Friday, April 27, 2007

Our Rachel

Looking over this entire school year, including both semesters, I have realized that I have done a good number of relatively cool things. Perhaps I could even go as far to label these "cool things" as "accomplishments". Acting and directing in both theatre festivals, acting in "Office Hours", getting my wisdom teeth removed, seeing Olya at the Toronto airport, going to Nova Scotia with Andrea, and hosting numerous extremely successful dinner parties have been a few of my small feats this year. As much as I am happy with these said accomplishments, I don't think anything can compare to our piano acquisition.

Yes, my friend Kyle and I have successfully adopted an upright piano. Months ago at a board game night, our friend Rachel told us about a dusty, decrepit, old piano sitting up in a room on right side-stage of the Centennial theatre at Bishop's. She was telling us how one of the older staff members, Johnny, would freak out the students when they were hanging lights by slowly playing the low notes on the piano. Kyle suddenly jumped up and asked excitedly if the piano belonged to someone or if it was in use. Rachel was pretty sure it wasn't and didn't think it really belonged to anyone. Kyle then turned to me and proclamed that we should inherit this piano. We should ask this Johnny guy if we could have it. It was then we agreed to be partners on this piano-getting mission, as both of us are piano players, and the piano would stay in my Lennoxville house until I graduated and he moves in. We decided that we should co-own this piano. Of course, we were getting a little ahead of ourselves, as the piano was still just a pipe-dream.
Later on that evening, as Kyle was putting on his shoes, he said that we should start asking around right away. He immediately gave the responsibility to me, as I had worked a few times with Johnny and I am female, which, apparently, gives me an edge.

I must say, I am usually bad at approaching strangers or even those I don't know that well, but this time I perservered. I knew that Kyle would be disappointed if I wussed out and just having another keen person working on a project with you makes you all the more motivated. One day when I was working the bar at Centennial, I casually asked Johnny about the piano in side-stage. He said that a few years ago, the main drama professor had used a few pianos for some reason and then, when she was done with them, had asked for them to be demolished. Of course, Johnny was shocked that something like this could even be suggested (the destruction of such a beautiful instrument, what?!), so he promptly hid one of the pianos way up by Centennial. Never mind why he chose that very random area, but it is just mind-boggling to think how he got the thing up there in the first place. He freely offered up the piano, saying that it is useless there, just collecting dust. I said I was definitely interested, as long as the piano was salvageable. He was pretty sure that it was but that it was probably a good idea to check it out.

A few days later, I asked a certain Simon, whom I believed to be knowledgeable in the ivory keys area, to check out the piano. Upon seeing it, he believed it to be salvageable; the piano would need to have keys re-weighted, a good tune, and a solid scrub. After weeks of trying to co-ordinate times with Simon, Kyle, and Johnny and failing repeatedly, we finally were able to move the piano. Kyle and I found Johnny, found two other guys to help move the huge thing, and the moving process began. I was utterly amazed that it took under an hour to drag the pian down two flights of stairs, across Centennial theatre, outside, into Johnny's truck, up my porch, and into my living room. Johnny even had time for a cigarette break! Kyle was shocked as to how strong Johnny is; it turns out that he is made of muscle. After the back-breaking work, I paid the guys in beer and thanked them profusely, but it wasn't enough. How on earth can you pay back someone who has moved a piano into your house, everything being completely free of charge? I was elated, and Kyle and I couldn't stop grinning all day.

Almost every day after that, Simon came over and worked on the piano. Kyle and I supplied him with everything he needed (spending a total of $12 on materials). We offered to pay him for his work, but he didn't want our money. We then always offered him food and drink, which he accepted gratefully. One of the last evenings I was in Lennoxville, Kyle and I cooked up a large feast for him, completely with spicy sausages and trifle for dessert!

Since I have left, the piano has undergone tremendous repairs. Every single key works, two of the three pedals work, and the piano is pretty much playable. All it needs is a good tune up, and then voila, we will have a beautiful, working, real-life piano! Simon is even keen to varnish it, as the piano has beautiful woodwork, and varnishing it would make it look terrific. It is funny to get so excited about an instrument.

Kyle and I have named the piano "Rachel", as it was our friend Rachel who first told us about it. Next school year, we plan to have a christening party for "Rachel", and we will make sure to invite all of the piano players we know and like, in addition to our usual crowd. I still am over the moon that Kyle and I are proud parents of Rachel. Also, our trusty piano fixer is staying at the house this summer, so I can be rest assured that she will be in very good hands.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Rolling the dice

No matter how much you whine, moan, and complain about the weather, you're not going to be able to change it. When it comes to voting, some people are of the mentality that if you do not vote, you do not have the right to complain. I suppose we cannot vote to change the weather a certain way, but we also cannot change it by whining. So, some people are of the mentality that if we cannot change the weather (which, granted, is debatable), then we shouldn't be complaining about it.

I disagree. As we all know, complaining about something is very social, as it always involves another person. Complaining about the weather is especially social because it is something that everyone can relate to. Whether it is sunny or hailing, we always have something to say about the weather. It's also something that affects us all, whether it be our mood, driving conditions, or a thwarted beach day. Sure, this is just one more thing that we complain about in this world, but at least everyone else can relate to it, and hey, some unusual things can happen because of unexpected or strange weather.

So, speaking of which, the main topic of conversation around campus these past few days have been the ridiculous weather. Even though we have had intense snowfalls in April before, everyone seems to forget this at the beginning of each Spring and believes that in the Eastern Townships, Spring begins in March. Sure, there are signs of Spring in March, but it is merely a tease before mother nature turns her back on you and dumps another coating of that fluffy white stuff. Year after year, we get sucked in by March's fake Spring, and then subsequently become shocked when it snows in mid-April. I must say, I am equally unimpressed with this chilly weather and hailing snow, but it has led me to believe that it has made students study more. For the past two years, it has been sunny and warm at this time, which has made the majority of students run outside in their flip-flops and throw a frisbee around. Who wants to spend much time outside these days? Those books look so much more appealing than attempting the outdoors.
Andrea says she is encouraging Spring by wearing leg-baring pants, sneakers, and a sweater outside. Unfortunately, it hasn't helped much yet. She is more likely encouraging a cold.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Rocker Chicks à la Stones

On Wednesday night, Centennial theatre welcomed all the private high schools in the area to present various music numbers. There was a real variety in the numbers, as some were an orchestra, solo piano-playing, solo singing, boy band groups, and girl band groups.

The most amusing numbers were the ones where the obvious school heart-throb would sing a popular love song with his long-haired buddies. Naturally, all the girls would screech and squeal and yell out "sexy" every now and again in their French accents.

What was surprisingly impressing, in my opinion, was one of the girl groups. About eight of them performed the song "Sympathy for the Devil" by the Rolling Stones. They had their drummer, a pianist, a saxophone player, a shaker, three back-up singers, and their very own McJagger. It was actually very well done. The singer lowered her voice and played up the fact that she was a girl singing like a guy. It was very entertaining, not only because it was amusing to see a bunch of girls pretend to be the Stones but to see a bunch of girls do the Stones well! They were also all decked out in white tank-tops, with the Stones' tongue logo on the front and had their hair all wildly made-up. Real rocker chick style.

Hey, if a bunch of high schoolers from Sherbrooke can successfully perform a Rolling Stones number (I kept wondering where the girl's accent was?), then I figure I should be able to move mountains by now.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Flying Fiasco - Part 1

On Tuesday, March 6th, I flew from Montreal to Toronto to see Olya, my ex-counterpart from Canada World Youth. I hadn't seen her in three years, and I won't be able to see her much, considering that she lives in Ukraine and her being in Canada is extremely rare.

The idea was to meet her at her gate at the Toronto airport (she was arriving from Regina), and we were slated to spend the next couple hours together before she had to leave for Europe. I was to leave at around the same as her back to Montreal. Plans are always precarious when flying is involved, but we were both coming from flights within Canada, so we thought our plan to be relatively fool-proof. Because my plan to visit Olya in Ukraine was thwarted, there was no way on earth that this plan was allowed to fall apart.


The first omen of bad luck happened in the morning at the Montreal airport before I passed through security. I had forgotten to remove my Swiss Army Knife from my purse, so as soon as I got to security, they promptly whisked my beloved knife away from me. It is now gone forever, and if the security guards take my knife home with them, I hope they cut oranges with it, forget to clean it, and then all the blades will rust on them.

I arrived at my gate at the appropriate boarding time. For some reason, they started boarding us late, at the time that the plane was originally slated to leave. Alright, so maybe I'd be 20-30 minutes late. Olya was already going to be landing in Toronto earlier than I, but this would only be a minor setback.

So, I board the plane, and once all the passengers and flight attendants seem ready to go, the plane does not leave the gate. We wait about ten minutes, and then the captain comes crackling through the intercom:

"Uh, this is your captain speaking. As you have probably noticed, we have not yet moved. One of our engines seem to be frozen. We are currently waiting for our repairman. We should be ready to leave shortly."

Ah. So, we wait. Another ten or fifteen minutes has past, and we still haven't moved. The captain comes back on:

"You may have noticed that we still haven't moved. Due to the severely cold weather, we will be starting off our engines manually. We should be ready to leave shortly."

We wait twenty minutes or so, and finally, we creep up to our run-way and take off. In retrospect, perhaps I should have been worried about faulty engines during this cold spell, but, frankly, all I was thinking about was meeting Olya and how late I was going to be.

I arrived at the Toronto airport almost two hours too late. Right away, I ran to an Air Canada gate which didn't look too busy and asked them at which gate a certain flight from Regina came in. The flight attendant looked at me funny, asking me how a flight which came in over two hours ago could be helpful to me. I just asked her to tell me. She told me it was gate 35. I ran to that gate, and it was almost completely empty. They were going to board a flight to Fredericton, I believe, but still not for at least another few hours. Where on earth was she?

I looked wildly around the Toronto Pearson Airport. It was huge and looked terribly confusing. Weren't people always saying that Toronto was a horrible airport? Also, weren't there two other terminals? Olya could be anywhere! I started to panic. I started to run around the airport and soon started figuring things out. There was only a certain place that Olya could be without leaving the security area or without boarding her international flight to Vienna. I went up to where the international flights were boarding but obviously could not get in, considering I wasn't going anywhere. So besides the international flight area, she could only be around the area with the shops. Okay, she really can't be far, and looking as to where her flight was leaving from (I wasn't 100% sure of which number her flight was, but I had a pretty good idea), she wouldn't have left this terminal. So, where could she be? I went up to a booth and asked if they could page her in this area, as well as in the international flights area. I waited in a stupor of panic. I had flown to freakin' Toronto to see her, and I couldn't find her! I felt stupid for not getting a cell phone for this trip, like she had asked. I phoned my mother in a shaky voice, telling her of the disaster at hand. As mothers do so well, she told me not to panic and to wait until Olya is paged and then see what happens. She also told me that if Olya still did not show after being paged, I should go to Austrian Airlines and ask of her there. In the meantime, Mom told me to eat something. Good advice.
As I sat at Tim Horton's, munching slowly (due to my newly lack of wisdom teeth sore mouth) on a chicken salad wrap, I kept on scanning the airport's centre, where all the paths of shops came together. When I finished, I got up slowly and decided to trudge around the airport for a bit, now feeling more disappointed and sad instead of on a panicky edge. I decided to stroll by the international flights TVs, to see if her Vienna flight had changed, and lo and behold, who was staring up at the said TVs? A bunch of tired looking Ukrainians!

Needless to say, we were overjoyed to have finally found each other! It turned out that her flight was extraordinarily late, and they had just arrived in Toronto. I met her group, and after sending off her group, the two of us went to a coffee shop for some much needed talking and reminiscing.