Ok, holdonasec. Maybe it would be best to start this over again. New and improved, with 10% more aimless rambling!
There are, I would think, certain things on this earth that would give a rational person pause... that would cause them to stop, and think, "Ya' know... maybe that isn't such a good idea, after all..."
One of these things would likely be the concept of loading a 15-year old economy car with a half a metric tonne of random crap and drive it 1000km over mountain roads. I mean, I'm just saying.
Of all the accusations that have been leveled at me over the years, I'd be hard-pressed to remember ever being called "a rational person." So, last week, with one eye in the stars and the other welded firmly shut, I proceeded to load half a metric tonne of random crap into...
Yay! I'm in Cowgary!
After eight stops to let the radiator cool down, 70 bucks in gas, 20 bucks of random other fluids, an oil change, 215 bucks to get the radiator repaired, one 15-km backtrack, 2 days of travelling, one cheap fleabag motel and many, many, many, many hills going 40 km/h in the cripple lane. Ten clicks out of Hope, I wouldn't have expected to have ever made it. Ten clicks out of Hope, I had visions of starslab giving up, dumping me and my belongings at the side of the Coquihalla, and roaring back off to Vancouver with a middle finger in the air: "So long, asshole!"
I wouldha' done it, if I were him.
Ok, no I wouldn't. But that's me.
Anyway, linking to the account from Starslab's point of view (understandably more focused on the car, which he initially thought was fux0red) saves me typing, and sundry redundancy of exposition.
So yeah, I'm in Cowgary. The place seems nice enough. After a marathon 15-hour bike-ride around town yesterday, including stops at at least 25 garage sales, it's even collecting enough junk (in addition to the half tonne of crap brought in Starslab's car), so as to be somewhat livable. A Wal-Mart (not just any crap, but cheap crap!) 5 mins' walk away helps too.
It's a basement suite, which for the moment is all mine. There are actually 3 bedrooms, but the other two planned occupants were no-shows. The landlady lives upstairs and pretty much keeps to herself. She's a student as well -- originally I had thought it would be a 4-student communal-type-of-deal, however it turns out she's much older (late 40s) and stays aloof. Ok, I can hack that. So long as the internet keeps running, anyhow.
So, what is there to recommend in Calgary? Well within a 10 minutes' walk radius of my place are the following:
- The university
- 4 malls, including:
- 3 bars (one of which has my 3 favourite beers on tap)
- 5 liquor stores
- one organic food store (I love just going in there and wandering around, smelling everything)
- 5 additional supermarkets
- 5000 "Now Hiring!" signs.
Aw bjyeah. Random Drunk Guy returns.
I'm not used to having such an abundance within such a short walk of home. At first I thought it was my proximity to the university, however my bike ride around town yesterday demonstrated that this is the norm pretty much everywhere within the city limits. Oh. Okay.
The city is, however, 90% Suburban Wasteland. Which is not entirely unexpected (this is, after all, Alberta, aka "America Wannabe"). But that doesn't bother me too much. I'll be spending most of my time on campus anyway. And besides, the C-Train station is only 8 mins' walk away, and the UpAss gives me a free ride downtown. To whatever is down there of interest. Theaters, mostly. I'm happy that, at least, Calgary has an interesting "alternative" (whatever the Hell that term means anymore) theater. 6 bux for students. I've already seen Northfork and Buffalo Soldiers. They were both most excellent, although different from each other, making comparaison difficult. The former was probably better than the latter, although it depends on your taste. I'm also contemplating seeing Capturing the Friedmans, which is currently playing. Spoiled for choice? Naw.
The Bow River (running right through most of the city, including the center) is really neat... it's fun walking or bike-riding along there. Nothing on so grand a scale as Stanley Park, but more accessible (a lot of Stanley Park being more-or-less wilderness). I think Calgary (at least the downtown areas) is more fun/interesting to walk around than Vancouver... however this opinion (as everything) must of course be tempered with the observation that it has not yet begun to snow. I quite suspect that that event will change things significantly.
I've noticed a large number of signs around proclaiming "This sidewalk closed Oct.15 through Apr.15. No Winter maintenance." The Oct.15 date leading me to conclude that I have slightly more than a month to enjoy the above-zero temperatures. It shall be interesting.
However, the city is of course built for it. Just as cities in the UAE are built for the heat; you just stay inside most of the time, where everything is airconditioned. 45 degrees in the UAE is infinitely more bearable than 35 in Vancouver. I'm anticipating the same principle being active here.
Calgary's famous (?) Plus-15 system (ever seen Waydowntown? filmed in Calgary) downtown connects all the buildings, such that there is no need to go outside for most of the day. A less-known, but similar system (and if anything, more extensive) connects all buildings on the UofC campus. Once I park my bike at the CCIT building, I can walk anywhere entirely indoors. And the campus is of significant size. It's over twice the size of Simon Fraser by population, and more than that in area... indeed almost that of UBC. The website lists 45-some odd buildings that I know are connected together. It can take a good 25 minutes (at a fair pace) to walk from one end to the other. Absolute Nirvana for a maze-o-phile like yours truly.
The bureaucracy I've found equally labyrinthine... but isn't that a given? And I was prepared for that anyway. I'm rather beginning to suspect, however, that challenging the courses I was planning on will turn out to have been an unattainable fantasy.
Not that I particularly mind... they'll be easy grades. But I've already gone through two years of easy grades. I'd like to actually start learning something new sometime soon! And I don't want to be an undergrad forever, grr. But we'll see. I have (yet another) meeting tomorrow with (yet another) advisor.
Plus ça change, plus ça reste le même.
Some things do change, however. The whole "boys and girls involved in flagrant acts of making out" still has me somewhat unnerved. And not a little uncomfortable. Mommy! I want to run away! Back to the UAE, where people behave properly and are kept at arms' length from each other by the guiding hand of the oh-so-benevolent authority!
After several hours of studious observation, though, I have come to the unescapable conclusion that Desi chicks are the cutest.
(aren't I a hypocrite?)
Not that I know any of them yet. Not, indeed, that I really know anyone here yet (passing acquaintances like the landlady aside). Which is not something that's ever bothered me much before, but I find it's starting to. This whole "moving to a new city every couple years" is starting to grind me down. With that in mind, I can't wait until classes start.
The other day I put up Mariam's poster on my wall... a poster made from a collage of pictures taken of friends at AUS. It's pinned to the wall above my computer. I've caught myself giving it more than just the occasional wistful stare. I can't wait to fucking graduate as fast as possible so I can get back there (who am I fooling? everyone will have their own life by then, quite separate from AUS... won't matter how fast I can bring about my return).
Yeah, well. It's quarter past one and if I continue, this will descend much too far into maudlin mediocrity. As if it hadn't already.
More to come...?