Wednesday, August 04, 2010

So Glad to Meet You, Toronto

My pet fish died the first night I moved here. I almost did too, but it wasn't until a few days later, literally pumping the pavement with my feet, jogging from St Clair to Dufferin to Bloor to Christie in a giant square, trying to get my mind and body in shape, trying to learn my new turf, determined to survive in this new city, that I avoided collapse by going to a nearby park to scout out their water fountain.

I had been "pounding the pavement" in the sense of looking for jobs, too. I am "braving" it, which even I know is a bold and perhaps audacious thing to do, during this time of 9.5% unemployment rates. But what choice do I have? One of the newsletters that I read in an effort to try to glean tips on how to crack the economy tells me to be persistent; and I have been saying that I was going to move to Toronto for years! Since I last blogged, I have been laid off from Johnson & Johnson Inc. after two years of providing Bilingual Customer Service for all the 1-800 numbers on bottles of products of anything from Tylenol to Stayfree Maxi pads at their Information Centre in Guelph, which no longer exists. Now my job function is handled by a hand full employees in Washington, PA. I saw it coming for awhile and the company was gracious enough to provide transition benefits such as job counselling, which I have used to some advantage. Other than that, I have been enjoying my time off, going to BBQ's and taking bike rides through Guelph (where I just moved from), watching the sun rise and fall and blaring tunes on patios, talking with old familiar friends until the scorching air cools and the crickets sing, but now it's time to get serious.

Now it's the cicadas that I hear screaming. The dog days of summer are upon us. Packed in streetcars, people complain that they cannot breathe. It's too hot. Tomorrow it will be 45 degrees celcius with the humidex! But this is no time to stop. I just moved to Toronto three days ago, lucky enough to find a nice second floor room in a house in a quiet neighbourhood last minute via Craigslist, living with an international student. I have always wanted to move to this city of fast movers. I loved the small town charm of Guelph, but I loathed it's smothering effect, it's unreliable service, the incestuously tight-knit community and its dreamy ineffectuality. Guelph has a great music scene, many people that I love and a comfortable downtown that I am sure I will return to again and again, but to see the diversity of culture, the buskers and hustlers, musicians and business people, to have buses that run 24 hours and multiple cities within an even bigger city -that's what I want! I also want career advancement. I guess I want what every immigrant wants: a new beginning.

I got a $13 hair cut today by a woman from Vietnam who remarked that this city is so loud. I guess she was considering what it would be like for me compared to where I came from. I can't imagine it being quieter in Vietnam. She made me feel better about things, telling me not to take the first job that comes my way, but to find something that I really enjoy which, she said "would be a whole lot better for you." She made me feel like she knew me personally as she cut my hair. I suppose that's her job. I am used to having my mother cut my hair, but my mother can't take care of me now. This woman who was cutting my hair was at some point was just like me, moving from Vietnam to Vancouver, then eventually to Toronto to make a new start. For $13, I was impressed with her work, so I tipped her another $3, and grabbed her card for future reference.

I don't have a job but that's no reason for me not to keep busy. I am looking forward to volunteering for a festival which starts in September.

I am excited about it all. The festival will be to die for. I just hope I survive in Toronto long enough to experience it. With a smile on my face, and the help of a few friends, I am sure I will.

Now, to leave you with a song that I have started to play again. I feel like I can really connect with this song right now, as it's written about all the hopes and dreams one has when they move to a new city, and how it never turns out exactly like what you might expect. Perhaps that can be a good thing. For the writer, there are always mixed feelings. Here's Elliot Smith, with Angeles:

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