A little over five months ago, I blew up this blog. Deleted it all and turned it into something of a diary of a loss I had no other way to process, except by spilling out my guts. A layoff, not personal, just a fact of cuts. Lost my job and my dream and my income and — so it seemed at the time — my future. That obviously was not the case, but you know how it goes. In an instant, you’ve fallen clear off the road.
Well, I’m back.
On Friday, we made it official: on March 1, I am returning to the Winnipeg Free Press as a sports reporter. Never done that beat before. There’s going to be a learning curve, that’s actually exciting, it’ll be a hell of a ride. I can see the spaces open up in which I will have stuff to write, and I like them. And hopefully the folks who read it will like it too. And hopefully I can bring something familiar, but also kind of new.
To clear something up: my return is a recall, not technically a hire. A series of surprising circumstances: someone left, someone else moved, a job opened up and the three people above me in seniority declined. That’s as simple as it gets. It moved down the line until I said “yes.”
It’s a funny sort of feeling, but once it was done I knew it was right. There was no weight on my shoulders when I went out last night, no black and ragged tongue licking at the back of my neck, whispering: but what next? And what next?
I haven’t been myself since all this happened. Too sad, too pushed off balance, too much trying to figure out how to get back on track. Especially when I’m sort of a stubborn weirdo who moves so much at awkward rhythms. I’m sort of embarrassed by how I handled it, to be honest. Wasn’t very good. But hey, these things happen.
God, I woke up this morning, booked a spa appointment, ordered sushi, and the world has come back into color.
For what it’s worth, I feckin’ love Spectator Tribune. Obviously, I didn’t get to do the things there I wanted to do, but I didn’t have a lot of time, and I was trying to juggle so many things in my efforts to rebuild a financially solvent life. I’m not a great multitasker, either.
Mostly, I was just… sad. I couldn’t shake it. I tried so hard to be happy, and to smile, and to get out there go get ‘im tiger get ‘er goin’ and get ‘er done, but Lord I was swimming in sad. Nothing I said felt like me. Nothing I Tweeted felt like me, I could tell I was putting on an act, it was hard to be really interested in anything except hockey. And it’s winter in Winnipeg, so the world dwindled away behind a blanket of freezing frickin’ cold.
Then a few weeks ago I got this phone call, and everything changed.
The decision to go back to the Free Press is not a comment on the incredible opportunity I think SpecTrib presents. There were a lot of reasons I chose the recall. Some are very practical, and likely self-evident; the recent threats of being hauled into endless EI employment seminars was certainly one of them. I find something terribly discomfiting about the idea of being treated like a 15-year-old who needs to learn to write a resume, when trying to a claim a benefit you’ve been paying for your entire life.
Another big reason was the fact that a freelance boho artist life was an adventure at 21, but a decade later it’s more oppressive than opportune. There’s still something alluring in the idea of venturing alone into the world and finding my fortune and going where the wind takes me and eking out a living writing along the way, but my mortgage holder, I imagine, would be far less enthused.
More importantly, there’s also this: old dreams die hard.
And most importantly, there’s also this: I miss my friends and colleagues.
So a big part of this, for me, is just about going home. I had no idea I’d ever get the chance — it never seemed possible, at the time, and everyone I talked to about it then agreed. The industry, after all, seems on an inexorable march towards vanishing. Who misses a handful of the thousands who already peeled off the rest of the pack?
Mwahahaha. I’m baaaa-aaacckk!
In conclusion: I can’t wait to get back to work. I’m so happy today I could cry. (Or eat an entire pizza, which is what I’m doing as I type.) It feels right, life feels right and I’m not going to let a redemption arc slip by. This is a very lucky turn of events, catch ’em while I can.
I will continue to be a huge supporter of Spectator Tribune, and I hope everyone tunes in to the site’s IndieGogo campaign to help cash-flow the project as it builds to, hopefully, a point of viability. To have such a flexible platform for fresh voices can only be a good thing in our community.
With the closing of that very brief chapter, I want to sincerely thank about a million people. Toban Dyck at SpecTrib, who is a fabulous human. Anna Lazowski and the folks at CBC Manitoba Scene, who offered me a part-time job that I had only really just started before this happened, and I hadn’t had a chance to settle in, which makes me sad but the opportunity meant so much.
All of my friends, who have carried me through a lot these last five months, which I know was sometimes stressful on them — especially Josh and Amber. Everyone on Twitter who has supported me through all of this, most of you are technically strangers but straight-up you guys are a familiar and wonderful presence in my life, and there’s so many of you I consider to be a friend.
Thanks to all the folks who reached out with freelance writing opportunities. It was awesome.
Thanks to a friend who, without meaning to, reminded me of who I wanted to be. It was received with gratitude.
Thanks to my cats because they’re super effin’ cute.
See you all in the stands, the pressbox and the sports pages.