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Gateway alumni continue to fill the gap in Canadian midlife stories in “Midlife no. 2”

"Midlife no. 2" is the sequel to "Midlife," the first anthology written by Gateway alumni. The second book reflects on the midlife experiences of contributors, influenced by current Canadian issues.

Since the beginning, The Gateway has attracted students from all faculties for the unique experiences it provides. Although the stereotypical student journalist is an English-major and serious bookworm, that’s simply not always the case. As such, many Gateway alumni have gone on to do incredible things — from serving as Canada’s 16th prime minister to creating Plants vs. Zombies.

In 2021, 27 Gateway alumni wrote an anthology titled Midlife. Each contributor wrote a unique story pertaining to their life. But, the uniqueness of the group and its history carries through the entire book. It started with Jhenifer Pabillano (former news editor) and Sarah Chan (former Arts & Entertainment volunteer) looking for a way for Gateway alumni to write together again.

Midlife wouldn’t be the last time the group wrote together. Pabillano and Chan recently celebrated the release of Midlife no. 2.

“Why even do a second book, anyway?” Pabillano wrote in Midlife no. 2‘s introduction. “Honestly: we just thought we had more to say. The first book had been great. Was it a fluke? We didn’t think so.”

Midlife no. 2 shows how contributors’ lives have changed coming out of a pandemic

Midlife was a unique project for many reasons, one being that it filled a gap in Canadian media. “You don’t really hear voices about Canadian midlife in the same way that you would other cultures,” Pabillano shared. She added that Midlife found great success in shedding light on challenges Canadians face, contextualized by Canadian issues.

“We originally wrote Midlife just for ourselves. The point of it was that the process was going to be this wonderful thing that brought us together. We didn’t realize how successful it would be,” Chan explained.

A year after Midlife was published, work on Midlife no. 2 began. It feels less like a newspaper in comparison to the first book, Chan said. The major difference, however, is that contributors were under quarantine while writing for Midlife. For Midlife no. 2, everyone had gotten back to their lives.

“One of the guys had twins, somebody also had a baby that had severe health issues. I got divorced, people moved,” Chan described. “Big things happened for people during the second one. Very midlife things happened.”

“The amount of expertise that you’ll see reflected is, I think, very impressive,” Chan says

Originally, Chan and Pabillano envisioned Midlife no. 2‘s theme to revolve around “housing and homes.” But, not everyone resonated with the topic. So, contributors were given the opportunity to write about stories they couldn’t cover in the first book. It ended up turning into a sequel, Pabillano explained.

“But it does still have a strong sense of housing and homes, which I’m really happy about. Because it does capture a moment in time that I don’t think anybody else has.”

“We hear a lot of the financial analysis side and the policy side, but I don’t know [if] we hear about the lived experience of what it is like to live through this time.”

Midlife no. 2 is split into four movements: “Home (& Away),” “Disturbance,” “Cycle,” and “Embrace.” In the book’s introduction, Pabillano wrote how the anthology is structured like a symphony.

“A symphony has four movements, starting with a theme-setting segment (Home (& Away)), a sad part (Disturbance), and upbeat, dancey piece (Cycle), and a grand finale (Embrace). It suited the varied works of our group of writers,” Pabillano wrote. “So we gave the book a symphonic title as well.”

Chan reflected on how working at The Gateway provided herself, Pabillano, and contributors experience that benefited individual lives, careers, and the anthologies.

“The contributors that we asked to join us would not have the skills they have now if it weren’t for what they learned at The Gateway. The process to put it together was really special. And the amount of expertise that you’ll see reflected is, I think, very impressive.”

Midlife no. 2 can be purchased as an e-book here, or physical copies can be purchased at Audreys or Glass Bookshop.

Lily Polenchuk

Lily Polenchuk is the 2024-25 Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 Managing Editor, 2023-24 and 2022-23 News Editor, and 2022-23 Staff Reporter. She is in her second year, studying English and political science.

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