Monday, April 30, 2012

Water Weekend

I had a great weekend.
I got up early Saturday morning to go sailing. After a few hours on Lake Ontario, we headed back to land for thawing, drinks, and dinner. The whole crew felt like we had just had a massage, it was so relaxing (if a bit cold).
Sunday morning, Wife’s alarm clock went off as she was getting up for church. I opened one eye, and asked “I’ve got a lot of stuff to do today, but think maybe I should go sailing instead. What do you think?” Wife answered “go sailing.” And so I did. Five more hours on a C&C 29, with VERY gusty conditions. I bought brand-new sailing gloves last week with lots of leather in the palm. After riding the mainsheet for a couple of hours, there’s a line worn out in the leather, where the rope was! I think they’re already more worn out than the pair I wore all last summer! But that’s a good thing, it means I got my money’s worth on the boat.  It was great to spend time with friends, it was great to spend time on the boats. 

I’m heading back out on the water Thursday night, and then next week the regular season starts.

“If you need to, need to reach me, you can find me, this is where I’ll be…”

Friday, April 27, 2012


This morning, I overheard someone talking on their cellphone.

"I can't do that day, it's Mother's Day," the stranger said.
"Oh," I thought.  "I should remember that - I can send her something on time for once."

And then I remembered that she's dead, and it made me quite sad.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Evening Options

Last night was the Annual General Meeting at our new Co-op.

Wife and I had planned to go – part of our reason for joining a co-op was to take part in the management and get a sense of community. Last week we were given a copy of the agenda and the minutes from 2011’s meeting. We discovered that the major point of the evening would be to debate changing our cable TV subscription. Specifically whether to remove a feature which we don’t use, which would lower the monthly cost by $1 per household.

Last night was also the first night in a week that Wife and I had together. She’s been working a lot of evenings, and/or I’ve been busy with other obligations. Given that we see so little of each other, we were not about to sacrifice our time together to debate an annual savings of $12. Instead, we stayed home, ate a massive tray of nachos, watched the latest episode of MadMen and started on Alcatraz. Alcatraz has been recommended to me by a few people, but I just couldn’t get into it. I love the history of the prison, probably due to my father letting me watch “Escape From Alcatraz” every time it was on the Late Great Movies when I was a child. However the premise of the TV show, combined with the cinematography and writing, sucked. I’m not surprised it’s been cancelled after one season.

All in all, it was a good evening. A few hours curled up together on the couch was just what we needed. Sitting in uncomfortable chairs for a few hours debating savings worth less than the meeting timespan was not.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It’s Just Not Working Out

Last week I was really worn out.  I went to the gym once in the five workdays.

Monday I was busy and couldn’t make it.
Tuesday I had a last-minute lunch meeting.  I also had a fat beefy/beer dinner last night at a local pub with friends.
Today I’m going to a pub lunch with another old friend.
Thursday I have a lunch meeting.
Friday I may go to the gym.

I’m not doing myself any favours here – I had abs briefly, but I can already see the definition disappearing…

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Not My Friend

There’s a guy I have known for around 25 years. We had been close friends as teenagers, close enough that my family considered him one of us, and he thought of my parents as his. In my early 20s, when I left our small town and moved to Toronto, we lost touch. After a couple of years, there was a knock on my apartment door one evening – it was him! My old friend! We spent a few weeks visiting each other, but things were different somehow.

One night, he phoned me. “You’re a good guy, but we’re different now. I’m uncomfortable with the ‘gay thing’, and don’t think the relationship is really worth working past it.” That was it, the big fuckyou. I wasn’t particularly upset, I don’t regret losing bigots from my life. I went to sleep, I woke up the next day, I went on with my life quite happily.

Around a decade later (after I had come out as bisexual, not gay, and married a woman), he tried to get back in touch. He was lonely, his life hadn’t succeeded like he’d expected. I kept him at arms length, but politely. I agreed to meet for drinks once or twice a year, but the plans always fell through. This went on for around 5 years.

When my mother died this past winter, I phoned him. I felt it was important that he know, as she had been an important parental figure to him. He was really upset, I think he was even more upset than me. Maybe he also had the ‘surprise’ factor as he didn’t realize how quickly she was dying. After the funeral, a few close friends of the family went to a pub. He came with us. He managed to be completely creepy, and offended at least ½ the table. Still an ignorant bigot, but I don’t think he even realized that he was in the wrong. At various points in the evening, he was telling me how bad his life was. His family life is a constant fight, he has no friends, etc etc etc…

In some ways I feel bad for him. But there’s another side of me that wants to say “get fucked – you can’t do what you did and come back thinking nothing’s wrong!” I have even less time in my life these days than I did 15 years ago, and many more people I’d like to share that time with. So I don’t want to be his “pity friend.” But I’m also not interested in being combative and reminding him of what he did to me so long ago.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Missing, Assumed...?

For the last few days, Toronto’s top headline has been that 18-yearold Michelle Yu has disappeared.  Scary, and I would NOT want to be part of a family worrying about her.  She went to school on Thursday, and wasn’t around when she was supposed to be picked up that afternoon.

The immediate response from my coworkers was concern, especially those of Chinese heritage.  Some posted “have you seen her” pics on Facebook, and we all assumed she had been abducted.  Over the weekend, she apparently contacted her family and is safe in Vancouver.  That’s all that we’ve heard in the news so far.  But apparently she’s safe.

I was thinking – 20 years ago when I was her age, I think my first idea would have been that she had ran away.  When I was a few years younger than her, I tried it a couple of times.  Assuming she’s a late bloomer (parents take her to school, pick her up…), not ready to simply move out of the house, running away is still a likely option.  Instead, NOBODY seemed to think this was likely.  We all assumed the worst.

I know it’s better to react as if something bad has happened – this way if it’s true then the response could be serious enough to save her life.  But it’s unfortunate that we all seem to expect the worst now.  Anyway, I’m glad she seems to be safe.  The last thing this world needs is yet another psychopath taking someone away.

God, am I an old man looking back wistfully on the past?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Boat Friday

Sailing season is starting soon, and I’m getting excited.

Tomorrow I’m going down to the club to step the masts and tune the rigging, as the sailboats were splashed into the water this week. It’ll be good to see those sailing friends again, as well as learn how to set the boats up. I missed it last year as I didn’t take my introductory course until May. Then, sailing season starts in a week!

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m a big fan of Nordhavn yachts. They’re ocean-crossing motorboats, and one of only 3 or 4 brands that are strong and stable enough to do this. Luxurious and tough, they appear to be a beautiful (if slow) way to travel the world. Unfortunately this quality comes at a price – their cheapest model, bought new, is around a million dollars.
I’ve never even seen one of these boats in person, but have been fascinated by them for a few years now. The other day, I was invited to crew on one that’s being moved from Lake Superior down to the Caribbean Sea. The owner is looking for a couple of bodies to stand watch for the Great Lakes/ St. Lawrence River segment of the journey, and through our internet networking I was asked to take part.  Two weeks of living onboard a luxury yacht, piloting it for 1/3 of the time? Sounds exciting!

Unfortunately flying into where the boat is now is quite costly. More than I can afford. The train back home afterwards is a drop in the bucket, but the flight into the USA is the deal-breaker. To be honest, after a year of sailboating, where you’re constantly trimming the sails and steering, pushing ‘Go’ on the autopilot and half-heartedly keeping an eye out for water traffic doesn’t seem particularly exciting. I’m actually worried that I’d be bored after a day or two. I reluctantly turned down the offer, it’ll have to remain a “what-if” for now.

Note:  The boat in this photo, Honu Kai, is not the one i was asked to crew, but the same model.  This one is for sale, asking price $1.2 million (used).  Photos can be found here, feel free to drool.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Last night I got home from work at 5pm, ate a container of leftovers, and went to sleep. I woke up for an hour at around 10pm, then went to bed and slept until the alarm clock woke me up this morning. And I almost never sleep through the night…

I’m still exhausted from the last 2 months of frantically-paced life. I think I’ve had 2 days to relax in that time, and it’s wearing me down. I’ve managed to book a week off work, but May 21-25 is the first available time. I'm not going to do anything.  No work work, no housework, no nothing.  Hopefully my evenings and weekends can be emptied to tide me over until then, or I’m afraid I’ll have a stroke.

Today I feel good though. I’m awake, on my 2nd coffee (at 8:25am), and in a reasonable mood. I’m going to try to maintain that.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I bought two 25-packs of Benson & Hedges 100s and a 20-pack of Marlboros. I only wanted 1 Marlie, just for the taste, but had to buy the full pack since it’s illegal to buy single cigarettes in Canada.
I put the cigarette in my mouth, lit it, and inhaled the delicious tobacco smoke. Damn that was good.

Then the alarm clock went off, and I woke up from my dream. I haven’t had a cigarette in almost 5 years ( I quit July 6, 2007). But every once in a while, that addiction rears its head and ROARS.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I have spent the last week cat-sitting for a couple of friends. They only live a block away from me, so each evening I head over to their house for a couple of hours. Feed, change the litter, and basically hang out reading or watching a movie on my laptop, keeping the cats company.

The fun part is that they have a PITA* neighbour. This jerk bangs on their walls at the slightest sound, and is an arrogant prick whenever they’re forced to converse. With him not knowing me, they asked me to bother him. Not in an aggressive way, but just f**k with him a bit. Apparently he’s really nosy, and will talk to me if he sees me walking in or out (he’s miffed that HE wasn’t asked to handle their house).

I worked on a backstory: I’m going to be renting a room from them, as soon as the halfway house will release me. I met the house owner when we were cellmates. What did we do? That’s an inappropriate question *grin*. Job? Nah, I’ve got money coming in. The neighbourhood? Well, I used to live in the projects down the street – you’ve got to stay close to the clientele, right? Hahaha.

I’ve been there every day for a week. I’ve been enjoying the hot weather with cigars and drinks on their front porch. He’s seen me, and smiled weakly, but hasn’t given me the opportunity to give him my story. The friends come home tomorrow, and I’m disappointed that I don’t get to play mean…

*PITA:  Pain In The Ass

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Party, a Fire Alarm, and a Washing Machine.

It was a good weekend.
Saturday night we had our housewarming party. Lots of guests had a great time, and we were never crowded. So much space in the new house, and a layout that really leans to get-togethers. I don’t remember what time everyone left, but I do remember switching from Gin&Tonics to beer because the cocktails were getting too complicated to make. That should have been a sign to stop drinking, but it wasn’t.
Sunday was busy. I spent a couple of hours at the house of a friend a block away. The couple has gone away, and I’m feeding their cats. Right when I was about to leave, their fire alarm went off. I punched the secret code into the alarm box, and was notified that the cancellation had been received. So I happily went back to reading my book. About 15 minutes later, 2 fire trucks arrived! They hadn’t been called off. They walked through the house quickly, noted that there was no sign of smoke, and asked me to stay for at least a half hour to ensure there was nothing sparking in the walls. Of course I stayed, and this made me run late for my next task: picking up the rental truck and driving an hour to pick up a washing machine and dryer. Getting the appliances into the house later that evening was a tight squeeze. We had to remove our front door to get them through, and then scraped a line of paint from the walls of the staircase as they went into the basement.
A couple of beers and a cigar were a welcome reward for all that work.

Hopefully this will be a quiet week, I’m exhausted.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ikea: Swedish for “Gimme Yer Money!”

Last night Wife and I went to Ikea. We needed a few last items to get the new house set up how we want it.

We bought a wooden “kitchen island” as we’re seriously short on counter space. It’s already full, with beer, mix, and chips for Saturday’s housewarming party. As well, we bought a big cupboard/ wardrobe thingy, also for the kitchen. There’s a big empty space in one corner, not quite enough for a breakfast table, but big enough to be noticeably vacant. This is where we’ve been keeping the cleaning supplies, the vacuum cleaner, and the spot cleaner (damned bulimic cat). I hate actually seeing all that crap crowded into the corner, so I was happy to spend a bit of cash to contain it all. Besides, now I have somewhere to hang my awesome sailboat calendar!

My wallet is incredibly light at the moment, and my Visa bill is heavy. But it was important. Now the only lacking item is Wife’s workroom desk, so we can get the f’ing sewing machine off the dining room table and stop finding threads all over the living room. That desk should be coming in a few weeks… Other than that, it’s officially HOME.

Oh, and we bought a small rug for the entrance area. For some reason the co-op left it bare concrete, and that’s just weird. I saw a really fun childrens’ rug that I wanted. Fake grass, with roads and a farmhouse for the toys to be played on. Wife didn’t think it was suitable…

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Spanish Invasion

I was listening to a “Listen & Repeat Spanish” mp3 on the walk to work this morning:

“I am going tomorrow in the evening? Voy manana en la noche.
Where are you going? A donde va?
I am going to the United States. My wife is coming too. We are going to the United States. Voy a Estados Unidos. Mi esposa viene tambien. Nos vamos a Estados Unidos.
Where are you going in the United States? A donde van en Estados Unidos?
We are going to Chicago. Vamos a Chicago.
Why are you going to Chicago? Porque van a Chicago?
I have work there. After a month, my son and daughter will come to Chicago. We will all live together in an apartment. Tengo travahar alli. Despues de una mes, mi hijo y mi hija van a venir a Chicago. Vamos a vivir huntos en una apartemiento.
I would like to visit Chicago. Can you wait for me? Me gustaria visitar a Chicago. Puede esperarme?
We are leaving in the evening. Do you want to come with us? Nos vamos en la noche. Quire venir con nosotros?
Yes, thank you. I would like that very much. Si, gracias. Me gustaria mucho.”

I wonder how US Customs & Immigration would feel about this suspicious conversation? Americans don’t tend to like foreigners to work there…

I was so innured in my language course that when I got to the coffee shop at my office, I asked “un café por favor.” The Chinese lady at the counter stared blankly at me, saying “huh?” “Un café negro por favor” I replied. “Oh, I mean – can I have a black coffee please.” She gave me the “you’re a freak” look as she filled my cup.
I don’t know if that was a positive experience or not.

Monday, April 9, 2012


This morning on my way to work, I walked along Richmond St for a couple of blocks around Sherbourne St.
This is an area with a half dozen new condominiums recently built. I don’t know if they forgot to build parks nearby, but the sidewalk was covered in dog crap and puddles of fresh urine. There was enough that I didn’t take my eyes off the sidewalk for at least a block – otherwise I’d have stepped in it! Seriously inconsiderate and disgusting.  I think they just rushed outside with their pets, let them go on the sidewalk in front of the building, and then rushed back inside to get ready for work.  If you have that attitude, get a f'ing cat - you don't have the resources for a dog!  That's what I did, i acknowledged that I didn't have time (or will) to take a dog for a reasonable walk every time it needed one, so I bought a pet that could take care of itself!

I don’t know how many dog owners there are in that neighbourhood, but those animals need some serious training. The owners, not the puppies...

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Not much happened last night.  Wife and I watched four episodes of Downton Abbey, and went to sleep (afterwards).
Today i'm in a grumpy mood, and am having a quiet day at work.  I want to be at home with a book.  A book that I haven't been able to find in the last week:  Lamb: the Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Friend.  I'm about 40 pages from the end, and it's a great novel!

Tonight I'm going to my sailing club.  We're having a BVI-trip reunion, with beer and photos.  It might be a good time, it might not.  We'll see...

Have a great long weekend, see you Monday.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Taxman Cometh

Last night was a quiet one. My mother-in-law is still visiting, and she and Wife spent the evening working on costumes for her play.

I did my taxes, and am quite pleased with the result – my return should be enough to allow us a September visit to Manhattan for a holiday. The idea was to go for a full week, but I’m thinking 5 days might be better. I’ve been to New York a couple of times, and loved the busy pace. However, a decade later I have a feeling 5 days might be enough. Five days of MOMA, Broadway shows every night, peoplewatching… lots of fun. But 7 nights might be pushing the envelope a bit. We’ll have to see.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Busy Is Good

I’m a workaholic who hates his job.
How’s that for an awkward situation?

I’m terrified of getting bored, so I constantly find things to do. And I’m also trying to improve myself at the same time. I used to go to the pub for lunch 3-4 times a week, and would sit at my desk surfing the internet for the times I didn’t pub (and yes it can be a verb). A year ago, I decided to start going to the gym during my lunch hours. Sitting at a desk all day and closing in on 40 wasn’t doing much for my physique. Add beer/burger lunches, and I was getting downright flabby. I can’t get up earlier to work out before work, and by the time I finish I’m too damned tired. So now I go to the gym mid-day 4 times a week, and pub once as a reward. I have now successfully booked up 5 lunch hours per week.

I finished three years of night school last April. Worried that I’d spend every evening in front of the TV or getting drunk and causing trouble, I took up sailing. Now I get drunk 2-3 nights per week, but with sailors at the club. Not at home in front of the TV. And I’ve awakened a huge passion in sailing.

I now live a 30-minute walk from work. I don’t have to squeeze into a jam-packed subway train every morning. This means I can leisurely stroll to the office with a coffee in my hand (there’s no room for a drink on the train). With coffee, my brain starts working faster. I had a great idea on what to do with my walks to/from work: learn Spanish. I’ve been trying to learn for a few years, and sometimes attain ‘Quasi-Linguistic’ status. Whenever I hit that point, something happens and I don’t have time to maintain my lessons. And having no Spanish-speaking friends, there’s nobody to practice with. However, my 30 minute Spanish-Lesson MP3s are just the right length for the walk to work. So that’s my plan.

My daily routine now includes an hour of language lessons, and an hour of exercise (not including the walking to and from work), and all that within my work life. And I can’t even eat my breakfast without needing something else to do, hence writing this post while eating a blueberry muffin and drinking my coffee.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April To April, Five Years

April 1, 2007:
I woke up anxious in my townhouse. Today was the day. I climbed out of the small, cold bed in the “guest room.” I was the only guest that had slept there in the 5 months that we’d owned the house. And this would be the last time. All my belongings were packed in boxes around me, and friends were on their way with a moving van. I had told my wife I was leaving her, and today was the day I took possession of my apartment in midtown Toronto.
I took my clothes, my guitars, my computer, and my cats. Everything else stayed in the small town with my now-ex wife. The friends showed up, we loaded the van, and we left town for the last time. Quickly dumping my possessions in the apartment, we drove off to Loblaws and Costco, getting me set up with everything else I would need. Three weeks prior, we’d bought all my furniture on a local “don’t pay for 15 months” deal. It would all be delivered on April 3.  I wouldn't realize it for a couple of months, but my wife had thrown away all my photographs and records.  One more way of signifying a new start, I guess...
I went to bed that night, sleeping on a blanket on the wood floor, my alarm clock at my head. “This is pathetic,” I thought. "I’m starting from scratch, but this is really hard." That night I noticed that the elevators were right behind my bedroom wall. Their rumbling woke me a few times during the night, adding to my insecurity. Did I really make the right decision? I left my wife after one too many fights. I was getting too close to actually hitting her, and I won’t become that guy. I tried as hard as I could, I went to counseling even though it was obvious that she wasn’t willing to work on the marriage. But did I try everything? Was there something I’d overlooked, a magical way to fix my family? Could I have stayed in my house, with my comfortable furniture? Did I really need to be sleeping on the floor of my empty apartment? I worried. I second-guessed. But really, I knew I had made the right move. For both of us.

April 1, 2012: Five years later.
I woke up relaxed in my townhouse. I was on the leather sofa I purchased 5 years ago on a “don’t pay for 15 months” deal. It was the right thing to do – my wife is sick. I don’t want to get sick, and this way she can sprawl across the entire mattress like she does every morning when I leave for work. This is not the same wife as five years ago. I haven’t seen that one since I left. This is a new wife, we married 18 months ago. This is a happy marriage. This is a happy home. This is a new home – we took possession a month ago, but spent the month moving our belongings over after painting and fixing up a few oddities in the townhouse. We have a lot more crap than my stripped-down relocation a half-decade ago. It’s mostly not stuff we need, but the trinkets that add to this being a home.
We left the sterile midtown apartment eagerly. It was a nice, safe neighbourhood. But it was a boring neighbourhood. We traded that safety for character. I’ve already spoken more to the neighbours here than with the midtown residents during my entire 5-year span in the apartment.

Now, there is no doubt in my mind that I’m making the right decisions. That I made the right decision five years ago, that I made the right decision two months ago when we decided to move again. That pretty much all my decisions since April 1 2007 have been the right ones. Because they have gotten me here, to where I am today.

Having said that, here’s the “character” I saw when I walked outside this afternoon:. Yup, that’s the Forensic Identification Unit. Just out of the shot is a lot of yellow tape blocking off a small park.