Chicagoan in Montreal

Published in The Gazette Jan. 20, 2007

Blog: Chicagoan in Montreal
Author: Frank Hashimoto, 35, structural engineer
First post: Feb. 21, 2005
Updated: About four times a week

Frank Hashimoto’s ethnic background always seems to come up in conversation when he meets people in person. It may have something to do with his red hair. His grandfather was Japanese, but the rest of his ancestry is Irish, Dutch and American.

Hashimoto’s blog is also not what you would expect. While other blogs begin with personal posts and move to more public topics as they grow an audience, this one has done the opposite. “I’ve become more comfortable talking about myself without feeling like a narcissist,” he explains.

Hashimoto moved here from Chicago with his wife and baby in 2004. Everything about this new city fascinated him, from our driving habits to our fashion, culture and language (though more recently he’s noticed the driving habits starting to get on his nerves). So he began blogging about what he saw for his friends in Chicago. His most famous post describes in detail how snow removal works here (the idea of actually hauling it away in trucks seemed unbelievable for him).

Now he’s blogging about himself and his family, which he enjoys because they’re emotional posts about the people he cares about. His latest project, which began this week, is to fulfill his new year’s resolution to lose some weight and get in shape. He’s hoping that blogging about it will keep him motivated to achieve his goal of losing 25 lbs by August.

Sample post: “I was never comfortable striking up conversations with strangers. I always preferred strong (or light) one-on-one interaction with people I know well and see eye to eye. Or groups of the same people. I’ve always wondered if it was a product of growing up in the city. Keep to yourself in the sea of people.”

Bonus questions

Tell me about yourself.

My name is Frank Hashimoto, I’m 35 years old, and originally from Chicago. My family and I moved here from Chicago 3 1/2 years ago. My wife is from here. As a clarification (this always comes up) I am a quarter Japanese and have a Japanese last name, but my other three-quarters are Irish, Dutch, and mixed-American. And I have red hair. So if you saw me in person, you wouldn’t guess that Hashimoto is my last name and if you saw my name you wouldn’t guess that I have red hair. Strange, but true.

What’s your day job?

I work as a structural engineer, though my education is in architecture and I worked as one for a couple years.

Why did you start your blog?

I accidentally started the blog when I mistakenly understood that I needed to create one in order to comment on my friend’s blog. It had been almost a year since moving to Montreal. During that time I was constantly thinking about the differences between Chicago and Montreal and all the new experiences in my new home. So I decided I would document them so I could share them with family and friends. My first post was uneventful since it was really only an introduction to what I hoped to write about.

What do you write about?

When I first started out, my primary focus was to find others in Montreal from other places to share and discuss this new place. I found the city and its culture fascinating and quite different than Chicago or any other place I had been. It was much different living here full time than experiencing it during our annual pilgrimages to visit family. A major difference is that the city is bilingual, but there were so many other topics like the types of cars people drive, how people dress, and a the general work culture.

Over time I have increasingly been talking about observations of other parts of life, about current events, and about myself. The photo sharing webpage Flickr has also rekindled my interest in photography. So I have been regularly posting pictures that I have taken over the years.

Have you had a favourite post or series?

I would have to say the posts I have written about family members. I’ve written about my grandparents, parents, and my wife. They were very emotional pieces to write and I feel they are extraordinary people who have greatly shaped who I am today. After those, I would have to say the snow removal in Montreal post along with the posts about my understanding of bilingualism here in Quebec. The language posts were educational for me and have helped me get a better understanding of the bilingual culture here.

The snow removal in Montreal post has easily been my most popular post. It was a pleasure to document the procedure for people back home and others who don’t experience it on a daily basis. It’s really an amazing undertaking. Even for those of us who come from places that get a fair amount of snow.

How has the blog changed since you started it?

The blog has become much more personal. I’ve become more comfortable talking about myself without feeling like a narcissist. It’s not about hearing myself talk, but about sharing what is on my mind or things I have observed. Since I began, I’ve been introduced to some of the local blog community. And there is quite a synergy in the community of sharing and discussing ideas or current events. It’s very educational and stimulating. So now some of my posts refer to what others have shared. It’s a fun and interesting group of people that I probably would never have met through other mediums.

Anything else we should know about your blog?

I think my blog is pretty straightforward. I’ve been increasingly been talking more about items that only locals, other bloggers, or people who know me would have interest in. But really that is what blogging is about. Sharing yourself and your piece of the world.

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