The Contrarian

I could barely get to sleep most Tuesdays. Wednesdays meant two back-to-back radio news shifts, and endless possibilities. I’d leave Laval at 6 in the morning to make it to class on time.

He was known to most as Coach, and as I learned today, Contrarian by some. With tears welling up in my eyes, I also learnt more about Ross Perigoe from the people who knew him best; his friends, colleagues, sons, and siblings.

Many gathered at Eglinton St. George’s United Church in Toronto to honour the life that was lived by our beloved Coach. Day 1 of JOUR 330: Advanced Radio, the Ph.D. told us we were to call him Coach. I didn’t know how serious he was until I began to roll my ‘R’ in preparation for his name, as he shot a discerning look my way. Immediately “Coach” shot out of my mouth, and it would remain that way for the rest of the time I knew him.

He was Coach, and we were a team. The radio newsroom was the field, and with Coach’s guidance we never struck out. There were times when I may have been close, but Coach would be there with words of encouragement. He believed in us; in all of us, especially when we didn’t believe in ourselves.

When I got an interview for an internship at CBS Radio in New York City, Coach was the first person I called. When it was my turn to wear the Assignment Editor’s hat, I sat by Coach collecting my thoughts, and going over the show’s rundown. It was tax time. Almost in unison, Coach and I looked up and said The Beatles’ Taxman must open the show. And, so it did. It isn’t possible to listen to that song without thinking of him.

I spent last summer in the Rockies as a Podcast Producer for The Banff Centre. My love for radio, and all things audio, grew under the loving care of Coach. His passion and enthusiasm were infectious, and shared by many; myself included. We were similar in a lot of ways. I, too, tend to take the opposing view in discussions, for argument’s sake. We would speak about matters dear to the heart, and how he had a long distance relationship with his wife, as well.

I was very moved, by the way people spoke about Coach; how he affected their lives, and everyone else’s sitting in that church. I thought about how I would be remembered. What impression will I leave? Will my journalism career be as enduring? Will my long-time friend go on about the good old days hosting Sunny Side Up, and our j-school adventures at my wake?

In part, my tear stained cheeks were owed to the fact that tomorrow marks 5 months since the passing of one of my uncles. Like with Coach, I can’t believe he’s gone. He remains a steadfast fixture in my thoughts, and at times in my dreams. A recurrence in these episodes of rapid eye movement, is how he has made it known that he’s okay. I have a hard time believing those I love have passed on. I am going to resign myself to the belief that it is because those we lost don’t ever truly leave us. I will take comfort in that.

I will also take comfort in knowing I could give back to Coach, and that his legacy will live on through the Ross Perigoe Memorial Scholarship.

Post-Banff Post

It shames me to think how I let a summer go by without a single post.  I got to thinking why it is that I don’t keep a diary or journal. When would I go back and read it, anyway? I was there, I know what happened. Does documenting each day take away from living in the moment? The memories will live on. If I don’t remember them, were they that significant? That’s probably not true; there’s only so much space on the memory drive of the mind. Would I be living in the past as opposed to the present? It’s something I struggle to balance to begin with. I’m constantly thinking of what’s to come. (I bought the Dalai Lama’s Little Book of Inner Peace last week– should make for enjoyable bathroom briefings. The inner flap states it’s “The only Dalai Lama book you’ll ever need”. I sure can pick ’em.)

Next, I began to ponder about time whilst sitting on the shuttle bus from Banff to Calgary (magnificent views all around). Quality. Quantity. It’s a very fleeting thing. How much do we have of it? I started to think in terms of measurement. A New York minute. I then wondered what quantifable measure I could attach to that gem in the Rockies: Banff. At times a day would seem like a week. Then, the next thing you know, you’re  listening to Adele’s Someone Like You and reverting to an Elbow Drop any WWE fan would be proud of to try and close the suitcase that somehow fit everything on the way over and wondering how 3 months has escaped you. Truth is, it didn’t escape me. I was mostly uninebriated for its entirety. It’s always intriguing how time flies when you’re having fun. And, that’s what my summer was. Fun. Meeting and working with extraordinary people within the audio industry. 

I had no idea what I was in for before going to Banff, or even after writing that prelimenary post back in May. The friends, connections and memories made make it, quite possibly, the best summer I’ve had. I had no idea such a thing existed or was even possible. The Banff Centre’s motto is “Inspiring Creativity”. And, it is something it lives up to 100%. (Show of hands; who had heard of The Banff Centre prior to this?) It’s Canada’s best kept secret. And, it shouldn’t be so. Individuals from all over travel to this epicentre of the art world where culture and creativity converge. More people should know about it. More people should go to it.

This crash course in audio sharpened my skills and I had the liberty to try things. I learnt about stuff I otherwise wouldn’t (mics, technique, style, equipment, software, etc.), whether a personal project or having to write an intro for Mozart’s clarinet quintet. That’s the other thing; I got to encounter music and art forms I don’t normally frequent. Subsequently resulting in an appreciation for classical music. I’ve heard the notes from my brother, Jamie’s baby grand piano trickle up from his room to mine for years and years, but never simply sat and just listened for hours, uninterupted. Let alone then explain it to an iTunesU audience. I never sat in a club and listened to jazz. Or, aboriginal music? Nope. It was great to be exposed to all of it.

I really can’t think of a bad time I had in Banff. Even if I was frustrated and it seemed I wouldn’t accomplish what I needed to when I needed to. I’m thankful for those moments, however, because it’s then that a shift occurs. You have a choice. Pout or power through. It’s how we handle the things that go wrong, not the things that go right that matter.

A few summer highlights:

-Friends with Friends. (Thanks, Banff World Media Festival.)

-Canada Day celebrations. (Free pancake breakfast, fireworks, Dancing Sasquatch, jumping into the Bow Valley river, also jumping into Lake Louise.)

-B.C. Visiting a dear friend on the Beautiful Coast.

-Livestreams. Co-hosting webcasts of concerts at The Banff Centre with the great Eric Friesen.

-Ren Klyce. The first interview I conducted, my first week, was the multiple Oscar nominated sound designer. Cool interview. Cooler interviewee.

-Faculty. Meeting and working with sought after professionals was rewarding and still leaves me in awe.

-Calgary Stampede: The rodeo was a tad barbaraic, but the deep fried Pop-Tarts and pizza on-a-stick hit the spot.

-Amour in Banff. Experiencing the sites with Mike, my boyfriend. (Some, more note-worthy than others. The discovery that the Hot Spring is nothing but a tiny pool was disappointing. Nothing like the smell of chlorine to wash away my vision of being submerged within a babbling brook filled with revitalizing H2O.

. . .

I don’t know what lies ahead for now. Your guess is as good as mine. I am back in Toronto, exactly where I was 3 months ago, except I don’t have something lined up, as I did when arriving here. In a moment of panic, Mike told me how boring life would be if at twenty-three I had it all figured out. It really struck me. Maybe we never figure it out. Maybe, the trick is trying not to.

In essence, these little posts of mine are like my journal. Only, I invite you to read them (again, and again). Hopefully, I won’t want to destroy them in a few years, as I did after reading my middle school diary.

Banff Bound

I packed my bags. I was ready to go. But, first, I wanted to make sure my 11:00 AM flight was on-time. I logged onto Toronto’s Pearson International Airport only to find that my flight was the sole to be cancelled out of dozens. Momentary panic. I called WestJet to assure I’d be on the next flight to Calgary.

The soothing voice on the other end of the line informed me that I was on the 5:00 p.m. flight. 5:00 PM? 5:00 PM! No. I needed to be on the 12:15 PM. It’s a 2-hour shuttle ride to Banff and I wanted to be unpacked and well rested for my first day as Podcast Producer at The Banff Centre courtesy of Corus Entertainment. I was told there was no room on the flight. A quick internet search indicated otherwise however and I let her know. 12:15 PM flight booked.

As I stood idly by to board said aircraft, a rather unruly passenger was causing quite a stir. “I checked in on-line! I’m claustrophobic! Let me know when you get your act together” and on and on it went. I don’t know what one expects to accomplish with such a poor attitude. Funnily enough the woman, who was on in years, wore a shirt stating “This princess saves herself” above a carton image of Princess Peach from the Super Mario Brothers video games.

As I settled into my seat which was situated in the first row with expansive leg room, a flight attendant asked if I was travelling alone. Indeed I was. “Would you be willing to switch to a middle seat? I’ll give you a $150 credit!” she said without skipping a beat. Sold! As you may have guessed the seat switching was to accommodate the damsel in distress I mentioned earlier.

The only method of payment up in the air is credit. Cash is useless above sea-level, apparently. Having just moved and switched banks, I am currently without the desirable plastic needed to purchase refreshments in flight. Unbeknownst to her at the time, the stewardess asked if I would like a sandwich. I informed her of my phantom credit card and she began to roll her cart away. She paused hesitantly, “Will you be ordering alcohol?” “No,” I replied. “We’ll give you a FREE sandwich since you switched seats.” Karma—someone should let the Botox-aficionado now sitting in my seat know about it.

The shuttle ride to Banff was breathtaking. The concept that this is to be my home for the next three months remains unfathomable. Meet the neighbours! These furry friends hang out by my window.

Today was Day 1.   Meetings, orientations, tutorials, oh my! It was a day chock full of info sessions. It’s a lot to take in. New endeavours are daunting and make me skittish. I over-anticipate what is to be expected of me and place an inordinate amount of weight on my shoulders. Things usually work out well. I emerge relatively unscathed and wiser from the experiences that cause me needless worry.

I am up to the challenge. This summer will be enormously rewarding. The Banff Centre’s motto is “Inspiring Creativity”; I think it is in part to the welcoming and supportive staff but it is also owed to the landscape. As soon as I step outside of a building and catch sight of the magnificent Rocky Mountains I am both stunned and amazed. I feel as though in a blink it could all disappear.

The creative possibilities attached to producing these podcasts seem endless. The eventual opportunity of bleeding over into video podcasting thrills me. With so much going on at The Banff Centre and around town, the only thing I should ask myself is where should I begin?