Regrets, v.3.0

Now, I last wrote on this topic back in March 2010, but this one will be taking a different angle.

See, in the last versions, I wrote about regrets I had over how various relationships had changed or ended or other dumb things I did in my (relative) youth.

This time I’m thinking about things that we say we’ll do, then we don’t do them, and we must live our lives wondering what could have been.

I come to this post because of an issue I’m having personally. There is this woman who has attracted my interest, but I just can’t seem to build up the guts to ask her out on a date.

It’s stupid, really, that I can’t do that. The potential benefits of asking her on a date include any of the following: getting a girlfriend, getting sex, getting married, having kids.

The downsides to asking her on a date,and her saying ‘no,’ really, include: not getting a girlfriend, not getting sex, not getting married, not having kids — in other words, my life exactly as it is now.

Or, more to the point, I lose nothing if I ask her on a date and she says ‘no.’

So why the hesitation? I don’t know.

I think what I need to get through my head is I won’t know what I’m missing, if anything, until I act. And while I’ve gone a fairly long while in that position — not just with this woman, but with many others — it’s really getting old.

I need to simply act and take what life throws at me. None of this overthinking or fear of rejection or fear of losing what is a somewhat burgeoning friendship (at least that’s how I see it).

Dammit, Bryant, just go for it already.

Thoughts on a career so far

I tend to do a lot of thinking. And I also tend to go on occasional email inbox purges. This post the result of both of those.

So more than three years ago, I got this email from a recent Carleton grad, who was getting in touch with me in hopes of soliciting some advice about getting her career jumpstarted.

Now, I like to think I’m useful and I have something to offer people. So of course I said I would offer her some insight.

What follows is what I told her, in hopes it would be useful. It’s mostly my story of my career up to that point (September 2011), but it also includes some comments about what I found is necessary to break into the journalism world. I will also offer my commentary on my words from the past.

What is not included is the woman’s initial question, or her response to this rambling. I don’t feel I have the authority to publish her side of the conversation.

Here we go.

OK, that gives me a better idea. I think what might help, or at least give some perspective, is if I simply tell you my story.

Back in the final months of fourth year in J-School, I was pretty much panicking trying to find work for after I graduated. I had friends who already had things lined up, so I was feeling more pressure to find something. Plus, up to that point, I’d always known what I was going to be doing in the summer.

Seriously. I was really panicking and afraid. After years of having a summer job lined up, to be facing uncertainty was really unnerving.

Knowing that getting into the media in the big cities (specifically Toronto) is virtually impossible for someone fresh out of school, I knew I had to look elsewhere for work to gain the necessary experience. In that respect, I was willing to move away from home right away, even if that wasn’t my preferred course of action. Of course, it seems like my belief that breaking in fresh out of school was wrong; it is possible, you just need to be good and have the drive to do it.

Yeah. I didn’t really have to travel halfway across the country, all things considered. But for someone still somewhat uncertain what he wanted to do with his life, a cross-country trek was truly the right move, in retrospect.

Moving on. So fresh out of school, I somehow landed a reporter gig with a small-town weekly in Saskatchewan. I guess I was one the lucky ones afterall. But not really. The job absolutely bombed within four months, mostly because I just wasn’t happy where I was. I was in Meadow Lake, Sask., and being from Toronto, there aren’t too many places as dissimilar.

Oh, god. Still the worst personal decision I could have made. So many bad memories.

So after four months there, I packed up and headed back to Toronto to lick my wounds and try to sort things out. In the time I was there, I thought about what I wanted to do, and started applying for new jobs. I knew I had to get back out there, and take the lessons from Meadow Lake and apply them to whatever I did next. In the time I was home, I found a way to do two internships (those unpaid spawns of the devil), as well as play Ultimate and do dragonboat. In other words, ignoring the virtual unemployment the fact I wasn’t in school, I had a regular summer.

It was a really good summer. Although the PA camping trip in August kind of put a damper on it. Why was I such a jerk?

I kept applying to weekly papers, and actually got some interviews. Actually, the Meadow Lake job was the only interview I got at the time, so that may have played into me taking it when offered. Anyway. I did a few interviews, but none of them resulted in anything.

That point about Meadow Lake being the only interview I got is key. I was desperate for a job, and when I got that interview and it turned into an offer, how could I refuse? I mean, if I had been getting an interview a week, I likely would have held off on Meadow Lake, because, seriously, the odds would have been something ‘better’ would have come up. Then again, knowing my luck, nothing would have come up.

Then, finally, I interviewed for and was offered the reporter gig with the Westlock News, in Westlock, Alta. You would have thought I learned my lesson from Meadow Lake, but clearly that’s not the case.

There was a long talk with my parents about this. The decision was, if this fails horribly again, I can just come back to Toronto. But you can understand how apprehensive I was to move again, and so far away (farther than Meadow Lake) again.

That was early November 2010, and I’ve been out here in Alberta since then. In fact, at the start of September, I took over as the editor of the Barrhead Leader, which is a sister paper of the News. I won’t say I’m happier at the Leader than I was at the News, because I’m honestly not. I was very happy with the News. The people are great, the routine was manageable, that kind of thing. But the Leader job was offered and I decided it was worth a shot.

That happiness point is also key. Barrhead, compared to Westlock, was really not that fun. The office dynamic was much different, the town seemed less welcoming, and it was that much further from Edmonton. Now, maybe my experience was jaded by how well Westlock was going. And a happy job is the result of a lot of factors. But I never really felt like I fit in in Barrhead.

And that’s my story.

I think if there’s anything to take out of it is that you’re going to have to take chances. Part of why Meadow Lake failed was because less than a month into the job I flew back to Ottawa for the grad ceremony and saw most of the class again. We had an after-grad afterparty where one of the girls in my class “just about took my by the shoulders and told me that she’s admires what I’ve done, that it’s a courageous thing to do, and that I’ll be fine.” I am quoting something I wrote, if you were wondering. The fact she and other people had so much confidence in me made me realize more than anything that I wasn’t ready, because I didn’t have the same confidence in myself.

Yeah. That grad party was a hard, hard night for me. But it didn’t really kick in until the next day (see here for that story and more). But, that sense of everyone being more confident in me than I am remains. I still feel, especially since moving to the Edmonton Sun, that I’m only eking out a job. Like I’m barely surviving. I know, objectively, that I’m actually doing quite well. Sure, there are times when things go haywire — it happens to everyone — but I still feel like I’m only a screw up away from the unemployment line. Then again, I have to have some form of confidence. After all, I have managed to make a go of it out here for the last four-plus years.

There will be heartache. You will think to yourself that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. You will wish you could do it over again. But it is all for the better. As much as Meadow Lake was a horrible experience that really did shatter a lot of my self-confidence, as a learning experience about what it takes to be a journalist, it was invaluable. I would never want to be in the same situation again in terms of the aggravation I went through, but the journalistic eye-opening is something I would not have gotten without going through that.

Bingo about Meadow Lake. Horrible personal experience. But it was the kick in the pants I needed to really launch my career.

Now, I don’t know what direct words I can offer. This is, after all, my personal experience. But it is real-world experience, jaded as it may be.

I hope that helps. It’s not easy breaking in to the working world. It takes someone taking a chance on you as well. I have nothing but high praise and immense gratitude for my former boss at the News. He took a chance on someone who had had a horrible previous work experience, and I think he would say he would do it again. And when it comes down to it, I think that’s what you want out of any work experience – that the person who hired you would do it again.

Thank you George. That’s all I have to say.

Holy crow. I really wrote a lot. Seriously, I hope there’s something in there you can use. Best of luck and let me know how it goes. If you need or want anything more, let me know. You know where to find me.

I should really contact this woman again and see what’s up since we last corresponded.


So I’ve been thinking lately about friends and friendship.

You see, I don’t make friends very well. I really don’t. I seem to have this inclination to be extremely contemptuous of a lot of things and people. I’m not really sure why or where it came from, but as I’ve grown older I feel I have less time for other peoples’ shit.

As you could probably figure out, it makes making friends just that much harder. As in harder than it already is for me.

It also seems more difficult to make friends as an adult. I think that desire to meet new people and make new friends is why I have been getting into the ultimate realm here in Edmonton.

You see, the way I look at it, I made my best friends through school. I say that because at school (both Mary Ward and Carleton) I was forced to intermingle with others. I had to interact, and developed friendships. Now, some of my friendships did start as friendships of convenience, so it wasn’t as spontaneous as it would appear.

Still. Having to be with people and work with people, sometimes rather closely and for long hours, did make it easier to become friends with them.

So with that all in mind, I am deeply appreciative of the friends I have.

They have stuck with me over the years, especially since I’ve moved halfway across the country.

I only get to see them once a year, if that, so there’s considerably less (physical and visual) contact than if I still lived in the GTA, or even southern Ontario.

Sure, I do tend to text them fairly regularly. Some more than others. But it’s not really the same as talking on the phone, skyping, or seeing them in person.

So the fact they make time to keep in touch (again, some more than others) is very special for me, and I greatly appreciate the time they take.

Another angle on this plays into one of my New Year’s Resolutions — to write more letters. Yes, writing letters is not as personal as phone/skype/in person. But compared to texting, it’s great. You’re sending a message and telling a story with your own hand. It’s the most personal form of conversation there is that doesn’t include using your voice.

The recipient sees your hand writing. It’s very physical because you took the effort to find paper and a writing stick, find a solid surface to write on, bought a stamp, licked an envelope and found a mailbox (which here in Edmonton is not as easy as you would think it should be).

Then there’s the anticipation of opening your mailbox and finding an envelope. What’s in it? What does it say? You can’t wait to open it.

Hmm. This has shifted from a treatise on my friends to a discourse on letter mail. Oh well.

Thoughts on aging

I turn 29 today.

And that makes me old.

Not really, in the grand scheme of things. But still, I like to think of it as me turning old.

While many people would say “age is only a number,” it’s nonetheless a number I have paid a lot of attention to over the years.

Throughout elementary school, I was the oldest in my grade. In high school, I was among the oldest in my grade; I think there were only two or three other people in my grade who shared my birthday or had theirs before mine.

In university is when I truly stopped caring all that much about the “honour” of being the oldest in my grade. Mainly because “grade” doesn’t really work in university, and I wasn’t the oldest anyway. In university, you share classes with people who went to college between high school and university, people who otherwise took time off before going to university, people who are returning to school after raising a family, and people who went straight to university.

So the age range is enormous and follows no pattern whatsoever.

Now, at this point in time, I don’t really care about being the oldest at something.

Instead, I look at my age in relation to what others have done at the same age — or younger, as the case may be.

That last point is the one point that really sticks with me.

There are a lot of things I haven’t done at my (relatively advanced) age.

I’m unmarried. Unattached, even.

No kids.

I don’t own a house.

I haven’t taken an international trip outside of the two high school band trips I took almost a decade ago.

To sum it up, I think I’ve lived quite the boring life. Especially in the 10 years since I finished high school.

Even so, maybe things aren’t as bad as I make them out to be. I mean, I am kind of living a dream of some sorts — I do live in another province now, having moved away in pursuit of work.

I do miss Toronto and everyone there, but at the same time things are going fairly well. I do mostly enjoy my life these days, the obvious and aforementioned holes notwithstanding. I am gradually building a social circle, centred on what has become an all-encompassing passion — ultimate.

So there is that, I suppose.

But it’s looking like my promise, made many years ago, will be kept, unless things change dramatically in the next 365 days — I’m jumping off a bridge if I’m not married by 30.

Familial resemblances

Another post in my burgeoning tradition of nearly complete non sequiturs.

Let’s get on with it!

Now, this is by no means a shocking realization, but it always amazes me when I see it — members of the same bloodline (i.e. family) tend to look somewhat similar. Or at least share similar traits.

And while I do see the resemblances in others and other people’s families, it’s even neater when I see it in my own family.

I think the reason why I find it especially neat is largely because I don’t see my family that often. As in the last time I saw any of them before my trip home in December 2014 was December 2012. And I think the only ones I saw were my parents, maybe my brother and definitely that one aunt who’s my age.

Cousins? Before this last trip, I don’t know. Other parents’ siblings? Again, no idea. Grandparents? My mom’s parents were in the summer of 2012; my dad’s mom was that same summer of 2012 trip. My dad’s dad? Before then.

One advantage, if you can call it that, with the giant gaps in seeing them is noticing how the younger members of the family clearly look like their parents from different angles.

There were a few times on my last trip home where I commented to my parents (outside of earshot of the person to whom I was referring) that “so-and-so is definitely his/her parent’s child.”

Of course, I have trouble seeing the resemblance between me and my brother. Then again, I don’t really look at myself that often, and I rarely see him these days.


Right now I am going through my own personal hell — I go on vacation and when I return I fall victim to “the sick” with overall body aches and a stuffed nose that makes staying alive while sleeping difficult because I can’t breathe.

I’d like to say this experience has prompted this post, but this post has been percolating in my mind for a while — my current health has only given me reason to write this post now.

I really don’t know what got me thinking about the idea of hell. Then again, I don’t know what makes me think of a lot of things.

When a lot of people think of hell, they tend to picture a network of caves and pits of fire and burning and a lot of heat. And there are also a lot of goat-human hybrid creatures with pitchforks — devils, basically.

The idea is all that hell fire is designed to make people suffer for their purported sins for all eternity.

But I question whether such an arrangement would truly be effective to cause the most suffering.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m sure having to “live” for all eternity in a place full of heat, lava/fire and devil creatures poking you with pitchforks would not be anyone’s cup of tea. But while that would be an uncomfortable “existence,” it somewhat pales in comparison to the kind of psychological suffering that would be much more effective.

And since we’re talking about a place ostensibly created by an omniscient power, why create something that is a one-size-fits-all arrangement. Any god that wants to cause suffering could do better than relegating its do-badders to eternity in lava/fire.

Why not create a mental cage that makes the sinner relive his or her greatest shame?

Or live through his or her worst nightmare?

Think of this as an example: a husband and wife have tried for years to get pregnant, and finally do against all odds. It’s a medical miracle that the child was even conceived, let alone carried to term with no problems; the baby is completely healthy. A week after bringing baby home, the baby dies of SIDS. The couple is devastated. In their grief and turmoil, they go on a killing spree, because, of course, if they can’t be happy, no one can. The couple is arrested and executed. In death, their hell is watching in fast-forward the pregnancy, birth and death of their child in perpetuity.

Don’t tell me that wouldn’t cause more suffering than eternity in fire/lava would.

So those are my thoughts on hell.

2014 in a nutshell

I would have to say 2014 has been quite the interesting year.

Many things happened in this year — not the least was I finally left the Westlock News.

Now, I don’t say “finally left” and mean it was a long time coming and I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Although, some of that is true. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and would have been content to stay there longer. But at the same time it had been nearly four years I had worked there — notwithstanding my nine months in Barrhead — and I felt it was time to move on to something else.

I had the chance to move to the Olds Albertan, maybe, but I opted not to go that route because it wasn’t what I was looking for.

I also had the chance to take up residence with the Athabasca Advocate, but they went with someone else.

So in the end I ended up with the Edmonton Sun. And then Postmedia (Canwest/Southam) bought Sunmedia, so I don’t really know who I work for now.

Working for a daily, especially one that is part of a national conglomerate, has its perks. However, most of those perks don’t really appear until I begin seeking a new gig — being part of a national company means it’s easier to move around the country because I’m already a known commodity with the company. Or at least that’s how I view it.

Besides, it’s not like I’m looking to move somewhere, anyway. I’ve only been with the Sun for less than three months, and it’s winter. I am not moving in winter.

Then again, another reason I’m not looking for move anywhere is because I like my chances with a young woman I’ve met out here. I feel we get along well, but nothing has been formalized yet, so I’m considerably jumping the gun at the moment. So, moving on.

One big plus to working with the Sun is the opportunity to move to and live in Edmonton. In fact, the first thought that came to my mind was I get to play ulltimate more than one night a week. And through the winter, too.

So I would have to say I’ve played more ultimate in 2014 than I had ever played before.

I played summer league, played in three tournaments (including one in Saskatoon), played fall league, and I’m now playing two nights a week in winter league.

I have also been to some trainings, and want to go to more, if only they were not at 7am on a Saturday and I wasn’t sick.

I hate being sick.

What else happened in 2014 was my first trip home in more (or less) than two years. I say both because I arrived home less than two years after I left Toronto last time, but returned to Edmonton after I left Toronto last time. Does that make sense?

However, I guess the real point of my trip home, and by real point I mean the biggest deal was how it was my first time home for Christmas since I was still living at home in 2009. I had been a long time.

The there was the wedding I attended, which was the reason I went home. Because, seriously, I have only ever gone home to attend weddings. Or, more to the point, weddings are the only reasons I ever use the Edmonton international airport. I’m not kidding.

Hmm. So what else is there to say about 2014?

I lost contact with, or chose to reduce or severe contact with, a few people. It’s a natural part of life, I suppose, but part of me does ache doing it. But when people are not responsive, there’s only so much I’m going to put up with.

Yeah. That ought to do it.

Happy 2015, everybody!