My family and I have lived in Montreal, Quebec since mid-August of 2007. There are many things we love about living here, and living in Canada. Of course, like anyplace, there are a number of things we don't like, there are many things we'd like to ignore, and a few things we can't get our heads around!
It's a crude list, but it was on my mind so here it goes:
Top Ten Things I Love about Montreal:
10) Montreal Botanical Gardens (stunningly beautiful)
9) The Metro: cheap and convenient
8) Art Java and the fast food chains for Indian, Thai and Korean cuisine (YUM!)
7) The Seasons: My boys ice skating outdoors in the Winter on Mount Royal, The best Fall anywhere, and Spring's quick burst
6) McGill University: its campus and students
5) My artistic collaborators Vincent and Ginette
4)The sense that Culture matters to one and all
3) My fellow Expats
2) Marché Atwater: it's bread, butchers, produce, and its proximity to the Canal where we can kayak
1) The Fromage at the Fromagerie at the Marché Atwater (no words can express the joy at the smell !!)
Top Ten Things I do not like about Montreal:
10) The low level of kinesthetic and spatial awareness in the pedestrians of Montreal
9) The monopoly on wine distribution here (and the lack of good Californian wine!)
8) The grocery stores -- too many lines and not enough choice
7)The Breyer's Ice Cream and The Heinz Ketchup -- the recipes are different, the ice cream is tasteless, the ketchup too sweet
6) The No Turn On Red policy on the island of Montreal (imagine how much gas is wasted idling around!)
5) We can't find a pediatrician and the boys haven't been to a real doctor's office in almost three years
4) The fact that everyone wants to correct my pronunciation of "pasta", "been", "against", "Mazda", "project", and "get"
3) Nobody takes responsibility for shoveling the snow off of their sidewalks! (businesses or private citizens)
2) The smokers here -- I can't walk around outside without smelling cigarette smoke (and it smells different than the US cigs.)
1) The drivers in Montreal: simply the worst I've encountered anywhere (and that includes Miami!!!!)
I also believe that one of the oddest things about walking around downtown, is the lack of smiling and acknowledging that I am a human being in the presence of another human being. It's almost like everyone's scared to smile or speak. Maybe the speaking thing has to do with the fear of what language to use -- offense can be made by saying "Hello" instead of "Bonjour". But a smile is UNIVERSAL and rather easy...
Now, since this is an Opera Blog I'll include a Top Ten List about Singing...
Top Ten Things I've noticed about Young Singers in North America during the past few years:
10) Too much attention on being Correct instead of Effective
9) Little curiosity and/or knowledge about symphonic and piano literature from the 19th century
8) Singing Vertically instead of Horizontally
7) Not enough knowledge about specific technical issues regarding Breath Support
6) Way too judgmental about GREAT singers like Sutherland, Fleming, Ramey, Corelli, Domingo, von Stade (Stop this now!)
5) Way too judgmental about their own singing (give yourselves a break!)
4) "Taking" a coaching instead of bringing something to the studio...
3) Not enough time is being spent in a practice room; instead it's spent on YouTube surfing the drunk Carmen video
2) Taking themselves too seriously, instead of taking the Art seriously
1) The Habits of Recent Singers Who've Moved To The Next Level of Success: They work harder, have a non-generic sound, are really good actors, learn their music quickly and efficiently, and THEY WORK WELL WITH OTHERS!
About Working Well With Others: This means treating everyone around you with respect. The ASMs, the assistant conductors, the rehearsal pianists, the choristers, everyone! It's the most notable trend I'm seeing recently. Negativity is destroying young singers' chances of ever beginning a career, let alone having one. Who wants to recommend or rehire someone who either has a dark cloud over their head or someone who talks badly about their colleagues, their conductors, their teachers, their coaches, etc.?
Done now -- have to start purging things in our Victoria place so that we can move to our Montreal West place!