Memories, Nostalgia, and Some Sadness

It was mid-April 1984. I wasn’t quite 19 yet. I has just moved to Halifax in an upstairs duplex on Quinn Street for a 4-month sublet. The owners had left all their stuff so I needed only bring my clothes and look for a job. And among their stuff was Keith Jarrett’s 3-LP Bremen / Lausanne Concerts.

Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for several years will recall the lead up to my move to Montréal. Some of you may have said to yourselves — nay, some of you have said to my face …lovingly, of course — “Oh, enough already and just do it!” So, in June 2007, I wrote a five-part blog entry that, on one part, amounted to my ode to Halifax and, on the other, served to convince myself that it really was time to “just do it.”

As for those of you who knew me well before this blog existed, back when I was that teenager who deferred university for a second year after finishing high school in order to get a job and live a year in Halifax, you’ll remember a small-town Maritime gay boy who had become obsessed with Halifax. That city seemed (and, in the early 1980s, was) so much more exciting than Moncton, yet not too far from my comfort zone. As I wrote in that 2007 five-part series, I didn’t think in August 1985 when I returned to Moncton to study translation that I would ever live again in Halifax. But things changed, and I returned two years later and stayed there almost 21 years.

Rediscovering Jarrett’s Lausanne had me almost in tears last night. I can assure you that, in 1984, I didn’t think about 2011. Perhaps I thought of the Year 2000 — who didn’t back then! — as it still seemed so remote and, good heavens, I would be 35 that year! Now here I am, about to enter the second half of 45.

Last night I remembered that teenager, sitting alone by the fireplace, tucked comfortably on that white sofa in the living room on Quinn Street, listening by candlelight to the Lausanne before going to bed.

Yes, last night, remembering that teenager, and perhaps for the first time in my life, I felt old and truly realized there is less life before me than there is behind me. Oh, the things I didn’t know back then! The optimism; the naïveté; the not knowing where life would lead me — not that it led me to a bad place… And last night realizing not only just how little 2011 resembles 1984, but also how little 2011 resembles what I might have thought it would in 1984.

Being gay back then was still a very big deal. Each time you befriended someone or got social with someone at work, you would ponder not only when but IF you would come out to them, and take some distance from the fledgling friendship if you sensed that coming out would lead to painful rejection. In that sense, for most young gay guys like me there was an undercurrent of fear, which I need to make clear here so that you not think that last night I looked back at ’84 through rose-tinted glasses and thought, “Those were the days!” With the advent of and phobia towards AIDS that rose in those years and the backlash to which to it led towards gay men, it was unimaginable that I, nearly 25 years later, would find myself legally marrying a man. And three years after that, be working on divorcing him.

Last night I acutely felt the sadness I have been feeling for several months now. It is not sadness over the breakup of my marriage nor about being single and not wanting to be so. It is not sadness due to being in the middle of a long, cold winter, as it took hold well before winter started. It is certainly not sadness about where I am professionally nor the city where I now live. No, it’s not that specific; it’s more encompassing. But the kicker is that, meeting me or talking to me, most wouldn’t know it is there.

I don’t need a fancy Westmount therapist to recognize that I’m going through a kind of depression. (There! I’ve actually written the word, and it staring back at me makes it more real.) But I also recognize that the time has long come for me to get off my duff and tidy up all the loose strings I have left hanging, be it financially or legally, or the need to lose weight and quit smoking.

It’s the time for DOING, as that teenager of ’84 would do after listening to Jarrett’s Lausanne and a good night’s sleep.

Like, Shut Up! Shut the Front Door!

Stacy London and Clinton KellyI seem to be on a TV roll, but whatever!

Six years ago — I can’t believe it’s been that long! — I declared my undying hatred of Queer Eye for a Straight Guy and especially of co-host Carson Kressley. Today, however, I have to admit I get a charge out of TLC’s What Not to Wear, hosted by Stacy London and Clinton Kelly. Their comments about the contestant’s former wardrobe can be rather caustic, but those are made up by London’s enthusiatic approval during the reveal, when she often gushes her trademark “Shut up! Shut the front door!” It always makes me laugh.

It’s too bad that all the makeovers are with women. Apparently, the show started off with both men and women, but nominations of men for makeovers aren’t retained anymore apparently because the transformations weren’t as dramatic. It stands to reason: women can wear dresses or pants or skirts while men can only wear pants, and most men don’t (and don’t wish to) wear makeup, so the range is not as wide. Still, I would LOVE to have a makeover myself! Perhaps it’s vain and all of that, but hey: I AM a Leo, after all.

Which reminds me: I gained a few pounds in the last year-and-a-half and I’m not feeling good about myself as a result. In fact, I’ve deliberately been avoiding stepping on the scale because I don’t really want to know where I’m at right now, but I’m thinking I need to shed 15 to 20 pounds. Ideally, I’d like to reach that goal by the time the warm weather returns in four or five months.

Two Different Homebuying Shows

Tatiana LondonoAs far as “reality” TV goes, you can’t get two more different personalities than Tatiana Londono (on the left) and Sandra Rinomato (shown below). Granted, the premise of each show is entirely different: The Property Shop “follows” (scare quotes because the show is scripted as reality shows really are) the trials and tribulations of Columbian Canadian Tatiana Londono’s opening of a real-estate agency here in Montréal, while in Property Virgins, Toronto-based Sandra Rinomato guides buyers into purchasing their first home. But there’s enough in each show to like and dislike to keep me coming back.

I’m pretty sure Tatiana would agree with me if I said she’s loud and has an extraordinarily big ego. In fact, she would probably laugh and take it as a compliment. Self-effacing she is not, and I suppose no successful real-estate broker can afford to be. But, despite that, there’s something about her show I really like although I can’t quite put my finger on it. Clearly she likes the camera as much as it likes her, but I think the draw for me is how the camera presents Montréal, either from the air or at street level, showing the city’s good sides as well as its warts. I can’t imagine people who have never been here to be turned off by the images of this city; they might even be intrigued enough to see it for themselves one day. Plus, the producers also manage to include a host of quirky characters who truly represent the range of eccentrics who reside in this city.

Certainly no one can say Tatiana lacks guts: it takes some doing to go against the established big boys and start a real-estate agency in a market like Montréal’s, and succeed despite the economy coincidentally taking its biggest nosedive in decades. Although helped by her husband and business partner Oran, she definitely has a lot of business savvy or else her venture would have disappeared long ago. But, that leads me to the part of her show I don’t like: her “genius,” if you’ll allow me to employ that term, simply doesn’t come across on the show. Sometimes we get these close-ups with her where we expect nuggets of wisdom matching the pearl necklace she may be wearing to fall from her mouth, but those pearls consistently fail to materialize. At least on camera, she’s long on theatrics but short on insights.

Sandra RinomatoAs I said at the start, comparing The Property Shop and Property Virgins is a classic case of comparing apples and oranges in that the only commonality is that both are shows about real estate. But one stark contrast is that I feel Sandra Rinomato is scripted to provide insights. And I can’t say I dislike her perky on-screen personality.

So, I guess that’s why I was quite surprised prior to writing this post to find just how many people viscerally dislike Sandra. It’s open season on some parts of the Web to insult everything from her appearance, her manner, her age, her dress, her voice, her rack, and what not. One would think she’s the most vile and hideous thing to ever hit the real-estate market and TV screens. She described as pushy, sounding like a squirrel, dressing age and size inappropriately, and ugly because of the gap between her two front teeth. It all comes across to me as extremely misogynistic. She’s not the pretty and young bombshell that Tatiana is, but good grief!

Critics of her show also dislike how the first scene is always a meeting with the future homebuyers in their preferred neighbourhood, which is almost always way out of their price range, and the fact she makes them take a stab at the price of the house after they’ve viewed it. Some point out that no decent real-estate agent would do that, and truth be told, they wouldn’t if this WEREN’T A TV SHOW! The homebuyers are brought into houses priced in the range they said they were willing or able to spend, so, aside from providing a bit of entertainment value, this practice is simply part of “educating” these first-timers.

I always find it a little weird, not to say unsettling, how some people take so personally and literally what they see on TV. I would never decide, based on their respective TV shows, that Tatiana is a bubblehead or a genius or that Sandra is a bitch or a saviour. I just think both are simultaneously likeable and dislikeable, and that’s all it takes to keep me watching. And while there are plenty of dislikeable people on these “reality” shows, I fail to see the point of posting execrable things about them online. Just change the channel!