There's no original way - at least not for someone with as pedestrian a mind as mine - to begin one's profile, so I'll just come out and say it: I was born on Easter Monday, April 15, 1968. At around 10:30 a.m., apparently, for you amateur astrologers out there. I don't remember being born, though, and I doubt any hypnotherapy will bring me back to my mother's womb, so for my first memory of the world, you'll have to settle for a little two-year-old boy in his pajamas watching t.v. with his parents. Everything else after that is a blur...
I was my parents' first child; my sister Josee was born less than thirteen months later. We grew up in the city for the first few years, then moved to a succession of suburban homes, and even a farm, until I struck out on my own. Most of my childhood was spent inside the house, reading everything I could lay my hands on (even the encyclopedia), but I wasn't averse to playing games and sports with a few friends, especially baseball, ping-pong and tennis.
I'm originally from Cornwall, Ontario, a small bilingual community of 50,000 nestled in a crook formed by the borders of Quebec and New York. Our fair city's claims to fame number in the, oh, say... units. It's home to an international bridge; a huge hydroelectric dam with locks for sea-going ships; a junior hockey team that has won three Memorial Cups; an Indian reservation on an island that attracted guns and tanks in the darkest days of cigarette and liquor smuggling; an international food and dance festival held every summer; and, last and least, a reputation for being the stinkiest city in the entire province. Cornwall is, as you may have guessed, an industrial town whose fortunes see-saw constantly between boom and bust. If you've ever seen the movie Slapshot, with Paul Newman, then you have a pretty good idea of what Cornwall's like.
My relationship with Cornwall is rather ambiguous; let's just say that on its worst days, the place gives parochialism a good name. On the one hand, I really appreciated the education I got there; it was top-notch for a public school, especially a French one. I hadn't realised just how lucky I'd been until I started attending university. By the time I'd graduated, I'd become a well-read, critical-thinking, essay-hardened individual two or three years ahead of most of my peers. It wasn't just the quality of the teachers or the curriculum - it was the encouragement and support I received. I was always being challenged, and the people there helped me broaden my horizons and explore the world of the mind. This, in fact, may have been at the root of my disenchantment with Cornwnall: I had been groomed to appreciate the finer things in life, only to come to the conclusion that I was trapped in a backwater. I constantly dreamed of the day I would escape to Montreal, Quebec or Paris. However, after spending the last twelve years living in one big city after another, I've come to regard my hometown as a sort of temporary haven where I can put up my heels, relax, and indulge in a bit of nostalgia before moving on to my next adventure. My folks and my sister's family still live there, as do most of my relatives. Nothing has changed in the four years I've been away, but isn't that what all globetrotters want when they come home?
All right, now where was I? Oh yeah, school. Well, I was a straight-A student, and did everything that was expected of me: I participated in most academic and extra-curricular activities, from speech and writing contests to Reach for the Top (the French version). I debated whether I should go into medicine, science, geography, history, English or French, but I ended surprising (scaring?) the heck out of everybody by opting for Russian and Soviet Studies at the University of Ottawa - no one saw that coming at all. This was back in 1986, when Ronald Reagan was heating up the Cold War to its warmest point since the Cuban Missile crisis with his Star Wars scheme and Evil Empire references; Mikhail Gorbachev had just taken power in the Kremlin, and nobody expected him to be any different from his predecessors. None of my classmates understood my desire to meet the "enemy", nor the cultural, linguistic and historical attraction I felt for the Russian people. Be that as it may, my parents trusted my instincts and helped pay for my studies.
The highlight of my undergraduate years had to be the semester I spent at the State University of Leningrad, USSR, in winter/spring 1990. I managed to cram at least four years' experience into those four months; Soviet communism had to be lived to be believed. The number of anecdotes and adventures from that period are too great for me to go into detail here, though; if you would like a first-hand account of glasnost' and perestroika , please refer to the Essays and Stories index on our Diary page. One titillating preview: I was kidnapped... twice!!
Coming back from the Soviet Union and a backpacking tour of Europe, I finished my BA and started a five-year journey through the land of graduate schools. I spent four years on my Master's degree (Russian Language, Literature and Linguistics - heavy on the linguistics) and one more on a graduate diploma in English-to-French translation. These were definitely the academic and intellectual highlights of my life. I was studying exactly what I wanted, and loved, and hung out with people of like mind. I did a lot of Russian-to-English and -French translation, mostly literary: one novel, several dozen poems, two plays (both performed in two of Canada's most prestigious theatres), newly discovered letters written to Leo Tolstoy by the Canadian Doukhobor leaders (who were supported, financially and spiritually, by the great novelist), an encyclopedia article, a ton of floridly worded academic papers... Then, for about two years, I worked as a software and software-manual translator for a company in Laval, Quebec. It was at this time I noticed I was slowly getting sucked into domesticity, and on a whim decided to leave for Korea in 1996.
This is where the story ends. Now it's Y2K, I'm married, and about to move to Mongolia with Sun-duk. We both feel that life for us has only just begun, and it's our sincerest wish to share this sense of renewal with friends and family through our homepage.
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