Wednesday, December 23, 2009


With the For Sale sign pitched out front, I am able to see things differently in my local environment. Instead of cursing my neighbors’ muffler-challenged pickup trucks and the five-year-old who stands in the middle of our street yelling four-letter words (and I swear my cursing didn’t influence him; perhaps vice-versa) , I can focus on the forest that the road backs onto, the fresh snow dusting the mountains and the view of the water. Yes, the scenic beauty that attracted me to this area stands out again.

It’s not that I had a tree trimmer come by and hack away at all the trees and hedging on my property. The view has always been stunning. It’s just that there have been times when all I wanted to see was city lights (even though it drives me crazy that entire office floors remain fully lit through the night). I am surrounded by young families and retirees and that same demographic exists in the nearby town. I’ve always been an odd duck, but here I’m stranger than Daffy and Donald combined—I’m more like that whacky “Disco Duck” that even 70s radio stations shun.

Since that sign went up, I’ve been like a tourist as I’ve driven into town, taking the longer scenic route to enjoy the peekaboo water views and to see the quaint knickknack shops decked out for the holidays. I’ve stopped and gazed at the sleepy harbour and the even more remote island enclave across the strait.

This afternoon the sun is scheduled to make a rare December appearance and I’m planning on walking the dogs along the hiking trail only a block away from home. We seldom go there as I’m usually in a hurry and more inclined to stick to the roads. (I also tend to lose all sense of direction and have gotten miserably lost back there so we won’t go far. I’ll kid myself in saying it’s because of my older dog’s weak legs. And it’ll work—sad how easy it is to play with my own mind!)

When I take the ferry to the city on Christmas Day, I might even give up my usual perch in one of the “business work station” carrels and stake out a window seat to do nothing but take in the soaring gulls, the choppy ocean water and the smoke seeping from cottage chimneys on islands we pass.

There has been no action on the house listing. It’s a far cry from Vancouver when both my houses sold in a week. I’m telling myself people are too busy with gingerbread houses to look at real ones of the plain brown and white stucco variety. Maybe some overspending on Boxing Day will humble home buyers into considering properties with a little less curb appeal. Buy those plasma screens! Scoop up the whole lot of hideous sweaters, still overpriced at 75% off!

This is a waiting period for me. Could last for months. I may nervously resume my childhood habit of gnawing on my fingernails, but I will also take the time to appreciate the charm and beauty of the present. Indeed, it shall be the holiday present to myself.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


As if I needed confirmation that listing my house was the right decision, today I passed up an opportunity I’d have jumped at if I lived in Vancouver.

I noticed in yesterday’s Vancouver Sun that the new movie “A Single Man” was going to be showing at 10 a.m. today with the screenwriter present for discussion. This movie is an adaptation of the Christopher Isherwood novel. Directed by Tom Ford, it stars Colin Firth and Julianne Moore and is generating Oscar buzz. (Xtra West calls it "one of the best gay films ever".) Sure, there will be more screenings when the film goes into wide release, but this was a chance to hear the writer, David Scearce, talk about his process and the final product. (Tom Ford shares a writing credit, having revised Scearce’s original script.) As a fledgling writer, I would have been inspired listening to this Vancouverite’s success story. Moreover, I would be able to identify because he is an acquaintance of mine though I haven’t seen him in several years. I have heard bits and pieces of the process over time from a mutual friend.

So what stopped me? I had planned to go. As is so often the case, I was gung-ho last night, only to be awakened with practicalities in the middle of the night. By the time my alarm went off, I’d backed out. A twelve dollar movie ticket was going to cost me $52, factoring in the ferry cost. (I’m on a year’s leave from work to focus on writing. It’s a wonderful experience except for the fact that my bank account is being battered.) On top of that, the two-hour movie would have taken eight hours to see, from the time I left to catch the morning ferry to the time I caught the first available afternoon sailing and arrived home. Once again, the ferry sank my plans.

I’m going through some regret at the moment. Should’ve gone perhaps. But that’s the reality of living where I do. The movie hasn’t started yet and, if I were living in Vancouver, I could still make it. However, the ship has sailed. That personal helicopter and pilot? Not gonna happen. After all, my house has a slanted roof.

Listing house? Great idea. Selling house? I sure hope there are some impractical dreamers looking to buy.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Four years, two months, ten days. That’s how long I’ve lived in the boonies. And hopefully I won’t have to count the days much longer. I met with a realtor today to list the house. Rural life hasn’t worked out. I need to get back to the city.

I suppose things might have been different if I didn’t have a ferry to govern my trips to the city (and my friends’ visits to see me). I don’t mind driving distances, but I like to have control in when I travel. Being dependent of the ferry schedule broke me.

Of course, it was more than that. I’m simply not a country boy. Folks I met here avoid going to Vancouver at all costs; I, on the other hand, yearn for any excuse to get there. Dairy Queen Blizzard? Road trip! (That is a head scratcher. How could this area not even have a DQ? If anyone cares, it’s a goldmine of a franchise for these parts.)

I tried Internet dating, but guys were quick to press Delete (and maybe a blocking mechanism) when I explained where I lived. I even went to a couple of gay/lesbian events here. Typically, I was the only single guy amongst a horde of women and a handful of coupled senior men. People were nice, but I couldn’t find a connection.

Moving is always stressful. I’ve moved eighteen times since university so it shouldn’t be such a big deal, but it is. The angst heightens in the middle of the night, leaving me with raccoon eyes that are becoming more and more dramatic. What if the house doesn’t sell? What will I ever be able to afford in the Vancouver market? Should I rent? Who will rent a place to a guy with two dogs? What if I forget what traffic lights are for?

Breathe. One step at a time. The sign goes up Monday. Fingers crossed for a quick sale.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I’ve been thinking a lot about AIDS lately. I am writing a novel set in 1990-1991, a time when I was fully committed to the cause. AIDS Walk, A Loving Spoonful, AIDS Project Los Angeles, I helped wherever I could. Now it only seems like something I read about in the paper, the headlines appearing less often and buried on the back pages.

Maybe it’s because I’m so far removed from the gay community, but I think we’ve become complacent. Well, I have. It is true that I no longer see men with recognizable signs of AIDS when I walk through Vancouver’s West End, but I’m guessing that’s because drug treatments have become more effective in allowing people to live with AIDS. It’s still there,…just not in your face.

I don’t know current stats. Perhaps things are much rosier for gays now. If so, great, but today is a day to remind us that there is a generation of gay men greatly reduced in numbers due to what came before. I think of Stephen and Don, two men I supported as a buddy in L.A., both magnificent men in unique ways. Don would be 64 this year if he hadn’t died of AIDS-related complications at 47. Stephen would be 47 had he not died at 28.

No doubt, great progress has been made since AIDS was a curious affliction known as GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency) in the early ’80s. I read in the Vancouver Sun today that there is a walk-in clinic where you can get an HIV test through a finger prick and know the results in a minute. A far cry from when I went with my lover to have a test and I ended up lying on the floor, the poor nurses watching to see if I would pass out after the dreaded needle. The information and much better medical resources are out there. Still, there is much work to be done to ensure that the best education and treatment are offered throughout the world.

Today is a day to reflect on the past, hope for the future and give myself a kick in the ass to do something.