The view from my chair...or couch


By Alan Gillies

G.E.M. Media. Submitted article.

I haven’t been writing lately. Most people usually assume I’m busy. They’re usually right.The past two months, however, haven’t been very “usual”, even for me.

First, my best friend moved into my home. In addition to my sense of humour, he shares cooking duties; by “sharing”, I mean he actually cooks. My version of food preparation involves rifling through my wallet for coupons while idling in a restaurant drive-thru.

Also, the woman whom I married moved back into the house after years working in northern nursing. The salary looked good on paper, but the expense of two households and lack of appreciation resulted in her giving notice.

Home watching a Jets game or movie, it’s nice to no longer have just the dog to keep me company. I love my cocker spaniel, she’s just not much of a conversationalist.

Sadly, those changes occurred as I developed a nasty respiratory infection, my lungs producing more butter than a small dairy.

Antibiotics? Nope. Those who know me call me stubborn. That’s fine, considering that those who only think they know me call me lots of things.

Washing down Benadryl with Benylin, I changed my work schedule. Being a freelance photo-journalist was a choice I made long ago, as was being an artist, careers that often allow me to justify insultingly low pay with the appreciation of my audiences.

Looking at my most recent paycheque, and considering my health, I easily chose to ignore the week’s publication deadline and temporarily retire from print media, hoping whomever might take over be competent, with the same respect for my hometown’s citizens and their stories I have always had.

Limiting my retail store’s hours due to the amount of time I was spending confined to my sofa, what annoyed me more than my coughing was my complaining, having recently written about kids with cancer and adults enduring amputations. The truth is that I was frustrated more by the delay placed upon me as I recovered than by any amount of pain.

Laryngitis quieted the complaining, if not the coughing, and forced me to cancel singing “O Canada” at one Neepawa Natives game, but never as announcer, even announcing at the Keystone Centre, photographing away games in Portage and the MTS Iceplex, where the Yellowhead Chiefs (my nephew Braden Gillies proudly wears 9 on his Chiefs jersey, just as did his dad) were also playing.

I kept up all volunteer commitments, ever unable to say “no”. Hardly my biggest character flaw; self-obsession and pride are better contenders.

Pride of family is admirable, as is civic pride. I’m proud to live in a country where unarmed teenagers aren’t routinely shot and killed by law enforcement or Neighbourhood Watch; here, the Citizens On Patrol Program (I’ve been a member in both Eden and Neepawa) are armed with cell phones and common sense. I’m proud to live in Canada, where the most recent riot of note was three years ago, many rioters later prosecuted thanks to other citizens. I’m proud to live in a country that’s strong and free, with a Prime Minister gracious enough to shake a despot’s hand while bravely telling him to “get out of Ukraine”, embodying leadership not just for Canada but the entire world. Proud that as a nation we stood together in grief but with pride for a soldier gunned down by a terrorist, himself shot by a Sergeant-At-Arms who’d hoped to never draw his weapon, proud of that peace officer as well. Proud a week later as we remembered all others who’ve given their lives for Canada.

But I’m also proud that for the past five years I’ve contributed to reporting news for the town of Neepawa in print, over air, and online. I take pride in my work; I like to think it shows. Writing has always been my first love. Granted, it hasn’t been on a consistent basis, and every editor who’s held back a deadline to publish my work can testify that it’s hardly been on a timely basis, either.

Though lengthening my recovery, I performed with my band for the first time in three years on the Central Canada Comic Con Main Stage on Nov. 1. That made me proud, too, as does putting the finishing touches on the downtown recording studio that my friends and family have helped me build this past year.

 And admittedly, whenever I tell tales about performing at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, or of hanging out with Steve Earle, Bryan Adams or William Shatner, there is hubris mixed with humility… As I reach for a dustpan with which to sweep up those and all the other names I’m always dropping. Their pictures and autographs now decorate the G.E.M. building’s walls.

 That said, and as I’m nearly back to myself again, Gillies Entertainment Media will be re-opening at 9:00 Monday morning, Dec. 1. You can look for further details in the next Neepawa Banner, adding an additional print deadline, I suppose.

 Pride got me back up off the couch, pride in both the things I’ve done, and the things I’ve only just begun and have yet to finish, and I’ve accepted that so long as I’m not dead, there will always be deadlines.