Friday, May 26, 2006

Adventures in Toronto

So, I am here in Toronto for a conference (a mere 3.5 hour plane ride east from Calgary, for those of you who aren't from around these parts).

It's a huge conference -- the biggest academic conference in Canada for the social sciences and humanities. My guess is that there are about 8000 people here.

On Monday I will give a presentation on the topic I am passionate about - marketing of language programs. Originally, I thought I was supposed to present tomorrow, but I see the schedule has been changed....

But as for today, it has been it's very own special adventure...

I am staying at a Comfort Inn, which, despite the name, isn't exactly high end. They're basic, generally clean hotels. This one is close to campus and I figured I could walk to the conference.

When I got here, I asked if my friend, Mary, had already checked in. She had, so I called her.

She immediately said, "My parents are here from the States. We're going for dinner and you're coming with us."

Kind of taken aback I said, "Oh! I didn't know your parents were here. Sorry... Didn't want to intrude. I can catch up with you later."

She said, "Oh no. This isn't a great neighborhood. It's not safe. You're coming with us."

The neighborhood is a bit industrial, but I didn't quite understand her insistent tone.

Over dinner I found out that earlier today the entrace to the hotel had been sealed off and there were police in bullet proof vests swarming the place. There had been a shooting... Well, a minor drug-related murder, actually.


Oh yeah, and I had booked a non-smoking room. There are none. They're all smoking. I'm on the ground floor... but there's no way in hell I'm opening the big glass doors that open out on to the parking lot. I'm tough... but not stupid.

Did I mention that this is a huge conference and there are no hotel rooms under $300 to be found anywhere in this town?

The priceless irony of all this is that a few days ago, when my trainer was showing me a tubing workout I could do in my hotel room he said, "So, you just loop the tubing around a pole..."

And I replied, "A pole? I don't know what kind of hotels YOU stay in, but the ones I stay in don't have .... like... big dancing poles ... or any other kind of poles ... in the middle of the room!"

Apparently, instead, they just have murders.

And everything in this room is pretty much nailed down, so I'm going to have to get creative if I want to do that tubing workout... Or maybe I could just go dodge some bullets. Yeah, that sounds like a good workout...

Well, I'd better go search the net and find out where I'm supposed to present my paper on Monday...

Wish me luck... and survival.


backofpack said...

Oh my gosh, Sarah! That sounds horrible. It can only improve from there! I hope your presentation goes well and you have fun at the rest of the conference.

Here's something my son does - he uses one of those flat stretchy bands, ties a knot in one end, and shuts it in the door, then loops it around his leg and ties it off. Would something like that work for you?

robtherunner said...

The thought of the presentation scares me Sarah. I don't know how you do it especially among other professionals in your field. My stomach would be in knots for days on end. I suppose if I ever want to get a PhD I will have to do it though. Good luck and I know you will be wonderful.

Sarah Elaine said...


Surprisingly, I'm not intimidated by public speaking. I've done it in two languages and five countries. You get used to it...

The thought of dodging bullets though... that scares the living daylights out of me!

Turtle Guy said...

Where's your sense of adventure, Sarah? One day I'll tell you about the drunk driver M. and I encountered in Scarborough... it has nothing on dodging bullets, however.

Stay safe.

William said...

Good luck Sarah.

Make sure you check out Mountain Equipment Coop on King street. (Maybe you have a MEC in your area.)

I see you brought the heat with you, thanks!!!

madcapmum said...

Yes, well, that sounds like a fertile microclimate for intellectual growth, doesn't it? Mega-cities - yeesh! Be safe, well-fed and good luck on the presentation.

ipodmomma said...

thinking lively thoughts for you...

the smoking room that was suppsoed to be non would drive me insane!!!

kt said...

smoking room i could not do! all your stuff will smell like smoke!! ugh! i thought whomever BOOKED you to speak would provide you w/ a room of your preference! that, at least, would be my comment on those surveys they give out @ the end of conferences!

hey, i have a story about getting shot at when i was in high school! we lived in a middle class neighborhood in a VERY calm city. but these drive by things were happening this one summer. (before "drive-by shootings" having to do w/ gangs.) this group of kids did some vandalism on our street...then they musta come back another time...drove down our street SHOOTING! i think 5+ shots hit our home. i was on the couch doing math homework, something buzzed above my HEAD! i was bent down over the book!!

another bullet pierced our metal front door, went upstairs at such an angle that it went above my dad's head (bent over the sink brushing teeth) and hit the SHOWER HEAD!!! bending it in 1/2!!!! wow!

it's weird: writing how scary for my family! and we never even talk about it! wowie kazowie.

not to scare you or anything. there is a million to one chance anything even remotely similar to the shooting that already happened there would happen again for ages to come! don't worry. trust in Jesus, sarah! He cares for YOU!

love ya, you little world-traveller, PUBLIC-speaker -- you!

Arrogant Polyglot said...

As of late August I will be a resident of Toronto. No more hotels for you! I'd be glad to lend you my futon :)

Good luck on the presentation!

Janice said...

Hi Sarah,

Oh my goodness!That is terrible! Keep safe, and I hope you don't have to dodge any bullets.

About working out; either just take the time off, which is okay every now and then, or look in the telephone or on-line for the nearest gymn and just pay for a one day pass--so you can work out. Most wil provide that, and some even offer coupons for one free session. And if you are a member of Gold's gymn they'll let members work out for free.


Dawn - Pink Chick said...

I love doing presentations but for a crowd that size my stomach would be in knots as well.

Sounds like a "wonderful" place to say. If nothing else it gave you something to blog

Be safe my dear!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

oh man, good luck!!!

sorry to hear about your name not being on the program :(

glad you got family time!