Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Toss this log on the fire and smoke it.

I’m bored. Let’s play a game. Would you rather…experience something that is quick and painful but is beyond your perceived boundaries or, something long and arduous (still painful) but percieved within your normal realm of ability?

To give you context to the hypothetical question: you’re a participant on the show the Amazing Race. You have a series of pit stops you have to go to along the way to a designated finish line in a foreign country and this is the dilemma you encounter. You have a pit stop where you could very well take the short cut but it be painful quick and possibly not something you can achieve or something that seems easier but takes you a long time.

I recently watched an episode where there was this pair of brothers that were in dead last on the Amazing Race. They had the option of doing an incredibly difficult task where they got to balance logs on their forehead or they could carry them up temple steps.

As I watched, glued to the boob tube, all I could think of as these incredibly chiseled cowboys strategized at the task of balancing several 20 foot beam poles on their forehead and walk 40 yards balancing the precarious log like flag poles across a finish line -- the task seemed virtually impossible. But together with sheer determination, teamwork and downright drive to brand something …errr…not quite sure what, perhaps, their opponents behinds, they finished the leg of the journey in 1st place.

Meanwhile every other team chose to carry a series of similar logs up the most crazy steps I’ve seen in a Buddhist temple. It took them a long time and what had seemed like less painful from the get go turned into a series of setbacks for everyone else. One person dry heaved. Others just couldn't handle it.

The end results from both decisions were unknown but what if one situation looks simpler from the outside looking in than the other situation. The rewards are unknown, the stakes are high. But one is perceived as easier. What would you do? What if the decision involved your emotions, in terms of pain or loss.

This hypothetical came to mind this week as I discussed some of the harder topics of life with close friends. If the known variable in a situation is pain than the general consensus from those I spoke with, our automatic response seems to be to not take the risk, to stay in the comfort zone of the supposedly known variables of life and try to avoid pain or anything that might rattle our emotions. But nothing is completely known. That’s not our place. Omniscience is one super power that does not belong to humankind.

The future is a mystery and will continue to be that way. And if we choose the road that’s most travelled, it is safe to say we are content in our ignorance of the unknown. (Where would the cowboys be if they hadn’t taken that risk.)

Like the Princess Bride wisely once said, "Life is pain. Anyone who is tries to tell you otherwise is trying to sell you something." It is inevitable in every situation. So why do we prefer to think that we fair better by trying to choose what seems easiest from the outside looking in. With high risk yields higher chances for greater rewards, return on investment from a financial perspective. How does this not apply with other variances of context to this hypothetical situation.

And if we don’t invest our lives in life, than how do we truly expect to live as we should? This post isn't necessarily supposed to answer any questions but spark them. One pitstop task is no better off than the other, it's just different. Are you willing to sacrifice, take risks? If so, what are you currently risking? Or avoiding?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Road Runner Dating & Albert Einstein

Growing up we had a tradition. Every Saturday morning I would rise early, make myself a bowl of cereal and try to convince my dad to get out of bed and come watch early morning cartoons. He’d rarely indulge my exuberance as from an early age I had a habit of rising with the sun and having something extremely unimportant to tell my sleeping parents.

From what my parents have now told me, it often meant I wound up on the back enclosed patio with a handful of rocks. Hey, the over-abundance of words I conjure up annoys even myself sometimes. I don't blame them for it. In fact I have no recollection of it so I'm not scarred. However if social services ever found out about it, I might have been a product of the foster system.

Nevertheless, Saturday morning cartoons were a saving grace for my parents. By the time Loonie Toons was on, Dad would be out of bed ready to laugh alongside me and the brothernator –aka Joel.

It impresses a fond memory upon my heart or at least it does up until I reached the part in the show where the Road Runner short came on. It was such an agonizing short for me as a child. I would sit there every time and believe that maybe, one day, Wylie E. Coyote might catch up with that pest of a bird, the Road Runner.

But it hit me recently in pondering how this simple cartoon has a lot of relevancy in the dating field, one which also causes as much agony and strife for most individuals in this age old traditional pursuit.

There is this ever so common human condition that we all suffer from in a lot of ways. I’m sure you’ve heard of it it’s called: we want what we can’t have. And we often learn the hard way that it’s just not worth it. Stop. Do some self-reflection, evaluation, seek wise counsel and prayer, or we just keep doing what Wylie E. does and just keep running like a headless chicken.

Now can you envision Wylie stopping his pursuits. Re-evaluating just how much is truly in the budget for the explosives, potentially maybe re-assessing why he’s running after the silly bird in the first place. The Cost –Benefit ratio just doesn’t balance. Deciding that Swiss Chalet would suffice as he is too hungry to continue going but alas, he does not.
But succulent rotisserie chicken just doesn’t cut it for Wylie and neither does settling for anything even remotely reasonable.

I read an article in Chatelaine about a woman who regretted not settling for any of the men she dated in her 30s. She’s now in her 40’s with a son who she went through artificial insemination for. A product of the whole pursuit I suppose. But hey, I can say that I would probably go through the exact same thing if I were her.

Her big statement hits home a very logical truth though. Her initial statement to women is that settling down requires settling. No man will meet perfection and vice versa. It’s incredibly simplistic yet we still seem to turn our noses up at everything but Road Runner.

I suspect we subconsciously do it because we recognize it as frivolous. It requires so little of our investment and heart that it's just easier than actually putting ourselves out there for someone that Yenta would advise us to be matched with.

This cycle will continue. But when is it an appropriate time to call it quits and where do whims meet logic? Wylie should have turned in the TNT after the second time. That’s my theory.

After all, I think it speaks to the adage fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. Fool me thrice, isn’t that the definition of insanity, or wait, am I mixing up Albert Einstein with speed dating?

Then again, I don't think good ol' Albert even has an equation that deferrentiates between finding true love and figuring out true compatibility versus chasing after a bird while you're blind folded with a stick of dynamite in your hand. Just some food for thought that has been rolling around my head.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Up and Coming Challenges.

The natives are getting restless. I haven’t been blogging lately and some of my regulars have made comment.

I don’t really have a lot of important words to say lately. I did write a long diatribe about feminism and popular misconceptions that arise and exist in the dating world but they are more like a book in the making and two subjects that I’m not sure I want to touch at the moment. Something about suspected lambasting.

Anyways, this blog is more to inform you as to what is to come; an appetite teaser…sort of like the aroma wafting from the kitchen- to let you know what is to come.
I am heading off to Mexico and a blog about my experience is in the makings. Although the intent is more to teach myself how to relax so it might be a lot of dead space with the occasional…….and flip sides. Just so that you’ll get the overall effect of my sun tanning on paper in an I-experienced-it-with-her kind of way.

There is also a piece in the making for the Month of April. I stumbled upon this article about challenging yourself to try to wake up early for an entire month and how to train your circadian rythms. I’m going to attempt to try to do this for an entire month and see if I can reboot my system to become a morning person. The aim is to see if I can improve upon my productivity and whether or not it can be done for the month and if I can continue it past the allotted time.

We’ll see people. May or may not be able to be done.

Thirdly, some Guerrilla Gardening team adventures will happen. But not until I return from Mexico. You know we are coming, but you may wake up one morning to find that atrocious lot across the street that is such an eye sore completely manicured and pleasing to the eye. You never know.

A couple of things to look forward to. For now, I have to go finish packing and do some last minute tanning at the tanning bed to prep my skin for some UV rays. Bye for now!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sourtoe Cocktail or the Grey Goose of Canadian Culture

We Canadians have a complex about our culture. And I firmly believe that because we just try too hard to be ourselves, our true culture becomes buried behind a lot of smoke screens unintentionally. Most cultures try too hard to create culture. It stems from the observation that people in essence try too hard to be themselves and end up just being irritating because who would appreciate the boring version? I have recently awakened to this realization: I over compensate when I feel like life doesn’t appear exciting enough. Similarly, like the rest of the culture I share with others, I think heaven forbid my true colours may shine through, like the Hudsons Bay Company colour scheme just may be shown to the world when the Olympics show up at our door. Oh wait, that’s already happened.

Heaven forbid Lululemon create clothing to mock the bureaucratic process by omitting any word that they could possibly be sued over just because they can make a mockery of it all. Who on earth would want to wear clothing with the phrase"Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place in British Columbia Between 2009 and 2011"? Now that is a sweater I would buy if I could find enough nickels between my couch cushions. Now that would be Canadian. Now that would be our true colours: our cheeky side, in essence. Oh wait a second, that actually happened too.

I find our culture amusing. We try too hard to be ourselves but in essence are defining what that looks like the more we try. Take for examples the astronomical amount of unnecessary large items in small towns all across Canada. Just so that the world knows that they exist, they’ll create the largest Ukranian Easter egg. I would know. I’ve done the Canadian family car ride across the prairies.

We assume people don’t want to enjoy the excitement of something flat and simplistic? That wouldn’t be complicated enough. So they have to ruin a perfectly good sunset with a fiberglass monument – an idol to everything ugly and unnecessary. We often overlook the true culture by misinterpreting the purpose of something that is innately part of us. It is common place to us so therefore no visitor to our culture would be able to appreciate it.

Similarly another example of us making it up as we go along and trying to prove extra hard of our cultural flavours is the Inukshuk. The unveiling of the 2010 icon created a sense of unity and awe as everyone tried to identify with an installed cultural symbol. Since the unveiling the tradition was born. people building Inukshuk balancing rocks all along the Stanley park seawall while the tides are out has become a natural occurring practice.

That act right there is almost the very root of Canadian culture. Let me explain. Douglas Coupland produced a documentary on Canada and to define Canadian culture, he bought a bland cookie cutter house in the suburbs in North Vancouver - where he grew up. He then filled the house with lots of odds and ends. Things that we have culturally clung to over the decades. Ironically enough some of his cultural references have already come and gone. He hosted a party to celebrate the unveiling of the house, and then, as an interactive artwork piece, he had the Canadian iconic home bulldozed. Granted I think this could also be a reflection of aging and an overall sense of irrelevancy once your ability to keep pace with cultural changes passes.
Just like the demolition of that house, those rock formations will crumble with the tides of time. It’s rather poetic on so many levels.

I recently discovered a gross but interesting nugget recently. And it brings me to the stories about our true heritage must be too strange to share or reveal which is why they become buried.

For example, up in Dawon's Creek, during the gold rush era a Saloon was trying to attract business and entice people with a specialty cocktail. They came up with the Sour Toe Cocktail. This concoction includes a floating toe that has been preserved. The first toe was donated by a miner that had it severed from his body for unknown reasons.

Over the years, they have created a club for people who partake in this tradition and one way to know you're a true "Northerner." Over the years when people have been inaugerated into the club, the toe accidentally is swallowed and a new toe is provided. Hence, the starting of the Sourtoe Cocktail Club. Authentically, and rancid Canadian heritage at its finest.

Check it out. Now that is what you call a heritage. Why it's not broadcasted widely? Good question. I don't have the jammiest clue.

So I raise my glass to all things Canadian. However marginal, flat, simplistic, average or gross that they may be. There is nothing wrong with walking the middle of the road, It means that chances are you’ll survive that hair pin turn once the drastic cultural shift occurs. Change is inevitable and Canadians are prepared to weather it. After all, isn’t that why we are skilled at building igloos and keeping endangered species like Polar Bears for pets? Or we could settle on the grey goose of Canadian culture; it's just too strange/gross to be told.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Musings and Hot Chocolations

This post read goes well with Sufjan Steven’s I Saw Three Ships and drinking mint tea bag steeped hot chocolations. Hot picks derived from the writer as this is what she is doing as she contemplates this Holiday Season with virtual pen.

Like when opening a present and the next thing you know you’re debating whether or not to recycle wrapping paper packages that have been ripped to shreds. That’s somewhat how I feel when I try to gage how rapid the holidays will and have flown by.

This year’s Christmas letter came and went. As did the house gatherings, the excessive endorsements for egg nog – a concoction I have never truly understood, the mad dash around the local shopping emporium. The baking, the wrapping, the singing, the counting. The candlelit Christmas Eve Service. Reflection on Christ’s birth: everything.

What I most look forward to most every year are what is said when my family gets together. There are always gems of entertainment in what is said.

The best quote sample of the Hagglund Holidays 2009:

“Mom, if you don’t march upstairs right now, I’m going to write about this in my blog.” - The activities in question will be omitted for her sake.

“Do you know how long it’s been that I haven’t been able to grate cheese?” – Joel Hagglund as he proceeds to open a much needed cheese grater for his new kitchen.

“That’s the finest sifter I have ever seen.” – Mary Ellen says upon enviously inspecting her son’s dollar store purchased sifter.

“How come it’s not ringing anymore?” Mary Ellen says upon her iPhone connecting to the number she had dialed on her Christmas present.

“I have no more room for any more new technology.” – Mary Ellen after a few lessons on learning how to use her new cell phone. December 27, 2009 Mark it in your calendars folks. The day my mother decided to not learn anything new. It’s going to be another rough 50 years from here on in if this is truly the case.

“I think I would have to be Jewish and male to truly appreciate that.” – Kelsey Hagglund in reference to watching a skit called Tur – Mohel’s Evil League of Evil which involved plenty of jokes about circumcision. Highly recommended by Barry Hagglund.

“My plan to spite Kelsey isn’t going so well.” – Joel Hagglund as he proceeded to be beaten at Bohnanza.

To name a few. Merry New Year. Bring on 2010 for more fun, friendships and funny quotes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Snooping Through the Epicentre of Chaos

Who would have thought that cleaning your room can revolutionize your life?

All those years of tuning out when my mother reached the shrill octave - a frequency that young dogs and small children in trouble tune into - I now have a grand appreciation for the perfected reminder in a song that I wasn’t willing to listen to.

For the longest time I have been living out of a suitcase not literally but as a state of being. The suitcase ready-to-leave-for-my-next-adventure state of being. I am not one to ever settle down anywhere in particular. Up until recently I have always just had things in a state of slight disarray to a point where I am never entirely too comfortable in wanting to stay wherever I reside. That's just it: I have never been one for total comfort to the point where this situation would inevitably force me to charge over to the nearest coffee shoppe because I didn’t even like my own space.

I think it partially has to do with the fact that I haven’t lived anywhere for more than 4 years of time. Yes, I have lived in certain neighbourhoods, certain countries for entire decades but never in the same locations or under regular circumstances.

My wise roommate one day sauntered into my room. The Epicentre of Chaos would have been the title of the movie my room would have starred in had it been personified as la vedette. Tina stood in the doorway and quietly waited as it took me a few minutes to appear from behind the stack of papers I had going on for one of the clients I was working with.

“You know what we need to do?” She asked.

I knew full well what was going to come out of her mouth next but I wasn’t ready to hear the words breathed into existence just yet. Silently I was cringing in the nest that I had created in the corner. The we was really singular.

Pieces of paper for shavings, a little spinning desk chair, there I was, caught on the hamster wheel of life.

The we that Tin Tin was referring to was meant to be me and I knew that I was going to have to conquer the self-perpetuated mess.

Then, she started to describe how it needed to be placed and suddenly my room – in the context of how it should be in theory - just made total sense, an utter lightbulb moment; it allowed for a sense of freedom to overcome me.

So a month later after I managed to clear my schedule there I was, going through a spacial makeover. Everything changed places. Not a thing stayed the way it was.

When it was done, it was a masterpiece – in fact it still is. I want to be in my room. I desire to be organized and to know where I put things. I am busier than ever before in my life it just took that extra push to get me to reach that next level of efficiency.

Sam Gosling wrote a book called Snoop, what going through someone’s stuff says about them. He’s a psychologist that follows social behaviours and essentially he talks about what you can learn about a person by the state of their personal space before you meet them.

A good friend of mine and I were discussing this recently because he came out to visit me a long time ago and my room was in utter chaos. Like disgusting, I never wanted to be in it, didn’t really feel welcome, wanted to put my bed up for sale and sleep on the streets, kind of messy. A Massive State of Embarassment – one bigger than Alaska.

I watched Sam’s lecture recently and this put my life into a new perspective. There are three types of people: those that are organized, those that are unorganized and those that want to be organized.

I think I fall under the category of those that want to be organized. Although, I am more organized than I always gave myself credit for. And I attribute this to something that I learned while watching the lecture.

Sam made an interesting point to evaluate homosexuals’ spaces while they were in the midst of announcing their lifestyle to the world. His observation was that each space had no continuity. His attribution of this observation was that their lives are in a state of transition.

That’s when it hit me: I have never actually moved in anywhere because I am in constant assumption that my life should be in transition. Not in a lifestyle choice kind of way, but more in when’s-the-next-adventure kind of way - that I won’t be staying anywhere for long. It all makes a little more sense amongst this symphony of chaos. Who knew me and my proud friends that parade would have that in common? We are all human after all.

Check out the lecture. Fascinate your senses:

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Material Rapport with the Cashier

I stand, mouth gapping open. Lost in thought. Rather out of it, dazed but not confused. Or at least until the cashier brings me back to reality. I'm trying to decide whether to pay with Debit or Visa.

Typically I'll look up to find a kid with contoured zits that would make the local ski hills jealous. He'll respond in a squeaky voice and ask me if I want a bag. I know if he were Jewish, the barmitzfah has not happened yet.

Everything from a cashier's mannerisms to the phrasing of the question screams the general consensus of the public; plastic bags are an evil evil thing. So evil, that the word needs to be emphasized by writing it twice.

"Do you want a BAG for that?" They inquire.

Of course, I stand empty handed and I have to calculate. The output of energy over the amount of items needed to juggle divided by the number of doors I have to open singlehandedly to the weight times the amount of residual patience. I say yes please.

I know deep down they have taken the piece of chalk and gone up that wall of primitive tally of bags used and wasted that very day. I hate to remind them that there is someone behind me that is going to buy yet another clothe bag that apparently breeds bacteria to somehow save the planet. It will make them look more eco-friendly while making them one more unit of spending closer to being in debt. But it's a small price to pay for having an ego the size of Alaska when you know that both you and the cashier know that your eco footprint has the "inferred" suggestion of being smaller than everyone else's. But it's a well-kept secret because your neighbours know that you live in a mansion that is lit up 24/7 and that your Hummer is the older model that is more of a gas guzzler. But don't let anyone know. They might miss that huge tank of a vehicle barreling down the road side-saddling the curb and the road.

But really it is only suggested by the fact that you bought another clothe bag. That clothe bag was also used to purchase only frozen foods that are all individually packed and processed. The bag is quantifiable.

It will make its way also to a dump site.

However, you have just built a fifteen second friendship with the cashier because they are the ultimate environmental consultant when it comes to reminding you just how bad of a person you are for having purchased a 20 cent plastic bag.

For a fraction of approval if the item that you are purchasing is smaller than a bread box, you'd rather make the cashier smile and look like a total bafoon cradling the items under your forarm and your armpit out to your car, than risk the scathing stare when you reply that you will need a plastic bag. You mine as well have suffocated their goldfish.

So to end on a positive note and just point out merely an observation more than anything, that we hate to be hated at the check out, either shop at a store that still does paper bags - after all it is still a renewable resource (a shout out to Thrifty's) or never buy anything that you can't carry out of a store if you happen to forget that stack of bags from home.