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Saturday, October 30, 2004

don't mess with this young woman

Gillian Young, 18, had a hard news story. On Oct.29 she sent this story off on a whim to the Toronto Star. And when the editor passed on her pitch to another reporter, asking him to write the story, she smelt something sleazy in the air.

The other reporter called Young after she sent her story in. He got quotes from her, asked for her contact, and said it wasn't likely her story would get in. That they have a select group of reporters to write hard news stories. This was understandable, but something just didn't seem right.

Luckily Young had someone on the inside. Her reporting teacher Cathy, writes for The Star. She called her up and explained the situation. Her teacher Cathy replied that no, this should not happen. That she was not encouraging students to get published if people were just going to brush them off and steal their news story.

Cathy is a hard headed woman. She will drive you into the ground if she has to. She will make you feel great if she wants to. Young knew she had the right person on her side.

Cathy spoke to the editor. The editor explained you can't just send in hard news stories like that, that his reporter was going to do all his own research. That he had sent him out on the story. "But you wouldn't have been able to send him out without this young girl's pitch" she said.

Now Young is receiving a check for $250 as well as a mention for being a source. The reporter doing the story is keeping her updated, and benefiting from her as a contact. The young woman celebrated by going to a halloween night at a local pub. When she went to work the next day, her boots will still warm from the night before. Very little sleep, and very little recovery time was in order for this little trooper.

Her plans for tonight?

"I have a hot date with myself," she says, "me, some DVDs, and a big bag of halloween candy."

She gives me a flashy grin, and I think, man, that's one hot reporter.

DSCN0218, originally uploaded by gill.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

get lost in me

No matter how gut wrenchingly sad I may feel, I think it has to be felt. Raw emotion is powerful. It moves you to write, to spill your heart. It feels good to feel. To lose the numbness of day to day existence and feel. Sometimes I want to grab and shake people and make them feel. To break social boundaries and scream.

I want to write so that you feel what I feel. Get lost in my eyes. See everything in the same haze. The people that stand out. Everyone deserves to be lost in. But for now, get lost in me. Fall in love with me.

Feel the frustration of everything that's never good enough, and then a world that is so overwhelmingly wonderful it hurts.

I'm lost in words and lost in myself right now; this stream of consciousness is all I know.

I read through my old poems. There's always this pacing around in my thoughts. This resentment, this loss. This sense of living in a perfect world that's right in all the wrong ways.

My music sings "is it okay if i call you mine, just for a time?", a young man singing alongside his guitar. The purity of his voice make me tense up. My eyes glaze over. Memories of too many loves gone wrong. Too many words unsaid.

My fingers are long and thin, and they move, and they write these words, but they have no direction. They're only getting lost in me.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

midnight fire alarms burn your self esteem

The first fire alarm was at 8. We ran down 14 flights of stares and stood in the cold. You have to give it to Chris, another 14th floor resident, who salvaged his guitar, just in case. He played and helped pass the time.

The second time I was lying in bed falling asleep. Shorts and a tee-shirt. No make-up. Large pimple on my chin.

I grabbed my camouflage hat in an attempt to camouflage myself. Although irritable the guitar helped. I danced around and kept warm. Danced big and awkwardly as if invisible: there is no dancing more enjoyable then this kind.

Luckily someone let us into the journalism building. It was getting cold, and I was growing more and more tired. The worst shock was looking in the bathroom mirror. My attempts to hide my face, hat tucked down, hood over my head, only made me look strange. I didn't look like myself. Hat off my clean face didn't look as bad. As much as I didn't care, I didn't really like what I saw. An hour and a half later we were allowed back up. By then I was cursing and cold, happy to go back to bed.

Today I felt better. Hard news hit me softly. To follow up our forum on youth homelessness we had a young couple come in from Toronto Youth Cabinet (TYC). They told their stories, both having been homeless in the past. From abuse, to stripping, from cigarettes to cocaine. The young man smoked crack for his first time as a teenager: with the help of his dad. The girl started dancing in a New York city strip club for extra money. They were honest. They didn't blame society and were aware of their mistakes.

They talked about the ease of being homeless. How you can get up to six or seven meals a day: "Fuck, I was getting fat". How it's possible to make more money panhandling than in a real job.

I also had to re-write my last reporting article, along with most of the class. I was the last one there. Scrumming with words. Trying to sound like a newspaper. Like someone who might actually read the newspaper.

But I liked it. I liked my teacher egging me on. She liked that I couldn't stop asking questions to one of the speakers. Even though my paper, a sea of red marker x's, made me want to bash my head in. Even though I was getting dizzy by the computer screens. We talked about getting into stories. Calling people. Getting in on the inside. The passion and curiosity needed for a lot of this is invigorating.

A midnight fire alarm may burn my self extreme but screw it.

A reflection can't tell you anything.

DSCN0070, originally uploaded by gill.

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Monday, October 25, 2004

c'est trop beau

After a week of feeling like I had cotton bolls in my brain, weights tied to my feet, and a haze in front of my eyes: I woke up.

I told myself to snap out of it. Not to sweat the small stuff. That all life is an experiment. I also had a one on one meeting with a counsellor for the 'minding your body' sessions, where we concluded that I was a little too confident for it. I am too comfortable in my skin now. At one point it would have been good...but I've come a long way since then. So with all of this in mind, I woke up.

I woke up to realizing there are so many people I really like here. I go into work and we joke and laugh, and I'm congratulated for my sales. They tell me I am mature for my age, even when I dance around the store and sing too loudly. The appreciation is mutual. My boss loves to tell stories; I enjoy listening. The other woman that works there reminds me of a New Yorker; she is Macedonian. She talks quickly and confidently. Tells you what she thinks. She'll snoop into your bag and tell you about it, and somehow you don't mind. She is respectful, just not in the traditional sense. She doesn't like people right off the bat, but I got lucky. We are all Libras and she says I simply balance it all out, that the mood changes when I come in on the weekends.

There's also my friends. Saturday night we sat, mostly sober, talking until early morning. We enjoy each others company. We laugh until it hurts. We talk about the effects of what we do. The things we want to do. Sunday night I made dinner for myself and a friend and remembered the joy of cooking. So much flavor was a wonderful shock to my system.

So there it is: one second your low, the next 'c'est trop beau'.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2004

colour my world beautiful

Life is too short to be bored. But what do you do when the most inspiring part of your day is the morning light? An orange glow that paints the building across the street? This orange glow is my light. Minutes later the construction starts. This is around 7 or 8 in the morning. Some may need an alarm clock; not me. I have the pleasure of heavy knocking and drilling. My groggy cursing doesn't seem to help.

The weather is damp and cold, sinking through my mind and penetrating my heart. I am aching. I called home admitting I was homesick. This was a big move: I hate showing weakness..and I hate phone bills. Even though it was worth it.

I'm afraid of the weather here. Soon it will snow. This snow will continue until April. It could be -45 degrees with wind chill. I still need a winter jacket.

But as Torontonians are used to the big chill, they have come prepared. I have discovered I can make it to all of my classes indoors, only going outside to get to the building 5 seconds away from residence. This is due to overpasses that connect the buildings. I had fun getting lost and trying to find them all. I'm also told that you can get almost anywhere in the city walking underground. I have yet to try this out.

What do you do when the grey in the sky seems to colour your world? I am eating three sturdy meals a day, but even the food doesn't taste that good. It's not that it's lacking in flavor, it's just the realization that it can't fill the void. No matter how much sugar is packed into the cafeteria cookies, they aren't making my life any sweeter.

So I've got to colour my world beautiful. Whatever it takes I need to throw myself out there and find what makes my heart beat. Feeling sorry for myself only digs me deeper. Sometimes the little girl in me wishes it was simpler. Just follow the yellow brick road to a world of colour.

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Sunday, October 17, 2004

18 years baby!

I am so happy. I have been shown so much love already. It's one of those rare days you're actually ecstatic that you were born. I'm so glad I was given a chance to be somebody. No matter how small and without impact, I am someone. I wrote a poem just to feel the words in me again. I've had poet's block for some time now. Here are 18 couplets to celebrate my 18th birthday:

If I can make it 18 years on this earth
I may just live forever

Sometimes I’m in love with it all
The man in the grocery store; an unmade bed

I look into the mirror
A woman looks back at me

Eyes green as Ireland
A curve to the hips

My hands move
Always moving

Not nervous but restless
They want to touch everything

To create, to write
To feel their way through

I’m dropping the things
I know don’t matter

Picking up
From wherever I lost myself

Letting go of empty dreams
Chasing my disillusionments

Now I’m chasing myself
Up stairs, down roads; university hallways

It’s taken 18 years
To feel good in my skin

Listen to my cravings
Give in to smaller sins

Softness to my stomach
Once was my weakness

Now I see that I’m a woman;
My curves are the weakness of men

The more I’m at ease in this body
The easier it moves

Give it a beat
And it’ll find it’s groove

18 years and walking pretty
Loving it all, in this big old city.

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Friday, October 15, 2004

Hard News

Break your neck
Make it gory
I’ll make it news
I’ll write a story.
Pain is pleasure,
Fame is fortune,
Suicide is sexy.

Make it slutty,
Make it hurt,
Get scary skinny
Forget dessert.

The news shows me pictures
And I know no reaction:
Numb to destruction
Stars and liposuction.

Crash your car on the 401
I’ll make it a story
We'll all have fun.
Throw in your kid
Now the story’s got punch
Drive even faster
Because he forgot his lunch.
Tears will fall
And they'll all ask why;
My editor will call,
My paycheck high.

At the end of the day, I’ll have forgotten how to cry.
But they'll say "that girls got a story"
And I'll get my hard news high.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2004

who am i? who are you? and who is he?

I don't think I'm the only one with the identity crisis. I gave my blog a makeover to suit this entry. I think a large majority of us are struggling with ourselves. Especially us students out here: away from home, in a new environment, and in limbo between being a teenager and being an adult. Some people want to be everything they weren't in high school. Some don't get how being cool in high school means nothing here. Some just want a new look to suit their change in lifestyle. And some just want to fit in in Toronto.

I find myself happiest when I know I'm being me. This can be as simple as staying home when invited out. Talking for hours with an obscure stranger. Moving my hips to a deep beat. Listening to music because I like it, no matter how loud, or how embarrassing my choice may be. Laughing at myself. Crying. Laughing uncomfortably loud. Stepping outside of my comfort zone. Writing. Writing honestly.

I joined the gym. I sweat. I remembered my strength. I shared another strength by helping a friend with French homework. Let my tongue find the words they miss being able to touch. I cleaned, I vacuumed; I made my sanctuary as comfortable as it could be. Sewed the hole in my slipper. These actions are so simple, so small, they aren't exciting news (oh how disappointed my reporting teacher would be), but they are me. They are what I know and what keep me sane.

Now I sit in solitude, music serenading me, words out of my head, through my fingertips, and onto the screen. And I feel at ease with me.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

why gluttony is a sin

The dictionary will tell you that sin is when the self is estranged from God. I believe it's when the self is estranged from the self. When one loses oneself and thinks blindly. When inner morals are too far off to be heard because our actions are speaking too loudly.

Thanksgiving was beautiful. We went apple picking in the orchards. We went to a local farm with massive pumpkins of every shape. We talked, we laughed, and we remembered the value of family.

But being home for the holidays with this family means food. It means a lot of baking, cooking, large meals and second helpings. I like to think I can eat a lot and was really excited with this. But my stomach can't handle what it once could. My body isn't used to this much sugar and such large portions.

After dinner the first night I found my head over the toilet. There was no finger down my throat, but I did lose some of my dinner. I went to my room mate. "Morgan I think I might be sick, maybe we should sleep in separate beds," I said. She told me I'd probably eaten too much. "You're not yourself this weekend. You slept in. You've been eating a lot". And she was right. My body just couldn't take it. I out did myself again for Thanksgiving dinner and felt a little off once more. I went to bed with a headache. Woke up feeling groggy and tired. Moody and irritable. My first experience of a food hangover.

Now I sit and eat a few pieces of my grandmas Irish bread and feel gluttonous. I'm not even hungry.

This kind of behavior scares me because it isn't me. And I don't want it to bring out my ugly obsessive side. I'm going to try and reverse things by joining the gym. And then I might take an even bigger step. If I can find it in me I might go to a workshop called 'Minding Your Body', a series of sessions for students with eating disorders. I don't like seeking help in other people and this is hard. But it's time to take myself seriously. I deserve more.

When does happy indulgence become gluttony? Innocence become tainted? Control become obsession?

When will I find it in myself to let go and be happy? To find the balance and feel free without letting myself fall. To breathe and not choke on the air. To respect myself for more than a day or two. I know why gluttony is a sin; what I don't know is why I do this to myself.

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Friday, October 08, 2004

the sun also rises

The sun rises to another day at Ryerson. I am slowly building my life here. Still trying to make it bigger. I want my world to be as big as possible. For every possibility to be within my reach and to be ready to grab it.

But sometimes I'm tired. Sometimes I want to follow routine. Sometimes I'm afraid to explore the unknown. Sometimes I'm just human.

Today I went out walking, ready to explore, but found my body too tired. Instead I walked through stores and through the mainstream area of Queen Street West. I have such a love hate relationship with clothes and stores. I love beautiful things, fabrics, design. I like to feel good in my clothes. But at the same time I don't like feeling materialistic. I don't like the feeling of swiping my debit card when I'm unsure of my purchase. Therefore my wallet stayed in my purse and my eyes got everything they wanted.

For the first Friday night in a while I didn't over drink. It would be wrong to post my self-destructiveness once more. And so I drank within reason when some of us went out and frequented a couple of bars. It was good to be able to hold up my friend, who apparently speaks with a British accent after too many beers, and was getting a little wobbly near the end of the night.

I am feeling emotionally and intellectually numb lately and feel stupid even writing. I don't want my words to come out numb. I am happy though; happily numb. I just can't seem to focus. I sit through classes and sketch in my notebook. I have conversations but lose my thread half way through. I have trouble remembering events from earlier in the week.

Now my mind is wandering and I don't know where I'm taking you. I would tell you to follow but I think I'm lost.

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Sunday, October 03, 2004

ooh my concrete jungle

I've been afraid to write the past few days. I don't know what to say, where to be honest, where to sugar coat. My mood has altered as much as the weather: hot one day, icy cold the next.

Friday night I drank myself numb again. I had had an amazing day. A long walk to Value Village brought me alive, surrounded by fabrics and materials at my prices. And I drowned myself in vodka and shots. Telling you this I feel like the dreaded protagonist, the one we follow through the novel, sighing, wishing they would just stop the self abuse. End the vicious cycle. Every weekend I drink and post my regrets. Once again I emptied my stomach into the toilet. Woke up with unrecognizable eyes. Dragged my ass to work. Flashing that very ass, as it was a damned stormy day and I happened to be in a skirt.

Saturday night I made the decision to end the binge drinking. My body, mind, and soul don't deserve any more abuse. They will suffer enough of it in time anyways. There are still hurdles and relationships to conquer. It is Sunday and I'm getting my life in line.

Reality check: this tuition was anything but free. I got myself in motion and began studying for my philosophy test. Got into my English novel. I have one hell of a week ahead of me, tests and projects galore. And so I must apply myself. All the while I am trying to make this life find a balance. Enjoying comforts and luxuries without abusing them. The word of the day seems to be abuse doesn't it?

Lets change it to comfort. I am more and more comfortable in my different environments here. At work I'm able to dance around, sing out loud, and be my own obnoxious self while feeling comfortable. Same goes for residence. My room is also draped in personal touches. Plenty of pink, and many budget attempts towards a comfortable atmosphere, which I have found quite successful. Everyday my concrete jungle becomes more and more comfortable.