In light of the New Year, I started to think about the appeal of a blank slate, of starting over. Having something new and fresh to look forward to. You count down from ten, and reset the clock. Maybe even throw in a little confetti. No headaches. Wave bye-bye to last year – it’s so 2014 anyway.

Saying goodbye to expired relationships, however… Not so blissfully clean-cut. Nope. Those are more like the streaks of shit left behind, which you can never seem to wipe off completely. “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” was basically a documentary.

My dad always told me, “Jules, men are like jobs. You don’t leave one until you find another.” (FYI: badass parenting wisdom). But – I must admit – coming from a thrice-married man, this might not have been the soundest of advice. Still, it’s a concept we appropriate to a lot of other scenarios, every day, sans qualms.

Think about it.

If you need to upgrade your car, you don’t just sell your rusty clunker without finding a replacement first. It wouldn’t be practical, right?

And we always have to have a plan B. Restaurants, college alternatives, backup Saturday night plans (in case your TiVo pulls some diva sass on your ass, and you need to put on something else than sweatpants).

It’s a defense mechanism thing. We like to expect the unexpected. Surprises aren’t always good surprises – unless they’re jumping out of a cake.

What’s messed up, though, is how you’re perceived if things don’t workout, and your emotional balance dares to falter for a second. Society holds you accountable for not being better equipped at facing the unpredicted ‘what ifs’ that have smacked you in the face. Because putting all your eggs in one basket is a ludicrous thing. Tsk tsk.

Optimism is dead. No wonder we live in a world of prenups and trust issues.


And as a result, we’ve perfected the art of coping mechanisms when it comes to love and other hot messes, which is why you don’t ever really get over someone until you find someone new.

Now, now, hakuna your tatas everyone, because this isn’t meant to argue with how we need to be happy by ourselves before sharing our life with another, or similar self-empowerment hoopla of sorts. Because I agree with this notion, 100%.

What I’m talking about here is not in regards to the actual letting go, but in regards to points of reference your donzo relationship still provides in the aftermath.

You see, mourning a relationship (or an idea of a relationship) is a two-part deal: letting go of the entity that you (thought) was so important, and adjusting to your reality 2.0. It’s pretty much a face fuck-full of emotions. And I mean this literally because, believe me, nobody cries pretty.

Thing is, no matter how much time has passed, no matter how many arts and crafts classes you sign up to, or how many holes you burn through your credit card with shopping sprees every second Sunday…

Repeat after me:
You never get over someone until you find someone new.

Last date? That jerk.
Last fancy dinner? Ugh, right.
Last person you swapped spit with? You guessed it.

No matter how amazeballs your life is, or how comfortable you are with being a dinner-for-one, your last special someone will remain your last reference for all romantic contexts. Until you find a new replacement piece. Fact.

And there’s no shame in that. It’s perfectly normal.

What I’m trying to say is: we can’t judge anyone on the time it takes for him or her to move on. And we need to cut ourselves some slack too, for that matter. Sometimes, one just needs to jump right into a get-laid-parade to break the ice for themselves and their newfound singlehood. Other times, it takes a little longer to experience butterflies again, even if just dick butterflies for a night.

All in all, take your time. Everyone is entitled to his or her own process.

Unless you’re hitting expert-level “sad single,” where your cat is eating your Michelina’s sad-ghetti leftovers by the side of your bed. In which case: get up, shower off and go kiss a stranger. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

Have you ever craved some Hair of the Dog in the middle of getting a haircut? Dream no more, because it’s become a reality.

Yes, to all of you curious voyeurs! It isn’t just a gimmick! The Blue Dog Motel, a bar wedged between many others on the populated and always busy St Laurent Boulevard, won’t judge you for ordering a gin and tonic with a side of haircut, day or night.

Perhaps for some dutch courage? Relaxation? Social lubrication? Whatever the reason may be, we should all bow down to Montreal born Daniel Marin who had a vision, and pioneered the concept, bringing a bit more fun onto the urban block.

Daniel, a talented hair barber and local ambassador for the Californian water based hair product Layrite, started off giving cuts at the last St-Laurent street sale. The concept really caught on and so his chair was moved from the sidewalk and into the infamous platform level of Blue Dog that once resembled the trippy living room from A Clockwork Orange.

Blue Dog Barber-003

The space has been transformed into a comfortable yet edgy mini salon that suits the atmosphere of the bar. In it, there is the station where Dan works his magic, and a mini bar stashed to the side offering different types of liquor. The bottles are stashed away at times and liquor service is generally offered at the bar itself.

Daniel is a versatile artist who seems willing to work with many different hair types, regardless of length, fullness, texture, or gender. The “no problem” look he gave me when I asked if he would be able to tame my unruly waves was definitely assuring.

“To me, it’s very personal,” he replied when asked where he draws the line, “they tell me what they want, and I let them know if it’s possible beforehand.” He also takes walk ins, which is ideal for those who are feeling impulsive.

As the night progressed and I watched him work his magic, Daniel’s talent with hair really shone through. I witnessed him transform a burly hipster with mop hair into a sleek looking gentleman (with tamed scruff) and a soft looking, slicked back style that I felt tempted to run my fingers through.

Blue Dog Barber-010

I couldn’t help but notice that one of Daniel’s other customers, and Daniel himself, had this similar haircut that resembled heartthrobs of my childhood days. When I asked him if this style was in any way reminiscent of the mid 90s, he scoffed and said “it’s from the 20s and 30s!”

This seems to be the effect that the combination of Layrite and his creative genius have on men’s hair. The product gives an end result of hassle-free hair, is easily washable and holds for just as long as its petroleum jelly based ancestor.

In my opinion, whether it’s 20s, 30s, 90s, trendy, or merely crafted from Dan Marin’s mind, I have nothing against the lads of Montreal walking around town with hair like Leo DiCaprio.

So, why should we start going to Blue Dog to get our hair cut? Well, it’s the only liquor licensed barber in the city and who wouldn’t want to do shots in the middle of a makeover? Also, it’s very economical, since Dan has already done the haute salon scene and doesn’t care to overcharge people for a new look.

Blue Dog Barber-006“What I wanted to do is be one of the lowest on the block,” he said, “25 bucks for men 35 for women.”

If requested, (or if he likes you) he’ll whip out this super nifty head massager called The Hangover Cure. When this device was demonstrated, I didn’t want to leave it alone.

Some may think this establishment could be a road to disaster, but Daniel gives off a super professional vibe. He never works past midnight, appears to be super sober as he’s doing his job and dims the lights/restricts the Barbier area of the bar when he’s off duty, “unless it’s a busy night and space is limited. Then we turn it into a VIP area.”

In my opinion, this establishment is a fun and fresh idea. It’s nice to know that we have the option to knock back a couple while getting a haircut. It’s a super fun concept, and besides, Blue Dog is planning on getting a striped Barber Pole for the occasion.

Do people think this is going to go far? Daniel’s lovely girlfriend and fellow hair stylist Maral definitely thinks so: “this isn’t a pop up shop, it’s gonna get bigger, I feel it.”

* photos by Chris Zacchia

We’re four women, three Jews and one Muslim (me), exchanging our life stories that lead us to engage in initiatives that gather Jews and Palestinians.

I listen to the three women around me in the bustle of Lafontaine park on the first evening of August. Each, in turn, shares their upbringing, their feeling about her Jewishness, stories from grandparents who survived World War II’s holocaust, their awakening and relationship to the word Zionism and to a place (or to a state) called Israel, and their comprehension of everything they have been told as 20-something-year-olds in Montreal.

It’s a gift.

Years ago, I would fantasize that I would be in such a gathering—listening, discussing and sharing with Jewish peers about their lives, my life, and about how we each feel about the turmoil called Palestine/Israel that we were thrown into involuntarily by past generations.

Voluntarily, we are each climbing out. Together. By talking. Seeking out each other’s company to talk about Palestine/Israel, what it makes of us, and how we can tear down the barrier. The false barrier, in my view.

I am Palestinian and Lebanese—with Kabyle ancestry—and a Montrealer since childhood.

I studied at Marianopolis College, McGill University and Concordia University in Montreal. I met classmates, colleagues and acquaintances who are Jewish, and they dreaded the topic.

It seemed that Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, Christians and Jews and Israelis could not speak together about the one thing that ties our fate, the elephant in the room: Palestine/Israel.


You tell me something cannot be done and I will not let it go until I figure out why. Why can’t any two be able to communicate and be friends? How can two people be enemies or have a reason not to like one another?

I refuse fictitious lines.

In history, it is the same modus operandi: paint a people in a bad light to justify what you do. Palestinians are in the way of a Zionist dream. We were in Palestine, inhabiting a land quietly that was later chosen as a place of solace for Jews to seek refuge from the atrocities of the world against them.

You can choose a land, but what about the people there? Golda Meir said there was no one there. She was wrong.

Most of us—nearing 10 million Palestinians now—built lives outside of Palestine and Israel since The Nakba in 1948. We fled our homeland. We had to. The Palestinians in Palestine and in Israel are living the lives of prisoners, unable to move, work, live.

Back to Montreal. I don’t have a reason not to speak to a Jewish person. I increasingly feel it is necessary. Palestine and Israel depend on Palestinians and Jews in Palestine/Israel to speak with each other and the same is true in Montreal, Québec, Canada. Not argue, not debate, not get angry and emotional.

After a decade-long journey through conferences on the Middle East, I decided that the only way is to speak with Jews about this. What’s going on? What do they believe?

I realised that the similarities are astonishing. We are similar in our experiences of our respective faiths and cultures in Montreal. A Jewish woman raised in her family culture, dating someone who is not Jewish, growing up wondering what is Israel, how she feels about it. Me, growing up Muslim, Palestinian, Lebanese, Arab, in Montreal, wondering what my culture is, how it fits, how it can fit, how I feel about Palestine, how I feel about Israel.

We are similar. When we speak it feels good. When it comes to Palestine, Palestinians, Israel, the navigation to the dialogue is demanding. But worth it. I have scraped my hands a little, walked away exasperated, discouraged, but I come back. I come back to the table, to the discussion, to the living room. We talk, sometimes we stagnate, sometimes it gets a little tense, each tries to diffuse to keep the respect and the harmony.

Through this tug, we feel our humanity and desire to be in one another’s presence.

We need each other. We can only speak with one another. We can only learn from one another. If I don’t know about you, how can you know about me? We have to do so not just through documentaries and plays and films, but also through personal, live interaction that is difficult and worth it.

If you’re interested, the Montreal Dialogue Group and Conversations are two organisations in Montreal making sure that we meet.

*Photo from Wikipedia (Creative Commons).