Day 4: Like a chicken with its head chopped off

Who knew there’d be so much to do before school even started? I’ve been running around all day long. And although I am running with some sort of purposeful direction for most of the time, there were several moments today when I found myself standing in the middle of an aisle with no idea what I was supposed to be looking for. How is it possible that I had to make yet another trip to South Keys? I think some of the Wal-Mart employees are starting to recognize me. I need to find a new mall!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. This morning, I exerted way more effort than necessary just to open one heavy eyelid and glance at the time. It was 8:55 a.m. With some internal struggling, I hauled myself out of bed (might as well start training myself to wake up at a more decent hour with the first day of school coming up soon). As I was trudging around the apartment in a zombie-like state, I heard banging on the door. My heavy eyelids shot open, and I’m pretty sure my eyebrows disappeared into my hairline. I’d forgotten that I’d agreed to meet up with Natalie to go to breakfast!

To be fair, I thought we were getting up at 9 a.m., not actually leaving at 9 a.m. I ran to the door in my pajamas and let Natalie in. I managed to throw on something vaguely respectable for the public eye (Call me old fashioned but I think it’s weird walking around campus in my pajamas. What if you see someone important? I’d like to at least be wearing something that’s not flannel.). We were heading for the caf in five minutes.

I know what you’re thinking. With that brand new kitchen and those well-stocked cupboards, you’re still going to the caf, Veronica? Why? Why would you bring that upon yourself? Well nosy people, let me just say I am a big fan of breakfast in the caf. That’s right. I said it. I enjoy caf food where breakfast is involved. I don’t care if their eggs come out of cartons instead of shells or if their juice is from concentrate. I like it. But then again, I love breakfast.

After breakfast, which was extremely satisfying (All the frosh were up at the crack of dawn for Beach Day so Natalie and I took advantage of a rare moment – no omelette line!), the real work began. I buckled down in my room and started making phone calls for my Charlatan story. I surprised myself and finished two of three interviews. It’s a good thing, I guess, that I decided to take a story before school starts. My interview skills are really rusty! I’m hoping I’ll be back up to snuff by the time the first journalism assignment comes around. But I must say, I miss that stressful adrenaline rush of trying to get a hold of people and getting a story done before the deadline. I’ll probably gain a few more white hairs, but it’s all worth it in the end when my name is in print for all to see!

By the time I emerged from my makeshift office (a.k.a. my room with the door shut), Natalie, Lindsay and Kitty were getting ready to go to South Keys. We were going to go together since everyone had errands to run. We hurried out to catch the O-Train (I got an added work out thanks to my absent-mindedness. I was planning on returning my clock radio and forgot to bring the receipt. Luckily I made it back in time to catch the same train). We all went our separate ways and so began two and a half hectic hours of running around.

I spent a good deal of time comparing clock radios at Future Shop and Wal-Mart, standing in the refund line, and wandering around in the Wal-Mart’s chaos that they try to pass off as organized aisles. It’s impossible to find anything in there! The employees sent me on wild goose chases and the lines looked like they’d never end. Every time I was in a hurry, I always found myself stuck plodding behind an old lady who likes to take one step every five minutes. I did manage to leave Wal-Mart with a brand new radio clock – this time equipped with a digital display for the radio (Whose brilliant idea was it to design radios with tiny bars labelled at regular intervals in minuscule digits so people can fiddle around with a temperamental tuner to listen to various pitches of static?). I suppose this can be categorized as a success. One less thing left on my To-Do list.

That was only the beginning. I didn’t think it was possible, but there was still so much I needed to pick up from South Keys. The highlight of the day? I got a free drink at Starbucks because the barista made a caramel frappuccino the wrong size. Oh dear, what ever shall we do with all this extra coffee lying around? I think this is a job for Super Thirsty Veronica! I swooped in and saved the day.

It was nearly 3 p.m. when the four of us regrouped at the O-Train station, everyone looking much more dishevelled than they did two hours earlier. We made our way back to school, freshened up (by which I mean we all changed into shorts and tank tops. It turns out Ottawa can have a summer. It was getting noticeably hotter, more humid and sunnier as the day wore on, leaving us all in a very attractive layer of sweat), and met up again to find an LCBO (or in my case, the Source or any other electronics store. Let’s just say I had other things on my mind instead of booze).

We stopped briefly at Billings Bridge, a nearby mall where we were hoping we’d be able to find everything we needed without having to go downtown. Unfortunately, Natalie and Kitty couldn’t make any hefty purchases at LCBO because the cashier lady saw all four of us talking together and Lindsay doesn’t turn 19 until November. Apparently that means no business transaction for us. Downtown, here we come!

Rideau Centre is probably the biggest mall in downtown Ottawa. This time Kitty and Natalie went to LCBO alone while Lindsay tagged along with me to the Source. I was hunting for a phone jack converter. There’s something funky going on with the landlines in our rooms. The shape of the phone jack is different. It’s flatter and wider. Normally I couldn’t care less if my phone jack decided to get a makeover, but I have phone interviews to conduct for the newspaper and I’d like to record them! My digital recorder has a little doohickey exactly for this purpose and I’d like to put it to good use.

Unfortunately, the Source failed me. Josh, the guy helping me did almost sell Lindsay the new iPhone, but he didn’t know about anything along the lines of a phone jack converter. Apparently I just have to plug it into a different shaped phone jack in the wall. Too bad my phone insists on fitting into the funky-shaped jack – a great big “Up yours, Veronica!” Ain’t life grand?

Kitty and Natalie had better luck. They both came out of the LCBO with bulging bags. With that, we hopped on the next bus to Carleton. We sat on that bus for what felt like years! Little advice: don’t underestimate rush hour in Ottawa. It may be a sleepy city, but they sure know how to make a traffic jam. I actually felt myself getting older as we inched our way back to school. It took almost an hour! We didn’t get back until 6 p.m. I was starving and so resulted in my first homemade dinner of the year!

A sandwich.

I know. It’s pretty amazing isn’t it? Hold your applause. This was a pretty great sandwich. There was melted cheese, roast beef, tender baby lettuce, and honey mustard – all held together between two crispy-on-the-outside-soft-and-warm-on-the-inside slices of honey-oat toast with a gherkin on the side. Behold my masterpiece, created with my own two hands! (Okay, so I stole the gherkin from Kitty, but other than that, behold the 100-percent-Veronica-made dinner. It’s fit for a king, assuming the king enjoys a good roast beef sandwich.)

Kitty made dinner too – boiled potatoes mixed with broccoli, onions and sausage smothered in melted cheese. I guess it’s pretty impressive. I mean she chopped and diced and boiled and sautéed . . . but it’s no sandwich!

It’s been another packed, busy day and my current situation stands thus:

  • I set up my new clock radio and am pretty happy with it so far.
  • I made tea in my thermos and it’s delicious . . . but in the process, I seem to have cracked the rim of my thermos. Time to get a new one? Oh my aching wallet!
  • Clouds have taken over the briefly sunny skies and we had some rather noisy thunder for a good half hour.
  • Kitty is practicing the violin. I can’t wait until she gets so into that instrument that she can’t help but play at 3 a.m. Then I can finally shout, “HOLMES!” just like Dr. Watson. Arthur Conan Doyle would be proud (as would my Sherlock Holmes finger puppet magnet stuck on our fridge).

If you think all of today’s craziness would make tomorrow more relaxing, you thought wrong! Tomorrow’s mission: Operation Book Buying. Doesn’t that sound fun? I foresee many wasted minutes standing in lines. Ah well, that’s life.

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