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Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Orfeo ed Euridice

Filed under: amusements,death,movies,reality check — alison @ 18:29

Just came back from seeing a live broadcast of an opera performance at the Met. Cool use of cinema.

I cried at the beginning when Orfeo was mourning the loss of Euridice, because of the utter completeness of loss through death. And I cried when Euridice was contemplating a life loving someone who did not return her affection, because that’s what life with Mark is often like. (Euridice determined that death was preferable.)

After the opera Mark went home with somebody else, and I cried again.

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

Crap.

Filed under: business,consuming,economy,sewing,unwanted knowledge — alison @ 19:44

I went on a little stroll today to buy sewing notions. The fabric store I hit first was out of what I needed, so I headed up the Plaza St-Hubert. One of the three dressmaker supply stores on the strip had disappeared; another was closed (for the week?) and the third was open but also out of what I needed. So, onwards and upwards to the fabric stores above Jean Talon, where I found what I needed and more.

I love the Plaza. It’s four blocks of stores with glass-roofed sidewalks, known throughout Montreal as a centre for wedding dresses, white shoes, and MOBs. There are both a Salvation Army store and a Renaissance. You can get furniture overruns; $20 shoes and $300 shoes; slutty underwear and medical foundation garments; luggage; clothes for men and women, kids and grownups, skinnies and fatties; electronics; housewares and kitchen equipment; handmade items from India and Africa; sewing machines. You can mail a letter, get your legs waxed, sign up for driving lessons and send money overseas. You can duck through an alley and go to a peep show before you start work in the morning. North of the Plaza are the remains of the old needletrade sector, with fabric stores and jobbers supplying and buying from manufacturers. There’s a Vietnamese restaurant and a Roi du Smoked Meat, but it isn’t really a place for strolling and munching aimlessly; it’s for people who have a purpose.

When I first moved to the neighbourhood I found the street a bit sad, a bit soulless. In the past few years though it’s picked up, a busy place for working people. But today I noticed something had changed.

On the way down I counted:
– Between De Castelnau and Jean-Talon: two empty store fronts, one going out of business sale.
– Between Jean-Talon and Bélanger: two empty store fronts, two going out of business sales.
– Between Bélanger and St-Zotique: four empty store fronts.
– Between St-Zotique and Beaubien: one empty store front.
– Also about five signs advertising commercial space available for rent over the storefronts.

I think this is the worst I’ve ever seen on this street.

Crap.

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

Surprise treats

Filed under: corporate life,surprises — alison @ 11:45

I was in Mississauga Monday when I discovered that I was working in Toronto Tuesday and possibly Wednesday. I sighed (ok, I fussed) and reserved a room at a good downtown Toronto hotel for Tuesday night.

To avoid traffic, and to be able to meet my counterparts before my day started to get an idea of what exactly I was expected to be doing in the Toronto office, I took my taxi in from Mississauga at 6h30 and was at my hotel before seven. They had a clean room for me right away, so I took my key and went upstairs to leave my bag.

Hotel doors have heavy springs to make sure they shut behind you every time. To get in you need to arrange your bags right behind you, unlock the door, open it and immediately turn around to hold it open with your bum, then back into the room dragging your bags. As I was backing in I heard the radio, which I thought was not quite right for this particular hotel: usually they have the television on softly – an in-house channel with wildlife – for a little light and a little company for business travellers hauling themselves in late at night. Backing past the bathroom, I noticed a towel on the floor. Turning around, I saw a naked man holding his pants in front of him. He suggested that perhaps I had the wrong room? I agreed that perhaps I did and went down to the front desk to tell them that I needed a different room and that the gentleman I had just disturbed probably needed a phone call.

For the shock and consternation they caused me, I got a free upgrade to a junior suite with a complimentary fruit basket and mini-bottle of maple syrup. I don’t know what the poor naked man got: I hope a free room next time he stays at the hotel.

Monday, July 31st, 2006

So, what’s it like being a new homeowner?

Filed under: being a landlord,home ownership,reality check — alison @ 08:26

Still slowly trying to absorb it. I thought I was getting it when I dutifully and only mildly resentfully started dedicating all the nice weekends of my summer to scratching the rust and loose paint off the wrought-iron fence in preparation for painting it some yet-to-be-determined colour.

But then the Nurse from the Insurance Company called to say she was coming by the next morning – at 7h00 – to take blood and urine samples. Oh. That’s serious. Somehow that felt like more of a sobering initiation ritual than sitting in an office with a scattered notary signing a document and being informed that the important stuff would be done later and eventually mailed to us.

Like, somebody else wants to check up on us make sure it’s being done right. Must be Important then. Even if it’s just the life insurance and has nothing directly to do with the purchase at all.

Makes me question how I judge when something is important or even real.

[originally transmitted by e-mail July 31, 2006]

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

shame

Filed under: consuming,fallacies,humility,illness,jewishness,reality check — alison @ 08:10

[Anyone reluctant to read about other people’s disgusting oozy things and biological functions is instructed to cease reading immediately and to delete this e-mail and forget they ever saw it.]

Before leaving for Toronto last week I developed a canker sore in my cheek. I don’t get them often – I think the last one was probably fifteen or twenty years ago. After a day in Toronto I was really fed up. I was having trouble swallowing, and the sore was clearly poised over some nerves because I had pain in my ear and teeth and that side of my face was numb and tingly from my lips to my lower eyelid. I made an appointment with a dentist. (Why a dentist? Because you can look them up in the phone book and you don’t have to ask if they are gynecologists or gastroenterologists or pediatricians before making an appointment. Because you can get an appointment. Because even if the problem isn’t my tooth, it’s the kind of thing dentists see a lot. Because when I got a canker sore on a trip to Vancouver in… 1974? my mother took me to a dentist. Because I let my Medicare card expire and getting a new card is taking a lot longer than getting a reimbursement from my employer’s dental plan is going to.)

Anyway. It was a very nice dentist’s office. The receptionist had me fill out a card with contact info and medical history. She led me into an office and sat me in a dentist’s chair, and a young man in scrubs came in and started asking questions. I giggled privately to myself about the phenomenon of professionals becoming so very young as one ages. He didn’t look in my mouth though, and the conversation soon tuned to the upcoming Gay Games / Outgames and Divers/Cité / Pride parties in Montreal, which he will be attending. I started thinking that this was a very peculiar dental appointment, and when was he going to look at my canker sore? And then the dentist walked in…

The nice Jewish dentist looked in my mouth, asked a few questions and immediately called in a colleague for a second opinion. I started feeling like less of an idiot for consulting over a canker sore. The stern Goyish colleague looked in my mouth, asked the same questions and pronounced: “Salt water rinses. If it doesn’t get better in three days, come back and we’ll do x-rays and exploratory surgery. No antibiotics. The body heals itself.” As a stern Goyish type myself, this evaluation sounded right to me and I submitted easily. But as the stern Goy turned on his heels and left, my nice Jew started twittering anxiously over me: my mouth must be very painful. Do I need a prescription for painkillers? Ultimately he wrote me a prescription for penicillin, which I accepted after receiving assurances that yes, canker sores were bacterial infections. I giggled privately over this little drama and the cultural split and the stereotypes, imagining them as a couple with their children, one giving directives for life and the other fussing over feelings and offering palliatives in secret.

I had been given the penicillin prescription with the proviso that I didn’t need to take it, but that it would shorten the course of whatever it was. My stern Goyish self held out for two hours before shamefully caving in and filling the prescription. Sigh. So much for cultural stereotypes. (I mean, I know I flout the WASP taboo against TMI, but I had sincerely thought I was good for the one against unnecessary antibiotics.)

My course of antibiotics ends today, and while my thingy has gotten a little better it’s not a dramatic improvement. Another appointment, this time with my own dentist. Who likewise calls in an immediate second opinion. I get a name this time, “aphthous ulcer.” It’s a combination bacterial-viral thing it seems, so antibiotics only help up to a point. My dentist’s second opinion held forth that Big Pharma won’t develop antibiotics against viruses because then they would lose all that income from cold remedies, and that I will get best results with homeopathic Arnica granules. The sore is infectious now, so for the next two weeks, as it finishes healing, no kissing. My own dentist looks on from the sidelines, fascinated. I firmly decline the homeopathy – somewhat scandalised, in fact – and go home to research “aphthous ulcers” on the internet.

Turns out they’re an autoimmune phenomenon of some kind. Neither bacterial nor viral. Certain antibiotics (not the ones I had been prescribed) do help, but probably by their direct effect on the immune system and not by killing bacteria. They are not infectious.

You know how they say to trust your professional and not the Internet? I’m going with the Internet on this one. I have a funny feeling.

And am feeling even more deeply ashamed for caving on the penicillin. (On the bright side, I can go snog my beloved now.)

[originally transmitted by e-mail July 18, 2006]

Friday, July 4th, 2003

Canada day

Filed under: camping and hiking,surprises — alison @ 23:40

For those of you who aren’t Canadian, our national day is July 1. This year it was rather special for me. See below.

http://peghole.com/canadaday/index.html

[originally transmitted by e-mail July 4 2003]

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