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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Just my luck.

Just my luck.

Last week I thought to myself, “It would really be unfortunate if something were to happen to my car just before I needed to drive to Alberta,” and on Thursday, just that happened.

I was parked on the curb and my boyfriend and I had just got back into the car and were about to back away. We saw the van in front of us turn on his reverse lights and thought that was sort of strange, as he had tons of room to just drive off forward. And before I could even put the key in my car or hit the horn, his van was planted on the top of my hood.

Ever think to check your blind spots?

The first thing I thought of was the advice from my parents if I were to ever get in an accident, “Never say it was your fault,” but of course in this case, it definitely was not my fault, because if you need to fight it you will have no case after admitting you were wrong.

I leap out of my car, obviously very unimpressed and not in the mood for making friends, and asked for his information.

“I don’t have to give it to you,” he said. “We don’t have to go through insurance.”

Obviously, I was not in the mood to argue.

He started to apologize. He said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you,” to which I replied, Panicking, he said, “I was talking to my mom.” I just let him continue to admit he was in the wrong.

I didn’t know what to do. I had never been in an accident and this guy obviously did not want to go through insurance. All I wanted was a hood that wasn’t crunched up like a scared cat’s back.

I called my mom, and of course my cell phone died partway through the call. I got the guy’s information and he agreed to fix my car in the morning, before I headed East to mom and dads.

When I called him in the morning, his attitude had definitely changed. He thought it proper to lecture me on the accident; the accident that was his fault. Once again, I wasn’t in the mood for communication, because I knew if I started to try to explain how him backing into me wasn’t my fault, I would just get upset and perhaps lose my temper. So I just sat there, for 10 whole minutes, letting him explain to me in a hundred different ways how I was wrong and he was right. Sitting in silence, just looking directly into his eyes, which was obviously making him uneasy.

To make matters worse, he tried hitting on me. And before I drove away, he gave me his number. Sorry, but hitting someone’s car, isn’t exactly the best pickup line.

All in all, I have a new hood and an interesting story to tell. The hood’s not as pretty and shiny as my old one, though. Now my beautiful car is just a little less beautiful.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Alberta Bound"

Okay, I just have to share this story, it is SO ironic!

About a week before I applied to become a reporter in La Crete, I applied to a bunch of radio contests in the area. One of which, was with Cool 100.1. We needed to write down our favourite song, and whichever song was picked won a free oil change. Those of you that know me best already know the song I would have written down…

On Tuesday, just after my interview with Tom downtown Toronto, I checked my email. I won. My song: Alberta Bound by Paul Brandt (my favourite song by my favourite artist from my favourite province: Alberta!)

My heart was racing, not because I won and not because I’m overly superstitious, but I knew it couldn’t be just by chance that I won with a song Alberta Bound on the same day I had been interviewed for a job in Alberta. I knew before I got the email from Tom that I was going to Alberta – Paul Brandt kindly let me know through his sexy, deep voice on a noontime Belleville radio station contest.

When I got the email from Tom it was no surprise that I was being offered the job. As my mom said, “Well of course, who wouldn’t hire you? You’re amazing.” And in the words of Paul Brandt, I was “Alberta Bound.” The next afternoon, my song was played on the radio.

The free oil change is somewhat ironic in itself, because I’ll be driving to Alberta. Everything just came together!

Another note about this song, when I saw him perform the song in Brantford, Ontario, in 2007, he sang the first line of Alberta Bound: “The sign said 40 miles to Canada,” and then pointed to myself, my room mate Kelsey Riley, and her friend Jackie, stopping singing and we sang to him and the audience “My truck tore across Montana, Ian Tyson sang a lonely lullaby.” Since Paul Brandt is basically a country music God, in my eyes, this was basically the best moment of my life.

I guess Alberta Bound is just my lucky song!

Watch out, Paul Brandt, I’m Alberta Bound and coming to your province! If my car happens to break down in front of your door, with the song Alberta Bound blaring in my speakers, it will be no coincidence and certainly not a planned breakdown. I swear.

Lyrics to Alberta Bound:

Sign said 40 miles to Canada
My truck tore across Montana
Ian Tyson sang a lonesome lullaby

And so I cranked up the radio
Cause there's just a little more to go
For I'd cross the border at that Sweet Grass sign

I'm Alberta Bound
This piece of heaven that I've found
Rocky Mountains and black fertile ground
Everything I need beneath that big blue sky
Doesn't matter where I go
This place will always be my home
Yeah I've been Alberta Bound for all my life
And I'll be Alberta Bound until I die

It's a pride that's been passed down to me
Deep as coal mines, wide as farmer's fields
Yeah, I've got independence in my veins

Maybe it's my down-home redneck roots
Or these dusty 'ol Alberta boots But like a
Chinook wind keeps coming back again


Fast Forward

People are starting to find out around the office that I’m leaving next week. Of course my boss knew, and some others, but word is beginning to spread like wildfire! They all think I’m crazy. Maybe I am!

I hate that I still don’t know exactly what day I’m going to be leaving, and who will be coming with me. If Chris comes, we will either be leaving on the 1st or the 4th, depending on his test. If mom comes, we will be leaving on the 2nd or 3rd. In any case, I’m sure I won’t have a problem making it to La Crete by the 11th, but I just wish I had a more solid plan at this point!

I am definitely going to have to start packing soon and considering what REALLY needs to go and what I can leave behind.

Today at breakfast, Aunt Kathleen and Uncle Tommy said they were sad to see me leaving. It has sure been nice staying with them while working at E1, and getting to know them and allowing them to get to know me. They said they appreciated it, and will most certainly stop in on their way to Whitehorse, if they still decide to drive out.

Things are really starting to get tight around here. Definitely running out of time to spend with people before I leave and still so much to do. I believe we’ll have a BBQ next weekend at mom and dads for people to stop in and say hello and good-bye before I leave. I can’t believe I’m leaving so soon!
Everything is so exciting and fast-paced and unknown. I love it!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Closing One Door, Opening Two.

My boss has been on vacation so yesterday was the first day I got to talk to him in person about leaving E1 for Alberta. Although others around the office knew I was leaving, I wanted to tell him in person. He didn’t take it very well, at first. I felt he was taking it personally, and me, being the emotional, people-pleaser that I am, felt guilty. However, after a few hours he came around and found joy and excitement in my new adventure and wished me luck. Next Thursday will be my last day of work at E1, and, in Ontario!

My new Alberta Rogers cell phone should be arriving at the end of the week. Even though I have bought and prepared so many things, it seems, (new tires, new computer, new cell phone, maps, etc.) I still feel like there is SO much to do and I have no idea how I will get it all done! I have to get an oil change and have my car looked over, get my Alberta plates, visit with friends and family, make sure to get to the cottage at LEAST once before I leave, get everything changed over to my Alberta address, confirm my living arrangements so I HAVE an Alberta address, and don’t even get me started on packing! How am I going to fit my LIFE into my tiny little car? Just thinking of it gives me a headache.

It’s hard to believe this is all really happening!

Monday, June 14, 2010

"And a parking spot with a plug for your car"

Tom emailed me last Friday with some apartments I could rent in La Crete, which Lisa had forwarded to him. I read the three possibilities and the first one sounded great. I picked up the phone to call.

He sounded like a really nice man, and the apartment sounds amazing. I really hope I get it. He said there are some others interested, but we should be in touch this week, so I'm crossing my fingers.

We discussed what the apartment came with. It is a fully furnished two bedroom apartment with everything included. Sounds perfect! Then he says, "And it comes with a parking spot with a plug for your car." I hesitated. I don't have an electric car? "A plug in?" I ask. He laughs, "Yes, for your car. It can get to be -40 our here." The phone is quiet for a second as I stand puzzled, "So?" And he replies, "You have to plug in your car so it doesn't freeze." I laughed right out loud, and he laughed, though I believe he was laughing at me, not with me. "I didn't even know people did that, I don't even know where the plug in is on my car!" I said, finally. "Don't worry," he said, in a protective tone. "We'll take care of you."

What the heck have I got myself into?!?

Getting Ready for Alberta

I spent the greater part of my weekend readying myself, and my car, for Alberta.

Saturday I ordered my new Rogers phone online, which I am hoping will be shipped before I leave. Then I spent the afternoon on Map Quest, guesstimating travel times, stops/rests and sightseeing. Here is my tentative plan so far:

July 1st: Leave mom and dads and drive to Heather and Dana’s in Parry Sound for the night.
July 2nd: Early start, and 14 hour drive through Northern Ontario to Thunder Bay to stay at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park with Kiersten and Kerry.
July 3rd: Stop in to visit Uncle Ronnie and Aunt Qwen, and then drive to Brandon (12 hours) or Moose Jaw (15 hours), depending on traffic and fatigue.
July 4th: Drive to Calgary (12 or 14 hours, depending on where we stay the night before)
July 5th: Sleep in and spend the morning in Calgary. Visit the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. Have lunch and head to Banff. Stay in Banff for the night and enjoy some mountain time.
July 6th: Sleep in and spend the morning and afternoon in Banff. Leave Banff for Edmonton. It’s about a 5-6 hour drive, depending on which way we go.
July 7th: Drop Chris off at the airport in Edmonton. Depending on his flight time, I will either head to La Crete after I drop him off, or stay another night and then head to La Crete bright and early in the morning.

Yesterday I decided I would start to cross off some of the things on my “Things to Buy” list on the white board in Mom’s kitchen. I spent way too much money. I went to Canadian Tire and bought a pair of really good, all season tires and then drove over to Future Shop and bought a laptop. And if that wasn’t enough, I went to Chapters to buy more maps of Canada and then out for dinner with some girlfriends. Needless to say, my pockets are empty now!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Maps, Memories and Mountains

Last night when I got to Aunt Kathleen and Uncle Tommy's, Uncle Tommy greeted me with a warm hello as he sat at the kitchen table, covered with maps. I had told Aunt Kathleen the news that morning, but hadn't had the chance to talk to Uncle Tommy yet.

When I approached him in the kitchen, he looked up at me, smiled and said, "Do you know where you're going?" with a surprised and anxious expression. I hesitated, "Yes..?" He pointed at the Alberta map laid out in front of him and said, "Well here's Edmonton..." Unfolded the map once, twice, thrice, and four times, "And way up here, that's where you're going!" All three of us laughed.

He said "Well do you have an Alberta map yet?" I hadn't even thought about maps yet! "No," I said, "I guess I'll need to get a few maps for my road trip out there." He handed me a second Alberta map he already had placed in my spot at the table. "Here," he said, with a smile. "We have two, so you take one."

We spent the greater part of dinner and the evening tracing out possible routes to get me to La Crete, as well as places to stop along the way. They've driven though there so many times, so Uncle Tommy had so many different suggestions and ways to go. They both chitter-chattered about their time out West, and road trips they've taken out there and up to Whitehorse.

They suggested I stay North, to avoid Edmonton traffic. However, I think I'll stay South, visit Calgary (perhaps even the Stampede if it's happening yet) and the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. Then, travel through the Rockies for a bit, and then head North to La Crete. Calgary and the Rockies are a must! They're on my bucket list (as well as the Stampede!).

I called Dylan last night to let him know of a farming opportunity in the area of La Crete. Perhaps he will come up there with me for the summer and have the chance to drive acorss Canada with me!

In either case, guess I'm going to need a map of Canada!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Finding Peace

Yesterday when I got the news from Tom that I had got the reporting job in La Crete, I went through an array of emotions. Fear, excitement, sadness, fatigue, and … peace.

My first reaction was Fear.

I thought of everything I would be missing by going to Alberta. Mom, Dad, my brothers. I’d be missing moving to the UK with my boyfriend, Chris. I’d be missing Dad’s and Dylan’s birthdays in the fall. I’d miss all the family events that come with summer: cottaging with Uncle Matt, Aunt Debbie and Aunt Barbie, Havelock Jamboree with Diane and Danica, my road trip to Nashville with Kelsey. Most importantly, I’d be missing the time I spend with my friends and family bored on a Monday night, or Thursday afternoon. Having a hot tub with mom, gineritas in hand, and playing cards with dad when he gets home from his afternoon shift, until the wee hours of the morning. Not to mention, would they like me in La Crete?

My second reaction was Excitement.

I thought of all the wonderful people I met at Cedarbough when I went to rangers in Sioux Lookout, and the same when I went back two years later to Quetico. I thought of the amazing, eye-opening experiences I participated in while at Stowel Lake Farm, on Salt Spring Island, BC. And I knew I would find this happiness and joy in La Crete. I would be exposed to the Mennonite faith and a new way of being, another extraordinary part of our lovely country and I would get priceless hands on experience in my field and passion: journalism. After this experience, I would be a reporter, through and through. No more mail rooms, no more convenience stores, just writing. Interview, write, edit, report.

My third reaction was Sadness.

At this point, I had told a few of my closest friends and family, my parents, and my boyfriend. They were congratulating me telling me how proud they were of me – that’s the kicker: one “I’m proud of you” and on comes the waterworks. It really showed me who was most important to me and, whom I was important to. And it really made me realize how much I’m going to miss seeing these people all the time. I cried with mom o msn for a while, as I was not at home and near her, and then with my boyfriend later that night. I understand it’s okay to be sad, and healthy to feel this anxiety. But this is something I have to do. And if I didn’t feel sad then it would be because deep inside I knew I would back out. Sadness makes this real.

My fourth reaction was Fatigue.

After such an emotional rollercoaster, my cheeks were left salty from tears and my eyes swollen and red, but my head was still spinning inside me. I was exhausted from trying to prove to everybody that I was making the right decision. (Luckily, the only once that needed convincing were the ones that don’t know me very well and the ones that are closest and love me most did not need any convincing. Instead, they simply took my hand – physically and emotionally for those communicating via online -- and let me rest in silence.) I had be thinking and making lists in my head all day: things I will need to buy before I leave, people to see, things to do in preparing my car for the trip, where I could stay along the way, where will I live? How do I pack for Alberta – for a year or for a lifetime? So by the time I climbed in my car at 5:00pm to go to my boyfriend’s uncle’s birthday party in Etobicoke, Ontario, I just wanted to close my eyes and be me. No more lists, no more talk about moving, just breathe. It has only been 4 and a half hours since I’d got the news, but it felt like a week of sleepless days. I was growing up too fast and it was exhausting.

Finally I felt Peace.

I was at peace with my decision, my family, my friends, and my very supportive boyfriend, Chris. I knew the decision I was making was the right one, and I needed to believe in myself. I can do this, and I will be the best reporter that town has ever seen! What the future holds, I’m not sure. But what the present is giving me, is peace.

Prepare yourselves, citizens of La Crete. Come July when I arrive, you won’t know what hit you!

Description of La Crete, from Tom Mahily

Everyone has been asking me about La Crete, so I thought I'd post a little information from the email Tom Mahily, my future employer at La Crete, wrote for me. I've edited it a bit and left out some personal information, but you can kind of get the picture of where I'll be heading.


I am an independent newspaper owner/publisher, with four publications. The reporter/photographer position you have applied for is with a small, community weekly publication with just over 1000 circulation and roughly 20 pages pages per week, on average, in two sections.

The community in northwest Alberta you would be required to live in is a small, rural hamlet known as La Crete, with roughly 2500 population and a surrounding agricultural base of roughly 6000 in the immediate area. You would also be required to cover news and events in neighbouring smaller communities within a distance of 50 km, including other agricultural communities and the hamlet of Fort Vermilion with a predominantly Metis population.

La Crete is a predominantly populated by people of the Mennonite faith. It is a fairly busy community, relative to other towns it's size, with three schools, an arena, curling rink, 5 pin bowling alley, a 9 hole golf course, rodeo grounds, museum, motel, grocery stores, restaurants, and businesses, but does not have any franchise or big box stores or restaurants. It is the type of community where people do not lock their doors or vehicles, as crime is very low.

The community has an equal balance of retired folks and young adults. Life can be as slow or as fast as one chooses. It is a terrific community to raise children and a place to really feel like you belong. However, if city amenities and night-life is what you prefer, then La Crete is not for you. Even so, it is an ideal and quite forgiving community for a rookie journalist to cut his or her teeth and gain valuable experience without serious pressure.As a reporter in La Crete and region, you will cover all aspects of community life... politics, logging and forestry, farming, school and youth news, sports, and many other topics and events. You will be required to submit an average of 10 news items per week, with deadline day being Mondays.

The climate in our corner of the world is not much different than most of Alberta. The climate is fairly dry all year with low humidity. Summers, from May to September are absolutely fantastic, with long days and temps as high as 30 degrees Celsius. Average summer temps are 20 degrees. Snow arrives around the last week of October with spring thaw coming in mid March. Winter temps can be as low as -35 degrees Celsius for short periods of a couple of days, but the average is -15 degrees.

You will be working for a family owned and operated company, so you will be treated like family as well. Time off for a weekend away is not a problem, as we are flexible. Our attitude is if you work hard for us, we will work hard for you!Promotion to Editor is a possibility for the candidate with the correct attitude, work ethic, intelligence and leadership skills, however we would expect a minimum of two years working as a reporter. Every employee who has travelled here to work from elsewhere has always been impressed with the area and enjoyed the superb quality of life.