A Month in Montreal

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Overlooking Rue Ste Catherine in Montreal’s Village. View from the living room window of my one-month rental.

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A group of slim, sophisticated women mingle on a outdoor patio (terrasse) in Montreal’s summertime pedestrianised gay district, known as “the village”. Most of them wear muted, tasteful slacks and blouses accented with jewellery. Black and beige the sensible colours of most, two of them punch up the scene with pink and red sun dresses. Their hair is perfect. Too perfect.

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A security person silently ushers me to walk past on the other side of a white screen as I approach walking along Rue Ste – Catherine, less than a block from my temporary apartment. The cameras are rolling. A film set or the scene for a television production. The actors, unfamiliar to me, are speaking English.

I cross the street to the Second Cup, which has become my preferred coffee spot after having tried the nearby competition. My apartment overlooks a Starbucks. I do like their coffee but it’s generally my last choice, only in the event that the other options have poor coffee or are uncomfortable.

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I practice ordering my coffee in French before leaving the apartment but then am greeted amicably and fluently in English. I’ve been here a few times now so they already know I’m an anglophone. I will need to practice when in more unfamiliar settings. The thing is, I have found more meaning and purpose in having routines in my travels. Meeting people once has it’s charms, but becoming a regular somewhere has a lot more feeling of purpose to me. Trying to fit into a community and have a sense of connection when I visit places for me is so much more interesting than simply viewing the sights, taking photos, and having countless singular experiences. Feeling more like I live somewhere rather than am a tourist is perhaps what distinguishes my travel experiences from others. I’m not saying this is better, but it is what I seek in my own travels. I will long remember daily coming in to this Second Cup. I will not remember the other countless places I stop in one time here and there as I meander around the city. Not in any meaningful way.

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I have not written for my blog since I visited New Brunswick in May. I was in a writing groove and then suddenly I wasn’t when I aborted my planned travels for that visit. And then for some reason I’ve felt like what I have to say is not interesting. Perhaps it never was. I know I’m not supposed to say that but it is how I am feeling. Nevertheless, I want to write and I want my writing to lead somewhere, so I need to keep at it whether it’s interesting or not. Because nothing leads to nothing. Something, even if not great, at least leads to something else.

Trying to get my groove back, back in Toronto I took a couple of writing courses that were exactly what I didn’t need. I want to polish and improve my stories. The journalistic rules I learned, when applied to my own writing, made them dull and without humour. I tested it further by applying them to some writing I aspire to. I discovered that even Sedaris stories could be made bland and pointless by blindly applying some formulaic rules learned from a successful journalist. It works for the journalist though. I need to read instructor’s bios more carefully when choosing writing classes in the future. The fill-in-the-blank and use only simple words approach is not what I want to do at all. When drained of all the “non-essential” information, my writing was also drained of all humour, connectedness, and personality. To me it was pointless, I would not share any of what I “achieved” in those courses. Just reading it irritates me. That is what goes in the junk pile.

I have continued to move my life forward having interesting experiences, but I’ve not been able to put them into words yet. The main purpose and meaning of my winter road trip was in the reunions I had with people who have been very dear to me in the past. I didn’t write about those experiences at all. These are the people who fall into the category of lifelong friends.

In my recent past I became very disconnected from most of the people in my life and being reminded that I have these pockets of friends who I love and who love me was very healing. It didn’t just happen, I had to plan it and I also had to step out of my comfort zone to arrive on the doorsteps of friends I had mostly lost contact with. The longest for seventeen years, nearly half my lifetime. I wouldn’t write specifically about my friends, but of my journey and experience of reconnecting. Reconnecting with myself and others.

Now in Montreal for one month I have goals for my time here. The main one is getting my groove back with writing. I will write everyday and hope that sometimes I will write things worth sharing and things to continue working on later. I will continue to work on learning to be connected. With meaningful interactions, by treating others with love, by reaching out to people, by staying in contact with old friends and new. By trying to make good decisions as to where to spend my time and who to spend my time with.

I may share some pics from recent weeks and months on here too. I am going to post weekly again, whether I have anything to say or not. Wish me luck!

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View of the film set from inside the Second Cup.

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Cameras rolling. I’ve seen this a few times now in the past week. The pedestrianised area of Rue Ste Catherine is very convenient for filming since they don’t need to shut down the street to cars.

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The beginning of Montreal’s Pride Parade.

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Was she the mascot of Pride perhaps. . . it was an enjoyable parade partially due to the wonderfully wide Boulevard Rene Levesque meant that crowds were not crowded. I’m not comfortable standing still for long and I was able to walk alongside easily which I did with and against the flow of the parade as I watched.

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Thank you for visiting Personal Travel Stories! See you next week!

That’s Who I Met in Baltimore

Dear readers,
I am currently in Richmond, Virginia but am working on stories from previous destinations while here. Thanks for reading! Cheers!

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A view of the redeveloped harbour front in Baltimore.

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That’s Who I Met in Baltimore

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Baltimore

City of John Waters, Divine, and the films/musical “Hairspray”, Billie Holiday, Philip Glass, Frank Zappa, Babe Ruth, Edgar Allan Poe(b.Boston).

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The day started with a very friendly barista at Caribou Coffee on Charles offering her suggestions as to how I should spend my day. A fun, cheerful young lady probably in her early twenties she reminded me of someone I thought I knew but had been very wrong about.

“Take the Circulator,” she had cheered, “it goes all over where you want to go and it’s free!” I hadn’t found a jump-on-off tour bus, having a free system would explain that. “You can look at the routes online using our wifi, there’s a purple stop right there,” she says, pointing. Charm City Circulator.

Well caffeinated with an espresso-strengthened weak drip coffee, I board a busy bus heading north. Not only is this free, I also get to mingle with locals on this not-specifically-for-tourists service. Because it is mostly just a people-mover, only a few seats are facing forward and I find myself facing inward and my view mostly obscured by other passengers and the large semi-transparent decals that adorn the windows from the outside.

“Take this bus often?” I ask an elderly black woman laden with reused plastic shopping bags. “Mmmm hmmm,” she says dismissively, as if thwarting an unwanted pick-up line. I laugh to myself, or probably out loud, by my interpretation. She’s probably one of those old woman who worries about possibly getting raped, as if some young man would look at her eighty-year-old figure, her underbite, her oversized-glasses trying to cover the drooping bags under her eyes and with her tits dangling to her waist and not be able to control himself. Perhaps living in the past. Just a tad. I would gage her safety in that regard to be quite high myself. And if she is a potential mugging-target for being rich, in that she is very well disguised.

I see an interesting obelisk through the front window so I jump off at what turns out to be a Washington Monument. I learn that George Washington spent the end of his life here, in this neighbourhood known as Mount Vernon. So did Edgar Allan Poe. Coincidence? I think, not a doubt, that was a complete coincidence. Poe died in another part of town and in a very sad state. I take some photos before boarding the next circulator going North.

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At the next stop a middle-aged woman boards with a suitcase and very full open purse and asks the driver if this bus will take her to the Sheraton. “Where’s it at?” he asks. She starts digging into her purse but I answer before she pulls anything out, “It does,” I call over, “I can show you on my map where it is.” I pull out my map and show it to her, it is nearest the stop where I originally boarded. “No, it’s not there,” she asserts impatiently, “it’s up here,” pointing at the Northern end of the map. “But that’s where we are now.” “I would know,” she declares with some attitude, “I used to live in this city.” “I’m at the Radisson which is next door to the Sheraton, so I guess there must be two Sheratons here. I’m sure you’ll find it.” I look away wanting to disengage with someone who is clearly argumentative.

She pulls out her phone gps to see that she was looking at Lafayette, which is a block from the stop where she boarded, and not Fayette, where the hotels actually are. “Oh. It’s on Fayette,” she declares, unapologetically. “Yes, that’s where I showed you.” Now she sits down beside me in a nearly empty bus. I pretend to be friendly but I’m not pleased to be crowded-in by this woman who knows better; I don’t want to continue our conversation. “How long have you been here?” she asks. “I arrived yesterday.” “Oh, you should see blah, blah, blah, blah . . . ” As she is overwhelming me with must-sees I will never remember anyway, she dumps her handbag, which is really just an unclosable tote, onto the floor. A random mess of personal effects sprawls out onto the winter-dirty bus floor. All those within reach help with retrieving her things, depositing them back into her bag. I take the opportunity of helping to get out of my seat which frees me to jump out at the next random stop. “This area looks interesting (no it doesn’t), enjoy your visit (no, don’t),” I chirp as I disembark happy to be free of this overbearing person who knows too much (she doesn’t).

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I find myself wandering in the direction of downtown again in historic Mount Vernon; I am now on St.Paul street which runs parallel to Charles. A young man approaches me from behind and walks alongside. He’s wearing a winter coat with it’s fur-lined hood blocking most of his face. Tall and lanky, I can’t tell if he’s around fourteen or around twenty-four years old. He starts in with a story.

“I came here with my Mom and Step Dad from San Diego,” he begins, “because my Mom has cancer and she had treatments before we came. We used all our money to stay at that hotel last night,” he points behind us to a bare-bones nearby hotel, “because it’s so cold here, we needed to get off the street. Now we don’t have any money for food, could you buy me lunch?”

“Why did you come to Baltimore from San Diego? At least it’s warmer in San Diego.”

“Because my Mom, she wanted to die here.”

I’m trying to make an instant judgement of what I should do and the novelty of his story has effect. Although I have to say, it’s very strange to drag your partner and kid across the country to a cold city when you have no money because you want to die somewhere in particular.

I pull out my wallet and hand him twenty dollars. “Good luck,” I offer as I hand it to him. “Thanks a lot!” he exclaims and turns back, running. That could be four large 7-eleven pizzas. Yes, they have five dollar large pizzas, I never saw them before here. No, I didn’t try one.

Did I just buy his next fix? Very possibly. What do most people do? I tell myself I won’t give to people on the street, only through charities, but then I still find myself considering every time I am approached what the morally-ethical thing is to do.

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I walk in the direction of Little Italy passing the very handsome city hall. Baltimore has a plethora of handsome architecture from it’s heyday as a thriving hub and manufacturing city. Raw materials arrived to Baltimore’s ports, where they were redistributed or manufactured into finished goods and then sent out again. In 1789, George Washington called Baltimore the “risingist” town in America. (fastest growing) There was also a considerable trade in African slaves. The redeveloped harbour front is no longer a centre of trade but it does draw large crowds of tourists, although not in January. Within the city, however, exist a lot of boarded-up relics, impressive historic industrial buildings no longer needed. I noticed these on my first evening when I walked along Howard Street to attend an event at Baltimore’s Ethical Society. At night, the area was like a ghost town. I felt safe, but the lack of people about had me wonder if perhaps my feeling of security was false.

Little Italy was recommended to me as a neighbourhood to visit, and like much of Baltimore it is charming. It’s an artsy, run-down, quietish area just off the city centre mostly consisting of two and three storey row homes many with ground-floor businesses.

I continue on to Historic Fell’s Point, which was founded by William Fell from England and made famous from it’s Clipper Shipbuilding yards. I take some photos of the weathered buildings and colourful graffiti art. It feels edgy and bohemian although I read that it is, “an upscale business and residential neighbourhood”. I guess I couldn’t find that section. Next time.

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Circling back to Harbor Point I am considering my food options when a large black woman near to sixty exits the Cheesecake Factory and approaches me as I consider a menue of one of the other tourist restaurants. She is dressed well but has only a handful of teeth. She pulls up her sleeve. “Excuse me. I went to my doctor today for injections,” she shows me the injection sight, with one of those taped-on vein connectors in place. “I have diabetes. I just want a burger and fries and coke.” She tells me this as if asking for a cure. I look at her for a moment. This woman who probably has advanced diabetes, is asking me to buy her a meal, no – she’s telling me that all she wants is a meal, in an overpriced tourist zone no less, that would possibly contain more calories and definitely more sugar than someone should probably consume in a day. The amount of sugar in the oversized or bottomless cokes one gets here, if a regular part of your diet would nearly guarantee the outcome of having diabetes. “You shouldn’t drink coke,” I suggest.

“I can drink coke,” she replies, her head heightened at the back, “doctor gave me ice cream this morning.” Your doctor doesn’t care if you die, I think. The entitled way she has approached this stranger in an area of expensive tourist restaurants, I tell her no. Why should I feel obligated to buy this stranger a meal that will probably do her worse than if she had nothing. It’s sad, because she probably thinks a burger, fries, and coke is a balanced meal, why else would she ask so specifically after declaring that she has diabetes?

I start walking away and she follows along causing me not to pause at the next restaurants because now I feel awkward considering my dining options with her at my heels. I leave the district having not eaten.

At what looks to be a bus stop for the Charm City Circulator Orange line I pause. I can see the next bus coming along, I had wanted to do this circuit too. “Don’t take the green line, ” a local tells me, “of if you do, don’t stray off the main roads. Not safe for you to be up there.” The orange bus pulls up and the driver opens his door. “This isn’t a stop,” he tells me. “I can’t get on then?” His bus is empty, but the electronic display doesn’t say he’s not in service. “Where you trying to go?” “Nowhere, I’m sight seeing.” “I can’t help you if you don’t know where you want to go,” he says, closing his door. “I just wanted to take your route!” I yell through the closed door as he pulls away. I wasn’t expecting the driver to ask me where I was going, on the purple line I just got on and off. He might have let me get on if I’d given him the right answer. Maybe he doesn’t like to have one passenger aboard. I hardly look dangerous though.

I had been told there was some interesting architecture around the Johns Hopkins Campus that I could see on the Green Line. Now I don’t really want to see it anymore. I continue my wander back to my downtown hotel. I still need to find some food anyway.

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A nice blend of the old and the new in downtown Baltimore.

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Washington Monument in the central Mount Vernon neighbourhood of Baltimore.

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This view looking South near to the Washington Monument.

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Some random views around the area.

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Lots of handsome architecture in downtown Baltimore.

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Baltimore City Hall.

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Wandering around Baltimore’s Little Italy.

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I have to admit, I didn’t exactly feel like I was in Italy or anything. But it’s a cute area.

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Okay, so now I’m in the “upscale” business and residential neighbourhood of Fells Point. There really must be an entire section that I entirely could not find to warrant that description. I like the vibe here, it’s just that “upscale” is not a description that would have ever come to mind.

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Yes, I am still wandering around Fells Point.

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And back to the harbour, now a tourist area.

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With a number of bars in the area, I wonder if anyone ever falls over the railings into the water. Or rather, since there are no railings, if anyone ever just walks right over the edge? Do not text and walk here! (Not that one should anyway, but I think we all have on occasion.)

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One more step and down we go! There are no barriers all around the water’s edge.

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The last ship still afloat that experienced the bombing of Pearl Harbour.

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Unique lighthouse!

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And we’re back downtown.
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I should mention I did meet a few other friendly locals at a little event held at Baltimore’s Ethical society. That is not specifically a story, but was the kind of experience that will find it’s way into other stories. Thanks for visiting http://www.PersonalTravelStories.com!

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Making Friends in Richmond, Week Two Report

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The Handsome Virginia State Capital in Downtown Richmond. I pass this way three times a week nowadays, walking to my chiropractor. Yes, that is snow you see. I am told this is an unusual winter.

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Richmond Week 2 Report

By the end of week one, I was seeming to discover a barrier between me and mainstream Richmond. I had been finding interesting social activities where I could meet new people every day, but I was not having success of making friends outside of groups. Except when it came to the LGBT community. I was finding this community to be uncommonly accepting and inclusive.

I had made personal contact with several people and I came-out to them. Then they disappeared. Some days later I re-contacted them to ask whether I had offended them by being gay, or if they were just too busy to reply. On Sunday, the first guy I had contacted, fully a week previous, finally replied to let me know that I had not offended him. Clearly not an offer of friendship, but he was clearing-the-air as we were to be attending the same meetup event later in the day.

The girl who had given me her card with an offer to meet from her nearby work, I never heard from again after mentioning being gay. The young man I was to see a matinee with on Wed finally replied to let me know that he simply hadn’t checked email all week. This would seem a good reason not to reply if we had not been planning to attend a film the day after we met and only had email contact with each other. In that case, does he still want to go to a film sometime afterall? Well, I guess he hasn’t checked his email for the past 8 days because he again disappeared. So some Richmonders might not want to make gay friends, but they also don’t want you to necessarily feel rejected. They may not want to know you once you tell them you’re gay, but they don’t want you to feel badly about it. It’s like, they know they are uncomfortable, but they also know that they shouldn’t be. They watch tv, things are changing.

Apart from my chiropractor, who I am now visiting every-other-day, week two presented me with few activities to meet new people. Not because it was a slow week, but because I had already made some friends. Sunday I enjoyed meeting the film group to see Jack Ryan and for BBQ afterwards. It’s a nice, social, friendly group. Monday I met friends for dinner, the male-male couple newly from the mid-west. Really sweet guys. Tuesday events were cancelled due to weather and I found myself on the phone getting to know people and making future plans. Wednesday I met someone for a drink around the corner, the kindly fellow I went out with on Saturday. He’s native to Richmond but has real Southern Charm, which is generally not so notable here, in spades. Thursday I met three black gay guys for dinner and drinks. (Why am I pointing out that they were black and gay when I’d usually just say that I met three guys? Because the gay/straight divide has become a surprising topic of my writing here.) Great guys, the couple who had a tropical wedding and another Richmond newbie. Friday I went to DC with one of them for the weekend, so week 2 in Richmond was cut-short.

I do not think that Richmond is a homophobic city. But I do think it may be a segregated city. Honestly, I have not conducted this natural experiment other places so I cannot provide a good comparison, it just happened here. It seems like there were natural social filters working that after a week I found my place and that was of having only gay friends. This is completely new to me. My usual comfort-zone is of being the token gay guy, which is probably a factor of where and how I grew-up. This might say nothing about the community around me at all, or it might indicate that the gay community is very inclusive because they need to support each other. People accept each other readily when they know what it is to be rejected. Not in a brutal way, but in a kept-at-arms-length sort-of-way. Summarily, based on one trait.

For the rest of week two, stay tuned for my upcoming DC postings: DC International Auto Show and DC House Party.

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This modern sculpture of a police man’s head adorns the station near my sublet.

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My old hobby of going to the chiropractor M-W-F has forced itself into my Richmond routine.

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Christmas in New York & Happy New Year!

Dear Readers,
I hope you have all enjoyed the end of 2013 and that you have high hopes and dreams for a happy 2014.

I have not posted on my blog for some weeks but I figure this has been a busy time of year for everyone anyway. Whether you celebrate holidays in December or not, the end of the year brings with it various traditions in many cultures as we reflect on the previous year and look forward to the new one.

I’m not going to share a story today, instead this is just a bit of a catch-up and sharing some photos from my own Christmas in New York.

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This photo collage from 2013 showing pics from the UK, Canada, India, and the USA. If I had sent Christmas Cards or New Year Cards this year, I was going to put this photo in them.

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I spent the month of December in Manhattan. This view was taken from Brooklyn when I joined a tour led by friend, Laurie, who is a NYC Liscenced Tour Guide.

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I stayed just off Washington Square, in Greenwich Village bordering West Village. I loved the area.

Christmas in New York!

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Of course I got a christmas tree to enjoy. I dried orange slices for the first time and really like that traditional look!

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I had a lot of great times with new friends and old during the month, but my hands-down highlight was Christmas with my sister, Barb, and her dog, Andy. They visited from Dec 24th until Jan 1st so we also enjoyed New Years together.

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On Christmas eve we joined carol singing in Washington Square with our friend Guy from England.

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We loved Christmas Eve dinner at “Home” on Cornelia Street, very near to the apartment.

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It was fun taking Andy out on Christmas Day too. He often goes in for kisses when the opportunity presents itself.

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Andy was very lucky that we were happy to walk for hours and that most stores let us shop with him too. Only we couldn’t stop for coffee or food, the laws are very strict about no dogs wherever there is food being served. This is the look he makes when we have returned from a walk but did not take off our coats. Sorry Andy, we’ve gotta eat too!

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Andy could tell where we were getting ready to go out without him. Here he has nestled himself onto Barb’s lap as she is trying to put on her boots.

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Andy Skyping with our Dad’s pug, Buttons, on Christmas day.

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We did not take off our pajamas on Christmas day. I may have cheated and pulled jeans over my onesies though.

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We made our Mother’s cheesy eggs bennies on Christmas morning.

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Andy was exhausted after all the Christmas excitement.

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In the upcoming weeks I will be working on stories from this month in Manhattan while staying in Richmond, Virginia. I also need to catch-up posting my even more recent travels, which will include:

-After NYC I visited dear friends in Rhode Island during the first week of January. They showed me the very handsome towns of Wickford, Newport, and Providence.

-I stayed briefly in Philadelphia but the weather betrayed me so I didn’t see as much as I would have liked. It was freezing and windy and RAINING.

-Currently I am in the charming city of Baltimore where I have enjoyed meeting friendly locals and wandering the streets in the cold, but dry weather.

-Tomorrow I am off to Fredericksburg, Virginia, just for one night as I needed to delay my nearby stay commencing Saturday, Jan 11th.

-I will be staying in Richmond, Virginia for four weeks. The purpose is to get down to business writing! I had too many distractions to write much while I was in New York an I’ve been busy sight seeing ever since. So I needed somewhere to pull-over and reflect and after some research I could tell that I should feel quite at home finding a mix of social activities and quiet time in this little Virginian city.

-I may visit Charlotte, NC, if scheduling allows.

-Following Richmond my “Reunion Tour” of long-time friends continues with a visit with a family close-to-my-heart near Atlanta, Georgia.

-One of my US favs,New Orleans, continues my reunion tour after Georgia.

-Finally, my reunion tour will take me as far as Austin, Texas before I need to start my loop back to Toronto. I’m not American so I need to limit my stay to a max of 6-months during any 12-month period. I don’t want to max my time now because I’ll probably want to spend some of it in NYC again later and who knows where!

I am always happy to meet people while I am travelling so if you or someone you know is in a destination I am visiting, please let me know! Click on the “contact me” tab for my email address.

Cheers Everyone, and
All The Best for a Wonderful 2014!

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Going to the Met (“People Make the City” Series)

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Vera

“I’ve been watching that collect dust for 35 years,” a mature New Yorker tells her friend as they sit staring straight-ahead from the Dress Circle of the Metropolitan Opera House. There is an odd sculpture directly above the proscenium, incongruous to the main of the decor. “It looks a bit like old-fashioned toothless saws and some fishbones; what is it supposed to be?” I ask. In Manhattan one is allowed to jump into others conversations. Toronto is a friendly city too, but we would pretend not to hear a private conversation beside us, to be polite. Here people join in strangers conversations all the time, it’s probably what I love most about this city. “I think it’s a broken violin,” she answers, “but it’s hard to tell. Whatever it is, it sure is ugly.” Yes, it is that. (I look it up later. It’s a bronze called “Untitled” by Mary Callery. I guess she didn’t know what it was either.)

“It’s an ugly theatre,” she adds, “from 1966. The one the opera used before was much nicer.” It’s true, looking around all the balconies, the gold scallop design would have been ugly in any era. The ceiling is great though. I love the Sputnik chandeliers, bursts of crystal celebrating the space age and reminiscent of Superman’s icy home planet. (Did he have an icy home planet? It’s been a while.) I mention this and she adds,”The chandeliers are from Austria.” Before the show an elderly couple I was chatting with in the foyer had told me they were from Czechoslovakia. “The Czech Republic is known for it’s glass and crystal work,” I had acknowledged. Anyway, they are definitely from somewhere. (Post note, they were a gift from the Austrian government and were recently sent to Vienna for refurbishment in 2008.) The lights lower and the low-hanging chandeliers around the periphery rise in unison, they make their way to the ceiling as to not obstruct any view. It is apparent that a few have at times risen too far; there is some damage to the gold leaf ceiling exactly where a few of the chandeliers have scratched against it. This evening they stop about three feet below. In the Met gift shop there are pieces of replaced chandeliers available for sale. Little pieces of starburst that had caught my eye before I knew what they were as they reminded me of my former-partner’s sculptures that he called orb.bits. Sparkly, unique, and collectable, people bought them mostly to hang on their Christmas trees.

Although I don’t love the music of Verdi’s Falstaff I’m happy to see this production conducted by James Levine. I had seen some of his backstory during a live broadcast of Tosca at a cinema recently in Toronto. He has come back after a major spinal injury that had seemed like the end of his illustrious career. Now he’s back and with as much passion as he ever had. With the energy apparent of a twenty year-old. It is a miraculous recovery, even if he is aided by the best hydraulic technology.

“Today’s curtain calls are about twice as long as they should be,” I suggest to nodding seat mates after we’ve all tired of clapping and most of us have stopped. I think it’s great to show appreciation, but if I were directing a curtain call I’d have the company do a respectable once-over and leave the stage with the thunder at it’s full force and before the audience has become worn-out by the effort. Instead they wait for it to trickle, as if they must be standing before us since we’re still clapping. Then we feel like we must keep clapping because they are still standing before us. “Thank you SO SO VERY much,” we seem to be clapping, as if we had not paid hundreds of dollars for our tickets.

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Standing in front of the Metropolitan Opera House at the Lincoln Centre, Manhattan, NYC.

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Gorgeous chandeliers in the lobby.

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Gorgeous chandeliers in the auditorium.

Click the link below to see more images of the chandeliers:

https://www.google.ca/search?q=metropolitan+opera+chandeliers&client=safari&hl=en&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=emuzUpikKqHIsAT41oL4Dw&ved=0CFwQ7Ak&biw=1024&bih=672#facrc=_&imgrc=lwvz7LK3axG8QM%3A%3BKaFFE8jvKuePuM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fm6.i.pbase.com%252Fg4%252F65%252F615665%252F2%252F60101906.ChandelieratMetropolitanOper.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.pbase.com%252Fimage%252F60101906%3B800%3B533

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Meeting on New York Street Corners

I started my writing project last year in Manhattan, in November 2012. This short posting is from that first month of writing. I will soon be completing the circle and returning to NYC in December where I have rented an apartment in Greenwich Village for the month. I am already starting to plan to do some readings and open mics so if you are in NYC let me know if you’d like to join the audience some night when I’m taking the stage! Cheers!

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I experienced the re-election of President Obama in Times Square during my visit in November, 2012.

Warning: The following prose contains some language of a mature nature that may be offensive to some. Also: Smoking is bad for you. Really, really bad. It was really hard to quit, but I finally did for good in February, 2013.

Finn

“Can you spare a cigarette?” so often the opening line of so many interactions and another reason it’s so hard to quit, again. “Sure,” I fumble into my pocket to pull out a package of B&H. I clearly have the look of someone who does not mind sharing cigarettes, based on the frequency this happens. And it’s true, I don’t mind. “Do you need a light?” I ask after handing him one and his hand lingers on mine a second longer than is comfortable. “Sure,” he says with a gentle voice. I flick my little disposable yellow bic holding it up to where it needs to be. He takes it from me and lights it himself.

“Yellow is my favourite colour,” he smiles, handing my lighter back. “Mine too,” which is true, but a long margin. “What’s your name?” he asks. “Darren.” “Darren?” “Yeah. What’s yours?” “- – -in” The noise at the street corner is loud and I miss it. “Sorry?” “Finn.” “Oh, like Finley?” I elaborate as way of verification, still guessing what I heard. “FINN! F – I – N – N ! God! It’s a simple name!” His anger surprises me and I step back, I turn away. I’m back to the task at hand which is meeting someone for dinner at the corner, but I’m not sure which corner, I just know that we’re meeting at this busy intersection.

“I’m sorry,” he says, reappearing in front of me after having sat for a few moments and finished his cigarette. “Would you like some beer?” he asks, standing too close, intensely making eye contact. I’m blushing. He’s a very cute little guy, not at all my type, but the attention feels nice and he makes me feel special. He holds-up a large can wrapped in a magenta pashmina with just the top showing. “No thanks, I’m waiting for someone, I’m meeting him here.” “Oh,” his face drops. “Is he your boyfriend?” “No.” “Your bodyguard?” “Yes, I’m meeting my bodyguard.” “O-Kay,” he replies in that high-toned ‘I understand’ sort of way. “I’m just kidding, I’m meeting a friend.”

“My roommate calls his guy his bodyguard. Whenever they go anywhere, he tells everyone he’s his bodyguard.” “Really?” “Yeah, but my roommate is an asshole. I mean, he’s a nice guy, I like him, but he’s an asshole.”

“What’s your name again?” “Darren.” “It’s just that I’d really like to go with you to your house and suck your dick all night. I’m just sayin’ . . . . .”

“You saved me!” I blurt aloud as my date arrives on the scene. “Oh?” I gesture with wide eyes. “Okay then, lets go!”

“Bye Finn.” “Bye Darren.”

My date and I walk nearly a dozen blocks South before settling on an Italian Restaurant for dinner. Chatting, we don’t pay great attention to the restaurants we’re passing, but it’s in the direction of his meeting afterwards. Following dinner, we walk a few more blocks where I deposit him for his evening rehearsal. After parting, I continue walking up the side street, I’ll walk a different route home for interest.

“Can you spare a dollar?” a small voice calls out to my left as I round the corner onto 8th Avenue. “Finn!” “Darren!” “Yeah, I’m a homeless guy,” he admits,”that’s my bed and he’s my roommate I told you about.” He points to a commercial entrance closed for the day, in which there is a small pile of dirty blankets, a shopping bag, and another smallish black guy holding the fort.

Finn suddenly brightens. “How was your date, Darren?” “How did you know it was a date?” “Oh, I could tell.” “It was really nice. We’re meeting again.” “I’m happy for you.” “Thanks.” “Here’s some money for dinner, Finn, I gotta go,” I start to walk. “Thanks Darren! See you around!” “Take care Finn.”

As for my date, we did meet once more. But only once.

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Some random shots from Nov, 2012 in NYC.

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