Edmonton

THE INTERVIEW PROJECT 23: Karen Unland


Preface: What I’m trying to do with these interviews is make a connection between myself and the person I’m interviewing, be it anecdotal or derivative. Karen Unland is a bit of a mystery to me. Having not quite met her, I see her as a bit of an entity. But she does effect my life. First things first though:

“Bio: I decided I wanted to be a journalist when I was 10, and I lived the dream. I got my start at the Gateway at the University of Alberta in the early 1990s. I’ve lived in Alberta all my life, except for two years in Ottawa while studying journalism at Carleton, and a year in Montreal working at the Globe and Mail’s bureau there. I spent 14 years at the Edmonton Journal, first as a reporter, eventually as the editor in charge of edmontonjournal.com. Now I’m applying my journalism powers and whatever other talents I can muster to a new venture called Capital Ideas (capitalideasedmonton.com). Along the way I managed to marry a man who makes everything better, and we have created two children who are amazing when they are not exasperating (they are mostly amazing). We love Edmonton, and our west-end community of Grovenor.”

There are two themes I would like to cover when talking about Karen, the first is personal, the second is relevant.

1. Karen and I both tumbl. Yeah, that’s right cool kids. We tumbl. Let me clarify:

Tumblr, for me, is like the Night Rider of social medias; it fits a specific part of my personality and not a lot of my friends like it. Most of the time, what I consider too weird or even too personal, I post on tumblr.  It’s like a vast  meadow where I can go and scream my head off. And every once in a while Karen will like those posts. It’s a weird form of support, but a virtual high five none the less. Why does this matter you ask? Because it does is why. Why does it matter when someone smiles at you for no reason?  It’s acceptance. And that is all we really want from anyone. For me, on tumblr, it’s not the quantity of ‘likes’, but the quality, and from what I’ve heard about Karen, she’s got quality by the boat load.

2. Journalism:

After losing my job I was pretty low. I don’t like being low. I like being busy. Even in the face of adversity I’d rather light a candle…you know what I’m saying. Change is a constant. If you don’t embrace it you burn within it. Thus The Interview Project was born. Falling back on my journalism schooling and doing this series of interviews has added a wonderful branch to my life. More people are reading my writing now than when I was writing for SEE. That makes my chest glow. I am still looking for work, but things are coming my way and I feel it’s because of a positive attitude and love. I am loved. It feels like a goddamn superpower.

What the hell does this have to do with Karen you ask? Put on your patience pants and keep reading bub!

Karen is inspiring.

I posted a video below that sums up the way that I feel about a lot of things (not just journalism) and Karen just happens to be the star of it. In it she talks about a brave new frontier of writing and reporting the news.  About how change isn’t bad and it’s about, like many things, your perspective of said change. You see, Karen embodies this adaptability. She keeps her ideals while evolving with the world around her. I relate to this on an intrinsic level because I believe it is one of my best qualities. Someone once told me that a good book tells you things you already know, and in this video Karen tells me things I already feel. She just makes it clearer for me. Just watch the video and you’ll see what I mean.

Prologue: I asked someone about a week ago what they know about Karen. “Not much,” the person said, “other than she loves her kids. Her kids are her life and she loves them very much.”  Now that is a quality we can all respect. Even without knowing her.

If you would give yourself a nickname what would it be?

I am so not a nickname person. But under certain limited circumstances, I don’t mind being called Darlin’. Fish Griwkowsky calls me Gibby sometimes, for unknown reasons, but only he is allowed to do that.

If you could switch one body part with anyone else in the world living or dead, who and what would it be?

I would trade hair with Brittney Le Blanc, so that she would realize what a gift it is to have naturally curly hair, and I could ditch my naturally straight mop.

In five words, describe your most uncomfortable dream.

The baby! Gone. Where? Where?

What is your favourite word?

Discombobulate.

What does that word smell like?

Vinegar.

What is your spirit animal?

Owl.

If ghosts existed, would you want to meet one? If so, what would you ask it?

Yes, but I don’t think they do. I’d ask, “If you could live your life over again with guaranteed success, what would you do?” Maybe a ghost has the perspective to answer that question better than I could.

If you could share a bottle of alcohol with anyone who has ever existed, who would it be and what would you drink?

I never drink alcohol, so it’s hard to get past that to answer this one. If it’s just about the visit, I’d like to see my paternal grandparents — they would probably drink rye and water — to catch them up on their great-grandchildren, seek their advice, and let them know things are turning out OK.

What would you rather have as a pet: A dragon, a unicorn Pegasus or Ezra Levant?

A dragon is closest to a dinosaur, and my daughter loves dinosaurs, so that one. Unicorn Pegasus is tempting, however. The less said about Ezra, the better. Truly.

Finally, if you could live your life over again with guaranteed success, what would you do?

“Guaranteed success” — I can’t imagine how that would work. Failure has to be possible for good things to happen. But maybe that’s just because I have a good life, and so far I’ve been able to do what I set out to do. I’m also pretty good at pretending things I don’t have either don’t exist or aren’t important.

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