Sunday, October 14, 2012

"It's My Turn Now" My Evening with Jian Ghomeshi

We all have a soundtrack to our lives. 
Music, words, stories, silence and melodies.

My soundtrack is full and rich.

One huge part of my soundtrack is made up of a voice who brings me questions, queries, laughter and banter, introspection, enlightenment and education.  

Until last night, I had never met the man behind the voice.
But last night, the man, the voice, and an adoring fan were united...

Every morning I'm home or driving, I spend my weekday mid-mornings with Jian.  
He's been my steadfast companion through the years.  
After the 10 o clock news I hear his familiar baritone intro Q and all seems well with my world.

It would be impossible for me to tell you why Jian Ghomeshi and Q are such an important part of who I am.  But that won't stop me from trying.

I've always loved politics and current events.  (Do you know any other teenage girls who sat in their parents basements on a beautiful summer day, crying their eyes out watching Jean Charest lose the leadership of the Conservative Party to Kim Campbell?)    From the age of twelve, I'd watch The National and The Journal every night before bed, developing talking points and opinions and interest that fed my soul.  When I got into radio at the tender age of fourteen, I felt like I'd arrived where I was meant to be.  I spent much of my teens covering news conferences, meetings, and reading the news at the top and bottom of the hour.   For the most part, I could talk most adults I knew under the table when it came to world events, human rights issues or Canadian politics.  The CBC played a pivotal role in shaping my awareness, my passion, and my dogma.

As I got older, I often hated being relegated to the conversations about recipes and baby barf.  I'd catch snippets of what some of the men were talking about - and want to yell across the room - "I know more about that than you do!  Let me contribute something to the conversation too!"  These were the years when the babies and sleepless nights and board books and squeaky toys sometimes felt like they were turning my brain to mush.  And in those days, when the radio was on during nap time I'd catch my hour of Q with Jian Ghomeshi and I felt alive again.  Alive, aware, more intelligent and definitely cooler.  Jian's got cool in spades, after all.

Later, when Q moved up the ranks at the Mother Corp to the coveted morning slot, I felt the world expand just a little more.   Now I got to spend nearly an entire morning with Jian!  He was clever, witty, sharp, cultured, generous,  and he seemed to love the same stuff I did.  Music, books, movies, docs, blogs, and more - it seemed I'd found my match and I happily settled onto the same page he was on.  Over the years Jian introduced me to more bands, artists, writers, politicians and difference-makers that found themselves on my "beloved" list than I would have ever discovered without him.  

Jian is fiercely proud of being Canadian.  Though is lives in Toronto, he has always championed the indie scene of our fair land with gusto and passion.  He finds the undiscovered and the fledgling and brings them into the spotlight to land a place on your player, coffee table, or conversation.   He goes deep, then digs even deeper and brings out the gritty, raw edge to who ever he's talking to.  Sometimes he just makes me laugh.  And many times he's left me in tears.

And yes, I can be honest.  As Rick Mercer likes to say, Jian does have the eyes of an Iranian princess.  But that's not all he has.  I feel the same way about Jian that I used to feel about Peter Gzowski during the Morningside years - and  he was a sixty-something, bespeckled, chain-smoking personality who had the same effect on me during our years together.  Substance trumps the outside every time.  This time is no different.

Just over a year or so ago, Jian told his listeners that he was writing a book.  Music to my ears, it was.  If you've ever listened to Jian's opening essays that start off the show, or read his contributions to mags or papers, you know that his writing is rich.   I couldn't wait.

So it was with great anticipation I picked up my copy of Jian's book 1982 the week it was released.  My anticipation only grew wildly when I found out he was coming to Winnipeg to do a reading and signing of his book at McNally Robinson, come October.  The night was marked on our calendar instantly and plans were made with our friends and fellow Jian-fans to catch an early dinner at McNally's on the night of the event to be sure we'd score a prime spot in the store.  

And, you know, I would have been happy with that.  Really happy.  But then last week Terry McLeod on Information Radio kept announcing a contest to win passes to a private "VIP Reception" with Jian before the event was to start.   It took me all of a few seconds to enter - not once, but twice - once with my name and once with Mike's.  I knew the odds were stacked against me, but hope abounded.  Imagine my surprise and shock last week when I got the call from the CBC letting me know that MIKE's name was selected and two passes for the reception with Jian were his.  (We all knew they were mine.)  I was giddy like a school girl and my mind began to flood with one million questions to ask my morning companion.

Saturday night arrived.  

I was nervous and jittery and anticipated something amazing.  

After dinner at Prairie Ink,  I checked to make sure there was no food stuck in my teeth, reapplied my lipstick and tried to breeze into the reception room like I belonged.  It was a small room - smaller than I thought.  This put the odds ever in my favor that I'd actually get some substantive one-on-one time with my Persian Prince after all.

I grabbed a glass of wine from the bar with my faithful partner and kind and indulgent friend and photographer,  (who's actually a big fan of Jian's too), Mike.  The special events coordinator got up to let us know that Jian's flight had been a little delayed and that he had almost no voice left from the gruelling speaking schedule he'd been on.  So we waited.

In the meantime, I had a lovely conversation with Terry McLeod from the morning show on Information Radio.  Terry is my early-morning companion, so it was only right that we chat up my love for the CBC before the moment I'd been waiting for arrived.

And then Jian swooped in.
My knees went weak while I tried to play it cool.
(That's hard to do when one of your creative heroes is standing just a few feet away from you.)

The next moment was so lovely.  Jian's sister Jila is actually a well-known linguistics professor at the University of Manitoba.  She and her young daughter entered the reception room and Jian's niece ran up to him as he instantly stopped what he was doing and gathered her into his arms for a squeeze.  He's just a man, after all.  A man who adores his niece.

I waited patiently as one of the other winners and her daughter had their moment with Jian.  I stood close by, hoping my time would come.  You've got be appear eager, but not too eager, you know.  There is an art to this madness.

As soon as he had his picture taken with the winner, I marched over to him and said "I'm going to be ridiculously aggressive and say 'It's my turn now'" to which he graciously laughed and gave me his undivided attention for the next five minutes of my life.

We talked about his book and the characters.

How it feels to expose hidden parts of who you really are to an audience....

We laughed a little.  (I did some finger pointing.)

He was thoughtful, engaged, patient, and so very kind.
(I was happy to discover he's taller than I thought).

In true "Karla fashion", our conversation ended with me expounding on how significant he's been in my daily life and what a great honor it was to meet and chat with him.  ("True Karla fashion" means there may have been some tears welling up in my eyes that could have possibly over flowed and then trickled down my cheeks).

Just in time for a shot of me and my friend, Jian.

Though I only had a chance to ask him a few questions, I passed him off to movers and the shakers at the reception and found our friends and a spot to listen to Jian's reading.

He spoke for a lot longer than I expected.  He began by telling the audience about the way the book began and then shared two passages from the book.  They were amazing.  He was gracious, energetic, hilarious and captivating. (Yes, I quite like him).  Afterward, he took questions from the audience, then proceeded to sign books for a huge line-up of loyal fans.

My tears took me by surprise as I thanked him.  I thought of it afterward.  Why would I have cried?

I'm quite sure it was gratitude.  Overwhelming gratitude for being part of my story, and for sharing his.  For offering his words and experience up to be woven into mine and so many others.
"Kind words" were the least I could give in return.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Home Sense

This is what our basement looked like on Saturday.  

There hadn't been a break-in, a tornado, or any other devastation.
Sometimes this is just what life looks like.