Ontario-times ahead

2015 was an unusual year for contemplating some big changes, and then having some other (very unwelcome) changes dumped on me. One of the most disruptive was losing my apartment to a landlord conflict that took a lot of energy, made very little sense, and deposited what was left of me in a storage locker and the guest rooms of friends for awhile.

As unpleasant as it was, the situation became a lever for decisions I was becoming more ready to make anyway. After 8 or 9 years in Montreal, I had been looking for a change and a new place to settle.

My job at Automattic is digitally-distributed and comes with the luxury of portability, so it was really up to me where I wanted to live next. I had been considering the US, but the exchange rate and election make that unattractive for the moment. I travel a ton, so I thought about going nomadic and travelling while working for a year or so, but I am feeling a strong need to nest awhile before I head out again. It sounds silly, but I really want to know where my stuff is.

I made a list of all the things I wanted in a new city (not in Quebec, not Toronto, smaller, bikeable, music scene, green space and hiking, the possibility of having a window in every room of my apartment, airport proximity, near real water, close enough to drive to a great beach, near a larger city, a few friends and family nearby would be nice, etc) and did a bunch of research, made a bunch of visits.

Science! And a bit surprising. In the end, Hamilton Ontario was the only city that checked all the boxes on my list, and so that’s where I’m moving at the end of May. I’m from Nova Scotia, so apart from a less-than-stellar year living in Toronto in 2000, I don’t have much experience with Southern Ontario, and it’s going to be a novelty to explore.

I returned to Montreal after my last Hamilton visit, suuuuuper excited but wondering if the absoluteness of having signed a lease would make me Montreal-wistful, and it just… doesn’t. I’ve loved it here, I have so many good things to say about it, but it’s also a place with a lot of dead ends, where the things I’ve loved best are dwindling from age, experience, gentrification, or warming winters. I’m very ready to leave it and do new things.

All my anxiety flows from the idea of leaving people, I realize – the ones around me, and the ones who come through often because Montreal is a far more central hub city. I’ve been so lucky to have great friendships here and be part of great communities. It doesn’t seem possible to leave everybody and yet at some point, you just have to, or you end up cutting yourself off from new possibilities. I’m preparing myself for a period of sad transition, but I’m really excited to set up a new and different future.

Said the Gramophone is new again

That’s the point. Those are the points. That this is old and weird. That not enough people are doing it. That even if the market can’t support writing about anything that doesn’t attract >25,000 views, that even if people want music streamed direct to their ears without any intermediary – Said the Gramophone’s ambivalence to markets and masses affords it the luxury of stubbornness.

Best music blog Said the Gramphone has three new editors, as of yesterday. Today, Jeff Miller of Ghost Pine talks about Sleater-Kinney. Later this week, we get the smooth and intimidating writer Emma Healey as well as supersleuth/Mile-End-guardian/furniturrieure Mitz Takahashi. This is a great week for music and writing and blogging.

Stopped, Thief

I was on a semi-crowded train heading downtown at rush hour last night, and I was trying to distance myself from a hectic, frustrating work day by reading on the metro. I tried to get a decent enough grip on a handrail with my other hand, but it was difficult because a man near me kept ending up in inconveniently close quarters, no matter how the onboards and exits at each stop shifted the crowd.

It was annoying, but not egregious. I wondered if he was just kind of a creep, but it wasn’t so creepy that I’d be certain enough to call it, and I certainly had nowhere else to move in the car.

At the stop before mine, I looked up as he moved around me to leave. Under the pile of sweater he had draped over his arm, I saw a tiny, distinctive flash of one corner of my bright blue wallet.

I often think that I’m too slow to move on things, too long to sort out benefit of the doubt, and it makes me nervous I won’t move fast enough in situations like this.

But it’s always the times when you don’t think at all, that you move the most decisively. Next thing I knew, I’d grabbed his arm and was yelling a surprising list of obscenities at (if I may say so myself) an impressive volume. He didn’t put up much of a fight, just denied it even as I grabbed my wallet back and started dismantling the stuff in his arms to see if he had more. The crowd was close around us but nobody moved or said anything, and he submitted to my search and verbal abuse until I let go of his arm, and then he just stepped out of the train and walked away as the doors closed.

I checked my bag – he’d managed to open up all the zippered pockets without me feeling it, but nothing else had been taken (or was worth taking, to be honest). A few people came to life around me and started with questions and incredulous recaps, a round of ‘oh boy!’ exclamations. My stop was next, so the conversation was short. Everything was fine, but it was hard to shake and everything felt more exposed than before. Relieved I wasn’t spending the evening figuring out how to cancel cards and IDs, but I walked home with the imaginary extra weight of a stranger pulling at the things I was carrying.

Photo by Shawn Carpenter, https://www.flickr.com/photos/spcbrass, shared via Creative Commons licensing.

CultMTL: Police turn a blind eye to protestors rushing City Hall

As part of the dynamic shift in the protest climate here in Montreal, after incident after incident of heavy-handed measures (kettling, blanket pepper spray, racial slurs) by police, this has been an infuriating-slash-satisfying development to watch.

“Deux poids, deux mesures.” That expression was bandied about a lot by Parent and reporters on Tuesday. The inference was that there was a double-standard for dealing with Monday’s protesters because they were fighting for the same pension cause as SPVM officers.

If we compare the treatment to student protests, for example, the difference could hardly be clearer. There were no riot squad contingents lying in wait, no kettling, no pepper spray, no mass arrests. No arrests, period. The thugs walked in, ransacked, and walked out.

Read the full article: The cops show their true colours (Cult MTL)