The first title for this blog was going to be: “If you’ve never been in the newspaper, just make up your own articles. And headlines. And newspaper.” But as I wrote it, I realized: it’s about more than just newspapers. It’s about…well…read on and find out!
As we all know, I have a long history of newspaper-related experiences. In case you need a refresher, here goes:
- I wrote a newspaper with my brother and cousin when I was a kid. It was called JAKE News (Jessica And Kenneth Emma, in case you were wondering what JAKE was all about). It was written in my grandparents’ basement and it was fabulous. You can read more here.
- I was the agony aunt (the former star of screen and stage, Esmerelda Desmond) in high school. I wrote a lot of my own advice letters (that is, I pretended to be people who needed advice, then wrote them back). But whatever! I actually have my final Auntie E column (that appeared in the yearbook the year after I graduated). Wanna read it? Wanna momentarily step into the mind of eighteen-year-old Jess? (Karl read the article and said this: “Wow, there’s really no surprise you wrote that. It’s so you.” So I guess maybe it’s like stepping into eighteen-year-old Jess and current-day-Jess’ mind all at once. Although current-day-Jess’ mind is far more exhausted and maybe a bit more experienced/bitter. But basically the same general idea.)
Dear Auntie Esmerelda,
You’ve got to help me! I’m graduating from West Hill this year and I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life. I’m completely clueless! Please tell me something – anything- that might help me face ‘the real world.’
Cher-Lee U. Jeste (Eighteen-year-old Jess created farfetched and interesting names.)
Well, you sound very distraught, my dear, but frankly I don’t know why. Compared to high school, the real world is a walk in the park. However, if you fail to take comfort in that, take comfort in this: eat chocolate. The long term benefits of chocolate have been proven by science, whereas my advice has no other basis than that of my own brilliant existence. (Note: I kind of based this article on this song. It was pretty popular at the time, and I dug the concept of giving one final article of advice, based on my own thoughts about life).
I will dole out this advice now.
Act. Acting gives you a chance to be someone you can’t be and to try on different parts of your personality for size. (I was a terrible actor and probably should never have acted. Well, beyond the very first play I was in. I kind of modeled the character on Lilith from Frasier, so it worked out OK. But beyond that? Someone should’ve taken my acting licence away. And burned it.)
Sing. Whether you can or can’t, you’ll be making a joyful noise and that is all that matters. (I can’t. Really. And it’s tragic, because I have an incredible memory for lyrics, but I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.)
If you’re going to go down, go down dancing. (This sounds way dirtier than I had meant it to.)
Don’t let people hurt you. If they do, don’t vow revenge. Life is funny. It all works out in the end.
Buy a monkey. You can teach him to speak English, and he can teach you to speak Monkey. (I can’t take credit for this one. I had a very dear friend in high school who always claimed he’d teach a monkey to speak English, and vice versa. He never has, to my knowledge, but it always seemed like a fun idea.)
Always think of others; not what they think of you, but how they are feeling. Empathy will take you far.
Bake cookies. (Damn right.)
Laugh loud. At yourself first, then at the situation. There will be times in your life when all you will have to sustain you are memories. Create as many of those as you can because you never know when the sand will run out, the alarm will go off, and you will wake up from this dream. (Getting deep up in this joint, Lil’ Jess.)
Hug people. More than anything else, people need to know they are loved and wanted. Let people know you love them.
Don’t leave anything unsaid. (Yes. Preach, former self!)
Never regret the things you’ve done. If you must regret something, regret the chances you never took or the opportunities you didn’t pursue.
Dream big. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be or do or change something. No matter who you are, or what your circumstances, you can do wonderful things. (True dat. Unless you’re planning on becoming a math major with a 13% average in calculus. In which case, you can’t.)
Keep your promises. If you say you will do it, do it. Your word defines how much trust people place in you. (This is pretty much my mantra.)
Don’t lose touch with those from your past, and don’t be too proud to forgive, forget and patch things up.
Worry. Even though people say don’t, you will anyway. But make it about something important. Not whether or not you passed a test. Test are designed only to measure knowledge, not worth. (Especially tests of athletic skill. Those ones are really unimportant.)
Keep going. Even when life seems to have reached its nadir, look up and find the light that will lead you back to happiness. (This is as close to religious as young Jess gets.)
Have hope. Without it, there is no reason to live. Hope is what carries us through the times we know the answer is probably no, but keep believing it could be yes.
You are a good person if you try to be a good person. (I would amend this: you are a good person if you try to be a good person – like REALLY try. Not just half-assed try.)
Always try your best. If you fail, try again. If you fail again, try something new. You will find your niche in life. You’ll discover your calling and you’ll end up in a place that you probably never could’ve imagined.
And if you ever grow tired or weary or frustrated, and it see ms like life is at a dead end, remember: eat chocolate. Trust me.
Good luck to everyone.
A dear friend of mine once said this article would be among his possessions when he was old and senile. He’s a good one, that dear friend.*
- Being Plumpy the Advice Hippo at Webkinz World. I loved being Plumpy. She was so…blue. And adorable.
I also, however, often wrote diary entries as newspaper articles. Why? I don’t know. Maybe to break up the monotony. Maybe to appear more interesting than I was (am?). Whatever the reason, here are a few of the top headlines!
10 Year Old Boy Irritates Caregiver
At Highland Creek Library this morning, a ten-year-old boy opened the car door with a great deal of force, hitting the van parked in the next spot. Unfortunately, the van was occupied. Tremendous side-eye was given. No injuries reported.
25 Year Old Woman Nearly Run Over By Maniac
(Honking horn bothered woman’s autistic charge)
Woman Does Not Tutor Little Girl
The same woman who was very nearly run over by aforementioned maniac driver was feeling rather under the weather, and decided it was in everyone’s best interest to head home and take copious amounts of Gravol.
Webkinz Comment Box Receives Over 600 Emails
“It’s a two-day record,” says Creative Lead Karl. Creative writer Jessica is far less enthusiastic.
Exhausted Writer Answers Emails
“I still have about 500 more emails to answer,” says the creative writer from her home north of Toronto. I was also planning on writing a musical. My mental deadline was yesterday.”
And hey, remember how I’ve never been in a REAL newspaper before? Maybe THAT’S why I was making up headlines – so I’d feel better about my complete and total absence from anything resembling newsprint. And that was true, back then.
But it’s not true anymore! Guys, guess what? I was totes in the newspaper! OK, so it was the LOCAL paper (and my story ran a week after the story that was titled something like, “Viola the Tiny Dog Escapes from her Yard.” But that’s cool! Whatevs! No big thing! Wanna see me in print? Wanna? Wanna?!
See! It’s me! And since we’re talking about stuff that’s awesome, here’s another thing: my Kickstarter campaign succeeded! Bear Hockey, my picture book, will be printed and sent out and a REAL, HONEST-TO-GOODNESS thing! Whoa!
And that’s what’s happening in March.
* This dear friend just got engaged to a wonderful lady and I could not be happier for him. Since it’s my blog, I get to take a little detour and tell you all about Alok.
I have known the fabulous Mr. Ghai since grade 10 drama (we were always in each other’s group and put on some pretty damn good, if melodramatic, skits, if I do say so myself). We went to the same university and Alok listened to my myriad complaints about residence, spent hours hanging at Bethune and ate most of my meal card (sorry about the crappy food…really sorry about the Kraft Dinner).
Aside from all that good stuff, he is one of the smartest, most genuine people I have ever met. He’s part of the family. He’s the guy you want on your pub night trivia team. He’s the guy you fear playing against. Alok knows a TON of stuff about a TON of stuff. In fact, we used to play this game, when the internet was only beginning to be a thing. We’d send each other lyrics on ICQ (I know, I know!) and we’d challenge each other to name the band/singer/song title as fast as possible. 9 times out of 10, Alok would figure my lyrics out in less than five minutes and I’d look at his and be all, “I dunno. Oasis? Radiohead? Coldplay?” And he’d be all, “Oh, Jess. Try harder!” And then he’d take pity and tell me the answer and encourage me to listen to more than just my standard diet of 80’s and 90’s top 40. And sometimes I did. In fact, he has always encouraged me to learn, to keep up with him mentally (good luck on that one) and to watch hockey, dammit (good luck on that one too).
To say I’m happy about Alok finding an amazing lady to spend his life with is an understatement. He deserves nothing but happiness and joy, and I know that his future with Stephanie will be that and so much more. Steph, you are incredible and so, so perfect for Alok (and the fact that you’re a Habs fan is delightful). Oh, you crazy kids. A million congratulations. I can’t wait for the wedding.