Going back and forth and back again.
When I was a kid I loved watching hockey.
We were a 3 channel family. 3, 5, and 13. Channel 5 had Hockey Night in Canada. I used to look forward to that beautiful production every time I knew I would be home for it. In fact, I distinctly remember a time when our youth group was going to a Monster Track Rally at The Coliseum, and I decided not to go because the Canucks were playing the Red Wings that night. I didn’t like either of those teams, but I thought that it would be a good matchup.
I went to my first Oilers game back when school groups could go together. We sat way up high and had a blast!
Later on, my awesome dad bought me Oilers-Blues tickets for my birthday. Front Row! $60 a piece. We had a great time and I got a lot of great photos of my favourite Brett at the time.
When I was a kid I loved playing hockey.
My family established it early that we couldn’t afford the financial or time commitment for me to play minor hockey. I didn’t let that phase me. I played shinny hockey at Forest Green school in Stony Plain almost any time I could. I remember playing til it got dark, and then wandering home by the dim glow of the street lights.
I lost so many pucks in that forest.
I played street hockey every day when I was a kid. My brother would tire of it, but I would keep on playing. I even took shots on myself. If that doesn’t make any sense to you, then don’t worry about it. I was a weird, little, hockey-obsessed kid.
These days, I have 2 kids of my own. One of them loves hockey, but also loves reading, and drawing, and being a goofball. The other one is definitely a raging hockey fanatic, just like his old man. Mini sticks a plenty! He’s always wanting to know the score of any game that is happening. He’s always asking if there is any hockey on that he could watch. Always thinking. Always picturing. Always dreaming.
Both of my kids grew up in the Oilers’ Decade of Darkness. They both don’t mind the Oilers, but they are permanently hopeless causes from being Oiler fans. Katz, Lowe and the gang sure are setting the stage for a memorable legacy.
One of my boys likes Crosby and the Pens and the other one is a Taylor Hall fan. Now he likes the Devils, too. You see, that’s how it works with kids. I’m proud of him for jumping ship and sticking with Hall. Takes guts.
So my kids don’t like the Oilers. I used to try to persuade them to cheer for the Oil, and sometimes they do as if they’re doing me some sort of favour. But now I’m proud of them for picking their own teams and I hope that they stick with it.
The Oilers didn’t help their cause by being one of the worst run organization is sports for the last decade. My kids did the logical thing and, when looking for entertaining hockey, simply looked elsewhere. There’s got to be many other Northern Alberta kids who feel the same way, and good for them.
As an Oiler fan, I am often reminded of this lyric in Hotel California.
You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!
I’ll always cheer for the Oilers. For some of us older folks, it’s our burden to carry. My advice is to encourage your own kids to cheer for some other team. Get them a Stamkos jersey, or tell them how good the Devils are going to be in a few years. After all that, if they insist on being an Oiler fan, then pat them on the back and welcome them to the club for me. We’re all in this mess together.
Here are some favourites of this past year. Perhaps a little glimpse into me and my year. I look back on things and I don’t feel so bad about any of it.
Album • David Bazan’s Care.
As I’ve mentioned a few times, this album has really been my staple. It’s chicken and rice and bacon and eggs to me. There is a lot of honesty in the poetic lyrics of this one. Bazan’s solo stuff has really resonated with me, and this one is at the top of the list.
Movie • Darren Aronofsky’s Mother!
I saw this movie twice in theatre… by myself. It’s such a visually stunning and shocking thing to take in. There is so much confusion and chaos. I can’t really pinpoint why it’s my fav except to say that it had my full attention both times I watched it.
Wrote about this a few months ago…
I found myself settling down to Dave Bazan’s album Care. It’s a nice album. It’s actually my fav of 2017, just so you know.
It got me thinking.
Sometimes, most of the time, it’s really hard to care.
He has a line in there that goes “all of us need major healing” and I’ll raise my hand and say that, yes, this applies to me.
I felt myself within a season of a lack of care. I had just finished another summer at camp and my heart felt pretty empty by that time. I decided to get away from everything for a bit. I searched the internet and gathered advice from coworkers, and found a spot deep in the mountains that seemed to be just what I was looking for.
I was 12 or 13 years old when I had heard Buddy Holly on the radio. Not the singer but the song. Power 92, with Rob Christie and Audie Lynds probably played it every morning around the time when that song came out, which is standard practice for Pop stations. Play it until it dies.
I had a girlfriend at the time, and we were getting into that sort of Christmas spirit thing that young “couples” get into by giving each other significant presents. It was a big deal. I think that this was the year that I had given her a little chain bracelet with my name and a heart engraved on it. I was a big fan of The Wonder Years and was sure that’s what Kevin Arnold would have given Winnie Cooper. In return, my girlfriend gave me Weezer’s Blue Album.
I had a thought about the classic song by Harry Chapin. For a refresher, YouTube it and remind yourself of what a punch in the gut it is. It’s a beautiful song that can inflict a surprisingly a large amount of pain.
The past weekend I was able to sneak in two 5 mile runs within the city of Edmonton. Edmonton is my favourite place in the world. Running downtown and across the river in Old Strathcona is a super fun experience. This past weekend I also ran on an edge of the city, and found myself with two very different episodes.
It also started a few blocks south of Whyte Avenue at our friend’s house. I laced up the ol’ New Balance shoes and headed out. I stuck to some side roads that zigzagged just west of 109th. There was where I found the students, hustling here and there, most not for a night out, but for a night in of studying and book hitting. Their books draped over their backs, and some sort of athletic shoe on their feet, these people seemed utilitarian in their purpose. No parties (saw an advertisement for a “Toga Party”), just some solid state studying.
First of all, I want to say that this movie is not for everyone. Most people, in fact. If you are not familiar with Darren Aronofsky films, then you should know that they are very different. Very visual, very abstract, and very shocking.
Okay, so as with his film Noah, I went to see Aronofsky’s Mother! by myself. If you haven’t gone to a movie solo you are missing out on a very special, personal, and focused experience. Nothing to do but pay attention and seap into it. Lovely.
Last night I had a plan.
I had heard through a bird that the Northern Lights were going to be shining nice. My plan was to go out and take some pictures of them.
My house is surrounded by trees to the north, so my plan included hopping in the car and driving out to the edge of one of the many farmer’s fields we have in the neighbourhood.
Maybe I didn’t tell you this yet, but I am not a big fan of being alone in the dark. Last night was me being brave. I drove up the road and parked in a turn off just next to an open field. The silence of the night was hard to handle. So quiet it was noisy, you know?
And there they were; Northern Lights were twisting and snapping away. Yet Mr. Moon had something to say, as well. The Full Moon was shining so bright it was stealing some of the show. I could see deep into the field, cattle lying around, snuffing and puffing quietly. A pond and some reeds exhaling and taking a knee after such an unseasonably warm day. I could see some things, and this knowledge seemed to ease my fears.
I propped up my Canon and got things going. Turned out to have a few pretty fun shots. 20 minutes and I was out of there. No coyote gonna to tear me apart, at least not on this night.
I’ve lived in the country for 5 years now. It takes some getting used to, but moments like the one I enjoyed last night confirm that there is so much to experience. So much out there.
All I wanted to do was wish my son a happy birthday.
June 7th, 2017. Every day, I drive my 2 sons down the road to their school. It only takes 10 minutes, and each day we enjoy listening to the local sports radio station. On this day, my boy Jonas was turning 8. He is a big sports fan, so I thought it would be cool to see if the sports guys could wish him a happy birthday on the radio.
I texted in, and heard back that they would see what they could do. I replied with a “no problem, thanks for your consideration.” Then, they said that they would do it, but that they weren’t 100% because things could change the last minute. I said, “sure, no problem. Thanks so much for trying!”
The plan was set. I gave them a window of time when Jonas would still be in the car. The problem was that we arrived 2 minutes before the end of the window, and still no happy birthday. Would they do it still? Maybe not.
Jonas was getting antsy in the car. I couldn’t tell him to wait because they were going to say happy birthday on the radio, because if they didn’t he would be bummed. So, before he started getting angry at me for making him wait (it being his birthday, not a good thing), I said that they could go.
I switched on a recording app on my phone, and sure enough; not 30 seconds after Jonas left the car, they wished him happy birthday in a super fun way. Too bad. But at least I had the recording to show him later in the day.
I texted the radio station back and lied a bit by saying that Jonas loved it. He didn’t hear it, but for sure he would have loved it. I mean, I loved it, so that’s gotta count for something. I said thanks so much, and that was it.
Or so I thought…
An hour later, they called me up and told me that, because I as so polite on the texting, they were giving me Guns and Roses tickets! Crazy.
So a week later I picked up 2 Guns and Roses tickets. I wasn’t going to take Jonas because I am a good parent and he is 8. I wasn’t going to take Barbara because she’s not into that much debauchery. She likes her debauchery in moderation. I could only think of 1 person who I would enjoy this with, and in the end, he couldn’t make it into town for the show.
I stared at the tickets, sitting on my desk for months before the show. Who could I take? What would it be like to see this band after 25 years of only being remotely interested in them?
I liked Guns and Roses back in the early 90’s. They were on the radio, and they had this cool looking guitar player with bushy hair bunched up around a cigarette poking out of his face. They had this one song November Rain, to which I danced many a dance with girls I liked in Junior High. That song never seemed to end. It was wonderful.
Yet I was never a huge fan, let alone fan enough to want to dress up like 1992 and pretend I was young and crazy again. I thought that maybe I shouldn’t go to the show.
Time was running out. It never occurred to me to give the tickets to someone else who might enjoy them. I must have thought that, deep down, I would enjoy the show. I asked Barbara if she would go with me and she said sure.
We got my mom to baby sit. We drove an hour from home to the football stadium. We parked at Barbara’s sister’s house and walked 12 blocks. The sound of the opening band could clearly be heard once we got out of the car. This was going to be loud.
At the stadium it was basically culture shock. So many people wearing skeleton and snake shirts. Ladies carrying around roses. Men and women alike completely tanked at 6:45pm on a Wednesday evening.
We found our seats and just soaked it all in. I’m not trying to say that I was offended with anyone, just that it was such a shock to my system that I felt uncomfortable and anxious the whole time. The people around us were rowdy. Loose lips from the beers. Costumes. A lot of “Hell yeah!” and “Fcuk yeah!” sort of business.
Then the band came out. Loud, noise of such that I could not recognize. Axel Rose seemed excited. He licked and then extended his middle finger to the crowd, which I assume was meant to be a greeting. The crowd ate it up.
Slash, the cool guitar player had an offensive t-shirt on, which I think was supposed to get us all whooping and hollering as to how silly and naughty this night was about to become.
They performed a few more songs. I asked Barbara through our ear plugs if she wanted to leave. She seemed to be enjoying experiencing this experiment. I said we should leave once we heard a song we knew. She nodded.
They came to the 4th or 5 song of the night, Welcome to the Jungle, and we left at the end of it.
It was still early, so we went to Love Pizza, and enjoyed a nice, quiet date. They had an advertisement announcing that kids could eat for free on Sundays. We made a note of it.
I am thankful for the tickets from the radio station. It was really nice of them.
Yet, all I wanted to do was wish my son a happy birthday.
I have Instagram because:
For me, it’s almost always about running. I run a lot, but I’m not running as much as I want. If a post of myself leaning over my shoes helps get me out the door, then so be it!
Really though, we’re all a bunch of show-offs when it comes to posting pics. Everyone’s got something going on in their lives that is more awesome than the sum of their reality. We all just choose to focus on the positives. No big deal, if you ask me.
If you’re pretending your life is always like your posts, then I’m afraid that the joke is on you, my friend.
I see other runners on there, pushing through a tough run, or prepping for a race, and it gets me excited!
If you’ve got a goal, or if you’re doing something awesome with your life because you’ve decided to get on with it, then please, share it with the rest of us! I need the motivation to say ‘Yes!’ every day. Bring it out of me. Be my inspiration!
I’ll keep on posting running pics. I’ll even throw in a pic or two of my kids from now and then. My lovely wife and I on a hot date? Why not! Life’s too short not to share the good stuff.