#FREEJOHNSCOTT

Uncategorized

Ok. Rant Time… #JohnScott, #NHLAllStarGame.

First off, I must admit I have distanced myself from much of the All Star Game as a whole, and the John Scott disaster.  I think the game itself is a dollar driven waste of time put forth by Bettman & Co. It’s a long, grueling season. Guys have families they spend a lot of time away from. I’d sooner see the NHL just give the guys a week off of work. Monday – Friday. Though, as much as this may benefit the players, and their lives. It doesn’t benefit the bottom line.

If you’re going to have an All Star Game, have an All Star Game. Sure, let the fans vote. Let them vote on the jerseys, or give them a range of players to vote from. Don’t let them just vote for anyone. I thought we would have learned this lesson with Rory Fitzpatrick. If not then, I thought we would have learned from our peers mistakes in the MLB when nearly the entire KC Royals roster was the AL All Star Team. As much as we want to include the fans, and push for engagement, input and opinion… Fact is, the people voting this often are people sitting behind their keyboards with nothing better to do. I’d argue how much we should really invest in said fan.

As we know, there are three parties in this soap opera. John Scott. The Fans, and the NHL. I believe truly, all three have seriously dropped the ball, taking us to where we are. I want to feel bad for John Scott and his wife – pregnant with twins. I really do. But… I just can’t. The ounce of sympathy I have is derived from that he never should have been put in this awkward spot in the first place. If not for the mindless keyboard jockies clicking “Vote John Scott” continuously as they watch oil prices drop to a cent more than the can of dud beer in their hand, we wouldn’t be having this discussion anyway. However, John Scott should have bowed out of this thing many moons ago. And, if he choose to ride it out, he should have got off the horse at least when the rosters were released and he looked across his very own dressing room to see that he was going to the supposed All Star Game instead of his teammates… Domi, Duclair, Boedker, Hanzal, Doan, Rieder, and or Ekman Larsson. That should have been enough to say, ya ok…maybe I don’t deserve this as much as some other guys. Whether they want to be apart of it or not.

But… John Scott choose to go along with the whole thing, despite hush requests from team, and the league to quietly bow out of it. Then… John Scott get’s demoted to the AHL, then traded to MTL, then demoted to the AHL again.  In what some people saw as a way to bury him, and remove him from this mess if he won’t remove himself. This is where I couldn’t disagree more. Let’s take a look at Mr. Scott’s contributions to the Yotes…

1. John Scott has played 11 games. Coyotes have played 44. Ok. So he’s dressed in a quarter of his teams games.

2. John Scott has 1 assist in his 11 games. In those 11 games, the Coyotes have won 5, lost 6. This a team that is 22-17-5.

3. In Scott’s 11 games… They have managed to score 32 goals. Scott’s managed to get the puck to goal scorer once. Oh, and it was against the Oilers. Actually it was a great play by Scott. He nearly toe picked when he picked up the puck perfectly laid out by Chipchura. I think he was stunned that all the Oiler backcheckers just flew right by him, either that or he got dizzy.  Scott then shoveled one into Nilssons chest, and I mean literally shoveled it. If you can imagine the motion of shoveling snow off your driveway and flipping it into the snowbank, that’s what he did with the puck.  Honestly.. Nilsson for some reason proved doubt to the old mantra “every goalie has a good chest” and left out a brutal rebound. Goal. Assist to Scott.

4. He averages 6 minutes a game, in his 11 games played. 6 minutes… Without looking, I can imagine that none of those minutes are against any line other than the fourth, and half of that time he spends running around trying to hurt, hit or fight someone. He sure isn’t out there for any defensive, or offensive advantage.

5. Oh, in those 11 games… He has 6 shots on net, 3 blocked shots. Only in 3 games has he even thrown 3 or more hits. Only in 1 game has he thrown more than 3 hits. Against the gigantic Oilers. In fact… in 6 of the 11, over half his games.. has he thrown a single hit or less. On a team that averages 21.6 hits a game.

Oh.. and if you tell me he is only there to protect the stars, and fight… he has fought once this year.

The most useful thing John Scott ever did for the Coyotes was be part of a trade that fetched the return of Jarred Tinordi.

It’s incredibly clear that #JohnScott belongs… well, nowhere near anything remotely All Star related. It’s even more clear to see he likely doesn’t belong even in the NHL anymore.  Collecting a paycheck 1,000% more than most of ours.  Years ago when there was a need for a enforcer only type player, sure… but those days are gone. He has contributed absolutely zero to this Coyotes team. So while we are all appalled, and sympathetic towards Scott that he’s been “buried” from the All Star Game, and his NHL career may be over… I think we should be more appalled that this game not only is, or was taking someone’s all star spot away… More than that, he’s been taking a spot on an NHL roster from someone who is far more deserving than he is. To me, that’s the injustice, and that’s the crime here. I don’t even think the guy belongs in the AHL to be honest with you. So yes… #FreeJohnScott.  Please.

Now while, I agree with you the NHL botched this whole thing, and it’s probably humiliating for Scott and his family… He brought this on himself long after those boneheaded fans kept clicking vote when he then refused to say, thanks but no thanks and bow out.  I have heard He’s got twins on the way, that’s great. Very happy for him, I am sure he’s an excellent man, and an excellent father. However, I fail to see how this relates to his sudden omission from the ASG, and make’s it any more tragic.  Wouldn’t his time be better spent at home with his family? Perhaps now he can do that… Or, take the opportunity for a free holiday in Nashville the NHL has offered. Can’t imagine how many people, especially in these times would welcome a paid for vacation for their family in Nashville.

Mr. Scott… You took the job as a NHL player, and Mr. Scott you’ve been taking that job from someone far more deserving for far too long, and reaping the rewards. So I am sorry when I say you are now perhaps where you belong, and I feel very little sympathy to you. I wish you and your family the best, and hope that all goes well with your coming twins, but it’s the NHL, and you don’t belong.

Mr. Bettman & Co… It’s maybe time to clean this ASG crap up?

#NHL #AllStarGame #FreeJohnScott

Advertisements

All The Way From …”The Bright End of Nowhere”

Uncategorized

 

Hey, Mr. Chips,

As I sit there, In the midst of my umpteenth Matthew Good concert my mind begins to run as fast as my legs, and hands were jamming to the songs. Flooded with thoughts. Trying my hardest to keep my shit together in the middle of a rock show at a damn casino. …I couldn’t.

I began to think about Jen, and what Matt Good meant to her, his songs, his lyrics, his messages, and his fight. What it means, and has meant for me. My mom, brother, and soon enough… Jen’s daughter, Abbey.

I then think back to when I used to write somewhere between occasionally and frequently on my blog. About my grieving, my loss, and just my everyday fight to find another tomorrow.

THEN… I think about that night when I just about closed my eyes and let go on that highway years ago. Someone saved me. I went home that night, and finally found the bravery, and the strength to write about this very journey. Thinking that one day, maybe this would bring me joy, and hopefully in the process provide others with at least the smallest ounce of courage.

THEN… I just stopped… I stopped thinking at the show, and I realized I’ve just stopped writing all together almost. Why. It’s done so much for me. Tears began to well down my eyes even more, so I shut my eyes and swayed my head to “Advertising on Police Cars” and I swear for a moment, only Jen and I were at that show. She held my hand, and said… “Blair, Write..” I swear, I could hear her say those two words, and then boom, heavy guitar, and light show on the stage. Rock show was back on.

As the show progressed, I was, in a weird way forced to continue thinking a million thoughts, to allow myself to keep it together.   But, I then thought to myself… Really, why have I not been writing this year? It used to bring me so much joy, and so much strength, and others.

But, THEN, I dug at myself a bit more, and perhaps found the reason. Selfishly… I don’t feel that I have to in order to survive anymore. When I first began writing, I didn’t know if anyone was ever going to read anything, but I ultimately had to write to save myself. There were no other options.

I thought, maybe one day I will find solace, and content.

I have finally found just that. I can’t pinpoint the exact date, or time, or what it was that finally allowed me for the first time in possibly forever, to feel… Good, I felt content, and I felt good about myself. I began to not fear tomorrow. I can, and will say I do believe there was three particular events that occurred this year that I think really helped me get to “contentment”

 

  1. Professional Life. If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time, you know I hold myself to an absolutely unbelievably unrealistic standard, and am rarely, if ever satisfied with myself. I struggle with failure, and struggle with needing more. For the first time ever, I am perfectly happy, and succeeding in my professional life, and those feelings have slowly eroded, and gone away. It was 11:11 a couple months ago, and I couldn’t even think of wish. Then, I kind of chuckled, thought… Everything is ok right now. I have what I need.

 

  1. You may laugh, and it seems silly… perhaps it is a bit. But, I’ve always loved cats. Grew up with them. My whole family is full of cat people. Amanda, not so much. I’ve begged her, and begged our entire relationship to one day get a cat. Finally, I just gave up. Was convinced I would never have one. Then one day, she drove me out to the boonies and surprised me with a litter of Maine Coon kittens, allowing me to choose my very own cat dude. I couldn’t believe it. In that very moment, I don’t know if I have ever felt that much joy, and excitement. I could not contain myself. To this day, Kukui continues to provide endless amounts of entertainment, and joy to our family. Amanda included, who is absolutely in love with kitten. As much joy as this massive fuzzrat has brought me, I can say he’s done the same for our dog; Kona as well.

 

  1. July 25, 2015, and every day after. I got to finally call the girl of my dreams; my wife. I knew the day I asked Amanda out I wanted her to be my wife. Lofty goals for a grade 9 student, but I knew. We’ve been through hell, and back together a few times, so to finally marry Amanda, was simply a dream come true. Every day since, I put my ring on in the morning and I just feel like a different person.   I am beyond confident in myself; I am suddenly comfortable with myself, and for the first time ever… I feel proud of myself, and feel accomplished. Something that I have forever longed for.

 

These three events I believe have allowed me to find happiness and joy in my life every day. Sure, I still have shitty days… I think everyone does. But, now, just knowing you’re ok, can go such a long way when you’re having those shitty days. I never used to have that to help me get through times when I was down. I didn’t have many options on how to get myself out of ruts. I was trying to learn some different things. So I would write, and it almost always was able to pull me temporarily out of where I was. Then, I’d receive so many notes, messages, and constant feedback from friends, family and people I don’t even know about how much I was helping them, and I was able to feel for a moment, a small sense of pride. Though, it never lasted. But, it was all part of the process I think of getting to where I am today.

When I would write to save myself, as you know it was a tremendous process for me. It was emotionally, and mentally exhausting. So I would often times have to work myself up for it. I would race home knowing I needed to get to my computer, and write. Be it at 6pm after work, or at 10:30pm after something else. I ‘d stay up as late as I needed to till I could finally take a deep breath, go on with half a smile, and go to sleep not fearing tomorrow might be the same dreadful day. I would look forward to connecting with people who had read my post. But, there aren’t days where I race home to write, or go to bed longing to see the comments on social media in the morning. Or, since I felt better, selfishly, again… I was good with just that, and no more. There aren’t nights I come home anymore, and feel like I am two feet tall, and to get back to height, I need to light up the incense and type.  Now, I am able to come home to my wife, and my two boys and I feel like everything is going to be fine, no matter how shitty the day may have gone. I just feel stronger, and they always light me up with smiles, and laughter.

Another reason… This may seem weird; especially for those who know me really well, but if I am not within my circle of comfort, and friends… I am very quiet, and humble. I’ve been referred to as a sponge in these circumstances, quiet and absorbing.   I don’t usually like to take much credit for things, I don’t like much to talk about my successes, if any, and I don’t care to make myself feel superior to others, or boast about perhaps having more, or something someone doesn’t. Like… happiness. I know how hard that can be when you’re struggling, and people kick you when you’re down, even if they don’t mean to. I’ve been there. I do not want to humiliate anyone, and I don’t want to toot my own horn, and brag that I have finally found some piece of joy.

So as much bravery, and strength as it took for me to start this blog a few years ago, after almost letting go.   I’ve seemingly come 180, and now am learning to find the bravery, and the strength to write about my life now that I am holding on, and things are okay. It’s a different take on things, but it’s amazing how when I felt so desperate, lost, and out of control. I created GoneAwayBoys to talk about how I felt just that, but now that I feel in control, and happy… I don’t want to talk about it all. I want to just go about my business. Quietly.

It’s a different bravery I feel I have to find now, but for whatever reason it almost seems harder now. I was out of options when this blog started. I had nothing left. I almost let go. Now, I just… feel like I have so much.

As long, painful and strenuous as this journey from complete depression to happiness has been, being able to finally say that I am okay has not been easy. As I’ve mentioned I believe there were three big events this year that allowed me to write this, but more than that it’s been all of the little things along the way. I have worked so hard on getting myself better, and have been so cognizant of it. I can honestly say though, as much as this blog has saved my life… without the comments, the messages, and the feedback that I have received from friends, and strangers I certainly would not be able to write to you today. Everyone that has even done so much as liked a post I wrote, you’ve made a difference in my life. You really have. You have helped get me here today.

Even a year ago… I could never imagine saying some of the things I have said in this entry, and I certainly never believed this one as much as I do now, and that I will leave with you.

… It does get better.

 

The Unfortunate World that has become Spring Hockey

Uncategorized

For the last eight years, I have spent the bulk of the fall and winter coaching minor hockey. From community bantam, minor midget aaa, to bantam aaa and finally midget aaa. I have been very lucky in my brief coaching career to have the opportunity to learn from some very strong hockey minds, and build some special relationships.

My first year coaching in Calgary, I was randomly paired up with this big fuzzy blue noser… 8 years later, Geoff would stand for me at my wedding as a groomsmen. We’ve coached a number of teams together, and still to this day coach every spring together.

Then, there was the two years I coached Minor Midget AAA and had a tone of success with who is now the best hidden gem of the hockey coaches community; Brent Osmond. To this day, of all the people I have spent time with. He’s one of the best coaches I have ever been around from his knowledge of the game, to his ability to get the most out of every single player, and still push them. Guys would go through walls for Brent. I admired that.

Then, I spent a summer working at the Okanagan Hockey School where I got to work alongside some very good coaches who have had long careers both playing and coaching professionally. From Mike Needham, Dixon Ward, Barry Smith and Mark Holick. Some of these guys I only even spent a week around, and still learned so much. It pays off to be a sponge I guess.

Then, I locked into the next four years coaching with Tyler Drader who gave me an opportunity to join some really special hockey teams, and coach some very, very talented players. I too, have learned so much from the years spent with Ty, always very patient, and fair when I sometimes was ready to fly off the handle, and write guys off, he was always the voice of reason…often was right. Certainly learned a lot about composure from Ty.

Each of those guys I mentioned above has shaped me not only as a person, but as a coach as well. They all had different strengths that I tried to absorb and mold into my coaching style. And while, I will be the first to admit that I am not the worlds best coach, or teacher by any stretch of the imagination, I do strongly believe that any quality of me as a coach can be directly traced back to my mentors above.

Now, with that all said… The last few years I have been immersed into spring hockey… for better, or worse. I’ve stuck with the 03 group the last few years, which at the time was a daunting challenge as 14 year olds was the youngest I’d ever coached, and I am horrible with kids, so coaching 10 year olds seemed like a terrible idea. But, I can honestly say I absolutely love every second of coaching with these kids. When we are on the ice together, or at the rink together. I don’t know if I’ve enjoyed coaching more. Part of it, I think is because of the group of core kids we’ve had the last couple years. They are such good kids, and most of them are want to learn, want to get better and willing to put in the work required.

Sure, we aren’t the best team around, I don’t know that we will ever win any major tournaments, and frankly… this might shock some of you to hear… I really don’t care if we ever win a “major” tournament with these now 12 year olds. That may sound appalling, and terrifying for some of you parents to hear. But, I really don’t care and here’s why.

Spring hockey has become a complete monster. A mess. I’ve always thought while coaching association hockey, boy, wouldn’t it be nice if there were no boundaries and we could pick whomever we want? Well.. That’s how spring works, and it’s a disaster. Granted, for me, the purpose of spring hockey is a bit different than that of association/winter hockey. The main goal is to of course, develop these players into fine young men, and athletes both on and off the ice. That’s a common theme in every sport, at every level. But, in winter, especially at elite levels, there’s more at stake. There really is, there’s scouts, and more scouts, agents, more agents and pretengents, then there are managers of teams, and coaches of teams from the next level, and then there are websites, and basement blogs with their meaningless opinions. However, there is still a pressuring desire to win, and there are true major, prestigious tournaments to win, that speak volumes about the kids that win them. I’m talking… Alberta Cup, John Reid Memorial, Western Canadian Bantam Championships, Sutter Cup, Macs Midget Tournament, Pacific Regionals, and perhaps the holy grail of minor hockey… Telus Cup. This may too also shock some of you spring hockey parents that I don’t have the Winnipeg Spring Tournament, or the Vancouver, or the Regina one in my list. Forgive me; I don’t even know the names of these tournies. But, these truly are not major tournaments.

All those people that relatively matter I mentioned above, you know… the scouts, coaches, managers, etc… They know each and every single kid that has won one of these prestigious tournaments. I could almost guarantee you that 98% of them… have no clue who won those spring tournaments; if… they even know that they exist. Sorry.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is that winning, and team success if far more of a premium in winter hockey, and far less of one in spring, or at least it should be.  But, the emphasis of spring has been misplaced with parents on the front lines of this movement. Whether the place the emphasis on winning as a result of fear, and intimidation from these spring groups, or the just simply have no clue. But, I’ve even had a parent tell me winter hockey is a waste of their time, they just wait for spring hockey. The 9-10 weeks of it. Also have had parents tell me that practices are useless, and they will only come to half of them, but all games. I kid you not. I’ve had multiple parents tell me both these things, and worse. It’s all ass-backwards.

In all my years of coaching AAA hockey, when we get to camp and get these long lists of registrants, and players that are trying out for our team. These sheets include most of the following information.

  • Name
  • Position
  • Previous Team

That’s it… and previous team is their previous winter team. No place, nowhere is there mention of their spring team, how many points they had, or what tournament they won in June. And trust me, no coach knows, or cares if he played spring hockey on a bronze team, a super elite team or didn’t play at all, perhaps he played baseball. They care only about 1 thing… Can this kid play?

Unfortunately, throughout the levels of spring hockey, many parent’s have concerned themselves with one thing, and one thing only when deciding where to play. Best team. Regardless of what team little Jonny wants to play in, or where his friends are, or what coach he likes best… Dad wants them to play on the best team. Why?… He’ll tell you cause his kid will get better playing on the best team. When truth is, kids going to eventually end up not having a tonne of fun sitting on the bench, or going through the pressures of being this super super team for the ten week spring season, so the kid eventually ends up losing his fire for hockey, and worst case… they quit at ten years old, which is beginning to happen.   Heartbreaking. All the while, these kids are quitting, other families are scared to leave these super duper teams because for some reason they feel their son will be later blacklisted from what… I have no idea.

In fact, just recently… had a family quit my spring team in favor of another supposed “elite” team out of another province. After they screwed us around a few times, trying to play on both teams. They ultimately decided to join the super elite team, we had recently just beat… when I asked why? … They had signed a contract that made them commit to their team, and their team only. Yes. They were forbidden to play for any other team, or miss practices of this super team. So I asked what would happen… Are you going to get sued, or go to jail if you play with us instead and miss their practice?

“…No, I just am not ready to burn any bridges with them yet”

… Don’t want to burn any bridges with a team based out of another province, coached by some random group of guys? …Ok. Wasn’t a fight worth fighting.

Three months later, I reluctantly declined to coach the winter team that player would be trying out for.   Talk about burning bridges. Yikes. Close one. Maybe the kid learned more with these other guys, or had more fun. In which case… Fair enough. Fine with me. Fortunately, if the kids good enough, I’d take the kid, regardless. Coaches can’t hold grudges, and should never blackmail parents. Gives you an idea of how some of these parents think, and the games some of these coaches, and programs play. Who the hell makes an 11 year old sign a contract.

I don’t understand why the parents do this. It’s like holding their kids hostage, if they don’t want to play there… don’t make them play there. Just so mom and dad can hold their nose up in the air, and show off their nice pretty jackets… who cares? That jacket won’t fit soon anyway, and your kid is no longer having fun with hockey, so he’s not learning, not getting any better… and anytime now will fall behind every one else as a result. Or, worst case… He quits this great game. Good job Dad.   But hey… you have the swag still.

I wanted to keep this short, but I got fired right up the last few paragraphs. My point is here folks, see spring hockey for what is, a place to develop, stay on your skates and get prepared for the next level until he gets to bantam and there’s no longer the need for spring. It’s not about winning, sure, winning is great. Who doesn’t love it, but the more important thing in my mind about spring hockey, is simply getting better and each kid has different things that make him tick, and help him develop. The one common theme amongst all of that is; having fun. If kids are having fun, they are learning, developing and in the right environment… plus, they’ll love the game, which makes coming to the rink every day fun.

When I was this age, there were two options for playing spring hockey. If you were a phenom from Edmonton area, you played NAA. If you were a phenom from the Calgary area, you played Foothills. If you were neither, which was majority of us were. You rode your bike around in the spring, played baseball, roller hockey and road hockey. Good enough. Now, there are 15-20 teams just per age group, per freaking city! It’s crazy. Which, has of course led to this crisis and disaster. So with there being that many teams, of course parents unfortunately have to make decisions.

I can’t speak to the decision making process of which team your 8 year old plays on… Frankly, it should be a baseball team somewhere else… but when it comes to these 03s, who next spring will be beginning their transition into contact hockey the following fall. It’s a very important year; don’t just put your team on Team X because you believe it’s a better team. Isn’t what spring hockey should be about, nor does the best team automatically make for the best route for your son.

Please, for the love of God, hockey and your kid’s passion…

Let him find a team he enjoys being around, regardless of the prowess of his fellow winger.

Let him find the coach he feels he can learn from the best.

Let him find the practices that he feels challenged in, and gets into your vehicle after every skate and talks about how fun it was the whole way home.

Let him be apart of the solution for the “weaker” team, and let him challenge himself instead of teaching him that you can just float by and win meaningless tournaments with your nose in the air. I miss the important lesson here.

Let him play with his friends, maybe!!!

….And for effsakes… why not let him display some maturity, accountability and make the decision on his own. Unless he chooses the team of delinqieunts, let the kid play where he wants to play. Not where you think there are better players. It will backfire, if that’s your only reason. If you meet all the criteria above, and it leads Timmy back to the snob team… then, that’s where you go and I am happy for you. It will work for some. Not all.

I’m sure you’re probably all thinking I wrote this as a recruiting ploy for my own team, and that was not the case. In fact, it’s quite a sad story why I decided I had to write this. Recently, I have heard of a number of these young kids, who are great players, quitting our game at such a young age, and to be honest… It crushed me. Some of them just decided to give up spring hockey altogether, while others just quit the game entirely. It honest to God, broke my heart when I heard this. It really did. It’s absolutely criminal. Hockey is such a damn fine game, and can provide so much for these guys in a lifetime, even if they end up playing beer league with their coaches in fifteen years. Hockey will teach them so much, just let the kids play, and let them have fun doing so. They’ll learn, and this is where they will develop into good men.

Being only ever involved in winter hockey, it took me till spring hockey to realize this, but… winning really is not what it’s about. It’s about developing good people, and athletes, and hey… if you catch a banner, or a trophy along the way. All the power to you… Just do it when people are watching, and people watch middle of September –first week of April.

Good luck to all the kids at training camp in whatever league, or level they are in!

Have a great year!

Grocery Store Wars – At My Most Chill

Uncategorized

What a summer this has been. Easily, without a doubt this has been the best summer of my life. For the first time, in possibly… ever, I felt and feel complete contentment. Lake Havasu & Phoenix kicked off the summer, with all of my best friends, and my new father in law.   Then, there was the big event. Marrying my best friend, and for the first time in my life, realizing a childhood dream come true. No, my dream was not to just get married. But, since I was 12 years old, and met Amanda… I wanted her to be my wife. What kid thinks of that? I have no idea… but I did, and July 25th, a dream came true for me. I get to officially call her my wife. It still seems so surreal, that this has all happened. But, maybe that’s what it feels like when your dreams come true.

The single greatest day of my life.

Last weekend, we took off to the Okanagan with two of my best friends, and their girls. There aren’t many things better than being in the OK to begin with… then add to that a couple days of winery after winery. Amazing.

Today, I finally had a chance to take a deep breath, and relax with zero plans. EXCEPT! Go grocery shopping. Which brings us together today. Now to most people… This probably seems like an arduous and miserable task, and for me majority of the time it is. I hate going to Costco, I hate going to Safeway, I despise walking into a Superstore and Co-op doesn’t do much for me either.

Safeway, I can’t stand the lighting, and their colors. Completely brutal. You’d have to pay me $200 an hour to wear that sand brown dress shirt with that apron. Then, there is their overpriced…everything. But, we’re going to keep cost out of this today. We talkin’ grocery store intangibles.

Let’s move to Costco… Don’t get me wrong, Costco is great, products incredible, even moreso if you’re buying for a colony, the quantity in which product is packed is something else. I can think of a few pals that thought buying condoms at Costco would last them a summer… This was 2006; pretty sure the box hasn’t seen much of a dent. Should have gone to 7-11 for those.

Costco would be so much more enjoyable, if I could just rent it for an hour and shop solely by myself, and ensure all the food sample people are going, and every time I turn the corner to another red stand with a conventional over, that bagel bite is fresh out of the oven. Too many times I go to Costco, see a lady cooking up chicken wings, fight through all the shopping carts and grapefruit stands to get to these honey garlic wings, and… Well shit, she just threw them in. Come on. Off to the next one… Oh, nope. Some eight year old shorter than the red-aproned stand came in and swiped the rest of the Dixie cups. Bastard. Though, I can’t get mad. That used to be me. I get it. Today, I’ll just fucking starve kid. You prick. Then, once my cart is filled to the brim, and overflowing with cat litter, dog food, cat food, and beef jerky…. I must find the magic lineup. Well, all these lineups are at least 45 carts long. Whatever. Pick this one. I’ll be back. Going piss, and to get a hot dog with fries. Speaking of fries… they don’t even label what jar is salt and pepper! I put fucking hot cocoa powder all over my fries last time. WHO THE HELL HAS HOT COCOA MIXED IN WITH THE KETCHUP, MUSTARD AND SHIT. ABSOLUTELY UNBELIEVABLE. Thanks for the cocoa fries. How hard is it to put, S, P and Cocoa Dust on the shakers. I hate you Costco, and all the people that crowd up the vegetable aisle, and just leave their carts in the middle of the road. Costco seriously needs aisle lights, or you need to have a license to operate a cart there. UGH.

Ok. Well that got ugly… What do we have left? Superstore? Well… I trust you’ve been to a superstore, so I won’t even dignify it with detailed conversation. I feel like I am buying my groceries from a third or fourth hand consignment store when I am there.

That brings us to Co-op… You know what, I shouldn’t be that hard on Co-op. The meats are great there, and I think it’s marginally better priced than Safeway. Again, the colors, and the ambiance doesn’t necessarily thrill me, but neither does it being me to a sixty minute violent stomach flu like Safeyway does. Co-Op loses on poor stigma. It brings me back to the hideous co-op in Vegreville that my mom used to torment me to go with her to. Good grief, I hated that place. So Co-Op… Sorry, you never even had a chance.

Alright. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. Save on Foods. Now, previous to moving to Mahogany in SE Calgary, never even really thought about SOF. I don’t think one existed in Calgary at the time. I recall visiting one in Edmonton, but it was just another grocery store, and I was possibly to young to appreciate it. Or, Mom wouldn’t let me buy the damn peach YOP so I hated it. Well, we moved to SE Calgary almost two years ago. In my hunt of nearby amenities, and resources I found a Save on Foods in Seton. Hmm. Never been let’s try it.

Right off the bat, we hit it off. The building was beautiful, the area looks like some modern day space shuttle take off thingy kind of place, with sick lights in the evening that change color. Then there is the parking; this is where the other places generally blow it right off the bat. Costco…they might as well have a C Train that drops you off at the lady pretending to check your Costco card. SOF… Parking everywhere! Never once an issue. After you park, what’s next… Carts. Well, Don’t need to worry about if I have a loonie, or a quarter on me. I’m just going to grab a nice green cart. Meanwhile, at Safeway, never know if you’re going to need a penny, or a red bill to unlock one of those. I have NEVER understood that concept. The carts at SOF, they are always mint. Wheels work, never dirty, never garbage in them from the previous operator. Safeway… Complete shit. I’ll compare SOF Carts to a brand new Ford, while the Safeway carts are more like a 76’ Chevette. Costco carts… Well, that’s a 15 man econoline van. Good luck.

Now that we’ve parked, and we’ve grabbed our luxurious carts, lets indulge into what has become one of most relaxing, enjoyable experiences of my life. Perhaps this has come with age, and marriage. But, I honest to gracious enjoy very few things more than I do that going to Save On Foods in the late morning of a weekend. I actually look forward to it. Like a kid on Christmas Eve. Perhaps, It’s so enjoyable because it’s often just quiet, me time. But, the store facilitates all the things that I need to just… detox myself of everything poor in my life for ninety minutes, and that’s exactly what it does. It’s strange, and your judging me… I know. But, I am at my utmost chill at Save on Foods at 11:00am Saturday. I’ve always felt like this going there, but I’ve never really acknowledged it, or thought about it till today. Why in the fuck does this place completely wipe me clean, and mellow me out like some kind of hippie lost in the forest of Vancouver Island. It’s just so chill.

Some of the things I mentioned I hated at SOF competitors.

  1. Colors. Everything is bright and pleasant at SOF, the uniforms are a bright green with white. The lighting is incredible; it’s the right amount of illumination, without being blinded, or feeling like you’re entering the dungeons of Safeway.
  1. The staff. They are not overbearing, and they are not everywhere. However, they are always doing their jobs, easy to find, and willing to assist you if you need.
  1. The Sounds. I go to a pub, and I couldn’t tell you three hours later the kind of music they played, maybe because I wasn’t listening for it, or possibly it was too quiet. Either way. It’s rarely atop of mind. At SOF, the music there is always great. They play music that’s well known, but not overplayed. They play music from various eras, so guaranteed every single person in there will enjoy at least three songs while enduring a shopping trip. They play it at the right volume. It’s loud enough to drown out any possibly painful conversation around, and just perfect enough for you to enjoy the song. It’s quiet enough you can hear yourself think enough to choose what hot sauce you want, and you can hear the man at frozen meat counter ask “is that all”.
  1. The People. I mentioned the staff; phenomenal. But, for some reason the other people there seem to be in the same state as my, shopping for peeled shrimp, completely relaxed. They too, are quiet, relaxed it seems, and hardly annoying, or difficult. I often wonder if SOF has a 21+ rule or something, because never see any hoodlums, or screaming kids in there. Nothing annoys me more than humans, and I’ve never once been irritated by people at SOF.
  1. Space. The aisles are gifted with enough width, and length that never seems overcrowded, or busy there. There is just the right amount of aisles, they are lableled, and organized enough, you’re always able to find even the most obscure things the wife puts on the list… like dry Swiffer pads.
  1. Cleanliness. I remember working my first ever job at Extra Foods in Vegreville, and I hated it. We’d spend hours a week just bringing boxes of rice a roni to the front of the shelf. I always thought this was trivial, absurd and painful. But… Now, as I enter the shoes of a consumer, it’s extremely helpful and I totally get it. Save on Foods must have 24-7 invincible robots doing this, because the shelves NEVER appear empty. EVER. Very organized, and very clean. All of the time. Most grocery stores I feel like after I touch something I need to douse myself in sanitizer, not here.   Then, there is the floor… Superstore gets an F in this regard, SOF get’s another A+, the floors are always glistening. Literally, glistening. I don’t understand how they do it.
  1. The sausage selection at the meat counter. Incredible variety. Chipotle. Maple. Jalapeno. Lime. Ginger. Spinach & Feta. Italian. Texas. Smoked… On and On…

I could honestly go on and on about the 31 wonders of this facility, but I will end up writing six pages on grocery stores. OH ya!

  1. Rarely ever a lineup, and always the right amount of tills opened.

I’m sure you’re thinking I am completely wacked, or maybe have even lost my mind in my two weeks of marriage, but this is the honest to God truth. I freaking love Save on Foods. It’s magical for me. Like Disneyland for you, it’s a place of pure, complete relaxation for me. A place to getaway.

…. And I don’t even cook, clean or use half the shit I buy.

What Makes You Happy?

Uncategorized

What Makes You Happy

 

I haven’t written in a long time, part of me felt like it was maybe because I’ve been doing better. I haven’t been feeling as depressed. My life had seemingly come together, even if just the slightest. I always told myself that when hockey ended, I was going to become an author, a literary wizard; I was going to write every day now that I had a bit more time. Well, hockey’s been over for about six weeks, and I am just starting to write at 10:56PM Easter Sunday.

Sure, I’ve been busy with things in the meantime, but if anyone knows me, busy, is not an excuse. If you want something bad enough, you’ll find the means to do it. Busy doesn’t exist in my world. It’s not because I don’t ever do anything, in fact, that’s probably quite the opposite. I probably have more going on than most folk. Actually, I could almost guarantee that. I just don’t feel the need to let everyone know how I preoccupied I am. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. It makes me sick when people say they are too busy.

Why? I remember years ago, my sister tried to chat with me through Facebook, through simple Internet chat… and, I recall looking at the messages, the message read something along the lines of hey, call me when you got some time, want to know how college is going. I looked at it, thought, meh; I’ll call her later… I am busy. I never called her. And, I don’t know if I ever talked to her again. She committed suicide a couple of months after, and I’ve never been too busy since.   So when people tell me, they are too busy. It doesn’t sit well. At all.

So, to say that I haven’t been writing, because I have been doing well, or because I have been doing poorly… I don’t even know the answer. Sometimes life has a tendency to just happen, and just leave me trapped in the motions that I just can’t comprehend the appropriate emotions, and feelings.

I know that writing provides me with the single most joyous experiences of my life. So, you would think it’s easier to do so. But… for some reason, it’s been getting more difficult, and for the first time, I feel like my writing is actually good. In the past, all I did was write about how I felt. That’s it. There was no scientific method to it; there was no English specialty behind it. Simply, just how I felt. I have such a difficult time re-reading my pieces, for a variety of reasons… mainly because I feel such a huge disconnect with the person who wrote that very piece, but also because… I think it’s shit. I looked earlier, and I have posted 47 entries to GAB. This being 48. I can honestly say that 1 was of quality, Your Move Chief. So, as much gratification as writing brings me… I don’t know if it’s from the actual writing, or the feedback. As pathetic as this may be, I seek so much approval, and accreditation, from… whomever, predominantly from my mom, and from my fiancé…. It’s pathetic, if I don’t hear anything within a day or so, I am texting those two asking what they thought… It drives me crazy that I do this. But… I do. And, I can probably recap every single compliment, or piece of positive feedback I have received from my blog. There is truly nothing, and I mean NOTHING more gratifying than when I hear about people who have read my blog, and find comfort from reading. Whether, I know them or not. I spend so much time wanting to write, then I spend such little time actually writing, and I conclude with spending even more time looking for approval on my writing. From, my family… my fiancé… my best friends… my friends… strangers… When, I receive this, it’s pure happiness. Joy. Elation. You know that feeling where you just can’t wipe that smile off your face. This is the only time I’ll feel it. So you’d think I’d write more, with this being the case. But, truth is… I think I have become a bit scared. My unrelenting life standards have once again trapped me with failure. Where, I need simple accolades. However, that’s slowed down significantly. I don’t know if it’s because my writing has gotten stale, or the content has. Or maybe, I am just without the random viewers from Europe. Or, perhaps, the people who have already graciously patted my back don’t feel like they need to tell me good job every single fucking time. Though they shouldn’t. However, I feel like, unless I get that… I am failing. I want to know what every single person thinks of my writing, even if they think it’s complete crap. I just want to know… because; I think it is too, I can’t even find myself appreciative, and satisfied with my own work.

So, in getting to the point of this entry… the great folks at Mind Your Mind proposed the question, what makes you happy? I thought about it for a long, long time. There are so many things that I enjoy, so many. But, to label them as something that makes me completely happy would likely be false. I think at any point, doing makes me happy. Regardless, of what it is that I am doing. I think sometimes you can find temporary joy in that, and I do. But, I tried to really think of something that makes me truly happy. True joy. I almost couldn’t think of anything, till I thought about writing, then I thought about all of the positive feedback I have received over the two years, and the people I have been able to help, if even just to help them temporarily. This has brought me pure joy, and continues to do so. It’s the only thing that allows me to feel self-pride, and self worth. Regardless, of the success I have at work, or in coaching sports, or my daily life even. I always seem to be stuck wanting more, and eventually get a place where good just isn’t good enough. But, with writing, that’s different. Even, if I receive two notes about my latest post, to me it was a success, and it provides that feeling. That feeling where I can’t stop but smiling, even if it’s a random stranger at an arena that says, “hey, you’re the guy that writes that mental health blog” … Yes, I guess so. These are the things that keep me ticking, and continue to remind me just what it is to feel joy, and to feel good.

You just hope that somehow you can find a way to enjoy, accept and appreciate your own bravery and work. Sometimes there is just far too much pressure on writing purely for the audience, and hoping to help them find joy, and hope. I need to find my own first.

Rest easy, and rest happily Max. I hope you can still find some time to read my blog, and I hope that you’ve found true joy.   I know you and Jen are hanging out as we speak. Listening to music, watching over us, and laughing at us.

My Beautiful Girl

Uncategorized

I wanted to post this yesterday but didn’t have a chance.  Also likely going to take some real flak from the boys for posting this; soft! So I was probably delaying that a little bit too!

Keeping things with Valentines Day, and in a week or so will be the 11 year anniversary since I asked Amanda to go out with me. Thankfully, she said yes.  We’d be 12 years but she said no the year before!

Anyway, I wrote this letter for her a couple weeks back when I was heading home from Hawaii without her.


It hasn’t been more than thirty minutes since I last looked back, and waved goodbye. I finished my tour of anxiety through security, looked back to you, and waved. You immediately waved back. I could see the excitement in you that I had looked back to see you one last time. I made my way up the escalator, and I hoped I’d see you once more; I didn’t want to lose sight of you.  You must have left, and then it hit me. You were gone, and I was going the other way. We were apart. In most worlds, and most relationships, I think people look forward to four days of alone time, and there isn’t likely to be a person who loves their alone time more than me. But this time… it hurt me. I don’t know why. I think every time I am not by your side, I am so afraid that it’s the last time I will see you. The last time I will see happiness. I think one of the things that people go through when they suffer from depression is, though they may have moments of happiness, and elation… It doesn’t always last, and when it’s gone, it’s heart sinking because you always feel like that may be the last time you’ll feel that joy again. That’s how I am every time

You have this weird way of allowing me to be happy, to have fun, and to feel like everything is going to be just fine. Even if in the moment, it doesn’t seem like it will be. I used to always be so hard on myself, expect so much of myself, that it was nearly impossible for me to ever find happiness. I blamed myself for every little thing that went wrong, things I couldn’t even control; I found a way to make it my fault. I lost all sense of hope, peace and completely lost all hope of happiness. I can remember that time I was really at rock bottom and you went miles above your call of duty to ensure I was ok. After talking to the psychiatrist about how I was feeling, I remember her coming back into the room. I was ready for her to tell me I needed to be locked up, or kept overnight because I was crazy, or something was wrong with me. She didn’t say the former, or the latter. She just said, I think he is just very, very sad. She could not have been more correct. There was no need for this significant diagnosis, exams, or medications. I wasn’t going to hurt myself, or hurt anyone. I didn’t want too. I was just simply, or complicated-ly…sad.   At the time, I never thought I could lean on you the way I have learned how to now. I didn’t want to hurt you, let you down, or feel vulnerable. I was afraid of that. I thought I could deal with my despair independently. This led me down a path I wish to never return. Using alcohol as a crutch. I’d drink, and drink, drink some more and continually party. I knew that this wasn’t making me any less sad, or any happier. It was temporary relief, where I would simply forget my sadness for an evening, only to awake to a stronger never-ending mountain of grief. This wasn’t working. Most people would have left me on my own after the pain I had caused you, all of it completely unfair to you. Though, through it all, you never budged, you never gave up. I am sure that it must have been extremely hard on you. Nights I was out partying and you had no idea where I was, what I was doing, when I was coming home, or if I even was. I’m sure I caused you many long, sleepless and emotionally drowning nights. I am certain of it now. For that, I cannot apologize enough, and I cannot thank you enough for never losing hope and faith in me. You somehow always found something in me I could never find in myself.

When I started to realize that the crutch I was using was only digging me deeper into darkness, and I decided enough was enough. I needed to find help, elsewhere. You had longed for me to enter the PAS program at the hospital, and try it. Finally, I did. And, throughout my weekly sessions for eight months, I learned so much about myself; I think I gained so much strength in those eight months. I learned different ways to channel my sadness, and try to turn it into something else, I learned that it’s ok to sometimes feel like nothing, to sometimes feel as if you’re mental space has completely died, yet your still moving physically. I learned that it’s ok to feel vulnerable, and for years, I was mortified of this. It was ok to feel weak, and to have those around me know that I was weak, and that I was hurting, and it was ok to lean on your for help, and for strength.

I don’t know what the real turning point was in those eight months that have led us to today, but I keep thinking back to that exercise I completed in therapy where I had to write you a letter explaining why I had a difficult time leaning on you. I’ve always been better with writing my feelings down, than I have been verbalizing them. We know that. Yet, I was so scared to give you this letter. It took three weeks. Finally, I did. I had never been so nervous in my life. I was afraid I was going to hurt you. I had no idea what to expect from you in response to this letter. I watched your every move as you read the pages I delivered to you. My mind raced, attempting to analyze your every thought. Finally, you finished, looked me deep in the eyes, and told me we’re ok, hugged me, gave me a kiss and told me that you loved me. You didn’t get upset. You didn’t shut down. You didn’t try to dig for more. Your response was everything I would have envisioned in a perfect world. And, at that very moment, I think you made me truly feel like everything was going to be ok, no matter how weak I was at the time, or at anything… or how much I was hurting. You were there for me.

Fast forward to today, as I make my way home on my own. I looked back to see you one last time as I rose up the escalator… and it hit me. You are truly everything to me. I am heart broken to be away from you even if for a few short days. It sounds pathetic, but it’s true. I have finally found peace, strength and happiness alongside you, and being able to confide in you has provided me with a life of joy that I could have never imagined.

I can’t wait to be home with you again.

I love you, my beautiful girl.

Pigeon Camera – When Dreams Happen

Uncategorized

If you’ve been following along my blog for some time, you know now that I love music.  I am always listening to music, reading lyrics, watching concerts…etc.  Growing up it was a big thing in our family.  The second thing you might know, is every now and then I have dreams of which my sister is in.  Sometimes so vividly, I can see that she is happy, enjoying herself.  I believe this is her way of telling me she’s better now, and that things are going to be alright.  I wish I had these dreams of her more often.

A few of these dreams I’ve had with her, I’ve really tried to keep with me, and revisit them often. Just to see her smile, and to see her laugh.  Sometimes I’ll ask her before I go to sleep how she’s doing, and to visit me soon in my dreams.  Hoping that I’ll see her again.  One dream I had with her in particular, I can recall almost every little detail, and have still images of this dream as if were some kind of photograph.

We were in a dark room, presumably some kind of pub.  Looked just like the Crocodile Pub in Seattle; my favorite place on the planet.  Jen loved Seattle, I often wonder if she got to go there.  Anyways.  Ahead was a small wooden stage lifted about a foot off the floor.  The stage, well-lit, sat in front of a small circular table that my mom, my sister and myself sat at in high black bar stools.  I can even remember the order of which we sat.  Mom was in the middle, Jen to the left, me to the right.  We sat, and laughed, all we did was laugh.  Jen looked just as I remember, she just looked… happier.  In front of us, on the stage performing was the Tragically Hip, complete with Gord Downie’s usual performing antics that make them such a phenomenal show.  It just seemed so real.  They just played, and played, while we sat at our grungy round table laughing, embracing the show in front of us…. and they just kept playing.

The Hip have always been a band that we listened to as I was kid, and growing up, I mean… who didn’t?? As I got older, I realized that my mom was more often right than wrong in her choice of tunes, and I learned to appreciate some of the bands she forced on me more and more.  Today, I love them all.  Music was something that we could all share together as a family, and continue to do so now as Brody grows up and learns to appreciate real music.  I remember always talking about music with Jen, wanting to look through her Roots CD wallet, see what new albums she had, or what she was listening too.  I’d try to trade her some of my discs for hers, or if deal was declined, I’d just try sneak away with the ones I wanted. Borrowing!  I must have gone through that CD Wallet five thousand times growing up.  That very same CD wallet is one of the most cherished items that I now have. It sits in my bookshelf, with all of her CDs still in place.  I’ll take them out, listen to them occasionally, and they go right back in the exact sleeve I found them.  I take care of this thing, more than I take care of anything else that I own.  For years, I wouldn’t put it near anything else, in fear that it would lose the scent of her.  I can remember yelling at Amanda after she moved in with the rest of the photo albums and such on the bookshelf at our old condo.  She asked why, and I didn’t want to tell her, I think I just said “Because!”  One of the other things I have of hers is the “Hipeponymous” box set, which I treat as if it were a million dollar item as well.  These two things that I have of hers, to me are as important as the pictures, and the memories I have of her, and more important than pretty well anything that I claim to own.

I’ve been to a Hip performance once before; Stampede Roundup.  However, I stuck about 300 yards back, and could hardly see a thing, or hear.  So to me, I don’t count that as really seeing them, cause, well… I didn’t.  Thus, The Hip have long been on my concert bucket list.  I’ve been fortunate enough to attend countless amounts of shows, and have seen many of my favorite bands.  However, none of which were shared with Jen.  It’s something that I think about every concert I go to.  Man…  I wish you were here.  I think this is probably what led to the aforementioned dream.


Last night… My brother got to enjoy his first real concert, and I got to knock one of the bucket list.  Mom had taken us to a show.  The Tragically Hip.  Brody. Mom. Me. Empty seat.  Just as we sat in my dream.  Beside me was probably the only empty seat in the first two levels of Rexall Place.  I thought nothing of it. Great, more space.  The show went on. Few songs in…”Pigeon Camera”  My favorite Hip song.  I didn’t expect to hear this one, not realizing he was going to play the entire FullyCompletely album.

Over there that’s my room
And that’s my sister’s
And that’s my sister
With something we could no longer contain

At that very moment, it hit me.   That dream came back to my mind, as vivid as ever.  I glanced over, and realized.. Brody, Mom, Me… Just how we sat in my dream.  Then, the empty seat beside me… Jen.  She was there.  Right beside me.  Pretty well the only empty seat in the building.  I started to laugh.  Couldn’t believe it.

My dream had come true


As I drove through the night, and early morning hours of this morning heading home, I was absolutely just gleaming.  I had my iPod playing, on shuffle… I have about 700 songs or so on this iPod.  You know when you have the shuffle going, you really always quietly hope to hear a couple different songs, then they never come on, so you get frustrated and then just search for it.  Well, I was really hoping for this one particular Yelawolf song…  Sure enough, two songs later.  Write Your Name.  I kinda laughed to myself, thought, ha thanks Jen!

Then, nearing Calgary, I thought… Ah, I really hope I get to hear The Year the Summer Ended in June before I get home.   Not three minutes later.  Yep.  I was stunned, butterflies.  I couldn’t stop myself from giggling, and shaking my head.  Here it was 2:30 in the morning.  I’d been awake for 20 hours straight.  Drove to Edmonton and back… and I all I wanted was for this night to continue on forever.  I have never felt Jen’s presence so much.  I could almost see, and hear her.  It was seriously, a dream come true.

For the last six years, all I’ve wished for is a chance to go back, and spend more time with Jen, do things with her I hadn’t done when the opportunity was there.  Nights where I’ve laid in bed screaming for a chance to go back.   Moments where I’ve wished myself sick, and sore.  It was as if I were to squeeze hard enough, I could go back.  Could go back and spend time with her, and share those moments that we’ve missed out on.  Moments like last night.  With everyone.

And last night, It just happened…


February 12, 2015 will go down as one of the most memorable nights of my life.  Thank you to those who were apart of it.  Mom, for taking us.  Brody for coming, and sharing tonight.  I was thrilled when I heard you were coming.  I had no idea.  And Kyle, for sharing some of your evening with us, and planning dinner, and meeting us.

I always laugh when people say this, and consider it to be so cheesy, and ya ya whatever.. but, everything really was aligned last night, just right.

Truly, one of the greatest evenings of my life.

Thank you.

Love, B

Lifetraps – Unrelenting Standards & Failure – Mind Your Mind

Uncategorized

I have really enjoyed writing for Mind Your Mind in the few short weeks I have.  Each week they’ll send out an array of engaging topics, and I go from there.

Last week, I chose to write about the unrelenting standards, and failure lifetraps!  Take a read here, and check some of the other pieces on Mind Your Mind!  It’s a great program, and great site!

 

http://mindyourmind.ca/expression/blog/lifetraps-unrelenting-standards-failure

 

 

Fighting to Survive the Gaps in Mental Health Services

Uncategorized

Last week, I teamed up with a mental health awareness program out of London, Ontario to provide some writing material.  Each week I will be contributing to Mind Your Mind on different topics regarding mental health.  My first article with Mind Your Mind was regarding the gaps that are found in mental health services, and the challenges that come with them.  Below is the article, please read, please enjoy, and if you’ve had a similar experience… Let me know!

Keep following along with Mind Your Mind, as they have some excellent writers on board, and have plenty of other unique things going on!

My first article with Mind Your Mind – Click Below!!!

Fighting to Survive the Gaps in Mental Health Services – Blair Courchene

Hope you enjoy, as always, thank you so much for reading.

Summer Road Trip Chapter III – Los Angeles & Area

Travel

The Route

Calgary – Kennewick

Kennewick – Redding

Redding – San Francisco

San Francisco – Anaheim

Anaheim – Laguna Beach – Manhattan Beach – El Segundo – Los Angeles

The Stay: 2 Nights

The Nest: Doubetree By Hilton LAX 

The Miles: Anaheim – El Segundo 120 Kilometres

Total Miles: 2,850 Kilometres (Approx) 

After a fantastic, eventful trip to Anaheim, we were due to set sail for LA. However, there was a destination we missed the opportunity to spend some time in, and it was killing us. So, I tried my best to somehow make it work. We weren’t able to check into our hotel in El Segundo, until 3:00pm, so we had some time to kill. Perfect. We can backtrack a few miles, stop in Laguna Beach for lunch, and then drive all along the coast to get to El Segundo. Much further, and longer, but… It was much worth it.

Laguna Beach / Manhattan Beach 

Day 1

Day 1 of our journey to LA, and as most of our Day 1s… Drive.   As mentioned, we backtracked a bit so we could make a special stop in Laguna.  I had to go to Laguna Beach, it wasn’t an option, had I never spent parts of high school dedicated to the MTV series, I probably wouldn’t have cared to go there.   So we headed in the opposite direction of LA, and drove to Laguna!  It was…. not at all what I was expecting, and I will thank MTV for that one. It had a small town vibe to it, reminded me a lot of Sydney/Victoria BC area. Everywhere you turned there was an art gallery of a different kind, or an art school, or something art related. I totally did not expect this, and the people were very friendly. I was for some reason expecting this ultra-“classy”, hoity-toity small city of super vehicles, wicked modern buildings, plastic barbies and high heels. While some of this was true, mostly because I was looking for it… It’s not at all what I thought it be after watching five seasons of Laguna Beach….  Surprise!   Stupid reality TV.  Should have known better.  

We walked up a few streets along the beaches and checked out some of the cool shops, stores, and looked at different places to eat lunch. We came across this place called “Cliffs” that was right off the beach, but situated on a… yes, a cliff looking right over the water.  Such a clever name now!   It was absolutely amazing. Thanks to MTV. I was totally expecting to walk into this place, feel completely awkward in my Canadian summer outfit and order a cold beer for what would probably be about $25. Nope. It was a very, very welcoming place, the service was phenomenal, the view was even better, and the food was priced as same as anywhere else, and the beer was cold.  Both of which were deeelicious.  Oh, and no one judged me, that I know of at least!  Everyone else looked the exact same as us.  I was completely stunned. I didn’t know what to think of this place. MTV………..

After lunch, we headed back to the truck, and walked along the beach. Again, I was almost expecting the beach to just be littered with plastic barbies, perfect bodied men and women, but nope, wasn’t at all. I got in the truck, absolutely mystified and drove towards to El Segundo. Completely stumped.  

Driving through was a little bit more of what I had expected, going through Newport Coast and Del Mar area. It was funny; cause one of the things I was so excited to see in Califrornia was a plethora of cool vehicles and I was mentioning to Amanda how disappointed I had been, because I hadn’t seen any. I’m not totally sure what I was exactly expecting that I don’t see in Calgary. Maybe frequency. I mean, it wasn’t like driving through Edmonton, there were still nice whips all over. Mercedes, BMW, Cadillacs, Range Rover, Porsche… etc, but same thing you’ll see anywhere else. It was about moments later after saying that. Boom. Rarri’ Lamb’ Bentley, Astons and one of my favorites… The Rolls Royce, then we saw McLaren, and a McLaren dealership. This, I had never seen. Wow. Ok, so I didn’t have the best vehicle in Cali anymore, apparently. That rolls may have taken me. Maybe. I’ve seen two RR before, both parked in Cgy. So to see one rolling through, was… cool. Amanda didn’t seem to understand my excitement.  Whatever.  Anyways, did you guys catch my Ricky Roosay lingo there???  Yep.  Lamb. Rarri.  

Anyway, turns out… Maaayyybe Laguna/Newport is pretty fancy, just like they perceive it to be on MTV shows, but not nearly as snooty in my limited experience.  I felt normal in Laguna, and I felt completely out of place in Newport. Out of place… Actually, I felt terrible about myself. Haha. I hated it that 10 block stretch.  

The rest of the drive, I felt like a human being again.  It was a beautiful drive, we went through Huntington Beach, which was getting set up to start the Vans US Surf Open the next day. We then went through Long Beach, which was.. well, moreso like Edmonton. Then, we drove on through the hood. I thought it was pretty interesting, yet kind of sad that not 25 miles south, you have the absolute elite driving around in their rolls, Bentleys, and then you drive a little, and you’re…. well, just about in Compton, and the rest of the hoods. Amanda, of course… Unphased by all of it, was only concerned about stopping for a nail fill. So when we saw the first place that said Juanita’s Nail Bar & Guns, we had to stop. And, I may or may not have had a pedicure, and… ah maybe enjoyed it. Whatever. I didn’t have a choice.

Eventually, we made it El Segundo after passing through Redondo, Hermosa and Manhattan Beach.  All amazing places.  At least driving through them.  

In El Segundo, our hotel was situated within an industrial park, with some pretty interesting massive offices right outside our window, and down the street. The LA Air Force Base, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Various airlines… then the toy company Mattell, and then the… the LA Kings! So you have all these military, weaponry, nuclear corporations, then you have a toy corporation, and a hockey team. Kaypppp.

Finally, hours later, Amanda was ready to go.  W had made plans to head back to Manhattan Beach; the home of the LA Kings. So of course we were going there.  If it’s good enough for Anze, good enough for me!  But first… We had to make a pitstop at the Toyota Sports Centre – LA Kings practice facility. It was nothing but three-rink arena with the LA Kings logo plastered everywhere and normal little kids playing. Amanda loved it! I think it was her favorite part of the vacation.  

We headed to MH Beach. Drove around for a few days looking for parking, found it. Finally. Walked around just as long looking at different spots to eat, walked out along the pier, and then finally found a cool pizza restaurant, and settled in there. And, that was the end of our adventurous day through…  wherever it was that we had just gone.  

Los Angeles

Day 2

Promise, I will keep this shorter. We left after Day 2, so this is it!

We were heading to Universal Studios. It was a bit of a hike from our hotel, and Amanda and I were arguing about something that morning. Probably directions, or how long it took her to get ready. Or both. Actually, ya I think it was both. But, this one got so silent; we didn’t talk for about 10-20 miles. Which is really weird… for her especially!  

I thought I’ll guide us there on my own, whatever. Don’t need her help!  …5 miles later, I thought… K, this doesn’t look right. Wasted some data on my phone to check my directions, instead of asking her… who had the maps.  I soon realized… Shit, I’ve gone about 25 blocks completely the wrong way. I was well, let’s say… humbled.  I turned around, pretended nothing happened, admitted defeat.  I am sure Amanda loved every second of it. Finally, we got along closer to Universal, and good thing. I asked Amanda if she was super excited for Universal, and the minions… which I knew the answer too, but as she was still partially pouting, I thought this would be a good test.  Sure enough, her response.  “NO”

Haha. Ok. 2 minutes later we weren’t 10 feet from the entrance, and she was losing it, worse than in Disneyland. Worse than a kid!  Couldn’t hide it anymore behind the pout.  It was hilarious. Of course, we had to head right to Gru’s Café, and have lunch. This place was actually remarkable. Was identical to Gru’s house in the movie. And the food, was unreal. Universal was already better than Disneyland, though I pretended to not be phased by it as I tried to be the cool guy… But, I thought it was probably one of the coolest things too.  You could get a massive baseball stadium sized can of beer, and walk around with it. So we did.   When ordering the Universal tickets, we spent the extra money and got the “Front of Line” pass, which thank God we did, because unlike the fast pass…They actually worked.  

We went to a few different shows, including an Animal Actors show where they had many of the animals in that act in the Universal movies, and they do some skits and a show with these creatures. Cats, Dogs, Owls, Eagles, Hawks, Guinea Pigs, Roosters, and ten other kinds of animals, it was actually amazing. Amanda, again.. I don’t think reality really set in with her about this place yet. We headed to the Universal Studios Tour afterwards, and this was my favorite part. They take you through all the lots where they film shows, movies, everything. All the facades that are standing, show you what was where, and the tour guide shows clips of the scenes filmed where we were.  Then they take you through Jurassic Park stuff, the props, the vehicles.  The fast N furious prop car parking lot.  We went through skull island and there was a bit of a 3D ride there.  It grabbed our trolley car as we entered this dark tunnel, started shaking, and then this humongous 3D screen got going with a T Rex and Gorilla fighting. It was so neat, when the animals would take a beating, you’d get wet from their “blood” or “drool” or whatever. I can’t even explain it.  but, I felt I was in the middle of a gorilla dino fight, and I had never felt that before!  They take you through “Whoville” the Desperate Housewives street, A plane crash scene from War of Worlds. This was remarkable. It’s apparently an actual plane, they bought and then destroyed it. It looks so real. There’s all kinds of debris everywhere, fires going, electrical sparks. Then, you go through the island Jaws was filmed at, it’s really just a small pond. And they show you the actual Jaws shark. Well, actually, this thing just jumped out at our trolley. This huge mechanical shark, then stuff went on fire. Thennnnnn, they take you through this subway station setup, where they re-enact earthquake scenes. So your trolley starts shaking, noise like crazy, then this propane truck slides out of nowhere inches from our car, then another vehicle smashes into that one, stuff starts on fire again, and then from the other side a huge bang goes off, and all the water comes rushing through.  All the while, they show the exact same scene from an episode of Bones.  It was absolutely amazing how they do all of this. I am still marvelling about some of it.  

That was by far my favorite part of Universal, we ended up doing a few rides afterwards, and another show. We did the minion ride, which was actually disappointing, then Amanda called it a day on the rides, and left me to do the rest. So I went on the transformers one, which was awesome. They’re mainly all 3D cart rides, but still cool. Then, I did the Jurassic Park ride.. by myself… twice, and I wasn’t allowed the third time. We left the park, and walked through the Universal Studios CityWalk which was pretty cool. Bunch of different stores, restaurants, bright lights, and live music. Finally we had some sushi, I had been waiting all trip for it, and couldn’t find any that wasn’t $100 Chef Choice. And, with that… We knocked LA off the list, and headed back to the hotel and had chips.  

Final Synopsis

It was cool, I really enjoyed our brief time there. It was unfortunate, we were unable to do a lot of different things just because of time, but the places we did go to were spectacular. Our hotel wasn’t in the best location, so that made things a bit of a challenge. We were going to do Hollywood the night we left our hotel, but the last thing I wanted was to be driving 25 miles from Hollywood to El Segundo at 1:00am, so I just said screw it… I don’t even want to go into Hollywood, I’ll save it.  Universal Studios was awesome. I would recommend it over Disneyland a million times, unless you’re with kids… maybe not? Then I’d recommend neither.

If you’re going…

  1. Visit Laguna, Newport absolutely, I would spend a night there, and another in the Manhattan/Hermosa area.
  2. Go to a Dodgers game
  3. Go to a Kings game
  4. Try and time it around one of the US Surfing Open events, or the Bud Light Beach Volleyball events.  There always seemed to be something going on, minus the night we were there.  Of course.  
  5. Certainly go to Universal Studios, but ensure you buy the Front of Line pass. I think it was $85 extra, but believe me, beyond worth it. 
  6. Eat at unique little restaurants, I was guilty for eating at PF, and CPK in Anaheim, but the rest of the way eat at independent places.
  7. If you’re a weirdo… the TMZ tour?

 Next Time

  1. I would plan for a lot more time. I think you could easily spend weeks just in the LA/Hollywood area, and visit Venice beach. 
  2. I would follow #1 above, and then stay in Hollywood rest of the time.
  3. Would love to go to a game at Dodger Stadium
  4. Having done Universal, and as good as it was. Wouldn’t go again.
  5. So much more

I really look forward to going to the LA area again. One of the beauties about traveling the way we do is we get to see a little bit of everything, the beast can be that we don’t get to see a lot of everything as a result. But, this way, we know the places we will go back too, and what we will do. Next time, we’ll spend a night or two along that coast from Anaheim to LA. Then spend as many nights as we can in Hollywood, and I would just get lost there and do whatever I found. I would maybe do a city tour, that’s all.   But all in all, Of all the places we visited, this is hands down the one I can not wait to return too!

– B