Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Second-Floor Office

This story takes place several years ago. It was the year 2007, and it was Winter. What was funny about the winter of 2007 was the lack of any snow on the ground until March of that year.


One weekend, I was playing a sport called football in the fields north of Sir Robert Borden High School. We were playing in those fields because they were located in the general neighborhood my father, uncles, and friends had grown up in, and Robert Borden had been their high school (which most of my cousins currently attend, like their fathers before them).
It was a very windy day that Sunday. The game was filled with action and contact, and I'd even managed to get myself a touchdown, something I rarely, if ever, accomplish in sports. I still don't know how I managed to get past my eldest uncle on that run.


On Sunday night, when I was back at home with my mother, I'd come to realize something really unfortunate. Due the rough playing, my keys were no longer in my pocket. They were probably somewhere in the grass of the expansive fields north of the high school.


Now here comes the better part of the story. Eventually it became known that my house keys were found and dropped off at the Robert Borden main office. My cousin Olesia, then in grade 11, attempted to retrieve them, but lacking any knowledge of what they looked like as the office had several in their care, the keys remained there.


It gets more exciting. Soon came the day for me to get them myself. My grandpa drove me to the school, which, incidentally, is located on the same road my backyard backs onto, but around 12 kilometres too far north, and I for the first time entered the building my father, uncles, and current cousins all attended. I'd point out that I'm the only lone cousin who was the first to go to a different high school (Merivale) instead of follow, literally, in my father's footsteps. 


Walking into their main foyer, I almost collapsed. It seemed that their foyer had a sunken-in floor surrounded by shallow steps, for whatever reason I could not figure out. Walking around this floor pit, I came to this hallway that consisted of odd rows of lockers. I say 'odd' because the lockers weren't exactly in rows but arranged around each other in a sort of "U" shape, creating a kind of walk-in cove, bordered by lockers. What got me was how narrow they were. At Merivale the lockers had been at least five inches wider than what those lockers were.


My intention was to locate the main office, but there was no office in sight. Considering that I'd entered through the main entrance, I was baffled that there wasn't one off to the side, like there usually is. Most schools have their office right next to the main entrance. Not all of them do. Not even at Merivale - the office is in the eastern portion of the building, not next to the foyer. It's still in a major hallway though, and you can tell where it is from the outside.


But, as I expected the school to be like most schools, my bafflement is justified.


I continued, clueless, all the way until I came to what seemed to be a hallway that simply went around in a circle. I walked all the way around it, the saying "you're walking in circles" becoming quite true. I was going nowhere. What kind of floor plan was this anyway? Sunken floors right as you walk in, mindless circles at one end, an auditorium that seemed to resemble a wide hexagon on the other (at least it's what it looked like on the school map). I tried walking around the rectangle, which consisted of weigh rooms, but that got me nowhere as well. I didn't go near the gym. That would just be walking around in bigger rectangles.
Eventually, I did the same thing on the second floor, walking around mindlessly in circles and rectangles and parallelograms and trapezoids until I came to an open space. At the other end was what looked like an office.


Finally.


I walked in and inquired about the missing keys. Being able to point them out, I left the office feeling proud of myself. I'd found it - the big, quadrilateral, second-floor main office of Sir Robert Borden High School.


I met my grandpa back in the car with my retrieved keys and we drove back down to Barrhaven. For some reason he didn't ask why I took so long. Maybe he'd expected me not to know where I was going, even when I looked on the maps (on the first floor, the office was never listed on it, for obvious reasons). 


It taught me something: Be glad I was not going to Borden like all my cousins, and attending Merivale. While a lot of people complain that it's hard to figure the Merivale floor plan as well, it doesn't consist of wacky, unnecessary shapes built with flourish and confusion. It's just two simple rectangles with one building shaped like an "H" with a library in the middle. All the halls are straight and direct. The lockers are wider.


There's no sunken pit in the foyer. 


The only confusion I'd ever think anyone would have is the fact that the T wing enters into the A wing basement instead of the main hallway above it, like all the other entrances from the other buildings/wings.


Besides, my old school has a lot more features than Borden does - like additional basement gyms, a little theatre, and its own auto shop. What does Borden have? The grand old office of the school board to sit next door. That's great. It's like a reason for additional discipline, because the bigwigs are next door and the school has to look good, right? Oh, and the fun of running around in circles, hexagons, trapezoids, and many other quadrilaterals.


Justin C.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Guest Speaker

Remember in my last post I'd said that there's a first time for everything in life?


Today was my first time ever being a guest speaker of something.


Five years ago, during the month of September in the grand old year of 2005, I was invited to participate in this school club called "Book Blast." It was for grade nines and it was essentially a reading club. It was the first (and last) club I ever joined in my high school years. I was shorter back then. I had short hair. I hadn't yet realized I'd needed glasses. I had this thing with wearing a white turtleneck underneath all my shirts, its long sleeves and 'neck' protruding out of them.
It was kind of weird looking like that.


I remember the group photo of us taken with Chris Day, one of the correspondents on CJOH news, who'd been our major guest speaker of the day. It's in my grade nine yearbook. In fact I uploaded a cropped version of that photo including only me onto Flickr, looking exactly like I described myself above. The club ended in late September with a visit to Chapters in Pinecrest.


I write this prologue to build up to the fact that I was a guest speaker at the same club, today, at Longfields-Davidson Heights Secondary School.


It's five years later. It's April 2010. The librarian who'd ran the club at Merivale was now restarting the club at the new Barrhaven middle/high school hybrid, and being a good friend of theirs they'd invited me to be this week's guest speaker.


It was different. It was Wednesday, not Tuesday, it was the school's lunchtime instead of it being after school, and I was sitting in front of a bunch of younger students at tables arranged in a bright sunny open-concept library. When I was in the club when I was 14, we'd been reading this book called "Truth and Lies," in a darker, more closed in library seminar room, and they were now today reading something called "Egghead," in a much brighter open place.


It was great being in this position. I talked about myself, and at my friend the librarian's suggestion I talked a bit about AS. Then we read a couple of chapters with me reading it aloud. It was just like the old days when I was a young teen.


My intention was to take a couple of photos like we did back in the old days but that unfortunately did not come to fruition.


Afterwards I ended up meeting with some teacher friends I'd known back in high school. After I'd graduated, many teachers I'd known as friends had left, and many had come down here to Barrhaven. It's another cool thing about being here: That school is a four minute bike ride from my own house, and I can easily meet up with any of those teachers whenever. Today for instance I ended up having a conversation with E. Mochizuki in their cafeteria as it was their lunchtime, another one with D. Elliot, another close friend, and it ended with me watching J. Graham coach high jumping. I'm expecting some old photos from him.


All in all it was a good experience. I'll be going back there on Friday to witness the rugby coaching - I know K. Mellow will be there. Oh, and there's also Fred's lunch at Merivale that day...can't miss that. I've got the best of both schools, in a way. I don't go to either of them, yet I do. It's where the only people I call friends are.


Justin C.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Zone

When I was a young kid, the channel I primarily watched was YTV. That was the mid-late 1990s and early 2000s...between the ages of maybe 3 and about 11-12 (1994-2003). There used to be (or still is today) this programming block called "The Zone."


It's been a long time since I ever watched The Zone or even remember everything about it. It was today that I was hit with a big spell of nostalgia.


They were classic times. PJ Phil would host The Zone, with his companion, the talking television named 'Snit." Shows like Rugrats (my primary favorite), Pinky and the Brain, Groundling Marsh, Rocko's Modern Life, ReBoot, Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Big Comfy Couch, and (later) The Wild Thornberries and Rocket Power were all shows I used to watch after school or on weekends. It was always fun and seems historic now. You can't find anything like that on TV now.


What I really remember fondly were the graphics and interconnecting skits that YTV often employed between shows and/or commercials. There was a robot performing ballet; a skit advertising The Zone consisted of an old-style professor pointing out a diagram of the earth, and when he's about to point out the ozone layer, Phil (off screen) interrupts with the slogan "The Zone!" before he completes the word. He yells "who said that!?" before his head is zapped into a cartoon eyeball. Then Phil shows up armed with a magical ring on his finger:



Even the old commercials were good, better than today's ones. My mother recorded a videotape of over something like twenty Rugrats episodes back-to-back, and many of these graphics/commercials/skits ended up on them too.


With great enthusiasm I watched all this on YouTube today. It was a great thing to see again. A lot of it had been just an old, faded memory to me, and now it's fresh in my mind again. Our generation's TV shows were classic. The 90s were great for that. YTV used to be on channel 25. Nowadays it's all Anime, reality TV and stuff that doesn't seem nearly as good as it was back when we were young. My half-siblings watch YTV, just like I did at their age, except they're watching it a full generation ahead. In a way I feel a bit of pity for them; they weren't alive for the good stuff back in 1995 or around that time. I can still picture that girl from The Big Comfy Couch, dressed in orange coveralls and a purple hat, stretched out on a large clock on the floor, acting out the clock's hands to pass the time to the next segment. Or seeing Hanson perform "MMMBop" on The Hitlist, or those old "Don't you put it in your mouth" PSAs that ran around that time. There was even this old PSA where a tiny hippopotamus roams a kitchen at night, eating peanut butter, and the message was about asking children questions about whether what's on TV is actually real or not.


Those were the good old days. I kind of wish I could relive them. I've got my videotapes, still, and YouTube seems to have a great many stuff available. Today's cartoons aren't nearly as good as yesterday's. They're all controlled by Seth McFarlane, and they're all awful in my opinion. The Simpsons have lost any kind of reality - It's 2010. It's the year Lisa was supposed to almost marry a British guy as told in an episode from 1995. Their storylines just keep getting more unrealistic and different and unusual as the series progresses, making me loose sight of the original back stories/histories/timelines. Had the series been realistic, Bart would have been 31 this year and Lisa 29.


Anyway, it's just great to relive those old times. YouTube saved the day again. Remembering one's youth is always a great thing to do. It's refreshing.


Justin C.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Precious"

Have you ever virtually loved someone you couldn't see?
To take them for granted would violate the first decree
Have you ever found that they are the only person that suits you perfectly?
Have you ever believed that they can be your only ally?


Have you ever shared correspondence
With someone who was inviting, accepting, would always come to your defense
Someone who was mature, and had a deep personality
Someone who made all your wishes a reality


Well I'll tell you, and tell you urgently


People like that are precious, and not to be ignored
People like that you see once in a lifetime, they're almost like folklore
To take heed, and feel love, and find someone like that
To have them feel the same way, it's a perfect match
So don't miss your opportunity, or let it unfurl
They're all you've got in this cruel world


Deepness, intellect, and compassion
These days it's all out of fashion
When society today is full of lust
The kind of thing that's lacking in trust



Have you ever virtually loved someone you couldn't see?
To take them for granted would violate the first decree
Have you ever found that they are the only person that suits you perfectly?
Have you ever believed that they can be your only ally?



To share many things in common
To find being open and genuine full of ease
It's a one in a million kind of deal
Don't let that get away


Because deepness, intellect, and compassion
These days it's all out of fashion
When society today is full of lust
The kind of thing that's lacking in trust

Have you ever shared correspondence
With someone who was inviting, accepting, would always come to your defense
Someone who was mature, and had a deep personality
Someone who made all your wishes a reality

Well I'll tell you again, and tell you very urgently




People like that are precious, and not to be ignored
People like that you see once in a lifetime, they're almost like folklore
To take heed, and feel love, and find someone like that
To have them feel the same way, it's a perfect match
So don't miss your opportunity, or let it unfurl
They're all you've got in this cruel world

People like that are precious
People like that are the best you can find
-----

It's a song I made up, got the idea while thinking of someone greatly as I fell asleep.