Tuesday, March 31, 2009

10 years ago

downtown Seattle from the ferry dock at Bainbridge Island, March 31 1999

On March 30 1999, I flew from Toronto to Seattle to start an exciting chapter of my life: an internship at the head office of the company I worked for. It was a big deal for me. Not only was I hopeful about where the internship might take my career, but I had always been envious of my high school friends who bravely went on student exchanges. Here I was, jetting off to a city I'd never been to before, and living with people I had never met.

My company's legal department determined that I didn't need a work visa. Instead, I'd apply for entry under a provision of NAFTA. I had full references and documentation; still, I was nervous clearing U.S. customs at Pearson. Before my car service arrived to take me to the airport, I took an Ativan.

I sailed through effortlessly.

My Air Canada flight to Sea-Tac will likely remain one of the most pleasurable I've ever taken. Relaxed from the Ativan — and helped along with a couple Canadian Club — I looked out the window as the ¼-full A319 chased the setting sun to the west coast.

After arriving, I took a shuttle downtown. I checked in to a hotel for my first two nights (staff rate, of course). The next day, I took the ferry to Bainbridge Island and back, taking some pictures along the way.

I explored Pike Place Market and went to the original Starbucks. I met some of the people (friends of friends/ coworkers) I had remotely connected with, and got a preview of the apartment I'd be sharing in First Hill. (I had placed an ad in The Stranger weeks before.) Fortuitously, my new room-mates had been seeking a temporary third occupant for the exact date range I was going to be in Seattle. Meeting them, I instantly felt at home.

I started my internship on the first of April, 1999. It led to a brief-but-unsuccessful stint as a magazine editor the following year, and — after returning to my hotel company with a bruised ego — another temporary placement with the Canadian head office in 2003.

I love Seattle. The friends I made there remain dear to me, even after a decade.

taken from the Washington State ferry, March 31 1999

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


In a graphic display of vulnerability and weakness, I called Stephen on March 10th. In tears. I hadn't heard from him since his expressway breakup phone call, and I lost my shit. He talked me down from my emotional ledge, and we're in occasional contact now. Healthy contact. His perspective: things are parked, but not over. My perspective: I'll probably never forget that he chose career over love. I'm going out on dates with other guys, but it might be too soon.

In a rare moment of clarity and focus, I decided on an action plan for returning to school (and ultimately work) — graphic design. I'm working with my Second Career counsellor to get everything in place. With any luck, I'll be starting a 28-week program at a Toronto graphic design school in July.

So, despite my unemployed status, my time is taken up with research and prep work.* I'm behind in my blog reading. (Sorry.)

* oh, who am I kidding? I'm still addicted to television, Internet gay pr0n, and Facebook

Friday, March 13, 2009

never trust a paper placemat

I could never remember my Chinese Zodiac sign. A couple of years ago — while engaging in emotional eating at Mandarin ("Gung Hay Fat Choy!") — I looked up my birth year (1970) on the paper placemat. "Neat!" I thought. "Year of the Dog... I like dogs!" I took the placemat home, clipped out my sign, and put it on my bulletin board.

This morning, my friend Penelope sent me a link to a "birthday calculator" website. Just for shits & giggles, I plugged in my d.o.b.

SHOCKER! I'm not Year of the Dog after all... I'm Year of the Rooster! 20 minutes of Internet research confirms that I am, indeed, a cock. I was born in early 1970 — before the switch from Rooster to Dog.

I now have to re-evaluate my entire life. All of those failed relationships with Snakes and Dragons? Bah! Folly. That cool, Aquarian distance I'm sometimes guilty of exhibiting? Replace that Dog trait with the eccentric, loner-ish tendencies of the Rooster.

Year: Feb 17 1969 – Feb 05 1970
Associated Element: Yin Earth
Heavenly Stem: 己
Earthly Branch: 酉
Associated Animal: Rooster

Uh-oh... flashback! Something tells me that I conveniently "forgot" I was a rooster... As a redhead, I think I went into denial: "I can't be a Rooster! That's just way too much red!"

Sunday, March 01, 2009

I will never watch BSG again

Stephen (the guy I was seeing; the one I so foolishly thought I was going to marry) ended things this morning. Over the phone. While he was driving to his eighth straight day at work.

I've been robbed of the dignity I would've had by ending things first. We've had many problems in our very short time together. From early on, I found it difficult to adjust to his unpredictable and erratic behaviour. On our second date, he said "I already know how I'm going to propose to you." On our third date, he (jokingly) said "I know it's early, but will you marry me?" I laughed it off, but later that evening, I did tell him that I loved him. He responded with "I think I love you too."

He had a business trip to the UK after our third date. He called me daily. One evening (while drunk), he said "I do love you, you know that... right?"

He was honest from the beginning about his shortcomings: he smoked too much pot, he was terrible with money, he had a bad history with infidelity... I took these things in stride, knowing that no one's perfect.

The high point was reached on my birthday (January 30th). He took me out for an amazing dinner, and told me repeatedly "you're the best thing that's ever happened to me."

The bloom was off the rose in early February. Stephen had a doctor's appointment, and I met him afterward for lunch. His doctor had noticed a mark on his hand and decided a syphilis test was in order. "Don't worry babe," he told me. "If I have syphilis, it would be like the immaculate conception. I had almost no sex last year." He started to pull away from me after that point. Two weeks later, he called and told me that the test was positive. I couldn't get an appointment with my GP, so off to the free clinic I went. After enduring that humiliation — and post-exposure prophylaxis for syphilis — Stephen called and dropped another bomb on me: he was sure he contracted it in the UK.

Monogamy is tricky at best in the human mammal; it's almost non-existent among gay men. But it was way too soon for this problem to pop up on the radar.

While I write this, I'm fighting the urge to put my feelings down on paper, tuck it into the shoebox full of his stuff (including souvenirs from England and the first season of BSG), and drop it off at his house. I want to be the bigger person, and not act out of spite. I want him to realize that he let a quality, husband-material guy slip out of his hands.

Stephen introduced me to BSG, but I will never be able to watch it again. I will always associate it with him. The sombre, haunting intro music goes through me like a knife. I can't take the darkness, the death, the fear...