Monthly Archives: June 2009

A Particularly Rainy Day

On Pins, near the Portuguese bakery.

On Pins, near the Portuguese bakery.

It rained ALL DAY today. I had alot of errands to do, so took the metro to McGill. The metro was doing a lot of funny things this morning. On the orange line, it did these unexpected jerky stops and starts, then when I switched to the green line, the doors didn’t open for the longest time while we sat at a stop! Very preculiar.

I went to the post office to mail some letters, then went to Lianna’s work to say hi. When I requested staff to speak to her, a confused albino named Rhinna came over to me. Once we had clarified the name mix-up, I was told Lianna wasn’t in work today, so I left and went in search of a Blacks Photography to print some photographs. I had looked up the address online, to find that there were only two in Montreal. I went in search of the one in Place Ville Marie, however no one there knew what I was talking about. Eventually I found out that its called Astral Photographie in Quebec, and managed to get my 66 photos printed there. I then returned a shirt to Simons which I had bought and then realized I couldn’t afford, grabbed a $1 coffee at Art Java, amd went to YES- the youth employment agency.

YES was on the 7th floor of an obscure building on Sherbrooke. I had got the impression from their website that you could drop in any time, but when I got there, the sepretary said that I would have to come back on either a Tuesday or a Friday between the hours 1:50 and 4pm to attend a job-search workshop before they would even look at my resume or help me with my job-search. Well thanks. I left there a little peeved, but decided to return the next day at the alloted hours.

I walked home, stopping in at the grocery store to pick up some juice and an avecado for my lunch. Alot of stores seemed to be closed- including the ice cream store in the park. I presumed it was either due to the persistant rain or the fact it was a Monday.

When I went to return my groceries to my house, I found a postcard from Natalija and a letter from Nicole at the doorstep. I sat on my bed and read them, listening to the rain, and missing them deeply. I decided to write them both back, and ventured out in the rain again to go to the postoffice once more that day. I stopped into Dollarama and Jean-Coutu on my way to pick up some envelopes and a photo album for my freshly printed photos. I then walked up to the Duluth Community Centre to sign-up for their July beginner French lessons. During the walk there, I came across a community garden with tiger-lillies growing through the fence. The sight struck a cord with me and I took various pictures of the fence and gate, one of which I have posted with this blog post.

Now I sit at home, having done the second load of dishes today, and trying to decide whether to watch an episode of Hercule Poriot or do the laundry. I think I’ll aim for the Hercule Poriot. My socks can wait.

Cake & Conquest

After the rain.

After the rain.

On Friday, I helped Emily move out of her apartment… and goodness- what a workout it was! Carrying boxes up and down four flights of stairs for three hours was quite intense (and did I ever feel it the next day!). Emily however, was like superwoman. She even managed to carry furniture down with the boys! I was very impressed!

Emily gave me a few French fashion magazines, last spring’s issue of Print, a French phrase book, fashion accessories… and lunch! Not only was I getting exercise, but being showered with gifts and food! I had my nose glued to the copy of Print magazine when I wasn’t moving any boxes. There was an interesting article of digital textile printing, and the re-design of classic young adult book covers through the ages. Fascinating!

After moving, I went home to quickly shower and get dressed for my first Montreal room viewing. It was a small room in a huge stone Victorian mansion turned apartment building. The bedroom window over looked St. Denis and Carre St. Louis where I go for ice cream. It is ideally located and the apartment would be shared with three Francophone arts students. After I had asked every question imaginable, I agreed to take the place. They said they still had to show it to four more people, and would give me their answer on Tuesday. Such a long wait!

After the viewing, I went for a bicycle ride around the Plateau. I didn’t know what to do with myself, so once I’d had enough cycling, I plopped myself down in front of the computer and watched episodes of the Tudors and Allo Allo online while eating a bowl of soup. Season 3 of the Tudors was very disappointing. There was a lack of attractive men and soft-core porn scenes as had made season 1 so enjoyable. I can always depend on Allo Allo to please me. I was in such stitches of laughter that the other subletter where I’m staying had to come out and see what all the fuss was about. I love Allo Allo!

After I had watched a fair amount of online television, I went job searching. I went onto the careers pages of American Apparel, Bedo, Bluenotes, Body Shop, Buffalo, Dynamite, Forever 21, Gap, HBC, H&M, Jacob, La Senza, La Vie En Rose, Lululemon, Parasuco, Pottery Barn, Simons, Suzy Shier, Structube, Sears, Tristan & America, Urban Planet, Urban Outfitters, and Winners. Out of all those places, the only one with a visual merchandiser position available in Montreal was Urban Planet and Dynamite, so I applied there. I think I need to think of an alternative career path, since graphic design and visual merchandising seem to not be working out for me at the moment.

I went to bed feeling a bit forlorn, and was awoken in the morning by the pitter patter of rain outside my window. I lay in bed, watching the rain drops splatter on the concrete outside, while a cool breeze caressed my bare legs. The cat came in and started to eat my pears, so I had to get up to brush him away (has anyone ever heard of a cat that likes fruit?!). I made myself some breakfast, then ventured out into the rain with my red umbrella.

I walked around until I found a cafe where I ordered a large coffee. I sat watching the rain outside and the people in the café. I decided to walk back through the park, and went into the gelato stand in St. Louis Square. I asked if they had cake, and they did, so I got a little slice of a cake I’d never had before. They served it to be on a boat-like plate made from some sort of dried husk. The staff were thrilled to have me. I was their first customer of the day.

The cake was a bit odd. Reminded me of red bean cake, but I doubt it was that, as it came from a very French café. I walked home in the rain, eating my little slice of cake in a very creative manner, holding both it, my purse, and my umbrella all at once. Now I sit at home listening to Yo-Yo Ma and Arvo Part while drinking a very large glass of water… I guess now I’ll work on my online portfolio. With cake, I can conquer the world!

Tour de Montreal du Nord

Someone's back fence

Someone's back fence

I got up bright and early Thursday morning to meet Emily for a fashionista’s tour de Montreal du nord. I had never ventures past. St. Viateur in Montreal. To me, it was the equivalent of Bloor street in Toronto… go beyond it and you get a nose bleed.

Emily first took me to the textile district to show me the most important stores to know. The most impressive place we  encountered was Kava. It had huge spools of Gutermann quality thread for $2, tracing wheels for as low as $1.50, and numerous other things for an extraordinary price. We also went to two bead stores (Arton beads in Toronto is still better) and various fabric stores. It was all quite interesting, almost tempting me to pick up the needle and thread again… if I had any money.

After the fabric district, we went to the Atwater Market. My cousin’s husband had encouraged me to go there when I first moved to Montreal, but as it was the other side of the world, I’d never gone. Yet, here I was now, in Atwater Market, and I was in culinary heaven. I was surrounded by every kind of Turkish delight imaginable, bouquets of dried lavender wrapped up in purple paper, little cakes topped with blueberries and cream, colourful local vegetables, and every kind of meat you could desire.

I was giddy in excitement. I could hardly control myself. The sight of all this wonderful food gave me such a high that I could hardly keep still. I wanted to run around and see it all, smell the sweet scents, and taste everything! My favourite shop was the butcher’s. They had the largest selection of meat I had ever seen. There was rabbit, venison, goose, caribou, bison, and horse! The best part was the cute illustrations of each animal above its section in the refrigerator. When I get a job- I know where I’m getting my burger meat!

Another thrilling moment for me was when I found myself sandwiched between a pear seller and a strawberry stand. I am a huge fan of pears, and to my left I saw a huge basket of bosc pears for $3. Then, to my right, there were fresh Quebecois strawberries… their scent seducing me with every breath. I just wanted to dive into them. They smelt like heaven itself!

Emily and I split a fruit smoothie, a bag of cranberries, and each got a fresh fig to eat. We walked around, comparing prices and sampling the organic raspberries and pastries that were offered us. We decided to come back and do our shopping at the end of the day… then all the fruits and vegetables would be mine to devour in culinary bliss!

We bicycled over to the St. Hubert plaza, which I had heard much about. I had envisioned in my mind something similar to the Ridley Plaza in St. Catharines, but of course Montreal doesn’t embrace ugly things like that. Instead, it was more like Queen St. West, 5 blocks of shops facing the street, all connected by a glass canopy to protect from the elements. There was a La Vie En Rose/Aqua outlet, Yves Roche outlet, DEX outlet, and various other stores, including some high-end boutiques. We went to the DEX outlet, where Emily bought a handful of summer clothes. We then peaked into some of the boutiques for inspiration, and went into a knitting store to feel the soft balls of wool and to look at their Fiber Arts magazines (Emily’s work is mentioned in one!).

At 3:30 we met her friends from Italy to show them the boutiques in Mile End. We poked our nose into a couple, but spent most of our visit there inside a Greek restaurant where we shared a huge salad and a pitcher of sangria. It was very refreshing on such a hot summer day!

After we were fed and watered, Emily and I bicycled back to the Atwater Market where we said our goodbyes. Many of the vendors were just beginning to pack up, so I quickly did my shopping, and was in and out of there within 7 minutes. I rushed over to the pear and strawberry man, then bought a tiny cucumber for a in-expensive at-home spa treatment. By the time I was back on my bike, my basket was bursting with goodies, and I bicycled home in complete happiness.

At 8pm I met Aria to attend a book reading. It had been promoted as “Robots fucking humans, humans fucking humans, robots fucking robots, and then Jesus gets involved.” but to our disappointment, it turned out to be a philosophical reading filled with shock value. It was neither erotic or humorous, as the promotions had implied. The reading was done with a local band from McGill, the Cyberdelic Sexfunk Trio, whom were friends of Aria, and quite talented. What I found most entertaining though, was watching people’s reaction to the unusual sex scenes described in the book. Jaws dropped, others were in uncontrollable laughter, and some walked out with expressions of utter disgust on their face.

During the second act, I had trouble staying awake. I was so worn out from all the cycling and walking I’d done that day that I could hardly keep my eyes open. So, after the show, I said goodnight to Aria and walked home to bed. It had been a very interesting day.

Smiling Cyclists & Bobbing Poodles

A beautiful encounter during my walk.

A beautiful encounter during my walk.

I went to bed very early last night, awaking 3 times and falling back asleep. At 10am, I woke up and laid in bed for ages, reluctant to face the day. It seemed extra-quiet today. No one stirred in the house or the apartment upstairs, and even the neighbour’s air conditioner seemed quieter this morning.

I eventually got up and looked in the fridge. I was running out of food… and today was Jean Baptise Day- the Quebecois version of Canada Day. I decided to go for a walk and see if I could find a grocer’s that was open. I put on my white summer dress and my big straw hat with the bow, and ventured outside.

It was beautifully sunny, warm day. There were smiling cyclists on the bike path, bobbing poodles on the sidewalk, and children running around the street. I walked up St. Hubert, which is another of my ideal neighbourhoods, and took pictures (see above) while searching for A Louver signs. I found that the local grocer’s was open, so went into buy some vegetables. It was a bustle with people, making shopping in the thin aisles very difficult. Celery and mushrooms had gone up in price, so I had to sacrifice the dill for my soup. I used the extent of my French with the cashier, then left feeling very pleased with myself.

Now, I’m sitting at home… and I think I’ll go make a new pot of soup!

Sunshine & Tears

DSCN9992

Today has been full of ups and downs. I woke up this morning still feeling very exciting about all the potential jobs I’d applied to the night before, and the two rooms available for rent overlooking St. Louis Square (my favourite neighbourhood). It was so thrilling that I had trouble sleeping last night. I tossed and turned, tossed and turned, until I finally had to get up to read a book. That helped me fall alseep.

When I went onto Facebook this morning, I received some upsetting news from a friend. I sat in my room moping about it for a bit, before deciding to get out of the house and go for a walk to think it all over. Caitlin called me to console me during my walk, as she was on break at her workplace.  She made me feel a lot better. Caitlin is always good at reminding you of the important things in life, so t hat your little problems don’t seem so overwhelming anymore.

I had brought my camera to cheer myself up by taking pictures. Photography is so enjoyable. It really requires you to open your eyes to appreciate and admire the beauty around you. You have no choice but to forget life’s disappointments but you’re behind the lens of a camera.

I thought I would triple-task and walk around the neighbourhood I want to live in to see if there were any for rent signs. There were a couple large apartments, but no rooms or small affordable apartments posted. I really hope I can find a place in this neighbourhood. Its so beautiful, and everything is so close by- including friends!

Now I sit at home, having uploaded my photos. I posted the one I like best. I like the simplicity of it, the textures, shapes, and colours. Maybe I’ll have a nice garden one day?

Fabulous Few Days

My photography skills seemed to get more artistic with champagne.

My artistic skills seemed to have improved with the champagne.

The last few days have been fabulous. On Thursday, Nicole cooked me dinner in celebration of my convocation. There was chicken smothered in honey and Dijon mustard, corn, and baked potatoes with sour cream. It was all delicious, hearty food. After dinner, I got a surprise gift sent by her mother- champagne! It took the three of us 20 minutes to open the bottle though. It was quite the ordeal! Aria pulled while I pushed, making our thumbs numb, as we giggled away. Eventually we took a knife to it, then a pair of scissors. The cork popped quite un-expectantly once I used the handles of the scissors on either side. We all squealed and ducked. Nicole caught it all on videotape- but its so embarrassing, I don’t think anyone will post it.

The next night was Nicole’s going away celebration. She was leaving for Italy to work at a consulting firm the next day, so a bunch of us got together to wish her fairwell. We went to a bar with grass-covered walls, Tintin themed tables, video projections, and an electric bull. The electric bull was the star of the night. Everyone wanted to ride it. Aria made the evening’s record, lasting a full 77 seconds on it. She and Nicole were very sore on the walk home. It was quite funny. I was still very energetic when I got home, so tidied my room and did pointless tasks such as filing my nails. I didn’t end up turning the light out until 4am- rather unusual for me!

Saturday was Emily’s birthday, who is a St. Catharines native like myself, working in the costume design industry for theatre. She invited some of her friends over for supper and made the most amazing pizza from spelt flour! It was absolutely divine and a guilt-free indulgence. Once well fed, we went to a Canadian short film screening at a random place on St. Denis. The films had a strong art-school feel to them, combining illustration, photography, and vector animations. I felt like I was at OCAD.

At intermission, we snuck into a dance performance* nearby which her friend was performing at. It was held in a run-down, empty pool, likely from the 1930’s. The first piece had a very S/M look to it, with a hooded man with two collared girls with chains like puppet strings. The second was very hipster- with an American Apparel worthy gentlemen in only yellow booty shorts and big red sunglasses. He danced away to a bad disco song while stuffed animals were tossed at his vibrating body. The third piece was the most impressive, with two lovers throwing each other around, running up walls, doing a lot of jumping and falling. It was a very emotional piece, and I felt it depicted the trials of love very well. It looked both emotionally and physically painful as the dancers were being very vicious on the hard, cold tile of the empty pool!  The final piece was very funny, with the lead dancer dressed up as a janitor with a big moustache. He eventually turned into an owl, with a big paper-mache owl head on his shoulders and wings attached to his arms. By then, he was a very confused janitor/bird.

After the dance, we sat in the parking lot drinking beer with Emily’s friends. It was a lovely night and it was very peaceful. Her friends from the dance show were going to Dieu de Ciel for a drink, so we followed. It was a nice place, similar to the Merchant Ale House in my ‘hometown’ of St. Catharines. It had a wide variety of unique beers, including one that was pink, called ‘hibiscus rose’. I wasn’t drinking that night, so just ordered tap water. I tipped the waiter well, which proved to my benefit as he kept refilling my glass whenever it was empty. I got my 8 glasses of water that day.

On Sunday, Dunter, a friend I’d made at a dinner party awhile back, invited me out for supper. We went to the Village, and randomly picked a contemporary Mexican restaurant. We had salmon pate with a coriander sauce drizzled on top, with salt that looked like rock crystals on the side, salad, and an unknown meat dish. It was all beautifully presented on square plates, and tasted far better than any Mexican food I’d had before. After dinner we went to Sky, a gay bar which had hot tubs on their rooftop patio (Montreal has the craziest bars!). I asked the waiter what they had on top, which he replied “White, red, and blue.” in English, which was the extent of his English skills. It was adorable. I ordered half a pint of the ‘red’ beer, and enjoyed the view of the city and Mount Royal from the patio. Once I had finished my beer, we went to a nearby park, where Dunter showed me how to tie a variety of marine knots. I found it all rather interesting. I can’t decide whether knot tying is an art or design, but whichever it is, its pretty cool!

Around 8pm, I headed home to work on the concepts for the business card I am designing for Aria. I did about 7 concepts while listening to Amon Tobin and Daft Punk to aid in the creative process. I went to bed at a decent hour, and ta-da, it’s Monday morning! I am sitting by the open window typing away, enjoying the sun and the breeze. It’s a lovely day! I think I will go to the post office today and take advantage of this gorgeous weather.

*Piss in the Pool preformed by wants&needs danse at Bain Saint-Michel.

My First ‘Real Job’ Interview

I took this photo awhile ago, but I think it describes my day well.

I took this photo awhile ago, but I think it describes my day well.

I had my first ‘real’ job interview today, and what a palava it was! It was at the Aldo headoffice off the island, so I left two hours early to make sure I found it in time for my 9:30 am interview. I got Google Map transit directions, which instructed I take the bus and get off at Sears Stn. and walk to Emile Belanger Blvd… however when I got off at the stop, I found myself in a industrial wasteland, with the streets Cavendish and Thimes stretching on as far as I could see- no Emile Belanger Blvd in sight! There was no one around, just cars whizzing past on the highway. Desolate.

I didn’t have my map of Montreal on me, so called my Mum. Luckily she was home (such a blessing!) and she went onto the computer and helped me zig zag my way through the wasteland to the Aldo head office. It was rather traumatic, but I did appreciate the romping through the meadows. It was nice to be surrounded by wildflowers and trees, listening to the birds chirp.

I got to my destination ten minutes early. The Aldo international headquarters were quite stunning. From the outside, it looked like this big box plopped in the middle of brushland, but inside I found that it was all glass with rich red wood detailing and white walls which hung beautiful paintings.

I checked in with the hostess, and sat down to review my interview notes. The waiting area consisted of these blob-like red pedestal chairs beneath a glass ceiling. It was quite pleasant sitting there in the sun. Soon, another girl walked in, with a bell somewhere on her person that tinkled away when she walked. She sat down across from me. Apparently she had an interview at 10am, but was then called into the interview room before I was. I began to fret that I maybe had missed my name being called, and went up to the hostess to ask. She told me not to worry and that they would call me when they wanted to see me. So, I sat back down and waited for… over an hour.

People came and went. Buyers conversed in the lobby. Businessmen shook hands. Girls in short skirts and high heels hobbled down the grand staircase and came in and out of doors like bees in a hive. The tinkling girl with the 10am interview soon came out and then went up the staircase and disappeared into the second-floor unknown. I was getting very worried that I was never going to get my interview. Had I missed an e-mail or a phone call saying they no-longer wanted to see me? Why did people with interviews with the same woman as me get to go before I did, although there’s were scheduled later?

Eventually, a woman came up and asked me what I was doing there. I told her my name and interview time, and before I could tell her who my interviewer was, she disappeared into thin air. About ten minutes later, my interviewer appeared. I remembered seeing her earlier walking hurriedly around, as she had the most stunning dusty rose jacket one with a huge lapel. She apologized profusely, explaining she had forgot to write me in her book and ushered me into her office.

The interview went poorly. I stumbled over my words, and the “About Me”, “Strengths/Weaknesses”, and “Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years answers” I had rehearsed were not asked. Instead I got asked “Tell me when you went above and beyond expectations.” and “Tell me about Ryerson.” which I had great difficulty answering. I have yet to become eloquent in such situations. I was just so nervous and stressed after waiting for over an hour in the lobby that I couldn’t string my words together. I must have come off as a total goof.

Now I sit at home, trying to plan my life. It doesn’t really help that the internet is on the blink… but oh well, we shall make do. And eat chocolate. Yes, chocolate.