Edmonton Tourist: University of Alberta

It is the time of year when students are heading back to school and participating in a once in a lifetime pandemic. Life is strange and unfamiliar right now. Both my adult children are attending classes but not at their campus of choice. They are attending classes via Teams, Zoom and eClass. This is how I finished my degree, so I know a little bit about what they are going through. It is hard to make connections, participate in group work, and borrow books from the library. My work from home situation is similar. It is hard to work on group projects, chat and become inspired and get those creative juices flowing. However, it is what it is and we are making the most of it.

My daughter is annoyed that she is paying buckets of money and she doesn’t even get to enjoy the best part of University, Fall Semester on the Arts Quad. I have to agree. It is the best part about about being a U of A student. Certainly not the windowless classrooms, but walking across campus to get to different classes before winter sets in.

I left the house last week for the first time since forever or blursday, I can’t remember. I hadn’t been on campus since last fall. My MRI doesn’t count because I was in and out of the Kaye without going anywhere but my car. I was doing some architectural research for a book I am working on and drove to the University of Alberta Campus and brought my pal Captain. We could have stayed in the car but I needed to walk.

It felt normal. I miss normal.

I parked at Rutherford House Provincial Historic site. For those of you not in the know, Alexander Rutherford was Alberta’s first Premier. His other lesser home is found in the valley at Fort Edmonton Park. I have toured this house a lot. I used to imagine living here when I was a kid. I loved the opulence of the grand staircase and the idea of having a maid to cook meals. My hubs does that now and it is as decadent as you think it might be. We walked around the gardens taking bad photos.

The gardens are well maintained and lovely for being so late in the season.

We headed south towards the Common where the international students reside as well as other student housing. I love that the campus sits on the south bank of the North Saskachewan River.

The older homes mixed with the newer architecture is normal to me and I love the character it adds to Garneau neighbourhood. The big elm trees that hang over the streets is so lovely and calming. I ask myself every time I am here, WHY DO I NOT LIVE HERE?

We stopped and admired gardens and buildings then found ourselves in front of Convocation Hall, the old Arts Building. The entire arts quad is lovely. A friend of mind said it reminds him of Harvard. Harvard is 383 years old, U of A is 112 years old but it feels stately and peacful.

There is a little brook between Convocation Hall and Hub. I love to sit here and just think or meditate. I have had many great ideas here and the best part is I haven’t shared this spot with anyone so it isn’t tainted with memories. It is just my spot to visit alone.

My parents used to take my brother and I here for walks in the evening. Likely my dad had to drop off a paper or we were picking him up from class. I don’t remember, but I loved running around the big trees and visiting the Turtle or as the sign post says, Tory Building.

So many great memories here for me. I hope my kids have equally great ones too. Get out and explore new neighbourhoods, Edmonton is a lovely city.

Ghosts of Days Past

When I was a kid, my dad was an Education student at the University of Alberta. We often went to meet him after class or walk around Campus while he dropped of papers or popped into the library. It has always been a favourite haunt of mine. When I attended my classes here, I would often eat my meals on the quad or lean up against a tree and just take in my surroundings. I often would plan and set goals for my future and imagine where I might be 10 or 20 years from that point.

Not one of those goals ever came true.

Yet, thinking about how the place made me feel as a kid and then as an adult, not much has changed.

I work on the outer rim of campus. I try to go for a run through there to renew my juice every now and then. As soon as I do, I am instantly transport to being a kid and running around Convocation Hall or the Turtle with my little brother. Mom and Dad would stroll at a leisurely pace as Mike and I raced around and climbed rocks or stone stairs for fun.

This week I had the opportunity to go for a run with my Captain. I had not brought Cap to the fairy ground of my youth, so I figured it was a great day to do so.

We started at our home base – RunClub and left the car keys in the basket. I led Captain West down 87th Ave.

It was reminded of the Universiad Games when they built the student housing and then past the Timmons Centre for the Arts. None of which was around when I attended my Anthropology classes. I showed Cap the Quad and my favourite spot between the Arts Building and the Business Building. There is a little dry creek bed with a pond at the base. It is surrounded by benches and an eclectic mix of architecture.

IMG_9028 IMG_9029 IMG_9030 IMG_9031

We paused for a moment to take in the surroundings and I remembered running up and down the steps of the Arts building as a kid. Its amazing how memories can just flash back into your brain after decades of not recalling them.

We headed North towards the river and past the Turtle – or rather the Tory Lecture Theatre. I often use this great website to interpret the U of A lingo that evades people who are new or never attended Campus. I was likely 24 before I realized the Turtle was actually the Tory Building.

We stumbled upon the Geoscience Garden, which is a Rock Museum/garden allocated at North Campus.

Captain enjoy this part of the run most.

IMG_9032

There were Geese nesting here which I thought was an odd place for them, so I gave them a wide berth and led Captain far away from where they were perched.

After passing the Faculty Club, I ran through the sciences and saw the Nanotech building for the first time. Strange how I come through here all the time and notice something new.

IMG_9034

We ran over to Assiniboine Hall and checked out the Tulips and Hares.

IMG_9036 IMG_9035

The very next day would see 5″ of snow dump on these pour petals.

I marvelled at the artwork on the sides of Civil Engineering, something I had not remembered seeing before.

IMG_9038 IMG_9037

It was here that Captain watched a fox saunter around the buildings. He didn’t growl or attempt to go chase him, but gave a respectful distance. It always amazes me at the variety of wildlife found on the edge of the river valley.

The last big stop we made was at the back of the Education Building, I remembering coming to some lectures here I was 4 and again when I was 19.

IMG_9039

I reflected on how different my life turned out than what I expected or planned. I am not a teacher, well, I am not a teacher of children. I suppose we are all teachers in some capacity. I am a runner and work in that industry. Never in my wildest dreams or fantasies would I think I would move into that direction.

Me, the girl who used her brain and not her physical being. Now both are so important to my daily routine. Working on the edge of campus makes me long to go back to school. But for now, I am content to just run the paths and visit the ghosts of my past.

Caution: Fat Girl Running Ahead! Please avert your eyes if it offends you.

I typically let water/insults/digs/annoyances run off my back. I figure the person spewing the insult doesn’t know me nor do they have any clue to my journey.

I run – A LOT for a gal my size. Running has done a few things for me:

  1. Running makes me fit
  2. Running tones my muscles making me firmer and less jiggly – true story
  3. Running makes my skin look awesome
  4. Running clears my head
  5. Running helps me think

There are a gazillion other reasons but those are the first ones that come to me. We could talk about this all day – but that is not my point.

I was running (surprise surprise) on Sunday along Rich and Famous Blvd. This is a busy spot for lots of city runners who like to have a view of the river valley. I am one of them. I like to see different things while I run. I was at about 6km into my 10km run when I passed two moms in their lululemon’s pushing two jogging strollers. They were both carrying – what I first thought to be coffee or lattes but after we spoke I suspect to it be Hot Water and Lemon. A trick of skinny people who don’t workout. They drink it to keep full and stay thin. In my day it was called a coffee and a cigarette. I ran by them and over heard them talk about me.

Skinny1: OMG look at the size of her ASS.

Skinny2: Why doesn’t she run on a treadmill so we don’t have to look at her.

Skinny1: I know right? I would DIE of embarrassment.

Skinny2: Why didn’t she just stop eating when she got the chance.

Me: (At this point I stopped and turned around) So I hear you have some questions for me. Lets have a quicky Q&A session right now shall we? First Question: It is 4 sizes smaller and 80lbs lighter than it use to be. Question 2: I have a BRAIN TUMOUR. It isn’t cancerous but it isn’t fun. I get dizzy on the treadmill. Besides, running 10km on a treadmill is dead boring and I never would have had the opportunity to meet the likes of you. (That’s right I played the brain tumour card, I am using it to my advantage when I can. If you don’t know the story about it then please click here and no I am not dying) Most people speak before they think but that requires common sense.

Did I really say this? Yes but not that last sentence because they j-walked to get away from me. Perhaps they will keep their comments to themselves from now on.

Is this a typical day for me running? NO WAY! Luckily the world is filled with kind and supportive people who are just happy for others.

Running on Sunday at about the 5km turn-around point I met a older (than me) couple out running both of them gave me a thumbs up. Most runners wave and say hi – but occasionally I get a “Great Job”  or “Keep going”. It is a lot like being in a race with fan support. On the whole, I find Edmonton Running Community to be supportive and kind. It is a lot like the running communities I have discovered on-line. People are kind, supportive, helpful and just plain ol’ nice!

Today I ran hills at Emily Murphy Park. I was the only woman out there today. So obviously I was the only fat girl. I was surrounded by an entire phys.ed class from the University of Alberta – all of them men and all of them in fantastic shape. I got a lot of cheers and some fellows ran with me encouraging me to go just that little bit farther before I die. I didn’t die, there is something about being able to focus on shapely young calf muscles that pulled me through. After they ran off and back to class, another young fellow began his descent, running towards me. He smiled and gave me two thumbs up as he passed.

Either I look like death warmed over when I run and people are surprised I am able to breath OR people are just simply nice and encourage each other.

I have had run-ins with lots of people who are repulsed with my body type. Joking about it with your husband or friends isn’t cool. I am sure YOU have some sort of short fall that you would be mortified if I pointed it out. Obviously I am thinking of one gal in particular who happens to be just mean to everyone. I bet she even kicks the dog when no one is looking. My point being is, if it doesn’t hurt you – leave it alone. This same rule of thumb can be applied to Gay Rights and Marriage. It isn’t up to you to judge them. If it freaks you out to think of them having sex, don’t think about it. It freaks me out to think about YOU have sex too – so I just don’t think about it. If you took the time you spent being mean to others and spent it on yourself working on what makes YOU happy, then I think you wouldn’t have time to hate everyone else.

Just let it go.

Be nice, even if you don’t mean it, because one day you will be treated nice back and it feels good.

This is me after running:

Caution Fat Girl Feeling Great AFTER HER RUN!

And you know something? I am starting to look great too 🙂

photo (17)

 

 

 

From Daydreamer to Daydoer, The Edmonton Tourist Project

November 11, 2010 047
November 11, 2010 047 (Photo credit: matt44053)

I am nearing my 2 year anniversary of the Edmonton Tourist Project. The purpose of this project was to take risks, climb out of my depression and experience  no regrets. Looking back it boggles my mind what I different person I use to be. I had a resigned nature and attitude about things. I have spent countless hours reading about other people’s journeys. I have become an active member in the blog community, so much so – there are many bloggers who I have never met, yet I count as friends. I have learned there is no destination as long as you are still traveling. Making a conscious effort to be a tourist in my own life has opened up possibilities that I had never seen before.

November 11, 2010 (again with the 11 thing)I was Freshly Pressed. All that means was the choosers here at Word Press saw my post and thought it was funny enough to place on the front cover of the WordPress Blog Site. I received close to 2000 hits that day, 50 subscribers in a single day and hundreds of comments. It was a real Rock Star moment. Looking back, that moment was fairly significant for a couple of reasons.

  1. It convinced me that I can do the impossible – or what I perceived as impossible
  2. It made connections with people I never would have otherwise known, and in return I have learned great lessons and made spectacular friends. Not just blog friends, but actual human beings who I can look in the eye and touch their hands.
  3. It taught me that everything and everyone has a story that should be told. It is from stories that I learn great things from.

I remember November 11th ever well. It was a stat holiday here so I was having a long lay-in that morning. Snuggled up and daydreaming. (I was a great daydreamer – I am a great daydoer now) when at 8:00AM my emails start going crazy. My first one was from Chef – She was from Edmonton too only now lived in Texas. I found it odd that she stumbled onto my blog.  Since then, we have commented back and forth and I even won a contest she hosted! The list of commenters grew. Then another Edmonton commenter found me.

Her name was Audrey. She was blogging from Edmonton and was struggling with the day to day problems of cancer. She was determined not to be angry but to embrace every moment she had left. She spent spare moments in nature photographing the beautiful river valley, she took art classes at the Art Gallery and she spent quality time with friends and family. Her journey was more than a day to day struggle. I learned that you don’t get moments back. She inspired me to take risks with people. Tell them the good things I think about them as they pop into my head. This has not always been welcomed, but I have no regrets about it. It doesn’t always turn out the way I hope, I get rejected in friendship – but they go away knowing I like and care about them. Some people just aren’t ready for someone to think highly of them. Sad – but true. Audrey embraced the Edmonton Tourist Spirit, always thinking of the next risk and how it would effect those around her. Kindness and compassion enveloped her.

Audrey passed over yesterday morning at 9:38 am surrounded by those she loved and who loved her back. We all should be so lucky. This is an excerpt of her final post:

Thank you to everyone for your support and caring.

 

I started the blog as a record of my journey for my family but it has become much larger than that, it became a helping tool for those in a similar journey. I am grateful if I have been helpful in anyway. I leave you with the encouragement for you and your loved ones to visit your family doctor regularly. Know that you are your own advocate, and don’t accept no as an answer.

 

I don’t know where I would be without my family. The love and support they have shown me has made my journey so much easier than I know it could have been. I am not sure I would have lived this long without them. They accepted my bumps and challenges along the way. They responded quickly to my needs and they gave me meaning to the term unconditional love. I wish I had another 40 years to return to them.

 

I love you all, take care of yourselves and each other.

 

See you in the funny papers.

 

Love Audrey

Thank you for the life lessons Audrey. I shall miss you.