With the market being a hot time to sell – I listed my house. In one day I attracted 15+ bids and sold it for 118% above asking. Great news right? Not so fast.
The next step was finding a new place that would become a long-term investment. My requirements were: centrally located in an area with a sense of community, under 10-minute walk to the subway, finished basement with a separate entrance, and for under a certain $. This proved to be very difficult.
In the next couple of months, I visited countless open houses, and scoured the MLS listings for properties. It seemed that whatever was decent was selling for tens (and sometimes hundreds of thousands) above asking in a frenzied bidding war.
The first two properties I bid on sold for so much above my already generous offer that it left me feeling quite discouraged.
A couple of weeks ago I put a bid on a 3-bedroom semi-detached home that needed a lot of work. My bid was the winning one until a couple, frustrated with losing out on their last 6 bids came in with guns blazing and put in a very high last minute offer that blew me out of the water. I walked away frustrated yet again.
After losing my last bid I re-evaluated things and looked at the property with clear eyes: even though the house had a lot of promise, there were extensive cosmetic changes that had to be done throughout, it needed a new kitchen/bathroom, was missing private parking, the furnace/AC had to be replaced and the street had a few social housing properties (with one being only 6 houses away from the house I was looking at).
Sometimes things like this happen for a reason, right?
The very next day, I received a call from the agent of a house I saw on the weekend telling me that no offers had been placed on a house and wanted to know if I was still interested (I hadn’t considered the house seriously because I knew it would go well above asking).
Frustrated with the whole bidding process, I told the agent I was interested, but to only contact me close to 7 p.m. that night (when the deadline for bids would be) if she still didn’t have offers and was comfortable with the fact that I would pay very close, or even below the asking price.
At 6 p.m. I received a call informing me that no offers had been presented. Very strange.
My first bid was rejected. Upon this I explained that my next bid would be my final one, and if it wasn’t accepted, to not contact me any further.
My second bid (tens of thousands below the relatively low asking price) was accepted.
So what did I get?
My new home is on a beautiful tree-lined street, just south of the Danforth, and a 9-minute walk from 2 subway stations. With 3 bedrooms/2 bathrooms, it has a wonderful backyard, private parking, and a separate entrance.
The location is home to a farmer’s market, holds a yearly semi-private street festival, boasts a walk score of 88, was ranked 38th best (out of Toronto’s 140 different neighbourhoods) in a recent government score, is a 25 minute walk to Ashbridge’s Bay, and right by a bunch of great independent coffee shops, yummy restaurants, parks and trails.
However the best thing I found was perhaps the most important long-term wise: a sense of community.
When bidding wars (which are currently the norm in Toronto) are in effect, rational thinking goes out the window. I didn’t want to feel like I had ‘won’ my house but then be left with payments I wouldn’t be able to comfortably handle.
My only guess as to why I had this bit of luck was that during the exact same time that bids were due on my house, a house just around the corner was going through a very intense bidding war. With so few houses on the market, buyers were so focused on one property that mine was ignored in the process.
If life is a race, where’s the finish and who we’re competing with? Is there a prize for first place or do we just reach the end a little quicker?
We’re just skimming the surface of life. Humans just aren’t designed to go that fast.
Soon or later we crash.
To cope with the speeding life, our bodies release chemicals that activate our adrenal glands, increase our heart rate and raise our blood pressure. These responses causes to grind our teeth, sleep poorly, crave fatty, and sugary food, get headaches, feel stressed, get sick more often, and lose our sex drive. And in the long-term, we’re in the fast lane to heart disease, sexual dysfunction, allergies, diabetes, bowel conditions, depression, anxiety, muscular pain, a lot of other stuff with names too long to remember.
But when we slow down, we discover that life has a natural pace, and it’s good. We get into a grove that’s always been there. Life becomes richer, more pleasurable, and more fulfilling. You may do a fewer things, but what we do, we do well.
When was the last time, you actually took time to breathe? Not just the shallow ticking over of your respiratory system but to really breathe? Taking a long slow breathe in to its comfortable conclusion and letting it all out and doing it again and again and again, until you’re flooded with calm.
So why haven’t we slowed down before. If you’re worried life will overtake you, you’re wrong.
Life is where you’re doing right now. So slow down and enjoy the ride
Over the weekend, friends and I were driving towards a night out of good food. A casual chat about Tom Cruise’s Scientology beliefs opened the talk up to just how similar this ‘crazy’ religion is to Christianity, Islam, Judaism; other religions around the world. What makes believing in an omnipotent God that no one has ever seen any different than believing in aliens? In fact, why don’t we all just give into the ‘truth’ of human evolution – Darwinism, and how we all originated from apes?
While sitting in the passenger seat, and not paying much attention to my peripheral vision, my life almost changed.
A quick swerve of the car, tires squealing, bone-chilling screaming and the eyes of a young boy, mere inches from mine, startled and shook me to realize what had just happened.
Driving the speed limit along a main street with no obstacles or heavy traffic, a child had dislodged himself from his family on the sidewalk and ran directly towards our car. He was yelling in indecipherable moans, his father pulling him back towards the sidewalk; ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’ the father repeated.
Exciting the vehicle, I approached the non-English speaking family. The child was unhurt, confused, his mother eerily calm, and his father grasping onto him. ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’.
‘Are you OK?’
No response from the child; just howling.
‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’
‘Are you hurt?’
More confused and nonsensical shrieking.
‘He has autism,’ replied the mother.
I asked for reassurance that the child was OK, and in my troubled state wished them a Merry Christmas and re-entered the car.
Had this happened because we had questioned God?
So many questions filled my head.
No icy snow – would we have stopped in time?
No one had been using any alcohol or drugs – would the time to react have been enough?
The car was new and maintained properly – what if the brakes and suspension hadn’t reacted the way they did?
No bright lights, pretty girls, strange happenings, radio tuning, cell texting; no distractions whatsoever – they happen so often, but not at that exact moment.
How would have my life changed if the unspeakable had happened?
Had this happened because God exists?
Was He showing us His power? His strength? His forgiveness? His presence?
Was the autistic child an angel?
Was it pure luck and nothing else?
With the holiday season being a time of family get-togethers, friends spending happy times bundled up, hurried stressful shopping adventures, and helping the less-fortunate, we sometimes forget about why it all started: the birth of Jesus, and to a greater degree God’s power and effect over humanity.
Keep your heart and soul, not just the mind open.
I guess the following is connected to my previous entry Just One More Thing and I’ll Be Happy
Several years ago I noticed that I wasn’t naturally going to get bigger, stronger or faster effortlessly anymore. Things don’t come to you – you have to go get them. An old man with a business once told me “I don’t care what anybody else does, so long as they aren’t bothering my ass”.
Successfully acquiring material goods and bragging to friends, coworkers and family will get you nowhere. In fact, it might be a way to hide the fear lurking in the back of your mind. Pay off what you owe, save some money, spend what’s comfortable and when friends brag – “keep calm and carry on”; say nothing.
I see people all stressed out with every toy under the sun and two kids involved in every sport, music class, or whatever. They both spend all their money to impress. I see other people with two kids who play the sports they want, the parents spend what’s reasonable and have a lower stress, but higher quality family time.
When you age, nobody asks if their friend is still successful; the question is – is their friend still alive. All the old people I have seen have sold off all their expensive things and toys, live in a home/drive a car that suits their needs and are just thankful for good health and good family.
You may be stressed again and again in life until you find the right work-play-family balance. After that, you are set. I might see you walking down the street with a clear mind and fashioned with a little smirk. It’s like when the economy is down, you’ll just be happy to be able to pay bills and put food on the table. Sometimes the economy dragging its behind is a good reality check for people living beyond their means.
People may have many successful (and committed heavy hour) jobs and expensive gadgets as they want – they aren’t yours, so who cares? I’ve got a friend who probably gets half of his furniture used, only buys things on sale, drives his vehicles to the ground, and doesn’t wear brands for the sake of wearing brands. He doesn’t have many toys, owns his business, his home is paid off and he has investments. He’s forever on vacation because he can be. He’s got a long time to go before retirement but if he decides to retire now he can – that’s the beauty. People come in to his business, driving high-end cars, still reeking of foie gras lunches and brag to him, meanwhile, we who know him laugh because his lack of debt is exactly what the show-offs wish they could, for a lack of a better word, show-off.
Live within your means – life is what you make it!
For most, dealing with the death of a loved one is very difficult to handle.
Dealing with the death of a stranger can be just as harrowing.
Over the weekend, three friends and I took a road trip towards the coastal town of Tofino, of Vancouver Island’s south-west coast, to escape the monotony of our stressful and taxing training.
We departed towards the highway at 4am, in high spirits and brimming with hot coffee. Conversation, humour and being awed by the natural splendour consumed our time, until our serenity was interrupted.
A doe, hidden along the side of the road, leaped in front of us.
Despite attempting to avoid the collision and applying the brakes as hard as possible, we struck the animal on the hood of the car, it limped away and died alone in the bushes. After coming back to our senses and assessing the damage (dented hood and broken headlight covering), the insurance/rental companies were notified and we continued on our journey; pensive but calm.
Several kilometres up the deserted highway, we observed a Harley-Davidson rider slam into a concrete median; having his motorcycle flip over the protective shoulder barrier and shatter onto the rocks of the ditch. The rider was thrown into the air and propelled head first onto the asphalt; sliding along the road for
Being the only other vehicle in the area (along with the motorcyclist’s friend on a separate Harley), we pulled over to the shoulder of the road and ran at breakneck speed towards the victim, clearing the centre barrier with ease.
Acting with instinct, we divided what needed to be done:
“Bailey, go down the road 100m. Slowdown and direct any traffic around the collision scene”.
“Li, call 911 and inform them about where we are and what’s occurred”.
Grande and I went towards the victim.
Grande proceeded to determine if the victim was conscious and the seriousness of his injuries.
I stabilized the body to prevent him from moving; and joined Grande in calming his friend down, while attempting to discover as much as we could on what had just happened; who the man was, how fast he was
going, and so on.
We all remained eerily calm and professional throughout the ordeal (I attribute this to the excessive stress and exercises we have been subjected to during our career training).
Once the paramedics arrived on the scene, all my other senses woke up and my brain appeared to work in a higher gear in order to catch up with what surrounded me.
The victim was unconscious.
His fingers on his left hand were occasionally twitching.
For the first couple of minutes when we arrived, his breathing was extremely deep and raspy (we were later informed this was due to a lung puncture).
His body had the look of a deflated balloon due to all the tears in his ligaments and bone fractures.
Having his head protected only with a half-helmet; his face was unrecognizable, blood was continually pouring out of his nose, mouth and ears, and a 5m long thick streak of blood marked the path from where his head collided with the road to where he ultimately lay.
The victim was ultimately pronounced dead.
Paramedics and police acquired the necessary information, we were dismissed and continued on our trip.
On Monday, we were highly commended on our actions from our superiors, in front of our entire group of peers. Pats on the back, firm handshakes and curious questions enveloped us.
I feel proud of how we acted in the situation but confused.
Within seconds, the victim’s image had dropped from a powerful man, on a powerful vehicle, to a crushed and shambled mess of bones, flesh, leather and jeans.
I ride motorcycles, and operate them carefully, but would I ever be placed in a similar situation myself? What would come of it?
How will this impact my future dealings with death?
Will I be desensitized or is my heart and soul still intact?
I hope that whoever the man was, his life was precious to him and he loved and was loved by those close to him.
To think too long about doing a thing, often becomes its undoing.
Everyone has a dream.
Everyone has a desire.
Everyone has a need.
Everyone has a want.
From the time soneone is a child, to the moment in which they are grasping onto their lasts breaths of life’s air, they have something that they crave.
Yet, the deciding factor is, do they strive to get what they want, or do they simply let time and opportunity pass them by?
Maybe it’s the people I have encountered, time and time again in life, but I’ve found that too many individuals have lavish dreams, but no real drive and passion to turn their wants into reality.
If you aren’t happy in your current love relationship and have strived to fix it repeatedly, leave it.
Don’t hope for what may never come, or live in the illusion that an individual will change for the better.
There is happiness out there for you.
If you want to visit a far off destination, what are you waiting for?
Jobs and material possessions come and go, but opportunties don’t knock often.
In fact, sometimes they just blow a soft rustle against your window, in the hopes that you will simply listen.
If you want to purchase your dream car, setup a well-conceived savings plan and follow it religiously.
Why get a loan, when you will simply find that in time, you will be working just to pay off the loan? It’s not fun to remind yourself that you are driving your dream car to work, for the sole purpose of paying for it.
Kind of ironic, no? Sad, but true….
Why has society created so many procrastinators?
I have NEVER told myself ‘I want…’ and never strived to achieved it.
I recall back in university, we were discussing procrastination and a psychologist stated how there were 3 basic type of procrastinators:
– arousal types, or thrill-seekers, who wait to the last minute for the euphoric rush.
– avoiders, who may be avoiding fear of failure or even fear of success, but in either case are very concerned with what others think of them; they would rather have others think they lack effort than ability.
– decisional procrastinators, who cannot make a decision. Not making a decision absolves procrastinators of responsibility for the outcome of events.
What type am I? Why?
My advice to anyone out there who labels themselves as a procrastinator is to seize whatever opportunity comes their way.
Positive or negative, the situation will shape you into who you will become.
You will constantly learn from your downfalls, and sit back in splendor at your triumphs.
When all is said and done, at least you can say: I have lived.
Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.”
I agree with the second part.
Growing up in Canada (or any other first world country for that matter) I’ve always wondered what would make me happy? I’d say on a general consensus, it would be: a mortgage-free home, a nice car, stylish clothes, freedom in one’s job and lifestyle, being fit, finding, falling & staying in love and a secure retirement.
Many people would argue that this is in fact, not a lot to ask for, nor is it hard to achieve if it is wanted bad enough.
I would tend to disagree.
When I wake up every morning, I quickly think of what I have to do for that day.
Go to work, hit the gym, reply to personal/business emails, visit clients, set up lunch meetings with clientele to discuss future growth and business opportunities, bring my dad a coffee at work or take my mom out for a snack during her break, watch a movie, go out for drinks or dessert with friends, read another chapter in a book, go for a walk and reflect back on the day before sleep.
Sounds pretty eventful, wouldn’t you think?
Once again, I would tend to disagree.
The life that most of us have in North America, including myself, disgusts me.
From the moment we arise, to the lingering moments before sleep, the predominant thoughts in our minds are: make money & be happy.
Everywhere I turn and open my eyes, I see constant thoughts being driven in my head.
Buy this car and your friends will be envious of you. It’s only $499/month for a lease.
Wear this pair of jeans, and you will not be discretely ridiculed for not conforming to what is the fillet of fashion at this specific point in time.
Spend your ‘extra’ income on the latest electronics, clothes, body modifications, CDs, restaurants, and anything else the business world can muster to throw at consumers. You aren’t cool, unless you have the newest products.
Find a beautiful and successful girl to fall in love with and marry. Don’t forget to sign that prenup!
Make as much money as you can, in as little time as you can, because the more money you make, the quicker you will achieve happiness and prosperity.
I sit and think about what makes people in lesser-developed or developing countries happy and joyful, compared to us.
Is it the ability to feed and clothe their family, so that they are able to go another day without starving, as compared to simply being famished?
Is it the ability of being able to afford their simple medication to prevent diseases and ailments, that we ourselves, cannot even pronounce, nor know the effects of?
When did we as a society stop caring about what goes on a few thousand kilometres away from us, and only care about what goes on directly in front of our eyes?
And when the time comes that we DO decide to visit less developed destinations on a trip, what do we do? We sit in our air-conditioned rooms, drinking unlimited amounts of alcoholic beverages, watching TV in different languages, sunbathing on beaches surrounded by English speaking employees and only venturing out into the strange and foreign world that surrounds the resort, with the assistance of a tour bus, making very specific and censored trips to places in which tourists WANT to see.
Who says this is the way to live life?
The developed world is populated by such evil, manipulating and heartless leeches that the end result, is them consuming whatever goodness exists inside the hearts of those who have not yet succumbed to this way of thinking.
And rest assured, eventually almost all of us fall victim to this.
Some just earlier than others.
Edit: I’m putting this in around a year after I wrote this because of a song that is popular right now; it’s called ‘Your Beautiful’ from James Blunt. They lyrics are as follows and it means a lot to what I have written below:
I saw an angel.
Of that I’m sure.
She smiled at me on the subway.
She was with another man.
But I won’t lose no sleep on that,
‘Cause I’ve got a plan.
You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful.
You’re beautiful, it’s true.
I saw your face in a crowded place,
And I don’t know what to do,
‘Cause I’ll never be with you.
Yeah, she caught my eye,
As we walked on by.
She could see from my face that I was,
And I don’t think that I’ll see her again,
But we shared a moment that will last till the end.’
Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.
I think everyone has someone from their past (or will have at some point in their lives) that they cared about a LOT.
Someone that left you with bittersweet memories and thoughts.
The one that got away.
The one that was your everything.
The one that was your first.
However you look at it, this is someone who had an impact on your life.
I’m sure a lot of people have bumped into their exs but when you are like me and have only had two, it strikes you pretty hard when you DO in fact run into them.
Yesterday, I saw my ex-girlfriend of two years on the streetcar coming home from a movie (I hadn’t seen or spoken to her in around 5 years).
I was sitting at the front and this girl climbed aboard. It was so crowded that all I was able to see was the side of her face.
I kept glancing at her, telling myself, ‘That can’t be her’.
About five minutes after she got on, she turned around completely, so I was facing her straight on and it was her, but as soon as I noticed this, she got up and left.
My heart jumped up in my throat and I felt as if a truck was baring down at me at highway speeds and all I could do was keep staring at it, but my feet were frozen to the floor and my mouth couldn’t muster a single word.
It was crowded so I couldn’t really do anything and EVEN if I could, what would I say?
This is the girl that I thought would be with me for the rest of my life and we would never be apart.
Was it a teenager’s unrealistic dream?
After I got home and was able to calm down a bit and absorb what I saw, I thought back to one of my favourite films Vanilla Sky.
In the film, the protagonist meets a girl who is his ‘everything’ but only spends one night with her in which the possibility of true love existed.
The main character dies but the memories they shared on that one solitary night escalates to so much more in his mind.
Even though in real life she was just a great girl, in his dreams she was his saviour.
I have not seen my ex-girlfriend in so many years, but I have never been able to forget her.
I dated her for quite a while but even after it was over she has only grown in my mind and my dreams.
I have no clue what she is doing with her life at the moment but I hope she is doing great.
She looked amazing when I saw her; absolutely stunning.
She used to make me so happy and was such a calming force and nurturing sense of love in my life.
Reality is great; full of joy and despair.
A great balance; ‘the sweet is never as sweet, without the sour’.
Dreams are even better; full of extreme feelings.
But in the end, you wake up, realize what is real and what is fantasy and it hurts inside.
It really does.
Love is something that not all of us are blessed with but the ones that are lucky enough to share a true sense of it, truly hold it close to you.
Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.
This is a two-part blog.
Today in April was one of the first days in the year that was beautiful enough to take my motorcycle out, instead of the car.
It was warm, sunny and around 10 degrees.
I arranged with my friend Dan to meet him at Dufferin Mall through MSN Messenger and on the phone.
I left my house by driving north on Shaw to Queen.
I went west on Queen to Ossington.
I went north on Ossington to College.
I went west on College to Dufferin.
I went north on Dufferin to Dufferin Mall.
I met Dan to hang out a bit and so that he could return a DVD rental (Deliverance) to me.
We talked for a while, smoked and then said good-bye and left the mall to head back home.
I left Dufferin Mall from the main outdoor parking, headed south and went to the first side street.
I drove through some side streets and had a little leisurely ride before heading home to arrange to go out with friends.
I drove past Dovercourt, to Ossington.
When I got to Ossington, I made a right turn signal, and then headed south to my house.
When I turned right, I noticed that a police cruiser heading north put on his flashing lights, so I immediately made a right turn signal, moved towards the curb, came to a complete stop with my signals flashing, to let him go around me unobstructed.
The cruiser instead, came in my direction; the officers came out of the car, handcuffed me and arrested me.
I simply stood there asking what was going on and what has happening while they handcuffed me. I kept repeating over and over I don’t know why you are doing this? and Whats happening?
I was very upset, shaken and distraught.
The officer who was chasing ‘me’ told me he had chased me all over downtown for around 10 minutes, I had hit speeds of over 140km/hr and so on. I told him it wasn’t me and he said ‘I know it is you beyond a shadow of a doubt’. I asked him if he got my plates and he said no, but he KNEW it was me.
I ride a yellow bike, and I ride all the time wearing a black leather jacket, black helmet, and blue jeans. Pretty average looking in my opinion, nothing too specific about me or my motorcycle.
So to make a long story short, I was kept at the station in a holding cell for 6 hours until I was released, I spoke to a legal aid and they told me to not answer any questions the officers had about the incident until the trial. The cops were very intimidating.
I have no traffic tickets or criminal charges on my record until NOW, but I am now looking at 2 criminal charges.
I have to return to have my photo/finger-prints taken and then I have my first court appearance in June. I am also not allowed to operate a motorcycle until the trial is completed.
This problem carries with it so many repercussions.
I am a responsible rider, and in fact I was going to be leaving to teach English overseas in September and I wanted to take a road trip to California before I left, but now I have this problem in my life.
A criminal record would destroy my life
(I have never committed a crime).
I could not travel to the US.
I wouldn’t get a pardon for a few years which would put me in my 30s before I could focus on a career.
I would have to waste tons of money to legally represent myself with a lawyer.
I would not be able to become a teacher.
I would tear my family’s heart up.
Now all I can do is wait.
A criminal trial is a long, boring and stressful ordeal.
The first thing I did was write down all the events of the day, so that they would stay fresh in my mind.
I tried to receive legal aid, but due to my income and assets, I wasn’t able to.
I then contacted a lawyer (whom was recommended to me from other motorcycle rider friends I have had).
I met with the lawyer several times before the trial began, and we discussed things such as my defence, my alibi witness, cross-examination techniques and various other things that would make or break me in a criminal prosecution trial.
I was arrested in April 2005, and my trial was to be held at the end of November 2005.
The day of the trial finally arrived.
I had spent so much of my energy getting ready for the day and expecting the worse.
I kept asking myself:
‘If I am innocent, why was I being charged with a crime?’
‘If I am innocent, why was I not released after they arrested me?’
‘If I am innocent, why am I so frightened?’
‘How have these charges held up, considering the lack of evidence on behalf of the Crown?’
As I said before, the criminal justice system is a very slow process.
This was the 4th time going to court before my trial finally began.
The trial began with me stating my plea of ‘Not Guilty’ and the proceedings beginning.
I could not believe how many people were involved in this trial.
The only experience I had had in a courtroom was for traffic violations, and it was always a quick and painless procedure.
First, the police constable who was ‘chasing’ me testified, and was cross-examined.
Secondly, the police constable who had arrested me testified, and was cross-examined.
Thirdly, the police constable who had taken photos of me, my personal possessions and my motorcycle testified, and was cross-examined.
When this was all done, the day was over.
I had been in trial from 10am-4pm and I had still not been on the stand, nor had my alibi witness.
I had placed such a great deal of stress on myself for knowing that I would receive an outcome to my pain TODAY, and instead it was to be continued more than 2 weeks afterwards.
The trial continued with me going on the stand right away.
First, my lawyer questioned me.
He asked me about my education, my current job, and other questions to establish myself as a productive and contributing member of society.
I then spoke about my experience with motorcycles, the courses I had taught (I was an instructor for the Ministry), the type of motorcycle I had and so forth.
I then retraced the steps I took on the day I was arrested and spoke about various other aspects of motorcycles and my riding habits.
I also focused on how popular sport bikes were in Toronto and how common colours like ‘Yellow’ are (My motorcycle colour).
The Crown Attorney then cross-examined me.
This was quite frightening.
I knew that I didn’t have anything to hide but I also knew that a simple misstatement of words could jeopardize my credibility as a witness and could change the entire future of my life as I knew it.
The Crown was a clever and tricky individual.
The type of questions the Crown asked me were:
‘Is it safe to assume that it was a nice day to take your bike out?’
‘Is it safe to assume this was one of the first days you took your bike out after the winter?’
‘Did you want to just let your bike rip and show off some power?’
‘Do you ever let your bike rip and show off its performance?’
‘Are you saying you never go fast on your bike?
‘I travel at the speed of traffic, and I never go 5-10km over the speed limit’
‘You NEVER speed?’
‘I have not gone 5-10km over the speed limit, Sir’
‘Have you ever had a speeding ticket?’
‘You have NEVER been pulled over by a police officer?’
‘I have never received a traffic conviction, Sir’
The Crown brought into play a ticket I had received a year ago for going 70km/hr in a 60km/hr zone.
I did not remember losing this ticket in traffic court but as it stood, I had been convicted of speeding 10km over the limit, even though there was no fine or demerit points.
I then told the Crown, that I did not remember being convicted for this ticket and due to the fact that I had no paid a fine, I did not recall it.
I also added that I had previously stated that I on occasion have gone 5-10km over the speed limit, and I was not trying to lie or waste the court’s time.
The Crown’s questioning with me lasted about 30 minutes.
I tried to remain as composed, polite and sincere as possible.
I pretended as if I was in a job interview.
At one point the Crown asked me:
‘Is it safe to assume, that you are simply a liar?’
I tried not to laugh at this, and simply replied with ‘Yes sir, I have not lied in any matter whatsoever’
I could not stand the low blows he was taking with me, but I also understand it is simply part of his job to make his case as credible as possible.
The Crown asked me things about whether or not my bike was a performance oriented vehicle, why I had put an aftermarket exhaust system from a company called ‘Two Brothers Racing’ on it (He stressed the word ‘Racing’), why the time period from the time I left the Dufferin Mall, to the time in which I was arrested was so close to the time of the motorcycle chase.
The Crown also focused on asking me why I had taken such a direct route to get to the mall (in which I recalled all the street names I had taken) compared to the route I took when I left the mall and just went on a leisurely ride to get back home, and not paying attention to street names.
Whenever I answered a question, I tried to focus on the fact that I was a skilled but defensive rider who would not want to put my life or anyone else in jeopardy.
After the questioning was done, my Alibi witness was called in, questioned and cross-examined.
The Crown and Defence gave their closing arguments.
My lawyer’s closing argument was very well done and he focused on precedent from other cases and the fact that it is simply as case of mistaken identity.
The Crown’s closing argument was quite poor and he portrayed me as being a liar and a reckless person who had lied about his speeding conviction, so therefore I was also lying about this incident.
The Judge had a 15 minute recess and then came back and told me his decision.
When the Judge returned, the first thing he said when he sat down was ‘Marco… is charged with.. .
As soon as I heard this, my heart jumped in my throat, my whole body started to shake, and I started to breathe very heavily.
I felt as if I was going to pass out.
I had NEVER had a panic attack (I guess you could call it that?) in my life (other than the time I was arrested) and all I envisioned was my life being over as I knew it.
Being new to a law proceeding such as this, I did not know that the judge was simply reiterating the facts.
After he read them all, he then went on to state the thoughts of his decision.
He stressed the fact that based on other trials, he did not see enough evidence to warrant convicting me beyond a reasonable doubt and therefore he asked for the charges to be stayed.
My impression of the Judge was quite bittersweet at first.
He came across as a very gentle, and Grandfatherly man but I had also caught him dozing off several times during the trial.
Once I heard everything he stated when he read the outcome to the trial, it all clicked in. He had retained EVERYTHING said and when he was closing his eyes, he was probably simply trying to listen more attentively.
After over 12 hours of being in a courtroom for my trial, it was finally over.
Words can’t really describe how relieved I felt.
I was crying, and shaking.
My hands didn’t stay still for over a half hour.
My mother was crying, my father had tears in his eyes.
My friends in court were all full of smiles and congratulatory responses.
Thinking back though, it could have easily gone the other way too.
It is all up to the judge and just as I was found innocent of this crime, I could have been found guilty.
I don’t think I would be able to continue life as I knew it, if I had been found guilty.
My mind would not allow me to go through an appeal process.
I would have lost my job.
I would have had trouble finding work due to my criminal convictions.
I could not become a teacher.
I would have difficulty travelling.
I would be harassed for various other things, if and when they would come up.
YET, even as an innocent man, there is still so much other nonsense I have to deal with.
I have to file for a Human Right motion to have my fingerprints removed from the police computer.
I have to pay thousands of dollars to my lawyer for something I should not have gone through in the first place.
I can’t counter sue because according to Canadian law, it will only work if the cops treated me in a malicious and hurtful manner (Which they did not).
I lost work opportunities and my life could have taken a totally different route, if this had never happened months ago.
Closing, all I can think of saying is that a criminal trial is one of the most stressful things to ever happen to someone.
It destroys your heart and eats away at your soul.
Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography in lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.
Things aren’t always as they appear.
Growing up I saw many things that I now see with a different light.
My teachers were not as intelligent as I gave them credit for.
My car was not as fast as I thought it actually was.
My parents loved me more than I ever thought they did.
Looking at objects or other people and analyzing them takes a bit of skill but not much. The true challenge lies in looking deep inside yourself and seeking to find what YOU actually are.
People see me as a confident, outgoing, funny and socially-open individual.
They see me as someone who is always the highlight of the occasion, continuously smiling and brightening the days of others.
If only they could see the real me.
I have a very brittle heart.
The subtlest of rude, cruel or malicious words cause ripples of feelings to hit me and shake me. Ill approach the hurt with sarcasm, fight fire with fire, or I’ll blatantly ignore or dismiss it, but inside I’m wounded deeply.
When I was younger, if I would ever talk back to my mother or get in an argument with my father, I would not be able to be myself again, unless I knew that I had their forgiveness and that it was genuine on my behalf. I would always ask myself how I could ever dream of being hurtful to the people responsible for giving me birth.
Very few people have had the opportunity to see me in this dismal state.
They are usually quite shocked to see a confident and strong-minded person break down in front of them. In most cases, it frightens them. I assume this is because it is the polar opposite of what I am like 99f the time.
In the past, I have been hit the hardest emotionally, when I have (or thought I had) lost someone very dear to me.
When my best friend and I got into one of only two fights we have ever had, we didn’t speak to each other for weeks. I was dying inside, but out of pride, I never showed the pain to him. The torment was all reserved for myself.
When intimate relationships have ended with loved ones, I have broken down to a sad and pitiful sight. I am extremely selective of whom I get attached to, but when I do; I invest all my emotions in them (even though I may not always show it).
I look at others who have gone through emotional pain and ask myself how they are able to recover so easily and quickly from it. Do they have a gift or are they simply skilled in masking or suppressing their sadness?
In addition to this question, I have also asked myself, Do I want to be blessed like others?
When I am in a time of serious mental sadness, the only thing I want is to have a solution to my problems. However, would I ever of been able to cherish someone as deeply or believe in someone as much as I have, if it wasn’t for the way in which I am feeling afterwards?
I dont believe so.
The sweet is never as sweet, without the sour.
I guess, the pain can be described (in a twisted way) as a beautiful sadness because you would never of been able to experience this amount of heartache if it wasn’t for the amount of happiness the situation had provided you with in the past.
I am a clown.
And these are my tears that I never show to the world.
Beauty is a curse on the world. It keeps us from seeing who the real monsters are.
Everyone has something they don’t like about themselves.
No matter how glorified you are in the eyes of society (actors, pro-sports athletes, billionaires, etc.) there is always something that when you look deep inside your own mind and you examine your own self-worth you discover what your flaws really are and just how imperfect you are.
So what is the solution?
If it is something mental, most of us either bite the bullet and just learn to live with it.
Others will try as much as they can to overcome the odds, even when they are not in their favour by any means possible: reading, travelling and gaining a broader perspective, extra classes, etc..
If it is something physical, this is where an easy solution is possible.
It is quite easy to change/dye your hair, wax your body, wear coloured contacts, go tanning and do WHATEVER a person feels is required to better suit an image of beauty and perfection in their society.
Yet, for others this is still not enough and extreme forms of change are now available to people.
Over the last few decades, the miracles of modern medicine have allowed people to cover up their ‘flaws’ quite easily if their financial status allows them to.
Nose, eyes, drooping skin, extra weight, bigger breasts, bubblier butt.
WHATEVER can be conceived as being ‘wrong’ with yourself can be solved simply by a flick of a blade.
My sister received 2nd and 3rd degree burns when she was an baby to 40f her body and plastic surgery allowed her to lead a normal life.
The marvel of this particular surgery should be used for situations of this degree.
So, my point…
Why do people think that changing their physical appearance is right?
Who says that a perfect pair of breasts or lips will make your true inner beauty stand-out more?
When does this journey for physical excellence end?
When I picture growing old with a loved one, I picture someone who has a good heart and has respect for herself.
Everyone falters at one point or another in their lives, but as long as they realize what they are doing and they take baby-steps in order to achieve a proper outcome, that’s all that matters.
Beauty is something we all want, but the most monstrous and hideous thing out there is an ugly personality that tries to masquerade itself as beautiful, with lotions and colours and smells.
More and more people are taking advantage of medical marvels and ignoring the fact that in order to be a beautiful person their insides have to be catered to, before their outsides do.
As an abstract example, let’s say for example you get vomit or feces on your hands.
Would you ever just wipe it off with a towel or tissue and continue on your day?
I would hope some water and soap would be used.
The same thing is seen here.
In order to make changes you have to start from the inside and work your way out.
No matter how ugly or imperfect you feel, society must always remember that the solutions that work must be done internally, not externally.
Don’t be reckless with other peoples hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
I think anyone with some sort of self-worth comes to a stage in their lives in which they reflect on the years that have gone by and they ask themselves ‘Has what I’ve done in my life made me a better person?’
You can look at this as some sort of mental ‘spring cleaning’ in which every few years you analyze everything about yourself and alter what isn’t right.
It could be something that happens when you are 45 and experience a mid-life crisis.
It could be something that for unfortunate individuals, may NEVER be experienced.
In my case, it occurred at 26 years of age.
Having joint pain, or a cyst on your leg is one thing, but leaving it untreated could open up your life to a whole new world of problems that could have been solved, if you tackled the problem early enough. The same is said with your life and how you live it.
I took my mind, placed it on a cold slab of glass, dissected it with the proper instruments and looked to see what I could find.
I’ve lied to my parents, raised my voice to them and made my mother cry.
I’ve made others feel worthless and used hurtful words, but been a hypocrite myself.
I’ve treated girls poorly and without the respect they should have had.
I’ve taken my sister for granted and offered her my stress, in exchange for her kindness and love.
I’ve wanted to make each day as great as possible, but instead wasted it away, doing ungreat things.
For someone such as myself, who is spiritual, but not religious, it can be seen as a confession.
Without the priest in the wooden booth, and only God and myself to judge and hand out penance.
There really isn’t much more to say and the solution isn’t simple.
But striving to reach my desires out of life, and the gifts I will have as a person, will one day be the greatest reward I could ever have given myself.
Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out.
Living alone is not all it’s cracked up to be.
When I was younger I was in such a rush to move out, become independent and start living ‘life’.
The freedom of not answering to your parents, the ability to come and go and do whatever you want seems so fun and inviting but it is so much more complicated than that.
I’ve been living on my own for 8 year now.
Started off with sharing a place with roommates, then renting my own place, and now I’m a home-owner and totally independent.
That’s a problem though: being independent.
It forces you to pick up many things (budgeting, cooking, laundry, responsibility, etc) but it also takes a lot out of you.
It leaves you LONELY.
I’m not talking about being a loner or not having friends (you have the freedom to have anyone over, anytime you want).
What I’m referring to is not having someone to talk to.
When I was living at home I had my family. Now, I have to drive or call them if I was to see them, but it’s not the same.
You get accustomed to certain things and it’s tough to get un-accustomed to them.
I remember hearing my mother typing up on the computer and whispering with my dad so as not to wake up the kids in the middle of the night.
I remember waking up to the smell of breakfast and voices each and every morning.
I remember getting in arguments with my parents over the most trivial and minor things.
I remember play-fighting with my sister all the time, but now that I see her, it’s just a hug, kiss and conversation.
Just like in any relationship, it’s the small things that make all the difference in the world.
Good or bad, they create a deep scar in your heart that you carry on forever.
‘The sweet is never as sweet, without the sour’.
With that being said, I have a lot of respect for those who CHOOSE to stay at home and live with their family.
I’m not talking about people who use their parents as free room and board, but I mean more along the lines of those who stay with their parents (till they are married or something) because they want to take care of them and return all the devotion their parents had given to them, when they were children and needed guidance.
Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.
Moments of genuine beauty in life are far too rare.
It’s amazing to see legitimate wonderment, especially in the strangest of places.
I was thinking about this particular situation today.
A few months ago, I was driving downtown late at night, with a friend in the passenger seat.
We were listening to some oldies music, singing and joking, with the windows down and the music pretty loud.
I came up to an intersection where there were two homeless squeegee kids; a guy and girl.
I was playing That’s Amore by Dean Martin.
The guy looked at me, and we smiled at each other.
He turned his back to me, went up to the girl he was with in the middle of the street, took her hand and they began to dance together to the song.
If it had been done in a mocking fashion or for the sake of just causing a scene, that would have been something I would have just laughed, and shrugged off as bullshit, but it was so much more.
When they were dancing, they were looking into each other’s eyes the whole time, if it wasn’t for their physical appearance and clothes they would have appeared to be dancing at their wedding or an anniversary party, in which they were the only two people who mattered at the moment and the spotlight was on them and them alone.
No one or nothing else mattered for that brief moment in time.
They appeared to be completely oblivious to everything else around them.
The lights turned green, I waved at them and we drove off.
What I had just seen had caused such a profound effect on me and it took me a while to gather my thoughts. I have hardly ever seen a couple at a club that had that amount of love towards each other, based simply on observing them.
I witnessed a miracle, for lack of a better word.
It’s something I would love to see again but I know deep down I probably never will.
I remember in the movie American Beauty how one of the characters videotapes a plastic bag floating in the wind and sees it for so much more than what it actually is.
I don’t think people these days seem to actually stop and appreciate the smaller things in life for what they are.
Look at your life right now and count how many times you have seen genuine happiness.
There are so many times in which keeping your eyes open to see all you can truly see would make such a difference on your overall outlook on life.
The sad thing is that the effect it has is more than you would ever realize, until it actually happens.
Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Changes that people go through in life, be it physical or mental are unreal when you see it first hand.
I mean it’s tough to see what you personally go through, cause it’s truly hard to pinpoint all the aspects in your own life and scrutinize everything on a personal level, but when you have the ability to view others, it’s pretty crazy to see all the metamorphosis they go through in what could be a few weeks or a few years.
Case in point.
Yesterday morning on my way to work at around 5am, taking the same route as everyday through downtown, I came to the intersection at College and Spadina. Just off the corner is The Comfort Zone which is a club that doubles as a dingy, dark and dirty after-hours ‘druggie’ club for people who have not yet finished their night of ecstasy, cocaine and ketamine partying, and want to extend their chemical pleasures to the brightness of day (When I was younger I used to frequent the club on weekends and am familiar with the environment and scene that it portrays).
The regulars were around the intersection. Homeless, druggies, alcoholics, taxi drivers and people waiting for the TTC, but one thing caught me off-guard.
There was a guy I recognized right away from my days of late-night clubbing a few years ago. Back when I knew him, he was perhaps one of the most well-dressed, social, friendly and confident people I knew. He was a great dancer, smooth-talker with the ladies and always had a drink in one hand, a smile plastered on his face and traces of white powder under his nose.
For lack of a better word, he was the shit.
When I saw him this time, he was a totally different person.
His clothes were all dirty and torn up, his eyes were so translucent and lifeless, he was unshaven and his hair messed up and he had some sort of weird jaw movement and occasional twitch with his eye.
He went from a Prince to a Pauper, in both appearance and mind-set.
Could it be the drugs and alcohol? Probably.
Could it go further that that? Most likely.
It’s surprising and sad at the same time, to see how someone can go from the king of the world to the exact opposite.
I’ve always had a sense of respect for people who were true to themselves, socially open and full of life.
I guess sometimes, life is artificial.
Religion is good for people but at the same time it makes people become bad.
All the wars since ever, have been because of religion.
That’s why I don’t like religion.
I think religion can be good for education, but it can also be shit for many thing.
You need it, but at the same time, when you grow up, you need to get rid of it.
I always find that just dwelling on my thoughts, watching a film or hearing a song allows my mind to run wild.
Religion is a tough subject for me.
I was raised Catholic but after high school ended, I haven’t stepped into a church more than 2-3 times in my life.
I used to pray every night before going to bed, for so many years.
In fact, I used to believe that if I did not do the Sign of the Cross in a ‘perfect’ manner, my prayer wouldn’t have meaning and I would upset God.
Messed up, huh? I think I’m going to become bi-polar one day :p
Anyways, my point is this.
Why is it that individuals are so caught up in religion?
It gives then faith?
Something to hold on to?
A guide to follow during hardships in life?
Something that they follow, simply because they ‘should’?
Fear of what will happen in the afterlife?
Regardless, I see the point of life being simply to learn new things, meet new people and travel.
As long as you have a sense of respect for others, that is all that matters.
Believing in a higher power is one thing, but following doctrines and beliefs based on the writings of other normal people (just like yourself) is going too far.
On that note as well, Pope John Paul II is currently very sick and on the brink of death, I’m sure. I find it strange that others deify people, such as the Pope. He is human, just like you or I.
There is a higher power.
Nuns, popes, monks, saints, holy apparitions and anything of that matter have no sense of extreme importance.
People must learn that in order to achieve enlightenment, they must also be willing to come to grips with the difference between humanity and spirituality.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked.
Last night I was driving home late on a deserted highway and heard a song that I remembered liking when I was young, but I never really paid attention to the words.
Jack and Diane from John Cougar Mellencamp has a section that goes like this:
Come and save my soul,
hold on to 16 as long as you can.
Changes come around real soon,
make us women and men.
I started to think of how much truth that particular part had and started to get tears in my eyes, but at the same time I started to smile because of how much nostalgia I had connected with my past.
When I was younger I didn’t have to think or worry bout SHIT!
My priorities were school, chilling with friends and not making my parents mad.
I remember stressing out and telling myself how much ‘I hate my life’.
Now, at 25, I have actual WORRIES: mortgage, loans, career, bills, legal responsibilities if I am found guilty of a crime, and so on.
I have to deal with the implications of everything I do now, and don’t have my parents to fall back on if I fuck up.
If I’m sad and stressed, can I go cry to my parents? No.
If my girlfriend breaks up with me, can I just mope about the house, feeling sorry for myself? No.
If I want to just go bike riding or swim all day, can I? Not without telling my boss 2 months beforehand.
I remember wanting to grow up so quickly when I was a teenager.
I wanted my parents to give me a lot of responsibilities.
I wanted to hang out with older people.
I thought ‘life would be so much better when I live on my own’.
I wish to have my youth back so much.
I guess that’s why I still do a lot of foolish things and have a lot of younger people that I associate with. I want to feel that somehow I still have it firmly grasped in my hands but I know that I am losing my grip with everyday that passes.
Euthanasia is a long, smooth-sounding word, and it conceals its danger as long, smooth words do, but the danger is there, nevertheless.
Million-Dollar Baby is a film about a woman boxer who eventually becomes paralyzed and is euthanized by her friend/trainer. It is getting quite a bit of hype at this year’s Oscars and I saw it and so did my parents.
I have been raised Catholic and have written a few papers on euthanasia in the past. Even with my religious upbringing, I still see the situation as being a grey matter, and not having black and white boundaries.
My parents stance (and many other religious and morally-conscious individuals) would say that NO ONE has the right to end another person’s life, except for God. There is not ONE exception to this rule (be it abortion, suicide, euthanasia, death penalty, etc.)
But there are always questions you must ask yourself.
What if a girl was brutally raped & became pregnant?
What if a girl became pregnant from her incestuous uncle?
And then it brings up the point in Million Dollar Baby (granted this is just ONE situation).
The character is a poor, 30-something, uneducated waitress who has a family that doesn’t care for her at all, no friends and her only passion is boxing. She is eventually paralyzed at the height of her career, her leg is amputated, she cannot move anything except her eyes and mouth and is still so young. She tries to kill herself several times, but is not successful and eventually does so with the help of her friend/trainer.
My parents claimed that just because her body is severed and not of use, doesn’t mean that her mind is. In fact, she should be strong and make the best of what she has until her life naturally ends.
I picture myself in her situation and cannot see myself being bed-ridden for another 30-50 years, doing nothing other than staring at the white walls all day. No matter what moral anguish I would put myself through I would not be able to continue my life, as I have such high expectations.
As I said before, this is all a grey, case-by-case situation.
If euthanasia became legal or widely used it would be exploited and used on trivial matters.
This topic can be discussed for days on end, and not everyone will be happy with the outcome.
I close my eyes and picture my father asking me to end his life after a horrific accident.
(God forbid this would ever become reality).
If someone close to me who I love and care for would ask me to help him end his life it would probably be the most difficult decision in my life.
No matter how tortured and morally-exploited I would feel inside afterwards, I think I would eventually do as he would want me to as I would not want to see someone I love, filled with intelligence and grace to be reduced to a vegetable who has no source of happiness in his life.
Do one thing everyday that scares you.
Yesterday started off very typical.
Woke up, went to work, came back home, and decided to go for a walk in some sub-zero temperature. Being out in the winter is not something I do much, but the sun was out, so I bundled up in long-johns and gloves and went for a walk.
I grabbed some hot chocolate and a muffin at Tim Horton’s and was sitting down and my gaze fell towards a guy sitting down reading the paper and scribbling on his notepad. After a while he stood up and left.
I dunno what told me to do it but I left too and just followed him.
I didn’t feel seedy doing it, as I had no ill intentions, but I simply wanted to see what he was doing.
He walked all over downtown for a good 30 minutes, greeted a few people he knew (as I did as well to a few people I knew that I came across) and eventually went up to the front door of a house, an overweight lady came to the door, they kissed and he glanced over his shoulder a few times and then went inside.
I thought to myself, what was he up to?
Was he cheating on his wife or girlfriend?
Was that his wife/girlfriend and he was simply a cautious kinda guy that liked to repeatedly look over his shoulder every time he went into a door?
Whatever the case was, that was his life.
I take walks by myself all the time but this was one of the very few times that I could honestly say it was eventful. I’ve sat in a park and walked others do their things tons of time, or in a crowded square but following them was taking it a little over the norm.
I don’t think I would do it again as I don’t know what I would tell someone if they caught me but it was a fond experience, at the very least.
Then something very coincidental happened.
I found out there was a movie about the EXACT same thing I did, except it progresses on to someone who takes it too far. I watched it and was shocked at not only how well it was made, but at how similar the guy was to me: Following
My first online journal entry EVER.
I haven’t written a diary or journal since I was 18, but before that age, I used to scribble my thoughts religiously.
Here I am, 25 years old and no clue what to do in life.
It would have been so simple if guidance counsellors and teachers were able to help you decide on your actual future instead of simply helping you get into post-secondary schools. I have found that my parents have been a guiding source on helping me accomplish my dreams, and I bless myself daily for that.
Who knows? I could be so close to my family because I was breast-fed 🙂
I would love to have a stable girlfriend, a diverse job and a somewhat regular routine in life. I mean I have accomplished a lot (own a house, motorcycle, car, graduated university, etc) but there is always room for improvement and I could have done so much more. No matter how much my mind aches for stability and control, my heart tells me that I still need to fulfill a promise I have made to myself a long time ago: to travel.
I have never been a fan of going to resorts and cookie-cutter vacation spots. Sure, I’ve gone; everyone has, but I did not feel fulfilled. I remember a line from the film The Beach: ‘So many people travel half-way across the world just to watch TV in another language”. That line holds a lot a lot of water for me.
I want to go somewhere in which I am struggling with every third word that comes out of my mouth, somewhere where I can make conversation with people for the genuine need of knowledge and not simply making small-talk and shooting the shit.
Brazil, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, & Thailand are some of the few places I wish to venture to. I want to wake up every morning and have the feeling of not knowing where I am for a few moments before my brain catches up to reality. I NEED that feeling.
So as of now, I have decided this.
Leave Canada in April and teach English overseas (Japan or Korea) for a 1-year period and then travel for an additional 3-5 months after that period for fun.
When I close my eyes, I picture myself in a totally diverse landscape, tasting air I have never had in my lungs before, and cruising on a twisty road on the back of my motorcycle.
I hope I can make this a reality and a consistent one at that.
So for now, that’s it. 🙂