On debating

I really never wanted to join the university debate club. I just wanted to go to IKEA. No, actually, that’s how it happened.

And yet, I’ve spent three of the last four weekends at debate tournaments, and almost all of my friends in university belong to debate. We literally go to other universities, stand in rooms, and talk for hours. And then we do it again the next day. With this in mind, I think it’s very valid to ask, how the hell did this happen? What the hell am I doing with my life? Let me explain.

I met Lena (I asked her which character she related with in the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and she picked Lena, so that’s now her name) because she lived down the hall from me in residence. My first impression of her was that she was a bit too much a try hard, with her tailored blazers and little pencil skirts. Like geez, this is a dorm, not the UN. She was fun to talk to  though, and frankly, I had met very few people on my floor who I actually wanted to hang out with. Most of the rest were engineering students who alternated between doing physics, playing video games, and watching hockey, which are basically my three least favourite things.

So when Lena invited me to go on this special student shuttle to IKEA one night a couple weeks into school, I was down. I figured it would at least be something to do. The hitch was that Lena had to make a detour before we left. She promised it wouldn’t take more than an hour, she just had to go to this meeting thing.

Sure, I thought. I didn’t really have anything better to do. It was the second week of university so I didn’t really even have homework yet.

The “meeting thing” turned out to be a debate club meeting, and Lena, it turned out, was on the Canadian national team for high school debate. In other words, she was kind of a big deal in the debate community. When she showed up at the meeting members of the club already knew who she was.

I found all of this news mildly bemusing. I thought it was funny that there was a “debate community” and a national team and everything. I mean seriously, it’s just people arguing. How intense could it really be?

Super intense, as it turned out. At the meeting, the senior members did a demo round to show what debate was like in university. Not only was it intense, but it was also really interesting, and smart and…entertaining. I never would have seen that coming. What honestly drew me in was that all the debaters just looked like they were having such a good time. There they were, standing up talking about smart things, but also adding in jokes and good natured teasing. The debate I saw was about whether a total surveillance state was a good idea, and the debaters made jokes about their rights to watch BDSM porn in the privacy of their own home. They actually had the whole room laughing by the end.

When we left to go to IKEA, Lena told me straight up that she wouldn’t be offended if I told her I thought it was stupid. She said she new debating was kind of a ridiculous use of her time, but that it was something she had done for a really long time and she personally enjoyed it. I think I shocked her when I said that I was interested in going to the next meeting.

It just kind of snowballed from there. I went to the next meeting, then to a full day training session for beginners, then to one tournament, then another. At this point I think I’ve spent about a quarter of my weekends in university at debate tournaments.

It’s worth noting that not only am I not very good at debating, but I also don’t particularly care about becoming any good. For me it’s just about being around people who want to talk about important issues. The way one debate friend described it was that debaters don’t just talk about the “whats” in life-what you want to do, what you like, what you want to be-but also the “whys.” Debate is about calling your beliefs into question; you have to justify your choices and your reasoning. We don’t just talk like that in debates, but outside of them too.

I think the idea of thinking “whys” appeals to me because I’ve always thought like that. It’s a characteristic that shows in my writing, especially in this blog. I tend to write about something that happened, then how I feel about it, then speculate as to why I feel that way. What’s cool is that now I have a group of friends to talk like this with, instead of just turning over these thoughts in my own brain.

I’ve become close with four girls in debate, all first years.  What’s funny is even though I’ve only known them for a few months, I already feel as close to them as I do with friends I’ve known for years. Maybe it’s because residence forces people to become close. Maybe it’s because we’ve already spent so many weekends together for debate. Maybe it’s just the massive amount of wine we consume together. Whatever the reason, I’ve found people I belong with here. That’s a pretty special thing.


Coming home

I was so excited to come home from university for the holidays that I forgot to think about what it would be like when I got here. I was so focused on the idea of eating home cooked meals and sleeping in an actually comfortable bed and seeing my friends and family that I forgot that coming back after four months might be a little weird.

For starters, I think that my cats took a day or two to remember who I was, which was sad. They used to mob me whenever I walked through the door after school. There was other little stuff too, like the way my cereals are missing from the pantry and replaced with strange granola mixes that I assume belong to my dad’s new girlfriend. My car barely started because it had gone undriven for so long, and driving itself felt really strange after spending all semester travelling in buses and on foot.

Visiting my high school was the weirdest experience. I went with a bunch of friends, and we all agreed that we felt distinctly like we shouldn’t have come. The students all looked so young and the school felt so small. Our old teachers seemed mostly surprised and weirded out that we had come.

That being said, I had a nice time talking to my English teacher, who now tells me she is studying to get her PhD so that she can become a university prof. She says that her new AP class is not as good as ours was; she misses the noise and how I would always argue with her. English was a big part of my high school experience; I had the same teacher for three years and almost all of my friends were in that class. It was certainly a rowdy class. We had some intense debates about everything from Shakespeare to dystopias.

Ms. R: Kay they agree with everything I say! I keep trying to provoke them to argue but they don’t even react. One time I told them I thought we should drug everyone the way they do in Brave New World, and they wrote it down.

Kay: What? No one had a problem with that? Plus, I don’t think any of us ever took notes in your class.

Ms. R: Exactly!!

So that was nice. Also, seeing my friends was wonderful. I thought we would have nothing to talk about because we’re all doing different things this year and we haven’t seen each other in four months, but if anything we have more to talk about. I love hearing about everyone’s respective university experiences. I have a bunch of friends in engineering at Queen’s University, and from what I understand it’s basically a cult. They have these purple jackets and they get badges for them by doing stupid stunts like drinking their height in beer and jumping into freezing Lake Ontario in the middle of the winter. They have some great stories to tell.

I think it’s hard for the friends who stayed at home for university. It’s really different than residence, where there’s always a party going on and it’s really easy to meet people. I feel bad talking about it too much with people like Jan because she gets this wistful look on her face and I worry that I’m making her wish she had gone away this year. She says it’s been hard to meet new friends when she’s only at school a few hours a day.

It was nice seeing everyone, but it also made me realize that an era of my life is over. It’s hitting me now what presumably we were supposed to realize at graduation, that high school is really over and there’s no going back. Sure, I intend to stay close with some of my high school friends, but it will never be the same as it was. Never again will I drive the half hour to school in the city every morning. Never again will we hang out in the hallways by our lockers, or in the journalism room. Never again will we have all be doing the same things in the same place. Will we even have anything to talk about years from now?

I’ve always liked  new things, but giving up the old things is hard. I wish that having all of the new friends and experiences at university didn’t mean giving up getting to see my high school friends all the time. I guess it’s part of growing up though.

I think that the most important thing I’ve realized this week is the importance of home. I get what all of those Christmas songs are about now and why Christmas traditions are so important. It was so wonderful to just be at home with my family and putting up the Christmas tree and drinking hot chocolate. My first day at home Pal and I spent the whole day baking Christmas cookies. We were determined to make them exactly like our mom did for years. All those years I remember being annoyed that she made us help, but now I’m glad that she left us a tradition to share.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope yours is full of friends and family and food and laughter. Most of all, I hope you get to be home for the holidays, because it is the best feeling in the world.

The goodbyes are starting

Dee leaves tomorrow for her year long exchange in Mexico. When I said goodbye to her today, there was another of those shit-just-got-real moments because I realized that not only will I not see Dee for a whole year, but this is also just the first of many goodbyes that I’ll have to go through in the next few weeks.

I’ve been friends with Dee for only two years, but it’s been an intense two years. I spend so much time at her house that I know where everything is and I help myself to whatever I need, clothes or food or whatever. Her parents told me months back to stop ringing the doorbell for goodness sakes and just walk in. They’ve even joked that maybe I ought to take over the guest bedroom. As it is, I have my own side of her bed.

I don’t really know how our friendship started; we met in grade 11 english I think, but we didn’t become friends until sometime that November when we decided to skip english together and ended up sitting in my car eating Halloween candy and talking about boys. Since then we’ve had a lot of classes together, as well as track meets and camping trips and shopping excursions. She has taught me to ski better and I’ve taught her how to shop for bras that actually fit. We’re both super competitive, so we push each other when we work out together, whether it’s running or yoga or hiking. We even got to the point where we would spend our spare running errands together like going to the bank or buying toothbrushes or whatever.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. I guess I just wanted to explain how much Dee has been apart of my life. I’ve seen her almost every day for the last year for sure. And now all of a sudden *poof* she’s gone. Does that strike anyone else as strange? You go through these periods of your life where nothing changes, and then all of a sudden you do something like graduate high school and all of a sudden everything changes.

It wasn’t exactly a tearful goodbye because neither Dee nor I are really the emotional type. It went something along the lines of, “I’ll miss you, have an amazing time, you’re going to love it blah blah blah” and then we hugged and then as I was walking out the door we both called to each other at the same time:

Kay: Don’t get pregnant!

Dee: Don’t get alcohol poisoning!

That is what friends are for, right?

Things only my best friend knows

Neither Lis nor I have ever been the types to spill our secrets very easily, but over seven years of friendship we’ve broken down each other’s walls. She knows all my secrets now:

1) My hair hasn’t gotten blonder this summer because the sun bleached it. I can thank a little spray bottle from my friends at John Frieda for that.

2) Last week I told my boss I couldn’t make my shift because I had a soccer game, but actually Lis and I went to the Calgary Stampede and danced and drank Jack Daniels and rode rides.

3) At grad at the Comp a couple weeks ago Cor told me he still loves me. We were sitting on Lis’s deck checking out the northern lights at 3am and Lis had gone inside to shower and he reached for my hand and blurted it out. He wasn’t drunk or anything. Three years after I rejected him twice. What do you even say to that? Cor is one of Lis’s best friends and he’s a great guy, but I don’t see him that way.

4) I still can’t stand the smell of lilies because my mom died a week before Easter two years ago and everyone we knew sent us some. Our house was full of them.

The four types of yearbook signatures

Looking through my yearbook, the signers can pretty easily be divided into four groups.

1) The complimenters. It doesn’t matter how well you know the person, they have like eight nice but generic adjectives to describe you with, like “sweet” and “cool” and you can be pretty sure they wrote almost identical things in everyone else’s books. That’s okay complimenter, I probably won’t remember you in a few years anyway.

2) The rememberer. Again, it doesn’t matter how well they actually know you, they will dig up some obscure memory from that one time you hung out like two years ago, or that one thing you laughed at in that one class that one time. Examples include:

“Remember that time we went shopping? Thanks for introducing me to Forever 21.” (I forgot we ever did that)

“I still have the sonnet you wrote about me getting struck by lightning” (Rigghht…I remember that…now…)

“I’ll always remember physics class with you, especially your bad Swedish accent while doing calculations.” (I forgot about that too. I hated physics)

“I will literally never forget you climbing up on a chair at your birthday exclaiming, ‘Guys this is how I twerked in Africa!'” (I wish I could forget that one. Also the horrible dancing that followed. And the falling off said chair.)

3) The real friends. You can tell the real friends because they say things that would normally be offensive/don’t make sense, but are okay because you know each other so well. Examples:

“I hope that you marry a Filipino guy so that you can have grandchildren that look like Angelina Jolie.”

“You’re still the girl who cried STD.”

“You should get your schizophrenia checked out.”

“I still want a sandwhich.”

4) Then there’s the things that made me cry when I read them:

“Thanks for your brilliance and wisdom. I know you will change the world.” (My favourite English AP teacher)

“You are the only person I know that commands 100% of my respect and you are my best friend. You always will be even if you’re on the other side of the country. All I can do is thank you for being there since there is no way I can truly say goodbye.” (Mat)

“You are a tremendous person, full of talent and promise.” (My soccer coach)

This was supposed to be a funny post, but then I started reading through all the messages in my yearbook and now I’m getting a little teary and nostalgic. Maybe I’m going to miss high school a little more than I had originally expected to. I mean, I’m excited for university, but it is beginning to be hard to think about leaving all of this behind. Although when I think about high school I often think of it as saturated with boredom and stress and grief, but it was also so full of laughter and this intense sense of belonging. I was crazy to think that I wouldn’t miss that.




Mundane dreams

Do you ever have mundane dreams? It’s the kind where nothing good happens, like winning the lottery or finding your true love, but also nothing horrific happens, like falling off a cliff or being chased by an axe murderer. I honestly think mundane dreams are the best sort of dream because whenever I have one I wake up feeling the most rested and refreshed I’ve ever been. I think it’s because they don’t get you too excited, either with terror or with joy. When you’re sleeping, what you really want to do is rest. There’s no need to get too worked up about anything.

The best mundane dream I ever had was a couple months ago. It went a little like this:

Sar and I went to see a local band. The local part is important because they aren’t very famous and we could go see them anytime we want for pretty cheap, so it wasn’t a big deal. The concert was completely uneventful, but the music was good, and I distinctly remember that we had a good time. Then, after the show, the lead singer of the band came up to Sar and I and asked us if we wanted to go to the bar with the band. We shrugged and said we’d go. I should say also that the lead singer of this band is hardly a heartthrob; he’s kind of weird looking actually. So we went to the bar with them and we talked about the show with them and had a few drinks and a really nice time.

That was the whole dream. Pleasant, but pretty boring, right? Exactly. Mundane dreams are so underrated.

I need to have a jealous bitch moment here

Standard angst warning on this post: there is an abnormally high amount of angst in this post. Read at your own risk. Kay and Have You Seen My Glass Slipper? are in no way liable for any psychological damage incurred from extended exposure to this level of angst.

I wish that Mat wasn’t so damn nice, because that would make him a hell of a lot easier to hate. School awards day was today, and Mat swept all the categories: student of the year, school spirit, and journalism distinction, top journalism mark. All of the categories that I should have had locked down. Well, maybe not school spirit.

And yes, they’re high school awards, and in five years or even a couple weeks, no one will care who got them. Really, I get how trivial this complaint is, and I get that I seem like a jealous bitch as well as a compulsive over-achiever, it’s just that I am so SICK of living in Mat’s shadow. I’ve done so much work for the school in the last three years as editor of the yearbook, editor of the school paper, and captain of the soccer team. I’ve mentored a lot of younger students in the journalism program, I’ve done a lot of work advertising for the global aid club and I started a school Twitter account to keep students updated on school events. I really CARE about this school and I thought that people would have noticed that by now, but all they see is Mat. Mat, who is my co-editor in yearbook and the paper. Mat, who is so visible taking photos at events while I only write the copy and work on the layouts of the yearbook. Mat, who is in full French Immersion and full AP to my single AP course.

I do just as much work on the yearbook as he does, but if the principals need to talk to someone about what’s going on with it, they always find him to talk to, even when I’m sitting right next to him in class when they come to get him. Even the yearbook advisor, who knows me, and supposedly knows what I’m capable of, always looks to him for direction.

And those journalism awards piss me off even more because Mat doesn’t even want to be a journalist! He doesn’t even like writing. He’s into photography and he wants to be an economist. I’m the one who is in love with writing. I’m the one who gets paid to write for a magazine. I’m the one who got her publisher to come in to school and speak to our journalism class. Me.

I’m just so angry at him and I know that I’m not being at all fair because he is so kind and selfless and he always includes me and sticks up for me and makes sure that teachers and administrators notice my contributions. He has put up with my frustrated rages when we’re struggling to piece together layouts, the days I ignore him in class while I’m struggling through writers’ block, and all of my sarcasm that isn’t always as funny as I think it is. He is such a good friend and I don’t deserve him.

Besides, I didn’t exactly get ignored at the awards. I was given a $750 scholarship for my trouble, from some donor outside the school to be used for miscellaneous purposes. I should feel grateful because I could really use the tuition money, but it kind of felt as if I was being paid off because they knew they were excluding me from the other awards.

Man, I’m an idiot. I needed to get this off my chest, though. Here it is, the worst of my inner ugliness. If this sort of rant isn’t what an anonymous blog is good for, I don’t know what is.