Twenty-Four Thousand Four Hundred And Fifty-Five

This is not a random number, it is a big one, but not random. I woke up on the morning of September 2nd, 2016 full of energy and excited as hell. I was about to embark on the most epic trip to date. I thought to myself this is one trip that I will never forget. I remember it was a sunny day. I got up early and walked to McAllister Place and caught the bus uptown to start the day off by doing the same thing I have done for almost 3 years of Saturdays, I went to Billy’s Seafood for breakfast. I remember that I had my favourite menu item the Smoked Salmon Omelette and lots of coffee. Billy’s I always tell people is like dinner theatre the staff especially Billy the owner are a hoot.

For most people, they would have already done the packing rather than go out for breakfast, but that is not my style. After breakfast, I went home and had 90 minutes to get ready for 28 days of travelling. So at this point, you would think I would pack right? Nope! I shaved and took a shower (for 60 minutes.) After 20 minutes of running around to not forget anything, I have my bag packed! Then to weigh it 33kg. Repack 28kg. Repack 27kg. Repack 25kg. Repack 24kg. Repack 26kg!!!! Repack 23kg (cue fireworks!)

I then called a Simonds Taxi and to the airport, I was off! I arrived an hour early for my flight checked in and relaxed there was no turning back. As the plane arrived, I took lots of close photos and emailed them to myself. You never know when and air accident investigator will need them. This was part of the feeling of impending doom that was in the back of my mind from my mother begging me not to go.

I got on the plane and it was a rather unremarkable journey to Montreal. Once at Montreal’s Trudeau International, I went to find my gate, and then to find Starbucks for coffee.

I then got on my flight to London’s Heathrow airport. On the flight, I ordered the beef meal. That was a mistake, the bean salad is to die for, as in your will die. I spent the whole night with the worst gas since the last time I had the bean salad in 2013 on the same flight. It was the overnight flight but I got very little sleep.

We land in London and the first experience with “British Unholy Queueing” happened at the customs halls. This is where people use the seatbelt ropes, and keep changing them so you have no clue how long it is going to take and as you get close… nope, the line has changed again.

After I cleared the UK Border control, I went to the main lobby and picked up my Lebara SIM card so I didn’t pay the ridiculous rates Canadian cell phone companies charge. One of the perks of an unlocked phone.

Since I didn’t want to pay for luggage on my plane to Copenhagen, I decided to drop off my main suitcase at the Contiki basement. So I bought an Oyster Card and hopped on the tube.

“Please stand clear of the doors. Let customers off the train first please.”

“This is a Piccadilly Line service to Cockfosters” (giggle)

“The next stop is Russel Square. Alight Here for the British Museum, please mind the gap between the station and the platform.”

I got to the Contiki Basement and dropped my bag off and then wandered Camden, headed to St. Pancreas train station for lunch and then walked to Russel Square, Then to Green Park where I was a bit tired and had some time to kill so I slept for two hours and then walked by Buckingham Palace to Victoria Station and got on my “National Express” bus to London Luton airport. (That is nowhere near London) It is literally like calling the Fredericton Airport the (Saint John-Fredericton Airport) and assuming it was anywhere close to Saint John.

After a two-hour bus journey, I make it to Luton and the bus stops at the front door. The airport is smaller than a lot of big city airports and was very under construction everywhere. However, in typical British fashion, there was no problem everything was fine. I was really early and hungry and the airport check-in for my flight wasn’t open yet. I asked the RyanAir agent where the food places were and they ended up being on the other side of security. I looked really disappointed. However, the agent early checked me in and I was off to get food.

It seemed like forever that we waited in line and the line was long and was mixed with another flight going to a place I never heard of. I kind of thought I wanted to go there instead for a while. I turned out to be some place in Romania.

As I got on the plane, I once again took photos of the plane and emailed them to myself. This plane was like nothing I have ever flown in. The seats were very basic, no seat pockets, advertising on the bins, no leg room at all, and very friendly flight attendants. (Flight Attendants are always nice.) As we flew we had very bad turbulence and I was scared to death that this was where my mother was right and this was going to be the end, but we landed safely.

I got off the plane and got my passport stamped for country 24, Denmark. This was big as it was a while since I added Turks and Caicos on my quest for 40 countries by 40.

The Copenhagen airport was massive and it was late at night (10:30 pm) I walked to the subway station and then got on the train to my hostel, The Generator. On the train, there was a very drunk man that got on with his big bottle of hard liquor and was rambling in what I assume was Danish. It was heavy raining that night, and I was wet and tired, so after check-in, I went straight to bed.

The step-count on my fitness tracker … 24,455.

It’s Showtime!

Now to continue the story. The biggest point of fear is the moment before doing something. However, I have at this point completely learned my part and it is showtime for the final full rehearsal and there are a limited number of media and a few other people in the audience. It makes this effectively the first show. I’m standing behind the curtain waiting for my cue, which was in the second part of the first act, and am trembling because although I’m not on stage yet, I have no way to escape out of doing this. After two months of faking it, pretending to be an actor, I step out on stage. I don’t remember much of that show I was in character and pulled it off.

The next day, the first day of paying guests, I trip on my way to work, rip open my knee and elbow, but the most tragic event happened. My coffee cup exploded all over the sidewalk and I lost it. A world without coffee is not a great world. That night I was faking it again and really was focused and didn’t even notice the audience. Each night after the show I got to meet some of the audience.The reason why the story started here was that after the Friday show, I invited my mother to travel with me to see London and Paris on the fateful trip when the story gets interesting.

I did absolutely love the acting and had auditioned again the next year but have never gotten a chance to do it again yet hopefully as I heal, I will get a part in the future. The following April I did perform with my friend Tony in a Shakespeare open mic a bit from Coriolanus. Unfortunately, he messed up his line. (sarcastic supportive emoji 🙄)

It was also at this point that I convinced myself that it was time for Contiki trip number 4. My friend Tony also wanted to join me for the Contiki and to do a post tour trip to visit Pompeii and Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. (Do I even need to state it is in Germany. Doesn’t everyone know Munich is in Germany?)

Later, my mother sent me a list of things she would find interesting like the Tower of London, the English Moores, Normandy, and where in Paris that Princess Diana was killed. (Moan, not Paris again…)

So the plan is to bring my mother for a few days, send her home. Meet Tony and then go on Contiki, then a post week of exploration.

Please Don’t End Me

Today, I was Googling myself to see what others were writing about me and one of the first things I read was the following tweet.

When I first read it I was a little afraid that my country had enough of me and were all out to get me. Then I read a little more on the issue. It was really shocking to me to learn that my initials are also the acronym for Child, Early and Forced Marriage. According to the Government of Canada the following stats are true:

  • Every year, it is estimated that 15 million girls—some as young as five years old—are forced into marriage.
  • Over 700 million women alive today were married as children.
  • One in every three girls in the developing world is married by the age of 18. One in nine marries before the age of 15.
  • Complications in childbirth are the leading cause of death among girls between the ages of 15 and 19 in the developing world.

I really agree with the 10,000 tweets on the issue that this is something that everyone should know about and work towards putting an immediate end to. If you want to read more on the issue there are good links on the bottom of the government’s webpage on the issue (http://www.international.gc.ca/rights-droits/childmarriage-mariageenfants/index.aspx?lang=eng)

Photo a Month from 2014

Best of 2014 - July

Today I looked through MyFitnessPal and determined that my weight loss goals did not happen as I started the year as 134.7kg and ended it at 133.3kg although I have gotten smaller in all the other measurements. So I then I turned to my iPhoto to remember what I did this past year, and I have picked out the best one for each month.

January

Best of 2014 - January
Best of 2014 – January

Over the holidays there was a lot of freezing rain and my driveway had very thick unbreakable ice. My thought was if I could get down to the asphalt it would allow me to get rid of more of the ice as it would melt in the sunlight.

However, it resulted in charred remains on top of the ice, as the dried out wreath burned very quickly.

February

Best of 2014 - February
Best of 2014 – February

Since it was very cold and lots of ice, what else do you do but escape to where it is warmer. One of my goals of 2014 was to add as many countries to my list as possible. Another goal was that I would not go to Europe again until I reached 115kg (which is still the goal) as motivation to actually lose weight. Therefore very last moment I went to a travel agent for the very first time and booked my first cruise to add 4 new countries (which ended up as 5).

March

Best of 2014 - March
Best of 2014 – March

Needless to say, It snowed a lot more in March. I was still sporting a very nice tan though, and remained very bundled up. I also did not take many pictures in March so it was either this or the new former Premier giving a speech to a room full of people at the local riding nomination meeting, my first of two this year with two uncontested candidates.

April

Best of 2014 - April
Best of 2014 – April

This is a phone of Claire Hughes on her Claire’s Big Bike Ride for Bell’s Let’s Talk campaign for mental health issues.

For me April was a really good month this was when I started to get smaller and began the year-long process of replacing most of my clothes.

May

Best of 2014 - May
Best of 2014 – May

Besides being my birthday month, May continued the positive vibes of April. This photo is from the first test screening of The Divorce Movie. This movie featured many people who I have met from various areas of my past, and was a really enjoyable film that just happened to by the type of movie that I would have seen anyway.

June

Best of 2014 - June
Best of 2014 – June

From my past travels when anyone asks what is the greatest place I have ever seen, the only true answer is Berlin!

This brings us to the start of the World Cup season where I went out almost every day to watch the games and cheer on team Germany over when possible German beer, or  as close to it as possible. (Sometimes Dutch beer when the Netherlands were playing.)

July

Best of 2014 - July
Best of 2014 – July

Now I could have used my celebration photo from when Germany won the World Cup, however, who doesn’t love a fireworks show.

In typical Saint John fashion it was rainy, foggy, or something else on Canada Day and the fireworks got delayed, I went out to the grassy field at Portland Point where I ran into my old friend April and her gang that I had not seen in a few years and became a very great evening.

August

Best of 2014 - August
Best of 2014 – August

If you read my last post you will recall that I really enjoyed the 2nd Fundy Fringe Festival, this was a photo during one of the evening shows with many of the performers.

Most of the best memories I do not have, or would not post them here, but were a highlight of my year.

 

September

Best of 2014 - September
Best of 2014 – September

This year I started to go to the local stand-up comedy nights “No Holds Barred” with Jon Forward at the R Bar. These are great nights filled with laughs. This was from the September Show during the Harvesting the Arts festival. There are so may stay cats in Saint John that during the act this cat came wandering in the bar and provided for great improved moments of stand-up comedy.

October

Best of 2014 - October
Best of 2014 – October

In October, I took a trip to the Canadian Wireless Trade Show in Toronto did a lot of cool things that I probably should have blogged about. For Halloween I went to Medieval Times and did not know there was a costume contest so I did not dress-up but had a great time anyway. This is a photo of the Knighting ceremony for Mario, to try to get his princess. (Sorry Mario, your princess was in another castle.)

November

Best of 2014 - November
Best of 2014 – November

Up until June, it had been a tradition to go to the Urban Deli for breakfast every Saturday morning for about 4 years. Then they stopped serving breakfast and I wandered to several different places like Big Tide and Bourbon Quarter before I stumbled on Billy’s Seafood. The first few times I was not thrilled with its people watching potential, then I started sitting at the bar and the entire experience changed. After several weeks on the way to the Imperial Theatre to see The Sound of Music I stopped by Billy’s to try the dinner menu. This was the Cornmeal Haddock that I had that night.

December

Best of 2014 - December
Best of 2014 – December

Now to finish off the year, is my usual weekend haunt, The Canterbury Lounge. Typically, the highlight is an amazing drink that Adam creates with a smile, not this night. It was a giant Bear, on a Chair, with a Hat!

Fundy Fringe Festival Memory

FFF Sign at SJAC This year I had the privilege of volunteering at the Fundy Fringe Festival for mine and its second year.

I only managed to see 9 of the 15 performances, but was very impressed with the variety and quality of the performances.

The experience was incredible not only to meet the other performers and volunteer but the general community that supported the artists.

On the last day of the festival there was one experience that really stood out. I went to the Queen’s Square Market to get my Sunday morning croissant with chocolate gnash from Le Boulangerie Français prior to my final shift. There was this elderly woman sitting by herself on the bench, and asked me what I though of different shows.

It turned out that this  woman was visiting the city specifically for the festival and has lived in Vancouver before no living outside Toronto. She was not a big fan of the comedy shows and was looking for something darker.  After suggesting William Ellis’ Dirty Work she said that was exactly the type of show she was looking for. We then continued to chat for a good 20 minutes about her travels and the various theatre she has seen over her years which was an impressive amount.

The End of “here”

I have seen that the weekly local newspaper here magazine is now no more. Here is my little story of that zine.

We go back to March of 2004 the one and only time that I had visited the office of here. I went up all the stairs in the Miller Britain building on Princess Street. I do not recall who I met in the office at the time, but this was the first place that I dropped off my press release to in person after I had filed my papers in my run for Mayor. The guy asked me a few questions, then I left.

A few days after I received a call from one of the reporters. The were going to do a cover story on young candidates in that election for which there was eleven of us. They wanted to have a group picture and we arranged to all meet-up in front of Photography Flewwelling and taken by Tim Pfinder on a ladder. I remember the day was overcast and there was a very cold April wind.

So that is my story/memory of how I ended up on the cover of Here Magazine. Of the group Jay Young-Chang was the only one to get elected that time, and Donnie Snook was also in that photo sou would get elected in the following election.

The Divorce Movie Review

Last night I attended the premier test screening of the locally produced full length film The Divorce. It stars many people who I have come to know over the past few years. Before I continue we should pause for a moment to see the below trailer.

I went into it with the expectation of some of the other local films. It did start slow but the story was funny, sad, suspenseful, and touching at the same time. Although this movie has aspects of other movies, what it does not have is shallow characters. Though the ingenious storytelling by Rob Parsons and the great acting there is not a character that this movie does not have you rooting for. The story also progresses nicely and leaves you not looking at your watch very much. (I only checked mine once, and it was at 8:46pm).

This movie, considering that I see about 100 movies in theatres per year, is right there along side “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” as my top 200 movies. 4.5/5 stars!