Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Who knew commuting to work could be so exciting?

I’ve been walking to work every day for the past two weeks. I always leave the house at the exact same time and follow the exact same route. Every morning, I see the exact same people doing the exact same thing.

There is one guy who cycles east while I walk west. Our paths always cross at the exact same intersection at the exact same time. You could set your watch by it.

He looks like he cycled right out of the pages of the MEC catalogue. He wears an aerodynamic helmet, clear sunglasses, spandex pants, padded gloves, a reflective rain jacket and cycling shoes that clip into the pedals. His rear bike rack is loaded down with panniers. He looks like a guy on his way across the country rather than a guy on his way to work.

The thing is, underneath all that ridiculous gear, he’s actually pretty cute. Or at least his face is cute (since that’s all I can see). I sneak a long look at him every morning as we cross paths. I’ve never seen him looking back at me. His eyes always remain focused on the road.

But this morning, as I was walking through the intersection, he looked right at me and smiled. Not just a polite little “good morning” smile, but a real smile. I was so flustered that by the time I regained my composure and smiled back, he was halfway down the block.

I was completely caught off guard. You have a better chance of being struck by lightening than being smiled at by a stranger in Vancouver (let alone being smiled at by a handsome stranger). It may sound cheesy but it totally made my day. I practically skipped the rest of the way to work.

I’m going to give him a wave and a smile of my own tomorrow morning. Who knows where it could lead?

The only hitch is that I’m moving out of the neighbourhood at the end of the month. So this titillating commute will soon come to an end. If I wasn’t such a chicken, I’d flag him down and ask him out.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Random thoughts on returning to Canada

It’s funny. When I was in Japan, I was homesick for Canada. Now that I’m back, I can’t stop thinking about Japan. If there’s a lesson to be learned in all of this, it’s that the grass is just as brown on the other side.

I’m not saying it’s all bad. It’s been great to see family and friends again. But readjusting to the daily routine after 15 months away has been tough.

Coming back to Canada has been a bit of a letdown. Nothing has really changed. I’m in over my head at work (two weeks back and it already feels like I never left). Hunting for an apartment in a city with record-high rents and record-low vacancies has been a nightmare (I finally found a place on the weekend but it’s not exactly what I was looking for).

I feel like I’m falling back into the same rut that caused me to escape Vancouver in the first place. As much as I want to jump on the next plane back to Japan, I’m not going to make any rash decisions right now. I’m going to give it a solid six months. If I’m still feeling the same way six months from now, then I’ll figure out where it is I want to be and what it is I want to be doing.

So that’s it. No more moaning about being back. No more whining about missing Japan. It’s time to suck it up and keep those feelings to myself.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Giant robotic dinosaurs?

I had been back in Vancouver less than an hour when my friend John asked me if I had heard about the giant robotic dinosaurs the city was planning on installing in Stanley Park.

“The what?” I asked, thinking I had misheard him.

“Dinosaurs! Giant animatronic dinosaurs! In Stanley Park!”

He explained that the city planned to install 30 life-size (life-size!) robotic dinosaurs in Stanley Park in order to attract more tourists.

I thought he was joking. Until I saw a story about it in the newspaper the next day.

Who in their right mind would think that installing giant robotic dinosaurs in one of Canada’s most beautiful parks is a good idea? Is Vancouver being run by a bunch of five-year-olds?

This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of. People come to Stanley Park to see nature, not robots.

Please tell me Vancouver isn’t actually going ahead with this moronic idea.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Just call me Kato

I'm homeless right now and I have to tell you it's pretty awesome.

I'm not out on the streets or anything. That would suck. I just don't have a place of my own yet so my friends Annelle and John are putting me up in their guest room.

I feel like I'm staying in a four-star hotel. There's food in the fridge and fresh towels in the bathroom. There's free wireless Internet and all the MTV you can watch. There's a subscription to the Guardian and more books than a library. There's even a hot cup of tea waiting for me outside my bedroom door every morning.

I think I'd better find an apartment before I turn into Kato Kaelin.

Unfortunately, that's easier said than done (I mean the "finding an apartment" bit is tough. Turning into Kato Kaelin is actually pretty easy).

Vancouver is ridiculously expensive. All it takes is a few minutes on craigslist to become completely despondent about renting in this city, especially when shithole basement apartments with dirty carpets, wood paneling and prison-cell windows are going for $1,200 a month.

Help! If anyone knows of a good apartment (i.e. no cockroaches) in a good neighbourhood (i.e. not Kerrisdale) for a good price (i.e. less than $1,000 a month), please drop me an email or leave a message in the comment box below. I will be eternally grateful (but probably not as grateful as Annelle and John).