Sunday, 14 March 2010

The craziest weekend of life

This Saturday was the annual SAN Banquet. SAN (the Society of All Nations) is a student group that I've been involved with ever since I came to Mount A. Last year I was the secretary of SAN and so, as part of the executive, I helped organise events through the year and the SAN Banquet in particular. This year there was no one else on campus who was particularly interested in taking on SAN again, and since I was on the exec last year, I agreed to do it.

Mount A students have developed the unfortunate reputation of being apathetic but what is often overlooked is the fact that there is an almost obscene wealth of things for students to do here. So while it's occasionally difficult to find volunteers for some events, it seems that the only reason for it is because they're involved in eight other things already. I think that's the problem that SAN ran into this year. SAN has tagged itself as an organisation that aims to facilitate cross-cultural understanding and interaction ... whatever that means. Ten years ago when SAN started, that might have been something that was needed at Mount A - today, SAN is almost obsolete. And that's not a bad thing. There are so, so many groups on campus that in one way or another meet the needs of students who might otherwise be involved in SAN, and there just isn't any interest.

But, people have grown accustomed to the annual Banquet and come second term, people start asking, "But who's going to do the SAN Banquet this year?" Well ... me, of course. So I rooted out two old SAN members to be on my exec and we started to plan the Banquet. The Banquet is dinner for about 300 people with food from around the world cooked by students and performances by students. It relies entirely on finding enough people who are willing and able to help. By Wednesday last week I was having kittens about how little interest we'd had from people wanting to volunteer, how few tickets we'd sold, and how late our posters had gone up. On Thursday I had a meeting for all the people who'd volunteered and an astounding 20 or 25 people showed up. These people turned out to be my angels.

On Friday I went to Jennings Hall, the university meal hall where we were going to cook all the food and hold the Banquet. I arrived just before my volunteers did at 7:00, and we started on what was to be a very, very long 28-odd hours of work verging occasionally on frenzy. From 7:00 to around 11:15 we chopped, peeled, diced, stirred, mixed, julienned ... and when we left, most of the cooking for a 300 person dinner was done.

On Saturday afternoon I was back at Jennings at 2:00 and I didn't leave till about 10:30 that night. My cooking volunteers showed up on time and while there was a short period when I was really worried things weren't going to come together, it all worked out excellently. I haven't ever seen such efficiency before. I guess I just lucked out and got a great group of people willing to help. They didn't need prodding or anything further than preliminary instructions. They were totally together and organised and if it wasn't for them, this event would have been a spectacular disaster.

Nathan and Noah, my roommates, graciously agreed to be the MCs for the night and they were great. They went with an awkward-is-funny approach to the whole thing that worked really well.

Most people had left by about 9:00, we were done cleaning at about 10:15, and I was out the door at 10:30 ish. I have never been so tired. I got home, waited for my roommates to take their excited, drunken selves out, and I went to sleep ... for 12 solid hours.

It was quite the event, the SAN Banquet. Nathan kindly reminded me last night that while the memory of the stress might fade quickly, this isn't something that I should do again. Trust me. It's not. I think I've done my bit. Next year the Banquet can be someone else's problem. I can already feel the post-stress snivels coming. It's almost like my body's saying, "Oh, the Banquet's over? Right. Here's that cold you've been staving off for the past two weeks."

It was definitely a good experience, though. I now know that I never want to go into logistics as a profession. I got nothing but compliments about how good the food was and how smoothly the event went. Even though we didn't manage to publicise it as well as we usually do, we had lots of people come out. It was actually really, really good.

Oh, and did I mention that I said "douche" during a speech to 200 people? Yep. That happened.

Here's a song that I listened to on my walk home from Jennings last night across a darkened campus and quiet town with all sorts of emotions running through me.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Of road trips, ink, and Indian food ...

It's been so long since I last blogged that it's almost funny. Every time I tell my roommates I'm going to blog they laugh at me because they're sure that I won't. They've been right so far, but not any more. I am turning a new cyber leaf and I will start to blog again regularly. I promise!

Much has happened since the last time I wrote. The first semester of my third year at Mt A ended, I decided to stay on another year at Mt A to do research with a prof in the Biology department, my living situation with my roommates has grown better and better with every passing week, and I am now in the middle of what might be the best of my six semesters at university.

What spurred me to blog today of all days was the fact that I have had one of the most typically "university" weekends of my time at Mt A. One of my roommates is visiting her sister in Montreal so it's just the four of us: Nathan, Noah, Rhiana, and me. Spring break started on Friday and we've been making the most of it so far.

On Friday night we started the night off by having a bunch of friends over at our place, we eventually moved to Ducky's (a bar) downtown, and then a few of us moved from there to the university Pub later in the night. We ended the night back at our apartment playing guitar until 3:00 am.

On Saturday afternoon when we had finally dragged ourselves out of bed, we started an epic Lord of the Rings movie marathon. We were a quarter of the way through the third movie ('The Return of the King') by about 9:00 that night when we went to Ducky's again for a few beers with friends. We ended up being 'that' table. You know, the ones that are loud and are clearly having the most fun of anyone in the bar. We spent our entire time there making fun of each other, telling stories, and for a few very special minutes, listening to Nathan and Noah make gibbon noises at Rhiana. At about midnight we headed home via a pizza place and watched another quarter of 'the Return of the King' until various people fell asleep.

On Sunday morning (well, to be fair it was more like afternoon), we watched the last half of 'The Return of the King' and spent the rest of the day streaming live coverage of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics streaming off the internet. One of my roommates and I went down to a cute little cafe we have in town to read for a couple of hours before we came back to watch what was apparently the single biggest sporting program in Canadian history: a Canada vs. USA Olympic hockey game. We had three Canadians (Nathan, Rhiana, and our buddy Mark), an American (Noah), and an Indian (me) watching and it was an interesting dynamic. I figured I could look at the game as either, "I don't care" or, "I get to win no matter what", and I picked the latter. Canada lost 3 to 5 and I am certain there were many Canadian hearts broken. It was a great game.

This morning (Monday) we decided to rent a car for the day. Because none of us have cars or easy access to cars, a lot of things get put off because they're a pain to do without transportation.
But with the rented car (which we haven't been old enough to get until this year) it was easy and we were able to make a day-trip of it. The first thing on our list was taking all our empty alcohol and pop cans and bottles up to the recycling place they have in town. We've been accumulating these for a few months now and we had a rather impressive stash. There were: 16 dozen beer bottles, a multitude of wine bottles, and a substantial number of cans, and we ended up getting $26.30 back for all of it. The next thing was a trip to Moncton, the biggest city near by. The trip was largely for my roommate Nathan's benefit because he is 6"8' and has a very hard time finding clothes his size at normal stores. Rhiana and I also made an appointment to get tattoos which was pretty exciting. It was Rhiana's first and my second and I think we took it like champs. We ended our trip to Moncton with dinner at an Indian restaurant and then headed home.

Rhiana and I just watched Mulan and, despite the fact that it's only 10:40, it feels more like 2:00. So I think I'm going to head to bed and actually wake up early and start getting some work done tomorrow.

I'll leave you with a song we put on the sweet road trip mix we made for our drive to Moncton.