Destiny fulfilled

Today, I was officially transferred into the Marketing department of the company where I work (I was formerly in the Technical Documentation department). This completes a circle begun twenty years ago (!) when I accidently enrolled in the “Business Technology” program at the University College of Cape Breton (UCCB), a two-year diploma program designed to help the aimless find work.

I had the bright idea to major in Data Processing. Unfortunately, I don’t have the noggin for it, so half-way through my second year I transfered to Marketing.

This was around the same time I became a minor celebrity for my “Harry for Prez” posters, which depicted my friend Harry in a number of absurd situations that had nothing to do with his bid for Student’s Union President. He won by a landslide.

I was a budding cartoonist and designer, plus I was studying marketing. Sounds like a formula with a lot of potential. Unfortunately, this was Cape Breton, where most jobs involve either back-breaking labour, or automatonous button-pushing. At that point in my life I had never met a creative person–or at least one who made a living in creative pursuits. The result was that I never felt all this was anything more than fun and shenanigans.

On the last day of classes, after I had obtained a perfect score on my final exam, my marketing professor was chatting with a few of us about what we planned to do next. He said to me something like “everyone knows you’ll be going into advertising”. He might as well have said “Deep-sea golfing”. I just stared blankly and said “Huh?” then “No, I want to get a job”.

It never occurred to me that anyone (least of all I) could do anything other than sit at a desk and do what someone else told me to do. My response was to go back to school and get a Bachelor’s degree from St. F.X.U., focussing on psychology and sociology. I also wrote for the student weekly, photographed for the weekly and the yearbook, designed posters for the film and lecture series, and designed t-shirts for clubs and societies. By the time I obtained the degree I was disillusioned with psychology (enough with the rats!), and had no desire to be a burned-out, overworked social worker.

After a few false starts I got into technical writing, where I’ve been ever since. Along the way I always had at least one toe in the creative pool. For example, I spent a few years at Concordia University (part time) working on a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (incomplete). I’ve designed a few little websites, like this one. I’ve written the odd article published in obscure magazines. And of course, I entertain my friends with countless emails and blog posts about the silliness going on around me, such as this “requisition request” I sent to both my new and my former bosses this morning, after the announcement that I was moving to Marketing:

“Marketing Weasel” kit requisition

  • Armani suits = 2
  • Chalet in the country = 1
  • Amex Francium* card = 1
  • Lunch vouchers for “Le Mas des Oliviers” = 100
  • Pan-airline automatic upgrade card = 2
  • Gold tooth = 1
  • I still haven’t decided between the Porche Boxster and the BMW Z3. Will get back to you on that…

(*Francium = the world’s rarest element)

So now I’m in marketing. My job is primarily to write text for brochures, the web, magazine ads, etc., but I also contribute to the design process. I’m now where all those people from my past thought I would end up. Which of course begs the question, “What do I do next?

Bye bye Oreo…

Sadly, I’m here today to once again eulogize a cat. You may recall that back in February, my faithful 14-year-old cat Larry took sick and was euthanized. (Check the archives.) Larry was part of a loopy threesome of cats I shared with Kathy ten years ago. First there was Larry, who we got in the fall of 1987. Then Oreo came along in 1989 (I think…maybe 88). Finally, Spiff joined the club in 1991.

When Kathy moved to Vancouver in early 1993 she took Oreo with her. Well, more accurately, I delivered Oreo when I visited not long after she moved there.

I had to give Oreo a tranquilizing pill, which the Vet had perscribed, before putting her on the plane. It was an early flight, and I was quite poor back then, so I gave her the pill before leaving the house. Then I carried her in the cold winter air to the Metro, where I rode with the going-to-work crowd all the way to the Lionel-Groulx station. From there I hopped the 211 Express bus to Dorval, and then another bus for the short hop to the airport. Oreo, who was normally very quiet and introverted, howled like a banshee the whole way.

Finally, at the airport, the pill kicked in. It was kind of funny, actually. She looked drunk. She was awake, and somewhat alert, but her reactions were very slow and her tongue was sticking out of her mouth a bit, making her look a bit stunned. I handed her over and she was checked into the special animal compartment. She survived the flight and was as cool as a cucumber when I picked her up in Vancouver.

Kathy informed me today that Oreo, so-named because of her cookie-like black and white fur, was struck by a car and killed yesterday. She says she didn’t suffer.

I haven’t seen Oreo in many years, but I remember her very well. She got along reasonably well with Larry, but Spiff was a terror as a kitten (still is) and he used to drive her crazy. Oreo, as I said, was quiet and introverted, but very affectionate. She didn’t talk much unless you put her in a car or took her on the Metro, in which case she would yowl so loud your eardrums would rattle. She was soft and a bit chubby and had thick lucious black fur with white highlights here and there, such as on her paws and her chin and belly.

When we first got Spiff I was about to enter Concordia University to work on a BFA (part time) with a major in Photography. One day I was looking for something to photograph, and there was Spiff, terrorizing Larry and Oreo, so I got down to cat’s eye view and photographed the shenannigans. It went on for hours. I ended up making a little book about it. It begins with a formal portrait of each of them, then ten fighting shots (Spiff is in every one–it’s always Spiff against one of the others), and ends with a picture of the three of them napping at the foot of the bed.

Here’s one of the pictures of Spiff (left) getting ready to pounce on the much larger Oreo, who is trying to defend herself:

Archive diving…

I’ve been reading through some old emails and files lately. It’s quite the thing, to get back inside your own head–or at least your own head as it was way back when.

As I’m still feeling lazy about writing new material, I will instead share with you an email I sent to the famous Jeff a few years ago, when I was feeling somewhat aimless and reclusive, not unlike my current state. This is a description of my ideal life, as I imagined it then. It is one version of my on-going South-of-France fantasy, which can only be made possible through the winning of a lottery. I still find it attractive, and if a million bucks falls into my lap tomorrow, here’s what the next few years in the life of This Thing Called Ed will be like:

I’ve been to a few of the villages that lie in the hills above St. Tropez, such as Cogolin and Grimaud. According to my fantasy, I somehow become the owner of a nice three-bedroom, 400-year-old stone house in one of these places. Fortunately, it has modern fixtures, such as a new gas stove and an extra-large refridgerator. In parts of the house the floors are hardwood. In other parts, such as the kitchen and bathrooms, the floors are thick terra cotta tiles. The windows have shutters which are rarely closed, and the furniture, while “lived in”, is clean, low maintenance, and fits well in its surroundings of old wood and stone.

I live there, and spend my days reading, soaking up the sun, and sitting on my terrace, bathed in the fragrant air. Baskets of lavender and rosemary hang, swinging softy in the breeze. The streets are lined with flowers. I pass the mornings in the local cafe, reading the papers and chatting with the locals and the english ex-pats who have come to inhabit this place. In the afternoons, I read, nap, and perhaps go down to the beach. In the evenings I walk the neighbour’s dog (a friendly Golden Retriever, who likes me better than his master), and eat food obtained at the local market, or perhaps indulge in a visit to the neighbourhood bistro. A bit of Pastis or Calvados rounds out the evening, along with good converstation around heavy wooden tables.

Somewhere in there I write a novel. Every couple of months I receive a visitor from my previous life, who stays just long enough to be interesting. Occasionally, the more attractive female ones seduce me. In winter I travel to Morocco and Cuba for weeks at a time, and at least once per month I hop the TVG from Nice to Paris for a serious meal.

Most of my local travel is on a scooter, with a basket on the back large enough to hold the goods I bring home from the markets in and around Grimaud. For longer excursions, I have a six-year old white Peugot 203, a basic no-frills car whose only luxury is it’s rag-top convertible roof. When I’m feeling restless I hop in the Peugot and drive, top-down, into Italy to stock up on olive oil and to look at the sea from a different angle.

At least once per year I take the chunnel to London, where I tour the bookstores to get in my year’s supply of novels.