Hello. My name is Jeff. You may know me from my interviews and profiles with community members in the Niagara region for Retirement News Weekly’s column “Visionaries of Our Community.” After writing profiles for six of the most amazing people I’ve ever met, it’s time to introduce to you someone different. Me. I’m certainly less accomplished then the people I’ve interviewed and I haven’t found that “life’s passion” that the bookseller, the chef, the conductor, and the coach have for their particular arts. I am, however, doing what I love. Writing! Starting this week I’ll be bringing you two new bi-weekly columns, I Can Explain and Act Your Age!
But, before I get carried away writing about these columns, let me tell you more about me. I’m 23 and was born in a small, French, fishing village called Pubnico in Nova Scotia. Before you ask, I am unilingual, though I’d like to think my mastery of English compensates for my utter failure to conquer French. I had a really nice childhood, two loving parents, was raised Catholic, and played (badly) a variety of sports. I attended Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax, NS and received a Bachelors of Public Relations before moving to St. Catharine’s for a year to take my Masters in Popular Culture. I’m not finished it, as my thesis still needs work, but I should be done soon enough! I’m spending August with my sister in Halifax and September in Europe seeing five major cities.
Now, for my passion, writing. I started young. When I was 12 I wrote an 80 page novel about a boy who starts a charity club. By the time I was 17 that list had grown into six plays, four movies, a rewritten version of the novel, an autobiography, and a musical called, “Isn’t Life Ironic.” It was about a young man who writes a musical to impress a girl that doesn’t care about musicals and the story still seems pretty close to home. In my senior year of high school, desperate to be read by anyone, I started an unofficial newsletter and in University began an online newsletter. Perhaps it was these experiences that gave me the edge when I applied to work at Retirement News Weekly this summer.
I loved working for Retirement News Weekly/Niagara. Interviewing these incredible individuals and telling their stories was a dream job. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and with regret I had to quit in order to return home. For what happened next I will be eternally grateful. I was offered a column and went immediately to the task of proposing a variety of ideas. Two were selected and the columns will come out on alternating weeks.
“I Can Explain” is simple enough. In this column, I will choose a new pop culture or technological trend and attempt to explain it as clearly as possible. Whether its Jersey Shore or Twitter, I want to make it an easy reference of new developments and let you know what they are and whether or not they’re worth checking out.
The inspiration for the second column, the one you’re reading right now, came somewhat as a fluke. While writing the “Visionaries of our Community,” I was invited to attend the opening gala of Music Niagara and listen to Andre Laplante play Chopin and Schumann.
To be brutally honest, I know nothing about music. It’s actually a bit embarrassing as my friends regularly tease me for not knowing about artists and songs. That said, as little as I know about music I know even less about classical music. The prospect of sitting in a pew in a church while watching a man play a piano for two hours was not the most appealing use of my Saturday night. However the ticket was free and finally I decided, “Why not!” My philosophy has been and continues to be, even if things end up a disaster, they’ll at least make a good story.
This wasn’t the case for the opening gala. I attended and was blown away. While it was strange just to sit and listen to music without any visual stimulation, there was something about the experience that could be universally appreciated. Even if you couldn’t delight in the music, which I did, the simplicity of this man holding his audience in rapture through his playing was entertainment enough. The experience inspired the article “1000 Words About Music From A Man Who Knows Nothing,” which inappropriately enough can be found in the archive for “Visionaries of our Community.”
This inspired me to write this column. Every other week, I will go out and try a cliché retirement activity, and then I’ll report back to you my findings. I will humbly submit myself to a variety of activities that I would otherwise wait until retirement to try. The outcomes of each activity will vary. Some will be incredible, like “appreciating classical music.” Others will be embarrassing, like “trying yoga.” Yet others will be revealed to be cliché for a reason, like “learning to knit.” But I’m willing to have my eyes opened wide! Maybe all these activities need is a chance.
The benefit of this column is that you can read about my experiences every other week. If it’s something you do, you can enjoy it from my fresh perspective. And if it’s something you’ve never tried, it at least gives you options of cheap activities that are either nominated or discouraged by someone you now know. Me!
You may be currently saying to yourself, “Jeff, this has been a great start to your column, but it hardly lives up to what you’ve now promised us! You haven’t tried a single clichéd activity!” But I beg to differ. “Tell a complete stranger my life story.” Check! I’ll see you in two weeks!