Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Ten Year Old Self.

Today in my teenage angst, I write myself a letter.

My favorite stationery shop held an event that encouraged shoppers to stop and write a letter to their ten year old selves. I missed the event itself, but I feel like my heart, mind, and readers could have benefitted from the exercise. So I'm going to do it on my own.

Dear Hannah at ten years old,

Listen to me child. It is absolutely fine that your favorite outfit consists of offbrand tear-away pants and that strange sweatshirt that features Elmo and Grover (or was it Cookie Monster) hanging out above the beloved (?) Tommy Hilfiger flag. Wear it with pride, my friend, for you in it you
are comfortable, and happy. That is the best kind of outfit, and one that truly works. 

Within the next few years, you will feel, with increasing frequency, those uncomfortable feelings of terror that accompany everyday experiences. It's okay. This is called anxiety, and I want you to know that however you ennact that anxiety is entirely acceptable. What's not okay, though, is thinking that it's normal. It's not. It can be fixed. But you're going to have to ask for help. Feeling scared and sick all the time, isn't something that I want you to have to deal with, and while I understand that we would be an entirely different person if I had gotten help sooner, it's not something I want you to have to deal with.

I want you to stop comparing yourself to people. I know you don't even really know you that you do this yet, but you'll eventually become aware and wish you could stop. I want you to start realizing now that everyone is someone. Everyone is wonderful, and everyone is scared. Your feelings are not unique, so stop feeling so alone. Share. Believe me when I say that Karlie really does like you. The harder you try to make that true, the less she will be able to stand you. But don't worry, the two of you are still besties.

Stop planning your wedding. Despite the fact that you go to like twelve every year, stop imagining what yours is going to be like. The best part of a wedding is what comes after: marriage. Start focusing on that. Yes, calla lilies are really nice. You won't want them in fifteen years. 

Get to know yourself, Hannah, in every possible way. Experience all that you can. Listen closely, and read carefully. Read. This is a big one, considering the place we end up. Read widely. Read critically. Read for pleasure and for pain. Read what makes you laugh and that which has the power to elicit tears. Make lists and lists and lists of your favorite books. Own them all. It's worth it. Just read. 

I'll see you soon, Han. I love you. I hope you love us too. 

Love, Hannah at twenty-seven

P.S. Be nicer to mom. She's not doing anything wrong. You're not an easy pre-teen. 

P.P.S. DO NOT change your writing style next year. It will curse you for all future writing experiences.

P.P.P.S You're a giant weirdo. You're going to spend a lot of time in your teen years trying not to be one. Don't expend the energy. It's one of the best things you've got going for you. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

QCM 2014!

A little over a week ago, in a state of very high teenage angst, I ran the Queen City Marathon for the third time. Before you even think about it, I ran the half. People consistently asked me throughout my training if I was running the half or the full. I always react in appropriately to this question. I scoff and laugh and say, do I look like I'm running the full? I seem to think that everyone looks at my height and stride, and assumes I'm running the half. This is poor reasoning, however, because a girl I know ran the full this year and finished first in her age category. She is at least three inches shorter than I am. So. 

If you read this post from earlier in the year, you'll know a great deal of preparation went into the decision to run this marathon. Last year was rough, and while I knew the reason for that was a distinct lack of training, I wasn't sure I could even stick to a reasonable training plan. 

WRONG! I totally did it. I ran over a hundred and fifty miles (not kilometers (!)) in training and going into the day, felt outrageously prepared. And I was. 

The first eight miles were amazing. I ran so fast. So. Fast. It was so awesome. The first two songs that played on my QCM 2014 Playlist were N'Sync "It's Gonna Be Me," and NKOTB's "Step By Step." Furthering the awesome. 

I have supernatural abilities to predict the future. Apparently. 

The sun came out in full force, just in time to eat me alive and ruin all hopes of finishing well. 

This, as my third race, has formed into somewhat of a tradition. My sister comes with me to the race, I get mad at her because I'm so anxious, we fight a little, we laugh at how ridiculous it is that we do this, then I start running and she goes to Starbucks. A couple hours later, she makes her way back and waits for me to finish. She loves it; more than I do. It's weird. 

My best friend Karlie meets me at the finish too. The first year I ran, she was a surprise. I was running to the finish and she was calling at me holding her screaming six month old. Its the best and funniest picture.

So we did it again the next year. Paisley wasn't crying, but she wasn't super into the proceedings. She laughed at my fatigue.

This year, Karlie had a meeting at 11.30. I thought this meeting was at 11. So around Mile 11 (that time stamp is incorrect), I was pretty sure I wasn't going to make it back in time. I was wilting under the weight of the sun and it's horrendous sensory impact. I realized I wouldn't get to take my picture with Paisley, and new to the scene this year, Vivian. At this realization, I started sobbing. You should know, that probably 90% of the participants on the course, are super caring. So there were a number of people, upon hearing my sobs, that stopped to make sure I wasn't running on a broken leg. If I had told them, I probably would have laughed. I texted Beth to tell her I was sobbing and why and she didn't respond. I realize now it was a little irrational. Karlie texted me to smarten up and finish. She would be there. 

This is Vivi. She appreciated the presence of grass. 

. . . on the ground. I kept it. 

Paisley running with me to the end was actually super hilarious. She was so into it, laughing and hopping along; at the beginning. It was a hundred yards to the actual finish line, which is a lot for such tiny legs. I picked her up and carried her across and had them place my medal around her neck. I thought she would like that, but she was overwhelmed by all that is the finish line, so she did not. Hahaha. Paisley, we will continue to do this, and one year we will get a legit and ideal picture. 

I went home and laid in bed. I had heat stroke. You know that feeling when you can feel your body radiating heat, but all you want is to be warmer? It was so brutal. I kept falling in and out of recovery sleep, which btw is the worst nap ever. I drank three liters of water. I didn't go to work the next day. FEEL SORRY FOR ME!!! 

But seriously, let's go back to my Mile Seven tweet. I felt so good. My body felt so good. I was so prepared. I just couldn't control the elements. So I knew, even as I was sobbing, I was going to do this again; and hope for rain.

PLUS! Next year is the 15th anniversary. That means extra awesome t-shirts! Probably. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014


Today in my teenage angst, Robin Williams died.

If you know me at all, which you likely don't, you'll know I love celebrities. I think they have a really hard job, standing in the public eye, standing up to scrutiny, performing in the biggest way possible. Naysayers, those people we know and hate but inevitbaly are, only make it harder. I think we need to be really careful about the way we think about celebrities and evidence that thought.

Loving them as I do, I form attachments. In February, I was walking around Superstore when my dad texted me to see if I had heard about Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was gone. He'd been found in his apartment. PSH is my favorite actor; tied with Dustin Hoffman. I think he is such an example of versatility and brilliance on screen. My heart stopped when I read that text. I finished my shopping in a haze. As I got to my car, I climbed into the front seat and started to cry. I didn't stop sobbing for two more hours. I had to go to sleep. Now as I think of it, I laugh a little, because he is a complete stranger. I know him only in fictional situations. I hadn't known, up until that point, that he even had a drug problem. But for some reason, to me, he was it. I was alwasy so happy when he was cast in something. Because there was more; more to see, anticipate, and hold. I still can't believe he's gone.

I do not have this attachment to Robin Williams. My first encounter with his wonderful voice was Aladin, in 1992, in a theatre in Lethbridge, Alberta. I will readily admit, however, that I don't like Mrs. Doubtfire, and I've never seen Good Will Hunting. Even so, Robin Williams changed my life.

I did nine years of undergraduate education. I love education and the process and the power of influence from minds that are wiser than mine. I love that, when approached appropriately, I can come out of a semester in a course having had my worldview shaped and reformed forever. So obviously, the story of Dead Poets Society is close to my heart. The freedom of learning offered to the boys, through the teaching of Mr. Keating - played by Williams, is exactly this kind of worldview shaping teaching. Two scenes, as an adolescent, and then as a teen, and then as an undergrad, gave me an unceasing and irrefutable love for education and as a result changed my life.

First. A verrryyy young Ethan Hawke fights Mr. Keating as he makes him write a poem in front of class after not completing the assignment.

Second. Mr. Keating explains the goodness and life-sustaining nature of beauty, art, and consequently life. Here he quotes from what is now my favorite poem, O Me, O Life.
I identify so closely with the message and sentiment of Dead Poets Society, most of which is carried by and communicated through the character of Mr. Keating. This identifcation has changed my life. Robin Williams performance, as the life altering Mr. Keating, then, has changed my life. I cannot even express how sad I am about his passing. Especially considering the manner in which it happened. Especially considering the climax of the story of Dead Poets Society. This is to me, the most important part of this whole post, and something I need to reiterate. O Me, O Life presents a questioning of the difficulties in life that surround us all; our self worth, the worth of others, the world itself. Whitman closes the poem by asking a question and then responding.

. . . What good amid these [difficulties], O me, O life?

That you are here. That life exists and identity. 
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. 

I hope you can find your verse. I promise, it is within you to write one.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014


The problem with having a blog to which you post videos from your YouTube channel is that sometimes you forget to actually post the videos you've uploaded on YouTube. This is to say, this videowent up a week and a half ago.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Today in my teenage angst, I give you The Best of Hayleigh Lawson.

I've been babysitting Carter and Hayleigh for almost two years. I started on Carter's fourth birthday. Hayleigh hadn't yet turned two. After figuring a few things out, the three of us have become best best friends. I'm there almost once a week - bless their parents for needing regular time out - and in that time we have eaten about a thousand pieces of pizza, had innumerable Frozen singalongs, quoted Shrek the Musical (or Usical as Hayleigh likes to say) till our brains fell out, and read the same Incredibles bedtime story four hundred times.

For about a month, when I was finishing school, I didn't see these babies at all. I got heartbreaking texts from their mom reminding me to let her know when I was available because the kids had been asking for me. I missed them desperately. Finally, on Saturday, we were reunited. It was epic. What follows are the highlights of our conversation.

Me: Hayleigh what would you like to drink?
Hayleigh: Five Alive. But we don't have any Five Alive, so I'll have apple juice.

H: Hannah will you paint my nails?
Me: Sure! Let's go find some polish.
H: Are you going to paint my nails?
Me: Yep!
H: You're my best friend. Wanna hold hands?

Me: (laughing at her)
H to Carter: Why is she laughing all the time? [to me] Hey! Why are you laughing all the time?

H [preparing to play catch with a plastic ball]: I'm just going to put my hairclip right here . . .

H: Do you want to use this ball? [smells the ball]
Me [confused]: Does the ball smell?
H: Yep! It smells like ball.

H [watching Shrek burst out of his outhouse]: He's too big for his bathroom. I'm not to big for my bathroom.

H [dealing with her puzzle]: Aww nuts. *This was, I kid you not, said with the exact same inflection and intensity as Michelle Tanner. All  I can do now is wait for the inevitable, "You got it dude!"

H [getting ready for bed, exhausted and moody]: Will you get that down for me?
Me [pulls down a pink bathrobe]: I think this is just for morning time.
H: No I wear it to sleep all the time.

H: Can we wear real pajamas now? I want to wear my Arielle ones. Imagine my [halloween] costume. [Pulls out Halloween costume] See? It matches.

Saturday was unprecedented. In the month that I was gone, Haleigh grew up more than I was aware was possible. I now understand, with new and great conviction, the statement: They grow up way too fast.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Today in Top 40: An Introduction

In which we discuss what makes Top 40 Music so great.

As I am no longer writing for Rage Regina, all future installments of TITF can be found here and on my Youtube channel. Obvs.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Kailee & Amanda: Pt. 2

Today in my teenage angst, I continue with Life Changing Lessons. I'm 26 now and in my last semester (probably) of undergraduate education. Most of my friends are married with children or have grad degrees by now. I'm not emotionally invested in this fact because I'm doing what I want and am weirdly content about it. None the less, when I meet people who have come to my age and are generally good at life, I am inspired to draw from their awesomeness in hopes of one day becoming a functioning adult. 
Not a good example of a functioning adult.
Amanda is one such person. As a sort of refresher from Pt. 1 of this post, Amanda is an introverted Archivist and one of the smartest people I have yet to encounter. She is also the most functional young adult I know. This inspires me. It's like as a generation, we've taken it upon ourselves to be dysfunctional in most areas of our lives. We might be able to hold down a fulfilling job, or graduate from Grad School, but relationally, we're a mess. Psychologically, we're a mess. Emotionally, we're a mess. Amanda is not a mess. She defies the archetype of the quarter-life crisis; and I am better for having gotten to watch her do it. People say that Amanda was born 40 years old and that is why she's so functional. This is partly true, Amanda is truly an old soul. But I'm also pretty sure it's just because she's Amanda. I want to be Amanda. 
One of our shared great loves.
Life Changing Lessons From Amanda
1. Productivity is normal. Laziness is not.
One of Amanda's favorite phrases is "that's fair." I'm certain it works toward her ability to reamin conversationally objective, but it drives me crazy. Mostly because when I'm being ridiculous in a bad way she'll tell me it's fair to behave that way, but she never does. It's an accepted part of Amanda's life that she will be productive. She is more consistently productive than not. I am never productive. And when I am, I deem it necessary to high five myself about it. Amanda shows me that my laziness, while commonly seen as normal, shouldn't be. Efficiency doesn't have to be taxing, but it tends to be when you aren't consistently efficient and have to cram efficience into an hour. This goes directly into my next life-changing lesson from Amanda.

2. Be better. Work harder. 
Amanda is the kind of person who works full time, goes to the gym five times a week, consistently cleans her house, avoids junk food, and still engages in all the greatest teen obsessions of our time. These things 
(except that last one), she will admit, don't come naturally to her. It's not the funnest thing to clean and eat well. And the gym sometimes sucks. The aim, however, is not to enjoy the difficult things of life, but to do them. In this, she seeks to be better. To be functional. To be healthy. I, in contrast, will skip the gym because a celebrity died and eat a bag of doritos because I haven't in a while. Amanda shows me that the key to being better is to simply be better. Do the stuff you don't want to because it's better for you, and it makes you better. So I drag myself to the gym and I put off watching yet one more episode of FNL to do my stats reading. Because it's better.
We both definitely have holds on THIS IS US, at our respective libraries.
3. Be adventurous. 
Amanda likes to do things. Big things. Not like party-big, but climb Machupichu-big. She picked her University because she could do a semester abroad there. Last year she went to New York just to see The Postal Service play one of the five shows they would ever do together. Later this year she is going with her sister to Peru. To see the sights and clime the aforementioned Machupichu. She likes to do things. She's adventurous. I like to stay home. I really really like my room. I like fictional worlds. And I'm okay with that. But here's the thing: so does Amanda. She likes her space too, and delves into fictional worlds with even more fervor than I do. But she also finds the non-fictional devling into real worlds as compelling. Identifying so closely with Amanda and watching her experience the world, has, out of no where, made me also want to experience the world. In small steps, obviously. I'm going to Ottawa next week and I'm pretty pumped about it. There's a lot to see, you know? I want to be adventurous.    
Speaking of functioning adults who shouldn't be.
I'm not trying to emphasize my weaknesses in these posts. They're not really weaknesses because they're not permanent. I can change. I've spent two semesters now studying the psychological mechanisms behind behavioral change. They exist, dammit!!! The point is rather that these relationships were unexpected, but not accidental. I have a lot to learn from those surrounding me, and I'm pretty grateful for the presence of Kailee and Amanda last year, as instrumental in the development of a (hopefully) healthier, more whole, and functional Hannah. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Kailee & Amanda: Pt. 1

Today in my teenage angst, it’s February 8th, and far too late to start making resolutions. I didn't do a resolutions/plans post because I decided not to make any and I didn't make the kind of plans that I wanted accountability for. It was just one of those things. There are a lot of live evolutions I’m looking forward to this year; graduating (again), for instance. These things I’ll inevitably share with you as they happen. They aren’t the kind of things, however, that we need to anticipate together.

It was kind of a weird year, though, and by the end I was excited for it to be over. While I understand the ‘turning of a new leaf seduction’ of January 1st, I like to be careful about it; acknowledging my human-ness and general inability to follow through. Nonetheless, I met two people this year that affected me in such a way that I came to look at the possibilities for 2014 in a renewed light. Both are women. Both are younger than I; though, one by only a few months. Both are more accomplished and have more focus than I. This is where their similarities end.

Kailee is a hyper-extroverted, certified High School English Teacher who has spent time teaching English in Peru, and Swaziland in Southeast Africa. She runs the day camp at the Moose Jaw Multicultural Center during the summers, handling twenty craz-bot children, all facing daily cultural onslaught, and is legit just like super whatevs about it. I spent a composite day with them over the summer and was legitimately losing my mind every second.
Amanda, by contrast, is an introverted Archivist, who takes intense and admirable pride in old documents and knows things I cannot fathom. She travelled to Italy with her High School Latin class – obviously. She has spent significant time in Europe, partly for school, and partly for awesome. In Grad School, she went to Guatemala to work with Librarians Without Borders. Yep, that’s a thing. Most recently she got a boss job as a university archivist, with an office and everything, and is quite literally owning it. 
I met Kailee through a mutual friend who told us we should spend some time together. Thanks, Matty. We’re pretty happy about that. Kailee and I largely spend our time drinking wine and talking about how to make the most of our lives while still living with our parents.

I met Amanda through the Library, where we work(ed). Admittedly, the first two months of her employment, I didn’t know she existed. I saw her, obviously, but thought she was just a new and really committed patron. Eventually, she emerged from the Archive and we talked, first about the usual uninteresting things, and then about the gym. Then we died over Casual Vacancy, and bonded over The Fault In Our Stars, Taylor Swift, Friday Night Lights, Community, Arrested Development, and television as a whole. We spend most of our time talking about the glory of Teen Wolf, and getting upset wtih JK Rowling for the Ron/Hermione thing and then trying to forget about it. That’s obviously more recent, but we’ve spent a lot of time on it.

These two are legit the most amazing and admirable women, not only because of who they are and what they’ve done, but because of what they’ve taught me. The following are three lessons from each that I am carrying into this year.

Life Change Lessons From Kailee:
1. People are good, and important, and lasting.
Because she’s a hyper-extrovert, Kailee has a giant community of friends, and acquaintances. Kailee values people so much and she works really hard to make sure they know that she values them. Kailee regularly takes a family of four little African children to the theatre by herself, on her own dime, because she loves them. Kailee’s love language – though she might argue otherwise – is quite clearly quality time, and everyone around her is better for it. I take into this year the importance of surrounding myself with people that will support me; emotionally, professionally, and socially. I am led, by Kailee’s example, to resist the isolation that often comes as a result of my social anxiety.

2. Adaptability
Kailee takes on challenges like no one’s business. I avoid challenging things; to a fault. Last year, Kailee got a temporary teaching contract at one of the High Schools in Moose Jaw. Teaching High School is really hard. She spent ten hours at the school every day and went it on weekends. She shed a lot of tears. But she didn’t quit. Mostly because you just don’t quit; but a lot of me thinks that I probably wouldn’t have made it. Kailee is highly adaptable. She looks at a situation, assesses the problems, and figures out the best way to survive, and then thrive (yeah I did). It’s one of the most admirable things about her; and it's something I think about a lot when I enter uncomfortable situations. I channel my inner Kailee; as should we all.

3. If you want it, work for it.
Kailee knows what it is to work. She’s had a job since it was legal, worked all through college, and usually works two jobs when she’s not in school. Even during her trying semester teaching High School, she still waited tables at night and on weekends in order to pay off her student-loan as quickly as possible. Kailee also likes things. She likes to buy boots, and go on trips, and eat out. She also knows that those things come at a cost, and she’s willing to work for the cost. If you want it, you have to work for it. When I look my school coming to an end, and the things I want for my life, not only material, but also communal and experiential, I am inspired to work harder to achieve those things, more fully understanding the cost that accompanies their achievement.

I am a better, more whole person for knowing Kailee and getting to watch her live her life. It is my continual aim to actively put these things into practice.

Still to comes: Life Changing Lessons from Amanda. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Today in my teenage angst, I would first like to say that I love to make excuses. I am so lazy. Whenever I say this, one of my favorite profs at school replies, "as are we all." She's the cutest and I love her, but it doesn't make me feel any better about my laziness. Going into the Queen City Marathon 2013, I had such high hopes. I was going to train better and more consistently. That was the whole hope: get stronger, be better, finish faster. I did not.

When I started "training" in the spring I had a lot of trouble with my hip flexors, which made my knees feel like they weren't supposed to be a part of my legs, which made everything feel so much worse. Small reminder that I love excuses. So I stopped running for a while and did a lot of stretching, rolling, I went to the chiropractor. I got these new shoes and orthodics that I saved for forever and they made the front half of my feet fall asleep when I ran. So I ran a little. Like twenty minutes at a time, every once in a while. Suddenly it was the end of July and I hadn't done a single long run. So I did a long run. It was hell. I had to take my shoes off every two miles to wake my feet back up. I didn't run in between my long runs, but thought that was probably alright because I couldn't remember running that much inbetween long runs the year before. It wasn't; it wasn't alright.
So I got to the day of and I was super nervous. I ate a bagel beforehand, and it was so delicious. Do people know how delicious bagels are??? At this point, my sister was more excited than I was. Once we got there and I started filming and tweeting and stuff, I got excited too. One of the trainers from my gym came and wished me luck and was all affirming and stuff. And then we started running. The first seven miles were amazing. I felt strong, I found a pace buddy. I was all like, I'm over half done! I really thought I could make my time. It was super overcast, so the weather was ideal. Once we hit mile 8 my feet started faling asleep. This bone behind my big toe was rubbing on part of my shoe giving it a ridiculous bruise. I retied my shoes three times. I had blisters. Many. I took off my shoes for mile 9 but had to put them back on for mile ten. By mile 11 I had to run/walk 60/30 second splits; until the end. Three miles of 60/30 run/walks. I was so tired. My phone wasn't working so I couldn't even document the way I wanted to and I'm sorry, but there is little worse than not being able to social mediate the way you want to. I just wanted it to be over. Finally, I crossed the line. They put my medal around my neck, and I was immediately freezing. I wanted to cry but I couldn't breathe as it was, so I didn't. I went to find my sister but couldn't, so I just sat on the ground and waited. Beth eventually found me with my best friend and her daughter, who was in fine form and found my pathetic state pretty hilarious.

Queen City 2013 was the worst. The. Worst. I looked at Beth after and said, I can't do this again next year. She said she was sad and really loved doing this event with me. We have to leave at 6.45 in the morning to get there on time, and she just sits around for two hours, so I can't figure why she likes it so much. Either way, that was September 8th, 2013. I didn't run again until today. And I didn't even run today; I used the elliptical. The marathon was awful enough to make me question why on earth I do this. My body hates it, I can talk myself out of it so easily, and in the end I never see improvement.

So I'm trying to decide if I'm actually not going to sign up again and if I even can and want to and will do it. And here's all I can think about. QCM 2012 was so fun. It was my first time and it seemed to take forever, and I had to walk a lot but by the end I was just pretty pumped about it. I hurt a lot after, but ultimately it was really rewarding. QCM 2013 sucked. 'nuff said. But it can't suck once and be awesome once. That's not enough to quit. It has to be a two out of three, majority situation. So I'm doing the Queen City Marathon for the third time, this year. I went to the gym today, because while I don't necessarily want to do it, I believe I can do it, and I know I will do it. I want to be stronger and after a four month break, I'm a pretty sad sack. If it sucks, I'll stop. But if it's awesome, then that's that. I just can't quit yet. So I'm not. Stay tuned for what I am sure will be a sucktastic training season.