I call this blog "second act," because the first act of my life is behind me, and I'm looking forward to what will happen next. I hope to write about as many things that have happened to me as much about things that are or will happen to me -- my second act.
If you need to know my vital stats -- where I was born, where I studied, where I went to work, etc., -- I'll indulge you here.
I was born in Hong Kong and came to Canada when I was six. I don't remember much about Hong Kong and I've never visited. I do have memories of my mom's mom who took care of me mostly while my parents worked. And I remember my first winter in Canada, our first car, laughing at Carol Burnett (although I wonder how much I understood at the time) and listening to The Carpenters for the first time.
Like most Gen-Xers, I grew up as a latch-key kid. I have very specific memories of growing up mainly in Scarborough (suburb of Toronto).
I am the youngest son with three older sisters in my family. That meant I was as spoiled as a working-class immigrant family could spoil me. I wish I had inherited my dad's frugal ways - he somehow kept us all fed and had money for us to go to college and university, all from a meagre income of a freelance commercial artist.
My mom worked as housekeeper at what is now the Hilton Toronto. My oldest sister also worked there as a switchboard operator for a time.
This is me enjoying my first snow fall.
As it turned out, I was extremely lucky that my high school was only one of a few in the city that continued the tradition of the school newspaper.
I initially signed on to do artwork (I take after my dad, more on that some other time), but the older student editor became a mentor of sorts and I took over for her when she graduated.
That helped me get into Ryeron's famed School of Journalism where I graduated the top of my class and followed by a 30 year run at the Toronto Star, Canada's biggest newspaper. End of story.
Alas, if that was my story, this blog would probably be about journalism and politics.
Like others in my senior year, I interviewed with the big dailies. I think they all came to campus on the same day, or at least the same week to recruit graduates. After my first interview with the Star, I somehow missed the notice that I was to go for a second interview, until a classmate told me. I barely made it there as the editors were almost packing up.
I didn't get an internship at the Star as I had hoped and expected. Nor did I get one with The Globe and Mail. Not even the dreaded Toronto Sun.
Still, I was lucky that school faculty believed in me. I believe one of them put in a word so that I could at least interview with The Brantford Expositor, and won a spot in their newsroom.
I continued to work in journalism for a few years until I went to the "dark side" of public relations, for a political party, no less. The best jobs I held were in the first term of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty (more on that another time) as a political aide to three cabinet ministers and in the Premier's Office.
It was a lot of fun, but demanding. It was around that time that BlackBerrys were becoming mainstream, tethering us to the workplace 24/7. l think it was burnout, plus the unexpected deaths of my boyfriend just a few years before and then the death of my dad that triggered what would be a lengthy fight with chronic depression.
At the time, I didn't know quite what was happening. It was during the first job I took after leaving government, that I realized something was deeply wrong. I was without work for a stretch, and even while I did eventually found work, the depression was stronger than me. I lasted about seven or eight years, until I couldn't anymore.
Thankfully, at about the same time, I met my now husband Kenneth. We moved in a few years ago and he watched and supported me as I struggled. Without his love and support, I know it would have taken me a lot longer to reach some semblance of functionality. I also discovered photography at this time and it seems this will figure prominently in my second act -- I've had some success exhibiting in local shows and winning some recognition. And yes, I will write about photography as well.
That, in a nutshell, is my first act. As I continue with this blog, I will be sharing stories about the immigrant experience, growing up gay and coming out, dealing with depression, finding inspiration in photography, as well as my thoughts on politics, current events and how much I detest reality TV.
When I think about the best times of humanity, I believe they were only possible when people came together for a common cause or a goal. Each one of us is unique. But we're also not very different, you and I, having gone through similar life experiences. It is always focusing on what we have in common that will remain important and I hope that you will be able to relate to some of my stories and take from them what you will.