2016: Goodbye, Good Riddance, and Thank You

There’s been a lot of talk recently about how 2016 was the worst year ever. You see it in headlines, think pieces, social media arguments, and my personal favourite, 2016 reimagined as a horror film in one particularly brilliant faux film trailer. Whatever your feelings on 2016, it’s clear that a lot of people are happy to see this year come to an end at midnight tonight, and I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t one of them. On the basis of the world political scene alone, I’d say that this year has been pretty horrific, but I’m tired of talking about politics. There will be plenty of time for that in the months ahead. Today, as I reflect back on the year that was, it will be the people who we’ve lost who will be foremost in my mind. From artistic icons to personal friends, 2016 has come and gone at a terrible price. The list of the departed goes on and on, but for myself, there’s one death in particular that stands out. Carrie Fisher.

When I heard the news of her death on December 27th, I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. It is a weird feeling to feel grief over someone you didn’t know personally, and yet that is the only way I can describe what I felt that day. I was grieving. I never met Carrie Fisher, but she did talk to me once, seven years ago, when I attended her one woman show Wishful Drinking in New York City. I was the youngest person in the audience by a wide margin, and because of this, she felt it prudent to come right up to the front of the stage and address me directly before talking about the love triangle between her mother, Debbie Reynolds, her father, Eddie Fisher, and the woman who came between them, Elizabeth Taylor. I don’t think I have to tell you which tabloid mainstay threesome she used to educate me on the context of the situation.

I remember sitting there thinking to myself gleefully, “Princess Leia just talked to me!”, but by the end of the show there was no more Princess Leia. Just Carrie Fisher. HBO will be airing Wishful Drinking tomorrow in honour of her untimely death, and if you have the means to watch it, do it. Seriously. I can’t think of a better way to start the new year than to watch this marvel of a woman talk so openly and candidly about her life and the trials and tribulations she’d faced over the years. I remember sitting in the audience all those years ago, and being completely blown away by the woman before me. She was smart, witty, honest, self-deprecating, confident, intelligent, strong, vulnerable, and brave, and I remember thinking that she had courage beyond what I thought was even possible to stand in front of complete strangers and give herself up so openly. I may have bought my ticket because I wanted to see “Princess Leia” in person, but I came out of that show wanting to be Carrie Fisher. Not literally, of course, but to an impressionable young woman, Carrie Fisher was the badass role model I needed for how to be unapologetically yourself and to not give a flying toaster what anyone else thought about it.

Because of this, Carrie Fisher was someone I greatly admired, and to hear of her passing at the end of a year that saw so many great artists leave us, I, like so many others, felt the urge to raise my middle finger at 2016 and curse this terrible year for taking so many before their time. But I’m not going to. I want to, but I’m not. Instead, I’m going to say thank you to a year that many would choose to forget. I’m going to end this year by thinking about the good things that happened, because there were many, but more importantly, I’m going to remember the lessons we can carry forward into 2017 and beyond, and thank 2016 for the opportunities to heed them.

So thank you 2016, for reminding us of the precious gift of art and the artists who create it. Thank you for their music, films, and words, which will thankfully live on to inspire countless generations to come. Thank you for the pioneers and the trailblazers who taught us to believe that anything is possible if only you have the courage to pursue it. Thank you for reminding us that life is short and that time is a privilege to be treasured and not wasted. Thank you for all that you have taken away, for it only reinforces the need to value what we have left that much more. And thank you for not taking Betty White just yet.

For me, I’m going to go into 2017 with one image in mind. After the intermission of Wishful Drinking, the curtain came up on Carrie Fisher, alone on stage, curled up on a couch, reading a book. As the lights illuminated her, she looked up and cheekily waved at the audience, completely at ease with herself and ready to take on the world. That’s the kind of woman I want to be. So thank you Carrie Fisher. Thank you for the characters you embodied, the writings you gave us, and the path you blazed for women everywhere. As per your wishes, I’m reporting that you drowned in moonlight, strangled by your own bra, and I hope it was one hell of a ride. More importantly, as we step into the great big unknown that is 2017, I’m going to take each day with a wink, a laugh, and a defiant stance, just as I think you would have.

Happy New Year everyone!

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How I Survived the Four Day Dopey Challenge

As published on Inspirelle on April 7th, 2016.

Marathon Woman
© Laura Moore

Two years ago, I heard about the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World in OrlandoFlorida. It’s a running challenge that spans four days, four races, and 48.6 miles, where you run a 5K on the first day, a 10K on the second day, a half marathon on the third, and a full marathon on the fourth. It’s aptly named, because you truly have to be Dopey to want to do this, so naturally I signed up the first chance I got.

This January, I finally got to run the Dopey, and I’ll say it again: it really is an aptly named challenge. The first three days of races all went well, and I thoroughly enjoyed the picturesque race routes that took us through the amazing Disney parks. But then on the fourth day came the 26.2 miles of the marathon.

Marathon Woman
© Laura Moore

We woke up for the final run to a cloud of humidity; and at 5am, it was already unbearably hot for running. The 15-minute walk from the parking lot to the starting line was all it took for my confidence to erode, and when I finally arrived at my starting position, drenched in sweat, the enormity of the task at hand suddenly felt impossible. Before I knew what was happening, I burst into tears.

Disney races proudly declare that “Every Mile is Magical”, and people from all over the world flock to Orlando and California to attempt the half or full marathon, many of them for the first time. As I stood there, having a mini-meltdown, all around me people were excited about the course ahead, the Disney characters they would see, and how good it would feel to receive their finisher’s medal if they completed this feat that most people would never dare to try. There were some nervous faces, but the overall atmosphere was one of happiness, anticipation and excitement. And in the midst of all this, there I was, the pariah Debbie Downer, with tears pouring down my cheeks and emanating loud sobs.

marathon woman
Runners meet Disney characters © Race for Awareness

It’s a weird feeling to be surrounded by so many happy people when all you can do is cry, but in that moment I didn’t care. I was exhausted from the four consecutive 3am wake up calls and the previous three races, I felt like my energy had completely deserted me, I had two black toenails from the extensive training I had done to prepare, and I was absolutely convinced that there was no way I could finish this challenge. After already running a 5K, 10K, and half marathon, a full marathon was just too much.

I wanted to sprint for an exit, but a starting gun went off, and instead of leaving, I got swept up by the crowd of nearly 25,000 enthusiastic and costumed runners who surged forward. As we lined up, I began to hear the announcers of the race as they pumped up each group for takeoff. Just as I got to the front, one of the announcers said something I’ll never forget. He looked out into the sea of runners, asked who was running their first marathon, and then asked who was nervous about what was ahead.

People all around me raised their hands, and he said, “Remember. The only person who thinks you can’t do this is you.”

marathon woman
© Laura Moore

The only person who thinks you can’t do this is you. Immediately, the tears stopped and the weight on my shoulders was lifted. He was right. For months, I had prepared for this event, and every person in my life had offered up nothing but words of encouragement and affirmations that I could do it. They all thought I was crazy, but they all believed I could pull it off. The only person who thought differently was me. I had convinced myself that it was too hard and couldn’t be done. In that moment, I learned a valuable lesson. Even if everyone else believes in you, you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t believe in yourself.

Moments later, the starting gun fired and my race began. I wish I could say that it was the race of my life and I set a personal record for my time, but the truth is it was a hard race. The humidity was relentless. I became dangerously dehydrated at times, and my body was not shy in telling me just how angry it was with me for running four races in a row. And full disclosure: the tears may have returned once or twice in the final 5K, but every time I considered quitting, I just remembered that the only person rooting against me was me, and I had the ability to change that.

marathon woman
© Laura Moore

When I first began distance running, people often told me that the key to running marathons wasn’t how much you trained, but how well you coped mentally. I didn’t believe them at first, but after hitting several mental roadblocks during my first marathon last year, I learned the hard way that the key to running a marathon is entirely mental. Running the Dopey Challenge was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but when I crossed that finish line, high fiving none other than Mickey Mouse himself in the process, the feeling was incredible. And all I had to do was believe in myself to get there.

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Trailer Talk – Hello, My Name is Doris

Release Date: March 11th, 2016

I can’t remember the last time I wanted to see a movie more from just watching the trailer. I first heard about this film after its premiere at South By Southwest last year and the resulting Oscar buzz surrounding Sally Field’s performance, but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered its trailer. Since then, I’ve watched it over a dozen times, and I’m already head over heels in love with Sally Field’s portrayal of Doris. All two and a half minutes of it. She’s endearing, lovably awkward, and completely adorable, and I can’t wait to see the whole movie and get to know this delightful character better. My only hope is that the film lives up to what this trailer promises, but something tells me the always terrific Sally Field won’t let me down.

Verdict: March 11th can’t get here fast enough.

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10 Moments that Remind Me I’m Back in Canada

It’s a weird thing to experience culture shock when returning to your native country, but after a year in France, it’s taken me by surprise how accustomed I had gotten to the French way of doing things. This past week has been filled with little moments of readjustment and adaptation, and while I certainly haven’t experienced a moving to Uganda level of culture shock, I’ve still had to get reacquainted with my own country in many ways.

  1. It’s amazing how distracting it is to actually be able to understand what everyone around you is saying. While it’s been a nice relief from the stress of conversing in another language, it’s also been amazingly difficult to concentrate on anything now that it’s so easy to eavesdrop on everyone’s conversations.
  2. Cars actually stop for me now when I’m waiting at crosswalks. Sometimes I don’t even have to be at a crosswalk, just in the near vicinity of an intersection, and they will stop to let me cross. What is this madness?!
  3. Random strangers keep asking me how I’m doing. “How are you?”, “How are you doing?”, and “How’s your day going?” come at me fast and furious from every cashier, bank teller, and gas attendant I come across. It only took me six tries to settle back into the automatic, “I’m good” response.
  4. People speak at such a higher decibel here than in France. Seriously, I’m standing right in front of you. Please stop shouting at me.
  5. In Canada, the first floor of a building is the same thing as the ground floor. On more than one occasion, I’ve overshot while en route to the ground floor and wound up in the basement. This was funny the first time around. Not so funny the third and fourth time.
  6. People here buy their bread at the supermarket. Blasphemy!
  7. Drivers in Vancouver are renowned for their spectacular lack of driving skills, but what they lack in automotive agility, they certainly make up for in patience. After a year in Paris, it is absolutely amazing to me that people will actually sit and wait for other cars to get out of their way instead of reaching for the horn every four seconds.
  8. Handheld shower heads are now a thing of the past, and I can’t say I’m upset about this.
  9. Unless you purposely lock your front door, it will magically stay unlocked, even if it closes behind you. Never again will I have to worry about locking myself out of my apartment. Until I move back to Paris that is.
  10. Finally, I had forgotten how wonderful the smell of salt water can be and how beautiful the mountains look in the morning. Paris is beautiful, but it doesn’t have an ocean or mountains.



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Reflections on a Year in Paris

Last September, I packed my bags and moved to Paris. I did this because I was following one of my last options for a career that I’ve wanted since I was a child, and even though I didn’t have a job lined up at the time I made my big move, I had long since decided that moving to a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language and didn’t know a single person was worth the risk if it meant going for my dreams. It was terrifying and exhilarating all at once. Now that I’m about to leave France, I’ve been searching for a way to describe what this past year has meant to me, and the other day, while aimlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed, the answer reached through the screen and smacked me in the face. It happened when I noticed that a friend had posted a status that required a click on the “Continue Reading” button, and it’s always been a general rule of mine that if someone takes the time to write a status update of that length, the least I can do is give them the courtesy of reading it. Near the end, I came across this: “To me, the whole point is to walk into the unknown with a brave heart and weak knees. I could utterly fail at this. So what?” And there it was.

Before I left for France, I can still remember the look of shock and surprise on people’s faces when I told them that I didn’t have the job yet. I had been planning my year in France for months, so I think everyone had just assumed that I had a contract signed and ready to go, but in reality, I had actually already received several rejection letters prior to my departure. This may have been my cue to pause and review whether or not packing up and moving to a foreign country without a job offer was a smart idea, but I threw caution to the wind and pressed ahead with my plans. I reasoned to myself that once I was actually in the country, I would be able to find a way to talk myself into a job, and I reassured my shocked friends that I was well aware that this whole plan could blow up in my face, but in keeping with the whole “no regrets” life mantra, I was prepared for that to happen.

Well, blow up in my face it did, and if by “prepared for that to happen”, I meant spend a week curled in the fetal position in bed crying, then yes, I was absolutely prepared for my dreams to disappear in an instant. As I lay there, day in and day out, wondering what the hell I was going to do with my life now that my assumed future was gone, I often wondered if the gamble had been worth it, and whether or not I should just pack it in and go home. But then I remembered. I was in Paris. The irony was not lost on me that in failing at my own dream, I was still living out the dream of so many others.

Now, as I look back on the past year, it’s hard to believe that time has passed by so quickly. I came to Paris with only one goal in mind, and yet somehow, this city managed to give me so much more than I ever could have hoped for, or even knew I needed. It gave me art, culture, and history in abundance. It gave me adventure, and allowed me to journey into the unknown on a daily basis. It gave me friendships that I will treasure forever, and kindness and compassion from complete strangers that the stereotypes of the French would have you believe to be impossible. It gave me the opportunity to learn a new language, and learn to trust in people in a way that isn’t possible when you can incessantly ask questions to understand every last detail of every process or exchange. It gave me a new career that I love, one that challenges me everyday, and one that has given me a new and exciting plan for the future. But most of all, it gave me a life that I love in a city that I adore.

As a Millennial, I was told repeatedly while I was growing up that the key to life was following your dreams. The only problem with this philosophy is that no one ever taught me what to do when the universe isn’t as enthusiastic about my dream as I am, and so it never occurred to me that in following it, I could fall so spectacularly on my face. And yet here I am, a year later, still standing, with another dream firmly on the horizon. I guess the key to life really is following your dreams. You just have to be prepared to find a new one every now and then. “To me, the whole point is to walk into the unknown with a brave heart and weak knees. I could utterly fail at this. So what?” So what indeed.

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Trailer Talk – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Release Date: March 25th, 2016

In the summer of 2013, I saw three of that summer’s big blockbuster offerings in quick succession, and I came away from that experience deeply unsettled. First up was Iron Man 3; a film that spent nearly 90 minutes convincing us that the so called bad guys with the explosive skin were actually human beings worth saving, only to have Tony Stark and his robotic suit army indiscriminately kill them all as soon as the plot demanded a high action climatic battle. I guess they were hoping that Robert Downey Jr.’s charm and witty quips would let that one slide.

Next up was Star Trek Into Darkness, wherein the final act saw a spaceship crash-land in the middle of San Francisco, slaughtering thousands of innocent civilians in the process, without so much as a word of recognition or remembrance for these deaths by the final frame. Perhaps the filmmakers were hoping we’d all be so distracted by Benedict Cumberbatch’s sexy villain voice, we wouldn’t notice that the film had so callously murdered thousands of people for the sake of spectacle.

However, neither of these films compare to the ending of Man of Steel, which saw Superman and General Zod engage in a destructive rampage throughout a city full of people, leaving nary a building untouched by the time Superman supposedly saves the day. Again, not a word is spoken of the thousands of people who would have perished in such a grand scale devastation of a large urban city, and when taken together, the lack of empathy these three films showed towards the massacres they portrayed was almost alarming. Big budget action movies have always revelled in chaos, violence, and mayhem, but I can’t remember the last time a summer season produced so much death and suffering with so little remorse.

This weekend, the new trailer for the upcoming Batman vs. Superman extravaganza was released at San Diego Comic-Con, and since the first trailer did little to pique my interest in this film, I didn’t expect much from this one. However, just 60 seconds into this extended trailer, all of my expectations went completely out the window, because it quickly became clear that not only would this film focus on the consequences of what happened at the end of Man of Steel, but it also hinted that perhaps the destruction of the city of Metropolis was not merely spectacle, but instead an important plot point that was necessary in order to set in motion the events of future films.

Before seeing this trailer, my interest in this film lay solely in the fact that it would mark the first appearance of Wonder Woman on the big screen. Now, however, I’m almost entirely sold on the film as a whole. On the basis of this trailer alone, I’m genuinely interested in seeing more of Ben Affleck’s take on Batman, the few shots of Wonder Woman in action look amazing, and Jesse Eisenberg somehow comes off as both charismatic and creepy in the role of Lex Luthor, and I want to know how he’s going to sustain that for an entire film. However, above all else, I’m relieved to see that there will finally be some consequences to the events of Man of Steel, and I’m looking forward to seeing how these will play out.

One more thing. It’s been two trailers now and we’ve yet to hear Superman utter a word. They actually let Henry Cavill talk in this one, right?

Verdict: Against all the odds, I’m actually excited for this one.

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15 Thoughts While Running A Marathon

A couple of hours ago, I finished my first ever marathon, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I loved the experience, it certainly was an experience, and when running your first marathon, what better one to do than the Paris Marathon? I can think of worse ways to pass the time than running past the Louvre, Chateau Vincennes, and the Eiffel Tower.

Still, 42.2km is still a heck of a long way to run, which meant that I had plenty of time to think along the way. I thought I’d share a couple of these thoughts with you in order to give you a window into the thought process that goes into running a marathon from start to finish.

1) (at the starting line) “What the Hell was I thinking signing up to run a full MARATHON?!” -this thought was later repeated at every kilometre and mile marker throughout the race

2) (at the 5km mark) “I don’t need to, but if I time it right, one of those gorgeous firemen can catch me if I faint.”

3) (at the 7km mark) “I can’t believe how great I feel! This is going to be easy.”

4) (at the 10.5km mark) “Wow. I have to run that distance another THREE times.”

5) (at the 18km mark) “So this is what my life has become. The location of the next porta-potty has become the only thing I care about.”

6) (at the Half Marathon mark) “What is that tingling sensation in my left leg? (pause to check) Okay, you have got to be kidding me. Really pants? You decide that now is a good time to split open, meaning that the inside of my leg has now been rubbed raw?”

7) (at the 23km mark) “I wonder if I’ll lose a toenail to this race?”

8) (at the 25km mark) “Interesting, I didn’t know I could chafe there.”

9) (at the 30km mark) “Hit a wall? Not me! I only have 12km left. I can do this!”

10) (at the 33km mark) “Where are all these tears coming from?! I’m not in pain and I’m not upset about anything, so why can’t I stop crying?!”

11) (at the 36km mark) “Okay, now I’m in a lot of pain, but this is getting ridiculous. HOW DO I STOP CRYING?!”

12) (at the 38km mark) “After averaging 9 minute kilometres for the past 10K, suddenly I’m averaging 7 minute kilometres. Wow. When you’re worried that you’re about to be pulled off of the course because you’re too slow, it really motivates you to move faster.”

13) (at the 41.5km mark) “WHERE THE FOCH IS THAT FINISH LINE?!?!?!” -inside joke; the Paris Marathon ends on Foch Avenue

14) (about 5 seconds after crossing the finish line) “Would anyone mind if I just curl up into the fetal position right here and take a nice long nap?”

15) (about 5 seconds after being handed my finisher’s medal) “So when can I do this again?”

As you can tell, it was a roller coaster of a day, but I did it. I ran a marathon. Okay, I may have walked a fair amount in the back half of the run, but I still finished, and now I can say that I’ve accomplished something that less than one tenth of 1% of the world’s population will ever even attempt. And that feels pretty darn good.

Until the next one!

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It’s Another 10 Lessons Learned From Living In Paris

When you live in Paris, you never stop learning, and therefore I knew it would only be a matter of time before I had another Top 10 list ready to go. So without further ado, here are my latest lessons learned from living in Paris.

1) I know that texting has become one of the dominant forms of communication in today’s digital age, but in Paris, it’s a way of life. Parisians simply won’t call you. Everything is done via text; so much so that most phone plans come with unlimited texting, but only about an hour or two worth of calls per month, because that’s all you really need. While I’m not particularly opposed to this method of communication, it can get rather frustrating when I’m trying to type out a paragraph on a mobile that would not look out of place in 2001. I think I may be finally warming up to the idea of getting a smartphone.

2) I may not have the most discerning of tastes when it comes to food, but after seven months in Paris, even I now know that French bread really is the best bread in the world. I’ve lost count of how many baguettes I’ve devoured during my time here, and I am well aware that going forward, no other bread will ever measure up for the rest of my life. However, when it comes time to share baguettes with your fellow Parisians, put the bread knife away, because here, no one cuts bread. If you want some, you simply tear off a piece, even when you’re at group gatherings. It’s a refreshingly informal custom that I’ve come to love.

3) Oftentimes, the bathroom is a separate room from where the toilet will be found, which means you have to be very specific when asking for directions at a party. Additionally, sometimes the bathroom is a separate room altogether located outside of the apartment, and therefore don’t be alarmed if you’re directed out the door and down the hallway past the building’s elevator. No one is trying to get rid of you, it’s just one of the many quirks of living in buildings that are hundreds of years old.

4) In today’s computerized world, typing is no longer a special skill so much as it is a necessity of life. I have grown up typing on a QWERTY keyboard, and until I moved to France, it never even occurred to me that there may be other keyboard layouts. But other layouts there are, and in France, they use what is called the AZERTY keyboard. While I have yet to master the art of typing in this layout, I have managed to trim the time it takes me to write a short email from 30 minutes to a mere 20. I consider this a huge win.

5) I may be alone in this thinking, but when I’m on public transit systems, I will often choose to stand instead of forcing myself into the one available seat in the corner that would require me to step over half a dozen people to get there. Parisians don’t share this line of thinking, and if there is an empty seat on the Metro, no matter how inaccessible it may be, they will climb over half the train to get there. It really is quite the phenomenon, and is one that has kept me entertained on many a Metro ride.

6) If patience is a virtue, then it is not one that French drivers possess. During my time here, I’ve come to observe that the average time it takes Parisian drivers to honk the horn when something is in their way is approximately four seconds. Even if it is perfectly clear that whatever that obstacle may be will be gone in 5 seconds, they can’t resist a quick honk to make sure everyone is aware of their inconvenience. I’ve observed this phenomenon in many large cities, but in terms of the length of time it takes to reach for that horn, the French win hands down.

7) If you order tiramisu in Paris, it will come in a mason jar. I don’t know why, and I don’t particularly care why. They’re that delicious.

8) There is nothing more stressful in this city than bagging your own groceries at the supermarket, because in France, this task falls to you, the shopper. Seven months in, it still amazes me how people can expertly bag their food, pay, and be out of the way before the next customer in line comes through without so much as breaking a sweat. This is a skill I have yet to acquire, and my incompetence in this matter has gotten to the point that I refuse to go to the supermarket between 5PM and 7PM, because the pressure of rush hour is too much. Seriously.

9) Speaking of the supermarket, be sure that you know exactly when it is open and closed, because there are no such things as 24 hour stores in France. Everything opens and closes at random hours, and invariably, they will always be closed when you need them. Plan accordingly.

10) The aforementioned honking aside, I’ve discovered that everything operates at a lower decibel in Paris, and this is particularly apparent, not to mention most welcome, at restaurants. Even when a place is packed, you never need to raise your voice to be heard, because the French tend to talk much quieter than I’m used to, which keeps the ambient noise down. Since I’ve been living in Paris, I’ve noticed a marked difference in my average volume, and even though I’ve significantly lowered my voice, I still tend to stand out when I’m in restaurants as the loud one. I’m working on it, but old habits die hard.

That’s all for now, but I’m sure there are many more lessons this beautiful city has yet to teach me. Until then, it’s off to the bakery for some baguettes and tiramisu!

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Trailer Talk – Tomorrowland

Release Date: May 22nd, 2015

Wow. Just…WOW. Of all the trailers I’ve seen recently, Tomorrowland is probably the most spectacular, because it somehow manages to tell us everything and nothing. It teases a fantastical new world, but it clearly has characters who are grounded in reality, and it hints at a fascinating premise without giving the whole plot away. This is a fine line that few trailers manage to achieve. There’s also a flying bathtub and a spaceship being launched from within the Eiffel Tower, so what more could you possibly ask for? From watching this trailer, not only am I incredibly excited to see Tomorrowland, but this trailer alone proves that Brad Bird can do no wrong.

Verdict: Seeing this as soon as it is possible to buy tickets.

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It’s a Fine Line Between Excellence and Crazy

Yesterday I ran the Paris Half Marathon, and while I huffed and puffed and dragged myself through 21.1 kilometres of beautiful city roads, I occupied myself with primarily two thoughts. The first was the realization that running a race through the streets of Paris is a special kind of torture, because everywhere you look, there are people sitting at outdoor cafes who are waving at you with a wine glass in hand, and everywhere you turn, the smell of freshly baked bread weakens your will to continue in favour of pulling over to devour some baguettes and croissants. It was because of all this that I mostly focused on my second thought: Why is it that humans seem determined to take everything to the extreme?

This train of thought started when it occurred to me that by the time I was crossing the starting line of the race, the winner had finished his race half an hour ago. Seriously. This happened because I am not, nor will I likely ever be, a fast runner, and therefore yesterday morning, I found myself in the last starting group of the race. With over 35,000 people registered to run, being in the last group meant that I wasn’t even required to show up in my starting area until an hour after the race had begun. The runner who ultimately won the race finished with a time of one hour and 12 seconds, meaning that by the time I had managed to navigate the chaos created by 35,000 other runners trying to get to their starting gates, someone was already collecting his finisher’s medal. By the time I finished with my time of 2 hours, 46 minutes, and 49 seconds, he was probably long gone, having already collected his winner’s trophy, and in all likelihood, was probably sitting at one of those Parisian cafes enjoying a drink.

I thought about this when I finally crossed the starting line and began my race, and as the afternoon wore on and my strides became ever slower, I contemplated what exactly it would take to condition your body to run 21.1 kilometres in an hour, and more importantly, why anyone would put their bodies through such extreme levels of stress and exhaustion. It’s an amazing accomplishment, no arguments here, but where does that drive come from? The need to push yourself ever farther and faster?

As the miles ticked away, I distracted myself from the increasing muscle pain by thinking about this uniquely human attribute of pushing ourselves to the extreme, and how any activity, no matter how mundane, can be taken to the far end of any scale. For example, there are those people who aren’t content to simply hike up mountains, but instead have to jump off of them wearing something called a wingsuit. There are those who decide to make life as a grocery store bagger more exciting and compete in the Best Bagger Championship every year, and apparently stacking cups is now a worldwide sport. I know I’ll never forget the day I discovered that people don’t just ride snowmobiles, but actually compete to see who can flip them in the most spectacular manner. And don’t even get me started on the Guinness Book of World Records, which is full of people taking nearly every action available to one extreme or the other.

I thought about all of this during my run, and at around the 17 km mark I had a thought. Do we do this out of some deep seated drive to pursue excellence at all costs? Or are humans just plain crazy? I never did come to a conclusion on the matter, but the debate kept me going through the last couple of miles, during which the difficulty of running in the fierce afternoon heat certainly had me leaning towards the latter. The only thing I can say for certain is that I’m happy that there are people who are willing to try and be the best at something, no matter what that something is, and that kind of drive and determination should always be celebrated. On the other hand, after yesterday’s gruelling run I’m still planning on attempting a full marathon next month, so maybe we really are just crazy.

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