I finished my last reading week yesterday, the last universal weeklong pause at an academic institution. From now on, spring break will be when I make it. I began the week not thinking about how nostalgic this was, but naturally, how relieved I was to be at the end of a particularly hellish week. Regular work, plus regular school, plus a half dozen major assignments and projects that I'd perfectly procrastinated to result in maximum stress and last-minute
I bathed in the sun in my living room on Friday, and stretched my arms and legs out wearing sweat pants, no bra, a ponytail and a couch blanket watching a Real World marathon. I took breaks to clean the bathroom and kitchen. To me this is a nice break and something my type-A personality thrives upon. I rationalize this by saying it is a break because in school mode, weekends are not spent cleaning, emptying and fetching but cramming, avoiding and typing. Cleaning is a nice return to weekend normalcy.
The problem was, about 4 hours of this and I'd had enough. I went to my yoga class, I did my makeup for no reason, I checked Perez Hilton and Facebook a bajillion times before I resorted to making a list. A list of to-dos, things to occupy my weeklong free zone. I vacuumed, I reorganized, I dusted. I emailed friends, I made plans, I breathed easy. But the novelty of free time wore off mighty fast.
I wonder what I'll do come May when school's out forever, and I don't yet have a real job. Will I focus all my energy onto training and toning my body into a super fitness machine? I like to think the best of my time use skills. Will I throw myself into writing and come up for air once or twice before finding a polished, clear, concise and-most importantly-provocative piece of writing? From the edge of adulthood and the windowsill of my apartment, I'm not sure my pool
of experience will be deep enough to pen anything beyond "life as a twentysomething graduate of two weeks."
It's been easy to make far away plans while justifying that I now carpe diem by getting my work done, goofing with my friends and eating colourful vegetable meals. But when there's no more work, I will be confronted by a pressing need to do something, only without a syllabus or deadline to tell me what that is. I will have to make my own schedule, and I am a little scared to call my own shots. The responsibility then falls on my shoulders like a scale of justice,
too far to one side and there's no keeping all the marbles on the tray.
The good thing about living by carpe diem? I can say I will deal with that when it comes. For now, I press on (no pun intended) my last month of journalism school, try to save enough money to go out sometimes, and go to bed smiling more often than not before my head hits the pillow and succumbs to right-away sleep.
I thought I saw your car pull up.
Then remembered it's sitting idly in the laneway covered in snow.
The phone rang and your name displayed. I thought you were in traffic calling to tell me how your shift went to pass the time while you waited. Instead you're talking to me from a place I haven't seen and I can't imagine what you look like in your surroundings.
I thought I smelled your hair when I rolled over onto your pillow this morning, but it was just a smell, and not connected to the rest of your warm and sleeping body.
I emailed you from work today as if I'd come home and finish telling you the story in our kitchen. I'd tell it over your music as I made dinner and you pretended to be interested. But rather, I sent one and was disappointed that you hadn't read it, you weren't up to date with my goings on like you would be ifyou were here, so I retold it over the phone.
I thought you'd come running down the stairs when I opened the door at your parent's place, right behind the dogs, but their sloppy kisses and dog hugs will have to suffice (though they really don't compare).
I went to snuggle into the hollow between your neck and shoulder while watching a movie on our couch, but instead was left with empty space and an uncomfortable pillow in your place.
I thought I'd be excited for weekends and mornings and nights, but I can only keep so busy and drink so much wine to make the time pass by until those times are spent with you.
If this were a run, I'd be starting to get tired and breathing heavy. I'd lookup ahead at how far there is to go and get discouraged, knowing how hard I have to work and push myself. But like a run, I know if I keep a rhythm moving, one foot ahead of the other, belly breathing in and out, and looking only at the sidewalk in front of me, it won't seem so bad once I get there.
R.I.P. Celia Franca
I had no idea that the old lady with the almost Mimi-esque makeup job who was directing us to "flit your arms, never stop" was actually a Canadian art legend.
We were 15 when A and I were in rehearsals for "A Midsummer Night's Dream". She was Cobweb and I was Peaceblossom, Queen Titania's fairies. If you look hard enough, you may even be able to find some photographic evidence of my theatre work. I have no idea how our director got Celia Franca, founder of the National Ballet school, to do our choreography. But choreograph she did. I remember standing on a rise at the front of stage left, "demi-plié, battement lent, plié in fourth, repeat." We also had to stand in fourth, chest out and skyward while we "flitted" our hands and arms as if they were ribbons blowing in a soft breeze, when we were not called to deliver lines or cross the stage.
When the reviews came out, we were surprised to see that a notorious critique who despised young actors did not chastise us at all. The reviews were generally positive and succeeded in bringing in the crowds. The only thing, oddly enough, that was criticized was the "distracting fairies who kept moving their arms as if they were to take flight at any moment."
Either way, working with Celia was like a trip to Europe. Strange at first, we snickered about her peculiar accent and direction. But as we progressed through the scenes and perfected her choreography, we learned to appreciate her exotic flair and genius compositions. When the run was over, I missed our fairy dance sessions with Celia.
And today, she has died, at age 85 in my city.
All by myself
In sixth grade, every student had to write a three-minute speech for the school board public speaking contest. As the kid whose hand was always in the air, I embraced this. I had already thought of a topic the first week of school, and began reading up on UFO's in eager anticipation.
I remember sitting on the couch in our TV room (the year before we converted it to my bedroom), writing out the stellar introduction:
"It's a bird! It's a plane! It's-- it's a U-F-O! Get the camera!"I had all my research noted on lined sheets of paper with alien drawings and hearts and stars. My Dad read the notes over and helped me put some thoughts together. He also suggested a few points I hadn't thought of on my own. Therein lay the problem.
I won the contest. I won for my class and, two weeks later, I won for my school and was third place at the school board finals. At grade 6 graduation, I got a plaque and my name on a trophy that stills sits in the school's lobby behind a glass case. It was definitely a glory era in my life. But there was something that kept nagging at me: My Dad helped me do it. And to me, this made me a fraud, a sham, a grade six public speaking Wizard of Oz.
In retrospect, the speech glory came from my animated delivery and from most of my own research and wording. I think my Dad probably only helped me as much as everyone else's parents would have, or did. But I couldn't shake the guilty complex that it wasn't all me.
This thought has haunted me, albeit on a less intense scale than the time I almost killed my brother in the pool during winter (We'll go there another day). I resolved that from then on, all my accomplishments would be from me, no help, just me on my own two skinny legs. I have since felt thoroughly proud of my achievements and subsequent glory moments of my academic and professional life. There's really nothing like an "I did it!" moment.
Then, someone came and rained on my parade this weekend. We threw a surprise party for my Dad's 50th, and so the house was full of adults I mostly didn'tknow and confetti was tracked everywhere. I overheard some guy I didn't know (or at least that I didn't remember knowing, which is the worst! So let's call himTed) saying,
"Ah yes, [my name here]. I got her a job at The Hill Times awhile back."Excusez moi? Let's back that up. When my first year of journalism school was done, I was looking for news-related employment. I knew I'd be taking a non-paying job, and that was acceptable. I knew The Hill Times, the political newspaper run from Parliament Hill, was looking for summer interns. I knew this through both looking on their website, and hearing it from my Dad, who heard it from Ted. I sent in my résumé and cover letter, I made the requisite follow upcalls, and I got the job that summer. Me. I did it. That job got me more jobs, paying jobs, and an appreciation for federal politics.
This Ted fellow was telling people, four years later, that he got me a job, and that is not cool. Especially in light of said grade six public speaking glory guilty scarring. So FYI Ted, you may have told my Dad about the job, but I am AnotherTwentysomething, and I earned every job, grade, and writing-related opportunityI've had. Me.
Remembering the Bar
It seemed like so long ago I was last at the bar, though I guess as an urban twentysomething, a month is a long time to go without the ritual imbibing and mating dances.
It was S’s birthday, and we all sat around her kitchen table snacking on Mexican food and surrounded with the tools of our trade—mirrors, liners, brushes, mascaras. Our shirts were low, our jeans were tight, and our hair was at optimum volume. Some of us are still into pre-drinking, which any twentysomething knows is the way to paint the town red on the cheap. It’s a couple glasses of a stinging drink (or a smooth one if you’re as seasoned as I) before dancing into the place you’ll pay three times what they’re worth. We got in the Mitz and were off.
I remember climbing onto a riser when “Like Glue” came on, and getting “props” from some blond when I came down with the help of my friends’ hands. I remember sitting on a couch laughing and looking down at the cell to see if fiancé had called. We moved to an Irish pub and I remember doing cartwheels in its kitchen after closing, and laughing as I tapped guys and pointed at my friend with an innocent look. (Though, to be honest, what was intended to be an innocent look could have looked quite different in a drunk reality), Birthday girl had her fair share of weird named drinks and drop shots, and looked great even at the end of the night—quite a feat! Best friend A puked a bit and J was lost when I looked up at closing. Band drummer loved me but I had to bat my eyelashes and pass him off to another girl he would not doubt think was also “super hot.”
We slept soundly but shortly and had a deliciously greasy brunch. And that’s the way I love to do the bar.