All right, I've talked about the reading (amazing) and some of the stuff we saw in the city (damn, I really like Toronto) now it's time for a bit about the reason I went there in the first place. I won an award. Natalie Walschots, bless her werdnerdy soul, nominated me for the inaugural Outstanding Volunteer award from Magazines Canada. She told me nothing of this, so when I got the call from Barb at Mags Canada, I was completely shocked. Nat, you are an evil little sprite. :0)
The award has come with some ups and downs. Winning a national award right at the moment when I finish my degree and hit the job market - definitely an up. Having to skip convocation to attend kinda sucked and Caralee Hubbel's insistence that dANDylion will dictate how the $1000.00 in professional development money will be used; a major down and, as it turns out, completely inaccurate. dANDy has no say in how I dispense the award; the cheque is made out to me and is non-transferable. I just need to apply it to one of Mags' approved training programs, ie Magazines University or the Banff Centre, etc.
Mags Canada offered to pay for my ticket and put me up for the night of the awards ceremony. Fantastic. Would be a pretty lonely ceremony without Ash along so we had to front for the other plane ticket and an additional night at the Hilton (we got a group rate fortunately, thanks to Mags U for that). I had thought that I'd be a shoo-in as a rep for dANDylion at the Mags U, since my plane ticket and accomodations were already paid for but not the case. Turns out we could only send two people and Jonathan Ball and Jordan Nail are both good choices. Jordon wound up not being able to make it because of a death in his family - a horrible thing and horrible timing; I really hope dANDy makes up to him and sends him again next year.
At any rate, the ceremony was nice; we got to meet some cool people: Cindy from Burnt Toast who was accepting for Tony Fouhse, Melissa Edwards from 3Day Novel who adjuticated the very first draft of my book Victor, and the Sellwood brothers who introduced us to a number of people and later (I think it was Dan (?)) gave us a lift back to the hotel. I also got to meet Jon Spencer who's actually coming out to Calgary in a couple of weeks to revamp the circulation program for dANDylion; he's a cyclist, I'm hoping we can hit the trails while he's out here.
Here's a couple of pics:
This picture of me and the awarders causing trouble: the photographer wanted a nice straightforward shot and we were far too busy horsing around. Drove her nuts but hey, when you're charging $7.50 a glass for the wine, better be prepared to deal with some entertainment value.
The actual award: full credit to Mags Canada for the class they brought to the entire event. They put us up at the Hilton, hosted the event at The Old Mill; a truly lovely space in Etobicoke and gave out awards that didn't come from Bob's Plaque Shop. Engraved glass suits me just fine, thank you very much! We shared a table with Cindy from Burnt Toast and Colleen Seto from AMPA who mentioned that the amount of feedback from member mags for these awards was quite limited...next year, we'll have to fire it up; I can think of a couple of very worthy individuals I'd like to see up on that podium next year.
Another shot of the award, back at the hotel room. If anyone is interested in learning more about the winners and the awards, you can check out the press release at http://www.cmpa.ca/news.php?nID=275&cat=fp_news
I think this is a hell of a good idea; not just because I won it but because this enables the small mags who rely almost exclusively on the labour of their volunteers just to remain alive to reap a little of the glory and reward their best workers in ways that they could not otherwise afford.
This trip was a fantastic experience and I'll tell you something that has quietly imbued the whole experience for me: it doesn't matter how old you get, you still need shiny things to bring home and show your mom. My mom died years ago but nothing changes...it just means I take a little pride in myself on her behalf. A huge thank you to everyone who touched this trip somehow and made it a wonderful experience for Ash and I...you made my imaginary mom happy.