In September of 2008, I was working construction in Edmonton when the bottom fell out of the economy. There were a few workers on my crew that were good enough to find work in a recession, but I wasn’t one.
After spinning my wheels for a week or two, I bought a bus ticket and returned to my home in the Yukon, carrying with me the notion that I could be a writer.
Shortly after setting up camp in my adolescent bedroom, I learned about What’s Up Yukon. I emailed then-editor Darrell Hookey — with a couple of attachments demonstrating my writing prowess — and mentioned I was interested in “editorial work.” He made me a counter offer:
“I’ll give you fifty bucks to write a column.”
I took the gig.
The column was called Yukon Icon, and the idea of the thing was to seek Yukoners with interesting life stories to tell, and tell them. In my two years writing Icon, I wrote about doctors, photographers, bicycle-repair men, restaurateurs, musicians, teachers, artists, lawyers, retirees, bartenders, hockey players, rabble-rousers, alcoholics, and scientists. You probably know a few of them.
For a guy with mixed feelings about moving home, it was eye opening. With only the odd exception, this eclectic gang had one thing in common: they loved the Yukon.
They told me this is a place where you can pursue the type of life you want; for a wannabe-writer this was a promising prospect.
But promising prospects don’t pay the bills. So in the meantime, I entered the official profession of wayward souls: substitute teaching.
My daily routine began by lying in bed, praying that the school secretary, Jackie, didn’t phone the house at around seven o’clock in the morning. If the line stayed silent, I could go back to sleep until 10, which happened to be precisely when The O.C. aired on CityTV. There are few pleasures in life that equal watching the trials of the “Core Four” with a steaming cup of coffee in your hand.
If the phone rang, I dragged myself out of bed, babysat little turds all day, and missed that day’s episode (annoying).
After a year and a half, I climbed one notch up the Dept. of Ed. ladder by becoming a teacher’s assistant for Lucas, a Grade 2 boy with cerebral palsy.
He never stopped giving me a hard time about cheering for the Calgary Flames. And If I run into Lucas sometime soon, I will point out that one of the benefits of the impending NHL lockout is that no one will have to watch the Habs this season.
In January of 2011, I started a one-year term as associate editor of Up Here magazine, filling in for the absent Katharine Sandiford. Among the great opportunities that that job provided me was the chance to visit Old Crow. While up there I met and became friends with What’s Up Yukon’s own Allan Benjamin. Some day I will take snowshoeing lessons from him.
Then came 2012, and it’s been nothing but EI cheques and fringe fests — until now. I was at Gavin Gardiner’s apartment in Regina — broke as a joke, and fixin’ to get broker — when he pointed to a job posting on the Internet. There were some openings on the editorial side of What’s Up Yukon.
So I polished off the old resume and emailed it to Mark and Tammy Beese. And two weeks later, here I am.
It’s curious to think about the bounces-of-life that lead you from one place to another, isn’t it?
I guess in a roundabout way, what I’m trying to say is that What’s Up Yukon would have saved everybody a lot of hassle if they had put me on staff four years ago like I suggested.