Given what Calgary is dealing with, I feel like it would be highly disrespectful and insensitive to comment on the rain in Vancouver at this time. Seriously, it’s insignificant. Still, the prevalence of summer puddles and general dampness in town has resulted in a reversion to a level of warm beverage consumption that befits November. And, since coffee constitutes an important part of many people’s daily routine, I thought this would be a good time to share some thoughts on the matter with my Top 10 recommendations for java joints in Vancouver. Needless to say, the coffee at all of these places is top notch. However, I’ve separated the best of the best into categories, depending on mood and situation. (I’ve been to all of the following cafés at least five times over the course of the last year(ish), and typically order an Americano misto, so it’s more or less a controlled experiment.)
I know it’s been a couple weeks (I’m beginning to sense a trend), but it’s taken me this long to get over the incident. Still, I’ve heard that, for many, writing things down and expressing one’s feelings is often very cathartic. Alas, this won’t be a very long or remotely profound post, but I will try and share my experience nonetheless.
Two weeks ago, I was robbed. It was the night of the Game of Thrones Season Three finale, and Wilf and I were headed to our friend Fred’s house to make fish tacos and partake in the epic television event. I realized en route however, that we had forgotten to buy a cabbage, so I decided to quickly run into Choices to pick one up. Once inside, I jogged over to the produce, sorted through the pile of shiny purple cabbages until I found the prettiest one, and quickly proceeded to the checkout. Which is where it happened. Completely out of nowhere, the cashier turned to me, smiling, and said, “$7.72”.
Yesterday I tried to give a little love back to the world.
I recently stumbled across (literally) a mix CD on the street in Gastown. The maker left no information other than a wish for me to listen and share a mix of my own. Since I absolutely love music and surprises and random acts of kindness, I was pretty stoked with this discovery. I was a little less stoked to find that the “mix” was actually just The Tallest Man On Earth’s most recent album, There’s No Leaving Now (with a few random songs thrown on the end). But I still thought it was a pretty awesome idea and having any real complaints regarding such a sweet gesture would be totally ridiculous. Anyway, I chose to make a mix of my own (including one track from There’s No Leaving Now) based on a year in Vancouver (i.e., I tried to capture the mood of the city in a seasonal playlist). I made only one hard copy and left it down by Canada Place last night. I felt that this location would allow for a diverse array of potential discoverers. But, because I believe music in all its forms is worth sharing, I also chose to upload a digital version called seasons by the sea to 8tracks for interested friends to link to, and for strangers to stumble across.
I had nothing but the best of intentions when I sat down to write this post. I was even going to write about something important (i.e., five new shark species being included in CITES). Then I remembered a conversation I had with some homies last Friday in which they pestered me to write an entry about online dating. So, because I would do anything for my loyal fan base (all five of you), I figured I could accommodate their wishes. And this means that the sharks—which (needless to say) reign far supreme to my non-existent love life—will be the topic of my next post instead, once I’ve had a bit of time to go over some of the finer points regarding last week’s listing.
One of my closest friends, Caitlin—whose judgment and advice I would trust with my life (seriously)—recommended that I give online dating a shot after she’d had some success. I was incredibly skeptical. Mostly because, despite the fact that Cait and I do see eye to eye on most things, we are very different people when it comes to our views on men and relationships. Thus I assured her that I would have absolutely zero success in the realm of online dating.
My main reasoning was as follows:
- I prefer to meet people in a natural setting, under spontaneous circumstances, without any preconceived notion of how the evening is supposed to turn out;
- I’m actually quite content with the benefits and freedoms of being single and don’t feel remotely desperate to be in a relationship just for the sake of being in a relationship;
- I don’t have a normal work schedule and this can be difficult for people to understand. I also have absolutely no idea where I’ll be in a year (both geographically and career-wise) and don’t want to get involved with someone only to tell them I’m moving to Scandinavia in six months to do my PhD;
- While unsuccessful thus far, I tend to only get into relationships that I can see lasting indefinitely (i.e., I’m about as far from a serial dater if ever there was one);
- Although very easy going in many aspects of my life, I’m incredibly picky when it comes to men.
She said I was just making excuses. And also something about my personal mantra of not judging things before trying them…
The best cup of tea I ever had was served to me by a Berber man, in a cave, near Todgha Gorge in the High Atlas Mountains. While I was initially expecting sweet green tea infused with fresh mint (as is customary in Morocco), I watched as he instead prepared it using thyme. Truth be told, I’m not quite sure why I trusted this man as he enthusiastically ushered me inside a hole in the mountain (literally), but I felt no fear. And I know that for as long as I live, I will never make this beverage taste so delicious, nor appreciate it so much as I did inside that dark, confined little space. It goes without saying that someone who can make a pot of tea so good must possess some sort of old world alchemy, and there was something magical about this man; a nomad who lived life by the seasons, who travelled with his wife, son, and their donkeys from place to place throughout the region. The deep lines on his face were balanced by a sparkle in his eyes and a spring in his step, such that he might have been fifty years old, or eighty— I had no idea. And although our conversation was broken and contained mostly hand gestures, laughs, smiles, and pictures drawn in the dirt, I was reminded that day of how special something as simple as a pot of tea can be. He gave me the best he had, and for over an hour we enjoyed each other’s company. As I left, I went to offer him money (I honestly had nothing else to give him in return for his generosity), but he refused it. Perhaps sensing my concern, he simply took my hands and smiled, reassuring me that it was alright, and wishing me a safe and peaceful journey.
Despite the fact that I really liked the apartment in which I spent the last 18 months, after much hemming and hawing, I decided to move. Nowhere far this time. In fact, it’s basically just around the corner. (Or, for the Google Maps inclined: 1.41 km northeast.) And, although I did consider several realistic housing options, my decision to acquire a new address was influenced largely by two factors:
- It feels like nearly three-quarters of my monthly income goes toward rent. Oh, no, wait…it does. (This is clearly not a sustainable situation. At least not if I want to keep enjoying life to the extent that I currently do.)
- One of my colleagues, Kaz, was looking to find a roommate for her two-bedroom apartment.
To touch on point #1: it’s no mystery to people living here that we have an insanely high cost of living. I recently read an article stating that Vancouver had surpassed New York as the most expensive city in North America. And I don’t know how accurate that is, but without a doubt, the joy we get from our world-renowned mountains, ocean, and other noble vistas is firmly balanced by a permanent dent in one’s bank account. Sharing accommodation with Kaz will save me about $400 each month. Which means I can save for some more travel. Or at least fully pay off my VISA for the first time in a while…