The Brain Machine

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Growing up, I have always thought about useful inventions that could change the world. One invention I recall was a machine that would transfer years of schooling into a person’s brain within seconds thus eliminating the need to attend an educational institution… I guess you could say I was less than excited about returning to school.

As the days of summer start to fade, the return of school looms on the horizon for many, but for some it’s already a reality. My Secondary 5 year started on August 17. However, I didn’t attend the first two-and-half days because of traveling issues – and laziness.

For the summer, my father and I had planned that my sister and I visit him, my grandfather and siblings in Moose Factory and attend a cultural event called the Gathering of Our People (GOOP). I wanted to go right after the MikwChiyam Art Festival on June 26, but due to traveling issues and my sister’s desire to stay in Mistissini to spend time with friends we only left on July 21.

My dad got a friend in Mistissini to pick us up at 7 am (preposterous, I know!) and drive us to Chibougamau, where my sister and I were to catch a bus to Val-d’Or to meet our father who was waiting to drive us to Timmins, Ontario.

I wanted to say goodbye to my computer the night before leaving for the remainder of the summer so I played video games all night. And before you say anything, there was no way in hell I was going to wake up at 7 am and be mentally able to not press snooze. I wasn’t even packed! So, in retrospect, staying up all night playing video games before leaving for Mistissini was actually an intelligent decision.

On the drive to Chibougamau, I was dead tired. Had you thrown a ball at me it would have hit my face. When we arrived at the “bus station” (a.k.a. the Sonic gas station), my Dad’s buddy bought our tickets and sent us on our way.

After eating a McDonald’s breakfast and putting my suitcase into the overhead storage compartment of the bus, I waddled over to my desired seat with my sister. I got out my bus ticket and waited for the bus driver to come over and scan it. I had a student ticket, which I figured wouldn’t be an issue. I mean I’m 15. It’s the law, isn’t it?

When the bus driver grabbed my ticket, he said something but I didn’t understand due to his accent. I asked, “Come again?” But once I did, panic set in as I realized he was saying “Student ID!” I didn’t know what a student ID was, let alone do I have one. So I’m sitting there thinking I’m gonna get kicked off and my sister is too because I’m supposed to be the one looking out for her and I am mentally screaming.

As I fumbled around to find some form of ID that states I’m a student, I see a look of sympathy on the bus driver who is patiently waiting. Finally, he said, “Just have your student ID ready next time.” And he walked back to the driver seat. It took me a second to process what he just said and then I instantly fell back into my seat with relief. I was absolutely convinced that we were not going to Val-d’Or to meet our dad and, as a result, not going to Moose Factory.

So I’d like to give a shout-out to that driver. Without him and his leniency, I would have never made it to Val-d’Or and traveled to Timmins and Moose Factory with my father. So thanks Monsieur Conducteur for single-handedly saving my summer!

After sleeping the entire six-hour bus ride (I even slept through lunch), we arrived in Val-d’Or and met with our father, who took us to Timmins. Most of our time there was spent ordering food from fast-food restaurants (KFC delivers, who would’ve guessed?), watching summer blockbusters at the local theatre and spending time with our dad. We also stayed with our granny in Cochrane for a couple of days.

The GOOP inched closer and so did the travel date for our train to Moose Factory. We eventually all traveled to Moose Factory to see our grandpa and siblings who live with him. I spent most of our stay playing my brother’s Skyrim computer game, while my sister slept a lot. Unfortunately, we ended up not going to the GOOP because, jeez man, it’s like a 20-minute walk and if we drove there our tires would be slashed. But my time in Moose Factory was nice, calm and strangely therapeutic.

Before returning to Mistissini, I made it my mission to constantly remind my sister that school was starting in less than a week. I enjoyed her pain and anxiety but I always reassured her that high school is great.

I remember, after tormenting my sister and then telling her it would be all right, wondering why, unlike my sister, I wasn’t worried about the “impending doom” that August 17 entailed. We’ve all felt it. I remember the feeling of stress the previous two years, but there was none this year.

Maybe it’s the fact that I have a reason to be excited. The MikwChiyam arts program has been a lot of fun. And school’s basically a brain machine. It just takes several years instead of seconds – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

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