A Visit Home

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Hey guys,

Sorry I’ve been so quiet lately.. again!!

Life has been a bit busy lately, between work and a whole bunch on different little things popping up.. including watching a mate’s cat while he was away in America for a couple of weeks.

And on top of that, I’ve been away myself in Canada the past week visiting the family. 

My sister and I organised it back in August that I’ll come for Canadian Thanksgiving.. and we didn’t tell our parents so I could surprise them.

The surprise went off without a hitch! They had no clue I was coming, and those few that knew didn’t spoil the surprise.

The looks on their faces were priceless when I opened my sister’s door! 😁

It’s been a lovely visit and great to see those I could.. but now it’s time to get ready to head back to London tomorrow night (arriving Friday night).

Let’s just hope I don’t leave it another 4 1/2 years before the next visit. 😄

I Need a Change..

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I’m not sure why, but lately I’m finding life a bit difficult.  And I keep questioning where I am in life, and whether it’s time for a change.  But the problem is, I’m not sure what that change should be – work, home, city or something I’m not even seeing.

Over the past few months, I’ve seen a few rooms to rent, some in decent areas and some in areas I couldn’t imagine living in.  I get daily email notifications of new ads, but not many really get me excited to bother seeing them.

Or when I do see something I like, there’s always something that stops me from messaging the advertiser and setting up a viewing. Usually it’s the location, the cost, or it’s the people already living there.  Or all three.

I don’t know if I’m just being picky, but I don’t want to spend any more than I already am in rent, and the last thing I want to do is move into a place sharing with 4 or 5 people, most of whom seem to be in their mid-20’s. I just want somewhere decent that I can call home and be comfortable having people over to occasionally.

The other thing that feels like needs changing really soon is my job.  Or at least the amount of money I’m making.

I don’t particularly hate my job, but I do wish there was more support and a much better salary.  Generally we’re expected to work harder and harder with no additional remuneration.

young-man-with-sleepy-headIn fact, I’m currently in the middle of a two week period where my supervisor is on holidays, and I’m left to cover the entire department by myself (there’s just the two of us).  Everyday last week I was so tired that once I got home the only thing I wanted to do was go to sleep.. forgoing cooking or cleaning up for a bit of extra time in bed.

And that’s not good.  I shouldn’t be so exhausted after work that I’m not taking care of myself or actually living a life of some sort.  And when it came to this weekend (a 3-day weekend thanks to a bank holiday on Monday), all I wanted to do was stay in bed even if I couldn’t.

It could just be that I really need a nice relaxing holiday, away from London and work.  Somewhere sunny, where I can lay beside a pool or on a beach and just relax.  And recharge. Not that I can afford that..

Or is it time for a much bigger change?

This week coming is my 7 year anniversary of moving to London and I’m sort of wondering if this is the fabled ‘7 year itch’ coming along.

However I have no clue where’d I’d move to if I did leave London.  I have no plans of moving back to Canada, mostly because I think of the UK as home now.

My best mate P has said many times that I should move up to Scotland, and I do admit I’m quite tempted.  If I did, we could hang out more often than the couple times a year we see each other.

LondonBut again I worry about the job prospects and how I could possibly afford such a move.  My current job’s salary doesn’t leave me much room to save up for something like that, and despite trying to be careful, I’m finding myself using my credit card way too much.

I just don’t know what to do at the moment.. I’m feeling a bit stuck, and for whatever reason, afraid to make a leap of faith like I did when I first moved to London 7 years ago.  That took a lot of guts (and money lol), and I think I need to find that adventurous spirit again.

I suppose only time will tell what will happen next..

Oh Canada!

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With the start of the Sochi Olympics yesterday, the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion (CIDI) recently released a promotional video for the Canadian Luge team in support of Gay rights.

This fun little video has gone viral across YouTube, Facebook and so forth.  And it goes to show not only how supportive Canada is of both their athletes and gay rights, but also that they have a sense of humour too.

On July 20, 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world, and the first country outside Europe, to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide with the enactment of the Civil Marriage Act which provided a gender-neutral marriage definition. (Source: Wikipedia)

Canadian Luge

This little video also makes me proud to be (partly) Canadian.  Sure I may not live there any more, but whenever I see something like this it makes my heart swell with pride of my heritage.

Oh and I saw this morning that Canada has it’s first medal at the Sochi Olympics – a Bronze in Snowboarding.  I’m personally not going to be watching the Games, but I always like to see how Canada (and the UK) are doing in the medal count.

Merry Freakin’ Ho-Ho

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Anyone who knows me know that I’ve never been that big on the whole Christmas thing.  I don’t get excited this time of year and definitely don’t feel a need to be joyful, artificial or not.ho_ho_ho_oh_whatever

I’m not knocking anyone who loves this time of year.. in fact several of my close friends absolutely LOVE Christmas, and I think it’s great they get so excited about it, regardless of how old they are or how they spend it.  I am genuinely happy for them when I hear how they’ve spent the day with family or friends.

Me, I’m just a bit more ‘meh’ about it all.

I think a lot of it has to do with how I’ve spend many a Christmas alone or working, and I think in the past 15 years I’ve probably only spent about 3 or 4 of them with my family.  It was never an easy thing to be able to go home for the holiday period, partly because of finances but also about having the time off.

This year I do have the week between Christmas and New Year’s off work, but I haven’t gotten anything planned to be honest.  In fact, I think I’m just going to enjoy the day to myself, relax, make myself a nice meal, and watch the Christmas specials on the telly (am mostly looking forward to the Christmas Day episodes of Doctor Who and Downton Abbey lol).

Would it be nice to have some company on Christmas Day?  Sure it would, nobody likes to be alone on that day.  But at the same time I don’t feel the need to spend it with people just so I’m not by myself that day.  To me that would feel forced and not exactly special.. and I’ve done that more than enough times in the past to know it’s not how I’d like to spend the day so I’ve chosen to spend the day by myself to relax.

I don’t feel down or sad about it at all.. of course that may change on the actual day.  LOLthe-unfortunate-young-man-who-finds-himself-all-alone-on-christmas-day

Of course it would be great if I could spend the day with my family, but now that I’m living in London it’s a bit hard since it’s so expensive to fly back to Canada at this time of year.  Since I moved here in 2008 I’ve only been home for Christmas once back in 2011.

And after the year I’ve had, the last thing I could afford is a flight home.

It was terrific to see my family and spend time with them over the almost 2 weeks I spent there (minus the couple days I spent in Montreal over New Year’s).  The older I get the more I wish I could see them more, but at the same time I need to live my life.

But I think what made that visit so special is how we kept it a secret that I was coming to visit, with only my dad and my younger sister knowing that I was coming (they were meeting me at the airport after all).  I’ll never forget the look on my mum’s face when she saw me sitting in my sister’s living room as I wished her a ‘Merry Christmas’.. she was completely shocked and once she almost bowled me over to give me a hug, she didn’t let me go for ages.

It was so sweet that we could give her that surprise for Christmas, especially after she’d sent me a message on Facebook just that morning wishing I could be there with them.  This year however will just be the usual chat on Skype once my parents get to my sister’s house.

Anyway, I guess the crux of it is I just don’t see the point getting worked up over that day.. I’m not religious so have never seen it as a religious holiday, and I don’t have any burning desire to spend loads of money on too much food or crap I don’t need.  Hell, I rarely exchange gifts with anyone, mostly because I think if someone is truly that special to you why should you wait for that day to give them something special?

Yeah.. maybe I’m a bit of a Grinch.  But I’m ok with that.  😉

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A Simpler Life

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I’m not sure about any of you, but sometimes I wonder if maybe my life would have been better (read: easier) if I could have been satisfied living a simpler life.

I mean being satisfied with living a simple life, where there was no desire to go forth into the world or improve my station.  I mean being happy with what I have and where I am, without wanting more.going home

Hmm.. not sure if I’m explaining that clearly.  Let me see..

Ever since I was a small child, I always had dreams of living in the big cities, having some amazing career, and just enjoying what the world has to offer.  I used to look at tv shows and movies, or pictures in magazines and fantasize about visiting and living in all these amazing places around the world.  Especially Europe.

I knew from a young age there was no way I was going to stay in my little small town, cause it just wasn’t going to give me the life I wanted to live.

And that’s not even looking at the gay factor.

My home town is very much a factory and farming town (despite being over 45k in size), where the main place to shop is a huge WalMart, and the social scene mainly consists of karaoke, country and titty bars.  It’s a place you go to live to raise your kids or to retire.

Definitely not much there for a relatively young (40’s the new 30, right?) gay man who’s used to being able to do what he wants, when he wants, without having to drive several hours to do it (it’s approximately 3 hrs either way to Toronto or Montreal.. and I don’t drive).  No real culture other than local history, the annual diversity festival (or whatever it’s called), the community theater, and driving around at Christmas looking at the lights on the houses.

But why do I bring this up?  How is this even a concern, especially since I’m living in London and haven’t lived in my home town in about 15 years or so?

Well.. with all the troubles I’ve been having with finances and finding a job over the past while, it’s actually been suggested by my parents that I move back to Canada to regroup.  Which would mean moving back to my little home town to stay with family until I got on my feet again.

As much as I love my family and it would be amazing to spend more time with them without it being a massive trip to visit, I honestly can’t see miserable-manmyself going back there for anything other than a visit.

And as I discussed with my sister around the same time, if I went back there to live I’d be absolutely miserable there. And she agreed with me.

I could totally see what would happen – I’d move back there, find a job (as if it’s easier to do so in a small town than a big city..), then a flat to live in, and next thing I know a couple years have passed me by and I’m still there just working and keeping my head above the water.  And miserable because I don’t have a social life, let alone a dating/sex life.

Yeah I know, that’s a fairly pessimistic view of the situation, but I think it’s fairly accurate.  I was lucky when I was in my early 20’s to have met an amazing group of gay and lesbian friends, several of whom have become life-long friends I still keep in touch with.  But like with all small towns, most gay men and women tend to flock to the big cities to be part of the communities there, and the safety of being able to walk around town with friends or a partner without worrying if you’re going to be gay-bashed.

But all of it has made me wonder WHY I couldn’t have been happy living the small-town life.  Why do I continuously want to get more out of life and live in the world, instead of just being satisfied with what I might have had living there?

Or perhaps it’s time to give up on my dreams?  To forget about where and how I want to live my life, and just find a place in my home town to 6575_going_homesort of call home, and stare out the window trying to forget about all the places around the world I haven’t seen yet.

Could I truly go back to that life?

I’m not saying my life in London is amazingly perfect or anything, but at least it’s my life and I get out of it what I put into it, broke or not.  And sure, I’ve mentioned previously about how I want to leave London, but I don’t want to leave the UK.. It’s home to me now, this is where I want to live.

Shouldn’t that matter most of all?  Or is that just me being selfish?

Growing Up (or Older Depending on Point of View)

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turning 40I realised something kinda scary the other day… that in about 100 days I’ll be turning 40. 😦

How the fuck did that happen?!?  Where has all the time gone??

You’d think that by the time you turn 40, you would be settled as a person.  Home, job, career, love, what have you..  The usual grown up things I suppose.

(Click HERE for related post)

But I’ll be honest, I don’t really feel like someone who’s about to turn 40.. or at least I don’t most days.  Most days I feel like some overgrown kid who’s still into a bit of Sci-Fi, fantasy and superheros, while still kind of living like a student.

But then there are those days when the years creep up on me and I can feel the past 4 decades (?!?) pressing down on me, especially when the stress of life catches up to me.

Or when I have to walk up several flights of stairs.  😉

This has been especially true over the past week or so (the stress, not the stairs lol) thanks to all the trouble I’ve been having finding work and getting through life on such a limited budget.

Fun times.. not.

But the whole thing – the lack of work and the issues with finances – has got me wondering when did life get so complicated?  How did it get so stressful and focused on having certain things in life?  Or is it us who’ve made it like this?

reliving childhoodThinking back to my early 20’s .. sure I had my fair share of ups and downs, we all did.  But I can’t honestly say whether it was just as stressful then as it is now… Does that even make any sense?

I don’t know.. maybe it was a simpler time mostly because at that age I had different expectations for the immediate future.  Life was more about having cheap fun, getting pissed, and hanging with the friends I’d made once I finally came out of the closet.  Life seemed so much fun and carefree back then, even if it was such a small town life.

Or at least it always seemed like it was.

But I honestly don’t know if I would want to go back to that life knowing what I do now then.  It’s a scenario we’ve all thought about.. and in a way, it could sort of happen.

With the financial and job issues I’m having at the moment, it’s been suggested by several people, including my parents, that I could move back to Canada.  Which would potentially mean back to my little home town (at least to start off with) where there’s no social life for the gay man really.. Most definitely isn’t as open there as it is here in London.

Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams

But that wouldn’t be the issue.  To me, and this is probably my pride talking, I would feel like a failure if I ‘had’ to move back to Canada as if I’d somehow failed at living my life here.  And I’ll be honest, I truly do want to live here in the UK.  Maybe not in London perhaps, but I feel like I need to be here in the UK right now.

I don’t think I’d be any better off being there compared to here.  I’d still be unemployed with no money to live life.

I’ve been an extremely independent person for as long as I can remember, mostly relying on myself for help when things went tits-up.  Turning to friends and family for advice when you need it is part of life, but at almost 40 years old, aren’t I a bit too old to be running home to Mommy and Daddy when life isn’t going well for me?

Or I could just be over-analyzing it all, and need to continue to be patient.  I’m sure a job will come along soon.. it’s just a matter of whether I can survive financially until then.

Fingers crossed everyone.

Anniversaries, Apocalypses, and the Holidays

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Anniversary

Well well.. who’d have thunk it.  About a week ago, ‘Ramblings of a Supposed Disease Free Mind’ turned 4 years old.

That’s right, it’s my blog’s anniversary. 🙂

When I initially started this blog, it was to give myself a creative outlet for my writing and to help keep those back home in touch with what’s going on in my life after I moved to London back in September 2008.

happy_anniversaryLike most things, my blog has gone through a many ups and downs over the years, including several breaks where I wasn’t posting as often and one time when something I posted on here almost got me fired.  It has showcased happy times, periods of depression, losing jobs and even the loss of ‘friends’.

I’m not sure what the upcoming year will bring for my blog – or even for my personal life – but the hope is to get back to writing more often.

The Apocalypse

Well today is December 21st, 2012 .. and the supposed day of the Mayan predicted Apocalypse.  People around the world were all freaked out that the world was going to end.. with some of them looking forward to it for whatever reasons.

two-planets.jpg1325593265It obviously hasn’t happened.

According to this article here, which debunks 5 Mayan Apocalypse Myths, today wraps up a 400-year cycle called a b’ak’tun, the day of the winter solstice.  Over the years, the Mayan Calendar has been misinterpreted by Westerners to predict the end of the world, when it was just a benchmark of the end of a full creationist cycle.

For anyone scratching their head wondering what any of that means, I haven’t a clue either.

Guess we just need to wait and see what the next cycle brings us .. and most likely, just get on with living our day to day lives.

The Holidays

That’s right, it’s that time of year again where most everyone goes a little bit crazy to create the perfect holiday season and spent way too much money.  This time of year means different things to different people, regardless of their cultural upbringing.

302946children-playing-in-the-snow-posters1For me, I find it’s a quite lonely time of year, as I tend to spend most of this season alone.  I don’t have many close friends here in London, and the few I would love to spend this time with generally go home to spend it with their families.

I got a chance to go home for the holidays last year, spending the time around Christmas with my family back in Canada and New Years in Montreal.  I definitely enjoyed it and wish I could see my family more often (last time I’d seen them had been 3 1/2 years prior when I moved to London).

It’s always great to spend the time with family, but it isn’t always possible financially.  Especially this year since I haven’t been working since the end of August, and have spent most of the past couple months studying towards a certification in Project Management.

So instead of spending it with family or dear friends, I’m spending Christmas Day itself with the older couple I live with and their friends.. only because I had no other offers.  It’s not exactly what I would have liked to be doing, but at least I’m not spending the day physically alone.

I know a lot of it is my own fault, as I haven’t exactly been a social butterfly the past few months while being off work .. especially since I’m doing my best to not spend much money so I can ensure I can pay the bills (I’m not broke, but I am being careful).

fireworksBut at the same time, and I’ve found this before when I wasn’t working, I have found that some so-called friends stop wanting to hang out when things aren’t going that well.  It’s like they only want to be around when things are good and happy.. which would mean they truly aren’t that good of a friend.

However don’t think I’m being all depressive, cause I’m not.. well not completely.

I’ve got New Years to look forward to, as I’m going to spend it with a dear friend (possibly more than a friend?) in Luxembourg.  And I’m definitely looking forward to that time away from London and my flat.. and to distract me from job hunting and studying.

Fingers crossed things improve for me in 2013.

Marriage Equality Just Found A New Anthem

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I found this video on a site called Upworthy, and I agreed with the blurb written there:

Who says hip-hop has to be homophobic? Seattle rapper/producer team Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ new track “Same Love” is easily one of the most moving cases for LGBTQ equality I’ve ever heard.

This wasn’t written or performed by anyone super famous, or done as a way to get fans to like the artist.  This was clearly written and filmed because it’s a cause close to the artist’s hearts, and they felt a need to have their voices heard on this subject.

It is still surprising in this day and age that there are still countries that don’t recognise the rights of the LGBTQ community when it comes to marriage, civil partnership.. or whatever you want to call it.  (Yes I know, they’re not exactly the same thing, but they’re not mutually exclusive.)

Especially when it comes to such a supposedly global leader and first world country like the USA.  They claim to be the ‘leaders of the free world’ but are so far behind when it comes to basic human rights.

To this day I am still proud of being a Canadian when it comes to this subject, as Canada was one of the first countries in the world to recognise Marriage Equality.  Or Gay Marriage, or Same Sex Marriage.. it’s all the same because it’s ‘marriage’, and recognises that regardless of sexual inclination, we all are the same and deserve the same rights.

We’re all people and human beings.. therefore we all deserve to have the same rights.  Simples.

Celebrating Fathers Around the World

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Phew.. it’s definitely been one heck of a week… and this is the first I’ve logged into my blog since last Sunday!  Not good…

It’s not that I’ve been out super late, or even been having much of a life (though have hung out with my friend ‘C’ a couple times this weekend).  I’ve just been working late a few time this past week, so by the time I get home I’m shattered and can’t think of anything to write about.

Yeah I know.. excuses excuses. LOL

But anyway.. today is special, because it’s all about Father’s Day: a celebration honoring Fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society (Wikipedia).  This day is of course to compliment Mother’s Day, and is mostly held on the same date around the world – third Sunday in June.

Just like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day celebrations around the world have been made to fit other local celebrations, religious or otherwise, and occasionally had the date changed.

However the origins of Father’s Day are specifically American, and was initially thought of once Mother’s Day took off.  Unfortunately, this ‘holiday’ took several decades to take hold, and wasn’t until 1966 that ‘President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.[14] Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972‘ (Wikipedia).

That’s about 60 years after Mother’s Day was made official.

Anyway, back in Canada, there was never a lot of hype around Father’s Day.. at least not in my family anyway.  Sure, there was the usual Father’s Day sales for traditionally ‘masculine’ stuff, like ties, pipes (really?), golf clubs, power tools (dangerous!), electronics, and so on.

Basically, the usual stuff one’s father probably doesn’t really want, but then again it’s all about the sentiment I suppose.  Or the hyper-masculinity of it all.

Obviously it isn’t easy for me to do something special for my dad on this day with him being back in Canada and me in the UK.  I always try my best to at least give him a call to chat and see how he is, which I now think he enjoys more than getting the cheesy gifts he got when we were kids.

And I admit, I enjoy it too these days as we’d never had the best relationship while I was growing up and didn’t speak for about 7 years after I came out.  I honestly think it was more that he wasn’t sure how to talk or connect to me any more.

Of course that got better over time, especially when I decided to move to London back in 2008 and he helped me so much with everything from applying for passports, to looking for a flight to London, to telling me about what areas to avoid (based on when he lived here back in the 50’s & 60’s.. ).

It helped us to get to know each other better.. and I found when I went home to visit this past Christmas, I ended up spending more time with Dad than almost anyone else.  And surprisingly, he started telling my younger sister and I stories of when he was a young man living in London, getting his first wife’s father to trust him, and about them moving to Canada to join the rest of his family.

Stories he’s never told us before, possibly to not hurt mum’s feelings by talking about his first wife.. or maybe it was because he never thought there was a connection before, but there is now that I live here.

Or maybe he’s just enjoying reminiscing as he gets older.  Who knows.

Whatever the reason, I’m looking forward to the chat today.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. 🙂

Understanding Eurovision.. Maybe

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So… being from Canada, I was totally oblivious as to what the ‘Eurovision Song Contest‘ was.

I’d kind of heard of it over the years, but I hadn’t really bothered to find out what it was all about.  It wasn’t something that was ever shown in Canada so what was the point.

Of course it’s different now that I’ve been in London for close to 4 years now… not that I really have a clue of what it’s all about still, but at least it can be fun to watch.  For the finals this past Saturday, I was perched at the bar in a Brighton bear pub after spending the day roasting in the glorious sunshine.  🙂

Mostly from my experience and from people I’ve talked to about it, it’s just a fun night of music.  Everyone knows it’s going to be cheesy… and some can be downright creepy.  Check out the pic of twins Jedward creating a heart with their hands. (They’ve now represented Ireland 2 years in a row..)

It’s meant to solely be entertainment.. but the more you read about it, the more you come across theories about how the voting is all political and so forth.  Umm.. ok, it’s a song contest people.

So… for those back home or outside Europe – What is Eurovision and what is the point of the contest itself?

Ummm.. no clue.  I checked their website (Eurovision.tv), but I didn’t really find much as the the ‘why’ the contest exists to begin with.

So I turned to good old Wikipedia for some information .. and the contest was set up by the European Broadcasting Union as a way of bringing together the countries of the EBU around a “light entertainment programme” as Europe was rebuilding after the war.

I’m not going to go through the 50-some odd years of history of this program .. Most of it is kind of boring, like when they changed the rules form this to that.  Or when they introduced the phone voting or the semi-final voting.

Or even that currently each year there are 6 countries that get an automatic pass into the live finals – the host country (previous year’s winner) and the ‘Big 5’ (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom).  After a bit of reading on Wikipedia and the official website, I eventually found out this was because those 5 country’s broadcasters (BBC for the UK) are the biggest financial contributors to the contest and broadcast itself, and that it couldn’t be shown without their financial backing.

There’s a whole bunch of other information about the contest that I read through.. but to be honest, it’s not much more exciting .. and I got completely lost as to why countries like Iceland, Israel, Morocco, Russia, and such were able to participate in the contest when they’re not even part of Europe or the EU (there was a bunch of latitude and longitude numbers thrown around to explain the area..).

If you really want to know more about it, check out the Wikipedia page, or the Eurovision website itself.

I’m sure I could probably wrap my head around it all, but it’s late and I’ve got to be up for work in the morning. 😉

I’ve decided to just try and enjoy the music… even if most of it is cheesy (check out the Russian entry from this year .. and they came 2nd!).  And I’m not even going to discuss the UK’s entry.

Here’s the 2012 winning entry from Sweden.. It’s totally catchy, dancey.. and gotta love the lighting/camera work done for her performance.

Loreen performing ‘Euphoria’