Monthly Archives: August 2009

Backseat Antics

Fresh Niagara blueberries... breakfast at Mum's is always yummy!

Breakfast at Mum's: fresh Niagara blueberries!

On Monday I had my first dinner guest at my new apartment: Tay! He arrived early and called from the lobby just when I was pulling my stockings on. I quickly rushed to get dressed and to the blow out the beeswax candles I had lit earlier (I didn’t want things to look too romantic). In my rush, I managed to spill hot wax all over my brown American Apparel halter dress… and answered the door looking an absolute mess! I sheepishly let Tay in, stumbling over my words in embarrassment and went to change into my white dress of the same design. I totally forgot I was wearing dark garments underneath (as I had been wearing a brown dress) and walked around the entire evening totally oblivious to my indecency. Everyone who saw me knew exactly what I was wearing underneath!

I stuck my brown dress in the freezer (I had read this helps to remove wax from clothing… but it did not work. My dress is ruined!) and focused on dinner. Tay had brought a homemade dessert, expensive wine, and the board game Scrabble, which totally out shone my simple pasta dish. I didn’t have the proper pots, pans, or cooking utensils to make things right, and the sauce was a bit odd. Tay was polite about it all though and ate my disaster without complaint… and actually pretended it was good!

Tay had made crème brule for dessert, flavoured with earl grey, and served in adorable white dishes. I didn’t have any sugar, so we went on an adventure to explore the stores in my new neighbourhood. I noticed a blow-torch in Tay’s bag, which confused me greatly as I had only seen them used in dubious circumstances during my time in student housing. However, that was not why Tay had it. Instead, he took it out to finish the crème brule, making me feel rather silly to suspect anything other.

After dessert (it tasted wonderful) we played Scrabble. I won by 200 points which is impressive considering I hadn’t played since I was 13. It was getting late, so we decided not to play another game. Tay gave me a hug goodbye and went home as he had work the next morning. I did not have work to go to… but I did have a job interview!

The interview was at Perform, a telemarketing agency that sells seats at conferences for $2000 a pop. I spent 45 minutes in the man’s office, listening to excessive repetition of the importance of client’s privacy, confidence in your speaking voice, and never straying from the script. I just smiled and nodded the whole time, never having to answer any questions. It wasn’t a job interview- it was a drill.

I was requested to research a conference and write a script and call the company the next day for my phone test. I had thought telemarketing was easy work to get, but found myself stressing out immensely about the script. I did as I was told, and practiced my script until I had it confidently memorized. I then sat on the couch with a black Russian martini and listened to music, trying to relax.

Nicole called to invite me out for drinks with her and the McGill music crowd. I didn’t feel like moving, but after half an hour managed to peel myself from my cushion and cycled over to Bifteque on St. Laurent. Everyone was there- Lianna, Aria, Carlo, Emil, Greg, and Caro… Carlo and Nicole treated me to some drinks and we sat and chatted until everyone went home.

The three of us were having a serious craving for poutine afterwards, so went to some 24 hour place on Rachel near Park Lafontaine. The two love birds (Nicole & Carloe) split a hot dog and a poutine topped with smoked meat, and I had a regular poutine. I had been told this place had the best poutine in Montreal, but the fries were not as fat, soft, or flavourful as Frite Alors, and the cheese curds were too big and cold to melt in the bit of gravy drizzled on top. I was not impressed.

The next morning, I got up super-early to rehearse my script. At 10am, I called the office and… I failed my test. My voice was not confident enough to sell $2000 seats at a conference (damn it). However, I had dinner with my friend Dunter to look forward to that evening.

I managed to make a far better meal for Dunter, learning from my mistakes from dinner with Tay. I bought fresh pasta, basil, cherry tomatoes, and a pre-made cream sauce. I arranged it all beautifully on square plates. It tasted delicious! Dunter and I did the dishes together, then he took me out to a patisserie he knew of near my house for dessert.

Dunter ordered hazelnut cream wrapped in a chocolate-covered cookie and I had chocolate-orange gelato. It was near the AMC movie theatre, so we went to see what movies were on. There were none that I knew of, so I chose Public Enemies for us to watch as it looked nostalgic. It turned out to be a poor choice. It was one bank robbery after another (and rather dull robberies at that). Luckily, I love 1930’s fashions, so entertained myself looking at the cut of the mens’ suit, the drape of the womens’ skirts, and the hairstyles throughout the film.

When we came out of the movie theatre, the temperature had dropped dramatically. It was freezing!  Dunter walked me to my apartment where we said goodbye and I rushed in to escape the cold. I felt sorry for Dunter, who had a long bike ride home. I don’t know how he does it!

That night, I packed for my trip to Niagara as my grandfather’s memorial was that weekend. I was meeting my cousin in Ottawa to catch a ride down with them. Nicole happened to be going home to Niagara too that weekend to visit family, so we took the bus together. We were very excited by the time we squished in the back of my cousin Kate’s car, and drove her and her husband nuts I’m sure. We were like children going through waves of excitement, crashing, falling asleep, then up in giggles and pillow fights once again. It was great fun! Backseat antics for sure!

Now I sit at the kitchen table on my Mum’s computer having just finished making Poppa’s memorial CD for the luncheon tomorrow. Mum just came home from swimming at the YMCA and is about to make us a cup of afternoon tea. I could certainly do with a cup! Its chilly out today and I defiantly need the caffeine… tea!

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Cleaning, Cycling, & Chatting

A mirror more broken as my bike.

A mirror more broken than my bike.

My Dad and my friend Nicole moved me into my new apartment this week. It’s in a lovely turn-of-the-century building on Masionneuve between Guy and Atwater. My roommate, Chloe, doesn’t move in until the last weekend of August, so I had the whole place to myself. I thought I’d be lonely, considering I’m used to living with 5 to 9 people, but to be honest- I enjoyed being on my lonesome. I could play my music, come home to a clean apartment, and walk around in my underwear- single living at its best!

However, being on your lonesome is not good when you are locked out of your apartment. On Friday afternoon, I decided to clean all the windows inside and out as they were very dirty. There is a fire-escape outside each, so I went on that to do the outside cleaning… however I didn’t realize that the windows could not be opened from the outside. So there I was, in my little black cotton dress, Windex and cloth in hand, locked out of my apartment. It was a rather hilarious yet unfortunate situation to find myself in.

Luckily, I found that I hadn’t closed the glass pane of one window, so made a slit in the screen in order to reach in and open the window. I was very relieved that I was able to get in… and that my windows were so secure!

After more cleaning and a trip to Canadian Tire, I met up with some of my McGill music school friends; Nicole, Lianna, Aria, and Josh. We went to Kiano, a Carribean restaurant to have rotis. I was so excited, as rotis are one of my favourite foods! However, the rotis here were horrible! The chicken was dry with bits of bone here and there, and there was a general lack of sauce and stuffing inside each roti. The service was really poor as well, and by the time we got our meals they were cold! I was not impressed. Of the four rotis places I’d been to in Toronto, only one of them had been poor- but at least the price was cheaper and the service faster than this place!

After dinner, I went home to have a bath and get changed. I was meeting my new friends Eva and Giro at Philips Lounge, and then meeting my graphic design friend Eve at a party later on. I decided to wear my black American Apparel tube dress with my red stilettos (and of course my beret and scarf!). Sassy!

There were lots of people at Philips, including the Swedish fellow from last time and a new chap, who was just finishing his masters at McGill. They had both recently returned from business trips (one from Brazil, the other from Russia) and both had some great stories to tell! Did you know that beer is only 50 cents in rural Russia and $1 in urban centres! Amazing! And all the girls are skinny and wear high heels all the time! (he said it was very disappointing coming back to Montreal. Haha!)

Everyone went to the party afterwards. Giro was going to take us all in his SUV, but couldn’t fit nine people, so Montreal-boy (I can’t remember his name) and I chose to cycle there. Giro promised to take me out for gelato as a thank-you/apology that he couldn’t fit me in his vehicle as planned. Yay! Ice cream!

We went to Montreal-boy’s office at McGill to pick up his speed bike, then headed to the party. Low and behold, it turned out that he was an avid cyclist and training to be semi-pro racer… which made me feel extra embarrassed about the horrible squeaking noise my bike makes and the fact that it’s stuck in 3rd gear… so embarrassing! However, I did manage to impress him when I cycled off my seat in 5” high heels (it’s the only way to get my bike going at a decent speed). I have skills.

When we got to the party, I send a brief hello to Eva, but she was enamored in conversation with a chap who had just come back from South America (all these trips people go on!). So, I sat with Montreal-boy and Giro, the whole time chatting away until 2am. When Giro left, we decided to leave too, making a stop at a bar on the way home. Boy bought me a beer and we sat and talked until the bar closed.

Boy cycled me home (cringing at the sound my bike makes) and offered to do research on fixing my bike and finding the parts for me. I went up to my apartment rather pleased with my social evening and awoke the next morning thinking it was Sunday. I got up all excited Sunday meant tomorrow was Monday (resume-handing out time and Tay)… but unfortunately today was Saturday… and I had no social plans what-so-ever. Sigh.

When I got up to brush my teeth, I heard my neighbour across the alley playing very loud opera music. It was pleasant in a way, as it made me feel like I was in Europe. I made myself Kraft dinner for breakfast, and sat on the sofa admiring my beautiful apartment. When the opera stopped, I could enjoy the calming drone of the cicadas and the soft tick of the new clock I bought for the kitchen. Now I sit at my desk, trying to decide what to do today. I think I’ll call up Jimmy and se what he is doing…

A Different Kind of Sadness

Down by the creek...

Down by the creek...

Having never witnessed suffering or death before, I had no idea what to expect. Dying can be a long process. One day morphs into the next and you lose all track of time. Grief is a different kind of sadness to what I’m used to.  There was no remorse, anger, or want. Death at age 90 is normal and welcomed. The suffering is the hardest thing to take… to watch a loved one be in pain… to be incoherent… for life to be needlessly dragged on…

I went home with my dad the night that my mum stayed on at the hospital with my grandfather. I hadn’t been to my childhood home in ages and it felt good to be there, especially now. Dad made me a gin and tonic first thing, which I took down into the forest that lies beside our house. I tried to find a path down to the creek, but everything was overgrown or eroded away that nothing looked the same. I sat on a fallen tree by the bank of the river and sipped my drink, all the while watching the clear water gush over the rocks below.

It was very peaceful there, being surrounded by the trees and the long green stems of Queen Anne’s lace, garlic mustard, and dames rocket. To many those plants would be meaningless, but they are such a part of me, such a characteristic of the landscape and shaped the stories I wrote in my later childhood years. I still can’t describe the rustle of leaves though. For years I have tried to describe that wonderful sound through words, but never succeeded. Its just too beautiful.

When I returned to the house, I found Daddy smoking a cigarette with a glass of wine outside. He had Preisner’s Requiem For My Friend on, playing for Poppa. I went and laid down on the old hammock strung between two trees to listen to the music under the green canopy of leaves. The birds, the crickets, and the cicadas all seemed to chime in for Poppa…

I hope he comes to rest soon.

Hiking In Heels

A beautiful day indeed!

A beautiful day indeed!

I have quite the active weekend, and golly- did I ever love it! Even though I was too broke to buy to alcohol, I still managed to go to various dance parties, a bar, and a picnic! All were immensely fun!

On Friday, I met up with some of new friends at a bar downtown. It was a classy bar where you could play pool while listening to Diana Krall. I was a bit of a celebrity because of my blog. People were quite tickled by what I wrote, especially when it was written about them. Eva was introducing me to everyone- even people I’d already met. There was a young guy visiting from Sweden, who I discussed fashion with for awhile. I agreed to show him some menswear boutiques that sold Canadian designers for him to take home… My only issue is I don’t know any of the shops in Montreal! Help!

After I had exhausted all conversation with the people around me, I went home to change before going to see Dunter’s performance. He was doing a show with an amateur dance troupe at a goth nightclub downtown. I got dressed up as goth as I could, while still maintaining my signature look by wearing my French beret and cravat. At the club, there were a handful of people I recognized, but chose to I sit down with Rachel, a Concordia student who I had been acquainted with since May.

The first performance was a tribal-esque dance with a theatrical sacrifice, followed by Dunter’s skit with a captive woman dressed up like a 1950’s Italian movie star, on which was cast a magic spell cast on her to turn her into a zombie. Then she and a bunch of sexy zombies did a dance routine to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It was rather humorous to say the least.

After the performances, the dance floor started up again, so me, Rachel, and her friends decided to go dancing as the music was too loud to permit decent conversation. The music was all industrial goth and German techno, which is something I am unfamiliar with. I happened to mention how I didn’t know how to dance to this sort of music, and when I was asked “If you don’t listen to this, what music do you dance to?” and I answered “Hipster.” – you should have seen their faces! It was hilarious!

I eventually got into the rhythm of things, and Julie, one of Rachels’ friends helped to teach me how to dance with my arms and step with the music. It was actually quite fun once I got the hang of it. It really made me realize how much I miss dancing, the art school dance scene in Toronto, and Caitlin. I just don’t dance enough in Montreal- and when I do, it’s at a goth club! Something’s wrong there.

I would have stayed till close, but left at 2am instead, as I had to get up early the next morning. Tay and I were meeting up for a picnic at 11am, so I dressed in a casual but flattering outfit that I thought would be appropriate for a romantic picnic in the park. I wore my high-waisted denim hobble skirt with a white blouse, a little black scarf tied neatly around my neck, and of course my beret. I looked very cute, and wore blush and lipgloss to boot.

We met at Sherbrooke and Parc, then walked up to the Belgium bakery to buy a fresh baguette before heading up the hill to Mount Royal. We found a comfortable spot in the sun and rolled out the blanket. Tay had prepared the meal and pulled out a variety of things from his rucksack: brie, crackers, pecan nuts, grapes, apple slices, and peach chutney! Yum yum yum!

We happily munched away, discussing classic 1960’s films. It was such a treat to have brie! Once we had eaten our fill, we decided to go for a walk along the trails. I wanted to show him this one path that reminded me of the Niagara Escarpment where I grew-up, but I couldn’t find it, so we took the main path instead, which lead to the very top of the mountain! The view was quite impressive, but I was more concerned with the steam punk chandeliers in the visitor’s centre.

We decided to get lost on our way home. We went down some random paths and found a sweet little clearing in the trees that overlooked the Eastern part of Montreal. We sat there chatting about life for awhile; romance, heartbreak, and such. My feet were starting to hurt by then (I had worn heels) so we decided to go back the way we came which was shorter than taking the round-about route. Tay walked me home, where I immediately fell asleep on the couch once I got in the door. I was totally exhausted from all that climbing!

In the evening, I met up with Dunter who took me out for dinner at a seafood restaurant before going to a party. I had these amazing spicy mussels served in their shell, topped with finely chopped parsley, onions, and tomatoes. The party was very different than any others I’d been to in Montreal. There was a dance floor with incredible DJs, a kissing booth, a bar, and a wrestling room with padded floors… and everyone was very, very hipster. I sort of felt like I was at some sort of crazy OCAD fundraiser, except their was a strong alternative-sex streak to the theme of the party.

There was a trio of wrestling lesbians dressed up in sailor suits who did a variety of theatrical scenes for people to watch, and a piercing expert/artist from Boston giving a workshop on temporary, safe piercing. I was a bit uncomfortable watching the piercings, but the pictures of her installation artwork on the female body was quite impressive (ignoring the pain factor of the willing model). I never knew what you could do with a little flesh, a needle and a lot of dental floss!

I was still puckered out from my hike up the mountain that day, so Dunter drove me home relatively early. I awoke the next morning to Lianna’s alarm clock going off. For the second morning in a row, I had to get up and turn it off as she wasn’t home. I have the whole house to my self this weekend! Should have had a party!

Cloud & Moon

Cycling around with my camera this sunny morning. (Carre St. Louis)

Cycling around with my camera this sunny morning. (Carre St. Louis)

I woke up early and couldn’t fall back asleep this morning, so decided to go on a bike ride. I rode to the corner of St. Laurent and Prince Arthur to use the wireless signal there to pick up my e-mail, then went to the grocery store to pick up an avocado and pear. I happily rode home through the Carre St. Louis, stopping to take pictures of the pretty houses overlooking the park. I am determined to one day live in a place such as there! So beautiful…

When I came home, I decided to pre-occupy myself with Photoshop. I got so consumed with doctoring photos for fun that I was almost late for work that afternoon. I did not notice the time slip by. I had four students come to conversation hour my first shift, which must have been a record! When I left the school at break, I saw that the beautiful sunny skies I had enjoyed bicycling around that morning had been replaced by slate grey clouds… and a torrential downpour! Aaa!

I got totally soaked on my way to the library, and spent 15 minutes trying to dry myself off until the hand dryer in the washroom. I was absolutely soaked through! I had the strong temptation to remove my shirt, as it would dry faster off my body, but I decided against it as the McGill music camp was in the same building. I’m sure the little girls would be shocked to walk in on a young professional in just pants and bra!

Once I was partially dry, I went to the music library to use their Internet to look up some companies names and compare bus/train fares to Toronto. When I went back to work, I had two students come to my class. We discussed public transit, taxes, and computer hardware- the latter two I knew nothing about!

It rained on my bike ride home, so I immediately ran a hot bubble bath when I got home. I didn’t want to catch a cold with such an exciting weekend ahead of me. I lay in the bath until the bubbles were all gone. It was so nice!

After my bath, I got out the shirt I’ve been working on for Saturday. I’m sick and tired of wearing the same thing every time I go out somewhere special, so for the past two days I have been working on altering a top. It was proving rather difficult as I was doing everything by hand and trying to tailor the top to my body while it was on my body. So, I brought it to my friend Emily, who is a fashion-designer. We had our first computer class together. She fix my top, I show her how to use a Mac. A fair trade of skills.

Our lesson was really fun! We sat on her balcony with her laptop and went through all the basics. I felt that I actually made a good teacher! I didn’t become overbearing like I did when trying to teach Lauren to use InDesign two years ago. I think that has to do with spending so much time with Dunter, who is an excellent teacher. It’s really made me realize the patience it requires when teaching people manual work such as working on a computer or tying knots.

After our lesson, Emily did a fitting for me with my shirt, before bicycling off to her roommate’s opening at La Galerie Espace. It was a fabulous little store/gallery with the most incredible crafts from Quebec. I was particularly impressed with Marianne Chevalier’s textile art and the silver castings. Marianne had photographs silkscreened onto thin fabric in which she strung copper wire. It combined all my favorite mediums!

The jewelry was really cool too. There was an abundance of 3-dimensional silver jewelry on display. A castings of puckered lips caught my eye, which were made into earrings with a matching necklace. My favourite though was a simple silver stem of bluebells made into a long and elegant pair of earrings and necklace. They were so delicate and fine, I could hardly take my eyes off them!

The sky was beautiful on the way home. It was a beautiful shade of nighttime blue. The moon was full, and there was a long trail of thin cloud beneath it that lead to a single star. It was like a scene out of a fantasy book; something a photograph could never capture but a painting could. The sight is still vivid in my mind. I should sketch it down before bed.

Silent Streaks of Lightening

Steps to a theatre near my house.

Steps to a theatre near my house.

I woke up from a dream this morning about baking. My friend Caitlin and I had started a croissant business on a picnic bench outside Campus Co-op in Toronto. We weren’t doing too well though as I kept burning the croissants, so we ended up having to give them away to the sqeegy kids instead. The image of all those buttery, half-burnt croissants haunted me all morning, to the point where I found myself on my bicycle heading towards St. Laurent and Prince Arthur.

I first went into the fine bakery on the corner, which is similar to Cobs in Toronto. They had apricot croissants there, but they were too expensive, so I went next door to Coffee Depot instead. There, I found almond croissants to die for, so got one in a paper bag and went to sit on the patio. It was delicious and so nice to sit in the sun!

At noon, I cycled to work. No students turned up during either of my two shifts that day, so I caught up on my history readings. I’m currently reading Love For Sale: The Global History of Prostitution. It’s a very interesting book, going from Babylon times to present, and out of all the historical figures in the book- three of them so far have been named “Nell”. I found this rather humourous as my name is so rare to hear, yet it seemed to be rather popular in circles such as these.

As Tuesday was cheap night at the theatre, I put a call out on Facebook for friends to join me on a viewing of De Pere en Flic. Dave showed up, but the time we’d got to the kiosk to buy our tickets, they were sold out! So we went to Carlos & Pepes instead, where we chatted over summery drinks (he a pina colada, and I a mango martini) while we watched a dogshow on the television over the bar.

After our drink, Dave asked me to take him shopping. This was rather thrilling for me as I love menswear, and have neither Chris or Jimmy to take me along with them to go shopping now that I live in Montreal. I took Dave to H&M and Tristan (haha- I need to take Tristan there!), but nothing fit well and the stores closed before we found anything, so went home empty-handed.

On my bike ride home, it started to rain softly. I was a bit annoyed at first, but when I looked up at the sky- it was alit with silent strikes of lightening beyond the dark skyscrapers of downtown. It was beautiful! The sky was a deep purple with smudges and streaks of white, just like a pastel painting. It was just stunning!

Trees At Night

A happy passing on the way to get groceries.

A happy passing on the way to get groceries.

Today was my first Monday without French lessons. I took advantage of the extra sleep-in time and didn’t get up until 9:30am. I was out of milk, so had water in my cereal instead (it wasn’t as bad as it sounds) and made some coffee. I lugged my Mac into the living room to use the wireless free Internet available there, but to my dismay, neither my computer or my iPhone could detect the signal. No Internet! No E-mail! Aaaa!

I eagerly awaited noon, and cycled off to work to use the Internet at McGill (must feed my addiction!). At work that day, I had some fabulous conversations with the ESL students. The Venezuelan veterinarian and I discussed language-learning tactics for French, and the shy Quebecer and I discussed classic, Asian, and art films. He and I had a lot in common, except he had more of a stomach for violence than I.

During break, I went grocery shopping… to feed my other addiction; pineapple juice! While picking up my fix, I came across a clearance basket of all-natural soap, so picked some lavender and ginger liquid hand soaps for a mere $2 each for my new apartment.

When I went back to work, only one person turned out to my ‘group’ conversation hour. She was a sweet L3 ESL student from Japan and we had a fabulous conversation about Japanese vs. Canadian culture. She had been a biologist in Japan and quit her job to come to Canada, much to the dismay to her family. Apparently quitting a job is taboo, and you are expected to stay with the same company from the moment you leave university to when you retire! Goodness- that’s certainly a culture difference to here! How many companies have I worked for? Six, not included my own two attempts to run a business.

After work, I sat out front McGill to check my e-mail on my iPhone before going home. I fed the evil cats, made dinner, and then… had no idea what to do with my day. I couldn’t job search, work on my online portfolio, or waste my time on Facebook, so I decided to write a letter. I hadn’t written Nana & Poppa in over a week! Once I told them all I could, I wrote a letter to Natalijia, then one to Judy, and did my ironing. I felt rather restless, perhaps due to my Internet withdrawal, so decided to go one a bike ride.

I biked all along Ontario Street, past Frontenac metro, into an odd combination of industrial wasteland and post-war apartment buildings. Once I hit a big hill I decided to turn around and go home. It was dark by then, and the moon was almost full. I didn’t much fancy going home just yet, so went to La Bulle au Carre (St. Louis Square) for ice cream. I hadn’t been there since Caitlin’s visit, and decided to get the flavour we had discussed when last there; maple! I sat on the patio by candlelight, eating my ice cream and enjoying the calming sound of musicians in the park. By the café were a group of hip young women singing folk country songs, and by the fountain were some rowdy boys playing instrumental folk rock. It was all so pleasant in the shady, dark park.

Having eaten my ice cream, I leisurely cycled on home and put Crystal Castles on. They seem to go well with the image of big, dark maple trees against a night sky as in Carre St. Louis. I tend to associate the music with working at the Harbor Front selling jewelry late into the night two summers ago. I really don’t have any music to define this summer. Last summer was Dragonnette, Frankie Valli, and Carolyn Mark- music I was introduced to by my fellow employees and friends. I lack both steady employment and a dependable social life in Montreal, perhaps that’s why I have no music for this summer. Hm.