Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Different Kind of Dinner

He asked me to meet him for dinner. That was something people did—met friends after class, for lunch, dinner, whatever. But this, this felt different.

            Because he wasn’t one of the girls from my English courses or my frosh group or my dance club. Because he was from the same hometown as me. Because he had nice blonde hair and he seemed smart. Because he had called me smart in class.

            From the moment he asked, my brain couldn’t stop playing with the idea. What did it mean? Why was he asking? Was he aware that he was a boy and I was girl? Did that matter? What was going on here? Why, just why? And why was I so freaked out by it? It probably meant nothing. Less than nothing. A friendly meal. Maybe his friends were all busy that night. Maybe he didn’t have any friends. At best, all I could be was a nice person to chat with. At worst, I was someone to sit with so he didn’t look like a loser for eating alone.

            Don’t overreact, I kept telling myself. He’s just being friendly. He wants to be your friend. Who are you kidding, thinking it could be anything more than that, anything at all? He was just a guy, asking a question. Don’t blow it out of proportion, I thought. Don’t get your hopes up, I repeated again and again and again.

            I kept moving through my day. Finished a reading, emailed a few friends back home. Thought about him. Went to my next class, pulled out my binder, waved at my friend. Thought about him. Listened to a student presentation. Drew a picture of a flower in my notebook. Thought about him.

            I had thought about him so much, and had tried so hard not to think about him, that I knew I would be nervous to actually talk to him. I knew I would check the mirror before I headed out, brush my hair twice just to make sure.

            He wasn’t there, when I got there. Figures. All this thinking, and ridiculous fantasizing, and he doesn’t even show up. This wasn’t the best; it wasn’t even the worst. It was less than those things. Less. Than. Nothing. What was I thinking? Stuff like that doesn’t happen to girls like me. Guys don’t talk to girls like me. Unless they need help with their homework.

            This is okay, I thought. Good. I don’t have to be nervous. I’m fine eating alone. I’ve done it before, and I’ll certainly do it again. Just a typical night. Get over it.

            I grabbed pasta, I grabbed pizza, I grabbed salad. Whatever I could find. Fork. Knife. I filled my glass with lemonade—my special treat for nights when I have to eat by myself. I balanced my plate, my cutlery, and my drink, and turned around to look for a seat.

            And he was there.

            And he smiled.

           I smiled back.

           He motioned to a table.

           I sat.
           I was no longer capable of complex thought. Simple actions were my limit now.

           I don’t remember who spoke first or what they spoke about. I was too busy trying to get myself together. Stop myself from falling apart.

            But I do remember something he said later on. He must’ve said a bunch of words around it. Context. Meaning. But my crazy, crazy brain captured one snippet, instantly crystallizing it.

            “You’re cute.”

            Me. Girl. Cute. Me. Cute. Girl.


            He said a bunch of other stuff. I said some stuff too. My friends showed up. We left.

            “See you in class on Wednesday,” I said, trying to be nice. Careful.

            I don’t know what just happened, I thought, trying to make sense of everything. Anything.

            That night, I couldn’t sleep. Once again, my mind was playing with moments. Turning them over and over in my head. Remembering the cute comment. Remembering how he had said I looked good, that I was skinny. Not in an offensive way. But in a way that told me he had been looking at me. In that way.  In that different way.

            Maybe it was different. I still don’t know. Maybe I’ll find out when I see him in class tomorrow.

            But I do know one thing. Now I’m different. I’m a girl who guys actually notice. I’m a girl worth noticing.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Too Fake, Too Fast

It feels fake.

The past doesn't feel real. Without the pictures and phone calls, I would barely believe it ever happened. It feels so surreal. I had a life before this? Who was I? It feels like my whole past, my whole history, is just gone. Only when I talk to someone from home or come across some momento do I think "hey, wow, I used to be somebody." That world, that past, is so entirely different than my present world, that it makes it feel like it never even happened. I know, it sounds crazy. But I feel like I have always lived here, lived like this.

At the same time, everything here feels just as fake. Everything I'm doing here, doesn't make sense, doesn't connect with anything I did before.

At home, there's always people to remind you who you are. Here, there's only me. And that one voice isn't strong enough to do the job all on its own. I'm getting lost. I'm losing myself.

I like it here. I like the life I'm living, the friends I'm making, the future I'm planning. I'm just having a hard time reconciling it all. I had a rigid routine, a well drawn image of who I was and what my life was. Here, none of the rules apply. Nothing seems familiar. Everything has changed, and my brain is struggling to keep up.


I am painfully, ridiculously shy. But I can't be that way all the time, otherwise I wouldn't be able to function in society. So, as a result, I've developed different versions of myself. There's me when I'm "off", completely comfortable, not stressed, just being, not thinking. Than there's me when I'm "on", always working, always trying, always almost stressed to the max. All week, I've been running on "on". Today made me realize I had run down to empty. I needed some alone time to recharge. To make sense of everything. To make sure everything was real. To look through pictures and talk to people and remember that I do have a past. To remember who I am.

I'm trying to find a compromise. Between the past and present. Between home and here. Between "on" and "off".

I'm trying. But it's hard. There's a lot to take in.

Sometimes, I just like to sit next to the open window and listen to the cars drive by. It sounds just like the city.


Sometimes, I like to sit and eat alone. It feels just like high school.


I'm trying to experience new things, new people, new places. But I'm tired. Trying is tiring. Exhausting. Confusing.

There's a song by Great Big Sea called "Fast As I Can." I've found the lyrics very comforting the last few days.

"I'm going fast as I can, please don't make me rush, this feeling's coming on way too fast." 


In college, you're supposed to reinvent yourself. I just want to find myself again. I want to find what's real. To find a reality where I feel comfortable, on and off. Where I can be myself. Never mind reinventing. It's hard enough holding onto to what was already there.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Familiar vs. Foreign

All I want right now is a baked potato with butter. And sausages. And pink lemonade.

I fantasize about this meal as I fall asleep at night. I long for it at the school dining hall. In this new world, where everything is so unfamiliar and unknown, I long for one thing that I'm guaranteed to enjoy. I long for one thing that's the same.

It's officially been one week since I started university. Seven days. I know this because I made a promise to myself that I would not judge the school, that I would not judge my new life, for seven days. Well, here I am.

I think the biggest thing I'm having trouble with is culture shock. All the summer, I spent so much time trying to anticipate and prevent the predictable problems I'd face at school--homesickness, a new academic environment, loneliness, etc. But I didn't anticipate the cultural differences, big and small, and I certainly had no idea how much they would bother me.

I'm from Toronto, Ontario. My new school is in Quebec. As anyone who lives in Canada would know, Quebec is very different from the rest of the country. It wants to be different! In fact, many people here want to separate from Canada entirely. Not to mention the fact that the Quebec region was mostly influenced by the French, meaning that people speak French, and have developed their own, unique French/Quebecois culture. I was aware of the french thing. I had a vague awareness of the cultural thing, but until this week I really had no idea what it was really like.

Before I go all out describing all I've seen and all I've survived this week, I want to issue a very clear disclaimer. I understand that what I am experiencing is only one university campus, in one region of Quebec. I do not want to generalize or stereotype or anything like that. Also, I acknowledge that what I am seeing is almost certainly heightened since this a group of university students. Maybe they are this crazy everywhere.

First and foremost, there's the drinking thing. In Ontario, the drinking age is nineteen. Teens can get their hands on it before that, and I guess they do, but not in my group of friends. In Quebec, the age is eighteen, and from what I've seen and heard, it's much more accepted to drink before that. Back in Ontario, drinking is an illegal thing a few of my friends have done a handful of times. Here, it is a legal thing people celebrate, encourage even. For me, that is very weird. I don't drink. Never have, never will. That has already been a challenge for me and will continue to be a challenge for me. But it seems a lot harder here, where alcohol is so popular. Where people chant and cheer and actually change the words of the school song to incorporate drinking and drugs. At home, this thing was hidden. Now it's huge.

Another thing that was hidden back home was sex. I mean, I had a sex ed class, of course. And my friends and I would discuss sex and make jokes about it and stuff. But it was theoretical. Here, it's not. It's a real, tangible thing. I was sitting in this giant theatre with the rest of the first year class, and they actually started chanting "WE LOVE SEX! WE LOVE SEX!" Um, what? That would, never, and I mean, never happen back home.

Also, there's all the school spirit. I said they cheered about drinking, drugs, and sex. Well, they also cheer about everything else. Frosh week judges. Individual people who walk by. The school mascot. The school. Charity. Frosh week. I swear, they will cheer for anything or anyone, anytime. They have an endless amount of school spirit. Me, not so much. My high school was not ra ra like this. They once forced us to go to a pep rally. Everyone left the minute the mandatory time was up.

Finally, there is the issue of french. And I really do mean issue. Problem. This is an english speaking university. But a lot of the students come from Quebec, and most of them speak french. Fine. The issue I've been having is the way they speak french and when they speak french. I'll be having a conversation with people, when they'll just break into french. Suddenly, I'm shut out. I mean, I took french for ten years. I know some. I can understand a lot. But it's sure hard. Isolating. And, can I say, rude? Also, it just makes everything feel more foreign, like everyone else is in on some special secret that I don't know. Like I'm a failure or an idiot for not being fluent.

I started off with a post about problems. Maybe I shouldn't have done that. Maybe I should have focused on the positive things. The new, exciting classes. The new people. But maybe I needed this. I don't have anyone else to talk to about it. They're all from Quebec.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Big Question

I started this blog without any real plan. I wasn't completely sure what I was going to write about. I didn't know how often I'd write or for how long. All I had was a goal--to record my teenage years.

Well, now, those years are basically over. I'm moving on, moving up, moving away. I have achieved my goal--what do I do now?

I am trying to think of a plan. Which is why I am turning to you, the great followers of my blog and the amazing readers of my posts. I need your help. I need your advice.

I have one simple question for you:

How can I improve this blog?

Any and every answer will be appreciated. Any suggestion, comment, or piece of constructive criticism, big or small. I need to know where this blog stands. I need ideas on how to expand it. I need anything and everything you can give me.

I have some questions to guide you, if you want:

1) Should I write about my experiences in university? Would those interest people?
2) Should I write about tv? I don't get many comments on those posts...
3) Should I write book reviews? Doesn't everybody else do that already?
4) Is there anything else I should post on? Any good post(s) I should repeat/continue? Or any bad posts I should stop?

As soon as I receive some answers, I will make my plan. I'm going to continue blogging, in some way, that I know. I love it too much to quit. But I've been busy the last couple weeks. And I know I'll be busy with school stuff in the coming weeks. So, I want to get it in order while I can. I want to make a plan, get organized. I want to get writing again!

Thank you, in advance, to anyone who comments.

I'm Ready

I'm ready to go. But I'm not ready to leave.

There are so many things I'm going to miss--my cat, my bed, my room, my house, my street, my city.

But those things will all be here when I get back. The people, though, they'll be gone. Or, we'll be gone. Either they'll change or I'll change or our relationship will change. Sure, we'll see each other and write each other and talk to each other. But we'll probably never be as close as we are at this moment. We probably won't live in the same city ever again. Our lives will never be as connected as they are now. We'll never know each other in the same way.

I love these people and as ready and eager as I am to leave and move forward and LIVE, I am not ready to leave them. I can't stand the thought of losing them. How can I LIVE without the people who make up my life?

First, there's my class, as a whole, all seventeen of us, together. A, who is outrageous and so, so funny. S, who is so insanely smart. Everyone. Playing flip cup together. Surviving exams together. Going to Cuba together. I love this group and I hope they all go on to do great things.

Then I have M. She's very smart. Smarter than me in many subjects. Very determined. She works very hard. And she's also incredibly clever and insanely funny. She's unique. She stands up for herself. She's just her, no apologies.

Then there's T. An individual, if there ever was one. She has passion. Creativity. Focus. Her interests range from comic books to quilting, dancing to friendship bracelets. She's always interesting to talk to.

As always, there's S. I've loved her, I've hated her, I've needed her, I've avoided her. But she's always been there. Through it all. I find our friendship interesting. She's known me longer than any of my other friends. She's known me at times and in ways that no one else has. She is fun. She is really good at math and chemistry. She's great to talk to.

Then there's F. My best friend. One of the best people I know.

We met in ninth grade. Became friends in tenth grade spanish. She spoke it better; I studied harder. She finished the semester 2% higher than me. I finished the semester with the friend I had always been looking for, the friend I had been missing for so long.

F is smart. She is insightful. She's hilarious. She's confident. She's so incredibly nice and kind.

She loves Harry Potter (Fred and George are her favourites). She hates nothing, not even badly written books, boring movies, or bad people. She sees the best in everything. She loves to memorize trivia. She knows everything about Greek mythology, Narnia, and the Lord of the Rings. She loves Johnny Depp for some ungodly reason. She loves to play the Kevin Bacon game with me.

F is special. Special to me. I feel comfortable with her. Like I can almost fully be myself around her, uncensored. I can tell her when I'm feeling too anxious or awkward about something. I can tell her if I don't like her food or her dog or her art. I can just be. I think she may be the only friend I've ever had like that.

And finally I have my dad. My best everything.

He loves basically every sport--hockey, basketball, volleyball, tennis, ultimate frisbee. He's a really great runner. He loves to watch sports too, especially when Tiger Woods is playing. He reads a lot of non-fiction. He wants to do a triathlon. He wants to travel around the world. He likes Coke, Vanilla Coke, Cherry Coke, and his dog Maddie.

He is very smart. He is funny. He is a hard worker. He has a bad temper. He is so helpful. He has a hard time apologizing to people. He is always so awesome to spend time with.

These are the people who make up my world, as it is now. I have one day left with them, and then I have to leave, even if I'm ready or not. That's sad. That's scary.

But you know what's exciting? That I'm ready to go and find new people to make up a new world. That I'm ready to LIVE.

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