Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Extra wordy answer to the question "how's work?" (Bet you're sorry you asked now, aren't you?)

Many people have been asking me how my new job is going, since I moved back up North and started working as a journalist at The Daily Press.

One word describes my experience so far - amazing. In the short few months since I started at the Press, I think I've learned more than I have my entire life. 

The pace of a daily newspaper is so much quicker than in my freelancing days, and often I'll look up after being at the office for what seems like minutes to find it's 4:00 in the afternoon. 

The people I've met, both in the newsroom and on the street have been so warm and welcoming and lovely. Everyone is so willing to teach, to help. Most people can't wait to tell their stories. And what amazing stories I've heard. 

What's great about my job is that if I ever wonder about something (How does fish stocking work? How is gold made? Are comedians funny in "real life?") I can just set up an interview, ask my questions, take a couple of photos, and write about it. My job is basically talking to people, writing down what they say, going back to the office, and trying to find a creative way to get their tale out to the world (ok, out to Timmins and surrounding area.)

This Earth Day, my first assignment involved taking some photos of some students picking up garbage at a local conservation area. I later visited a dairy farm for an article I wrote about agriculture in Northern Ontario, and spent the afternoon walking around the farm, chatting with a farmer and taking pictures of cows. Realizing suddenly what time it was, I quickly stripped off my coveralls and drove into town to meet the Minister of Community and Social Services at the opening of a new women's shelter. It was only after I shook her hand and chatted with her for a while that I noticed the slight stench of cow manure and litter.

It was only recently that the freedom, flexibility, and just total awesome-ness of my job hit me. 

Assigned a story on a circus coming through town, I made arrangements to interview the elephant trainer backstage. Standing behind an arena, on a beautiful sunny day, an Asian elephant named Limba sauntered over and sniffed me gently with her massive trunk. Later, as she plucked jelly beans from my hand (as I screamed a little inside) I realized my job totally freaking rocks.

All in a day's work. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

For the mamas of the world

Tonight I watched a show about mothers in the wild, and cried. 

Lionesses tried to protect their babies as a new leader took over the pride and killed all of the cubs so he could start the pack fresh. In the end, the big, strong male won out and the pain was visible on the mama lion's face as her babies were killed. 

After a baby elephant was born, it was immediately surrounded by aunts, cousins, and fellow family members. They encircled the little one for two days while it struggled to gain it's new legs. Not even a bull trying to mount one of the aunties could tear the group of ladies away from this cute, new little one. Eventually, the male pulled a temper tantrum and kicked the baby, to be met with angry grunts and shoves by the gals. He finally gave up (and probably went to watch the hockey game.) Odds are, he didn't get any that night. 

A female lemur gave birth just as her pack was moving on. With her baby too weak to hang onto her underbelly, she was forced to choose between the pack and her new little one. It was clear that choosing the pack meant survival, but as her little one lay there whimpering, she urged him over and over to latch onto her fur. After what seemed like forever, she hesitantly left her baby. Her survival instinct was stronger than her maternal one, but not by much. It was obvious that it took everything that animal had to leave her dying baby behind. 

Finally, I watched in wonder as a mommy orangutan taught her baby how to find termites using a long stick. As the little one watched intently, its mama demonstrated her technique, then handed the stick to her baby to try. With great patience, she did this over and over again, until finally, her baby was successful. They celebrated with squeals and hugs. 

As the program ended, there was a shot of a baby orangutan clinging onto its mother comfortably as she paddled along in a boat in a sanctuary. The final shot was the baby's tiny hand, wrapped around it's mama's finger. 

As my eyes welled up with tears, I realized the message of the show I had initially complained about watching. 

It turns out mamas aren't so different after all.

To all of the mamas in this world and the next, near and far away, in all of your sparkly, shiny, beautiful glory, who would do anything in the world for your babies, who have experienced a love and a bond so deep I can't even begin to imagine - this one's for you. 

Happy Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dinner conversation

Me: Pop, this chili tastes different...good, but different.
Him: Yeah, I didn't have a spice pack...
Me: So you just played it by ear?
Him: Ya, I went totally balls-to-the-wall. It was crazy.
(Keeps eating nonchalently as I try to stop the spicy hot meal from coming out of my nose.)
Him (looking up and realizing I am in hysterics): What, you never heard that before? You need to get out more.

I beg to differ, Popsie. The entertainment here suits me just fine.