The anniversary piece: now with extra self-congratulations!

The following was originally published in The Sherbrooke Record, an English daily newspaper in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

This week marks 10 years that I’ve been writing this column for The Sherbrooke Record. That means, according to The Columnist’s Code, I get to submit a self-indulgent piece all about me, as opposed to other weeks when its only mostly about me.

Whisker words of wisdom: "Let it beard."

Whisker words of wisdom: “Let it beard.”

I can’t believe I was only 19 years old when I started this column. How young I was, not to mention firm, fit and at my textual peak. As you can see from the accompanying headshot , the last 10 years have been exceedingly rough on me, which probably means I should ask for a raise, if for no other reason than to afford some judiciously applied Botox.

In 10 years, I believe I’ve missed only three columns. When my family drove across Canada two summers ago, I filed from the road and still managed not to get divorced. (Love you, Deb!) There were a few extra columns over the years in addition to my regular column, so all in all I have written about 520 columns. At an average of 750 words, that amounts to roughly 39,000 words, which is a good reminder that writing about math is boring.

Over the years, many people have asked me, “Do you know you have broccoli in your teeth?” but also, “Where do you get your ideas?” To these people I say, “I’m saving it for later,” and also that ideas come from the news, trends, something I saw, something that happened in my life, something I stole from the Internet, all over the place.

And then there’s the shower. As I lather up my 29-year-old body that, despite the time-ravaged face, remains surprisingly toned and, dare I say, lady-bait, I ask myself, “What can I write about this week? What would the readers be interested in? Where did I put the conditioner?” Believe it or not, inspiration comes to me surprisingly often, from which we can conclude one thing: I have magic plumbing.

Once inspiration strikes, it’s just a matter of grasping hold of it, kneading it into some kind of shape and making sure it stands up under scrutiny. And then I dry off, put some clothes on and start writing.

But writing is just the first part. After that comes the editing, going over what I’ve written to make sure the piece holds together and that there are no regretful word choices. For example, never ever use the term “lady-bait.”

Naturally, not every column is going to be a winner. I’m thinking in particular of the one that consisted entirely of four-letter words. They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but still, lesson learned: much more foul than copy with none; even that Ford dude yaks sans cuss some rare days.

Then again, there were many highlights. For example, there was the time my body was possessed by the ghost of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, resulting in one of the most eloquent and inspiring pieces of my career, made that much more amazing by the fact that Archbishop Tutu isn’t even dead.

Ross, Abby and photobomber friend

Ross, Abby and photobomber friend

Perhaps the greatest joy, though, has been writing about my family, especially my children as they’ve grown into wonderful young people. I’ve often stretched the truth in this space or even crafted complete fabrications (this week, though, all true!), but Deb, Emily, Katie, James, Abby and, yes, even the miserable pets have been the great humbling truth in my life, and I thank them for letting me share their stories with you. No joke.

Thanks also to the editorial staff at The Record for never once saying, “Uhhh… no.”

The past 10 years have shot out of reach like a bar of soap squirting out of my wet hand, an analogy I use solely to keep that shower imagery in your head for as long as possible. Which brings me to my final thanks to all you lovely readers who have been caught in the spray of my thoughts, who have allowed me to vent and ramble and be plain immature. Thank you for reading. Thanks as well for stopping me in the street and saying, “Seriously: the broccoli.”

I can’t promise I’ll be here for another 10 years because, well, I’ll be 30 years old soon and if I’m ever going to fulfill my dream of becoming a professional lute player, I better get plucking.

And so, as a final, self-indulgent 10-year anniversary gift to myself, I am now picturing all of you in the shower naked. I think that’s only fair.

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About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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36 Responses to The anniversary piece: now with extra self-congratulations!

  1. Never mind the math. We come here for quality. Not quantity. Any old windbag can hurl out 39,000 words. Only YOU can put them in the proper order.

    Oh, is that inspiration? I thought it was gas. Good to know. Sad that we have to wait another decade for this kind of self-flagellation. I mean…introspection.

  2. Happy Anniversary my 29 year old friend, Rosemary. It’s been a delight discovering your blog and reading all your punny stories! You make me smile every Thursday. And that’s ‘the shizz’ in my book.

    P.S. Please picture me nekkid without a post-baby belly. Thank you.

  3. Amanda Fox says:

    Congratulations on such a long and successful career. I look forward to many more episodes to come. Forget the lute. Nobody cares about the lute player. And I’d keep the beard, Mr. Lady Bait. It becomes you. Dare I say that those people in the Eastern Quebecian (sp?) townships are lucky to have you roaming freely amongst them. Seriously, you are a good dude, Ross Murray.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Thanks, Mandy. I really do love my local audience, but posting these pieces on WordPress the last couple of years has created a whole other community — actual faces and specific people I now think about (in the shower) when I write. It’s pretty cool, not to mention motivating.

  4. El Guapo says:

    Always nice to see someone being successful at what they love doing.
    Here’s to another 10!

  5. Paul says:

    Congratulations on your anniversary Ross! Just let me wipe the spray of your thoughts off my face… there, that’s better. Now where were we? Oh yeah, as a relatively new reader,I can’t believe I’m 520 columns behind. Yikes! I must say (seriously) that it’s a pleasure to meet such a profesional writer as yourself. That, as an English speaker, you have flourished in Quebec as a writer, is even more astounding. You could very well be the shining example that the rest of us need to reconcile with La Belle Province. Write On Brother, Write On! Great stuff!

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Thanks. I’m actually taking part Ina symposium next week about writing in Quebec, specifically outside Montreal. It’s a very different experience in a very small pool. As for quantity, I only started posting and blogging two years ago, so the task isn’t as daunting as it seems. Still, I wouldn’t recommend it.

  6. ksbeth says:

    well, i never will understand your crazy metric math so perhaps that’s 29 in dog years or stones or grams? i will just have to trust you on this ‘fact’ and how old you are. congrats though and many more to you. by the next 10, you may actually be 39 centimeters old?

  7. cat9984 says:

    Uh, miserable pets? Crazy cat lady? And I used to like you. BTW – congratulations!

  8. Picture away. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.
    And congratulations! That’s a pretty cool achievement. Especially for one so young.
    ~K.

  9. Happy Anniversary! YOU DID IT!!!

    • rossmurray1 says:

      I feel just like Elle at the end of Legally Blonde except less girly. Maybe I’m Luke Wilson at the end of Legally Blonde. Or Owen Wilson not in Legally Blonde at all. Wait, I got it: I’m John Cusack in The Sure Thing.

  10. benzeknees says:

    You really don’t want to see me naked in the shower – I can GUAR – AN – TEE that! Congrats on 10 years with the column! Give your family a special thank you for putting up with your use of them all these years.

  11. List of X says:

    Happy anniversary and happy Freshly Pressed!
    You look pretty good for a 29 year old, I might add. In fact, you’d probably be better of looking at the mirror than picturing me in a shower. Not that I mind – in fact, I’ll probably be too be busy trying to write something myself to notice that I’m being pictured.

  12. Your lute playing desire is funny, I want to be a professional banjo strummer when I grow up. I’m 50, so I should probably remove the bib and prepare to get messy. I don’t doubt for a second your children are growing into wonderful adults. Humor is the stuff of life and with you around the life stuff must be grand indeed! I was trying not to smile while reading this post. I’m fifty and the wrinkling around the mouth area is such a drag. But alas, I smiled away and now I must run and purchase stronger anti-wrinkle cream because I plan on returning regularly to read more.
    AnnMarie
    new blogger, slowly wrinkling

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Strangely, I write humour but my biggest wrinkles are frown-formed. Also: beards are great for covering flaws and sagging. Oh wait…

      • One important request I’ve made of my giant husband is – should I ever need to go to a hospital long-term, he’s responsible for plucking my chin. I love being all-Italian but it does have its drawbacks. 😉
        AnnMarie

  13. Ned's Blog says:

    I realize I am horribly late on this, and at first thought to myself, “I bet Ross stops reading comments left after a post has been up for a month,” then remembered the metric time difference between Canada and the U.S. means this just came out yesterday here. Or there. Or whatever…
    My point is, late or not [warning: mushy alert] I had to tell you how much I enjoy your writing — the insightful wit and optimistic perspective you have on life — and especially our exchanges as friends and columnists. Congratulations on a career that has brought many laughs and much-needed perspective to many, and congrats also for being “Thricely Pressed.”

    Well done, my friend. On all of it.

    Cheers *raises glass in the general direction of Canada or thereabouts*

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Likewise, my friend. I’m a recovering cynic, so the delight I get from WordPress and forming these newfangled relationships with fellow writers and readers regularly boggles my mind.

      Re mushy: My Thursday piece is about public weeping. Get your hankies out.

      Salut.

  14. Happy 10 years! A long time, a lot of writing, really inspirational. I wish I had a clever witticism to add here, but I don’t. Just here to say happy writing anniversary.

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