Montreal Getaway – Jan. 29-31, 2016

Places like Montreal are the reason why I regret not taking more French than I did back in high school. I mean I have up to grade 10, a measly year beyond what was required, but that’s hardly enough to get me to a conversational level. Luckily for me, the Montrealians (is that the term?) I encountered were at least bilingual. It warms my heart to know that independent businesses are able to thrive in a big city like this. I recently learned that Montreal is the second largest city in Canada, behind Toronto. During our weekend, I don’t think I saw a single Starbucks and maybe only a handful of Timmies and McDs. The trips here with the Western Mustang Band all those years ago for the St. Patrick’s Day parade seem like forever ago and I never got the chance to discover this city. Not that I think I really have, but this was certainly the first time I got to try. I did a little bit of research before our trip; which mostly consisted of reading blog posts of “15 up and coming restaurants of Montreal,” or “101 restaurants to try in Montreal before you die,” or “Must-try eats in Montreal you can check out in a weekend.” Very food-centric. But before eating our way through Montreal, there was an even more important reason for our visit.

Heather and I are both avid fans of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) and when I checked out the schedule for this season when it was released back in October and noticed our team, Les Canadiennes du Montreal were playing at home the weekend of our anniversary, I got planning. I’m not sure I could have anticipated a better set up of games than what ended up happening. Les Canadiennes were playing the Calgary Inferno and prior to the weekend they were both atop the league; Calgary was first and Montreal was second and only a couple of points separated the two. Montreal won both its games that weekend and took the lead; and man they were an intense pair of games. It was a privilege to watch so many Olympians (Shall I name a few? Wickenheiser, Ouellette, Poulin, Labonte, Chu, Mikkelson, Saulnier, Jenner, Larocque) take the ice together and it was nice to know our money was going towards an organization that needed support. Bonus, the proceeds from Saturday’s game and a silent auction went towards a charity for breast cancer research. We also took the opportunity to pick up some Les Canadiennes merch. Nothing like saving on some shipping! Turns out the youth XL hoodie fit Heather just fine so I guess that’s another way of saving money.

City planning in Montreal really is next level. As we made our way during the 6 hour bus ride from Toronto, I looked up public transit options and, lo and behold, there was a $13 weekend pass that went from 6pm Friday to 6am Monday. The subway and bus routes were comprehensive as was the companion app. There were buses along every major road running in a grid-like fashion AND they were dependably on time. I don’t think we once waited more than 10 minutes.

After settling in at our AirBnB (conveniently located across the street from the sport complex the games were being played at), we picked up some dinner and breakfast supplies at a nearby grocery store then headed over to St-Viateur for some fresh bagels.

The aroma of fresh baked bagels hits you as soon as you walk into the place. There are a couple of things in fridges you can buy but the bagels were the star. The place was simple, an isle to allow for a line-up and no room to loiter and a deep wood burning oven in the back that you can tell has been used lovingly for years. Bagels were made fresh on site all hours of the day since it’s open 24/7.

The next day we ventured out to a cafe we’d heard about and were dying to check out: Cafe 8 oz. on Rue Saint-Hubert, just a quick bus ride closer to the subway station we were near.

I think it was here that I started describing everything in Montreal as disgusting and gross because I couldn’t handle how charming this city was anymore. As the kids say these days, “this was my aesthetic AF.”

A short 10 minute walk from the cafe, we discovered a small shopping area that covered 4 or 5 blocks filled with restaurants, boutiques, and bookstores we could peruse. There was a Montreal smoked meat restaurant we wanted to check out and we were really glad that we ended up avoiding expensive touristy areas and got a chance to see more local culture. I know how massive smoked meat sandwiches can get so when we arrived at Le Roie Du Smoked Meat, I opted for the smoked meat sandwich on a bread roll… but still…

After lunch, Heather was on the hunt for more caffeine. So we hopped into a super cute cafe called Candide which we passed on the way to lunch. I think Heather was drawn in by the cute sheep theme while I’m a sucker for musical theatre references. She ordered a large mocha for us to share and got to choose the type of chocolate. She opted for the dark but it was really rich… she ended up drinking it by herself.

I mean look at that! Disgusting.

After the first game, we checked out this awesome microbrewery called Boswell for dinner. I got a sample of this beer that was super sour and I really didn’t enjoy it. The waitress was kind enough to give me a small taste so I didn’t waste it and I ended up getting a more familiar IPA. Unfortunately they were out of some of the daily specials that we wanted to try but we loved what we ended up getting just the same. I got a marinated grilled chicken wrap and some fries but I didn’t take a picture because I was so impressed with what Heather got.

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Grilled shrimp on a bed of Moroccan quinoa

Aside from the hockey games, the highlight of our weekend in Montreal has to be our visit to Juliet et Chocolat. Located just south of The Village, we had no idea we were in for such a treat. This place really blew our socks off.

There is a small seating area to the left as you walk in and on the right is the welcome counter as well as the kitchen area where fresh crepes are being prepared; the smells really catch you while you wait to be seated. At around 10pm, the wait wasn’t too bad but they were certainly busy.

Their menu was the most varied dessert menu I’d ever seen. An entire section on hot chocolates made from chocolate from all over the world and at whatever percentage of darkness you’d want. Entire sections were dedicated to cake, brownies, crepes, waffles; even a section on platters of combinations of those sections or a variety of each different section. It took a long time to peruse through but we eventually managed to decide.

We left happily with our bellies full.

I think the aspect I enjoy most about the independent business culture of Montreal is the relationship developed between owner and customer as well as the responsibility they feel towards each other. There seems to be this unspoken promise amongst themselves that a certain standard must be kept in order for them to remain competitive with each other… and that standard is high. We ended up returning to Cafe 8 oz. on Sunday morning and they recognized us! I know this because he greeted us in English.

Montreal served to be a wonderful backdrop for our weekend together and we were impressed at how good everybody’s English was. After all, all of their signage and day-to-day things are in French and they’re under no obligation to know English either. Everyone was so nice too! I was especially impressed with the bus drivers, but then I thought, “it’s probably because no one treats them like shit here.” Good point.

I still have to get my fill of authentic Montreal-style poutine… didn’t end up having enough time to grab some before we had to catch our bus. I wish I took some more pictures of my surroundings too instead of just the food we were eating. Already looking forward to returning!

12 Things No One Told Me About Sex After Rape

Thought Catalog

There is a strange sort of unspoken theory that once a woman has been raped, sex is no longer a viable option for her. Sex has been replaced by trauma, fear, pain, and anxiety. I’m not saying this is never the case. Every survivor’s story and experience is different, but too often the assumption is that if you have been raped, you are sexually broken and forever unfixable. That sort of discourse is not healthy or empowering or even sympathetic. What I want to say is what I wish I had been told: rape is not a form of sex, it is a form of assault. Sex feels good. Assault is traumatizing. It is possible for sex to exist after rape because they are different experiences, just like it’s possible for you to still enjoy going out to eat even if you got food poisoning once. You might never go…

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Instead of going to class, I have fucked up dreams.

January 10, 2013 from 9:10 – 10:00 AM

I’m at some kind of performance with my girlfriend (Heather), another friend (LM), and John Barrowman. Heather and I already have a house together, but for some reason, she was going to leave for somewhere forever and I wanted to surprise her by tagging along to wherever she was going. Instead, I was locked in a room with John Barrowman, where we spooned, and I rubbed his penis through his pants and sucked his thumb. I wondered if this was the sort of celebrity fucking I’d be forgiven for. Apparently he is straight in my dream.

I have incredible guilt and all I want to do is tell her that I didn’t want her to leave. As she’s leaving the concert hall, I transform into a butterfly-shaped bracelet and attach myself onto her wrist. LM dresses up in a giant pea costume in my place, where I was part of a duet with John Barrowman to sing Christmas carols accompanied by a full orchestra. I think that she is doing an amazing job, but it doesn’t occur to me why I’m witnessing this and not with Heather, on her wrist.

At the end of the concert, it is revealed that it was actually LM and not me in the costume. John Barrowman goes into a fury and attacks me because I’ve magically appeared. The police hold him down and he yells that I’ve betrayed him and that we were going to be together. I give LM a hug because she’s crying from the commotion and I thank her for helping me out and taking me place. Then I faint.

I wake up in a foreign place, there are 4 cats: a white one, a ginger one, a tabby, and a black one. Heather’s mom is also there. I wake up in a daze and automatically start playing with the cats; I fight with them over pillows, and they have feathers that they’re chasing. Suddenly, I remember everything that’s happened and I dash upstairs to find my things. The only thing on my mind is that I have to go after Heather and apologize for the things I’d done with John Barrowman. I find some of her belongings in a room: a sweater, a necklace, a letter, among some other things. I take the letter and on the outside it says, “Regine, open this in the event that we ever get separated again.” In it, she talks about how sad she is that we’re weren’t together and that she’d always loved me. She also tells me to talk to her mom because she’d know where to find her.

Heather’s mom walks in while I’m still reading the letter, pacing back and forth. When I see her, she tells me that there’s a lot to fill me in on, but first I’d have to find something suitable to wear. That’s when I realize I’d taken off all of my clothes. But she isn’t fazed, apparently this was something I’d done regularly. I ask her how long I’d been out for and she says that it was in July that I’d fainted and it was now April. It clicks that she’s been the one who’s been taking care of me the entire time. I ask her what I did every day because I didn’t remember anything from the moment I fainted up until then. She said that I mostly sat and stared into nothing as I turned my head and rocked back and forth. That shocks me, but the only thing on my mind is that I’d been apart from Heather for 9 months and I dread knowing the answer to how many people she’d been with since I left. I never fully realize that everyone I knew would be fully aware of my condition when I went back out to the world.

Suddenly, I’m standing in front of Heather, fully dressed. We are at some kind of café on top of a mountain. It feels like somewhere in Northern Europe. I don’t remember what she was wearing, but I remember thinking she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. We give each other the tightest hug ever, but we don’t say a word. Then she points towards the doorway and I see her brother, Ben, coming in to greet me. He’s wearing a denim jacket and has his hair spiked up with gel. He says something along the lines of, “Hey fainty,” and goes on ahead to grab a table. We give each other another hug before we go in. She takes me by the hand and leads me to the table where Ben is sitting. She sits down on my lap, I wrap my arms around her waist and rest my head on her shoulder, and I think, “I don’t really need to know what’s happened since the incident… I can tell she’s waited for me, and even if she didn’t, she’s here now and that’s all I care about.”

We have an amazing view of the mountain side, and I can hear the other customers in the café awing at us. One man drops his pencil and then asks if he can sketch us.