Tuesday, 26 March 2013


For a long time, I have considered myself an experience junkie.

That means that I have been addicted to new experiences for as long as I can remember. So far in my life, I have had the cops called on me by the school for being a grade 8 bathroom graffiti artist, and I’ve graduated as valedictorian from high school.

I spent my nineteenth summer’s nights at a Montreal drag club befriending the 50-something queen of an owner, and my twentieth winter dancing in a cage wearing next to nothing for cash at a Winnipeg gay club, and accepting heartbreak when the woman who paid me to do it didn’t want to be my girlfriend. 

Shortly after, I sobbed before the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem while asking for help in a letter to God.

I did yoga poses with girls from the East village, who I never met before that moment, on the roof of a Manhattan apartment building during tropical storm Irene. I watched Irene own the city, and I vowed to do the same one day.    

I wrote enough, and well enough, to secure an internship at an esteemed Canadian media outlet. When I got the call, I believed I might be able to create a life for myself. 

One fall, I smoked an entire pack of cigarettes sitting on pavement steps in the rain when a significantly older love interest left me at a martini bar.

I feel lucky for my life. No matter how shitty the day is, or the week, or the month, I still thank God in my prayers every night for letting me be me. This whole post relates to writing because for as long as I remember, I have been taught as a creative writer to write what I know, and I have been taught as a journalist, to know what I write.

The experiences I’ve had usually find me, but it’s because I have been open to them. Some of them are considered questionable and strange and even wrong, and sometimes I just want to be “good.” The thing that stops me from staying on a straightcut path, though, is that I often worry that without experiencing everything I can, I will not have as much to write about. And I will not be able to empathize as much with people I interview if I shut myself away from the expeirences that open themselves to me.

But I also don’t want to keep finding myself in trouble in one way or another. I wish I could just do everything right and follow some formula or rules on life or something and find myself where I want to be. But then again, I don’t think the place I want to be exists without a long history of experiences.

So I am just going to keep being a junkie.


Sorry I haven’t been blogging lately.

Today I am going to talk about jobs, since Katherine mentioned in her post a conversation I participated in on Saturday night with her and a number of others who, unlike me, were actually employed by the Projector all year and for that reason, were at the party.

Everyone was, in some way or the other, concerned. 

To me it makes sense why everyone would be so concerned about potentially not having a job after school is over. One of my classmates says he already asked the restaurant he works at to make him full time again, because he does not know for sure if he will gain employment elsewhere (meaning in our chosen field), but “you have to pay the rent somehow.” 

There are few jobs in this industry available now, or so it seems. Journalism, as I often like to rant about, is simply not the amazing thing it once was. It’s still amazing, but it’s not a time anymore where quality is more important than speed and people expect news in the paper tomorrow morning, rather than immediately when it happens, told through social media. These things are, of course, dependent on the media outlet, however.

As for me, I have been trying to take one day at a time and I am still figuring out who I even want to be in the world and in the writing world and all of that stuff, but I know if I contemplate this forever without taking a leap onto something then I will end up being nothing. So I need to get a job, too. 

I am taking some basic courses at the University of Manitoba in the fall in the film department. I definitely want to make documentary films. I have never found something I love as much as documentaries. 

But I am troubled because after next year, what do I do? I used to have a romantic idea about starting off directly in documentary filmmaking, but now I don’t think that anymore. When I think about docs, I break them down into stories told through narration, character, visual, and sound. I feel as though I need to develop my storytelling skills through the first medium I ever did it through, and the one I will probably continue to love most for the rest of my life: writing.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is I want to start somewhere. Print journalism is calling my name lately, because I’ve grown throughout the last year in CreComm and I realize that even though it’s not everything it used to be, it’s importance remains the same and that is the way I can get my foot in the door - even if not in the doc making door immediately - and continue to learn what components to include when telling a story; learning what it means to tell a comprehensive, fair story. 

So no, I don’t know where I will be, or what I am going to do for a job, but I am starting to know where to start. 

Tuesday, 5 March 2013


“Candace had always been her father’s daughter. Maybe that’s why I had always found it so easy to love her and get along with her,” Wilma Derksen writes on page 31 of Have You Seen Candace? A Mother’s True Story of Coping with the Murder of Her Daughter.

Those sentences are only two of the many that provide insight into what it was like to lose a child to murder, and that insight is what works best in this book.

Naturally, the reader does not completely understand and feel what Wilma Derksen did following her daughter’s death -- not even close. However, the author behind the book and the things that she saw are what makes the book a believable read. The reader is given insight into her anxiety, pain, distress, and ultimate motion forward back into life as well as the separate journeys through those things that her family members experienced. 

As a reader, I trusted her words. I felt at ease reading the book because I knew Wilma Derksen was there, for the whole thing. I believed her book to be an honest one. 

In some instances, however, I feel as though Derksen gave too many examples, or used too many analogies, and it made the read slow at times. For example, on page 197 Derksen writes “Every minute, every second of the day, we were reminded of Candace. Every time I laid out five plates instead of four, I had to put that fifth plate back into the cupboard. Every times I needed to run to the store and wanted to ask her to watch the children while I was gone, the words stuck in my throat.”

Derksen continues to explain that many things she saw in the store she knew Candace would like but there was no point in buying them, and that she often spotted Candace in crowds only to realize it was strangers, and that she, in reality, just wanted to see her really badly. 

These details are the things that make the book come alive, and that allow the reader to imagine, even if only for a second, what it might have been like, and the effect losing Candace had on the Derksens. However, in some instances there were simply too many examples and I thought, from time to time, that I understood the message and that I wanted the book to move forward. 

Overall, reading the book made me feel sad. It was difficult to picture some of the things Derksen wrote about; not for lack of detail, but because I did not want to imagine them. It made me remember, however, the importance of story; the way documenting events can bring them to the minds of others who have not lived them, and that social change may be born from this. 

On the other hand, the book made me confused in some ways. This is complicated for me to articulate because I fear it will be interpreted as me dismissing the importance of the Candace Derksen story, but as I mentioned in journalism class recently, I feel confused as to why the Candace Derksen murder received significantly wide and frequent media coverage compared to the stories of other missing and murdered Manitoba women. 

The book discussed a variety of media coverage the case received, and after visiting the Manitoba Missing and Murdered website and reading about hundreds and hundreds of girls and women -- some who have never been found -- I cannot discern why their stories are not covered as widely by the media as this one was. I want the answer, but I don’t know where to ask. 

I am pleased, however, to see that this one received the amount of coverage that it did as it, along with those of other girls and women, are important ones to tell. 

I personally preferred this book to Journey for Justice: How ‘Project Angel’ Cracked the Candace Derksen Case by Mike McIntyre (which I blogged about last year here). To me, Have You Seen Candace? seemed more honest and credible than McIntyre’s work, simply because Derksen wrote it. 

Because I am interested in the human aspect to almost every story, I preferred this first person perspective to what I found to be a long series of psychiatrist reports in McIntyre’s work. 

My reaction to our in-class discussion with Wilma Derksen was one of sadness. I remember Derksen saying when she spoke to our class last year that she did not let the murder of her daughter destroy her.
My mother has a friend at work who allowed her four year-old daughter Ruby go over to her grandmothers apartment, which was a door away from their apartment. In the single instant that Ruby was trying to go from her apartment to her grandmothers, a man abducted her. He raped her and murdered her by crushing her skull with a rock.

My mothers friend rarely talks about the murder. She talked about it in the past, however she continues to live a life centered around many of the things my own mothers is centered around. The case was not covered in the media after the killer was convicted. 

I see Wilma Derksen as a strong woman, to say the least. I am not going to try to pretend to understand her pain. I cannot help but feeling, however, that in some ways she did let the murder of her daughter destroy her because it would appear that it is her entire life.

But as someone who has never lived through a tragedy comparable to this one, or any of those of murdered and missing Manitoba women, I am inclined to ask how one could not be destroyed.