Archive for category Musing

Heading home/ retour à la maison

After giving it a lot of thought, I have decided to move back east. On May 11 I am packing my car and driving to Quebec City. I am very grateful for all of the opportunities I have had at the Meridian Booster and the great people I got to work with during my years in Lloydminster, but I feel like it is time for me to head home. If anyone knows of any job opportunities in Quebec or even in Ontario, please let me know. / Après y avoir bien réfléchis, j’ai décidé de retourner vers l’est. Le 11 mai je remplie ma voiture et je conduis jusqu’à Québec. Je suis très content d’avoir eu la chance de travailler pour le Meridian Booster et d’avoir travailler avec de très bonnes personnes pendant mes années à Lloydminster, mais je pense qu’il est temps que je retourne chez moi. Si quelqu’un connaît des emplois disponibles au Québec ou même en Ontario, s’il vous plait avisez moi.

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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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Alberta, one month later…

It has now been over a month since I moved from Quebec City to Fairview, Alberta, for my first ever job as a multimedia journalist. It took me three flights and hours of paper work dealing with buying a car, insuring the car, getting a new driver’s license, and applying for a new medical insurance card, but I finally made it.

One of the first things I noticed driving around here is the amount of pickup trucks. I think 90% of the population has a pickup and 5% have a regular truck. With my Hyundai I am part of the other 5% who have a regular car. Unfortunately, it didn’t take too long for me to have my first car accident with my regular car. When I bought it I asked when I should get the winter tires installed. The guy told no longer than November. Then in the very second week of October it began snowing and I hit a parked car after skidding on the ice at an intersection.

There were no injuries, but it took a week to take care of the paperwork with the insurance company, the adjusters, the police, the dealership, and the garage. Now apparently it’s going to take until December 8 for the garage to get the part it needs for the repairs. Meanwhile I have a rental car…with no winter tires. So for the record, October is the preferred time to get your winter tires in Alberta. Now I know.

Since I’ve arrived in Fairview, a lot of people I’ve met ask me how I like the place. I answer honestly and say it’s a nice place and the people are nice. It’s an accurate statement, but the fact is I don’t intend to spend the rest of my career here. Fairview reminds me of a town you see in an American Western: one main street, a few department stores and one liquor store. How come Quebec is the only province where you can buy alcohol everywhere? You could walk into a gas station in Quebec and buy a bag of chips, soap, magazines and a six-pack of beer. Everywhere else in Canada? Look for the liquor store.

My biggest problem: no movie theaters. Netflix is great (I’ve been going on a Breaking Bad marathon) but it’s a lot more fun to hear an audience reaction when you’re watching a movie. Plus, Skyfall is coming out this month, and that deserves a big screen. I still have my Scene Card for free movies, and there is a cineplex Odeon in the city of Grande Prairie, which is located an hour and a half from Fairview. My mom asked me if I was seriously going to drive that far for a movie. You know what? YES! I am just that kind of crazy. I saw the criminally under watched Dredd 3D while I was there, and it is so much fun hearing the audience groan as a bullet goes through a guy’s cheek in 3D and in slow-motion.

In the meantime, I still write about movies on my blog and for Examiner. My ambition is still to one day do coverage of a film festival, hopefully the Toronto International Film Festival. I am not exactly at the right place for this, since so far I am mostly covering sports news. There is only one other reporter at the newspaper where I work, and I was given the weekend hockey games. I know I am Canadian, but before this job I would only watch hockey games occasionally, mostly for the Stanley Cup. Now I sometimes have to do coverage of five hockey games in one week.

It’s not exactly my kind of environment. It’s more fun if you are watching it from the comfort of your living room. Inside the actual arena it’s another story. They keep the place cold for the ice, sometimes there are rowdy fans screaming obscenities and there is always a lingering smell of armpit and used socks. I am more at home inside a heated room, sitting on plushy seat and watching Noomi Rapace fighting an alien with an axe.

But I am a patient man. That’s what spending 8 years in South America will do to you. When I was interviewed for the job, I was told a lot of people start off in a place like this and then move on to bigger markets like Edmonton, Calgary, or even Toronto. Personally, I always thought I would feel at home in Montreal. It’s evenly split between English and French, it has great movie theaters and it’s closer to my family. The newspaper I work for is owned by SunMedia, which is owned by Quebecor, so it could happen eventually.

Like one of my friends said, it’s something else I can add to my résumé.

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One Year Later…

It was a year ago this month that I completed my studies in Journalism – New Media at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario. It is a very demanding program (deservedly so) that is taught by industry professionals. While there I got to work with Sony XD cameras just like at the CBC, I edited my footage with Final Cut Pro, I built my own website, I  performed interviews, I got to work on a 15-minute news show as both an assistant director and a web editor, and I got to hang out with some very cool fellow students, one of whom can make a very good imitation of Chewbacca. Come, on that has to count as a special skill.

It was a very exciting eight months that allowed me to cover in person events such the Toronto Slut Walk and  the Toronto Comic Con. In the newsroom we sifted through major news events such as the tsunami in Japan, the Arab Spring, and the federal election. Michael Ignatieff even visited our campus during the campaign and I got to shake his hand.

A requirement for completing the course was for each us to do an internship. I joined the ieiMedia program, which allows students from journalism schools across North America to practice their skills in a foreign setting. Along with 14 other students I got to perform interviews, write a feature story, and shoot and edit a video story in the town of Perpignan, France. Overall, a memorable experience and a heck of a way to gain work experience.

Unfortunately it did not have the immediate desired results. When I returned to my hometown of Quebec City I had a very hard time finding a job. I did obtain various interviews in Quebec City, Montreal, and even Toronto, but I was never hired. I won’t blame ieiMedia or Sheridan College for this, they provided me with all of the tools and knowledge I could possibly need.

I think when it all comes down to it I simply should have tried harder during my first search for an internship in early 2011. My plan was to obtain an internship at CBC in Toronto, go to France, and then come back to work in Toronto. Maybe because I didn’t work hard enough on my schoolwork or because I had made a mistake in my resume, the Toronto internship never happened. After France I had no other choice but to return to Quebec City.

I have spent the last nine months searching for a job in a mostly Francophone market, with a mostly Anglophone education, with  only one month of experience. Trust me, it’s not easy.

Now, a year later I am about to fix what is wrong with my resume: lack of experience. From early May to late July I will intern at a campus radio station in the city of Rouen in Northern France. My tasks will include producing news reports, working on the daily show with fellow journalists, and performing interviews. Additionally, the career website TalentEgg has agreed to publish articles I will publish about my work experience overseas.

Hopefully, the experience at the radio station, and the articles, will help me break out of the vicious circle in which I seem to be stuck. No experience = no job. No job = no experience. If anything it will justify my writing “Multimedia Journalist” on my  website. After this I will have worked online, in a television studio, I will have recorded and edited news pieces, I will have taken digital photographs, and I will have worked in radio.

I also hope that one year from now I will be doing work I love with people I like. Which makes me wonder if everyone from my program is happy with what they’re doing. I wonder if one day some of us will end up working in the same newsroom together once again. You never know, it’s a small world after all and I have a valid passport.

 

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In which Language should I be Thinking?

Lately I’ve been wondering about my identity, specifically my linguistic identity. See once upon a time French was my only language. Then when I was 4 years old I moved to Newfoundland, where I learned to speak English, or whatever passes as English over there. Either way, when I moved to an international school in Santiago, Chile, three years later people couldn’t understand a word of what I was saying so I had to learn English again.

I studied in English between grades 2 and 10 while living in both Chile and Peru until 2003 when I moved back to Quebec. Being the only fully bilingual person in a Quebec City high school kind of makes you stand out. When the time came to move to the University of Sherbrooke, I spent the first semester in Etudes Literaires (French Literary Studies) but quickly got bored. The next semester I switched to English and Intercultural Studies, which was a vast improvement. I hung out with a group of students who preferred their movies, books, and video games in English, despite all being born in Quebec.

Then between 2010 and 2011 I studied Journalism in Ontario, where it was English 24/7. Since 2011 I have been back in Quebec City where it is of course French full time. Originally,  my plan was to stay in the Toronto area, do an internship at CBC, go to France for a one-month study program with American and Canadian students, and then come back to Toronto for a full-time job. The Toronto internship never happened, so I moved back to Quebec, went to France, back to Quebec again, and have been applying to jobs in both English and French ever since.

Now this summer I have been accepted for an internship…in Northern France, where of course they will speak French. Meanwhile, I watch American and Canadian TV shows in English, I watch every big Hollywood blockbuster that is shown in English, and I read books in English and French. I also write movie reviews of movies made in Quebec and of foreign movies…in English. Examiner.com agreed to hire me to write those reviews, but the more I think about it, who is going to read English reviews of French and foreign movies?

My mom even recently asked me why I never watch the news in French. I just prefer watching Global National at 6:30 with Dawna Friesen. The half-hour format reminds me of the news show I used to work on at Sheridan. I sometimes tell myself the technical terms while it’s playing: take SOT (Sound on Tape). But I suppose I could probably find the French equivalent.

So after all these linguistic changes, what am I really? French or English? I’ve lived the most in Quebec, but I wasn’t even born here, I was born in New-Brunswick. If I am Canadian, maybe I should lay off the American TV shows, although I am probably not the only one with that problem. Back in Sherbrooke, my friends and I always watched Castle and House.

Sometimes I feel like the villain in Bon Cop/Bad Cop: fully bilingual, yet I believe I have an accent in both languages. Don’t worry, Jean Chretien wasn’t my language teacher.

My first job should either bring some conclusions or more confusion. If I get a job in Ontario in English, that will settle it. I will work and communicate in English, and speak to my family in French. But then again, a few weeks ago I applied for a job in French in Windsor, Ontario. So, I would have been working in French, in a mostly English province, and most likely still blogging in English. At least I had the good sense to make my website bilingual.

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