seeking something formative

my old townhousethe old fence out backmy school - clarksdalemy ledgie spotold hockey court

i hope that no one actually believed that i would spend all of my time on the couch playing video games all weekend! i imagine that no one is really reading this stuff anyway, so i doubt that anyone would draw that conclusion. after all, it would be a waste of all this free time that i have to just play video games all day!

no, i knocked one of the big to-do’s off of my list today. i drove all the way out to burlington, ontario (55km away) to visit my old home there. i was surprised to learn that some of my friends didn’t know that i spent two years here when i was 8 or so – going to school, trudging through the snow, and becoming the person that i am. it was a very very happy time in my life because i was so young and happy and had good friends and was so full of joy and life.

the old townhouse is exactly the way i remembered it. in fact, after giving it almost no thought, i was surprised to realize that i remembered the exact address of it – which made finding it considerably easier after almost 30 years! i drove out to it and found it right off guelph line where i had left it. it looks almost exactly as i remembered it, with its quaintly landscaped central courtyard, rolling little hills, and brick construction. my mother’s house also has brick, so i imagine they must like brick, as i do.

the second photo is significant, because a happy memory of mine is a game that i used to play with my mother when i would go to school. she would always tell me not to climb over the fence at the back of our complex and cross over the neighbouring parking lot (for what reason, i still cannot understand). well, every day, i would sneak around to the back and try and hop the fence, and some of the time, my mom would run around to try and pull me down and make me go out along the street. it was a fun game, and it’s a powerfully happy thought to me – something so simple as this little interaction – that can hold such an incredible concentration of love.

my school was a bit of a disappointment. i remember it being larger and friendlier. i think that they have not had to replace the flag in the 27 or so last years since i saw it last. clarksdale public school is frozen in time, like so many other public schools, except that they have taken some of the joy away from it. there is still a convenience store 50m away from it, where i used to go to buy licorice and gum and occasionally hockey cards that i would trade with my friends paul and kevin. but they modified the exterior to discourage one of the other happy memories i have of burlington, “ledgies”.

paul and i had developed a game called “ledgies” that i have no idea if is a real game or not. basically, you took a tennis ball and hucked it at a wall with a ledge. the trick was to get the ball to pop off of the ledge, rather than just smacking perpendicularly against the wall. this clearly worked your aiming skill at throws and to a much lesser degree, your ability to run in to catch a pop-up. if your ledgie popped straight up and miraculously hit the ledge a second time, and you caught it, that was the supreme, unbeatable “double-ledgie” – which i think i only got once.

now, they have put some crappy aluminum siding over the concrete walls so that you can’t really get a good ledgie game going without popping the ball left or right at random. total crap.

i couldn’t remember where paul’s house was. i couldn’t remember if that house that i think was eleni’s was hers, and it didn’t look like she still lived there anyway. i think i remember the crescent where we used to play road hockey. and i remember the huge hydro lines that ran in a little greenspace just behind our complex. i remember the other convenience store closer to our house where i would also go to buy hockey cards.

a lot of what i am doing here has to do with figuring out who i am and who i will be going forward from here. part of that has to be a re-evaluation of who i have been. and today was a huge part of that. i still have a lot to do and see and learn before i come to some conclusions about the type of life i want to lead, and i had some very interesting offers for self-discovery later on in the day. i think that the next couple of months will see a great many changes in me.

– g

life is too short

ps. on a slightly more sober note, i was delayed in coming back to the city on the QEW by a crash that kept me virtually stopped on the highway for 20 minutes, and looked to have traffic heading SW backed up for about 15km. on top of looking like a rather bad accident, it was a significant punctuation for today’s adventure to realize that life is short indeed and that there is not time to waste navel-gazing when there are things that need to be done. i always chide toronto drivers for being shite, but really, no one deserves this kind of end – or even if it’s not the end – this kind of suffering.

superman saves stranded strays!

how did you get way up here, hansie? the sidewalk is no place for you, big guy!
so i’ve finally gotten the hang of the superman video game for the xbox… i’ve beaten one of the harder challenges in the “training” level, and now, i’m in the main game within the city of metropolis.

based on this really really brief scene in the original superman movie, where christopher reeve saves a cat from a tree (i think the cat’s name was fluffy or something), the developers of the video game created a hide and seek challenge for the player to locate the 100 missing kittens in the city of metropolis (which is approximately 80 square miles of virtual city – a lot of places to hide).

what i think i like best about this is that the cats are all little orange kitties and they remind me of one half of my two favourite things in the world.

– g

ps. man, i’m so glad that i have this game so that i never need to get off my couch again!!

sea and the sun

queens quay terminal beach at kitsilano, vancouver
i know that lake ontario is nothing like a sea – but to a prairie boy like myself, for whom the only significant body of water was a shallow cesspool of a river running through the heart of my hometown – it’s pretty close.

i’ve been working out of the queens quay terminal building in toronto , and my area looks out over the lake. it’s been marvelous for me to be able to look out and see waves and ripples and ships – things that i’ve never really believed in growing up. the problem is that for as long as i can remember (a few weeks), it’s been miserably overcast in toronto . i can’t remember the last clear day here – and again, for a prairie boy like myself, coming from a place where the sky can fill your view with a blueness beyond compare, it’s been challenging living in the “big smoke”.

i think it was tuesday, and a bit of today, that i saw blue in the sky and the sun. i forgot how much i like the sun and how i’ve missed it. as we enter the winter months, there will be far less of it to enjoy – but then, i’m used to winters where you would get up, go to work, the sun would come up while you were busy in your cubicle staring at artificial light from a monitor, the sun would go down, and you would leave work in utter darkness. for five months.

the other thing the struck me about working near the lake is how comparable it is to being by the ocean. the second picture here is from a trip to vancouver , where i was near the ocean at kitsilano, an artsy, trendy vancouver yuppie-breeding area. i wanted to settle there, but a 500 sq ft. condo apartment would have set me back almost half a million dollars. bullshit.

the air may be cleaner and fresher there, but i don’t have no half a million dollars to buy a closet. toronto is not as bad as you all might think. (but it’s nowhere near as wonderful as victoria!)

– g

stuff

old living roomold bedroom
love the people at ikeathe bestest loveseat everdidn't i used to have more books?the bed of my dreams
people these days are so concerned about whether or not i have stuff, whether or not i’m comfortable, whether or not i’m happy. as if any of those things had the remotest thing to do with any other of them.

i mean, look – these top two photos, depicting my home for the past four weeks, are perfectly satisfactory. i have my jerker desk with my computer, with which i can keep in touch with the outside world (without actually having to venture into it), and the stony plinth that i’ve constructed out of cardboard boxes and sweaters that i don’t intend to wear ever again provided me with plenty of comfort at bedtime. but after i decided to stay in toronto, it seemed that it would be less fitting a senior web developer living in an upscale neighbourhood to not have any actual chattel or living accoutrements, so i decided to take the plunge.

thanks to my good friends at citi financial, i was supplied with an ikea credit card and i finally got kitted out. i got the bed that i like, with a nice firm mattress – almost as firm as fifteen cardboard boxes with a layer of sweaters and bathmats stretched across it – but softer. i got the wall unit that i wanted to house the television that i never watch, but which is also good for storing books that i am now reading. and of course, the focal point of my new life – my bright red leather looooooooveseat (as my friend bruce calls it). this thing is so precious, even hans won’t scratch it. but even if he decides to start, i have a spiffy red slip cover to put over it and some extra cardboard to put in between it and the sofa…. that thing will last me… a few years at least!!

i know what you are all thinking – but george, hans will shred that leather loveseat like it was christmas wrapping paper with those ferocious claws that you see fit to never trim!!  the more careful of you onlookers will notice that there are still a couple of unpacked boxes lurking beside the wall unit next to the cat litter box.  that is my cunning plan to keep my precious cherry loveseat pristine.  i filled this box with books that i was planning to put in my storage locker, but the real purpose of these boxes is to give hans something to scratch OTHER than my new loveseat.  hans’ one weakness is cardboard, and he loves to shred it intensely.  until i finish (and start) my double-dome carboard cat lounge (plans to be displayed herein shortly), this will have to suffice.

i also signed up at the fitness centre at my building, and saw casino royale this weekend. craig is a fantastic bond (even if he is 38, making out with freakin 20 year olds). now, everyone can relax and stop worrying about my comfort.

– g

stay

i decided to stay in toronto late last night. after long talks with some of my oldest and dearest friends, i reflected upon the blog that i submitted the night before (and have subsequently removed out of embarrassment) in which i pretty unfairly slammed toronto for being so deplorable and unaccommodating.

it occurred to me that toronto has not really been in the least unaccommodating to me. i have met some fantastic people here who have not tried to make me feel inferior or unworthy, but rather, have taken every opportunity to be empathetic and have tried to convince me to let my own guard down about what this city has to offer. it occurred to me that i haven’t done one tenth or even one hundredth of the things that i intended to do once i got here. and it occurred to me that all of these failings in perception and in action were my own fault.

it occurred to me that i have a pretty fantastic life here in toronto. that i am still reasonably young, healthy, robust and capable. that i have a great job with fabulous co-workers, and that i have been an unqualified success in every project that i have undertaken here, in spite of all of the anxiety that i’ve suffered facing each of them.

it occurred to me that i’ve never really explored this part of canada – that i’ve never seen the eastern shores of newfoundland or prince edward island. that i’ve never been to a french-speaking province. that i’ve never been to our nation’s capital. that i’ve never seen times square in new york or visited the site of the 9/11 attack, which after all is a date for which everyone remembers what they were doing – especially me. that i haven’t yet visited the townhouse in burlington where i spent two very happy years of my childhood listening to boney m at christmas time, and watching battlestar galactica (the original series) and loving my parents because they were gods.

it occurred to me that i am not yet finished exploring this part of my life and this part of the country – and that is why i emailed the city of edmonton this afternoon and rescinded my application to work there. it occurred to me that everything i need, i already have. i can keep in touch with my closest friends if i make that effort. i can stay in touch with my family and help them from here if i make that effort. i can love who i want and trust who i want if i make that effort. and i can live where i want and do what i want if i make that effort.

as a friend of mine recently reminded me, “life isn’t easy at the best of times,” which of course is true and obvious, but sometimes we need to be reminded of such. in a world where we all have so much and so much to be thankful for, i am thankful for every one of the experiences that i have had that have led me here – to this place and time and situation – so that i can learn more about myself and this world that i live in.

it’s time to celebrate!!!

– g