A Bag Spawns Thoughts Literary

time soft

When I read the book Time Was Soft There, I felt a kind of kinship with The Shakespeare and Company Bookstore. I cannot say if it was because of the writing, or just the idea of the place spoke to me in way that made me feel like I belonged, or whether some past life experience saw me there, or if I just wish I had been born at a different time where my writing sensibilities would be more at home. Currently, I kind of side with the last one, though I tend to rotate through all of them.

I guess we all harbour dreams of being on hand for seminal moments. Mine favour musical and literary moments.  I would have loved to be there hanging around City Lights when  Howl was read for the first time.  I would love to have been the first reader of The Sun Also Rises.  I would love to have been there when the Who formed, or Zeppelin played under the Yardbirds moniker for the last time.  I would love to shared a drink with Kerouac at a jazz bar.

This could go on, for a long time, and if not for my weary head, I would. I should rest, but I had to get some of this off my chest before I could sleep.

How did this get on my chest in the first place?bags


I looked over at one of my fellow commuters who was also reading on the bus. I couldn’t make out the title of her book, and I didn’t ask her (She was young and I didn’t want to come off as a dirty old man).  I did notice that her book bag was emblazoned with the name of the bookstore.

Of course the bookstore is famous. Travelers, readers, writers and so many others know of its existence.  I am not naive enough to think it was my little secret–and I do believe that I have visited the place with my friend Chris on our travels in Paris and London.  However, if just for a moment, I did feel as though my secret was out.  I felt as though I lost something; something I never had, in fact.

Maybe we all want that niche place that while popular and successful, it seems that no one knows about. I’d call it not the best kept secret.  I’ve got a place or two like that in Japan still.  Someday, I may see them again.


Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, books, commuting, Japan, reading, travel, Viva | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Apology Before the Fact

***I couldn’t find an appropriate image to convey how I was feeling–not a non copyright one  anyway.  Also, I noticed that I had forgotten to put a photo on the previous post.  I have now rectified that.

Suddenly, I am feeling very pessimistic. Is it just because Sunday is winding down and I have to go to work tomorrow?  Perhaps, it is because we are well and truly into August and I feel the summer slipping away?  Is it all the doom and gloom on the news that I try so hard to avoid, but which keeps confronting me at every turn? Is it just a general malaise?–another word I have always wanted to use on this blog.

I am sorry to vent here on all of you. I hope I am not using up all the trust and goodwill we have built up amongst us–I probably should say between you and me because as you read this, you should feel that I am speaking directly to you–which hopefully I am.

Don’t worry about my pessimism. It should only last until I put my head on my pillow (which I vow to do earlier than usual every day this week) and tumble off to sleep.  There will be no time in the morning for wallowing in pessimism, the schedule and early morning coffee really won’t allow for it.  There might be some moments on the commute, but that will depend on how entertaining my fellow bus passengers are.  I might get lost in my book as well.

Again, sorry to dump on you. You deserve better.


Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

…And There’s More Chocolate


must be putting out the positive vibes. That is the conclusion I have come to.  After publishing my post about students giving me chocolate, another student brought me chocolate today.  This time it was my all time favourite Japanese chocolate.

This candy is coffee nougat (I believe) that is covered in chocolate. Chocolate and coffee are two flavours that go so well together that I am unclear why there aren’t more products with this combination.  They are absolutely delicious together–maybe not as good as chocolate and peanut butter…now I am getting a bit sidetracked…and hungry.

I should note that I consider it auspicious that he gave me seven pieces. Seven is a lucky number.  Seven pieces of chocolate are going to taste good.  I wonder if I will be able to have some willpower and not eat them in a flurry.

Thank you all kind students, and thank you especially for this gift.

That’s Friday’s Perfect Moment, short and sweet**

**unintentional pun….or, maybe intentional


Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, chocolate, ESL, gifts, Japan, Japanese, teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Saying No

For a positive blog such as this, it’s rather hard to explain that Today’s Perfect Moment is all about saying no. Not shouting it in a loud defiant voice, but merely asserting oneself.

Here’s the background. I work.  I am not a workaholic, but I am paid by the hour, so more hours means more money.  Theoretically this means paying off debts faster, or paying for a trip in the near future.  I also want the company to see me as a dependable member of the team.  So if they ask me, unless something else is scheduled, I will say yes.

ESL teaching is littered with a wide variety of characters. Amongst the kind-hearted, the wild, the creative, the slackers, the alcoholics, the dedicated, and the truly weird there exists another kind.  That kind likes to take Friday off.  While this is probably true of all of us, those of us who do are fewer in number.

When approached by these types, most often the dollar signs cloud both my vision and my thinking, often leading to late working on Friday. While this isn’t necessarily bad, it makes waking up for Saturday morning bike rides much more difficult.  It also makes it much easier to go for a drink after work on a Friday if it’s already dinner time.  While this isn’t necessarily bad, it also makes waking up for Saturday morning club rides much much more difficult.

So, it happened today, and for once I uttered a guilt free no. I don’t have any plans.  I could use the money.  However,  I am tired and I could use the time off.  And maybe I could make some plans.


Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, co-workers, ESL, hard work, work | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Chocolate for the Teacher


I might not have liked many of my teachers growing up.  I might not have wanted to become a teacher.  In fact, I might have expended a lot of energy trying to avoid it entirely.  The truth is, I am a teacher.  It is probably part of some cosmic karma like revenge, but I choose not to dwell on it too much.  Instead, I would like to share a little list with you.  I call it The things that make a teacher smile–and in this case, though it might apply to other teachers, it is firmly set in the ESL world:

  • students with their homework done and needed very little in the way of correction
  • students correctly using something you have taught them recently
  • students finally using something correctly that they had been noticeably struggling with
  • students using idioms, phrasal verbs, or slang correctly.
  • students with gifts of chocolate for the teacher

The last one might seem a bit strange, but today, a student gave me some chocolate from Japan.  While it wasn’t a green tea kitkat, and it wasn’t my favourite, it was still pretty good and I enjoyed it at the break time.  Should I have considered it a bribe?  I suppose that is a fair question.  Should I consider this Today’s Perfect Moment?  Absolutely.


Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, chocolate, ESL, gifts, Japan, Japanese, teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

…And Dreams Ensued


It is pretty early to declare Today’s Perfect Moment, but I had a moment early this morning which needs reflecting on.

Every morning, a little before six, my cat wakes me up and demands his breakfast. He can be quite insistent, going so far as to sniff my eyebrows and gently headbutt me.  While I can put him off for a while, he eventually becomes incredibly persistent and wary of any of my fakeout attempts.  I should explain that every morning includes holiday Mondays when I would rather be asleep.

This morning, after feeding him, I trudged back towards my bed, wondering if I would be able to get back asleep. Had this been a traditional Monday, I would have been up long before the cat and the prospect of work and commuting would have been looming.  Instead, I paused at the landing to peer out the window and listen.  Every surface in my line of sight had a sheen on it, reflecting the still on glow of street lights and the rising sun.  There was a gentle tap tap tap of raindrops on wood, asphalt, concrete, and steel.  Where it collided with the earth, there was barely a dull thud.

As I dropped onto my bed, memories of camping trips when rain bounced off the nylon tent came back to me. Memories of Japan’s rainy season tugged at my subconscious.  Memories of riding in the Epic Tour during an epic downpour brought a chuckle.  The memory of my friend Brian and I getting caught in a downpour with our valuable comic books suffering the brunt brought a moment of sadness.

With all of this, sleep soon came and dreams ensued.


Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, commuting, dreams, holidays, Mondays, sleep | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Zero to Hero, Cellar to Stellar

Being remiss lately in regards to this blog (negligent is such legally loaded word and is best left unused), I had better update it when I can. There certainly has been no shortage of Perfect Moments.

Last night, in fact, was a night that the Perfect Moments knew they were in competition and did a good job of one-upping themselves as the night progressed. Having had a bad start, I worried that there wasn’t going to be a Perfect Moment, so I started noting them early, without reflection, unconsciously trying to erase the poor beginning.

Let me explain

The Less Than Perfect Start

Getting off work early on Friday, meant I had a little time to explore. Rain seemed imminent, so I wanted to explore somewhere indoors.  I also did not want to do too much walking because my calf muscle still gets pretty stiff and painful after a few hundred metres.

Being heavily influenced by Lawrence Block’s anti-hero Keller, the stamp collecting hit man, I thought I would go to a stamp dealer just to see what this hobby is about. What I have seen online doesn’t give me a clear understanding of the hobby.  Being a hobby in decline (so they say) there aren’t a lot of places  to go and see anything up close.  I had lots of time before meeting my friend for drinks and food, so I researched a few places and set off in search of philatelic paradises.

The first was closed. I was a little disappointed, but I just decided to go to the other place on my list.  Sadly, my list did not include a phone number.  When I got to the second place, the rain began and I found the business had also closed for a vacation.  I had wrongly surmised that since I had to work the Friday of a long weekend, most other people would too.  Obviously I was wrong.

The First Perfect Moment



After the stamp debacle, I arrived about 40 minutes too early to meet my friend. As usual, I was carrying a book (a forgettable tale of drugs, biker gangs, and police informants), so I went in search of someplace to read.  I figured, I would find a Tim Hortons, get out of the rain, and read a few chapters.  As any Canadian will tell you, you’re rarely far from a location of the donut franchise.  Huddled under my slightly broken umbrella, fate intervened.

I passed what I instantly recognized as a Vietnamese cafeteria style restaurant. I had an inspiration to have some “white coffee with ice”, as I had done on my vacation.  Though only six-months gone, nostalgia hit me like a freight train.  I had no trouble waiting for my friend.  I should also mention there  was a discount because the restaurant/cafeteria was participating in Summerlicious.

The Second Perfect Moment


After meeting my friend, we decided to stick with the Asian theme and go to a place that served both Japanese and Korean food. It had been a while since I had sashimi, but after one bite, I knew I had been missing it; craving it, in fact.  It was so delicious that I vowed to myself that I would never again go that long between sashimi meals.

As you can see by the image I have provided, someone at the restaurant has been watching the Food Network a lot lately.  I cannot believe there is any other reason for me having to eat my raw fish out of a martini glass.  It is not exactly my idea of presentation.

The Third Perfect Moment

With a few beers in our stomachs, men need to go out and prove themselves. My friend being married precluded the female conquest competition–which, honestly,  neither one of us would have won had we gone that route.  Instead we chose to shoot pool upstairs at the Rivoli.  The Rivoli is a time honoured bar in Toronto that has pool tables upstairs.

Normally, despite the blustery talk of men and boys, drinking does not lead to great pool playing. It is a game of coordination and concentration, which isn’t facilitated by beer.  Luckily we hadn’t drunk very much and the little we had provided a bit of relaxation.IMG_20170804_211235941

No, the pool hall wasn’t the perfect moment. There were no Fast Eddy characters, all the attractive women came with dates, and although the bartender had an awesome voice (she does commercials she told me) and the music provided was, at times, awesome, it really wasn’t the atmosphere that did it.  The tables were a bit wonky, the cues lacked straightness, and there weren’t enough shelves to rest my beer on.

Instead, what did it was the shot of a lifetime. I hit the perfect two shot sinker.  You know the one I am talking about.  The first ball goes in like it was planned, the cue ball hits the second ball and it slowly, unbelievably, rolls into the pocket just as it seems like it is going to stop on the lip.  It’s like a movie, only it’s happening to you.

To Sum Up

Vietnamese iced coffee + sashimi + pool + friendship = Today’s Perfect Moment

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, coffee, ethnic food, food, playing pool, sashimi, sushi | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Swiss Ink


I notice that I have spent quite a bit of time writing about my students’ tattoos.  I guess this is because I am fascinated by them.  What I mean is that I am fascinated by the multicultural collection of tattoos my students sport as well as the art of tattooing in general.  I hope you don’t mind.

Yes, tattoos are very popular.  No gender or age group seem to be immune from the charms of tattoos.  I understand, or at least I think I understand, the appeal of tattoos.  I certainly understand the desire to define yourself with a unique image.

Perhaps the problem I have is that I am more verbal that visual.  I don’t think I could create a cool visual image that would represent me.  I could write about it, but I don’t think I could realize the image on paper.  I guess, ideally, I would write about it and then an artist would draw it for me….

As for the tattoo pictured above, it came from a new student of mine.  She is from Switzerland and chose this image because it was “cool” and because owls are “cool”.  I can’t really disagree with her.


Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, ESL, ink, students, tattoo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Follow up on the Bananas

I am sorry to bother you with some banality, but I feel that I must add more information to the whole banana imbroglio.***  Quinn, whose blog  I respect, wondered about the connection between the minions and bananas.

Here are some pictures of the stickers placed on the bananas and an illustration of what you are supposed to do with the stickers that came attached to the bunch of bananas.  Like she opined, the connection seems to be the colour yellow and a desire to dress up your bananas as if they were Barbie dolls.

Come to think of it, wasn’t that already done with Bananas in Pyjamas?

By the way, this isn’t Today’s Perfect Moment–how could it be? Expect that a little later.

***I realize that the nonsense with the bananas really isn’t an imbroglio, but when else will I have a chance to use this word.

Posted in advertising, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, banana, marketing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Advertising Goes Bananas


As new trends in advertising go, I suppose this is not horrible.  Showing commercials before movies at the movie theatre  is horrible, playing commercials before YouTube videos is horrible, and having flat screens showing commercials above urinals at bars is–okay, I have to stop there, because that is pure genius, though morally bankrupt.

This little add-on to my bananas is cute, and may even spur more banana eating among children.  Of course there are advertising stickers on the bananas already, but since I have already shown them to you in an earlier post, I decided not to do it again.  This time it is for the DVD release as opposed to the promotion of the film in the cinemas.

While my opposition to this is still large, I can already feel my sensitivity being numbed.  They might have to switch to apples to provoke a reaction from me next time.


Posted in advertising, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, banana | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments