Hello, 2006

2005 was a big year. I finally graduated university. I reluctantly left Montréal, a city that had very much become home over my five years there. I moved to Maine, of all places, a state with a population a mere third of that of the city which I left in June. Portland itself has only slightly over a sixth the population of Montréal.

My first six months here have not been all that bad. Reconnecting with my roommate, an old friend from high school, has been wonderful. Getting thrown straight into her mix of friends has been great and meeting scores of new people on my own has been fun. True, I certainly miss the gang in Montréal, but a lot of people had already moved on and nothing gets to stay in stasis forever. Besides, thanks to blogs and email and text messages and such, we can all stay in touch. It’s not the same as being able to ring someone up to go for a pint at Reservoir, but it has to count for something.

The first half of the year was a whirlwind of finishing my last semester, dealing with stupid family drama surrounding my great-grandfather’s death, and then leaving Montréal. I feel no shame in admitting that I cried rather a lot when I left. That line from the Les Respectables song still rings in my ears from time to time, when I doubt having left at all: ‘Peut-être qu’il faut s’enfuir loin de son passé, toujours partir pour mieux se retrouver.’

I miss seeing and hearing and using French on a regular basis. I actually find myself slipping sometimes and throwing in French phrases here and there. The difference here, of course, is that no one knows what the hell I’m saying.

On the whole, though, Portland has been good to me. True, it is painfully small at times. I very much miss things like Cinéma du Parc and Ex-centris. And Vieille Europe. And Reservoir. And good public transit. And loonies and twonies. And poutine. And… so many things.

Still, I knew Portland was no Montréal. I knew it would even be close or, indeed, anything like a smaller version of it. In fact, I knew it would pretty much be entirely different. It’s true, everyone here wears stuff from L. L. Bean. And the general fashion sense is rather different than that of Montréal. It’s not bad, per se, just different. There are always those people that you wish you could just pull into a clothing store–almost any clothing store–and redress them. But there were those people in Montréal, too, just far fewer of them.

If I was less than satisfied with my first job here (washing dishes), it was only ever meant to be temporary, and despite the frustrations that I’ve experienced with the coffee shop where I am now, it has on the whole been a very rewarding and challenging experience. And, with things moving in the direction that they are now, I’ll be getting some added responsibilities and thus added challenge that will keep things interesting. It’s not nuclear physics to be sure, but it’s about where I’d like to be right now with work. It pays the bills, it gives me some money to enjoy myself (some more couldn’t hurt) and I generally feel like I’ve done good at the end of the day.

Then, of course, there are the boys. To be fair, Portland has not skimped on me in that department either. Even if the paramedic decided to have a mid-life crisis, we’ve become good friends now and that’s probably the important thing in the end. Things with the current boy, the minister, continue to go well. We’ve not quite made it to two months but things show no sign of getting any worse–only better. So far as I can tell, he is as smitten with me as I am with him, which certainly cannot be a bad thing. I had a bizarre dream about getting engaged to him last night–bizarre because it involved seeking approval from Queen Anne, among other things. Also bizarre for the very fact that it involved an engagement. I blame it on the fact that engagements seem to be popping up all over my life recently. Six weeks into this–and it’s hard to believe that it’s only been that long–I’m certainly not about to suggest we spend the rest of our lives together. You all know that I’m far to practical to go down that particular crazy path so soon. Still, it’s probably a sign of just how smitten I am that although I acknowledge that it was a bizarre dream, it still gave me a vague warm fuzzy feeling all the same.

As for the New Year, my only real resolution is the same one that I make every year and every year fail to keep: floss more. I’d also like, as I think I mentioned previously, to read the paper the day that it’s published as well as to really get cracking on my planned pre-grad school reading list. I have 9 months, give or take, to gestate this grad school idea, assuming that I stick with my original plan. The past six months have been spent in a sort of intellectual limbo, which is fine, but I think that I really need to get my brain going again. Besides, limbo is on its way out, according to the Catholic Church, and I certainly wouldn’t want to find myself stuck somewhere that no longer exists.

And so, as I scan the books on my shelf, I realise that I have a number of things that I really ought to finish reading. Many of which have been unfinished for over a year now. Still, it was always difficult to keep up when I was in school full time–these are all, in fact, books that I started reading for classes and just never finished. David Hancock’s Citizens of the World: London Merchants and the Integration of the British Atlantic Community, 1735-1785; Joyce Chaplin’s Subject Matter: Technology, the Body and Science on the Anglo-American Frontier, 1500-1676; Jill Lepore’s The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity; Carolyn Merchant’s Ecological Revolutions: Nature, Gender and Science in New England; Tulio Halperin Donghi’s The Contemporary History of Latin America; Edward Said’s Orientalism; J.R. McNeil’s Something New Under the Sun; Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish; Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

And these are just the titles that I’ve already begun reading. Never mind the ones on my shelf that I haven’t even cracked open yet.

I have my work cut out for me. Starting with this month, I’m closing five days a week at work. Which means that I have all morning to get stuff done. I really must do my best not to fritter away my mornings but to actually use them to their fullest. Up by 8 I think is reasonable. No more than an hour for emailing and blog reading. Then go to get the paper by 9. Back for coffee and breakfast. The paper, realistically, should take an hour or two. Which brings me to 11. Shower, think about making a lunch large enough to have leftovers to bring to work. And I don’t have to leave for work until 1.30, which means that I should be able to get in an hour of academic-type reading before heading off to work. That all seems very reasonable to me. Let’s see if I can actually stick to it.

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