Carnaval de Québec: “Bonhomme Carnaval and the brave Snow Bath participants.”
Can you believe it is already February 2013? How is everyone’s new year’s resolutions?
During the first few weeks of the year Montréal’s radio stations were plugging up the airwaves with talk about new year’s resolutions, often about weight loss and healthier eating habits. All that chatter made me roll my eyes and not just because they kept pumping Justin Bieber into our car. I mean, I get it: New year, new you, new body or whatever else you have planned. However, I do find the incessant talks about weight loss and their accompanying ads (magic herbs will drop the pounds!) highly irritating and gimmicky. One month later Ryan Seacrest and company have nothing to say about new year’s resolutions.
I thought it would be appropriate to do a post about new year’s resolutions as we dive into the second month of the year. Are people still gung-ho about the goals they made for the year or have white flags have been raised? Personally, I started on some of my goals in December because I had the time after being released from the confines from my academic life and was making leisurely visits with family. However, January was not an especially successful month in terms of being consistent with all my goals so I look at February as a new month to do better.
I used to be the kind of kid who made a huge list of resolutions for each new year and meticulously check up on my list throughout the year. I would say that, as I have grown older, this tradition of setting strict resolutions for the new year has grown stale. Instead, I find myself defining specific goals without unnecessary micromanaging. For 2013 my goals focus on my academic and career life, and my health.
One of my goals, which relate to my career aspirations, is to improve mon français. I grew up in Toronto and its suburbs, and the kind of French language training we received in the English Canada public school system focused on grammar and reading. (French classes are mandatory in the province of Ontario from about grade four to grade nine, which is about the ages ten to fourteen, or at least that is the way it was during my youth.) Because I continued taking French classes in high school after the mandatory period, I do quite well when it comes to reading and writing French. However, speaking French is another matter. I live in a francophone neighbourhood on the island and communications with my building concierge involve speaking broken French, writing notes, drawing intricate diagrams and charades. My problems in speaking French stem from a mix of performance anxiety — if I suddenly have to whip out the French I freeze up and forget the language — as well as my horrible allophone-induced accent. Québécois French is accented quite differently from Parisian French, and our French training in Ontario involved a lot of French training material from France instead of Québec. However, we were taught a lot about Québécois culture and to this day I still yearn to meet Bonhomme, the mascot of Québec City’s winter carnival, Carnaval de Québec.
Luckily, I have access to Rosetta Stone through my boyfriend’s work so I have been working on my pronunciations and ability to verbally string cohesive sentences in French. However, I do have to note that people do speak English in Montréal — but the majority are francophone or bilingual. Hence, if you are someone who speaks strictly English it can be difficult to really experience the culture of the city. Even though I attend an anglophone university, I am attempting to learn the culture and language while living in this city. Additionally, there is a chance that I may end up working in a francophone or bilingual environment and, because my boyfriend is from east Montréal which is francophone dominant, his parents do not speak English.
Besides the language training, I also have the goal of completing my second half-marathon this year. I started running as a young adolescent but in the past few years I have not been very good at keeping up with it regularly, which is why I am forcing myself to train for another race. I would have to say, however, that January in Montréal experienced some extreme weather — the temperatures ranged widely up to a variance of 30 degrees in a week, we dipped as low as -40°C, got hit with some crazy winds and heavy snowstorms, then above zero temperatures which caused flooding on the sidewalks from the melted snow. I know, I know, there are some badass Montréalers who pull balaclavas over their faces and trot in -40°C climates, which I do not understand because my joints become stiff in the cold. It should also be noted that, as a female Asian, wearing balaclavas make me look like a short ninja. When it gets below -20°C, multiple layers of winter running gear no longer prove effective, and doubling up on gloves and mitts does nothing to protect my hands. That being said, January was not the best month for keeping up a regular running schedule and I plan on reversing that trend this month.
So I bought a book published by the magazine, Runner’s World, that is a guide on marathon running. Although I am not running a full marathon, I do feel that I can benefit from having a formalized training plan. For my first half-marathon last year I did follow an improvised training plan, but it was conceived through bits of what I found through the Internet through various sources. And I made the mistake of consuming inefficiently the day prior to my race — I highly recommend that you do not party at a wedding the day before a race! — and I felt the impact of my dietary decisions during the course of the half-marathon: my legs stiffened and I felt like my body ran out of fuel around the fourteen kilometer mark.
Another goal of mine, which I tacked on to my resolutions mid-January, is to be less clutzy. I do have a medically diagnosed issue that makes me unknowingly unbalanced, but I need to be much more conscientious of keeping my limbs from flailing. Well, that is an exaggeration but after killing a much loved electronic device earlier in January I have resolved to keep all liquids and quick movements away from my electronics. I also need to stop ramming into corners of tables and falling on the sidewalks, if not to preserve my body, but to keep from paying costly repairs on my electronics that I may accidentally crush with my body.
So, that is a summary of my new year’s resolution status, over. How is everyone else’s new year’s resolutions going?