Lesson 15: Task 1: Where do I live?

Note to my readers: this and the other “Lesson 15” posts are part of a school project that required me to post my test answers to an online blog.  If you want to know more about this, please check my article: “What are the lesson 15 posts?”

Note to my teacher, I copied the Key Question into this article, as a frame of reference to give context to my answer.  If this somehow violates a policy on ILC copyright, please notify me and I will delete the Key Question excerpt from this post. 


For your first blog entry, you will be using data from the activity you completed in Lesson 11, called “My community’s demographic profile.”  You must title this blog post “Lesson 15: Task 1: Where do I live?”  In this blog entry, you will write an essay covering the questions and answers from the document you filled out earlier.  YOu can incorporate test, graphics, audio and video.  Be sure to include some visuals and photographs of your community.

[Answer begins below]

I live in Toronto, Canada, on the corner of Gerrard and Coxwell.  This intersection is the east end of a neighbourhood called Little India, which I have lived in for years and–therefore–is the community that I will be writing about.  Because my family does not drive, we have depended on the local businesses during all of our time here.  Furthermore, two of my childhood friends’ families own or have owned storefronts in the India Bazaar.  One of those friends’ stores appeared in one of the newspaper articles I cited for this post, and their father was interviewed.  Because I spent many formative years here, Little India is My Community.

ward 32

Ward 32 which encompasses my neighbourhood of Little India


I compiled both the demographics of Little India, and those of Toronto at large.  This is because the city is interconnected, and communities do not exist as isolated bubbles.  In fact, the populations of Mississauga, Brampton and other districts of the GTA have had a significant effect on my community, in ways that I will explain later in this post.  Many of the statistics on gender and age also apply to Little India, which have not been reported to be out of the ordinary.


Toronto’s population is increasing [2], having surpassed Chicago in 2013 [4], making it the fourth-largest city in North America [after Mexico City, New York and Los Angeles] [4].  Furthermore, between 2005 and 2015 Toronto’s population had increased by 17% [2].  Gender statistics are surprisingly uneven, as women outnumber men 52% to 48% [1].  In other words: there are 92 Toronto men for every 100 Toronto women [5].


Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world [2], with around 45% of its population being foreign-born [8] [9].  The city is part of what is called the Greater Toronto Area [GTA], which includes several neighbouring towns and suburbs.  These districts of the GTA include–but are not limited to–Mississauga, Brampton, Markham, Scarborough, Vaughn and Richmond Hill.  The population of the GTA is 6,625,695 people as of 2015.  Toronto proper’s population is 2,615,060 people, also as of 2015 [2].  Racially and ethnically speaking, Toronto’s demographics are very mixed, with several distinct ethnic, national and racial groups being represented in the population [1].  In my community, the most prominent of all racial groups are white Caucasians [6] [11] [12], which includes myself.  110,595 people live in a 3 kilometre radius around Little India, of which 5,110 are of South Asian heritage [12].

population by age 2011

Ward 32’s population compared to the rest of Toronto


A portion of Little India–centered around Woodbine Ave–is part of Ward 32 according to the city of Toronto’s 2011 census [5].  48.7% of Ward 32’s residents live in houses, 46.2% live in apartment buildings of any size, and 5.1% live in townhouses.  The ward’s population increased by 2.7% in the years between 2006 and 2011, recovering from a 6.4% decrease experienced between 2001 and 2006 [6].

Naaz Theatre

image courtesy of leslievillehistory.com [15]

Little India has been changing since the time it was first formed, in the 1970’s.  In 1972, Gian Naz opened up the Naaz theatre, on the corner of Ashdale and Gerrard.  There, it became the first cinema in Canada to showcase Bollywood films.  People came from all over the city–and even as far as Naigara and Montreal–to see the movies from their country of origin, something that many South Asians had grown nostalgic for.  Unfortunately, the theatre closed in 1985–due to competition with video rentals–but by that time a thriving East Indian community had formed in the theatre’s neighbourhood, one with still stands to this day [6] [8] [10] [13].

old theatre

The location of the former Naaz Theatre as it stands today


Now, in the 2010s, my community is undergoing another shift, both economically and culturally.  While it was once the only South Asian community in the GTA, the Gerrard Indian Bazaar is now facing competition from similar ethnic neighbourhoods in Brampton, Scarborough and Mississauga [6] [12] [13] [14].  For people living in these far-off parts of the GTA, they no longer need to travel to Gerrard Street to find Indian food, clothing and media, because these goods are now available in stores close to their homes [6] [12] [13].  This has lead to difficulty for the remaining business owners, who are having to adapt to a harsher financial climate.


Some stores have managed to stay in business while others have closed


In recent years, the neighbourhood has been shifting from being traditionally South Asian to more culturally mixed [6].  This can be seen in the younger generation of Indian store-owning families, who are more interested in finding culturally-neutral career paths [8].  One of the biggest factors for this change, is how thriving South Asian communities have formed in the nearby towns of Brampton and Mississauga [6] [13], to the point that people are moving there from Little India.

For much of the 2010s, Little India’s shops–both South Asian and non-South Asian–have suffered from a depleting clientelle [12], to the point that there are multiple abandoned storefronts in the area [6] [12] [13] [14].  Furthermore, the Toronto government has been giving tax rebates to store owners around the city.  While this sounds good on paper, in reality, 50% of the people who received rebates owned abandoned stores.  This system rewarded people for owning empty properties [6].  It has gotten to the point that business owners are unable to hire clerks to watch the store, because if they did, the store would not be making any profit on a day-to-day basis [14].  Winter is harsh for business, as not many people choose to walk on the street during the cold, and Christmas shopping is typically done elsewhere [14].

However, there is a silver lining.  Real estate has risen in recent years [14], largely because of the Bazaar’s proximity to downtown Toronto [12].  Also, Mayor John Tory–in a plan outlined in November of 2016–has discussed the issue about tax rebates and said he will support tax reform that produces extra revenue [6].  Even better, people are working together to improve the neighbourhood.  Little India is a Business Improvement Area [BIA], and therefore has its very own BIA board.  The board has spent $120,000 on beautifying the area with better lighting, new signage, and general landscaping [12].  The BIA has laid out plans regarding the annual South Asian festival, hoping that by placing multiple stages throughout the neighbourhood, they can allow as many businesses as possible to take advantage of the festival goers [6].

Many of the stores in my community have survived, some are even starting to thrive.  In fact, new ones are opening up, in spite of the shifting times.  Most of these stores sell non-South Asian goods [11], and include a toy store, cafes, pet care shops and an art gallery [12] [14].  These new cafes and stores have brought increased clientele to Little India, which the BIA hopes will restore the neighbourhood [12].

However, this does not mean that Little India will lose its South asian heritage, as younger store owners innovate upon their wares.  According to Toronto’s Asian cultural magazine, The Origami, “The next generation, it seems may help rejuvenate the strip, as they decide to approach things differently” [14].   Stores are finding a balance between keeping much of its traditional culture–one of the Bazaar’s key attractions–and modernizing it for a younger South Asian audience [8].


In my community, my neighbours have hope that an increasing mixture between South Asian and Western culture will increase business to what it once was, while making the area truly Canadian and multicultural [6] [12] [14].



1, Toronto Population 2017, [2017], World Population Review, retrieved 2017, Dec 12th, https://worldpopulationreview.com/world-cities/toronto-population/#popClock


2, Toronto Population 2017, [2017], Country Digest, retrieved 2017, Dec 12th, https://countrydigest.org/toronto-population


3, 2016 Census Background Age and Sex; Type of Dwelling, [2017, May 4th], Toronto.ca, retrieved 2018, March 9th, https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/96d7-2016-Census-Backgrounder-Age-Sex-Dwelling-Type.pdf


4, Toronto Surpasses Chicago in Population, [2013, March 6th], NBC Chicago, retrieved 2017, Dec 13th, https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Toronto-Surpasses-Chicago-in-Population-195667131.html


5, 2011 Census: Age and Sex Counts, [2011], Toronto.ca, retrieved 2018, March 9th, https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/974e-2011-Census-Backgrounder-Age-Gender.pdf

6, Sharma, N., Toronto’s Little India is Undergoing an Urban Transition with the Vision To Preserve Its Identity, [2017, June 5th], Torontoist, retrieved 2018, Feb 1st, https://torontoist.com/2017/06/torontos-little-india-undergoing-urban-transition-vision-preserve-identity/


7, City of Toronto Ward Profiles 2011 Census Ward 32 — Beaches-East York, [2011], Toronto City Planning Strategic Initiatives, Policy & Analysis, retrieved 2018, Feb 1st, https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/9791-City-Planning-Ward-32-Profile-2011.pdf


8, Silva, M. D., Change is coming to Toronto’s Little India, [2017, June 26th], NOW, retrieved 2018, Feb 1st, https://nowtoronto.com/movies/tvo-documentary-little-india-village-of-dreams-spotlights-gerrard-india-bazaar/


9, Sanderson, V., Little India grows and matures atop neighbourhood’s deep root, [2014, Dec 26th], The Toronto Star, retrieved 2018, Feb 1st, https://www.thestar.com/life/homes/2014/12/26/little_india_grows_and_matures_atop_neighbourhoods_deep_roots.html


10, Plummer, K., Toronto Feature: Naaz Theatre, [2015, July 2nd], The Canadian Encyclopedia, retrieved 2018, Feb 1st, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/toronto-feature-naaz-theatre/


11, Kaminer, M., For Toronto’s Little India, a New Crowd, [2014, Sept 5th], The New York Times, retrieved 2018, Feb 1st, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/travel/for-torontos-little-india-a-new-crowd.html


12, Subdhan, A., Transforming Little India: Businesses struggle to stay afloat amid demographic shift, [2014, Feb 7th], The National Post, retrieved 2018, Feb 2nd, http://nationalpost.com/posted-toronto/transforming-little-india-businesses-struggle-to-stay-afloat-amid-demographic-shift


13, Urback, R., What ails Little India?, [2011], BlogTO, retrieved 2018, Feb 2nd, https://www.blogto.com/city/2011/02/what_ails_little_india/


14, Paez, B. S., Saving Little India, [2014, Jan 22nd], The Origami, retrieved 2018, Feb 6th, http://theorigami.ca/2014/01/22/saving-india/


15, Joanne Doucette, Picturing Little India, [2017, March], retrieved 2018, March 8th, https://leslievillehistory.com/2017/03/13/picturing-little-india/




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What are the “Lesson 15” posts?

So, as I mention throughout this blog, I am home schooled.  I was pulled out of elementary class, and have been educating myself at home ever since.  My reasons for being home schooled will be covered in more detail in another post, “Why I am home schooled”.

In order to get the credits I need to be accepted into University, I need to take a correspondence course with the Canadian government.  Enter, the Independent Learning Centre, or ILC.  I can’t really say enough about them, they’ve done a lot for me and others who are in a similar situation.  They’re a path back onto mainstream education.

The “lesson 15” posts are part of my online schooling with the ILC.  One of the Key Questions–questions you have to answer to get marked–involved making various posts to a blog on either Tumblr, Blogger, Blog.com or WordPress. I decided to post these onto this blog for two reasons.

1.  It’s already here

I’m not very good at software yet, and making a new blog is tedious, so I figured I could use one I already have.  Since my food blog is kind of dead [yet somehow still gets daily traffic?], I used this one.  Given that this is a school project, nothing inappropriate or overly personal is included.  The only downside is that it doesn’t pertain to Autism, unlike the rest of this blog.

2. Hopefully the information could be interesting

I say “hopefully”, because if it isn’t factually accurate, then it means I didn’t do a good job of completing my assignment.  The first post is the hardest, because of all the research I need to do, although the later posts are introspective and personal, but not nearly to the degree the rest of this blog is.  Either you’ll gain more insight into my life, or walk away with more knowledge of my home city of Toronto, if I do my job right.  Or you could skip the entries entirely.  Your choice.

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No, Video Games should not be considered Olympic Sports [although e-gaming is a real competition]

unified korea

As I write this during the 2018 Winter Olympics, held in the beatific Pyeongchang, South Korea, there is a lot to talk about.  Chief among them–in my opinion–is the incredible step towards peace that is happening in these games, as Korea plays united for the first time in decades, temporarily putting aside the long, bitter cold war.  There is also a ton of exciting news for fans of winter sports, such as the fact that Canada won gold in team figure skating, the Russian athletes competing under the Olympic flag, and much more.  However, during this exciting, quick-paced month, part of me is looking ahead, towards the future.

egame rio

Egames for a demonstration event at the Rio Olympics


Dating back to 2014, there has been talk of adding a new form of competition to the Olympic Games.  Not a classic sport in terms of it involving movement, athletics, or even affecting something in the real world.  Instead, there are legitimate talks about including Video Games–or E-sports–into the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.  E-sports typically center around team-based, highly competitive multiplayer games such as League of Legends, Call of Duty, and Dota 2.  For some reason, leading figures in both the E-sport and Olympic communities feel like video games deserve a place in the Olympic Games, despite the two being as well matched as vanilla ice cream and hamburger meat.  Both are good, don’t put them together.

[for more background on this, I put a couple articles at the bottom of this post]

e game espn

ESPN   2012 League of Legends World Finals

I will be talking as someone who is a Special Olympic athlete, which is related to the Olympics, but not quite to the same degree as Paralympics.  The highest level I have competed is Provincials, once as a swimmer and I played on the MLSE Unified Team in Chicago last year.    I will also be talking as an 18 year old, who does frequently play and enjoy video games.  Keep that in mind, before you start picturing me as a techno-phobic, middle-aged man who thinks video games should be banned or some such.  I actually think that video games should have an international level of competition, and should be televised by mainstream media, to be enjoyed by millions of people.


But I think that E-sports should reach that status on its own merits, not riding on the coattails of the Olympic legacy.  E-Sports makes enough money, and has enough fans, to grow large enough on its own.  The Olympic path is merely one of convenience, being quicker and cheaper.  It is also a path, I fear, that will steal attention away from the Olympic athletes of old, and onto the gamers of new.  E-Sports has already really, really big in South Korea.  Bigger, I would argue, than South Korea’s old international sport of Tae Kwon Do.  For E-sports–particularly Starcraft games–even the government has become involved, televising games.  Some highly professional gamers even make six figure incomes for their gaming prowess.  For all it is, E-Sports sounds disciplined.  Why would I be against that?

taekwondo korea

Well, it’s pretty simple: gaming is not athletic.  It is not as healthy as real sports, and frankly, I do not see E-Gamers as being good role models for my generation.  To be clear, I’m not invoking the mythical stereotype of the obese, slobbish gamer.  That image is just false: look at the pictures of any high-class E-Gamers, they’re lean and well-kempt.  That being said, E-Gaming is quite unhealthy.  Not physically so, but mentally.  Some E-Gamers practice 12 hours a day, every day, only stopping to eat or sleep, minimally at that.  E-Sports has a notoriously high burnout rate, because most people just cannot live under that pressure for very long.  Compare this to likes of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, who competed in 3 and 4 consecutive Olympic Games, respectively.  Still want to join the Olympics, E-Sports?


“Not a good role model”.  Having written that, it sounds pretty harsh.  Maybe, deep down inside, I am a techno-phobic, middle aged man trying to erase video-gaming’s devil spawn.  No, actually,  I’m not that person.  I just gathered my opinions from watching the world around me.  As I’m sure you already know, we live in a changing time.  All of us have been spending more and more time glued to our screens: glued to smart phones, glued to computers, glued to tablets.

Most careers these days require a good understanding of technology–given that computers have largely replaced paper.  Given that, most office workers spend their 8-hour shift sitting down in front of a screen.  I do all my home-schooling on my computer, for 2-6 hours a day.  Then, when we get home–or finish home-schooling–we normal people turn to our smartphones.  We check Facebook, browse YouTube or find some other way to get lost in the Internet.  I could go on about how the internet matches a decline in physical health–citing obesity, diabetes and heart failure–but I won’t.  I think it’s worse than that.

kids addicted phone

My generation–teenagers–have become psychologically dependent on our phones and tablets.  We need to browse the internet for garbage info that we’ll forget later, we don’t know how to do our work without technology, and our attention spans have become shorter and shorter.  I’m speaking for myself when I say that.  I speak both for myself–and others–when I say that we spend most of our time gazing at a fiber-optic glass screen.  In this environment, do you think, it is good to idolize people who embrace this as a way of life?  Do you think it is good to see this behaviour as noble, as something the whole world should aspire to?


I’m going to wrap this thing up, by talking about my own experience.  Special Olympics has changed me, Tae Kwon Do has also changed me.  Both got me out of the house, into the real world.  Both helped me socialize and meet people, and learn how to be part of a cohesive team.  Through sport, I learned discipline, mental strength, and how to take care of my body.  Video games are why I’ll skip practice, and maybe open a nice bag of potato chips.


Heather MacLean training us for the Provincials

I look up to the women who competed internationally in Olympic swimming, and took the time to coach me and other Special Olympic athletes before our Provincial Games.  I look up to my Tae Kwon Do Master, who competed at a world tournament in India, decades ago, and still remains in better shape than more 20-year olds.  I don’t look up to E-Gamers, and despite their impressive skill, I don’t think I ever will.

Finally, I noticed a certain area that E-sports neglected to mention, when talking about integrating into Olympics.  In these early discussions, they forgot to mention if there is going to be any movement towards the Para and Special Olympics.  Maybe it’s simple oversight, maybe they only care about where the most viewership and money is coming from.  My opinion depends on how cynical I’m feeling on a given day.  While I can’t speak for Paralympics, I think I have enough years in Special Olympics to say that it will not be embracing E-Sports with the same vigor as the IOC.

Special Olympics was designed to help disabled people improve themselves.  Instead of using psychological techniques, or intense therapy, they found a simpler formula to improve any person’s quality of life: sports.  I don’t think, in the near or far future, Special Olympics will ever start opening up E-Gaming teams.

My Sources

1, Winter Olympics: Canada win gold in figure skating event in Pyeongchang, [2018, Feb 12th], BBC, retrieved 2018, Feb 13th, http://www.bbc.com/sport/amp/winter-olympics/42968611

2, Fitzpatrick, E., 4 Video Games That Could Be Olympic Sports, [2014, Dec 24th], Time Magazine, retrieved 2018, Feb 13th, http://time.com/3646714/video-games-olympics/

3, Video games should be in Olympics, says Warcraft maker, [2014, Dec 24th], BBC, retrieved 2018, Feb 13th, http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-30597623

4, Video games in the Olympics?  Here’s how it might work, [2017, Oct 1st], NBC Sports, retrieved 2018, Feb 13th, http://olympics.nbcsports.com/2017/10/01/video-games-in-the-olympics-heres-how-it-might-work/

5, Harrison, J., Here’s the insane training schedule of a 20-something professional gamer, [2015, May 11th], Business Insider, retrieved 2018, Feb 13th, http://www.businessinsider.com/pro-gamers-explain-the-insane-training-regimen-they-use-to-stay-on-top-2015-5?op=1

6, Mozur, P., For South Korea, E-Sports Is A National Pastime, [2014, Oct 19th], retrieved 2018, Feb 13th, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/20/technology/league-of-legends-south-korea-epicenter-esports.html

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2018: Reflections on the last year

2018 cartoon

I know this is late, but I feel like it takes more than a day to actually reflect on a whole year.  Plus, the New Year’s rush has died down, everyone’s gotten over their hangovers and now that we’ve all deactivated “holiday mode” and went back to work mode, it is the right time for real reflection.

black belt test

In many ways, I had a pretty awesome year in 2017.  I joined the Toronto Unified Team in summer, and the incredible adventures I had there were better chronicled through other posts I made.  Earlier that year, I had also gotten my black belt in Tae Kwon Do.   I wanted to write a post about it–because martial arts and the school I go to are a big part of my life–but I struggled to go about it in the right way.  I will be making a more general post, since writing about my belt test is way too late to do now.

I also continued with my correspondence courses with the ILC, which is a genuinely great way to have a proper education without going through mainstream school.  Truth be told, it is a bit difficult seeing everyone my age go off to university while I’m still in the equivalent of high school, in the back of my mind it makes me feel kind of left behind and inadequate.  I give it another one or two more years before I make it, so that’s not so bad.

2017 meme

Have you noticed that a lot of people have a general “fuck 2017” vibe to them?  Just like how they had a “fuck 2016” vibe the year before?  It’s funny how people can feel like this/the last year was the worst year ever, but statistically speaking the world is better off than it ever was, with poverty, illness and war reaching a historical low.

poverty chart

2016 was certainly better than the years of WWII or the Great Depression.  Still, one could argue that 2014 was the year before Trump became a thing, and what I call “The screw everyone movement” [AKA Trump and “the alt-right”] experienced a surge in popularity.  Then Brexit happened, along with a whole mess of infighting and politics that I don’t want to touch with a thirty-eight and-a-half foot pole.  Oh, and the U.S.A. lost their Net Neutrality.  Yeah, that actually really sucks, I’m sorry.

net neutrality

If there’s a point to all this, it’s that I think, as a people–conservative and progressive, from all races, genders and minorities–should learn when to get involved with politics, and when to live their own lives.  I had a fantastic summer when Western media was basically telling us all that life really sucks.  But I never stopped caring about the world around me, or wishing that I was a year older so I could vote Bernie Sanders for President.

trump tweet

What I’m saying is, there is a difference between wading through a powerful river to look for fish, and being swept downstream.  I hope people can find the difference for themselves in the coming year.

media balance

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Autism does not mean Savant


A few years ago, I had a conversation with someone who was a friend of mine at the time, someone who also had Autism.  She was in school, was athletic and reasonably social, had enough functionality to “pass” as normal but still struggled in some places.  She told me that she wished she was a Savant.

This was the same girl who turned out to be the first person I had a crush on.  I denied that possibility to myself for a long time, thinking that it was impossible for an Autistic to feel such a way.  I’m a robot, like Data from Star Trek.  When I finally admitted it to myself, and told my family that I actually loved someone, yes, loved someone, I had an emotional breakdown and an existential crisis.  I wasn’t supposed to feel this way, why was I feeling this?

data star trek

Why did two teenagers have these expectations of themselves, one thinking that she should be a super-genius, and the other that he should be immune to the most basic of human experience?  I have an answer, and it sure isn’t Star Trek.

[For the record, she didn’t feel the same thing back but was fine with being friends.  We hung out for a while, sometimes just the two of us, but for reasons I won’t go into, we broke up and haven’t had stayed in touch for a while, but last I heard she’s doing okay]

I now believe that the answer is quite clear: our expectations came from popular culture.  Name a fictional character that is Autistic or Asperger’s, either stated so in the work itself, or acknowledged/confirmed by the creators.  Now, see how many of these characters are A, extremely skilled in some way, B, asexual/aromantic, C, white and male, and D, mainly serve to enlighten the non-autistic main characters or audience [more on that later].  Here’s a small list:

rain man

Rain Man: [Raymond Babbit is gifted at math.  Based on the real life, incredible man known as Kim Peek, who is a non-autistic, unique Special Needs man with savant skills and memory.  I actually like this film, which I feel puts me in a minority compared to other Autistics.  I like it because it did a lot of advocacy coming out in a time when “Autism” wasn’t a household name, and it was also more medically/socially accurate than many films that came later.  The problem is that it was the only viewpoint people had for a long time.]

The Good Doctor: [a hot new Canadian piece of trite, based on a 2013 Korean TV show with the same premise.  Basically, a surgeon is gifted at medicine because of Autism.  Stereotypes abound.  I hated this show, as covered in my pending review]

Mercury Rising: [a nine-year old cracks a 2-billion dollar code written by two supercomputers!]

Bones: [the titular character is a genius forensic specialist, and several traits of Asperger’s.  That being said, I like this show for how well the character is portrayed, and it’s a fun show.]

sheldon big bang

The Big Bang Theory: [Sheldon Cooper wasn’t intended to have Autism by the writers, but enough audience members assume that it’s canon so he makes the list.  I strongly dislike this character because he is neurotic, annoying, condescending and an utter cry-baby [and the most popular show in Canada, if you can believe it].  He’s also a theoretical physicist, a job which involves big numbers ]

autism movies.JPG

The Accountant: [Ben Affleck plays a dashing Autistic who is “gifted with math” and also gifted at shooting people in the face with a variety of weapons.  I hope I don’t need to explain how offensively stupid this is, both to Autistics and movie audiences in general]

Alphas and Touch: [both good shows for their portrayal of autistics personalities, included together because they went the next step to giving autistic kids freakin’ superpowers!]


the curious incident of the dog in the night-time [sic]: [Included here because this is one of the few stories where the main character is gifted at math, but he’s neither a god [still learning it in high school], and it’s not a defining aspect of his character.  I have mixed feelings of this novel as a whole, covered in my upcoming review of it]

Phewy that was a doozy, this blog post is starting to look like TvTropes.  Please keep in mind that just because something is listed here, it doesn’t mean it’s bad.  Rain Man broke a lot of ground for its time, although the flip side are movies like The Accountant which is a borderline exploitation film.  So, if I liked some of the entries in this list, and hated others, why make the list?  It was to make a point.

My point is this: just because a thousand people saw a recent movie starring “a young [white] man with Autism”, it doesn’t mean a thousand people know what Autism is, or frankly have a clue as to my personality because they see someone else with a single trait in common with me.  Particularly grating is the concept that, because I have Autism, I must be a Savant.


The actual rate of Savant Syndrome, as it is officially named, is about 10% of all autistic people , whereas in other intellectual disabilities the Savant rate is around 1%.  Most people would take that to mean that a lot of Autistic people are Savants.  I take that to mean that 90% aren’t.

I came across a very good scholarly article–titled Stereotypes of Autism–written  about how movie stereotypes negatively affect people with Autism.  I’ll include it along with the rest of my citations, although I’ll touch on some of the aspects to which it has opened my eyes.  One idea which used the film Mercury Rising as an example, is how that movie portrays Savants as robots.

With the film’s plot being about an Autistic boy who out-thinks two super computers, it gives people the impression that Autistic people–therefore–have brains like computers.  This in turn gives the impression that, like a computer, Autistics are wholly logic-based and do not feel emotion.  This article also mentioned another good point: fiction is better known than non-fiction.

temple grandin

Everyone’s heard of Raymond Babbit, aka Rain Man, right?  His name’s already been mentioned in this article!  You ever heard of Kim Peek: the real man who was the inspiration for Rain Man ?  What about Temple Grandin, who helped make the livestock industry more humane?  Or Tito Mukhopadhyay, a non-verbal savant who is a renowned poet?  Ms. Grandin is pretty well-known, but I probably stumped you with the other two names, didn’t I?

We’re bombarded with popular culture, and eventually, you start to believe it.  The problem is, fiction forces people like me into one of two categories.  Autistics are either unable to live independently, or are super-geniuses who are way more capable than the average person.  Writing that down, it feels sinister to me.

It’s like neuro-typical, or “normal” people, want to keep us that way.  Keep us on the Fringes of society.  Keep us in care homes, unless we have some exploitable talent, in which case, put us to work doing the stuff they’re too stupid to do.  But if we go out into the world, we better not develop feelings for pretty girl down the street.  “Nope, that’s my girl, you go back to your numbers you freaky Autistic.”

Obviously most people aren’t that cruel, but they are ignorant, and the majority of what little knowledge exists is, frankly, bullshit.  When the world around you is ignoring your cries for help, apathetic to who you are, instead shadowing it like a parrot who repeats words without knowing their meaning, it feels alone.  It feels antagonistic.


To prove that I’m not making this up, here is an article about stereotypes about Autism, that ironically stereotypes autism [commence Picard face-palming].  The Huffington Post’s 7 Myths about Autism It’s Time to Put to Rest, makes multiple references to Sheldon Cooper from TBBT, and goes so far to refer to high functioning autistics as “Sheldons”.  I honestly don’t believe the author of this article was trying to put us in our place–given what the article was titled, and how factually accurate it is–but she effectively did.  Let me ask you this: would you want to be Sheldon Cooper?

As a side note, I do think about how difficult it would be to write about Autism as an outsider, and appreciate how people  put in the effort.  The article I cited even directly criticized the Savant myth.  That’s one of the reasons why I included it: not all stereotyping or prejudice is malicious or on purpose, it just sort of happens.  Also, I wanted to sort of prove that autistics can point out things neuro-typicals do wrong without acting offended, antagonistic or disliking an entire piece [the article] because of one or two issues [the “Sheldon” thing].

Let me make this clear: These Stereotypes are Damaging.  They can put Autistic people in situations where they are expected to demonstrate abilities they don’t have–which I fortunately have never been subjected to–and they help spread misinformation such as the idea that autistic kids are just misbehaving.

rain man outburst

I starting by mentioning someone I know with autism, so I’d like to end on it too.  I have a friend people would say is a lot like Rain Man.  He’s care-dependent, emotionally very sensitive, prone to violent out bursts when things just get too much, and has trouble understanding the nuances of speech.  There are major personality differences–of course–I’m making a general comparison.  However, unlike Rain Man, he’s not a Savant.  My friend is not a genius at math or able to solve String Theory.  Why couldn’t Rain Man been about a guy like him, someone who is just disabled, and different, and that’s it?  Do we have to be a Savant for someone to care about us?



My sources


1, Hiles, D. Savant Syndrome, [2002], The Virtual Office of Dave Hiles, retrieved 2017, Oct 3rd, http://www.psy.dmu.ac.uk/drhiles/Savant%20Syndrome.htm

2, Treffert, D. A., The savant syndrome: an extraordinary condition.  A synopsis: past, present, future, [2009], The Royal Society Publishing, retrieved 2017, Oct 3rd, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2677584/

3, Draaisma, D., Stereotypes of autism, [2009, May 27th], PubMed Central, retrieved 2017, Oct 3rd, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2677582/#!po=42.5676

4, Brown, H., 7 Myths About Autism It’s Time to Put to Rest, [2013, June 2nd] retrieved 2017, Nov 3rd, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/hannah-brown/7-myths-about-autism_b_2977120.html

5, Autism Stereotypes, UK Autistic, [2017] retrieved 2017 Nov 3rd, https://ukautistic.org/autism-stereotypes/

6, Autism stereotypes ‘are damaging’, BBC Wales, [2007, Oct 29th] retrieved 2017, Nov 3rd, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/7066436.stm

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My Unified Trip to Monteal


So, by this point, it had been a month since my awesome trip to Chicago.  The Toronto Unified Team had some more practices before our big trip.  This was it, the end of my soccer summer.  It was ending on an absolute high note.

I was quite nervous about my goalie abilities, especially given how I was in the Chicago game.  For a while, it almost mentally felt like Tae Kwon Do sparring, a weird comparison I admit.  Both cases are stressful circumstances where my nerves freeze up and my autistic reaction times fail me, which leads to a decidedly unfavourable result [getting bruises or letting my team down].  It should be noted that I was to be playing in net the WHOLE GAME too.  But, I didn’t let fear get a hold of me: I knew I had the time to train and made sure to use it.  Over time, I got better, enjoyed goal keeping again, and played better too.

Fortunately, during the month of August, I had a lot more opportunities to practice with both the Unified Team and my regular soccer team.  I gained a lot of skills, the most important being knowing where to stand–which my goalie coach on the Unified Team helped me with–and learning how to grab/hit the ball so it didn’t slip past my gloves like in Chicago.  As goalie, when you learn to move so your body is in between the ball and net at all times, it makes it a lot easier–and thusly a lot more fun–to stop the ball.  Also, it doesn’t matter if your hands let the ball slip: your body blocks the shot.  Another of my worries gotten out-of-the-way.


Over this half of the summer, my confidence and body both got better at goal keeping.  The Unified Team bonded a lot too, we knew each other a lot better than when this whole thing started.  That made things a lot nicer too: going on a trip with friends you’ve already made, and it’s easier to communicate as a team with people you’ve been practicing with the last month.

We had one last practice the week before our trip.  It was a good one.  It turned out that the goal in Montreal was going to be considerably smaller than the one in Chicago–it would be the normal size I was used to.  My teammates shot really good, hard shots, and I defended a lot of them too.  It was perfect to get everyone’s confidence up so we felt ready for our game, most of all myself.

sister montreal

Pic of a trip to visist my sister from a few years ago

I’ve been to Montreal many times before, because my sister lives there.  As such, I knew a lot more of what to expect, and it was more looking forward to going to a familiar place than an exciting new frontier.  I really like Montreal, one of the few cities I’d leave Toronto to live in, although I’d have to learn fluent French first.


By far, my mother’s favorite pic from the trip

It’s funny how you can get used to the feeling of a plane taking off, but never can at the same time.  The confused sense of elation I had on my first trip was gone, but the wonder and beauty one sees when looking out the window never goes away.  Due to seating arrangement, I had the superb luck of being seated right in the middle of the TFC’s section of the plane.  I got a picture with one of my family’s favourite players–Jozy Altidore–and spent the whole flight trying not to wake up the two TFC players who were sleeping on either side of me.  Hard to describe such a flight other than, mundanely surreal?

Our team arrived with such happiness and excitement, even though I already went through the shuttle buses, nice hotel and catered meals in Chicago, it didn’t make it any less special.  Again, whereas Chicago was new people in a new city, this was people I’d already gotten to know in a city I had been visiting for years.  It’s different, no one is better than the other.

Montreal’s Unified Team was really nice.  Only some of them knew English–which was fair since no one on my team spoke French, except for the few words that all Canadians know.  Still, we both made the effort to meet, compliment and celebrate one another.  I remember the player who came to our table to say hi the players and coaches, how we managed to have a conversation despite not speaking the same language.

montreal tour

Touring Montreal with teammates


The day before our big game was an outing to old Montreal and the pier.  I got to temporarily depart from the group to see my sister and brother-in-law in the cobblestone part of town, great to see them again before.  Both teams had dinner at a delicious Portuguese restaurant, and I used some of the same stress management techniques I did in Chicago.  They worked just as well.  I made sure to stim and relax back in the hotel before getting a good night’s rest.  The Final Game was almost here.


Getting interviewed

Before that, however, our team was being interviewed one by one in the camera team’s room [we had a two-man camera team travel with us, did I mention that?].  Mostly it was just us teammates hanging out in the hallway chatting and telling jokes, which was more than fine.  At the risk of sounding amazingly conceited, I’ve gotten used to interviews and public speaking, so it wasn’t that hard.  Come to think of it, none of my teammates were that nervous about being on camera or had expressed any difficultly.  Guess we all got used to it, to some degree.

family pregame

My sister and brother-in-law got to see me play

We were playing in the same stadium that the TFC and Impact de Montreal would be playing at, on the same day.  As a bonus, it was so close to our hotel that all it took was a five/ten minute walk.  That was actually nicer, not being stuck in a bus [no matter how luxurious], getting some fresh air and seeing the penultimate stadium get closer and closer.  I think it says a lot for the sport of soccer, that no matters how many times you go through the back stage areas and waiting in the fan tunnel that leads onto that great, big field, it never stops feeling like you won the lottery.


There was a lot of excitement and respect between our teams.  It was perfect, the way both Special Olympics and Soccer should be, even if they aren’t always that, it was at times like this.  The Montreal Players were excited to see Dwayne De Rosario–who had come with our team–and I liked seeing the surprised, happy looks on their faces.  Then, our pre-game stuff came.


Last practice with my coach pre-game

It feels very big, even just getting your stuff organized, putting on the cleats and asking around to see who has sun screen because they took mine at the airport and it was really sunny out.  The man who worked with my goal keeping all through the summer, and traveled with me to Chicago, now had one last practice with me in net before the game.  After that, I was on my own.

He made a point of how, according to the rules of soccer, the goalie can just gun for the ball more aggressively than other players.  By that I mean, players learn to not do anything that could lead to contact with the other team’s goalie, because that always leads to a ruling in the goalie’s favor.  He said, “Just go for the ball, just take it.  And don’t say sorry either.”.  I think he added that last bit because I have a habit of being polite to a detriment.  I still had sportsmanship–I hope I always will–but I wasn’t going to let myself freeze up when that ball came pounding down field either.


After coming back to our seats for one more team cheer, and some words of advice from De Rosario, it was time, finally time.  The Game.

It felt a lot better.  I played a lot better, I don’t brag as a rule, but I know I did.  The game was tied 2/2, just like in Chicago [told you a theme was developing].  But this time, I didn’t let two goals in during my first shift in the second half.  I was goalie for the entire one hour game.  I knew my defenders well enough to talk with them, and they definitely saved me a few times there.  I also saved quite a few myself, placing myself in front of the ball so my body would save it.  When I saw the ball moving down field, I’d bounce side to side to warm myself up, which is not too different from sparring, come to think of it.

alone in goal

I won’t give a blow-by-blow, mostly because I don’t remember enough of the whole game, and that’s from before it took months for me to upload this post.  My mom showed me a clip from the stream where I made a really close save that involved reaching for the ball and making a shoulder roll, something I didn’t even remember doing in that specific game.  I do remember both goals my teammates made.

about to throw

The first time, I took the little time I had to breathe, tell myself that the first goal I let in didn’t kill the game, and drink a celebratory sip of water.  The second goal was made by my friend who had made it with me from my regular SO team, who I’d known for years.  Both times I wanted to run out and high-five my teammates, but that knew that me and the rest were grateful.  And I knew they were just as grateful to me for saving all those shots.

saving a goal

Saving a goal!!

As bad as I felt screwing up in Chicago, I felt redeemed here.  People kept saying how great I played, and I knew it wasn’t just being polite.  I had the memory proof of having the ball in my hands, during several times that it would have scored otherwise.  Our game ended the best way, a tie, a testament to how great and talented both cities’ teams were.  We exchanged good games and bon traivellers to each other.  I should clarify: the Montreal players said good game, we said bon traiveller/bon juez.


On the field and the Jumbotron during halftime

There isn’t really much to say that could add to that.  Both our teams had a nice time watching the game between the two MLS teams, and although both teams’ fanbases were a lot more…rowdy, than I was used to, it was still a great experience going out on the field one last time during the break, and seeing the TFC win another close game.  My team enjoyed each other’s company on the way back home, we said our goodbyes, and here I am.


The note I’d like to end on is thanking everyone who made it possible.  The people from Special Olympics, Major League Soccer and the sponsors who worked so hard to make the perfect once in a lifetime soccer experience.  They truly went the extra mile to make sure we felt like actual sports stars, going from having us meet real famous soccer players, booking nice hotels, giving us special jerseys with our own names on them, walking on the field, and all the odds and ends.  You could really tell, throughout the whole thing, that it was done more than just to make certain companies look good.  The people behind it all truly cared, and they did their best for us.  So, you know who you are–people who were behind this–thank you.  Thank you with more weight than those two words can bear.

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My trip to the Chicago All Stars Game

Game title

It’s been 5 days since I first got back from my once in a lifetime trip to Chicago, and I’m finally ready to write about what happened.  Even though it was only 3 to 4 days, a lot of stuff happened and it felt like a lot longer by virtue of how much I did, how many new people I met and the overall experience.  The memories aren’t as powerfully fresh in my mind, but I still remember all the events and emotion.  Basically, the stuff that mattered.

When I wrote the above paragraph, it had indeed been only five days since I came back from my trip.  I apologize for the long wait, but these kinds of emotion-based posts are difficult for me.  I remember things factually: in events.  Some people do the opposite, they’ll remember everything only through the feelings the attach to the event/person/thing, and view the subject through an emotional filter.  I am the opposite: if I remember liking a movie, for instance, I also distinctly remember what scene or aspect the film had that made me like it.

That’s why I kept putting this post off, and continued to do so.  I wrote an event-based retelling of the trip, but it was too long to fit into one post, and my mom kept saying it was too dry and missed the point.  What she and other people don’t understand is that thinking and writing about feelings isn’t just really difficult, it’s uncomfortable.  Writing this post, going inside my heart like this, is about as pleasant as scratching nails on a chalkboard, or eating an ice cream cone teeth first.  It doesn’t matter if the emotions I am looking at are comprised of pure joy or incredible anguish, they both have the same uneasy effect.

Still, that’s no excuse, since I had to keep going past that ickiness for every other post I put on here.  I’m sorry, and below is the post, in full, written in the fashion that it should be written in.

MLS allstar chicago 2017

The All Star week, for those who don’t follow soccer, is an annual event that happens in various cities across the U.S., and during that time, Major League Soccer’s best players gather to play in the All Star Game against the Real Madrid.  The MLS held Special Olympic Unified soccer teams for pretty much every Major League team in the U.S.A and Canada: representatives from each city’s Unified Team were chosen to meet for this special program that took place during the All Star Week.  From each Unified team was a group of 3 people: a special Olympic athlete [me], a Special Olympic partner/volunteer, and all of us were to play against each other as east and west conference in a game on Tuesday.

callum and coaches

Me and my partners from Special Olympics Toronto

It should be noted that I feel things differently than most people do.  I was excited about everything, but my parents felt more anticipation during the months that preceded my trip.  For me, it only became real the morning I woke up to do something, especially the last morning that I would wake up in Canada.  For every day except the one before any of my “big dates”, it was just a fact in my head that I would be going to Chicago.  Only when I was actually there, in the moment, could I emotionally appreciate everything.


This was my first trip to the United States since we left around 14 years ago, and my first real trip on an airplane.  I was on a plane once as a three-year old, but I don’t remember that trip–or much else from that time–so it doesn’t really count.  I went with both of my coaches–the partner and chauffeur–so I was with pleasant company and gently guided through the parts I didn’t understand.

border security

In the back of my mind were all the complaints and horror stories that people have about airport security.  It honestly wasn’t that bad, and most security guards were pretty friendly.  Episodes of Border Security plagued the back of my mind, but I didn’t become overwhelmed with anxiety and cleared all the checkpoints.  I was never freaked out by the prospect of flying.  I do have of fear of heights, but it’s more about being able to fall off of something, like a bridge or rooftop.  You can’t exactly fall off an airplane.


I looked out the window and managed to record my first takeoff.  While I was totally fine with seeing the great height below me, I was unprepared for the feeling you get when taking off [hence I made a lot of silly noises].  The view one sees out their window is simply breathtaking, getting to see the clouds from above instead of below, the way sunlight dances off their tops, and how much like a miniature train-set the world looks from above.


Because of a plane delay, us and the people from San Joses and Salt Lake City were unable to make it to the hotel upon arrival.  Instead, we went straight to practice.  Even in the small time we had in the airport, one starts to notice that they are in a different country.  After getting change back from buying a sandwich, the words “Pennies, how quaint” slipped past my surprised lips like I was some pretentious tourist.  But seriously, why does the U.S. still have pennies?  I get its the Land of Lincoln, but he’s on the five dollar bill as well.  Anyways…

lincoln american money

Pretty much anytime we all had to go somewhere, we went by shuttle bus.  They got us some nice buses too, with cushioned seats, air conditioning, the VIP works.  It was way easier than taking transit, which is stressful due to the crowds and confined space.  I still could get tired on the bus trips, but they helped relieve the huge amounts of stress I [and no doubt many of the other athletes] would have felt taking the foreign public transit.  But for this day, I had all the energy in the world, and on Monday, our bus was heading to practice.

Our Chicago coach

Our Chicago coach ( wish I could remember his name)

There were about two hours for a lot of people to be coached in preparation for the next day’s game.  We had a coach who was working out of the city of Chicago, and we were training out of a multi-use field known as the Private Bank Fire Pitch.  It was official.  I was both excited and relaxed at the same time.  Warmup was used as time to exchange names with everybody in a short amount of time; it was tough, but we did it.  These were the people who got to know each other over the next three days.  It may have not been a long amount of time, but as I said, we did so much it felt longer.  I got to know my roommate, meet people from all over America–from Montreal to Dallas–and before long we were teammates, even friends.


While everyone else did passing drills, me and a partner from Washington D.C. practiced goal keeping.  I was and still am ridiculously new to goaltending for someone playing at this level, so I learned a lot of new things during this practice.  It helps that the person coaching us goal keepers is my chauffeur from Toronto, so we already knew each other.  At this stage, I was trying my best to retain all the goalie knowledge I had learned within a month.  It wasn’t easy, but my motto of “just try really hard” got me too far to start worrying about being out-classed.  At least, I didn’t start worrying yet.

Hyatt Chicago

After the two hours of practice was done–which sounds long but was actually really short, all things considered–we got to head back to our hotel.  All of us Unified athletes and volunteers stayed at the Hyatt Regency downtown, a swanky four star hotel within spitting distance of Chicago’s tourist attractions, lake Michigan beach, the highways and Chicago’s main soccer/football field: Soldier Field.  This also happened to be where the All Star players were staying at, so you would regularly see TFC and other city’s best players hanging out in the lobby, passing through the elevator and such.  It was a pretty nice place to stay.

basketball player

I think this guy is an NBA player (again, bad with names)

[I sarcastically under-exaggerated that last sentence there, staying in the hotel where all the players were was pretty awesome.  To boot, it was a really comfy place, and my room was on the sixteenth floor with an awesome view of downtown]

That night, we got to have dinner at the Lou Malnati’s Italian restaurant, home of the famous Chicago deep dish.  I could see why the city is famous for such a meal, it was amazing, and one of the few things rich enough to have me saying no to seconds [although, I was watching myself for the game ahead, after all].  This meal was also one of the first times in Chicago that I had to micro-manage myself.

exterior architecture of River North Lou Malnati's Pizzeria

There are a lot of things that can utterly sap my energy, and keep sapping it until I’m like a flashlight that someone forgot to turn off after using.  By that I mean, I end up completely depleted of power.  Perpetually loud dining halls and a long hour-to-two-hour dinner are among those things, no matter how pleasant or well-organized.  There are a lot of little, invisible yet tangible tricks that my family will do to make sure I am okay in social situations, but they weren’t here now.  This isn’t meant to at all disparage my coaches, they were amazing, and what I’m talking about are things that can only be learned about me after years of co-habitation.  So, I wouldn’t expect anyone but myself to know.

Basically, what I did was I took a break to the bathroom, and stood outside the in the hall next to the bathroom entrance for about five minutes, quietly fiddling with my fidget spinner and enjoying the silence.  I took little breaks like this towards the end of the meal so I could enjoy the rest of it.  It may not sound like much, but figuring out how to take care of myself like this has taken years of my family slowly revealing their tricks to me, and a long friendship with a very close Aspie friend of mine which intimated me on their numerous methods of quiet micro management.

I did other little things every now and then, knowing when to return to the hotel, taking a breather occasionally, and texting my sister, to make the most of my awesome trip.  It helped a great deal, knowing how to minimize my stressors in a new, exciting and busy event.  I enjoyed the end of our dinner, returned to the hotel, got to know my pretty cool roommate, and went to bed ready for the adventures next day would bring.

I got good rest sleep, because the next day was game day.  I spent the first half of the day exploring downtown Chicago with my coaches [beautiful city], and later all of us went to watch the Real Madrid practice in Soldier Field.  I got some good pictures, but I appreciated the fans as much as the players, they had such a passionate, celebratory energy to them.  It reminded me of one of the things I love about soccer games: the excitement.  It’s just… somehow more pronounced in soccer compared to most other sports [although I’m still a big fan of basketball: who says I can’t love both?].

real madrid practice

Copper & I watching Real Madrid practice

It was hard to get excited on the bus trip to our game.  Don’t get me wrong, the team was pumped, it’s just that an hour in traffic while worrying that the intense thunder and lightning is going to ruin the game kinda slowed me down.  I just sorta planned it out that as soon as we arrived at Toyota Park Stadium, I would get excited again.  The plan worked.

rainy bus

Rainy busride

It’s nothing short of awesome being in a professional field like that.  You appreciate everything the big players go through: the excitement of coming out of the tunnel, seeing the hugeness of the field and stadium around you, and you just feel so ready and now, if that makes any sense.  First half of the game I go to play midfielder, and the second half I subbed for goalie.

our field

Toyota Park Stadium, where we played

Playing on that kind of field is different, its humongous, for starters, and there’s more players too.  In this kind of game, you start to take pride in the little achievements: every time you were in the right spot in relation to everyone else, or got to touch the ball for a brief moment as a defender, or running alongside our team’s star forward to cover him as he makes the shot.  The second half, however, was different.

First half as midfielder

Me, on the right, first half of game as midfielder

Like I said, I’m new to goal keeping.  So when we had a 1/0 lead that turned into a 2/1 trail, and both those shots went right past me, it was hard not to feel really shitty.  The goal I had to defend was huge–literally the same ones used in professional games–and I had practiced maybe one game with my home non-unified team.  The first goal hurt a bit, but I shook it off best I could.  Then when I catch the second shot–but in that brief second I didn’t jump up, or tighten my fingers, or I should have punched the ball instead of trying to grab it–it slipped out of my fingers into our net.

goal gets in

Goal for the other team with me at the net

We’re winning, and then when I replace the original goalie and single-handedly put us in a losing spot, it felt really bad.  I tried getting my stupid body to warm up so I wouldn’t freeze the next time the ball came my way, while consoling myself that at least two more athletes had the awesome memory of scoring in such a high calibre game.  Then, the same guy who got us our first goal, scored again.  We tied, 2/2.

at the goal

I did the best I could to enjoy the rest of the day.  It was actually better that the game ended in a tie, because that meant there were no “winners” or “losers”, and everyone was talking about how great our comeback was.  I enjoyed the delicious food we were offered for dinner, met some nice Chicago Fire players on the way to [but not in] the bathroom, and hung around my teammates.  I had fun again.

end of game

There was a high-school league game going on in the field below, and we had the option to stay and watch it to the end, or leave earlier to take a shuttle bus back to the hotel.  I chose to leave, because I was getting to that stage of dazed and tired like I did last night.  More likely than not, I would have felt the same way even if I played better, my energy was drained regardless.

I later found out that the game tied anyways, just like ours.

Next day, there isn’t as much to talk about, more fun stuff.  We helped clean up a local park–not that difficult with -50 odd people, and it felt good to give back to a city that did so much for us.  I hung out with my roommate and some of the other coaches, enjoying the company of people from all over the country, and the beaches of Lake Michigan, which is just like Lake Ontario.

That evening, we got to watch the MLS All Star vs Real Madrid game.  Even better, we got to walk on the field at halftime.  It was a bit of a hassle lining up to go down to the field, but very much well worth it.  Then I truly got to appreciate what it feels like to be in a soccer field, the wall of people all around you, the cameras everywhere, and just walking on grass that we played on the night before.  Being introduced as the Unified Team was really cool.  Once in a lifetime cool.

After all that, I completely relaxed myself for the first time in a while, and watched the game.  Nothing much to say really, other than it was better and more intense than a lot of soccer games.  I was rooting for MLS [obviously], but they tied with Real Madrid [notice a pattern here?] and lost in the penalty shoot out.  Still, it was the perfect was to end my All Star experience.

On Thursday, I returned to Toronto feeling weird, like I just left an exciting new world and came back home after a long time.  In one morning, I left behind my roommate and all the other friends I made in Chicago, and the city itself, and now I was home with a huge amount of memories, people’s names, events and places bouncing around my head.  I missed the people I met, and Chicago, but I didn’t quite miss the All Star week solely because I knew my Unified game in Montreal was coming up, and the All Star trip let me know just how awesome that was going to be.

Pearson Airport

At the airport, back from Chicago

I was still a little worried about my goaltending, that I would let my Unified team down, especially since I was our only goalie [!].  But I didn’t mope or pity or hate myself, I cherished the awesome adventure that I had, fondly remembered all the great parts, and trained myself for the game in Montreal.

[Writer’s note].  I will be uploading my post for the Montreal game very shortly, I won’t let the stupidly big gap form again.  This and next week are pretty busy, I’ve got a big weekend and Special Olympics wants me to do some public speaking for a big fundraiser event.  But I will try, and the Montreal post will hopefully be a little shorter than this one, but no more shy of pictures.

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