Do you remember toys? Toys were great. As a kid, it’s all you ever wanted. If you went shopping, you always checked out the toy section, just to take a glimpse. When it was your birthday, you tolerated getting clothes and socks, but you lived, absolutely lived, to see which toy you would unwrap next. Toys are friggin’ awesome. Sometimes I wish I never outgrew them. Sometimes.
They are a lot less awesome when lumped in a giant pile, though.
I had so many awesome toys: GI Joes, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers and so much more. You’ll notice these are all action figures. I loved action figures. The only thing I loved more would be videogames, but that’s cheating. Among toys, action figures reigned supreme. You may notice, though, that my list is missing something, a very popular something. I didn’t mention Lego, and that’s not by accident.
I don’t like Lego. I’ve never liked Lego. In fact, I actively dislike Lego to this day. Continue reading →
“Honesty is the best policy.” We’ve all heard this before. It’s something our mothers said all the time. Nobody likes a flatter, or at least an obvious one. If you look at the traits people want in a partner, honesty is one of the biggest ones. Everyone wants to hear the truth … at least in theory.
Those Russians have some good proverbs.
In practice, we often face the exact opposite situation. The truth can hurt people. If someone asks, “Do you like my new haircut?” and you think it’s hideous, what do you say? If you tell the truth, you can wound that person, potentially even ruining a friendship. Is a little white lie that much of a problem? Does it really matter? Is the truth more important than a person’s sense of self-worth?
I find these questions interesting, partly because lying is so foreign to me. You see, I almost never lie because I’m a terrible liar. Continue reading →
Growing up, I knew I would be a writer. I didn’t believe it, because ‘believe it’ implies some sort of doubt. I never doubted this. I was a writer. Indeed, I didn’t have many other skills. I was good at math but only in a practical sense. I could do addition and times tables with no problem, but more theoretical work like functions or algebraic equations left me uninterested; I never tried very hard with them, much to my chagrin years later.
Nearly a full year went by before I found my new dojo. Honestly, after the failure of my last attempt at finding a good karate school, I had given up. I didn’t think I would ever find one. My mom kept looking, though, and she found a new dojo that had just opened up that summer. When I walked in for my trial class, I was the 24th student ever.
My instructor, Sensei Dave Pearson, was in a tough spot. He needed students, obviously, as he had thrust his savings into this business, and having 20 or so students isn’t enough to pay the bills. At the same time, his dojo was only a few months old: most of the students were still white belts, with a few yellow belts and one orange belt. I had worked so hard to get my yellow belt, I wanted to keep it. Does he allow that? I would then instantly be among the highest belts in his club, which might rub some other students the wrong way.
It’s funny, because by itself, the yellow belt looks pretty ugly, but to me it was the current greatest colour on earth.
We reached a compromise of sorts. I would try a few classes, he would see my rough level of ability and then decide whether I could keep my belt or start at white again. This put me in a tough spot, as I hadn’t practiced in a year. I tried my absolute hardest, and in the end, that very night, he said I would ‘do fine.’ I remember those words. I would be fine. Continue reading →
My martial arts journey started when I was six. At the time, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were by far the most popular kids’ cartoon. Everybody wanted to be a turtle. My favourite was Donatello. Michaelangelo was too wild, too into partying, and Raph, though awesome, had a moody side, especially in the first live-action movie, that repelled me. I didn’t like Leo because everyone liked Leo, and I didn’t want to be a sheep.
It also bugged me that Leo had two katanas, since a samurai would have one katana and one wakizashi.
Yes, I remember this in remarkable detail. No, I don’t know most of my family members’ birthday, why do you ask? Continue reading →
I still remember the day vividly. I was at my grandparents, a common occurrence despite living over an hour away, and I stared entranced at a set of hand-carved figurines. My grandfather, a Russian who had long since emigrated to Canada, said with pride he made them nearly 50 years ago. He didn’t tell me it was during his stint as a prisoner of war in WWII. I would learn that later. First, I would get my first chess lesson.
You can easily see how a child could be entranced by such figures.
Russians take chess seriously. He never called it a game. “I will teach you chess,” he said. Where others would say “Let’s play a game of chess,” he simply said, “Let’s chess,” or, “I think it’s time to chess.” Yes, chess was a verb. His intense ardour and passion shone through his heavy accent; I knew to take this seriously. I credit my quick chess advancement entirely to his gravitas.