Sunday, May 31, 2009

The journalist and the Polaroid fiend


And just like that, I had a one-night stand with a stranger. He was a former employee at the coffee shop I like to patronize. We chatted, he invited me back to his place, we watched Brazil (1985), the next thing you know, I was on him like white on rice.

His pants came off, then my dress, and for a skinny kid, I couldn't believe how big his ...

The next morning, we smoked some pot and he looked so precious with that, "Look ma, I found a girl!" smile, but I had to tell him I didn't see this going anywhere. It's amazing how well the harsh light of day defogs the mind. I said I just landed my dream job and didn't know if I could give him the proper attention he deserved. He looked really bummed. Better to nip it at the bud, I sighed.

He insisted that we stay in touch. I agreed on the condition that the friendship stays platonic with no suggestion of an ulterior motive. (My assessment: Not likely.)

I'm kind of kicking myself because he is so thoughtful and romantic, but what bad timing. Except if I had to be completely honest, I simply didn't feel sparks, the kind vital to overriding rationality. Coupled with distance and a full-time schedule, it just wasn't the sort of relationship two people could fall into comfortably. Besides, I knew these issues had to be addressed once I realized even his massive cock couldn't compensate and quiet my concerns.

Here's the kicker:

I later learn through Facebook that he's friends with the boy I was fucking last October and the boy's roommate, both of whom are acquainted with me. What kind of a hick town is this that a girl can't pass around her pussy without the risk of discovery?

Note to self: Must stop throwing myself at sensitive young artists.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

First job: milestone complete

And just like that, I'm a TV news producer.

***

So I dumped the boy after two dates. I went over to his place. We popped in Dr. Strangelove (I won out after a game of rock, paper, scissors), drank some wine, talked over the movie, started kissing, he stops and says, "I don't think this is a good idea," we keep talking, he invites me back to his room, lights candles, sits away from me, more talking, and then:

"Look," I said, "I know what I want. If you don't know what you want, I'm not going to wait around."

"What's wrong with just hanging out?" he asked, sheepishly.

"There's nothing wrong with hanging out, but I have enough guy friends."

So I walked out. When a man says he's not "relationship material" and "can't imagine ever having a mortgage," and then invites you back to his room to "listen to music," he's not giving out mixed signals -- he's a douchebag. When a man tells you the last relationship he had was in senior year of high school that lasted a whole three months, it's unlikely you'll make it past that. And when a man freely dishes out compliments without acting concurrently and consistently, you've definitely got a nuclear dud on your hands. I mean, shit, I know I'm "special," I don't need him to reaffirm it!

Anyway, I should've known the night would end poorly when I stepped into the lobby of his apartment eight hours earlier and realized it was a student residence, one deeply lacking in parking spaces. (Who needs 'em when you got bikes, right?) I looked up at the fluorescent lights, took a deep breath, and said aloud, "What am I doing here? I'm too old for this shit!"

Glad I didn't need a fancy dinner and some action between my legs to figure the kid out. But if this is how it's going to be, I am dreading the rest of my 20s.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Job Hunt Update

Landed two job interviews. One opening is for a news editor position overseeing seven Toronto magazines, the other as a TV producer for a Chinese cable network. I feel blessed for these opportunities considering how difficult it is to break into journalism.

A short time ago, I crashed a party an acquaintance of an acquaintance was throwing in honour of -- who knows? -- spring showers and salsa dancing. I met a woman my age with a certificate in journalism, struggling to get her foot in the door. She pays the bills as a receptionist for a painfully "boring" marketing company and is too dejected to freelance.

That's the typical story around these parts. I know less than a handful of people with whom I graduated holding reporting jobs (I'm talking three if we're lucky, two covering local sports). My friends now aspire to graduate school, law school, business school, anything to make ends meet, putting aside their ambitions in this industry.

This woman also groused about the lack of understanding she received from those around her. I sympathized. I've met a lot of unhelpful people, doling out the same tired truism: "Just put yourself out there and write!"

But then again, journalism has never been for the faint of heart (I've been doing it since I was 17). It is one of the least stable professions while being quite accommodating to enterprising individuals. Self-starters. Fast thinkers. Rule breakers. It's essentially a hardcore business and glorified paper pushers need not apply.

My resume reads like a patchwork of print and broadcast jobs with no particular pattern linking them all. I can admit that each one was strategic. I avoided repeating placements because I could only work summers and I wanted to illustrate the breadth of my skills. I also tried to flex my leadership abilities in order to extend my job description. So unlike many of my peers, I knew I couldn't rely on my degree alone to gain access to a corner office. I didn't, in other words, squander my summers because I knew it would eventually pay off.

On the flip side, I know I'm a picky fucker, having never applied for positions necessary to "pay my dues." Needless to say, I've done a lot of bullshitting. I'm ambitious and tirelessly dedicated, but I do not have the disposition for menial tasks. An arrogant proclamation, not one I'm proud of, but there you go. I'm susceptible to depressive moods when I'm stuck in a routine, either voluntarily or involuntarily, so I've learned to embrace that less-than-Protestant side of myself and tone down the pressure to conform.

So despite what everyone internalizes about the relationship between success and hard work, this recession has taught me that following the rules -- attending the right schools, knowing the right people, putting in 16-hour days -- will not protect you from the ruthless gears of change. When it's time for you to go, you're out of there.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A.D.I.D.A.S.

Well, that was quick. 24 hours after blogging about my (very) recent life conversion, I get asked out on a date by a (very) cute boy.

I ordered my usual at the coffee shop I frequent, sat down, saw him, put my book down, asked him what he was typing on his computer, and 4 hours later:

"I'd like to see you again."

I'm curious to see where this leads. He later confessed that he had been staring at a blank screen, pretending to look focused, and hoping I'd notice him.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Happiness is a white kid wearing a rainbow

The last few months have been a series of disappointments I don't especially want to hash out on this blog. In short, I've been unlucky in love, unlucky at finding work, culminating in a rejection letter from the University of Toronto for the Public Policy & Governance graduate program.

And yet, by all accounts, I've been remarkably resilient and optimistic under the circumstances.

I had, what you would call, an epiphany. I've decided to drop out of the rat race. What a cliché, I know. Except I'm turning 23 (therefore, barely out of the gates) and I can already feel the double-noosed temptations of prestige and power tightening around my neck.

I think I've always been secretly envious of people whose personal introductions included a professional title.

"Hi, I'm Joe, Executive VP of Big Pharma."

"Denise, Bullshit Detector."

It all seemed so fantastical, so exclusive, so adult.

When relatives bragged about their children, their education was invariably linked to a like-sounding job. What else would you do with an accounting degree besides becoming an accountant? Likewise, what else would I be doing apart from journalism?

So here I was, teaching piano part-time, reading about millionaire financiers becoming janitors and delighting in schadenfreude, when I noticed the parallels. I was also on track to basing of my entire existence on my professional job title. To borrow Simone de Beauvoir, I was defined in relation to a career whether I was frustrated, rebellious, or even indifferent to it.

Until then, a potential activity was weighed against its usefulness as a resume padder. A friend of mine, currently enrolled in medical school, described it best. He said he joined an organization that promoted cycling for the blind and, being a keen marathon rider himself, was matched accordingly. While he did eventually have fun, he confessed that he was initially motivated by how impressive it might look if he ever decided to pursue ophthalmology!

His candor was refreshing.

While I don't feel professional anxiety, especially the kind fresh graduates are encountering, is anything new, I do believe there is a greater stigma surrounding those who could care less about having respectable ambitions (for my generation, at least). Sure, it might have to do with the entitled attitude a lot of us possess, but behind the bravado is insecurity. Insecurity I can't afford to carry with me any longer.

So in one sense, these last few months have been awfully unproductive. On the other hand, I asked my dad to teach me how to change motor oil, I taught myself Photoshop and printed out some kickass calling cards (I've already received design requests), a local coffee shop offered me a baking position, and I'm starting a book club.

"You've joined the B-team," said another friend, chuckling. Maybe I have. I just don't want to live my life like some fatalistic metaphor, determined by a series of self-serving obstacle courses, always shooting forward on a predictably sterile path.

I don't want to compete with men on dates and mirror their goals, their aggression, and their nonchalance or pursue those whom I use to compensate for the values I was too ashamed to profess. I want to put my life out there, genuinely and with compassion, and discover complementary individuals willing to part from that game as well.

My best friend, a student at Harvard Law, skyped me and said: "Oh my God, you've become a total hippie!" So much insight and wisdom in so few words.