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March 27, 2008 03:21 +0000  |  Homelessness Moments In Time Vancouver 6

I met a friendly young woman today while waiting for the #4 bus at the corner of Gore and Pender. Standing there, music blasting in my ears, I could barely make out the voice of a girl behind me yelling "HELLO!", but once I realised what was going on, I tugged the buds out of my ears and put on my cordial face: "Hello".

"Those are some really trippy glasses" she said, moving in a little closer than I'd like.

I smiled, "Thanks, my Dad made them for me. He owns an optical store up in Kelowna."

"Really?" she gasped, "I grew up in Kelowna! Had a nice job there too, worked in the bush." She then went on to list the names of a number of suburbs, none of which I recognised and I just stared blankly back at her.

"Sorry," I said, "I just go up there every couple of months to see the parents. The town is too white bread for me to want to get to know it in such detail".

"That's funny! I grew up there and ate rye" she laughed. It took me a minute to get it, but while the smile was delayed, it seemed to be appreciated.

"It's welfare day!" she bubbled again. "But you're not on welfare are you?"

"No," I motioned behind her, "I work just over there."

"Really? What do you do?"

"I'm a software developer."

Now she was the one with the blank stare.

"I write code for websites" I said, making a typing motion with my fingers. "It's not that hard, anyone can do it. You should try."

She smiled uncomfortably, and went on to talk about how she wanted a laptop. We talked about my job a bit more, how easy it was to get wireless in this city etc. She seemed interested, and I was just waiting for the bus, so I just kept talking. At one point though she interjected:

"I do crystal meth!" She pointed to the building behind her. Apparently her friends were upstairs securing her some in celebration of her new found Wednesday wealth.

I grimaced, "Ew, that stuff'll kill you you know".

"Yeah, but just a little bit" her tone was no different from one anyone else might take when chatting about the weather.

"Well, I don't know, I kinda like my life" I said and she smiled, shrugged it off. Just then, a voice comes from the door and her friend hands over a little bag. She bounces over, picks up a little bag and returns to me: "Wanna see it?"

I agree, and she extends her hands toward me, but not letting go of the clear plastic. The crystals are a translucent yellow, As if someone had crystallised urine and sugar into 3mm cubes. "Humph, how much was that?" I ask.

"Twenty bucks" she smiles at me again. I search my head for a suggestion for something else she might have spent that money on, but my mind blanks and she turns to leave. "Goodbye stranger!" she squeals and she teeters down the street. She's in a great mood, and my bus is minutes away.

May 09, 2007 00:44 +0100  |  Moments In Time 5

I'm sitting in the Cathedral Church of St. James waiting for the start of a a special performance of the works of Vivaldi and Mozart. Frankly, I don't much care what they perform, I'm mostly here because it's classical music in an old cathedral. Quite the treat really.

However, in order to get a decent seat, I had to get here early, and as such, I've been sitting here for nearly an hour now... with two nattering old women behind me. I can't help but evesdrop and their conversation is maddening. With the hot topics ranging from flower decorations for funerals to how Bobby is doing in University, to what kinds of great deals you can get on loveseats if you go to just the right place... This Martha Stewart bullshit is making me mad. (Sidenote: I couldn't remember Martha's name, so I asked the guy next to me... you can guess who chimed in from behind me to answer the question).

I just hope they can shut up for the performance.

March 14, 2007 01:20 +0000  |  Moments In Time Multiculturalism Toronto 3

The snow has finally melted. The air is actually warm again, and wearing a tshirt out without 3inches of down between you and the elements is no longer a risky idea. I'm working rather late at my desk, and as 8:30pm rolls by, I hear banging outside in the city streets below. A few more explosions and I hop over to the window:

There are fireworks in Mel Lastman Square

I do a quick check through my brain's limited list of special calendar dates and find nothing. Regardless, the boom-booms stop and I get back to work: only a few more lines before this ini class is finished.

I clear up my desk, make room for the cleaning lady to vacuum beneath me and saunter out the front door of my building at about 9pm to bask in the cool/warm weather the city has granted me... and then, I hear music.

The streets of North York are strangely busy at this time of night. Busier, I might say, than they were at lunch time earlier today. There's music down near the square and people are jay-walking all over the place. Traffic is at a standstill and for a moment, Yonge in North York looks like Bloor in the Annex. I follow the crowd and the music to a giant mob filling up the square and start looking around for a clue as to the occasion.

People are dancing, socialising, and making out, and nowhere is there a banner or a sign to help an ignorant guy out. The crowd is largely multi-racial, ranging in ages 3 to 93, and so I ask a complete stranger: "So what's the deal here?"

The guy explains that today is the Iranian New Year's eve. As Iran works on the Lunar calendar, this is the last Wednesday before the Spring Solstice -- the start of the year in Iran. He apologises for not having more detail; his memory is foggy having moved to Canada over 30years ago and he doesn't have all the information on hand. I smile and thank him for the info, linger for a little bit but head back so I can be home on time to meet Melanie on time. But as I walk up the steps away from the square, I turn and see something that makes me smile: there, surrounded by thousands of dancing Iranian expats, is a steel big menorah, erected when the square was built years ago.

This is why I love Toronto.

August 09, 2006 00:04 +0100  |  Moments In Time 4

I've found that the subway, despite it's reasonably-smooth ride and relative peace, is not condusive to blogging or writing code. I think it's the screeching stops or the drone of station announcements that does it... or maybe it's the door chime. Whatever it is, I don't feel like doing anything creative when I'm riding home on that long stretch.

By comparision, I find that whenever I find myself walking down the Danforth, I feel the need to call someone -- anyone with which to share the moment. My parents will find, that if they tally up all the times I've called them, a large percentage of these phonecalls have included sounds of children running, water fountains bubbling and cars rolling by... I like this street, it's far more soothing than shooting through the city underground... I miss the SkyTrian.

Presently, I'm sitting next to the water fountain at the corner of Logan and Danforth. Having just finished a tasty gyro from Alexandros (yum) I thought I'd take a look around to see if I can find some wireless access points... no luck yet :-( When I get home, I have to do some laundry as well as (hopefully) find the motivation to finish categorising my pictures from Niagra Falls and my last days at my former company. I'm thinking that's aiming a bit high though.

July 11, 2006 21:44 +0100  |  Moments In Time 5

It's a hot sticky summer and I'm in a long-sleeved, white, collared shirt and ugly red tie, staffing the floors of Langley's local Cash Converters. I'd been hired as the resident "computer expert" and as such, was tending the shelves and answering questions from the sometimes friendly, but always curious people who would stop in.

A regular of ours, an odd-looking old man with a penchant for old hard drives was stopping by on his usual tour when I found myself preoccupied with a herd of kids asking questions about various machines. The old man motioned to me that could take my time -- he wasn't going anywhere and so I indulged the noisemakers.

20minutes go by on that slow afternoon and I'm there explaining concepts like RAM, IDE slave/master, networking and all sorts of other fun stuff and that magic point finally passes -- where they kids suddenly feel as though their brains are full and now they just want junkfood. They smile, say thanks and take off, never having spent a cent in the store -- whatever, it was a slow day anyway.

That's when the old man comes up to me: "You know, I think you really missed your calling. What are you doing here when you should be a teacher?".

I nodded in understanding, if not in agreement. He was, after all, only the hundredth person to make such a statement.

My grade 7 teacher used to say it all the time: "You really should be a teacher" -- but she's only the first that I can remember. It's always been something I've enjoyed and been really good at... I just haven't found a way to do it in a way that I'd be comfortable.

Now that I've handed in my resignation though, the boss has me training Jia to replace me. It's quite the task to compress 2 and a half years of experience into a couple weeks... There's no way I'll be able to impart everything, but the little sessions we've been having have made me feel good anyway. I love explaining complex subjects to people who really want to know how the stuff works and I'm really good at it.

Now if only I can find a way to do this kinda thing full time and save the world at the same time... that would be awesome.

May 14, 2006 19:19 +0100  |  Moments In Time 0

My apartment is quiet, save for the low hum of computer fans. The constant din coming up from the DVP has gone away for the one weekend a year in which they shut it down. I can finally hear myself think. It's really quite lovely.

May 01, 2006 04:41 +0100  |  Moments In Time 0

Blossoms

As my first LiveBlogging experience, I am pleased to report that I am currently sitting on a hill in High Park. A group of people have it gotten in their heads that a party in the park would be a good idea. There's a sound system playing chillout music, a guy with a bongo drum and about 100 people, some with joints, all just relaxing under the cherry blossoms. It's absolutely lovely.

I left Vancouver to see how people lived, and contrary to popular belief, we're not all murderers and sociopaths. Now if only the leaders of the world could learn to lie back and smoke a j with the rest of us, we could all enjoy a pleasant evening together.

Happy Beltane everyone.

March 17, 2006 14:55 +0000  |  Moments In Time 4

"I'll meet you outside the music room after school" she says, and patiently wait there I do. Standing outside the doors in the empty hallway outside the school's modest music room, I stand there, waiting for my girlfriend.

At first, the wait is uneasy. I've been taught from a very young age that I would best not waste my time with music. It's for the dumb kids, the ones who aren't good enough at the "important subjects" like Math, Social Studies and the Sciences my parents had said. I can't just waltz in there and fraternise with the music-folk... I'm not one of them. Besides, It looks like they're starting something anyway. No, I decide to wait in the empty hall.

And then It happens.

Mr. Thompson hushes the choir and then touches a key on the piano. Looking toward the choir, he raises his hands and the room sings back to him -- one solid representation of that single note. He then motions to each choral section, pointing up or down and the room moves with him.

There I am, in the hallway outside the music room, peering through a tiny window, basking in the most beautiful sound I've heard in my life.

I re-thought my position on music at that very moment and joined the Choir the next year. Thanks to Thompson Tran, who managed to get me in, and to Mr. Thompson who took a chance on a guy who had no prior musical experience. I went on to be heavily involved in the program, and can honestly say that my time in choir was the single shining light on a dark 13years of school.

Some days, I just wish I could get together with my Old Friends and sing again.

November 23, 2005 06:15 +0000  |  Moments In Time 1

it's that time of year again. the teacher is moving all of our desks into new pairings with the hope that we'll learn to mingle more and be less "cliqueish". the mood in the room is a mixture of fear and excitement as the lot of us look around in the hopes of getting placed next to friends and not in the vicinity of anyone too repulsive.

when my turn comes up, i'm placed next to a pretty girl with long, curly locks of sandy blond hair. for my part, i'm terrified -- she's one of the more popular girls in the class and i... well i'm not very well liked at this point in my life ;-) i can't stop looking at that hair though...

over the months we're seated together, i learn to relax. turns out that i don't burst into flame when she looks at me. like any other relationship imposed on two people who would normally not associate, we find common ground and learn how to compensate for each other's weaknesses. i help her with her school work, and she... sings. i am 11 years old and for what feels like the first time in my life i find myself stepping back from my work and just listening to the beauty in the world. before allisen, i don't think i ever really appreciated music.

allisen clements was one of those girls who somehow managed to brighten the room just by being in it. like the girl i met on the subway that one night, she had a way of making those around her want to let go and live... if only for a little while.

whenever i'm feeling too wound up, i try to think of her and so this morning i went googling for her. turns out she works at a community centre in vancouver these days. i guess she's still brightening people's lives ;-)

November 01, 2005 03:44 +0000  |  Moments In Time Personal Life 5

i pull up in my car, picking her up from work so we can go back to my parent's house and get dressed for trick-or-treating. she opens the door, smiles at me in that way that makes my heart thump and pulls out a baggie: "happy sowan!" she giggles and hands me some chocolates she reserved for me from her work. she hates working retail, but it has it's perks. her name is jessica and it's about 5 years ago.

whenever i think of halloween, i think of jessica, the girl i let break my heart too many times, and who, from time to time i find myself wondering about. how's she doing? who's she with? she never really felt anything for me, and that's ok, but i still miss her -- even though i know full well how terrible she was for (and to) me.

but onto happier memories.

i took my first step in adult halloween life tonight. andrea and i chapperonned a bunch of little kids around the queen east neighbourhood in our own outfits and got to check out the impressive displays and chat with the parents. it was kinda neat actually, like seeing your whole childhood experience from a new angle. screaming children aside, it was a very nice night.

a decorative house
one of the most impressive things i saw tonight was this house completely tricked out with hundreds, possibly thousands of figurines. here's only a sampling of it.

my costume? i was a metrosexual, complete with suit & tie, cellphone, concrete hair, swanky walk and a power lunch. sadly though, no one outside of those who already knew me recognised it as a costume... i suppose this shouldn't be a surprise, but it's still rather sad and a bit disturbing.

but the winner of best costume has got to go to eden for her fabulous impression of willy wonka. that's nice work