Five years in Alberta

I wasn’t going to do this now, but I can change my mind, so I am doing this now.

In my last post, I touched on (previewed, really, this post) the fact I’ve been in Alberta for five full years as of Nov. 23, 2015. And what a five years it’s been.

And what’s even more interesting is I’m posting this on the five-year anniversary of starting work at the Westlock News. So things are coming together rather nicely.

So, what kind of a five years has it been for me out here in Alberta?

First, I think we need to flash back to before I arrived out here. But by only two to three weeks. It was right after I was offered the gig in Westlock, when I sat down in a darkened living room with my parents, discussing whether I would actually take the job. Many of you know how my Meadow Lake experience went. I won’t rehash it, because let’s be honest, that was over six years ago and it was really a blip in my personal history.

Anyway, it was a fairly difficult and serious conversation. I had to decide whether I really, *really* wanted to move back to Western Canada barely a year after I left it. Ultimately, we all agreed that there was no harm in going for it, knowing if it all fell apart again, I could simply move back to Toronto again.

Clearly that didn’t happen.

That first year in Westlock started well, with none of the problems I had in Meadow Lake. The people were nice, the community was much nicer, and having Edmonton about an hour away was certainly more than welcome.

I can’t express how important it is to have people you like among your coworkers. If you’re coming into a new place, far and away from everything you ever knew, it’s the people you meet and deal with on a regular basis who will determine if you’ll succeed or fail. And in my case, I felt supported and welcome, which in turn helped my work.

If you don’t feel welcome and comfortable where you are, your work is going to suffer.

Clearly I did some things right and showed I had the skills needed to succeed, because less than a year into my time out here I found myself living and working 40 kilometres to the west in Barrhead.

Barrhead. That was an experience. I felt less welcomed than in Westlock, but still considerably more welcomed than in Meadow Lake. The Barrhead experience did not go as well as it could have.

Maybe it was because I had become set in my ways in Westlock and adjusting to a new environment wasn’t easy. Or perhaps it was I came off cocky and arrogant, and didn’t fit into the environment as well as others could. I do know there was a healthy degree of animosity and friction in that office. It wasn’t exactly a healthy situation.

It was in Barrhead I first started seriously entertaining leaving Alberta, but that clearly didn’t come to fruition.

Instead, I ended up leaving Barrhead after offending the Dutch Christians in Neerlandia, an act that was unintentional, but one for which I remain staunchly unrepentant. I think you all know what I did. I went on a twitter rant about it.

So I returned to Westlock after the second reporter who replaced me proved not to be up to the task.

Back in Westlock, things went as well as always. I reported and photographed things, I lived with a cat and its owner.

Then I became an editor again. That was interesting. I think what I learned from that is I a) am not a great editor, and b) I would be a good editor if I didn’t also have to produce a reporter’s worth of stories as well as guide a reporter.

The less said about the reporter I worked with, the better.

That second editorship was a nine-month gig, after which I returned to that in which I felt most comfortable – reporting.

About a year later, I found myself at the Edmonton Sun, where I have been now for about 14 months.

So looking at things professionally, it’s been a great ride, with a few hiccups and rough patches. But nothing I would say that could be construed as horrible.

Personally, it’s been a lot less great.

Still single. Still living with random room/housemates, when I’d rather be on my own or living with a female, conjugal house/room/bedmate. That will come, eventually, maybe, I hope.

I was never good at making friends, but I think I’ve found a community that I could possibly flourish in. Or at least be welcomed. All I need to do is work on calming down on the field and not really worry about wins and losses. I mean, so I win a sports game – I feel good for a while. But is there an actual tangible effect on my life? No. Same, but in reverse, goes for losing.

I have anger issues at times.

Anyway.

Five years in Alberta. When I left for this province in mid-November 2010, I hoped it would be a successful venture, but I never truly imagined it would be one that shows no signs of ending after more than five years. I really thought I’d stay here two, maybe three, years, and then head elsewhere. Maybe not back into the GTA, but somewhere in southern or eastern Ontario.

That all could still happen come spring 2016 (no way in hell am I moving in the winter, again), but right now I would be content to remain in Edmonton and Alberta for another five years.

Because I know this for sure – short of being fired/let go/downsized, there is no way I’m leaving this place without another gig lined up. And gigs are still a big tough to come by.

 

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