I am so incredibly ticked off right now.

Not at the G20 protesters, so much. The peaceful ones were only exercising their just and justified rights… and the subhumans smashing into a Starbucks then casually grabbing a bottle of water from the counter (rampaging against the system is thirsty work, evidently) would only be energised further by my rage. Frankly I refuse to give them that satisfaction.

Also, I’m not that stupid. Go ahead, kids, have your fun; in a couple of weeks all evidence of your righteous crusade will have been removed, except that the ‘elitist pigs’ will now have a legitimate reason for their repression. Way to establish yourselves as a viable alternative, there.

No, my rage — and it is intense — is directed entirely at the *fith foul foul filth* officials who brought this on Toronto in the first place. Who thought it would be just a fabulous idea to transform one of the world’s largest, most vibrant cities into a battleground. Those *foul fith foul foul filth foulers* damn well knew this was going to happen, and they went ahead and did it to us anyway.

What the hell kind of benefit do we get from this, guys? The G20 leaders are blathering away in their cocoons about improving quality of life for Joe Random GTA Resident, while he’s left alone to deal with the soul-scarring fallout in their wake. Where’s the honour in worldwide media reports of smashed windows and burning police cruisers? What’s the point of spending 1.4 billion to protect, say, 100-odd people if you can’t keep their constituents safe?

(The efforts at spin control do provide some moments of grim humour. My favourite is CP24’s note: "Mayor David Miller says violent protesters not welcome in Toronto." Hear that, violent protesters? No complimentary pillow mints for you!)

As I write this, CP24 is now reporting that PM Harper has scored a ‘big win’ by convincing the other leaders to halve their deficits by 2013. Asked if this sort of agreement requires the leaders ‘sign on the dotted line’, the reporter chuckled and added ‘Oh, with all these cameras around I’m sure a handshake will suffice," over shots of Obama looking all urbane and first-black-President-y.

Speaking on behalf of all Torontonians, may I be the first to reply: Wheeeee. I just hope Harper enjoys his last year or so in office, ’cause this Liberal stronghold has a long memory.

In the end, the pithiest comment on the whole mess came from a random Twitter-er: "Next time, guys, can you please just use Skype?"

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Moving day

No, I haven’t dropped off the face of the planet. Yet. Just moving to Brampton… and still haven’t decided if it’s the first step.

This is dreadful of me. Seriously. People are reduced to the level of animals in Haiti — stepping over dead bodies to find a place to sleep in the streets — and I’m  back here in one of the pinnacles of Western Civilization, throwing an internal tantrum because the gorgeous little apartment I’m moving into doesn’t have an equally gracious location. Other than the mega-shopping mall across the street, that is.

This is what twelve years of being spoiled rotten re: life choices does to you, kiddies.

Shoemom and Shoesis have been unfailingly helpful, gracious, generous and kind, even when the tantrum threatened to become external. I’ve joked with them more than once this week that they should go into business as organizational consultants for busy people.

And now it’s moving day, and I have many, many things to do. Not least of which is get over my own childish self and realise that in order to fulfill a dream, one has, eventually, to do something about it.

Goodbye, city of my unfulfilled dreams. See you again sometime — maybe — when I’ve figured it out.

Stopping by the old neighborhood on a winter afternoon

I have a peculiar affection for Belsize Drive, here in the city.

It’s a residential street, longish as they go. Very pretty; just young and unkempt enough to avoid being too old and grand. Bisected for two long stretches, for some blissfully random reason, by parkland. Not an avenue — no bricks or plaques — just worn grassy centre strips where the locals walk dogs, bike with their kids, play touch football. I stood and watched them rescue a kitten from a tree, one afternoon.

In my decade in Toronto, I have always had the good fortune to live near enough that a walk down Belsize didn’t require excuse. The delicate wonder of this never quite wore off, not even in winter. There is a spot, on a hill just above it, where when the trees are leafless you can stand in the parking lot of an old church and look down on an entire vista of lovely, snug neighborhood streets below — my neighborhood. If I did not achieve all or even most of my dreams, at least I had found the best place possible to dream them in.

These are the sorts of things you think about, on your first real walk out after a) deciding to move away and b) being confined to bed for four days with a bad cold.

And as you look around you further realise… all those things that brought you here, caught your eye, that you’d mentally ticked off as having ‘done’ and over with… you haven’t actually done in awhile, have you? Here you are on Mount Pleasant Road for the umpty-squillionth time, and within a dozen yards are a bunch of things that you’ve been planning on ‘doing’ for some few years now. Little things, like that fish-and-chips shop supposed to be the best in the city, but still… Suddenly the entire urban landscape, familiar as Gramma’s wallpaper, springs to crisp, questioning life.

You start to understand that moving on may be more complicated than you thought. 

Then, of course, you get a grip. Remind yourself that while daydreams may be free and easy, achieving them in real life is emphatically neither of those things, not in the city anyway. That the best you’ve actually managed, in twelve years, is to hang onto a mid-level admin job — sometimes by the skin of your teeth — that just about affords you a nice apartment in a nice, practical location. If there is no longer a hill, there is at least a sunroom on the fourteenth floor.

I am a part of all that I have met. And I tell myself that I am not moving away from anything; I am moving towards the centre, physically and psychically, and from there experience can radiate out in any direction I want. If for no other reason than I will no longer be spending hours out of most days trapped on a highway commute.

But none of that changes the fact that when I next look down from the hill, what I see will no longer be mine.

OK, here’s the deal.

I’m moving to Brampton.

Not with Shoemom.

And I have to type this fast because a) there’s a kitten trying to annex my keyboard and b) all of this is happening as of January 15th. Good thing I don’t celebrate Christmas, as it turns out this year. Really good thing.

Right, backstory. About a month ago, the three of us had this epic family blowout in which Shoemom and I basically threw this post at Shoesis. Culminating in me screaming that there was no way she was gonna be moving near us and she screamed back that there was no way I was gonna stop her and Shoemom screaming… um… yeah, I agree, getting into TMI territory real fast here.

Upshot of it all was, Shoemom decided she wasn’t, for the moment at least, going to move period. She was going to stay here in the current apt, while she figured out what she really wanted to do. Meanwhile, I would find my own place, which she would think of as a getaway and visit on alternate weekends… and in future, since neither she nor Shoesis actually want to stay permanently in the city, or with each other come to that, who knows?

It was kinda nice, actually, how it all fell out re: realising exactly what we all wanted. Shoemom and I aren’t in the same position vis-a-vis each other as we were six years ago; we don’t need each other, but we do still want to hang out together, and will always be there to help each other out. Meanwhile, Shoesis and she are tied still as a practical matter, re: work and so on. Except that Shoemom’s on my lease, too.

We thought about keeping the Oakville dream alive for awhile, but minus older woman with car and desire to visit Ye Olde Upscale Wine Shoppes on a regular basis it became a bit impractical. Really, I thought to myself on the way down to look around, I’ve about had it with this commuting thing altogether. While staring wistfully out the car window at these really nice buildings a mile or so from my office, which I’ve always rather liked…

Right, you can guess the rest. The thing that had always been holding me back re: Brampton is that when it’s ugly, it’s really ugly. Old industrial parks and scruffy neighborhoods and tacky strip malls. On the other hand, as it turns out, when it’s nice, it’s really, really nice. Parks and a lovely little downtown and all sorts of up-to-the-minute amenities and did I mention only a mile or so out from work?

Twenty-five minutes walk. That’s as long as it currently takes me to reach my carpool pickup in the mornings. And this way, instead of arriving at 7:15 to face an hour’s drive into work, I’ll be arriving at work, pretty much anytime I want. We have flex hours, and my boss is cool with them. I can sleep in to 8:30 every morning if I so desire; and if I want to stay a few extra hours to get things done, no biggie. Life is good.

The apartment’s pretty amazing too. One of those ‘lifestyle complexes’ that were all the rage in mid-80’s Southern Ontario — a couple big buildings set in lavishly landscaped grounds, complete with pool, ‘fitness room’ and swings for the kiddies. There’s even a coffee machine in the lobby, fertheloveofPete. All of this corporate chic put me off a bit at first — in my heart, I’m still the 21-year-old iconoclast who dreamed of starving in some Victorian garret — but hey, in reality I’m thirty-eight and according to my sister’s WiiFit I could really use that fitness room.

Besides, once I saw the apartment itself all was forgiven. One-bedroom on the fourteenth floor, spectacular view, no balcony (hence no fretting over cats falling off same) but a gorgeous little sunroom set off from the bedroom with sliding glass doors. You walk into this place, and all you see is windows. Then you see the big kitchen. It has a double sink. Shoemom is thrilled. Outside the well-maintained grounds, there’s the Central Library across the street and the huge shopping centre, with transit hub, just down from there. Toronto is only a $3 bus ride away.

So, there we are. Or will be. Soon.

I guess eventually even iconoclasts have to grow up.

Notes on October

The fog comes in on little cat feet.
–Carl Sandburg

And on those same little cat feet, it always seems to me on days like today, the summer goes out.

Even more so than the fog, autumn is the most enigmatic of natural phenomena; such incredible beauty arising out of relentless decay. Canadian raconteur Arthur Black once described this season as a velvet-gloved gentleman, tapping gently-but-insistently on our doors to warn of Old Man Winter’s approach. It’s a nice image, but my imagination can only reconcile it if the gentleman is F.Scott Fitzgerald.

All of which is an extended rationalisation for why I went out to Niagara this past sunny Sunday to see the fall colours, enjoyed them to the full, but didn’t take a single pic… then came home and took a bunch of shots during a random stroll down to the Second Cup on a misty Tuesday evening. And have now decided to inflict them on the readership.

Seasonal picspam under here…

Yeah, so about those sweet polite Canadians…

I dunno, maybe they all moved to Vancouver or something.

Short version for lazy clickers: The other night, former Ontario Attorney-General (and, as it happens MPP for my riding) Michael Bryant got into a crankiness with cyclist Darcy Sheppard at a major Toronto intersection, while driving an open-topped convertible. Sheppard – for what it’s worth, later revealed to have serious anger-management issues – dismounts, slams the car hood, grabs the driver-side door…

…and this Harvard-trained potential future Premier candidate just guns it and runs. Drags Sheppard about 100 yards before he fell off, fell under…

Mm-hm.

Couple things. First, CFRB 1010? Stop calling this the ‘Bryant Bicycle Tragedy’, like, right now. Words cannot express just how tacky it is that the live guy is repeatedly trumping the dead one – one would imagine a news/talk station would have the proper order on file somewhere – but here’s a hint: This is so tacky that your own host kept frantically trying to distance himself from it after every break. ("No, really, as I keep saying, it’s everybody’s tragedy…")

Next… well, yes, it does also kinda suck to be Michael Bryant right now, I imagine. I met him once, very briefly, when he came around our building canvassing for re-election. Given which he seemed unusually sensitive in dealing with a disheveled woman home sick that day who had only opened the door because she’d just woken up and had some vague idea he was the police. So I liked him OK.

I’ve also been thinking about blind panic, what happens when something – someone? – gets too close. Mind you, my field tests have been on nothing like this scale; but I have done some incredibly stupid and painful things to myself while in full-on getitoffgetitoffGETITOFF!!! frenzy. Trying to shake off the teeniest of spiders. Seriously, I almost dislocated a shoulder once. In those moments, it’s goodbye higher function, hello… I don’t know what, but I suspect the spider did.

I’m wondering if this sort of instinct goes so far as fellow sapiens. Hard to imagine it would – that common humanity wouldn’t’ve kicked in at least when it was clear the guy was stuck – but. Bryant was in the car with his wife; maybe it had been a freakishly bad day; maybe he’d read one too many screaming Sun headlines about gang violence. I don’t know. There are reports that he actually climbed the sidewalk, frantically brushing Sheppard off against mailboxes, banging him into light poles. It defines belief that any rational human would treat another like a bug – unless that’s exactly what Bryant’s instinct thought the cyclist was.

In the aftermath, here’s Darcy Allan Sheppard, who by all accounts was doing the best he could with the crummy hand life dealt him, dead. Michael Bryant, politician maybe not as sleazy as the rest, facing the ruin of his career at best and a life sentence for criminal negligence at worst.

Right, we can get back to sweet and boring any time now, universe, OK?

Summer’s here, and the time is wrong

It is hot. H-O-T. The air is soup, the pavement glares, the bugs in the porchlights are the only living things moving fast.

It is so hot that I am reduced to going to work in those silk slacks I couldn’t resist at the thrift shop. The ones that are a little faded and increasingly crumply, so that it looks like I’m wearing the lining of some other pants.

I could iron them, I guess, but I am terrified of scorching the delicate fabric. Because then I would be reduced to going to work in those raggedy cutoffs that no longer fit. It is JUST THAT DAMN HOT.

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