Tag Archives: downsizing

My Choice to Move: Addressing Your Comments

Time to tackle some of the comments from the last week on my “bombshell” of my leaving this storied city of glass, Vancouver. [My original rant about getting out is here, and the “deeper reasons” posting is here.]

After this, I’ll move on to blogging about the process of moving, the reflections it creates as I go through a lifetime of belongings to ready myself for a new life, and other things one might be lost in thought over during such a process.

The Preamble

First: I’ve deleted TWO comments. Both were from people who didn’t know how to say they disagreed with me or thought I was whiney or whatever without calling me names and generally being dicks about it. I know you have freedom of speech and I encourage you to use it, but there’s no constitutional amendment that requires me to listen to your bullshit when you decide to use said freedoms to be a belligerent asshole about it. So, yeah, feel free to waste your time, but I’ll be deleting that crap.

Second: Let’s clear a few things up. I don’t think the day-to-day things will be much cheaper at all in Victoria. What I think is, I can get a much nicer home for only a few dollars more than I pay now, and live in a much more convenient neighbourhood that’s easier on me in every way than the place I’m in now.

Third: I don’t plan to return to the city every week or two, so travel costs don’t matter. I don’t plan to suddenly become a “concerts/theatre/ games” person because it’s been out of my budget the last couple years anyhow, so I’m quite content for a quiet life of parties at home, reading more, and exploring the world. Fact is, Vancouver’s priced most of the entertainment world out of my reach, so moving to a place where there’s less of that really isn’t a drawback. In fact, it’s a bit of an advantage, because I won’t want what I can’t have. Between my back problem and my lack of writing, being stuck on buses for up to 15 hours a week and not living close to any decent shops, the commuting is killing me. I want a walking lifestyle in a reasonably quiet, convenient area that will be better for me creatively, physically, and quality-of-life-like, and where people don’t drive 70km through the side streets like they do where I’m at now.

Okay? All rightie then.

From Culture to Pace

I get why people love big cities but a lot of the things about big cities aren’t things I’m really wild about. I don’t like the endless bustle and noise. I don’t like crowds and chaos. I don’t need “excitement.”

Deep down inside, a part of me would like to live in the Scottish Highlands and visit society once a month. If anything, I worry Victoria isn’t quiet and small enough for me.

One reader, @NiftyNotCool, commented on the backwater attitudes in the small Saskatchewan town she was raised in, and that’s why she needed to get out and move to a forward, progressive city like Vancouver. I totally get that, and it’s something I DO love about Vancouver — how open-minded it is, how many of my gay friends have found community here, how multicultural it is, and how well it seems all us races get along most of the time.

Clearing Up What “Foreign” Means

Now, let’s address the obnoxious comment I deleted that made it sound like I’m some racist who hates the fact that people of different ethnicities moved here and the real estate market escalated.

No, if you LIVE here, then I think it’s great. Hell, I’ve been an ESL teacher in the past, so the culture shock of moving here has even been my bread and butter.

My problem is with foreign millionaire landlords who don’t live here, don’t pay taxes here, and who buy properties solely as investments in an overpriced market, then charge high rents to reap rewards on those investments, thus escalating the market as a whole for renters and people who are looking to invest in a home to live in. I want the market protected from outside investors for a while, just so the local population can catch up — whether they’re “born” local or transplanted. Buying to live in it? Fine. As long as you’re interested in community and being part of the city, welcome to ya, whatever your background.

I may also have a problem with the number of SUSHI restaurants in Vancouver, but that’s the extent of my racial discontent.

I Think I Need A Drink

And, speaking of restaurants, I regret ever bringing up the motif of the “$10 beer” in my first posting. I know overpriced beer exists in Victoria. Hell, they charge $60 or something for High Tea at the Empress, so you know the stupid’s going on across the pond too. Let’s forget I ever bothered with that argument, since I also have to admit there’s $3.75 sleeves 10 blocks from my present home. I never grumbled about a $10 Guinness last fall, just this sleeve of Rickards. It’s too ordinary to be expensive. Still: You people are right, I was wrong, and there we go. Moving on. Ixnay the eerbay, eh?

When Money’s Too Tight To Mention

Another comment I had came from some 21-year-old shithead who thinks he knows something about life and the struggles that might come down one’s way. I’ve been around too many blocks to even begin caring about that perspective, and that got deleted on merit alone since he was such a mouthy little fuck in his arguments, and the mouthy little fuck knows jack about my life.

It’s not like I’ve been forced to hit up the Food Bank or anything. My argument primarily is: the ridiculous renter’s/buyer’s market is insane and it’s now draining a lot of people like me who’ve “gotten by” for years but need to get ahead finally, and it’s just not happening in this city for us. The cost of living is high, and one would expect that today, but the real estate is off the charts.

If I’m paying high rent to live in the city but still spending a minimum of 10-15 hours in commute for work each week, and getting none of the “convenience” of living in the city, and I can’t afford the “scene,” then, what is it am I paying for? It’s a problem for a lot of us. For some, the solution is moving out to the ‘Burbs. For others, it’s just moving somewhere new entirely.

Ain’t No One-Size-Fits-All Dealio, Bob

I don’t think that the solutions I’ve chosen are right for anyone but me. I’m not trying to suggest I have the answer to anyone’s problems, or even a clue how to solve Vancouver’s market problems, but I think I’ve found the right choice for me, for now. I didn’t grab a Magic 8 Ball looking for Band-aids to life here, I took most of the year to decide when and where I should be going, on criteria that matters to me, and I considered cities across this great country. Ultimately, moving far from home doesn’t work, because I truly love this area.

I’ve been slow and careful in choosing because I think I had a fork in the road many years ago and took the wrong path. I think I’ve spent years struggling because of choices I could’ve made but didn’t.

And that’s life. Making a wrong turn isn’t something that becomes clear in a week or a month. Sometimes it takes years. And, yeah, it’s clear to me now. I think.

The Vancouver “problem” isn’t the culture. It’s not the mix of races. It’s not the beautiful setting. It’s not the fun festivals. It’s not the amazing bike paths, seaside routes, or any of that. It’s not the “Greenest City in the World” plan. It’s either that you can afford to live where it’s amazing, or you can’t.

And, me, I’m over city life. I’m tired. I don’t need the noise or the crowds or the commutes anymore. I don’t need to be an hour from town so I can “live it up” now and then. I need something less on a constant basis, and for quite a while.

For me, for now, less is more.

Now, I’ll assume I’ve said enough on the whys and wherefores. Moving on, kids.

Slowing Down The Speed of Life and Love

This is more of a fantasy than anything I’ve written in awhile – slowness, that’s all I want right now. I’m about to stop reading everything, and I’m on the verge of radically trying to change the life I’m living. I’m stick of the manic pace, I’m sick of the demands on my time, and I’m sick of feeling like I’m stretched in a million directions, just like my pal Gumby. I’m about to re-read Carl Honore’s In Praise of Slow (or In Praise of Slowness for you Yankees). I read it before, and it helped me make choices that got my life into a place I loved, but that was a while ago, and my world’s been turned upside down for awhile now.

There’s a movement out there in the world that has no flash, no PR, no glory, and it’s called Slow. The movement embraces everything from real cooking with real ingredients and long, relaxing meals with real conversation, right through to Tantric Sex. It’s about finally deciding this world around us just doesn’t make any sense anymore, and taking back control over your life.

We’ve drunk the Kool-aid, man. For the last 100 years, we’ve been told that every new piece of technology would help us better our lives. Cars would get us there faster, cellphones will mean you can get your work done on your time, your portable laptop computer will mean you can work anywhere you want.

It’s bullshit, of course. All it’s done is made it possible to get ahold of us anywhere, anytime.

I have this nightmare, you see. I dream of one day doing a trek through the wilds of Africa, and there on the Savannah floor, the tall grasses of the veldtland blowing in the plains’ winds, the distant sounds of elephants trumpeting their majesty, lionesses roaring with pride over their conquests, and some fucker’s polyphonic GPS-ready cellphone starts to ring to the tone of Softcell’s “Tainted Love.”

I’m sick of this. I’m sick of being a yuppie in the middle of all this crap. But I left the commune a while ago, honestly. But they pulled me back in, just like the fuckin’ mob. Now, I work almost daily, my cellphone’s always charged, I do everything I can to fit as much into my week as I can, and I can tell you this much: The only thing I really know is that I’m beginning to feel soulless.

A year ago, I was living the Slow life. I’d opted to work three hours less per week, and as a result, wound up with three-day weekends weekly. I worked on my terms, my way. I had a little less money, but I couldn’t have cared less. I looked at my friends with their new houses, new cars, and the bags under their eyes and the need to do overtime, and I laughed, sat on beach, read a book, and couldn’t have cared less.

I took the time to cook from scratch, which really doesn’t take much longer, or much more effort, than a lot of the packaged shit in the world. I turned my cellphone on deliberately, not automatically, not 24/7. I let my answering machine get my calls if the phone rang during a meal. I’d take the slow, long, scenic way home. I’d do whatever it took to enjoy the moment I had. My home and my self, both were oases away from the world.

And now? I feel like I’ve been bought and sold by The Man. I got to the beach on Saturday, and did some photography, which I absolutely love to do, and it was the first time since the early fall I’d done so. There was a time when nary a week would pass without the taste of salt air coating my throat.

Slow means doing everything you can to enjoy the moment. It means not rushing to the orgasm. It means exploring Tantric Love. It means rolling over in the morning and actually deciding what you want to do, instead of feeling like the world’s got demands on your time. It’s about knowing that sometimes, a quickie’s exactly what the moment calls for – whether it’s sex or some McDonald’s fries – but that it’s a choice, not a necessity.

It’s about turning off your daytimer, your cellphone, and realizing that you have control over your world, and that you can say “no” to others.

I’m looking for work now, sick of this hodge-podge of jobs I’ve been doing, the complications needed to keep all the shit straight in my head. I’m tired of feeling like I need to apologize for not having any time, when the fact is, the world’s made me this way… but only because I let it.

I had actually gotten an email yesterday that asked me, “Why are you working so much, do you like it?” No, fuck no. An ideal life for me is books, a beachside home, and the ability to travel and live on my terms. I’ve hit a cosmic hiccup that has left me maxed out for six months now, and the time is here to put a stop to it.

Fact is, modern life is bullshit. There are aspects I love, (iPOD!) but our lack of time, lack of independence, lack of control… it’s really tearing us apart. I remember a guy on a ferry saying to me once, “Cities are built for distraction… to distract you from where you’re not, and who you’re not.” And it’s true. I get comments sometimes about my “insight” or whatever it is people like in my writing, and I have to tell you, you too can be your own little guru, but only if you come over to the Slow side. My writing, I guarantee you, will improve if I stop all this shit that’s pulling me apart. My Slow time spent living in the Yukon, and my travels, and my lifestyle I had a year ago, these are the things that plug me into my cosmos. It keeps me happy, makes me in tune not only with the world around me, but with myself.

Being sucked into this vacuous existence of stop-and-go-and-go-and-go has left me feeling like my soul’s long gone. I know it’s not, it’s just on pause, but I remember the feeling I had last year. I was single, my life was entirely on my terms, my schedule, and nobody but nobody could take it away from me. Until they did, and now, here I am.

I’m not worried about it, though. Now I know the problem, I also know the solution, and I know I’ve been able to make those life changes before, and I will again soon. And then, then it will be summer, and life will again be all blessed out.

Every now and then, a person needs this anger and frustration, because it reminds us what we want, and urges us to aggressively seek it.

I gotta get Slow. Fast. And you do, too.

(Photo’s by a dude called Mike Verna. It’s exactly what I wish to be doing today. I’ve cancelled all my work today, just have one appointment, and I’m finding my way to the water today. Rain’s back. Oh well. I’ll be writing about sex soon, I promise. I just need to deal with some things on my plate, first. Thanks for staying tuned.)