Canada made me. Canada has brought out the best of me. I shan't ever cease to be grateful for the privileges afforded to me by living in Canada and garnering Canadian citizenship.
'ere me now mon. There be a lot join' on in me life ri' now. So no fancy dancy sidewalk social scientism is in da cards.
Thus, here's my cheap and cheerful predictions for the qualifiers from today's first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest.
After a guilt-free work at home day (very productive, in terms of work and chores), I hopped into the car at 16h30 en route to Cypress Mountain. Since yesterday morning there had been almost 60cm of fresh "powder". In coastal BC "powder" means fresh snow--you need to get aboout 1800m above sea level and much farther from the sea itself to see real powder.
Still, 60cm of fresh snow is waaay better than the snowcone (read: ice) that Cypress was on Wednesday night.
I got on the left just after 17h15: there weren't many cars on the road up, but a couple were clearly not kitted out for winter driving. Luckily they'd slid off the road where there was a shoulder (and snowdrift) to catch 'em: there are bits where going off the road is going over the edge. With snow tires it was easy to go 50-60km/hr with good traction. They had closed the closest parking lots so they could plow some snow out. An extra 5 minutes walk, pas grand chose.
There are two mountains in the downhill area of Cypress. I prefer to start on the side with Vancouver behind the peak: the green run is a bit less challenging and on clear nights the view of Vancouver is awe-inspiring. Tonight the view was fog and cloud. Through the ice pellets. There was lots of fresh snow--so much that the runs were almost completely ungroomed. After a couple of runs (with 1 minute waits for the lift), I found out the other side handn't been opened at all today because of avalanche concerns. But there was a rumour that it would open soon.
I filed that nugget of info away and kept boarding. Today was only the second day with new bindings, and I was beginning to think they were perhaps not quite right...whether that's the bindings, their settings (for heel pressure, in particular) or their position/stance on the board I wasn't sure. But I kept going. After each run I glance over at the other side: nope, still empty chairs going up in the lift.
Until the run I saw people on the lift. So I booted my bald, fat arse over to the other side.
Below us was an untouched winter wonderland: virgin runs, groomed, "fresh corduroy" of the sort one only gets first thing in the morning--if you're willing to queue for it. About a third of the way up, others started coming down. The snow was so soft, all you heard was a *whoosh*. Except when someone took a spill, then it was a *whoomp*. Followed by laughter or whoops of joy. OMG OMG OMG OMG!
Unlike most of the people chasing fresh tracks, I was interested in the green run. Turns out, not many people were (yet). There were perhaps 2 or 3 tracks on Collins. I could carve turns quickly and easily. I could speedcheck without any leg burn. I was breathless and I wasn't even halfway down.
It couldn't last, of course. Each run up there were more tracks and more riders and skiers. Didn't matter. On the run I felt a bit rubbery in the legs, I glided towards the lodge.
I am renewed.
Open your heart
It’s just a fucking bar, I tell myself, as I walk past it again. Except for the disco music. And the blacked out windows. Yeah it’s a bar, but it’s not like a regular bar. Not from the outside.
Not from the inside either. In a regular bar everyone’s talking to friends, hanging out. Here everyone looks at you—well…whoever comes in, not you specifically—even the guys hanging out with friends. Everyone’s facing the door.
No idea how things work here, so I stick with what I know how to do; a cold beer in my hand helps. Well…briefly in my hand *burp*, so I buy another. I do a lap to get the lay of the land, then find myself a place where I can lean, see everyone else, and no one can sneak up on me. No surprises. After a few minutes I notice no one else seems to have fag tattooed on their forehead. Why do I still feel like I do? Time for another beer.
I’ll make you love me
The music’s not so bad: very MTV (it is a “video bar” whatever the fuck that is), not rock, not exactly disco either. But this definitely isn’t my crowd, that’s for sure. Makes me feel better, in a fucked up way. Too pretty, too stylish, too gay.
I don’t fit in here; I don’t know where else I belong either though. At home I feel very gay, on guard, watching my back, hoping when I’m shitfaced I don’t do something that gives me away. Dunno what I was expecting to feel here either, though.
A couple of more beers and I start to notice a few guys that are alright, hot even. A few other customers; mostly bartenders…hmmm, free drinks wouldn’t be a bad thing. Doesn’t matter: it clearly ain’t mutual. Lesson number one: the ones who fancy you aren’t ever the ones you fancy. Fuck it, whatever. Beer’s empty.
It’s not that hard
This place is fucking quiet. Not just for a Thursday; last night was New Year’s Eve, so not a lot of people go out on the first. I usually stay home on New Year’s anyway: too many fucking amateurs crying, puking or flexing their beer muscles. Like every other year I ate hot hors d’oeuvres and watched the ball drop on TV with Mom last night. Then I lay awake in bed, panicked. Can’t do this much longer, gonna lose it. So I made my first ever new year’s resolution: come out. Instead of checking out.
I like being out on the first anyways. No drama, no problem getting a drink, and definitely a critical mass of folks who appreciate a good cold beer. Or 12. But after about six gay beers the twenty bucks I usually spend on a night out in Rockaway (including tip) is gone. Apparently there’s no fucking buy-backs either. I’ve got another ten bucks to late the rest of the fucking night (and a token for the ride home). Hey! Beer #7 comes with a buy-back! And a smile from the super hot bartender. Too bad he’s a fucking smoker.
If you just turn the key
I’m too adrenalized to be hung over. I get to 116th Street sometime after lunch; it’s a 10 minute walk home. Yeah it’s me, yeah I’m home, yeah had fun. Gonna take a bath. Doesn’t help; still wired. Should I do it before dinner? No. Right after? No. When they’re in bed? Maybe. Despite not having eaten since dinner last night, I have no appetite.
I pack a small bag in case I need to leave fast. I have a place to go if I need to. Deep breath. I walk down the hall and sit on the edge of their bed.
2011 was never going to compare to 2010 and its high highs (Olympics) and low low (Mom dying). It wasn’t, however, a boring year either. Rather than troll my blogs (I have this one and a professional one) for “things” to write about, I’m gonna organize this somewhat organically.
Home: Life with querrelle is great. I love, like and respect him and he’s hawt. This is my first (and methinks only) experience with a long-term passionate and sexual partnership. We still turn each other’s cranks and make the earth move. We are also good friends—supportive and challenging when required—and are an excellent team. We do need to nest and tart this place up more this year: closets redone, a new bathtub, some new window coverings, perhaps more paint in more rooms (three are still the white from when we moved in in 2006). And I love that he’s building a relationship with the rest of my family. He also recently made ta doy faw Yorkshire puddings last week and I ate 5. So I owe him a few BJs…
Family: Dad is doing very well since Mom died. Having a close relationship with my sister’s kids helps a LOT. But he seems a bit restless in a good way: he’s looking at some snowbird options. We got him a Kindle for Christmas and he’s now read 3 books on it. Soon he’ll be on Facebook and I will have to quit it…nah, not gonna happen. My chosen family here in Vancouver, though small, nurtures me like no other. Life without Boys’ Night Out would be sad and lonely.
Adventures: did a lot of travelling this year: almost 65,000km of flights. My volunteering in community-based research led to trips to Ottawa and Halifax. I presented at a conference in Serbia and tacked on travels through Bosnia and Croatia. Recently was Warsaw-Vilnius-Riga-Amsterdam, and “home” for the holidays. Oh and Iceland—that was OS-SOME! But I also spent more on travel than I should’ve and will be dialing it back some this year. I’m also finding that as I get older my ability for adventures on my own is waning. Oh, and I suck at German. Ça ne me derange pas… ;)
Health: After two winters of little exercise I’m already doing better this one. I have ice skating lessons each week, and have goals of one snowboard and one cross country ski trip each week. Been to Whistler once and may head up for the penultimate gay ski week weekend in February. AND I’ve cobbled together some downhill skis and am gonna give them another go. Every time I get up in the mountains and glide I’m reborn. Wednesday this week is looking very promising. I’ve also started back at the gym, though that will probably be perhaps once a week if I’m in the mountains as much as I hope. I need to transition this into summer activity though—blading and cycling. My cholesterol’s a bit elevated, as was my BP a few months ago. More exercise will mitigate both.
Work: aside from a knock back in the spring, my career is going well. My secondment has been “regularized” (nice raise too) and I feel valued and respected. I work with a great team—brilliant, good spirits, creative—which makes the odd tool on our team stand out like a sore thumb. I think 2012 is going to be even better.
Lifelong learning: German is a fail (OK a B, but that’s like a nerd fail). Donc j’espère à voyager à Québec pour un cours immersive dans la langue française. Concomitantment il y aura deux conferences academiques à Montréal en juin. Après l’été je déciderai si je continue à UBC en janvier 2013. N’importe: je continuerai quelque part.
2012: This is a leap year and a Dragon year. I’m a Pisces Dragon born the day before Leap Year Day and my sense is this will be a rockin’ good year in every respect. Just a hunch.
I wish you all a peaceful, profitable and stimulating 2012!