Sunday, 17 February 2013

I Also Went Moshing

This weekend my school was swarmed with hordes of smelly teenagers for a youth music conference. I use the term "music" generously. It seems that when performing live, most bands (at least rock and rock-like bands) replace the artistry of their recorded music with bass lines and drum beats so loud you can hear neither the vocals nor the melody. The teens seemed to enjoy themselves, though.

However, I spent most of the weekend selling cotton candy or sitting in the hallway of my dorm on patrol, making sure the kids didn't set the place on fire or dye their hair in the bathroom sinks or engage in some such nonsense.

***
Despite my commitments to sitting around and selling stuff, I did get to see my cousin briefly. He arrived with a bunch of horses for the teens to ride during the times between concerts. They didn't just give rides to teenagers, though. I got to ride, too, for the first time since high school, and a couple of forty or fifty-year-old men also came early on to ask for rides. The ranch hands were happy to oblige them, but the men didn't want to start off straight away, as they wished to collect their hats and mittens first. It was about -13 outside with windchill, and they felt they were unprepared for riding horseback in their current gear.

Just then a group of teenage girls dressed in jeans and bunnyhugs arrived at the horses. One of them was giving a pep talk to her peers who were evidently voicing similar concerns about the cold. “We're Canadians," the pep-talker was heard to say. "We can handle it.”

Just to clear up this point, while Canadians are wonderful people, they are not, in fact, impervious to frostbite. Nevertheless, both men immediately aborted their plan to collect warmer clothes. “Well, if they can handle it,” they said to the ranch hand, “then so can we.” They got on the horses and went riding as they were.

And that is how a teenage girl can make grown men feel like wusses who need to prove themselves.

***

My friend Michelle was directing traffic in the parking lot. It was her job to make sure everybody could find a place to park. Here she is doing her job.
***

We had class on Friday morning, before the teens all arrived for the concerts. In class that morning, our professor, David, admitted that when he first moved to Canada he didn't know what a high-five was. As an illustration, he asked us to explain it to him and describe to him the parameters in which a high-five was appropriate.

“How formal or informal is it? Would you high-five Dwayne Uglem?” he asked. Dwayne Uglem is our college president. Not the student president, the actual president.

Everyone laughed. “No,” they said. “Well,” eventually a few amended, “Yes, if the circumstances were appropriate.”

“I would be impressed if you high-fived Dwayne Uglem,” said David.

Later that day, with concerts and indoor paintball in full swing, I was sitting with two of my classmates behind a table selling cotton candy. Suddenly Travis nodded across the hall to a bench. “Well, here's your chance,” he said.

“Huh?” I replied.

“It's Dwayne Uglem,” said Stephanie.

“Chance for what?” I said.

“To give him a high-five,” said Travis.

I looked past the river of people traversing the hall. Indeed, they were right. The president was sitting there on the bench by himself not doing anything.

“Oh, come on,” said Stephanie. “If I know anyone who'd high-five Dwayne Uglem, it's one of you two.”

So Travis and I abandoned our posts at the cotton candy table and cornered Dwayne on the bench.

“Excuse me,” said Travis. Dwayne Uglem looked up. “In class this morning, we were talking about high-fives-”

“Oh, don't explain it to him,” I interrupted, “Just high-five him.” I held up my hand. Dwayne Uglem gave me a high-five. Travis held up his hand. Dwayne Uglem gave him a high-five. There was a momentary pause.

“And we are not going to explain that,” Travis announced. We turned away and stalked back to our table. Stephanie cheered.

I think our adventures should count for extra credit.
***

I got a blue wristband that allowed me into the cafeteria for meals during the music conference. It was free, and being the semi-miser that I am, I was not about to let it go to waste.

The cafeteria seats about 500 people. It was full almost to capacity. Somehow, I ended up sitting for half the meal with nobody to my left, nobody to my right, nobody across from me, and my back against the wall. Maybe I smell worse than the teenagers?

At any rate, for the second meal the cafeteria was slightly less crowded and I again ended up sitting in a big open space. A guy in a big open space on the next table over turned around, looked at me and picked up his plate. “I'm going to turn around so we can face each other. Is that ok?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said.

We traded names. He was very friendly. I would peg him to be around eighteen* years of age. I was slightly concerned that he thought I was his age. As I said, he was being very friendly.

“So, is this your first time at YQ?” he asked with a big smile. YQ is the name of the youth music conference we were hosting.

“Yes,” I replied, trying to find a way to drop hints about my age without being appallingly obvious. “I'm a student here. This is my first year.”

“I haven't seen you,” he said. “Are you in the high school?”

“No,” I said. “I'm here getting an after-degree. I already have a bachelor's.”

His eyes grew wide. “Oh!” he exclaimed. “Oh!”

Yeah, that's me. The Wanderer – confusing guys since 1989.

My new friend gave me a very wide, sheepish smile. “I'm sorry - I'm sure you haven't got that one before!” he said. To his credit, this revelation didn't seem to phase him in the slightest in terms of his desire to make conversation and ask me lots and lots of questions. So maybe he was just genuinely friendly, after all.

At least when he misjudged my age he took off eight years instead of put them on. I don't think I'm ready to be thirty-two yet.

***

Now, it's life back to normal - except with an added weekend's worth of missed homework. Nose to the grindstone!

Me to my professor: I already argue with my grammar book. I don't think that adverbs and I are going to be friends.
David: No! You can't have a mind block. You have to be friends with all of grammar!
(Pause)
David: You can have favourites, though.

Well I can tell you that ADVERBS AIN'T MY FAVOURITE.

*ETA: I have since learned that he was EXACTLY 18 at the time. How's that for accuracy?

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Anglican Church: In Costume

Or, the ever-continuing adventures of "Carla Attends Anglican Church".

Last semester I wrote that I had visited an Anglican church, but I didn't update to say that since that point in time, the people there have stopped considering me a guest and have pointedly looked at me from the pulpit when they announce that it's the last Sunday to put your name on the volunteer list. Granted, I had made my desire to volunteer known on several occasions previously and just somehow hadn't signed up yet.

So I signed up along with three of my friends. They all specified what they would like to help with but I just wrote, "Whatever, but not preaching." Yeah, I'm on the schedule as often as the rest of them combined.

First task: last Sunday I was given a quick walk-through on how to be a "server" and this Sunday I actually got to do it! I arrived, got dressed, and promptly broke the ceremonial candles. Oops. Somebody replaced them and after that I didn't let go of them until they were safely back in their proper stands.
Timothy was also serving for the first time this Sunday. For only having done one quick walk-through the week prior, I thought we did a pretty good job of remembering "walk here, stand there, hold this with your right hand" and all those other instructions.

There were a few times Timothy and I were casting lost, questioning looks at each other, but for the most part, things went smoothly. The fact that someone else had forgotten to get a pitcher of water with which to cut the wine, which forced a semi-panicked last moment substitution with the priest's hand washing water, was not our fault. Near the close of the Eucharist, I stood by my seat sharing one of these aforementioned looks with Timothy, wondering if we were supposed to be helping clear the table of the elements.

The pastor, Father Dean, sidled up next to me. "Hey, Carla," he said with the ever-present twinkle in his eye, "How are you doing?" I might point out that this was not yet socializing time - the service was still in full swing.

"Uh," I replied, "Are we supposed to be helping with that?"

"Naw," he said. "She'll let you know if-"

At that point the deacon let us know with a look that yes, we should be helping. So we helped. And then everything else proceeded as planned.

I was too enthralled with the ceremonial gowns to get changed immediately, and Father Dean had agreed to pose for a picture with me after the service, so I darted downstairs to get my camera. When I got back, Father Dean was in a disheveled state, twisted up and generally entangled in his microphone cord.

"I thought I'd take my microphone off for your picture," he laughed, "but usually I take my robes off first. I don't know how to do this." Eventually the assistant reverend, who is also the chaplain of my school, stepped in to help. It was nearly scandalous, with how much he had to get himself twisted up in Father Dean's robes to figure out the cord, but fear not, there was no hanky-panky and everything got sorted out in due time. And we got our picture.
Next week we're planning to climb the original winding staircase of the bell tower! I'm super stoked! Will update if the pictures turn out any good.

"If you only repent of your sins, of your bad things, ok. Well done. That makes you a Pharisee. You must also change how you relate to your good things to be a disciple of Christ." Rev. Dean

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Snowsnowsnowsnow

I am Canadian, and Canadians are down with cold weather. We have lots of cold snaps in Calgary and we handle them pretty well, but out here in Saskatchewan things are a bit different. When it got really cold and snowy in early November, I figured it was a cold snap, like always. When I realized that it was only very cold and snowy and not a snap at all, I snapped instead.

Snow, biting wind, snow, biting wind and not a chinook to be had anywhere! I miss all the chinooks.

"Gaaaahhhhh!" I groan to myself most days when I go outside. Only, I'm careful not to exhale too much or else I'll need a deep breath to compensate, which will in turn make my lungs freeze solid. It's annoying enough to have the inside of your nose freeze solid on your first inhalation, but if you freeze your lungs it's kind of a bad thing.

In an effort not to go completely insane with the extended frigidity, I decided to have some fun with it, instead. Other people around campus have been building giant snowmen and quincy structures to do homework in out their dorm room windows. I can't build a quincy out my window, since I'm on the second floor, but I wrangled a couple of Stephanies to go snowbank scaling with me.
It's not just the snow and wind you have to deal with, though. It's also the ice. Our little village is the Venice of Canada, except instead of getting in boats and paddling to school, you put on your skates and glide there. At the very least, you shuffle and slide in your boots. It's safer and faster than walking.

Joie and I skated ourselves down Main Street today while her fiance was kind enough to take pictures. We used the post office as our boot room.

"I've never done this before!" said Joie, who is in her eighth and last year here. "It's my finale!"
When we were done, her fiance picked us up fireman style (one at a time) so we wouldn't damage our blades and carried us back to our boots.

Joie is pretty used to this kind of weather, having lived here so long. She deals with the climate by making sure that the dorm room stays warm. Seriously warm. One night, I spent ten minutes shuffling around outside, in minus thirty, in the wind, and I got into the dorm building with my ears about to fall off and tears frozen to my face. No matter. No sooner did I set foot through the door than I began panting and trying to strip off all my outer layers. My ears weren't even thawed by the time I was sweating. I went to bed in a tank top and with the window open.

Eventually, I had the brains to check the thermostat. For a while, Joie and I took turns surreptitiously bumping up and down the temperature until one day I was greeted by a wall of heat even more forceful than usual. I sprang to the wall to find the thermostat set to the maximum setting of thirty degrees celsius.

It's a bit of a shock to the system to experience a fifty degree change of temperature in less than twenty seconds. I made a salad for lunch and my fork was literally warm to the touch from sitting in the drawer.

"Oops," Joie laughed when I asked her if we could compromise around twenty-two or twenty-three degrees. "I hadn't even looked at how high I set it." Apparently she had just woken up cold and bleary-eyed and batted at the gauge without paying attention.

Since then, we seem to have settled on a pleasant, summer-time climate for our room. I am content.

Also, I think it might be warming up outside. The forecast for this week has the coldest daytime temperature at negative fifteen degrees, including windchill. Maybe it's time for a picnic.
"We are going outside to play, and we will have fun, whether you like it or not!" My dad, to his kids, encouraging us to build a snowfort.