Saturday, October 22, 2011

Perfection

Learning to appreciate the beauty in the simple things is probably the most important lesson I've learned from writing these posts. I was inspired (yet again) by this poem by Tony Hoagland. How can something so simple be so beautiful? Here's an account of the first 5 minutes of my day today - as close to perfect as it gets.

I wake up, stretch. Panic for a split second because it's light out and it shouldn't be light out yet and oh my god I'm late for work I've slept in I'll be fired or at least I won't be the first one in the office and then everyone will know I'm not really all that hardcore I'm just a big phony who sleeps 'till it's light out.

Realize it's Saturday. BEST. FEELING. EVER. I almost say "yessss!" out loud but stop myself because I'm not the only one relishing this perfect Saturday morning. The light snores coming from the other side of the bed don't bother me, but make me feel comforted and cozy.

Outside, frost covers the cars, sticks to every blade of grass. We are slowly being prepared for the long, wicked winter that hovers just around the corner. Right now, though, I'm not thinking about the frost or the cold air. I'm still warm and cozy in bed remember, the heat of the computer on my lap and the duvet creating a combination that makes me never want to leave. And I don't have to. Because it's Saturday.

The beauty of having absolutely no plans makes me feel so free. I will most likely get up, see my sister who is visiting for the weekend. I might take a drive to the lake to see my Dad. It's mornings like this I miss him, and think about him a lot. I wonder if I would appreciate this quiet Saturday morning as much if I didn't have someone sleeping peacefully beside me.

Yeah, I'll get out of this bed eventually. Pull on my jeans, open the door, face the bright world outside. Make coffee, maybe have some toast. Look out the window and say "Oh my god, look at the frost, isn't that terrible. Winter is coming." But deep down, I'm not dreading it. Because I know winter means many more mornings like this, curled up and warm, reading poetry and listening to nothing at all.  

The heat kicks in, the whoosh of the furnace adds some life to the otherwise hushed apartment.

I know my life won't always be like this. Eventually - likely sooner than later - it will get hectic, responsibilities will grow, kids will shatter the silence of a weekend morning (in the best way possible.) Saturday will take on a whole new meaning, and I'll have a whole new reason to look forward to it. 

But for now, I think I'll stay right here. Curled up in a warm bed, warm air tickling my face, fall morning light hitting the curtains, not a worry in the world.

An absolutely perfect Saturday morning. (Coffee would be nice, but I'll take what I can get.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years

I remember exactly where I was on September 11, 2001. It was the beginning of my Grade 13 year of highschool. I was sitting in the cafeteria with my friend Franny. We were probably studying. Or sharing a giant chocolate chip cookie and talking about the weekend, our hair, our crushes. 

I remember my friends Nick and Danny coming in, saying "this is crazy." Franny and I had no idea what they were talking about. I didn't wrap my head around the hugeness of it until I went home for lunch later and turned on the news. That's when I saw footage of the second jet hitting the South tower. I remember putting my hands over my mouth in shock. Saying "oh my god" out loud, even though I was alone.

I remember being in class that afternoon. My teacher said "this is going to be in the history books." He brought a TV into class so we could watch.

"You guys are watching history in the making," he said. The usually-energetic classroom was so quiet. Even though we lived far away from the horrible scene, we watched, wide-eyed. I didn't know anyone who lived in New York, but people were talking about a possible attack on the CN Tower in Toronto.

Ground Zero, 2008
I remember going to see my Nana after school. She was getting older, and needed to be checked on by my dad, my sister and I every day. Even though she was often confused, that day, she was glued to the TV like everyone else. When I walked in, she looked at me for a second, then back at the news. 
"This is the beginning of World War III," she said. "This is bad. This is just the beginning of something big." 

A few days later, Nana had a stroke. She never woke up. 


In 2008, seven years after that terrifying day, I visited New York city with three girlfriends. The City of Lights was alive with excitement. We stayed in Times Square, where the air crackled with energy. There were people everywhere, car horns blazing every second. The people of New York had begun to recover. Life had returned to Manhattan.

We walked to Ground Zero one morning. There, it was a different story. The spot where the Twin Towers had once stood was now a huge hole, surrounded by construction fencing. Unlike the air in Times Square, the air in Ground Zero did not crackle. It was so quiet. Sacred ground.

We went into a church across the street. Despite the explosions and massive amounts of debris, the church stood unharmed. This is where emergency workers stayed in the weeks following the attacks. It's now been converted into a makeshift memorial.


Ten years later, people have moved on. The rebuilding continues. But for people who were there on that day, people who ran from the dust clouds, who lost loved ones, for people across America and the world, one fall day in 2001 will never be the same. The words September 11th now hold a shared sadness for people everywhere.



Today, as the sun shines, the blue sky sparkles, and the wind whispers through the changing leaves, I think back to that day in 2001. Everyone has a story about where they were. How they heard.

My teacher was right. We were experiencing possibly the biggest moment in history many of us would ever see. It's still hard to understand why it happened. To imagine how scared those people felt as they sat at their desks and watched a 747 fly toward them.

Hard to understand, to imagine. Impossible to forget.


Judging by the stories told today, and over the last 10 years, we never will.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Thank you

I'm embarrassed to be writing this, seeing as the last time I did anything to this website there was clearly still snow on the ground and no leaves on the trees. A fact I documented with a photograph and uploaded, as to let everyone know how much of a lazy and uninterested writer blogger I am.


"You see this here picture? The one of the beautiful winter sunset? It's all you're going to see on here for the next six months while I frolic in the strawberry fields and eat bonbons, all the while laughing at my (six) readers who are stuck in a mid-April winter evening. ENJOY."


Anyway, wow. Tangent! All of that to say I'm sorry I haven't been more involved. LET'S HUG IT OUT, BITCHES.


A large majority of my time the past couple of weeks has been spent organizing a fundraiser for the media's Relay for Life team. Relay for Life is an all-night relay that raises money for the Canadian Cancer Society. Basically a full 12 hours of taking turns walking around a track, listening to amazing survival stories, helping to fund cancer research. It's a super empowering event, so when I was invited to participate with the media team, I jumped at the chance.


Then I found out each team member had to raise $100. I started having flashbacks to grade school, when, walking up the neighbors' driveways (with Girl Guide cookies, chocolate bars, pledge forms, or car wash flyers in hand) I'd hear the front door close ever-so softly and an almost inaudible whisper.


"Here she comes again," they would hiss. "And she has sausages this time. Didn't we just buy an entire collection of encyclopedias from her? HIDE."


So, when I heard about the mandatory $100 (which, really isn't a lot, especially when it's for cancer research,) I said "Hey, why don't we just have a fundraiser and raise all of the money from that, and then we won't have to ask our friends and family for money and then people will still like us and we'll be the local heroes who raised the most money in history with our totally innovative and awesome event!" (When I aim, I aim high.)


Word to the wise: if you ever have a thought like this, just raise the money. Ask your family and friends to sponsor you. THAT'S WHAT THEY'RE THERE FOR.


We got to work (and really, I never realized how much work it would be) organizing our fundraiser, an "Arcade Night" at a local indoor golf centre, where people could play video games and win prizes. We only had two weeks to organize (WHAT? Media people, waiting until the last minute, barely squeaking by under deadline? UNHEARD OF.) so naturally, I was a fast-talking, list-making, bossy Tasmanian devil the ENTIRE time.




But it was so worth it. 


Looking around Friday night, as our friends and colleagues (and even people we didn't know) played games, laughed, and filled our brown manila envelope with cash, I felt like a proud mama. We'd done it. It had worked.


During the organization of the fundraiser, we hit up many local businesses for cash and prize donations. While we prepared ourselves for the word "no", (and I found myself checking under the cracks of front doors for stealthy feet shadows,) it never came. Virtually, everyone said yes.


My co-organizer Amanda and I were shopping for last-minute snacks (donated by a local grocery store,) and saw a businessman we work with on a regular basis. He asked what we were doing with all those bags of chips (trying to hide the look of horror on his face,) and we told him about our fundraiser. He pulled a $50 bill from his pocket and handed it to us on the spot.


Even an hour before the event, I ran into a local politician at the hardware store. He too pulled out his wallet and asked "what do you need?" 


People came, made extra donations, bought slices of (donated) pizza, played our games. Even people who couldn't make it bought tickets to support us.


Although I write about fundraising events and take pictures of cheque presentations on an almost-daily basis, I've never experienced generosity so directly as I did last night. I work in the news industry, so yes, I know bad things happen every day (I'm STILL not over the Jennifer Aniston/Brad Pitt breakup. If they can't make it work I may as well go out and buy 18 cats now.) but I also know that most people have good, kind, warm hearts.

 As a team, we raised a couple thousand dollars for the Canadian Cancer Society. But personally, this event helped me too. It made me feel so lucky to live in a place where people are willing to empty their pockets just to make fools of themselves dancing around in front of a video game screen, and act absolutely ecstatic when they win a Fridge Tamer. All because they know there are people out there, most of them complete strangers, who are sick, who are dying, who are fighting for their lives right at this very moment, and who need their help.

It's these awesome people who make life so beautiful. Who make the world so wonderful.


What I'm trying to say, I guess, with this uber-wordy, emotional (albeit humourous and well-written) soliloquy is this:


To everyone who supported us, from our sponsors, to the participants, to our fellow team members, who withstood various "How are ticket sales going?" and "Who can help us move this giant prize with their big, strong manly truck" emails:


The sincerest THANK YOU.


You guys rock (both literally - I saw you handling those Rock Band drums - and at life in general.)




Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Twilight at Nellie Lake



Something I recently learned: that time of night, when it's almost dark but there's still a little light in the sky and the world sky is alive with colour? It's called twilight. 

I could have sworn it was called "the part of the night that makes you wanna grab a glass of wine and a partner and get to business." 

Whatever you want to call it, it's my favorite time of day at the lake.  

One of the things I'll miss the most. 

The original moose man


Even as young kids, my sister and I never hesitated to make fun of my dad. Many cheesy jokes and one-liners were met with eye-rolls and groans.  

My dad's always been an outdoors man, a conservationist. While he hunted, I think it pained him sometimes to kill an animal. 

Growing up, moose were always presented as majestic, sacred, almost magical creatures. This has been ingrained into Gilly and I since an early age. Dad loved moose. He loved watching them on TV, he loved reading about them. When the urge hit him, what he loved most though, was tracking them.  


I remember one particular family trip when dad spotted a cow moose and two calves on the side of the road. 
"LOOKITTHEMOOSE!" he said, hitting the brakes.  
After pulling to the side of the road, he got out of the car and proceeded down the ditch.  
"Mom, what's he doing?" I asked, fear in my voice.  
My mom rolled down the window.  
"Bill!" she hissed, not wanting to scare the moose further into the bush. "Get back here!"  
Ever the limit-pusher, Dad walked toward the moose. The cow stood her ground. The hair on the back of her neck went up. Dad turned around and quickly crossed the ditch, walked back to the car, as three wide-eyed faces stared at him from the window.  
"That was somethin', eh guys?!" he said, his excitement filling the stuffy car.  
Gill and I (and my mom, I'm assuming, though I could only see the back of her head from the back seat,) rolled our eyes. 


One summer day, driving out to the cottage, my sister, Dad and I came across a calf moose trotting down the side of the lake road. Barely bigger than a Great Dane. When the calf saw our truck rounding the corner, it crossed the road into one of the cottage yards on the lake. 
Dad pulled a U-turn, and followed the calf down a driveway. The neighbors were sitting on their deck, having a drink.  
Dad got out of the truck. Gilly and I lowered ourselves onto the seat, trying to be as invisible as possible.  
"Have you seen a calf moose run through here?" he asked. 
"Like it's his moose," Gill said under her breath. I stifled a giggle. 
"Actually, yeah. We just did," said the neighbor, pointing. "It went into the bush there."
Dad got back into the truck. Gill and I looked at each other. Rolled our eyes.  
"Ok girls, let's go get into the canoe. If my estimations are right, that calf is just the other side of Freeman's Bay now." 
So off we paddled, the three of us, in the canoe, in search of Dad's calf.  
We never did spot it, but this adventure gave Gill and I some good teasing ammunition for a few years. 


This morning, I went for a walk on the Farm with my Dad. He had seen a cow and calf moose on the highway recently, and "if his estimations were right," they'd be roaming around his farm today.  
Without fail, there they were. Super-fresh moose tracks cutting right across the walking trail and into the bush.  
"They were just here," my Dad said, bending down to examine the tracks. "Chances are, we scared them off when we got out of the truck."  
Without hesitating, I stepped off the trail and into the bush, expecting to sink to my knees in snow. The thick crust stayed strong, holding my weight. I looked at Dad.  
"Let's follow it," I said. No eye-rolling. No groans. Just the excitement of being that close to a moose. I could feel her near me. (Ok, I know what you're thinking. Get a grip. It's a moose. But you don't understand. These are the creatures we'd chased in a canoe, received dozens of lessons about, watched countless TV specials on. And I was SO close.) 
The tracks led us over a farmer's fence, through dense bush. Not a word was spoken. Well, except when I peed on my pants in an attempt to squat over a fallen log. And when I expressed my amazement that "LOOK! Moose poop DOES really look like chocolate-covered almonds! WHADDYA KNOW!" Also, that one time crossing over a beaver pond when Dad told me exactly where not to walk and I walked there anyways? That "sploosh" you heard may or may not have been my leg breaking through the ice into the swamp water. MY BAD.
I didn't even notice how long we'd been walking. Following. Tracking. Didn't notice whether or not I was cold. We were on a mission, dang-it, and I was going to see moose.  

The payoff was excellent.  


OK. So this last part didn't happen. But wouldn't that have been a totally AMAZEBALLS way to end this post? If you're thinking that's just a random picture of a cow and calf stolen borrowed from the Internet, you're absolutely right. GUILTY!  

But really, it didn't matter that the morning didn't end with us spotting the (quite elusive, as I'm finding out) animals. Betcha think I'm about to get all sappy and say it was the bonding experience with my Dad that really mattered, right? WRONG. Through the log-peeing, wet feet, branch smacks across the face and dodging moose poop, we didn't do much talking.  

But this morning, I finally felt it. I felt what my Dad's been feeling for years. The excitement of tracking a moose. Being so close you can feel it. Not knowing if the next turn is going to lead to the sighting of the strong, majestic, almost magical animal.  
I finally caught my family's moose mania.

Cleaning the moose-poop off my boots, I can't imagine a better way to spend my day off.  

Thanks, Pop.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My girl

Annie and I play in a basement playroom, undressing barbies, putting their clothes back on. 
"Are you sad today?" I ask, sensing a shift in my friend's mood from the day before, when we played together after school. 
"Some of the kids were mean today," says Annie. The usually cheerful blonde with sparkly blue eyes seems forlorn and quiet. 
"What did they say?" I put my doll down, focusing on my friend.
"They were singing mean things. About my mom." 
This is the first time Annie has mentioned her mother, but I have heard the adults talking. I know Annie's mom died in a car accident a couple of years ago. I know she lives with her uncle, grandfather, and brother.
Hearing about the kids who are hurting my friend makes me mad. 
"Don't be sad," I say, rising from the floor. "We've got Rainbow Chips Ahoy. Let's go ask my mom for some." 
"Ok," says Annie, the flicker of a smile crossing her lips.
Although we play together often, like the same music, giggle at the same jokes, I always had the feeling our lives were worlds apart. Annie seemed older, forced to grow up faster than her friends. Motherly. 


As the years go by, we drift apart and float back together. Always across-the-street neighbors, we talk on occasion and say hello in passing. Growing up, developing different groups of friends, different interests, has left us simple acquaintances. Neither of us know a chilly day in February 1998 will change our friendship forever, fusing our hearts together.

I sit downstairs on the couch, surrounded by girlfriends, kleenex wadded in my hand, eyes red rimmed. No one knows what to say to me. I can tell my girlfriends are uncomfortable. They talk to each other in low voices. I stare into space. 
Suddenly, someone comes down the stairs. First, a pair of jean-clad legs, then a boy's hockey coat. It is Annie. Ignoring the other girls on the couch, she beelines straight for me, hugs me tight. She doesn't cry. She is steady as a rock. She pulls away from the hug and speaks, authoritative but gentle. 
"Ok, you know I know exactly what you're going through. I know how you feel. Things are going to be ok. It's going to be bad for awhile. You're going to have bad dreams. You're going to be sad.
"But in the end, things are going to be ok." 

I now see that hug, those words, as a defining moment in my life. A moment that cemented one of the greatest friendships I have ever known. Now, I can't recall a school dance, house party, heartbreak or triumph when Annie wasn't by my side. 

We spent an entire summer sleeping in my family's boat house on the lake. Listening to music until the early hours of the morning. Through many high school break-ups, fights, and victories, we were each other's champions. 

One of the things I admire most about my friend was she never wanted to be cool. Not like the other girls in high school. She never cared what people thought. She was always up for a good time. Kind, and generous. Even after all she'd been through. 


A recent tragedy in Annie's family brought back feelings from years gone by. Annie standing in my corner. Telling me everything was going to be ok. Mothering me, when I needed it the most.

Driving an hour late at night to be with Annie was a no-brainer. I knew my friend would do the same for me in a heartbeat. Lying beside my friend that night, she rolled over, nestled her head onto my chest. Her face was wet with sorrow.

Feeling a warm tear drip onto my own skin, I realized why this scenario felt strange, yet familiar. For the first time in my life, I was comforting my strong, optimistic, caring, nurturing friend. Instead of being the mother, like always, Annie was being mothered. 

In any friendship, just like a good love story, there are ups and downs. Moments of victory and defeat. Days filled with happiness and laughter, and others with despair and tears.

These are the defining moments, the ones that make things clear. That reinforce the reason this friendship has come to rest in your heart. 

I feel so honoured to be able to share moments like these with my good friend Annie. One of the most amazing people I know, whose bright soul shines out through every pore. 

A fighter. A champion. Against all odds.

A true, everyday beauty.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hopeless

A few weeks ago, I was listening as a colleague talked about men. When she was done, I repeated my tried, tested and true theory.  

"You know what," I said, taking a deep breath. "The bottom line is, if a guy's into you, he'll do whatever it takes to see you. He'll call you even if he's busy with work. He'll make time for dinner. No guy's too busy when he really likes someone. "

John and Yoko, 1980

My colleague chuckled.  

"How can you still be such a hopeless romantic after all this time? You're waiting for that prince charming to sweep you off your feet. You have to prepare yourself for the fact that life isn't like the movies. It may not happen like that."  

I thought about this. She was right. Not about the fact that it may never happen (my fairy godmother told me it will.) She was right about the fact that among a sea of jaded, sometimes bitter, scorned women, I'm still a romantic.  

I still believe in love. True, overwhelming, can't-live-without-each-other love. Movie love. 

V-J Day in Times Square, 1945



I might be the only single girl in the world who likes Valentine's Day. Sparkly things make me happy. There's nothing better than a sunny day, lying on a dock, with a good book. Listening to Enya. 

Sometimes, sunsets are so beautiful, they make me tear up. I cry at every wedding I go to, right at the moment when the father gives his daughter away (HEARTBREAKING!) I love hearing stories about how people met, fell in love, did everything possible to be together.  

Floral patterns, the first snowfall of the year, old couples slow dancing. Pure, romantic, gold. 

A few nights ago, my romantic notions started to make more sense to me. After picking up some takeout, I arrived at my pseudo-granny's for an annual tradition - the Oscars.  

Cec and Nana used to watch the star-clad awards religiously. Not only watch. They'd get dressed up, eat hors d'oeuvres, drink champagne. Cec said Nana was the only one who really cared about the Oscars like she did. 

After my Nana died, my sister and I continued the tradition, although hors d'oeuvres and champagne have been replaced with Zinfandel and Chinese food. After settling down with the red carpet special, Cec, who's now 87 years old, told me how happy she was that I'm still into the Oscars.  

"Not many of my friends care anymore," she said.  

"Mine either," I answered, smiling.  

Just then, I got a text message from my sister.  

"Is it wrong if the Oscars give me shivers?" she wrote. "I wish I was there! Loving all of the sparkly dresses!" 

That's when I realized. 


   
Eiffel Tower, Paris






From drinking ginger-ale and banging pots and pans on New Year's Eve with Nana, to sobbing with my sis in the movie theater watching Titanic, and groaning in mock-horror whenever our parents would kiss passionately in front of our friends, we've always been champions for love.  

Romance has been ingrained in my soul since I was a little girl. 


Water lilies, Monet

Maybe, in some way, my colleague's right. Maybe my expectations are too high, Maybe there isn't someone who's going to come along and sweep me off my feet.  

But it's so much nicer believing there is.

Believing that if I keep my heart open, it will happen, exactly the way I've dreamed it. Complete with fireworks, balcony proclamations, and songbirds who do my laundry and make my bed every morning.  

I'm not a hopeless, but a hopeful romantic.  

I can't be any other way.  

After all, my family history holds some of the greatest love stories of all time. 

My parents, 1979

Winter beauty


Why I like living in Northern Ontario in the winter.  Sometimes. Like when I'm not furiously scrubbing the salt off my boots, trudging through snow up to my hoo-ha, or putting on yet another layer of clothing IN THE HOUSE.  

Most of the time, winter's a real beeyotch. But sometimes, it's really freakin' pretty.  


Poem is Stopping by woods on a snowy evening by Robert Frost. Soundtrack is Morning Song by David Gray.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

One year

I've now been a reporter at The Daily Press for one whole year. A little over a year, actually.


The other day, as deadlines whizzed by, phones rang, and I scarfed down yet another desk lunch of Mr. Noodles and Coke, I realized I'd missed the actual anniversary. 


At first, I was shocked that a year had already gone by since my return to the North. I guess time really does fly when you're having fun. Riding in helicopters. Meeting important people. Scoring tons of free lunches and dinners at events you're way under-dressed for, but no one cares because you're a reporter and you're expected to look busy, frazzled, bed-headed and hungry.


I'm pretty sure I've learned more over the past year than I have in the last 27. And not just about police scanner-induced headaches, humbling corrections, or why election night pizza tastes so damn good (Answer: because you haven't had time to eat all day. And because it's free.)


Working for a daily newspaper has taught me that coffee is magic juice. Through late night stories and cold outdoor assignments, I've developed quite a relationship with java, one only paralleled by my love affair with the office vending machine. (The loud shrieks you've been hearing that sound something like "THEY GOT BROWNIES!" Yeah. Guilty.)


So far, I've yet to be pulled over by a local police officer on the job. But I've been imagining the scenario since I started. It goes something like this:
Officer: "Miss, do you know how fast you were - wait a minute, didn't I just see you at that homicide scene?"
Me: "Why yes, officer. I'm a reporter. For a newspaper. I have a deadline and simply MUST get back to the office immediately to alert the world region about this masked madman on the loose!"
Officer: I apologize. Carry on. Go as fast as you need to. Wanna grab a drink, when you're done?" 
Still waiting for that first name-dropping scenario but I'm pretty sure that's EXACTLY how it'll go. 


The thing that stands out more than anything else though about doing this job is that life isn't black and white. It's not simple, and it's not fair. There are two sides to every story, and everyone has a story.


Being a young, sometimes naive reporter, the shades of gray get to me. Sitting in court, listening to details of yet another domestic abuse case. Growing increasingly frustrated with the government when people suffer and are not being heard. Visiting a woman in a wheelchair who can't reach the tap in her apartment to brush her teeth because there isn't enough accessible housing in the city.


Yes, the shades of gray bother me. If the solution seems so simple to me, why is nothing being done? The truth is, I wouldn't know where to begin to solve these huge problems. So, I sit with these people, listening humbly to their stories. Then, I go back to the office, sit at my desk, gather my thoughts, and begin to write. Sometimes it's as simple as a Sunday afternoon bake sale. Often, it's much, much more. 


In moments of weakness and self-doubt, I wonder about the significance of what I do for a "living." What am I contributing? What is the value of my job? 


Essentially, I'm a story-teller. I can only hope I'm doing these people justice, writing news that's worthy of a quiet morning with a cup of coffee. The thought that my words are the first thing people read in their busy lives is both gratifying and terrifying. 


Everyone makes mistakes at work. A reporter's are aired out for thousands to see (and likely, comment on.) My errors remind me not to become too complacent. To keep questioning. To do my homework. To research. To never stop learning. 


The past year has truly been one of the most exciting, rewarding, entertaining experiences of my life. For that, I'm beyond thankful, and feel so lucky to be doing what I love.


Recently, we at the Press have been on another learning adventure (doesn't this sound exciting, like a trek through the jungle where man-eating snakes are waiting around every corner?) In an effort to stay down with the times, we've begun shooting news videos to post online with our stories. Neither my coworker Chelsey or I have had any television training whatsoever. Needless to say, it's been fun. By fun I mean we've laughed a lot. By laughed I mean cried. 


I leave you now with a short clip of my ongoing trials on-camera. Just so you know, all of my bloopers can be attributed to Chelsey Romain, Reporter/Photographer, and her uncanny knack for making me laugh when I shouldn't. Warning: I use the F word. 


video 

So here's to a year of laughs, learning, good stories, bright smiles, great people, cute cops, and strong coffee. Here's to many more to come. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Zen Dog made me do it

I wanted to share an artist that I've been loving lately. 

The new year hit, and with it came a wave of thoughts about life. Where's mine going? What will this year bring? What are my goals for 2011 and WHAT THE HELL WHO ATE ALL THE THIN MINTS IN MY DESK?

I remembered my sister (who has a knack for finding beautiful, inspirational art) talking about Edward Moncton, a British artist who seems to really get life. On a particularly stressful day, I found his website and discovered loads of pieces that blew me away. 

His drawings are simple, witty, to the point. Some carry messages and reminders about life.


Some of his pieces have absolutely no message about life, but are super fun. They also may leave you scratching your head, wondering what in the H-E-double hockey sticks is going on. This I consider a good thing.

 

My favorite of his work is Zen Dog. Zen Dog is who you want to be. Floating in a tiny watercraft, not a care in the world. He doesn't know what the year's going to bring - but does he care? Nope! Zen Dog just takes whatever's tossed his way and enjoys. While exploring Monkton's website I vowed Zen Dog would be my mascot for 2011. I was so serious about this, I made him the desktop on my work computer. That, my friends, is commitment.  

Now, I don't feel bad about anything. Made a bad decision after a few too many? Zen Dog wouldn't sweat it. Deadline fast approaching and inspiration still far away? Zen Dog would scoff at that kind of stress. He doesn't think about the future. Doesn't have a savings account or a weekly meal plan. And just look at those glasses. You just know he's surfin' the wave, ridin' the groove of a life with no worries. Dude.  



Before you get all anxiety-ridden and blotchy, stop and think for a minute: What would Zen Dog do?  WWZDD? Chances are, he doesn't yell at his kids, pop a Lorazepam, or eat an entire jar of cake icing when things get rough.  

He floats along, cool as a cucumber. He enjoys the ride.  

We could all stand to be a little more like Zen Dog. 

My new hero.

(View Edward Monkton's website HERE.)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How to annoy a four-year-old: a tutorial

This holiday, I got to spend lots of time with my niece Mikenah. In an attempt to capture her being her usual charming, witty, hilarious self, I turned the camera on and started asking questions.  

It was only when I played the video back I realized how irritating I sound. If you want to annoy your four-year-old (any-year-old, really) niece, nephew, daughter, son, brother's best friend Bob, here are some handy tips.  

1. Ask LOTS of questions when the subject would CLEARLY be doing something (ANYTHING!) else. Like watching Dora. Or checking out Christmas presents under the tree. Or having eight cavities filled. SIMULTANEOUSLY.

2. Make sure the questions are really hard to answer, then keep pressing the subject for an explanation. "How does Santa fly," is a particularly good one. "What is your purpose in life," and "Why do bad things happen to good people," are acceptable too.  

3. Repeat everything the subject says, in question form. For example: 
Subject: Auntie Kate, you're the most irritating person I've ever met.
Auntie Kate: I'm the most irritating person you've ever MET?? COOL!  

4. When the subject appears to be at the end of his/her leash, when veins are popping out of his/her head and eyes are twitching, ask said subject to sing. Preferably a Christmas song. If necessary, bribe subject with hot chocolate. Continue to ask pressing questions until subject kills you with a single look.

5. At the end of the day, when things are quiet and you've had just enough eggnog to almost put you to sleep, ask subject who her favorite Auntie is. Tell him/her she has to pick one. And be honest. He/she can't say all three. Because Auntie said so. Become pouty and sad when he/she doesn't pick you.  

Just because I care so much, here's the accompanying instructional video. If you get the look I did in the last frame, you've done something right.

How to be an annoying Auntie: a tutorial from Kate McLaren on Vimeo.

Go forth, spread the annoyance like wildfire. Good luck.