Welcome to my very first blog post, on my very first and incredibly shiny new blog page! Why blog you might ask? Why NOW? And why should you, dear cyber browsin’ one, with that ever growing list of shiny new distractions out there ready to tear us away from our busy lives, bother to stop by, sit down, maybe put your feet up for awhile, and take the time to read it? Good questions. Let’s see if I can answer them….
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Without question. Even when I was a small child, from the moment I learned to hold a pencil in my hand and carefully shape letters into words across a crisp white page (and always told, by the way, from that very beginning, what neat penmanship I had…”for a boy”.) . It’s all I dreamed of being someday when I grew up. Not a fireman, like my dad, or a navy seaman, like my brother. Not a teacher, although I admired all the knowledge they seemed to have and all the books full of cool stuff to know they had arranged row by row in their classrooms, and how they always seemed to faintly smell of chalk. Not a doctor (innards, eww!), a policeman (hated uniforms, and don’t get me started on hats), or a lawyer (although at times I excelled at arguing and acting all know it all like, so for a time that lingered as a very close second). In fact, I have a clear memory of standing in front of my Grade 2 class, during a lively class discussion on what it would be like someday in the far off distant future to be an action hero or a circus clown or a rock and roll singer, and yelling “yeah, well when I grow up I’m gonna be a JOURNALIST and report on the news, and along with that I’m gonna be a WRITER too, and write the biggest book you ever saw!” The blank stares, surprised looks, (even, or most especially, from the teachers), and silence were only interrupted by my friend Glen crying “you wanna be a jer-nee-WHA??
Hmmm. So not the most auspicious of debuts indeed.
And in retrospect, perhaps I should’ve gone with “cop” (there is that I get to stop traffic and carry a big gun appeal to it.). But the deep ambition to someday be a writer remained; just the drive to do something about it now somewhat diminished from those first curious glances and hushed whispers. And while I secretly hid in my bedroom reading through that brand spanking new set of Funk & Wagnall’s Encyclopaedias that my parents had purchased from some shady travelling salesman type (sadly, true story), in “real life” I would play chase or kick the ball or splash in the pool with all the other little hellions that lived in my neighbourhood and cry “ewww, stupid books, who needs ‘em?” Well, turned out, not so surprisingly, I did. The written word was an escape, a way out of my everyday life, a way to let my imagination go wild, where I could be whoever I wanted to be and go wherever I wanted to go. As I grew a bit older, I poured all that passion for reading and writing into tests and projects at school, and with all that intense effort, I was an A+ kinda student in no time (something else I needed to keep on the down low with my friends, although my parents, much to my dismay, were very publicly overjoyed.) I entered essay contests, sometimes anonymously (with made up names like Chase Summers….no, I kid you not), and most often placed first or second, and sometimes won some obscure title or became “published” in some small town student newsletter. Sometimes I’d write short fiction (although always based on true events, so probably more like what’s known today as “creative non-fiction”, or, most accurately at that time, some deadpan, nondescript, yet overly revealing essay about whatever it was I was up to at that very moment, no matter how mundane that might be), sometimes hard-edged journalism (aka embarrassing personal diatribes of whatever cause celebre there was of the moment. And I’m talking whatever. (Yes, I’m looking at you We Are The World), and sometimes, poetry (which, while fairly simple in structure, really wasn’t so awful at all. In fact, some of it was quiet good.. The poetry I would later frame and gift to family for special events, like my parents anniversary or, years later, my younger sister giving birth to her only son).
Then, the university years began, and although accepted to Kings College for Journalism, and the start of that self-proclaimed lifelong dream, it seemed when told a couple of credits earned through the University College of Cape Breton the previous year would not count towards my degree and that, yes indeed, I would need to complete their Foundation Year program, (adding another year onto my university career), I suddenly decided to veer drastically to theleft and instead pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in English, with a minor in Psych, through Dalhousie U. Still passionate about writing, and pouring all that energy into school assignments, and still coasting through many of these courses, (much as I did all through junior and high school, because I could write and therefore didn’t really need to pay much attention, I found myself all graduated and grown up four years later and qualified to….well, to do what exactly? I could “write”, but then good ‘ol reality would come along and quickly slap me upside the head and harshly remind me that penning my masterpiece was NOT going to pay my bills particularly that nasty and now seemingly insurmountable student loan (which once was so warm and fuzzy as it paid for countless movie tickets, paperback novels, and happy hour rye and ginger at the Liquor Dome). I could go on to teach, but that would mean at least two more years of school, and I had just started working at what might turn into a steady gig with the Parks & Rec Dept, so how could I turn down $10 an hour for more schoolin’. I mean, come on, I was practically rich at that point! And so, a job working with children with mental and physical challenges on summer turned into a long stint at the Society of Treatment of Autism in my hometown of Sydney, and finally, to today, nine years later, where I work as a case manager in child & adolescent mental health with the IWK. A real grown up job….a career even. Challenging, rewarding, frustrating at times, interesting in all its’ rich complexities, but not where I was supposed to be. No where near at all really. What happened to reporting live from Baghdad on CNN? (Although, back in the day, it was more likely Live at Five I was aspiring to…although without cable and rabbit ears that channel was rather fuzzy, so maybe it’s the good ol’ CBC I was thinking of).
And so, now, today, here I am, writing. Why now? Why this particular moment, at this particular point in space and time? That part’s a bit hazy. Maybe it’s from watching my partner Shawn so enthusiastically follow his passion and love for antiques and finer things, and how he’ll always find some story, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes dramatic in its history, but always entertaining, and so very human in his joy of these little hidden treasures and cast off discoveries. Or maybe it’s seeing my friend Kerry rediscover her passion for painting, and at the age of 40 and a mother of two with a busy career as an Occupational Therapist, transform herself into this burgeoning and celebrated artiste du jour, creating magic on a canvas by using those incredible talents passed on from her own mom but lying dormant within her for so long. All I know is that something clicked inside, and I heard a voice say if you’re going to do this, do this now. So while I toil away at that first great novel (clearly destined to be a huge bestseller, which, sadly, will never be a featured pick on Oprah’s book club), I’ll also be blogging. And, for me, the creation of this blog is a way to force myself to write, to force myself to think, to get outside the box and outside my comfort zone and challenge myself a bit, challenge my way of thinking, my way of doing things. And who knows, perhaps all that will read it will be my boyfriend, my sisters, a few close friends and my cat (if he can get up from his nap long enough to turn the on. Yes, I really do think he knows a lot more than he lets on!). For the most part I’ll talk about pop culture, and write reviews of my favourite (and maybe not so favourite things), from movies, music, and literature, to places to dine and visit, and perhaps the same to avoid. I’ll write of the many things I’ve learned from friends and family along the way, and perhaps some things I’d rather forget. But, I should warn you dear reader, from time to time I do tend to get worked up over the day-to-day events in this big ol’ world of ours, particularly those that effect this little corner of it I call home, and so I’m sure I’ll be eager to share some opinions on that. Enthusiastically share some very strong opinions even. In others words, it’s just my sneaky way of being just a tiny bit subversive, and that underneath the fluff and the funny, find a way to creep up and smack you upside the head and maybe challenge a bit, in some small way, the way you see and think and feel and experience this thing we call life. Grand ambitions, no? Anyway, just sayin’. Don’t say you haven’t been warned. But seriously though, thanks so much for reading thus far, and I hope you enjoy the ride. I know I sure as hell am going to… 😉