Hands unchained

One major feature or change in my life recently was the return to freedom. Although this makes it seem like I might have been legally incarcerated, this is not the case, but living in China does limit some freedoms that one would normally wouldn’t experience in the free world...

A large decision was undertaken in September 2015 regarding changes in my life, and it was when I decided that I would seek other employment opportunities. While I love the kids I teach, the system under which I was teaching was becoming increasingly unsustainable, and I wanted out. I began interviewing in October, and I landed a contract in March.

The decision was not taken lightly; I really did mull it over for a long while. Part of me wanted to stay because living in China became easy, but there were some serious life questions that I started to ask myself: Is living here sustainable? Can I find what I’m looking for here? And after I reflected a bit, and some stuff that went down in my personal life, the answer was an unequivocal no. Thou shall hear of those reasons in reflections in the future, but for no the details are irrelevant.

And so on June 30, after leaving my apartment (and home – and yes it really did feel like home) at 21:00, our shuttle bus bound from the interior of Jiangsu Province was bound for Shanghai. In what has later become 60 hours of transit (which I originally thought was 34), I relived June 30 twice and half of June 29th and arrived into Toronto via Tokyo and Vancouver.

And thus I found freedom, sort of. It’s not my final destination and it doesn’t feel like real freedom yet, but it’s a step in the right direction. Hello Twitter, Hello Facebook, Hello Blog, Hello unrestricted internet, and Goodbye VPN.

I miss you already, China, despite your shortcomings…

Toronto 2015 Pan American Games Tennis DrawGuido Andreozzi

My dedication to supporting the Pan American Games 2015 continued as I had previously purchased tickets to attend the Semi-finals of the Tennis event at the National Tennis Centre at York University. I enlisted a fellow tennis player of mine to come with me, and she and I hopped down there with looming clouds.

We were to be disappointed as after no less than 15 minutes of getting there, matches were suspended due to a torrential downpour. Hours later were were sitting around and as she was showing me how to use Tindr (on her phone of course) I just moaned about how lucky she was and whatnot. Being adorable and nice, albeit oblivious, pays dividends in the dating world.

Guido AndreozziGuido Andreozzi

While we discussed the possibilities of the entire session being rained out, we decided to stick it out. As a result of our dedication we were two of about 20 spectators in Centre Court to witness a Mens Semifinal Match between Argentina and Columbia. It was slightly underwhelming, and as we giggled here and there we both caught the eye of the Argentine player, Guido Andreoozi. While he was beaten in straight sets, he looked up at us (probably her) a few times, and we commented on his lack of form on backhand and slow footspeed. It was a well balanced match, but clearly the better Columbian won and progressed to the gold metal match.

Guido Andreozzi & Facundo BagnisNational Tennis Centre

It was at this moment that I resolved to supporting the Argentine player for the rest of the tournament. I discovered that he was in the Semi-finals of all 3 events that he was eligible for: mens singles, mens doubles, mixed doubles. So I thought, okay it will give me something to do.

On being a fan boy…

It was at this moment I decided to follow the 195th ranked in the world player. I knew nothing about him, I knew nothing about his background, I knew nothing about his personal life, I knew nothing about his personality, but I decided that he needed someone other than his coaches to support him. As a result, I was out on the cold Court 1, a few hours later to watch him and his partner play Barbados for a spot in the gold medal game.

Needless to say, when I went outside they were just arriving and the skies were threatening. I curled up in the 3rd row, and started cheering for the Argentine pair to proceed. No less than 20 minutes in, play was suspended due to rain and I was running for the stadium to stay dry. It was at this point that I encountered a few former colleagues of mine, and we chatted out the rain delay for about an hour and half – and then I went back outside. It was at this point approximately 9pm, and the match didn’t end until 10pm. I was one of only a few people in the stands besides coaches, and a bunch of “bros” that were supporting the Barbadian team. With a huge “¡ VAMOS !” to conclude the victory, both myself and the Argentine pair cheering in jubilation that they would play for gold.

I went back into the stadium for a washroom break, and bought tickets for the next day – determined to support my player Guido for his upcoming mixed, singles bronze medal game, and mens doubles gold medal match.

Pan Am Badminton Jun 13Pan Am Badminton Jun 13

Since I realized that the Pan American Games were going to be hosted in Toronto during the summer of 2015, I made an immediate realization that I would have to go, given that opportunities to see sporting events that I’m interested in doesn’t come very often. I resolved to buying tickets online at decent rates, which I imagine was due to the fact that most people coming to Toronto to visit the games would be strapped for cash, coming from less developed countries in many instances. As a result of this I obtained tickets for my first event: badminton.

As a I commuted to the location at the Atos Markham Pan Am/Parapan Am Centre in Unionville (Markham), it took me about an hour and half to get there from my living location. I thought, this is fine, and despite being 5 minutes late I entered into the location. There weren’t crowds of people, and despite being decked out in PanAm colours and signs, it just didn’t feel like I was there apart of something larger.

I sat in the uncomfortable stands and watched a bunch of singles, doubles, and mixed matches. I took some photos to show to my students to motivate them, and then I was on my way after the short 3 hour session. It was a bit underwhelming, but still a cool experience to witness Canadians in a Canadian hosted place, who were passionate and welcoming to their athletes. As I went back home and stopped for pizza I wondered whether or not the rest of the game would be equally as underwhelming to my expectations. After all, the only thing I could compare this to would be the little brother of the Olympics, but so far it didn’t seem to be a little brother; more so an infant baby in terms of size and hype/excitement.

It was an interested experience and a nice way to get integrated in, but going by myself was very underwhelming.

For the last two weeks the Greater Toronto Area has been under (on two different days) a weather advisory regarding snowfall and storm conditions. Given the mild temperatures that we have had (which must be a record); schools ended up closing last Friday for no apparent reason. The snow never came.

The same happened today when they warned of freezing rain and poor driving conditions. The storm that never came, again. As much as winter has been a fascio this year with little to no snow, Toronto weather appears to be… at best a total spaz.

Bugs Bunny at the Symphony

What’s up Doc indeed! That’s what I was up to this weekend…

I was lucky enough to indulge myself in a little culture, while living in the the relative area of the big city. I headed down to the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, a place that I haven’t been to in forever. At a cost of only $40 to attend, in the mezzanine/balcony, I had the honour of reliving times of my relative childhood, with the cartoons and music of Bugs Bunny and friends.

We were entertained by a large theater screen, the backdrop to the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, who were fantastic, without a doubt. The laughing was entertaining, the magic of the cartoons was electric, and the nostalgic moments of cartooning. Nothing could possibly compare.

The only thing that irritated the bageegees out of me, was the fact that adults elected to bring their children of less than five years old, and as young as eighteen months to this performance. Needless to say, they were jabbering and screaming the entire concert. I resent those people who couldn’t find babysitters for this, because it was clearly not appropriate at all.

Also, as a random side note I was shocked about the lack of bathroom facilities at the location. There was a line-up at intermission of about 50 men, for the mens room, and although the line was moving very quickly, there were only five urinals, and three stalls. How does this make any sense, when the building can seat about 500 people minimum? The bathroom was the single most uncomfortable room I’ve ever been in, as people were basically shoulder to shoulder the entire time. If anything, going to the washroom is a very private moment for me. Boo on the bad people!