Saturday, 27 December 2008

White Christmas

As I have done a few times now, I would like to apologise for my long silence. The end of the semester is a busy, stressful time, and that (combined with a computer that gave up the ghost) made writing a blog a little difficult. And as a result it didn't get done. But, here I am, and I will try and do this long over due post justice.

I'm writing from Kingston, Ontario. I'm here with family friends. I was to fly from Halifax to Toronto on Monday evening but instead, I spent all of Monday sitting in the Irving gas station in Sackville waiting for a bus that never came. The snow storm had made most things grind to a disconsolate halt. At around 2:30 the woman told me to go home and come back tomorrow. I did go home, only to find that the power was out because of the storm. I read by natural light as long as it held out and then I lit the three little candles that I had, ate Green Giant corn out of a can, and slept and read in spurts, hoping the night would go by quickly. Eventually the power did come back and I was very grateful. I was warmer in the living room and I felt safer there, so I spent a rather uncomfortable night on the couch.

On Tuesday the bus was an hour late, but that meant I had one less hour to spend at the airport waiting for my flight. I got to Halifax at 2:00ish, checked in my bag, found something to eat, and read for two hours till it was time to go through security. They made us take off our shoes and our belts and empty our pockets. I stupidly left my Swiss army knife in my bag and they confiscated it. They offered to let me out so I could go and mail it to myself, but that would have meant going through security again and taking off my boots again and I didn't think it was worth it. I'll order a new one. It can be a Christmas present for myself. Anyway. The flight left an hour and a half late but, apart from a slightly hairy landing in Toronto, it was a good flight.

Let me step back in time for a moment and talk about school. The term ended in a whirlwind of studying. My exam schedule was this: 11th morning, 12th afternoon, 13th night, 17th morning, and 17th night. With my first exam only on the 11th, and classes ending on the 4th, I had almost an entire week before I had an exam to write. I didn't have enough time in between to do any studying, so I forced myself to study for four of five exams before I'd even written the first. I wasn't sure if my tired brain would be able to hold it all in as I desperately tried to cover all the material, but it was the only choice I had. I felt like my exams went well and so far, it looks like they did. I'm more than happy with the grades I have and they're certainly making for a much more enjoyable Christmas.

Now back to Toronto.

I spent the 24th morning in bed, and the afternoon wandering the subway. I was to meet the daughter (Cydney) of the guy I'm staying with (Bill) for a movie. Bill told me to get on the westbound train which I did, only to find that it was taking me in the opposite direction of where I wanted to go. I considered getting off and getting on another train, but I didn't want to get myself lost, so I stayed on the train and rode the few stops to the end of the line, and then the train turned around and went back the way we had come. Apart from Cydney having to wait nervously for me thinking I was lost, it was fine. I got to people watch and see the sights, so to speak, and it was fine.

We watched Slumdog Millionaire. A fantastic movie that I would recommend to everyone. It's a mostly truthful window into what can be the difficult rawness of life in India. One of the most violent scenes in the movie is not disturbing because of the nature of the violence - because we see lots of that in all the television we watch - but because of the fact that it could very possibly be true. And I think that's a good thing. If we're going to spend time and money to sit in front of a screen, I'd rather be faced with raw reality that makes me think and ache and grow. There were random points in the movie I was overwhelmed by love for India. It's not just the beautiful things, but the ugly things too, that make me love my country. Now and then, I miss it desperately. It'll be good to be home in the summer.

In the evening we had a lovely Christmas dinner, opened presents, and watched the tail end of 'It's a Wonderful Life'. It was a really nice evening and I was glad to be there.

Yesterday, on Christmas day, Bill, Julie, and I drove up to Kingston to the house that Julie owns here. It's a lovely house with two lovely cats (Harvey and Clarence) and the plan is to sleep lots and read lots. I'll be here till the 29th morning. It's nice not to be on my own. I was planning to spend Christmas by myself in Sackville and this is a much, much better alternative. I would have been very unhappy to say the least.

It's after midnight and I have sleeping to do. Here's to a white Christmas that seems to have blessed (or cursed, depending on your perspective) the entire country. Here's to friends and company and overeating. Merry Christmas!

And this is a song I heard for the first time while I was writing this blog. It sounds like the mood I'm in. Matt Nathanson - Come on Get Higher

Friday, 5 December 2008

What the fuck? Ye Nahin Chalta Hai ...

Here’s my question for the World today: What the fuck? I don’t often feel the need to use obscenities in my writing, but sometimes there just aren’t any other words that work.

This is the deal: Terrorists are bombing India, Obama might be turning into a disappointment, Canada almost had a (democratic) coup, the Israel-Palestine thing is a mess, and no one seems to give a damn about the way their thoughts and their actions have an impact on all of it.

On the 26th of November, a group of terrorists attacked 10 different locations in Bombay – one of India’s greatest and most vibrant cities, the heart of the country even; close to 200 people were killed. Among the places bombed was the Taj Mahal hotel. My dad told me a story about the hotel that I didn’t know before. In the early 1900s, Jamsedji Tata, the grandfather of Ratan Tata (the head of one of India’s largest and most well known companies) walked into the Watson’s Hotel in Bombay. The hotel was run by the British and Jamsedji was turned away on account of the colour of his skin. The fact that he, as an Indian, was being denied rights in his own country was absurd. He didn’t start a revolution … but he did build himself his own hotel: The Taj Mahal hotel. In India today, the Taj Mahal hotel, built in 1903 – well before Independence – is a symbol of Indian sovereignty, of our fight for freedom from the British, and the magic that is India. Other places bombed were the Cama hospital, the Oberoi Trident hotel, and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (or Victoria Terminus – VT, as it was called during the time of the British) that was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The point of this slightly long ramble is to say that the attack means more than the number of people that were killed. I don’t intend to say that the deaths are meaningless, but the attack touched the heart of the country; Indians have been left feeling very wounded. What’s frightening about the politics of the Sub-continent is that every time someone blows something up in India, Indians point their fingers at Pakistan – without the slightest pause for thought. And any time a bomb goes off in Pakistan, India gets blamed. This seems to be the standard approach. But after these attacks, the common Indian citizen has not taken up arms against Pakistan – we have taken up arms against our government that let us down yet again. We are shaking down our government and throwing people out. My mum sent me pictures from some of the protests happening in the country and some of them are pretty funny. “We would prefer a dog to visit out house than a politician!” said one sign. “U.S politician from Yale; ours from Jail” says another. My favourite is a series of signs listing different things that some of our worst politicians have done, and at the bottom of each sign are the words: Nahin Chalta Hai! Which is a transliteration of Hindi, and it means ‘This won’t work’ or something along those lines. It sounds better in Hindi. Anyway, I’m proud of India. I’m far away, and there’s not much I can do from here … but India’s making me proud. Condoleezza Rice visited India this Wednesday. She represents what is happening on the political end of things. I worry for the politics of the region. If India gets the backing of the U.S and then decides to go to war against Pakistan, India’s attack will have legitimacy by default of Washington’s support. This is bullshit. Nahin Chalta Hai. I worry for the politics of the region if the US is allowed to get involved. What I would love to see is the Indian and Pakistani governments turning to the US and asking them to kindly butt out. I would like to see India and Pakistan mount a joint effort against the terrorists – regardless of which country is harbouring them – and make a decisive step towards peace between our two countries.

On to other things: Barack Obama seems to be making people unhappy. He’s being called out for putting the old guard back into his cabinet. I think maybe it’s a little too soon to start condemning him. The man is assertive, intelligent and it seems like he doesn’t bugger about. I think we need to give him a chance. Put our accusations on hold and wait and see. Maybe he will be a total disappointment, but maybe not. I think accusations are premature at this point.

Steven Harper is a two-faced liar. I have only been in Canada for a year and a half, but I have managed to learn this much. A week or so ago the opposition in Canada’s parliament decided to oust the conservatives and establish themselves as the new government in the form of a Liberal-NDP coalition, with the support of the Bloc Quebecois. This was a gutsy move. The deal with Canada is that the voting system is a bit of a mess. On Election Day on October 14, a third of the country voted for the Conservatives, and two-thirds of the country voted for the Liberals, or the NDP, or the Bloc, or the Green Party … or whoever else. But because the voting system does not have popular representation, the Conservatives won the most seats in parliament with only something like 37% of the popular vote. A week or so ago, the opposition decided to form the coalition that would give them the majority in parliament. Coalitions are common practice in India that has a very similar voting system to Canada. The most people in Canada did not vote for the Conservatives and so the most people in Canada should have the government they voted for. This is what democracy is all about. Steven Harper, in what Nathan so very aptly described as a cowardly move to ‘save the impending collapse of his self-serving, dishonest government’ requested the Governor General to porogue parliament (which means shutting it down until January 26th so as to avoid any further confrontations with the opposition). Nathan’s question was: “How can he lock out the parliament just to preserve his own pathetic political career?” Well … because he’s a cowardly, dastardly (Nathan’s word), evil man. And the Governor General let him do it. This is not democracy.

Israel and Palestine are a mess. The U.S and Britain have waded too far into the situation to give anyone a fair chance. The U.S wants an 'in' into the Middle East. Israel is sitting fairly comfortably on the land that they are claiming, inch by inch, while the U.S watches their back. Palestinians are watching a wall being built between them and their land, their farms, their jobs, and there’s nothing they can do about it. Neither party is truly right, nor is either side truly wrong. The situation is delicate, extremely complicated, and could possibly be seen to go back to the time of Abraham and his sons Ishmael (Ismail) and Isaac.

I didn’t pick these few examples because they are the most important … but because they are, among many, many other things that are wrong with the World today.

So, I say it again: Dear World, what the fuck? Where is justice? Where is democracy? Where the people that claim to have all these wonderful ideals? Why do we not see more people – ordinary people – standing up for what’s right? This won’t do. Nahin chalta hai. Dear World, let’s get our shit together and stand up for what’s right.

This is a video that always makes me cry. It’s called ‘Where the Hell is Matt’. This man, Matt Harding, through one silly dance, has managed to connect to hundreds of people all over the world. I think there’s a lesson to be learned here … (you might be better off following this link to Youtube:

Saturday, 22 November 2008

November (Part 2)

Joshua Radin: Brand New Day

Dearest November,

I’m sorry for my long silence. It’s been a very busy few weeks and today is the first day that I feel like I’ve actually had time to breathe.

Today is a beautiful day. A brand new day. The first sincere snow was a few days ago but by last night a lot of it had melted or been ploughed away and it was just cold. I went to bed last night at 12:30ish and I was up at 8:00 this morning with plans to go to the Farmers’ Market with Nathan. I looked out my window and couldn’t see beyond my double-panes of glass because there was snow piled two-thirds up my window. I called Nathan and aborted our morning plans because it was perfect crawl-back-into-bed weather; and I did crawl back into bed until 10:45. It snowed all morning and it’s snowing now and it’s beautiful.

Nathan and I had an ‘outing’ to the store this afternoon. I had to go to Sears to pick up a pair of proper winter boots (the pair I have are kind of pretty but not much use for actual snow) that I ordered online. We also have a potluck this evening and we needed to buy stuff to cook. It was an Outing because it’s so beautiful out. It’s clean and white and cold and gorgeous. I love the snow. I hate ice. I hate slush. I hate the stupid Sackville wind. But I love snow. We came home and had a celebratory toast with eggnog with sprinkles of nutmeg. All-in-all, it’s been a lovely day so far.

As I said, Nathan and I are going for a potluck at a friend’s house off-campus. Nathan and I are making scalloped potatoes together. We figured we’d get away with bringing something together. Plus, scalloped potatoes are fairly labour intensive and we can make a ton so it’ll be fine. From what I’ve gathered, a lot of people are going to be there and it’s going to be really nice. We have quite a few friends that live off-campus that we hardly ever see. It’s always nice to get together now and then and get away from the same group of res people that we see all the time. Not that there’s anything wrong with them – I love the people in Thornton. It’s just that it’s nice to get a change sometimes.

This last week was hellish. All of my big assignments were this week and obviously I left it all to the last minute. I had a paper due for Geography on Thursday morning and then another two papers due on Friday. I was in the computer lab till 1:15 am on Friday morning working on the paper for Animal Behaviour that was due in class at 8:30 on Friday. I had another paper for Religion due at 10:30. I wrote that last weekend which I turned out to be very grateful for. 3500 words for Animal Behaviour was enough as it was.

I have made plans for winter break. I’m going to be in the same house off-campus that I was last winter. Except this time I’ll be on my own which is a little bit shitty because it’ll be quite lonely … but it’s alright. I wonder if there’s something about growing up that involves a Christmas on one’s own. Maybe not. But either way, it’ll be my first Christmas on my own without family of some kind around. I guess I’ll curl up in bed and read lots and watch lots of movies. I think being alone will do me some good. Clear my head, sort out my thoughts. I’m a firm believer in the fact that solitude is essential. My mother is worried for my safety but this is Sackville – I’ll be fine. And really, two weeks is not a long time at all.

I can’t believe this term is almost over. It’s crazy how quickly it’s gone by. I wonder what I’ll feel after three years of being here. I wonder if I’ll look back and see a blur. Sometimes that’s what I think it’ll feel like. And maybe that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe in the end we’ll look back at life and see units of time. Being a baby, Elementary School, Middle School, High School, gap year, Mount A … these are the units of my life so far. I don’t really remember much apart from a few isolated events and faces. A friend from a long time ago just put up pictures on Facebook of my friends and I in Middle School. It’s weird to see pictures from back then. I look different and I feel like it was a different lifetime. In many ways it was. I guess I’m not really the same person as the Me in the picture anymore. Lots has changed since then. Lots.

Well. I’m starting to ramble so I think it’s time to stop. I’m off to make scalloped potatoes. I’ll write again soon.

Sunday, 2 November 2008


Dearest November, you’re here so soon. We had snow around this time last year. In fact, the first snow was on November 4th last year; so there are a few days yet. But right now, we have crisp sunny days and a chill that seeps into one’s bones. But it's okay because Sackville is so beautiful in the winter. I watched the light change through the day today and the golden morning sun is just as beautiful as the long dark shadows of the evening. And even stepping out into the icy air makes me smile and take deep breaths of the clean cold.

I signed a lease for a cute little apartment downtown on Thursday. The five of us – Cate, Nathan, Noah, Rhiana and I – are really excited about next year. It’s still going to be six or seven months before we have to really do anything about it, but it also gives us time to get used to the idea of being room mates and living off campus. The apartment is really nice. It’s got lots of central open space which I think is good because we’ll have a place to congregate and we won’t get isolated in little corners of the house – which would have been the case in some of the other places we looked at. I think we’re all feeling really positive about it and I can’t wait till next year.

Friday night was Thalloween – Thornton’s Halloween house party. It was nice to actually have it on the 31st this year. I think it was a good night. I had more fun last year but that’s because all my friends were there. This year Nathan was saving the world with a fund-raiser for UNICEF at a bar downtown, Justin and Rhiana were on duty, and Noah was doing his presidential thing and being frantic and busy. I missed them. It would have been a blast if they’d been there. The plan is that next year the five of us are going to rock Thalloween as fabulous Thornton alumni. I can’t wait.

With November also comes the next round of midterms and papers to write. I actually have only one midterm but I have big writing assignments in my four other classes so it works out to the same thing. I spent all of today in Jennings doing some epic catching up. I did really well on all my midterms but as a result, I got rather behind in my reading. I got a lot done today. I’m proud of myself. I had a friend tell me that I had to make sure I did something for myself today, so here I am. I’ve been looking forward to writing all day.

We turned our clocks back an hour today. The extra hour has been a wonderful thing. I went to sleep at 1:00 last night but it was actually 12:00 and I slept till 8:00 and still got plenty of sleep. And even though now it’s dark a whole hour earlier, it makes the day seem like it’s taking longer to go by. I left Jennings at 6:00 and it felt distinctly later and it’s always a pleasant surprise to find that I have a whole hour extra. I’ve been a bit put off by the early dark but I’ll get used to it. It’s only the first day, after all. And I’d really much rather have more hours of light earlier in the day than later. I hate waking up in darkness.

It’s going to be a busy week. I have a lot to do that I want to get done before next weekend which I plan to dedicate wholly to studying for Physics. Yay.

Oh. And next Friday a group called The Tom Fun Orchestra (based out of the Maritimes … not sure exactly where, Nova Scotia, I think) is coming through town so we’re going to all do a joint ‘We’re All Twenty Now’ birthday thing. We all had pretty crappy 20th birthdays since Nathan’s birthday was last Wednesday and he had a SAC meeting, Rhiana’s is this week and she’s crazy busy, Noah had his during the summer when he was all alone, and I had mine in April during exams. So we’re going to party and have a great time. This coming weekend is also a long weekend because it’s Remembrance Day on Tuesday and so we get Monday off too as a ‘study day’. So I’m excited. This week will be slightly painful, but Friday will be fun. And I think I might take some of Saturday off (maybe to recover from Friday) and I’ll study the rest of the weekend.

And I think I’m going to stop for now. Oh, by the way, the blogging team has a lot of new people (only myself and another person carried over from last year) so if you are a prospective Mt A student looking for different perspectives, you should check out the new bloggers.

Have a happy week, everyone …

I think this might have been my favourite song this week: ‘Don’t Look Away’ by Joshua Radin … a lot inspired by a conversation I had with a friend on Thursday afternoon. (So really it was my favourite song for the end of the week). And the whole point of it is: use your eyes when you speak and when you smile. They can often say much more than your words ever could.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

I'm easy like Sunday morning ...

It’s been an incredibly mellow weekend. I haven’t managed to get any work done but I guess that’s alright. I’m sure I’ll manage to squeeze it all in at the last minute like I usually do. Yesterday was a good day … and I don’t wish I’d been working instead.

Nathan and I went to the Farmers’ Market in the morning since Nathan hadn’t ever been. We bought Indian food and sushi. Nathan bought fresh cranberries. Then we went to ‘Pancakes for Parkinsons’ which is a Michael J. Fox Foundation fund-raiser that Mt A students have once a semester. It's an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast with entry by donation. The pancakes were great and it was a really nice morning.

At 11:00 I went to Mane Attraction (there something about beauty salons that necessitates really, really bad hair puns) to get my hair cut. While the woman was cutting my hair she got a phone call from her brother and her father who are in Cape Breton saying that they’d caught their sixth tuna of the season. My geography class (Geography of Economic Activity) had a section on commodity chains and one of the commodities we studied in detail was sushi. In the morning I’d bought sushi with white tuna in it and I considered whether I was being unsustainable and whether I should buy sushi with crab meat or something else in it (I didn’t), and then here was this woman talking about her family who fishes for tuna. Tuna is interesting because it’s caught all across the Atlantic seaboard (in Canada, the US, Europe and North Africa) and then most of it is shipped to Japan where it is bought and sold by bidders in a massive auction market (Tsukiji) only to be shipped back to all these countries (a lot of it stays in Japan, too) for consumption. It’s quite unique because it’s very deeply rooted in Japanese culture. What was interesting for me was to study the chain in a very clinical way and then see the reality of this woman’s life. She even pulled out a picture of her dad and her brother with the first tuna they ever caught. It was such a huge part of her life and … yea, it was interesting. I felt like my education may actually be of some use. It made me happy. And, on top of all that, I really like my haircut. It’s short (a lot shorter than it’s been in a long time) and cute.

I came home and spent a long time on Skype with my mum. We both have web cams which is nice. It turns out we’d both had haircuts recently which we showed off to each other. It was nice to talk. I feel like it’s been a while.

At 2:00 I met Cate, Nathan, Noah and Rhiana to go look at houses/apartments for next year. We want to move off-campus and we decided that we’d house hunt together. The first house we looked at was really spacious and nice inside but the front ‘yard’ is a very large parking lot which, Rhiana pointed out (ironically, in case someone misses that) would be very useful for all our cars. It was also a duplex with another ‘house’ below us and we decided that that wasn’t ideal. On the way back we passed this pet store/human society place that had two kittens in the window. We cooed over them for a good five minutes ... they made my heart melt. At 3:00 we went to look at another house that was a lot nicer. This one was an entire house, seven bedrooms, an INCREDIBLE loft that, for the sake of not spilling blood over it, we thought (if we sign a lease there) we’d convert into a living room. It had an awesome kitchen with an island and everything. We definitely loved it. We’re looking at another house tonight and another tomorrow. It’s all very exciting. There are some interesting tensions developing and I think we all need to sit down and clear the air, but otherwise, I think it’s going to be great.

After looking at the second house, Rhiana, Cate and I got all girly and excited and practically skipped to town to buy (temporary) purple hair dye for me. We figured it would be really cool and subtle over top of my dark brown hair and we got rather excited. So we bought hair dye, came home and promptly did the thing. Rhiana did it for me and I feel like we bonded. Everyone was very shocked first at the thought of purple and then very disappointed at how non-obvious it is. Although it's subtle, you can actually see it quite clearly. And apparently it’ll wash out after seven to fifteen washes (there’s some debate about this point).

Feeling very chuffed with my cute purple hair, I came upstairs and ate Indian food for dinner while I watched Alexander. It’s a fairly new movie with Colin Farell and Angelina Jolie about Alexander the Great. A word of caution: it’s TERRIBLE. I downloaded it in honour of my Alexander the Great class which I love. Bad movie though. I went downstairs and hung out with Rhiana and Victoria for a while and then went and watched most of The Fifth Element with Justin and Cate.

At 8:00 Thornton was supposed to get together by floor and start decorating for Thalloween (Thornton + Halloween = our house party) which is next weekend. The theme is ‘Haunted Hospital’ and we had lots and lots of water soluble black and red paint, rollers and sponges with which to go nuts. The house looks really cool. It’s unfortunate that we have to live in haunted gloom for an entire week before the actual party but it took too long to decorate for it to have been done any other time. I’m really, really proud of the house. A lot of people weren’t around but those who were had lots of enthusiasm. There was absolutely no drunken debauchery (which is extremely unusual for a Saturday night) and I think by the time we were done eating our free pizza and garlic fingers (bribes are generally required to get people to do work), people just wanted to go to bed. I think we were all feeling rather warm and fuzzy. Thornton’s a great house.

Justin, Cate, Faisal and I finished watching The Fifth Element and then I went to bed.

Today, I have a Skype date with my mum and dad for 1:30 and another with my best friend from high school Rokimi (a.k.a Kimi) at 3:00 and I’m feeling really mellow and ... content.

I’ll leave you with a song that makes me think of 12th grade and some of the best times of my life … a lot of them with Kimi: ‘Mississippi’, by Train. (The video’s a little weird – it’s got clips from a movie called The Experiment. It’s ok, you don’t have to listen with your eyes.)

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Pools of sorrow, waves of joy ...

“Words are flowing out like

Endless rain into a paper cup

They slither while they pas

They slip away across the universe.

Pools of sorrow, waves of joy

Are drifting through my open mind

Possessing and caressing me.”

Stream of consciousness:

It was cold today. The winter chill is starting to seep through the cracks in the windows. The tree outside my room is the colour of fire – red and orange; it lights up with the sunrise. I guess daylight-savings will be upon us soon. It’s getting to that time when I’m up before the sun. It’s hard to face a day when the sun doesn’t rise with you. Darkness is lonely and it brings no hope or happiness with it. Soon we’ll be stuck indoors, trapped on the plowed pathways with everything else inaccessible and buried in snow. I hear it snowed in Newfoundland … or PEI or some such place. I’ll be sad when the winter comes. I think life is hard enough without cold and darkness. SAD: Seasonal Affected Disorder; there are many layers to that.

I didn’t get any work done today. Just one of those days ...

My Pink Floyd psychedelic music is mixing with The Beatles coming from my neighbour’s room. It’s an interesting discord of two great artists. I guess two rights can make a wrong.

I’m going to go for a walk. The air is clean and clear and cold. It might dissolve the haze in my mind. Sometimes life just calls for a wander. I’ve never been a wanderer. Too many roots holding me to the ground … too rational a mind. Too pragmatic. I’ll wander more. Silence and solitude can be great teachers … if not great friends.

“I am Jack’s wasted life.” Ever seen Fight Club? Watch it.

I think my walk awaits me. ‘Till later.

'Across the Universe', The Beatles

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Long Week

Oh man. What a day. A bit of wisdom for all you studiers out there: no matter how hard you try to convince yourself that a Friday night out is a good way to relax before a long weekend of studying, you are lying to yourself. If I had absolutely nothing to do today then it would have been perfect. But sadly that is not the case and now I have to find some way to keep myself awake while I get work done.

Last night was, despite what I just said, a fun night. It was good because this week felt really, really long.

I basically spent all week either in class, in the library, or in the computer lab. I had a big essay and a physics assignment due on Thursday and then a midterm and a quiz on Friday. I spent all of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday working in the essay. I spent all of Wednesday working on the assignment. And I spent all of Thursday studying for my midterm. I’m not sure how the essay went but I’m happy with everything else. I ended Friday with the Ecology lab that I TA. I got to sit out in the waterfowl park on a lovely day while the students fished for bugs. I occasionally provide free advice and try and identify things if they can’t. So yes, it was a long week.

After the lab, Nathan (who is in that lab) and I came home together and we found everyone. We all went to dinner together and after dinner Nathan, Kathryn and I went to the liquor store. Turns out I had enough beer here but there’s no such thing as having too much beer in one’s fridge and the walk is lovely. We had a good time. On the way back we found a grassy hill that we sat down on while I told them random interesting facts about animal behaviour. So yes, it was a long week.

When we got home, the night officially started. It was a good night of music, friends, piggy backs across the football field, lying in the middle of a parking lot because it seemed like a good idea, and lots and lots and lots of laughing. I also spent the whole night telling Rhiana that it was all her fault that I was being drunken and ridiculous. It was a good time. Rhiana and I left the bar just before 1:00. We met at 9:30 this morning to go to the farmers’ market. We got Indian food and dried Chinese lantern flowers. It was a beautiful morning. I came home and cleaned and did laundry. I had a brief visit from a friend. I went for lunch a little later with Nathan, Noah and Stuart. Stu kindly swiped me into Jennings because he has some crazy plan about effectively conning them into giving him more meals that he’s actually paid for. Lunch, that was really breakfast (pancakes and hash browns), was lovely and much needed. I came home just before 2:00 and talked to my boyfriend for a bit. I then fell asleep for about 45 minutes. Not very long ago I hauled myself up, made coffee and this blog signifies the second part of today that will hopefully be a lot more productive.

Wow. Looking back at what I just wrote is weird. I guess that’s a fairly typical Mt A student kind of week. Next week will be even worse. I have three midterms and an essay due. And the week after, I have the last of my five midterms and a few odds and ends to do.

Oh, I forgot to mention that it’s Canadian Thanksgiving here so we have a long weekend. I think we’re doing a potluck in Thornton on Sunday night which is officially Thanksgiving. I guess everyone stuck here wishes they were at home with their families. Indian’s don’t have a Thanksgiving so it doesn’t mean much to me but I can get into it, I guess. So um, Happy Thanksgiving.

Sigh. Alright. Time to get my butt in gear. I have stuff to do. Until next week …

Saturday, 4 October 2008

A Turning Point

It’s that time of week again; another week gone by. This week feels like a turning point for the year in a number of different ways.

The weather has taken a decisive turn for the cold. Our temperatures are starting to head down to 10°C and lower and I guess they’re going to stay there till some time in May next year. I’m not ready for the winter yet.

I died in assassins early last week. I think it was Monday. I was in my room studying with my door open. I heard the kettle in the kitchen go off – it’s the kind that whistles when the water boils. I figured the person who put it on would go and deal with it soon. It whistled on and on for a fairly long while. At some point I got fed up and I got up to go and see what was up. As I was standing up, it stopped whistling but since I was up already, I figured I’d go and check on it anyway. I walked into the kitchen and there was Justin fiddling with the kettle trying to get it to whistle again. He heard me come in and as soon as he saw me, he hit me with his sock. It turns out, Justin was hunting and he knew I was in my room because my door was open. He went into the kitchen and put on an electric kettle. His plan was to hide in the stairwell and jump out when he saw my shadow come into the doorway as I walked past the stairs to get to the kitchen. Needless to say, I yelled and cursed and sulked because of my untimely death. It was so sneaky and brilliant that it seemed ridiculous that it should happen to me. Anyway. When I died, I suddenly felt like things got serious. Assassins requires a lot of lurking in shadowy hallways waiting for your prey to walk past. Now that I had died, I realized that it was now that time of year where I couldn’t senselessly waste time and be silly. Things were getting serious.

Along the same lines, starting this week things with classes have suddenly picked up pace and all the deadlines are looming horrifyingly close. I have a big paper due on Thursday this coming week which is what I’m planning to spend all weekend on. I’m a little bit terrified. I don’t even really know where to start.

I bought a Led Zeppelin, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ poster at the Imaginus poster sale on Thursday. The poster is about two feet wide and five feet high and it fits perfectly on the inside of my door. It feels like that space has been waiting for the arrival of this poster. It’s so perfect there. I have a ‘Stairway to Heaven’ poster at home too. It’s far more magnificent than this one: it’s about four feet wide and maybe six feet long, it’s old and beautifully vintage. I had to leave it behind because it wouldn’t have survived the trip. This one will do till I can claim the one I left in my parents’ care.

So yes, a turning point. The winter is here, the midterms are coming, the time for frivolity is gone and my room finally feels complete. It’s like some pieces have fallen into place in my mind. There was a click in my head and it feels like it’s time to get the show on the road. I think I’m ready. I think this can be done.

And, because it’s lovely, here’s ‘Anyone Else But You’ by Michael Cera and Ellen Page from the movie Juno (the song is originally sung by The Mouldy Peaches):

Saturday, 27 September 2008

The Usual ...

It's life as usual at Mount A. The weeks are blazing by. If we count the feeble three days of class that we had that first week, we are now at the end of our fourth week back at Mount A. My first midterms are three weeks from now. Once those midterms start, there’s not going to be any break in studying from now till December, basically. And I feel like the second term always picks up speed a lot faster than the first term does. Sigh. Ah well.

My flu relapsed on Monday. These are the woes of communal living. By the time I got rid of my first bout, it had been long enough that the bug had mutated into something completely different, and I got it again in its new and improved form. There was a lot more coughing with the second version. So much so, actually, that my stomach muscles now hurt every time I cough. Isn’t that fun? Sigh. That’s what I’ve been battling this week. I also managed to get ‘pink eye’ (conjunctivitis) which is just stellar. Again: the woes of communal living. Someone doesn’t wash their hands properly, touches their eyes, gets an infection, then proceeds to touch everything else around them and that’s all it takes for the thing to spread like wildfire though the residences. So now, not only do I have the plague, people are treating me like I am a plague. I woke up this morning with my eyelids glued together, my eyes were very red, and I had huge, dark bags under my eyes. I looked like a druggy that was having a really bad day. I started to look better as the morning wore on and I don’t think my eyes are red any more. I went to the pharmacy in town and talked to the woman there and she recommended Polysporin: one to two drops four times a day. I know I must be growing up when I buy my own eye drops and put them in my eyes myself without making the slightest fuss.

Today is Homecoming. It’s a huge thing here in Canada (and the US). Quite honestly, I think the main reason people get excited is because it’s a damn good excuse to get drunk. Thornton, for example, starting at 4:00 pm (that’s right, BEFORE dinner) is selling Jungle Juice. This is a fairly delicious (and therefore dangerous) mix of: Everclear alcohol, vodka, peach schnapps, Barcardi 151 rum (i.e. 151 proof = 75% alcohol), 99 Apples apple schnapps, Sprite, orange juice, Triple Sec (an orange liqueur), Gin, and bits of fruit that are left to soak in all the alcoholic goodness. Welcome to university life in North America. It’s all wet and rainy out and I doubt I’ll go and watch any of the game. I don’t know the rules of football and so to me it just looks like a bunch of guys in fat suits running around charging into each other. No offence to football players or fans … it’s just the truth. And, judging from the huge cheer and the blaring car horns, I would guess that the Mounties (as our team is called) just scored and are probably winning.

I’m probably going to skip out on the mayhem. I’m sick and in need of some time to myself. I also have a ton of work to do and I need to start making weekends productive again.

Thornton is doing our annual game of Assassins. It’s where everyone signs up and then someone not playing puts us all in a chain where everyone has to “kill” someone else. Every time you kill someone that person tells you who they had and you move on to kill this person. In that way, eventually you end up with two people who have worked their way around the circle and now have each other. Last year I ended up being one of the top five. That was mostly because the person who had me had a girlfriend and they were almost ALWAYS together and so he couldn’t be killed. And, since he was always with his girlfriend, he wasn’t paying much attention to the game and so he wasn’t trying to kill me. It was like an invisible wall protecting me. Not so this year. So far I’m trying not to be too paranoid.

Anyway. That’s the update on life for now. Cough/Cold, Pink Eye, Homework and Assassins. Till next week …

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Dance like no one's watching ...

It’s so easy to get caught up in life at Mount Allison. It’s the end of our second full week of classes and I’ve had quizzes, assignments, labs, meetings … we’re already in the thick of things. After a while life develops this rhythm, this beat that is the background for everything that happens. This is the epitome of university life though.

Yesterday was Friday, I had a full day of classes, I TA-ed a lab in the afternoon and then I went home and had a few late-afternoon beers with my friends on what was a gorgeous, sunny Friday. We went to meal hall for dinner and then came home and had a few more drinks here. Around 9:00 we left for a concert on Bridge Street. The concert was fantastic. It was a band called Hey Rosetta that I’ve never heard of before. I’ve been to a few things with live music this summer but none of them compared to last night. The atmosphere was so great. I ended up in the mosh pit surrounded by all my friends stepping on each others toes and falling over into each other and hugging people randomly every few minutes and laughing and cheering and dancing. I think we all felt safe and happy and free; we danced like no one was watching. I also had someone’s shoulder collide into my nose that proceeded to bleed, my left big toe hurt for ages afterwards because of how many people jumped on it, my lip got cut in another collision … but none of it mattered. It was amazing. We ended the night at Ducky’s (one of the two nicer bars in town) followed by pizza at A1 (a pizza place conveniently close to the two nicer bars in town). And then we came home and went to bed.

I woke up this morning feeling great. I had a meeting at meal hall at 12:00 so I went with a group for brunch; coffee and cereal and lots of laughing about last night. I headed upstairs to this ‘conference room’ they have in meal hall. I had lunch while we talked about how international students and Canadian students can integrate better. It’s a frustrating topic for me because I can’t really relate to it. I’m happy at Mount Allison. I have friends from all over Canada and all over the world and where a person is from has very little bearing on my interactions with them. We’re just people. All if have to say is, international students – go out and make an effort to make friends and get involved. Integration isn’t going to fall into our laps … we have to live it. Anyway, that’s another university thing: a Saturday afternoon lunch-meeting.

In about half an hour I have an intramural softball game. I’m playing on the Thornton team (obviously). It’s a blast. I haven’t made it on to base yet but who cares? It’s so much fun just to be out there.

When I get back from that I have a ton of work to do. Papers and reading and labs …

At 7:00 there’s a talk by Lester Brown, the founder of the World Watch Institute. He’s a really big deal. He turned down the IMF to come talk at Mount A – or at least that’s the story going around. Mount Allison has named this the ‘Year of the Environment’ and Lester Brown is very, very involved in “eco-economics” (his word) and sustainable development and all the other hugely important environmental issues that are becoming more and more a part of our collective consciousness. I’m looking forward to it. “You say you want a revolution? Well, you know, we all want to change the world …” (Revolution, The Beatles).

When that’s done I’ll be back here working away for the rest of the night.

But this is university life. School and friends and music and meetings and saving the world and dancing like no one’s watching. It’s just all one crazy dance where you do what you have to do and you don’t give a damn what people think about you. This is real living. This is the life that anyone at Mount Allison can have if they go out to find it. It’s exciting.

And that’s all I have to say for now. Dance like no one is watching. It’s the only way to do it right …

'All This Beauty', The Weepies (the only place I could find it was on the soundtrack for the new Sex and the City movie; don't judge.)