Wednesday, September 01, 2004

About the Hollywood North Report

Who am I?
Sarah Marchildon, lover of the absurd.

What's my day job?
Communications specialist, media strategist and occasional freelance writer. Currently working as an associate programme officer at the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat in Bonn, Germany. In 2010, I was awarded an all-expenses-paid scholarship to do a master's degree at Kyoto University in Japan. In April 2012, I graduated from the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, with a master's in environmental management focusing on environmental communication.

What's my bio?
I graduated from Carleton University with a degree in journalism. I worked as a general news reporter with the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal for three years. Part of my job included knocking on people's doors asking for pictures of their recently deceased/murdered/decapitated mother/father/brother/son/daughter/friend for the newspaper. I loved writing but I hated the death beat. So I decided to give up a career in journalism and work for a cause I believed in. I worked for the David Suzuki Foundation for eight years, including a year-long sabbatical teaching English in rural Japan. I left the Suzuki Foundation in September to attend Kyoto University. I'm now temporarily based in Bonn. After that, who knows? Maybe I'll get a job serving George Stroumboulopoulos coffee.

Where am I from?
I was born and raised in Toronto but I've lived and worked in Ottawa, London, Saint John, Fredericton, Vancouver, Kochi, Kyoto and Bonn. After living in Japan, I moved back to Vancouver before moving back to Japan again. I'm in Germany, for now, but I'm not really sure where I'll end up.

Why do I blog?
When I moved to Vancouver, I had no friends and no social life. I would spend my Friday nights holed up in an Internet cafe writing e-mail dispatches back home to friends and family.

I called these weekly dispatches the Hollywood North Report. The name pays homage to both Vancouver's booming film industry and a karaoke bar close to my heart. It seemed like a good fit. Plus, I was paying for Internet access by the minute, and I didn't have a lot of time to come up with a more original title. So the Hollywood North Report was born.

I filled those e-mails with random observations about the oddities of Vancouver life and all of the weird and wonderful people who live here. I also had a weekly "friend count." Sadly, it remained at zero for a long time.

That all changed when I joined the English Bay Swim Club and was elected social coordinator of more than 100 gay men. Suddenly, I was no longer spending lonely Friday nights filing the Hollywood North Report. I had real friends!

I got into backcountry camping, triathlons and open-water swimming. One thing led to another, and I signed up for an Ironman. I managed to finish the Ironman but swore never to do it ever again.

After I quit the triathlon scene, I had a lot of extra time on my hands. I decided to resurrect the Hollywood North Report in blog form to make it easier for friends and family to read. I've always liked writing and storytelling and blogging is a natural extension of that. I've been blogging in this space since 2004.

What's my favourite thing to write about?
I especially love writing about things that strike me as odd or absurd. For example, the public transit system in Vancouver is a comedy gold-mine.

What is the best part of blogging?
Hands down the response I get to my posts. It can be as simple as a thoughtful comment or as elaborate as complete strangers sending me free stuff. I once wrote about how jealous I was that Ontario had juice-box sized wine and jokingly begged someone to send me some. One of my Toronto readers actually sent me a case of the stuff.

Another time I wrote about how I couldn't find Grape-Nuts anywhere in Vancouver. The next day, one of my readers delivered 10 boxes to my office.

But the craziest response was when I wrote about how I had a non-sexual crush on Claire Martin (the CBC meteorologist) and she put my blog post on her weather forecast where the map of Canada should have been. It was awesome. I have the best blog readers in the world!

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