July 14th, 1789.
The people of France are, ah, royally ticked off (if you’ll pardon the pun).
Outraged at their treatment at the hands of the nobility and the sudden dismissal of popular Finance Minister and sympathizer of the common folk Jacques Necker, they storm Paris’ Bastille—a medieval fortress in use as a prison. Starting in the morning, they surround the fort and call for its surrender. By afternoon they’re exchanging fire with the prison guards. And at 5:30 in the evening, the fortress falls. The people storm in, proud conquerors of this ancient symbol of tyranny.
The French Revolution has begun.
Two hundred and twenty-five years later, on the other side of the world and in an altogether less dramatic fashion, I began my new job as TNQ’s summer intern.
I’m Carina, by the way. It’s so nice to meet you.
Aside from it being a sort of cool and quirky fact that I started working here on Bastille Day, there’s another reason I wanted to make the connection to the French Revolution. (No, I’m not planning on staging any kind of revolution here at TNQ. There will be no overthrow of Pamela and Sophie. They’re lovely people and I think we should keep them around…they seem to know what they’re doing with this whole magazine thing.)
It’s the whole idea of new beginnings that has me fascinated. I’ve had a lot of new beginnings (and endings) in my life these last two years. I graduated high school, moved to Germany for a year, moved back, and started studying English at Wilfrid Laurier University this past fall. Now I find myself nearly three-quarters through my first university summer (I still can’t get over that I have FOUR MONTHS of no school), and midway through this summer internship.
And this position, too, is transitional. I’m just here for 7 weeks between co-op students (Sayana in the spring and Lauren in the fall) before I head back to school in September. Some days I feel a little like a tumbleweed in our office: having just arrived but knowing it won’t be long before the wind blows me away once more.
But if there’s anything the last two and a half weeks have taught me, it’s that it doesn’t take long to feel at home at TNQ (it’s the sort of office where you don’t feel bad about taking your shoes off). Or to learn a whole lot of new things (painstakingly recreating lost files from scratch is probably the best thing to ever happen to my InDesign skills). Or even to make my own small impact here (I brought back Office Chatter in the form of a fun new twitter account: @overheardatTNQ. And yes, I’m shamelessly plugging it. You should follow us!).
Edmund Burke, a British parliamentarian who watched the French Revolution unfold with keen interest (and even wrote a book on the subject: Reflections on the Revolution in France) once said, “A very great part of the mischiefs that vex the world arises from words.”
Even though he wasn’t referring to literary culture, I think what he said can be applied to TNQ. After all, isn’t that what we’re all about? —Playing with language and creating “mischief” with our words. The kind of mischief that we writers are all addicted to: the stuff that inspires people to create beautiful, comical, bizarre, or thought-provoking poetry and prose.
And I for one am very excited to take part in all of the literary mischief that goes on here, even if it’s only for a short time.