The Daily EO: September 19th, 2012

I needed to head into the “city” to look at a loft for rent and to finally get my hair cut.  Thank god – I do have back-of-head dysmorphia.  I am always convinced I have grown a horribly hairy neck and that I look a mess from the back.  So, after nearly 2 months of not cutting my hair, I was excited to get my hair cut in shiny Yaletown.

The hairdresser came recommended to me by my aunt.  The stylist kept a running commentary from the minute I sat down until she shook my hand goodbye.  Everything from apartment hunting, Vegas, cute guys, Forever 21, and partying.   I think I like my hair, but whoa!

Anyways, afterwards Emile and I checked out the loft and found it was too expensive for what we were getting.  At least what we thought.  I am sure someone will pay it.  Not us though.

When you are new to town, you have to count on the opinions of others to find your places.  Hence my aunt stylist recommendation.  But soon you need to move onto the anonymous.  I hit Yelp! for a recommendation for “cheap dinner” and the people gave me three choices nearby:  Save-on-Meats, Salt and Shizen Ya.  We decided to skip sushi for tonight and find Salt.  It sounded interesting.

Salt Tasting Room is located in Gastown the historic heart of Vancouver.  It’s darker, it’s grittier and it represents more of the city.  The restaurant we were looking for is located on Blood Alley – which really sounds intriguing doesn’t it?

And an alley it is.  Complete with dumpsters and those you need to dig in them.  And yes, there was a gentleman there who was digging.

We were early for supper and so the place was pretty empty.  Essentially Salt is a charcurterie restaurant – no kitchen – they only serve sausage, cheese, condiments, some desserts, wine and beer.  We choose the “BC Plate” to eat some delicious local delights and paired it with a flight of wine.  The servers were friendly and knowledgable.  The food was good.

We sipped, we nibbled.

I felt so urbane, so sophisticated sitting in an alley, eating honeycomb and chevre, and sausage with quince paste and guiness mustard.  It was the chic downtown vibe I wanted – the desire that has been fighting against the more logical and practical  rentals in the suburbs.

September 19th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:   You know, I could live here.

The Daily EO: September 15th, 2012

I awoke early in my new city.  Before even my friends and their kids did.  It was 6:30 and I needed to pee urgently.  I eventually found myself sitting on the couch reading one of the local papers.  I was reading all of this Coquitlam news with very little context.  The sun was shining in and I realized that I sitting waiting for everyone to wake up when I could slap on my running shoes and go for a run in the unusually dry and sunny Vancouver weather.

Yes!  I will explore my new city.  I will learn her secrets and soon be avoiding traffic snarls like a local.

I snuck out and started running up the hill.  I had romanticized this in my head and was feeling pretty smug and happy.  A man on an old ten speed bike wearing large earphones came tearing around a corner about 3 feet in front of me.  He shouted “Give me your dinosaurs!  Not your diplomats!  Not your Embassies!  Your DINOSAURS!”   He was speaking directly to me – he wanted me to receive this message.

I was startled for he bolted out in front of me, because verbalization didn’t make much sense to me, and he wasn’t wearing a helmet or using a bike lane.  I spent the rest of the run trying to puzzle this out.  But it took the romance away.  No more small town.

We had an appointment to look at the coolest loft in Yaletown (“the” place to be in Downtown Vancouver with prices to match).  The loft was fantastic in many ways and terrible in others.  This lead to the first of many differences between Emile and I today.

After that I had made an appointment to have my eyebrows threaded and my eyelashes tinted.  Mother of Pearl!  Who invented this?  I can have my eyelashes dyed and they look like I am always wearing mascara – but better.  And I don’t have to worry it smudging or running or taking it off.  What an Invention!  I am loving this.  Emile and I made up, I was so happy.

Next we went to Emile’s swanky office and he showed me about.  We spent 3 hours looking for apartments and getting hungrier and hungrier and more and more solidified in our homelessness.  There should be laws for descriptive words on listings.  We made a couple of calls, and the joy of my eyelashes faded a bit.

The road dogs were not particularly good, but they filled the need.

Emile needed to fix up his wardrobe, so we made our way to Pacific Centre which was completely packed.  I walked into Banana Republic and Emile almost fainted at the price of the first pair of pants I picked up for him.  He said “Let’s go to The Bay”.  I then took him into Guess and a couple other stores.  He kept saying “Let’s go to The Bay”.  Yes, bloody well, shut up, I’ll take you to damned Bay.   Arggg!

Could we find the suit section in The Bay?  Finally with some things to try on, Emile stood with a strange look on his face in the change room.  I had long since collapsed to the ground in frustration and confusion.   He thought he was having an anxiety attack about all of this change.  I immediately remembered how much he is going through and we made up again.

We bought hardly anything at The Bay, and went outside.  It turns out though, that it wasn’t an anxiety attack – Emile was just having heartburn from the raw onions on his hot dog.  He’s feeling much better after a antacid.

Well, onto Moore’s and a very canny salesman took one look at our bedraggled and weakened selves, and kept the store open for us 1/2 later than closing times.  And he earned that commission.  Emile was beyond making decisions at that point, and simply kept agreeing with whatever I or the salesman said.

Dinner was quick shared pad thai entrée near Metrotown and then we stopped at my grandpa’s place for a quick visit.

September 15th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:  For the first time in my life, I was able to drop in on my grandpa.

The Daily EO: September 13th, 2012

I felt ambivalent about the drive to Vancouver the next day.  It’s long, but not really that long.  Long enough to listen to about 3 hours of music, 1 1/2 hours singing along to Ragtime – my favorite musical – and 3 vinyl café episodes.  But not so long that you need to start out at the break of dawn or drive into the night.  I had been somewhat anticipating the drive all week.  Emile left ahead of me, and I am anxious for things to get started.   But at the same time, I like Cranbrook and hanging out at home.

Home is stable.  It doesn’t require me to learn the streets, or figure out who my dentist will be.  I know where to get things, I know where to park if I want to head to the bank.  It’s easy because I lived it.  Vancouver not so much.

I put off packing much to my mother’s consternation.  She asked me several times if I needed help.  I think she didn’t like see things left undone when they could be . . . well.. .  done.

September 13, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:  Cranbrook isn’t home anymore.

The Daily EO: September 4th, 2012

For days, I have wanted to get going already.  Let’s get in the car and head west, what are we doing hanging around here?  And this morning I realized why – I was avoiding the tearful goodbyes.  It’s not that I don’t want to be here, it’s that I need to be somewhere else too.  But the end date makes things so much more poignant.  Over the last four days we are having to say goodbye to everyone we love in Ontario – knowing that visits and calls will not be as immediate as before.

At my wedding after the ceremony Toni (my mother-in-law) grabbed me by the hips and said to me “You two are right for each other.  Be good to each other.  Take care of each other.”   It was the first time she had ever grabbed me by the hips – and I knew she was telling me something that meant a lot to her.  This morning, when she did it again, I had to blink several times to hold back the tears  – and I wasn’t entirely successful.  “You’re doing this together.  And that makes it right.” She said.  My father-in-law hugged us both a little longer than usual.

We left them standing in the drive-way waving goodbye, looking a bit sadder than usual.  They gave us a card to read on the way.  Emile was driving so he asked me to read it aloud.  And he knew I couldn’t do it for some time. Instead we sat quietly with our thoughts as we left St. Catharines behind us – both regretful of the moments we know we will miss but still certain of our decision to move to Vancouver together.

And then that evening a dinner with our friends in Huntsville to say our last goodbye to good friends there.  And the night before with friends in St. Catharines.  Friday night – Toronto friends.  My heart tears a little with each hug, card and well wish.  I want to stay, I want to go.

Tomorrow we start out, tomorrow we begin a long trip to a new start, but we still look backward.  Muskoka is where we married, each found our career path and became part of a community as a couple.

September 4th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:  The selfless well wishes from family and friends who sadly know this is the right thing.

The Daily EO: September 3rd, 2012

Things I am afraid of:

  1. Getting all the non-work things – both tasks and pleasure – done while working full time.
  2. That I am not as good as I was before when working as a materials manager
  3. That I wasn’t as good as I thought I when working as a materials manager
  4. Making new friends
  5. Spiders
  6. Emile resenting me for separating him from his family and his home for 40 years
  7. That Vancouver vacation spot will not be as good as Vancouver living spot
  8. That rain will make me sad
  9. I’ll drift apart from my friends
  10. Enclosed spaces that I could accidentally be trapped in
  11. The increased risk of earthquakes on the west coast
  12. Saying goodbye to everyone and not being able to say what I want to say
  13. A Fresh Start


Things I look forward to:

  1. Both of us working in our chosen careers at the same time
  2. Buying material goods – while recognizing I don’t need material goods for happiness
  3. Spending more time with my grandparents and family.
  4. Travelling to Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, Whistler, Okanogan, Kootenays, Sunshine Coast, Washington and other close by destinations
  5. Not shoveling snow
  6. Tax Season
  7. Getting a pedicure and my eyebrows threaded
  8. Buying trendy rain gear
  9. Ability to visit my mom and brother for a weekend
  10. The varied options in a large urban centre
  11. A Fresh Start


Things I hope for:

  1. Emile flourishing in his new home town despite the separation from his family
  2. Emile’s law firm recognizing the talent he has
  3. Building a future at my new company
  4. Continuing Fit April through
  5. Positive resolution to the economic crisis in Europe
  6. A visit from Emile’s family next summer
  7. A Fresh Start


September 3rd, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:   Worries that haunt you in the night don’t seem as bad in a list in the light of day.

The Daily EO: August 28th, 2012

This is my 200th post.

And since I should mark this somewhat arbitrary milestone, it seems a good time to let you all know that Emile and I are moving to Vancouver.  Yes, we are taking the plunge and heading west.

West where there are jobs.  Where there is rain instead of snow.   Where there are no spiders, just kittens.  West where mana can be purchased at the grocery store.  Where the subway is called the pleasing SkyTrain.  Where colds don’t last as long – if you even get one.

August 28th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:    Saddle up the Fit, it’s another road trip west.


The Daily EO: August 3rd, 2012

Greetings from Butte, Montana and the Copper King Conference Centre and Resort!

Hours driven:  16 hours
Kms travelled (door to door):  1197.2
Money spent:  $215.43

Well, we didn’t get an early start because we wanted to catch up on some sleep.  After some concern about the border crossings into the US on the Canadian long weekend, we were happy to find the delay was only about 20 minutes.   Emile – accustomed to the large bridges for border crossing in Ontario – was disappointed to find that the Peace Arch was as small as it is it.  He thought the Peace Arch referred to a glorious bridge stretching across a river (like Niagara River).

Cell Phones are now switched off and we began probably the longest period either of us has spent disconnected in over a year.  Can’t look up hotels, maps, or settle arguments without the internet.

I always find adjusting to the road signs in the US is such a problem.  In Canada, you know if the road sign says “Regina 193”, you’re going to be there in 2 hours give or take.  In the US, you see “Missoula 193”, you’ve got another 3+ hours.  It makes the next distance sign feel like you’ve accomplished very little.

We stopped in . . . um. . . some city just outside Seattle to get some groceries and bought ourselves some American Only goods.  This included Keebler Cinnabon Cookies, Triple Double Oreos (three wafers, 1 vanilla icing and 1 chocolate icing), Reduced Fat Cheeze Its (you know, we have a strict diet), and a large Mexican Beer (just for the thrill of purchasing alcohol in a grocery store).

After that, I typed e-mails into Word, and we drove across Washington, into Idaho (Emile wonders why they got that little panhandle) with plans to stop in Coeur D’Alene.  We weren’t tired in there, so decided to keep pushing on, not knowing what was awaiting us.

Arrogance again led us to believe that we’d easily find a hotel room in Montana.  We started stopped in St. Regis, and by the time we asked at the third hotel in Missoula, we thought something might be up.  I asked the girl what was going on.  She looked at me like the ignorant Canadian I am and said “It’s Friday night.  It’s Montana.   It’s summer.”   Well.  Hmmm.  Well that pulls me down a couple of pegs.   Its midnight by now, but what to do? Park with the Truckers, and snuggle in the fit?  Or keep driving.  Emilie cracked open a diet cola, and some American Only Chili Fritos and said “I’m good to go.”

We headed towards Butte, while I slept for the next stage of driving if necessary.   When we got to Butte, we asked at 3 hotels before someone said “Copper King” might have rooms.

The clerk wasn’t the most attractive man – drinking a 7-11 Super Big Gulp at 2 in the morning might give you a clue about why – but I almost leapt across the desk into his arms when he told me there was a room.

August 3rd, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:  Staying at the former “it” spot from 1985.  But who cares?  It was a clean, well-appointed, and friendly with soft flat surfaces to sleep.

Leaving Vancouver. Goodbye Grandpa.

The Daily EO: July 29th, 2012

I call it the Holland Hangover in honour of my father-in-law.  That feeling that you are in the perfect place at the perfect time, and it is the place you should always be.  I sat in Yaletown (Vancouver), enjoying a high quality chai tea and a beautiful sunny day – no humidity.   People were walking to their destinations, smiling in the lovely weather – and were out and about enjoying the city.  I was with a friend I value very much and I wondered why people ever live anywhere else.

This type of moment invariable occurs while you are on vacation – which as we all know is not normal life.  It is better life – with better food, special “catch-up” get togethers, no work to concern yourself with and other hedonistic pursuits.  Sleeping in late, touring notable landmarks, and void of any annoying things like errands, deadlines and budgets.

My father-in-law has it every time he visits The Netherlands – he gets together with all of his friends and family and in the best moments wonders why he ever left.  Is the grass greener in Holland?  It’s hard to tell when you’re wearing sunglasses and sipping a perfectly chilled glass of wine.  It could just be an illusion.  Or it ould be that life is just better here.

Where does the hangover end and where do your true desires begin?

July 29th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:  Wanting to snatch the moment like a hen on a junebug in Vancouver, BC.