Friday, 18 November 2016

EVERYTHING trolls

It's like a throwback wave lately. Everything 90s is on its way back. I kid you not I recently saw a young woman wearing black jean overall shorts with a tie up shoulder shirt and, to my absolute horror, a scrunchie! A scrunchie!? I almost wanted to ask her if it was ironic. I don't think it was, as irony is on its way out. Even irony is so 90s.

My brother and I were chatting on the phone about movies we want to see and he sheepishly admitted that he is excited for the Trolls movie. I exclaimed in return, "I am so excited!"

I was talking with a girlfriend who is 10 years my junior, so she has no idea what the phenomenon of Trolls was. At the height of our collection, my brother and I had close to 30 trolls in various sizes. I had teeny ones that went on the end of your pencils, and I had one the size of a cabbage patch doll, she was pink and stuffy in form with a ballerina outfit. She was an outcast, she was too pretty for all the moulded plastic trolls with their arms jutting out from their sides, their bulbous bellies, and the way they were perfectly balanced to stand on their flat feet.

You weren't cool unless you had a troll on your desk, and you were in the upper echelon of troll collectors if you changed it out on the daily. Trolls hung from my ears, I had a Hallowe'en pair, a Christmas pair, and an every day pair. They were stored in our pencil cases or greeting us as we opened our lift-top desks. And what would we do with them? Not much really, except move their heads to the beat of music to see their fluffy stick-straight hair bop gracefully to the beat.

You didn't really play with trolls, so much as just collect them. We amassed quite the collection, we would arrange them in rainbow order, from smallest to largest, from favourite to least favourite, from ugly-cute to just ugly (you could argue that they were all ugly but the bigger the eyes, the cuter they were).

One Christmas we decided that we needed to do something with the trolls. Growing up Catholic meant that nativity scenes marked our house. We had a ginormous oversized silhouette of the nativity scene on our large house, lit up with flood lights so that every semi and train that rattled by would know that Baby Jesus resides here. Oh, and in case it wasn't clear that Jesus was the reason for the season, my dad made a giant cross out of red Christmas lights to put above the oversized nativity silhouettes. A bit of overkill, but we all loved it.

It is with no surprise with this strong influence that we had to make our own nativity scene. What would we use? Trolls.

We had wise men trolls, they were the ones that came in a three pack, they were all the same level of ugly. Mary of course was the blue-haired troll, and I think I wrapped a sash over her so you'd know she was a she (trolls didn't really have genders). Joseph was a green haired one. Above it all flew my larger red haired troll that had a white polyester princess dress with frills, and if you peeked under she had a red jewel for a belly button.

The piece de resistance was, because we are white and raised Catholic, a blond petite troll for Jesus that appeared on Christmas night. We followed the Advent calendar of when to put out which figure in the cardboard troll nativity. Our mom didn't know if she should be horrified at a sacrilegious troll-nativity, or proud that her children were adopting this ritual with such fervour and personal relevance.

I think we giggled often at the ridiculousness of having a troll nativity scene. And their popularity faded as quickly as it rose. They all fell into a box destined for a garbage bin or donation bin, whichever was more convenient. The pink ballerina troll ended up in my niece's care, I found it one day while babysitting and immediately instagrammed it. It's bulging eyes and silly grin made me laugh and I couldn't help but share it.

I was back at my parents sorting through a box at one point and had a flashback when I came across Baby-Jesus-Troll complete with diaper. It was a visceral memory, transporting me back to the early nineties at Christmas time.

My brother and I will have to make a movie date of the Trolls movie and see if they do our childhood justice. We shall see if the plastic moulds with wispy technicolor hair make a comeback.

That's all.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

ALL or NOTHING

I bring it. I bring it all. I bring everything. I don't know how to bring half. I don't know how to not do anything without all of my gusto. I am either fully defined by this thing or I have abandoned it completely.

I was invited to a business meeting, well, it was the tail end of a previous meeting that I got tacked on to. That's another story altogether. In this meeting the group was discussing how to pay honour to a man that struggled with mental health and how to support the family that he had left behind. There was a regular marathoner, a marathon coach, a man that had taken up running in his 50s, a sportscaster and me. When the marathon coach got up from the table to grab some grub the remaining people asked me if I run. "I used to run".

You would think that I was drowning a kitten the way they all looked at me.

"You USED to run."

I think they all wanted me to go get checked out instantly. "Yeah, I used to run, I kind of got tired of it". Again, their faces looked as though I said I hate children or something equally heinous. I chose to leave it there. No need to explain everything and the unravelling of my love affair with running. But they are not you, so I will tell you.

I ran for fun, and to get outside. I really enjoy being outside. But for some reason I used to think it wasn't ok to just be outside. I had to have a purpose and a destination, thus running seemed normal. Truthfully, running was almost always hard for me. It was a struggle to go, and it was a struggle during, then it was a struggle to recover. I don't know if I ever did it properly, maybe I should have hired the aforementioned coach.

Somewhere in this long season of running I thought it was a good idea to run a half marathon. If you know me, you know that I believe that absolutely anyone can run a half marathon. If you train for it, if you have a mild interest in it, you can do it. A full marathon is for the very few, that is a triumph of will power more than anything, and a bout of insanity. Don't even ask about ultra marathoners, I worry about those people*.

*I am being facetious

Anyway, I thought a half marathon would be a great idea. I did it and cried a little as I crossed the finish line. If you ever feel like a good, emotional, human-spirit, inspiring cry, go hang out at the finish line of a marathon. It is powerful. I wasn't sure that my small frame would actually carry me 13 miles, but it did. And I know that there are people who, for them, that distance is a nice short Sunday run.

After that, I thought, well, I've done it. It was a lot, and it hurt in a lot of places afterward. I ran a few more 10k races and still enjoyed running. But it was taking a lot to get the high and I was finding that it wasn't helping me to keep weight off. I walked a ton when I lived out of province and came home and ran a 11 kilometre 10k race with some friends. I did it to be with my friends and (mostly) for the pierogis we got at the end. It was soon after the race that I stopped.

This was a shock to so many people because I was such a firm believer in the cult of running. All the beauty you got to see, the alone time, the processing you could do on a run, the no thinking that might occur when your body turned from aching and pulsating to machine hitting its stride. If you've never run you won't get any of this. If you've run, you know that that moment is the goal: lungs, heart, legs, arms, you don't feel anything except movement, you are both completely at home with your body and completely detached as it feels like it is doing what it was designed to do - without a single thought. And I had brought many into the cult of running. I was the grand Poobah of all things running.

All or nothing.

It became nothing. What was once such a core part of my identity was meh and not really that interesting anymore.

And I do this with so many things. It's my sole focus, or in the pile with many other fads that have come and gone in my life. Yoga, yogurt, Yogi Bear (just kidding on that last one, I was going for alliteration). Coffee, no coffee, green tea, coffee and no green tea.

I was out walking my dog the other day and had an overwhelming urge to run. She loves to go fast on the leash, she'll bark and bark and get excited and push her stubby little legs harder and harder in the quest for speed. I jogged a little bit, but was worried that I would train her into running (she picks up habits easily) so I slowed. I also worried that I would have to get back into running and all the gear, the schedules, the work up to it. All. Or Nothing. I chose nothing that day because I was scared that it would become my all.

Living in extremes wears on you. But it's part of our idiot brains that makes us do these things. We like putting people into nice little files. This is the guy that knows how to fix things, this woman is my go to for techie questions, that person is all about trees. Whatever. And we do it to ourselves. We say: I will be a runner. I will be a coffee connoisseur. I will be known for this. But we are more than just this one thing. Some of everything and bits of anything. We are many things, and we enjoy many things. Be parts of all, and choose when you want nothing, knowing you can pick it back up whenever you want.

That's all.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

dry spell = not reading enough

I keep going to write and it's as though there isn't anything in front of me. I have snippets of ideas but nothing that is materializing into a full-post-quality idea. And I am in a book-reading drought. Can you feel me?

I would like to be able to read all the books and devour them all while also savouring them. It is the plight of a reader. I also want all the time in the world to just sit and read. Nothing else.

My dream, with every other bookworm out there, is to have the most beautiful reading nook, fireplace, comfy chair, blanket, endless cups of herbal tea, and snacks that don't require any attention other than to stuff my face as I read EVERY book.

Ok, not really every book, but you get my drift. And as I was scrolling pinterest today I came across some wisdom that I had pinned months previous. Sometimes I think I could go and re-pin all of my favourite pins, I need a small pin board that is labelled "Genius Wisdom". Although she struggled, Ms. Woolf was on to something here:
Truth
If you want to write, write, but first read. Read all the books you can. Read all the articles you can. And not just the ones about writing. Read good authors, read bad authors (and figure out why you think they are bad), read mediocre authors. Read, read, read, then write, write, write.

I think this is what my Master's may have actually taught me. It's funny, you set out looking to prove something and have this research idea that can fit on the head of a pin (as far as knowledge is concerned) and you end up learning way more than you ever thought imaginable. In my case, writing was ignited. But! A big BUT! But, you cannot write good research until it's grounded in something bigger than itself. Until you find the things that influence you and your thoughts, and throw out the stuff that you don't want, you still learned from it. And it impacted you because it pushed you in a different direction. 

I love writing, but I like reading better. 

That's all.