Irrational irritations and other unnecessary issues (15/3/16)

Yesterday was the fourteenth of March, 14.3 for most of the world but 3.14 for these arrogant North American wankers. Now I can complain long and hard about the American system of dating things, and I will at some point in the not too distant future, but this time I want to talk about something else. Y’see, thanks to the entirely irrational dating system used in North America yesterday was Pi day. Y’know, π. That number that ‘geniuses’ on TV use to prove that they’re geniuses by quoting it to the sixty-third decimal or some such bullshit, but us mere mortals usually round up to 3.14 (but never to exactly 3).

So yesterday was Pi day and that seems as good as any reason to complain about the lack of pies in Canada. The edible kind, not the numerical kind.

Well, there are pies up here in the northern hemisphere I suppose. I had pumpkin pie for the first time last Thanksgiving. It was alright, tasty enough, though it still doesn’t quite feel like it should be a dessert if you get my meaning. And other dessert pies aren’t unusual. It’s possible to get the occasional shepard’s pie floating around, made with mince that might even have come from a cow and reconstituted potato.

But I’m not talking about any of that, I’m talking about the proper Aussie meat pie. The kind that comes in a foil tin, fits in your hand and available from anywhere with a power outlet to plug in one of those mini-ovens (for keeping things warm and on display). Fuck 420, I wanna fuckin’ Four’N Twenty meat pie at that perfect temperature where the heat brings out the flavour of the beef and gravy but doesn’t burn the roof of your mouth. Mrs Mac or Sargents, drenched in tomato sauce (not ketchup, bloody tomato sauce) I wanna walk into a Vietnamese bakery (they don’t seem to have those here either, damnit) and a grab a steak and pepper pie on my way home from work, or suddenly realise that since I’m in Newtown I can sneak into a gourmet bakery and switch things up with a curry chicken or lamb and rosemary pie. I wanna goddamn meat pie. And a lamington. But mostly a goddamn meat pie.

There are a few places around that cater to the Aussie palate, but the only one that’s worth getting from a pie from is all the way up in Whistler (Peaked Pies, give it a go if you’re up there). Not surprising given the concentration of Australians up in Whistralia, but not a practical option down here in Vancouver. The other places just tasted… not good… enough? Yeah, not good enough. Like the meat was worse than the lowest grade horsemeat put into a service station pastry or the gravy tasted chalky and had the consistency of flubber or the pastry lacked the structural integrity to hold everything together or some combination of things. Just, not good enough. And still difficult to get to.

But good god I miss pies.

Irrational irritations and other unnecessary issues (2/2/16)

Jumping right into it this today, I’d like to say that one of my biggest pet peeves when I’m serving/waitering/bartending is customers who leave their shit in the way when I’m trying to put a plate down in front of them. It drives me absolutely (but still politely) mental. I’ll be approaching with three or more plates spread across my two hands, the customer will see the approach and put their phone or drink or faberge egg down in front of them, exactly where I intended to put the plate down. Then there’ll be this awkward moment where they just stare at me vacantly, waiting for me to place the food or whatever in front of them while I desperately (but still politely) try to indicate through limited body language that they need to move their phone, drink or faberge egg out of the fucking way.

Yeah, I know it would be faster if I simply asked them to move the obstacle away from the drop zone, but people always look really embarrassed when they need to actually be told they’re inconsiderate morons and that might affect my tip (not to mention there’s no challenge in just saying it out loud). More than likely though it’ll be whoever they’re dining with will notice the obstruction and be like, “Mom, move your phone,” or “For fuck’s sake dad! Put the goddamn egg away! I know you like to show it off but it’s very fragile and I doubt anyone here actually appreciates the exquisite Russian craftsmanship.” There’s an awkward laugh, maybe an apology and I thank them and (much more quietly) God because that one plate resting on the bare skin of my forearm had been sitting under the heat lamps for fucking ages and I could feel my flesh cooking and I’m extremely grateful to be able to put the bastard down and fang it back to the kitchen to run my arm under some mercifully cold water.

Thing you have to remember is that tables at most restaurants where you’re paying less than a hundred dollars a head for a main and single drink (another thirty for desert) is that they’re trying to maximise seating, so tables tend to be small. And small tables very quickly become cluttered. We do our best to keep clearing things up, and generally uncluttering, but we’re not about to start grabbing personal possessions and moving them without your permission and we’d like to minimise our contact with whatever you’re drinking out of (for your sake, as much as ours). We also don’t always have an arm free to move obstructions out of the way. So, when you see your server/waiter/foodrunner/bartender striding over with arms full of succulent morsels, do not just drop whatever you’d been distracting your hunger-ravaged mind with in the space in front of you. We need that space. Put it in your fucking pocket or handbag or whatever.

You shouldn’t have your phone out at the dinner table anyway. That’s fucking rude.

Irrational irritations and other unnecessary issues (19/1/2016)

Bloody hell, tuesday already? Almost slipped by me. Changing work schedules have messed up what day of the week I think it is. Anyway. I wanna have a quick chat to you all about skateboarders.

Now, I have nothing against most skateboarders. I’ve known and been friends with a lot of skateboarders over the years I’ve been kicking around this planet. I have a lot of respect for a talented skateboarder, with their ollies and kick-flips and well-tuned senses of balance. Hell, I respect untalented skateboarders even more. Falling off a skateboard can be a hilarious affair for everyone else and anyone willing to still climb back onto that narrow piece of plywood (or whatever skateboards are made out of) after a plummet deserves a nod. What grinds me the wrong way, however, is people who simply must travel any distance, no matter how short, on their board. I mean, after a while it just becomes unpractical.

Case in point, a couple of nights ago I was getting off the skytrain (still the most pretentious name for a public transport system around) and there was this kid who got off at the same station, from the same carriage, using the same door as me. A kid with a skateboard. A kid who promptly dropped his skateboard to the ground and rolled on it over to the stairs down to the street, a distance of roughly three metres. No, really, three metres, maybe three and a half, at a painfully slow pace made slower by the fifteen or so people who’d climbed off the train with us and were also converging on the stairs. I was halfway down the stairs by the time the kid managed to pick up his board and start his own descent. And I couldn’t help but think, “why didn’t you just fuckin’ walk it?”

And I get that if you love doing something you want to do it whenever humanly possible, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. You don’t see cyclists riding their bikes up and down the platforms (well, I did once, but he more just stood on one of the side pedals and pushed). Just because someone can parkour their way down the side of the building doesn’t mean that they don’t occasionally use the stairs. And sometimes just because you’ve got your skateboard handy doesn’t mean you have to use it. Fucking walk it.

And with that, I’ll take my leave. Have a good week everyone.

Irrational irritations and other unnecessary issues (8/12/2015)

So it’s December in Vancouver (and the rest of the world that uses the Gregorian Calendar for that matter) and apparently that means rain. Quite a bit of it in fact. Funnily enough I’d be willing to make the claim that it’s a bit similar in Australia, except the rain would be part of a tropical storm in the worst cases and a spectacular thunderstorm after a scorcher of a day in the best. Vancouver doesn’t seem to get thunderstorms. I miss them quite a lot. Ah well, not here to talk about thunderstorms. No, umbrellas are the topic today.

More accurately people who use umbrellas but have the spacial awareness of a three year old driving a ute (pick-up truck for my non-Aussie readers). Y’know, the kind of people who just don’t seem to give a shit exactly where they’re swinging their temporary shelters, and the potentially eye-taking spikes that hold the whole thing together, making you wish they handed out goggles (“they do nothing”) whenever you left cover and turning a walk down the street into a Matrix scene where you’re performing amazing contortions in order to avoid these people’s twirling hexagons of doom. In slow motion of course.

And getting past these people is no easy feat. Unsurprisingly the kind people who have no idea where their umbrellas are swinging are also the kind of people who have two speeds: so slow they couldn’t even get next door in any time-frame that could be referred to as “soon”; and stationary. So staying behind them is never an option for us busy, go-getting millennials. But try and overtake them at your peril, because they always seem to choose the moment you’re right beside them to suddenly veer towards you while laughing raucously, sending the sharpest point of the six or seven they’re carrying into your unprotected ear. Your poor, soft, fragile ear. The bastards.

And don’t expect it to be any safer when their umbrellas are down. No, that simply means there’s more power behind their thrust and swing. If it’s a long umbrella, probably gives them more reach as well. And since they’re not limited by the need to keep the thin synthetic membrane stretched across four to nine spears between them and the rain, they have much more freedom to include their umbrella in grand expressive movements that are a danger to everyone within two metres. No, you’re never safe from these people, not as long as they’re permitted to carry such deadly instruments.

Now, I know these aren’t bad people. Simply unaware. And some people have a valid excuse, they’re tired or sick or thought they were in fact carrying rather large novelty candy canes. But please, when you’ve got your umbrella up this season try and be a bit more aware of the people around you. Try not to stab anyone in their poor, fragile ears.

Irrational irritations and other unnecessary issues (11/8/2015)

Today’s topic is people who don’t tuck their chairs in when they leave a table.

This may not seem like a big issue, but working in a bar/restaurant it has become something I see all the time. All the fucking time. And it is annoying. Someone finishes their meal and leaves the restaurant, ducks off to the washroom or heads out for a smoke. Doesn’t tuck their chair back under the table. Just leaves it hanging out there, in the middle of the space where customers have to walk. More importantly where me and my co-workers need to walk. Carrying full trays of drinks and arms full of plates full of food which we really don’t want to spill over our otherwise lovely and discerning customers (I generally try and avoid glassing patrons or breaking plates over their heads as well, if it can be avoided), the risk of such happening going up exponentially when some inconsiderate person leaves a goddamn tripping hazard in the middle of a regularly traversed passage.

I mean, we spot and avoid these metaphorical icebergs easily enough most of the time (though there’s been at least one occasion where I manoeuvred around a knot of departing guests only to stumble on a chair and narrowly manage to avoid spilling hot water all over a customer by reversing direction and taking the literal scolding myself). Point is though we shouldn’t have to. Seriously, what the fuck un-chair-tuckers? It takes all of half a second and no real effort to slide a flimsy bit of varnished wood across another bit of varnished wood so it sits neatly beneath a bit of varnished wood. It’s not a fucking palanquin. It’s not made out of stone. It’s not that goddamn difficult. Quite frankly, you should have learned how to do it in fucking primary/elementary school.

So please, for the love of god and to be a less of a pain in the arse for the rest of humanity, tuck your bloody chairs in when you leave the table.

Irrational irritations and other unnecessary issues (27/7/2015)

It’s amazing the things that piss you off. I’m an easily offended, judgemental arsehole myself who’ll decide that an individual should be judged based upon a single bad habit or personality quirk. And I’m not talking about the big things that go into how we construct our individual identities like beliefs, preferences and biases. If you’re not hurting anybody then I’m not going to judge. No, I’m talking about ridiculous superficial shit. Like wearing a baseball cap at a uselessly jaunty angle. I hate people who wear baseball caps at uselessly jaunty angles so goddamn much. I try not to judge, but I do anyway. Because I’m a human being and that’s what we do. Judge. Bitch. Whine. Complain. So I’m gonna do something that I’m going to claim is constructive and start writing this stuff down in a series of light-hearted rants. Sometimes. Maybe weekly. We’ll see. Hopefully weekly. Let me know what you guys think, and we’ll see how long I can keep it up. Possibly. I get bored of this stuff too quickly sometimes. Moving on. Short one today.

This week’s topic is people who ask for water and don’t drink it. My great nemeses (that’s the plural for nemesis right? nemeses? I’ll google it later). This can be applied to people who don’t finish their drinks in general, but I take particular ire with people who don’t drink their water after they’ve asked for it. Why? Practicality mate. Practicality.

Y’see, working as a server (waiter) in a restaurant on a busy day, having to get water for a table as well as their paid beverages is a bit of a pain in the proverbial arse. That two minutes spent pouring glasses of water could be better spent taking orders or running food or making sure customers aren’t having violent allergic reactions to fucking kale or something. Seriously, I am bloody terrified by the possibility of customers having violent allergic reactions. I think most of us are.

But the getting of the water isn’t so much the problem, it is the not drinking of that water. I can carry a lot of empty glasses without a tray, stacking’em high and balancing them in the crook of my arm. I consider it a point of pride being able to clear a table without need for a tray. I fucking hate carrying full trays. I should always use trays but I don’t have the best balance, and I can actually usually carry more empty glasses than safely fit on a tray. Means that I can clear a recently vacated table without a tray as I pass it by. Means I can get a table cleared a lot faster for the next customer/s that needs it, which is good for everybody. But if the glasses are full, say, of water then I can’t stack the bastards. Need to go get a tray, come back, maybe have to make a second or third trip if it was a big table. Waste of everyone’s time that could be better spent making sure there aren’t any violent allergic reactions taking place. I’m a bit hung up on that tonight. Sorry ’bout that. Also, I hate using trays. So when customers don’t drink the water they asked for, it means they’re forcing me to use something I irrationally hate using. Maybe more than once. That’s not cool. Not cool at all.

I’m gonna throw it out there as well, there are a lot of places right now that are in the middle of some pretty severe droughts or don’t have access to clean water. Hell, here in Vancouver you’ve just got to look a few hours south at California, where they’re running out. So, yeah, you not drinking your water is basically mocking all those people who don’t have access it. That’s not cool either, you arrogant bastard.

Anyway. The message here is drink your goddamn water. Especially if you ask for it. Do it for me (or whoever’s serving you and clearing your table). Do it for Californians. Do it so you stay hydrated and healthy. Makes the hangovers easier the next morning.

Maybe next week I’ll talk about why people who don’t finish their drinks generally are arseholes as well. Or something else. We’ll see.

Three Months in Vancouver

To the girl who caught me staring as she was crossing Robson St on Granville. ‘Bout a month ago now, some time in the evening, I think it had been raining that day. It’s unlikely you’ll ever read this, or recognise yourself if you did, but I just wanted to be absolutely clear if you ever did. I was not checking you out. When you spotted me watching and smiled coyly to yourself, that was not the reaction I was hoping for. What I wanted was for you to hurry the bloody hell up. You’d started crossing after the red hand had stopped flashing and weren’t even halfway across when the lights turned green, walking with a weird shuffle that barely put one foot in front of the other. I was hoping a judgemental stare would get you to cross a little faster, so that the poor motorists waiting for you to drag your slow arse across the street might get a chance to cross the intersection before the lights turned orange and red again. Alas my face is not the most expressive of mugs, and you maintained your crawling pace all the way across, smiling knowingly. It was fucking discourteous.

To their credit, and my surprise, none of the drivers being held up by this bird leant on their horns or vented some frustration. I wasn’t sure if that was because of stereotypical Canadian politeness or it was just that time of the day when everyone was exhausted and just didn’t give a damn anymore. Given my experience as a pedestrian dealing with Canadian motorists so far I’m inclined to guess it’s a bit of both, but more former than latter. Canadian drivers are so goddamn polite, using their horns more often than not to warn that they’re passing close by a pedestrian instead of as the (otherwise universal) signal for “get the hell out of my way” that I’m used to from back home. It seems like the greatest danger a pedestrian has to worry about are folk on skateboards (and they are bloody everywhere) and tripping over a homeless person camped out on a foot-traffic heavy corner. It’s a far cry from negotiating the intense and impatient streets of Sydney. An even further cry from some of the other cities I’ve visited. Like Rome, where you just cross the road and trust that the guy or gal in the speeding fiat has that unique Italian instinct that allows them to miss a crossing pedestrian by, to quote an old mate of mine, the width of a bee’s dick. Or Hobart, where I’m surprised people attempt to cross the road at all. Seriously, Tasmanian drivers see someone on a zebra crossing and they floor it.

If I had to describe my current state of affairs it’d be with the word ‘settled’. I’ve settled in at work, after a second move I’ve settled into a good house (and I’m not unsettling anytime soon, my bags are fucking heavy), I’ve settled into a loose routine around getting from one to another, I’ve settled amongst the regulars at a few bars and cafes that took my fancy. It’s been three months and I feel that I can finally claim I’m living in Vancouver instead of just hanging about and hoping stuff works out. I’m asking for time off and making plans to expand my experience in Canada. Hopefully Edmonton (Matildas game) in a month and Montreal (comedy festival) in July. Fun times.

But being settled also means that the parts of life that were novel when I arrived are now just irritating, and the parts that were irritating back home have lost the novelty of occurring in another country.

Cyclists catching the Skytrain (still a pretentious name). There are always the good ones, old hands at taking their preferred method of transportation on a necessary stretch of public transportation who know how to do so without inconveniencing anyone and inciting the anger of everyone around them. But there are plenty who simply don’t know how to take their bike on the train without nearly braining someone with their front tire (gotta love young hipsters), or simply don’t fucking care who they inconvenience by parking their bike across the doors or row of empty seats.

A collection of the young and well-intentioned collecting or advertising or something for the Red Cross at Granville Station almost every time I passed through, during the day, for about two months. Not normally something that would bother me, except they kept using a ‘conversation starter’ that began to get on my nerves. “Have you heard about the Red Cross?” When they finally stopped appearing on the steps just inside the entrance, presumably to some new patch of NGO-promoting territory, I was about ready to rip into the next person who asked if I had “heard of the Red Cross.” Like, “What, you mean an institution that’s been around for a century and a half helping people during and after wars and natural disasters that is rightfully culturally synonymous with humanitarian aide, relief, rights and donating blood? Yeah, I may have fucking heard of them. Has anyone not heard of them? Do you really want the money or blood or whatever from the kind of person who has never heard of the Red Cross?” I know it sounds stupid but it’s not a great sales tactic to accuse your possible consumers of ignorance and stupidity right off the bat. Hurts my professional pride you could say. Find something better guys.

Hare Krishnas playing accordions, singing their group’s name and dancing on the street was interesting at first since it’s a rare sight in Sydney (wow, that sounds really patronising), but is now just noise pollution and occasional cause of a bottleneck on the pavement (yeah, definitely sounds patronising). They’re not hurting anyone and they’ve got a right to proselytise, so power to’em, I’m not about to tell them to stop. It can still be a bit of a bother weaving between a crowd out enjoying the sun who’ve stopped to watch the rhythmic musical repetition of “Hare Krishna” when you’re in a rush. Suppose I’m less annoyed by the lady with the accordion than the tourists watching the show.

Shit, I’m not a tourist anymore, am I? I mean, I was never really a tourist in much of the traditional sense. I never really am. But I could at least call myself a tourist for a little while. Now I’m just another bloke living in Vancouver, getting annoyed by a gaggle of rubbernecking tourists acting like they’ve never seen a busker (or Hare Krishna) before.

Of course I still get to enjoy all the wonders of being a foreigner in a strange land. Y’know, like needing to have cultural references explained to you (say, a TV show that never quite made its way overseas) or being asked if other cultural references exist back in Australia (I have, for example, been asked if Aussies had heard of Pink Floyd). I know I haven’t got it bad, I’ve gone from one English-speaking country to another with a lot of shared history, society and culture. Still every so often asks me a question using a local phrase or for an object with some slang name and I’ve had to give a tentative “maybe?” then run off to find someone who can tell me what the hell they were talking about.

Meanwhile I’ve had to cut back on my own slang, lest no one know what the hell I’m talking about. I’ve also had to cut down on my heavier language. Calling someone a “cunt” round here is no longer a term of endearment (unless they’re an Aussie, Kiwi, Irish or, mostly, from somewhere on the rest of the British Isles). That’s not to say they don’t use the word, they’re just… not very good at it. Yeah, that’s probably the best way of putting it. Let me put it this way, while walking down the street I heard a local woman call another local woman a “darn cunt” (then spit at her). A “darn cunt.” Darn. Darn. Shit, I’ve mentioned before I come from a land where using the word in a variety of creative and contextually appropriate ways is practically part of the high school curriculum, but I ain’t ever heard someone say “darn cunt” before. Seems a bit too half-arsed to be a proper insult. I mean, at least go all the way and use “damn” instead of its goody-two-shoes younger sibling. Just, yeah, it stood out.

Mind you, I probably swore more than is socially healthy before I climbed onto the plane three months ago anyway so it’s probably not a bad thing I’ve cut back.

What’s surprised me is how many people have no bloody clue what my accent is. I kinda expected the Australian accent to be a little more recognisable than it apparently is. I’ve been asked if I’m English, Irish or Scottish more times than people have guessed Australian. My theory is that I’ve been speaking slower and more clearly since arriving, lest no one understand what the hell I’m saying (we speak very quickly in Australia, and how much you move your lips/open your mouths depends on what part of the country you’re from). I don’t mind it, and I don’t mind being asked where I’m from, I just thought there were enough examples of Aussie accents floating around in popular culture for it to be a little more easily separated from other English speakers. I guess, really, there aren’t. Aside from Crocodile Dundee and Mad Max there aren’t many Australian protagonists (or even many side characters that move beyond minor). Most North Americans have probably heard Australian actors speaking with constantly slipping American accents or vaguely Olde English sounding shouts than their natural accents. Experience and hindsight.

The weather’s getting better, sunnier, warmer. Most days this past week I haven’t needed to wear a coat out. Time to go out and do things other than barhop, I guess. Not sure what. There’s plenty of tracks to trek, I guess. Someone mentioned white water rafting. That sounds fun. Summer in Vancouver’s apparently filled with festivals and markets and general merriment. Better be fun, the locals have talked it up so much. I’ll still be barhopping. I still love barhopping. Will probably do a bit of that tonight. But I need to start doing things in the sun as well.

So, yeah, not the most exciting three months. I’ll admit that. Been working hard, weather’s been nasty on my days off, but life is good and Vancouver’s a fun city that’s apparently about to get funner. And it seems that there’s Tabasco sauce everywhere that serves food. I goddamn love Tabasco. I wouldn’t have realised that if I hadn’t come here. So if nothing else comes out of this stay, there’s that.

Not quite Writer’s Block

Bloody hell it’s tough to write sometimes. I think we all know that. It often seems like most of the people who read blogs are aspiring (or successful) writers themselves. I know I am (aspiring that is). So we all know how tough it is to write sometimes. Writer’s block, and all that shit. It happens. I’m rambling a bit. Probably because I’ve got a touch of the block at the moment. Or do I? Maybe. Maybe it’s just that life’s been getting in the way. Fuckin’ life.

I’ve got about four different drafts currently cluttering up my dashboard in various stages of incompleteness for the past few weeks, but for the past few weeks my writing schedule (which I’d only recently started getting to grips with) has been a bit fucked. A bunch of last minute additional and split shifts at work (partly as a result of me never saying no to more hours and more pay… Australians are a deceptively hard working bunch) and the need to search for a new place to live (ah, Craigslist, where everybody spells quite instead of quiet, advertisements – legit or otherwise – are aimed at FEMALES ONLY and grammar is an optional extra) has left me with few of the long periods I usually like to write in. Instead I’ve been working in twenty minute or so blocks, getting a hundred words down then coming back later or the next day unable to transition back into the train of thought that led to that hundred words. Wondering what the hell was the point I was trying to make. Rewriting. Maybe coming back with a different topic and starting yet another draft post. Giving up and heading over to Youtube instead.

Half a cold hasn’t helped. I say half because I’ve only seemed to have half the usual symptoms at a time. The really annoying thing is that it’s left my ears blocked and me three quarters deaf. I’ve got some drops that are meant to clear them up but so far all they’ve done is left me with a soar neck from tilting my head so they don’t leak out. Is that gross? That might be a bit gross. Sorry about that.

Anyway. Hopefully I’ve got some time right now to do a bit of writing. Finish something other than a rambling excuse for why I haven’t been as active as I should. Also using it to catch up on some shows and stuff… So that I have some topics for upcoming posts. Yeah. That’s it. Have you watched Daredevil yet? Go watch Daredevil. It’s pretty awesome. Now I gotta go tilt my head for an hour, because I want to be able to hear again soon.

Fuckin’ life.

Three weeks in Vancouver

The crowd is mostly silent as I watch my opponent from two feet away. The (somewhat generously titled) referee makes a joke, says “ready” and we each raise a fist. I’m a competitive bastard at the best of times and I right now I want to win. I’ve already beaten one opponent, I need to do it again. The ref raises his hand and yells into the microphone “ROCK, PAPER…” they trade the name of the bar, Beaver, for SCISSORS and we players reveal our choices. Best three out of five, and I win the first game. We repeat the process and after a few tries I take the second game, though our ref announces it to be one-one. “What?” I have time to think but not say because we’re already into the third. It’s longer than the first game but shorter than the second and I win it regardless. The referee says two-one, his associate says that I’ve just made a three game sweep. My opponent seems to agree. There’s a moment of quiet confusion, then I raise my hands regardless and cheer for my victory. Eventually everyone else runs with it and I shake hands with my opponent. I’ve made it through the first round, fought through a ‘threesome’ where everyone else only had to beat one opponent. I get a shot for my sweep win, tequila and Tabasco sauce. It tastes like victory.

It doesn’t seem to be getting any warmer, but at least the past fortnight or so has been sunnier. I’ve got a job now, and the patio’s been opened up to allow the still warmly dressed locals and occasional tourist the chance to have a beer and burger beneath a smiling sky. One customer made a comment about the risk of sun burns, and I had to bite down on my urge to check my phone for some holiday photos while growling “That’s not a sunburn…”

I might be imagining it but there seems to be fewer beggars and more buskers out on the street, though maybe that’s simply because I’m noticing more of the homeless singing for their supper (metaphorically and literally). Everyone’s an artist, or at least think they are. There’s a half-finished chalk drawing of Christ on the Cross, ironically ugly as sin in its incomplete glory, on a corner near Granville Skytrain* station. I wonder if the guy was chased off, got bored and went to a different corner, or simply thought it was done. For a few days in a row there was homeless guy strumming away on an old guitar also near the station. Every time I walked by he was playing the same tuneless melody, into which he’d ram the lyrics of different songs with a few nonsensical flourishes. His covers of Folsom Prison Blues and Sunday Bloody Sunday were particularly notable. Some of the people on the street playing guitars or selling sketches are genuinely talented and seem to have a regular, established place along the side walk. Others you see once or twice then never again.

Side note, I saw a girl wrapped in a blanket with a cardboard sign asking for spare change. Young girl, early twenties at most. Thing is she had amazing hair. Long, thick, silky, a little wavy and nicely coloured (bronze blonde layered over rose). The kind of hair that random strangers must just start brushing their fingers through. Just thought I’d mention that.

The toilets still bother me. It shouldn’t be this hard to take a quiet piss and some of them still don’t carry everything down the pipe. The cars don’t so much anymore. I don’t know if I mentioned it last time, but the fact that most pedestrian lights don’t make a sound is a bit irritating. Aside from how easy it is to look away for a few moments then look back to realise you’ve missed the white walking man and are already onto the flashing red hand, I can’t help but wonder what blind people do when they’re trying to cross the road. Something else that’s grabbed my attention has been the birds. The seagulls are substantially larger here, and there aren’t Indian Mynas scrapping for territory with magpies and lorikeets. The big difference has been the crows, loud, mean and jet black, but more easily frightened than the dumpster diving Australian White Ibis back home.

I’ve worked a lot of shifts lately, and I haven’t had as much time to do as many fun things as I’d have liked. It’s been indicated that as summer approaches and more people get hired the number of shifts will be reduced. I’ve still managed to head out on occasion, a whiskey bar on Commercial Drive or a seafood restaurant on Granville Island. The above mentioned game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. I won the second round, against my German housemate who I’d gone to the bar with. Lost in the quarter finals to a Californian. There was a bit of mockery from the guys running and I played along, swearing back merrily. At the end of the night I was surprised when they thanked me for being a good sport, though I then realised that there were likely more than a few people who’d take their ribbing far too seriously.

There are other things I still need to find the time to do. Go and see a hockey match (not hard, the Cannucks seem to play at least one local game a week), find some baklava in Northern Vancouver. Check out a bit more of the night life. Generally meet more people. Thankfully Vancouver is a very liveable city, and as the days get longer it should become easier to have a proper life outside of work. After all that’s why I’m here.

*Can I take a moment of your time to note how pretentious it is to call it a Skytrain? ‘Cause it’s pretty fuckin’ pretentious.