Say yes, and then make it all up

Last Friday, Marc and I co-lead our first high school improv club meeting.

One of his students had approached him at the beginning of October to tell him that he was interested in starting the club, but in order to do so he would need a teacher sponsor.

Marc is amazingly involved at his school – he coaches soccer and rugby, and also leads the games and homework club – and he was more than happy to get involved, especially with how enthusiastic this young man was to get a group together to work on their improvisational skills.

Knowing that I did a ton of improv in high school and university and that I absolutely love to work with young people on all things theatre, he asked me if I was interested in helping him out.

It was all I could do not to jump up and down with my excitement.

(Okay, there may have been quite a bit of jumping up and down.)

These kind of opportunities are just so important for teenagers in terms of self-confidence and teamwork. My best friends in high school were my improv teammates, and we were all theatre kids who loved to perform and make ourselves out to be as silly as possible.

It would be my wish that every young person who is interested in trying out the performing arts to have this chance.

So if I can help make it happen, I will help make it happen.

I arrived at the school a little after the final bell had run for the day.

Man, you definitely forget how crazy high school is once you’ve been outside of those hallowed corridors for over eleven years!

The buzz of excitement, of nerves, of vulnerability, and silliness, of drama, and anticipation – the place just seems like an ever-seasoning soup, cooking in the craziest of cauldrons!

I went to the office to check-in and grab my visitor’s pass, before sitting down to wait for Marc to come and get me.

While I sat there, I marvelled at the seemingly unending stream of students that filtered in and out, either chattering to each other, or texting on their cellphones. Most of them were decked out in their Halloween finery, and many were munching on the mini chocolate bars being passed out by the student council in the main atrium.

Marc then came and got me and we walked to the auditorium.

There, seated on or around the stage, was a group of about twelve students, ranging from grade eight to grade twelve. Some of them were chatting away, while others looked a little nervous or shy about their decision to show up.

I asked them all to join me in a circle and we spent the first ten minutes learning each other’s name, by ascribing an adjective to ourselves that had to begin with the first letter of our first name, and then acting out the adjective. The next person would act out the previous person’s name, before doing the same for themselves.

The majority of the session was then spent getting the kids to become comfortable with saying “YES!” and supporting their fellow improvisers.

Improv is all about going with suggestions – whether they be from the actors with whom you are performing, or the ideas you get from the audience. A scene will go nowhere if someone says, “Ah, isn’t this an amazing day at the beach!” and their co-improviser counters with, “We’re not at the beach.”

Talk about killing the energy on the stage!

I am so proud to say that the group really bonded together and took this rule to heart. They were all super supportive of one another, and worked hard to make the scenes work, as well as make each other laugh.

And they even kept the inappropriate humour to a minimum!

(Although I am happy to report that the word “threesome” still absolutely destroys a group of teenagers. May this please, never, ever change!)

Honestly, it was just the best way to spend a Friday afternoon.

I cannot wait to go back and work with them again; I so badly want to ensure that these students have the opportunity to keep each other in stiches.

Because together, they’re sewing something great.

Roll the clip

Alright folks, let’s get a few things straight.

Today is September 20, 2014.

We are approximately three days away from the beginning of the Autumnal season.

I am twenty-nine years of age.

You are whatever age you currently are.

This is where I am sitting:

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Everything is both beautiful and terrible. Everything is both unadulterated brilliance and unmitigated bonkerness.

Everything just is.

Sometimes, whenever I start to get really down by all of the fuckery that seems to dominate our world’s discourse (not to mention actions!), I just really try and focus on all the amazing, beautiful, and breathtaking things and events of which I am privileged enough to both behold and partake.

And sometimes, I just think about the quiet world of my early morning, pre-work runs.

When the sky is a mottled blend of purples, pinks, greens, and blues.

When the sky is the most beautiful bruise.

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I run down along the boardwalk with my heart in my throat, and my tears in my eyes. My legs feel as though they are six miles long, and my arms pump, just like my blood pumps, and everything feels right and strong.

And I know that I am flying.

Sometimes I feel silly and trite writing again and again what it feels like to run. How propelling myself forward as hard and as fast as I possibly can brings on such infinite joy.

But I can’t.

Just like running itself, I cannot stop.

I cannot swallow these words.

They are a compulsion.

They are a joy

Work has been a little batty of late (50+ hour weeks), spent zipping about like zipping things (zippers!!).

However, seeing as though my fellow colleagues are gentlewomen and squires of the highest order, I cannot bring myself to complain.

The fact that I am passionate beyond a thought about my job and the work that I do is, of course, another boon.

However, this is not to say that we can’t have a great laugh at our own expense, especially in the lead-up to a very large event, of which we have been working on since March.

March!

Case in point:

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I, like we all, have the capacity to be a grumpy cat.

Hence, I am actually grumpy cat.

Remember movies?

I do, but barely.

And this leaves me feeling a little melancholy.

Because movies used to mean so much. They used to mean so much to me.

I recall the first movie that I ever saw in a theatre.

Beauty and the Beast was everything a movie should be (in my very discerning six year old mind). It was funny and scary. There was a beautiful, brilliant, strong female lead who loved to read and who wouldn’t take crap from all the ridiculous idiots who populated her “provincial town.” She, rightly, loathed Gaston, and held her own when it came to The Beast’s infantile temper tantrums.

In truth, it’s probably the only Disney princess flick I’ll ever be okay showing my future kidlets (but that’s another post for another time.)

I am fairly certain it was my nanny Suzanne who took me to the movie, and it was her gift to me on my sixth birthday. We went to the old (and now sadly demolished) Capital Six, back when Granville Street was in its full grunge-tastic glory.

Memories!

The first “grown-up” movie I ever watched in theatres was when Shona Langmuir, Patricia Beckerman (aka “The Girls”), and I went and saw The First Wives Club when we were in grade five.

Note: please let me emphasize the term “theatres” in the above sentence. My family were rather lax when it came to flicks seen by us kids, and we were viewing adult movies at a very, very early age. I remember watching the Fugitive on Easter Monday in grade two.

Nothing like collecting a bunch of chocolate eggs and then sitting down as a family to watch Harrison Ford clear his name!

Good grief.

But I digress. Holy damn did I ever dig The First Wives Club. Sure I didn’t get a lot of the jokes, and the scene where Brenda eats dinner by herself absolutely destroyed me. But it didn’t matter. It was three women who loved each other, out in the world, kicking ass and taking names.

Too this day I re-watch it at least once a year.

You don’t own me!

Looking at both this film and Beauty and the Beast would you say that there seems to be a pattern emerging as to the type of movie that really resonated with my younger self?

Oh to be that wide-eyed, bushy-tailed, newly emerging feminist!

There are so many more movies that, collectively, with the thousands of books, songs, and other miscellaneous artistic detritus that I’ve encountered and loved along the way, have helped inform who I am as a young woman today.

For instance: I LOVE Forrest Gump.

Next time you see me, ask me to quote the entire movie. I will do this for you.

I also love Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and A Fish Called Wanda, and I will always adore Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

I saw Amelie in grade eleven with my first boyfriend and spent the entire summer pretending to be her.

I adore Kieślowski’s Three Colours trilogy. My favourite of the three films being the darkest and most brilliant black comedy of all time, “Blanc.”

I will go to my death extolling the cinematic virtues of The Big Lebowski. For me, nothing will ever be funnier than this brilliant pieces of the Coen Brothers subconscious. I quote it all of the time and there are total parts of my and Marc’s vernacular made up solely by movie lines. I can also never look at a bowling alley the same way again.

It’s weird.

I love dramatic films as much as I do comedy, however I just am never one to really revisit these masterpieces, and as such they don’t influence my life to the degree as my favourite comedies.

And it’s not as though these two genres cannot exist simultaneously. In no uncertain terms are they are not mutually exclusive concepts.

It just takes one hell of a filmmaker to pull this off.

(Like the Coen Brothers.)

But isn’t movie watching also so much about the experience? The memory of that time spent in the theater? Where you were? Who you were with? Where you were in your life?

Probably one of my most cherished movie related memories is from the first few months of Marc’s and my courtship. Only four months into what is now an eleven year love affair, the two of us went to see Love Actually on a dark, went and very cold Vancouver November afternoon.

I had spent the night at his place and, because I was in my weird “only skirts, no pants” phase, I was wearing a pair of his cords because I didn’t have a clean pair of tights. They were absolutely huge, and I looked a bit of a sight. We had spent the morning at a community theatre on the Westside where I auditioned for a part in an upcoming play (spoiler: I didn’t get the part!), and then had bussed downtown. Arriving at the theatre (also the Capital Six!), we ran up the escalator so we wouldn’t be late for the previews.

I so wish I could properly communicate how much I felt watching that movie, sitting next to the man (the boy!) for whom I felt so, so, so strongly.

My body completely electric as I held his hand, I laughed at Bill Nighy’s amazing portrayal of Billy Mac and felt my heart break and break and break for Emma Thompson.

I just loved it.

I hate that I am even typing this, but for me, at that moment in my life, love truly was all around.

(I’m sorry!)

But it’s true.

And that’s why movies matter.

And why, despite the fact that I never go to the theatre anymore, and I only use my Netflix to watch old episodes of QI and MI5, I’ll never let them go.

I couldn’t even if I tried.

She’s got legs, and she knows how to use them

Hey kids.

I am currently sitting in bed, eating pasta and drinking a glass of (not great, but not terrible) white wine.

SUCH IS THE LIFE.

It’s been a complete whirlwind of a weekend – family hangouts, work talks, friends a-plenty, and I even read two books!

Young adult books, mind you. But still – there really is nothing like a good story in which to disappear for a couple of hours on a Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, this (Sunday morning), I ran in the Vancouver Fall Classic 10k.

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It was my third time running the race, and just like the two races past, I ran this one with a friend.

(Even if you’re not running the length of the course side by side, just knowing that you have someone there with you always, always makes the experience just that much more fun.)

I woke to my alarm at 6:30am. I had fallen asleep the night before around 11:00pm, and other than one slight interruption to get up and use the bathroom, my sleep was relatively restful, and much better than some of the absolutely brutal sleeps I have had in my racing past.

After cuddling with Marc for a couple of minutes, I tiptoed out of the bedroom and started about my pre-race morning routine.

I had already packed my bag and laid out all my clothing the night before (along with back-up choices, just in case the weather was different that previously predicted.)

It wasn’t – the thermometer read three degrees, and the pavement outside was slick with rain.

Espying these both, I wasn’t going to take any chances, and decided that my long running pants, long sleeved shirt, and t-shirt were my best option.

Then, I brushed my teeth, washed my face, moisturized, put in my contacts, and put my hair into a ponytail.

It’s so weird that these actions have such important meaning for me, but it totally throws me off if I don’t take care to do these things in a particular order.

The only fly in the ointment at this point, was that I had gone to bed the night before with a slight stomach ache, only to wake up with full-blown crampage.

Surprise! As much as I love getting my period (ZERO SARCASM HERE FOLKS), the sensation of my uterus falling out of my body is one that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

However, I’ve also never forgotten the time when my mum told me that the first Canadian woman who summited Mouth Everest did so whilst on her period, so I really feel like I really don’t much of a leg to stand on, complaint-wise.

(Seriously, I remember this SO WELL. I was twelve, and at a track meet, and was competing in high jump. I was feeling totally crappy, and she was all, “AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!”)

True story.

Any who, I then got dressed, went downstairs, made and drank coffee, ate two pieces of toast (one peanut butter, the other Nutella) and hung out with Nymeria, watching British panel shows on Youtube, until 7:50am.

Then I took out the trash, jumped in the car, and drove over to Greg and Daniela’s, where they too were preparing for the morning’s festivities (Greg to run, Daniela to cheer.)

I drove us up to UBC, and we marvelled at how awesome of a day it was turning out to be – not at all the minus four degrees and snowing as stated in the day’s original forecast.

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Once we arrived on campus, we parked, grabbed our registration package (our numbers and some sweet new running tights), checked our bags, and then moseyed on over to the start line.

My stomach was still in agony, but I tried to keep it in check by moving about as much as possible.

Timeline-wise, we had calculated everything really well, and we only had about a fifteen minute wait-time, before Greg and I bade our last goodbyes to our wonderful friend (and he, to his wonderful wife) and lined up at the starting line.

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These places are always just a terrific mix of nerves, posturing, egos, excitements, and camaraderie.

They truly are the best.

Before we knew it, the time was nigh – as the horn blared, we blasted out of the start gate and took off with the best of them.

The first two kilometers seemed to just whiz by – we were at Marine Drive before I even knew it, and descended to the old, lower road – a beautiful stretch of pavement, flanked on either side by towering, deciduous trees, and just hints of the ocean that stretches far and wide, just off to the right.

At this point there was only one other woman ahead of me that I knew of –  a blindingly fast lady, known only to me as “pink shoes” for reasons, of course, I am confident you can deduce.

It was here that I was caught by two other lady speed demons, and, knowing I was unlikely to keep up, I tried to keep pace with a different fellow in a lime-green shirt, running about three meters ahead of me.

As we summited the hill leading back to Marine Drive, I felt pretty fatigued – my stomach was giving me quite a fright; I am always afraid when running with these sorts of cramps, that I am in fact mistaking them for some other horrible digestive ailment.

But I figured as long as I ran as fast I could, and just got to the finish line, I’d be okay.

Turning around at five kilometers, there was a dude in a giant gorilla costume, and I gave him a cracking high-five.

Running up at UBC is always wonderful, because not only is it beautiful, but the people (mostly students) who come out and line the course are always fun, funny, and incredibly supportive.

I passed Greg as he was running to the turn-around; the guy looked just great – relaxed, happy, and totally in control, and we too exchanged high-fives as we passed each other.

From there, I was just working to get to 8k, telling myself over, and over again how easy those last two kilometers were.

It also helped that as the race continued, the sun came out, and it turned into an almost blindingly beautiful morning.

At the 7km mark, one more lady passed me, and I really started to dig in and try to keep my pace, if not speed up. I didn’t think my dream of a sub-40 was going to come true, but either way there was no reason not to run my absolute hardest for the rest of the race.

Turning into kilometer eight, the wind hit me full blast. I didn’t know if it was a nice respite from the growing warmth of the day, or a pain in the butt just slowing me down.

I decided it wasn’t that important, either way.

Nine kilometers was in sight, and as soon as we turned around to the last straightaway I could feel my legs getting looser, my strides longer, and breathing easier.

I passed two men with whom I had been playing tag with all race, and just ran as hard as I could to the finish.

Daniela was there to cheer me on, and a lovely volunteer handed me a medal.

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I immediately joined my friend, and we waiting only a couple minutes longer for Greg to come charging down to the finishing gate.

It was pretty epic to behold.

In the end, he finished in 45:30 (amazing for his first time running a 10k race!), 11th in his age category, and 51st overall.

With a time of 42:15, I finished 4th in my age group (5th woman overall), and placed 30th in total.

Not shabby!

They we showered-up, gorged ourselves on comfort food (see below) and spent the next few hours playing board games, and laughing ourselves silly.

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Because what else, besides running, friends, food, and fun, is life all about?

If there is anything better, I want to know.

Oh the horror!

Hello you fab chaps!

Did any of you get up to anything for Halloween this weekend?

Now, I know that All Hallows Eve isn’t actually happening until this Thursday, but common practice dictates that if this spooky night falls on any day other than Friday or Saturday, you celebrate on the Saturday before.

So in this vein, Marc and I, along with our terrific friends, got together on the 26th, donned our best fancy dress, and traipsed around New Westminster all night long.

It was a hilarious time and I finally, FINALLY, wore a different costume other than the one I’ve been sporting for the past eight years.

I tell ya, I really have got the market on 1920’s golfer cornered.

Cornered but good.

Marc, on the other hand, is an absolute costume maverick and has been putting together awesome showings since the first Halloween we spent together.

This year, he decided that he would dress as Chtulhu (that terrifying Lovelockian beast) and he sewed the majority of his costume from a child’s centipede costume.

WHAT A BOSS.

Check it out:

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Now, I thought long and hard about what I would do for my costume.

A tiny little part of me always thinks that I should take advantage of (in the immortal words of Tina Fey) “a girl’s one night a year when she’s allowed to dress as slutty as she wants and no one can say anything about it.”

But this is never, ever going to happen, so I instead, I gravitate away from sexy and towards TERRIFYING.

Which is why I decided to dress like this:

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And then proceeded to do this:

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ACK.

Even just looking at these photos gives me the willies.

Have you all watched The Ring?

This movie scared me so badly that I had to sleep with my mum the night that I watched it in the theatre.

And I was seventeen years old!

For the entirety of Saturday night I couldn’t even look at myself in the bathroom mirror, for fear of my own reflection.

Also, I’ve learned that nothing beats running about in a dirty, ripped nighty on one of the coldest nights of the year.

Aaaannnddd…I’m not even sure if that is sarcasm or not.

But seriously, I had to wrap myself in a wool blanket each time we ventured outside.

Thank goodness I didn’t decide to go for full authenticity and forgo shoes for the evening.

THANK GOODNESS.

But Marc and I weren’t the only ones who put some sweet effort into our costumes – the rest of our group looked epically fantastic.

We had our Top Gear hunks:

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And Sean and Ed from Sean of the Dead:

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We spent the evening bar hoping around town, drinking sangria, and marvelling at all the other costumed fools and ghouls skulking about the night.

Highlights included a group rendition of The Monster Mash, a lindy-hop jam session between myself and Sean at the Heritage Grill, a late-night showing of Slither, and all the mini-chocolate bars you could possibly imagine.

This morning we all reconvened and enjoyed a late-afternoon lunch down at the Quay, marvelling at the amazing late-October sunshine in all of its glory.

We truly are incredibly lucky to live in such an amazing beautiful place.

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And having the chance to run about together in costume isn’t anything to sniff about either.

(Although if you’re doing it in a nighty, I’d definitely recommend brining some tissues.)

My love for you will still be strong

After the boys of summer are gone.

Friends.

I have been a terrible bloggess of late.

I keep saying that I am going to get back into the regular routine of things – writing, reading, and commenting on the regular – but life keeps getting completely out of control and I find that I have zero time to do anything (like tie my shoes!), let alone sink back into this wonderous blogosphere and get my rant and roll on.

So please forgive my absence – or as it has been of late, my hot and cold presence.

Please know that I am thinking about all of you, and am taking the time (whenever it comes up!) to take pleasure in all of your musings, insights, photographs, and updates.

I miss this place terribly, and am doing my very best to get back to a regular rhythm.

And until the time when I regain my blogger mojo, some snaps:

Bacherlorette.

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IMG_3872Wedding hair.

IMG_20130804_010958Garden walk.

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Ashland hike.

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IMG_3710Date night.

IMG_3750Love.

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I hope for all of the wonder you and yours.

Always.