Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In other news...

Turns out the grass really is greener, or at least tastier, on the other side.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sorry fellas, you've got the wrong girl

When I was 15, I realized, to my surprise and delight that I had grown out of my awkward ugly ducking phase.

The braces were gone, and although I was still experimenting with my eyebrows, they at least no longer made me look like the sister of Bert (of Bert and Ernie fame).

Sure I still had excessive sweating to try and keep under control, but I had solved most of the more embarrassing issues surrounding my hyperhidrosis by wearing tops made of as little black fabric as I could get away with wearing to school.

Midriff baring v-necks with a push-up bra, red lipstick, high heeled platforms and skintight black velour lace-up fly pants ensured that by the time my sweet 16 rolled around, I usually looked anything but. My parents did their best to discourage all this, but I was a teenage girl on a mission. Sure, I didn't know where exactly I was headed, but I knew one thing, I was sure as hell NOT going to put a sweater over my tube top, and yes I am aware that it's winter, thank you very much.

For a while I was completely addicted to the little thrill I got every time some guy tried out his best pick-up line on me. I felt powerful. A smile would get me a free slurpee, or free candy. Older guys wanted to date me. Friends recognized me by my strut from blocks away.

Objectification, smectification, I was finally one of those all powerful "hot girls" we were all supposed to aspire to be, and loving it. I wanted to be 20, independent and grown up, and I guess, in my mind, that meant clothes that only fit the workplace dresscode of a pussycat doll.

Eventually, due in no small part, I'm sure, to my mom wishing on every star, rainbow, eyelash and turkey bone in the vicinity, the novelty of superficial attention wore off and I grew out of this phase. Now, i cringe at the memory of how much energy I spent looking for attention from people who just wanted to ogle a teenage girl. Of how I hid my insecurities by working hard at being over the top, in your face sexy. It was exhausting.

This weekend I went out to meet this girl for a delicious Indian feast in the city followed by a glamourous evening of staring at her ceiling fan and groaning about how much we ate.

I had gotten a little dressed up for our date, mascara, heels, an actual attempt to brush my hair, but nothing over the top. However, apparently I looked worthy of notice to some, because as I walked to the streetcar, a group of guys started catcalling, making kissing sounds, and barking -yes, I said barking- from the top floor of a townhouse I was passing.

As I walked by, pulling my sweater/wrap thing securely over my chest and doing my best to pretend I was deaf, I thought about how much my attitude has changed. There was no little thrill. Only irritation and indignance. I mean, that's so gross. "Ugh, really? barking? REALLY? Is that supposed to be a compliment? Who the hell taught you guys it was ok to harass women on the street? Don't you have mothers or sisters?" I felt suddenly naked and uncomfortable in the clothes I'd been perfectly pleased with a moment before.

While there's no way I'd go back to being 15 or 16 for anything, for a second there was a part of me that wished for that delusional superficial confidence that would have seen me swing my hips a little more, grin and toss my hair as I breezed on by.

But only for a second.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The gory details

One of the things I dread most as a reporter, more than the day long town council meetings, or the disapproving sniffs , real or imagined, of the elderly when I'm the only one who doesn't know the hymns at the myriad of Christian-type events I cover, even more than the prospect of interviewing someone whose longest answer is a two syllable version of the word, "Nope" is the sound of the air raid-like siren that can be heard all over town whenever the fire department is about to head out.

You might think it would add some excitement to my day, but I'll take any of the above assignments over chasing the fire truck.

In fact, in the year that I've been here, I've only ever done it once. It was during my first few weeks here and I was the only reporter in the office when our scanner went off.

The ladies in the office all looked at me expectantly until I broke down and asked, "So, um, should I be doing something about that?" They insisted that I should go investigate.

So I drove out, whispering "Please be nothing, please be nothing, please be nothing" to the steering wheel, picturing myself all the while as a vulture with a car and a camera where wings and a beak should be.

It turned out to be an accident on a private farm. My mind instantly conjured up all the horrible things various types of farm equipment could do to a person and I knew, job or no job, there was no way I was going near it, so I circled once and flew back to the office.

Since then, I've actually managed to avoid chasing the fire truck altogether but it's amazing to me how often people think I should be on the scene of an accident, getting pictures of wrecked cars and broken bodies.

It's a strange responsibility, deciding what people should or shouldn't see. I remember when my neighbour was killed in a car accident, photos of the twisted and barely recognizable vehicle made the front page of our local paper. Maybe what we imagined happened to him would have been worse, but I don't think so. Seeing what he must have been trapped in was really horrifying.

I suppose it might have sent some people a warning, but I feel like we're so used to images like that, that the only people that image would have really effected where the people who knew the victims. I feel like it might have done more harm than good. If the paper had just run the story without the picture, I would have seen the headline, and maybe chosen not to read the gory details, but with the photo staring me in the face, there was no way to avoid them.

I know a picture paints a thousand words, but sometimes I don't think they need to be painted.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Into the Woods

Last week I got lost in the woods

I was supposed to be taking pictures of some students who were supposed to be doing some kind of nature-type activities at a dam. After getting lost multiple times while trying to find said dam for over an hour, I finally arrived only to find that the students in question had abandoned the dam in favour of one of a zillion nearby trails into the woods.

I was slightly irritated (fuming) as I picked a path at random and stomped off into the stupid woods to find the stupid bunch of stupid kids.

By the time I came across this tree, I could only assume that the names carved in it were of other reporters who had made the mistake of being lured into this apparent child-swallowing venus flytrap of a labrynth.

I half expected David Bowie to arrive and tell me he'd stolen my baby brother.

However, it's hard to hold a grudge against the world when you find yourself dappled in sunshine, surrounded by trees, flowers and scampering woodland creatures.

My outrage finally gave away when I found myself directing the question of "Seriously, whose life is this?" at a perplexed squirrel.

From seething to laughing in 8 seconds flat.

I never did find those kids though.