My Letter to the Toronto Raptors

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Dear Toronto Raptors,

I like you. I’m writing to you because I know you have been going through a rough patch over the last week or so and I thought I would offer some words of encouragement. I’m not writing to offer you advice on how to improve your game or to tell you how ‘we’ need to play better defence because I am neither so bold nor so knowledgeable as to think you would benefit from my advice. I wasn’t even bold enough to offer advice to the guy taking shots in Coopers’ Park in Vancouver the other day and he would have benefitted from it because he was throwing up some serious bricks. You are a part of a franchise that matters to Torontonians and to Canadians. You are the team that makes it possible for us to say We The North and gather together in Jurassic Park. I say – and you likely agree – that basketball is the greatest sport, and I think your team has made a lot of people feel the same way.

You have had a great season so far. You play team basketball, you have a positive dynamic on and off the court and you all seem like really cool guys. I hope you feel that way on good days and bad days. As far as the way the last few games have gone, it must be hard to accept losing when you have played so many great games together.

In a way, I know what you’re going through right now. I am currently working on a Master’s in English Literature, which is in no way as remarkable as playing in the National Basketball Association but stands as some kind of an achievement. Like you, I am surrounded by people who are really good at what they do. Even though I know I’m capable of doing what I need to do, there are some days when it feels like – maybe this is a good comparison – I’m doing well, I’m in a groove and aw shit, I have to play against Tim Duncan now? (Your recent win against the Spurs was awesome, by the way. I worship at the altar of Tim Duncan and I loved that you denied Coach Pop his 1000th career win in Toronto.) It’s hard to consistently do great things when you are surrounded by people who are also trying to do great things. I also know what it’s like to be far away from home. Toronto is my home and living in Vancouver isn’t working out for me. Shout out to JV and Bebe who are my age and are even further from home than I am.

To turn to the last week or so, I too have been going through a losing streak. If your success and my success are tied together, it’s no wonder you lost to the Knicks the other day. I was even losing to people who weren’t in the competition. Some days and some games just suck, but don’t let it get you down. Know that you have a city that stands behind you, a rapper writing songs about you and me wearing my Raptors snapback over on the West Coast.

I just wanted to say, we can do this. No, not, ‘Pass me the ball, Kyle, I’ve got this!’ I’ll leave the coaching and playing to you. You can and will compete at a high level and show everyone how great your team, my favourite team, is. I can and will write really long, complex essays and show everyone that I am capable of producing creative work with very few grammatical errors. You’re awesome. Like I said, we can do it.

Love and We The North,

Courtney

Song of the day: 6 Man by Drake because I want to be as cool as LouWill

OR Leather Jacket by Arkells because they know what it’s like to have some shaky landings

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A Letter to Tim Hortons Regarding Roll Up the Rim

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Today I have decided to address Tim Hortons, regarding their Roll Up the Rim campaign. I am currently in the midst of what is known as essay season. As most who have written essays know well, the essay writing process is usually benefitted by coffee. Recently, however, Tim Hortons has added stress to both essay writing and coffee drinking through their annual Roll Up the Rim campaign. After years of hoping and failing to win a prize that will fund my plans for the summer, I have decided to tell Canada’s favourite coffee place of my frustrations at this time of year, when essay season and Roll Up the Rim collide.

Dear Tim Hortons,

For years you have offered a range of caffeinated beverages to those who need energy as quickly as possible. As a university student and a San Antonio Spurs fan living in the Eastern time zone, I am grateful for that. I am also grateful for Roll Up the Rim season, and the free coffees I have won from it. But Tim Hortons, you great Canadian coffee provider, you get my hopes up every year, only let me down. I have measured out my life with coffee cups, waiting for that elusive Corolla or RAV4. But it is time that I  stop living my life with unrealistic hopes and coffee sweats.

I know that I have no right to complain. You offer me the same coffee at the same price I always pay. You offer me the chance of a reward, and still I ask for more. I think things like, Sixteen years of rolling up the rim and I haven’t even won a barbecue?! and Why can’t you offer me a billion dollars like Warren Buffett has? when in reality, I don’t even deserve the snack box of Timbits that was your 1986 grand prize offering. I know, too, that you have been generous with me in the past. I’m not like that poor fool I once stood behind in line who said it had been three years since he had won at Roll Up at Rim. But at this point, I’m getting frustrated. I’ve gone one for twelve this year on cups this year, or one for twenty-four, if you include the bonus rolls. With all of this in mind, I think we need to take some time apart.

When it comes down to it, I know the problem is not you but me. I ask for too much, and I give too little. I have gotten my own hopes up. You told me of my chances, and still I believed you would give me more. Maybe this is because I am selfish, or maybe it is because I never took a statistics class. Either way, the onus is on me, and now it is time for me to take responsibility and move on. I know that you’ll have no trouble getting over me. (I saw the line for Tim Hortons today.) You needn’t worry that I’ll move onto your green-logoed competitor. Instead, I think I’ll stop drinking coffee for a while, and return to you in a month or so with my reusable cup in hand. Our time away from each other will give me some time to think, and maybe explore the world of tea.

I wish you all the best, Tim Hortons. I will pass you by with road regrets, though I will be glad to do without the coffee sweats. (Listen to Dan Mangan, and you’ll know how this process goes.) Know that I will be back again someday, either with a need for coffee or with one last hoping of winning a Corolla.

Sincerely,

Courtney

Song of the Day: Road Regrets by Dan Mangan

Proposition for Frost Week

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Frost Week is the name unofficially given to the first week back at school after the winter holidays. The week is so called because it is meant to be a winter reenactment of Frosh Week, the first week of the school year. Frosh Week is a lot of fun because all my friends from school are back in the same place, and everyone is free because classes haven’t started yet. On top of that, the weather is still warm, so I can go where I want, wearing what I want. Frost Week has the reunion of friends in common, as everyone has returned from winter break. For many of us, however, Frost Week isn’t a reunion so much as an opportunity to pick up the stuff you left at your friend’s house on New Year’s Eve. Of course, I am always happy to see my friends — and to pick up everything left at their houses — so this is an element of Frosh Week I am happy to embrace in January.

Part of the reason why so many people want to go out during Frost Week is that everyone with half-year courses has little work to do. There are still classes, but at least labs haven’t started yet! This is all fine and good, unless you’re like me and have all full-year classes and no labs. Instead of a week with very little school work, for many Frost Week becomes the week that you realize you should have been reading Wuthering Heights as you sat on the beach in Mexico.

Then there’s the issue of the frost in Frost Week. Many Canadian cities are currently faced with wild snow storms and temperatures out of a Robert Munsch story. And yet we all seem to be under the impression that a fun night at a bar requires us to dress like it’s July. The scanty dress could be owing to the blasting heat in most of the bars I go to. Perhaps bar managers think that you can’t play “It’s Getting Hot in Here” unless it actually is getting hot in here. Anyway, there’s nothing pleasant about standing in a line in a skirt, in -15°C weather, and of course there will be a line, because everyone thinks they need to be at a bar because no one has any work to do.

With all of the above in mind, this Frost Week I propose wearing pants when you go out, and perhaps a Snuggie, if you are prepared for a bold look while you wait in line. No, I do not have a Snuggie, and I’m not really prepared to endorse you if you decide to wear one out of your house, but I will support everyone who decides to dress warmly before going anywhere. Also, I propose taking a night off, from partying or from studying. I also propose nights when everyone gets together, that way I don’t have to go out every night in the hopes of seeing everyone I want to. Also, those tend to be the best nights, the ones we continue to laugh about years later. London Hall goes to Tap House is still one of the funniest nights I’ve had. Finally, I propose making a ‘no man gets left behind’ rule, so no one ends up dead in a ditch, or in this weather, a snow bank. Text your friends and make sure everyone made it home. And whatever you do, don’t let anyone do what the person who left the footprints below did.Image

For those of you experiencing Frost Week for the first time, know that there will probably be someone who cries at some point during the week. The holidays can be stressful, getting back to school can be stressful, tequila shots can be stressful. Take it easy on yourself and your friends. And for those of us experiencing Frost Week for the last time, we should try to achieve the kind of life balance that allows us to spend time with our favourite people while still getting something done. We may not have many more opportunities to get together like this.

I wish you all good times with good people this week, even if you aren’t celebrating Frost Week, and I wish you love and enthusiasm for 2014. Also, wool socks and toques. We’ll need those these next few days.

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Songs of the Day: Party Girl by Asher Roth ft. Meek Mill

Just in case you need help getting the party started on this cold January night.

The Seth Cohen Chrismukkah Starter Pack

Buying holiday gifts can be difficult. Often we have to buy gifts for family we aren’t that close to, or for friends or significant others whose tastes we aren’t sure of it. Though moments of inspiration can strike, sometimes it seems like it would be easier if we could just shop for ourselves. If you find yourself in a similar position this holiday season, look no further than this gift idea. There are many beautiful and comprehensive gift lists on blogs right now. Dedicated bloggers scour the internet to bring you the best ideas at the lowest prices. This is not one of those lists. This, in fact, is a single idea that has the potential of working for everyone on your list. This is the Seth Cohen Starter Pack.

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Photo of Summer, Seth and Anna is from namethatchristmasspecial.com

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, it comes from the episode of The O.C. called “The Best Chrismukkah Ever.” In the episode, Seth is unable to decide between Summer and Anna. He knows that he needs to get them both holiday gifts, and doesn’t want to favour one over the other, so he decides to get them both the same thing. This is when he conceives of The Seth Cohen Starter Pack. He includes his favourite albums by Bright Eyes, Death Cab for Cutie and The Shins, the graphic novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, and of course, a copy of The Goonies. Not only does this gift pack allow Seth to give the same thing to both women, it allows him to share some of his favourite things with them. Maybe the gift didn’t go over very well with Summer or Anna, but that’s more to do with the fact that he was essentially dating the two girls at once and he bought them the same thing so he wouldn’t have to think of two ideas. That’s no reason why this gift can’t work for you.

The purpose of giving your family and friends a gift pack of all your favourite things is to let them know a little more about you. This could work especially well for family members you see infrequently, or for new relationships, if you aren’t quite at the point of buying each other jewellery or condos. (What, couples don’t buy each other condos?) My aunts and uncles often ask me what kind of music I’m listening to, and this would be a great way to share it. This could even work with your immediate family, if you want to share some of the books and albums you’ve discovered over your time living away from home.

For this gift to succeed, you need to know your audience. Unless your grandmother already listens to hip-hop, it’s probably best you don’t give her a copy of Good Kid, m.A.A.d City for Christmas. Then again, she may love it. I listen to Kendrick Lamar with my family, so maybe you can listen to it with yours. Similarly, if your friends hate reading, don’t give them all copies of War and Peace, even if it is your favourite book. A friend of mine once had my copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for over a year, and he only got through the first thirty pages. With this in mind, it’s best I don’t buy him a copy of Moby Dick any time soon.

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Once you’ve decided on who to give this gift to, the next step is deciding what to include in your starter pack. Seth’s idea of giving a few albums, a book, and a movie is an easy place to start. Based on this model, the Courtney Heffernan Starter Pack would include the albums Reconstruction Site by The Weakerthans, Fantasies by Metric, and Blue Valentine by Tom Waits, my favourite book Catch-22, the movie I reference the most frequently The Big Lebowski, and a copy of The Goonies. (You can never have too many copies of The Goonies.) If you have a friend who really loved The O.C., you might want to give him or her the original Seth Cohen Starter Pack. If you decide to go with this starter pack model, consider the format you’re giving your gifts in. If you know that your mother loves using her iPad, consider giving her your gifts in digital form. Giving your gifts through iTunes also works if you know you won’t be able to see someone over the holidays.

If you aren’t really into music, books or movies, include other things that you like. If you’re really into video games and you know the person you’re making your pack for has a console, consider buying them a few of your favourite games used. If you love cooking and you know your friend needs a bit of help in the kitchen, make a starter pack that includes your favourite cookbook and a few of the spices you can’t make a meal without. The starter pack is also a great way of introducing a younger sibling or cousin to something you do that they’ve always been interested in. You could give them a few of the things they need to start playing basketball or rugby, and give them a few lessons. You could also buy your younger sister a few eyeshadows and lipsticks so she stops taking makeup from your mother.

There are always going to be the people in your life who know you really well, who have listened to your favourite albums and watched your favourite movies, and who know your favourite sport inside and out. This is when you graduate to the advanced pack. (Seth never got to the point of making the Seth Cohen Advanced Pack because the idea didn’t go over well the first time, and he was in a serious relationship with Summer by Valentine’s Day that required jewellery and condos.) This is when you can share your more obscure tastes and your better kept secrets with someone you know will be enthusiastic about them. Buy your father a copy of the Roland Barthes book you wrote an essay on, or buy your best friend all the ingredients needed to make your signature cocktail.

When it comes to gifts, it really is the thought that counts. If you buy someone a gift that you’re really excited about, they’ll appreciate the thought, especially if they get to share in something that matters to you. And if all else fails, most people like cookies.

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Album of the Day: The O.C. Mix 3: Have a Very Merry Chrismukkah

Alternate Titles for This Blog

My friends often ask me what my blog is actually called. When I’m asked this I think, You remember the bad pick up line I wrote about four months ago, and you can’t remember what my blog is called? And then I realize that I don’t really know what my blog is called. The title is “I’m on a journey,” but the website is courtneyheff.wordpress.com. The reason for the difference between the title and the web address is that I wasn’t sure what my blog was going to become when I started it, and I didn’t want to get stuck with a web address that was going to define the blog. I know that I’m not going to change my name any time soon, so courtneyheff is a safe bet. You may wonder why I decided not to include my whole last name in the web address. Tell me truthfully, can you consistently remember all the letters in Heffernan? The last thing I wanted was for my friends to never make it to my blog because they wrote Hefferman instead of Heffernan.

I recently read Mindy Kaling’s book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). One of my favourite parts of her book is the page of alternate titles. Among my favourites: Harry Potter Secret Book #8, Sometimes You Just Have to Put on Lip Gloss and Pretend to Be Psyched, and I Want Dirk Nowitzki to Host Saturday Night Live So Much That I’m Making It the Title of My Book. I thought that since I enjoyed this part of Mindy’s book so much, and since the title of my own blog has always been unclear, I would tell you some of the names I considered for my blog.

I Wanted to Make This a Blog About Basketball But I Knew None of My Friends Would Read It

Why All My Baking Involves Oreos

This May Become a Travel Blog If I Ever Manage to Leave Ontario

Live from Rick McGhie’s

I Will Always Want to Watch The Goonies

Jokes You Shouldn’t Make to English Majors

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‘What Is This, Downton Abbey?!’ And Other Lines I’ve Never Had a Reason to Say

My Parents Told Me I Can Do Anything, Except Marry Into the Mafia and Become a Jockey

I Don’t Actually Care About Pokemon

My Sandwich Was So Good, The World Is a Better Place for My Having Had It

Discussions About The Weakerthans

I’m Alone and I Don’t Know What I’m Doing

If You Think My Blog is Funny, You Should See the Notes I Have on My iPhone

Angry Toast and Other Ways to Start Your Day with Enthusiasm

Players Who Have Gone on to Successful Careers After Leaving the Raptors

Basically, This Entire Blog Was Inspired By a Line from Girls

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Maybe I’m better off leaving my blog as “I’m on a journey” for the time being. Thank you for reading my blog, even if you don’t actually know what it’s called. Your support and enthusiasm has helped me to write over fifty blog posts — this is the fifty-first — because as much as I enjoy laughing at my own jokes, that can get awkward and lonely after a while. Thanks for laughing with me.

With love and grilled cheese,

Courtney

Song of the Day: Drunk in Love by Beyoncé