It's been forever since my last update. I'm sorry.
Montreal and the NLGJA convention were so fantastic. The weather, the people, the sights, the friendships, the work -- all amazing.
It was the first place I've ventured outside of the states where I didn't know the language. The language barrier drove me crazy, especially since French is spoken everywhere you turn.
It sort of makes me want to learn French. The language is so beautiful and melodic. I'll put it on my to-do list.
The first night we arrived in Montreal was amazing. The students got to hang out and get to know one another before our work began in any official capacity.
The convention was held at the Hyatt Regency Montreal and across the street was the newly opened (it opened the night we got there) Place des Arts, a plaza with water/light installations that synched up to create breathtaking views. The design and layout seems so simple, yet it adds so much to that space of the city.
For the grand opening of the plaza, a group of artists from around Montreal held this celebration called Le Grande Basier (The Great Kiss). Because of the language barrier, I'm not exactly sure what the underlying meaning was behind the event. It was a bunch of artists retelling, in French, of their first kiss and then some sort of skit would occur.
It was quite a spectacle. There were probably about 2,000 or more people just standing around, dancing, singing, enjoying the moment.
After every artist would pop up on these giant video screens, a scene would take place. There were acrobatics, floats, choreography, music, singing -- a little bit of everything.
I took exhaustive video of the event, so, check it out for yourself. It was an amazing thing to witness. How a community could come together and enjoy a simple space and story telling. And the event was free of charge. It seemed like something I would never see here in the states.
During one of the last numbers, the participants in the parade grabbed members of the audience and dragged them to the center to dance. I think it surprised a lot of people.
Montreal was like no other city I've been to before.
It seemed very...cohesive. Like a community full of people that were in it together. As if it were one unit working toward this goal of happy co-habitability. It was a weird experience. People were just so nice.
The nightlife was different, too.
The city's gayborhood (on the far end of Rue Saint-Catherine) was a decent size. There were more bars, restaurants and "saunas" than you could shake a stick at. We didn't get to go to a lot of them, but the ones we did were fun.
Oh, and another thing about Montreal gay bars that took all of us by surprise -- porn.
Every bar you walk into had porn showing on multiple television screens. And this wasn't softcore "Cinemax after dark" cable porn. This was full-on, gritty, shameful, watch-by-yourself porn. I think we probably looked a lot like tourists that first night because we couldn't take our eyes off of the television. At one point, I think I started blushing...and I'm not bashful.
Another thing I enjoyed about Montreal was the couple I interviewed for my video piece. I went to the home of the first same-sex couple to apply for a marriage license in Canada. They were so nice and welcoming and warm. They even gave me homemade jam after the interview as a gift. It was a really sweet gesture.
Here's a pic of the jam. I think it's...blackberry? Idk.
Either way, Michael and Rene were fabulous. It sounds awkward, but they've been together so long that it's a reminder love still exists and people can make it -- even gay guys. It seems at times that monogamy and happiness are so foreign for the LGBT community. They've been together 35 years and have been married for five years. I'm going to sound like a teenage girl when I say this, but I'm envious. I hope to find that special one someday.
Montreal was made even more amazing by the people I worked with for the week. The seven students and handful of mentors have had such an impact on my life considering we only worked for a brief time. Events such as this and meeting other bright students is like a glimpse into the future; we are the people who will be running the industry one day. It's inspiring.
If any of you seven other students is reading this right now, I just want to say thanks. We bonded, we shared, we laughed, we had fun. I can't wait until we all get to hang out again! And I hope you all "make good choices."
There are too many experiences during the past week to try and recall here. I really shouldn't have neglected this blog for as long as I did.
But for now I need to get to bed. This week is going to be full of assignments and G-20 Summit preparation.
Will update tomorrow. Promise.
Oh, and here you go. Because I thought it was hilarious.