My Vancouver Apartment


After I moved out of the Kitsilano Hell Hole, I moved into an apartment on a main street in Fairview with a friend from my program, Stephen. When Stephen first showed me the apartment, I thought it was nice enough that I would happy living in it and it was shitty enough to remind me that I haven’t hit the peak of my prosperity yet. I still feel the same way about it. The apartment is dilapidated and it makes me happy, though admittedly, a new kitchen counter and hardwood floors would only increase my affection for the place. The apartment has high ceilings and a lot of windows, so it gets great light. The kitchen and living room windows look out onto what has been dubbed the courtyard. The courtyard is a four by six foot square of black tar with poor drainage bordered on two sides by our apartment’s windows and on the other two sides by fifteen foot high cinder block walls. I could probably get onto the courtyard by way the window, but the window is only two feet wide and I’m afraid that I would either get stuck in the courtyard and have to ask the people above me to lower a rope so I could climb out the top or that the tar floor would collapse and I would end up in middle of the cafe below me. The bedroom windows look out onto what would function as a balcony if the space wasn’t occupied by a staircase. My view of the back alley and the people rifling through the recycling isn’t unobstructed by the staircase, but based on the staircase’s position, anyone coming down from the floor above has to make a turn that puts them directly in front of my large bedroom window. Essentially, if I have the blinds open and I’m sitting at my desk in my Perry the Platypus t-shirt, I’m looking out onto the people walking down the stairs like, ‘Hello there, friends! Thanks for stopping by!’ Needless to say, I close the blinds when I’m sleeping, dressing, eating granola with my fingers and practicing yoga inversions.


Our apartment is surprisingly well furnished. Nearly everything in the apartment came from IKEA. It was either from the trip out to the Richmond IKEA Stephen and I made or it was purchased from the Icelandic man who lived here before us, Arnie. I refer to Arnie as our Icelandic benefactor because in addition to supplying us with a TV, light wood IKEA living room furniture, a rocking chair likely salvaged from the aforementioned alley and half a table certainly salvaged from the same place, he provided us with most of our IKEA dishes and cutlery. I got to meet Arnie before he moved to Sweden, so I find the traces of our Icelandic benefactor to be a source of joy in this apartment.

I don’t know my neighbours well but everyone I have met has been really friendly. It seems like everyone in the building is a student, a tattoo artist (a tattoo parlour operates out of the building’s first floor) or is unemployed. In the summer, my tattoo artist neighbours said, we’ll have a party up on the roof of the building. It’s easy to get up, they said. You just have to climb up a ledge and onto a table.


At the start of January, Kelly came to visit me. I had given her advance warning about the shape the place was in, but she found the apartment to be nicer than the average European hostel. I also warned her that we can usually hear the people above us at night. On her first Saturday in my apartment, we heard the sounds of an acoustic guitar playing Neil Young, Nick Cave (I love when they play “Rye Whiskey”) and Iggy Pop with vocal duets. When Kelly remarked upon it, I told her they make music on the weekends. We enjoyed their music until they played variations on “The Passenger” by Iggy Pop for two hours and I said they were trying my patience.

A few days after Kelly arrived, Stephen’s friend Ivan arrived, which meant that for a  week we had four people living in a two bedroom apartment. Stephen and I gave Ivan a briefing about the place but there wasn’t any sound from upstairs to emphasize our point about our neighbours. “Just wait until Tuesday,” Stephen said. “We hear a lot from them on Tuesdays.” Generally, the people who live about us play video games late at night on Mondays and Tuesdays, accompanied by the sounds of profuse swearing and bass heavy music. All four of us were sitting in the living room on a Tuesday night when we suddenly heard the sounds of blistering heavy metal music. Yes, out of the silence of a Tuesday night, we heard the sounds of “Raining Blood” by Slayer. I have nothing against metal — Kelly heard more than she ever wanted to when I took her to see Fucked Up — but even my peace was disturbed. Luckily,  after an hour or so they were listening to “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne and the music that came after was comparably soothing. We still haven’t figured out where the people fit within the categories of student-tattoo artist-jobless. They either have schedules that make Tuesdays their Saturdays, or they are unemployed and are passionate about keeping routines.


All in all, things are going well in my Vancouver apartment, in spite of — or perhaps, because of — the series of oddities that surround it. Though my life would start to feel kind of sad if I stayed here for the next decade reading Silvan Tomkins’ studies on affect while my neighbours played Pantera, I’m happy to be here right now.  Ivan is leaving after a month as our temporary roommate to move into his own Vancouver apartment that I hope for his sake is less of a character apartment than this one is. That means it will just be Stephen and I and our heavy metal neighbours, sharing a view of a back alley in Fairview until our next guests come to experience life in Vancouver.

My Song of the Day: Mona Lisa by Dead Sara

Stephen’s Song of the Day: Still Into You by Paramore

All photos were taken within five blocks of my apartment so while the view from my bedroom is over the alleyway pictured above, I’m only five blocks from water and mountains.

Interview With My Mother


My mother has always been there to support me in whatever I decided to pursue, from the time I was two years old and said, “Mom, I can skate!” and proceeded to waddle across the ice, to the days when I wondered why the hell I chose to pursue an English degree, and I knew that I could only make sense of things if I called her. In recent years, she has transitioned from a mother to a best friend. She is the person I trust the most when I need advice, whether it’s on love, my life plan, or what I should wear on a Saturday night. Though many say we look and sound alike, we are more different than we are similar. This makes her support and her interest in my life even more meaningful. She will listen to me talk about my essays, even if she hasn’t read the books herself, and will listen to my favourite albums with me, even if she doesn’t like them. I know that she will always be cheering for me, especially on the days when I’m struggling. In honour of Mother’s Day, I decided to interview my mother. You hear a lot from me, so I thought it was time you heard from the woman who made and shaped me. Here is my interview with the woman the world calls Lynn, who I am proud to call Mom.

What have you enjoyed most about being a mother?

The joy I’ve experienced over the years watching you grow and develop as your own person, in wisdom and inner and exterior beauty. You are your own unique person, very comfortable and accepting of yourself and I’m extremely proud of that.

What was your greatest fear when you became a mother?

That you would choke on a hot dog! That’s why I cut them up until you were eight years old!

Another other fears?

That I wouldn’t have the answers to your questions when you needed them most. As it turns out, the answers came more naturally then I thought they would. I also wanted to protect you from the sorrows and trial and tribulations of life, but I realized I usually couldn’t and that you would have to figure things out for yourself. I had to trust in you to do this on your own. I sometimes still want to come to your rescue but realize you are grown up now and that I can’t.

You’ve been teaching for thirty years. Did being a teacher prepare you for motherhood?

Being a teacher taught me that there are many unique little individuals out there each with their own personalities and talents. Each one as different as the next. Having taught most grades, it was interesting to learn about the “milestones” children experienced, as well as the struggles as they became more mature. I often thought about these as you experienced these milestones for yourself.

What did you value the most about your mother?

I valued her intelligence.  She was a respected nurse and published writer. I was proud of her . The older I got the more I think I appreciated her.  She had so many friends, quite a diverse group and that says something about a person.  I think she had many friends because she was very open and accepting of everyone. Her compassion for people as well as other living things made her a special person in the eyes of many.

Which characteristics of your mother do you see in yourself?

To this day I am an animal lover like my mother was. I’m also a person who forgives easily. I learned that from her. I inherited a love of fashion and shopping from my mom who learned it from her mom. And now you enjoy it too. (I trained you at an early age!)

My mom thought it was important for us to travel and learn about new places. As a child our family travelled throughout Canada and the U.S., usually by car. I valued this as being really important so we were able to give you the experience of travelling broadly throughout your life.

Which of your characteristics do you see in me?

I think we are both energized by people who value us. We love to be with friends and appreciate them being in our lives. i think you are also a person who will forgive easily. You have the confidence in yourself that I had when I was your age.

What is the most valuable advice your mother gave you?

Trust in yourself and everything else will follow. This gave me the confidence to be who I am today.

What advice would you like to give me?

Be your own person. Be happy with who you are. Be with people who value you and get you and eventually be with the one who adores you. Realize that your dreams may not always be fulfilled but don’t stop dreaming. Take time to smell the flowers and always look for the good in people and situations. Life will always have it’s difficulties. It’s how you handle them and get back to living that will see you through your life.

Mom’s Song of the Day: Happy by Pharrell Williams

My Song of the Day: Ash Babe by Dan Mangan