Thanks, that was fun…

…It’s not that I don’t like living here… well, OK, it’s that I don’t like living here.

I do like living in this apartment, though. It has a sunroom, which is divided from my bedroom by sliding glass doors, and I will probably never get over thinking that ever so sophisticated. Also, it is on the fourteenth floor, meaning out of any random window I can look out on a gracious expanse of park and pond.

Keyword there being expanse. This is a suburb. In suburbs people have cars, or more frequently family-friendly minvans. They shuttle ’round in them from work, to picking up the kids, to get groceries and maybe a flick at Blockbuster, then home to feed the kids supper and the movie.

I don’t have a car. I don’t even have a license. I get where I’m going mostly on foot. And I am trapped in an area where people look at you really, really funny when you tell them you walked anywhere. Which I can understand, because — parks aside — this area has no walks. The only reason to go anywhere around here is to get there. In your car. Because ‘there’ is, in all probability, a Dollarama.

At the time, I figured the parks would make up for it. Which they do — sort of — right up until you stop on the picturesque little bridge over the creek and notice that dirty limericks have been scrawled all over the runoff tunnel nearby. To live here is to be in total agreement with Linus van Pelt: I love mankind, it’s people I can’t stand.

Check that — I like my congregation OK. They are kind, sane, sensible people who do not collapse theatrically into my arms after two whole days’ separation. I really needed a break from that, same as I needed one from the commute. It’s been nice, being left alone to organise life on my own terms… if a little unfulfilling. To paraphrase those other great philosophers, the Barenaked Ladies: Pack the car and leave this town/who’d notice that I’m not around?

Thusly I have taken an executive Life Decision: Pack the car — Shoemom’s car — whatever, I don’t want to live here anymore.

Then, having looked around and discovered the universe was still intact, I took a couple more:

–I don’t want to have my job anymore. Something my boss has finally taken care of quite handily by hiring it out from under me, then reassigning me as a departmental ‘floater’ until something more permanent comes up. It’s kind of bemusing how I am reacting to this; one side of me is all  "Way to go, you’ve escaped the rat race, now life can have real meaning!" and the other is going "Oh, dear, oh dear, I’ve given up the challenge, how can life have meaning now?" I figure, worst-to-worst, studying this phenomenon should keep me in grant money for a good while.

–I don’t want to live on the moon… er, seriously, as long as I’m working in the area I need to figure out a reasonable commute. At the same time, though, I find I’m willing to handle some travel, in exchange for a real haven on the back end of it.

And, check it out, Shoemom and -sis have just moved to Burlington! Close to where I wanted to be in the first place, precisely for its haven-esque yet practical carpool-related qualities!

Still suburb-ish, but Shoemom has a car, also a place in the same two-building complex on the lakeshore that she used to manage back in the early ’90’s. A lot of our friends are still in that same congregation. A place I like, have always liked, in that under-the-skin way that a dozen practicalities cannot replicate.

So. I move in across the way when my lease is up in the New Year, Shoemom’s happy, I’m happy… Shoesis, possibly not so happy, but not in much position to do anything about it. We’re planning on not telling her until it’s necessary. For instance, as it happens on closer inspection, there are quite a few admin jobs on offer in that neck of the woods…

This is where the plan stands as of even date. It feels good. It feels honest, adult, thought-through. Like something worth working towards.

Now all I have to do is figure out what to do with the rest of this year. There’s only so many voyages of retail discovery a sane body can take.

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LOLpost masquerading as actual content.

OK, so have reached the point in Teh Move where am almost functioning smoothly enough to resume normal existence. Just as soon as I remember what that was. Oh, and find my songbook for tomorrow night’s meeting.

But mostly functioning, yeah. Got (not-song)books tidied away on shelves, always a good sign. Made a big pot of chicken pesto fusili tonight… lunch for the next couple days. It’s amazing, how the single-girl-on-a-budget skills just naturally kick in six years later.

So while I riffle through the last few boxes trying to figure out what to do with the mini Rubik’s cube, I present a LOL that… well, apologies, half of f-list, but this is something that has bugged me right from the first book:

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

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.

…and that’s not even mentioning the 3-for-$10 deal on Haagen-Dazs miniatures.

Apologies to the six-seven people who’re probably wondering if I’ve dropped off the face of the earth. Short answer: No. Longer answer: I’ve been working on the snark project described below, and as often happens, it touched off so many unforeseen wellsprings of aggravation that editing the rant is taking more time than actually writing it.

However. I did just want to pop in and provide a capsule update of recent hilights @ Shoe Central, because the more I thought about it, gosh they’ve been piling up:

I’m typing this on my new (PINK!) laptop… well, OK, sort of a subtle rose. Anyway, it is in my lap, on the couch, and it is FABULOUS.

This is not because I’m a spoiled brat — although I probably am — but because the Shoe household has finally decided the lines along which it wants to fracture itself. And one of the other pieces wants to buy my old desktop. More on that later… yes, I know I keep saying that. You know my stories, they’re complicated.

I just bought the entire BBC series of Little Dorrit on iTunes. And have an entire weekend to watch them in. Bliss.

Shoemom is currently out attending the bridal shower of our 83-year-old friend. Her fiance is 87. The wedding is coming up really shortly.

Jasmine is at the vets’ getting fixed. Apparently they’ve stuck her in a little funnel collar thingy because she tried to lick her stitches. Is it wrong that I find this mental image absolutely hilariously adorable?

Sisterly lovaaaAAAARRRGH…

So Shoesis, the professional cleaner aka the only person I know who flips out over messes that haven’t even happened yet, is also on vacation this week — in Florida. Which frankly has a lot to do with the extra-peachiness mentioned below.

Because she has been living with us for the past few months. Basically she has a ton of debt from previous lives that need to be erased before she could ‘make a new start’, and is willing to keep the place clean in exchange for board. Fine. Whatever. If Shoemom doesn’t mind sleeping on a cot in my room, who am I to complain?

Well — as you’ve probably guessed — this is me, complaining. As I’ve mentioned in the past, this sister and I aren’t quite BFFs in the best of circs. We can’t be, because she’s inherited Shoedad’s neurotically desperate need to be endlessly sweet and ncie and accommodating to the outside world — and direct all the blowback at the family. And there is a lot of blowback.

Somewhere in-between the two extremes is a smart, funny, personable, all-round great girl… could she somehow be persuaded it’s OK to show her off. But this same insecurity has given her a horror of ‘psychological crap’. Her whole self-image is tied into how she doesn’t have no stinkin’ issues! It’s the rest of the world that’s absurdly high-maintenance!

Ah-huh. She doesn’t try to pull much on me or her other sis anymore. Shoemom, on the other hand, has slipped into the same toxic dance with her daughter as she did with her father: She’s kind, capable, domestic, it’s ‘not that big a deal’ to just give in to the demands and deal with the tantrums. Endless physical accomodation, emotional validation, basically becoming a psychic garbage can to be dumped on at will; not that she likes it, or doesn’t wish it could be different, but…it’s just what a mother does, right? Even when her daughter is thirty-five, right? Right?

More familial ranting this way…

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