Some news....

It hasn't been that long since my last post of snow-mageddon (like Armageddon....but with snow? 😀😀)

But what an eventful couple of weeks. My car cost $1400 in repairs, I went to pick it up the following Saturday, it died on the way home, I had to get another rental car and then I picked it up on Wednesday and SO FAR, all is well..... Let's hope I don't have to go through another round of that.

Why the rental car, you ask? Why not just use transit since it's the easiest and most cost effective way to get around Montreal?

'Cause I had two job interviews that were pretty freaking important and I could not handle the stress of sitting on a bus hoping that their timing would be exact so that I could show up on time. These interviews were 20km away, which made it harder to get by bus.

So the result of these job interviews....was that I got the job and I start on Monday.

LIKE IN THREE DAYS FROM NOW.

When I first found out, I completely panicked. It was like the stress and bullshit of the past 7 months....plus how things were at my old job....all came out. I could finally breathe. I would be getting a paycheque and not only that, working with some pretty cool people (so they seem....to date....trust me, I asked A LOT of questions...).

Having a regular source of income is all great....but not when it comes at the cost of your happiness.

It's an established yet growing company, with lots of potential. Honestly, I want this place to be my home for the next 5 years. More if possible. I want to be able to grow in my expertise in my field while having some serious stability.

I'd be lying if I said I'm not freaking out a little bit (or a lot) about Monday....and all that comes with starting a new job (like my 17 page to-do list)....but I think this is a good move.

I'll be driving to work for at least the first month and then possibly in the summer take transit. It essentially doubles my time to/from work....but sometimes it's kinda nice to just zone out and not have to deal with MONTREAL TRAFFIC.

This article was awesome - Montreal is Canada's worst traffic

So we shall see. I hope that this is the start of a long, rewarding relationship.

Let it NOT Snow. I will never sing that Christmas song again.

Well, yesterday, I was complaining, shall we say, about the snow removal process in Montreal.

And, seriously, thank you thank you thank you WORLD for this man in my life, that offered to leave work early yesterday to help me dig my car out of the snow, so that it could be towed. I know that most of you think that a tow truck would dig my car out of the snow, but because it happens so often - they don't do that. It's only if it's slightly stuck. Not buried in cocoon of the heavy, damp, disgustingness.

I literally never complained about winter before I lived in Madagascar. It's like complaining about taxes. Do they suck? Yeah. Do politicians or lobbyists or whoever runs the world change them in the suckiest of ways? Yeah. Are you going to change them? Nope. So why bother. Winter happens every year and if you don't like it, save every penny, go bottle picking, donate blood, participate in a medical study, and move to another country.

Yesterday, we arrived to this:



The photos do absolutely no justice to the amount of snow that was surrounding my car. I'm pretty sure had I been by myself that I would have thrown myself to the ground, crying, and well...I'm not sure where I would have gone from there. But, I had my Superhero, and we each had a shovel and we went to town.

About an hour later....


Having him with me there was the best thing for my morale. I asked him a few times what I should do, where I should put the snow and if I was doing it right. This guy had never felt snow until he was like 25 or 30 years old...so he looked at me like I was a bit of a crazy... He told me he had never done this before. Well, neither have I? Back in the Holy Land of Alberta....snow plows don't do asshole things like this!!!

So we kept digging. Might I mention that this is the least rewarding physical activity to do on Valentine's Day. 

And then, we finished. I sent a text message to the tow truck driver and he told me that all was well. He would be there in a little while. 




He told me he didn't give me a Valentine's Day gift. I told him....this was truly the best Valentine's Day gift I have ever received. 

And today? 

It's snowing outside like crazy. 




But guess what....you better believe that the snow plows are out. Because they have to stick to their schedule!!! Even if we're supposed to get another dump of snow today and tomorrow. 

Happy Snow Valentine's.

So, Montreal has this OBSESSION about snow removal. Back where I come from (said in a red-neck old man accent), the major streets get cleared as they get cleared. The side streets....don't often get cleared and when they do there are big giant sandwich board signs up for a few days before. We learn how to drive on the snow.

Here's how it works in the good old YUL.

Let me tell you with an example:

The weather forecast calls for 5 inches of snow tonight and then 8 inches of snow tomorrow. But, the good old Montreal Snow Removal Schedule that was planned in 1988 indicates that side streets Frere-Jacques, Dormez-vous should be cleared.

The following two scenarios exist:

Scenario 1:
Magic elves come and tag every single street sign along Rue FJ and DV (Frere Jacques and Dormez Vous) with an orange sign that indicates no parking between the hours of 7pm and 7am. So anyone parked on these streets moves their cars to another street. Which certainly doesn't cause a problem....right?? Parking downtown and all??? It's not like you have to park like four or five blocks away from home or anything (Please read this with sarcasm).

Then, around 7 or 8pm, a tow truck drives up and down Rue FJ and Rue DV for about 20 minutes with his sirens blasting. This is to indicate, should you not have seen the sign, which is often hidden by trees or other such downtown items, that you need to haul ass so that your car doesn't get towed.

After which, the snow removal machines (yes, this is the technical terms) come and remove the snow and you wake up and everything is so beautiful and clean and it's the roads are like driving on a warm summer's day. Unless, you live at the end of a block, in which case, the snow removal machines may or may not have dumped all their snow there, eliminating between 2-3 parking spaces.

And remember....we're still getting another 8 inches of snow today....so....you'll come home and have to pretend you drive a 4x4 to park in the mini mountain of snow. However, this is the ideal situation.

Scenario 2:
The second situation, which is far more common, is that Rue FJ and Rue DV are cleared with no warning. No orange signs the day before. No tow truck sirens (and tow trucks/towing in French is "remorquage" and I have no idea how to say it properly or if it's a verb that I can conjugate. In all my years of French speaking (12 at school + 4 in Madagascar + 2 here), no one has ever taught me this word.

So, you wake up in the morning, or afternoon, or whatever, and you go see your car, like this:

Now, I'm no Boy Scout, but I'm prepared for this and when I hear the tow trucks, I go out and either move my car, or go and shovel my ass off so that the snow does not freeze like this. Because quite often, the snow gets kind of mushy and warm, and then freezes at night, and then you have a nice little car, in a cocoon of ice. And do you want to know what happens if you ask for a tow truck to come and help you?

They will tell you that you have to come and dig your car out first.

Yup.

So, my car, is on the other side of town, broken (it may be the alternator or alternator belt according to the people that I've explained how the car died and the specific noises that it was making. Whatever it is, if it's more than $1000 - my car is going up for sale as is).

Ahhhhhhhhhhh, Montreal.

Did I mention it's mandatory to have snow tires here? Legally mandatory? And every year you must register your car for about $250 and every year you must renew your license for about $120. Which I just did.

Today? If I knew how to set an accidental fire to my car and if I could somehow call my insurance to see if they cover such accidental fires....I'd be buying whatever supplies required to burn the thing down.

I take that back. This little car has been so good to me the last three years. It's not the car's fault that Montreal has OCD-Snow-Removal.

Now here's the good news. It will totally make you melt (unlike the snow coffin around my car). My Valentine is leaving work early to come and help me shovel. I have a rental car for the next three days (cause apparently I'm rolling in money), and he is leaving work early and we are going to have a Valentine's Day shoveling party.

If that isn't romantic....I don't know what is.

Send me luck. I need it.

The Game of Life

Well, aren't I the Chatty Kathy these days....

Today, I had another choir concert. It was less formal and was at a geriatric center. It's called that. A "geriatric center". I don't know if I'm particularly sensitive....or if that really sounds...odd. Regardless, it's a Jewish whatever center, where old people live that can no longer live at home.

I had never been and it seemed like it was quite far away, so I offered to drive whoever needed a lift. I picked up two guys at a subway station that was sort of on the way and off we went. My car was making a very odd noise...but it seemed to be fine.

Side note - it really bothered me that I was meeting these guys at at a subway station. Like...it's winter, and one of them is like...late 60s or even 70...and I'm just picking them up outside? I was fully prepared to go to their house...but I think that's kind of a "country" thing. Them city folks are used to going everywhere by public transportation...so they were just happy for a ride part of the way.

The day was fine, I wore extra bright red lips for Valentine's Day,

and did my hair and all that jazz, and I never even thought twice about anything. (But seriously. Someone actually chose that color green to paint. On purpose. We left it because it was in good shape...but it's so freaking green some days I find it blinding!!)

We arrived safely, despite the noises my car was making, and we had a little warm up and off we went. We walked through the hall at the "geriatric center" and set up in our predetermined arrangement and our Choir Director made the introductions. My stomach fell. My knees felt weak. I had tears in my eyes. Sweat dripped down my back.

I never even thought....that the last time I was in one of these "centers" was to visit my grandpa. It never crossed my mind....that it would bother me in the slightest. 

I debated walking out. I could simply walk out, go to my car, and claim some kind of sickness. 

I started singing instead. Nervously. Awkwardly. Then I made the choice. I could pretend that my grandpa was in the audience, and just like these residents, would appreciate the break in his day by listening to a choir. Or better yet, watching one of his granddaughter's sing. Throughout the concert I had moments where I pictured him near me, cracking jokes, healthy. Others, I pictured him in the audience, when he was sick. 

Regardless, I certainly felt him with me...but I felt extremely shaky. 

I was happy that the concert was over. It felt to drag on forever...and I went to get the car and pull it around as it was snowing heavily. The car made that same noise...but the boys got in and we drove about 3 minutes....and then my car died. Somehow I managed to get it to keep going until I could find a safe parking spot. 

Nice. Winter snowstorm. Farrrrrrrrrrrr from home. Two extra passengers. 

I ordered an Uber on my phone, we took it to the first subway station and then the three of us sat on the subway chatting until we all got off. I changes lines so that I could pick up a few groceries because I imagine with the snow and all of the activity that my car won't be going any tomorrow...since the tow trucks will be out in full force on the main roads...and I don't know when the snow will let up. I took one of the two remaining taxis the rest of the way home and then crashed hard on my couch. My emotions had been in overdrive...but...I made it through. 

Another example of how...life just happens and we deal with it. A few years ago, I couldn't deal with it. The smallest of things would send me into a tailspin....I was so easily overwhelmed...and couldn't deal with....LIFE. 

Now...I think I have those same feelings, with the same intensity...but I pick myself up and keep going on...knowing that...it's all part of ...being human. 


I'm sort of worried about my car....I'm not in any position to spend a lot on car repairs...but...whatever happens happens....and I'll figure it out. It's not the ideal situation...but again. The human experience. I'm sure at one point there will be some tears because I hate dealing with cars....because I have this incredibly sexist view where we women shouldn't have to deal with our own cars and them men folk should do it...but I'm not quite in a position where I want my man-folk to be the one dealing with it...so...we'll probably work together in some form. 

And the game of life continues. 

Living, Breathing, Feeling, and Loving....Life goes on.



In another lifetime, we stood in front of all of our closest friends, our adopted family, and God and promised to be together until death do us part.

I wore a $10 dress I bought in Hawaii....it was the eve before Cyclone Giovanna, certainly the largest cyclone that we would experience in our lifetime in Madagascar.

Do you know...it truly was my dream wedding. I could never imagine myself having a "traditional" wedding. Walking down the isle. Hundreds of people staring at me in a clean, pristine, white dress that I had picked out months in advance, followed by a formal ceremony with speeches and a dance while everyone was watching me....

So instead, we had this party...with very little planning, a lot of bribing of the local authorities...and YOU managed to organize it almost all yourself.
The tropi-bar was packed. It was so incredibly hot and I was sweating buckets.
We (or at least I....or no, at least I have to believe "we") were making the decision that we thought was the best one....because we loved one another, we felt compatible, and we would be together always.


We had our share of ups and downs....but we thought it was normal.

Even though....it makes me sad....it was one of the happiest days of my life. Odd that I can look back after a completely devastating divorce and still think it was one of the happiest days? I was finally getting married, to a man I trusted, loved, admired, and felt safe with.

I could look back at this day full of regret....but I don't. I was your wife for three short years. Not even. I don't know where it went wrong. I believe we both had true intentions. How is it possible that I still don't believe in divorce....yet I've been legally divorced for seven months? Well. Life doesn't have to make sense.


My only regret....and this regret still follows me, is that there wasn't an easier way to end things. A divorce ceremony as beautiful as our wedding...a way out of this relationship that was as respectful as our way into the relationship. Lawyers, hurt, frustration, emotional overload...a chaotic mix....


Every so often I have the urge to write you an email...to make sure that you are ok...to see if you need anything... I miss the girls so much that it's painful to think of them....but then I remember where we left off....the lawyers, the hurt, the frustration, the emotional overload, the chaotic mix...and then think it's best to leave you be, to send my best wishes into the universe and hope that they reach you.


I certainly don't regret this day, or trying my best, because it means that I'm ALIVE. I am human. I make mistakes. I fall hard and life can keep kicking me when I'm down....but I'm still alive. Breathing, feeling, living, and learning.

Of course I wish that things had turned out differently. They didn't.

I was once your wife, an attempted step-mom, your best friend. Now I am not. I am a different person entirely. Maybe you are too.

I'm sure you're somewhere on same path that I am....wanting to have peace, calm, happiness, and love. I hope you're somewhere good on that path. I am. (Did I really just write that?).

So today is certainly a bittersweet one, and I almost forgot about it....but I'm glad I didn't. This time last year I felt like a complete loser, a failure, a horrible wife, a jerk.... This year...I feel like I am human, imperfect, and that I've been lucky to have all of the experiences that I've had in my life. And that I'm on the right path.







My little drop in the bucket

I must, I must, I REPEAT, I MUST develop a new blog site for the stuff that's going on in my life now. I often don't write in this blog....because the people that read it...aren't the people that I want to reach (provided that I can reach people again...but that's another story).

The timing of my second to last post was fitting, given that it was a few weeks before the Bell #letstalk campaign, which pretty must rocks my world. Howie Mandel is freaking awesome....and he kind of stumbled upon this awesomeness by sheer coincidence (followed by a lot of effort). It's worth reading this article and even more trying to find the hour long series on Youtube or something.

Ok,  but back to me. La, la, la, la, la, la!!!

The last week of January was a busy one.

Monday: Choir Practice
Tuesday: I can't remember
Wednesday: Shrink and Choir Practice
Thursday: Date night
Friday: CONCERT (over 2.5 hours!!!)
Saturday: 2nd CONCERT.

Side note: have you ever tried to stand still for over two hours? It is by far the most uncomfortable thing to do that I can imagine....except for making being locked in handcuffs. That might even be more comfortable because at least you can walk around.

If you haven't been following, in September, I joined a choir.

How did I find said choir? I googled "Montreal Choir" sent out a few emails and they were the first to respond. I showed up, did an impromptu audition (I had no idea I had to audition) and then, voila!

I hadn't sang in TWENTY years (I'm old enough to say that now) and I had no idea that I could still sing....so I thought it was a good sign that they let me in.

I joined the choir to increase my confidence, to start to meet people...and just to be around music. I decided that I liked it.

On the first day of choir, I had to audition, which I didn't know...and I "passed". I was also told that twice a year our choir puts on a series of concerts and that we donate the proceeds to a charity. The charity was The Gaulin Foundation, that I wrote about in this post.

It still amazed me that I had sort of formed a bit of a relationship with the parents of Sarah Gaulin, through my little tiny bit of volunteer work for the choir, as "charity liaison person".

The concert was spectacular. To be honest, until the last week, I didn't think that our choir was that great...or that we sounded very well. But something happened in the last week and we all came together.

The first night of the concert I was a ball of nerves....



 But...I was having a pretty good hair day....

I arrived at the concert, dressed and ready to go....but still a ball of nerves.

For some reason I chose to introduce a piece that we were singing called "Te Quiero", written by a famous Uruguayan poet Mario Benedetti. Holy Mother, I was shaking like a leaf. And...I didn't sing very well either...but, we received a standing ovation and even performed an encore!

The next day, pretty much the same thing. 

Except different hair...

The second night I was slightly less nervous...meaning I could eat (the night before I did a little puke in my mouth, you're welcome for that little tidbit of information) and enjoy some of the treats that were part of the bake sale that the Gaulin folks were putting on during intermission. (And I say "bake sale" but it WAS NOT your average bake sale. Montrealers take their baking seriously.....and everything I ate was incredible and the sugar high I got was so well worth it...).

The bake sale raised just under $800 each night!!! That isn't including ticket sales!!

So my little drop in the bucket....joining a choir....practicing my songs....singing at a concert....will have helped contribute to at least three scholarships (with the ticket sales) to those dealing with a mental illness. If you haven't looked at the links I've included, the Gaulin Foundation grants scholarships for those dealing with a mental illness. Often these individuals do not qualify for any other scholarships, as their mental illness has caused lapses in their education or they may not have the best marks. 

We were told, by Mr and Mrs Gaulin, that quite often, the scholarship recipients say that this is the first time that anyone has ever pat them on the back for just keeping going. 

For an "average" person....getting up and going to work might be generally easy. Ok, so you're tired, you were up too late with the kids, or doing laundry, or watching a stupid reality tv show....but for some people with some mental illnesses....getting up and going to work might be an almost impossible task...and no one ever says, Hey! Good Job!! You made it to work today!!!

So the scholarship recipients are thrilled, grateful, and go on to finish their post-secondary education, with a little bit of help. 

Both nights I spoke with some of the Board of Directors on the Gaulin Foundation, and it was clear, that they REALLY, REALLY, REALLY wanted to be there. 

Before I left the last night, I went up to Mr and Mrs Gaulin, and they thanked me (I felt like it was them I needed to thank) and gave me a genuine hug. I walked away, exhausted, elated, and feeling like....I made a difference. A very little difference. A drop in the bucket. But a drop none the less.

I hope to volunteer in any capacity for the Gaulin Foundation in the future and it has solidified my belief that I need to give back to those going through a mental illness in SOME way. Keeping to add a little drop. 

Birthday Spoilage Ridiculousness!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've has a pretty busy couple of weeks here, but I can't complain.

I have a half written post written about last weekend's activities, that made a huge impact in my life (and hopefully with more positive impact to come), but I want to write about this weekend.


I picked my grandma up from the airport on Monday night. I was slightly annoyed because I showed up two hours early...because I basically can't read some days...but oh well. Of course I brought Maggie because she kinda loves the airport and she kinda loves going ANYWHERE AND EVERYONE.


Poor Grandma is recovering from a nasty cough, so we took it easy, after hitting up my famous pizza joint.

We had booked a three day trip to NYC...but guess what....it got cancelled. The political mess, the time of the year....ended in a long phone call with me yelling at the tour company....but still our tour was cancelled. We were supposed to leave on the morning of my birthday...so I was really bummed...but in the end, I think it worked out for the best because my grandma is still recovering and well, we got a lot done here. My place is REALLY coming together...but there's nothing like having a grandma to nag you (and HELP YOU!!!) get your ish together. Photos were hung, garbage cans were repaired and floors were cleaned. We even figured out how to fix the dryer together. #teamwork

Monday through Thursday we played tourist, walked around Old Montreal, and we found the cutest cafe and stopped to warm up. 


And then Friday came...HAPPY 37th Birthday to me!!!!!!!!!!

Our plan was to go for brunch (after going through about fifteen recommendations from a new friend), then to walk around, do whatever, and then go for a birthday doughnut. Yes, a donut. Have you had a donut from Tim Horton's lately? Cardboard. Complete cardboard. So I was on the hunt for a real donut that tasted amazing. 

I started opening the cards and wrapped gifts that had arrived by mail. My "very big and exciting birthday gift" was a down and fur coat that I stumbled upon one day. Everyone in Montreal has one of these coats...but they run upwards of $700. I found the last one in my size for about $350...so my mom, my boyfriend, and my grandma pooled their money together and bought it for me!!! 

I'm kind of in love....

My grandma also helped me to furnish my 2nd bedroom. It's been my workout room since I've moved in...and it's pretty blahhhhhhh. We bought a mattress, daybed frame, and linens. (Ok...she, not me...I'm telling you I've been spoiled this year!!)

The frame and linens will arrive next week, but we got the mattress home ourselves!!!

I opened cards from my family and friends, and continued to be spoiled, spoiled, spoiled. Leggings, a gift certificate for a mani/pedi...and then I opened one card from my friend from Alberta. She always buys everyone a lottery ticket for their birthday....and I didn't see one. I was kinda like...oh. Oh well....pretty presumptuous of me, she still sent me a card!! Then I started reading the writing on the card....in April, she's coming here for 4 days and TAKING ME TO A DIXIE CHICKS CONCERT. They are pretty much one of my favorite bands....for so many reasons. I couldn't even speak.

I kind of felt like I was on the Price is Right and I just one of the packages with the boat, the car, and the trip to Italy... I couldn't get over that everyone made such a big deal for my birthday!!!


After I calmed down a bit, we went to brunch at a very, very carefully selected place (that's so popular that people wait outside in WINTER) and I had the most glorious french toast with the most glorious grapefruit juice and a cafe au lait....
I still can't get over how fabulous it was. 

We ran a few errands and then went home for a little nap. Perfection. 

I woke up and had a killer workout (no, I don't believe in waterproof mascara)
 and just rested at home. It wasn't three days in NYC...but it was a pretty great day!!!

We had to skip the birthday donuts because I was seriously overloaded with sugar after my french toast....which was fine with me! The next morning I popped out to a "real" donut place (ie: made on site with interesting flavors)

It looks like a lot of donuts....but they were REALLY tiny....it it was only like eating two birthday donuts...

The next day I had planned to take my grandma to St. Joseph's Oratory, which is made up of various buildings, and most famously the Basilica.
We stayed for a concert (they have a free concert every Sunday this year and the theme changes every few months). An American organist performed....and it was interesting....and the visit to the Oratory was breathtaking....but the organ...well...it's art is lost on me. It either sounds like music written by a madman or....like I should be sitting in a hockey arena. #sorrynotsorry....

Earlier in the week we had visited Marie-Rene du Monde Basilica which is pretty spectacular. Even more spectacular is that I passed this church every single day twice a day for six months...and never even thought about going in!


She's staying until Saturday. Tomorrow we'll be driving to the Laurentians, do a little shopping in a cute town on the way and then spending the night at a little hotel in St. Adele. The next morning, we'll drive an hour and a half and I'M GOING DOG SLEDDING!!! A few months ago, I bought myself a Groupon and I thought what better time to use it than now!!! Grandma will come and stay warm in the yurt (which seem to be such crazy popular things here...I don't get it) and play with the dogs and I can't wait... I've been wanting to this FOREVER and a day....so I'm pretty freaking pumped. 

Although our plans have changed, its been nice playing tourist and..going around Montreal, especially after a long December and January. <3

On to more adventures....will post the dog sledding photos as soon as I can!