dirt falls on us!!!

iulie 22, 2011

To: Mr. Mr. Landlords

Object:  Current state of washroom and updates on the work done, app x , no  xxxxx xxxxxx

We would like to advise you on the current state of the bathroom and update you about the progression of reparations since July 3rd.

July 3 the washroom was flooded by responsibility of construction workers. We cleaned up and were told the ceiling would be fixed by July 16th.

July 16th No work done

July 18th We pleaded with  the workers to do some work, or update us on the situation (David was not here). One worker came and stripped the ceiling.  He told us that he would leave it stripped because the entire bathroom needed to be renovated. No date was given, no updates made by anyone about anything.

Currently, our washroom is unusable, completely unsanitary. Rocks and dirt fall from the exposed ceiling at all times of the day; we cannot clean, maintain or use it.

Unsanitary conditions

  • The walls, cabinet and tiles have absorbed the dirty water from the flood on July 3rd
  • Rocks fall from the ceiling (this can block the pipes)
  • The dirt is spreading to the rest of the apartment; we have been cleaning but gave up.
  • We would like to remind you of the risk that mushrooms (fungus) can grow behind the tiles and cabinet affected during the flood.

DILEMMA Situation

  • We are unable to use the washroom properly, dirt falls on us
  • We have no updates about the type of work which will be done nor have we been given the date. What we were promised is not done and we are left hanging!
  • +Construction holidays are here!!!?!+

It’s almost one month since our bathroom – the ½ of our 3 ½ – has been increasingly unusable, and even posing health risks. We feel obliged to withhold the proportion of the rent covering the said space – precisely  1/7th of the 735$. Considering the anxiety caused to us, we feel that no matter how soon you renovate this bathroom, we should still be entitled to paying less than the full rent for the following month.

Please make appropriate recommendations to either the construction workers or the accountant.

Carmen and Melanie

i went to the russian store

iulie 16, 2011

there is one, THE  russian store in montreal. not that i’m an expert, but that’s the place everybody seems to have heard of, or send you to when you ask. i only went there once with d. last summer, then in winter once and now, this week. i mean it’s fun.

it’s at plamondon, so from my work i need to go west and change metro lines. but it’s right by the station. surrounded by asian shops and swarmed by such a colorful population that i could never guess as to the actual componence of the neighbourhood – which is alright. inside, first thing i heard was a romanian mother scolding her child. then various forms of slavic languages (not yet trained to tell whether it’s all russian). a black lady with a violet turban was looking at the pickles – no idea whether she was just a tourist like me, i hope not.

i finally had time to spend reading the labels. in writing it’s easier for me, because i can tell polish at a glance (of course! all those zbwzyczky) and also the difference between ukrainian and russian. beside food, they have a small section of books (indifferent paperbacks, maybe romance and crime) and of cosmetics. i’m seriously much better at discovering what is what just from labels, than i was back in february. i just got „fun food” though: armenian bread (for melanie! she was happy, she said they eat it in the old country, but not here), a bunch of selected candy, 2 huge bags of sweet corn sticks, letonian sprot (i learnt that from d! they’re from riga, where he was born), polish processed cheese and the only romanian product in the store : a bag of Eugenias.( for the non-romanians : it’s sort of a cocoa cream cookie, but for us it’s legend.) oh, and a box of chicory, which i have no idea how to use.(maybe i’ll enlist melanie later to go for herrings and pickled stuff or jams…things are not expensive, and then, there’s the illusion of being on an Eastern Planet complete in itself. priceless.)

„daite, pajalusta,” the cashier said, gesturing to my bags.

дайте пoжалуйста – she said. 🙂 i smiled and held the bags to her as if i’d won the raffle.

двадцать три восемьдесят…something, she said, and because i was scrunching my eyes calculating in my head, she repeated the price in french.

then i took three russian newspapers – „our gazette”, „east/west” and something else. i read the anecdote page on the metro, feeling a bit of an impostor and eating the candy with the squirrel on the wrapper. this visit – a short and smiling and violent encounter. from the moment the light hit through on the plamondon stairs, two different layers of nostalgia netted me and clogged me down. that, plus daydreaming plus the frisson the contact with a foreign language always gives me. i’m restarting russian classes next week anyway, so.

the blue room poem

iulie 14, 2011

(for hélène and shiva)


i found the walls blue, stickered with long-stemmed

tulips; scrubbed the smell out with wet wipes, but the window

dust streaks stayed – ancient, unreachable. i brought

good faith, the bed with a broken board, the big chair. what i left

is gone in a van, under varnish, to pieces.


last spring, out of the taxi with two suitcases

and three boxes, i dreamt of permanence. now i know better.

or worse. it`s just seasonal heartbreak, perfumed

with sweat, lindens and earth after rain. tout va être correct.

along every street cabinets, chairs, soft worn sofas wait

to be rechosen. all these chance meetings.


i cross st joseph holding traffic, holding a writing desk

above my head. my new roomie finds an armoir coin Gilford

et Chabot, and guards it til enough passer-bys have stopped to help

push it home. for me. more plants, rug, plastic hangers, the cat

and the laptop`s unison purr. and suddenly here`s everything

again, even absences carried over, vivid-shimmery, dancing

like lights above treasures.

eastern nest

iulie 11, 2011

1. ‘eastern nest’

(eating sunflower seeds on the back balcony):

c: this is very eastern. why don’t canadians eat sunflower seeds?

m: we are very eastern, look in our fridge: balkan yogurt, russian jam, homemade armenian chicken…

[…rose water…]

c: i know! look at our house: crap all over the place, dripping pipes, bathroom ceiling falling in…


2.centipedes (because of the bathroom flooding, my no.1 fear was that we’d attract centipedes, since they love humidity. m. argues that one has to face their fears and get information on them)

m (on the phone with her friend): can you please call back in 5 minutes? my roommate and i are googling pictures of centipedes!


3. construction workers

3.1. m (wearing white bloomer-like shorts with a rose pattern): so i went to ask the workers for a hammer. i hope i didn`t look like those ditzy girls you know, ‘sorry guys, can i have a hammer pleeeease?’

c: were you wearing pants?

m: oops. oh my god.


3. 2. construction worker, looking at the dripping pipe in our kitchen – all of a sudden: t’as tu déjà fait l`amour à un voyou?

c: (bursts out laughing)

c: is this for real?

m (sitting at kitchen table): oh, you understood what he said? i was like, oh god, i hope carmen doesn`t understand that.

construction worker: (grinning)


3.3. c: you know we`re gonna miss the workers when they`re gone.

m: yes, they keep us company with their noises, and make us feel safe. they`re like our eight big brothers…

m: …badass brothers!


4. fish (veiltail/fantail goldfish – melanie had one, freddie, and we just got a baby, sasha)

aquarium is covered with a blanket

c: why did you cover the aquarium?

m: to isolate them – they must be so stressed, with all the changes and the mess around here.

c: and you think they`re not freaking out when you lift the blanket all of a sudden and stare at them?

m: i was trying to just take a quick discreet look.

m: oooh, they`re socializing! they`re touching!

c: very nice – you put the light off and they immediately start touching.

m: maybe…yes, if they get together, they`ll lay eggs! so we`ll have caviar!!

m: but that wouldn`t be right, sasha is still a child!


5. chinese astrology (you do not even want to know!!)

c: wow, you know what i just thought? the fish`s chinese sign is the cat!

m: ow, cutie!


i really don’t know what to say. days are adventurous, full of paint (hopefully it`s over now) and of sunshine and what else? russian, and entertaining books and eating random stuff and talking a lot. it`s like holiday camp a bit, but we should get down to achieving stuff. i`m really relieved that i painted my room, 2 white walls and it completely changes the vibe to the place. i`m too excited to sleep early – or maybe this is what summer is supposed to be like.









iulie 8, 2011

melanie biked, right before midnight, to a grocery store, to get me a SURPRISE lemon cake and mini candles. there is always the sort of stuff i expect (messages from all my friends! if one of you doesn`t write i`ll notice. not holding it against you, just notice. my parents parading bunches of flowers in front of me on videochat…) and the sort i don`t expect and makes me weepy. it`s good to have the unexpected happen this year too…i don`t know, it makes me feel i deserve good things?!

i wanted to do nothing of what i`d done last year, so i ended up doing nothing. not going out. not cooking (i still owe the world a shortbread project), not painting my nails. i wore the new `present to myself`shoes to work, with the princess dress, and the hair coiled on top of my head!!! yes – it`s so long. the day wasn`t busy at work, so i relaxed. i didn`t want people singing to me and all that, but i got my chocolate mousse on a tray with stuff written in syrup. and i read my russian: my daily lesson (by pure accident) was `happy birthday!`

and today/over the weekend i’m still buying „the things” – and reporting on them later. i’m excited!!

uh, update

mai 25, 2011

two of my main concerns lately: i can`t get back to writing `properly` – mmm, literarily; and i can`t really blog i.e. say what is going on, even if i want to. so out of these combined, resulted a hybrid that`s sort of a semi-poem. i shrug and post it:

end of may 2011 –

here`s the poem i owe you/ i thought about rhyming, but it’s more important/to get it out any old way: /to each, their own priorities.

it’s rainy, still raining; my cherry red/rubber boots march past armies of tulips/no time to go swimming at the local pool/i compensate by walking lots, and eat my vegetables.

my new room faces north, a backyard/of spiralled stairs. far from the metro/but it’s big, cheap, the roommate is tidy. /i furnished it all from the streets.

i haven’t been to parc jarry lately/some lost things glow in my head like dead stars/i took up coffee again – at 8 a.m./i sip my first cup in the kitchen/ working hard on not feeling guilty.


a room as a metaphor for my relationship

aprilie 5, 2011

it was the warmest sunniest weekend in forever. the cremeries have just opened and people were crowding mont-royal and laurier, the sidewalks and the park benches, exposing themselves to the warmth, cheerfully admitting how hard it had been without. children, dogs, squirrels, groups playing guitar on porches, everybody smiling at everybody (now it’s rainy again, but whatever.)

so on saturday i was laughing around with cynthia a bit, reading her bits of craigslist room postings, and i decided to maybe start answering some. i picked one, the best of the crop, a room in a 6 1/2, with 2 colocs, convenient price-wise…right in villeray, steps away from metro jarry. i was like haha, wouldn’t it be fun if i called. so call i did, and the girl answered to me in french (she doesn’t speak english)…and so i got a date for next day. sunday.

i kept saying how fun it was for me to visit a room in villeray. cynthia shrugged a bit at my silliness, but said it was fine to start seeing rooms anyway (i have almost 3 months til i move…but ok, it’s on my mind). bright sunday noon, and i get off the metro at jarry, sunglasses and lipgloss (my lips are horribly windchapped) and leather jacket armor in place. i cross the street, walking west on jarry st., and i LITERALLY WHINE for a second there (it was a fruiterie…something…we’d grocery-shopped there once), but then it’s fine. the big church with the green roofing. the room i have to see is on st. denis.

the room is ok, a bit bigger than mine, with a window but with less light. giving onto st. denis, which is bad news because of the traffic. access to the balcony!!!, which is actually bad news, because it would be common courtesy to share said balcony. otherwise: even cheaper than the ad said. and i can’t even look at the room properly, because it will come unfurnished, but, surprise – i’m getting excited about possibilities: the chairs and table i could scavenge, the drawer set and matress e. would sell me. the girl looks friendly-pragmatic, the outgoing efficient type (what i dubbed the AEGEE type); the guy is hispanophone (huh, we can try speaking spanish!) and his english is good, and he is a translation student. all of the latter is perhaps very bad news (he is also tall).

but i’m giddy, and jumpy, and once the interview’s over i go across the street and buy a pair of earrings for 2$ just because. then i take a walk on d’s former street 2 blocks away and i generally stroll around the neighbourhood imagining it’s mine. i’ve decided that because it’s so early in the search and i had no expectations i can’t be really sad/disappointed in the eventuality of …rejection. „a negative answer”, the guy said diplomatically. but i’ve decided that in spite of all of that, if they offer me the room, i’ll take it. i’ll go with it.

the guy calls- decent hour of the evening. he says they haven’t decided yet and will have visits all through next week too. blah blah. seriously witty, all i manage to say is „well, just don’t lose my phone number”. but it’s finished, yes? i’ve been dumped. it was a nice day sitting in the sun feeling things were possible and etc. but uh, what a narrow escape. obviously god doesn’t want me to live in villeray :).


las ventanas son grandes

martie 30, 2011

i’m learning spanish – i started 5 days ago. because it’s the one thing i can do to cope with stuff. this is my alternative to dieting: it goes easy, gives me early satisfaction, makes me feel like i’m doing something. keeps me busy on my way to work. mind you, i don’t know how much learning i’m actually doing…since it’s assumed that as romanian i was supposed to be fluent in spanish already anyway…but if the end result is progress-in-language-speaking, i.e. i can add spanish to my CV in good conscience, then cool.

there is a challenge too. of course. i’ve dared myself to learn it in one year. so by april ’12 i should be like a level 7-8. doable, i guess. besides, i go on with the russian and i should get at least to beginner-intermediate this year. gah. things that are generally very muddled can become very simple. limpid. i’m washing dishes, saying to myself : i don’t speak well, but i can speak a little russian/spanish. i like spring. i don’t like to drink too much coffee. the windows are big. the door is white and the walls are yellow. can you help me? maybe you can try to call me. in russian, then in spanish. on a loop, then searching for other sentences i can say in both languages. yay fun.

i am moving out of this place – it was sold, and cynthia is moving in with her boyfriend. i have 2 or 3 months to get out – i’d prefer to be installed somewhere at least beginning of june. of course i don’t want to go, but once it’s over, it’s better to get it over with asap. i don’t want to get out of the plateau…i want to stay in the francophone area, but not really pie IX, y’know? so far all the room posts that look good are for april 1st.

remind me why i didn’t want to live with hipsters. i think it’s time i was reminded of that.

or i could go tomorrow and rent d.’s old room in villeray – last month it was still ‘for rent’ and i bet no one took it in the mean time.

ok, stop it. basta por hoy, like my textbook would tell me.

more tiny things

martie 21, 2011

it’s my roommate’s birthday (this, on a saturday), she’s over at her boyfriend’s but i suspect she’ll be back at some point during the day. but i have to go out fairly quicklyyyy – i run to take a shower; the kitchen is a mess. the sun is crazy and just shows off the dust everywhere. i need to leave in 10 minutes, so i just take a piece of paper and i write her a happy-birthday letter…which, ok, tells her how great she is, but also includes „i know i should have probably cleaned the place instead”.

then i go out in my leather jacket, wearing sunglasses, and it’s glorious.

i go with my friend e. to the bookstore to ‘help’ him buy books, then we pass by the mall and go into M0851 (http://www.m0851.com/#/en) where i’d only been once before, but stepped out SO QUICKLY  because i could never afford those things. it’s easier when there’s someone else with me, especially someone who likes clothes. i try on a raincoat made of treated cotton (size 6!:) ) and it looks so gorgeous. 455$.

at the end of my nighshift i want to go in the backroom of the restaurant to pick up my boots and leave my work shoes. the door is closed, although nobody normally closes it, unless someone needs to take a nap in between shifts around 4-5 pm. it’s probably midnight now, so i laugh and push the door open. our cook mohammed is kneeling, in the dark, bowing and barefoot. i close the door back quickly and sit down – someone else in the entry room asks with a gesture what is going on. „he’s praying”, i smile very widely – i feel proud and touched to have stumbled upon that.

somebody calls me from england on sunday at noon. she’s not even a friend, she’s someone i knew briefly 6 years ago for like 10 days, and in a murky context. but no matter. we talked for like 45 mins about what we were doing, and it was ok. i mean the very fact of the phonecall happening was obliterating the content. it feels like somehow she made a rational/i.e. calculated decision to reconnect with people from her past – but i surprisingly don’t look at it cynically, i’m glad she called.

again:i’m having a coffee at the bookstore, flipping through magazines. a guy starts chatting me up, he looks late 30s, i would say arabic. OF COURSE  he tries to guess my nationality. after hockey, guessing natonalities is THE  sport in montreal. i’m not offended, but right there is where one kind of starts losing points with me. then i turn a bit more and i see the book on his table: flirting for dummies. i am not kidding you. i’m a good girl though, and stop myself from giving advice. everyone should figure it out for themselves.

there’s nothing out there, and everything out there. all these useless days will add up to something:)


…so what happened was…

martie 8, 2011

no, you’re not getting the break-up story here, sorry. it’s a one-on-one exclusive. i know it’s me – carmen (eyeroll) – so i’m supposed to be blabbing about the sacredest stuff, mais quand même! instead i can tell you about the funny things that happened after.

i am trying to get the things right this time. (and because of this, i’m sometimes remembering all the other times or non-times with rage. so many wasted years because of no closure.) it’s still incredible for me how guilty i feel of my own unhappiness, to the extent where i feel compelled to report it to the entire world. after 2 weeks, it reached facebook status status. so things can only calm down from here on.

but i did the right things, and the cliche things. i talked to friends who are chat/skype/phone-accessible, i asked for and received good advice. that helped, just being fascinated again by how complex relationship things are. i am still acting a bit detached, as if it’s an experiment in recovery.

i drank a bottle of wine alone in the dark one night, ate a whole icecream container another night (ah, while watching ‘american idol’, forgot to mention). the only thing i didn’t feel like doing much was buying stuff. or getting out of the house. which is also not entirely abnormal if you consider my paycheck or the weather lately. so the official version is that i’m…dealing with it.

now about this dealing: i just want to know when it’s going to be over. i want to make a list, a plan of action, to set deadlines. i mean that is what i did. i was so feverish and irritated the first 2-3 days after: waste of time, i kept mumbling to myself. this is what these days/weeks/months are.

they say i have to say hi to the cute guy at the bus stop. butt into someone’s peaceful reading at the library. attend social events. activate my network. yeah, when it feels alright to do that, i will. i don’t think i’m passing up opportunities that were designed for me. i don’t want to be desperate. i want to be ok on my own.

there was a suicide on the metro line last week – i wasn’t on the metro that hit the person, but my roommate was. she was pretty shaken. i was just annoyed about the metro being blocked, although when you hear „un accident sur la ligne orange cause une interruption de service” as opposed to ralentissement du service, you kind of know what it means. but i didn’t let myself think of it until cynthia told me.

and it’s the cold, the too-late cold that gets into the bones to the core.

also, i returned home last night and because it was freezing indoors and sinister i was planning to cook with the radio on. i looked for my headphones to hook up my cellphone and i realized that d. had taken them by mistake and left his own, which i have no use for. i can’t explain better, but the impossibility of playing top40 music and hearing distinct québécois voices RIGHT THAT INSTANT was a pretty big hit to my mood. the silence was so creepy and absurd – then i realized why. cynthia’s perruche was dead, stiff on the bottom of his cage.

we don’t know how he died. sudden heart attack is one version. i panicked a bit and called cyn…then i packed the body and took it out. somehow i fell asleep reading feministe. in the morning the snow was covering a quarter of my tall window, and kept coming down with the blizzard. i sat down at the table with coffee in the birdless livingroom. 7 am. and i had a good cry.

now it`s all going to be better.