If I Was In Toronto I Would’ve Slept In

southpark_warcraftWith all the excitement of buying a condo last week I found my routine was completely disrupted. This year I’ve been more diligent about getting my jiggly butt into the gym to try and keep myself from turning into a stereotypical fat computer guy. The last couple of weeks that’s all fallen apart. I’m starting to feel sluggish and lazy and it’s been tough dragging myself out of bed in the morning.

This morning I looked at the clock and then thought, “it’s 8:00 in Toronto right now. If I was in Toronto I wouldn’t have a problem getting up.” It’s only my inner voice resisting getting out of my warm bed at 5:00am. Finally I got up at 5:20  and expect to be at the gym soon. My body will protest and I’ll have that good sore muscle feeling that you get when you haven’t hit some weights in a while. I’m looking forward to having my routine back!

Back to Living

The past couple of weeks were consumed by house hunting. Now that the ink’s dry on the papers I’ve been able to get out and do cool stuff again.

Wednesday night, after I signed off on the mortgage papers, I made it to Reilly’s for the end of our rehearsal with the band. We’ve got a few songs worked out now and there’s a new one that we ran through that night. It’s sounding pretty damn good! Reilly and Shan can make nearly anything sound good though.

Thursday, after condo inspection, I went down to the Park Theater for the fifth installment of Pecha Kucha Night in Vancouver. I’d never heard of this event before and was attending because Reilly and Miranda said it’d be a good time. They were right! Pecha Kucha Night aims to bring together creative people who get to present on any topic of their choice. Each presenter is allowed to use 20 powerpoint slides and each slide is only shown for 20 seconds, which means each person gets 6 minutes and 40 seconds of time on stage.

It was pretty awesome! The highlight (for me) was Rex Weyler, who was one of the founders of Greenpeace back in the 70s. He had his original photos from his time in the 70’s displayed behind him while he talked about his experiences in the early days of Greenpeace. Several other people had interesting talks too. Architects, designers, photographers, and all sorts of other people were explaining different facets of our city and culture. I was inspired by the whole thing. Makes my little life seem pretty uneventful. haha.

Spent some quality time at the Queen’s Cross Pub in North Van on Friday night. Then Saturday I ended up at the Morrisey with a bunch of friends. Great bar the Morrisey. This morning we did the breakfast thing at Paul’s on Granville and then wandered down to English Bay with our music gear to do some playing on the beach. We had the odd person checking us out or taking pictures while we played. Our plan is to do a few of these busking type “shows” before we try and get on a stage. That way we won’t have the first time nervousness. That’s what we hope anyway.

The Deal is Sealed

My condo purchase closed on Friday when I removed the subjects from the offer. Deposit got dropped off, papers were all signed and I’m a condo owner now! The completion date is April 16th and I take possession on the 17th. Can’t wait!

The price was a bit lower than market (and lower than the bank’s appraised value) since I’ve got some painting to do before I move in. I’ve lined up a painter and there’s an entire week open for him to make things look good. We’ll be having a little moving in party on the 25th with anyone who doesn’t mind lending a hand moving my small pile of stuff.

Last week I had the home inspection done and the place was in pretty good shape save for it needing new paint. There is a small list of items I’ll want to attend to in the coming months, but nothing serious. Long term I expect I’ll be re-doing the kitchen area with new cupboards and countertops. It’s a small kitchen along the one wall so it won’t be too crazy to do. The other thing that’ll probably need to be replaced in the next year or two is the dishwasher. It’s the original unit (10 years old) and is starting to look like it’s days are numbered. So I’ll have to start putting a few bucks aside for that.

Now I’ve just gotta be patient for the next two weeks.

I’m a Real Grownup Now!

Reilly bought a new guitar so I, not to be outdone, went and bought a condo! Seriously though, I’ve been thinking about buying for the last couple of years. With the recent price drops and low interest rates I realized I wouldn’t find a better time to get into the market and so I started the hunt.

After two years of thinking, debating, and weighing my options, I’ve come up with a solid idea of what I want and where I want to live. I wanted something:

  1. Downtown (or close to downtown)
  2. In concrete (I’m a drummer!)
  3. Comes with a parking stall

A few other items I was looking for, but weren’t necessarily dealbreakers:

  1. Allows rentals (for flexibility in case I decide to move somewhere else)
  2. Big, well laid out kitchen
  3. In suite laundry
  4. Decent storage space

Two weeks ago I had arranged financing with a mortgage broker and got a recommendation for a realtor, but I still hadn’t hadn’t started looking. What was holding me back? I was contemplating how I would get into a place that would allow me to pursue drumming without having an angry swarm of neighbors form a lynch mob because of all the noise I was making.

On a Sunday night I stumbled across a listing in an artist live/work building in Gastown. Reilly and Miranda had lived in the building when they first moved to Vancouver and had run their high-end wedding photography business out of their suite. So I knew the building and saw that it would be a perfect place for me to live! It’s in downtown, is built entirely out of cement, and aimed at musicians, photographers, artisan manufacturers, or nearly any creative entrepreneur one could imagine.

I immediately got in touch with MJ Ankenman, the realtor that had been recommended to me, and she set up a tour of a few places in my preferred areas and price range. The first place was the artist live/work space in Gastown and, after seeing a number of other places, the idea of living in that particular building appealed to me more than any of the more traditional condos I’d seen.

What’s so special about this building? It was built about 10 years ago to house artists and creative professionals in a live/work environment. To attract that breed of owner the developer created a 7000 sq. ft. amenities building  to house a photography darkroom, woodworking shop, metalworking shop, pottery studio (with a kiln), a gym, and most importantly, soundproofed music rehearsal rooms! Now that I have access to all these cool activities I can imagine years of entertainment without having to resort to buying a TV.

The space I was looking at was a 578 sq. ft. loft that had a separate entrance to the street. It was a good little unit, but the seller had listed it considerably above what other units had sold for earlier this year and he wasn’t willing to budge on his asking price. If the price would have been right I probably would have purchased it but there was no way I was going over $300k for a unit of that size.

So MJ and I talked about our next steps. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else so we decided to put a “watch” on that building to have any new units immediately come to her attention so we could check them out. That night I got home from the St. Patricks Day celebrations at the Black Frog to find an excited email from MJ in  my inbox: “New Listing at The Edge!!!”

On the Thursday night, two days after her email, MJ and I found ourselves in this beautiful 759 sq. ft. loft. It had gorgeous view of Burrard Inlet, a wonderful little loft bedroom, and plenty of room on main floor to arrange things the way I wanted. There was a patio, a gas fireplace, and a gas range too!

We wrote up an offer that night and MJ presented it the next day. I went out to the WaaZuBee Cafe after work for Miranda’s birthday bash and excitedly told all my friends (and anyone who would listen) about the cool new place I found. Then MJ phoned to say the seller had countered. We decided, on MJ’s advice, to counter back and see if we could shave a little more off the price. A half hour later I got a call back from MJ who announced, “we have a deal!” A cheer erupted from our table in the restaurant and I nearly busted out a happy dance in celebration.

Now it’s time to get my financing in order, look over the strata minutes, strata financials, and all the other due diligence work that comes with buying a place. I’ll have an inspector in there this week and I’ll have to line up some painters to update the unit’s questionable color scheme. There was a tenant in there previously and I found the walls were pretty scuffed up and in need of a paint job. No real damage, just normal wear and tear you’d expect from a tenanted unit.

Happy dance!

House Hunting

A couple of weeks back I began my hunt for a place to buy in earnest. I’ve been spending the last couple of years thinking about what I want and now it’s time to find my awesome pad in downtown.

So far I’ve seen a batch of places, had one offer fall through, and am looking at another potential spot tonight. So it may take a while until something comes up that’s a good fit for my price range but I’m hopeful there’ll be a new home in the next few months.

I’ll keep everyone posted as things progress.

And you will smash your drums like the Trail of Dead…

Made a last-minute decision to go see …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead at Richards tonight. Last time I saw the band they played a bunch of their new sucky songs and the show wasn’t that good. So I was going to skip this one until Shanman emailed me to see if I wanted to check it out.

Damn good thing I did since the band rocked most of the stuff on their first few (brilliant!) albums. The crowd was fired up and there was a good-sized mosh pit in front. Jason, the guitarist/drummer, even commented that Vancouver always goes crazy at their shows.

The guys had two drummers who made the whole show thunder and at the end Jason tossed pieces of his kit around the stage. Then he went behind and started throwing guitar cases into the pile of drums. Finally the band let the last song end and they staggered offstage while their roadies tried to untangle the heap of equipment in the middle of the stage.

Now I’m going to sleep since I need to be up for house hunting tomorrow!

The Man In the Cardboard Box

I always get frosted when we lose the hour in the spring; however, I do enjoy having the sunlight in the evening again.

On my way home from work on Friday I got a call from Aaron who found himself with an extra ticket to The Watchmen film at Scotiabank. He even managed to get us into the theatre early so we could avoid the lineups and get good seats for the sold out show. Excellent movie! There were a couple of cheesy parts but overall I thouroughly enjoyed it.

Tonight I got together with the gang for an imprompteau jam at Reilly and Miranda’s followed by some pub food over at the Black Frog. What was really fun though was when we scooped a huge cardboard box in the lobby of the building. We carted the whole thing upstairs, set up all the studio lighting, and took tonnes of crazy photos involving said box.

Slumdog Millionaire

Last night the gang got together to check out Slumdog Millionaire, the Oscar-winning film about an Indian street urchin who competes in the country’s Who Wants To Be a Millionaire contest. Great film! I found it was a little bit of a fairy tale aspect to it but overall it was well done.

It’s interesting to see it after talking to my sister who was recently married in India. She told me that there are slums exactly as they’re depicted in the film. She also talked about being unable to wander around Mumbai alone since everyone feared for her safety if she were to do so.

I’m definitely thinking about going to India to check it out in the next couple of years. My sister and her husband are living in Dubai so I may head over to Dubai for a few days and then try to line up a G.A.P Adventures tour in India.

Speaking of India, the crew getting together for Indian food so I’m going to head out to join them.

Russell Malone

Last night I saw one of the most amazing jazz shows I’ve ever been to! It was held at the Christ Church Cathedral on Burrard which is a historic Anglican church, perfect for an intimate jazz show with two legendary guitarists.

Bill Frisell teamed up with Russell Malone for this show. Russell is most famous for playing guitar in Diana Krall’s band and stole last night’s show with his facial expressions and the funny stuff he said. When he was introducing one of the songs, Four in One by Thelonious Monk, he explained it was “more complicated than a mixed marriage in Mississippi!” He wasn’t kidding either. When they started that song Russell’s fingers started flying as fast as a hummingbird’s wings. I’ve never, ever heard anyone play that fast.

Bill and Russell have different styles of playing but the mix of the two sounded incredible. Especially since they didn’t limit themselves to typical jazz fare. Some bluesy material made an appearance and they’d spice it up with some improv in the middle. My favorite: near the end of one song Russell tossed in the Smoke on the Water riff by Deep Purple!