May 3rd, 2007


party in Lawrencetown + program in Church Point

Last weekend, Adam had this rockin’ party out in Lawrencetown, to celebrate his going away to Texas with Kurtis and Peter to, in Kurtis’ words, “sell pesticides to those stupid Americans.” (Kurtis assures me he is kidding. It had become a running joke that I didn’t understand he was kidding.)

Adam’s party was off the hook. SMUDS-wise, it was pretty quiet – although Shawn phoned in from Miramichi, for a while it was just Sam, Rayleen, Brittany, and me – we met at the Dairy Queen in the rain, grabbed a 14, and only an hour later we were at the Colby Village Superstore waiting for Adam’s brother Aaron and Adam’s girlfriend Megan to pick us up. (Adam’s house is a good 45-minute walk off the nearest bus route. Getting picked up made things 1000x easier.)

We had a fine time (Facebook photos: Sam’s (very good!), mine (fewer, and mostly from later on in the night)), and even after Alex left with the SMUDS girls I was able to maintain the momentum and make a few new and very cool friends.

There was an incident with Megan’s ice cream cake that ultimately required the cleaning of the garage, and I must take some responsibility for that because it was around 1:30am or so during a card / drinking game that I made mention to her about the cake, because I was hungry and curious for a piece. Depending on your point of view, it was either extremely amusing or extremely horrible. Tip: Drunk people and soft-serve ice cream cake don’t mix. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but in the end poor Megan didn’t even get to have a piece after all the shenanigans and subsequent consumption.

Some of the guys slept on the bed of their pick-up (equipped with a tent), and Adam got me well set up indoors. Adam’s parents even fed us in the morning, and they drove me to Highfield Terminal in time to catch the 87 to Sackville. Great times, great friends, great hospitality. Thanks again!

But I told you that story to tell you this one:

During the party, Britt and Abbey were chatting about Explore, a federally-funded second-language program for youth that they had both participated in. This hit me like a ton of bricks, as I had foolishly passed on a chance to apply – although, to be fair to myself, I was in a situation where I had to pick either the summer camp videographer job or Explore, and like we often do when we’re confronted with two paths, I chose neither.

So it took me a few minutes to regain my composure and not commit the serious error of falling into a funk during a party (I’ll tell you from experience that it’s nowheresville). And once I did, it was clear sailing.

Fast-forward to yesterday. Since I had nothing to lose, I picked up the idea of calling the provincial Explore coordinator and asking if there were any openings, even though the deadline for applying was February 28th.

I guess it never hurts to ask, because early this afternoon I got a phone call – Kathleen tells me that yes, there are a few places left at Université Saint-Anne! But time is of the essence. The program begins May 13th, and could I have the application papers in by today? Sure. I get rolling, step quickly down to the bus stop, and go into town and get my paperwork done – in my tear through the library I saw Victoria but didn’t really have a chance to chat with her (sorry, Victoria! =( and then I tore across town, made it to the office 15 minutes before it closed, and everything’s in order, and she fires everything off to Sainte-Anne, and that’s that.

It does seem like a small thing, but it was something that I would have regretted for years if I’d missed out on it, and it was a huge satisfaction to nip it in the bud. (Of course, the actual work of learning to converse in French is still to come, and I’ve got to make the very most of this opportunity.) I asked Mom this afternoon if putting me in French immersion had ever been an option, and she said it was – but I didn’t want it! She imitated me whining before Grade 7 (when late-start immersion would have been an option), “But I don’t waaaannt to learn French!” with alarming tonal accuracy. I guess my memory concerning this and other educational decisions of my childhood is somewhat selective. =) I was only interested in playing and not interested at all in any actual work or effort. I didn’t know back then that I’d be paying dearly for it now.

Walking with a skip in my step, I found and took the 80 back to Bedford and on the way I saw Josh, and we had a great chat! I should have went to the library first (I need to pick up some French learning materials so that I won’t be a total n00b when I go up to Church Point), and I should have taken the 33 or 86 home (it would have been faster), but the 80 allowed me to treat myself to a bag of Nibs before walking home.

OH! The Wings score with 33 seconds left! ROCK!! I’m not sure who to root for in this series (San Jose is pretty awesome, too), but everyone loves overtime. Tip: If you’re in the opposing zone in an empty-net situation, take the puck deep and kill time, don’t go for the “easy” goal unless you’re clear of opponents.

At any rate, this opportunity gives me a lot of things to think about. How will it go? Je ne sais pas*. Will I learn any French? J'espère. (Thanks, Josh!) Will I make any friends? Probablement. Non, certainement! It’s vital that I throw myself into this experience completely, as I will never again have the opportunity to learn French so cheaply yet effectively. (I wanted to do this program last year, but a condition of the funding is that you are enrolled full-time in a high school, university, or public college during the preceding academic year.) In order to get the most out of it, there are some logistical issues that will need to be addressed, and I’ll be detailing those in a later post.

* - I have a feeling that this will be a “go-to” phrase… something like that handy “Я не розумию.”

And… for icing on the cake, there’s even a – Oh boy, Detroit just won… good, Anaheim will have lots of time to rest after they finish whomping Vancouver**… =) – there’s a special branch of Young Canada Works for offering job placements to graduating Explore participants. Of course, I might not be deemed eligible for a lot of things since I’ll be leaving here in September (even if I don’t get accepted to UBC for Education), but you never know!

** - I hope it will be otherwise, but man, did they ever blow it last night, or what?

It really feels good to have one – wait, two! fewer things to worry about. Yes, there are six other things one the list that are mostly unaddressed, excepting some brief experiences in my childhood. But one has to start somewhere.

The List:
- Improve in French and stick to it
- Learn Gaelic and stick to it
- Take up an instrument and stick to it
- Learn to sing properly and stick to it
- Study mathematics at the university level and stick to it
- Learn an object-oriented programming language and stick to it
- Write (not just blog) and stick to it
- Get my Honours degree

Compared to these objectives, everything else seems like a means to an end. Oh, sure, there are other objectives like “house, car, girlfriend, family, see Easter Island” but they go without saying! =) If I’m going to be a “man of many hats,” as my cousin’s husband once put it, I’ve got my work cut out for me. Wish me luck.

Your Pal,
~ Will

PS: Kathleen wants me to tell friends that there are still one or two spots left at Sainte-Anne. Leave her a message if you're interested: go to this page, hit the coordinator link, and call the number for Nova Scotia. Don’t just act now, act yesterday. But if you’re in between things, went to school this year, and are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, and you’re interested in French, it could be just the thing for you!