Despite being left home alone for a few weeks today has already been quite productive. I started it reading a book on my iPhone at Mojo Lounge, on Dundas St West. If you’re engrossed in your book you don’t notice the thumping music so loud you can’t talk to somebody next to you. After I saw Willam perform, “Boy is a Bottom”, live I caught a scary cab ride home. The psychotic driver swerved on the wet streets and didn’t talk. I thought he was trying to kill us both. I whispered my goodbyes to the world, just in case. After a sleep-in I set out to use a few trips on the TTC and tick off some items on my list of “House Things To Do”.
My initial vague idea was to purchase groceries in Chinatown, via the University of Toronto main library. The other fellows have managed to get student cards/library cards (“T cards”) which give access to a lot of student price discounts. I caught the Bloor line train across to St George, managed to start walking North, instead of South (I did a Daniel and walked in the complete opposite direction that I needed to go). When I found the ugly brown colossal library it was only to learn that the office that issues T cards is open 9-5 Mon to Fri. Another thing to do on my academic day this Thursday.
Again on leaving the library I’d lost my North/South bearings and had to rely on my iPhone. The sun seems to ignore the thumb rule I learned as a scout for navigating North (something to do with your analogue watch, and the time of day) or just plain vaguely East before noon and West after. It’s generally overhead somewhere behind a cloud. I ended up walking down to College, then Spadina.
Even though I can’t speak Cantonese I feel strangely comforted walking through the Chinatown area in any new city. I find myself even starting to almost ask questions in Cantonese (e.g. “Do you have blah?”) before startling myself that I even knew how to say that. Mum or Dad must’ve taught me something when I was a toddler, in between me being a naughty mischievous tyrant and running straight toward Hong Kong traffic, or the high rise apartment open window to make everybody gasp in horror and then suddenly stop at the last second. It’s a wonder my mother isn’t sedated in a home somewhere.
I found a Chinese grocery on Spadina that was full of Chinese people, and annoying fat white tourists speaking loudly and obstructing the narrow aisles, talking about the produce as if it were a zoo on display. “Here we have processed blah blah…” Um, excuse me, you’re in my way and I’m half-Chinese and you’re being racist. I settled for a light nudge and super scowl.
I stocked up on Chinese cooking wine, superior light soya sauce (I think I might’ve bought the wrong one; Mum persisted to show me the Chinese characters of the one we used, when I was a kid, but I think I remembered the character of the one “not to buy”), oyster sauce, and some veggies. I think I got some deep fried tofu and frozen roti parathas (the same brand as the IGA in East Perth that I accidentally bought with Albert when we were waiting for Thai take-away and went in search of ice-cream).
I thought I’d treat myself to yum cha for one, at Rosewood – the all-day yum cha place we’d found before and were happy with. The same friendly guy was at the door, greeting. They asked if I minded sharing the big table about to be cleared with an old couple. Of course not. I’m half-Chinese. Put me in a broom closet and I’ll marvel at the ceiling height. I uploaded photos to Instagram while waiting. 2 more tables became free. They started clearing those. The old couple sat at one. 2 more people walked in, and they were sat at a new table for 2. Um, what about me? I stared at all three waitstaff but, somehow when I’d lost eye contact while waiting I had turned invisible. I waited and watched the big table get filled up by a bunch of people brought from upstairs. Now there was no room for me. I picked up my box and walked out. The man at the front who had been so friendly asked why I was leaving. I told him and he started to yell, “Saaareeee!” while I stormed down the road. I went elsewhere but the food wasn’t as nice.
I returned home, dropped off my spoils, and headed back out with the sole aim for buying a stapler and some potting mix for my balcony plants. I started at some garden store on Church St called Ladybug, which was overpriced and limited in its range. I think they sell flowers mainly. Realising I was outside Wellesley Subway I caught the train to Dundas, and got out at the Eaton Centre. I wandered the entire Canadian Tire store, took photos of things I might like (a green broom/mop, some garden gnomes, an ironing board… I was in my element) but bought nothing. I did the same in Sears, H&M and more stores than I could count.
I ended up buying two things: a mocha frappaccino from Starbucks (it was hideous but wet) and some Godiva chocolates to give to Kathryn at UHN, to thank her for being so helpful in what has been a stressful move.
I’m still walking through each subway station with my jaw on the floor, like I do in London and Paris, thinking, “Wow! I’m now an adult and I can just catch the train all day if I want!” or, “How interesting is that tiled wall?” Then I get self-conscious that I must look a bit weird wandering around subway stations gawping and taking photos with my iPhone. You’re meant to walk with your head down, with purpose, not walk on the wrong side of the path (I stood left by accident again) and look at the ceiling.
I didn’t find a stapler. I didn’t buy any potting mix either. I managed to buy shampoo and conditioner, which was another mission. At Shoppers Drug Market in the Bay building on Bloor I walked in and said to myself, “Shampoo. Conditioner. Cheap. Don’t care what.” Then I saw all the ones on sale. And had to decide whether my hair was normal, dry, falling, cocoa bean. Again, I spent too long in the aisle and was getting sideways glances from the store clerks. I ended up buying products on the basis of 50% off and the bottles were darkish green, to match the other green-colour-themed items we’ve bought. Even the bananas are green.
It’s Saturday night in a few hours but I only feel like doing some literature reviews on what the doctors at UHN that might be able to supervise me doing a research project have recently published. Or I’ll read more. One of the aims I had (vaguely in my head) for this 2 years was to use my iPad/iPhone Kindle app and read more books. I started Capital by John Lanchester last night while waiting at Mojo’s. I’m loving all the contemporary characters, and his commentary on our capitalist values. Even though a few characters were a bit stereotypical (like the doctor that the old lady goes to see), they did incite momentarily self-reflexivity.
Daniel looks so happy that he’s finally catching up with his sister in London. I’m glad he decided to go (he was being indecisive so I made the decision for him, along with several others; he may or may not have listened though).
I need to iron my work shirts. I hate ironing. Other than that, I love my life!