Sunday, June 07, 2009

When your compass only points to you...

Now that I'm well ensconced in my thirties, I've got the privilege of looking back on my twenties in disgust. I wouldn't go so far as to say that they were a total waste of time, they got me to where I am. But I coulda done better. I coulda done better by a lot of folks.
At the very least, I coulda--shoulda--done better by the many people who tried to help me. The other day we were browsing the online Arts & Entertainment section of the Leader-Post, the Regina daily newspaper for whom I wrote for five years. Nicole asked a seemingly innocuous question about an article, and my mind flashed on a particular episode about midway through my time at the L-P. But looking back on it, it was painfully obvious that I had misread the whole thing. And if I misread that, well, probably I was wrong about most everything. But what's really eating me is how wrong I was. For five years, I was wrong to Gerry Krochak.
Gerry was the one who'd invited me to write for the L-P. I'd been writing for prairie dog magazine and the student press for about four years at that point. Much respect to Mitch Diamantopoulos and Stephen Whitworth at the dog for their invaluable faith, encouragement and patience during those early years, but it was at the Leader-Post that I really started to become something resembling a writer.
I used to give Gerry sideways looks when he'd bring me leads and assignments. Can you imagine? Here's this guy, giving me the opportunity to make money doing what I say I want to do, and I'm acting like an asshole. I'm acting like he's kicking dirt on my new sneakers. I even through a tantrum or two. Meanwhile, I'm blowing deadlines and carrying on like, I dunno, like I'm too good or something. Like I'm such a great writer and I shouldn't be wasting my time on the Doobie Brothers or whatever. But Gerry kept bringing me leads, kept bringing me assignments. Gerry--along with Nick Miliokas, one of the finest wits and best editors in the whole racket--kept giving me gigs though, and most of the time, I kept taking them.
So, like, this must have been around 2003, maybe 2004, which were the prime years of my arrogance. Gerry asked me to speak with another aspiring entertainment writer, maybe give him some tips, point him in the right direction. And me, I'm all chuffed. Like, why is he putting this on me? All these years, I'd been carrying that as an insult, as an offence against me.
So the other night, after Nicole's words had spurred that memory, and I saw so clearly, that wasn't an insult, that was a compliment. And not a small or hollow one, either. The whole time, Gerry was helping me out. And I was too wrapped up in my own arrogance to even see that, let alone show some gratitude.
Now, in the present, I'm sticking some toes back in the kiddie pool, doing a few CD reviews and the odd interview, and building up to bigger things. You can find my name from time to time in prairie dog magazine and Planet S, thanks to the friendship and forgiveness of Stephen Whitworth. And, inevitably, you'll be seeing my byline everywhere and you'll be so sick of me. I'll be rich and discovering a whole new kind of arrogance, you thought I was insufferable before.
Gerry's moved on from the L-P, to Calgary, I've heard. I hope he's doing well, and maybe sometime he'll come out to the coast for a Lucinda Williams show or something, and he'll look me up and let me buy him an Indian lunch, huh? Who knows.

mp3: "The Highway Divides" by the Parkas
mp3: "Back Where I Started (Live)" by Marcellus Hall & the Headliners