Saturday, November 30, 2013

Let Me Tell You A Story

I've started eleven separate blog entries in the past 45 days. Each began with something that struck me as funny, or a moment of enlightenment, or a thought provoking comment.

But they're all sitting unfinished in my blog queue.

I feel a bit paralyzed, I think. I've come to think that my blogs must be meaningful and influential and profound, and so when the words don't fit right on the screen, or if I feel like I'm just writing words I've said before, or that I've read somewhere else, I am frustrated. And that a precarious position to place yourself in.

Firstly, forgive my arrogance. How dare I take up an imaginary mantle that no one gave me to inspire and transform?! I felt that ego in the words I was writing. And they were ugly.

Secondly: I started this blog over two years ago because I wanted to tell stories. I wanted to keep my family and friends updated on my life, so we didn't feel so distant, so I could keep a record of my comings and goings. And I haven't done that in so long.

So today, I want to tell you stories.

I often ask people what their favourite memory is. It's a big question, and there often isn't just one. But I ask because it is so lovely to just reflect on some of the happiest moments of your life. I have a few moments of my life that, when I remember them, I grin. I laugh just as much as I did the first time. They just make me feel good.

Here are just a two of my favourite memories. You might not find them as funny or as magical or as meaningful as I do - I mean, you definitely won't - but I'd like to tell them anyway:


Jillian and Greg's New Deal

In my last semester at MUN, I took an American history course with my friend Nick. Nick and I had gone to high school together, and we also worked at the Writing Centre, and I would often call him to complain about essays (and then steal them the next day for inspiration), so we spent a lot of time together.

Nick is one of the most interesting people I have ever known. He had a massive, unruly, manly beard, wore plain t-shirts and jeans that were too big, and was quiet and uninvasive in every way. And he was brilliant: intelligent, funny, and kind. He truly brightened up what was an otherwise rough semester for me.

In our American history course, we had been talking about the New Deal. Our professor had been rambling on about it for weeks, and we had talked it to death. Nick and I were both in our last semesters of our degrees, and we were surrounded by a slew of first- and second-year history students, so we felt we had a solid grasp on this New Deal that everyone else was struggling with.

After our final class studying the New Deal, Nick and I were at the Writing Centre working. Nick was sitting quietly at the main desk, writing notes or some such, and ignoring me. I, naturally, was engaged in a heated discussion with another coworker, Greg. Greg was a Russian grad student who I found wildly entertaining because his conversation style was like a riddle. He could weave circles around me with wit and humour and intellect, and it was both infuriating and wonderful.

And while our conversation on this particular day wasn't noteworthy enough for me to remember, I do remember being increasingly frustrated with whatever argument we were having. And I remember I had reached a new level of shrillness, and Greg was talking faster and louder than usual, because our boss, one of the most trusting, gentle, and lovely ladies who ever lived, emerged from her office and emphatically asked us to keep it down.

Greg and I, both a tad ashamed at having been so unprofessional, apologized. As our boss left, Greg and I agreed to try and keep our friendly disagreements to a work-appropriate decibel. To seal our pact, we, standing on opposite sides of the entrance, shook hands. And as we did so, Nick, who had been sitting so silently and unaffected by the day's events, looked up and quietly christened this agreement "Jillian and Greg's New Deal."

To this day, I cannot hear New Deal without thinking of Nick. And whenever I remember this moment, I laugh as much as I did the first time. Which was so much that my boss had to ask me to keep it down. Again.


Goin' Up La Tour Eiffel, Now Da Once

My semester studying at MUN's Harlow campus was one of the best in my life. I have a lot of fantastic memories from that month abroad, and I could probably just classify those 30 days as my favourite memory.

But one of the moments that probably tops my list was about 20 days into our European adventure. Myself, my roommate and best bud Zaren, and two of our classmates, Kat and Phil, had taken our mid-term break to travel to Paris and Munich. By this time of the semester, though, I was pretty burned out. It was the longest I had ever been away from home and away from my family; I had spent every waking hour with the same 15 people for the past three weeks; and I had decided to take on my first European travel adventure with zero preparation. So I was feeling a lot of emotions, to say the least.

Myself and my three travel buddies had agreed to go up the the Eiffel Tower on our last night in the city, so we could see the lights of Paris at night. However, our whole day did not go as planned; we had to stand in line for hours to get into Versailles (which I had done no research on and didn't know why it was historically significant); Zaren and I got separated from Kat and Phil, got lost from our tour group, and, in a moment of exhaustion, heat stroke, and panic, went to a McDonalds to get macaroons and the smallest coffee known to man. After finding our friends, we made it back to Paris, where we couldn't find unflavoured water if our life depended on it. Zaren and I explored the city a bit on our own before meeting up again with our friends for supper, except we had somehow miscommunicated the time, or they had trouble with trains, or something - I can't remember at this point - so we ended up eating much later than we had originally planned.

By the time we made it to the tower, I was exhausted and grumpy. While Zaren and I were waiting in line on the first level of the tower to go to the very top tier, I was in a stupor. Until, in a stroke of brilliance, Zaren suggested we put on our ridiculously bold touristy t-shirts we had just purchased - mine: a hot pink with a neon pink embroidered Eiffel Tower all down the front, and Zaren's: a black baby tee with bows on the sleeves and "Paris" in metallic rainbow colours splashed across her chest.

And we started giggling. And then we started channeling Mary Walsh and Cathy Jones from the CODCO days, and adopted these outlandish Newfoundland accents, and started making up stories about ourselves and the people in our Harlow class.

And we were on fire. We were cackling at ourselves. And I don't remember a specific thing we said, except that everything we said was funnier than before, and we were laughing and laughing and laughing. We laughed so much that my face ached and my stomach ached and the people around us had no idea what was happening. But we were crying and laughing, and then, unexpectedly, the tower did its thing where it lights up and flickers and flashes and looks incredible.

And I was laughing with my best friend in Paris on the Eiffel Tower while it glittered like stars, and it was one of those surreal times when you realize: this is one of the best moments of my life.


If you made it through this 1500+ word essay, thank you! Writing this has done me a world of good.

-Jillz
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Current book: Hyperbole and a Half - Allie Brosh
Current TV series: Portlandia (sort of; I'm not really committed)
Current nail colour: "St. James Street" - Nails Inc.

2 comments:

heidster said...

Stories are the way Jillz. Everyone will make it to the end.

Rola Chater said...

Your account of this life experience e is enamoring. It made me feel like going back to school and take a few short courses - to feel academe-ish again.

-- Ro of write my essay