Archive for January, 2013

The Sun Sets on India

The Sun Sets on India.

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On the road again

It is now official: Wednesday next week is my last day working at the Fairview Post. The next port of call will be the city of Lloydminster, with a population of 27 thousand and located smack on the Alberta/Saskatchewan border. It is not Toronto or Montreal, but I will be slightly closer to the east.

 

When I first moved to Fairview I told myself I would stay at least two years and then look at moving to Grande Prairie, Edmonton, or Calgary. After two months of sports reporting I told myself I would wait one year and ask for a transfer. By December I told myself it was time to actively look for a new job.

 

Don’t get me wrong, Fairview is a nice place, but it is just not for me. For one thing, I am not a sports reporter, which is clearly what they need here.  The problem is there are enough sport activities here to warrant a sports reporter, but the town is too small for more than two reporters.

 

I thought I could also learn to live with how small the town is, but I was wrong. I am a film buff and I need my weekly dosage of seeing the big movies on the big screen. Unfortunately, a city of 3,000 people does not have a movie theatre, so to see a movie you have to drive an hour and a half to Grande Prairie. That wouldn’t be so bad if you were to leave in the morning and come back in the afternoon, but in Grande Prairie they only play movies in the daytime during the weekend. My days off are during the week, when the movies play in the evening, meaning I have to drive back in the dark, on the snow covered highway. Kind of stressful.

 

I am sure there are a lot of people who enjoy life in small towns, but I realized I need things you can find in big cities: a mall, a cinema, an airport and more than six restaurants. Plus, I mean come on, what kind of Canadian town has a KFC but no Tim Hortons?

 

So as mentioned I am leaving next week to do more or less the same job in a bigger pond, only I hope it will never involve sports again.

 

The challenge however, will be getting my car there. A recap of my escapades on the Alberta roads so far:

 

When I first moved here in October, I began financing a 2012 Hyundai Accent. Then in early October it started snowing and the car skidded on the ice at an intersection, hit a parked car and broke a headlight. It was towed to Grande Prairie for repairs, where it stayed until early December. When it was repaired, I had the winter tires installed and I started to drive back to Fairview. Unfortunately, the car skidded on the highway and flipped upside down in a snow bank. It was then towed back to Grande Prairie.

 

It then took the insurance company a month to approve my claim, it took the repair shop a week to order the parts needed for the repairs and it took another ten days for the parts to actually get to the shop. Last I heard my car was still outside the shop, meaning they have not even touched it, much less repaired it. In addition the car dealership recommended I have a new battery installed and a wheel alignment done.

 

Obviously, I am not driving to Lloydminster. As far as I can see, my only option is to fly there, get a rental car, and have my car trucked there when the repairs are done. Although at this rate, by the time this thing is driveable again it will be spring so maybe I will stop crashing the fucking thing. What was that bumper sticker idea George Carlin had? Oh yeah: “My other car is a piece of shit too.”

 

Although, that is a bit mean to Hyundai. For all I know they make great cars, but I wouldn’t know since I signed for the cursed vehicle back in October but I have only driven it for no more than two weeks.

 

On the plus side, if I have another car accident in Lloydminster, at least the repair shop will be in the same town than the one where I live. It’s a bit difficult get things done when your car is being repaired in a city that is an hour and a half away and your rental car has no winter tires.

 

Hopefully things will start to improve now (they have to, right?) and one day I will look back at this and laugh. Well maybe not laugh, but at least be glad I survived that part of my life.

 

I have survived living in Lima, Peru, I have breathed the air in the smog-filled city of Santiago, and I have endured working in a fast food joint during the Christmas season at a mall.  This rough Alberta winter is just another bump in a long road that started way back when my parents and I first moved from Québec to Corner Brook, Newfoundland. I am not sure where I am going to end up, but one thing is for sure: I am nowhere near being done yet. 

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Here’s to the new year

I don’t know about you, but I have had quite the interesting year. I went from living with my mom and working at a grocery store to getting my first job in the far north of Alberta. In between I did a three-month internship at a campus radio station in the north of France. Now as 2012 comes to an end (and did not end in a Mayan apocalypse) I just have to wonder: what’s next?

In January I was pretty down since I was spending most of my weeks filling groceries bags and enduring grumpy customers saying their bags were too heavy. I was beginning to understand why the characters in “Clerks” hate anyone who comes into their store.

The rest of the week I would spend at the job office, being encouraged by the understandably chirpy job counsellor who kept telling me my job was right around the corner. It’s nice to be encouraged, but after five months, you get tired of the cheerleading.

Yet it paid off as the people at the agency pointed me to an ad for an internship at Radio R2R in Rouen, France. Since one of the reasons why no one in the media industry was hiring me was lack of experience, this seemed like the perfect solution.

It worked out pretty well. The trip gave me three months of experience, it allowed me to interview important people such as the future minister of foreign affairs and I got to visit a few nice towns during my days off.

After another month at the job office spent sending out resumes and going through a few phone interviews, I finally got my first official job as a journalist. By late September I was leaving Quebec City and heading for Fairview, Alberta, to work at the Fairview Post, which is owned by Sun Media.

Of course I would have preferred something closer to home so that it wouldn’t take an entire day for me to fly home, but you can’t be picky about your first job.

It’s like Michael Gambon said in “Layer Cake”: “You’re born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you’re up in the rarefied atmosphere and you’ve forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake son.”

Very few of us ever get to that rarefied atmosphere, but I do feel the need to keep on climbing.

Fairview is a small market; there is no denying that. I was hired as a multimedia journalist, but since I work on the weekends I do mostly coverage of local hockey games. This would have been fine if I had ambitions to be a sports reporter, but even though I was born in Canada, my passion lies elsewhere. The times when I felt the most home in terms of work were when I was covering the Toronto Comic Con or attending the Toronto International Film Festival while I was at Sheridan College.

To better illustrate my point, when I interview hockey coaches, I can get them talking for an average of four minutes. However, when I interviewed Ian Clay, a former Fairview resident now working in Los Angeles as a filmmaker, we talked for thirty minutes. Slight difference.

The weather in Alberta has not been kind to me so far. I was overjoyed to finally buy my first car. It makes you feel like an actual adult; you know what I mean? Unfortunately, it snowed in early October, causing me to skid off the ice and break a headlight. Little did I know it takes months for Hyundai to order parts for repairs, so the car was not ready for pickup until early December. By then I had the winter tires installed so I was confident to hit the road.

The car was repaired in Grande Prairie; a bigger city located 102 km from Fairview. As I drove on the highway towards Fairview, I must have hit a patch of black ice because the car once again skidded off the road and landed upside down in the snow. I was all right, but I do believe the headlight was once again broken. It’s been three weeks and the insurance company has yet to approve my claim. At this rate, I will have spent more time in a rental car than in the car I am financing.

On the plus side, walking away unscathed from the scene of an accident does a lot for you self-esteem. Once the disappointment of breaking my car wore off, I did get a bit of a Chuck Norris feeling in my stomach. That said, I am never going above the speed limit ever again, not even by five kilometres.

The year ended with me taking three plane trips to Quebec City. I was only there for six days, but I had enough time to do the important things: have a great Christmas, see my grandmother, go to the movies with my mother and my brother, celebrate my mom’s birthday and eat enough sugar to kill a diabetic. For once the song “I’ll be home for Christmas” had a deeper meaning for me.

As 2013 begins, I have a full-time job, a stronger resume, and hopefully I will also have a repaired car. I still write movie reviews on my blog and for Examiner.com, so hopefully that will help steer my career in a direction where I have more to offer.

No offense to sports reporter but this is definitely not my news beat. I have learned that when it comes to hockey, it is a lot more fun to occasionally watch it from the comfort of your couch. When you are in the actual arena, you have to endure noisy fans, a cold temperature, and a distinctive smell of armpit and feet. If you watch it on TV, you can do it with a beer in one hand and the remote in the other so you can switch channels when Don Cherry shows up. In fact, if they are playing “Goon” on another channel, I will probably watch that instead.

Still, given all of the tragedies that have been in the news this year, I count myself lucky to be alive and kicking, with a paying job. Come on 2013; show me what you got.

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