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Published: February 18th 2015
THE FEELING OF DEATH IN WINTER
It was my first night out exploring the nightlife scene of Calgary and it turned out to be with someone I didn't expect. The teachers had finished the non instructional day early as the leadership had an afternoon of activities, drinking and fine dining, as well as discuss important issues about the school of course. They had told me to come meet them out after they had finished and go to National on 17th, one of the more common night spots in downtown. As I was about to go through the door, my mate Scotty rang me and asked if I wanted to check out American Sniper with him. After telling him of my plans I said I could pop in and see him before I went out. Well all the teachers bailed on me as they were done by 9pm and all heading home. Scotty mentioned we could go to Craft on 10th which was a hot spot I wanted to check out so suddenly Scotty's quiet, relaxing night turned into catching up with his partner Jacqui and friends at Craft. After a beer and a bit of a meet and greet of
friends I was quickly whisked away to Stephen Avenue, the main shopping mall of Calgary. It was there we ran into an old friend of Scott's who was having a few drinks with an interesting woman with a half shaven head and a mixture of tastes in partners, as we found out throughout the nightly discussions. This is where I was introduced to the Trash Bucket, a silver bucket filled with ice and 3 of Canada's worst beers, the cheap stuff. We decided to have two of these less than tasty beverages to share. Before we knew it it was 3am and I was convinced to stay on Scott and Jacqui's couch, not before having my first taste of Poutine to try and soak up the couple of drinks I had digested. Morning came and I was in need of going to the toilet. In Scott's apartment, the toilet is in the bedroom part of his loft. Only way in was opening up his bedroom door and past his bed. I didn't feel to comfortable about this so I held it. There is only so much a man can take! Now when I had left home the previous evening it
was 6 degrees outside, all the snow had melted and the grass was in the park and school oval was completely visible. It was now minus 14 plus wind chill and Calgary was once again a white city covered in snow. One thing I have learnt the hard way is to make sure you are hydrated over here as these conditions can quickly dehydrate you. I also had enough clothing to barely keep you warm in an Australian winter. I couldn't stand it any longer. I had to go find a toilet! For the next twenty minutes a spent my time trying to get out of the apartment block. In this time I managed to find the small gym and a toilet. When I got there, an old person's walker was parked outside the door. It was occupied! I waited, and waited and finally had to get on the move. I finally found my way out of the apartment block and started walking back to the train. I probably shouldn't say where I relieved myself but there is only so much the human bladder can take before control is lost, and the two minutes it took seemed to take me
away from the fact I was starting to get extremely cold. I still had to get to the train, wait for the train, then walk home from my stop. This was enough to send my body into a flu frenzy I never wish to experience again. The moment the door shut behind me, it hit me like a sledgehammer to the head. A headache of indescribable pain, the body heated up and became feverish, and the sudden lack of energy crushed me into my bed and apart from skyping my family I slept the next 18 hours. The cold had me struggling to move the following day with the headache still pounding every time I contemplated moving. I'd rug up to keep warm, and sweat like a waterfall. Every time I breathe, I was reminded my nose was blocked and runny at the same time. I managed to make it to my Super Bowl party by getting an energy booster, and although I enjoyed the game and the company in a man cave seen to be believed, I was still not in a good place. I walked to school on Monday, shaking and begging for a magical cure to this
seemingly moral destroying feeling I was experiencing. I barely got through the day, before being convinced to take the next day off. I went and got some cold and flu remedy and again walked home. Tuesday, felt worse than the Saturday before it. The continual confusion of being hot or cold, the inconsistent sweating of my body, the inability to eat, or feel like moving. It was like an invisible curse had surrounded my body and there was no shaking it off. The cold air seemed to bang against the windows and find any cracks it could to penetrate the house and make it seem even cooler than it normally would. The gas heater was not working for some reason and I felt as low as I had ever felt. Although staff at school had offered to make soup, get supplies for me and were really supportive and helpful, I had never felt more alone, more home sick and questioned my very reason for being here. It felt like it would never end! It felt like hell! ROUGHNECKS GAME
I had never thought of Lacrosse being a big sport anywhere really let alone having a national league. You
had seen that it was big in college in America from movies but at home, only a few people play Lacrosse and it is not well promoted as a sport to play growing up, just a sport you may participate in Phys Ed lessons. I was lucky enough to catch up with my mate Scott and his partner Jacqui and go to the Calgary Roughnecks play Buffalo at the Saddledome. I had previously heard that it was a good fun event, with music playing all the time, plenty of action and the tickets were much cheaper than the hockey. Those rumours soon became truths as the moment you walk into the stadium there was a different feel to the hockey game I had previously watched. What was once an Ice Rink had been covered in artificial grass and the the 10,000 spectators were soon in party mode, with nearly everyone of them with a hotdog in one hand and a beer or wine in the other. The game was fast paced, had some good and fair hard knocks and had plenty of crowd involvement. The compare would stir the crowd up once an opposition player was sin binned for a particular penalty by saying over the loud speaker "Get in there, sit down and ...." followed by 'shut up' by the voice of the crowd. The structure of it was similar to hockey where defensive players would run straight to the side for the offensive players and through patient passing, and clever maneuvering of the stick the teams would set up their attacks. Every time the Roughnecks scored, the crowd would be dancing in an out their seats to the ritual song they played each time they scored a goal. At half time were entertained by the Calgary mascots playing a more modified version of lacrosse which was amusing and entertaining. I was lucky to see a really tight and energised game which you didn't want to miss a moment. The final minute had arrived and the Roughnecks were down by one, a missed goal and Buffalo run down the clock. One thing I didn't know is that in Lacrosse they have a shot clock of 30 seconds which makes the game faster and more entertaining and probably has similar defensive and offensive patterns to that off basketball. Buffalo got the ball with 40 seconds to go and called a time out. I thought it was done, all over, the Roughnecks third 1 point loss in 5 losing games to start the season. How wrong I was! The Roughnecks managed to regain the ball and a quick movement of the ball and great offensive play saw them goal with 10 seconds to go forcing the game into sudden death overtime. The roar of the crowd and the atmosphere was unbelievable. You just couldn't help but soak it up. I believe they play another 15 minutes or until someone scores. This added to the four 15 minute quarters they had just played. The crowd was on the edge of their seat for the whole of sudden death. Every missed shot, the crowd groaned or gasped but it was a penalty against the Roughnecks that sent one the players off that turned the game. The goal Buffalo scored in that time silenced the crowd. It went from a party to a morgue, the sudden transformation was surreal. Although the game had ended the experience hadn't as i noticed that the crowd were able to go onto the rink to get players autographs. I convinced Scotty and Jacqui to head down there, just to feel what it was like to be on the centre stage of the Saddledome. It was also great to walk past the seats that people pay $300 plus a game to sit on at the hockey and realise you will never sit there ever during a game. It was again good family fun on the rink with the cheerleaders selling calendars to raise money for kids who don't have any food for school so each calendar provided a packed lunch for a week for a kid, the kids hanging over the ropes waiting for their heros to come out and groups of family and friends just walking around and looking up at the stadium that surrounded them. Scotty and I did get into a bit of trouble when Scotty pretended to ram me into the glass window wall a few times. It seemed that security didn't seem to like that very much. TEACHER'S CONVENTION
This was something I had not experienced in my teaching back home. The province of Alberta is the only one in Canada that has teaching conventions in all the different teaching districts. Calgary's is supposed to be the biggest of the lot with a number of professional development sessions and guest speakers planned through out the a two day event. There was a hall full of booths, for a wide variety of teaching resources and products to advertise their wares and as I found out, it is also known to be one of the biggest party nights for teachers. I was advised that the convention was very relaxed. I decided to be good and went to three PE sessions. The first was quite an interesting way to introduce striking, throwing and fielding through a series of progressive games. From learning how to run around bases, to building in modified rules with a variety of different balls that help improve fielding skills, develop team play and inclusion, and a great deal of fun. The funny thing about this session was the Canadian man taking the session started talking about cricket. He suddenly felt a bit sheepish when he realised I was Australian. He asked if I had played before, I was modest in my reply, "Not for a long time" but did captain the First XI at Immanuel and was a handy player when I was younger. Before I knew it, I was explaining how to bowl to about 20 PE teachers, looking on with extreme interest. I then was asked to demonstrate! I had never been applauded for my bowling throughout my career, more likely cheered when taken off, but my demonstration received a polite applause from the crowd. We then got into some cricket drills which were ok, but suddenly the man running the session advised that there was a bowling competition. Three cups had been set up at one end about half to two thirds a cricket pitch away. I was with my PE Coordinator and without hesitation he threw me the ball as a the cricket set we had been using was the prize for the school of the first person to hit the cup. I could hear, my PE faculty at home doing the slow clap as I steamed on in from the Saints sign end (school emblem). It took two balls, before middle cup was smashed into pieces and I had finally contributed something to the school, I had won them a new cricket set!
The next session was a good session on warm up games and with most of the activities common knowledge but the ladder activities and core strength activities being quite interesting. I then was involved in a session on European Handball and found out more about the rules and strategies of the game than I thought existed. I now know more about the strategies and the roles of the 6 players on the court, the free throw line, the defensive and offensive strategies, the role of the pivot, the importance of the bounce pass, how long you could hold the ball or dribble and found the progressive style in which they taught the game really well put together. It had been a really good day and one that had ignited my rusty PE skills as it had been few and far between teaching PE where I normally teach.
Now for party time! I raced home and got my best dressed on and harried myself to Cowboys, a well known Casino and club in Calgary, particularly busy during stampede and known to have small gigs for country singers and be populated by teenage wannabees on Friday and Saturday nights. On this Thursday night it was populated by 100's of teachers, who couldn't wait to blow off a bit of steam on the rather large dance floor. They even had Teacher Feud, a lame version based on the well known television show Family Feud being played on the stage. While this was all rather good, as was the free pizza that was supplied in 100's of pizza boxes that were piled up at the front of the stage, it was the waitresses that took my breath away. It was like they had picked all the best looking girls in Calgary and they worked in this one establishment. They were working behind the bar, at small stationed bars placed throughout the venue and I must say it did encourage you to venture to get a refreshing beverage (whether it was for you or if you volunteered to get it for others) a little more regularly than normal. They had also opened up a club that had been shut down called 'Roadhouse'. It was preparing for renovations but it opened just for teacher's convention. I was reluctantly pulled away from Cowboys and taken to this place and it was packed full of teachers going off their heads. They were dancing up a storm, drinking copious amounts of liquor of all kinds and just having a good old time. I could tell you how my night ended up but what happens in Calgary, stays in Calgary!!! Safe to say that I didn't make it home and somehow made it to the Friday session where I ran into Dave the PE Coordinator from school. He convinced me to miss a Drama workshop and go listen to a guest speaker who spoke his amazing adventures either by foot to follow the passage of the wolves or by Canoe with his wife and 2 year old son across a thousand miles of Canada. Although I did nearly nod off due to being tied from the night before I did find him rather interesting. The main thing was that the principal, who had witnessed my fine dancing form the night before at the Roadhouse saw me at the convention. I had survived the Calgary Convention and definitely found it educational!!!!
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