Monday, June 16, 2008

Prochain station: Villa Maria


I'm in Montreal.

I was in Kitchener, Ontario, for about five days, most of which were spent in alternating somnolence and panicked work; I heard from my agent that my novel is out to about seven different publishing houses and, by the way, "Are you working on anything new right now?"  I quickly copyedited the first chapter of the novel I've been working on (on and off...mostly off lately, what with grad school) for the past year or so and mailed it off to her, with a suggestion that we could also revisit the nonfiction bellydance manual I was working on lo, these many years ago.  Amazing the glacial pace publishing travels at; it makes geology look like a speedy little bunny.  I remember with fondness thinking that I might actually have a book in hand by 2009.  Silly Claire!

Anyway, since I can't spend all my time being famous (or any of it, actually), my friends S and B and I all drove to Montreal.  I've never driven to Montreal before; all of my approaches are via plane, for the sole purpose of visiting my father.  As we whizzed into the late afternoon Kitchener air, we were in high spirits and predicting a fast trip, until we all realized with mounting horror that we would be hitting Toronto at rush hour.  On a Friday.  In cottage season.  And my air conditioning just kicked it, and it will cost me at least $80 just to get it inspected to find out what's wrong, seeing as I have an old R12 system rather than a new R13 system, which is only one more number in R's but for double the price!  

After passing the same shirtless guy in a blue car with all the windows rolled down about five times, I started wanting to talk to him by shouting out the window.  S was snoozing in the back seat, B was snoozing in the front seat with one arm entangled in my hula hoop, I was revved up on vegan pumpkin cookies (they don't count as cookies if they're vegan) and I wanted some conversation.  Fortunately, I quelled the urge, and for some reason we miraculously made it through rush hour in an hour and a half.  For those who don't know: highway 401 around Toronto Metro goes back and forth in rivalry with highway 10 in metro Los Angeles for most congestion ever.  The 401 is 16 lanes wide in some parts of Toronto.  Tremble, mortals.

We made it to Montreal LATE and invaded the house of our friends MC and M, two lovely Francophones who put up with me inadvertently mimicking their accent.  I can't help it; even though I speak French, and I speak English, I always start speaking English with a Quebecois accent as soon as I get here.  "I'm sorry, I sound like I'm mocking you," I kept apologizing, rolling my r's, glottalizing my...r's, and doing some other things to my syllabic intonations.  So what I really said was: "I'm sahRY, I saound like I am MOKing you."  Hein?

M and MC had a party on Saturday, so we ate huge quantities of homemade cheese and more cookies in preparation.  Then we talked a lot in various languages, played some music, danced, hooped, and caroused until 1:30am.  Annick, a friend of MC, said she was supposed to go to another party afterwards; I asked her when she had to be there.  "9 pm," she said, sheepishly.  We were more fun, clearly.

The next day, I taught my workshop in downtown Montreal, where I felt massively unsophisticated and not worthy to be spit upon by the stylish Montreal ladies.  I actually felt that way immediately upon arrival, since the dress MC threw on just to greet us at the door at midnight was more stylish than anything I had packed with me.  It helps that she's tiny, adorably curly-haired, and very French looking.  Nobody can look cuter than French women.  It's something about their pouty little lips.  I admit defeat.

Post-workshop, we went to the South Shore to see M's childhood home and visit his charming parents.  Near their house is a statue of Madeleine, a fourteen year old girl who, with the help of her two baby brothers, and old servant, and two soldiers, made a raiding party of Iroquois believe her family's fort was completely occupied for eight days.  She ran from rampart to rampart firing out at them so they would think there were more people there.  This was in the 1600s, so women didn't do anything back then but sew, squeeze out babies, and make coonskin hats for voyageurs.  (I hope you know I'm kidding about this)

Today, I'm at my dad's, a sunny, airy apartment in the NDG.  I'm meeting friends for dinner tonight and teaching a private lesson tomorrow evening.  Then next weekend I'm going to Burlington, VT to teach another workshop.  There's probably better ways to do this traveling thing, but I don't know what they are.  Merci, tout le monde, et bonne journee!

1 comment:

tesstessi said...

My father is a writer, so I'm all too familiar with the joys of the publishing world. The best thing ever? His first book? They accidentally published the 2nd to the final edit, d'oh. Actually the best thing was that he stayed home with me as a kid and neglected me in such a way to foster creativity and independence, but was close enough in case I got eaten by a cougar or something (this was UT).

And vegan cookies totally don't count, but vegan cupcakes... I think they do, so decadent! (http://www.amazon.com/Vegan-Cupcakes-Take-Over-World/dp/1569242739/ref=pd_ecc_rvi_2/104-8110381-2073509?ie=UTF8)