November 28, 2017

This one’s about a species of woman that one frequently encounters in the Quebec landscape and that one must be weary of lest one wishes to be crushed or steamrolled. Having obtained her popular moniker through the merging of the French verbs “gérer” (to manage) and mener (to lead), the so-called GERMAINE does these things precisely, whether she might be the head of an enterprise, a couple, a kindergarten, her cubicle, or your condo association of co-owners.
 

Let there be no mistake. Having an official leadership position does not a germaine make. Title is irrelevant; attitude is everything. Even in the absence of any matter or undertaking of any impo...

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 14, 2017

They say that no man is an island, but even an island isn’t an island because there are islands within islands, and especially if the island in question is a metropolis.
 

Those of you who do not live in Montreal may be surprised to learn that the city is an island in the St-Lawrence River, and a heart-shaped island at that. I personally find that it’s more of a bat-shaped island, but the heart, like the bat, finds its way blindly in the dark.


On this bat-shaped island, many hearts beat to the tune of islands of their own.


Several years ago, when I was still relatively fresh off the boat, a terrible wave of homesickness overcame me in the fall. A coupl...

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 30, 2017

Canadians are nice people. Everyone in the world knows this. They are not just superficially friendly like their American cousins, but somehow wholesome and true, and when they say “we should get together for a coffee,” they usually mean it. Sometimes, traveling Americans attach a little Canadian flag to their backpacks in order to be well received out there in the world where people might not take kindly to the star spangled banner but aren’t frightened by the maple leaf.

I find people in Quebec especially nice. In Montreal, for example, we live in a metropolis but still interact as if we were on the farm. Random female shopkeepers routinely address...

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 17, 2017

It is that time of year when the days are getting perceptibly shorter and the nights pleasantly longer. The proverbial rooster now crows at 7:13 am - which is an almost respectable time - and will soon rise even later than the neighbor’s dog across the alley who is released into the yard at 7:30 am sharp every morning and performs the task of waking all creatures within a three-block radius, whether they wish to be awakened or not.

I have often dreamed of harming this dog, but, unfortunately, this is a criminal offense. One should not even intimate such things. According to article 264.1(1) of the Criminal Code, “everyone commits an offense who, in a...

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...

October 2, 2017

There are movements in town. I am not talking about political movements or environmental movements or social justice or feminist movements. I am talking about movements plain and simple, actual, physical, bodily movements: arms moving up and down and all around, legs skipping and hopping, heads bobbing, hair flowing, bodies rolling, people shouting and bawling, strangers touching, people letting go and letting be. I’m not talking about salsa or tango or swing or any such thing. I’m not talking about the club. I’m talking about movements taking place in spaces all over town. I am not talking about public spaces or private spaces or beautiful or abandon...

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...

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