Monday, August 31, 2009

Everything Changes

Good evening, everyone, and Happy almost-September!

Remember where I was with my lot in life a few weeks ago -- living in London, attending the University of Western Ontario, and surviving mainly on cheap ramen? Well, pretty much everything has changed since then; I'm now living in Winnipeg, working at Red River College, and surviving mainly on premium ramen. Movin' on up!

Yes indeed, it's been quite the busy stretch for me the last little while. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth I wrapped up my two gigantic final projects, which were due the second-last and last days of my final term; thirty to thirty-five per cent of two different classes went right down to the bitter end, and I went bitterly along with them. So instead of pausing thoughtfully, hand to chin, and ruminating wistfully upon the experiences and transformations that I had so earnestly and poignantly undertaken in my travails as a graduate student at the Master's level and as a burgeoning professional in a critically important but oh-so-misunderstood discipline -- instead of any of that I was barrelling through piles of textbooks, and rifling through journal articles, and occasionally stopping to swear and throw things because the word processor is not behaving itself. Ergo, by the time I realized that I was actually finishing my degree I had already finished my degree, and it was only then that I realized there were a total of three days left after that before I would be hopping a Greyhound bus.

Yes, the noble Greyhound! It may sound like kind of a strange choice -- especially given the typical mental association that people now make between "Greyhound" and "Winnipeg" -- but I had some solid and sound reasons for selecting the bus over other available modes of transport. Price, for one thing; booking the trip well ahead of time made it considerably cheaper than a plane, bus or rental car, and cheaper still when considering the baggage that I was travelling with.

Travelling light, as always.

Add in the two garbage bags of stuff I took to Goodwill before the trip and that's my whole apartment, right there.

At this point you may stop, bewildered, and ask yourself aloud: how on earth did he carry around six bags with him at once? I'm gigantic and I'm awesome, that's how. Backpack on back, around both shoulders; laptop bag on right hip, over left shoulder; guitar on left shoulder, over left shoulder; black equipment bag on right shoulder, over right shoulder; red canvas bag carried in left hand; green suitcase, equipped with wheels, rolled with right hand. It wasn't a particularly easy arrangement, but it was strangely satisfying; with all six bags equipped I couldn't help but assume this was what it must feel like to be a tank.

But, I digress.

You're only allowed such-and-such number of bags for free -- two stowed and two carry-on, each of which must be under a certain weight and dimensions limit -- but ultimately this array of luggage pictured above (including the giant green suitcase, which was so staggeringly overweight that the drivers made me load it onto the bus myself at a couple of transfer points) only cost me a total of an extra sixty-four bucks after taxes. Now consider that a single extra bag on the Westjet flight from London to Winnipeg is seventy-five bucks before taxes by itself, not including overweight fees, and you start to get a better picture of my thought processes on this one.

Besides, I had never been up through the fabled (Canadian Shield?) of Northern Ontario, and what better time then the present? I happen to enjoy rocks and trees and water, and it made a lot more sense to see the sights from a bus than from a rental car. Car rentals can get pretty expensive, especially considering the trouble I have squeezing into smaller cars -- and then I would have had to pay (and pay, and pay, and pay and pay) for increasingly expensive gasoline -- and then I wouldn't have been able to give the scenery as much attention as I'd wanted, because driving means you're supposed to pay attention to the actual road -- and then the trip would have taken a lot longer because I would have to stop somewhere to sleep -- and then, because all rental places charge hideously exorbitant fees for renting a car in one province and dropping it off in another, I would have had to drive the damn thing all the way back. So, you know what, no. Let's take a bus.


Oh. Uh. Guess I'll pack a book.

So I set out from London Tuesday morning, and I arrived in Winnipeg Wednesday evening; I took a good couple hundred pictures along the way, but those can be a post for another time, so suffice to say that the trip went about as well as you would expect from thirty-four hours and fourty-seven minutes on a bus. (But, who's counting.)

But was I now here to rest and relax after such a grueling Greyhound grind? Hell no, son! That bus trip was my rest and relaxation! I had a meeting with two prospective employers set for the very day after my arrival and the day after that, so the day and a half of bus travel was spent chilling and vegetating as best I could before it was time to put on big-boy clothes and hit the ol' employment line.

Now, one prospective place of employment won't even be contacting people again for another four to six weeks, but the other needed somebody as soon as possible to fill a three-month full-time term -- so hands were shaken, introductions were made, and here I am. So, until the end of November, I am serving as the interim Librarian of the John and Bonnie Buhler Library in the Princess Street Campus of Red River College. I nominally head a department of five people and I wear a tie. It's very exciting!

So as you can tell from all of the above, the past few weeks have been a time of extreme upheaval. Don't think I was shirking my writing duties, however! (My blogging duties, yes, clearly. But my writing duties, no.)

Grand Analog!  Fuck yeah!

Go Uptown Magazine, and leave the driving to us!

A few weeks back I penned this fine column, which has a very good chance of standing as my grand masterwork of sarcasm. When I die they will clip this column and throw it in with my corpse, just to see if it poisons the grass I'm buried under. That is how good this column is, and I hope you enjoy it very much. (And I've got a column in the Uptown issue coming out this coming Thursday, so watch for that.)

But that wasn't the important project, no, no! The really awesome, fearsome, time-consuming, all-devouring beast that I really want to mention is available for your perusal through this hilariously unflattering picture of Mackenzie King, at:


Shake hands with PRIMED: The Twenty-Two Prime Ministers of Canada!

This was one of the two final MLIS projects that I'd mentioned above, and you can see how it left precious little time for much else. The assignment was to create a website between eighteen and thirty pages long (I went over, but there are no penalties for that) which displayed an understanding of the core skills and accessibility standards taught in this Web Design and Architecture class, and after I finally got the whole thing reasonably completed I decided I liked it well enough that I intend to run with it.

So what you're looking at up there is the first release, a sort-of-beta incarnation. It doesn't yet have hand-drawn art for all the Prime Ministers (only for four so far, in fact), I wasn't entirely happy with the way that some of the layout ideas turned out, some of the pages could do with more jokes, and so on and whatnot. And I have absolutely no idea how long things remain on the University of Western Ontario IMC webspace, so once I've revisited and retooled some of the site content I imagine I'll ultimately be establishing it on my own website.

"A website?" you might blurt out at this point, raising both eyebrows to express your surprise. Yes! Now that I have a grown-up job and wear grown-up clothes and earn a grown-up salary, I'm starting to come around to the idea that it's finally time to bite the bullet and shell out the dough for an actual website. With content management and storage space and its own domain name and everything! It could include the PRIMED site, it could include my Uptown columns, it could include songs and videos and what I've written here and what I've written at Slurpees and Murder; heck, if I were really feeling gung-ho about the idea, I could archive all the hilariously awful old stuff I had on GeoCities way back when. (And since GeoCities is going to close for good in October, the stuff may as well go somewhere.)

Of course, let's not get ahead of ourselves here. I don't know thing one about what a fair price is for hosting, much less who I would host it with. And I really should be keeping my expenditures as low as possible for the next little while, considering I still have a pile of student loans that will grow and gain experience and shamble around if I don't address them quickly.

So, no, my big dream of finally carving out a chunk of internet to call my own may have to wait for a while. What will I do in the meantime? Well, I don't know. Continuing to write stuff on this blog, the intentionally temporary University of Western Ontario one, doesn't seem to make much sense now that I've graduated -- but I only have guaranteed employment for the next three months, so relaunching my Winnipeg blog doesn't seem to make much sense either if I don't know that I'll find enough work to actually stay here into 2010. Continuing to write for Uptown in the meantime is a given, of course, because they'll have to pry that gig from my cold dead hands -- but beyond that, I have no idea what my next move is.

Whatever it will be, though, I'll keep you posted. Uh, eventually. If I figure it out.


Keith Bailey said...

OH Man!, You're back.

Congratulations on the term position. That is great news that you finally have your foot in the door and working full time.

I'll be seeing you quite a bit since you're working at my school for the next three months. I have have to admit that's going to be a little trippy. Sadly, one more year for me to go and I'm working full time.

Any ways, I'm going to send you an email. I have some stuff to show you.

cherenkov said...

Slurpees and Murder is being taken over by Chinese spammers. You'd better go save it.

James Howard said...

They're Japanese, actually, from the looks of it. But, yeah, may as well go straighten them out.