A few weeks ago as I was leaving the office I was stopped by a random guy who appeared to be waiting at the bottom of the stairs to our building. He asked me for directions to Thursday’s, a popular bar in downtown Montreal barely a minute’s walk away from where we were. The conversation that followed went like this:

“Yeah of course, I know Thursday’s. Just keep walking here along Crescent Street and it’s the second or third building on the other side of Maisonneuve, you can’t miss it”

“Merci beaucoup,” he exclaimed. “Hey I hear an accent there, are you from Britain?”

“No mate, I’m Australian.”

“Aaah Australian! Of course, I should have known. G’DAY MATE! How’s the kangaroos? Hey I love that sport you guys play in Australia, AFL?”

“Yep, Australian football, it’s pretty unique huh?”

“Yeah and I love how you guys do the Haka before each game!”

Before I had the chance to correct him on either the nationality or code of football, he bent over at the knees, punched his chest, grunted “Ka mate, ka mate!” and gave me his own personal interpretation of the famous Maori war cry right there on the Crescent Street sidewalk. I couldn’t believe how quickly our conversation had escalated!

He finished his Haka demonstration and went on to ask if I’d like to see a poem he wrote. He handed me a sheet of paper with a piece he’d penned called “The Ocean of Wolves”. And with that, he wished me a good night before heading off up the street – the total opposite direction to Thursday’s.

The Ocean Of Wolves

So, Alexandre B. A. Lebel of Montreal: if you ever happen to Google your own name and stumble upon this post, please know that I have your poem pinned up at my desk at work. It always makes me smile to glance over it and recall the brief but hilarious encounter we had on the street that evening. I hope you made it to Thursday’s eventually. Thanks for the laugh!


Almost immediately after I scored my job in Toronto in October last year, I went straight onto Craigslist to look for a shared apartment to live in. Prior to that I surfed a handful of hostels and cheap hotels around various parts of the city for two weeks, waiting on that elusive moment where I secured a local income and could afford to pay rent. I was super keen on finding somewhere to live in this exciting new city and couldn’t wait to finally have my own private room, with access to a half decent kitchen.

And indeed I found somewhere. Surprisingly quickly. I responded to one ad, viewed the room that evening, and moved in the following day. Now, it wasn’t the nicest apartment in the world – I could tell from the outset that it was to be the overall dodgiest dwelling I’ve ever resided in. But I couldn’t fault its location on the outskirts of the beautiful Kensington Market, not to mention a bunch of awesome flatmates who quickly became good friends, and my comfortable little room which kept me hell warm during the frosty winter months. Aside from our shifty landlord and the feeble wifi network that was often unusable for weeks at a time, I couldn’t really complain.


Evicted 06
A pic of my little unit not long after I moved in, which I shared with two other people. Throughout the top floor & the basement of the building there were 20+ other units – some were shared like this one, others were single rooms.


Everything was going more or less ok at my pad on Dundas West & Augusta until Tuesday last week.

I was on my way out for the evening to see a Pete Murray gig, when I was greeted at the front door by around 15 people all looking very serious and official. There were a few from the fire department, a few from the council and a few from the Red Cross. A lady introduced herself and in no uncertain terms told me the city had no choice but to close down the building due to safety concerns. I was instructed to go back upstairs, pack myself a change of clothes and find a friend to stay with. If I didn’t have a friend to stay with, I could talk to the Red Cross and they’d be able to put me up for the night at a community centre somewhere. I was told the building would be open the following day between 10am and 4pm with the fire department in attendance, and everyone who lived here had those hours only to pack their stuff and get out.


Everything changed in that moment.

One second, you think you’re piecing your life together, then the next, your whole apartment gets evicted immediately & without notice and you realise you’re homeless.


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Much confusion on Dundas St West on the eve of the eviction


Evicted 02
The eviction notice posted on the front door


I don’t know exactly how many people lived there, but at a guess I would say at least 40 of us lost our home that night.

I studied the eviction notice and found the building severely failed an inspection, which happened a couple of days beforehand:

1. The building was not designed or approved to be used as a rooming house
2. Fire safety systems in accordance with Division B Section 9.3 are not in place. Equipment such as a fire alarm system, emergency lighting and exit signs have not been installed in accordance with the Ontario Fire Code.
3. The means of egress for occupants of the basement is an exit that is through the main floor retail store. This is neither a suitable nor an approved exit to allow occupants to quickly evacuate the building
4. There were numerous uses of temporary wiring (i.e. inappropriate use of extension cords) throughout the building
5. Cooking is being performed in areas not designed for food preparation on hot plates in several areas of the building
6. The electrical panel for the building has not been appropriately wired resulting in a potential electrical fire risk situation
7. The furnace rooms in basement and second floor lack appropriate fire separation as per the Ontario Fire Code
8. There are unrated storage rooms (containing textile rolls) and sleeping rooms within the corridors that are lacking the required fire separations as per the Ontario Fire Code
9. Lacking approved fire safety plan and posted emergency procedures

In other words: if there had been a fire, we all would have died.

I heard from one of the tenants who lived in the basement that the conditions downstairs were extremely cramped & unsafe – and he shared the space with 24 other people. I had no idea about that.

As painful as it was for everyone, it was clearly for the best that the place got shut down before tragedy struck.


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9 reasons for eviction


Thankfully, a very kind friend was able to put me up at her house that night. I probably would have slept in a park if it wasn’t for that.

I returned to the apartment the next morning. The Red Cross (who did an AMAZING job at helping us all, by the way) had found emergency accommodation for up to 2 weeks for anyone who needed it at a hotel near the airport in Mississauga, around 30km east of Toronto. But I can tell you this much: if I had to live in Mississauga, I would have just headed straight to the airport and caught the next plane back to Australia. It wasn’t an option.

By a stroke of good fortune, I found out through a friend about a summer hostel in the city that offered single rooms at a monthly rate. I booked a room straight away and spent the day moving my gear across on the tram into this building where I remain today. It’s far from ideal, but it’ll do for now. I have accommodation sorted for August thanks to another kind friend who is letting me rent her room while she’s away. I have no idea what will eventuate come September.


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One of the many reasons the building was closed: these tiny rooms in a loft were rented out at a cheap rate. The ceiling was no more than a metre above the floor and the rooms held little more than a mattress.


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This was the last time I saw my room before I left


So here I am, nearly 10 months into my Canadian adventure, homeless, broke, single, about to turn 30 and feeling generally dejected and infuriated towards my ex-landlord for putting so many people in this situation. This is not quite what I had in mind.

But you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. Life throws these little pieces of shit at you every now & then but it really does make you appreciate the happy times even more, when they eventually come around again.

To everyone I’ve met and made friends with since I arrived (especially you hilariously beautiful people I work with), you’re the reason I’m still here. I bloody love you guys.

You may have evicted me from my house, Canada, but not yet from your country. Just you watch me turn this the hell around.

Earlier this afternoon I was standing on a street corner in Kensington, looking up directions on Google Maps to a cafe a friend had recommended to me.

I noticed two rather attractive ladies walking towards me, chatting with each other about the whereabouts of a crystal shop in the area. They too had a map open on their phone trying to find where it was. As it happened, I knew precisely where the crystal shop was, as I’d visited only a week ago to browse through their impressive shelves of gems & minerals and to sample a cup of their medicinal Chaga Mushroom tea. I asked the girls as they passed me, “Are you looking for crystals?”

They both stopped, gave me a quick once-over with a suspicious look in their eyes and stuttered “ahh… no, thank you” before they scooted off in a hurry.

Puzzled by their dismissal, I overheard one of the girls remark to the other a little further up the road, “Did he think we wanted crystal meth?”

It’s good to know I can pass for a local drug dealer!

House Of Energy, Kensington Market
House Of Energy, Kensington Market

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always put my full faith into everything I’ve wanted to accomplish.

It’s strange to explain, but whenever a new goal or ambition enters my heart, I have this deep knowing that the universe will obligingly set everything in place to allow me to fulfil this dream, and that nobody and nothing will hinder me from reaching my destination.

I often notice little ‘synchronicities’ around me when I have one of these goals in focus.

They’re like perfect signs from an external force, greater than I could ever imagine. They encourage me to pursue this path I’m on.

I’ve never had reason to believe I won’t reach the place I want to be.

I know with all my soul that I’ll get there.

And so it has occurred three times so far along this journey of life that I’ve put my full assurance into a particular path being the right one for me to follow.

Each of those three times, there was never a plan B.

There was never a thought put into what might occur if it doesn’t work out.

There was never a hint of doubt, contention, or fear.

There was only ever 100% faith that this path is the right one for me.

Each of those three times, I was just within reach of my destination.

I could see it, I could taste it, I could feel it.

Until reality stepped in the way and obliterated every last one of my hopes and dreams.

It hurts.

It really fucking hurts.

Yet I still go on and repeat the same faithful way of feeling, time and time again.

* * *

Many years ago, I was told that I should give up on faith.

Because with faith comes heartbreak.

With faith comes pain.

With faith comes frustration.

With faith comes inevitable failure.

Give up on faith, and you remain free from hurt.

Success comes as a bonus if you have no expectation.

So just give up.

But you know what I say to that?


* * *

I will never give up on faith.

For without faith, there is no hope.

Without faith, there is no excitement in what is next to come.

Without faith, there is no love.

Without faith, there is no life.

Faith makes me stronger, it’s shaped my life and it makes me who I am.

It’s opened up new opportunities and has taken me to places I may never have otherwise considered.

Despite the pain in my heart from the times I’ve been let down, faith has had an exponential effect on me and I feel nothing but joy and gratitude for coming to this realisation.

It’s an incredible thing to feel.

I pledge that everything I put my heart into from this moment onwards will be accomplished with the utmost of faith.

And I encourage you to do the same.

Know that there is no such thing as failure.

And have faith.

The day my heart melted
It was a Sunday
The sky was a perfect crystal blue
And my eyes caught your smile for the first time

We climbed
Hundreds of stairs we climbed to the top
It’s only from the top that you can fall
And boy, did I fall

Time and distance have this strange way of augmenting reality
I didn’t understand what reality entailed
Until this day

I realised I had only one chance
One single chance in my whole entire life
To ask you the question:

“Is it ok for me to have faith and hold onto this dream, or is it best to let it go and move on?”

I didn’t need to ask to find the answer

As I sit alone in this cold room, all hope of ever feeling those three words has drained from me

Wherever life takes you, please just know there’s somebody out there who does.


In the distance I hear firecrackers.

Ever so faintly. Above the low-frequency hum of the nighttime metropolis. Above the fresh winter breeze forced to filter through two buildings. Above the occasional friction of rubber over road or air over aluminium. Above the gentle murmur emanating from a block or two away; the happy neighbourhood couple just about ready to exchange their daily ritual for a few short hours of rest.

Above all this, in the distance, the sizzling and popping of the firecrackers remain. Eventually they cease, a spectacle to a select few, yet a mere pinprick to most within their audible radius.


Did I see the firecrackers?


Will I see the crackers in the future should they fire up again?

Only if I open the fucking window and take a look outside.


For the past 12 months that we’ve been living in our apartment we’ve been getting regular mail addressed to some guy called Dr Macdonald.

Initially we did the noble thing by crossing out our address and returning them back to the sender, but the letters have just kept on coming and coming, at least once a week without fail. Today my housemate told me he’s gotten sick of returning them so he now makes a point of opening & reading them all before throwing them out!

This reminded me of a similar thing that happened when I lived in London last year. I was living with an American guy who had been in the UK for about 8 years, then one day out of the blue he decided he was going to return to the States. Within two weeks he’d sold everything he owned, packed his bags and was gone. Over the following few months we’d constantly receive mail addressed to him which wouldn’t seem to stop, despite us returning them back, until eventually curiosity got the better of me and I decided to open one of the letters.

I found that it was a final notice from the debt collectors, telling him to cough up the £10,000 he owed the banks, or else see them in court.

Which begs the question… have you ever read someone elses mail and discovered something interesting?

Leave a comment and let me know if you have!

I feel so excited after watching the documentary Heartbreak Science on SBS. For so long I’ve felt within me that the heart is so much more than what it’s made out to be. For example, I’ve always felt that in addition to the brain, it possesses and processes emotional intelligence, and that it acts as one of the many links between the human body and what we know as the “soul.”  Finally, it looks as though the scientific community are beginning to realise this as well.

One of the guys they interviewed for this documentary received a heart transplant recently, and after the surgery he found he had a desire and ability to write truly heartfelt poetry, dedicating his words of inspiration to all of his loved ones. This is not something he’d ever had the inkling to do in the past. After some time, he met with the family of the man whose heart was donated, and he made the incredible discovery that during his lifetime, this man was a budding young amateur poet.  I had read about cellular memory in detail in the past (thanks to this article from the April/May 2005 edition of Nexus Magazine) but it was so great to be able to see and hear the passion in the voice of this transplant recipient telling his story, as opposed to merely reading about it in black and white.

Another interesting finding: in a scientific experiment detailed in the documentary, they hooked a guy up to electrodes to measure the response from his brain and heart. They then showed him a variety of images on a screen that were designed to bring out intense positive or negative emotions, ranging from a cute kitten, to an image of a gun being pointed directly towards him. The findings of this experiment revealed that the heart – not the brain – would initially register the upcoming emotion, a split second before the image was displayed on the screen. It was suggested that the heart is therefore tuned into a higher, spiritual level of consciousness and may explain phenomena such as ESP, and why many of us feel strong gut instincts.

Of course I’m not a scientist so I can’t really comment any more on what all this means from a scientific perspective. But I really want to shout with joy that FINALLY this kind of material is being brought into the mindframe (or should I say, heartframe?) of the general public. I mean, there was even talk that this kinda stuff can help prove that life does indeed go on, once this physical life ends. All of this I feel within my heart is true anyway, but it really makes me smile to know that these so-called “theories” are being researched and found to have merit.

I am genuinely excited about what the future holds in regard to the emotional and spiritual capabilities of the heart. The word “Love” has never felt so true to me before! 😀

 The other day I stopped by the cashpoint at Thornton Heath, to withdraw a bit of spending money to see through the weekend. I put my card in, keyed in my PIN, pressed the button that said “£30”, took my card out of the machine… and walked off without the bloody cash! I didn’t even realise until about half an hour later when I went to pay for something and my wallet was empty. I felt like such an idiot!

Skip forward to today. I decided to go for a walk to Croydon to get out of the house, and before too long my thoughts progressed to my absent-mindedness at the cashpoint the other day. 30 quid was a fair amount of money to let go of, but hey, it did teach me a lesson, and I did find comfort in knowing I would have made the day of the next person to use the cashpoint.

Whilst deliberating the hidden meaning behind my lost money experience, as one does when one is alone and has nothing better to do or think about, I noticed two girls walking towards me. As they drew near, I saw what looked like a folded brochure slip out of one of the girls hands, unnoticed, and onto the ground. We walked past each other without acknowledgement, and I inquisitively approached the dropped article to see what it was. It was £15.

Yes, I did give it back, and the girl was very thankful and surprised that she ever saw the money again, given that we were in an area like Croydon! But what are the chances of that? To have lost money, then to be thinking about the experience a few days later, and at exactly the same time to witness someone else lose money?

I feel I’m becoming Synchronicity Central. Stay tuned for more as they happen. And go put an entry into the lotto too 😉