Tuesday, February 26

I'm rich!

I have to open a bank account today so that I can bank my first ever Montreal pay cheque (yay!), and then give the details to the two schools that want to pay me by bank transfer. And hopefully have the net banking and everything set up so that I can pay my rent by bank transfer before the first of March (this might be hard).
Anyway, as my brain was thinking about banks, I decided to check my Australian bank account, which has been pretty much idle for the last few months (I've been living on the cash from the payout of my van). I didn't expect it to say anything different from last time.
So I was rather surprised to find the balance had gone up by rather a lot. Much to my surprise, the ATO has paid me my tax return! I didn't expect to ever get it, despite lodging the paperwork in November (only a month or so late). I expected lots more trouble over not having filed for a few years. I hadn't actually earned any money in Australia for a long time, and generally pay my taxes in the country I'm living in instead, so I hadn't had to (I wasn't a resident for taxation purposes, as the ATO says), but I also hadn't realised that I needed to tell the ATO this formally, rather than just not filing for 4 or 5 years. In fact, the last time I filed was when Michael did it for me. And that's ancient history now!
Anyway, having earned lovely quantities of money at QUT last year, and been studying in the same field I was working in at the same time, I got lots of lovely tax back. Which definitely justifies the hours and hours I spent working on all those horrible forms!
So I'm rich. Sort of. Rich for me, anyway. And in Australian dollars, which I'm often in need of (mostly because I only have an Australian credit card, and they occasionally want repayments...) but find hard to get when I'm overseas.
Which makes me feel even more justified in turning down the Tuesday class I was offered. My last Tuesday class finished, and I don't need to work in the office of the other school on Tuesdays, usually, so I'm planning to try to keep it free. I don't need to work more than 4 days a week in this town! Or less, even. And my life is a lot more sane and healthy when I'm not working full time. I get to do useful things like open bank accounts, get my boots fixed, go to the post office, and other such business-day things. Not to mention catch up on sleep, and, if it weren't snowing heavily, I could even go skating or something. Maybe next week!

Tuesday, February 19

The 'Hood

I like my new area. It's just off the Plateau, which seems to be the most interesting area of town and where most people I know live. My flat is also very close to the metro, which is so much more convenient than the long walks or buses I needed to get to the other places I've lived in Montreal (two months, and I've stayed in about 5 different places...). So even though is a couple of extra metro stations out of town, it's actually more convenient. And, of course, I'm teaching two days a week in Laval, which is the island north of Montreal Island, and thus I'm a couple of stops closer to that job, which is nice.
Also, it seems a lot of my musical friends live around here - both from the LadiesAux and from Choeur Maha. Which means our jam sessions and small-group rehearsals are frequently conveniently located.
In terms of facilities, there's an IGA supermarket around the corner, which is convenient, but I hope not to use it too often, as I work right near a super-cheap and interesting supermarket (they sell marmite!), and I'm also just a few blocks from Jean Talon Market, which I've only visited once so far, but which is apparently *the* place to buy fruit and veg and bread and everything, really. This evening I found the nearest swimming pool, about 5 minutes walk away, but I didn't go swimming, as I had forgotten that it was the other pool that was open tonight - the one that is about 10 minutes walk away. I plan to get the schedules for both, if ever I manage to go when they are open! I'm still loving the free, indoor swimming pools! I'm also told there are lots of interesting cafes around here, and I know I'm close to 'Little Italy' and there seems to be a healthy middle-eastern population around here too. All good things.
However. Walking to this swimming pool this evening (and then about 5 long-blocks past it, as I hadn't remembered the address correctly...) I walked down St-Hubert which, for about 4 or 5 blocks around here, is 'Plaza St Hubert'. It's a shopping street, with covered footpaths, that reminds me of something I saw in China, or somewhere. And it's filled with the least attractive shops I've seen in a while. There is nothing in any of them that remotely tempts me (except the Salvation Army store, which I found this evening). I noticed a preponderance of bridal and formal wear shops, including, for some reason, multiple children's formal wear places. And there seems to be a market for tacky formal outfits and coloured suits. The fashions remind me of things I've seen in non-western countries, where the local version of western formal wear often gets a little overdone. There are also electronic junk stores, whitegoods shops, sex stores (with open glass shop fronts, so you can see all their wares... and customers...) and discount-clothing chain stores. Not to mention the occasional plastic-tablecloth eatery with names like 'El Tropicale'.
The best part about this street is that I know I can safely walk down it on a regular basis and never be tempted to spend a cent!

EDIT: and the Nail Salons! I forgot to mention the nail salons! Which is odd, because just about every second shop is one!

Monday, February 18

Diary of a Really Crap Ice Skater, Part 2

Today, though, it was without the benefit of skates. The weather has turned warm - the temperature went and got all positive today, and the nice powdery snow melted, then refroze into ice that, in many places, very closely resembles polished glass. And it's raining, which is really not nice. So I'm not particuarly impressed. This evening my walk from the metro (about 300m or something) took ages tonight, as I was slipping on nearly every step. And on my way to the from Rhizome (where I was at their film night), the sidewalks actually slidewalks, and after a block or so I gave up and walked in the road instead, which had been salted, so wasn't icy. A car went through a puddle right next to me and sprayed me all over with puddlewater. I felt like someone in a New York movie.
This is my some of my least favourite weather. I would much prefer -20 and snow. At least the footpaths are walkable then!

Saturday, February 16

This Weekend

So last night I didn't have anything on. Friday night, and no social events! This means I think I have got enough sleep for the first time in a week or three! And it's just as well, as here are my plans for this weekend:
1. Go out and buy milk to bring home to make coffee. I've been up a couple of hours, but haven't really started the day, as I seem to require milk to make anything resembling breakfast.
2. Go swimming. I've been slack in the last two weeks - I've only been once. It's the working thing. It just takes up too much time and energy, and leaves nothing for things like swimming!
3. Go to the all-girl-bluegrass-jam, which is called the LadiesAux. Today we're jamming at some sort of knitting thing, which sounds like fun. I will also be meeting Rebecca there - someone I met in Japan, who comes from Montreal, but currently lives in Spain. She's back in town just for the weekend, so I invited her to my social events.
4. Go straight from there to a big hair and moustaches party and potluck at the Laurier house where I was staying last week and where the Red Party was. Tonight is in honour of Ashton's birthday, which happens to be on Valentines Day. I've made a curry, which isn't at all Valentines-y, nor have I added any big hair or moustaches to it.

And then Sunday:
1. Food not Bombs at the Co-op sur Genereux. I will go for the beginning and help out until I have to leave for:
2. Rehearsal of a quebecois folk song that I'm doing in a small ensemble for Choeur Maha. After which I will rush off to:
3. Feminist films of some sort at the Rhizome.

And then I will have to get home at a reasonable-ish hour so that I can function successfully at work on Monday!

Thursday, February 14


This morning, just before I left my house at 7.45 or so this was the view out my front door:And then when I got home (and after tramping to my front door up to my knees in snow, getting the shovel, and tramping back):

Then I shovelled. It's still a novelty, so I didn't mind. Not yet, anyway.

Tuesday, February 12

Why I'm not blogging much

I'm working. Every day. 5 days a week. At least I have 2 different jobs, so there's variety, and in theory it isn't full time, although it sure feels like it at the moment. But it's nice to know I`m doing some good in the world, helping out people like this.
In the last week I have also attended no less than 4 musical things, by which I mean rehearsals and jam sessions, as well as a free yoga class, and about a million social events. Ok, well, a couple. Oh, and I moved into my new flat. This means I have a new address. AND this flat is ALL MINE for 3 months (and 4 days). Why, it's practically permanent! You can send things by Seamail (if you're quick). Email me if you want said address, or the phone number that accompanies it.
I will blog about my flat soon - once I've unpacked, or rather, put things away rather than just upending all my bags to find things...
In the meantime, the pictures of last weekend's fantabulous Red Party and Cultural Insurrection Convention are on flickr, and if you haven`t seen them yet, you should! And yes, I know they need editing, and I will delete the ones that aren't worth looking at sometime. Soonish. Probably.
One of my favourites from each event:

Sunday, February 3

Montreal Marching Band Madness

I've just come home from an incredible evening spent listening (and dancing madly) to marching bands. Yes. Marching bands. Sousaphones and all. Who woulda thought they could be so much fun! Here's the flyer:Several people I know here are in something that is generally referred to as the Anarchist Marching Band, and officially known as the Ensemble Insurrection Chaotique, I think. I would also be in this, if I had an instrument to play. I may yet borrow something and join, as it seems like a lot of fun. I've been offered the use of a flute, but I don't know if I want to go that far!

Anyway, this evening there was the film, which I unfortunately missed most of, and then the bands individually, including a gumboot dance ensemble, and then a sort of free-for-all where all the musicians were on stage (and then on the dance floor) jamming. And then we went out on the street and played and danced there until the police decided it wasn't such a good idea (no doubt prompted by the neighbours). It was fantastic, and I took about a hundred photos or something ridiculous, and I will post them here as soon as I can! Including the one of me playing a bassoon. I had met the bassoonist a few times here, and tonight she let me play hers! It's been about 9 years since I last set lips on a bassoon - and that was only for a few minutes on Sean's bassoon one evening - it's actually more like 11 years since I played regularly. And I discovered that my lip piercing doesn't really get in the way at all, which is good to know, and also that I can only remember how to play about one octave worth of notes - enough to play a decent bassline in the key of F, which seemed to be the favourite key for the brass bands, luckily, and to play the flintstones theme, but sadly not enough for baby elephant walk. I also learnt that my lip muscles are seriously out of practice and my lips fell off after about 10 minutes. and I also also learnt about a 'bassoon day' that will be at one of the universities here in March, which might be interesting, though possibly less so without my own bassoon!

Also waiting to be uploaded are the photos of last night's Red Party at L'Appart Laurier, which is where I've been staying lately. They have new flatmates moving in now though, so I'm going to stay here at the Rhizome (a co-op) for a while - possibly until Thursday when I can move into my own new flat. This is what the kitchen of the Rhizome looked like in the morning the last time I spent a night here. This is an excellent photo of the Rhizome, and conveys much about the place! It's great!

Right. It's 4am. Better see if I can find a bed...