February 13, 2018

Nothing is clear. Simple thoughts come out in convoluted stutters. Even a toddler can speak about the weather better than I can, in French. Often, before entering a store I have to go over what the best way to ask for what I need is (can I shorten est-ce-que, I ask myself. Just cut to the chase? Maybe jump right into vous avez?). Whenever I spend time in any other Canadian province - especially Toronto, perhaps because it is so close yet so far away - I am struck by how easy it is to walk into a store without having to question my grammatical grasp of the language. I'd say almost too easy (a.k.a boring).

Easiness is...

January 16, 2018

They say the way you look at things changes the things you look at.

That saying may be grounded in quantum physics but it’s verifiable through my own perceptions, changing as they are. Montreal isn’t the same city it was when I moved here nine years ago.

I doubt the city has changed as much as I have. True, it has undergone reconstructive surgery. The re-paving of Avenue des Pins was finally completed (three years for two kilometres); the Royal Vic has been transplanted to a brand new sparkling hospital on the other end of town, and the St. Viateur sidewalks have been expanded to fit pretty wooden benches shi shi enough to make even Outremont jealou...

January 2, 2018

New year, new rules. I always was skeptical of rules. Always did have issues adhering to authority. The first line in my law school application went: "In high school you would never have expected me to go to law school." Yet, I did go, and I also learned how to conform. 

North America's history is one of rebellion. Though some hailing from the old worlds certainly look at it with contempt, I've always appreciated the latitude given in this country to screw up, fall on your face, and come back. "Marching to the beat of your own drum" is almost a North American mantra.  I was often reminded of this in the summert...

December 5, 2017

Ha! I didn't get it right away, but now I do.

You know that feeling. Somebody tells a joke - could be a friend or comedian, it doesn't matter - the point is, everybody laughs. Except you. Or maybe you do force out a pathetically fake snicker of some kind because you're afraid that if you don't you'll look slow. Still,  everybody understands somehow that you don't get it, but they do. It probably takes you no longer than a few seconds, at best. Then you join in on the laughter, because it's really funny. When you understand, it's funny. 

What makes comedians amusing is often the opposite of funny. You must...

November 21, 2017

Francis Bacon, 'father of the scientific method', famously said, "In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present." MLK Jr. equally famously said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that." 

As soon as I walked out my front door this morning, I felt darkness had descended over the city like a weekend hangover. It wasn’t just the biting cold nor the late sunrise. There was a particular chill in the air. In complete contrast to (what I feel is) the norm, I had sunshine in my heart; for once, I'd woken up when I'd meant to and had time to sip coffee and be creative before the forces and responsibili...

November 8, 2017

Why here? Why Montreal? Why be an Anglo in a Francophone town? Why be single in singleville? Why Quebec - snow capital, cold; why?

I live in a  city but I didn't grow up in one. I grew up where I could see far more stars in the night sky than the number of people I saw in the daytime. A billion stars to every one person I saw, basically. I grew up surrounded by trees, not people. Any car that drove down the patchy pavement road stretching out beyond our front yard felt like traffic. 

The setting never quite fit me, I never quite belonged. My father is American, you see, and my mother herself came from Quebec. So we...

October 24, 2017

Don't be fooled, every corner in Montreal is hazardous. For pedestrians, for bikers and for drivers alike. Just look at this death tunnel. Every street seems to harbour the Grim in its gentle concrete embrace; the one who always comes but is never expected. 

But that's ok. It's nearing death-time anyway. It's fall now. Yeah we're on this side of the tunnel, and just like we do every year, we're about to take the long walk through to the dreaded other side, where life itself is stripped away. 

It's fall so leaves fall. Even if the weather remains warm - too friggin warm - still, you can't fool Mother Nature so...

October 10, 2017

It's thanking time again. In all the provinces, including Quebec. Thanking for the things given. I certainly count myself among those with a lot to be thankful for.

But I still don't really understand the history and meaning of Thanksgiving. I do know it's a North American holiday (specifically Canadian and American, though celebrated at different times). I know it's connected to the harvest, and First Nations, and some kind of recognition of a thank you to be given. To whom, I'm not sure; for what, also ambiguous.

How about this, to you? I compiled a list of things to be thankful for, as a human in general and as this human in p...

September 26, 2017

Look over here. Not there. Here!

Everybody's talking, but do you see it?

Last February, when I was in Toronto litigating, I had a thought that I haven't been able to shake. I was tired. I imagine a few consecutive months in court will do that to any lawyer. It was February and it was supposed to be cold.  Like, really cold. It was a gap day - the other side, our Friends, completed the leading of their evidence and our turn was coming up. We had an afternoon out of court, to go out and about and try to do stuff you think humans are supposed to do. Going to coffee shops and stuff. Writing. 

So I was out and abo...

September 12, 2017

If you don't like pigeons we need to have words. 

Not let’s take this outside words, but words. Please hear me out.

Pigeons are despised and antagonized for no apparent reason. Don’t believe me? Ask someone around you if they like pigeons. What do they say? Ninety percent of the time the answer is no. I'd be surprised if they say they like them. Next, ask this same person why they don’t like pigeons? They might say they’re dirty (as if humans are not) but otherwise they’ll probably shrug and say, I don't know, I just don’t like them. 

I dated someone once who actively despised pigeons. Seeing a group of them on the sidewalk would cause him to...

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