I Owe Toronto an Apology…


14 01 07 - Toronto Glitters

Image by Cliph via Flickr

Well, I admit it. I owe Toronto and apology! Apologizing and admitting that I was wrong have never really been my strong suit, but this time I think it is deserving. For many months now I have been ranting and raving about the bad parts of city living, and I have discovered that I am wrong… Yes, I said it. I am wrong! I admit it openly here for the world  see in black and white. (Wipe that smug smile off your face and I will explain myself. Oh, and don’t get comfortable with my apologies there won’t be many more…)

As I said, I have been ranting and raving about all the negatives that come along with city living. I have gone on and on about Toronto and the level of ignorance that the people here have… Now although much of what I said still holds strong, I owe an apology because my opinion was narrow-minded and I was not appreciating all the good this city has to offer.

For the last few weeks I have been going out of my way to travel and explore this city of 5.5 million people and I have discovered, and learned, many things.

  • I have learned that not everyone in Toronto is ignorant and self-absorbed. Though there are a great many of people who could benefit from common courtesy classes, not everyone is in it only for themselves, and there are a few kind souls in this city. I learned this by travelling alone with my children and trying to struggle to get up stairs at the subway stations. I will say a great number of people did walk (barge) right by us, but there were a number of passers-by that offered assistance as I struggled and even a few that went completely out of their way to help. I have to say that although many Toronto dwellers are cold and closed off, there are many people out there that are friendly and caring. I apologize to those people and only hope that their compassion and care rubs off on the rest.. and btw To all the rude people: Would it really kill you to smile, say hi, or step aside once in a while? Hold a door for someone, or offer up your seat? Take a second to be friendly, it might change your life… or someone else’s! 
  • I have learned that this city truly is beautiful. Though at times I feel like I am lost in a jungle of concrete buildings where heat seems to swell up from the depths of hell, there are parts of this city that are truly amazing. There are ample amounts of parks to enjoy, beautiful buildings to see and streets to explore. There is amazing art, diverse culture and every corner is like stepping into a whole new world. For not opening my eyes to the beauty before, I apologize, but for those of you that throw your trash on the side walks… pick it up and go to hell.
  • I have learned that although the traffic is bad, and the transit is packed it is a good system. The Toronto transit is one of the best, it is rarely running late and you never have to wait long. So, although I would avoid driving here at all costs, and I don’t much care for the transit because of all the people, when I do take the transit I don’t have to wait long and it is easy to use. For that I am thankful and I will apologize (partially, because many people here really don’t know how to drive and I am NOT sorry for saying that… The gas in on the ‘right’ people and yo u don’t need to constantly honk your horns!!)
  • I have learned that it is not the worst place in the world to live and that if you look you can find great deals. Just the other day I was complaining about the cost of living in the city, now I admit there are some prices here that will shock you to your core… I saw a one bedroom apartment yesterday that was listed at $2,900.00 per month and I almost died, but I have discovered that when you look for a deal there is one to be found in this city on almost anything… From books, to beds, to houses and cars the competition in this city means great deals for the penny savvy shopper. Set out to scour a deal and you will find one that pleases you. You may have to compromise, but you will find what you are looking for in the long run. So for this I apologize as well.
  • Lastly, I have learned that being in Toronto is like seeing the entire world all in one place. This city is probably one of the most diverse in the entire world. There are people from all walks of life moving along together. Each corner you turn brings you new smells, sights and sensations. There is culture and diversity like nothing I have ever seen, and it makes exploring this city an amazing adventure every time you step out your door. For this I am thankful… and I guess I apologize.
So there you have it Toronto. I have learned to appreciate many things in the last few weeks… I have seen that Toronto truly can be an amazing place. I will tell you that there are still a great deal of things I don’t like about this city, and I will never be able to handle the crowds or the constant chaos, but there is beauty deep within this city that touches your soul. There is amazing history and endless exploration that I can appreciate and enjoy. So, I apologize Toronto and I am glad that I finally opened my eyes, and my mind, to the beauty that is this city!

My God, I’m a Country Girl! – City Living and the Cost of Chaos.


Broadway show billboards at the corner of 7th ...

Image via Wikipedia

The city can be a wonderful place full of life and excitement. It can also be an overwhelming place full of chaos and stress, for me it has been exactly that. I have enjoyed the time I have spent in the city, but living here has made me realize that no matter how much I try to deny it, I am a country girl at heart. This is a strange realization to me, as I was born in the hustle and bustle of the city. I grew up here and I loved my childhood. Our family made the most of city living, with constant outings and daily adventures. Despite my city blood lines I just enjoy the peace and quiet of the country to the chaos of the city any day….

Now when I say ‘country’ I don’t mean cows, chickens and bales of hay. I simply mean a ‘smaller’ city or town with less going on and quiet moments to enjoy. The city I moved here from held that for me. It is big enough that you have all the amenities you require, but small enough that you can enjoy moments of peace when you desire them.

I am just not cut out for the Craziness that is city living and here is why:

  1. You are ‘No One’ Here – When you are living among 2.5 million other people you have to deal with the fact that you are ‘no one’. Okay, maybe your someone to somebody, but he reality is that city living gives you this sort of feeling that you don’t exist. I feel like an ant among the grass, somehow lost in the chaos of the city. It is rare that you run into the same person twice, and finding a friendly face (which is a comfort I enjoy) is few and far between here.
  2. There is never silence – Especially where we have been living, there is never a moment where you can just ‘be’. Surrounded by constant noise of cars, planes and people, city life lacks that ‘silence’ that I took for granted for so long. Even if it is momentary, that silence is time to myself to just be with myself and enjoy the world around me. The never-ending noise of the city is enough to make a person crazy, and it clutters my head.
  3. Getting places is a journey in itself – Even to go to the grocery store has become a chore for me while living in the city. There is never a good time to shop. In a smaller city you sort of learn the busy and quiet times of your local stores and you work around the chaos. That is impossible here. It seems no matter what time I was going to the store there were herds of people, long lines and just general chaos… it is overwhelming, especially with children in tow. Not only is shopping a task in itself, travelling to the shops becomes an adventure as well. Buses, trains and streetcars are constantly packed with travelers that are in a mad rush to get from one place to another. You are crammed together to the point of bursting, it feels like you are sardines packed in a can. I never had a problem with crowds before, but I certainly do now. I don’t like people invading my space unless I invite them to do so.
  4. People are just not nice – Not to stereotype, but people in the city are ‘rude’! It is very rare that anyone says excuse me before plowing through you in line, no one stops just to chat, they hardly ever say hello, and Thank-you is some long-lost word that no one ever uses. Walking down the sidewalk becomes a hazard and holds its own risks of injury from hurried travelers who refuse to step aside. I have watched healthy people look away as an elderly person steps on to the bus. I have witnessed more ignorance in the last few months than I have seen in a lifetime, and it is sad. Has life become so chaotic for people that they have forgotten the basics of common courtesy? When a pregnant woman, elderly, or disabled person gets on a bus, you get up and offer them your seat, Period! It is not hard to do, takes only a second and certainly won’t kill you, nor will holding the door for the person behind you struggling with two children and 20 bags… Pull up people, seriously! Anyway… sorry about that rant that is a whole post in itself…
  5. It costs a lot – Living in the city is expensive. Besides the outrageous amounts you will pay in rent there is the cost of travel, the cost of food, the cost of everything. Even a simple family outing turns in to an extravagant affair… Though there are more resources in the city, I have learned that they are harder to tap into, with tight stipulations and odd hours of operation people complain that it is more difficult to find the help you need here than it is in smaller towns. Long waiting lists and large need make attaining what you need a very difficult process.
Maybe it is me personally, I guess I was just made for a simpler life. The city has its plus side, of course or 2.5 million people would not live here, but for me the pro’s just don’t out-weigh the con’s.
I think for me the city is more a place that I enjoy to visit, but don’t want to live. I like to explore and enjoy the chaos when “I” want to, but I like the escape and luxury of going back to a quiet home.
Do you live in a big city? What do you like/dislike about it? If you live in a small town, why do you enjoy it?
I would love to hear how others feel about city/country living, feel free to share your thoughts in the comment area.
Cheers!

Things I Hate About the City


 

My recent move to the city has made me a happier person. I love the hustle and bustle that the city offers. I love the busy vibe, the chaos, and the constant movement. I love the fact that there is always something to do, somewhere to go, or something to see. I love that there is never silence, and that you are never alone. With all that there is to love about the city, there is still plenty to complain about as well. There are a few things that I don’t love about the city….

  • People who don’t move out of your way on the sidewalk The first thing I noticed about the city that I dislike is the fact that as you are walking down the sidewalk people make no attempt to move out of your way. You can be an 80 year-old grandmother, wheelchair bound, or mother with a stroller and it doesn’t matter, they will not move to allow you to pass. People will walk directly in the middle of the sidewalk and crash into you instead of stepping to the side and allowing you to pass. This is especially true when you are walking in the same direction as the ignorant person. Common courtesy consists of stepping aside to let someone pass if they appear to be going at a faster pace than you are, it’s simple and it doesn’t slow you down. Standing aside for a moment is not going to cause you to be late for work or miss an appointment, and it could actually help the other person arrive at their destination on time … Even more disturbing is the fact that parents are teaching their children these poor manners. Each day after picking my son up from school I am bumped, barged, and plowed over by children as they flee the field and head for home… Now kids are going to be kids, but my son knows that you move aside for someone as they approach you on a sidewalk, it’s just polite.
  • Everyone always being in a hurry to get somewhere – Another thing I have noticed about the city is; that although I love the constant hustle and bustle, chaos, and action, people always seem to be in a rush to get somewhere. People watch in a city for an afternoon and you will notice that people are always rushing somewhere. No one ever seems to be wandering at a slow and relaxed pace taking in the world around them and enjoying the sights as they pass by. People are rushing about, without much attention to anyone or anything that they pass. There are times when I am in a hurry, yes of course, but here in Toronto it almost seems constant, as if there are never enough hours in the day. I think that it bothers me for a few reasons; First off the BF is one of those people who is always in a hurry to get everything done, or get where he is going. He rarely takes the time to browse a shop, watch a sunset, or smell the flowers. (so to speak) Where I prefer to stop and look in shop windows, touch items of clothing on a rack, talk to strangers, and take in the world around me one piece at a time. I fear that with all the rushing around people will miss the beauties that life has to offer, all the simple things that we take for granted each and every day. I just don’t see the point in rushing through life, why hurry to get somewhere all the time? Life is too short; if you run through life you will realize that you missed important moments. (maybe simple moments, but sometimes it is the simplest moments that change our lives)
  • The stupidity of city drivers – This is a steady source of stress in our household. It seems that no matter where you go, how you go, or what time you attempt to get there, here in the city there is always traffic problems. What really amazes me is how it is possible for traffic on a highway or major roadway to come to a complete stand-still!!! Accidents, construction, and minor hiccups are not an excuse to rubberneck or stop dead and hold up a whole line of cars behind you. Drivers in this city are insane…. (Sorry, maybe not all of you… but a large number) Where people refuse to move aside on the sidewalk, drivers on the road are often overly polite. Just the other day we were driving along and we were instantly stuck in a traffic jam that ran about 16 blocks… the cause (as far as I could see) was people stopping to allow other cars to turn in front of them. Now although it is courteous to allow a driver to turn off a busy street on to a side road, it is not courteous to allow 24 cars to turn left, thus holding up another 24 cars behind you!!! Another major issue is the fact that this city allows people to park on both sides of a narrow road, this causes confusion, chaos, and issues all around. With cars parked on both sides of a narrow two lane road, only one car can navigate through at a time, this causes issues because a lot of the time drivers cannot seem to figure out whose turn it is to drive, it’s not exactly rocket science but apparently it is difficult to grasp for some drivers. This also goes for streetlights that are not working properly… why can people not figure out what they are supposed to do in this situation?? Is it not on the driver’s test??? I am sure that it is a pretty standard piece of information…. Needless to say driving in Toronto is an adventure in itself, and basically unless you have unlimited time to arrive at your destination, you should probably take the bus!
  • The lack of compassion – People in the city are cold… period. I wrote before about a local morning show that went outside with a video camera and attempted to find a person on their way to work with a smile on their face… look around the city as you travel, a happy smiling face is a rare find here. People are just unfriendly! People here do not say hello as they pass, there is no smile or nod, no chit chat, or small talk for the most part. There is no warmth, comfort, or compassion for one another. Walking around here in the city makes you realize how small you really are in this giant world. You are anonymous… it’s almost creepy sometimes.

With all there is to complain about when it comes to life in the city, there is plenty that I love thus far. Despite the ignorance and the confusion, walking around and exploring the city gives me a sense of exhilaration and independence that I can’t find anywhere else… I love the big buildings, and the bustle of traffic, I love the chaos of people as they dash across a busy street. I love the sense of adventure and the mystery… This is my home and it makes me happy, even with all the calamity and quirks it provides!!!

Come On Over To My House…


I found a gem (well more a diamond in the rough) in the city by complete fluke.

I went back down to the city today under the motivation of an email for a very understanding and friendly sounding man, who messaged to inform me that he had an apartment in the city available for rent that he believed would suit my needs perfectly. I was skeptical at first in light of my adventure the prior day, but the area looked perfect (I google earth everything! Seriously, I am addicted to google earth.I think it is becoming a real problem.) Thanks to the conveniences of modern technology I can easily google any address and view (in detail) the property and the area, moving around as if I am actually at the location. (Trust me it makes stalking people a whole lot less exhausting.. you should try it!)

The address he gave me belonged to a regal looking home, that had long ago been split into five separate apartments. The lawn was well-kept and the home itself was in excellent condition, as were all the homes I could view in the surrounding area. The street was a tree-lined “family” neighbourhood that resembled something you would see on television. The school was a 6 minute walk away, and the house was surrounded by parkland… It looked perfect!!

I was weary on the ride down there, great price, nice house, perfect neighbourhood, something must be wrong.. I have learned lately that when something seems too good to be true it usually is just that!! But the man insisted I at least come and have a look, and that if I like it, it’s mine. What did I have to lose????

So early this afternoon we piled the kids into the car and headed back to the city for a second time, secretly dreading the time we would waste if it was another roach infested crack-den like we had seen the prior morning. We left early to avoid the chance of being tied up in weekend traffic, and arrived in the area an hour before the scheduled meeting time, under Lee’s helpful guidance (Lee is the man who lives inside the GPS, for those of you who did not read my last post) We drove around the area and explored to pass the time, and I was ecstatic to discover that less than a 5 minute walk from the house was all the amenities a mother could require for her day-to-day needs. A grocery store, a bank, a drugstore, a doctor, and many other little shops we easily accessible and would come in quite handy so close to home. The area itself was well-kept, for the most part, and was far from the run-down drug haven I have fearfully imagined in my mind.

When it came time to meet the landlord though my nerves started acting up, I was physically scared to see the inside of this apartment after the trauma from the day before…. It’s sad really, how one horrible apartment could turn me off an entire city!

We pulled up in front of the address and were greeted by a very well dressed, older, professional looking italian man. He greeted us with a friendly smile, and I liked him immediately.

Now before I get on with my story you have to understand that I am the spontaneous type. I have a tendency to do things on a whim without putting much thought into the process. I once up and moved across the country, basically out of boredom….

Anyway… We entered the house/apartment building through the front door and climbed a small flight of stairs to our apartment door, Apartment 1A was scrawled neatly across the door, but this time the door was not a damaged, mutilated, metal barrier that falsely ensured the ‘bad guys’ would be kept safely on the other side. No, it was a plain, run of the mill white wooden door with peep-hole, and a modest handle lock. (A big difference from the prison like locks and chains we had observed in the other units we viewed.) Though the lock was unobtrusive, the entrance felt safe, and I was sure that nothing larger was going to be required for protection. (I guess the fact that anyone who dared to disregard this lock would be met by my oversized rottweiler helped ease my safety fears)

Inside the apartment was clean (for the most part) and had been freshly painted. You entered into a small foyer and were greeted by an average sized front hall closet. (this is a big plus for me as I have been living sans storage space for the better part of the last year) Directly to the left was a fair-sized bedroom that would easily house both the children and their toys. It had a simple closet, and a large window, with good light fixtures and clean walls. In the room was a large piece of furniture that appeared to be a desk of some sort, the landlord explained that the man who had lived here had just up and moved out one day leaving a few items behind. I couldn’t complain, for the price I would gladly dispose of any left over belongings (and thankfully there were not many) Straight ahead from the front entrance was a reasonable sized livingroom area that held a real wood burning fire-place (I was very excited by this, there is nothing better than a roaring fire and a glass of wine on a cold night.) There were 3 large windows and plenty of natural light. This room also had a small closet for storage, and enough space for a nice couch and our reading chairs. I was impressed so far and continued my tour. There was a linen closet in the hallway and a fire escape through the back. The kitchen (although it needed a thorough cleaning, and a coat of paint) was a good size and had two windows and plenty of counter space. I was content to imagine myself preparing meals for my family in the cosy space it provided. The appliances were newer and in working order, so with a cleaning and some air it would be a useable space. Across from the kitchen was another large bedroom with a small ‘nook’ like area at the entrance that was perfect for placing a small dresser or shelf of some kind. It was bright, clean and rather large. The only complaint I could come up with was that the apartments only washroom was reached only through this bedroom, but seeing as the bf and I are very private people who do not encourage many visitors, I figured we could make it work. The bathroom itself could use a makeover, but it was again a clean and useable space with a big window, toilet, sink and shower stall (the baby will take some getting used to not having a bath tub but I am sure she will manage just fine.)

After wandering through the entire apartment and inspecting every little nook and cranny, I returned to the livingroom to speak to the landlord. He asked me what I thought of the space, and told me a bit about the area. I told him that I loved it (which I did) and he told me he could give me a key today and a months free rent…..

OK, maybe I started this search out of pure curiosity, perhaps I never ‘truly’ intended to move to the city, but with a deal like this on such a great unit, in such a great area, how could I go wrong???? The more I thought about it (and I did think about it) the more it seemed like a sign! Now I know what your thinking “Oh great! Here we go, now she is going to go off about signs from God, etc…” but no, I really mean it, maybe not from God, but a chance anyway. I have not been overly happy with my life in general the last few years and the only thing tying me to the town I live in is my family and friends. People I love dearly, but even with them living within walking distance, they are people I rarely see. I can not seem to find a good job in this town, and every time we get ahead, we somehow fall behind. My friends and family would still be my friends and family no matter where I went in the world, and with it only being an hour away there would ample opportunity for visits….. There were more jobs in the city, more things to do, and just more opportunity in general!

So, I paid the man his last moths rent and he handed me a key!!!! Yes, I got an apartment on the spot, for next to nothing!!!! He explained that the rush was due to the fact that he was heading for cuba the next day for a much-needed vacation, and that he felt the space was perfect for our family the minute he had read what I wrote about the awful apartments I had seen and the credit issues we were having….

Maybe it was all very fast, but I am so thankful that this man took the time to message me and insisted I see this space. I truly think that this was some kind of karma or fate, and I could not have asked for a better outcome…..

But, I suppose this means I should start packing????  Now That’s a whole other adventure in itself!!!