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.


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.