IT’S 1 AM. Let’s talk about high school debate clubs!

Well, I guess Zsolt was right. He said I’d be awake all night if I had a treatment so late, and here I am 1 AM not yet to sleep a wink. Oh well!

There is a motion sensor in this particular room where I am writing, and it controls the light in here. We are in my parents basement, and have decided to switch mattresses. So the old mattress, still being a valuable item, is tucked behind the sofa, which in turn blocks the light switch with the motion sensor. Every time the lights begin to dim I need to reach back and shake the mattress.

Just sipping on watery milk and shaking mattresses at 1 AM.

Before this I was in bed thinking to myself. Enjoying thinking to myself, actually. It was all enjoyable memory stuff – but then I looked at the clock and saw it was past 1 am. Normally I’m on my first middle-of-the-night wake up by now . . . and this evening yet I haven’t even fallen asleep yet! THEREFORE, I decided to get up and write.

It’s working already, I can feel my third eye getting tired. Literally. The space between my eyebrows feel heavier than the rest of my face.

Oh yeah. This is going to be a gooood blog post. I can tell already. Things are really shaking up Catherine in this one. There is such a clear train of thought, I could sell tickets to this one.

(Apparently 1 AM me is a bit sarcastic. Once upon a time, a favourite high school teacher said: Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, and I’m sure he was quoting someone but I haven’t a clue who and don’t care to google search at this time of the night. In any case, his words stuck with me.)

So there I am in bed thinking of stuff. And one thought leads to another – such as how in grade 6 elementary school I really thought James’ public speaking speech was much better than Angelina’s and he should have been sent to the board finals rather than her. SEE? HOW CAN I SLEEP WITH THIS STUFF IN MY HEAD? Which led to how I came to enjoy public speaking and debating in grade nine with Mr Dickinson as my teacher, which led to how I came to love being part of the debate club in high school.

The debate club is where the coolest kids are – and I’m not being sarcastic. It’s where people go when they want to talk about interesting things. That is great kind of thing. It’s almost better than still being awake at 1:20 AM.

I loved my debate club. It was scary and fun and like a secret club that few knew existed, but where we got to talk about fascinating things and travel in the trains to old universities (for debating tournaments) and go out to bars that didn’t ID and have motel room pillow fights and learn how to present an argument and laugh like crazy because everyone around you is witty as anything. It was the only thing I did in high school that had me interacting with students across various grades. Smart people who today are off in the world doing smart things.

Mrs Podgorski ran the debate club, and thank goodness for her. She was this lovely women who was gentle and kind, and had the most blindingly brilliant children who were older than me in our high school. Part of me wonders if she started the club so that they’d have an outlet for their genius. Quite likely. But she treated us all like family in that class room where we met in week after week.

Be it resolved that thinking about these kinds of things makes me happy.

BE it resolved that I AM still a little buzzed, and therefore must be careful of blogging like an idiot.

BE IT RESOLVED that that resolution has come and gone.

Oh well.

Debating was so nerve wracking. We’d go to these tournaments only occasionally knowing what the resolutions would be. The organizers hardly ever threw us soft balls (E.G. BIRT women are smarter than men = soft ball = easy and stupid and fun to debate), but rather had us start from some big abstract idea related to politics or the world or culture, and then we had to define it down and begin to argue (E.G. BIRT Canada should adopt a safe third party policy). SO going in you’d often only hear the resolution 30 minutes in advance of the debate. That means, you had 30 minutes to plan an argument AND if you were the defending team rather than the presenting team, you didn’t even get that because you had no clue how the presenting team would interpret the resolution. (keep in mind, we didn’t google back then – one time, this team actually came to the debate with a MASSIVE dictionary. I thought it was overkill. Why not just bring your whole encyclopedia collection along?!)

Half the time we’d walk in those rooms blind, hear a short introductory speech, and be expected to give a seven minute speech in return. AUGH!

Occasionally I shined, often I bombed. Once at McGil university I bombed in front of about 200 people, but thank goodness my partner was a semi-genius at public speaking and picked up the ball after I threw it way, way, way off the court. It was because of him, and a score tallying error, that we were in the finals. (Although I had done very well prior to that final debate, don’t get me wrong. But he definitely carried the team)

ANYHOW. (1:36 AM.) There were highs and lows like that. It might sound intimidating, but not every moment was so intense. We’d have goofy and fun debates during the actual club meetings, and sometimes not even that – I’d just get to see the older kids be cool, and enjoy sitting there in their smart as anything company.

Did I ever mention how much I dig smart guys? So this club was paradise. There was this one guy at the rich-person private school in Ottawa who I saw debate in a bilingual tournament, and while I didn’t understand a single word he said in French, he was beautiful while saying it.

I can accredit much to that debate club, including a great friendship. I can’t remember if we joined together or separately, because he was also my first boyfriend for 5 months of high school (life is supersaturated intense when you are a teenager, so that is a relationship for sure), but in debate club we debated. I remember we won or came second during an inter-school debate tournament when working as a team (yay!), and in our final year of high school when deciding upon who would be debate club president, he insisted I be co-president of the debate club (because we’d been there the same amount of time) even though he was clearly the strongest debater on the team. Classy stuff.

So all of this was running through my head this evening, and it was nice to consider for a little while. Nowadays my debate partner would have to be my father – poor man. And really, I’m not inclined to debate anyone these days. Truth is, I would rather understand how and why your perspective is your perspective than simply argue back and forth as to who is correct. (except for my dad, of course, because he gets me every time, and perhaps Zsolt too, and maybe my brother too…) But straight debate doesn’t take anyone anywhere. Though I also like to present my perspective in a way that is logical, and in a sense can answer to the other person’s experience. This, I believe, comes from living life and studying psychology. Though certain people can really get me rolling in the good ‘old debate style mode.

AHHHHHHHHHH 1:48 AM CATHERINE IS WRITING TOO MUCH.

And now you know how long it takes me to write a blog post. That was the real plan all along. Ha ha ha. I got you. You thought you were gonna read another reflective and insightful post about life. NO WAY. I just wanted to illustrate how long it takes to write these things.

And, that I’m still buzzed as heck from the treatment.

Zsolt was right. The man was right.

He’s gonna love that.

Adventure is Worthwhile

Years ago my parents attended a psychic fair. There’s one in Ottawa, held each year, I think. Anyhow, they were there and my dad got to talking with one of the psychics. I suppose she must have given him a reading. And surprisingly part of that reading related to me.

“Your daughter is going to travel the world, and there’s nothing you can do to stop her,” said the psychic.

“Catherine?” he asked with a fair amount of disbelief. I mean, not disbelief that I’m his daughter – but that I would have ever considered traveling. As a child I hated not being home. When I went to camp my parents had to fax me every day, just so I could cope with being away. One day the fax came through with only the cover sheet – I balled my eyes out.

So, he doubted her prediction very much.

adventure-is-worthwhile

And then, one day, I went off to travel the world, and there was quite literally nothing they could do to stop me. (Even though before leaving for Europe Dad did in fact warn me, “don’t go falling in love with anyone while you are away.” Ha! Well, we know how that ended up.)

All that to say, I have been adventurous. From going to camp, then moving to Jasper for the summer and working at a Tramway, to moving to Quebec City for a month of solitude and French, to backpacking with my brother in Europe, to almost becoming an Au Pair in Sicily, to living in Hungary, to studying in England, to crossing the Atlantic by ship, to eating the best pizza of my life in New York, to Iceland and Portugal and Malta and Greece and Havana, and all the incredible places I’ve been gifted enough to visit.

Life has been an adventure. And it has been, as the great Amelia Earhart stated, worthwhile.

As you may appreciate, adventure can be big and it can be small. It can be choosing to raise a family, it can be buying a home, it may be travel, or diving into a passion project, it can be trying something new, it can be saying “I want this for my life” and then chasing that down, it can be a new recipe in the kitchen.

Anyhow!! One of the dearest gifts I’ve received from my adventures have been the relationships – the friendships. My goodness, what incredible relationships life has brought. It’s a theme I’ve explored in Bumpyboobs before – how living here and there can create heartache, because the fact is you always need to say goodbye. But you know what? The good friendships, the REALLY good ones – they keep. They just keep. My best relationships came from taking chances. Even if that chance was simply reaching out and saying hello to someone new.

Examples/Stories!!

Zsolt: Went back packing with little brother. Experienced fear like crazy. It was my first time in Europe and so far away from home. Each new city terrified me for the first day or two, (and then it was technicolour brilliance of adventures.) Met a man I thought I could marry. MARRIED HIM.

The creative writers: I won’t name them. But here’s the jot-note story. Moved to England with boyfriend. Eeeep. Arrived with nothing. Worked in a miserable job for 6 months. (still made friends!) Decided job was miserable. Applied for Creative Writing program, despite being sure I wasn’t good enough and was pretty sure a career post-MA would be hard to pin down. Was accepted. Spent every last penny on International Student fees. Met people who LOVE writing. Met people who would help shape my passion for writing. Met people who had such compassion and fascinating stories, and who dared to share their writing over many cups of tea. Met people who would be incredible FRIENDS FOR LIFE.

Zsolt’s PHD: This was Zsolt’s adventure, but I stuck my nose in. Zsolt applies for a PhD in England and GETS ACCEPTED. (Even though one teacher at his school in Hungary told him he’d never make it through a PhD degree in England). Leaves everything in Hungary and moves to England with girlfriend (me). Struggles like hell with the pressures of a PhD in a new country, all in English, with big expectations. Bonds with those who are doing the same, and facing their own big challenges, and they all persevere together. Kindly, he invites his girlfriend to join him and his colleagues for lunch every day at the Staff Club on the uni campus. They welcome her as if she belonged amoung this group of incredible scientists. Those same colleagues begin to invite their partners to join us for lunch too. Friendships and families form. We are blessed.

The Tramway: Again, no names. But here is the story. Am inspired when 15 years old after visiting the park to move to Jasper for a summer after high school and work. Do as planned. Work on a mountain. Live in a shit hole. Meet the BEST DAMN PEOPLE you could ask for. Go to the club every other night and we sweat through our clothes with the dancing. The next day, everyone gets on their bikes and heads to the glacier lake. Or the veranda at the Fairmount. Or the grocery stor. Or that tree in the park with the perfect kind of shade. At work, we savor what it feels like to look across the world everyday from the peak of a mountain. And we wear very ugly uniforms of green vests and mesh pants. Those people matter to me, and I still value the important friendships that have lasted from that time.

Working for Amnesty: Accepted a job in August, found out the cancer had become worse in September. Still began job in October – took the risk that it might wear me out (It did at first! But then it lifted me up.) in exchange for doing what mattered to me in life. Met people who inspired me to strive for better things, and helped me realize my potential. Worked 1.5 years before I had to stop. CONQUERED MY DOUBTS and grew a better relationship with myself.

Adventure is worthwhile.

These are big examples, but there are so many smaller ones I could list here too. Podcasting, publishing, applying to work in a book store (was I good enough to recommend books?!), inviting people to attend pumpkin carving parties (because I am terrified of social rejection), and many other things. Small things matter very much.

Adventure is worthwhile. But in every day life, so is risk. So is commitment and just a tiny bit of passion.

Hesitation is reasonable, but ultimately, it’s for suckers. Do plan and learn. Me? I worked boring jobs to save, applied for visas,  entered contests I’d never win and took opportunities never knowing what might and might not work, what might or might not fail, or where it all was going. (I also took many naps, cried too many times, ate a lot of cheese, and watched a lot of Netflix, ’cause I ain’t superwoman.) Somethings worked, others didn’t. Try, try and try again!

But, despite feeling rather aimless occasionally (*ahem*, okay, often), I strive to remember that my big personal regrets are all from times I let my fear and insecurities me. Not having a baby. Not chasing after a boy. Not running for class president. Delaying what I want because I didn’t know how to do it well  (learn how if it matters so much, and ditch perfection) … and from those moments I have taken much too.

Regrets happen, and so does fear, and frankly this is real life – opportunities will at times be missed.

But…

Adventure is worthwhile. Risk is worthwhile.

You are worthwhile.

Now, give the world a chance to realize that. Stop hesitating and dive into life. (You know who you are!) I promise, I will keep doing the same. Together we’ll see what happens next.

(High five!)

Considering the time, that is all I want to say about that. Sorry for being SO very didactic towards the end. This blog post has somewhat carried me away on a sentimental TEDTalk-esque wave of PREACH, LADY, PREACH!

 

P.S. Thank you to you-know-who for inspiring this blog post. YOU are so very worthwhile, in every way. 🙂 Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

P.P.S.

I’d like to dedicate this post to Jasmin. She truly challenged me to face my fears when I attended her retreat Stretch Heal Grow through Rethink Breast Cancer. She had metastatic breast cancer and passed away recently. If you’d like to learn more about her adventures, check out her story and considering supporting her incredible project as a legacy to this women.

Purposefully Posting

This body of mine is keeping me awake again. But that’s not news. That’s every night around 3:30 AM-5AM or 4:30AM-6AM or 1:30AM-3AM. As far as insomnia goes, it is very reasonable and probably not insomnia at all.

But still, it helps if I write.

Therefore, I am writing.

Today I received a lovely bouquet from work. A thank you for everything kind of bouquet. It’s with white hydrangeas and pink roses and white lilies that are all cast against these large, wide folds of dark green leaves. Very pretty. It arrived via the delivery person and was a great surprise. Notably it was not a bouquet about my health, but instead about my contribution.

And yet still slightly bittersweet to receive, of course.

The past few days have been strange for me. Listless. With the impact of radiation being felt, I’m tired. Justttttt so tired. And yet not tired. Jusssssst so not tired. There are things I’d like to do, but have no drive to get done. My mind says yes, the body screams no.

Patience is a virtue in these situations, I suppose. But at the same time, I feel like I’m missing my window.

There are these windows when living despite cancer. Windows of opportunity that are between treatment and scans. When I do not need to visit the hospital 3 x in a week, and do a follow up the week after, and get treatments. There are these golden windows when life should be seized BY THE BALLS. Yeah, I just typed that – for realz.

Right now is that window of time. Except I literally just abandoned one of my life-balls-grabbing outlets, being my job. My amazing dream-come-true job. It’s bobbing away from me in the stream of life. The purposeful side of me is like, “WHAT IS NEXT?” and the reality side of me is like “YOUR NAP!”

But life despite cancer means pushing beyond the nap (or between them). I’ve been inspired by many an  amazing lady in the metastatic cancer world to know it’s essential. And it’s always just been a core value of how I’d like to define myself. Please, as I have said before, never say I lost a battle against a disease – should it come to my passing one day – instead, say I live the fuck outta life. Because if life isn’t about more than this body, then what’s the point of anything?

What is next then?

More writing? More art? More social media exploration? More travel? More ‘I haven’t discovered it yet, but will let you know when I do’? Probably all the above in small, manageable doses.

I suppose at now 6:00 AM in the morning, it means more sleep. For now.

And then ultimately a search for purpose. A new purpose. The last 1.5 years has been for Amnesty. Before that, for my writing. And now… we will see. Once again, it’s time to redefine what I am through what I do. I see everyone around me working with intensity … and my instinct is to join in with a passion. Therefore, I must find a spark – however long or short it is to last (spark may be short lived, but if it catches, it burns!)

And I must be more forgiving to my body. We are one unit, even if I would rather pretend that isn’t the case when the pain flares or sleep calls . . . but we are one unit, for now, and care needs to be given there too. Compassion, perhaps is an even better word.

So long as boredom doesn’t creep in too deeply.

Anyhow, so the journey of who I am begins again.

With the receiving of flowers, it is time to start a new path.

.

.

.

And go back to bed.