…what now?

I completed all the courses required for my Chartered Insurance Professional designation last month.

Not an easy feat. I’m of the personal opinion that the exams for these courses are designed to either be failed, or to make you want to quit well before even seeing the finish line.

But I stuck it out. It took me five years to get the 10 credits. I failed three exams along the way. I wanted to quit after every single exam, even the ones I passed.

The only thing I wanted more, was to finish. I wanted that designation more than I can explain.

My last exam was July 10th and it was a rough one. Like so many others, I left thinking I’d blown it. But then, on July 14th, I got the mark. I got a B. I was done.

I raced into my manager’s office to tell her. I celebrated with friends and coworkers over the course of a few happy hours. It just felt so good to be done.

I mean, it still feels good to be done. But now… what now, exactly?

It’s hard to describe what I’m feeling now, but “lost” would be a good start. After five years of a constant class/study/exam cycle, I have NOTHING on the horizon relating to school. You’d think I’d feel relief, but I mostly just feel cagey.

As I approached my final few courses, more than a few people asked what I would do next and my answer was always “absolutely nothing until at least 2018!” I told anyone that would listen how I was so excited to read for fun again, to get cable again (actually cancelled it and Netflix three years ago because it was too distracting).

But now, September looms.

As much as I struggled, cried, whined and complained for the duration of the CIP program, it felt good to be working on something. I am one of those people that needs an end game, a concrete end goal, a final total, if I hope to accomplish anything. I can’t work in ambiguities.

Now it’s all free time and creative play over here and my psyche is having a hard time adjusting. And let me tell you, I would never have expected this. My whole life, I’ve been a terrible student. I’m smart, but school was always so boring for me. Homework was only done at the last minute. Exams were never studied for. Marks were in no way a big deal.

I used to daydream so hard in class, I told my mom that parts of my day would go missing from my brain. They tested me for epilepsy because of that!

I wanted nothing more than to be done school, always. After high school, my parents forced me to enrol in university because, in their minds, if I didn’t go right away, I probably wouldn’t go at all (they may have been right).

After three weeks of university, I pulled a voluntary withdrawal when I got accepted to the college program I actually wanted to go to. Of course, I left college after a year because I got a job in my field and never looked back.

The fact I even went back, as a grown adult, and put myself through any further education is borderline miraculous.

I wanted nothing more than to be done the cursed CIP and just TAKE A BREAK. Now I’m on my break and wondering, what now?

I have some ideas for my next educational pursuit(s), but I am forcing myself to taking that until-2018 break. I need it. I need to re-wire my brain after that constant class/study/exam cycle. I need to reconnect with myself, and probably also my friends that I have been ducking for study time over the past five years.

But it’s the voices of my parents that loom in the background, telling me that if I don’t jump to the next thing, there will never be another next thing. These are the voices that fill me with dread. Should I stop? Can I stop?

The fact I’m hearing these voices seem as good a reason as any to keep on taking a break. I’ve read three books since my final exam. I’m going to try to keep rolling with that.

*immediately begins googling university diploma programs*

The Fake News Fight

 

It takes a lot of critical thinking to consume news.

It used to be that you read your news in just a daily paper or you listened to it on the radio or television. Each day it would be delivered by people you’d come to know and trust.

In the digital age, we consume our news so much differently. I started my journalism career in TV and can’t tell you the last time I sat down at 6pm to watch the news, simply because I can keep up with it all day. I get most of my news from twitter via verified outlets like Global News, Associated Press, etc.

Even still, I probably consume my news differently than most people, simply because of my background in news writing and producing. I have a tendency to gloss over articles that masquerade as news and go straight to reputable sources. I don’t fall for clickbait. I tend to go where I know I would get my information from if I had to write a newscast on the fly.

I sound like an old person writing a letter to the editor here (if you’re under 25, ask your mom or dad), but I can see that the digital news age is failing the consumer and because of this, we have the influx of what will surely be the biggest buzzword of 2017: Fake News

Maclean’s published an incredible piece about consuming nothing but a week’s worth of Fake News. You can find it here. It explains the phenomenon better than I ever could.

To me, there are two reasons Fake News thrives. The first is thanks to the advent of listicles. “10 Reasons Why Michelle Obama is So Hot RN”, “Five Signs Your Sandwich Choice Makes You Racist” etc. We let Buzzfeed and Elephant Journal make legions of internet-savvy news consumers into braindead idiots. The term “TL;DR” would not exist were it not for the listicle. Why sit down and consume ANY article, when it could be broken down into bulleted points with no room for extrapolation?

So while Buzzfeed was enriching our cultural landscape by helping us figure out which Spice Girl we are, something else happened (or I guess, continued to happen). As discussed at length on this blog, media conglomerates gutted their news and sports departments. Seasoned journalists were left unemployed, and all that remained were the people who would work for the least amount of money and benefits possible; the recent-ish college grads.

I was that college grad at one point, ok? Lousy paying news jobs aren’t new. I was 20 in 2002 when I got my first job and I had to learn from vets who didn’t have much more experience than me. We were all learning together, really. But when I was a completely green and poorly paid recent-ish college grad, there were still 10 reporters, four producers and like, eight other writers you could at least check your bullshit detector with.

Now newsrooms are run on skeleton crews. You might literally be the only person in your newsroom for six hours a day. Every lead, every tip, every wire story comes through you and you alone. But hey no pressure, and in the words of one of my favourite bosses, “don’t fuck it up!”

So we’ve lost our seasoned journalistic veterans because of budget woes. The journalists that are left are either woefully under-experienced or are in charge of the woefully under-experienced.  AND ALSO – because Elephant Journal and Buzzfeed had solidified their place in the modern small j journalism landscape, the powers that be in newsrooms around the country have figured out hey, if we can’t beat em, join em!

Now, journalists aren’t given until the top of the hour, until print deadline, or until 5:59pm to work on their stories because in the digital age, we need to get the story to the consumers ASAP. We need to tweet it as we know it (often without or with very limited confirmation/vetting). It’s more important to get those listicle-like points out there via social media updates; we can flush out the details later.

So we’ve put real journalism in competition with nonsense. The average news consumer probably either can’t tell or isn’t concerned with the difference or quality of the news they read, watch, etc. The don’t bother to figure out the difference between news and editorial, they just take it in and do with it what they will. Click-bait headlines abound in hopes of getting those eyes and clicks, baby.

Slowly, the click-bait headlines become more and more out there, the quality of the writing, the fact checking, suffers.

And now, we have fake news.

When you are used to reading nothing but bat-shit crazy headlines, is there any wonder that something about a pizza restaurant being used for a pedophilia ring could grow legs and run through the collective conscious of the internet? Or that it would be so easy to convince people Hillary Clinton has ordered the killing of five people or something?

Critical thinking is not something many possess and it’s hard to teach. Few of us possess strong critical thinking skills, so you can imagine what the average Facebook user will take at face value.

I don’t want to link to fake news because I can’t really stand to. I think if you are reading this and you want to find it, you will. The Maclean’s article at the top will put you on the path.

How do we stop fake news? Can we, even?

The above Maclean’s article is a good start. There have been more than a few news outlets that have come out with great think pieces on the subject, and that’s just ducky.

But Fake News is probably here to stay because Real News has been gutted and stripped for parts. You don’t have the experienced journalists in the newsroom anymore because they became to costly to employ. They are unemployed; the collateral damage of the need for major media outlets to make sure the shareholders are happy.

I’m a firm believer that pendulums are only supposed to swing so far in any direction before they swing back. Maybe we have gutted journalism so far that the only thing left to do is build it back up.

And believe me, the only way to fight Fake News is to rebuild Real News. It’s time to start hiring more reporters, writers, producers, and flesh out the skeleton crews. If media conglomerates want to be taken seriously, they have no choice. You are going to need the well trained eyes to spot Fake News and ensure it doesn’t infiltrate Real News.

The media conglomerates won’t even consider this if we, the consumers, don’t go pack to paying for our news. The internet has given us so much for free, and even I can admit to balking at paying for news that had been so widely distributed. The same internet conglomerates have adjusted their whole business models around is that same one that has destroyed their ad revenue and caused the widespread layoffs to appease shareholders.

If we expect more, we have to support the system that will give us more. We can do this by not only literally buying into Real News, but by actively shunning not only Fake News, but the click-bait listicle sites too.

Also, if you are a current, retired, unemployed or otherwise reformed journalist, you definitely need to make noise when you see people spreading the Fake News. Call the story out. Call the poster out. Help people understand how to understand what’s real and what’s fake.

Journalism in all its forms is a product and we’ve cheapened it by devaluing it. We’ve made the writers, the storytellers and the editors expendable, we’ve created a new minimum wage industry, simply by agreeing to the working conditions in order to maintain employment, and by giving away a product for free and subsequently begging people to pay for it in the end. If you want to give journalism a fighting chance against Fake News, let’s try realizing the worth and help others to see it too.

 

 

It’s Teemu Time – My Most Embarrassing Moment In Radio and Life

Winnipeg is getting pumped for the NHL Heritage Classic game, which will be held here in October. It was announced today that, among many other great former Jets, Teemu Selanne will play in the Heritage Classic.

Teemu Selanne is Winnipeg’s Lord and Saviour. For real though, he absolutely dazzled this city when he played here. He was not only an incredible hockey player, but by all accounts, a sweet, humble, down to earth young man, and this town has never forgot it. Seriously, the guy often played road hockey with local kids.

When he came back to Winnipeg as part of the Anaheim Ducks to play the Jets 2.0, people lost their minds. The Jets paid tribute to him, Teemu himself signed autographs for fans outside his hotel at 1:30am, because that’s just the kind of guy he is.

Teemu has a well documented love for Winnipeg, and the Heritage Classic isn’t the first time he has come back to take part in hockey history.

Teemu came back to Winnipeg in November 2004, as part of a special ceremony celebrating the last days of the old Winnipeg Arena. The arena was being knocked down (in an initially failed implosion which half the town came out to see), and a brand new downtown rink, MTS Centre, would take its place.

The Jets as we knew them were down in Phoenix at this point, and the Winnipeg Arena was now the domain of the Manitoba Moose, an AHL team. At that time, I was working for CJOB, and one of the things I did there was act as a pre and post game production assistant for the Moose games.

This day lives in infamy as my most embarrassing moment, however, it’s a great story to tell at parties.

By way of background, I was a child when Teemu played here. When he came back to Winnipeg, I really had no idea he’d become this very attractive Finnish hockey God. If I’m being honest, up to 2004 I’d really only seen Teemu Selanne as a sweaty guy in a hockey helmet. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Kelly Moore was the play-by-play announcer for CJOB’s Moose Broadcasts. My normal duties for a game mainly involved facilitating interviews (see also: holding a microphone), for the coaches of the home and visiting teams pre-game, and again, holding microphones for Moose players and coaches in the post-game show. I also plugged in headphones and made sure things worked. Pretty crazy broadcasting skill set I have.

But this game would be different, obviously. There would be the additional pre-game ceremony, and now we were adding in some interviews in the first and second intermission. So it became my job to track down Eddie Olczyk and Teemu. They already knew about the interviews as Kelly had spoken to them earlier. It would just be my job to find them and bring them up to the press box when it was go time.

I already had myself on a first name basis with Eddie, as he was a frequent guest on the Charles Adler show, which I was producing at the time. I found him in the same place I would fish him out of – The Golden Jet Lounge. Easy peasy.

I would track down Teemu in the hallway leading out onto the ice from the Moose locker room, where he was lined up with other Jets greats, waiting to go on the ice for the ceremony. At this point in my career, I’m a pretty professional human being. I am not at all nervous about this pending interaction with Teemu Selanne. This is work!

The hallway to the ice, it’s quite narrow when it’s empty, never mind when it’s now filled up with 20 grown men standing around, plus the regular pre-game hustle and bustle of a hockey team suiting up. And there’s Teemu, standing there talking to another Jets alumni member. I go up to him, shake his hand and introduce myself and start asking about where to find him for this interview.

At this point I am also cluing into the fact the Teemu Selanne is, in medical terms, drop dead gorgeous. Mid-sentence and I felt like I was hearing “Dream Weaver” play like in Wayne’s World when Wayne sees Cassandra for the first time.

These feelings are happening while I am talking in what I remember to be coherent sentences.

Teemu is looking me dead in the eyes as we speak, but briefly looks away, as someone is trying to pass us in this narrow hallway. All of a sudden, Teemu says something look, “oh watch out” and puts his arm around the small of my back as he pulls me towards him so this mystery person can walk by.

The instant Teemu Selanne touches my back, I stop talking.

Mid-sentence, I just lose my words.

I. Stop. Talking. and stare into Teemu’s eyes with what could have been lust but was maybe also horror and panic. I don’t know. Like a deer caught in the headlights if the headlights were really, really, ridiculously good looking.

Teemu keeps his hand on my back and I still can’t talk. I am not even sure what I am thinking about, but I’m silent and lost.

Teemu finally lets me go and I believe I confirmed the interview and floated away while these other hockey guys laughed at my expense. I blushed hot fire for half an hour. I could not even believe what happened.

Later, I managed to collect Teemu for the interview and get him to the press box while being completely professional and not at all blushing, thank goodness.

I could rattle on and on about Teemu Selanne’s stats, the fact he seemed to play BETTER as he got older, the records he broke with Winnipeg and the NHL, but all you need to know is this. Teemu Selanne rendered me completely speechless, and I don’t think anyone has done that, before or since. I can’t wait to see him play one last time.

Views//Head In The Clouds

There was once an entire summer where I couldn’t go out on my 15th floor balcony because I couldn’t stop thinking about what it would feel like to jump from it.

I wasn’t suicidal. Believe me, if I thought offing myself meant I could not only go to an afterlife and spend eternity with my childhood dog and my grandparents but also avoid paying credit card bills, I would have offed myself a long time ago. That said, I really put some thought into this jump. Would I crash, all in one piece, into the alley directly below my balcony? Or would I bounce off some other balconies and end up scattered in pieces?

What would a limb, or worse, my head sound like, as it banked off the metal railing?

I don’t know what caused these thoughts to creep into my mind, but thought it best to just not go out there anymore. Until one day I just did, and no thoughts of leaping to my certain death occurred until I was back in my apartment.

The brain is very strange.

I’ve lived in this apartment for eight years and there are times I’m so deathly afraid of heights that I can’t go to the railing. My balcony is eight feet deep, so it’s easy to be outside and take it in, without going to the railing.

90% of the time I can be on the balcony and not think about anything at all. It’s where I relax and grow my plants. Lately, I have developed an obsession with clouds. Trust me when I tell you, there is no better place for city sky watching than that of a downtown high rise that faces West. I swear if you squint, you can see all the way to Vancouver.

Every storm that rolls through, I can time it to the minute. I have successfully plotted leaving for work without a hat or something to shield my hair from the rain, because I knew if I left at just the right time, I would beat it.

I’ve almost never been wrong.

Eight years is the longest I have lived anywhere that wasn’t my childhood home. Somehow, this place feels like it offers me no permanence, despite eight years of this incredibly view that has left me both astounded and terrified.

As I think about how badly I want to leave Winnipeg, I look to the right of my computer screen and out the window to the view I love so much and think, how do you just leave this behind? How will you not miss this?

Well, of course I will miss it. But sometimes you just need to see something else.

Sometimes I feel like every day I come home to this view, I have failed somehow. Others, I simply drink in the beauty of a prairie sky and wonder about the speck of dust that is my life, and how I could long for anything different.

Either way, look up now and then. People caution about not looking back, or keeping your eyes on the ground. But the clouds, the sun, the moon… all are up. So look up and just wait for things to make sense.

 

 

Imposter Syndrome and Other Hang-Ups

I had no idea there was a name for the feeling.

When I got fired (or let go, depending on who you ask) from my first radio job, devastated doesn’t even begin to describe it. I was broken. My confidence was non-existent for YEARS.

It took me a long time to see that there were lessons to be learned from the experience. 12 years ago, my life fell apart for the first time. The first time is always memorable. It took a really long time to get over the whole thing, and even then, I’d argue I will never be “over it”.

What took even longer, was figuring out that how I was left feeling AFTER that experience had a name, and learning that the feeling I had was in fact, very common.

Behold, Imposter Syndrome, as laid out in a series of graphs here.

What is Imposter Syndrome, besides a nagging pest of a demon that has followed me personally around for 12 years?

In short, it’s this feeling like you are never as good as people think you are. It’s constantly waiting for a shoe to drop, so to speak.

It doesn’t matter what line of work I find myself in; I anticipate, nay, EXPECT to be fired. I imagine that every single day could be the day when I am finally found out. I’m not good enough to do this job. I totally fooled them in the interview, I guess. Soon, they will see I am subpar in every way. They won’t have trouble replacing me because I’m not actually good at anything.

A positive employee evaluation? Doesn’t matter.

Being recognized, either in private or in front of your peers for the work you have done? Doesn’t matter.

Getting a raise? Getting promoted? Getting any sort of encouragement to “keep up the good work”? Surely it’s all a mistake. How long are they going to spare my feelings for?

These are the thoughts of someone with Imposter Syndrome.

Here’s an example of my day, in fact, it was today. I wrote a midterm this morning. I am a student of the Insurance Institute of Canada. I have known about this midterm since I started the course in April, and I have been prepping for it ever since. I spend my Saturdays and Sundays before going to work at my second job at a local cafe, studying, writing notes, making flash cards. I even took my textbooks to Las Vegas last week, where I was on vacation for crying out loud, to make sure I kept up with my studying.

Today, I sat down to write this midterm and the demon just screams in my head about how I obviously haven’t done enough studying. I took a trip the week before this test, obviously I am not dedicated, right? Let’s pretend like all that time you have spent on this doesn’t exist. How about we just fail this exam before you even write it? Honestly, you are so lazy, Lindsey.

This is my brain on Imposter Syndrome.

Luckily for me, I can pinpoint the exact second I developed this affliction, and luckier still, I can usually talk myself out of these thoughts that are forever lurking in the back of my mind.

I truly feel for anyone that has these kinds of thoughts because it’s EXHAUSTING, isn’t it? Not only are you constantly making up stress that doesn’t need to exist, but you find yourself alternating between overcompensating for your supposed flaws and  an imaginary lack of work ethic, but also thinking, hey, why don’t I just give up? Why try? They are going to find out how awful I am anyway, right?

These feelings aren’t limited to the workplace either. It creeps into your personal life. Am I a good enough friend? Girlfriend? Daugther? Sister? Nope, probably not, and here is a list of flaws that prove my point.

I don’t know that you can even reason with someone that feels this way, to be honest. I’m lucky I can reason with myself enough to explain to my own lousy brain that I am being ridiculous. I am sure I have heaped praise and appreciation on someone who too thinks they are unworthy of it all.

I have no answers.

I am here to tell you that you are not alone in these feelings. You aren’t the only one that convinces yourself you are never good enough despite all evidence to the contrary. Evidence you have completely made up, by the way.

I am certainly not here to tell you how great you truly are, because I know you can’t, won’t and don’t believe me anyway.

All I can tell you is, again, you are not the only one.

Keep working hard. Keep trying. Keep doing well and striving for better, all the while trying to silence that often loud voice in your head telling you to give up and do the opposite.

We are not imposters.

“Difficult Decision” and Other Media Conglomerate Nonsense

It’s tough not to be enraged when stories of media layoffs happen what seems like every other week.

Today, it’s Rogers cutting 200 jobs.

Last week? 90 jobs gone at Postmedia.

In November? Bell Media. 380 jobs.

Corus Entertainment? Here. And here. Also here.

All of these layoffs are preceded or followed by the same tired PR nonsense. It’s always a “difficult decision” to cut all these jobs.

“Difficult decision” is the media conglomerate equivalent to politicians saying their “thoughts and prayers” are with the victims of mass shootings or earthquakes, except you at least get the feeling the politicians would probably like to see an end to mass shootings and earthquakes.

The most difficult decision these companies make is which head office HR minion they are going to send to the newsrooms to do the dirty work. With any luck all the work can be done in a day and they don’t have to spring for a hotel.

John K. White, now formerly with the Edmonton Journal tweeted the fact that the person informing him he was laid off was kind enough to explain it was “nothing personal”, delightful considering he’d never met the person giving him the news.

So many people over the past few years have had that experience. Being told by someone they have never met, quite possibly from a city they’ve never been to, that their services are no longer required. Likely while their now former boss looks down at the desk and avoids eye contact.

Your local tv station, radio station and newspaper are all part of these massive companies that have very little desire to be the big, local voice your community deserves. They are in it for the money and when they can’t make any, it’s always the talent that suffers first, then maybe a manager, program director, editor, etc for the sake of making it look like there’s a ship to right.

There’s no good that comes from a weakened media. Do you know why? Because if you have no reporters to ask the hard questions, the messages will come entirely from the corporate press releases. Without camera operators, you won’t have the visuals of the public officials telling massive lies. Your community event won’t get a passing mention if you need publicity.

Without a strong local media, you will be at the mercy of national reporters. Global News in Winnipeg gets its late news from some rag-tag group out of Toronto. Where is the benefit to the community?

There isn’t. It benefits shareholders. And CEOs. That’s it.

As the cuts keep coming, you won’t even be able to rely on “pretend” news sources like Huffington Post or Buzzfeed, because guess where they poach content from?

What is the answer? I don’t know. The listeners, viewers and readers of the world need to get mad as hell and not take it anymore. You all live in a city with stories, with controversies, with issues, triumphs, etc. and you deserve to know about these things.

You won’t know if your local newspaper is chopped down to nothing. You won’t know if your local television station only has three reporters. You won’t know if your local radio reporters are spending less time out gathering stories and are instead huddled over computers banging out tweets and web copy.

“This city needs its news” was the line that led into a joke in Anchorman, but it’s true! Your city needs its news! Stop letting these monsters steal from your communities. Fight back. Demand better.

20 Years Queer: That Time I Met Garbage

There was a time in my life when I became genuinely sad that I would probably never get to meet Shirley Manson.

I believe I was having my quarter-life crisis, thinking about all the time I had spent worshiping someone, being influenced by someone, and how I would never get a chance to see that person in the flesh and explain just how they made me feel.

I have been a fan of Garbage since I was 13 years old. When I first saw the video for “Vow” on MuchMusic, something inside me just… became.

I can’t explain that feeling, but I know, if you are a fan of music, you too have that band or singer that just did something to you the first time you heard them. Garbage was that band for me. Their style was like nothing I’d heard before. It was as much grunge as it was pop. It was so slick sounding but also chaotic and clunky. It was the perfect music for a 13 year old girl who felt like she was on the cusp of who knows what. It was also the perfect music for someone that has never felt like she’s ever truly fit into one of the boxes life likes to assign you too. I’m not punk enough to be punk. Not cool enough to be one of the cool kids. I didn’t fit in then and I don’t truly fit in now.

At 13, I just knew that Garbage would be the soundtrack to my life, Shirley Manson my idol.

My devotion to the band knew no bounds. I had pictures of them taped up in my room and in my locker at school. I saved up my allowance to buy the albums and even special ordered many of the B-sides. You have to remember, this was 1995. There was no iTunes. There was no file sharing. Through junior high and high school I had a massive backpack that was very seldom filled with school work. It was almost exclusively filled with cumbersome CDs and I don’t think I ever left the house without at least one Garbage album.

Growing up in Winnipeg in the 90s basically meant that very few bands that were big, but not too big, played in town.As a teen I certainly didn’t have the means to travel to see them.

Garbage was a band that I was obsessed with, and in that era definitely got a lot of airplay on radio and MuchMusic, but still, I didn’t know many people that got into to band beyond that exposure.

In so many ways, Garbage was mine and mine alone.

Garbage came to Winnipeg for the first time in 2005, but they came without Butch Vig (I believe his mother died and he was not playing that portion of the tour). I was about 12 rows back on the floor of the Burton Cummings theatre with my sister Melanie, the only other person that like Garbage almost as much as me that I knew. It was a surreal experience finally getting to see the band play. They ran through a lengthy set list, did an encore, and when that was done, took requests from the crowd. Shirley Manson asked what we wanted to hear and I screamed “SUPERVIXEN” as loud as I could.

She heard me. They played it.

Flash forward 10 more years to October 2015. Garbage is on tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of that first album, the one that changed my life. Given that I am now a 33 year old woman, it was much easier for me to book a plane ticket, hotel and secure a ticket to the only Canadian date in Toronto. I am out of my mind excited for this.

Somehow, about two weeks before the show, it crosses my mind to investigate whether or not the band is doing any sort of meet and greet. Sure enough, they are. I look over the different packages and there is a bundle where, among other things, you get a meet and greet with the band, a photo with the band, a three song sound check AND a Q and A. This package is quite pricey, but I’m willing to pay anything for the chance.

Or am I?

Now I’m overthinking. Should I really spend more than $300 to possibly cry all over Shirley Manson like the absolute loser I am? What happens if the band doesn’t like me, or what if they are all in shitty moods?

Really, there is no shortage of people who can tell you about how meeting their idol turned out to be a huge disappointment. To us, our idols are superhuman. In life, the are just human. They are in no way, larger than life in the way we have built them up to be.

What if Shirley Manson doesn’t like me?

Flashback to the early 2000s when Shirley Manson is actively blogging on the Garbage website. She wrote a piece about meeting basketball player Tim Duncan, about how she adores him but she never wants to meet him, only admire him from afar, because she’s afraid what she has made of him in her mind will disappoint her in real life.

Shirley Manson’s own words are now working against me. Goddammit.

I posted the link to the meet and greet on my Facebook and asked my friends if I was a lunatic for thinking of spending all that money to possibly cry all over my hero. Not one person told me not to do it.

I’m not normally one to trust the opinions of large groups of people, but I decided to pull that trigger. I bought the meet and greet. No turning back now.

The day of the show, I am in my hotel room in Toronto, staring at a blank card I had purchased for the sole purpose of writing a letter to Shirley, Duke, Butch and Steve. I stressed about this all day until it was time to go to the venue for the meet and greet. Not a single word had come out of me by the time it was time to leave.

This is the only regret I have.

I arrived at the venue for 3:30, as instructed by Adventures in Wonderland, the company that provided the meet and greet service. I am the 11th person in line. I know this because they number the wrist bands we are given. In total, there were probably more than 20 but less than 30 of us.

Once they lined us up and took us into the venue, we were told we would do the meet and greet plus the photo first, then go to the soundcheck, and then we would do the Q and A. We were lined up in a hallway, sort of in a U shape. I was standing against a metal gate at the end of the hall. I got to chatting with some of the people in line, including a lovely girl named Charlotte. None of us know what we are going to say, and we’re all concerned we will look like monsters in the photos.

I’m still leaning against this gate when I realize, I am looking down the hall where the band will be entering the meet and greet room. Sure enough, Duke walks right past me. We say hello. Then Steve walks by and we say hello as well.

And then there’s Shirley Manson, two feet away from me, followed closely by Butch. I also manage to say hi to them and somehow, I don’t puke. This calms me for about two minutes.

Then the line starts moving. The idea is you get to chat with the band a bit and you get to take the picture. I still have no idea what I am going to say and am starting to think this may have been a really dumb idea.

My new friend Charlotte is ahead of me and she goes in. I don’t hear what they are saying because the blood is just rushing in my ears. This is the moment I thought would never come. I am going to meet Garbage. I am going to speak directly to Shirley Manson.

I am not going to cry or throw up.

I am called into the room and now it’s really happening and wow, these rock gods haven’t really aged much in 20 years. Shirley is taller than I thought. It seems like the entire band is actually the same size. We say hi, I shake all their hands, we introduce ourselves. We pose for the photo. 13 year old Lindsey is begging 33 year old Lindsey to keep her shit together.

This is where it goes Lindsey-style awkward.

After the photo is taken, we are saying our goodbyes. Up til now I am still mainly at a loss for words, but I manage to ask Shirley for a hug and she is happy to give it to me.

Then I say to the band, my heroes, “thank you for giving me 20 years of something I can’t even explain to you. Thank you.”

Shirley fucking Manson looks at me and says “You don’t look old enough to have been listening to us for 20 years.”

“Oh. Uhh.. Well, I’m 33, so…” is all I can muster.

Now the entire band is audibly surprised by this and Shirley says to me “what is your secret?”

Now at this point I should be elated that I am trading beauty secrets with one of the most beautiful women on earth, but what actually happens is I am, for some reason, sort of moonwalking away from this conversation, all the while proclaiming “sunscreen!” as the answer to life’s problems. I don’t know why I am doing this but Butch Vig can plainly see I am starting to unglue a bit. He steps towards me and puts his hands on my shoulders and says “it’s ok, you’re lovely.” and he gives me a massive hug.

In hindsight, Butch Vig probably saved me from tripping over something and really making an ass of myself. A hero indeed.

After saying goodbye to the band I was told to walk down the same hall the band had entered from and go to the stage area. I would say this is about 100 feet. In that 100 feet I managed to have a big ugly cry AND pull myself together in time to join the other superfans.

The soundcheck is insane. We were supposed to get three songs and we got four. For the meet and greet, the band comes down off the stage and just chats with us on the floor for aout 15 minutes. At this point it really feels like we, the band and the superfans are all friends, that’s how incredibly and gracious Garbage is.

After all of that, there is still a face melting, two hour show to take in. It is positively everything I imagined it would be. There’s no describing how great the band sounded, how those songs took me to places I couldn’t truly fathom.

I never did write the damn card like I wanted to because I couldn’t find words. Even now, I don’t know what I could ever truly write that would reflect what Shirley, Steve, Duke and Butch have unknowingly given me for 20 years.

I hope my thank you and sunscreen advice was enough. It was the best I could do.

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