Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hefting into Montreal

This is entirely incomplete, my first attempt at getting some information up and out here. I will edit and update anon...


It’s more than two weeks now that we’ve all been living in Montréal and still there are boxes lurking in the hallway. Not containing our stuff, but the people’s whose eminently practical and phenomenally situated abode we moved into. I’ve removed from the bookshelves some of the Management textbooks, particularly if they are in French. There is only so much wishful thinking a person can tolerate about what we might someday, maybe, read. We will all certainly die without engaging even a small fraction of the words we wish to; moving along that which is written in a foreign language seems minimally honest.

Our house is what’s known as a “duplex” here. The housing looks very much like Chicago’s northside, although the feel of the streets is a little different, a little more spacious, a little more relaxed, and a little lower physically. The structures in which people live themselves almost all, at least in this part of the city, have an even multiple of doors, one letting their inhabitants into the first and basement floors, another upstairs to the top. Most buildings house at least two pairs of doors; ours has two pairs, four doors, four clusters of inhabitants.

We occupy more real estate but less acreage than we do in Los Angeles. I miss the large yard we had for playing in and growing things; I feel the absence of a laundry line. But the girls have their own room on a different floor, each. The separation is much-desired, though transiently. It is a little lonely for Alida, all the way down in her sealed room so far away. Underneath. But loneliness, like boredom, is a luxury from which we grow for the experience of it. She is basking in the privacy. Iris too, though she has created an internal physical privacy for herself already; the change is welcome but not quite as necessary. Walls.

Funny because I don’t mind or need or want the walls so much myself. I guess internally I’ve pushed down, rather than ‘over’ (as have the girls), this need but certainly I understand its allure.


Money. Bring money. You will need to access lots of money, and doing so is nowhere near as easy as one would anticipate in this day of electronics. Go figure.

Credit cards. Get yourself a foreign credit card before you arrive*. You will be wanting it right away and *everything* takes a lot of time. The paperwork is fierce. Try to have this setup prior to your entry! In a pinch you can use that Visa or AmEx most places, but for each transaction you are charged a set fee plus there is a percentage, approx 3% taken from the dollar figure for each transaction. In addition you are subject to the current exchange rate they choose to charge, which is not standardized; they can charge you more or less than the market rate if they feel like it.

Alternatively if you withdraw cash with a debit card directly from your American account into Canadian dollars, you will – or at least our Credit Union will not – be charged the usual percentage of what you change and be subject to the exchange rate, however they will not charge the one-time transaction fee. Again, that’s the story at least for our credit union.

Use travellers’ checks? Note that any American currency check is held for 30 days. At least at BMO. There are competitors – I would definitely check them out. To get a Canadian credit card through them they will hold as assurance your limit amount. Incredibly obnoxious!!! Actually – they will hold *125%* your credit limit! So they won’t let you charge more than your limit, but they hold 25% more than they will allow you to charge?! BMO is completely usurious. I don’t know if their competitors are any worse, but these guys are onerous in the extreme. They charge $2 to mail you a statement.

Not that I am not positive about traveller’s checks being subject to the same 30-day hold as personal checks. It’s possible not – I guess I was told by one rep that they would be, but I have subsequently determined that this rep was not the sharpest knife in the block so I’m not entirely trusting her information.

At this point I’m ready to use the mattress. However some school functions are requiring checks and not cash. I paid school fees with cash but, say, book orders need check. And I’m guessing the kids’ activities will be requiring checks as well, but I haven’t faced that reality yet.

Paypal is a good option!

*Foreign credit card. You can try getting an AmEx through Costco if you’re a member in the States. However you will have to drop your US AmEx as they will associate just a single credit card number per Costco membership. I wasn’t willing to do that previously but I’m about to. The overlap is difficult.


Health Card.

Parking permit

Accés cart – by borough


Library card

Maps/Tourist info


Accounting for stuff

University ID

Car insurance

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