18 June 2012

Montréal Week 2: Less novelty, more routine.

June 2
 Had a bad morning. I was really tired, homesick, and frustrated with Montréal. Nowhere to relax: stuffy uncomfortable bedroom, too many people outside. And I felt like I should be having a good time, since I far away from home doing lots of new things. It wasn't a fun couple of hours. Lynne helped me through it. She's great. Went to the Grand Bibliotheque and Eva Bie's, the fullest thrift store. Lynne found me a perfect raincoat in about 30 seconds. They served us free lemonade/chai mix. I liked Eva Bie's.

Home. Nap. Dinner (cheese-red pepper-celery-mustard sandwiches). A jazz restaurant with an amazing piano trio led by Taury Butler. Exhilerating and beautiful music, although I would have prefered a venue with more focus on the music. Having waiters squeak by you and constant background chatter is not ideal for listening. Home. Called the 'rents. Listened to God Bless Your Black Heart and then slept.

June 3
Awoke to Lynne beckoning me to Mont Royal and the Tam-tam. Luckily, our meeting time left me able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and tea. Walking to Mont Royal and waiting was nice. It's a pretty place, a good place. I'll have to return. At 11:30 the Tam-tam hadn't really started, only 2-3 lonely drummers playing half-hearted rhythms. We headed up the mountain, but garbagey fire pits and broken beer bottles made our trail unappealing. Trombones and tubas lured us down off the slopes.

My cell phone died as I was trying to reply to Jocelyn's text. Chances of meeting up with family seemed slim.

The Tam-tam got going, a lovely circle of percussion and positive outdoor ambiance. Lynne and I swing danced to the drum circle; Lindy worked best with the tempo and feel. We traded massages, picknicked, generally rested and enjoyed the sun, etc. Walked home at 2ish through a pleasant residential, apartmenty district.

Evening: listening to Now You Are One of Us. Jon Congleton's music is oddly soothing, a favourite thing that reminds me of home. A walk around - to the bank, to the library. Bought two more volumes of La Recherche des Temps Perdus, decided to start collecting them, even if they're not in order. Read Les Miz for a long time at home. Ate celery and peanut butter.

June 4
My phone's battery died. Desperately begged, pleaded, prayed, but it refused to listen. I bring my charger everywhere, constantly searching for outlets to check my texts. In the corner of class, I crouch and fiddle with electronic gadgets like a hacker or a terrorist.

Class. Prepositions. Colours. Improv en Francais (vraiment drole!). Iffy photography presentation worse by the rude, disgruntled grumbles of the tired crowd. She was a good speaker, but I didn't care about her life story. Should've brought sandwiches today, 'twas long.

Sighed with relief when I saw Lynne waiting for me outside of my dorm. Dinner plans fell into place. A beautiful dinner with great family. Very nice seeing them.

Meant to walk a couple blocks with Lynne, but ended up at her place an hour later. Stayed until 11:40. Worried a bit about how little sleep I'll get tonight, but it was worth it for the quality time before saying goodbye. Lynne's sister brought home bees; they're starting a beehive; that's cool.

June 5
Morning class: more prepositions, an article about cell phones and facebook that spelled out pretty well why I like not having a phone. In the afternoon we went to the lovely Marché Jean-Talon. I came back with bread, apples, peppers, and the intention to go back for a more thorough shopping trip on the weekend. It was a nice place that I wouldn't mind returning to regularly. lots of fresh fruit, veggies, eggs, baking. Also, loose leaf tea (!).

Next, back at school for the photography competition. Fatgiue had me in a "let's get this done" mode rather than "let's have some fun" mode, unfortunately. Losing a member of the group was annoying. (Is it really that hard to notice everyone else stopped to watch the parkour?) But we took some cool pictures.

Cheesebread dinner. 6:45 nap that could've lasted all night, but I ambled to the grocery store at 10 to get some necessities: tea, granola. Also delicious apple/cranberry juice that took an act of will not to drink all at once.

June 6
More Facebook and social media discussion. Daphnée realized we were tired and played us lots of videos, so that we wouldn't have to carry the discussion. I felt pretty good, having slept 11 of the last 13 hours. We read an article about cyberbullying that made me glad to be out of high school (and glad that I wasn't a girl in high school.) Found out that I needed to get the competition photos in ASAP. Went into team leader mode, hunting Jill down, running to her computer, and choosing the photos for our team. I hope that I did a good job and that nobody would be disappointed by my choices. Back in glass I got to learn about subjonctif passé, which I vaguely recalled from high school.

Lunch. Home. Rice and cheese. Kind of disappointed that a roommate came home, no alone time. I think to function in a city for long periods of time, I'll need to lower my standards for what counts as alone time.

School: a talk about how to present photography. Titles, descriptions, sequencing the pictures. Then back to our teams to choose 3 of 8 pictures and then title, describe and sequence them. Parkour picture turned out disappointingly gray and blurry. Three stood out as looking good together. Finding a satisfying paralellism in our titles and descriptions was the hard part. I mostly translated, struggling to make phrases that sound good in English sound good in French while meaning roughly the same thing. But after a couple hours we had an end result that was super sentimental and super satisfying.

Home. left for a walk. Saw stylish hipster girls in denim blues and dusty browns. Saw a strip club called "Le Gentlemen's Choice", chuckled. The bouncer's head didn't interrupt the round curve of his body. Spent a couple hours on the campus computers. Home. Slept.

I've noticed myself getting excited about things that were commonplace at home: sitting with a cup of tea and listening to Noctourniquet, having the energy to read Les Miz for an hour, directionlessly browsing the internet for an hour. I should remmeber to do these things. They make me happy, keep me sane. I'd like to know more about old, traditional folk music. Like when Victor Hugo writes about Mme Thenardier singing a song based on an "air anglaise a la mode en 1830", I want to know what that sounds like. My ability to recognize jazz standards has steadily improved over the last couple years, which is cool :-)

June 7
Montréal seems to have a thing for lonely "up" escalators with no "down" counterpart. Verb learnings in the morning: more subjonctif passé (kinda hard), when to accord a participe passé. Listened to the song "Dégénerations" by Mes Aieux. Really cool arrangement: only drums and vocals. Nice beat that builds and grows with each refrain. Energetic singing, catchy melody, sexist lyrics that romanticize the past. Our assignment: rewrite the lyrics. My group probably went a little hard in the other direction; for us, the past was all plague, famine and inequality, while the present was a paradise of plenty and freedom. It was fun to sing for the class, though.

Next we played a game like charades, but with talking, in French. It was a lot of fun.

My team won the photography competition! Damn we're good. Heaping on the sentiment was the right course of action. I get to go to Mont-Tremblant!

Went to the computer lab. (Left my pen there, didn't realize it at the time.) Bought groceries. Ate dinner (pepper-avocado-cheese mustard sandwiches!) Checked out Francofolies. Dudes in black shirts/pants and red ties playing melodramatic modern rock. Realized my pen was missing. Back to school. Girl at the counter had picked it up and was excited to give it back to me. I was excited to get it back. Felt happy. Home. Read Les Miz, listened to Coltrane/Kelly/Chambers/Cobb. Slept.

June 8
First test was super easy. Calming. More grammar - participe présent. I liked it, makes sentences shorter, sharper, and more elegant. Teacher noticed towards lunch that we were getting tired, so we watched a Flight of the Conchords clip and some Québecois comedy that I had a hard time understanding. She's cool like that. Lunch. Picked up Cirque de Soleil ticket (!).

Movie in the afternoon: The Seduction of Dr Lewis. Tried to listen to dialogue rather than read subtitles, an exercise in focused attention, almost meditative. My eyes like words, so it was hard. The movie was good. Funny jokes, a touching plot. I had some problems with the doctor's character (not likeable) and motivations (why does he stay in town if everything he liked about it was a lie?), though.

Rested after school. One of my roommates said she's never drinking again. Wandered downtown. Listened to a South American-sounding band from Belgium for a couple songs. Girls talk about weddings and their weight a lot. Guys have a weird thing with cars. I spent fifteen minutes staring at racecars ("Lotus" was the brand) outside Place des Arts.

Swing! 20 Charleston lesson. Gotta get those foot swivels down. Had more energy than last week, had a lot of fun. Triple stepped as much as possible, for practice. Tried to watch other dancers for new things to do with swingouts. Kinda hard. One guy slipped around like he was dancing on ice, but his movements were always elegant, purposeful. One guy hardly moved - no footwork - but still led in time; didn't much care for that style. Except when a older dude did it. He seemed to be sending a variety of strong messages to his partners while moving as little as possible. Montreal teachers seem to emphasize dancing on your own more. Follows seem quick to do their own thing if my leads aren't strict and constricting. It's neat. Went home a little earlier than I'd've liked because I have to get up a lot earlier than I'd like to tomorrow.

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