„work is lame” is not an excuse

august 16, 2010

bussboy (bengali, speaks only english) worried about his trays of glasses: „i need glasses, please.”

carmen: „n. [the manager] said everybody should speak to me in french. so either you speak french or i can’t hear you.”

bussboy: madam, [points at glasses] s’il vous plait…

carmen: desolee, j’ai pas du temps maintenant.


carmen, pushing a heavy soap container for the machine. kitchen help tries to…well, help:

k.h.: let me carry this for you.

carmen: no thanks, what kind of a dishwasher would i be if i couldn’t carry my soap?

erik: dear miss carmen, not everything in life has to be hard.


new cook, italo-canadian, has the radio on loud and sings on top of it all day long. headache.

new cook: i sing good, don’t i?

carmen: don’t worry, i won’t press charges.


new bussboy, slips and breaks a whole tray of glasses.

n.b: … i almost had it up and then they all fell like this!…

carmen: …it was a once-in-a-jobtime experience.

cook: whoa, are you firing him? let the boy break glasses at his own pace!


metro closed due to accident, everybody is late for work and cranky.

carmen: i’m a lady, i took a taxi from papineau to here.

cook: glad you could make it, would you like to sit down in the VIP section and wait for the hostess to take your order?

montreal by night (2): earlier this summer

august 14, 2010

the „farine five roses” red sign, visible from a lot of points at night, if one knows to look for it. but i saw it close, from next to the river, on top of the flour factory it belongs to. i’d had no idea what it was before, just that i’d seen it printed on montreal t-shirts. it looks pretty surreal anywhere.

top of mont-royal at midnight: full of people on the lit terrace. taking in the centre ville, spotting the important buildings by their lights. yes there’s the farine five roses. and then, further on from the terrace, there’s the forest. dark and real, like only the forests in bucovina had been when i was on holiday in a cabin in another lifetime. but then how often does one get to wander in the woods at night? close to the big cross, and sitting on the grass, and it’s absolutely full of mosquitoes. it’s also the hottest day/night of the year, so they’re going crazy. oh-kay, chalk this down to experience. and catch the last bus back, cause otherwise. the bus, 11 montagne, really has one of the greatest routes ever. moving side by side with the shining lights. and it’s empty. i put my head out through the open window,in the breeze, but i didn’t sing – just smiled.

animals – apart from the raton laveur on top of mont-royal, who showed his pretty bandit face for a full 10 seconds there – curious? unconcerned?. here’s a truth that i feel the people on my street (who sleep at night) are happier not knowing: we have a skunk living somewhere around. he moves under different porches every night, edging closer to my house i’m afraid. a flash of black, or white, and look – this cute beast just scrounging for a living like the rest of us. the aura of his reputation making us rush to cross.

the night before july 1st, moving day, people are up hunting for abandoned furniture. my roommate hired a car and got two friends and they were driving around the plateau with stops in key points. from outside this bustle, it still seems frantic, exciting, young. she came back about midnight with two chairs and left again. on our walk back along marie-anne, then messier, me and d. just ogled clutters of desks, mirrors, shelves, lamps – not very many , but enough to mark the day as out of the usual. the city playing musical chairs.

one night i read some poems under a streetlamp, for my audience of 1. it had been raining, there was fresh smell of flowers. the spot was pretty secluded, by a wall, a passage between two not even big streets. three kids passed by with a ball, stopped a little and kicked it then went on. i heard my reading voice, with the quiver of anger in it, wondered whether it would translate, and went on. one of my poems i still liked.

dark by the river close to metro stop henri bourassa, i.e. ‘as far away as possible’. it looks like a different city, with different-styled houses, lawns, privacy. i’m told it looks like west montreal. but the park is still good, water swirling below the branches. that’s what i love about parks: the trees are trees, the alleys are alleys, the grass is neither anglo nor franco.

more festivals: the „juste pour rire” show downtown, with its giant puppets and its cinderella story: the love between a huge pink balloon (princess rose – the size of a house, floating majestically through the crowd) and a smaller green ballon (prince victor, who arrives on stage in a carriage the shape of a very pretty and colorful high-heeled shoe). all assorted with indian dancing, skeletons, michael jackson and an impressive acrobatic number – angels unfurling our of UFO-looking pods, and raining confetti and feathers on people’s heads. plus there was a full moon that night.

soccer games in parks. ok, so i watched only 2, but this is 2 more than i’ve ever watched in my entire adult life before, so there. also: during the first game, in park mont-royal a ways before midnight, i might have been smoking up – under a tree, in the rain, close to the soccer field. everything seemed hilarious, of course: the ants climbing my hand,my new umbrella, the focus of the players and the fact that there were people watching them on the sidelines. the second game, two weeks later, felt like another lifetime: sober, late, a bit hardened – i was cheering for the hometeam. they won.

watching the stars in parc jarry. i know no constellations. to me they all shine very distant, cold but kindly. in the middle of an open field, the grass is wet with dew and i shiver lying back on a coat and not wanting to leave ever. it’s like a mix between my childhood and a cult indie movie, i think, in this tumble of dirt and brightness and invisible grass stains. some things stay with me like a remembered shiver – some things were always there, and come out now,twinkling.

re: toronto protests

august 7, 2010

i have been thinking about the toronto g-20. i don’t have enough information or involvment really, in this kind of thing. but i felt like discussing it with someone, and here in mtl i can’t. so i’m going to post this thing from ‘the field’, one of my former go-to blogs in 2008: if you read it (yael, sonja, lora, vancouver ppl…), please read the comments too. my initial feeling when i heard of what happened sort of corresponded to al giordano’s point…but i learned a lot from the comments too. and i keep thinking of it.


august: citrouille, and picking up…

august 2, 2010

so i am trying to pick up almost where i left off…except i don’t seem to be trying very hard. but that’s a misleading first impression, because obviously the first thing to catch up with is sleep. over the past month and a half i probably averaged 5.5 hrs/night, and everything was fantastic, then i got burnt at work and then i slipped and fell and scraped my knees and bruised my arms and things were still fantastic, and i saw myself becoming whiny, whinier and not doing much except trying to not think this has to end and i have to go on afterwards. and now it’s over.

august came, i’m off work for 2 days, i slept 10 hours last night, i almost cleaned my room this morning, the dirty laundry is collected in bags but i have no cash on the premises and there is food in the fridge and why should i go out before it’s absolutely necessary? my rent is still unpaid, i haven’t recharged my bus/metro card, no one has called yet. and here’s the citrouille story:

one month ago, i had the same problem with rent/bus card, i.e. i had money but somehow i didn’t have time to spend taking money out of the atm or bank or whatever, in order to pay for that. knowing my roommate is nice enough to accept rent 2 days after it’s due does not make things easier. but also, the transport card (card opus/carte a puce) is still valid on the 1st day of the next month after you paid. so july 1st (and yesterday too) i was still safe to take the bus and metro, and it was a reprieve, it was as if the month hadn’t finished yet.

so i’m on mont-royal, in front of the metro stop, july 1st close to midnight., with my card not recharged waiting for it to be my mum’s birthday officially in canada…also hoping the bus would come before midnight, so i could take it without paying. i was like cinderella, d. said, trying to catch my fancy carriage before it turns into a pumpkin. „avant mon citrouille”. and i did catch the bus that night, and i was riding high, for free, for the whole month of july. and now it’s august 2, and i have to recharge again.

i’m tempted to not get out today. i don’t want anything. how lucky to know i will have to, that things will happen because my kind of inertia dictates it, that i have french school, i have a job, and life doesn’t stop. carriage or pumpkin, it will take me somewhere.