Out in the Wash, a one-month work-in-progress.

Friday, May 28, 2004

It’s a two for oner this week. Two reasons, first of all, I didn’t really do anything last week. No, you say. That can’t be true, you have such an exciting job! Well, you know, sometimes, I do... like when I go to a curling rink to take pictures of cows, or spend an evening with the agricultural minister. It IS all terribly exciting, but all weeks can’t be like that. Last week I recycled a lot of stories that had happened much earlier. I also had a telephone conference at 8 in the freakin morning... and it was about energy deregulation, so just hurt me, right now. I mean then.

My second reason for the double post this week is that I was lazy last week. Ha! That’s a reason, dammit, and I stand by it.

Actually, my Friday last week was pretty busy. I worked until noon (writing up another grad story) and then devoted the rest of my day to decorating our front window for the carnival that was coming to Town in a week. Our carnival committee was encouraging local businesses to get into the spirit and decorate windows in accordance with the theme of “Tying the Community Together.” I guess that isn’t so bad, but just sit back and think for a minute... how exactly do you illustrate that particular theme? Hmmm, is right. Many of the businesses (the hardware store, the tourist agent) resorted to a lame drawing of a rope as the sole representation of their community togetherness. But not me! As the self-appointed head decorator, I went above and beyond the call of duty and created a (I daresay) masterpiece. I replaced the word “tying” with the much more clever substitute of “tie-ing” and gave all our little cartoon people ties made out of the newspaper. It just works on so many levels, not to mention the fact that we totally kicked the hardware store’s ass.

So, last week was a bitch. I did do the cow thing, and learned about “halter breaking”, also the fact that cows (or, actually “steers” and “heifers” if you want to be accurate) are dirty, dirty animals. Yuck. Too often I come home with cow shit on my shoes. At least they stand still so I can take their picture... unlike children who are always running all over the place. Halter break the children, I say.

Also on Thursday, I attended the town’s high school graduation... in da Big City. In true fashion, I managed to get lost no less than three times driving from my apartment to where the convocation was being held. Despite the fact that I’ve lived in the Big City for, literally, my entire life, I still get lost. Regularly. So, 45 minutes, and gallons of precious, precious gasoline later, I arrived at this fricken HUGE church. It turned out to be on the very outskirts of the Big City, in an area of town I didn’t even know existed (and probably hadn’t until six months ago. Urban sprawl and all.) The grad was uneventful, except for when I unknowingly stole the speech from one of the presenters. Luckily he found me with it before he was to go up to the podium, but he couldn’t resist mentioning the hilarious anecdote in his pre-ramble. No names were named, however, and I was grateful, though still absolutely bright red, I’m sure.

I got the weekend off, hoorah!

I got Monday off, thank you Queen Victoria!

Tuesday was a day’o writing for me. Seeing as how I got Monday off and wasn’t able to screw my day away like I usually did, things were pretty much the same as they always were. I also had an interview with a guy from the company that does the photo radar in Town. He gave me the ins and outs of the whole operation, and it was quite interesting. Sorry to say there really is no trick in not getting a photo radar ticket (and again, to be technical, in Town they use Laser radar) except for not speeding. I’m proud to say I have not once gotten a speeding ticket, photo radar or no, even when Town residents managed to rack up 4700 charges over the Easter long weekend. The population here is 5000, so that’s basically every driver in Town (to be fair though, they were set up on the highway right beside Town, so many of the speeders may not have been from around. Still, I’m amazed I managed to squeak by that little blitz).

On Wednesday the carnival started rolling in. They soon took over our little parking lot and we all had to move our cars a block down. Seriously, I’m looking out the office window right now and there’s one of those tipsy gravitron things parked 100 feet from our door. This one’s called “Zendor” and it makes me dizzy just to look at it. Anyways, I’ve developed a serious distrust of the carnies. They’re wandering all over the place smoking and being all greasy naked from the waist up. Plus, I don’t entirely understand their lifestyle. One of the people I work with has a sister who works with the carnival. She says her sister works from February to September, then goes home and lives off of Unemployment for the rest of the year. I couldn’t help myself, I just blurted, “so what does she DO all day?” I can barely handle two days off in a row without going batty and setting up permanent residence in front of the television, I’m not sure what I would do without something to go to everyday. Sure, we all dream of a jobless world, but in all seriousness, it can’t be healthy by any means.

On Thursday I was at a political fundraiser for beef. It was a dinner, and I was slightly peeved because having known about this assignment only 2 days prior, I had made plans for the night. These PLANS, though not all that important, had to be scrapped, thank-you very much agriculture minister and deputy premier. It’s all your fault. I arrived late because I was waiting on the river for some canoers from Washington to show up so I could take their picture. It was a pleasant wait, so I wasn’t all that concerned or annoyed when they came about 30 minutes later than they had told me. I suppose it isn’t their fault the river was slow anyway. I got to the dinner just in time to eat some beef, take a few pics and listen to a speech about beef. The evening was beeftacular.

Beefy bonus: I had someone recognize me from the grocery store I used to work at. That may not be that exciting, except for the fact that I worked there two years ago. Surprisingly, that wasn’t the first time people have remembered me from my cashiering days, and it is kind of nice to see that I made an impression on so many people as I scanned their soup. Kind of nice, or slightly creepy, I can’t decide.

This Friday was another one for the books. I do have work I could be doing, but as usual, I chose not to, only because it isn’t the last possible minute. The carni-val is is in full swing and I was out there earlier taking some pictures before it starts to rain for three days straight. I secretly hope that it does pour... then I’ll get most of my Saturday off. Buwahaha! I slack because I care. I’ll be back hard at work tomorrow and Sunday for various reporterly duties and then once again on Monday for the start of June and.... oh my GOD it’s bloody June already! I’m going to be 22 at the end of the month. Ye Olde Me.

Tune in next week for: wild and crazy carni-val tales, high school band concert fun and hundreds of thousands of pennies.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

DARE Rap (for your pleasure)

When you SMOKE
It's no JOKE
Smoking turns your lungs BLACK
And causes you to HACK
If you go ahead and SMOKE
You are going to CROAK
If you smoke POT
Your brain will ROT
When you drink BEER
You can't think CLEAR
When you drink BOOZE
Your brain will SNOOZE
If you take a DRUG
You turn into a SLUG
When you get HIGH
You might try to FLY
And you will DIE
So if you go to a PARTY
Listen to my VOICE
Make the right CHOICE
If you never drink and DRIVE
You have a good chance of staying ALIVE

I especially like how the last line of every sentence is in CAPS so you know what's supposed to rhyme. I am, however, very disappointed that they only came up two words for death (DIE and CROAK).

Monday, May 17, 2004

Yes, it’s Monday.

I am fully aware that it is NOT Friday, mostly due to the fact that I’m sitting here in my office, yawning constantly, instead of watching DVDs at home. Yes! That’s right! I got the day off last Friday, which would partially explain away my lack of a post. Add in the fact that the home computer was giving me the blue screen of death all morning and you have an excellent excuse for no post.

I realize none of my three readers are probably too broken up about it, but it did bug me all weekend (my work-free weekend, I might add) so I’m taking my lunch hour today to catch up.

Let’s begin with my Saturday from hell. It was a late Friday night to begin with, so I wasn’t exactly fresh as a daisy the morning after. Workwise, Friday night I had the Jazz dinner theatre. I talked to Tommy Banks, took a few quick snapshots of our high school jazz band and took out of there as fast as I could to meet some friends at the Stonehouse. Out of a group of 7, only one of us was not sober by the end of the night. Oh my God, I suck so much. No, wait, HELLO? People, it was a bar. Come on. I apologize for nothing.

Anyways, early Saturday. I had a pilates class (laugh all you want, I like it) at 9 am after which, I drove straight out to Town to catch the thrilling action of Town Clean-Up Day. For the first hour or so, I drove around like a crazy lady who wasn’t paying 88 cents a litre for gas (grr.) getting all the newsworthy photos I could find of people bending over to pick up a candy wrapper, bending over to pick up a newspaper, bending over to pick up millions upon millions of cigarette stubs. One thing for sure is, Town is a damn clean town these days.

After the clean-up, I headed down to Lions Park for a participants picnic, and even though my hands did not touch a single piece of trash, I scammed two hotdogs and a can of cranberry ginger ale out of the deal. Score!

I was supposed to catch up with our local scouts group at 2 p.m. to take pictures of them going on some sort of nature walk at our local bird sanctuary. I’d never been before so on Friday, I asked my editor where it was. He assured me that there was a “giant” sign on Country School Road which I would not miss. I was rather surprised because I’ve driven up and down Country School Road about 50 times since I started working at the Paper and had not once noticed the sign. And so, surprise, surprise, I head down Graminia on Saturday and I find NO SIGN. I drive up and down, looking for even a little sign, maybe an arrow with some words on it. Nope. So I head back into town (at 88 cents a litre, did I mention?), thinking maybe, for some unknown reason, the bird sanctuary would have a telephone number I could call for directions. Of course, it is the general opinion of the greater scientific community that birds cannot answer phones, so it was not great surprise that a number did not exist. I ended up going to the pizza place to ask for directions; one of the waitresses there gave me some fabulous instructions and I was at the bird sanctuary in no time. 45 minutes late, but there none the less. Oh, and if you’re wondering, the photos were NOT published.

From the bird sanctuary, I drove straight out to Cow Town for their formal graduation ceremonies. You know you’re a small newspaper when you’re covering a high school graduation. It’s no picnic people, but I grinned and bore it, despite the annoying people beside me who kept pushing my stuff out of the way until most of it was sitting on the gym floor. They totally sucked and I did my best to look really grumpy in an attempt to ruin their Cow Town graduation experience just a little bit. I’ve had the graduation argument several times, so I won’t go into my problems with the whole tradition, but needless to say, this grad was pretty much like any other grad you have ever or will ever have the pleasure of sitting through. Speeches, speeches, cap toss, bada boom... 2 hours just “fly” past and I escape with my life. No, really, it was fine, I guess. There were only about 30 grads, so they each got to do a little photo montage of themselves during a power point presentation. I thought it was cool because they got to pick their own music at the beginning of their section. There was a lot of country. Because I didn’t really care about what they were saying during the presentation, I tried to think of what song I would have used and I can’t decide whether I would choose a really cool song that had nothing to do with graduation, or something that was a bit more meaningful for the occasion. It’s kind of like trying to pick out your funeral song... except less morbid.

I had a two hour break after this, and then I was out at the cemetery for a VE Day ceremony and back to Cow Town again for the banquet portion of the grad. I finally dragged my butt home at around 10 p.m. where I collapsed out of exhaustion only to wake several hours later with my cats staring at me hungrily, just like that one CSI episode where the crazy cat lady is murdered by that little girl with a pen and all her cats start eating the body. Ew. That one was almost as gross as the one with the rat crawling out of the dead model’s mouth or the one where the lady was still alive but there were maggots eating her brain. EWWWW.

Having escaped the jaws of my ravenous cats, I was back at work on Monday to sort through 600 rolls of film and attach names to the photos I deemed worthy enough for print. In the afternoon, I had been invited to the dress rehearsal for our high school’s dinner theatre. I was like, yay!, because this meant I didn’t have to go to the actual performance, which would more than likely run past 10 p.m. It was an interactive mystery/talent show play which the students wrote themselves. I was very confused, but I was able to decide that it involved a wedding of some sorts. Somebody shot at the bride at one point, and I, being the dense journalist person that I am, asked one of the characters why someone was trying to kill the bride. They laughed because they thought their play sucked, and found it very funny that even I couldn’t follow it. To their credit, dinner theatre with 50 high school kids is really hard to pull off, and from what I saw, I think they did a pretty good job. There were line dances and a Proclaimers’ song, so I was entertained.

As promised last week, I did attend a Grade 6 DARE graduation ceremony at the Country School across the river. Drug free is the way to be people! Never forget that. Because, “If you get high, you might try to fly and then you will die”. That was just one of the wonderfully written (and rhymed!) lines from their DARE “rap” which they performed and I took fully to heart. To smoke is no joke. And next time, when you drink booze, remember: You will LOSE. What, I’m not really sure, but there are a lot of things you can lose when you drink (too much) booze. Your keys, inhibition, dignity is a big one. Yeah.

My week ended on a wonderfully heartwarming note. The make-a-wish foundation invited me out to witness a presentation to a family who’s child had survived serious illness. The kid, a 12-year-old leukemia patient, was completely over the moon with his new toy; a 20 foot trailer with push out beds on the end. I can’t imagine everything this family had gone through over the past 2 years and being there made me extremely thankful the people I love are healthy, and have been for my entire life.

And that was my week.

Next week (or, um, this week, actually): More Grads! Yaaaay! Boooo. 4-H Club awards, some conference call about which I’m not completely sure and soccer kids!

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

I've added a comments section. Cha! I'm so happy. Make me feel special and say hello.

I just thought I should add this. On Friday I'll be back to my regular scheduled rambling.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

so sad

Friday, May 07, 2004

What was promising to be an uneventful week has really turned into anything but. I’ve banked around 12 overtime hours from this week and am preparing to go for another 4 tonight. It’s not so bad, I guess. I’m really used to the whole 9-5 thing and I’ve come to realize that to be successful anywhere you go it’s going to take a little more than 8 hours to get the job done. Yeah, I know it’s true. That doesn’t mean I have to like it though. And yes, I am VERY unproductive on my time off, but I seem to value that unproductiveness. I guard it with my life and sulk in a corner, licking my wounds if it becomes even remotely compromised.

How can someone with so little ambition not be working in fast food?

I don’t know. I guess I have masked ambition. It’s disguised and does not come in the form regularly seen in sleep deprived grad students and butt kissing suits. It’s elusive.

Monday was a bit of a bust. The day, anyway. I sat around the office because I had nothing to do, employing that rare talent of being able to piss away 8 hours without really accomplishing anything. It’s something I’m very proud of. Actually, I had all my photos from over the weekend developed so that I could pick out which ones would accompany the stories I had yet to write.

I worked all day Saturday covering the local car dealership’s 10th anniversary, the highway clean up and the Legion’s medieval banquet. The anniversary was actually fun. Air Ambulance was there with one of their choppers and the local fire department tore apart an old car in a vehicle extrication demonstration. Jaws of Life = Cool. My mom met me there and we had beef on a bun. The weather was great that day, so it was fairly enjoyable. For my 4-hour gap between assignments, I went out to my parent’s trailer to sleep. I then had to be back in Town at 7 for the Legion’s little event. I was tired and cranky at that point, so I wasn’t especially into the stupid medieval feast, which pretty much consisted of a few people dressing up, eating with their hands and getting embarrassingly drunk in a very short period of time. It also involved a cross-dressing maiden, which I won’t go into, but it goes without saying that I was unimpressed, and left as soon as I could.

So, I had a ton of photos. A lot of them were half-decent, which made me happy. It didn’t make a difference though, because just like last week, a shitacular picture made the front page. I don’t get it, I really don’t. I had some GREAT pictures, some of which didn’t even make the black and whites. I hand them to my editor and yet he goes through my rejects and picks out another. I smell politics and it’s not a happy smell.

Monday evening I covered Taste and Sound of Country School (that's not it's real name, just my clever alias for various job-preserving reasons). That was pretty cool. You bought tickets for 50 cents each and traded them for samples of various dishes. For $2.50 I had an awesome meal. I was also tempted to bid on a few of the hundred items up for silent auction (one of which happened to be an LOTR puzzle… double geek points for me) but you had to be there at the end of the evening to claim your item. I was not planning to stick around, so I had to forgo the puzzle. It was a good thing, actually, because having to skip out early meant that I would be spared an evil known to most as "junior high jazz band." I am not a jazz fan. At all. 14-year-olds with saxophones don’t make it any better.

My evening was not over though. I had two more stops to make. One wasn’t at all interesting or important. It involved a youth drop-in centre (or FUTURE youth drop-in centre, actually), so blah blah blah… won’t get into that. The final stop was a picnic with all the Japanese exchange students and their host families. The Japanese students arrived the Friday before (I wrote my last entry before driving out to take pictures of their arrival). They travelled to Town to experience the Canadian way of living by staying with several families in the area. It’s all a well and grand program and everyone seemed to be having a blast at the picnic. Most of them were absolutely enthralled with the tire swing and spun around until they were too dizzy to stand up. I was afraid someone was going to puke, but it’s hard not to laugh at two 14-year-old girls crawl around in the sand as though they were drunk.

Also on Monday, during the day, I was at the local fire station checking out their new toy, a thermal imaging camera. This nifty little thing projects images on a screen by the heat they give off. This way, crews can find hotspots in an extinguished fire and locate missing people in the middle of the night. They gave us all a demonstration and showed how when a person touches a surface, they leave residual heat. So, even by standing in one spot, the camera can tell where someone has been… not for very long, but it’s cool anyway. It made me feel like I was in the middle of a CSI episode.

Staying with the theme, our RCMP detachment had me over on Tuesday to show off their new piece of equipment, a taser gun. That was exciting too, and I was happy they didn’t insist on demonstrating on me. The constables assured me that it would not hurt, only "shock and discomfort", but I would prefer not to have 50,000 watts of electricity course through my body in the interest of accurate journalism.

Tuesday evening I had the farewell celebration for our Japanese friends. They were only in Town for 4 days but everyone was extremely emotional. It was good for the most part and I got a free meal out of it, but the organizers went a bit overboard on the entertainment. We had a group of Ukrainian dancers that were on stage for a good hour and then a very unfortunate incident of hand-holding-while-singing-we-are-the-world ensued before anyone was allowed to leave. I bit my tongue and grabbed my camera so as not to encourage anyone to pull me into the circle. It worked, but the damn song lasted 6 minutes.

Today, I was at the high school to sit in on a few band classes with jazz musician Dominic Spera. He’s a good friend of the local band teacher and comes in once a year to work with the students and perform at their annual Dinner Jazz (which I will be heading to in 15 minutes). As a musician, he’s worked with a whole list of big jazz people, only a few of which I recognize (like I said… not a jazz person). Personally, he’s a very inspiring man and extremely passionate about his music. A great interview.

As a pawn in Health Authority’s PR department of hell, I was sent into the hospital to interview a nurse… about nothing in particular. It was rather bizarre. My assignment was vague at best, but we managed to talk for 45 minutes on various aspects of nursing. And I suppose when HA throws you a bone, you take it. Hm. There’s that smell again.

Well, I’m off once more. It’s mother’s day weekend, but I still have a full Saturday to deal with before I get to have fun with my mom.

Next week: High school dinner theatre, grads, grads, grads and more grads and (another) junior high drug presentation. I swear. I’ve learned more about drugs in the last month than I did throughout my entire high school career when it was actually a possibility that I be exposed to them.

Any questions on meth addiction? I’m your girl.