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.

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.

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.