3 Dec

Many a moon ago, in what now is being called ‘old’ experience (I prefer ‘senior’) I worked at a daily newpaper.  It was the Medicine Hat News, shockingly located in Medicine Hat, Alberta, affectionately called The Hat by its residents.  Rudyard Kipling, and I still think it is bizarre that he even knew about the place, called it the city with “all hell for a basement,” because of its large natural gas fields.

When I lived there, that quote helped me to feel that Medicine Hat wasn’t the small, redneck Alberta town that it was.  Some say one of the most boring drives in Canada is the 3-hour Medicine Hat to Calgary run.  True enough.  I had a big old car then and I would put it on cruise control and sleep through half of the driving.  The McDonalds in Brooks, an hour out of Medicine Hat, is still a highlight I remember.

Medicine Hat also has the world’s tallest teepee, inherited from the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.  There it is right off the highway with a sign that points to it, saying, you guessed it, “World’s Tallest Teepee.”  When I left after 3.5 years in 1995, the city was still working on the nearby gift shop.  By now, I imagine it is all a whole big deal.  Yup.

Anyway,  I generally enjoyed my time there.  The Medicine Hat News was at that time a baby Southam daily paper.  So it had all the bells and whistles that were available at the time – access to news wires and the ability to try and get stories on the CP news wire, which could then be picked up by papers around Canada.  I’ll never forget seeing some of my stories in papers in Newfoundland and Vancouver, as well as a few stops in between.  This was all pre mass use of the internet of course, so it was all very primitive.  But still, a great learning experience.  I covered mainly arts and culture, of which there actually was some.  Some folks are shocked by that.  Apparently Medicine Hat College has quite the music program reputation.  And every year it had a great music/acting competition for all of the school aged kids, some of whom were really talented and went on to vague greatness.  I liked that about the small town thing – lots of community support.  Of course, along with this came lots of small town thinking.  And given that this was Alberta, that was multiplied.  That was something I couldn’t ever get used to.

Another thing that I’d never experienced for was the annual exhibition and stampede.  Pig and duck races, chuck wagon races, country bands that I had to review even though I knew absolutely nothing about country music and stampede queens.  No, actual teenage girls who would compete for the coveted title, not gay men watching the bull rides.  Well, they were there I’m sure but they pretty much had to hide.  It was that kind of town.

I was in my 20s and I was writing for a living.  That in itself was pretty great.  I returned to Vancouver in 1995 and did a little freelancing but pretty much dropped the whole thing.  The competition was (and of course, is) fierce and the pace of a big city daily wasn’t something I thought I would like.  Now, sixteen years later, being able to go back is not an easy thing.  The world of journalism has really, really changed.  It would be like, hmmmm, I’m not sure I can even come up with an example.  I am touched though by the fact that some folks think I can jump right back into it.

At any rate, I am stil seeking out something to do with writing.  I’ve never stopped writing – fiction, creative non-fiction (probably my favourite genre to read and to write), etc.  The reality is, my ability to make a living in this field may just not be possible.  Or it may be and I just have to be more patient.  I know how luck and timing go – there can be nothing, nothing, nothing and then suddenly, something. 

I need to give myself a time line of some sort.  Like, until such and such a month I will seek out only Communications type careers in every way that I can and after that,  I will dip my toes back in the ESL field for which I have 13 solid years of recent experience.  Otherwise . . . it becomes a lot of sort of floating around, moving through molasses. 

Daily.  The Medicine Hat News was six days a week but daily enough.  I want this blog to actually be seven days a week daily partly because it is a consistent thing that I  can count on.  And it helps to off load my brain just a bit


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