Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Writing schizophrenia

As a CreComm student who is familiar, and had been familiar prior to this point, with multitasking, I’m finding that my brain, so close to Christmas break, is having a difficult time doing so, particularly when it come to writing.

I’ll say right now that the sentence you just read, unless of course you read things from the second paragraph onwards, is offending every Journalistic cell in my body. (I can tell you that there aren’t many of them.)

It’s maybe a little convoluted, I think there’s six commas, and I can feel my J-instructor just cringing. But what you just read is how I hear stuff in my brain. If you shrunk down and walked around inside my head these are the words you’d see, in that order, lined up and ready to give my fingers their marching orders.

Or it used to be.

Today, sitting here (multitasking: eating my lunch, writing a blog, as well as) editing my creative writing fiction I find the sentences forming in my head are straight, to the point, with no words like convoluted. Perfect for Journalism.

The problem is I used to think of myself as a good writer, it was the thing I loved to do. But reading over some of my stuff for Journalism, articles, reviews, etcetera, it’s good writing, but not something I’m particularly proud of. The thing is it doesn’t sound all the way like me, probably because my sentences have very few commas or semi-colons (God, I love a good semi-colon) and adverbs have been ripped right out of my vocabulary.

Trying to write my first, second, and now third revision of my piece of fiction it’s coming out of my brain all wrong. I haven’t had writer’s block this bad since…I wrote a review assignment this weekend. I’ll be honest, the problem is not lack of what to write, it’s insecurity about how to write it and, being honest again, I’m a stubborn person. The way I want to tell you a story is that was I think this story should be told—with interjections, set off by commas, dashes, and lots of brackets. (Did I just say that?)

I’m suffering…yes, suffering… from writing schizophrenia. And it sucks.

The way I see it, only option available to me, given that I’m too something (I can’t think of the word and I hate it when that happens) to compartmentalize my writing style properly, is to get through the next two weeks and then sleep it off for two more. Maybe, just possibly, my convoluted sentences that I love so much and that I’ve worked so hard to take out of my writing will come back to me in their proper place: a separate Word document with the title “Creative…blah blah blah” on it.

ps. One of the reasons I’ve come up with for the panic that now accompanies sitting down with my laptop, besides the need to pare down my writing by 50 or 60 words  for J, is word count. If this side note sounds a little awkward, it’s because I’m trying to stretch it out to 500 words to fit some criteria. 528. Wait, 530. That number would be heading in the opposite direction if this were a Journalism assignment.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Profile of a Winnipeg Artist

The artist, wearing characteristically
little jewelry.

Chelsea Miller, ARTIST

Age: 24

Hometown: Winnipeg

Hair colour: Red

Recent trip: Paris, then onto Manchester, England to see her favourite band play live.

Find her at: the Mechantile at RRC’s Exchange District Campus; she’s worked there for 6 years.

What she does: makes incredible pieces of jewellery, paints.
Chelsea Miller, artist and jewelry-maker, will be opening her first store, an online vintage shop, within the year. What's it going to be called? Winnipeg Vintage. What's special about this store? Well, Chelsea’s designs for starters.

Chelsea has been creating necklaces using yarn and metal hoops for two years and has been thinking seriously about opening Winnipeg Vintage for the last six months. Her friend, Ali, 26, got on board two months ago.
Chelsea, who admits she's
obsessed with Native art,
says her designs were influenced
by the look of dreamcatchers.

The biggest problem Chelsea sees with other vintage clothing and accessory stores in Winnipeg: People walk in, browse, and leave empty handed. Chelsea wants her store to house stock that people can actually afford. 

The two of them started looking for store space here in the Exchange District but after looking at a place with a $5000 a month rent (utilities not included) and another in a basement off Albert Street, they decided against a physical location. "Financially, this is where we’re at,” says Chelsea. 

Instead the two women are focusing on creating an online space with a vibe reminiscent of the silent movies. And, in a completely Winnipeg way—where six degrees of separation is really more like two or three—Winnipeg Vintage will feature a “backscratchers” section that will promote local stores and artists who spread the word about the store.

[Slideshow Property of Winnipeg Vintage]

A great idea from prairie-grown talent.

When asked about aesthetic of Winnipeg Vintage, Chelsea says the website is going to look like the inside of her head. "Girl barf," she calls it. If you're wondering exactly what that means take a look at the tattoo on Chelsea's right arm.
Wearing her work on her sleeve:
Chelsea says she owns every
item in this jewelry box.
Chelsea has six tattoos, a house full of craft supplies, and a U.K. stamp in her passport from last January when she went to see Roxy Music, her favourite band from the 70s, in concert in Manchester.

She bookended the trip in Paris, where a part of her would like to live one day.

Until Winnipeg Vintage opens, check out how their website is progressing or go see Chelsea at the Merchantile. 

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Welcome ... no People

The snow has started to melt and that means yeah, above normal temperatures for Winnipeg. "Welcome to the North End," is back on the roof of Nepon Auto Body on Salter but "People Before Profit," is still missing.

Here's an interesting tidbit. During the elections last month, Belinda Squance of the Communist Party of Manitoba hinted to me during an interview that the sign was originally painted on the roof by an (ahem) unauthorized communist.

People Before Profit is also on the sign outside their offices on Selkirk Avenue.

This Huh? moment brought to you by Winnipeg, a city of really weird things.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Update on People Before Profit

Page 113, "The Mosaic Village: An Illustrated History of Winnipeg's North End," by Russ Gourluck

I know I said I would keep you posted on the "People Before Profit" sign on the roof of Nepon Auto Body on Salter but in case you missed it ... it snowed in Winnipeg this week.

We'll just have to wait until spring. I hate that I can say that!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Creative? Writing

In the interest of putting myself out on a limb (something I'm not generally a fan of doing when it comes to my "creative" writing) I have decided to post a piece of writing I did in class sometime during the past couple of months. It is most definitely fiction. I have never been to Chicago.

I call it "No Ketchup." Don't ask me why.

No Ketchup 

“Mustard, sir?”
“Yes, mustard and onions. No ketchup.”
Dave picked up the Diet Coke that Sam handed him.
“Here you go sir, mustard, onions, and ketchup.”
“No ketchup. Absolutely no ketchup,” said Dave. It bothered Dave that Sam couldn’t remember how he liked his hotdog. He had been coming to the same cart for 5 years now, ever since Sam had rolled up in his denim baseball cap and undersized ‘Harvard’ sweatshirt. It was little thing that bothered him, really. Like how Sam had never gone to Harvard.
Dave cracked open his Coke can and winced. A tiny sliver of blood rose up to the surface of his thumb. He sucked on it.
Damn, he thought. He had a stack of proposals to sign.

He stood in front of the elevator, watching his reflection in the mirrored surface as he waited for it to hit the ground floor.  Someone had scratched a smiley face into the stainless steel.
“Probably some frigging kid-intern,” said Dave’s boss, beside him.
“Yeah,” Dave said. He smiled. It had been an intern. Dave knew this because he given the kid the paperclip after a late night at his desk. He smiled again.
It was a week after the smiley face night that his mother, Margery, had been readmitted to the hospital. The cancer had spread to a new part of her body. The surgeons, unwilling to operate on her, had told Dave and his father that Margery would have to remain in the hospital for observation. At the time, Dave struggled to withhold a snarky comment.  
When the elevator doors finally binged open, Dave decided he could use the climb up the stairs. Seventeen floors would give him time to breathe.

“I think I’m dying,” was all that Dave could manage as Katherine from HR asked him how he was somewhere near the sixth floor.
Good lord, Amy was right, thought Dave. I need more exercise.
“Want me to hold the door, Dave?” said Fred from the elevator bank.
“Thanks,” said Dave as he manoeuvred himself into the elevator beside Fred. Dave didn’t think the smile on his friend’s face was necessary.

Dave sat down at his desk, the huge square window lighting him from behind like Jesus. His wife hated when he joked about things like that.
Hmmm, he exhaled through his nose.
He clicked his mouse awake and the tiny hourglass appeared as the computer geared itself up for what was coming. Dave clicked on the email he had been writing. “Mom,” the subject line read. “M-A-R-K,” Dave typed into the address box. The computer supplied the rest. Dave thought that it was worth waiting the extra three seconds for the computer to boot up so long as it continued to read his mind.
Dave ran his tongue across his teeth. He tasted mustard and onions and the metallic tang of the paperclips that he had been playing with all morning.
This stuff brings people together, Dave told himself. He clicked send.
Pending …
Message failed, his computer told him.
“Resend,” Dave answered back.
Pending …
Pending …

The phone on his desk rang. Line two.
“Hello? Hello, Mr. O’Donald? It’s Dr. Hamilton.” Dave wiped his hand across his mouth, bracing himself. He always braced himself.
“Your mother has suffered a blood clot,” the doctor told Dave. “She’s stable now, but your father is asking to see you.” 
As Dave rushed out of the fifteen storey office building, his red tie choking him in the Chicago wind, his computer pinged a response.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Dear Winnipeg,

'People Before Profit' is a heartwarming sentiment in a month that has seen our city "Occupied" and reach its own previously set record - 34th homicide of the year.

Painted in bold white and gray letters on the roof of the Nepon Auto Body shop, "Welcome to the North End: People Before Profit" has been greeting people as they come over the Slaw Rebchuk Bridge on Salter Street for longer than I've been alive. (see image below)

It's one of those things that I always look at, occasionally think about, and definitely didn't care that much about. That is until someone changed the shingles today.

As of this moment, the hand-painted letters have been stripped.

The only question on my mind is Are they going to put the sign back up?

Waiting and Slightly Worried

Page 113, "The Mosaic Village: An Illustrated History of Winnipeg's North End," by Russ Gourluck

Monday, 7 November 2011

Good eats near campus

Pesto Chicken Panini and Citrus Berry (Vegan) Smoothie $15

Ok, so here in the Exchange there’s lot of great places to grab a nice lunch. Some, as a student, I just can’t afford. Kay’s Deli, a block from RRC’s Princess Street campus on William Avenue, is pretty reasonable.

I heard about this place from my parents earlier in the week and was enticed by the small, but gourmet-sounding menu options.

They have paninis (hello, grilled Portabella mushrooms), wraps (small, but yummy), rotating daily soups (a vegan option always available), and salads (the classics and then some).

Not to mention their fresh juices in really odd combinations. Have you ever tried pomegranate/apple/carrot juice? I haven’t, but it’s on my list.

Just a word of caution, a couple of my friends thought the prices were a little steep for portion sizes. I paid just under $15 for a panini and smoothie with tip. I was full when I left.

Overall, good atmosphere and yummy food equals a nice Friday lunch. I suggest you give it a try.

Small and cozy.

They sell the artwork they display on the walls.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Winter Blues

So long fall.
Attention all: I think it’s time to prepare for the inevitable onset of snow.

My feet are getting chilly as my flat-wearing days stretch thin and I’ve been tempted more than once this week to wear my fuzzy red slippers to class.

I’ve resisted ... so far.

But I want to be positive about the upcoming season.

What’s your favourite thing about Old Man Winter?

Here's my Top 3
1. Wearing my leather mitts.
2. Warming up my nose while I walk. (You breath out fast and walk into it.)
3. Uh ... Christmas!