Category Archives: Life stories

Quick update

It’s been some time since I last posted here and I have to say it’s freeing to be able to say that. Just wanted to quickly check in, though, and deliver a brief update on how everything has been going for me since I said I’d no longer be updating regularly.

On Monday, I graduated along with 114 of my colleagues in the journalism program. I graduated with honours and the ceremony was nice. Deepa Mehta actually got an honourary doctorate from the university during the ceremony so I made sure to shake her hand when I received my Bachelor of Journalism (I had to stop myself from making another BJ joke).

A week ago I began interning at a small news website, and I have since written three articles and copy edited dozens more.

Also, today is the start of NXNE 2013- I can’t wait to delve once again into the madness. I just need to remind myself to eat over these next few days.

More to come soon, once the madness is over. I’m going to try and write a review of the first season of Orphan Black and maybe even Mad Men since it’ll be ending its sixth season soon. To anyone who has been checking semi-regularly to see if I’ve written anything, I apologize for not writing a little sooner. See you soon.

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Life stories: a Journey

Thanks again to DailyPost for this prompt. It reminded me of a long walk I took some time ago that had me exploring areas of the city I lived that I don’t usually see.

I have a friend named Diana, and for the past four years of university I’ve only ever been able to see her roughly twice a year. She was always super busy in school and traveled a lot during the summer, mostly, so I would usually see her once around the Christmas break and another time during the summer at some point.

A few years back (it must have been the summer after either my first or second year of school) we met up during the summer. Our original plan was to go to a bowling alley. On the way there, of course, we talked quite a bit. The general rule of conversation when you haven’t seen a friend in months is a huge game of catch-up.

I met her at her house, as I usually do, and we walked from there. The bowling alley really wasn’t far at all. When we got there, we discovered that there was no way we’d be able to get a game in that day; there was some kind of a bowling league happening and every lane looked occupied.

Determined to not let it ruin our day, we decided to just start walking in a direction away from her and my house, which we did. We ended up heading toward where she went to high school, but took a few more twists and turns along the way. Suddenly, we wound up walking through a huge, open field.

We followed the field for a bit before deciding to randomly turn right into a neighbourhood neither of us had ever seen before. It honestly felt a little strange. It looked kind of like a trailer park, we supposed, but it was as though we had suddenly walked back in time. We didn’t see a single person around and all the stuff looked like something that might have been current a few decades ago. For some reason my mind is telling me that it was a grey, almost ominous sky, but that might be my brain trying to make the story as dramatic as possible.

After walking through this strange removed-from-time place, we re-emerged into the city and decided to walk… I don’t remember where we walked next. But eventually we decided we were going to stroll through a forested area. This area turned out to be a whole lot bigger than either of us thought, however. There were all kinds of fallen wood and plant overgrowths that would sometimes slow down or temporarily halt our progress.

At this point, Diana was starting to get a little worried that we weren’t going to find our way out. She took comfort in a long and ridiculous story I had been telling before we got into the woods. I had been making the story up as I went along, and it was pretty silly and melodramatic (as I intended it to be). A few times during this forest stroll she urged me to keep going so that she wouldn’t think about the possibility of never getting out.

I was never worried for a second that we were going to get lost, because one of my goals in life is to actually get lost somewhere in the city and force myself to find a way back. Eventually, of course, we made it out of the forest and emerged in an area I was pretty familiar with. On the way back to Diana’s house we finished off my insane story.

If I remember the story correctly, I had been poisoned or something and Diana had raced against the clock to get me to a hospital. I think the story ended with her and I talking to our respective sets of kids about the craziness that had occurred some time ago.

What’s the point of this story from my life? I’m not really sure. Perhaps it’s that alternative plans can sometimes yield very unexpected turns of events. The walk itself feels kind of like a dream to me; it was an area of my city I had never seen before and it turned out to be pretty scenic. Plus I got a hell of a lot of exercise from that walk, that’s for sure.

A visual room tour

I had initially planned to write this post two days ago, but sometimes my smartphone has a tendency to not right away send pictures that I’ve emailed myself. So anyways, this post is going to be a bit more visual than my posts have been in the past. As the title suggests, it will give you a glimpse into what my room looks like.

my room 1

Area 1: The night table. Note the download cards/business cards from vinyl records/musicians on the bottom left corner, followed closely by ear plugs, guitar picks, some Halls candies and a cow coaster. Above those things is a jar containing quite a few pennies, nickels and dimes and for some reason two baseballs. Then there’s a clock radio, a lamp, and a now sadly irrelevant bobblehead of Yunel Escobar (he’s not even with the Jays anymore and even if he was, I’m not a very big fan of him after the “eye black incident”).

my room 2

Area 2: The media drawer. The bottom two shelves are filled to capacity with CDs. The third drawer is mixed-use, featuring DVDs as well as promo CDs that I haven’t reviewed and probably won’t. The towering stack on top of the drawers is a little over half various complete seasons of TV shows on DVD and slightly under half promo CDs that I have yet to review.

my room 3

Area 3: Bookshelf/desk/laptop station. Basically self-explanatory. The bookshelf part of the desk doesn’t really hold a lot of books and also limits what can be stored there due to the small shelves. My record player sits above the bookshelf on the left-hand side of the picture. You may also note the SpongeBob SquarePants poster that I must have gotten nine or ten years ago but still haven’t taken down.

my room 4

Area 4: Main bookshelf. I didn’t think it was possible, but I filled an entire bookshelf thanks to my book-buying habit. Bottom row features Shakespeare’s complete works, A Song of Ice and Fire, Scott Pilgrim and several Haruki Murakami books. Second shelf has got a bunch of Douglas Coupland. Fifth shelf pretty much finishes off my complete Murakami collection. Sitting above the bookshelf are my owl bookends as well as shoebox full of Wii and PS2 games.

my room 5

Area 5: Dresser. The dresser itself was originally a piece of junk, but apparently Opa (German for grandfather, in case you didn’t know) fixed it up and I’m generally pretty pleased with it. The surface features a variety of things including a large container of chewing gum, bus tickets, subway tokens, dead batteries, business cards and the game Rush Hour.

Hope you enjoyed a little visual tour of my room. Some people say the room is the soul of the person who inhabits it. Or maybe people don’t say that. If they didn’t, I just said it now.

Moving on, up and out

Thanks to a text I got from a friend today I realized that yesterday my final marks went up for my final year of my journalism program. I find that generally, when I look up my marks, it’s not much of a moment that sets my heart racing. If anything, every time I look up my grades they’re either exactly what I expected or higher than I expected. I don’t mean to boast or anything like that, but I do generally put effort into my work no matter how big or small the assignment is.

So as of this morning, when I did check my marks, I can officially say that I’ve completed my program and am now about a month away from my graduation ceremony, where I’ll finally walk away with my hard-earned BJ (bachelor of journalism).

What this also officially means, no matter how many times I’ve said this before, is that I need to figure out the rest of my life. There are several things I want to do, and they’re reflected in the title. I want to move up, move out move on.

In talking about “moving on” I’m going to have to be vague and cryptic, unfortunately, but in this case “moving on” refers to getting over somebody. I think that’s all I’ll say and assume that speaks for itself.

“Moving up” means finding a job in the field that I actually want to work in. I’ve fallen more deeply in love with journalism the more time I’ve spent in the program, and finally being able to do something I love while getting paid for it should make for a happier me. The part-time job I have now is alright, I suppose, but I do not want to spend a life in retail.

And finally, “moving out” should probably be fairly self-explanatory. For a long time I’ve wanted to simply move out of my house, and out of my hometown. I’ve unfortunately been living in Mississauga all my life, and I’m pretty sure in a previous post I’ve expressed my disdain for this place. Toronto, on the other hand, is a city that I try to spend as much time as possible in, and it only seems natural to move there. Of course, this is under the assumption that I will have some steady work, because living in Toronto is not cheap.

So there we have it. On, up and out. Not a completely impossible dream, not at all. And I think I can do it.

Wish me luck.

I guess the rest of my life has started

I’m feeling far too restless to focus on a fixed topic for today’s topic. The last few days have really been a full-on roller coaster.

When I finished my exam on Friday, I was feeling relieved for it all to be done and over with. It felt even better when I headed over to the Eaton Centre to pick up the remaining two books missing from my complete collection of Haruki Murakami’s works.

And then the weekend began, which was a bit of a downer. It was a frustrating two days. I somehow, miraculously, had the entire weekend off from work, so I assumed that would make my weekend relaxing. It wasn’t. There’s a weird kind of tension in my house when my mom isn’t around (she was with my grandparents for the weekend; my family has been doing sort of rotating shifts to help out with my grandmother, who had a stroke about a month ago). I’m not sure precisely what the tension is, but to me it’s an air of not caring. It’s as though, despite my dad, brother and I all being present, my dad was basically in a different world most of the time.

Saturday I cooked my first meal in a while, which felt good (I cooked because I basically had to; my dad never volunteers to cook when it’s just the three of us). It wasn’t a terribly difficult thing to cook, but I liked it. It was penne with peppers, which is basically made up of exactly what it sounds like. plus some basil (I accidentally got sage but it didn’t make the flavour bad) and I melted some mozzarella on top.

That night I had three shows to choose to go to and I ended up choosing none based on their locations. I felt kind of bad about that, although apparently at least two of those three didn’t quite go as nicely as they should have.

When Sunday rolled around, I had finally finished my first podcast for the Toronto Star writer I’ve been working with. It hasn’t gone up yet so I don’t want to give too much away, but I’m pretty proud of it and it should be up on Wednesday or Thursday. Unfortunately after that my mood worsened a little more.

It got a ton better yesterday night, though, when I went to another Crosswires show. At this point I feel like an unofficial Crosswires insider, which is a good feeling. I’m beginning to know more and more people that I can say hi to and chat with for a while. All the performances last night were really cool as well. I especially loved the joyous energy of Fitness Club Fiasco, although I did like the industrial-ish noise of Pale Eyes and the weird experimentation of former NOW music editor Benjamin Boles.

Today, though, I’m feeling pretty good. I was happy to see Maylee Todd linking to my raving review of her record Escapology (seriously: go listen to/buy it now) and a musician who read my review in turn sent me her own stuff, which is also really cool.

Now is the point where I begin really looking for jobs out there, lest I endure any more “So what are you doing now that you’ve graduated?” questions. But I’m feeling much more optimistic about it now than I was on Friday, so that’s a plus.

Tomorrow I have a bit more free time, so I’m going to try and settle down enough for a new short story. I’ve got a few ideas kicking around in my head but I need to focus on one and then think about how I’m going to go about writing it.

Share the love

I’m acting on another DailyPost prompt, this one asking writers to talk about a blogger who influenced their own respective “online journeys,” whatever that means.

So this is going to be a tribute to my good friend Erin Douglas.

I first became aware of Erin several years ago, when I used to go to a series of shows called The Basement, which took place in the basement of a church. The Facebook page for The Basement had a “testimonials” page at the top, and after I had gone to enough shows to know I was super enjoying every one I attended, I submitted my own testimonial which read “Before I started going to The Basement, I was loser. Now I’m still a loser, but at least I have good music to listen to every month.”

After that testimonial had been up on the Facebook page for a while, I recall Erin saying something like “Who’s Michael Thomas? That comment is golden.” At which point I said who I was (via Facebook) and we eventually met in-person at the Basement not too much later.

Since then we’ve gone to a few shows together and other assorted events around the Toronto area. A few weeks ago, running into her at her workplace was like one of those cheesy moments in the movies where two people who have been separated from each other for a long time run toward each other and embrace.

But I do need to get to her as a blogger. After Erin and I became friends, I noticed that she had a blog on some website I’d never heard of. I didn’t really understand the website all that much, but I thought it had a cool name: Tumblr.

For probably several weeks, if not months, I remember following her posts, until finally I thought: “Well hey, why don’t I make one of those?”

So I did, and for the longest time I was clueless to the ways of Tumblr and how things worked. But eventually I found out how to do things, and later I began to meet some very cool people through there, notably one of Grayowl Point’s best writers, Elena.

Had it not been for Tumblr, which in turn wouldn’t have happened without me seeing Erin using it first, I don’t know if this blog would even exist. On Tumblr I have a small group of people who respond when I ask for feedback or ask questions, and so I’m almost never out of things to post about or write about.

Of course, Tumblr culture can be quite, quite toxic, but my moving to one account has greatly helped my sanity.

So here’s to you, Erin Douglas. You are more influential than you know.

Gossip

I didn’t really know what I was going to write about today. Day 2 of CMW has since come and gone and I’m feeling really, really tired, especially because I have to go and work for 6.5 hours at 11 a.m. And then more shows at night.

But anyways, yesterday in my journalism and the arts class we had a guest, and he turned out to be quite interesting. His name is Shinan Govani. He’s the society columnist for the National Post. He reports, essentially, on people, usually celebrities or almost-celebrities.

He doesn’t like to call himself a gossip columnist, which shows that he has a bit of a different handle on things than some other celebrity news outlets. Rather than give some kind of lecture, we instead asked him a whole series of questions, some of which he gave some interesting answers to.

It’s good to know that he’s good at what he does, and therefore he doesn’t get too starstruck. With complete cool he told us once about how he was at a restaurant in Morocco and ended up sitting at a table next to Jennifer Aniston. His back was to her, though, so he ended up writing a society column from the point of view of someone with his back to her.

He also got the invitation to attend, as a journalist, the most exclusive Oscar party, put on by Vanity Fair. Apparently there were only seven journalists from around the world allowed in there, and he was the only Canadian. I completely believed him when he called it something akin to the Twilight Zone, where the ratio of civilian to celebrity was something like 1 to 40.

Unsurprisingly, one of the things Govani wants most is to be able to spend time watching television and not having to go to parties every single night, or to several parties in one night. I imagine going out to parties for a living sounds like a dream job to some, but I think even to the most party-positive person, it could wear down after a while. Govani’s been doing this for ten years, by the way.

Celebrity gossip has really never been something I’ve been interested in. When I pass by the weeklies like Us or People or any of those others, I roll my eyes as I read headlines like “CELEBRITIES WITHOUT MAKEUP” or “JEN’S HEARTBROKEN.” There’s a certain pedestal that celebrities are put on that somehow makes it okay for people to report on their every move. I wonder how many people think about what it would be like if the situation were reversed and they were the celebrity. I know there are some people who would probably love to be on TV and in magazines and newspapers. I’m obviously not quite one of those people.

But despite my having little time to deal with who’s dating who and who’s doing what, I do respect that Govani is really a professional and knows who’s he’s writing for, how to make them happy, but also how to keep his own life in order as he strives to “pound the pavement” and find scoops before other gossip columns do.