Tuesday April 19, 1991. The last day of the Wednesday Ryersonian Masthead someone took a photograph. Nineteen of us, 18 students plus the instructor, jammed into the corner along the shared wall to Miller’s office with the journalism faculty mailboxes and Ryersonians pinned high around the room. Black and white. Did Brendan the photo dude set a timer to snap the shot? Did Miller take it? It’s startling to realise I’ve forgotten nearly everyone’s name.
I remember Brendan, who’s sprawled out on a counter behind me doing his best “thinker” pose. He was my photographer that day I went to Oakham House to cover the organic wine tasting and chef demonstration. Neither one of us was much of a wine drinker and with very few students showing up there was a lot of wine to be drunk. Some I actually enjoyed, which was unusual in this place and time. The chef made some sort of pasta dish with chicken and a cream sauce. After a couple of hours we wobbled next door to file the story, the back page held for us. What a buzz! I think his parents were also the ones who didn’t think Elvis had died, followed the sightings news and would frequently take strategically planned trips hoping to see him for themselves.
I remember Deanne, standing beside me with her arms folded across her chest that impatient “take this damned picture already” look pressed into her tight smile. I knew her a bit better than any of the others, which is to say we were friendly but not really friends. I didn’t hang out with any of my classmates, didn’t go to any of their parties (if they had any). I never really bonded with anyone in this group, not like I did with my first year class. I was actually really focused on schoolwork, as hard as that is to believe, plus Stacy had moved by then. Also I was depressed I think, starting to withdraw from Kevin and the city, in my mind getting ready to leave.
Deanne’s family were into publishing already, magazines I believe, and I thought she was really lucky to have an in. After graduation she would go work with her family, a prospect that didn’t thrill her. She felt pushed into something she had only a passing interest in. These bits gleaned from smalltalk over cigarettes in the foyer or the basement lounge. The no-smoking laws had been passed already but nearly everyone, staff and students, in the journalism building smoked so we kept right on. Those were grey times anyway, when the first smoking-in-the-workplace laws were going through.
I remember Zap, the features editor, standing just to my left and in front of Deanne. He was so good natured and funny, he had a calm and optimism about him that was really great to be around. The girl on my right is Amy, the assistant editor. She looks like Andrea off 90210. A good three inches shorter than me and maybe a size larger, somebody outed her toward the end of that last year. I don’t think it was meant to be a cruel thing, it was more a slip of the tongue that happened just as one of those really quiet moments hit the newsroom. Everything and everyone stopped for a couple of seconds, she turned bright red. I remember feeling really bad for her. Not that anyone treated her any differently or anyone was a jesus freak or a homophob, but if she had’ve wanted anyone to know we would’ve known. How hellish to have a secret blown wide-open like that.
I remember Mary the editorials editor sitting at the back with the men, her posture ram-rod straight, chin jutted out. She looks like Kyra Sedgwick, but more serious. She understood the male/female workplace. A feminist. She understood how difficult it might be for women to break into the old boy’s network. She was very efficient, while still being approachable and human. Sitting beside Brendan is Mike the news editor, trying to look relaxed and natural with one knee up draped with his arm, and failing big time. Mike was a rules guy, an anal rules guy. Everything was black or white with Mike, no shades of grey. Fluxuations in routine, bending of rules, did not go over well with him, would throw him into a tizzy. He was just generally uptight and someone I only spoke to directly when I absolutely had no other choice. Because of course people like this get on my last nerve, I’m all about switching it up, tossing the rules, trying new things. Despite his severe short haircut, Glen the editor sitting beside Mike was way more relaxed. He kinda looks like a young Ron Howard, red hair, fair complexion, freckles. A jock in high school, he was a big bruiser of a boy. His girlfriend, also in journalism but not this class, looked like Josie Bissett of Melrose place, one of those supertall skinny girls. I was indifferent to Glen . . . and his girlfriend. They seemed like nice people.
At the very back, in the centre of the group, is Marc, another copy editor. He’s the one with the curly blonde hair covering his ears, slight build, a bit older than most of us. He was an ideas guy, creative, airy, a bit neurotic sometimes when he’d pace the newsroom chainsmoking and pulling at his hair, but really intelligent and well-read — oh yes, you know I had the biggest crush on him. His girlfriend was an artist, sculptor I think, and she was a good ten years older than him, a hard-looking ticket you’d easily mistake for a prostitute on the street, with a toddler girl from a previous relationship. She was moody and jealous and demanding and would show up at the school all the time and throw fits in the foyer. But he had such patience for her. Sometimes he’d completely break down after she left.
Living with the Vulcan Kevin, this vulnerability in a man fascinated me. I couldn’t understand why he would stay in this crazy destructive relationship (though essentially I was doing the same thing, although a bit more subtle), why he would pick her over so many nice girls in the world (and I was certain he could have any one of those nice girls that he desired, though I’m pretty certain his battered ego saw the world differently). He had no idea I liked him. I wasn’t gushing all over him or anything like that. I didn’t speak to him as much as I didn’t speak to anyone else. At that time with my low self-esteem and shyness, I would never have acted upon any sort of a crush like that. I would never have thought it remotely possible to attract a boy like this. And in retrospect, thank god for that, because my life was complicated enough then without throwing a big old boy/girl attraction wrench into school too.
And there I am, 21-years-old soon to be 22, chubby faced, hands folded in front of me, open-mouthed smile, shoulder-length brown layered and semi-feathered hair with too long bangs hiding my eyes, wearing pencil-legged faded jeans and my green Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) t-shirt with the pink lettering. Look at those cheeks on me! And is that a dimple in my chin? I don’t even have one of those, do I? My face is really fat. I remember I gained a lot of weight before I moved home, would’ve been later this same year I think. The constant partying and crazy CFAN shiftwork knocked the fat off me pretty quick once I got here. But that’s stuff for another post.
Drinking: coffee (only the best for the weekend!) with cream
Listening To: Ben Folds, The Luckiest
Hair: severely askew