Archive for August, 2014


OCIs

This will be my 20th time starting school in September. And generally speaking, school years start out the same way: slowly. Septembers were designed for transitioning students out of summer mode so that they may be better prepared for the trials of October, November, and December.

Not this year though. This year the hell of December has visited me four months early in the form of OCIs. Also known as On Campus Interviews. Also known as the bane of my existence for the next five weeks.

Simply put, employers will be coming to Kingston to conduct interviews for next summer on October 6th. That in itself isn’t such a big deal. The problem is that applications for those positions were due on August 25th, which means that I spent far too much of this summer writing cover letters for next summer.

It was an absolutely maddening process. The only thing that stopped me from ripping my own hair out was the bitter realization that it’ll all fall out on its own someday soon.

In the end I applied for 19 different jobs. Some of them really interest me, and I’m genuinely eager to work in those places. Some of them I just applied to for the hell of it, and flat out lied about my genuine eagerness in my cover letters.

The heavy lifting is over now, but the stress has just begun. I worked harder on these applications than I’ve worked on anything in quite some time, but I have no idea how it’s going to go. Three years ago I’d be feeling confident right about now, but the nightmare I went through being rejected by a new law school every week last year has bled me of that feeling of invincibility and replaced it with the expectation of failure. What if none of the 19 places I applied to even want to interview me? What if only one does? That’s almost as bad.

On one hand, there’s no point stressing about it since there’s nothing I can do right now but wait.

On the other hand, it’s perfectly legitimate to stress because the result of this process could possibly determine my career direction for the next few years, and that’s a pretty big deal.

In the meantime, school starts up again in 33 hours. Exciting times ahead.

The Old Nuthouse

I spent the weekend before last in an all-too-familiar building: 89 Chestnut Street.

During the summer when most students are away, the building partially resumes its historical function as a hotel. At 100 dollars per night, it’s one of the most affordable hotels in downtown Toronto. It’s a steal, assuming you’re not looking for anything luxurious. Since both me and the fine woman I was staying with were former residents, we knew exactly what to expect from the place.

What I didn’t expect was how difficult it would be.

I figured we’d get in, reminisce a bit about old times, and then carry on with our lives as we would in any other hotel.

Instead, every memory from that one glorious year came flooding back all at once. And I couldn’t escape it. Everywhere I looked brought back something new. Every chair, every desk, every bed carried with them a hundred flashbacks. I really struggled to hold it together.

I’m not sure exactly why it was so difficult. These were good memories. These were the best memories I own. Revisiting them should have been pleasant, not painful.

It just felt wrong being there without the dozen or so people who gave me the greatest year I’ve ever had. Even though everything looked just like it did four years ago, it didn’t feel the same. Every time I turned around I half-expected to see a friendly face, but the only one in sight was the person who’d accompanied me.

The sheer emptiness of the hallways was a sharp contrast to 2010-2011, when you could count on there being a large group of people sitting in the hallway at any time of day or night. It served as another reminder that those days are gone forever.

Crazy at it sounds, I don’t think I’m completely at peace with that fact yet. I think it’s because nothing has ever filled the void left by the end of that glorious year. Floor 12 itself filled the void left by the end of high school’s Period Two Spare, and Period Two Spare in turn filled the void left by the end of elementary school’s lunchtimes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had plenty of good times between 2011 and now. But nothing has managed to fill that rather large gap yet. I haven’t found That One Special Thing again, yet.

Here’s hoping that this will be the year. It’d be nice to get to a place where I can pass by that building and enjoy the happy memories without being hit by an overwhelming feeling of loss.

Fallen Giants

Have you ever met a giant? You know, one of those three hundred foot tall things that you see stomping about on TV every now and then?

I haven’t been lucky enough to have done so myself. Personally I’ve never been very interested in giant affairs. To me it’s as if they exist in their own world. completely separate from the planet I inhabit. I’m aware of their existence and all, but they’ve never entered my life in any meaningful sense.

A lot of people love giants though. They get to know the names and faces very well, and even go to the point of keeping themselves abreast of which giants are mating with which other giants.

There’s just something magical about them, isn’t there? Even I know that. Perhaps it’s just me, but the thing that strikes me most when I see them on TV  is the air of invincibility that they all seem to strut around with; like nothing could ever harm them. And why not? They’re three hundred feet tall after all. It’s only natural to look up at them and think “What could possibly trouble a creature of that size?”

The thing is, they’re not invincible. And things can harm them.

Occasionally these giants fall, and when they do the entire globe shakes. It’s almost always a shocking event because no one can imagine these beings as mortal. All of social media goes into hysterics. People who have never met the giant send messages of sympathy out into the nether of the Internet at a blinding rate.

Often, I just shrug. Either I’ve never heard the giant’s name before, or they’ve simply made no more of an emotional impact on me than a stranger walking down the street.

But today I can’t simply shrug, because today the giant that fell was named Robin Williams. That was his name anyhow, but I knew him as the Genie, and as the inventor of Flubber, and as Mrs. Doubtfire, and as O Captain My Captain. He wasn’t an active part of my consciousness, but he was one of those figures who I just expected to always be around in one form or another. It just seemed to me that this three hundred foot tall giant was invincible, and would easily outlive all of our grandchildren.

Of course, all that is just an illusion. He was just as mortal as any of us, and despite his stature he was tortured by demons beyond our comprehension. I’m shocked, and I’m saddened, and I can only hope that he’s in a better place than he was here.