In Defence of Other

It goes without saying that Twitter is a wonderful tool. It connects people, creates friendships, promotes businesses, encourages adventure and exploration, allows the user to see things in the world they otherwise wouldn’t. And it also harbours bullies and better-thans.

What’s a Better-Than you ask? Anyone who believes that what they do, love, eat, drink, etc is leaps and bounds better than what you do, love, eat, drink etc, simply because the two are not the same. Some prime examples? You enjoy a cold Bud after a long day of yard work. How pathetic are YOU? You should be drinking the latest and greatest local craft beer because all the cool kids are and they sure as shit are going to make fun of you for drinking something as bottom-of-the-barrel as a Bud. Even though you like Bud. Then theres the coffee drinkers. GOD FORBID you stop in at a Tim Hortons. GOD. FORBID. You should be drinking the more expensive, rarely open, out of the way, its-better-because-we’ve-convinced-you-its-better coffee. Except for one thing. When you wake up at 4:30 in the morning and head to work at 5:10, Mr High Falutin coffee maker is neither open nor on your way to work. And some people? I know this will be shocking, but some people actually just like Tims. They are not the devil spawn or the bottom feeders. They just want an inexpensive, ok cup of coffee. And guess what? That’s OK. Oh, you live in a newer neighbourhood with small trees and lots of houses? How sad for you. You must have ZERO ambition and must be SO WILLING to settle for average. Actually, our home and our street are both equally amazing, full of kids running around outside all day long and families that, yes, get this, families that KNOW EACH OTHER. You don’t need to be living in good old River Heights or Wolesely to have a family-centric neighbourhood full of good people who look out for each other.

I think the best one out of the bunch though? That would be taste in music/food/restaurants etc. Not dining at the latest, locally owned bistro? You pathetic Earls-monkey. Not buying your groceries at the specialty store and making instagram-worthy dinners? Heathen. You listen to WHO? NO ONE LIKES THEM you fool.

How about this. How about we all like what we like? How about we stop trying to make people feel embarrassed or belittled just for liking something OTHER than what YOU like? How about that hey? Wouldn’t that be neat. Because I live in a developed neighbourhood, I drink Tim Hortons coffee, I enjoy a cold Bud if its put in front of me, I eat at Boston Pizza, I listen to Eminem, and I cook basic, good old meals that I photograph only to prove to my mother that I actually DO cook now. So you and me? We’re not that different. I don’t care where you live or what you eat or who you listen to. Just so long as you enjoy it all to the fullest. That’s it. That’s all.

Dear Winnipeg Blue Bomber Organization,

You don’t know me, not personally, but I am a fan. Yes, still.

I just wanted you to know that we, the collective “we”, do not hate you. Contrary to popular belief, and the overwhelming impression given on twitter, you do indeed have fans left. We’re just a little quieter than the rowdies who love to hear the sound of their own voices and spout their coaching prowess and high school football stats online. Because much like your team, your players, coaches and management, we’re tired of being crapped on for showing support to a struggling team, for staying positive and refusing to bash them. Please do not take that for naiveté or ignorance though. We KNOW there is work to be done. Oh lordy, is there work to be done. But we the few, are the firm believers that feel there are enough “fans” hollering the negative that perhaps, just maybe, the team could use a little positivity.

We’re the ones who quietly but proudly still don our Bomber gear at work on Casual Fridays. We’re the ones with the Alex Suber screen savers, the BB pinnies up on the wall of our offices, the Bomber logo on our phones. We’re the ones NOT regretting our Bomber licence plates or season tickets. We’re the ones filling the stands with hope and staying till the time runs out, win or lose. We’re still here. Answering “The Bombers, who else?” when questioned on who we will cheer for this week.

I am a fan of the New Orleans Saints also. So as you can imagine, last year was a tough one to be a sports fan. I know loss, in the fans sense of the word. I know you can’t win everything all the time. I know you don’t always have a good game, a good season, even a mediocre season. I also know you can come back from shitty times. I know great things can be born out of low moments. You’re on the right track, fellas. Its a slow process, its a rebuild from the ground up. I can see the movements, the changes, the position switches, the new kids in town. You’re on the right track. We’ve derailed enough, lets stay on that track.

I was walking in Safeway a few weeks ago and a stranger, a total stranger, said to me “Wow, you’re pretty brave to be wearing that sweatshirt”. I had to stop for a second and think, hey, was I secretly transported to Regina? DUDE. I’m in Winnipeg. This is our team. What the hell are you talking about? I replied with, “They’re our boys, you have to support our boys”. He muttered an “I suppose” and walked away. Really? In our OWN CITY?

At work I am known as the face of optimism when it comes to Bomber pride. People think I’m crazy. I’ve been called delusional. I’ve been admired for my dedication. I’ve been questioned on how much I actually could possibly know about the team to still be so positive and hopeful. And I surprise just about all but the lowest of naysayers. Because I know the game. Though they generally go away when I say “They are our home team. Who the hell else are you going to cheer for??”. I have one co-worker who will come up to me before each game and request the usual. “Tell me something positive going in, Char.” So I do. I always have something. Some stat, some new player, some kid off of the injury list ready to ball again. He walks away satisfied, perhaps not anymore hopeful but a little less negative.

So there you go, Bombers. We’re still out there. We see Ford ready to plow through men twice his size. We see Max Hall and his potential (because yes, he has potential). We see Alex Hall and Bryant Turner ready and dying to keep us at the top of the Sack Leader list. We see Suber and Johnson and Washington flying, grabbing, switching roles and making plays. We see Markett, the newbie, making ground, making a place for himself. We see our two new big men, Knapp and Jones, in town for four days, expected to know the playbook and somehow managing to give Hall a little more time to make those passes that seemed to just find their rightful owners more often than not. And speaking of rightful owners, can we just talk about Kelly for a minute? Sky High Kelly, grabbing shit out of nowhere. We see our star, our fave, our veteran who doesn’t want to be anywhere but Winnipeg, Edwards, throwing his body around to catch whatever comes in his general direction. My word that man. Please lets just keep that man.

We see this and more. We get bummed when a loss comes our way, just like the negative nellies out there. But we know. We know you’re trying. We know you’re making decisions that you think, in the heat of the moment, are the right ones. We’ve all been there. And yes, it sucks knowing you have lost again. But we’re still here and we’re staying. We see the moves being made behind the scenes. The releases. The acquiring of new talent. Boltus, Brown, Kelly, Sims Walker, Knapp, Jones, and the mighty Bellefeuille who, while the losses have still come, seems to be able to make things happen every now and then. We see the potential now. And for those of us with common sense and patience, we see what this might bring us next year. That’s right. Next year. Not this week. Not right now. Next year people.

So now, when you’re on Twitter or reading those god awful comments on the online newspaper stories, remember this. Not everyone thinks you need to fire every coach and coordinator under the sun. Not everyone thinks the stadium was a waste of money. Not everyone wants to run you all out of town with pitchforks and burning sticks. Just the loud ones do. Us quiet ones? Well, you’ll hear us. At every game. Raising the decibel levels. Because where we are quietly supportive behind a screen, we are loud and mighty at the very moment when you need us to be.

Thanks guys, we got your back.
Go Blue.

Swaggerville, Reincarnate

Once upon a time our Bomber defence created a brand all unto themselves and low and behold, Winnipeg bought in. Swaggerville was born and like any good regime, they had their loyal subjects, ready to defend the name, the brand, the band of brothers. Last year, the Mayor of Swaggerville was ousted. Exiled to none other than the mortal enemy. The defence that once ruled all the land from the SK border to the ON border faltered, their play was not what it should be. Their spirit was not a candle burning bright but rather a flame, snuffed, trying desperatly to relight itself in a blustery windstorm, otherwise known as the Upheaval of a Team.

No one spoke much of Swaggerville as the year went on. There were whiffs of it here and there, with attempts to reignite the brand loyalty but lacking the play on field from which the Swag-storm originally erupted. And with a paltry season over, the residents of Swaggerville quietly snuck away in the night, without a word to their loyal followers who hoped that next year, Mayor or not, they could proudly wave the flag once again.

Fast forward to the beginning of the season, 2013. Loss of a key member of the Swaggerville team. Not a wild promoter of much other than himself. And suddenly, S-Ville is down to two major players, both with potential leadership blood running through their veins, both wanting to rebirth their Swaggerville nation, both knowing that deep down they have what it takes. Will new members emerge? Will Swaggerville show up on the field this year? Will the rookies jump on board and remind the veterans what it feels like to truly LOVE what they do and remind them of what it feels like to feel truly BLESSED to do it every day? Will they remind them that they have thousands of people who bought into their belief system that our defence, these men, are worthy of this brand, this loyalty? I sure hope so.

I remember a time when we would tout, “Swaggerville, population 30,000″. I remember that I thought that was pretty darn cool. If not Swaggerville, then at least lets get back to that place where we can say, “Bomber fandom, population 30,000″.

Go Blue.

Crossing The Line…..The Finish Line

I used to avoid the idea of entering running races because I never wanted to be the one that came in last. And then it dawned on me. Someone has to be last. And so what if its me? Who cares what your time is or your rank? You finished something a good 90% of the population in your city did not even bother to wake up for. First, last, or somewhere in between, you gave ‘er shit and got ‘er done and lookee here, you have the t-shirt to show for it.

I read a tweet the other day that someone wrote about not bothering with a race because they feared they’d be last and couldn’t stomach it. The tweet was written by a person who is a very seasoned runner, clearly not used to anything but top ranking, and the idea of being in the back of the pack with us lowly “slow pokes” was reason enough to lace up on their own elsewhere, so as not to be embarrassed that someone might lump them in the same group as us. For shame. It makes me think that they are the type that would snicker when they see a heavier person out there walking/jogging/TRYING.

It prompted an “Unfollow”. True athletes support each other, are proud of each others effort and accomplishments. True athletes realize that waking up every day to slug it out with the pavement or the treadmill or the weights is an unending commitment and know that as long as they are out there trying, then they’re “one of us”. True athletes know that trying is the very best you can do. So long as you are trying, you are, in your own way, kicking ass. So long as you are trying, you are, in your own way, an athlete.

So to the tweeter who couldn’t possibly enter anything that might make them push themselves, possibly face the fact that theres always room for improvement, I say this: I may come in last, but I am not on the couch. I am not in bed. I am not sitting on my ass doing nothing. I am out here, with you, running, just like you are. And I’m trying my best. “Last” is better than “Did Not Finish”, which trumps “Did Not Start”.

The Thing About Muscles

A few things I have learned this week about muscles:

1) You require your tricep muscle to accurately apply mascara. You can use opposite hand to securely hold mascara-wand-holding-arms-elbow to steady application. And then be thankful you only wear mascara and do not need to repeat this.
2) You require your chest muscles to turn corners in your car, and you particularly need them to parallel park. This one I took for granted until I realized how many turns it took to get to work, get home, get to my girls school and park the car. Our city is made up of constant turns.
3) You require your quads to lower yourself on to a chair or toilet, this is especially true in the dark, in the middle of the night, when the seat is freezing cold.
4) You also require your quads to get back up off of said chair or toilet. You may let out an “oompf” at this point.
5) You require both your biceps and your triceps to raise your arms high enough to wash your own hair. If you know this in advance, you can plan to have a helper onsite. Or get comfortable with not washing your hair for a few days.

Its kind of cool, how all these little moves use all of these different parts of your body. And that working them out properly leaves THEM feeling sore and YOU feeling, well, them. When your muscles are sore a day or so after a workout, it means they are repairing the damage from the workout. And in repair is where gains are made and strength is created. So I will suffer through the messy mascara eyes, driving like an old granny, grimacing as I lower into any seat of any kind and washing only the lower third of my hair because I know I did good. I have made gains. I have gotten stronger.

It’s a Sad, Sad World

I have yet to watch a documentary about the events of 911. I can’t bring myself to see people desperately falling from a building. I have yet to watch a documentary about the Katrina disaster. I can’t bring myself to watch people perched on their roofs, or X’s on houses, or numbers indicating how many dead inside. I have yet to read an article about the Newton shootings. I can’t bring myself to absorb the words of families who no longer have the sweet luxury of kissing their babies goodnight. So I don’t know what compelled me to open the picture from yesterdays bombing in Boston, the one marked “Extreme Graphic Content”.

I won’t ever forget it.

There were people on twitter saying they would pray for Boston. There were people saying what about the places in the world where this happens everyday. There were people comparing one tragedy to another, as though the one they cared about was more important. I have an idea. Whatever your faith, your nationality, your homeland, your belief system, how about we all just “pray” for the good to outweigh the evil. How about we “pray” for everywhere in the world that sees these types of tragedies, whether its once a decade, once a year, once a month, once a week, or god forbid, once a day. In no way does a regular occurence of this magnitude somewhere else, detract from the fact that it has happened in Boston, in our backyard. On the contrary. It is a stark reminder that it happens, everywhere.

I think of the planners of the marathon and my heart breaks for them. As an event planner, I know the weight of what we put on ourselves before and during an event. I know the responsibility we load on ourselves, what the enormity of the entire event resting firmly on our shoulders feels like. I know they planned their security in the same fashion that they would have in the last few years and I know they were comfortable with that and I would have been also. I cannot imagine the grief and the guilt they would have been feeling after this happened. It is not their fault, but they will feel like it is. This I know.

I think of those runners. Those runners that trained for this, that live a healthy and likely busy lifestyle, doing what they can to prolong their lives, doing what they can to keep their hearts beating and blood pumping. I think of them as they ran that course, wondered if they were hoping for a personal best, hoping for a chance to beat last year, or hoping just to finish. I think of them and wonder, who will keep running? Who will cower and not enter another group run again, who will run the minute they can to help them work through it all, and who can never run with the power of their own two, fully functioning legs again. I think of them the most.

Running is such a personal thing. It can be a private moment you have with yourself. A time where you marvel at how YOU can shape your life, your body, and your mind. And I keep going back to that image in my head, the one I looked at and will always remember. That person, that person who went out for a run one sunny Monday in Boston, and I think to myself “I will run. I will run for you while you cannot. I will run until you can run again.”

We are lucky. We are not exempt. But we are lucky. We live in a great country and a wonderful city and no matter what people say about it to the contrary, we are lucky. And yes, I realize that up until yesterday I am sure those that live in Boston would have said the same thing. But as I sit and send my positive and healing thoughts up into the universe, I choose to put my faith into the belief that Mr. Rogers was right. That there are more helpers out there than not. That whenever bad things happen, you need to look for a helper because they will always be there. Where there is one person who is walking with evil, there are hundreds running to help.

Stop it, People.

10 things that need to stop, immediately:

1) Mens jeans with thick white stitching. Stop.
2) Jeans with jewels of any kind, whether on pockets or elsewhere, whether colored or diamond-y. Stop.
3) Wearing backpacks with shoulder straps at the lowest possible hook. You are destroying your back. Stop.
4) Women who constantly need to put it out there that they are also manly. You hunt. You wear plaid. You enjoy being in the bush. Big deal. This is not unique to men. Stop.
5) Adding hugs and kisses to everything you write. Do you really know people well enough that you would behave squishily with them in person? Stop.
6) Acting like you’re famous, and spending all your time working at pretending its true. You’re not. Stop.
7) Being self-depricating, just to hear good things about yourself from others. Get over yourself. Stop.
8) Duckface in photos. Its obvious. Stop.
9) Phone calls. There are a few exceptions to this rule, and you know who you are. Otherwise? Stop.
10) Sports-team-bashing. No team is perfect, all the time. Support your team, win or lose. Don’t crap on them when they don’t have their shit together. Just stop.