Friday, January 15, 2010

Until We Meet Again

I arrived at work this morning with two heavy suitcases and an even heavier heart - it was my last day with the Salt + Light family. You know that feeling you get in the back of your throat when you're so full of emotion, trying to hold back tears? This feeling would haunt me the entire day.

I had only two hours until I had to leave for my airport shuttle bus. The first thing I did when I got to the office was to order a cab to pick me up for 11:00. With that taken care of, I did what I would do on any other morning at the office - I made myself a cup of tea. Sitting back at my desk, sipping my tea, I took in everything. Interrupting my reverie, I saw Father Rosica approaching my desk with papers. I figured it was my internship review and paperwork that was needed for the university.

Sure enough, Father Rosica showed me the review he had completed and began to read aloud a personal letter he had attached to the rubric. The letter was very kind and I was touched by his praise for the things I had contributed to and accomplished while I was there. I thanked him for his letter and offered him one in return, handing him the envelop that contained the letter I had written to him and the office. Thankfully, he took that one back with him - I wasn't sure I could handle him reading it aloud to everyone.

I gathered all the paperwork together and secured it in my booksack. It was 10:00 by now. As I was trying to figure out when I was going to start making my rounds through the office to say goodbye to everyone, I heard the PA system click on. Father Rosica's voice floated through the office asking everyone to gather around the kitchen table. His request followed in French as well.

As everyone made their way to the kitchen, I found a spot towards the back. Of course, Father Rosica turned his attention to me. He thanked me for my time spent with the office and offered his regrets that I would not be staying. He also announced that he had something he wanted to read. I cringed a bit inside - I knew it was my letter, but I was nervous for him to read it aloud to the office. The knot in my throat grew a little bigger.

"To Father Rosica and the Salt + Light Family,

Last spring, I prayed to St. Maximillian Kolbe to offer some guidance in my life, to lead me down a path that would continue my education in the field of journalism, while at the same time developing my faith. The very next day, I heard about Salt + Light Television and the work you were doing in Canada. In some act of divine intervention, the internship was offered and I accepted. Truly, God knew what he was doing when he sent me to your office back in November.

I want to express my deepest gratitude for the experience your organization has offered me. Because of you and all that your company has done for me over the past six weeks, I’m leaving Toronto a bit more independent, educated, and truly inspired.

In a way, you could say I’ve seen the “light”. Your office has such a unique opportunity – an opportunity that I did not believe was available in a career, let alone in the field of journalism. Salt + Light integrates the profession with the faith, a feat not successfully accomplished by many organizations. I want to stress this, because I’m sure this gift can often be forgotten or overlooked. You are all so lucky and fortunate to wake up every morning and go to work in an environment like this. I’m thankful I was able to call this place home, even if it was for a short time.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re affecting the lives of Catholics, and even non-Catholics, every day. I’ve seen the way people respond to your organization when we’re on site – how their faces light up and their smiles convey a silent gratitude for the work you do. I think they, like myself, think of you all as something like superheroes, defending the Faith and saving souls one Catholic Focus at a time.

I wish your company the warmest wishes of luck and pray that further success comes from all of your endeavors. Something tells me that we’ll see much more of one another in the future and I await the day with excitement and hope.

May God bless you and keep you,


P.S – If any one from S+L ends up in Texas, I insist that I be allowed to treat them to a little Tex-Mex while on my turf."

I felt every eye in the room find my blushing face. I could only nod back in recognition. Father Rosica asked me to come forward. As I made my way to the table, he extended a bag and card to me as everyone clapped. The knot in my throat expanded even more.

After the meeting wrapped, I made my way back to my desk and started moving my luggage to the front door. Away from everyone, I opened the bag Father Rosica had given me. Inside were all kind of S+L goodies and, of course, the card. The card had a pair of cowboy boots on the cover, which made me laugh. When I opened the card, the cowboy boots had been replaced with a pair of snow boots and the inscription of "Come back soon!" in the center. The entire card, edge to edge, was covered with messages and goodbyes. As I began to read each message one by one, the knot in the back of my throat grew unbearable and before I knew it, a few tears had escaped. Their simple gesture completely touched me.

The time had finally come to say goodbye. One by one, I walked to each desk, just as I had done on my first day. But today, instead of introducing myself, I was saying goodbye. One of my closer friends I had made there, the friend who had hosted so many fun nights at his apartment, helped me with my luggage to the cab. As I finished loading everything in, I turned to give one final hug and a heartfelt "Thank you". With one last wave, I got into the cab and set off for the bus stop. I let a few tears escape once we were down a block or so. I caught the eye of the cab driver as I wiped them away, and laughed at the cliche-ness of the whole scene.

"Did you have a good trip?"

I sighed and fully embraced the corniness of it all.

"Yeah, the best."

Until we meet again,


Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Beginning of the End

Today is pretty much my last day of work.

There wasn't much I could do in the office today because I had wrapped up most of my work. This morning I was able to complete the tax forms I had been working on and handed them over to the marketing team. I felt pretty proud of myself for seeing the project through while I've been here and that I was able to organize everything before I left. Hopefully my little contribution helped their department.

With that off my plate, I spent the rest of the morning getting things in order for my flight. I was able to switch my flight from the original 5:30 time to the earlier 2:20 flight. I was able to print my boarding pass and buy my ticket for the airport shuttle bus. I'll need to leave the office tomorrow around 11:00 in order to get to the airport in time for my flight - Lord knows security will probably take longer than necessary.

In honor of my last day, two of my coworkers took me to the open market five blocks or so from the office. Although I didn't buy anything for lunch while I was there, I appreciated walking around with them. The open market here is a bit different than ours - it's like if you took a grocery store, cleared it out and let local venders come in to use it basically. Everything is enclosed in this gigantic building, but still everything is in individual little booths. I thought it was really neat.

Once we got back to the office, work passed really slow. Without any real work to do, I tried clearing out my desk area. I had a lot of Earl Grey Tea left and decided to give it to my Frenchie friend. I left the box with a sticky-note on his desk for him to discover once he got back to work on Monday.

The note I left him sparked the idea of writing a letter to the entire office. I wasn't really sure why I hadn't thought of doing it before, but I thought it would be appropriate to tell the office how much this experience meant to me and how much I appreciated all of them. For the rest of the afternoon, I worked on this letter - somewhat covertly. Anytime someone walked close enough, I'd switch the page I was looking at so they couldn't see the letter. I'm sure I made a few people suspicious, but I didn't want anyone to read it until I gave it to Father Rosica.

After work, I had dinner with the Sisters at the convent. It was such a fun meal. We talked about the most random things. Even after we were done eating, we must have sat there for at least another hour and a half just chatting. It was kind of like a girls night. I also told them how much I appreciated everything they did - I couldn't have asked for better hosts. Since most of them are gone by the time I wake up in the morning, I told them each goodbye before they headed off to bed. They all insisted I keep in touch and to send them pictures of my wedding - I'm sure I'll stay in touch with them.

After dinner wrapped up, I headed over to my coworkers apartment for my last get together with everyone. It was a pretty mellow night, and I was already pretty exhausted from the previous late nights we had. I decided that the group should keep the $20 jackpot and spend it on snacks and food for their get togethers - there was no way we were going to make it through more poker. But just to set the record straight, I'm totally the winner :) Any way, we did however manage to play more Dutch Blitz. I don't know what it is about this game, but it is truly addicting. Before I knew it, it was already almost 1:00 again, and I hadn't even finished packing. It was sad to say goodbye to my friends. To those of you who are reading this now, you have truly touched me and I could not say thank you enough for your kindness. I know we didn't get to know each other very well or for very long, but sometimes it's the strangers that change our lives for ever. I greatly appreciate everything you did for me while I called Toronto home.

I made it back to the convent late and got to packing. To say that things are fitting tightly is an understatement. I'm sure if I even look at my suitcase the wrong way, clothings and shoes will expload from between its bloated zippers.

Tomorrow is my last day. I am in disbelief.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Poker Face

I'm finding it harder to concentrate as Friday nears.

Today we had the second Episcopal Ordination of the week. What makes this ceremony even more special is the fact that this will be the first Canadian bishop of Vietnamese origin. The tech crew expected a large number of people from Vietnam to watch the ordination live on the website, even though it was something like 2:00 AM for them there.

While all of this was going on, I was scheduled to host Zoom one last time today. For the first time ever, I was fully confident in my outfit, script and performance. I've come a long way from my screen test in just the past few weeks. I'm sure if I were able to stay here longer, I would have really grown attached to hosting the program and developed my skills more. Again, you can always watch the Zoom here if you haven't seen it yet:

I've been trying to catch up on all of the tax receipt forms before I leave. I've been following this process since the very first day that I've gotten here, and although the task is not overly complicated, I've developed my own system of organizing and filing the paperwork. I want to make sure I finish it all before I leave, instead of handing it over to someone else to finish once I leave.

Today I actually had to say goodbye to some of my coworkers, considering not everyone in the office works full weeks. We got lunch from the Thai restaurant just down the block from work and reminisced about my short stay at S+L. I feel like I've been here longer than I have - and that I've known these people longer than just six weeks. It's very odd. Any way, it was sad to know this would be the last time I saw them, but I was thankful we were able to do a special lunch together.

After lunch, I got back to working on the tax receipts and waited for the ordination to start. When the live stream finally began, things didn't start off so well. For whatever reason, the feed kept lagging, freezing, and sometimes completely dropping. Everyone in the office seemed pretty tense - which is completely understandable. We weren't really sure what the reason was, but it was speculated that the large number of people logging in to the site were probably interfering with the transfer. For whatever reason though, all of the problems stopped as soon as the actual ordination rites began. I think God wanted to make sure we all saw the important parts.

As the ordination ceremony was finishing up, one of my coworkers from the marketing team and myself headed over to the cathedral with handouts that had the times which S+L would be re-airing the ordination ceremonies on their cable network. I didn't change into my Ugg boots before we left, so my feet and legs were freezing as we stood outside the cathedral waiting for everyone. We handed out a lot of fliers, which hopefully means a lot of people will watch the ceremonies on TV. I was happy when the trail of people coming out of the church began to thin - I was ready to get back to the office and get warmed up.

After work tonight we had a Texas Hold 'Em night in honor of my Texas-ness I suppose. This entire week me and my new friends have been talking smack through Facebook and at work as to who would actually win the $20 jackpot. Of course, being the only Texan playing, I was completely confident that I would win.

We played for about three hours before we all decided it was time to call it quits - I think it was like 1:30 AM. When we stopped, me and another player were pretty neck and neck. We decided that the next night, we'd resume the game and determine the winner then. Tomorrow night is my send off dinner. I'm expecting another long night and a lot of Dutch Blitz. I'm not sure how I'm going to stay awake these next few days.

The True Texas Hold 'Em Winner,


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Special Treatment

Today Salt + Light had a very special visitor. Monsignor Luca Lorusso is the Counselor of the Apostolic Nuncio in Canada. For those of you who don't know, an Apostolic Nuncio is a country's representative to the Pope. I have been told that Monsignor Lorusso, though not currently a nuncio, is going to be named an Apostolic Nuncio very soon - although I'm not sure to which country.

Because Father Rosica couldn't be in the office this morning, the Monsignor was being shown around by one of my Italian-speaking coworkers. I only met Monsignor Lorusso for a brief moment, but I thought he seemed very kind.

The office was slow today while everyone anticipated the live event of the Episcopal Ordination. After working more on the interview transcriptions and tax receipts, I felt myself dazing out. It's hard to stay focused at a 9-5 job. Back at school, you have an hour and 15 minutes when you need to focus on the task at hand - class. But after that, you may have a break where you can go home and nap or get some lunch. I never truly realized what a luxury the college schedule is. I find myself getting up and walking around to just wake myself up sometimes. I'm prepared to do anything in order to keep myself alert and working.

My afternoon took a bit of a turn for the worst when it was discovered that there was a problem with the tax receipts I had been filing. Because some of the checks I was filing came in during the 2009 year, they had to be filled for that year in order for the donor to receive tax credit for 2009. But the 2009 checks I had been filing were be processed for 2010, which couldn't happen. So basically this meant I had to redo work I had already done. Those things happen though, so I was just happy it was a mistake that could be fixed. I didn't get in trouble, especially since the person who assigned me the work didn't know about the rule, so I was thankful for that at least. Armed with a hot cup of tea, which I now like to drink with milk in it (go figure), I spent the rest of the afternoon reworking the receipts.

Sometime during my work, everyone began announcing around the office to switch to the website and start viewing the ordination. I thought the whole ceremony was beautiful and that the crew we had out on site did a great job. It's funny to see the people you work with day to day on camera, but I guess that's the reality of this business.

After work, I was invited to go to dinner with Father Rosica, Monsignor Lorusso, and some of my coworkers. We went to this really modern restaurant called Nota Bene. It was absolutely delicious. Father Rosica was very generous to everyone - we were able to each order an appetizer or salad, an entree, and a desert. And in addition to that, he ordered a few sides for everyone to share with our entree. The food was definitely the best I had in the city, and I'm assuming that restaurant is one of the highest rated ones in Toronto. As Ben and me like to say, I left the dinner "fat happy".

It's been a long day and I'm pretty groggy from such a full stomach. I'm thinking sleep is inevitable at any moment.

Sweet dreams world,


Monday, January 11, 2010

The Last Week

It's hard to believe that this is the last week of my internship in Toronto. All I can say is wow.

This whole thing came into play over six months ago at the Catholic Studies luncheon when I was trying to find contacts to help me find an internship for my upcoming course. I had planned, worried over, and anticipated this internship for so long - and now here I am in the midst of its final week.

Today I worked a lot on transcribing interviews. Of all the tasks I've had to do at Salt + Light, this is probably the most tedious. I think every reporter secretly dreads transcribing their own interviews, so I can't fault them for passing this on to an intern. Either way, I'm sure I helped free up some time for the producer who assigned me to this, so I'm glad I was able to help somewhat.

This week seems to be a busy one for the office. Tomorrow and Wednesday, Salt + Light will be streaming the Episcopal Ordinations of two incoming bishops live on their website. I know people have been working frantically behind the scenes to make sure things will run smoothly tomorrow. I've never seen the installation ceremony for a bishop, so it should be pretty interesting.

I started to clean up my desk today, which was a little sad. Friday is going to be a short day for me, so technically I only have three more days of work. I'm not really sure what I'll be up to the rest of the week, considering no one is going to want me to get started on something with such short time left.

I'm a little concerned with my luggage situation as well. I took only one suitcase back from Houston with me to Toronto after Christmas, but also packed an empty duffel bag in the suitcase in the event I needed it. I took a lot home with me over the break, but I came back to more stuff that I remembered. I need to start packing my things tonight in the event I need to ship stuff home that doesn't fit.

Here's hoping I don't have to pay international shipping rates,


Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Best Weekend Ever

Let it be known that I woke up on Saturday a normal person. Tonight I will go to sleep an addict of Dutch Blitz - and that is so not my fault.

I woke up early Saturday, excited to get going on my Toronto Tour. The "Hop On, Hop Off" Tours are offered in a lot of cities. If you haven't heard of them before, it's basically a trolley that takes you around the city to the hot spot locations, and you're able to get off and on the trolley throughout the day as you visit the sites. I went on the one in Boston with my parents and had a lot of fun with it.

The closest trolley stop to me was in the most downtown portion of Tronto on Yonge Street. I had to take a street car part of the way and then walk the rest of the time on foot. After about 30 minutes, I ended up in the middle of Dundas Sqare - which is pretty much the equivalent of New York City's Time Square. The trolley was still about 20 minutes away, so I had to bunker down in a store across the street until it showed. It was impossible for me to wait outside - I would decide to go on one of these tours on the coldest day of the season. I'm pretty sure the guy at the Trolley booth told me it was -10 degrees F. Lovely.

The trolley rolled up right at 10:00. The first thing I noticed about the trolley was that it was empty. It probably could have fit fifty people comfortably, and here I was - the only person getting on. The trolley driver made a comment about waiting a few minutes in case anyone else showed, but while sitting in the second row of this enormously empty trolley - I embraced the fact that I would be the only one on the tour. After ten minutes, my trolley driver got back on and turned on the PA system and adjusted the mic on his headset.

"Welcome to Toronto! Can everyone here me?"

Confused, I looked around the trolley. He knew I was the only one on, right? In response, I just smiled. I had waited too long to make a joke about who else possibly could have been on the trolley with us and too long to have just responded yes. About 45 seconds of awkward silence passed after that.

Clearing his throat and readjusting his mic yet again, my tour guide started up his scripted dialogue. Apparently I hadn't thrown him too off. I settled back into my seat and leaned up against the window. I was thankful the tour wasn't interactive - I enjoyed just staring out the window listening about the city. It was pretty cool.

The tour itself is two hours if you just stay on the trolley and take the whole loop. I had decided I wanted to get off at the ROM, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Casa Loma. Of course, the trolley I was currently on was the only trolley in operation during this part of the year. This meant that if I decided to get off anywhere on the tour, I'd have to wait two hours for the same trolley to come back to where I was and pick me up. Apparently they're not allowed to deviate from their schedule - no matter how dead tourist season is.

I left the trolley and my tour guide around 11:00 and made my way across the street to the ROM. The exterior of the museum is amazing. Google it if you've never seen it before. The museum itself is a little confusing. I prefer the layout of the natural science museum in Houston, but then again - I'm partial to Houston in general. Regardless, I made my way through the swarms of seven-year-olds and exasperated parents to see the exhibits. I think my favorite part were the rooms they recreated of different time periods. They're sealed off behind glass and are set up with furniture and personal items. Being a history major, I can appreciate seeing how someone lived in the past.

After seeing most of the exhibits in the museum, I walked back across the street to where the trolley would be picking me up. There was a pub near the stop, so I got a quick lunch. I walked back out onto the street just as the trolley was pulling up. I saw my tour guide frantically panning the street - sure he had lost his only paying customer, I assume. When he finally saw me waving him down, I could see relief spread over his face. Sure enough, when I boarded the bus, he admitted he was worried about me being on my own for two hours and had feared I got lost somewhere and he'd have to go look for me - clearing something not worked into the trolley tour schedule.

I again took my seat in the second row and noticed the trolley had not picked up anyone else during its two hour loop of the city. I suddenly felt bad for the tour guide and hoped he didn't recite the scripted dialogue to himself while he drove around the city. We had only been driving 30 minutes or so when the trolley came to the Casa Loma stop. I couldn't decided whether or not I should get off for another two hour break, but I finally convinced myself that this was probably my only opportunity to ever see the site. My guide waved me off as I made my way to the castle and reminded me to be in view when he pulled up. Apparently he doubles as a mother :)

Casa Loma was built by the guy (I already forgot the names) who brought electric energy to the city. The castle was built for only himself and his wife. I think the castle had something like 50 plus rooms. The castle was sold and some of the furniture auctioned off when the couple went into debt. Today a preservation society owns it and shows the house for money to continue the restoration. Some of the rooms still have its original items, but most of the house is empty.

I thought it was a pretty cool place. It had secret passage ways you could go through and most of the rooms were open for you to walk through. One of the most interesting aspects was an underground tunnel that connected the castle to their stables about a mile away. I walked through the tunnel, which is just concrete, exposed pipes, and lights every ten feet. It was pretty freaky - not going to lie. And since it's off season now, I was the only one walking through the passage.

I finished the tour of the castle, stables, indoor pool and botanical garden in about an hour. The hour I had left to wait for the trolley passed at a cruelly slow pace. While I waited, I managed to occupy some time at the gift shop. On one of the walls, they hung up movie posters of the movies that had been filmed at the castle. I was surprised by how many big-named movies there were. Casa Loma has been the set for "The Skulls", "X-Men", "The Pacifier", "Cocktail", and a bunch I can't even remember now.

I went outside early to wait for the trolley. The sun had started to set by now and the wind had really picked up. When the trolley finally showed up, I couldn't feel my toes. The tour ended back at Dundas Square. I was sort of sad when I got off the trolley - I had managed to occupy most of my day, but now at 5:30, I faced another night by myself at the convent. I walked through the Eaton Center on my way home and picked up dinner before heading back to the convent. I didn't notice any of the Sisters when I got back home, so I made my way to my room, ready to watch a movie and eat dinner. Before I started, I checked Facebook. I had a message from one of my coworkers telling me he was having friends over that night and they had all asked for me to come over.

My spirits picked back up - I had something to do again. After eating dinner, I made my way back downtown to my coworkers apartment. There were quite a few people over, most of which I had met before the Christmas break. All of the young people I have met here through work and my coworker's have been so welcoming. For tonight, I felt like I was back home with friends.

On this particular night, I was introduced to Dutch Blitz. I will assume that you have no idea what Dutch Blitz is, because I had no idea what it was. Dutch Blitz is an Amish card game. It's similar to solitaire, except you can play on other people's cards and you don't have to wait for a turn to play. It's a very fast-paced game, and most of all, it's very addicting. Before I knew it, three hours had passed since I'd arrived.

Somewhat unwillingly, we ended the game in anticipation of mass in the morning. On Sundays, this same group gets together for mass and then has brunch afterwards. I had gone twice with the group, but was excited for another opportunity.

This morning we all went to a late morning mass at St. Micheal's and then to brunch across the street after. I'm always amazed by the dinner conversations this group has - they're all very aware and interested in the world. They usually spend the entire meal speaking on politics, religion and history. I usually stay quiet and soak it all in.

After brunch, a portion of the group decided to take me ice skating after they learned that I had never been. I was a little apprehensive - sure that I would either break something or hurt someone else in the process of falling on the ice - but they were adamant that it was something that must be experienced. We stopped at the Eaton Center so that I could buy a hat and one of the girls could buy some gloves. After that, we set off on foot to the harbor front, which is were the best ice skating rink was apparently.

The place was packed when we got there, but the group didn't seem to mind. We rented skates and found an empty bench to change shoes. The guys were kind enough to help me put the skates on and lace them up for me. Once the skate were on, we walked to the rink and waited for the Zamboni to finish cleaning the ice. I stood there, somewhat wobbling in my ice skates, with the voice of my mother echoing in my head. "Don't do it, Michelle - you'll break something!" I didn't have much time to try and talk myself out of the situation, because just then the Zamboni cleared the rink and everyone was allowed back on.

This rink was not made for beginners. There are absolutely no railings - the only thing I had depended on being there to help me maneuver around the ice. I baby-stepped my way around the edge, trying to avoid the skaters flying by me. I was told the only way I'd ever learn was to dive right in, and before I knew it, two arms were tugging me forward on either side.

I did okay for awhile, and then I got cocky. Despite the support of someone on either side of me, I fell four times. The funny thing is, I only ever fell when people were trying to hold me up on either side. After taking a break on the edge of the rink for awhile, one of the guys tried getting me back into the rink. This is where I took my most embarrassing fall - landing back first on the edge of the concrete bench. It was at this point that I somewhat gracefully bowed out of the rink and slowly got to non-frozen land. I watched everyone else skate as the sun set on the harbor. All in all - it was an awesome experience, but I was wet from falling on the ice and therefore completely freezing.

One of the people from the group offered to make dinner for everyone back at their apartment after we went skating. Making a quick stop at the grocery store for supplies, we made our way back downtown in a cab. It was nice to be back inside and warmed up after skating around for the past few hours. As our friend and their family cooked dinner, the rest of us, plus a few people from this morning's brunch, played more Dutch Blitz. Dinner was absolutely fantastic and I could not have been more thankful for the company or the meal. By this time it was something like 9:30 or 10:00 and I could barely stay awake. Fully aware that I would never wake up in time for work in the morning unless I got going, I said goodnight to everyone.

Like all too often happens, I've ended up making some close friends here, but just as I'm about to leave. It'll be sad to leave everyone here in the next few days, but I'm glad I was able to enjoy one perfect Toronto weekend with them. We've decided that in honor of my Texas-ness, we'll be playing a night of Texas Hold'em Wednesday. Now I have something fun to look forward to for the week.

Hopefully I won't be too sore in the morning,


Friday, January 8, 2010

Ms. Independent

Thursday was slow. The only real information to report was that I worked on the French script more - my coworker and I picked up on our banter from yesterday and we were only able to complete another 12 or so pages.

My tea routine has also started up again in full force. For whatever reason, I'm not sleeping well most nights - I think my body is thrown off from all the traveling. Either way, constant supplements of caffeine is necessary for me to complete most tasks. At work they have a water boiler, which I am dearly in love with. I'm sure they're common enough, but I've never seen one before. It's basically like a tea pot, but it's electric and could be used anywhere that has a power outlet. Any way, it boils water really quickly. I'm contemplating adding it to my wedding registry.

This morning I was busy working on the script for Zoom, which I was scheduled to host. An hour and a half into my web searching, I still had not come up with any stories. Desperate for help, I turned to some of the more seasoned hosts for ideas. Unfortunately, they, along with the other producers, were called into a meeting. It seems there is a habit of meetings being called on the mornings of days that I host Zoom. I wrote what I could, following the ideas they had suggested before they went into their meeting, and prayed it would be enough to fill my time slot.

By the time they were ready for me to record, the producers were still in their meeting. Typically before I film, I have one of them read over my script and have my supervisor, who is also the producer of Zoom, "okay" my outfit. I was behind on having both tasks done and started to feel the panic set it. Thankfully, the meeting wrapped before I decided whether or not I should interrupt and I was able to hand off my script. However, the real issue seemed to be what I was wearing.

I'm still figuring out the whole "on-camera" thing, which largely includes what you're supposed to wear. I had decided to wear one of my favorite dresses for today's Zoom and lovely though it may be, it was decided it was too "night" for TV. I had brought a sweater and skirt on the off chance I would need to use it, but had not expected to. I'm lucky I even thought to bring it.

I respect the decision of having me change outfits, but like any woman, my self-confidence took a little hit. The sweater I had brought wasn't ironed and I had to use my hair straightener to smooth out the wrinkles. So here I am in the bathroom, trying to pep up my spirits and ironing my sweater with a straightener, and I got a little lost in thought. Snapping back into reality a moment too late, I realized I had melted part of the sweater's collar. I looked at myself in the mirror and despite what I had expected myself to do, I laughed. You know, sometimes crappy things happen, but I was determined not to let them continue. For whatever reason, I tend to have my "growing" moments while getting ready for Zoom in the bathroom.

Thankfully, the melted portion wasn't visible with my hair down, so no loss there. I finished getting ready, took a deep breath, and went to the studio to film. The nerves were still there, despite this being my third time filming. I flubbed up my first few takes, but the cameraman was really cool and kept encouraging me that we'd take as many tries as necessary. Settling myself, I started up again with determination. The next take went well and I found my confidence coming back.

And then the cement truck showed up.

Salt + Light doesn't technically have the best facility for filming. The studio is up against a street and just recently construction started next door for a high-rise condominium. The studio isn't soundproof, so frequently filming has to stop due to an ambulance passing, people walking heavily on the floor above us, people in the office talking too loud, and so on - all of this gets picked up on the sound and messes up the take.

So you could see why having a cement truck park outside the studio, churning and beeping, could mess up our take. At first, I was a little frustrated because I wasn't sure I'd be able to finish filming in time. But I slowly began to realize that the truck was really a blessing in disguise. The noise it made happened randomly, so I was never really sure whether or not I was recording a final take. This really took off the pressure. Filming took longer than it should have, but I walked away feeling confident in my performance for the first time.

I busied myself the rest of the afternoon with the French script and tax receipts. Around 4:30, I was called in to watch the Zoom. It thought it looked pretty good - for the first time I didn't think I looked scared. If you haven't seen it yet, you can watch it here:

I decided I would go see a movie after work. I don't typically go see movies alone, but I've done it before and the prospect seemed better than going back to the convent and having nothing to do. There are a lot more movie theaters throughout the city than Houston has - I did a Google search of the area around my office and came up with eight - and that's only in a few blocks. I didn't understand why the need for so many theaters until I actually showed up at one near the convent. Apparently the rest of Toronto had decided to go see a movie as well.

I ended up going to see the New Moon - I know, how embarrassing. The movie wasn't as good as the book, but it was good to get out and do something. The movie finished up around 9:00 and I headed back to the convent. I tried waiting for the railcar, but after 15 minutes of standing on the corner while it was sleeting, I opted to walk. Stupid, Michelle.

The cold weather isn't too bad for the first couple of minutes you're outside. You kind of fake yourself into thinking you're warm enough to stay out longer than you probably should. As I started to walk home, I became colder and colder. I kept telling myself "one more block, one more block", even though I was still a ways off from home. When I finally did make it back to the convent, I was thoroughly frozen. The worst part about cold weather, is going back indoors after you've been outside for awhile. Everything that was cold burns and stings - so not fun.

As I warmed myelf up back in my room, I took account of the day. All in all, it was a pretty successful day, and more importantly, I was proud of myself for becoming a little bit more independent in this huge city. In light of my new found courage, I decided tonight that I will be doing one of those "Hop On, Hop Off" Tours tomorrow. I want to make sure I get a good look at Toronto before I head home, even if I have to do it by myself. I'm sure it'll be fun.

So, my goal this weekend is to stay busy. This is my last weekend in Toronto and I'll be heading back to Texas this Friday. I guess we'll see how fast things go.

Goodnight everyone,


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Day the Alarm Clock Didn't Go Off

I don't have an alarm clock at the convent. Instead, I use the programed alarm that comes on my Blackberry. It's what I normally use at home and it tends to be pretty reliable. However, at 6:45 this morning it did not chime and I did not wake up.

My cellphone did wake me up eventually. At 8:20 my text message notification sounded and I opened my eyes to find the room bathed in sunlight. Something was wrong - I quickly tried to remember what position the sun was at when I normally woke up. Was the room completely dark, or just a little bit lit? At this point I knew I was behind in my morning schedule, but the amount was still unknown. I reached over to grab my phone and saw the time. I've never moved so quickly from a horizontal position before in my entire life.

Despite my efforts, I knew there was no way I was going to make it to work on time - my commute alone would take 20 minutes. For sure, this was not the best way to start the day. I hesitantly walked into work 45 minutes late. I had an apology prepared along with an explanation for my tardiness ready to go, but no one seemed to notice me as I made my way to my desk. In fact, it wasn't a problem at all. I had stressed myself out the whole morning, obviously for nothing.

To make up for my tardiness, I did a lot of work today. I was pretty loaded down by the advent donations. I've been working on these tax forms and receipts since the first day I had been here, but they had piled up over the break and now I had to get caught up. I also worked on transcribing an interview for one of my coworkers - something I'm familiar with from newspaper.

My most entertaining task was the work I did on editing an English transcription of a French documentary S+L did. One of my coworkers from the French department asked me to help and I was excited for a different kind of assignment. The transcribed script was about 35 pages and in 4 hours, we only managed to make it through 10. We had thought we'd be able to finish editing the entire script in just and hour or so, but our banter back and forth over the proper English phasing slowed us down. Regardless, the work was fun and before I realized it, it was 5:00.

I stayed a little bit later tonight to make up for my late arrival. After I left work, I made my way over to the Eaton Center again. I like walking around the mall, not even buying things, just because it gives me something to do. Plus, it the only exercise I'm able to get most days. The cold doesn't seem to bother most people's workout routines - I often see people jogging even when it's below freezing. There's no way in heck you'd catch me doing the same, so walking around indoors is my only option.

Nights are slow here in Toronto even the second time around. I've realized how hard it must be for people who live in cities where they don't know many people. The people I've met here have been very inviting and nice, but no amount of friendless can make up for the fact that living in a city without your family or loved ones is lonely. I'm vowing from this day forward that the next time I come across someone who is new to town, I'm treating them to a home-cooked meal.

Here's hoping I wake up on time tomorrow,


Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday, Monday

Monday morning I woke up thinking I was still in my bed in Houston, snuggled warmly against my puppy dog Pancake. Realization fully hit when I saw snow falling lightly outside the window. So much for a "warm welcome".

Routines are hard to get back into. Getting ready without my regular cup of morning coffee was slightly painful. Not to mention I was cold - I had lost any resistance I had built up during the first three and a half weeks. Houston had defrosted me. Thanfully, I did bring a thicker coat back to Toronto with me, which helps. But no matter what, stepping outside into 10-15 degrees is cold, no matter what you're wearing.

I didn't miss the railcars one bit while I was gone, but apparently they continued to just miss me every time I tried to get on one. I don't know if there's a magnetic force that separates us, but without fail, the railcar is taking off as soon as I make it to the stop.

I think I surprised a few people when I showed up for work this morning - perhaps they had an office pool going around on whether or not I'd return. The office was pretty quiet, considering not everyone had returned from the holiday. Without many people there and without an assignment, the day passed by a little slower than I would have liked. However, I was able to work out some wedding details in the free time.

I was told I would be doing Zoom this Friday and next Wednesday, so that gives me something to look forward to. Otherwise, there's not much to report about the day. I made it back to the convent for dinner - fish and chips - and returned to my room to unpack. It feels weird being back and knowing I have such a short amount of time here. Two weeks is sure to fly by quickly.

Any way, I think that's all I have to report today. I'll try and be more exciting tomorrow :)

Good night,


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Home for the Holidays

I got back from Toronto late at night on Dec. 22nd. Ben picked me up with our two dogs, Kaiser and Pancake. I was thrilled to see them. I had Ben pick me up curbside at the airport, because I didn't want him to have to park. When he drove up next to me, the dogs finally realized what was going on when they spotted me - it was too cute.

Pancake was licking the window, Kaiser was jumping from seat to seat, and Ben was all smiles. My excitement was caught off caught for a slight moment when Kaiser hit the steering wheel mid-energetic hello, causing the horn to sound for a few seconds. Everyone on the street turned and a few people laughed - I'm always one for a dramatic entrance.

The break was fantastic and way too short. Over the holidays I spent a lot of time in The Woodlands with my family and working on a history final I had due before I went back to Canada. Also during the break,I found time to go wedding dress shopping with my mom, sister and best friend. For those of you who had not heard, my boyfriend Ben proposed on Nov. 22nd at the Discovery Green Park in downtown Houston. We're planning on getting married November 6, 2010 in The Woodlands. Any way, I found a dress at the first store we went to, Brickhouse Bridal in The Woodlands. We went to another shop to try on a few more, but I was pretty certain the dress at BHB was the one for me. We bought it the same day - and got 10% off.

I don't feel like I accomplished very much over my week break. Once upon a time, I thought I would be using my winter break to write my History and Catholic Studies capstone papers - neither of which I've touched over the past month. Pretty sure I need to kick it in high gear if I plan on graduating in May.

Leaving Houston was hard - much harder than leaving the first time. I started to get back in the day to day routines, back to life, when I had to pack up again. I'm thankful I had the break in the middle to come home for - I don't think I could have made it until January 15th without one. I'll be in Toronto for 2 weeks before completing my internship and returning back to Houston. Unfortunately, I won't have much of a break, considering spring semester starts up the next Tuesday.

Any way, check back for the daily blogs again for the next two weeks - I'm sure there's more adventures in store for this crazy Cajun.

Happy New Years,