This place was dope
February 5, 2018, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Canada, nomadisms, nostalgia

Sitting, making coffee in the trusty french press, waiting to hear if the deal is done.


Not a lot of people have been to this apartment in four years.  It was acquired through hot luck, google-fu and math.

The math part being that, aside from the deposit, it was as much to pay the mortgage as it was to rent (and it came with new perks like in-suite laundry and a dishwasher, which everyone should live without for awhile just to truly appreciate these marvels).  The deposit was a solid chunk but nothing exceptional, an amount that could be recovered from if the market swan dived.

Google-fu because the listing was garbage.  Figuring out the building led to figuring out what pictures were likely not shown and that it was actually a little beauty.  It’s amazing what wrongly sized furniture, a bad feature wall and some ugly marketing can do to obscure potential.

Hot luck is the main one.  A series of events, timing.  In a few weeks going from not even thinking about buying to making offers.  The right place at the right time.


One time, I owned a beautiful stained glass enclosed balcony with views of the port and the old city and the mountains, big enough to spend long summer nights on. 

The apartment was a refuge from the grey days and the world, all clean bright design and comforting features.  A deep tub, a gas range, ample closets and cupboards.  Over time, furniture found its way in – from alleys and roadsides, other expats going home, a man who sold diamonds and retired hotel furniture, a couple making salvaged wood and metal benches.  Everything now looks like it was put together, somehow it all finally matches, and now it’s time to go.

The neighborhood was an instant fit; the blend of high and low, the ultra modern alongside the very old, the weird and the welcoming.   In a city that never made sense, these blocks did.  Leaving it is like leaving a close friend you know you won’t keep in touch with.  In these last few weeks, all the old haunts call out for one more visit, as though that last time could capture the exact way things taste and feel, smell and sound.


People have become mercenary about square footage in this city.  This place is a good spot.  Please enjoy it and take care of it.


Hasta Luego
April 21, 2016, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Canada, overtly political | Tags:

When we moved here, the cab drivers from the suburb where there are regular gang shootings would say “you live in a bad neighborhood”.

Last week, a driver dropped me off and said “this neighborhood sure is changing.”

This morning I walked to the cafe that had good breakfast burritos and nanaimo bars, jonesing.  It was gone.  Brown paper in the windows advertising a new cafe.  The same thing happened a few months back with the best grocery store in the hood.  One day it was just shuttered, a sold sign outside.  Strange small businesses have come and gone – taking a risk on cheap rent.

We were late comers to this hood – years ago, cabs wouldn’t come down at all.  There’s no pretending to have true ownership here, we came to witness the end.

On arrival, it was perfect.  A heady mix of things within walking distance.  Sheltered from the crowds mostly due to incorrect fears.  An incubator for the small and interesting, a repository for roughed-up history.  It was friendly.  A bit weird.

It was also very obvious what was coming.

Now.  Upmarket spas and fitness options.  Replicated cafes, almost indistinguishable from each other, on each corner. Other parts of the city reach tentacles into the storefronts, making everything just a bit more uniform.  Tidy.  Many sources for cold pressed juice, all the cold pressed juice you can handle.  Little reference to what was before, spaces remodelled and wiped clean.  Made boring.

Mainstream press starts to trumpet the area as a must-see.

Personally, this is not, financially, a bad thing.  More people will consider buying this place because they are more comfortable in gentrified spaces.  This hidden enclave will have more visibility, curb appeal.

And we will disappear along with the others.

January 18, 2016, 12:27 am
Filed under: Canada, runaway, voyageur | Tags: ,

Mexico.  Going to Mexico.  To sit on a beach, eat tacos, drink beer and horchata, be reminded of a lack of Spanish fluency.  Because it’s reasonably priced in a year of currency chaos and one direct flight.  Because the ocean is clear and moving.  Because it’s been nearly twenty years?

For the first time as an adult, staying at a resort.  Not just a resort, an all-inclusive resort.  Please hand your rough travel credentials in at the door, bourgie life.

It’s pragmatism.  The hypothetical of having everything set up to run smoothly, of not calculating exchange rates and whether more cash needs to be converted, of in-room conveniences like beach towels.  It’s not having to decide at the airport to spend cash on a cab versus spend a hour on local transport with a significant language barrier praying you’re not actually off to an inaccessible part of the city where it may be dark and you may be robbed.  It’s the option of pre-travel research without the sense that if you fail to put the research in you may well not know about the entry visa/ridiculous airport ATMs that charge high fees and only let you withdraw $30/ferry that only runs on Tuesday at 3pm from the town with no accomodation.

Three years four months in one place has made the world feel smaller.  Quiet comparisons to how things are done elsewhere have faded.  An index of places to go and return to has more question marks than clarity, the world is not static.  A former sense of being able to critically evaluate information diseminated by the media is dulled, too few points of reference.

As though nothing else is out there.

In three years, four months, a complete summary.  A long weekend taking all forms of transit through the PNW until Portland.  About seventeen days on Oahu, mostly North Shore, split over two trips.  A day trip to Washington state, a wedding in Ohio and a flyby few days in Vegas.  No passport stamps, no new continents.  All Anglo. Not enough time, less than ten days per year, which is not even 3%.

Maybe this creates opportunities in the future, deferring the short and inevitably expensive long haul trips in favor of the better part of a year.  Maybe the world shifts and it doesn’t work out, or there’s another dream to chase.  I guess we’ll see.

The Time I Joined a Gym
October 15, 2015, 4:09 am
Filed under: Canada | Tags:

There’s a quit window, a free bag and some inspirational reading material.  What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

It’s been… awhile… like eight or nine years.  And the last one was free, because, post secondary.

But the assortment of no-impact cardio is one of the only solutions.

While this knee gets fixed.

And there are classes.  It’s easier to keep going if someone is watching.  Commanding one more set.

And if this goes well, it will justify owning ridiculous patterned leggings.  Leggings all day every day.  I work out.

July 16, 2015, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Canada | Tags:

Right now, eating cheddar and thyme shortbread and red onion marmalade from Niagara, like fancy.

So many highways lately, which is actually a good thing – we had been here so long and had not done certain things, guests are a good reason to get out, drink the wine.  Not worry so much.

The Most Fun Thing, lately, has been bobsledding.  If you go to Whistler, there is a non-profit that will throw you down the pro track, staffed by competitors and track maintenance people.  It was kind of wild.

We also finally went to the Highly Ranked Scandinavian baths for massages and relaxation.  No one is allowed to speak around the grounds or in the pools, everyone moves around slowly in white robes being Very Serious about eucalyptus steam and cold showers.  There were bliss balls.

One quick blink and it was mid-July.

Big Brother with No Sound On
July 6, 2015, 3:52 am
Filed under: Canada, unrelated thoughts | Tags:

Hair salon.  Medium cold brew coffee and a fresh well-fried donut.  Afternoon ceasar with horseradish.  Finding a new farmer’s market. The wildfires blanket the city in an unfamiliar haze.  There are very few days we can’t see the hills in the distance.  It settled in last night, we wait for the ocean to pull it out to sea.  Everything smells like campfire.  It’s a good reason not to hang out laundry (or to do laundry at all).


Right now it’s time to get back into work, Sunday evening.  In theory, this is month 18.  In theory, about 77 more Sunday evenings like this.  There’s always the possibility of a radical shift in plans, because: who really knows?  But imagining a time when Sundays don’t mean a cloud of building obligations and bubbling stress is kind of nice. It’s obviously not harrowing, but it’s unsustainable and sometimes pushes a bit towards feeling kind of insane.  I think about life after this and what it looks like is not that clear yet.  I think about limiting how many things come in the house because I’ll have to get rid of them or ship them.  I think about the looming paperwork to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.


in theory, this summer so far has been pretty rad.  We started by seeing Jurrasic Park in 3D on June 21, after ending Spring with a barbeque and friends.  A few days later, a classic four day road trip that ended in Revelstoke, with picnics by glacial lakes and social river banks.  Yesterday, we lived out an 80s yuppie fantasy with hours of ocean jetskiing (reality = windswell = butt bruising), then cooked a strange variety of sausages on the BBQ.  Next weekend is a wood cabin in the mountains.  Then, there will be a Talib Kweli show and… a soap making class?  We’re going back to see my family for a few days at the lake.  The weekend after that maybe an out of town air show.  At that point, there are a handful of proper summer weekends left.

No big festivals.  Nothing crazy.  Lots of Canadiana.  Quite a bit of family.  A lot of hours on the sunny patio, easily the best feature in our place.

June 1, 2015, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Canada, when I grow up | Tags:

Last month was 13% less productive than usual.

There is this expectation of being mechanical, that every month will be the same (or better).  This is month 31.

The to-do list is going okay. Eat the frog first, all that.

Today is punctuated like a lot have been lately, by a sub sandwich, “pizza” or ham, ham or pizza.  Two or three times per week.

No calculations have been analyzed with respect to sandwich, and sandwich variety, indexed to productivity.