Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


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What Journalism Taught Me About Writing & Humanity

indie-music-coeur-de-pirate-

What goes on backstage. Coeur de Pirate’s sound test at Summer fest 2011.

Anyone lived in a pretty how town…~ E.E. Cummings

As a teenager, I wasn’t much for journalism. I defined myself as a creative writer, too artistic and impatient for plain old facts. I didn’t like sports and never wanted to write the expose on the cafeteria pizza. I wrote stream-of-conscious poetry for guys who didn’t like poetry and didn’t like me.

I was an idiot.

Journalism is storytelling. At the Quebec City Chronicle-Telegraph (the oldest newspaper in North America), I focused mostly on the small stuff: charity drives, local teams, high school graduations, restaurant openings – the minutia of the small English-speaking community.

As small papers dry up or battle for readership online, we’re losing human-interest stories. We may never read Shelly Brown’s obituary,  Shelly who spent thirty years working the counter at the deli; who gave the community three great children, who dedicated her life to rescuing dogs.

Why care about Shelly, the smiling deli worker? We have this to read:

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Syria.
10 Things Amanda Knox Has in Common with a Unicorn.
15 Pugs Who Look Like Dictators. 

Just like there’s a time and place for the above, (lunch breaks), there’s a time and place for newspapers: Sunday afternoons. I can’t remember the last time I sat with a newspaper article, chewed the story over, let it linger. I love blogs, but getting the story out is stressed more than getting the story out right.

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Advice to the Abroad and Unemployed

job search abroad summer festival quebec

You rock. Job or no job. (Last year’s summer fest)

I am determined to say yes to most things. “YES” to moving to Seattle from Chicago, my hometown. Then YES to moving to Quebec. Then YES out of shear necessity to one-day becoming fluent in French.

Or shall I say Oui.

I find the unbeaten path, covered in brambles and I march down it – unafraid – until I look around and I am completely lost. And I can’t even try that old explorer’s trick because the sun beats down from directly above my head.

That’s kind of where I am right now.

Lost. Without a compass.

Approximately 1 year and a half ago, I gave up my copywriting job. It came with a team I adored and all these hidden benefits: happy hour and that glorious time when you can loudly declare “I SO need a drink. I’ve been BUSTING my ass.” A treasure chest of work gossip “Did you HEAR what SO-AND-SO said to SO-AND SO.” UNBELIEVABLE.

It made me feel like a big shot.

Then came my last day, approximately two weeks before The Big Move. How bad could unemployment be?

Just look a the success of theEverywhereist, a fellow Seattle blogger who travels the world with her husband. She makes a living with her blog. She travels. She writes.

Could I be that kind of awesome?

After a few months of culture shock, I hit my stride and things got good. Very good. I started every meal with a baguette and a spoonful of confiture. I went on field trips with my French class in the middle of the afternoon. Being the only experience and child-free writer in this French-speaking land, I got all the rare writing jobs. I did things like interview Larry Clark and hang out back stage with Couer de Pirate. By hang-out, I mean stare at her and get really nervous and watch a journalist with a faux hawk whip out a notebook and start asking her questions in French (bien sur!). Continue reading