Monthly Archives: December 2015


New year 2015 wallpaper grunge effect on black.


Years, weeks and days do not exist, but we pretend they do for the sake of convenience.   How hard it would be to know when to meet if you said to someone, “Let’s meet next now.”  What about the doctor’s receptionist saying, “Your next appointment is now.”  “Now?” you ask.  “No, not now,” says the receptionist.  “Now.”   But I digress.

The past year went better than I expected.  I dug myself out of a black hole, and caught up on my income taxes.  I grew more confident and worry less about what other people think.  I let go of my perfectionism and developed a positive attitude towards mistakes.  Mistakes are learning opportunities and not the horrible things I used to think they were.  Some days, during 2015, I forgot how happy I was and how good things were.

As for 2016?  I have made no New Years’ Revolutions as my daughter used to call them.  I feel no need to because I love the way my life is going — perfectly imperfect!  I see how I am growing spiritually, emotionally and physically which makes my clothes a tighter fit.






How easy it is to dismiss the people who work for the government as stupid.  I have done so, but know it is not true.  There is a method to their stupidity.

In this blog on October 4, 2015, I mentioned how I filed twelve years of income taxes starting in the Spring and finishing in the Fall.   (

The only problem was that I could not find any tax forms, tax guides and tax papers for 2008.  I had this information for every year except 2008.  Where was my tax information for 2008?  Did ISIS take it?

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) told me to average amounts between 2007 and 2009, and use the information they had on file about my income for 2008 and the tax deducted.  I had to print off tax forms for 2008 from the CRA’s website.

When I sent in my 2008 tax return, I included a letter clearly explaining how 2008 was the only year, of the twelve, that I had lost all my tax information.  I also stated that I have not owned a car since 1995 and have relied on public transit every year since then by buying monthly passes.  I  explained how I had contacted the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and found out that a monthly pass, for 2008, was $109.  I claimed $1308.00 (12 X 109.00) as a deduction.

In October, the Preassessment Review Section, of the CRA, sent a letter requesting public transit receipts for 2007 and 2008.

What a coincidence!  The government owes me a large refund for 2007, and more so for 2008.  The CRA wants receipts for those years only?  Hmmm . . .

I sent in the receipts for 2007 along with a letter clearly stating how all information for 2008 was lost.  I repeated how I have used public transit since 1995, and continue to do so now.  How reasonable to assume that I used public transit in 2008.

The Preassessment Review Section sent me a letter in December:

“We have adjusted your 2008 claim for the public transit amount from $1308 to $0.00 for the following reason:   You did not provide the documentation we requested.”

Are they that stupid?  The answer is, “No, they are not.”

The Preassessment Review Section has to justify its existence by assessing claims and disallowing them thereby eliminating or reducing tax refunds.  Why should they work hard when they get paid the same if they work easy?

I suspect a hard-working CRA employee thought, “This will be easy!  He says he has no tax information for 2008.  We will send him a letter requesting it.  When he can’t produce it, we will disallow his claim, reduce his tax refund and make Canada a better place.”






What’s with me attracting nutbars?  Is it my new aftershave lotion called Padded Cell?

Yesterday at 6:30 p.m., I got off the front doors of the Faywood 104 bus which had stopped on Dufferin Street south of Finch Avenue West.  At the same time a short pudgy man, wearing all black clothing and big black sunglasses, got off at the back door.  (The sun had set at 4:40 p.m.)

The man started shouting at me, “FUCK OFF!  FUCK OFF!  FUCK OFF!  FUCK OFF!

“What did I do?” I asked

“FUCK OFF!  FUCK OFF!  FUCK OFF!” he replied while lunging at me.

Being a person who does not believe in violence, and a coward as well, I moved away from him.  I wanted to cross to the west side of Dufferin, to get to where I was going, but the red traffic light stopped me.

Mr. Roly Poly kept screaming, “FUCK OFF!  FUCK OFF!  FUCK OFF!  FUCK OFF! . . . ”

Were these the only two words he knew?

“Yes, sir!  I’m fucking off, sir, as soon as the light changes, sir!”  I said.

This was not good enough for Mr. Roly Poly.  He lunged at me several times violently screaming the only two words he knew.  No one has ever expressed such violence towards me in shouting only two words.  He wanted to kill me.  The red light took forever to change.  Perhaps the higher road should have been to keep my mouth shut, but I felt the need to strike back.  I blew him a raspberry.

He charged at me!  The light changed and I crossed the road—quickly I might add.  He remained on the east side of Dufferin shouting his two-word song.  I felt safe on the other side of Dufferin and blew him another raspberry.  He charged at me, by trying to cross Dufferin, but the traffic stopped him.  He gave up and started walking north.

I made a mental note to stop using Padded Cell aftershave.


Gold bars

I know how the world works.  The only thing that matters is money.

I am the same the person whether I have money, but not to other people.  When I have money, people call me Mr. Johnston.  When I don’t have money, people call me Gary.

Lately, people have called me Gary.  You never know.  Good Fortune could smile upon me and I go back to being Mr. Johnston.

On November 17, I was forced to open a bank account at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) when I tried to pay a tax bill.  CIBC would not accept cash for a bill payment because of new government regulations on money laundering.  “We need to know who is giving us money,” said the teller.  I opened an account to pay the bill.

My credit rating is somewhere between a mud puddle and a dung beetle.  With no corporate donations, sponsorship or government grants, my credit rating took a nosedive.

Because of my credit rating, CIBC  holds all deposits into my account for four business days.  Whether I deposit five dollars or five hundred dollars, I cannot access any funds for four days.

Coincidentally, I opened an account with President’s Choice Financial  (PC Financial) at the same time I was forced to open the CIBC account.  CIBC owns PC Financial.  With my poor credit rating, PC Financial gave me instant access to the first $500.00, and holds anything above that for three business days.  PC Financial had sent me a letter about my access, and I showed the letter to the CIBC  staff.

“We have nothing to do with President’s Choice Financial,” they said.

“But CIBC owns PC Financial,” I said.

“Yes, but we have nothing to do with them,”  they said.

“I have to use CIBC bank machines to get access to my PC Financial bank accounts.”

“Yes, but we have nothing to do with them.”

“But a CIBC employee accessed the PC Financial database, from his CIBC computer, to verify my name and address when he opened the CIBC account for me.”

“Yes, but we have nothing to do with PC Financial.”

Not having immediate access to the money in my CIBC account does not affect me.  I have all the access I need through my PC Financial accounts.

If I went to the CIBC with a million dollars and told them that I would only deposit it if they removed the hold from my account, then CIBC would say, “No problem, Mr. Johnston.  How much access would you like?”

That is how the world works.






Here’s another true story I made up because it happened to me.

I sat down at the end of a row of computers at the library.  A middle-aged woman sat to my left.  She looked normal and attractive from the side.  But when she turned towards me and spoke, I knew she was missing some keys on her keyboard.

“Are you a bad people?” she asked.

“Uh-er-uh-no, I don’t think so,” I said.

“You look like a bad people,” she said

“I don’t think I am.”

“But you look like a bad people.  It’s not good to sit beside a bad people.”

She got up and walked away.

Not only was she missing keys from her keyboard, but her hard drive was orbiting some planet in another galaxy.

Was it my clothing that made me look like “a bad people”?  I was wearing a blue denim shirt and blue jeans.  Did she see prison blues?

Was it my skin color?  Does my dark skin make me look bad?

“Does it matter?” asked a voice in my head.  “The woman is obviously irrational.  Why waste your time trying to find a rational reason for her irrational behavior?”

“You’re right,” I said to the voice in my head.  “Good advice.”

“I’ve got more advice,” said the voice in my head.

“What?” I asked.

“Never sit beside bad people.”



Life would get better when I could eat with a fork instead of a spoon.  The grownups ate with a fork.  My big sister ate with a fork.  Why couldn’t I eat with a fork?

“You’re too young to use a fork,” said my Mommy.  “Wait until you get older.”

And then I got older.  And then I got to use a fork.  Life got better for an instant, and then “the better” was gone.

Life would get better when I could use a pen.  The Grade Three-ers used a pen, but Grade Two-ers, like me, had to use a pencil.

And then I passed from Grade Two to Grade Three and used a pen.  Life got better for an instant, and then “the better” was gone.

I thought life would get better when I finished school; I thought life would get better when I got a job; I thought life would get better when I had my place and lived alone; I thought life would get better when I left my place and married; I thought life would get better when I separated and lived alone again.  But “the better”  always lasted an instant.  What has to happen to make “the better” last?  A visit from Mr. Godot?




Thank God I don’t have to go to church!  What a boring time I had every Sunday at Davenport-Perth United Church.  Sunday school wasn’t bad.  I looked forward to it.  I got to sit beside Laurie Vavaida!  Besides the bliss of sitting beside Laurie Vavaida, the only other thing I remember about Sunday school was learning Psalm 23.  “The Lord is my shepherd,  I shall not want—except at Christmastime.  Then I want everything!”  I think that’s how it goes.

I was too shy to tell Laurie Vavaida that I loved her.  I just glowed every Sunday sitting beside her in Sunday school.

Church destroyed any glow I had after sitting beside Laurie Vavaida.

Sit down.  Stand up.  Sing a hymn.  Bla bla bla.  Sit down.  Stand up.  Sing a hymn.  Bla bla bla.   Sit down.  Stand up.  Sing a hymn.  Bla bla bla.  Then the time came when we had to sit down for a long time while the minister talked and talked and talked.  I knew the end was near after the minister stopped talking and passed the collection plate.  I always wanted to take money out, but didn’t because I knew God was watching.  After collection, it was one more sit down, stand up, sing a hymn, bla bla bla.  And then?  And then out the door!

And church was always too hot.  It did not matter what the season, church was too hot.  Why did they keep it so hot?  Isn’t church supposed to remind you of Heaven and not the other place?

I had to go to church after Sunday school because Mommy and Daddy made me and my brother and sisters go.  Mommy and Daddy only went to church at Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving.  They never went on Sundays.  Why would the parents of four children want to be alone in the house every Sunday morning for several hours?

“When you get older,” said my father, “then you can decide whether you want to go to church.”

Now I am older.  No more boring church!

Will not attending church mean that I will go to that other place when I die?  Perhaps, but it doesn’t matter.  Whether I go to Heaven or that other place, I will see someone I know.  Unfamiliar places are always easier to be in when you see people you know.  Wherever I go, after I die, maybe I’ll get to sit beside Laurie Vavaida forever and ever.  Amen.




Alain de Botton’s quote came to mind as I listened to my former workmate, the other day, criticize me and others for our careers in the arts.  Although I made light of what he said, and did not allow it to upset me, I felt sorry for him.  He needs to criticize others to make himself feel good.  Was he a failed artist and compensates for his failure by putting down other artists?  Or was he envious of the courage it takes to leave a secure job for an insecure career in the arts?  Who knows?

Like every other human being, my workmate started out as a child.  He was free, creative and playful.  He was in touch with his feelings.  And then society programmed him to think that he wasn’t good enough; that his feelings were signs of weakness; that he knew nothing because authority figures outside of him had all the answers.  What happened to him, happens to all of us.  But some of us undo the damage society caused.

I used to have a need to belittle others.  This need faded as I grew to feel better about myself.  The better I feel about myself, the less I allow other people’s perceptions to bother me.  I see people who criticize me as wounded children doing their best to cope because they are not convinced of their own standing.