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A Tuesday Night on a southbound car to College

17 Mar

Do I ever look up? Not as much as I used to. Look around? I don’t know. Do I realize how much is happening around me? Probably not.

On rare occasions when I abandon the comfort of my cellphone, for the world beyond my headphones, I notice things. Take a few minutes in the subway car today, for example.

Across from me, sits a man in a baseball cap reading metro cover to cover. A gaggle of blonde teenage girls squawk about boys at school. A discarded lottery ticket lies on the floor. The silver polish has been scribbled away. Did the scratcher think maybe—just maybe— that this was his/her lucky day?

Else there’s not much remarkable. Litter scattered here and there. An abandoned bubble teacup, recognizable by its thick straw meant for sucking up gummy spheres of tapioca. Footprints leave an impression on red tapestry imitation seats.

You’re probably wondering why I’m sharing this culmination of information that I happened to record in my notebook today. And the truth is I don’t know. I don’t know why I picked today to write about the streetcar. Or, if I’d taken another if I would have been apt to notice more or less. Perhaps in many months I’ll forget this evening entirely. So, the reason? There is none except my fascination with the impressions people leave in their wake—knowingly or not.


Wise Boy

20 Feb

My cousin Jake has curly blonde locks and a pale complexion. If I were going to guess, I’d say he’s just over half my height (I’m 5’8). He’s in grade six and has had three girlfriends (a detail he’s understandably proud of).

We’re  having dinner. We—Jake, my brother, my Aunt, my second cousin, etc—bat possible professions, for Jake, across the table. My second cousin suggests Jake enter the law profession and join his brother in practice. My brother pipes up, “Hey, that’s going to be me.” Jake’s eyes glaze over. He doesn’t want to be a lawyer.

“Perhaps an astronaut? Do astronauts make a lot of money, Maiya?” he turns to me, eyes boring into me, searching for an answer.

“I’m not sure but I think so,” I say.

“What about journalists?” Jake asks. “Why do you want to be a journalist and not an ambulance driver?”

I tell him I like writing. He can’t imagine why—says it’s hard. He’s good at math. His eyes roll to the side. He’s thinking. “Do journalists make a lot of money?

“No,” I laugh.

He and my family continue to debate. My brother suggests plumbing at one point because it’s underrated but you do make a lot of money.

“What about a gonorrhea surgeon?” Jake asks, a smirk creeping across his face. He’d just learned about sexually transmitted infections in school. We laugh. His mother covers her face with her hands, but laughs nonetheless.

At some point the conversation ceases, probably because Jake loses interest. He trots into another room. A few moments later he returns.

“I’ve been thinking Maiya,” he says to me.


“You like journalism right?”


“Well, then that’s all that matters—not making money like he thinks,” he says, jabbing his finger into the air in the direction of my brother.

Thanks Jake, I say.

My Room

11 Feb

My room is a hodge-podge of newfound hobbies and goals that I took up with a sudden enthusiasm and abandoned just as quickly.

First off there’s a receipt for the swimming lessons I was determined to take. This summer I decided to conquer a fear and a life-long apprehension about learning to survive in deep waters. I took a few lessons, cancelled many times before eventually abandoning the effort all together.

Next, there’s a squash racquet on my floor from when I decided I’d take up squash.  I regularly decide on new fitness regimes. It never lasts more than a month and I think I’ve finally given up on the gym for good. But I discovered squash courts in my apartment building and decided it couldn’t be that hard to learn. I promptly went out and bought a racquet and haven’t used it since.

On my wall, I’ve tacked up a white sheet with the words “Story Ideas” emblazoned on it, in black marker. Underneath is one newspaper article. I put the paper up in October when a reporter told me I should start keeping a more organized folder of ideas. My ideas remain scrambled half-hazardously on loose pieces of paper, in my blackberry and occasionally even in computer files.

There are beads on my shelf from when my friend from UWO’s art program visited me and dragged me to the stores that stock the material. After laying my eyes on an array of hand-blown, glass beads, I promptly decided to take up the hobby. I carried my bounty home, place it on the shelf and it’s been there ever since.

I won’t bore you with the many more homages to my short bursts of energy bt needless to say there are many.

Oh, RyeHigh

26 Jan
Today, I walked to the Tim Horton’s I’ve been using in my four years at Ryerson. While the one man who works there was pouring pre-boiled hot water into a “large” paper cup, stamped with the Tim Horton’s logo, I realized I’d miss him–him and all the other cafe workers. I’d miss their unchanging scowls and the rhythmic way they slam down coffees, teas and various sweet beverages. The Tim Horton’s staff at Ryerson isn’t the only staple of Ryerson I’ll miss.
In my excitement for graduation, I think I’d forgotten what I’d be leaving behind. So, I’ve assembled a list of sorts of the top ten other pieces of Ryerson I’ll miss.
1. The mean security guard in the library. You know the one I’m talking about. He has a bulging belly and a face that indicates he’s likely never smiled in his life.
2. The quad. Okay, we live in Canada and go to school in the winter but we occasionally get to enjoy the sun. And when we do, its rays are glorious. The quad is our largest stretch of grass–a sad fact–and there’s nothing quite as satisfying as stretching out on it, under the sun’s gaze.
3. Defending the  Ryerson journalism program to other people who compare it to Carleton though I’m sure this habit will continue long after I’ve left these crowded halls.
4. The magazine lab: both the bane of my existence and a place I spend far too much time. I’m sure next year, I’ll feel a little nostalgia at the thought of another year conquering the room, marking it as their own.
5. Professors who’ve inspired me. There have been many–Ivor Shapiro, Bruce Gillespie, to name a few.
6. Professors who I’ve loathed. Yes, their classes were hard to sit through but I loved bitching about said professor after class. Don’t underestimate the power of decrying professors like Mary Bailey–english department and don’t ever take her class if you can help it!
7. The certainty with which feet hit the halls, thumping down stairs and into classrooms
8. The bake-sales and ticket-sales in the RCC. There’s always something going on in the RCC and while music blaring is often annoying, it’s also part of the character of the building.
9. The creakiness and strange sounds that emanate from all corners of Ryerson. In the magazine lab, late at night, we often hear strange whirring sounds. In Kerr Hall East rooms, I imagine a janitor repeatedly hitting out heater with a broom, to correspond to the noise.
10. The people. The friends I’ve made here.

Top 5 Reasons why I’m convinced I’m on the brink of a quarter-life crisis

17 Jan
  1. Realization individual actions meaningless: I like to think of this as a positive realization. I abandoned naivety  and opened my heart to the cold tentacles of cynicism.
  2. Tendency to hold stronger opinions: I admit to seeing the world as a bit more of a black and white place than it likely is. I hold fiercely to my personal morals and tend to be judgmental of others.
  3. Unrelenting indecision: Yes, yes, yes. I can’t make up my mind about anything. While sipping coffee at our favourite weekly meeting spot, I told my best friends I was planning to move to Ireland when I graduated; they laughed. And I can’t blame them. In the past few months, they’ve heard me contemplate everything from staying in Toronto, to working in the Yukon, to moving to the U.S. or Europe, and everything in between.
  4. Anxiety about working: I waver between excitement and panic when I contemplate life after school. Self-doubting thoughts run through my mind, on a loop: “I’m not as good a writer as everyone else.” “I’m not as smart as everyone else.” “I probably won’t make it.” And worst of all, “I’ll end up selling out and working in PR.”
  5. Isolation: Everyone else knows where he or she is headed. They’re moving up and on with their lives, moving to faraway lands, setting down with respective boyfriends or girlfriends or they’re happy doing what they’ve always done. And where does that leave me? Indecisive and stuck.

Get off your phone! It’s rude!

9 Jan

It’s hard being fully present in a world of technology. I do acknowledge that. And I am occasionally guilty of the same crimes I’m accusing others of. I acknowledge that, too. So, I’m trying to change the behaviour. And I think others should too.

Even if your cell phone doesn’t ring non-stop, you carry it with you everywhere, never letting it leave your sight. It’s you alarm clock, your database of information. It even carries the most personal messages, things you might not even want others to see. If you have a crackberry, as they’re affectionately known, you’re even more addicted to the e-mail and Internet features. Or, perhaps, you carry your laptop with you everywhere, whipping it out at every opportunity. Maybe, if you do none of the above, you walk around with headphones permanently glued to ears, music blaring. Whatever the case, it makes you less aware of the world around you, always looking for something bigger, better. When you check your phone while others are talking to you, it’s rude. It sends a signal of disinterest. You don’t care what they’re saying and you want them to know it. Well, we get it. We give up. Go ahead. Take that call. Text that person. Check that e-mail. Because whatever he or she has to say is more important than anything the person in front of you could have to offer. Right? Right.

Check out this great Washington Post article:

Humanity Calamity

30 Dec

Dear Ryerson Journalism Program,

I think I’ve lost a bit of my humanity. I think journalism is to blame. When someone confides in me, offering a deeply sad tale, my first thought is, “What a good story!” The subject matter could vary from a minor atrocity, like missing the bus because newly implemented bus routes are ineffective, to something more major, as in an incorrect diagnosis at the hospital.

I’m ashamed to say this idea isn’t my second thought, or even my third but my initial, gut reaction.

I wasn’t always this way. I used to think of myself as a compassionate person, always striving to offer help and advice as best I could. Now, I think of the ability to turn a sorry tale into a great feature. My mind does a little dance. My thought process goes a little like this:

Step 1) “What a good story!”

Step 2) I wonder if it’s useable, if the person would let me interview them or provide me with access to the person in question.

Step 3) I answer the above questions with a simple ‘yes,’ or, ‘no.’ If it’s a no, I immediately snap back into reality, indicating my false displeasure at the sad news and a willingness to help. If it’s a yes, I’ll make a mental note to ask more later.

The whole process takes a few seconds. As my brain does this little jig, I stare blankly before snapping back into reality, the compassionate individual I must pretend to be.

I must admit it’s not all your fault, Ryerson. I bear some responsibility for seeking to train myself. It’s like acquiring a new super power, after all. Actually, in this case, it’s probably more like a curse. But whatever I choose to nickname this burden, I’m sure I’ll eventually learn to grapple it into the foreground, enabling me to display genuine emotion. Until then, I’ll continue to blame the craft for ripping my humanity from my chest.