Have laughs, will travel

Sometimes, you just need to act like a nutter.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In December of 2009, M and I spent a week in Geneva and five days in London before returning home to Canada.

We had been living in the UK while I was on research leave for my MA, and we really wanted to wrap up our trip in a special way.

We figured stops in two brilliant, bustling cities (in the weeks leading up to Christmas no less) would make for an excellent send off.

Now, suffice to say that I love my husband madly (emphasis on the mad) and when I state that we have a heck of a good time travelling together, this is not hyperbole.

This is fact.

During our time in Switzerland, we bopped about the place, our eyes semi-sprung from our sockets, incredulous at how expensive everything was (I mean, twelve francs for a happy meal!? How is that even possible?), attempting to take in all the jaw-dropping beauty offered up by our environs.

M is half-Swiss so we had the immense pleasure of staying with his amazing cousin Lisette, a woman whom I love dearly – so much so that I will be hard pressed not to name my first child after her.

(If luck should have it that it be born a boy, well, he’ll have to endure. Perhaps some hard living country songstress will write a rousing tune about him and his namesake. It would be a bona fide hit; a certified chart topper.)

Lisette’s sister Bea is another of my all time favourites – she is the epitome of chic. Her doggie Tisha is also the epitome of cute, with her eyes that melt your heart, and magical powers to make handfuls of biscuits materialize out of thin air.

On our first day in Geneva, we toured much of the old town and then visited St. Pierre Cathedral. Having climbed to the bell tower, we took full advantage of an empty observation deck to partake in some high tom foolery.

Exhibit A:

Magic!

On our trip to Bern, M kept asking me to take photos so “it looked like he was running to jump aboard the train while it was still moving.”

This is the best I could do:

It’s amazing the associated press hasn’t been blowing up my phone trying to get me to come and work for them.

Perhaps one of my most favourite laugh-until-you-cry-and-then-bloody-well-laugh-some-more moments came when we were in London.

It was our second day in the city. We sprung out of bed at an early hour, despite having walking some twelve-odd hours the day before, so eager we were for adventure.

Boy was it was cold as heck.

We arrived at Kensington Gardens and immediately were besieged by hoards of hungry, and as such, aggressive water fowl. They were absolutely insatiable! I managed to capture the madness (albeit all too briefly) in the following video.

P.S.  THIS IS NOT HOW MY VOICE SOUNDS IN REAL LIFE GOOD GRIEF.

Finally, because I’m a silly, silly girl, and I’m always asking M to pose for inane photos, I requested that he pretend to tickle the giant, mummified hippopotamus that’s hanging two stories up in the Museum of Natural History:

And then pet the skeleton of some poor prehistoric beast that perished in some Jurassic tar pit and/or meteor shower:

Alas.

Just typing out these words – just looking at all of our many photos from this trip has got me feeling homesick. Yearning for our small, rubbish flat on Rotton Park Road, my running loop at the Edgbaston Reservoir, my young English students at Right Track School, the beautiful red brick at the University of Birmingham, and all the carefree nights and weekends M and I spent around the city, and different parts of the country.

So you’ll have to excuse me.

I’m off to take some photos. I’m off for a new adventure.

The gold, silver, and bronze age

Holy frickmas.

DUDES.

IT’S THE OLYMPICS!!!

And hot damn do I ever love the Olympics.

Because hot damn do I ever love sport.

I don’t love corporations, or globalization, or nationalism, or any of the other buzzwords that Olympic detractors love to trot out at two and four-year intervals. I don’t love Coke, and I don’t love idiotic, phallic mascots (although my cat sure does love her Quatchi), and I don’t love doping scandals, or unsportsmanlike conduct – issues that are sure to plague these games as they do every other international amateur athletic event.

I don’t love any of these things.

I just love sport.

And I respect and admire these phenomenal athletes who have sacrificed so much – more than I’ll ever know or understand – to push their bodies to the physical limit in an attempt to (pretty much) attain the impossible.

And I cannot for the life of me understand how people can want to take away from this – take away from those who have trained their entire lives for a chance to perform in the world’s spotlight, for that all too brief moment when the collective mass of coagulated humanity turns away from whatever opiate that is currently keeping them apathetic, and docile, uninterested and disengaged – and watches.

If but for a moment, becomes re-engaged.

Ignore all the superfluous, gratuitous, pornographic background noise that is produced from the monolithic and terrifying Olympic machine; ignore the masturbatory circus that is the IOC.

Ignore everything but the events and the players.

At least I will.

I do.

Because when you do, it is magic.

Here are three memories (in no particular order) I have of watching this magic.  They are events that helped shape me not only as an athlete, but as an individual.

1.)    Donovan Bailey’s gold medal 100m final – Atlanta Olympics, June 24, 1996.

Location: The basement of my family’s house, Vancouver, wearing my older sister`s stretched and faded Los Angeles 1984 t-shirt, sun burnt, exhilarated, awe-struck, inspired.  To this day whenever I see 9.84 I think of that moment.

2.)    Myriam Bedard’s double gold, biathlon – Lillehamer Olympics, 1994

Location: The TV room of my family’s house (different from the previous post), Vancouver.  I remember the how tight my chest was, as if my pride has someone squeezed all the air from my lungs.  I was so happy for not only my fellow country woman, but for all Canadian women.  I cried when my mother told me Myriam had been selected to carry the flag at the closing ceremonies.  (It’s very unfortunate that her horrible actions post-games have come to define her memory for many.)

3.)    Matthias Steiner’s gold in the 105+ kg weightlifting – Beijing Olympics, 2008

Location: My tiny 600sq foot home as a newlywed, Vancouver.  Completely sleep deprived due to staying up all night to watch live feeds on cbc.ca  I wept when Matthias won, having learned that his wife – a German woman from Saxony – had died in a car accident just months before his Olympic triumph.  He receives his medal holding a picture of her as tears stream down his face.

What about you cats? What are you excited for?

Oh, and as a postscript (and counterargument to this entire post), take a look at The Hater’s Guide to the London Olympics. As someone who has lived in the UK, and who LOVES the Olympics, it is bloody funny as HECK.