Monday, November 30, 2009

On why I love being a student

My communication theory professor is old. Probably 70. He is the sweetest man in the world and I want him to be my Grandpa. Today was our last class with him during this residency, though we'll be communicating with him during distance studies. It nearly broke my heart.

He is a man who knows theorists by their first names and silly qualities. "I know in pictures that this man never smiles, but he's hilarious," he'll say. "So-and-so doesn't really wear sunglasses all of the time, though I can see how you think he does." He told us his fanboy story about being recognized by one of his favourite theorists after writing his first book. He shared jokes and comics with us every day to make lectures more interesting.

But today he shared so much more. He told us about his experience attending Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous 1963 "I have a dream" speech. He told us about how exhausting the rallies were all day in the sun. He told us about how the air just changed and the audience was buzzing when Dr. King started talking. He choked back tears as he told us about the tall African-American man beside him who placed his sign on the ground, bent over it and "wept like a baby".

He told us about how he'd never told this story when he was teaching at Berkley or the University of Southern California. He told us that until teaching here, at Royal Roads, he never realized just how important that experience was to communications. His eyes were full of tears as he told us about his wife's cancer and the fact that any group he teaches could be his last.

We were blessed today. We have been blessed to know this incredible man. This man could be my grandparent but his world view is blown so wide open. He was a young, white man working to end racism in America. He was a young man who experienced a life-changing event that he still can't talk about without tears.

We gave him a standing ovation and he patted my shoulder as he passed by me. He gave Teresa and I hugs after class while telling us how much he appreciates his students, and how he hopes that even some of the knowledge he's gained in his life will help us through ours.

Today, I experienced the single greatest event of my academic career.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Get low, low, low, low, low, low, low

It only took a week and a half before there was a dance party.

A stressful day, fueled by APA style, caused our pub night to get interesting. It was one of those built-in stress relievers (and when you have 3 papers due, it's important to remember to be social), but the administration didn't realize just how much we needed it. Teresa and I walked home under the protection of our umbrellas, held arms, and jumped into the biggest puddle we could find. Laughter ensued. When we arrived back to residence, there was the faintest murmur of conversation coming from the lounge.

We opened the door to a few people drinking wine. As more people came home from the pub, we split up to our rooms to grab more wine and throw on our pajamas. One of the ladies brought her iPod dock, glasses of wine were poured and shared, and it became a full-fledged dance party. Bonds were cemented, love was declared, and security showed up to tell us they "Didn't see anything".

Two weeks in and it's hard to believe that there are only 6 days left. We won't be together (at least most of us) until next October. I'll miss the conversations about commas, grammar and APA style. I'll miss being told by other people how smart I am, especially after the dreamy writing professor made the class applaud me for knowing complex parts of speech. When surrounded by all of these intelligent people, it is easy to think that you're not worthy or special. Sometimes we all need to be reminded.

Even if it takes a dance party.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mass media and its impact on women

I had to share these paragraphs by Susan Douglas. I agree with her so completely; there's no other way to demonstrate than simply to give you the text. My brain doesn't really turn off these days and it might burn out.

..."We have become alienated from our own bodies. We have learned to despise the curves, bulges, stretch marks, and wrinkles that mean we've probably worked hard in and out of our homes, produced some fabulous children, enjoyed a good meal or two, tossed back a few drinks, laughed, cried, gotten sunburned more than once, endured countless indignities, and, in general, led pretty full and varied lives."

..."The mass media raised us, socialized us, entertained us, comforted us, deceived us, disciplined us, told us what we could do and told us what we couldn't. And they played a key role in turning each of us into not one woman but many women -- a pastiche of all the good women and bad women that came to us through the printing presses, projectors, and airwaves of America."

..."Most women take for granted their own conflicted relationships to the mass media. They assume they are the only ones who love and hate Vogue at the same time, the only ones riddled with internal contradictions about whether to be assertive or diplomatic, gentle or tough. And too many assume that such contradictory feelings are unusual, abnormal. They aren't."

Susan Douglas, Media: A Girl's Friend and Foe

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Castles and gardens and peacocks, oh my!

I took a break to walk around yesterday while it wasn't raining. I felt like I was walking around in the Secret Garden. They actually have walled gardens; there was so much to see I decided to leave them until next time. When I went to Western, I thought no campus could compare. However, Royal Roads is on a National Historic site.

See more on Flickr

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I'm kind of a nerd

I've learned that it's amazing in Victoria when the sun is shining and the rain stops; even if it's only for a few hours. I worry that I may literally wear my umbrella out.

I've learned about relationships. I've learned that being stuck in dorms with 50 people and a lot of wine will make you very close, very fast. I've learned that I use too many commas (really, I already knew that). I'm attempting to make semi-colons my friend.

I've learned that I would rather talk about grammar than theory. Being in a class with a professor who is passionate about grammar makes me very excited about sentence structure. I've learned that I don't care for APA style. I've learned that I know parts of speech better than most people in my class (thank you, pop quiz!).

I've learned that it's normal to sit in the check out line of the grocery store, looking through magazines to find the one with the best advertisements.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I didn't get to talk to my boyfriend today and it nearly killed me.

I went to eat sushi with two darling boys; one of which is gay, the other has been happily married for ten years. I drank wine and I studied. It feels like we've been on campus for weeks. There were six peacocks frolicking around the picnic tables and the rain let up for nearly a full day.

I love learning. I'm questioning my idea for a research paper only in that I think I may need to do a thesis instead. I love talking about communications and things we've done at work so they show a positive example to others. I love that my fabulous colleague (and boss) has so well prepared me for anything I could encounter here.

I get less sleep than I do back home. I go to bed hours later and wake up earlier.

I often find myself bringing those I love into my conversations. "Oh yes, the drive through Brooks is the smelliest drive ever. We do it whenever we drive to my boyfriend's parent's place in Cypress Hills."

I love school, but I didn't get to talk to my boyfriend today and it nearly killed me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New beginnings

I'm sitting in a dorm room with a light that is just not bright enough.

I was thankful to meet a fellow Edmontonian waiting in the line for a taxi to campus, it makes me feel less badly about ignoring the voices outside my door. I'd feel weird just opening it to join in the conversation. I'm terrified of new people -- they make me nervous.

I'm looking ahead to three weeks of school, ensuring my readings are done for tomorrow's class (don't want to get behind already), and thinking of the things I didn't bring and should have -- my CP style book, the alarm clock I've had since I was eight years old, and some more courage (perhaps in the form of wine). Somebody call the Wizard.

I have a date for breakfast, and I'll sleep cuddled up to the Boy's pillow.

These next three weeks may very well kill me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


We've been sick. We've been sick with what may or may not have been H1N1 (who are we to go to the doctor?). We're not dead. Even though we didn't get our vaccinations (how can we -- we're neither at-risk nor part of the Calgary Flames). Don't say I never shared anything with you, darling.

Instead of going out for dinner on our anniversary, we were cuddled up on the couch with dinner made at home and one of our many bottles of wine. I like it even better this way. Through my raspy voice and with the cough of an 80 year old chain smoker, we talked about how our lives have changed in the past year. In the past two years.

He used to just be "moon boots", the boy with the shiniest soccer shoes on the team. The boy who I never realized I had a huge crush on, even when everyone else apparently knew it -- including him. Truth be told, I'm not sure I noticed until that Halloween party when I was fixing his black eye with my purple eyeshadow, mere seconds before I kissed him. I was always pre-occupied with bad ideas for boyfriends.

I'm no longer a downtown dweller, and he no longer lives in a peach-hued bachelor pad. There is art on the walls. And plants. Lots of plants. Dinner has gone from being hastily thrown together for one, to being one of my favourite parts of the day. We drink a lot more wine (we took a class!). I've missed one Christmas with my family, and he'll miss his first one with his this year. We compromise.

I buy bus passes, and I get to see him everyday. Even though I am back to being a student. I play more video games. Way more. I watch and read more science fiction, even though the mere thought of Lord of the Rings still puts me to sleep. But it's a beautiful movie, he argues. I know! The scenery and the music gets me every time. Instead of him hanging out with his fave guy pal, we hang out with them as a couple. It's "we" instead of "I". Instead of going out for a night at the pub, we play board games.

We play less Rock Band than we did when we started dating, and we eat in more. We've found that we travel well together. He tries not to pout too much when I take far too many photos. He doesn't stop me from drunk dialing my long distance gal pals, and we remind each other to call our families. He let my baby sister move in. I take up too much closet space and the dust bunnies are winning. We've organized, and reorganized to attempt to fit all of our stuff into one place. We've combined our pasts, our possessions, our families and our future.

I used to think all that "He/she is my best friend!" stuff at weddings was garbage. It's so lame to replace your real best friend with your significant other. But I get it now. It's not like that at all. He's become the first person I tell everything to, good or bad. He calms me down and helps me celebrate. He supports my crazy ideas (like going back to school) and runs out before work to buy me cough medicine. He dances in the living room with me and doesn't argue too much when I make him sing when he plays me the guitar. He knows how to put up with me when I get angry. Though my girly best friend can't always be there, he can be. And he is.

And that's just lovely.