Tag Archives: grievances

Two Steps Back

Our trip back to our old stomping grounds in Toronto was all at once exciting, fun, sad, exhausting, and surreal.

IMG_3115The surreal part came when we wandered into stores or through our old school and people just smiled and nodded to us as if we’d never left. Very Rip Van Winklish.

The excitement of leaving the city for a great adventure helped us to skim over the sadness of goodbyes last year, but that sadness hit my better half like a Mack truck on this trip. It all came to a head after dinner with her best Toronto friend, when she realized we wouldn’t see her again before we left town. L absolutely lost it, howling with despair and spitting out those fearsome words “Why did we even have to move?!” and “Why didn’t you ask me if we should move?!”

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After the tears subsided she rallied somewhat, because she is nothing if not a trooper, but ever since  that night she’s been a bit fragile, especially when it comes to her friends here. We just don’t have as many of them as we did in Toronto, I guess.

Plus when she gazes at the city lights she becomes rapturous. She does love the city.

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Rain. Rain. Rain. Snow. Slush. Rain. Rain. Repeat.

NOT me today.

NOT me today.

Just when I was thinking that living here had no downside, we get a day like today, which can really only be described as über-crappy.

Rain. Rain. Rain. Rain. Rain.

It was so miserable I didn’t even take a photo of it.

(The boss, on the other hand, was quite pleased with the weather because they got to stay inside at lunch time and watch a movie!)

I can hear it now… pounding pounding pounding relentlessly on the roof…  aieeeee!

former BC logo, recently discarded, presumably on a day like today!

former BC logo, recently discarded, presumably on a day like today!

Step 77: Escape the Funnel

As we drove away, away, ever away from Toronto, I couldn’t help but notice that for days and days Toronto kept popping up on freeway signs. Like it was lurking about, waiting for a chance to reel me back in. Just a moment’s inattention at an interchange and BAM! I’d find myself looping back towards the Big TOe.

One of my biggest complaints with Toronto has always been that it’s so hard to escape from! It takes hours just to get out of the place, through butt-ugly industrial wastelands, jostling elbow to elbow with crazed drivers weaving wildly from lane to lane. It’s gruesome. And if you ever do manage to get away for a relaxing weekend, you always have ahead of you the drive back into Toronto, which obliterates all the effects of the previous relaxation.

And yet, even when we were eight or nine hours north of the city, I still felt like, one wrong turn later, we could be right smack back in rush hour at Yonge and Bloor in just half an hour’s time.

This is what southern Ontario feels like:

Or more precisely:

I am that spinning quarter, drawn inexorably down, down into the vortex that is Toronto.

Step 59: Dreadful Haircut

Faced with a long hot car trip and a lot of camping, I went out and got the Summer Haircut. The cut in itself is not dreadful, though I’m not entirely enamoured of it. The truly horrifying part was that she insisted on blow drying my hair straight before “texturing” it. Straight, totally straight. Christ on a bike! I looked awful! I’ve never gone to so much trouble and expense to look like I’m wearing a bad wig! The Boss concurred in this assessment. No, that’s putting it too mildly… she was totally shocked and appalled. We had to run an errand after I picked her up from school and she insisted I wash my hair before we go. The curls came back.

(For the curious, I actually did take a photo, however the Boss was so disapproving of me even taking a picture of it that I think I must respect her wishes and not show it to anyone.)

Step 58: … then Crash and Burn!

I thought it was just the heat, which has been diabolical here, but no, it was the stomach flu!

I keep recovering and relapsing. The very next morning I got up, made rice krispie squares and went to the Boss’s school concert in a sweltering gym… then came home and collapsed again.

The queasiness and fatigue linger on. And every time I lie down all I can think is “I should be packing!!”

The Grass is Not Only Not Greener on the other side of the fence, It Appears to be Dead

Talking here about schools. Our public school here in Toronto is over 90 years old, has 1000 students (capacity 800) and is literally falling apart, but rather than spending money on basic infrastructure the Ontario Dept. of Education would rather splurge on forcing every school  – whether they have the space or not – to make the switch from half-day to all-day kindergarten.

(Deftly turning a daycare issue into an education system issue. What we really need are affordable daycare spots, not a plan to shoehorn more kids into an underfunded school system!)

It’s a simple, predictable problem. In our school, as in others, the morning kindergarten classes share the same classrooms with the afternoon kindergarten classes, naturally. Soooo, if everyone does full-day, you need twice the number of classrooms.

We’re just lucky we got through kindergarten here before our school switched, because I don’t know where they’re going to put everyone – in the hall? the gym? the furnace room?

And luckily we got through our two years of junior and senior kindergarten fully staffed with teachers and teaching assistants before they lowered the axe on the TA’s just recently. Also thankfully the teachers the Boss has had have been extraordinary – warm and caring and professional and helpful despite being constantly hobbled by gov’t directives. Also also also thankfully we’ll be moving before she becomes immersed in the teach-to-the-test idiocy of the upper grades.

And don’t even get me started on the french immersion mania that goes on in my neighbourhood. (Recently leading to boundary changes for the school and much parental hysteria.)

And yet…

We seem to be headed to an even more dysfunctional Dept. of Education, in B.C., where they’d rather spend money putting iPads in the hands of every child than pay teachers a decent wage and allow them to do their jobs.

I am a staunch supporter of public schools, I am loyal to them and believe in public education with all my heart. But heavy-handed government interference and lack of adequate funding is really starting to make home-schooling look darn good.

In the end, however, we’ll stay in the system, just because the teachers are so wonderful.

Step 42: Regain your Space

It’s been exactly 3 weeks since the last day of House Beautiful, and I’m still reclaiming the useful spaces in my home. Having a spot to leave dirty dishes (that would be in the sink) just makes me breathe easier. And being able to leave keys, sunglasses, loose change, sun block, scraps of paper, hair elastics, safety pins, glitter glue, and subway tokens in a jumble on top of the buffet is absolutely delicious.

Another example… little cubbyholes tucked in behind the fridge. For holding bottles of water, or … ?? Which would you choose?

Step 38: Show the House

Okay, now that the house is all staged and phony, and so clean you can eat off the floor – in the furnace room! – it’s time to vacate and let the people come to marvel at the Glory that is My House.

I thought this would be the easy part. Easier than packing boxes, hauling stuff to the dump, cleaning, organizing, etc. Sure, now we just have to wander the city homeless for 10 hours a day! And the Boss is only in school for 2 of those hours! And it’s a long weekend! How do we entertain ourselves? There are only so many trips to Ikea a body can stand!!

Step 37: “Maintenance”

After the house was all staged and photos for the listing had been taken, my realtor uttered the dread word “maintenance”. Meaning I’ve got to keep the place looking like this. Every day, for as long as it takes to sell. Argh.

Nothing taps into my inner obsessive-compulsive like having to hide used towels every day. All table lamps on, dehumidifier rolled out of sight, deck furniture and mats placed just so, flowers watered, floors and front walk swept, shoes placed picturesquely by the door (only the good-looking shoes), no dirty dishes, no crumbs, bed made, clothing hidden, all signs of life erased.

And nothing dampens the allure of living in a magazine home like not being allowed to live in the magazine home. (Don’t sit on the couch! I’ll just have to plump the pillows again!)

Too bad. My laundry room looks so nice I’d like to host a cocktail party down there…

before

after

Step 36: Trip to the Dump

When all else fails, when something doesn’t disappear from the curb and then gets rained on, and it’s WAY too big to go in the garbage bin, you know you’ve got to make a trip to the dump.

I’ve seen a few charming dumps in my day, for example the one in Atlin B.C., which is so full of treasures it’s known as the Atlin Mall. (But keep a sharp lookout for bears.) Yes I’ve visited a few picturesque dumps, and the Ingram Transfer Station in Toronto is definitely not one of them.

First of all, it’s indoors, just to make the odour more compelling. I did like the procedure though – weigh your car before and after to determine how much you dumped. To dispose of a waterlogged couch, soggy piles of old carpet, and a few smelly bags of garbage I paid only $12.

Here I must pause and sing a hymn of praise to my most esteemed and handsome automobile, whom I have not yet introduced here: my gorgeous and not-at-all-hearse-like black 1992 Volvo 240 wagon.

This is the auto that you can fit a six-foot couch into… and then shut the door on it! And pile even more stuff in on top of that. I ♥ my car.

Wet couch and carpets. In a black car on a hot day.  Significantly worse than wet dog smell.