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.

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Books!!!

Supposedgenius162 over at Thought Orchard tagged me in a game, and it’s about books, so I’m in. The best part of the holidays, aside from getting to go home and see family and friends, is that I finally get to read for fun for the first time in four months. It’s so exciting to not have history or philosophy or econ or journalism readings to do! I’ve spent most of the day reading and it has been wonderful. Now I’m going to take a break and answer the questions in the game.

1. Which book made you feel confident about your life?
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles is a wonderful book because it seems to start out as a love story, but as you read further you realize that it is really about a young woman realizing she doesn’t need a man in her life to be successful or make her life meaningful (she also ends up becoming a journalist so I definitely have a soft spot for her for that reason also). It’s my current favourite book and I really recommend it. It made me feel empowered and realize that there’s more to life than finding love.

2. Which book made you sympathise with its characters?
Looking for Alaska by John Green. The first time I read it I was in Grade 9. I sympathized with Miles because he, like me, was starting a new school where he didn’t know anyone. The second time I read it was after my mom’s death. That time I related much more with Alaska, who had experienced her own tragedy and was struggling to deal with it.

3. Which book made you feel anxious?
Right now I’m reading The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau, and it’s put me on edge. It’s another dystopia thing like the Hunger Games with a teenage girl fighting against the system etc. I’m like halfway through and it’s a great book but currently she is tramping through the wilderness in the remains of the war-ravaged US and there’s mutated beasts and other scary things attacking her.

4. Which book made you feel annoyed?
Lis gave me A Light Between Oceans  by M. L. Stedman as a grad present, and I’ve honestly been trying to get through it, but it’s so frustrating. When you take a child who washes up in a shipwreck and raise her as your own, you shouldn’t be surprised that it might cause problems. It’s supposed to be this amazing book, but the characters are so flawed that you have no one to root for and the situation is just so unlikely.

5. Which book made you feel disappointed?
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was so critically acclaimed that I was sure I would love it. It took me forever to read though and ultimately I found it really dull and unsatisfying. Maybe I didn’t get the deep meanings in it, I don’t know. I will probably still go see the movie at some point, but I don’t have high hopes for it.

6. Which book made you feel confused?
My philosophy textbooks. This is a cop out, I know, but it had to be said.

7. Which book made you feel satisfied?
I agree with supposedgenius that Mockingjay was a satisfying ending to The Hunger Games. Ditto with Allegiant as the ending of the Divergent series. Lis hated Allegiant, but I thought it fit really well with the themes all through the series and it was satisfying, if not happy.

8. Which book made you feel like you could really relate to the main character?
Sorry to harp on this one book, but Katey Kontent from Rules of Civility is pretty much me. Or at the very least she is the woman I aspire to be. She is smart, witty, and independent. She doesn’t back down from a challenge and she fights for what she wants. And did I mention she’s witty?

A happy (and weird) holiday

I just got home for the holidays, and I’m so happy to be back, but I was also prepared for this to be a pretty crappy Christmas. Or at least a weird one. My dad started dating an old friend from college in the summer, but she lived in a different province so I had only met her like once for five minutes. Two weeks after I left for university, she moved in.

Here’s the thing: I always meant to be happy for my dad when he started dating again. I knew it was what my mom wanted, because she told me. I also knew that my dad was lonely. I seriously thought I was going to be a grown up about it.

The problem is that you can’t control how you feel. In spite of the fact that I knew it was a good thing for my dad, I was mad.  I was mad because she moved in right after I left. I was mad because I barely knew her. I was mad because she wasn’t my mom.

Of course I would never let my dad know how I feel. Not only would it make him upset if he knew, but it’s also completely irrational. I decided that I would just be an adult and be nice to his girlfriend over Christmas holidays in spite of how upset I was.

And okay, so far it has been a little weird. Like it’s weird that there’s pictures of her kids sitting next to the ones of Paul and I. It’s weird that when I can’t find stuff in the pantry she knows where it is. It’s weird that my cats curl up next to her on the couch. But what I’ve realized is that her being here is also so good. The first sign was this morning, when I was listening to my dad work. He works from home and spends a lot of time on conference calls, which can often be really frustrating. I got used to hearing him yelling and seeing him throw up his hands in despair. 

He hasn’t been like since I’ve gotten back. I hear him calmly reasoning with people and that’s about it. That’s just one thing though; there are others. The house is cleaner, and full of more healthy foods than my dad would normally buy. And he has so much to say. He and his girlfriend have all these stories to tell about places they’ve visited and stuff they’ve done. They’re both musicians, so they’re in the church choir together and write music. 

He’s happy, I realized. Really really happy for the first time since my mom died. I forgot what he used to be like; for so long him being sad was the norm. Knowing that she makes him happy makes it really hard to be mad.

It’s still going to be a little weird, but I think it’s going to be a good Christmas, possibly the best in years. It’s been a long time since there’s been real joy in our house at this time of year. I’m ready to enjoy it, I think.

The weight room

I’m weight training again. That’s not something I really expected to say three months into university. I always knew that I would keep playing soccer after I left home because I still love it, and also because after thirteen years of playing constantly I don’t really know how to stop.

Soccer is fun though; weight training is not. In the kind of training we did for soccer, our trainer would run us on treadmills at a sprint thirty seconds on, thirty seconds off, until our legs felt like jello and our stomachs felt queasy. Then came lunges with twenty-five pounds in each hand, and as the season progressed twenty-five would turn to thirty which would turn to thirty five. Then there were some squats with more weights, and then some jumping between sets just to make sure that you could fully appreciate the pain coursing through your muscles. Then came ab workouts if we were lucky, arms if we weren’t. Our trainer liked to end each session with this sadistic game involving a deck of cards. He would draw a card and one of us would guess the number. He would show us the number and we would do the amount of pushups equal to the difference between it and our guess. We went through the whole deck before we got to leave.

So yes, I think it’s pretty safe to say that I never enjoyed weight training. The only good part was doing it with my teammates. We would help each other get through the reps by catching up on gossip. Yeah, that’s right, we talked about boys while we bench pressed. Some of the best talks I’ve had with my teammates happened in the weight room  while lugging barbells.

Without my team and a season to train for, I figured that I had no reason to continue lifting once I arrived at university. I signed up for an intramural soccer team that plays once a week and figured that would be all I’d feel up for. I don’t know what I thought; I guess that  I’d be busy studying and partying. I didn’t think I’d miss soccer practice four and five times a week, and I certainly didn’t think I’d miss the weight room.

I was wrong.

For the last few weeks I’ve been wondering why my sleep cycle is so screwed up. In the first month of school I stayed up late a lot partying, and the month after that was midterms so then I was staying up studying. So it wasn’t until November that I realized that I actually can’t go to sleep before 2am even if I want to. I guess this is partially just a habit now, but I also realized that when I go to bed at night I still have so much energy left. I mean, really all I do in a day is sit in class, eat, and then sit some more in my dorm room studying. Sometimes I switch it up and also go to debate club and sit there. It’s no wonder I can’t sleep.

That’s why I decided to go to the gym today. Just to run, I told myself. It’s too cold to run outside, so I’ll use a treadmill at the gym on campus.

Except the thing is that old habits die hard. Even though I’m really out of shape, I couldn’t just jog on the treadmill. I kept upping my speed and my incline to keep myself challenged. I wasn’t content, it seemed, until my legs and my lungs were both burning. Then (and this is where it gets stranger) I strolled over to the free weights and started doing lunges. I have no idea why. I don’t train on a competitive soccer team anymore. There is no logical reason at all for me to need leg muscles the size of bowling balls just to sit around and write history papers and econ assignments. The treadmill made sense; cardio is important for healthy living and whatever. Weights, however, are just pointless pain.

The only explaination isn’t really a logical one. As far as I can tell all this shows is that working out, pushing my body, putting myself through pain, are all hardwired into my psyche. I don’t know if I was born like this or if was something trained into me over that thirteen years, but I do know that it’s a part of myself that I can’t get away with ignoring anymore. I guess I’ll have to add “gym rat” to strange hodgepodge of labels that seem to make me who I am.

On over thinking

In my last post I said that I wasn’t going to over think my date with Mickey.

Good one.

Jaco called me on it, and he’s right. I can’t not over think things, especially boy things. My biggest enemy is free time to let thoughts float around in my brain. My thoughts are like viruses. They start out innocently enough, with a just a few cells floating around. “I like Mickey. He makes me laugh. He’s a nice guy.” But then it turns into, “I wonder what it would be like if we were dating?” and “I wonder if he would be clingy?” and “He seems like he would be clingy. I hate that.” Until basically I talk myself out of a relationship that doesn’t even exist yet. Boom. Giant virus slowly strangling me from the inside.

Worst extended metaphor ever; I’m sorry I put you through that.

Mickey and I still do our econ homework together, but we haven’t been on a date or anything since the night of Mika the European broadsword fighter. It’s partially because I’ve been busy with debate tournaments, and partially because I’ve been making excuses to get out of dates. Classic Kay move.

It’s because I’m not capable of acting like dating is no big deal. Anytime I meet a guy, I compare him to the fairytale picture of a man that has been in my head ever since I watched Cinderella for the first time. I think about every guy in terms of whether I could see myself with him a year from now, and if I would feel proud to introduce him to my friends and family. I don’t settle and I don’t compromise. I’ve had people tell me this is an admirable trait, but I also wonder if it’s elitist and unrealistic. I wonder if I will ever meet a guy who measures up. I wonder if I want to.

Mickey is coming tonight to do homework. He’s probably going to propose another date and I’m out of excuses. I don’t get what my problem is. He’s cute, and smart, and funny. I like hanging out with him. It’s just that whenever I think about dating him I can’t see it happening. I don’t know if that’s because it actually just isn’t right, or if it’s because I’m just at the point where I don’t trust my own feelings anymore.

Ugh this is the angstiest post ever and I feel like I’ve written it before. Sorry guys, it’s the best I’ve got today.

A very strange date

Rule number one about living in residence: Everyone knows your business. All. The. Time.

They know what kind of music you listen to because then can hear it through the paper thin walls. On a related note they also know if you sing in the shower. Or if you’re up late practicing your embarrassingly bad French for your oral presentation the next day.

And they also know if you have guests. This girl from waaaay down the hallway came up to me in the tv lounge the other day and was like, “Hey who is that guy who has been hanging out in your room lately? He’s really cute. Do you like him? Are you dating him? You should date him.”

Like seriously, there is no privacy here. I think I’ve talked to that girl like three times total and I can’t stress enough how far her room is from mine.

And okay, yes, Mickey has come over a couple of times to work on econ homework with me. And honestly that’s what we do. We sit in my room with our laptops doing calculations with the door open. Nothing major.

I’m calling him Mickey as in Mickey Mantle the baseball player, because he’s on the baseball team and there’s a bit of a resemblance. He always uses baseball metaphors that I don’t get, like “batting a thousand” and it makes him laugh when I make him explain what they mean.

He’s always laughing. I like that.

After we finished working on Thursday he asked me on a date. He didn’t have anything planned yet, he explained, but he wanted to know if I was interested. He said he had never had so much fun doing homework before.

He texted me on Saturday and asked me if I was free for said date, and I really wanted to go, except that I had a problem.

Kay: I actually have something else I need to do tonight

Mickey: Oh…okay that’s alright

Kay: Well I was kind of hoping you would come with me, but first I have to tell you an embarrassing story…

Basically I met up with a high school friend from the other university in town late Thursday night, we got way too drunk at a club across town, and I ended up losing my wallet. How did that happen, you might ask? Truthfully I don’t remember. At a certain point my memory goes black and I remember waking up in my friend’s dorm room still drunk while she dry heaved into a garbage can.

Yeah. Like I said, embarrassing.

Mickey laughed at me a little, but he was nice about it. He was also up for it when I asked him if he wanted to join me in my Saturday night plans, which involved bussing to the club to pick up my wallet, which had (thankfully) been found.

Kay: It will be the lamest adventure ever but we’ll make it fun?

Mickey: We do have an awesome habit of making boring stuff fun, so why not? I’m in

Kay: Also prepare to possibly get lost. I’m the worst at bus routes.

Mickey: That’s what will make it an adventure

To be honest I couldn’t believe he was coming. Nobody wants to spend their Saturday doing errands. In spite of my promise to make it fun, I fully expected it to be a pretty boring trip.

It was anything but boring.

This is basically how I described it to Dee later:

First we missed our stop to transfer buses, so then we had to figure out a new route, and then my RA just miraculously turned out to be on the bus so he helped us find the right stop. And then we ran into a whole bunch of guys from Mickey’s floor who were wearing suits and they wouldn’t tell us where they were headed so now we think they’re probably spies. And then we finally got to the club and we got to see the super special backroom of the club because I had to go into the office to get my wallet. And then we were waiting at the bus stop and this like 20 something woman was like, are you waiting for the 8? Because it’s not coming for like 20 minutes and I know a quicker way. So we just like blindly followed this woman and we walked across the river, which is so pretty at night and the parliament buildings are all lit up. And then she started telling us about how she does European broadsword fighting, and we were like what? So she told us all about it, and it’s crazy because they wear full armour and the swords are actually sharp and stuff, not like fencing. And then she waited at the bus stop with us and made sure we got on the right bus, so thanks Mika the broadsword fighter. And then we wandered around the market downtown because Peter was determined to find Menchie’s and we found it and tried all the flavours of frozen yogurt, and then we walked over to the Parliament buildings, and the clock on the Peace Tower started chiming just as we were standing below it, which was so cool. And then we warmed up standing next to the fireplace that is also a fountain right in front of Parliament. Then we took the bus home and spent the ride talking to a chick I know from frosh who was dressed up like a League of Legends character with a blue wig and very little else.

We ended the night standing outside my building just laughing about the whole night. It was the weirdest first date ever, Mickey admitted, but that was why he liked it.

To be honest I hadn’t planned on dating at all this year. Guys are confusing and complicated and I just wanted to have fun in first year. Mickey isn’t confusing though, or complicated. He just makes me smile. I couldn’t stop smiling, even when I was sitting in my dorm room later that night. I don’t know what that means yet, but I’m trying not to over think it.

Pre-midterm madness

Midterms were last week and everyone on campus was kind of stressed the weekend before them. So they spent the weekend studying extra hard partying their faces off. I’m going to tell you a few stories about things that happened last weekend. Some of them happened to my friends. Some happened to friends of friends. Some happened to me. I’ll let you try to figure out which is which.

Someone saw two girls streaking at a football party and chased after them because they were honestly trying to help said girls. However, some police saw the chase and assumed the worst. They spent the night looking for the person chasing the girls, and this person spent the night hiding out and changing outfits so the cops wouldn’t find them.

Someone went to a club across the city with some people they didn’t know very well and couldn’t get in because the bouncer asked for two pieces of id when they only had one. Said “friends” went into the club without this person, and said person was stranded in a sketchy neighbourhood alone at 1am

Someone tried their first joint and grained out, spending the rest of the Friday night leaning over a toilet bowl

Someone overdid the drinking a little and woke up in the hospital with no shoes and a dead cellphone

Someone made out with someone else on their floor and woke up in the morning with said person in their bed, various pieces of furniture in their room knocked over, and some really obvious hickeys

I’m never going to admit which ones were me, but have fun guessing.