en français, s’il vous plaît

Due to a series of unfortunate events, I wasn’t able to return home yesterday at the end of my first workweek, as planned. So, I’m here in Montreal for the weekend, by myself. When this became apparent, it didn’t bother me – I figured I could get some housework done around the apartment, do some work research, and explore the city. Then on Friday evening I whacked my toe on a concrete ledge in the recycling room so hard that I’m wondering if I might have broken it.

It’s Saturday evening and I didn’t really accomplish much today. Despite the pain, I went for a hobbling walk, partially to get out of my apartment and get some sun, but also to run some errands. I went to the drug store, the book store, and a vegan cafe that I wanted to check out. I did a very small amount of work (only about thirty minutes) and I’m going to try to assuage my guilt of wasting a day by working while I wait for dinner to arrive. Yep I’m ordering dinner. The list of what I didn’t accomplish (that I wanted to do today) is long: exercise, groceries, housework, photography lesson. It’s just barely five in the evening, so maybe I can do a few of these things, but let’s face it: I’m not going to do too much. (Stupid throbbing toe!)

I’m impatient to learn French. Sure, I might not need to speak French to survive here, but it’s quickly becoming aggravating. It’s causing me to feel social anxiety and guilt, like when I panic slightly when I have to approach someone who I know is going to speak French to me and I have to admit that I’m an idiot and sheepishly ask that they speak English to me. And frustration when I can’t join a conversation (or even know if someone is gossiping about me). And it could actually impede my job a little bit.

The company has promised to provide private French lessons, but, like I said, I’m impatient. I did a little research and I ended up buying a widely recommended textbook and delved into the idea of immersion. Of course, I’m sitting here writing in English while listening to an English YouTube video. I think I could teach myself and that it, in fact, might be more effective than any French tutor or online course or app. Jumping in, pretending that speaking English isn’t an option might be the right idea.

I’m a little terrified.

nerves

It’s Monday evening. Chris drove home this morning, after we picked up bagels for our separate homes (geez…). After Chris left, I drove straight to the office to see what it would be like during a weekday during rush hour. It wasn’t too busy; probably a silver-lining symptom of COVID. I filled up my car with gas, got groceries, and updated our family finances spreadsheet. In between all of that, I also did a live Peloton ride and FaceTimed with Kyrsten.

After all of the busyness was behind me, around the mid-afternoon, I started to feel so strange. I know it’s mostly nervousness about the new job and all of the unknowns that come with that. My imposter syndrome is acute right now. I’m trying to remind myself of that cliche that no one knows what they are doing and everyone is winging it. But on top of that, I’m really homesick. I’ve traveled for work a lot over the last decade and spent a lot of time alone, but this feels different. For one, I have to get used to the idea that this could be our new city soon, assuming my new job works out and Chris is still game to move here. I’m also sure that since I went from spending 99% of every waking hour with Kyrsten (or Kyrsten and Chris) to being completely alone has a lot to do with the ennui.

I’m trying very, very, VERY hard not to let negative feelings take over right now. I’m definitely not letting myself wonder if I’m doing the right thing. If I made the right decision. I’m trying to remind myself constantly that we only regret the risks we don’t take; the adventures we don’t go on. No matter what happens, I need to make this an adventure.

Thanks for listening, void.

View from my bike.

getting stuff

Yesterday was Chris’s last full day here to help me get set up. Our to-do list was long.

But first…my inaugural coffee in my new place.

That view though!

The first errand on the agenda was to pick up my car. I had to use some French to communicate with the security guard at work to get the keys and I remembered the words for “car” and “key” so that was great. The car is a Ford Escape and while I’m not a huge fan of driving a branded car, my only real complaint is the dial button gearshift. Ford, really? Otherwise, the car is very nice to drive. I think our next car will be a small SUV. Or a more luxurious hatchback (Mini Cooper would be my dream!) Anyway…

Next we got groceries to be the necessities. I wanted to drive out of the downtown core to find a store with parking and we ended up in Westmount. The store was actually pretty small and was missing a lot of things on my list, but a beautiful grocery store is across the street from me and I plan to check it out and get those remaining things on Monday after Chris heads out of town. Even without getting everything in my list, we spent a small fortune and the cupboards and fridge still seem bare!

Next we went to IKEA for some non-food essentials and had to wait in line to get in for about 20 minutes!

At least the weather was nice!

We got almost everything I was looking for (and a few things I wasn’t) and got in and out fairly quickly.

We returned to the apartment to find someone had taken my parking spot, which was annoying but at least it gave me an opportunity to bond with Nour (my building security guard who I didn’t find to be overly friendly that first day). Yay for being friendly!

We dropped off the goods and then headed out on foot for one last batch of errands. First we went to The Source to get an Apple TV. I was disappointed to find that the TVs in my apartment aren’t smart and so without the Apple TV I couldn’t watch the only things I use a TV for: YouTube, Peloton classes, and Netflix. I also wanted to hit Nota Bene for a classy notebook and pen for my new job (putting the right foot forward and excuses to buy stationery and all that).

We got back to the apartment around 5. Chris got to work setting up the Apple TV and running extension cords. I unpacked and organized the IKEA goodies which involved taking off many irritatingly stubborn stickers and washing dishes. But I’m feeling much happier now that all my things are contained versus piled loose in the bathroom and kitchen cabinets.

Finally, it was time to eat and rest. We ordered poutine (bien sûr!), I took a bath (my tub makes me want to cry with appreciation), and then cuddled on the couch before I called it a day and went to bed early again.

first night and I’m kinda freaking out

We got on the road to Montreal this morning right on time (despite forgetting our face masks and having to return home). Other than that, and accidentally breaking the cup holders off the Peloton when loading it into the truck, the start of the journey and the drive to Montreal was very smooth.

Then, we arrived at my new home. I’m not going to say that everything went south because nothing really went wrong, thankfully. But things could have been better. The security person in the lobby was pretty gruff, though he was mostly helpful, so I shouldn’t complain too much. Unloading the truck was annoying because we had to do it from the busy street, so we always needed someone to stay with it. It was a struggle to find the parking lot and in the end, Chris worried about taking the truck in, fearing that it would be too tall. We did walk through the parking lot though, to find my spot and I was annoyed to learn that I have to walk up a flight of stairs before I can take the elevator to my floor, which will make any sort of shopping a pain. I also realized while unpacking that I need a lot of storage solutions to wrangle my small items and I also need power solutions (power banks and extension cords). On top of all of this, I’m generally freaking out that I have to go to work on Tuesday … I’m feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

It’s 8:30 pm on Saturday evening and I’m actually wondering when I can go to bed. I hope tomorrow I will feel less freaked out and homesick. Maybe after I get groceries and some niceties to make the place feel more like home and less like a hotel, I’ll feel much better. And hopefully Monday I can relax and maybe even venture out on my own a little bit before (OH MY GOD) starting my new job as a CFO on Tuesday.

Enjoy some photos!

On the road!

Holy crap, I live here now.

After some mega unpacking.

Image

moving (sorta)

Wow. Looking back at the last post of this oft-neglected blog, I see that about this time last year, Chris and I spent a weekend in Montreal. In that post, I gushed about how much I love Montreal, and how every time I visit, I want to re-learn French and revamp my closet to try to be stylish.

Fast forward to a few short months after that post: the world went under lockdown for COVID-19 and my job at the company I’ve been with for 15 years basically disappeared. And the reason I started this post with “wow”: I left my job and accepted a (big) position at at a company in Montreal and I am moving (sorta). Tomorrow, in fact.

What I do I mean by sorta? Well, very generously, my new employer is allowing me a trial period during which they are renting me an apartment and leasing me a car so that I can live and work in Montreal Monday to Friday. So for the next twelve months, I’ll be living in Montreal, returning to Hamilton on the weekends. This way we don’t have to full-on move and Chris doesn’t have to quit his job until we know that the new job is working out. Fingers crossed!

So I wanted to restart this blog to try to document this crazy new adventure. I’m going to attempt a daily entry here, with photos! Souhaite moi bonne chance! Both with the new job, the new city, the new language, and this blog promise!

Stuff I’m taking to Montreal.

Montreal

Chris and I went to La Belle Province this past weekend for a little roadtrip getaway and it was lovely. I love people-watching in Montreal. I think some of the coolest people in the world live there. Even cooler than New York, where many people that I see (the ones that are not obviously tourists) have an air of desperation; as though they have just arrived in the big city and are determined to make it no matter what. Not in Montreal. The residents have it together, effortlessly. They don’t seem to hate tourists, like New Yorkers, they just don’t care about you. They know how to enjoy their city in quiet ways: cycling on Bixi’s or their own vintage bikes, meeting with friends at restaurants, or relaxing in one of the many parks or city squares.

Visiting Montreal renews my desire to learn (re-learn?) French and change my personal style to something more feminine and urban. I always leave wanting to spend more time in cafes or in parks. And don’t get me started on those eye-catching buildings with the exterior stairways to the second and third floor apartments. Horrible for hauling up groceries in the winter, I’m sure, but spectacular otherwise.

I’m home now, and I realize how much I love my own city of Hamilton. Before I moved here, when I would visit other cities, I would fantasize about moving. But not anymore. Now, I just fantasize about tweaking my life here just a little to emulate the lifestyle of the locals that I observed while people-watching.

So, time to look into French lessons, dust off my bike, and shop for some cute summer dresses.

feathering

I’m not sure if it’s because after traveling for work every week for nearly a year I have a renewed appreciation for home, but I’m finding myself taking joy in cleaning, purging, decorating, and general puttering around my house. I’m even going so far as to start watching YouTube videos and reading books about housekeeping for fun.

It’s not a huge departure from my personality; I’m generally a pretty clean and tidy person. I hate clutter and I think I’m on the minimalist side of the spectrum. But what I’m not great at is taking the time to take care of the hidden dirt. Like cleaning out the inside of the dishwasher, behind the armoire, the junk drawer.

There’s nothing like the feeling of a few hours of hard work doing some good old fashioned cleaning and purging, and taking pride in your home. And I’m so grateful to be home more to be able to feather my nest!

deadlines

I’m thinking about deadlines lately. Not the kind related to tasks and projects at work, but the personal kind. The kind you set for yourself to hold yourself accountable to something or to help make a decision.

in limbo

I’m in a huge work transition right now and I’m trying to figure out what’s next for me. I feel a huge sense of uncertainty and risk, which I feel might be especially disconcerting to me because I’m such a planner. When I was studying for my accounting designation, I planned out my course work in detail through completion. My financial budget goes out for five years. My personal calendar is filled with recurring tasks and appointments to keep me productive. Not knowing what’s in store for me is, well, driving me a little bonkers.

setting a timeframe

I’m finding that what’s helping me is looking at time in chunks right now. I have a loose idea of my work situation for the next six months. I’m finding it hard to plan for a time after that partially because I’m busy and partially because it’s a scary unknown. It could be status quo or I could have a choice to make or I could be faced with doing something completely different. I’ve decided that I need a break from the worry. And to do this, I’m going to set a deadline for when I’m allowed to start to think about the future. For now, I’ll focus on the present work requirements. In three months, when hopefully things are a little more clear, I’ll start to plan for my work life after this transition. Three months after that, I’ll feel prepared (hopefully).

I think that setting these deadlines for myself will help me to stop feeling a sense of worry and dread right now, when there’s nothing I can do while things are so uncertain. I think it will also help me get the work done that’s required of me so that I’m not so distracted. And setting a deadline for when I will start to get serious about planning my future indulges my need to have a plan, even though right now it’s just a plan to start planning. I might be slightly neurotic, but this gives me peace of mind.

healthy obsession

I’m reading a book called Brain-Powered Weight Loss by Eliza Kingsford in which the author talks about the concept of a “healthy obsession” as a means to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. I’ve only ever thought of obsessions as being unhealthy or a least dangerous, and so it’s been interesting to consider an alternative viewpoint. I’ve been obsessing about the concept of having a healthy obsession with weight loss ever since (heh, see what I did there?).

is there such a thing?

Is the fine line between a healthy obsession and unhealthy (or even neutral) obsession, just the object or result of the obsession? Wanting to have a clean house is a great thing, but bleaching every surface daily would probably be considered an unhealthy obsession. On the other hand, insisting on making your bed every morning would probably be considered a healthy obsession. It’s interesting to consider because when it comes to almost anything, but weight loss definitely – if something is not front of mind for me, it probably won’t happen.

healthy obsession versus habits

I really do believe in baby steps and creating habits that become second-nature. For example, several years ago, I was a horrible flosser: I rarely did it. I made a new years resolution at one point to floss every day and I set up a reminder system to get me into the habit. I’m not sure how long it took to become ingrained, but now I can’t imagine not flossing every day. It would feel very strange. It’s truly a habit versus an obsession.

But weight loss, the reason I’m reading Eliza’s book in the first place, seems to be a different animal. When I am focused, I can lose weight and maintain that weight loss (though, honestly, I’ve never experienced the latter). When I am not focused, I will gain weight. I did a program two years ago that was fabulous: it introduced a new habit every two weeks over the course of a year. The idea was that at the end, the habits needed to maintain a healthy weight would be solidified in the psyche.

But here’s the thing: at the end of the program, I lost that healthy obsession that I had when I was doing the program. There are lot of reasons why (life events), but the result was that my habits drifted away and I gained weight. Maybe it’s unfair to compare daily flossing – a sixty second exercise – with the effort it takes every waking hour of every single day to lose weight and maintain it. The latter is comprised of a series of daily habits and decisions all day long; not a “one and done” situation.

how to have a healthy obsession

I’ve concluded that I need to be obsessed with my weight loss/maintenance goal to be successful. Having this healthy obsession will keep my healthy habits front of mind and keep me motivated and interested. The challenge for me will be how I manifest this in real life. For example, if as part of my obsession I read a lot of books on weight loss, I need to make sure that I’m not trying the “latest thing” every other week. Or, if I read many weight loss blogs, I need to avoid developing any feelings of inadequacies from comparing myself to the bloggers.

Do you feel like you have a healthy obsession? How do you ensure it remains healthy?

itching to spend

am I the only one…

…who sometimes gets the urge to spend sometimes? On anything. Anything big. I try so hard to be frugal (ish) and I militantly keep track of our finances, but lately (like for the past several months) I just want to blow the wad on a big purchase. I think it’s because the summer is in full effect and I’m in desperate need of a vacation and so I’m back on the camping bandwagon. I’ve wanted a teardrop trailer or (ooooh) a little Airstream for years. Like my entire adult life. The idea of taking off during the weekends and relaxing at a campground is back in my head again. It sounds so dreamy.

but then again…

…I love my city. And I work long hours during the week (and let’s face it, many weekends, too). So I know that owning a trailer would make me feel like we’d be obliged to leave time most weekends of the summer to get our money’s worth out it. And the idea of getting on the highway with the rest of the cottage traffic sounds horrible. Do I overthink things or what?

Maybe I should just splurge on a new iPhone.