, and live "the life."
If Toronto didn't freeze every winter, I'd be happy to live aboard here! The 37' Beneteau yacht was 1/2 the price of a basic condo in the city, and the docking fees are pretty similar to condo maintenance.

OLK is really lucky I didn't take out a mortgage on a $175,000 floating home...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bad Dreams

I had a strange dream last night. Life was normal, I lived in Toronto with my wife, same job, same appearance, etc… The only difference was that OLK wasn't my wife.
This was disturbing because (in the dream) I had just met OLK and realized that she was the woman for me. It was really upsetting because I was about to start my second divorce in half a decade!!
In mid-2006 I got married. We separated 9 months later, and haven't seen each other since. Then, in mid-2008 I met OLK, and my divorce was finalized at the same time. A year later, I proposed to OLK. Four months ago we were married.
So I'm in a good place, but don't have a good track record. The thought of ending another marriage was a nightmare. Literally. I was going to do it for OLK, but still… yikes. TWO failed marriages so quick? Not gonna happen.

I was glad to wake up and notice OLK beside me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Darwinism Taking Hold?

At around 4:15 this morning, someone described as "a guy with no shoes" ran out of an apartment building and stole a snowplow.
He proceeded to drive around Toronto while being chased by the police (who were also tracking remotely via the plow's GPS system). At some time before 7am he rammed a police car, seriously injuring the officer.
A few minutes ago, the "guy with no shoes" was shot and has no vital signs (but the newscast has yet to declare 'dead').

What are you running from? Was it important enough to ram a police car and end up dead? If so, why didn't you steal a less-conspicuous vehicle?
Was it just a joyride?

Is this just Darwinism starting to thin the herd?

Monday, January 10, 2011

First Sight

The weekend was productive, if not good.
I saw my mum for the first time since she (noticably) got sick, and she's not in good shape. It was heartbreaking to see her so disoriented and… decayed. She looks a decade older than when I saw her 3 months ago. But OLK and I spoke to the nurses, and got a solid idea of where she is and what's in the plan. And they know to phone me to be included in all meetings and plans.
We also set out a custody/support plan for my sisters, should something happen to my dad, and made contact with local social service groups that need to be handy.

And for the first time in 20 years I got good Christmas presents from my family! Historically, I've received things like $10 dress shirts from Sears, framed sketches of wolves, removable locker shelves, and AC/DC cassettes. This year I actually got a couple of good DVDS and Ozzy Osbourne's autobiography! Shocking.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Home Is Not Home, But It's Still Somewhere I Have To Be

I noticed last night that I had a voicemail from a support group located in my parents' town.
I'm listed as emergency guardian for my sisters in case something happens.  The support worker said that he'd been speaking with my dad, and that he wanted to get in touch with me to confirm that we have a plan for when things go downhill.  The support worker said that "if you have a plan, that's great.  We just want to confirm that everyone is on the same page.  And if there is no plan, then I think it's time to put one together."
For those not in-the-know, my father had a couple of brutal strokes 20 years ago, and is now partially paralyzed with very limited vocabulary.  And my sisters have Downs Syndrome.

I spoke to my brother last night, and we've agreed to go out for a drink and try to put together a couple of plans on sibling custody/support based on a couple of different scenarios.  While nothing needs to be set in stone, we need to have something reasonably complete to whip out when the inevitable happens.  Then I can call back the support worker on Monday with some solid information and contact.

OLK and I are off to see the family this morning, to do a late Christmas.  We'll be exchanging gifts, along with visiting my mum who's still in the hospital.  And from my Dad's tone of voice I don't think he expects her to leave either...    We're taking my portable DVD player for her, along with copies of Pretty Woman and Pride & Prejudice.  Hopefully that'll get her through a few hours of boredom.  Besides, she might not remember having seen them that morning and just be happy to rewatch the same films daily.

For anyone wondering why I don't see my family so often, here's why:
Car rental:  $175
Hotel room: $150
Food not at parents' house: probably another $50.

On the upside, we're going out for drinks tonight with one of my oldest and most important friends.

It's gonna be a rough weekend, wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


OLK (wife) and I are lazy.  We decided months ago that we wanted to avoid the crowded Toronto streets on New Years Eve.  We wanted to avoid the subway, the bars, and the obnoxious drunken strangers on New Years Eve.  Instead, we offered to host the party.  A quick trip (or two) to the liquor store beforehand, and all we had to do was unlock the door and wash some dishes afterwards.
We had around a dozen friends over for a relaxed evening of laughter, food, and drink.

I don't normally believe in New Years Resolutions, I've usually believed that if you need to promise yourself something then the date shouldn't matter.  However, this year I've made a resolution.
In some ways, my life is better than it has ever been.  I have a great wife, unbelievable friends, (relative) job security, food, a roof over my head, a swimming pool four floors above that....   But in a couple of areas, my life has never been worse.  And those are aspects that I can't post about online.  Not permanent situations, but still bad for the time being.
My resolution is to cut down on my bitching and whining.  And also to be a little more patient with the fucktards that populate my city.  Two, two resolutions.  The first because I am working to make the negative situations pay off.  And the second because if I get angry every time a moron shows their true colours I'll have a stroke.
I have to accept that the bad parts of my life will make me stronger, and that the morons will become victims of Darwinism (at it's most vengeful).

On the Dementia side, my mum is still in the hospital.  OLK and I are headed down to celebrate a belated Christmas with my family this weekend, and will spend some of it visiting her.  I don't know how much of it will be there, as I haven't seen her since October and don't know the damage firsthand yet, but it'll be as much as I can handle.
And then we'll have a few drinks with an old friend from "back home."

It'll be an expensive weekend though.  Along with the car rental ($175), we want to avoid spending the night at my parents' house.  One, we don't want to be a burden - my parents always insist on playing host, and we don't want to put them through the worry.  Two, their guestroom is f'ing cold!  So for another $150, we get a warm, private, hotel room.