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.)