My Defining Moment

Last Wednesday was the lowest I’ve ever felt in my life, and I say that knowing full well that this statement only lays bare the extraordinarily privileged and sheltered life I’ve lived so far compared to the vast majority of the world’s population. I know that. But it’s my truth, and the truth is that last Wednesday I was filled with a despair and hopelessness that I had never felt before. I simply could not comprehend how the insidious nature of fear, hate, and intolerance could have penetrated our society so thoroughly. I went to work and couldn’t stop alternating between raging and crying as my co-workers watched in shock, because up until that point I don’t think they had ever even heard me raise my voice before. I apologized to our new intern, assuring her that normally I was an extremely positive, cheerful, and optimistic person, and that on only her third day at work she was witnessing me at my most despondent. I went home, poured all of my emotions into my writing, and went to bed, emotionally exhausted and despairing for the future. And then I woke up to a new morning.

Funny thing about time zones. You see, right about the time John Podesta was telling everyone to go home and get some sleep, I was waking up to our frightening new reality, which meant that by the time I woke up on Thursday, the rest of America had poured their emotions into writing as well. I woke up to Leslie Knope’s letter to America, Aaron Sorkin’s promise to his daughter, and a husband’s impassioned letter to his wife. I woke up to a chorus of people ready to stand up and fight, along with step by step guides on how to do exactly that, and lists of organizations who desperately need our help. I woke up to an American friend who lives in Paris declaring that he was moving back to the US to do his part as a lawyer to protect those who are suddenly so much more vulnerable to attacks and discrimination. And I woke up to Seth Meyers, moved to tears at the thought that his mother may not live to see the first female president. He observed that although Hillary Clinton didn’t become the first female president, someone else’s daughter out there will be one day, and to that woman, wherever she may be, he said that this moment would probably be a defining moment for her.

Well, I can’t become president of the United States, and thankfully it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m a woman and everything to do with the fact that I’m not American, but I can say categorically that this is my defining moment. Last Wednesday I felt only shock, anger, and disbelief, but I woke up on Thursday with a determination I have never felt before. A determination to not take this assault on morality lying down. A determination to raise my voice against the hate and fear that led to this election result. A determination to not sit passively in the background any longer, to not be afraid to rock the boat or engage in confrontation. I’m ready to scream and shout, to turn some goddamned tables over, and I am determined to fight back against the racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic forces that threaten to overtake our society in any way I can. On Thursday, one of my closest friends told me that a determined Laura is an unstoppable force. I hope I will prove worthy of her faith in me. However, I’m comforted beyond words with the knowledge that this is not about me. It is about all of us, coming together to right this terrible wrong, and I know that there are millions out there, not just in the US, but across the world who are just as determined as me. You are my brothers and sisters in arms and we are in this together.

That being said, I’m not going to pretend that I know how to fix this mess. I have no idea how we are going to bring such polarized factions together and try to heal this fractured divide. But I know that there are people out there who do, or at the very least have ideas on how to accomplish the enormous task that lays in front of us. To those people I say this. I want to hear from you. Activists, policymakers, politicians, lawyers, artists, accountants, anyone and everyone. If you have an idea of how to fix this I want to hear from you. I may not have the income bracket that allows me to be able to support you financially, but you have my voice, you have my skills, and you have my time. If you need me, I will be there. Just tell me what to do. To my friends in Paris, I know you’re worried about your own upcoming election, so just tell me where to be and I’ll show up. I’ll march with you, I’ll write on your behalf, and I’ll raise my voice with yours.

In the meantime, I’m going to focus on what I do know. I know that I never want to feel the way I did last Wednesday ever again. I never want to feel that helpless, that dejected, and so utterly devoid of hope, and I’m going to fight tooth and nail to make sure that future generations will never have to feel what I felt on that dark day. Ever. I also know what I will do that starts right now. In the wake of the Brexit vote and the immediate rise in violence and hate crimes directed at minorities that followed, people began pinning a safety pin to their clothing. It was a symbol of safety that declared that they were an ally, and that if someone was the target of abuse, then there was someone else out there who had their back. Today I’m wearing my safety pin, and I will continue to wear it every day until Donald Trump is no longer the president of the United States. If you need an ally, I will be there for you. I’ve shouted down racists on the Metro before and I’ll do it again, louder, and as many times as I need to until people figure out that discrimination and hate have no place in our society going forward. I got your back, and I hope someone has mine. And if not, at the very least I have hope again.

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My Heart Hurts, and It’s Not Because of Donald Trump

As I write this my heart hurts. Not just with the heavy feeling of loss that so many are experiencing after last night’s US election results, but with an actual acute physical pain. I’ve been crying on and off all day, and my stomach feels like it’s permanently stuck on a roller coaster. You would think that I’m just upset at the prospect of President Trump, but I’m not. It’s not about him. He’s just one man. An evil, racist, xenophobic, sexist, horrible, horrible man, but he’s just one person. And I’m done caring about him. My heart hurts because the world I thought I knew is gone. Worse, I fear it may never have existed in the first place, and that thought has shattered me beyond anything I ever thought possible. I used to think that the world was an inherently good place. I don’t think that anymore.

To be clear, good and evil have always co-existed. I live in Paris, a city that’s rapidly approaching the one year anniversary of the November terror attacks of last year, so I know about the world’s capacity for evil. As do the people currently living under ISIS rule, and the LGBT community in Russia. The millions of displaced Syrians, and the families still awaiting the return of their girls from Boko Haram. And then there’s the billions of people; men, women, and children across this world who will be raped, assaulted, objectified, harassed, and in countless other ways traumatized in their lifetimes. We are all much too aware of the evil that exists in this world. But even in the face of such overwhelming odds, I always believed that the goodness in this world far outweighed that evil, and I believed that love would always win. I don’t believe that anymore.

I should have seen it coming. I was in Australia three years ago when Australia elected Tony Abbott as their Prime Minister, a man with a record of sexist, racist, and xenophobic actions and statements. I was in Canada last year for our own election, and got into screaming matches with my own family over the fact that they would rather use their vote to preserve their status quo than try to remove a man who used his power to discriminate, intimidate, and threaten the civil liberties, not to mention human rights, of our fellow Canadians. I watched from across the English Channel as the Brexit campaign unfolded with such horrifying measures to its astonishing conclusion. I have watched as far right groups have gained ground across Europe, Rodrigo Duterte became the President of the Philippines, and headlines in my adopted country of France trumpeted the fact that Marine Le Pen and her National Front party are gaining in the polls in the lead up to next year’s election. And this morning, I woke up to the news that Donald Trump was the next president of the United States.

I should have seen it coming, but somehow I always found an excuse for these events. A reason for why I shouldn’t be too concerned. Tony Abbott lasted just two years in power before being forced out by his own party, my fellow Canadians voted out Stephen Harper, and post-Brexit Britian got rid of the leaders of that debacle, ushered in a new Prime Minister, and appeared to show remorse for the outcome of that vote. I reassured myself that history is filled with ups and downs, but in the end, we will get it right because the majority of the people in this world are good people. I believed this with all of my heart and soul, and I’ve written about my optimism and faith for the future of humanity over and over again because I believed in our inherent goodness as people. But not anymore.

All day I’ve read articles positing the many reasons why Trump won. They say that the economy is to blame, that people feel left out of the political process, and that Trump was the maverick outsider who appealed to voters because he was going to shake things up in Washington. But that’s not why he won. A survey of far right parties across the world show different stances on every issue except for immigration, and studies have shown that the only consistent factor in people’s affiliation with far right parties is racism and xenophobia. This holds true across all wealth brackets and educational levels, showing that a person’s wealth and education, or lack thereof, has little bearing on whether or not they will be xenophobic. Throw into the mix a healthy dose of sexism when considering voting for America’s first female president and you have this election in a nutshell. Trump came to power on a platform built on fear and hatred of disenfranchised people, and Americans flocked to him in droves. It was Brexit 2.0, and who knows how many more outcomes like this are on the horizon.

Today, I can no longer pretend that the majority of people in this world are good, because they aren’t. A good person does not vote for a man like Donald Trump, no matter what their reasons for doing do. A good person does not vote for someone who holds so many of their fellow citizens in contempt. A good person does not support a candidate who is racist, sexist, and xenophobic, no matter how much he promises to fix the economy. The basic human rights of your fellow citizens should be worth more to you than your pensions. That is the way the world should work, and that was the world I thought I was living in. One in which people took care of each other, and treated each other with kindness, compassion, and respect. There will always be evil in this world, but I believed that it could always be overcome because I believed those people to be a small, very vocal, but small nonetheless minority. But this is not the case. I see that now, and that truth is devastating. For me, and for all of us.

In the wake of last year’s attacks in Paris, a widowed father eloquently declared to the world that his wife’s murderers would not have his hate. I hope I am that strong. Fear and hate may have led to last night’s election results, but now I fear that when my tears run out they will be replaced with hate. My heart may hurt right now, but I’m afraid that when the pain goes away, so will my capacity to see the good in people. My ability to counter the anger with love, the resentment with tolerance, and to do my part to tend to the wounds of division with compassion and respect. I do not want to succumb to my fear, anger, and the hatred that is so often not far behind. I want to believe in the world again, but right now I can’t. All I can feel is the anger and rage I have at this utter betrayal of common human decency.

So tonight I go to bed with a broken heart. To everyone who shattered my belief in the goodness of this world, I concede. You get my tears and my hope. You get my faith in humanity. But you only get it for tonight. Tomorrow I start to put the pieces back together. Tomorrow I begin to hope. Today I give in to anger, but tomorrow I begin to love again. It’s not going to be easy. The road ahead is scary and unknown, but I’m going to try because I want to believe in this world again. I want to and I have to. The world that I thought I knew may be gone, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gone forever. That thought is my reason for getting up tomorrow morning. I hope you all find yours as well.

 

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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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