August 18, 2011

Alright. I haven’t written in quite a while now, even though I really, reeeeeeeally wanted to. I knew that if I did write something, I was sure to spill the beans I was busy buying at the market – some very, very magical beans.

Well, I’ve since planted those beans and am preparing to climb my new beanstalk out of here and onward to my new life.

It still holds true that Folk Fest was mind-blowing, and in need of a review, but I’ll save that for another day soon, and skip instead to the tale of California.

I felt incredibly empowered by my solo travel down to Los Angeles last month, from the flights I took all by my lonesome and lived to tell about, to all of the busing about that I did, and all the freedom I felt. I got to decide if and when I went to the beach (3 times – Manhattan twice, and the Santa Monica Pier), if I just wanted to walk around and explore, and I suppose I should have guessed this wouldn’t have registered as an if – I even took in a couple of libraries. I heavily considered moving to Santa Monica asap solely based on their mind-bending library – it had a whole wall that opened up into an outdoor courtyard! And a whole host of study rooms that I haven’t stopped thinking about since.

With all the car-free travel I was doing (and I think the total I spent on transportation for the 6 days I was down there came in at around $20!), I realized how much I miss public transport, and living in a city.

Still, I was rather shocked when I came home and was really excited to be on the Skytrain (I had parked on 20th, a block in from Cambie to save paying crazy parking fees at the Airport), and felt a mixing of emotions once I stepped out of the station in Vancouver. I was decidedly unimpressed with how cold it was, and glad I had had the good sense to change out of my shorts and flip flops and into jeans and runners at the airport, as well as thrilled to be in a city I really know my way around, but also really bummed to not be in California anymore.

In fact, I was downright grumpy about it, though I suppose that could be blamed on the incredible lack of sleep I was running on because I stayed up until 8:20 in the morning on my last night, which included getting kicked out of the hotel pool at 4 in the morning, spilled wine (but no whine or tears!), vegan fudgesicle overload, a 3D King Kong billboard adventure, getting kicked off the roof (I’m just realizing now how hilarious that is, since we’d already been kicked out of the pool…but we were just trying to watch the sunrise amid the incessant sound of airplanes taking off at 7am), and a mysterious man who kept just walking through or turning up like an extra really being put to work in a movie.

More shocking, though, was how I felt on my drive home from Vancouver to Squamish after a stop-off at the Naam. It hit me that I didn’t want to go home to Squamish. It wasn’t yet clear to me that I wanted to be in Vancouver – that would take a couple more days – but it was clear that I no longer wanted to be in Squamish.

I should probably back up a little here and talk about the Animal Rights National Conference itself. While some of the others in my group seemed to always be telling me about how sad a session they had gone to had made them, I had the exact opposite experience. For the most part, I was just inspired by the discussion panels and talks that I went to. But then, maybe that’s because I was choosing carefully to find what looked like it would inspire me.

Highlights for me were Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, especially her contribution to the panel about how to avoid activist burn-out, Co-Founder of PETA Alex Pacheco, Co-Founder of Food Not Bombs Keith McHenry (who, funnily enough, I actually had an interview lined up with for our first week back after the conference, but didn’t know that he was a Co-Founder, or that he would be at the conference), and a woman who was from Amnesty International who I saw talk 2 or 3 times, and who made a lot of really great points and comparisons between animal rights and human rights, though it was disappointing to hear that while she is an animal rights activist, Amnesty International doesn’t have a policy or standing on animal rights issues.

I think the person I would have to say had the most impact on me, though I didn’t particularly feel it at the time, was Will Potter, who is a journalist and author. When I saw him at ‘Lunch with the Movement Authors,’ I just felt sort of in awe and like, ‘Whoa. This guy is a journalist. I wish that was my life.’

So many stories I heard over the course of the conference left me feeling like what I was doing in my life, and especially with my job, simply wasn’t fulfilling enough in my advocating for animals. Work is so much a part of most people’s lives, it’s vital to your own sanity and sense of self that you do something you care about and feel passionately about. At least for me this is certainly the case. I have a lot of passion for things like music, social issues, the environment, and bettering yourself through means other than chasing material goals that I want to express and share with the world, but don’t feel I have a ‘platform,’ if you will, to do so from.

I was so struck simply by Will Potter’s presence how much more impact I could have for animals if I were to come at the issues from a different angle, a different place in the world. I don’t want to be hosting a vegan show that has appeal mostly to vegans, vegetarians, or very open-minded and veg-curious people. I want to reach out to the closed-minded people. I want to bear witness in a way that’s more just living by example, showing what it’s like to be a vegan and how it fits seamlessly into your life once you hit a certain point. I especially want to share with the world that there is so much more that I and all other vegans and animal rights activists are capable of taking interest in and being passionate about outside of those issues.

I continued to feel all of that once I was home, and after 2 days in bed feeling extremely depressed, I crawled out and looked into my crystal ball of an email inbox and found a message from last November from Anne Roberts, the Department Chair of the Langara School of Journalism that I hadn’t responded to at the time because I was too consumed with my Grandmother’s impending passing, and then the subsequent grief once she was gone.

I decided I might as well ask, and emailed her to see if she might be available to try again for a meeting (as I had tried last fall, but she had an emergency to tend to and forgot about our meeting), and she said that I could call her to discuss any questions I had. From there it was a bit of a whirlwind. I don’t know what made her even let me try, since the application deadline was sometime in April and there were already people on the waitlist for the program (which only accepts 24 students a year), but I’m truly grateful for her decision to take a chance and let me have mine.

I set up an appointment a couple of days later to write the entrance exam, submitted my high school transcripts and paid my application fee, then sent in my resume, writing samples and letter of intent. Last Thursday morning I woke up to an email with the subject line ‘Surprise,’ and proceeded to cry tears of joy. Twice.

I have been accepted into the two year Journalism Diploma Program, and will start classes on September 6th. I’d say I’m only some 7 or 8 years late, but I know that’s not the case. I can see it by the way everything has been coming together that this is exactly how it should happen, and that it was always going to happen. I know that, and have always known that. I’m just so over the moon that it’s finally here, and thrilled to bits to really pursue what I’m best suited to.

I’ve given my notice at work – August 31st will be my last day – and today I let my Co-Host at Animal Voices know that I think it’s also time for me to part ways with the show. That could be a whole other entry on it’s own, but I just don’t feel like I’m growing anymore within my role. Though I do feel like I would like to explore other avenues in the near future, maybe something like a podcast so that I can create whatever kind of show I want, including social justice issues and especially music, without having to feel regulated by any prescribed format or necessary standards.

I’ve also been checking Craigslist daily for suitable places to live, and a suitable person to live with. I’ve made a poster announcing my intention to find a vegan roommate to seek a new place to cohabitate together, and intend to put it up at veg restaurants and places around Vancouver.

So, am I full of beans? You bet I am!



January 17, 2011

So I just said to someone a few minutes ago (yes at 3:30 in the morning…I’m working the night shift in a hotel, and there happens to still be someone in the brewery), that I’ve never had a Monday-Friday job in my life, but after he went back to his work, I realized that’s not entirely true. When I was in Katimavik my job schedule was always Monday to Friday, but the problem there was that we never really had a day off, because we always had meetings to attend, events to go to, outings to go on, workshops to participate in, or extra volunteer projects we took on to fill up all of what looked at first or to an outsider like “free time.”

And it was in that thought that I recalled my previous conclusion that Katimavik taught me how to fill every day to the max, which I am thankful for, because it keeps me from ever doubting that I can accomplish everything that I set out to do. I do, admittedly, have to let some things slide at times (like I didn’t manage to buy spinach last night before work so I could have it in a smoothie when I wake up this afternoon, or I don’t always make it to a movie or the library when I’ve told myself I will go), but I definitely have days where I plow through life and do twice as much as what at first glance seems possible.

Lately when I think about what my weeks currently consist of (work an hour away Tuesday through Thursday, choir practice on Tuesday nights, hosting a radio show on Friday afternoons – which means furiously working on news or interviews on Thursday nights to prepare, working night shifts on Saturdays and Sundays, and physio on Monday afternoons), I sometimes wonder how it’s even possible that I accomplish it once, let alone that this is week three with the choir and week 6 or 7 of all the rest of it.

I’m kind of tired just thinking about it. At least I know the end is near…in a way. I’ll have weekends off after my last shift at the hotel next Sunday. Though I do have plans to immediately use my first Saturday night off to go see Grace Potter and the Nocturnals play in Vancouver. And I plan to start my long-awaited vegan baking business between now and the summer farmers’ market explosion, as well as learn to play guitar, and then take writing courses at SFU and songwriting courses at Tom Lee Music, as well as get a demo recorded by the end of the year so I’m prepared for Canadian Music Week next year (since I decided recently that this March is a little too soon, as I’d really rather go having something to bring to the table). But then, I don’t think I’d want it any other way – this is just who I am now.

(Originally posted on blog Bird-On-A-Wire on January 17th, 2011 – transferred here on May 26th, 2011)