So, the death knell is ringing at MuchMusic and everyone is reminiscing about the good old days of music television. Having grown up in the epi-centre of "The Nation's Music Station," my memories zoom back to how I felt being a part of it.
Working at MuchMusic, back in the day, was the job of a lifetime. Imagine being paid to interview famous rock stars, travel the globe reporting on music trends, and having to wear the coolest clothes. That was my life. Well, it was the part you were witness to.
What you didn't see were the bags of rock magazines and CDs I would schlep home from work every day to pour over the latest rock news so I could have something interesting to introduce the day's videos with.
You also didn't see the hate mail I received, mostly from girls telling me how stupid, ugly, and useless I was. There seemed to be a letter-writing campaign to bully me into getting a nose job—every third "fan letter" addressed to me reminded me that with a nose like mine I had no right to be on TV.
That ugly behaviour taught me a lot. It forced me to come to terms with my "imperfections" and place myself in the glare of the public eye with pride. I understood how, in order for some people to feel big, they need to make others feel small. Not to say it stung any less when I opened my hate mail, but it, at least, helped me understand why I was a target. Hey, I know I put myself out in the public eye. I had to deal with what came at me.
I get it. Everyone wanted to be "the girl" on MuchMusic back then. Why was I the lucky one to score the golden gig, right?
I must have slept with the boss. Or, the boss was my father. Or I slept with the boss who was also my father. Yep, I heard it all, behind my back whisperings and insinuations.
I hate to disappoint, but the boss and I never did it.
Could it be possible that I was given the job despite the size of my freakishly large nose, based on my extraordinary drive, hard work, and passion for rock 'n roll? Why is it assumed that women who succeed need to go through the bosses' back door, so to speak.
Fast forward close to thirty years, and I continue to put myself in the public eye. Most recently, I was photographed for a prominent Dove campaign about Age and Beauty. While I smiled confidently for the camera, ironically my old insecurities started bubbling up. While I've learned to master that creeping feeling of embarrassment and self-doubt when the camera is aimed at me, it still feels awful. The mocking from years gone by still makes me self-conscious. I remind myself I am more than the way I look. I have earned my place here.
I come home, wash off the makeup from the photoshoot, and fire up my laptop. Thirty years melt away as I read an email with a link to an online forum posted that day featuring a series of mean-spirited comments written by a group of women using pseudonyms (of course they were).
And I quote
Commenter 1: I never liked Erica Ehm…she got the job because daddy was the boss…she knew 0 about music…I once applied to be one of their bloggers. Guess what? They hired one of her friends. colour me surprise.
Commenter 2: Yup, rumour is she's related to (or slept with) Moses Znaimer who owned Much Music.
This was posted July 3, 2014, twenty years after leaving Much.
The snarking commentators go on to disparage the YMC brand, bloggers, and select staff members. This time the mean girls aren't teenagers who want to be on MuchMusic. Women with children are doing the ugly talk. Did they know I would see it? Probably not. Do they understand they are doing exactly what they tell their kids never to do? Again, I doubt it. It's the same pattern, though. Small-minded girls who need to bring other people down to make themselves feel big.
Why am I writing this? To let those of you with poison pens know your words can hurt. To let you know you that bullying may have been cool in the '80s, but this century it's not in style.
RIP MuchMusic. You made me who I am today. Smart, strong, and still a little bit rock'n roll.
*Waves hi to Moses*
I'm always shocked at how expensive it is to travel with my family. I've learned a few easy tips and tricks to save money when booking our family trips by being smart and playing my cards right (pun intended). I discovered that my focus on being cost-effective forced me to be more organized, which in turn saves me money.
Keep in mind that I don't have a lot of time to devote to trip planning, so my suggestions are super easy and time-effective.
The big difference between family flights and business trips for me is that pleasure trips don't qualify as tax write offs, making family travel even more expensive. When searching for less expensive flights, I use tools like Expedia to check for deals, but I also search airlines' sites directly as many have sales with comparable low rates.
I tend to fly on airlines with whom I have rewards programs with so I can earn points, assuming the price is right. I've also signed both of my kids up for their own rewards accounts with the airlines we fly frequently. Then, I pay for all flights with my American Express Gold Rewards Card to earn 2 points on every dollar I spend. This is where I double dip with two different reward programs. Once I've racked up all these points, I redeem the cost of my tickets, including the tax, through my American Express Gold Rewards Card for up to a year after the trip.
What I'm saying is, I often end up paying very little for my flights when I play my cards right.
The last thing you want to do is show up at the car rental joint without researching and reserving. I keep up with car rental companies associated with my various reward programs for sales and bonus rewards. I'm all about the big double dip. I pay for the car rental with my American Express Gold Rewards Card—once again scoring two points on every dollar I spend. Then I rack up extra rewards from Airmiles or Aeroplan. After the trip, if I have enough reward points in my Amex account I can use them to pay off the cost of the rental. Rental = Free.
Additionally, keep in mind that insurance is one of those car rental hidden costs. Make sure you find out in advance if the credit card you use to pay for the car rental includes any insurance coverage and what you are covered for.
I don't believe in overpacking, and understand many places my family travels to have access to drugstores and other essential amenities, but there are some things I like to have packed and ready to go. I always bring a bunch of sunscreen of the brand I like, I stock up on travel-sized soaps and shampoos, I make sure my daughter's three Epipens are up to date and I bring lots of aspirin, cuz, travelling, right? The rationale behind this pre-travel stock-up is two-fold. I don't want to be driving around wasting my family's precious vacation time looking for last-minute supplies while I could have shopped at my local pharmacy and scored extra rewards points.
One of the most stressful parts of travel for me is getting organized. There's a lot to think of before you go. Being organized can save you time, money, and heartache when you're on the road.
Make sure you check each of these off your list:
Although family travel is the time to turn off your tech and connect, the reality is that technology on the road is essential. I don't know where I'd be (literally) if I didn't have access to Google search or Google maps when I'm on unfamiliar territory. Because of this, getting my tech organized before I go is essential. Make sure you have chargers with you—no power is a recipe for stress. I take both a landline charger and a car adapter charger that plugs into what used to be my lighter. Yes, you can buy one on the road (see number 3 above), but why waste precious travel time when you could have just packed properly?
The other essential tech piece on your to-do is to book a long distance and roaming package with your mobile provider. If you head outside the border of Canada (or sometimes are too close to the US), roaming charges kick in and they are killer! Lock in a package in advance to protect your pocketbook. I recently heard of a service which I can't wait to try called Roam Mobility, a Canadian company that issues you a US number on a SIM card which you can use for voice, text, and data while in the States for plans starting at only $4. You need to have an unlocked phone to use their service.
Hope this helps you save money when planning your next family vacation. If you play your cards right, you'll be surprised at the savings you'll rack up. Bon Voyage.
Learn how to be strategic when using your Rewards Cards so you can score free travel for you and your family.