Six Months

<p>Quietly, we passed the six-months-in-Toronto mark on March 18th. A week later, I passed the two-months-on-leave mark. Easter happened -- ending Lent, and my associated <a href="/blog/life/sabbatical/giving-up-for-lent.html">restriction</a> on durable purchases, and presently I'm on a train to Halifax. The rest is just details and thoughts.</p> <p><img src="/images/website/IMG_4847_small.jpg" class="left">I like this part of Nova Scotia, that the train is rumbling through. This is my fourth or fifth time through it by rail, and for a while I'm pretty sure the rail line was twinned with the highway I cycled on for my first distance cycling trip. With a rented cell phone, home-made energybars and a low-ball estimate of 90km/day, I ended up clearing 500km two days early, and catching the train home from <a href="http://maps.google.ca/maps?q=Bathurst,+NB,+Canada">Bathurst</a>. </p> <p><img src="/images/website/IMG_4845_small.jpg" class="right">Mostly the train is going through a 6m-wide clearway sliced out of empty wilderness, with the occasional cluster of houses wizzing by. We're an hour behind schedule, which is about two hours ahead of schedule from past experience.</p> <p>The trainmuffins are terrible -- in ingredients, texture, flavour, excessive packaging (a plastic package wrapped in shrinkwrap!) -- but they were on special for 75 cents since they were day-olds. Actually, probably more like 10-day-olds given the preservatives. I ate breakfast with a fellow named Ken who did cable installing near Kingston before retiring to <a href="http://maps.google.ca/maps?q=Bathurst,+NB,+Canada">PEI</a>. I'm not sure if it was cable-as-in-TV or cable-as-in-industrial-wiring. He had some good stories about driving across the southern US as a "long-hair" in the 70s and taking a lot of intimidation and threats for it, and about getting caught on the open seas while sailing. The oatmeal portion was too small, but there was lots of good fresh fruit.</p> <p>I woke up yesterday feeling nauseous and generally a little under the weather, uncertain about whether I was going to go ahead with the journey I'd decided on only the night before. Around 10:15, after some mini-wheats and OJ went down okay, I decided to run with it; by 11:30 I had rush-packed, caught a subway to Union Station, bought a one-way ticket, and boarded the train. One-way tickets are so much more dramatic than the return kind. Running on not much food, with a headache and general malaise on top of my post-by-election lassitude, I spent a couple hours feeling claustrophobic, unmotivated, and vaguely regretting the commitment of 28-hoour train journey. I wondered drearily if that's comparable to what some unlucky people feel like all the time: slightly unhealthy and unmotivated. (I've been reading <a href="http://www.matthewgood.org/">Matthew Good's blog</a>, which is an interesting mix of tough health and happiness problems with a lot of motivation; makes me glad I have both, most of the time.) The last two weeks have given weight to the implied warnings of the people who remarked about my leave that they didn't think they'd have the motivation to do get up every day and be productive. After a long but wakeful sleep in the too-cold train ("I thought I was riding a train, not a freezer," lamented an elderly man at breakfast this morning. "Never again!") I feel much better today.</p> <p>Six months in Toronto. 5 of them winter. Bring on the spring! 'nuf said.</p> <p>Two months of leave -- if I had internet access on the train, I'd check my objectives list, panic about how many of them were unstarted, and take immediate action. Good thing there's no internet!</p> <p>Okay, so the six months of Torontonianism hasn't been so bad as to be summarized in one whingy sentence -- I think we've settled in fairly well, with some community involvement, a few gigs, lots of restaurants, some exploring, one play, and some germinating friendships. In fact both Clare and I have already met "friend-potentials" who are leaving Toronto soon; it seems a very transitory place for people our age. But yes, bring on the spring; even <i>I'm</i> growing weary of winter. Poor Clare.</p> <p>The end of Lent ended my somewhat-successful embargo on purchases of durables. One of the policy decisions was what to about gifts; for outgoing gifts they were counted in my three material purchases (two gifts, one corn-plastic filled duvet) and for incoming I just ignored it, not wanting to unduly expand the intent of the project. But then since this period included my birthday, which included gifts of cash since I'm so hard to buy for, I ended up stretching things a bit, and buying some CDs, some cloths, and a replacement iPod. All within the budget of the cash I'd been given for my birthday, but it certainly seems like a cop-out. (Though to be fair I didn't realize the period included my birthday until I was rather well into it.) Maybe next year I'll do it again with more buy-in from those that might give me stuff. I don't think it actually made a huge difference, which is mostly what I wanted to find out; most of my consumption is..err..consumables.</p> <p>To that end, I also did one shopping trip with a meal plan, after reading someone somewhere saying how much it cut down on their food waste; we got pretty good results too, I think. Just the process of working out roughly how many nights would <i>actually</i> involve cooking, rather than going out, grabbing a sub before a night course, or eating something quick from the freezer. It feels very hyper-organized to have a list of what to eat, but it seemed pretty effective. We'll see if it continues.</p> <p>In blog news, I now use <a href="http://reader.google.com/">Google Reader</a> pretty heavily to read too many <a href="http://gristmill.org">repetitive</a>, <a href="http://treehugger.com">redundant</a>, <a href="http://envirowonk.com/">duplicative</a> blogs about stuff I'm interested in -- there will be a cull soon -- and I've integrated into the blog the stream of items I've found and shared for interest, humour or perspective. Go, web 2.0! </p>
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