Posts Tagged moving

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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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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Heading Out West

It’s taken me twelve months, a study abroad program, a three-month internship in France, two horrible part-time jobs, and a crap load of patience, but a week ago I was finally accepted for my first post-college job. YES!!!

I will be working as a multimedia journalist in the town of Fairview, Alberta, located northwest of Edmonton. It’s a long way from where I am right now, but it’s as good a place to start as any. Besides, the newspaper belongs to SunMedia. I can start there and maybe in a few years move up to Edmonton, Calgary, or even Toronto. Of course for the first few months I will be on probation since it is my first job, but I fully intend to prove I was the right choice. I am in and I plan on staying in.

When you spend your weeks going to the job office, you always hear people telling you that you will eventually make it and you just have to be patient. You hear that, but you don’t believe it because you keep failing. But then you get that one phone call where you are prepared, you have the experience needed, you have the know-how, and you just might get the answer you have been waiting for. I love it when a plan comes together!

So now I have until October 1 to get my butt to Fairview. I am heading into unfamiliar territory since I have never lived out west before, although I did spend three months in Vancouver in 2009. Still, I have lived in Quebec, Newfoundland, Chili, Peru, and France. The least you can say is I can adapt to a new environment.

The big challenge right now is getting there. I have to find a place to live, buy a car, get insurance, and pack enough clothes in my suitcases to last through fall and winter. Suffice it to say, I will use one of those baggage carts at the airport. In the meantime I am spending a lot of time doing online research since it’s really difficult to rent a room or an apartment when the place you are moving to is three provinces away. At least I will be flying over those provinces. I hear it’s a very boring landscape:

What does the future hold after this? Hard to say. Right now I don’t even know if I will be able to make it home for Christmas, and if I do it will be one heck of an interesting plane ride. Career-wise I still hope to one day be able to do coverage of a major film festival, such as TIFF, or the mother of all film festivals, Cannes. Until then, I will still write on my blog, write movie reviews for Examiner, and watch every single movie I can get my hands on, whether they are on IMAX or off my computer.

I am like Tim Robbins in “The Shawshank Redemption.” (Spoiler alert) I don’t care if it takes me twenty years to get through that wall and then I have to crawl through a pipe: eventually, I achieve my goal.

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