Hello there. I am interrupting your regularly scheduled blogging to ask a small favour.
The Globe and Mail is having a contest to add one writer and one photographer to its editorial team for the Vancouver/Whistler Olympics (here's a link to the contest's website). For an underemployed law school graduate with dreams of using writing to pay the bills (hey, that's me) this would be the opportunity of a lifetime.
This is where you come in.
My writing entry has been submitted, and is now open for public voting. I need to be in the top-50 vote-getters in order to proceed to the next round, where the decisions will be made by an editorial board. Your votes would mean a lot to me. So would your mother's vote, and your sister's, your dog's, etc. Here's where you can read my story and vote for it, should you so choose: LINK (regular readers will recognize this as an abridged version of a previous post).
Voting can be done daily, so please consider voting more than once (or, you know, daily). Make it part of your evening e-mail ritual, sandwiching it somewhere between writing your old landlord to threaten legal action if you don't get your damage deposit back and looking at pictures of your grade seven girlfriend on Facebook. Voting is open until November 22nd, which gives us plenty of time, although other entries were submitted weeks ago. There are certainly more noble things you can do with thirty seconds and a click of your mouse, but this really would mean the world to me. Part of why I have taken this year "off" is to work on my writing and try and do something with it, so this is an opportunity that I don't want to watch slip away.
Once again, here's the LINK (http://journalismdream.theglobeandmail.com/entry_article.asp?id=887), and note that you are eligable to win some sweet prizes (a fancy camera and a tricked-out laptop) just for voting.
Thanks, as always, for reading, and thanks in advance for voting. Also, as an added bonus, every time you vote an angel gets its wings and global warming will be reversed by one year. So really, let's all do our part.
P.S. The site did not allow me to include paragraph breaks in my submission. Here's the story as it looks with proper formatting:
Hockey becomes infused with a unique sense of community and geography when taken up by free-spirited Northerners. This I learned one afternoon last February, shortly after moving to Yellowknife.
The Great Slave Invitational is a perennial tournament serious in name only. The setting is a natural rink, complete with boards and lights, in front of cozy houseboats on Yellowknife Bay. The year I was in town, six teams competed for the highly coveted, duct tape and toilet-paper roll “Houseboat Cup” (equal parts Lord Stanley and Red Green). I manned the blue line for Team Trailer Trash, proudly representing the trailer park where I was living. Our jerseys? Sleveless undershirts sporting numbers written in mustard. I took the trailer park theme one step further, sporting borrowed skates held together with packing tape.
Scores were kept and a schedule followed. Knowing when you played next allowed maximum resting time inside the tournament host’s houseboat, with skates warming by the fire and The Hip on the stereo. With a sub-minus forty windchill outside, time inside was cherished.
After an undefeated round-robin schedule, Trailer Trash lost a heartbreaking semi-final. The overtime winner was scored by a high-flying Frenchman from Fort Smith with waist-long dreadlocks and an anomalous competitive streak. It was a tough loss, but after three games and a potato-chips-and-water subsistence all day, I was content to head home. With the final game starting and the evening winds picking up, I trudged across the bay toward my trailer and contemplated the game in a national context.
But what is that national context? I’ve recently grown weary of the hockey myths perpetuated by our macro breweries, telling us that hockey is our great national unifier. More Canadian children play soccer than hockey, and yet we are supposed to be 33 million obsessed with men dressed in garters and stockings looking to score. And while I count myself among the masses riveted by my home team's annual playoff march and the ups and downs of our national program, I am often left feeling that our frozen loyalties contain elements of the contrived and predictable, that we’re all just buying into exactly what we’re told to buy into.
And yet, an organic sense of territorial pride had grown inside me during the afternoon. The scene of the natural rink set among houseboats on a mammoth lake is not one easily duplicated elsewhere in the world, nor was it scripted by a potato chip commercial. While following the NHL's fake cold war can feel routine and formulaic, that afternoon felt spontaneous, authentic and lacking a forced sense of Canadian-ness. Indeed, the climatic and social circumstances that underscored the tournament were legitimate, inescapable byproducts of life in the far North strong and free.
Author Winona LaDuke writes of patriotism to a land but not a flag. I walked away that day feeling patriotic toward a land and a game, rather than a flag and a beer commercial.