Where there’s a Will

Posted by Bruce on September 02, 2018
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I love when I get thrown a curve ball!  I feel like Rachel Maddow, the host of the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC.  She’s constantly having to change things up these days with the ever changing tide of political crazy in the United States.  My reason is not as dramatic, but to me just as important.
I’m sure if you have read my blog by now you will have heard of Will Wilson, a really talented photographer and acquaintance of mine.  If not scroll back and get acquainted with this bearded fellow.
Today he is my guest writer on my blog.  I thought the subject matter perfect considering where we are in our calendar year, back to school!  I encourage every one of you to check out Will’s inspiration for his latest project and watch the You Tube posting of this relevant and touching piece.
“The project 50 shades of shade is to help voice the concerning amount of adult bullying in all forums of culture.  This is an issue that’s been spoken to before, but with 50 shades of shade I’ve had candid conversations with great people to address the elephant in the room.  Watch and see what your thoughts are.”  Will Wilson

Thank you Will for this important message and for including me in the project.  Watch closely, I get a brief cameo.
All the best to everyone returning to school this year.  Remember bullying is just not cool!  Not anywhere! Not anytime!
Please check out my own personal story and my experience with being bullied.

Bruce in the City

Edited by Mary Ellen Monk

The Butterfly Bear Affect

Posted by Bruce on August 16, 2018
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The Butterfly Bear Affect
Bruce in the City
Bruce Christopher

I wanted to explore the world in which I find myself over the last few years “The Bear World”. I was a Twink until that bitch, Mother Nature, decided puberty wasn’t enough and that I was going to transform into what I first thought was a hideous beast. I’ve become much more comfortable and happy in my new skin and I was just curious how other Twink to Bears were doing and how they handled their very own Butterfly Bear Affect. It was an eye opener to me and an amazing realization that I was not alone in my experience. Here is my one on one with some Bears in my community and their journey to self acceptance. My first Gay Bear is Dann. A Queer. A Bear. A married father of one and a bearded fellow.

Bruce: Hey Dann thanks for meeting with me. This shouldn’t hurt but it could be a bumpy ride! What does being a Bear mean to you?

Dann: Thanks for choosing me. This should be interesting. Being a Bear means being happy with my body. Being happy as a larger guy. As a Bear you can say Fuck You to the stereo types people have about being a gay man. I don’t have to feel the need to fit in with gay physical norms. I’m personally so much happier. Like a weight has been lifted. That wasn’t always the case.

Bruce: Tell me what being a Twink felt like to you.

Dann: Fitting in! I recall my life in Vancouver, it was all about the right clothes, the bitchy attitude and not realizing at the time that I was conforming to social stereo types. The club scene was the norm and being a social butterfly was a must.

Bruce: When did you first come out?

Dann: I was 15 years old. Body image was suddenly extremely important. At first it was easy. I was young and thin and acceptably feminine. Quickly it started becoming a lot of work. My body was wanting to change. I got hairier, I began expanding, maturing physically against my wishes. Being a Twink was how I identified being sexy and desirable to other men.

Bruce: What was your first sexual experience with another man?

Dann: I think around four years old. I had three little buddies I explored with. It must have been around 1974. We are all the same age and all curious about our bodies. That went on for a while but then you realize early on that that isn’t the norm so those explorations stopped. I had my first girlfriend when I was around 12.

Bruce: How did you feel when your body started changing from a Twink to a Bear?

Dann: I’ve had body image issues most of my life. Suddenly I wasn’t fitting into my Twink clothes anymore and my peers were in better shape then me. It was in my 20’s that I began to work out more. I spent years trying to maintain that Twink body. In my forties I got called a bear at a club from this cute guy. I was dumb founded. I couldn’t relate to his comment. In my mind I still saw myself as a Twink but I had changed. I had not accepted that I was really a Bear.

Bruce: What turned that around for you?

Dann: Apps made it easier to cruise within the Bear community. Apps like Growlr and Grindr. I was blown away that guys were finding me attractive. I was seeing guys who were like me. Bigger, harrier, bearded, in some cases guys who looked like me.

Bruce: Where did you find your community outside of the apps?

Dann: The gay bear culture has grown and now there are more social gatherings for Bears in the community and it is even in style now to be a bigger bearded dude. Places like The Lodge and The Eagle in the village are places Bears can mingle and mix and chase.

Bruce: it sounds like your transformation from a Twink to a Bear was not an easy one. If you could help a fellow to accept who they really physically are, what would you say to them?

Dann: As a Bear I feel more at ease. Not everyone is naturally the Twink body type and that’s okay. Most of us start out that way but you have to embrace the change. It’s way sexier to be authentic. I have found men of quality to be in my life. Free yourself from those stereotypes. We are men. It is okay to be a man.

Thanks Dann. That was amazing. I could relate so much to many of your answers and hopefully dudes are having their own aha moment.

My next Bear experience with the Butterfly Bear Affect was just as enlightening and I’m thankful he decided to play along. This is John. A baker. A baseball player. A Bear. A bearded fellow. Here is what he had to say when we chatted about his unexpected transformation.

Bruce: Hey John! Tell me what being a Gay Bear means to you.

John: It means I get to be myself no matter if I’m fat or thin. I honestly don’t care what people think of me. Well, not anymore anyway.

Bruce: What did being a twink mean to you?

John: When I was younger I was very shy and I felt guys didn’t take notice of me. My self-esteem was lacking shall we say.

Bruce: When did you come out?

John: I came out when I was 16 which was 33 years ago. Yikes!!

Bruce: Were you a twink or bear?

John: I was a short, skinny, scrawny, runt so a hobbit sized twink

Bruce: When was your first sexual experiences?

John: Between the ages of 16 to 22

Bruce: How would you have described your life as a twink?

John: I was very self conscious back then and didn’t think I was good looking. I had very few friends.

Bruce: Do you think twinks get treated differently than bears?

John: To be perfectly honest I think they both get treated differently in the fact that if you are not either a muscle bear or a muscle jock then you are looked down upon by these 2 types of groups. This is my perception only.

Bruce: Perception is reality! When you were a twink, how did you feel about bears?

John: I’ve always thought that bears or big, hairy men were sexy. I realized that when I was younger and my best friend’s dad was really hairy.

Bruce: Oh those Daddy’s. That’s a whole other article. How did you feel when your body started changing from twink to bear?

John: I’ve always had a hairy body, but when I started changing my eating habits and my workouts I started to become more buff. When I grew the beard it was like I was reborn if that makes sense. I was being noticed and hit on which was very flattering since I was rarely hit on or I was too oblivious to realize that I was being hit on. I still don’t see myself as attractive.

Bruce: I’m guessing many readers will disagree with you on that one. Do you feel the gay culture in Toronto is welcoming to bears?

John: I believe it is more so now than when I first came out. Now there are all of these Bear Events and Vacation Destinations. I think twinks need to start having their events and Vacation Destinations as well.

Bruce: Oh don’t they have enough? You don’t have to answer that! Do you have body image issues because you are considered a bear?

John: I have my own internal issues with being overweight although I’m short and furry I like to watch my weight because I don’t feel comfortable when my stomach gets in the way when bending over to put on my shoes or socks.

Bruce: Is your social group supportive with your transformation?

John: I have a wide variety of friends from twinks to bears to muscle bears to muscle men to jocks. Reason for this is because I play softball and have for the past 20 years and I’ve met friends all over North America. I consider myself an Ewok because I’m the same height and furry.

Bruce: Where in the world do you think you would be most comfortable in your skin?

John: Either here in Toronto or in Europe. Sadly homophobia seems to be ramping up again thanks to Trump, religion and far right groups.

Bruce: Anything you’d like to say for the record?

John: The saddest part about the gay community is that not only do we have to deal with homophobia from around us but we also have our own internalized homophobia in the gay community. As I indicated earlier, there are many groups within the gay community and if you don’t fit into certain group you may feel alone and unwelcome. No one should ever have to feel that way.

Bruce: That’s so true. I’m glad you survived your transformation into your more authentic self. It is a scary journey but exciting too. Just like your first visit to a bathhouse. Have you ever been? Don’t answer that!?! Wink!

My final sit down is with Will. He’s a slightly different generation than my first two bears and his perspective is interesting because of this fundamental difference. Let’s see how this self proclaimed cub experienced his Butterfly Bear Affect!

Bruce: I like to start with this question because I think it helps me get a quick picture of where your head is when it comes to the bear lifestyle! So Will what does being a bear mean to you?

Will: Well, I wouldn’t fully consider myself a bear, however, it just means I am being who I am. Living my truth.

Bruce: And what did the truth look like to you as a Twink?

Will: My life was in chaos when I was labeled as a “twink”. I was young and vulnerable in the big city. Thankfully I had some wiser friends who aided in some semblance of a path. The men who did that themselves being labeled as Bears.

Bruce: What were you like during those twink years?

Will: When I was a twink, it meant something different to what I feel it means now. It meant I was desired yet judged, small but loud, though always having fun.

Bruce: I’m assuming you were considered a Twink when you came out? Or did you come out later?

Will: No I came out in my teen years. A little punk kid who needed to leave home, coming to Toronto from Niagara at the age of 16, thinking I knew what was best for my life and I did! And yes I was a Twink at that age, fresh and full of sass. I’m 31 now!

Bruce: Do you think Twinks get treated differently than bears?

Will: When I was younger, I feel it was different. I felt when I was a twink I wasn’t taken seriously. Some youths and adults who define themselves as twink are advocates and great members of the community.

Bruce: I was a Twink myself and I’m really amazed how similar all of our experiences are and also body image was a real stress when growing up. How was body image for you? When did you start really seeing your body begin to change?

Will: I would have to say at 25. I was FINALLY able to keep the weight on, I would eat so much and still not gain. At 25 that definitely changed, lol.

Bruce: What do you think about the bear community?

Will: I have a great deal of respect for most of the “bears” I know. Though I would say I am more a cub then a bear.

Bruce: Do you feel the gay culture in Toronto is welcoming to bears?

Will: I would say yes, though I feel there are times when personality conflicts come up, as in any culture.

Bruce: What is your social group like?

Will: Most are in relationships. I have a great group of friends, male and female, queer and straight, that have been with me through thick and thin.

Bruce: What other way would you describe yourself as a young man?

Will: I’m an artist, always have been, always will be. I would consider myself possibly that.

Bruce: Where in the world do you think you would be most comfortable in your skin?

Will: As I’ve recently been traveling around the world, the one place I felt the most comfortable was in Spain. The way they view body image is great, and nudity doesn’t always equate to sexuality.

Bruce: As part of a younger generation of LGBTQ people how would you describe your overall transition with the Butterfly Bear Affect?

Will: As I appreciate this interview, it’s important to note that not all fall under the labeling, that has become all so prevalent. Being a queer adult and advocate is how I see my “label”. If we’re spilling tea, I would like to note that we all JUDGE each other way too much. Some comments that people say online are truly shocking, control yourselves people. I think if you feel you can say it to their face, first time talking, go ahead. If not, don’t. Social media is a beautiful and strange thing, though, like communities, it too has a dark side.

Bruce: I hear that. It wasn’t easy for sure. Keeping busy within your community helps during your transition from Twink to bear. Some guys are naturally going to grow up and out as their truly authentic self emerges and I think the aging process is difficult on most groups straight men, gay men, bi men and more than it’s discussed. I know one thing for sure for some reason I have felt more at ease in my bear body and bears just seem to be way more inviting. Of course there are a lot of great Twink fellows out there. I just haven’t met any! I’m totally joking!


edited by Mary Ellen Monk

Inspiration Point part one

Posted by Bruce on March 25, 2018
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Hey Brucesters!

As Women’s Month winds down I feel it is the perfect time to spotlight an author/wealth/financial advisor because her story is simply inspiring. So sit back, relax, enjoy your cup of joe and get ready to be inspired! Ladies and Gents my guest this week! Ruth Mead.

Bruce: Before we really get going here I’d love to break the ice by asking you a personal question. Your eyes widen! Don’t be scared! With everything you have achieved, which we are going to get into, I’m just curious what you do to help you remain balanced with the challenges of your very successful career and your personal time.

Ruth: Great question! You know I love playing my grand piano. It balances me. It gives me that all important grounding. I love it!

Bruce: It is a great instrument. My partner plays. I can picture you lost in the keys. So my first question with regards to your career is usually the last question an interviewee will ask, but in speaking with you it became abundantly clear you get a special energy from the thought of inspiring people, men and woman alike. Would you say that’s an accurate statement?

Ruth: I do enjoy sharing my story to inspire those who wish they could have the courage to move internationally to another country, or to leave that dead end job that no longer inspires them, start that business to do the thing that really sets their soul on fire, write that book that’s been inside them for decades or to even change their career path altogether even at an older age. My story is one of courage when I moved from London, England to Toronto to live as a family (at a slightly less frantic pace). We then moved out of the city altogether, I wrote a book and now I run my own Financial Planning Practice going back and forth between Toronto (again) and cottage country (best of both worlds!). Although I am an author with my book on Amazon, my focus is very much on my Financial Planning Practice (Ruth heads up her own Financial Planning Practice with Investors Group) and improving my clients’ financial well-being.

Bruce: Well as they say when approaching a hot fudge sundae, best to start at the top.

Ruth: Yes. As a young girl I lived in Africa where my parents were Missionaries, then we moved to Wales! One of my earliest memories was picking fresh mangoes from my garden and juice running down my face!

Bruce: Can you believe I ate my first mango just the other day? It was fabulous. Please continue!

Ruth: I relocated internationally to Canada from London, UK over 10 years ago. For over two decades, I worked alongside captains of the industry in the UK as their right hand (PepsiCo, McDonald’s, O2). It was the most amazing job which took me from organizing a private concert at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor (where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are about to wed!) to Geneva, Switzerland, from interactions with royalty to co-ordinating a commercial with the Spice Girls!

Bruce: Okay, I’m sorry, Stop Right Now!! The Spice Girls? Okay you had me at Two Become One. You are now my best friend! Okay, right now I’m saying for the record you’re coming back to fill me in on that in much more detail! I understand you were awarded the National UK Role Model for your work the Consultant’s Choice Award, 2017″and featured in the Press from the BBC to Japan Radio?

Ruth: Yes. One of my most surreal moments was being asked on live Japan Radio, “What is your message of inspiration to the women waking up in Japan this morning?”

Bruce: That’s exciting. Seriously, I’m very impressed with that. I mean I’m lucky if my partner asks, “turquoise or cerulean?” for a tie let alone inspiring people on a national level.

Ruth: In Canada, my professional career reached new heights supporting the Board of Canadian Tire followed by BMO Bank of Montreal.

Bruce: I bank at the BMO. You and I are just like two peas in a pod! I understand you also became a fashion image consultant? I love fashion and worked for Holt Renfrew for six years as Sales Supervisor and Fashion Sales Ambassador. I loved it!

Ruth: As for my personal passion for fashion, to clarify I only studied image consulting as a hobby purely as an interest to enhance my own understanding, as style is a passion of mine. I left the smoke of the city entirely to realize my dream of raising my son in a more rural setting. Making our “cottage” a full time home.

Bruce: When did the passion for writing began?

Ruth: It was at that point I decided to embark on the book I was always encouraged to do “one day”. Just over a year later, I launched my book on Amazon: “Jewel in the LEADER’s CROWN” (powerful strategies to shine as an Executive Assistant & beyond)

Bruce: And it was featured as a best seller in its category, with rave reviews I understand. Then things kind of came full circle for you?

Ruth: Very. Following the launch of my book I stumbled across an opportunity which took me back to the University classroom to finally follow in the footsteps of my father teaching financial planning.

Bruce: All of this experience in international business, were you satisfied being confined to the four walls of a classroom? Even though I have no doubt those students learned much.

Ruth: Thank you. You’re correct, my passion drew me to a vocation I LOVE; My own Financial Planning practice where I thrive upon making a transformational difference in people’s lives.

Bruce: I want to come work for you! You’re a rockstar in the financial industry! I’m no rock star but I did win CNE Rising Star in 1998! I can tell you about that later. In your first year you were awarded a coveted place in the President’s Circle and has since earned much acclaim with a long list of awards. Where does your inspirational edge come from?

Ruth: Working alongside senior leaders along with having worked alongside high net worth leaders for most of my career, I gained a unique understanding for clients of this ilk and an innate ability to tailor my planning to delight.

Bruce: When she’s not helping her clients become financially fit, you’ll find her on the dock of a bay with her family, wasting time.

Wealth Management & Financial Planning
Consultant of the Year, 2016 & 2017 – Ontario Northeast
President’s Circle Award, 2016
Investors Group Financial Services Inc.
Cell: (705) 303.5155| Fax: (705) 497.1566

Our Practice advises clients in:
Investment Strategies, Tax Planning, Corporate Strategies, Retirement Planning, Estate Planning, Risk Management & Debt Solutions

To be continued…

Next Sunday I take a closer look at Ruth’s successful book and those signature shoes!


The Joy of Fashion

Posted by Bruce on March 08, 2018
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In honour of International Woman’s Day on March 8th, here is my very special guest writer Joy Grossman. Enjoy her story.
It all started at a very young age when i was about 5years old, my parents took me to a family wedding and I was wearing a beautiful dress with a white fur bolero jacket and matching white gloves. I looked like a little Coco Chanel. I always loved fashion and growing up I always wanted to pick out my clothes and gave my mother a hard time about it. Around the age of 16 I got into modeling and I was so excited to be so close to designer clothes and wear such gorgeous pieces that I only saw in Magazines.
I got really obsessed with Fashion! I dragged both my parents to NYC because I saw a pair of Prada Mary-Jane pumps I had to have but they were sold out worldwide. I thought if I went to the FlagShip store in New York I could get them. I didn’t tell my parents how much they were, I would worry about that when he time was right. My father left my Mom in line at to get us Threatre tickets, my father & I was off to the Prada store! On the way he asked me how much the shoes were…a lot, I said. He laughted and said “just don’t tell your mother” my dad was the best! The shoes were sold out and I was put on a 3 page waiting list. It’s about the hunt to get a special item. I never got the shoes but I was definitely a very determined girl.

As a teen I would go to Queen Street and Kensington Market and put together outfits for super cheap and look like I just walked out of Vogue. I loved the hunt of a great piece!

My father used to wait to leave to work to see what outfit I was wearing and how I put myself together. He was my biggest fan.
During my early 20’s I started working at a jewlrey store selling and then becoming a buyer and visual merchandiser.  While working I decided to go back to school for Interior Decorating and Design.
After I graduating I interviewed with a few design firms but I was offered a poistion at Holt Renfrew and decided to have fun and continue working in Fashion for a year or so…
I worked in Designer Fashion as the Balenciaga specialist and I was surrounded with all the designers I loved. I built up my clientele and enjoyed styling and selling. It was my greatest pleasure making women look and feel gorgeous,stylish and talk them out of their comfort zone.
I worked at Holts for about 3 1/2 years and decided to move to The Room at the Hudson Bay.
I continued to build up my clientele and I was often asked “where should I take my designer clothes to resale?”  This was a question that I was hearing daily.
My husband’s friend was really into fashion and he was selling his used designer clothes on EBay. My husband and I soon after thought we should do it for women’s wear…and Coutureforcash had begun!
We had a thriving business on EBay for about 4years. My husband would take pictures of all the items and I would do the client meetings and product listings and my husband would ship the sold goods on his lunch breaks.
During this busy time in our lives, I had my first baby Isabelle, being a first time mom I spent all my time taking care baby and family and not sleeping much. I found it hard doing both, my husband and I decided to stop doing Coutureforcash.
Being a mother comes first to me, when things settled down I would figure what my next adventure would be.
When Isabelle was about 18months I felt like I needed to get back to work! I went back to work at The Room and I started up my business again!
Here we are today and I just had my second little girl Juliet and she is 10months old.
I wanted to be at home with my girls and have my own business. It’s hard to do both with many sleepless nights but it’s worth it. My husband Adam is a great supporter and such a big help to me. I really couldn’t do it without him. I do POP UP shops around the city, mostly downtown and I have my own and I have all my items on EBay. We are planning to re-open a shop on EBay so it’s easier to find our items.
Follow me on Instagram @coutureforcash for postings, fashion idea’s and info about my next POP UP shop.
My personal Instagram is @joysherrygrossman
I welcome everyone to follow me and my beautiful family and business that we all worked so hard for.
Please contact me or go to my website to find out how to consign with me. I’m happy to do house visits and go through your closets with you!
Please feel free to email me with any questions or to set up and meet or to come see collection of goodies!
Joy Grossman for Bruce in the City

A Provocative Encounter

Posted by Bruce on September 24, 2017
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Here are a few names I’d like you to remember as I begin to tell you about a play:

Steven Elliott Jackson, Playwright
Tara Mohan, Production Stage Manager
Brandon Conclaves, Lighting Designer
Sonia Valiant, Stage Manager
Kwaku Okyere, Actor
Conor Ling, Actor
Tanisha Taitt, Director

We’ve all been to many plays. They have become so grandiose that sometimes you can feel as though you are lost in a movie at the trendiest movie house. It’s almost so encompassing that one could lose track of the plot and purpose. But when you take “The Seat Next To The King”, there is no mistaking it’s plot. There is no mistaking it’s purpose.

Opening scene. Just a simple stage set to dim lighting. Songs of hope and of an era almost long forgotten play reminders in the background. A men’s room. A young white man enters and takes his place in front of the urinal. Moments later a black man enters the men’s room. He also takes his place in front of the urinal. They notice one another in an awkward exchange of glances. The audience, unsure of whether to giggle, feels the erotic undertone or is aghast at the subtle vulgarity and this is where their polarizing, political and unexpected affair will begin to transfix you.

I had an opportunity to briefly meet Playwright, Steven Elliott. I learned quickly of his passion for a little project he called “The Seat Next To The King”. He shared with me where the inspiration occurred. It wasn’t at some obscure niche in this vibrating city. It was incredibly unassuming. As he sat in the burger house under the golden arches, Steven began to pour out his soul onto a piece of paper. Like a river flowing through his mind, I romanticized as he shared his story with me. In less than an earthly hour he had managed to write one of the most compelling love stories I feel ever to be told.

I sat in the audience watching this piece of work transform the audience word by word, opening our minds to the possibilities of a love forbidden in it’s time capsule. A moving and utterly relevant story in the temperature of today’s political climate.
My eyes were moved to tears in only twenty minutes. I fought them back. I’m reviewing this, I want to remain objective. I want to tell you the truth. I had no idea it was going to transform me. The heartache as I watched those two talented actors bare their souls as the characters revealed themselves scene by scene. The layers of self realization were literally heart wrenching.

Just when you thought all joy was lost the incredibly sharp delivery of whit by actor Kwaku Okyere against the angst of Conor Ling’s performance was a buffet of emotion. I laughed, I cried, I learned. I grew aware of my own humanity. Their performances were completely riveting. Scene after scene pulled me deeper and deeper into this affair that I will certainly always remember.
From the music, lighting, stage setting, and directing, this play was on point in every way. The hope of one more chance at love and understanding it’s a human right to have and to be loved.

It was wonderful meeting many of the contributors of this evening’s performance. Tanisha Taitt’s directing was clearly precision and she looked stunning opening night. Conor Ling and I had a moment to chat together and I was a bit star struck I must say. I look forward to following his work; that man is going places. What can I say about Kwaku Okyere? Well I almost waited as long for him to stop for a photo op as one would for Beyoncé but when he finally pulled himself away from his adoring audience he was gracious and just as bodacious as he was during scene stealing moments of the performance.

A blog like mine can almost diminish the importance of a piece of work such as this. This was not just a throw away love story. This was an important piece of an untold (fictional) narrative of it’s time regarding the black community. Even more so, untold stories of many forgotten beautiful black gay men who had no voice at all through discrimination coming from polar angles. This is a tribute to not just the gay community but the need for an awakening of the struggles that continue to exist within our multi-cultural society.
I know there are hundreds of great shows to see in this grand city, but why settle for less then what’s fit for a king?

4 kisses out of 5

Now on stage

The Theatre Centre, 1115 Queen St. West

Sept 17-Oct 1

tickets $29 service charges may apply

Book 416-538-0988


Edited by Mary Ellen Monk

Photo credit Michael Thomas

Selfie by Bruce Christopher


Sibling Rivalry? Never!

Posted by Bruce on January 10, 2016
Holiday Stories, Really?, Stories / No Comments

Hey Brucesters!  Welcome back.  2016!  Can I get a whoop, whoop?!  It’s really hard to believe and what’s worse is that it’s already the 10th.  The month is practically half over.  Which means I can’t even really say Happy New Year to anyone anymore or they will think I’m ridiculous.  And I wouldn’t want to be ridiculous now would I?

I am going to jump right in to this week’s blog.  The first of 2016 and begin by saying, “How could you do this to me big brother?”  Okay, so just to catch you up on some family politics, I think it’s safe to say I am the favourite son of the three.  It’s true I know,  but I don’t like to say it out loud unless I really have to and I just have to this time because my eldest brother did something this Christmas that is practically unforgivable.

Now I have always prided myself on great gift giving.  I have that “Je ne sais quoi”!
Anyway, I have always bought some of the best gifts for my parents over the holidays and not even the most expensive.  The second eldest of siblings would disagree I am sure and I would probably agree with him but since I AM WRITING THIS FROM MY PERSPECTIVE we’ll say my gifts have always been the better gifts. It’s so great being the master of my own blog!  So let it be written, so let it be done.  Okay, so one too many glasses of wine.  Let’s get back on point.

This blog is not about my middle brother, at least this time.  I can handle the fat wallet gifts.  What my oldest brother did this year is almost unacceptable in sibling rivalries.  He went for pure and utter unadulterated sentimentality this year.  While my other bro and I were out trying to find the coolest of retail splurges, our eldest brother was scheming to meddle his way to the top of the favourite train in one fell swoop.

I got my mom some lovely things as I always do and though I am not sure what my other brother got for Mom, I’m sure it was fabulous.  But my eldest brother, no no no!  Oh yes he did!  Totally and utterly, impossibly, tear jerkily, wonderful!  And I am so beside myself that I never thought of it first.

I went to my parent’s on New Years Day.  Some of you may have already known that if you follow my Twitter or Instagram (shameless plug).  But for those of you who are not in the know, that’s what I was doing.  Ready to enjoy the joy and satisfaction of gifts well given and upstaging my siblings with my big city gifts of grandeur.

Oh but my eldest brother!  He broke the rules of “engiftment”.  I had enjoyed a lovey Chinese Buffet along the outer rim of Peterborough, Ontario.  Well the whole thing is like an outer rim really but this restaurant seemed more on the rim then the others and I was being treated by my mom and pop so who was I to complain? So I didn’t and I’m so happy I didn’t because it was really outstanding.  Believe me I’ve sat down at a very many buffet and this one impressed even my gullet!

But my brother, God love him, had already unleashed his dirty gift giving plot onto my mother and I had no idea.  Oh, but he did.  Oh yes.  He was resting ever so proudly at home, I am most certain, reenacting the moment our mother opened his sentimental seduction.  I am most certain getting the best of every loving tear she had in those wonderful mother eyes of hers.  Not that she didn’t deserve the gift because she certainly did, being one of the best moms in the whole wide world. But it should have been me!  Oh yes, it should have been me.  I have no doubt that my other brother kicked his porcelain duck when he got home too.

As I sat on my mom and dad’s couch after lunch (I’ll get you that restaurant name for next week) and we were about to watch Rudolph’s Shiny New Year, my Mother pulled it out.  It was a simple little box.  A simple hand carved little box.  A hand carved and inscribed little chest of a box that read “100 reason’s why my mom is the best mom on earth”.  Oh come on!!!!!!!!!!!!

I looked at my mother.  Her eyes already watering up.  “Look inside”, she said “Look inside”.  That pink scarf I bought her was starting to feel a little tight around my own tender throat.  “Oh lovely”, I said as I looked at the box.  How wonderful.  I couldn’t really figure out what was coming as I opened the hand carved and etc, etc, box.  100 hand written reason.  Hand written from my own brothers chubby musical fingers.  Hand written reasons from my straight, so straight, and redneck in the nicest way possible, brother!  100 beautifully written and folded moments of his childhood, teenage years, and adulthood and every hilarious and sentimental thought and memory he could possibly fit into that amazing, hand made piece of heartfelt perfection.

I started to read each piece of paper.  Some were so very funny.  Some moved me to tears.  Some made me laugh right out loud.  And I was so jealous in the most beautiful way possible that my incredible brother out “sentimented” me.  I was in shock at every new piece of written memory.  I teared up with my mom and my dad as I read these very true statements of sacrifice, strength, wisdom and love our mother had really shared with us all and that block head of a brother of mine totally nailed it!  I couldn’t have been more proud at that moment to call him my bro.

Of course I will not let him live this down and watch out for next Christmas!  You’ll see I’ll out sentiment you and get back in that top spot for favourite son.  Just wait when the great pumpkin rises out of the the pumpkin patch…… Oh damn, sorry, too many glasses of wine.  And anyway big brother, we both lose this one because we both know who the favourite son is….. that darn middle brother of ours.  He’s the cutest!

Until next Christmas remember this….. “Maybe Christmas he thought doesn’t come from a store.  Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more” Dr. Suess

Edited by Mary Ellen Monk

The Life You Lead (by Mary Ellen Monk)

Posted by Bruce on January 04, 2015
Check it Out!, Help and Support, Stories / No Comments

“A guest blog… not exactly the words that I thought I would see when I opened my email this morning to edit Bruce in the City-the blog.  But here it goes.” Mary Ellen.

I am a busy mom of two young boys.  And I know a lot of us are “busy moms” but I often wonder if my life is ever due to be normal again.  My boys are 8 and 5 which seems normal enough but my oldest boy also has autism and is non verbal.  Many people have asked me over the years if I would change it if I could and depending on my mood on that particular day the answer changes.  For the most part though, I would say no.  Would I like autism to be eradicated?  ABSOLUTELY!  But would I change my boy?  Probably not.  I know that seems contradictory but if you live the life that I live, you would realize that it truly isn’t.

I am also a full time working mom and work as a bookkeeper at a local child development centre in my city.  My boys are active in swimming lessons, riding lessons, skating lessons, and hockey and my oldest just completed (after 2.5 years) 24 hours a week of IBI therapy (Intensive Behaviour Intervention) and has finally transitioned full time into the classroom at school.  I know that teachers are often criticized for their “big salaries” and “easy, summers off” positions but I am not one of those critics.  I have seen my son’s teacher and his EA supports put together some of the most amazing curriculums for him to assist him in taking part in a large portion of the day with his peers.  That is not an easy task when a child uses a computer program to speak and has limited receptive language.  But his teaching team is doing it and they are being successful and I am grateful everyday that they are part of his life.

So I manage a full time job, two of the busiest children you will ever meet (one of them being special needs) and I also have an amazing husband that travels a great deal around the world for his job which leaves me to single parent these two busy boys by myself.  On paper it doesn’t seem like that much and I am CERTAIN there are parents who have it much worse than I do so I’m certainly not complaining by any means.  On the contrary, I feel very blessed.  My kids are healthy and happy and I have an amazing support system in place to help.  My boys catch the bus each day from my parents place and I would be at a complete loss without my parents.  I have come to appreciate all of the amazing things they did for me as a kid, and now that they continue to do for my children.  They’re not too eager to learn sign language or the use of the speech device for my eight year old but they are certainly more supportive and loving of my kids than I could have ever hoped for.

My five year old child amazes me on a daily basis.  He is incredibly intelligent, has a vocabulary of a 9 year old and is completely intuitive to his older brother.  It’s been a big responsibility having to be the “big” little brother.  A lot is expected of him from a behaviour stand point, because my older son often claims a great deal of my attention.  It’s not often that a parent needs the 5 year old to be independent in a store because that parent is holding the hand of the 8 year old.  But I know that he will follow along and chat my ear off whereas my eight year old would wander off and get lost if he wasn’t at hand.  The 5 year old often speaks for the 8 year old, telling me what he needs.  He has a lot of questions about the autism though and asks at least twice a week when his brother will learn to talk.  It breaks my heart to have to tell him that the chances are good that he will never hold an actual conversation with his brother.  But it warms my heart when I see them hug each night at bedtime and hear my 5 year old tell my 8 year old that he loves him.

So in all the craziness that I call my “life” I have come to realize that your life is what you make it.  In June 2008, I heard the most hated word in my life, “AUTISM”.  But since then it has become a word that has provided me with a new look on life.  I feel blessed for BOTH of my boys and all of the gifts and learning opportunities that they have brought into my life.  We try not to see autism as a barrier but a challenge to make us better as parents and as a family.  We have never let it stand in our way of doing anything.  We may have to make changes to the way we do something, but we still do it.  My family has been to Great Wolf Lodge, Disney World, Wonderland, and many children’s concerts.  We may be a “different” family but we are a family nonetheless and we will continue to approach the world according to the rules that work for us!

by:  Mary Ellen Monk

Edited by: Mary Ellen Monk, Bruce Christopher

Produced and Posted by: Bruce Christopher for “Bruce in the City-the blog”

(used with permission)

Message on the Moon

Posted by Bruce on February 16, 2014
Hmmm Good, Stories / No Comments

The moon last night was pretty outstanding outside my window.  Did you have a chance to see it?  It was so mesmerizing.  I have a thing for the moon.  In spite of all the suspicions that people become crazy during a full moon, I feel rather energized.

The full moon was on Valentine’s Day this year.  Did you feel it’s energy?  Maybe you don’t notice her at all.  I watch the moon closely. Many moons ago I had moved to Belleville for work. I had family living there anyway so it gave me an opportunity to spend time with them and get to know them all better. I rented an old house there. Which I loved.  I recall setting out all my odd little books and trinkets.  It was very rustic and it really suited me.  It was just a few short blocks from the bay and it was a beautiful bay.  I would go for long walks along the path.  I loved the full moon there. It seemed so full of promise.  I would make a wish on it and dream about my future.

That moment may be long over but the moon seems to remain just the same.  My perception of her is slightly tainted but she does ebb me to recall the three years I spent in Belleville.  I suppose that is why I love my home now.  Just off the Don Valley. Trees all around me.  Nature not for off.  A splendid view from every window.

I pulled out a few books of mine last night that I have not pulled out in years.  Some about candles. Some about the earth, air, fire and water.  I think I made a wish on that waning moon as I recalled my life in that town just east from here.

I jotted down some notes and some ideas for a book I’m toying around with to write.  I lite a few choice coloured candles and whispered a small chant.  I think this year is going to be something special.  Was that the message on the face of the Moon? I’d like to think so.  I’m counting the minutes when the city warms up enough so I can lay right under her and make my dreams known.

I give my head a slight shake to pull me from my day dream and get back to my writing.  Is there a little magic in the moonlit sky tonight?  You should look up and see what she wants to say to you.


Dedicated to Alice.

Celtic Connection



Squirt! Bam! Splat! Bang!

Posted by Bruce on February 02, 2014
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Before I begin my rant for this week or whatever this blog will turn out to be I want to thank everyone who pops in now and again to respond to my blog. I may not agree with you at times but I do respect your thoughts and certainly am honoured you decided to stop by. In saying that I am just going to pretend Winter has come and gone! Seriously I just can’t deal with this shit snow anymore. Can you?

I know I am fabulous at changing the subject! I had a weird week last week. It wasn’t bad really but the oddest things kept happening to me.  For instance. The other night I had been invited to some friends and I offered to bring a classic movie. I had yet to see them for Christmas so I had a few things to take over for them to mark the long past occasion. PS: This year I may not celebrate! But anyway my partner and I made our way to the bus stop to wait for our extra large stinky limo to show up.  Did I mention what the movie was? Batman, with Adam West!!!

I know. Fabulous. Two hours of watching the original men in tights!  I’m heading out to the bus stop when this little guy points across the road and murmurs something to me.  Since I live in a state of annoyance his murmuring irritates me and I ask him to speak up. He said something about something over there and it fell and I don’t know I couldn’t here him through the on coming bus from the other side of the street.

“You dropped something over there on the other side of the street!” he said. Aw hells fire!!! There it was my Batman movie laying on the side of the road. My whole life slowed down like a recap of a Super Bowl play.  I yelled “NO” and then the sound of death “CRUNCH” Oh crap! F^&%K!!! S*&^T! I ran across the street to discover my now dead DVD of the classic movie Batman with Adam West now road kill on the side of the road at my not so sunny Sunny Glenway!

I was so mad I kicked it down the street. I kinda cried a little. I mean come one it was Bat freakin Man! I went back across the road to where my bus would be coming and there he was, my partner, laughing his head off. I so wanted to Bam! Slam! Crash! Bang! His ass off. Well not bang his ass but kick it for sure! I even glared at the poor guy who tried to tell me but could he not have tried harder to tell me instead of a whisper and a point! I mean if I knew his dog or cat or friend was about to get hit by a bus I would be like “Hey your friend is about to get hit by a bus!”

I know. Ungrateful. I did thank him for trying. I did. And I was really trying to come to terms with the fact that I just saw my unopened classic Batman starring Adam West get literally crushed by the 100 bus going west!!! Going west….. argh!

Ok so now we are on our way to the boys and we have no movie. Thank God one of their gifts was a Blu Ray. Thank God for his tender mercies. Sorry I am re-reading “Good Christian Bitches” and it’s rubbing off.

I have to admit about 5 minutes into the bus ride I started to accept the humour that was my DVD’s misfortune and I laughed my head off and punch my partner in the arm.

That was bus ride number one. Now fast forward to the next morning. I am on the 100 bus going west. The night before I was going east. Anyway, I’m heading west and around heading back west to get to work. I don’t know it’s a weird bus route. West, then a bit north and then a lot west.   Anyway, I have this berry flavoured water I had left in the freezer the night before so of course it was frozen and I was thirsty. I decided to crack it open and try to take swig from my frozen bottle of berry water when splash!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All over everyone. literally all over everyone. Oh my God. I just squirted a bus full of Toronto people with Presidents Choice berry water. I was about to be so screwed. I just blurted out “Oh My God! I’m so sorry.” It was like everyone was frozen looking right at me. Frozen and wet.

I hit the bell and slowly removed myself from my seat as the people on the bus glared at me like a piece of non Hala meat.  I moved slowly to the door my eyes looking right then left then right again.  Who was going to drop kick me? Who was going to…. Oh my God I feel like laughing…. I feel like laughing! Oh my God I am so holding in the laughter and I’m shaking my head a bit and holding in the laughter. I am a bad man. I am 10 years old and I want to laugh. Doesn’t anyone think that for just a brief moment that this could be funny??

I need to get off this bus! We are stuck in traffic and I need to get off this bus! God please don’t make me laugh because if I laugh these people of a thousand scary faces are going to use my skin to make a quilt for the needy and maybe even give it to Good Will where they will certainly over charge for it and then come up with some lame excuse why that’s ok!!

Just when I think I am about to lose face,the door of the bus opens and I step out into the last of my dignity.  I dared to look back onto the bus as it drove away and one girl about 12 years old began to laugh…. and so did I.




Fade to Black

Posted by Bruce on December 22, 2013
Announcements, Really?, Stories, Uncategorized / No Comments

It’s Sunday evening. Anyone out there? The ice storm of the decade has now it Toronto and we just got our power back.  I just got a call from my store. Their power just went out. They are concerned. I am wondering how many people are in the dark.

Saturday was scary.  We went to bed as normal. Then we were woken to screams coming from the hall. Women’s voices and men yelling to. What was going on. We were in the dark. The hall outside our apartment was in pitch darkness. People were stuck in the elevator?

I called the Police. I didn’t know what was going on. Was anyone hurt?  They asked me what was going on in the hall. I said I didn’t know I was woken by screams.

We could not see anything out our door peep hole! Scary. What was happening?

After a while, once the chaos seem to clear in the hallway we decided to go to bed.  The storm was still storming and we had work the next morning.  The condo got cooler and we added sheets and put on much needed PJ’s.

The next morning I called my folks because my cell was on it’s last line and wanted them to know we were without power but we were ok.

How were all our friends? Would my store have power? Will we all have power for Christmas?

It was a mystery that I had no answers for.  I couldn’t shower so I washed by the sink in freezing water.  Enjoying however the scent of my honey soap I bought at work the other day.  Simple pleasures go a long way when one is stressed.

When I finally got to work the power was on. It was a relief because I would put some warm water through my hair and freshen up a bit better.  My staff were calling. Some had no power some had no way of getting into work. Some were just scared looking for someone to talk to.

In spite of the storm my store was surprisingly busy. I guess with most of the city out it was a safe haven to come, get warm and do some shopping. We are known for a our personable customer service so I think our neighborhood was relieved to know we were their for them.

We heard many stories of trees through car windows and broken trees and cold houses.  My place was still powerless so I understood. I was worried about my partner and his Mom. Were they getting colder?  What were they going to eat?

I finished my shift to find out our power had come back on at home. I was relieved. It wasn’t soon after I arrived home, which took me forever that I got a call from an employee from her cell phone.  “We have no power.” She said.

She sounded a bit shaken.  I told her to finish things up. Set the alarm and head home. I’m sure their travel was going to be worse then mine since I left at 5:30 and they were getting out of their at 7ish.

Needless to say we will have to see where this is going to end up. I’m just praying for everyone and hope the people and the city I love so much are going to be ok.

Hang in there!

Caring thoughts

Bruce in the City.

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