Monthly Archives: January 2010

Here’s a question for you:

How much should professors present their own belief systems and practices to their classes of eager English students?

How much should they keep their judgments of political decisions and situations to themselves?

How much should they share a religious message that is related but not fully contained in the texts on which they teach?

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Shinny anyone?

Last night, for the first time in my life, I held a hockey stick.

No, I’m not joking. And I’m not exaggerating. I’m completely serious.

What kind of 22-year-old, born-and-raised Canadian has never held a hockey stick in her life, let alone hit a puck with the thing?

Oh, right. A 22-year-old, born-and-raised Canadian that has always professed to disliking the sport profusely and who has always been disgruntled that, somehow, the definition of Canada is, well, hockey.

I’m still disgruntled that the definition of Canada is hockey. That’s a stupid way to define a country and a people. I stand by my earlier statements that you are still a perfectly good Canadian even if you don’t like hockey. But, you know what? I retract the statement that I dislike the sport profusely. In fact, I’ll even say there’s something incredibly exhilerating about the whole thing. I think it’s the sounds, actually. Skates on ice, sticks on ice, the voices of the players, the puck ricocheting off the garbage can next to the outdoor rink, the solid plunk of the puck against a stick.

Throughout the city I live in, there are small outdoor rinks, lit, thankfully. Last night, M, his roommates and myself loaded skates and hockey equipment into one of their cars and went to one, hidden away down a dead-end road at the end of a slightly obscure path. There was another small group of three there, experienced players, or at least more so than myself. The guys had their skates on in a matter of minutes. My own skates, being the wrong colour and style (white, not black, with laces all the way up and the pretty look of dancing on ice — that’s right. I handled a puck with a hockey stick in figure skates) took about 15 minutes to get into. It doesn’t help that they haven’t been worn in nearly two years and were stiff and unmanageable. And then, I sat feeling intimidated. The six people on the ice whipped around spraying a thin shimmer into the air. The six pucks flew from one side to the other as they practiced passing and shooting. I could see no where I belonged with my shiny, white, rusty skates and my potential to land flat on my butt the moment I stepped out onto the ice. Making a fool of myself in front of M and his roommates, all whom I know well and trust, was one thing; making a fool of myself in front of these strangers was quite another.

But I couldn’t sit on the sidelines either. Weighing my options I realized I would be far more of a fool if I sat like an idiot on the bench for the next half hour until the three strangers left.

It was like walking when I first stepped out. My skates had been stored improperly the last time I used them and rust had built up on the blades. But it got better, and with each turn around the rink, I gained a little confidence on my blades. Finally, I was ready to hold the stick. It didn’t help that the guys kept trying to hit my feet with pucks in what I guess they thought was encouragement.

I’m lucky to have met M and his roommates. They’re patient. Willing to let me fail, perhaps, as long as I keep trying. They gave me a few basics and then kept shooting pucks at me. And I kept, clumsily, shooting back. Half an hour later, M said I was better. And, I’ll admit, I could tell. It doesn’t take long for the stick to feel more comfortable in your hands. It doesn’t take long for your feet to adjust to gliding instead of walking. The hardest part is putting those two things together.

By the end of the winter, I hope I’ll be better. I hope at least to have an understanding of what it is about the sport that has so captivated the people who play. I think I’m on my way to that.

(However, the hour it took to warm up afterwards hindered that just a touch.)

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Return to normal

I’m back in school for my final term. It’s going to be a bit of a weird term.

First of all, I usually pride myself in having difficult terms. I take classes that I think sound interesting and challenging, but might require a lot of work. I make academic situations out to be worse than they actually are. (Last term, which is shaping up to be one of my better terms, is a prime example.) I’ve learned to work well under pressure. But this term, I’m taking the pressure off. I’m easing up a bit and letting myself glide to the finish line.

I’m taking three courses instead of my usual five. All English because that is what I love and do best. Over my co-op terms, I took two distance ed courses, but never allowed any gaps to make up for them until now. When I realized I only needed three more courses to finish, I suddenly couldn’t bear the thought of taking anymore. It’s kind of funny, isn’t it? Someone who would refuse to drop a course after the swap date because she didn’t want to finish the term a credit short is suddenly only taking three courses!

Like I said, it’s going to be a weird term.

Instead of school work, I’m going to fill the semester up with other pursuits. More writing, (more blogging!), more drawing, maybe some painting, some squash playing, perhaps something fiddly like scrapbooking, and, of course, lots of thank you card making and resume sending. As long as I can accomplish these things, I don’t think I’ll feel like it’s all a cop-out.

And then, come May, the transition: wife, employee (hopefully…), partner in homemaking, and all the rest.

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