Day 17 (Sept. 20): Welcome back, Parliament!

It’s official: Parliament is back in session! No more sleepless nights, nail-biting, and sitting on the edge of your seats. Or . . . if your name isn’t Michael Ignatieff or Jack Layton, your day was probably the same as any other.

Remember how I was swamped with an overloaded mountain of deadlines and research yesterday? Well I decided to tackle it head on today. I was up at 7:45 a.m., ready to catch me that worm. I had my laundry going by 8 a.m. and I’m proud to say I accomplished a fair bit. Here’s the bragging list. I think I’ll call it

What I Accomplished before 11:15 a.m.

  • Laundry – I must say I am pleasantly surprised at the laundry machines here. They’re much better than last year! My clothes actually come out of the washer wet and come out of the dryer hot and toasty, which is more than I can say about last year’s laundry experience. No more splitting my weekly load into two different machines to avoid soggy socks!
  • Research for my Charlatan article – I now know everything there is to know about the University of Guelph’s discovery of racist graffiti. Interested in reading the full story? Well so am I, which probably means I have to write it soon.
  • Made about a dozen phone calls to various associations and media contacts at Guelph, leaving message after message on just about everyone’s answering machine. I got hung up on and transferred more times than I can remember. I didn’t end up getting any interviews done, but I did lay a lot of groundwork.
  • Set up an interview with my profile subject – She’s going to be at a charity event on Saturday so I’ll be interviewing her there. It’s a little later than I would have liked, but I’ve done an assignment in a week before and I can do it again! That will give me plenty of time to come up with some good questions and do some research before I learn all about my interviewee. I dub thee Fascinating Subject (or at least she will be fascinating when I’m done with her!)
  • Came up with some story ideas to bring to journalism class on Thursday – we’re supposed to find a new angle to cover Ottawa’s mayoral elections. Old white men battling other old white men for power over the city! We’re supposed to be looking at what’s “not there” (a.k.a. the issues that are missing from the newspapers). Do you know how hard it is to read dry municipal election updates? Now we have to read what’s not there? Good grief! I didn’t have particularly unique ideas, but at least I have something!

It may only be a list of three, but that was some time-consuming work! Do you have any idea how hard it is to sound bright and cheery on the phone at 8:30 in the morning? Not too easy, my friend. Not too easy. And I did it all without any coffee! My nervous system better thank me when I’m young and spry at 75.

My morning of super-productivity came to an abrupt end when I went to Chinese class. It was a boring class today, relatively speaking. Maybe my morning’s activities had worn my patience a little thin, but people seemed particularly slow today and I may have been a little snootier than I should have. Whoops. I’ll make up for it next time. But come on, people! How hard it is to just repeat the same words from the question when forming the answer? If I say “xing,” you say “xing.” If I say “jiao,” you say “jiao.” This should not be groundbreaking information.

We had a new TA today hovering over us for the entire class. He was a little weird. Couple that with my already charming attitude this morning, things got a little snappy. All I’m saying is, would it have killed him to introduce himself before popping up in front of me and saying, “Sing! Sing the song!”

It’s only natural I should ask, “And who, pray tell, are you to tell me to sing? I’ll sing when I’m good and ready to sing!”

Laoshi tried to end the class on a happy note by taking us outside for “exercise.” She brought something akin to a Chinese hackysack. It’s a little bunch of plastic disks linked together with big, vibrant feathers sticking out of the top. Apparently everyone in China kicks them around for fun and to get their daily dose of physical activity. We had the entire campus staring at us like we were school children in the middle of recess. I was hopeless at it. We can’t all be good hackysackers.

After class, I spent the afternoon doing some intense journalism. I made call after call (because clearly I hadn’t heard the automated telephone lady’s voice tell me, “At the tone, please record your message. When you have finished recording, you may hang up or press pound for more options!” enough times) only to find that everyone was conveniently out of their office during their office hours. Of course the three hours I was in class, I get about 50 messages, which I can’t return! I guess I’ll just have to try again tomorrow.

Small victory: I did manage to get one good result for my hard work. I had to contact Carleton’s Equity Services to see how our school handles racism. I had already made a call, as per my editor’s request (apparently, they’re nervous about speaking to us so we should call first). All that got me was a “When’s your deadline? We’ll get back to you.” Of course I didn’t give them my real deadline. If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that people have very a very skewed sense of time in the world outside journalism. Time is money, people!

But getting back to the encouraging part of this “Small victory.” I decided to just throw caution to the wind and head down to their office, which was conveniently located on the furthest corner of campus, and just poked my head into the closest open door. I didn’t expect it to work at all, but there happened to be a guy sitting in there and he was willing to answer my questions! Albeit he didn’t have time today, but he said to send him an email and we could meet tomorrow. I have yet to hear back from him, but I think I’m just going to go stake out in front of his office tomorrow after my classes anyway. He has to go to work some time, and when he does, I’m going to be right there waiting.

It’s been a long day of hard work, but I’m actually pretty impressed with my time management today. I decided I needed to get to bed earlier (this eye twitch is becoming a regular thing – every night at 11 p.m. like clockwork!) so I read news early (from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. instead of starting at 11 p.m.). So here I am wrapping up my blog and it’s not even 11:15 p.m. yet!

I still have quite a bit of researching to do for my other courses, which I may look into briefly before calling it a night. But I suppose it’s good to keep busy. Who needs carefree, stress-less living when you can give yourself a stroke? It makes life interesting.

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