Jan 2018 01


Posted In Blog,The world

I hate 2018.

It isn’t like 2017. In 2017, you could be rude.

You could be dismissive.

You could refuse to give up your blue seat on the subway to an elderly person.

You could walk past a homeless person and not make eye contact.

You could judge someone by their gender, appearance, or sexual preference.

You could accept a straw in your drink.

You could turn to another TV station when the ‘these abused pets need your help’ commercial came on.

You could leave your lawn unraked, or put something in your garbage that you knew should go into your blue bin, or eat octopus without getting into a discussion about their intelligence.

You could read a news headline and not read the story, thinking someone else would solve the problem.

2017 had very low expectations, because the world was darker than ever everywhere it seemed. You didn’t have much to live up to because somewhere someone was always doing something worse probably.

But these damn ‘new’ years. They come with new expectations.

Go away, 2018. Your predecessor was way easier to please.




Dec 2017 22


Posted In Blog,The world

Re-posting this today, from November of 2014. Frances passed away early this morning, peacefully, and surrounded by family out in Alberta. As I gather my thoughts about her impact on my life and hopefully write about it later, just wanted to remember what a force for life and love she was. It is a darker day in the world. And yet she leaves so much light…

[re-posted from November, 2014]

“She may not remember you, Andrew.”

On some day no one remembers the exact date of back in the 1950s, the almost teenaged-version of my future mom knocked on Fran’s door. She asked her if she needed a babysitter.

Fran and her husband Bruce, the United Church Minister in a little town south of Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan, had just had their third child. So the word was out that Fran might have her hands full. A Minister’s wife was a job in itself back then – community duties, helping the Church, being the rock behind the rock. Plus three young kids on top of that? My future mom offered her considerable skills and experience babysitting.

This may have been the first time they were introduced to each other, but Fran knew all about my mom. Everyone knew about the 8 Japanese kids who had been essentially orphaned, moved from Victoria, and had been raised in town. They were a sign of the town’s compassion, and also a target for discrimination.

Fran accepted.

Fran accepted even though she knew my mom had precisely zero experience babysitting.

This knock on the door began a friendship that lasted for the rest of my mom’s life and a case could be made that outside of my parents meeting, is the event that led to my sitting here today. Both figuratively, as in “This changed the course of my mom’s life leading to her having a family of her own” and also literally as in here, in Edmonton, writing in a Starbucks just 15 minutes from where Fran is now staying in an assisted living-facility. She knew the person that was my mom, before she became that. Yuki Shimamori. A girl that my mom didn’t like to talk about, even up until she died almost 5 years ago. A girl that Fran knew well, and has told me about. A girl that my mom wanted to forget.

Memory it seems, can be both elusive and selective.

“She may not remember you, Andrew.”

Her kids, my mom’s babysitting charges now grown and some even grandparents in their own right, told me not to take it personally if she doesn’t. Dementia doesn’t discriminate. Fran is 89 now and since my last visit a little over 3 years ago, her memory has started to go. Some days she remembers people, usually those she has known for a long time. And other days, she has no idea where she is, how she got there or what happened to her husband, Bruce. Where is Bruce? Bruce died. Not coincidentally, about 3 and a half years ago. It’s like her brain had a purpose to stay sharp while he was here, and now is slowly shutting down from lack of companionship, conversation. Love.

So just like my mom 60 years ago came to knock on Fran’s door, with trepidation no doubt, I approached Fran’s door last night.

Would she remember me? Would she still remember my mom?

I walked through the hallways of the care facility towards the door number that was hers.

“And just where are you off to, Andrew?”

Fran was outside her room, out for a little assisted walk. A big smile on her face as she saw me coming. I didn’t have to tell her who I was. Like I have relied on for my whole life, she is still here to help me figure that out.

Dec 2017 01

Got a strange text from a friend just now, without context.

‘What’s good?’

So here’s what I think, randomly, off the top of my head:


Wild Turkey Bourbon.

Trinidadian Doubles.

Puppy kisses.

Christmas lights (yes, I’m a sucker for them).

Ella Fitzgerald.

Cinnamon sticks in drinks.

Reading kids’ Christmas ‘I want’ lists.

Macadamia Nut & White Chocolate cookies.

Childish Gambino.

Beets in a salad.

Fresh sheets.

The sound of your mom’s voice on the phone.

Bubbles in a bath.

The opening of ‘Gimme Shelter’ by the Stones.

Taking Monday off.

Looking at an ATM receipt left behind and seeing you have more money than them.

Actually having change to give someone on the street when they ask.

Salt & Vinegar chips.

Trusting someone with all your heart.

When a kid reaches for your hand to cross the street.

Hamster videos.

The smell of a barber shop.

Reading the first page of a book.

Dancing with wild abandon.

Knowing that anything is possible tomorrow.

I could go on. But those things, those things are good in my books.

Nov 2017 21

I’ve been adulting hard the last week with no time for personal writing. Passport, business year-end receipts, organizing. Sounds like I’m gonna flee the country, but no. Just taking advantage of this few weeks off to get stuff done, and hopefully have time left to write. However, just talked to a friend who told me she’s on her way to a first-date, and I recalled this story from the pointless Andrew-anecdotes and thought I’d share…

About a decade ago, a woman I worked with was dating. A lot. Looking back, I have to hand it to her. She was tired of dating guys in advertising and decided to get out of her usual sphere (definition of insanity – doing same thing over and over and expecting different results). ‘Dating apps/services were just starting to branch out from ‘LavaLife’ and she was on one of them.

There were a lot of first dates. And not many seconds. She was being smart about finding someone she really clicked with.

She comes in one morning after telling me the previous night that she was off to another first date.

‘How was the date?’

‘I won’t be seeing him again.’

‘What happened?’

‘Well, we’re having a first drink and he says ‘I need to ask you a question. Just want to get it out of the way, cause there’s no point in going any further if we’re not compatible.’

Bold, I think. But respect.

‘What was it?’

‘He says ‘Are you into watersports? Cause I can’t be with someone if they aren’t.’ And I tell him ‘Well, I snowboard a lot. I guess I’m interested wake boarding or waterskiing.’

Good for her, I think, going with it. Finding a middle ground.

‘He says ‘No, I like women to pee on me. And I like to pee on them.’

I never asked my friend if she walked out or finished her drink. I just left it at that. So although unlikely, it is still within the realm of possibility that she summoned the waitstaff and ordered a large pitcher of waters for the table, but I doubt it.

Well, you’re into what you’re into. Why wait to be yourself, I guess. In this on-demand, fast-paced world, there’s no time to pretend to be someone else perhaps.





Nov 2017 17

I think I’m hungry. Some observations while riding the TTC last night.

As I watched this teenage girl chew with her mouth open on the subway last evening, I’d never wanted a McDonald’s Filet O’ Fish so badly.

Her bad manners exposed her braces as she chewed, and the McDonald’s tartar sauce coated the tracks on her teeth. Which sounds gross, but she looked happier than I can ever remember being in my teens when music of The Smiths filled my head with loner tendencies and brooding.

Her and a girlfriend were sitting next to me on a crowded eastbound train around 7pm. Maybe about 13 years old and both of them were happily chomping on some McDonald’s they’d picked up. It was nice to see kids hanging out and having fun with each other rather than with headphones on, or their heads down on their phones playing a game – as is the standard it seems these days, even with adults.

By the way, I think the Filet O’ Fish sandwich is a very underrated item at McDonald’s. I order it a lot. I usually hold the tartar sauce and go over to the ketchup pump, open up the top bun and give it one good plop on there – sort of like how a I like my fish n chips.

Years ago I worked on McDonald’s in Canadian advertising and they said everyone has three items they rotate through. Usually you have one favourite and then two items that you cycle through when you’re switching things up. I think my 3 are: Cheeseburger (I can eat them like sushi), the Big Mac, and Filet O’ Fish bringing up the rear which I get a lot of heat for from friends who just don’t get the fish sandwich thing. Anyhow, it was nice to see someone appreciate the menu item as well despite the bad chewing habits.

Her friend was eating an interesting McDonald’s hack – a cheeseburger with two middle buns from a Big Mac on the outside instead of the usual bun.

After she finished, and was licking the ketchup off her fingers, she turned to the Filet O’ Fish girl.

“Oh man, you eat so slow.”

“What? (braces exposing the carnage like in ‘Jaws’) I’m just enjoying it.”

They bantered on about where they were going and who was going to be there, laughing. I wasn’t listening as much as I was just amazed at their optimism and energy. They were so engrossed in talking that they almost missed their stop, having to jump up and run out of the train as the door-closing chimes were ringing.

I didn’t just want their McDonald’s.

I wanted to be that age again.



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