Tuesday, 2 April 2013


On Sunday night I had a dream -- I was back in Montreal, and it seemed as though I was living there, if only temporarily as I did during sumer 2010, when I was 19 years-old. 

In the dream I found myself in a chochy nail salon, and my all-time favorite Montreal drag queen, Mado Lamotte, was doing my nails. Apparently that is her day job in my dreams. 

It was so bizarre, and despite that nothing more happened than her doing a rush job and having to replace the thumb nail on my left hand a number of times before fleeing Montreal possibly forever in the wake of a hurricane, my dream was heavy emotionally. 

The salon she worked as was dingy and messy with a series of small rooms and grey carpeting; she had shoe boxes everywhere and it appeared she was the only employee. She was wearing a white coat that estheticians typically wear. Despite that her job, at least on the surface, appeared mundane, I was still as enamored with her as I was in real life when I met her during the summer. She replaced aforementioned nail twice, and pushed down on it really hard the last time so it would stay, as I told her repeatedly how beautiful and cool she is (which I always do when I see her at the cabaret she owns in Montreal when I visit) and then, I had to say goodbye. 

A big hurricane was taking over the city and I had no where to go; everyone was just trying to survive so she was in a rush but she might have smiled at me and said I was sweet before running away, or something. 

After that I walked outside in the dream and the sky was all gray and swirling around, and I saw my friend Erik by chance and called his name. He said I could take shelter with him. 

How does this have to do with journalism?

Mado is a character I saw when I was a little 19 year-old face in a big crowd at her cabaret in Montreal. I immediately experienced an overwhelming sense of curiosity about her; I wanted to know who she was during the day and I wanted to be at the cabaret to watch her perform and speak French so fast I couldn’t understand it at night. Through journalism, and the basic sense of curiosity that sets the precedent for the lives of those who practice it, I have discovered more of characters like Mado. 

Well, none of them are quite like Mado, actually. Or even like each other. But they are the reason I want to be involved in this field at all -- the people who are so interesting and inspire such a strong emotional response when you barely know them that they end up creeping into your dreams and making you feel sad when they leave both there and in real life, as weird as that sounds. 

Although I know and have accepted, even if with sadness, that I will never achieve a close and intimate friendship with Mado, my goal for my relationship with her is to one day make a documentary film about her and the cabaret. My hope is to do it when I am a seasoned documentary filmmaker and I can do her justice as a subject. 

I don’t know why anyone would choose a different career path (or in my case, life) than making films about interesting people and events and provoking thought about the whole world when they can, but that’s probably because I am in love with it already.

I am going to be finished classes at CreComm after this week and I have the same hollow, sad feeling in my stomach that I had leaving Mado and Montreal behind when I had to come back to Winnipeg at 19; the same feeling I had leaving a hurricane in New York City in real life and as a result missing my first day of CreComm. But I have loved all of these experiences, and they have loved me back. 

I will miss Creative Communications more than I care to articulate as I sit here blogging at ten to six in the morning, but I will say that it has changed my life in a practical way; it taught me how to work. And it taught me that I can do things even if I might not have always believed that to be true. So if I ever do have the privilege to fulfill my lifelong dream and make that documentary on Mado one day, I will only have CreComm to thank.

I am in love with you, Mado.


I am getting a little nervous because I am having a book launch at McNally Robinson Grant Park tomorrow. It is for my first book, Late Bloomers. 

Local fashion and culture blog Poster did an amazing feature about it here

I feel nervous because I find myself in a vulnerable position both as an artist and a person while putting my work on the line. As a writer, I put my heart and soul into select works (the book being one of them) and then you bust it wide open so people can look inside. 

While thinking about this, journalism comes to mind. Particularly, print. As a print reporter last summer during my internship with the Winnipeg Free Press, I told the stories of others (which I have also done in the book, albeit through fiction), and the way I crafted the stories, the quotes I chose to include or not, and the details I decided were important enough to mention, all came from my desire to be a storyteller. Therefore, when my pieces were published, I sometimes felt scared or nervous (especially given how harsh Internet commenters can be). 

As journalists and writers and artists and whatever we like to call ourselves, we have an amazing opportunity to tell all kinds of stories, whether they be our own or those of other people. I’ve come to find that accepting vulnerability is only part of the process, and as scary as it may feel at first (I think back to how nervous I was to present the book at the Winnipeg Convention Centre last month), the fear does not compared to how good it feels for people to recognize and appreciate your work. 

So I am nervous for tomorrow, but mostly, I’m excited. I hope to see you there. 


I spent this weekend editing the first documentary film I was involved in making with my friend and fellow student, Cindy. 

Throughout the editing process, Cindy and I discussed a few times how we feel as though our broadcast journalism class has helped us become aware of and develop the skills we need to make documentaries. This continuous conversation got me thinking about different mediums for journalism.

I took for granted before how accessible, in many ways, print journalism is. And I don’t mean accessible to the audience, I mean accessible to the journalist. If you are able to secure interviews with the appropriate sources, even interviews that do not happen face-to-face but over the phone and, as a last resort, via email, you can write your story. As a broadcast journalist, however, you will need very specific footage to tell the story. 

Cindy and I discussed the importance of having footage that is relevant -- what I mean by that is the opposite of “wallpaper footage,” as the instructors of broadcast journalism instructors at school call it. Wallpaper footage is a term I’ve come to understand as footage that simply fills the space as the voice of the broadcast journalist speaks to tell the story. I’ve noticed it so much everywhere I look now and I love that I have the ability to spot it because it truly weakens the story and because I am aware of it, I can avoid the practice of shooting it. 

Our instructors say we should write to our footage, but I like to think of it more as shooting to edit. One of the best tricks I’ve found so far is working with the journalist while on the location/interview of the shoot and writing out a rough version of the script as you go based on the things your subject is saying and the environment. 

By practicing this you will end up with a story that would make sense even if the sound on the television was turned all the way down, with strong visuals and a sense of direction as to where the story is headed in every shot.