the original kStyle blog.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I Think It's Time

I've been here for over two years, and many of you have been with me the whole time. Thank you for that. It's been great fun.

I feel myself moving now, to a place where something different is needed. More private introspection, maybe; or maybe more reading and daydreaming--more observing--and less commenting (from me, not you from wonderful people).

I was married July 1; I graduated from shiatsu school July 21. These two ceremonies stirred me deeply, in ways hard to describe, at that edge where perhaps words become not enough. I've entered the next phase.

Thanks for being with me through this stage. I hope this last entry isn't too melodramatic or ceremonial--I just know I hate it when a blog I was following sputters out and disappears without a farewell.

I'll still be around on the 'Net, on my professional blog. If you'd like to join me there, please email me and I'll send the URL. I think you all have my email address. If not, post me a comment here, and I'll write you. I feel a need to have no direct link between these two web sites, for Privacy of Thought reasons.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


>>>>>>> Hi Pumpkin,
>>>>>>> I fear I've been bitten by the theater bug, suddenly. But when would I
>>>>>>> have
>>>>>>> time for such things?
>>>>>>> Love you
>>>>>>> K

What brought that on?

>>>>> The Bug! The Theater Bug! It BIT me.

Yes, but WHERE did the bug come from? They don't just hang out in
central square, waiting for you. ;-)

>>> Yes they DO!

Yuk. I bet you have a rash from it.

>Ha ha, very clever.
> Here's how the bug bit me. First, J. invited me to go see Godspell. Then,
> we (shiatsu people) were/are discussing whether to do tai chi as part of the
> graduation, and whether it would come off as too performance-like. And then
> the Bug bit.

Well, yes, those sorts of discussions does tend to attract theater bugs.
As do scarfs.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

More Montreal

Thursday, July 6.

Began with breakfast, of course. Then we explored the Latin Quarter, reminiscing about our brief, terrible trip to this city many years ago, when we were just friends. We saw the clean, functional hotel we’d stayed in, Castel St Denis, to which we'd moved after a night in a filthy, smelly hotel. Could not find the Picasso Bar, where we had spent the few enjoyable hours of that trip drinking beer, our table bumped over and over by an intoxicated Francophone, who'd given us long, flowery apologies we didn't understand. Or perhaps he'd been trying to pick a fight, who knows. Concluded that this city is more fun with some spending money and July (rather than March) weather.

The Latin Quarter was a hodgepodge, from college-student-style shops and eateries, to higher-end boutiques. We walked up and down the steep hills and stopped for salty, yummy poutine--the famous Quebecois comfort food, French fries topped with gravy and cheese nuggets--and beer at Allors Frites!, which we later learned is owned by a company called Cholesterol Plus. How appropriate.

That night caught a great band called Shane Murphy Trio at the jazz festival, a rock, bluesy, wonderful local band, vibrant! Then we headed for a 9 PM reservation at L’Express. We should have known something was up as soon as we learned that they had no sign, merely their renowned name written in sidewalk tiles outside the door. The place is famous, hopping, noisy. Not so romantic, but the décor was sleek and appealing. We ordered and then, quickly and all at once, stumbled onto the dark side of Montrealers. They are generous to the tourists overrunning their city, do not mind speaking English with you, and seem generally to be a gracious lot of bon-vivants. Yet every culture has a topic of such grave seriousness that it cannot be broached with lightness--think of the caution required when talking politics or religion with an American, or money with, perhaps, a European. For the Quebecois, this topic is wine, a minefield haphazardly and carelessly danced upon every time a tourist innocently, like a lamb to slaughter, eats out in this city of 4,000 restaurants.

I wanted to order white wine with dinner-—I like it better than red, and reds often disagree with me—-but I made the gravely unforgivable error of requesting white wine with a beef dish. The waiter made a face as though I had slapped him with sharp rings on my fingers, rubbed salt in the wound, and then forced him to swallow a rotten lemon, while calling his mother a putain*. I feared for a moment I would be thrown out of the restaurant. White wine with beef was not allowed. I was spared the humiliation of being thrown out, but I was brought a red.

I still don’t understand why a giant jar of teeny pickles and a small jar of mustard came with our order. (I asked the assistant waiter, who shrugged and replied, “They come with the meat orders." Like red wine, I suppose.) G.’s quail was not as good as the food at Sel de la Terre, our favorite Boston restaurant. We began to fear that French cuisine was a one-trick pony, that we had moreover eaten the best food in the universe in our own neighborhood and all other meals were destroyed. We wandered back through the jazz festival, briefly, en route back to our hotel. The moon was beautiful. The city was fabulous. We were in love.

*whore, not cheesy fries

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bonjour! Greetings du Montreal!

The wedding went fabulously. The band was perfect, the cake delicious, the company delightful. The country club threw in extra wine and an extra half hour of the room at no charge--even they were having fun. The flowers were juicy and vibrant; all the grandparents present were a pain in the ass, but they are excused on account of age. As G. quipped, "Greatest Generation, my ass!"

But perhaps more interesting is the honeymoon. Here are some highlights from my little Montreal journal. Take my recommendations as gospel, people. Gospel.

Tuesday, July 4.
The drive was long, but we broke it up with a delightful stop at The Basin in Franconia Notch. Once we crossed the Canadian border, we stopped to change money and get touristy maps etc. G. was impressed with how effortlessly the tourist office employees switched between French and English, as if it were no feat! We began to notice road signs all in French except for the word “camping”. “Look, camping is camping in French,” I exclaimed. G. wittily rejoined, “Yes, but it’s pronounced bleeeuuuu.”

Checking in at the wonderful Auberge Bonaparte, we are immediately taken with Denis, concierge extraordinaire. At the front desk, he asked what color our car was, for parking purposes. My new husband said it was green; I insisted, aqua. (I often jibe him about his femininely aqua Corolla.) G. parked while I unpacked. “Messieur Amis,” said Denis, poking his head out the window, “Your car is aqua.”

Wednesday, July 5.
Our first full day! We began the day eating lavishly downstairs at the Bonaparte, shocked at the generousness of the breakfast included with the room. The croissants were the best we’d ever had, flaky, buttery, and perfect. We tried a croissant at a Montreal café later in the week, wondering if we were merely accustomed to mediocre Boston croissants, but non, the Bonaparte’s croissant is better than even the Montreal café croissant.

We wandered past Notre Dame Basilica through Chinatown to the Place-des-Artes and the Jazz Festival. There wasn’t much going on in early afternoon. We quickly learned that although “jazz” was defined rather loosely, to include Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, and blues, no one at the festival knew how we could purchase tickets to the OSM Mozart Plus concert at the basilica. (Ann, sorry, we stuck with the free festival concerts and therefore did not see Mr. Simon.)

We caught up with some friends on their way out of town. They showed us all the best places to sit to hear the jazz.

Denis got us tickets to the Mozart concert and also recommended places in town to get away from the throngs of tourists and see some local life. G. and I commented to each other many times about how friendly and welcoming the locals were, and they did not seem at all to mind speaking English with us.

Ah, the concert! The music and basilica were nothing short of glorious. The “plus” in Mozart Plus proved to be Wagner, bold and daring next to Mozart’s restrained, almost-dainty perfection. The mezzo soprano was wonderful. The church, in my opinion, was even lovelier than the churches of Rome: all rich sky blue and gold leaf arches, an ode to the sky. My criticism of the great Italian churches is that their great art seems to be competing, both with the other pieces and with the architecture. But at Basilique Notre-Dame, here I could be Catholic.

The World Cup was drawing to a close, creating much excitement as Italy and France prepared to square off. To our surprise, many Montreal buildings weren’t air-conditioned, including this venerable church, and so the windows were open—until they had to be closed, because frantically honking cars, their owners crazed with soccer fever, drowned out a quiet movement. The choice was between stiflingly hot or missing the music; I think we would all agree to be hot, anyway, if we had been surveyed.

Classical music, I realized, is very much like the French language to me: I don’t understand it, but it’s so pretty, so please just let me keep listening!

Travel safety note: Mimes are evil and terrifying.