Even so many years later it’s hard to believe that all the events of 2009 happened within the span of twelve months. It’s not that there was some enormous quantity of them, but rather that the realities were so vastly different. I went from one fully defined paradigm to another in a matter of months, setting up my trajectory for the next decade almost immediately after finishing school.
Moping was minimal after the Anna-Lisa fiasco. A day of grouchiness at most, and then it was right back into Dairyman mode. I had just over a month to finish the project, which included not just the film itself but the marketing and release as well. I had to play this thing somewhere in order to complete the assignment, and through a stroke of luck that somewhere was right in Aurora. The local stage theatre had a rarely used screen that was perfect for what I needed, and I booked it for a mid-February premiere.
Up until that point there had been minimal issues within the group. Although we were saddled with THAT Guy, he hadn’t caused us any grief as we’d been expecting. That was most likely because he hadn’t done anything up until that point. He was the editor, so his role until then was solely to provide a hard drive for all the footage.
A hard drive he forgot to bring multiple times to campus. With footage he forgot to edit.
We effectively tossed him out after that and took the reins on the project between the six of us. It was a little bit more work but everyone felt much more comfortable knowing that work was actually being done.
Wanting to get the word out around town so I’d be able to recoup the cost of booking the theatre, I submitted a request to place an ad in the classified section of the local paper. A few days later I got a call from one of the paper’s reporters who unexpectedly launched into a full-fledged interview.
A few days after that I was on the front page.
The premiere went down exactly as I wanted and to this day remains one of the best nights of my life. I recreated a full theatre experience for the two sold-out showings, complete with popcorn, trailers, and the trivia games that play before movies. Because I am very extra.
It was all worth it. After the movie played I stood on stage thanking a wildly applauding crowd and I felt complete. Finally, I was popular.
“That was so funny,” Sylvia said as she gave me a hug before she left with her friends.
The comedown was awful. Post-practicum depression hit hard as I faced the reality of school ending.
My final semester was comprised of three classes. The first was an entrepreneurial studies course late in the evening on Tuesday nights. The second was a mini-practicum of sorts, a personal project entirely under our own control. The third was a class that not only did I skip, but I barely acknowledged existed. As in, I wouldn’t wake up Monday mornings thinking “Ahhhhh probably gonna skip class today.” I would wake up Monday mornings thinking “well, no class today, gonna sleep some more.”
That class? “The Philosophy of Love”. Yeah…maybe I should have gone.
Instead I spent March not doing much at all. I wrapped up some final loose ends with the Dairyman, and worked more at No Frills. There had been a new hiring spree and they’d brought on two pretty cool new grocery clerks: Benji and Mikolaj.
My personal project ended up being a combination album/comic book, inspired by Gerard Way’s Umbrella Academy. I procrastinated pretty bad, and by the beginning of April had barely anything done. I hastily booked a recording studio at Ryerson to get some drum tracks down with Janesh’s help.
That session did not go as planned. Just like back in 2007, we butted heads during the creative process. The studio drums were substandard. Oh, also Janesh didn’t actually know how to drum. I ended up with tracks that sounded like garbage and were completely out of time.
Sitting on the Viva bus at Finch station I panicked. I had two weeks left and no foundation for all these songs I had planned. I then remembered that I knew a realy drummer with a real studio and real drums. I texted Jethro and begged him to help me out. He agreed and saved my skin.
I submitted that assignment in two parts on two days that could not be more different. The first was a beautiful spring evening that I remember so vividly I could probably recreate my footsteps today. After dropping off the comic book part of the project I took the bus home, but got off a few stops early in Richmond Hill. I took a walk over to the Rogers TV tower on a whim and asked the receptionist how I could get involved with the station. She handed me an application form that I filled out, then walked around for a few hours before heading home.
Due to a production delay at a music distribution facility, the album part of the project just barely made it into my hands before the deadline. I ran at top speed through ugly grey rain and high force winds to drop the CD off in my professor’s mailbox by 5:00pm. While catching my breath I ran into my friend RRBH, who invited me to hang out at his house with a few other classmates.
Of course the subject of “What’s Next?” came up, and one of the other guys turned to me asking “you still at No Frills?”.
“Hehehe yeah but I’m barely there, I’m definitely gonna be out of there soon.”
When I got home that night I applied to any and all job postings that had been sent to me by the student advisor’s office. Then I closed my inbox and went to the website of Toronto’s Alternative radio station, 102.1 The Edge.
I’d almost entirely stopped listening to the Edge at that point, and regularly criticized them any time they came up in conversations. I really wanted a job though, even if it was a street team position that didn’t pay and was famously grueling. I allowed nostalgia to get the best of me and applied for the Intern Army. This was, after all, the reason I’d gotten not just into Ryerson, but into music. Maybe I’d get to meet legendary DJ Martin Streek, whose late night broadcasts I’d listened to religiously in the early part of the decade.
Bam bam bam. In the first week of May I was brought onto the Rogers TV team as a volunteer camera operator and got emails from both the Edge and the……CFL?
I didn’t remember applying for an editing job at the CFL, but I went to the interview anyway. I know absolutely nothing about football, much less Canadian football, but my demo reel impressed them enough that they offered me a position.
I held off on that and went to the Edge interview where I met Edge Intern Army Coordinator Hailey. It went extraordinarily well and the next day I got an email saying I’d made the cut.
“Sorry but I am going to pass on this offer,” I wrote to the CFL, opting for the unpaid intern position with the Edge.
I felt real big major league as I bragged to everyone at No Frills, but I was a little anxious. It didn’t help that a week later I got an email regarding the dismissal of Martin Streek. I’d never get to meet my hero, as he passed away a few months later.
My tenure with the Edge wouldn’t officially begin until June, but I got started right away with Rogers. Three to four times a week I’d head to a sports arena to set up for a hockey or lacrosse game, and every other week to the town council chambers to set up for a meeting.
The council meetings were fairly easy, but the games were kind of a nightmare. Twelve hour shifts that involved pulling wires and cables across the arena, then hauling a massive camera for a few hours, then disassembling everything well into the night before getting on the Viva. I met a few interesting people and had some memorable experiences, but I quickly grew tired of the routine. It also wasn’t fun coming back and being assaulted outside the Filly for wearing the wrong hockey team’s hat the night of the Stanley Cup final.
In early June I went for my orientation at the Edge and immediately the vibe was different. Hailey was incredibly welcoming and my team were all cool folks. I was nervous heading out onto the street to talk with strangers as part of the initiation, but got into entertainment mode soon enough and by the end of the afternoon I felt I’d made a good choice. Once I was back in Aurora I stopped by No Frills and nonchalantly (but totally chalantly) showed off my new Edge gear. I walked home feeling great. I was with the EDGE. I was gonna be so popular and cool now. Everyone at my graduation was pretty impressed, at least.
Now in between all the hockey and lacrosse games I worked concerts, which I hadn’t really experienced for three years. Who ended the drought?
…………Dave Matthews Band.
There were plenty of others over the course of July. I picked up as many shifts as I could to show my initiative, something leader Hailey noticed. Hailey was the kind of person for whom conversation came incredibly easily, and working with her was a blast. It wasn’t until August 4th however that we went from coworkers to friends, then suddenly skipped a few hurdles and went right to close friends. Standing outside the Kool Haus while the Yeah Yeah Yeahs played inside, we talked for hours and formed a bond unlike one I’d had with anyone before. She was supportive and understanding and seemed constantly amused at my hyperbolic rants and creative ventures. She was impressed at my array of skills, and allowed me to make a comic for the Edge website.
Thankfully I didn’t wreck anything with feelings because I was eyeing someone else at the time. Clarissa was a fellow new recruit and was super cute and nice and talked to me a lot over Facebook. All that said, I knew deep down that there was absolutely no way she would ever like me. I remember one day getting lost on the way to a cancelled event at the Sound Academy and effectively spending about eight hours walking around thinking about the impossibility that a girl – any girl, including Clarissa – could have actual feelings for me. The notion that someone could be thinking of me at a moment that I wasn’t present was so foreign to me.
Nevertheless the crush persisted.
In early September the Irish twins – friends from high school – invited me to an end-of-summer get together at their house. Thanks to a summer spent socializing with concertgoers I was a lot more talkative than anyone there remembered me, and that included my grade 10 crush Rose. I was no longer the awkward weirdo from high school. I was a charismatic guy with a lot of interesting stories and a cool gig. I’d once again Gatsby’d myself, and I swear I saw Rose play with her hair as she listened to me in the light of the bonfire.
But nothing ever came of it. She didn’t message me after that, and I haven’t spoken to her since.
It was probably for the best, as my sisters both moved away for school that week, leaving me feeling lonelier than I’d ever felt in my life. On Sunday September 13th I had my first major chest pains. Yes indeed this is the Origin Story of my anxiety based physical symptoms.
Soon after that Hailey told the team that she had accepted an on-air position in BC and she’d be leaving at the end of October. My chest pains got worse.
Rogers sports games grew to be unbearable, and one rainy night after staying extra late to wrap up cables I decided this wasn’t what I wanted to do. Edge was a much better gig. I went home fully intending to type up a resignation. Opening my email inbox, I was hit with a flood of messages. I’d won the “Edge Intern of the Month”, the first of the new recruits to do so, and got congratulations from the entire staff. My Edge webcomic was a hit.
I then saw another email from Rogers, asking for on-air reporters. This wasn’t something I’d considered, especially not so early, but I was emboldened by my successes at the Edge and applied. I was sociable now. If I could talk to hundreds of drunk partiers, I could talk to a camera.
I got the job. It wasn’t much pay as it was a casual gig, but it allowed me to drop the sports games. Also it was on-air. My self-esteem went through the roof. I called Hailey immediately to tell her, and she was ecstatic. She made me tell her everything at the next concert, coincidentally when the only other intern present was Clarissa. That was nice.
But then Hailey left, and even though our farewell was cinema quality and we kept in touch online, things felt off. My chest pains got worse and worse until I finally went to the doctor and got a prescription for some anti-anxiety meds.
Leaving the clinic I got a call from Janesh, who wanted to talk about life. I told him about my cool new gigs.
“You still at No Frills?” he asked.
“Oh…………yeah, but I’ll definitely be done with that soon.”
Hailey’s replacement was not as fun as she was, and I was far less outgoing during Edge shifts. I began shadowing different departments at the station. If I could move up that quickly at Rogers, I could do the same at Edge. But the magic wasn’t there either. I just couldn’t find another place with people on my wavelength.
Thankfully Hailey and I still talked every day. I’d send her weekly recaps in the form of audio recordings- like podcasts before podcasts were a thing. I told her about my crush on Clarissa, and she encouraged me to ask her out.
There were two shifts left in the year. The first was a major concert at the ACC, and I was far too occupied yelling angrily at misbehaving tweens to make a move then. The second was at Massey Hall, and I had a huge migraine. I was also working with the most monotone guy ever and it did not make my migraine feel better to listen to him heap exaltation onto Four Year Strong’s new record.
But I did it. I walked with Clarissa to the subway, and straight up told her I liked her. She didn’t say anything, responding to me in a Facebook message later giving me the ol’ “you’re a good friend but no thanks”.
So yeah that kind of sucked. It cast a pall over the end of the year for me, as did not having Hailey around.
My friend RRBH invited me to a New Year’s Eve party and I decided to go to clear my mind. I wanted to kick off a brand new decade in good spirits. After all, I was an on-air reporter now, and would definitely move up the Edge ladder soon. I was gonna be popular and all the girls were gonna like me.
“If the year starts off with a party it’s gotta be good, right?” I tried to convince myself. “2010 is going to be great”….I said to myself as I walked down the porch steps.