Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Killing Time is Easy With Babies

I got a lot of wonderful tips on how to spend my twice-as-long lunch hours. Ironically it seems, as soon as I have all these ideas of what to do during that hour in Kensington, I'm preoccupied.

Last week, my friend Colleen came to visit me during lunch. We went to The Yardhouse for lunch and then she wandered around Kensington some more while I went back to work. Plus she didn't even spend that much money at the card store. Relatively speaking.

The next day we had a birthday party at lunch for one of my co-workers. Not only was it something to do, it was an even longer lunch hour! Plus the publisher from Canadian Rockies bought everyone Crave cupcakes. Cupcake runs are common in this office.

See, here's the thing; when you work in Kensington, everyone wants to visit you, and parties are never dull.

The very best venture with other people was yesterday, when my sister Jaima and her three kids came to visit.

They met me for lunch, or at least, lunch break. Jaima was actually excited to shop in Kensington before she met Emily at Heritage Park, and seeing as they were staying in a hotel, and had had a huge breakfast buffet, they weren't hungry. So the Fixsens and I wandered around Kensington. Blake was wearing a new sweatshirt with puppets that attached onto the sleeves, and has greatly enjoying showing off his monkey and giraffe. I carried Teddy around in a sling cause I wanted to hold him but didn't want my arms to get tired. Eventually he got sick of being so snug and began arching his back so I really did have to hold him to prevent him from falling out. Not like I minded. And then there was Ivy. Going on about her trip to New York with her mom, where the thing she was most excited to see was American Girl Place.

We were wandering around in Purr trying on hats and marveling at the discovery of Marimekko in Canada when I looked at the time. Ten after twelve? I really only had another twenty minutes? Where did the time go?

After Jaima bought a hat to hide her hair that was not flat ironed but still looked fine, we crossed the street to Jugo Juice where I bought lunch and the kids decided that they were definitely still hungry and polished off most of my mango smoothie. Then, I really did have to go to work.

So, if friends are in Kensington on a weekday, call me, and you can occupy my next long lunch hour.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Writing Beyond the Blogoshpere

Blogging is great, it gives me a chance to write, to express myself, and most of all, feel like I have an audience to what I have to say.

But if you haven't noticed from the fact that I go to professional writing school, I want to write to more people then my sisters and blogging classmates. At school, The Calgary Journal gives us a taste of that, but I never post anything I write there here because, well, it's not a big accomplishment. I did my class assignment, and just happens to be in newsprint, what's so special about that? Sorry Terry.

Now, I'm on my internship. I work for a real publication, even if no one has ever heard of it, including me before I applied there. For some reason Where seems like slightly more of an accomplishment then The Journal.

My first story was just posted online yesterday. For those who want to know how I write when I have editors reading my work and must sound professional, click here. Or, better yet, just call me, and we can relive this story. I am all for reliving this research over, and over again.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Impossible Dream

This is another photo from our family reunion weekend. I wanted to put it up earlier, but the camera it was on went missing so I'm posting it now.

It all started with a trip to the zoo. The Thompsons, Skinners, and members of the family who still actually have the last name Redd all went out to keep the boys occupied for a few hours. And to spend time as a family, enjoy the intermittent sunshine, yadda, yadda.

We entered into the gorilla house during one of the rainy spells. We'd just been to see the lions and zebras, and after an adorable moment where Ben and Isaac roared at the birds and "scared them away," all the adults were especially camera happy.

As we entered the gorilla house, all three boys lined up along the fish tank and stared in wonder at it's inhabitants. I had recently passed off the camera I'd been in charge of to my brother-in-law, so seeing the perfect picture moment, I nudged him and said; "Jason, get a picture."

And so it begins.

No sooner has Jason asked the boys to turn around to face his camera then our mission becomes impossible. Brigham won't look at the camera, Isaac keeps wandering away, and while Ben is very accommodating in saying cheese and giving that adorable smile he mastered when he was two, we can never get him to do it at the precise moment Jason hits the shutter.

So we do what any group of adults would do. We gather around the camera, and try to divert the attention of three toddlers from more interesting things in the hopes of getting their attention for two whole seconds.

For those of you who have never tried this, I do no recommend it.

First you have to have the Attention-Getter. One person who stands to the side of the camera guy and shouts out out;

"Ben! Isaac! Look at Auntie! Look at Auntie!" (that was my job)

Next you need the Smilemaker (my sister Katey), who gets the delightful task of standing to the other side of the photographer and acts really excited and enthusiastic and tries to make the kids laugh. Being funny to kids on the spot is not so easy, so the Smilemaker may have to resort to just saying "Say cheese!"

Then, you need two Nets, people who stand on either side of the camera entourage and catch any toddlers who may be wandering away. These people must move quickly to scoop up wandering children and put them back in place before the shutter trips.

You would think that would do it, but if I have learned one thing about toddlers, it's that they're unpredictable. One day they're perfectly content to let you to 70+ photos of them for your photography project and the next there is just too many interesting things going on elsewhere to even stop for a second. This was the latter.

So five adults stood around, waving, cracking jokes, and poised ready to herd toddlers back into place at a moment's notice stood around and tried to get three toddlers to look at the camera at the same time and smile. We probably would of made a funnier picture then the kids at this point.

Eventually, my sister Emily came over with cookies, and all three boys leapt up with outstretched palms demanding a treat. We tried a new tactic; let them eat cookies, and take a picture.

The result is the picture you see above. And while they all have their mouths full and Isaac looks as though he's planning his escape, we sort of got what we want; a photo of Brigham, Ben, and Isaac, sitting in front of the fish tank at the zoo.

Kudos to people who do this for a full time job.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Killing an Hour is Harder Then It Sounds

I've been at my internship for about two weeks now, and there are a lot of things I am learning that are different in office life from anything else I have experienced. While I could fill several blogs worth on all the things I have observed, I will just focus on one today.

It was my very first day. Yes, that day where the elevator didn't work and hardly anyone was at work. I was reading all the training information and getting started on my very first listing, when the listings editor, Sally came to me and said;

"You can take an hour for lunch everyday. Try and go between 12 and 2. You don't need to let anyone know when you leave, you can just go."

It was 12:30 then, so I went for lunch right then. Seeing as it was my first day, I called home to say hi to my mom. I sat on a bench out on the street and ate while I talked (sorry Mom). I hung up the phone, and looked at the time, thinking to myself what a nice relaxing lunch hour that had been.

It was 12:50. I'd barely used 20 minutes. You mean I had another 40 minutes before I had to go back to work? Awesome.

Now the question was, what was I going to do with it those 40 minutes? In my entire life, out of all the jobs I'd ever had, I have never had longer then a half hour for lunch. Unless you count when I was a nanny, and when you have spend lunch time coming up with new ways to get two boys to eat their vegetables, it doesn't count. Last summer I sometimes didn't even get a half hour. I'd stand in the doorway of the staff room, eating my lunch and running back to my desk every time the phone rang (sorry to those people on on the line when I had curry).

Now, I had an hour all to myself everyday. I didn't have to wait for a convenient time between patients, I didn't have to keep kids from throwing their food, I didn't have to sit in a cramped little room filled with boxes of sweaters, I was free, in Kensington. I think I should leave my wallet at home.

I had no idea what to do with myself that first day. I think I went back 20 minutes early or something. The following Monday, I was as ill prepared as before. But I discovered something I had not noticed before. Or at least, not made the connection.

My office is a block away from the Bow River. Last Monday, I wandered over there and looked for a place to sit. It was harder then you'd think. The part of the Bow that goes by my house is very scenic and wildernessy, this was the Bow River going through downtown. It's not the same kind of atmosphere. For starters, homeless people live there. I was about to sit down on one bench when I noticed a pile of belongings beneath it. Is it rude to sit on a bench when you can obviously tell that bench is someone's home? I didn't bother to find out.

I was just beginning to think the river wasn't such a good idea after all when I noticed a little plaza just above the bike path. There was picnic tables and benches without personal belongings stashed beneath them. Perfect.

I ate my lunch and then stared at the river until my hour was up. Hey, at least it was better then watching the traffic on Kensington Road.

It wasn't until Tuesday that it occurred to me to bring a book. Considering what a book worm I am, that surprised me, but it's true. Now everyday at 12:30, I head down to the river and either read or walk along the pathway. It's a nice break in my day.

The only difficulty is that this is Calgary, and the weather doesn't always co-operate. Some days it rains, some days it snows. After sitting in a windowless cubicle for four hours, I need to get outside. So I go out, rain or shine, and walk. Yesterday I came in dripping wet, much to the amusement of our circulation manager, Emilia.

But I don't know what else to do with my lunch hours. I love going to the river, but I'm worried I will get bored within the next four months, or some days the weather will just be too miserable to go out. Any suggestions with how to kill an hour in Kensington?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Family Portrait

This picture was taken this weekend at Janine's homecoming. It was one of those rare weekends where my entire family is in one place at the same time. Everyone; sisters, brothers-in-law, nephews - the Redds in all their glory, and slight berserkness.

I think this picture captures our family perfectly. If you don't agree, or don't know enough to either agree or disagree, let me tell you the back story to how this photo came to be.

It was the morning before Janine's homecoming. We had a bunch of family over before church for lunch. All the adults stood around and talked about law school, and Russian art and intelligent things, and the kids ran around the backyard with swords. It was great, and a pretty typical get together of the Redds.

Then, someone said something about getting a photo of me with my twin cousin, Monica. We dug out her camera, and my camera, and took pictures. That was all it took to get people started. People wanted to take pictures with Janine, with Mom, with everything. Before we knew what was happening, Grannie was commanding the hoards of people in different directions so she could get a picture of "Karyn and her girls," aka - my mom, my four sisters, and me.

Immediately, every camera in the vicinity was yanked out and cousins and brothers-in-law were engaged to use them. Then we thought of something - it was hardly fair to leave one of Mom's kids out of the shot because he was a boy, so Peter was brought into the picture. Then it just seemed to make sense to take one with Dad in it as well. If we include one boy, we may as well include the other.

Now here's the interesting bit; the idea for the photo shoot came up at 12:30. Church starts at 1. There was a lot of us there, so Monica, Peter, Jeff Redd and I were supposed to be leaving to save seats for family and any lonely friends who should show up (we ended up taking three pews to seat our hoard).

But Grannie wanted her picture. We were in a hurry. Emily had disappeared as she's just started potty training Isaac. The Thompsons were packing up to leave right after sacrament meeting, and Ben and Brigham were not pleased to change out of their pajamas into their Sunday clothes. Janine was getting the things for her talk together. Bedlam had broken out in the Redd house and people were still trying to get pictures. Katey was chasing after an irate Ben, Emily was gone, and I was late. Lots of people were yelling, and running around, and then we all turned, smiled and took a family picture.

Looking at this picture just makes me laugh. We're all smiling and trying to look like a Hallmark card, but really, we're all thinking; "I need to leave, we're late!" "Where is Benny's sweater?" "I need to be putting everything in the car," or "I want to drive to church so I can pretend my sister's car is mine and all my friends will think I'm cool now that I'm 16."

So this is my family. Emy getting me to hide her belly by standing in front of her, Janine in the middle of saying something, Jaima, well I don't know what you're doing, but you remind me of Ivy in this picture. And of course, Petey's towering over everyone. There you have it - the Original Redds.

You pay ghastly sums to have a professional photographer for a family portrait, but to me, this picture my brother-in-law snapped with a point on shoot on our way out the door says more then every professional one we've ever taken.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Mystery of the Kensington Plaza Elevator

I didn't sleep very well last night. It only took me until four in the morning to realize that I was tossing and turning not due to nerves, but because my cell phone kept on beeping to let me know it was slowly dying. Delightful. Everyone wants to get up two hours before their alarm goes off to plug in their phone so it will shut up.

I was already scared for my first day of my internship with Where, but I was made even more so by the total lack of sleep. Janine was much more exuberant when she got up to go for a run as I was heading out the door. Somehow though, I managed, to get dressed, look professional, and eat something before I had to leave. I even made it down there with a a little early.

Now here's where the fun begins. Where's office is in a business complex on the side of a store in Kensington. I had a hard time finding it for my interview, so I gave myself plenty of time in case I forgot. I found the office fine. Quite pleased with myself, I got in the elevator and pushed the button for the second floor.

It took me a minute before I realized it wasn't moving. I pressed the button again. Nothing happened. I was still on the lobby floor. Panicked, I wondered if I was trapped in the elevator. I pushed the button to open the door. They opened. I stepped out, and looked around for the staircase. There wasn't one. I realized that was silly. All buildings had to have a staircase. I went outside and looked for a staircase there. Nothing.

This was brilliant, my first day of work, I'm trying to look competent and reliable, and I can't even figure out how to get inside.

I tried the elevator for the first floor, and it worked, but the second remained stubborn. I figured out what I thought was wrong. This business complex has one office per floor, so the elevator opens right into Where's office. It would make sense then, that the office be able to prevent people from going in the elevator to their floor when they are closed. Clearly the office wasn't opened yet.

I called the only number I had for the place, the editor's office number from her business card. I called. She didn't answer. Oh well, I guess if the editor wasn't in yet it wouldn't be the end of the world if I wasn't there. But so much for being early.

I was still in the elevator wondering what to do next when the receptionist came and found me. She explained what I'd already figured out and told me to come around back. Then, once inside, she gave me the number of everyone in the office should it happen again.

Later I discovered that my editor, artistic director (who is usually the one to unlock the elevator), and several other people were not there that day. So that, plus starting on Friday, plus my beginning made for a most memorable first day.