Calgary and the Stigmatization of Poverty, Bodies, and Spaces

My heart hurts. It hurts from reading this article: http://www.metronews.ca/news/calgary/2017/07/07/calgary-community-clashes-with-affordable-housing-project.html

As an advocate for affordable and accessible housing, as a person who has had their life touched by people who are homelessness and precariously housed, as an urban issues nerd, and as a compassionate human… this was an emotional read for me. This short article compelled me to pen this blog post… Brace yourselves, folks. This is a long one.

Quick Synopsis:

Members of the Shaganappi community in Calgary, Alberta are upset that an affordable housing complex which uses the Housing First model is being built in their community. After an open house for the “proposed project”, a group of Shaganappi residents felt compelled to form a committee and start a petition to stop this housing complex from being built. The leader of the pack, Shaundra Carvey, states the reason for the community uproar revolves around safety.

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SIDE BAR:
Safety… that word… it has a very different meaning to everyone depending on your life experience and privilege. Allow me to illustrate this. I worked as a Community Safety Coordinator in an inner-city neighbourhood once nicknamed “Murder’s Half Acre”. The neighbourhood was gentrifying. Middle class families were buying up cheap old lots and dilapidated rooming houses to renovate and move their families in. As an individual with safety attached to their title, I heard it all. I got the well-off community members approaching me about unsupervised kids making them nervous or how graffiti had shown up on their back fence. Then, I heard from the lower income folks which was an interesting experience in itself. They never came to me about safety complaints, I always went to them. I had to seek them out in order to hear their stories of feeling unsafe. When I did, I heard things like “my brother was stabbed last night” or “my landlord came into my apartment while I was showering” and “I was robbed of my pay as you go phone and all the food in my cupboards by someone living in my rooming house”. I fixed door frames and installed deadbolt locks for people living in rooming houses who had none, while I painted a garage door of an especially vocal, middle-upper income couple which had been graffitied. I’m sure you can see the different life experiences and the very different ends of the safety concern continuum of these two groups.

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Carvey wants to know “what measures would be in place to keep [her] community safe.” She says that the block where the proposed site could be erected has 17 children and a park. Carvey is “concerned about what could spill out into it” and that “the people that they were suggesting would live there would be those who had been chronically homeless, many with mental health concerns and also addiction issues.” As well, the committee of concerned residents are also dismayed that “[they] weren’t asked what [they] would like to go there…”

Let’s deconstruct what Carvey is saying here, or at least how I am interpreting it:

  • People exiting homelessness put her community at risk
  • People exiting homelessness are a particular risk to children
  • Parks are sacred spaces not to be contaminated by people living with mental illness and addiction
  • The community wants to define the “types of people” (and the types of lives those people live) that are allowed to live in their neighbourhood

We are witnessing stigmatization of people and place here. This type of stigma is called Socio-Spatial Stigmatization. It is a process whereby stigma attached to people both extends from and extends to the stigma associated with places (Takahashi, 1997; Smith, 2010). Socio-spatial stigma is often attached to the Not-In-My-Back-Yard phenomenon. A NIMBY-ist might say, “I want to end homelessness, but I don’t want to live next to it when we do.” NIMBY-ism has become increasingly prevalent with regard to harm reduction sites.

The residents are using their preconceived notions and judgements of who becomes homeless and their personal characteristics and extending those issues of morality to the space they will potentially occupy.

Housing complex=homeless people. Homeless people=crime. Crime=drugs. Drugs=…. The imagination of a parent in a moral panic can string on and on and on.

Opponents are positioning the housing complex and its potential clients as threats to the social body of Shaganappi, situating addiction, mental illness, and homelessness as a ‘pathology (out) of place’ in their “unique neighbourhood.” The contempt attached to people exiting homelessness results in perceptions of neighbourhood decline and devaluation, and heightened efforts by factions, such as Carvey and the Shaganappi residents, to enforce socio-spatial boundaries between the ‘pure’ and ‘polluted’ (Sibley, 1995). The community of Shaganappi being the pure. The abject body of the person exiting homelessness is cast as an agent of infection that threatens to sow disorder, deviance and disease throughout the social body of the ‘pure’ community.

There is anxiety around people they deem to be out of place. Even before they move in, the community is casting the people exiting homelessness as the ‘other’ and HomeSpace, the developer, and the enemy of their community’s status quo. However, a very interesting piece of this story is the fact that neither a program nor an agency has been chosen to occupy the building. All of this oppositional action sprung from an open house where the phrase ‘harm reduction’ was used (which in all honestly, needs to be used in order to obtain federal funding). The residents understand ‘harm reduction’ as something inherently detrimental to the way of life in their community. They immediately associate the model with a population that will pollute their spaces and make assumptions as to the impact on their community. If Carvey were to think critically about a harm reduction housing program versus dry housing program, she may realize a harm reduction site is in her community’s best interest. In a dry building, using alcohol and other drugs (AOD) is forbidden and an eviction is imminent. Thus, should a resident feel the need to use, they will take that behaviour elsewhere- perhaps to the sacred park of which Carvey speaks. With a harm reduction program, AOD use in the building is permitted. This type of program can contain the behaviour and keep the 17 children on the street away from whatever it is that Carvey fears.

Now, some people might think… “what is wrong with these people? Don’t they care about ending homelessness? Do they not have compassion for their fellow, vulnerable human?” I can’t speak for Carvey or the other community members rallying behind her cause, but… I’m sure if you had a conversation with them they would say that yes, they absolutely do care deeply about ending homelessness and no one should live on the street. I have no doubt these people have empathy and compassion in the right circumstances. However, the current circumstance is a moral panic, fear of properties being devalued, fear of interaction with people who are different than they, fear of their children witnessing something they deem to be immoral, and so on. If you read the article, the argument isn’t entirely rational.

Other people might say… “People are allowed to protect their families and not want undesirables in their neighbourhood.” That’s true. I would not deny anyone’s right to feel safe. But, there is not yet a threat to be concerned about. The building hardly has a plan and is two years off from construction. Also, isn’t it ironic that Carvey is building barriers to feeling safe for the vulnerable people who could be granted the life-changing opportunity to live in this new building?

Unfortunately, this story is not unique to Calgary or to any other place in the country. The stigmatization of persons and places are indicative of community rejection and organized resistance to low income people and/or housing. We can hear this type of stigma when people talk about Forest Lawn- “Don’t go there after dark unless you want to get stabbed.” We are making assumptions of the type of people who live there and how the community functions because of the people who live there.

By othering new residents, there is already a divide which tells them “you don’t belong here”. How can you, as a new resident and a person exiting homelessness, absorb that message and feel good about investing in your community? I don’t think you can. It could end up a bit like the Broken Window Theory- the community already hates you and treats you with disrespect, so why invest and be respectful of it? So, Miss Carvey and friends, you may be causing more harm to your community than you think by campaigning against and othering a population in need of our support and assistance in being socially included. We need to open our minds to the possibility that people who have experienced homelessness are not in anyway different than ourselves. They deserve respect, a supportive community, and a place to call home just as much as the 17 children and the parents on that street do.

 

Informed by:
Sibley, 1995
Smith, 2010
Takahashi, 1997

 

5 Things To Do in Calgary for Christmas

5 Things To Do in Calgary for Christmas

1. Enjoy the chinook.

2. Leave. They say no one is from Calgary, so go visit wherever you came from, I guess? I’m going to Winnipeg.


3. Listen to people complain about how oil prices are affecting retail sales this season.

4. Visit the golf course to see the light demo with the religious undertones.

5. Shovel every damn inch of sidewalk on your property line before your neighbours call By-Law Services on your lazy ass.

Happy holidays, folks! Have a good one!

The 5 Ways to Procrastinate

Hi folks!

Long time, no post! Isn’t that they way?

I have had the busiest couple of weeks. I was mainly busy because I am terrible at organizing my time and planning my actions. I fell super behind on my school work, even though that was the number one thing I had to do on my list!

I ended up with one extension for a 20 page policy paper, an awesome Strategic Plan, an infuriating non-profit budgeting assignment, disecting a narrative therapy session, and what I feel is a poorly written journal article appraisal. Guess we’ll see in a few weeks how those all turn out.

I started thinking of all the things I was doing that were really unimportant but were pushing school work further down the list. I thought I’d share and see if you can relate. But, I must admit, this blog post has been sitting in drafts for awhile now… so I even procrastinated this blog post about procrastinating.

5 Best Ways to Procrastinate 

Organize your Spice Cupboard
Yes, I decided to do this instead of write the paper that was looming over me. Ièm not sure why I decided this was important… I guess I was tired of digging around and having things fall all over me. However, it is  mess again and in need of organizing… guess Ièll wait til I have another assignment due.

Buzzfeed Videos
These are a huge time suck since they just keep linking you to more hilarious videos.


Date
Start dating someone. You’ll want to spend all your free time with him rather than solving social problems.


Old Series on Netflix
Find an old series you love on Netflix and start watching all the seasons for the 4th or 5th time.

Re-pot all your plants
After all, you have been wanting to do this forever. You have the soil, the new pots. Might as well!

Alright folks, there you have it. Five great ways to procrastinate… now get to it! 

One Year in YYC

Exactly one year ago, I arrived in Calgary.

I can hardly believe I’ve been here for a whole year. It really does feel like I just got here and I still tell people I’m new to town. I guess it’s true what The Magnetic Fields say: “Days go by too slowly and the years go by too fast.”

It hasn’t always been an easy transition, there were roadblocks, wrenches thrown in the mix, and some hard time blues. But, as I look back and reflect, It has no doubt been worth it.

What has happened:

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(+)  Classes, 1 year down! 
I finished up the first year of my masters with a 4.0 and some confidence in myself. For me, I thought the assignments, course load, etc was pretty easy. Which was surprising. Going forward into my second year, I am expecting some more difficulties as the courses get more specialized and my practicum gets more intense.

 

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(-)  Depression
My depression resurfaced for a bit in the past year and it was difficult to get a hold of. It resurfaced for a variety of reasons which I think are fairly average- feeling alone, feeling stressed, shitty relationship, shitty people in general, regretting the move, regretting the choice of school, etc. After losing about 30 lbs from stress and being unable to eat because of anxiety, my absolute best friend in the whole world stepped in. She encouraged me to get to the doctor and gave me some easy ways to tell the doc what was happening. That was a lifesaver for me and the moment things really started to turn around. That was about 5-6 months ago.

IMG_9945IMG_7542IMG_9161(+) New friends
I’ve made a bunch of new friends, which is strange for me. I’ve always found it difficult to make friends. But somehow, in the last 6 months, I’ve got a solid squad and they are all amazing people. I have beer friends, I have vinyl/audio friends, I have music show friends, I have bitch about school friends, brunch friends. I’m lucky to have such cool, supportive people in my life who actually like having me around and want me around.

 

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(-)  Obstacles
When I got here, nothing seemed to go right. I was denied EI, my apartment was a mess, my student loan took forever to come in. It was just one thing after another and it really frazzled me. I wish I had handled it better and it made me really negative about the move and the city. I felt like I had no one to lean on. But, I powered through as I always do on my own. Trying to not ask for help. However, some help did come in of its own accord and I’m grateful to those folks who decided to swoop in.

IMG_9683(+) Getting Back to the Things I Love
In the last six months, I have really enjoyed diving into the Calgary (& area) music scene. I saw some of the best concerts/shows I’ve ever been to in this time- Joel Plaskett in Canmore, New Bomb Turks at Dickens, Bob Log III at the Palamino, By Divine Right at the Ship, and Stars in Banff. Not to mention getting out to Bengough for Gateway Festival once again only to fall in love with Mo Kenney’s music. I’ve been to so many more shows, but these are the standouts.

 

IMG_7813(+)  Career
When I got to Calgary, I had zero jobs. Now… I have three! (1) I’m currently working for the City of Calgary as a social researcher. It’s just a summer term, but has it ever been a lifesaver as far as finances go. (2) My practicum supervisor asked me to stay on until next summer to complete my project. The project ends up with me having an academic article published. (3) I’ve become a sought after dog/house sitter. I started doing this for my brother’s girlfriend who has referred me to others, and I also gather clients just by chatting about my adventures in dogsitting. This income pretty much sustained me during the school year. I love dogs and I get to stay in fancy houses usually… it’s perfect.

IMG_8948My practicum supervisor sent me to Montreal for a conference that I usually would go to if I was working at the time. I got to see all my lovely young professional friends and hear about all the great things they are doing. I love those people and wish we got to see each other more often, maybe one day we will work together more closely.

When I got to Calgary, I had to come to the realization that no one knew who I was like they did in Winnipeg. It was humbling. But, I was determined to get my name out there. I made a significant cold call to a PhD in the faculty and sent her my CV. She instantly recommended me for 3 scholarships (one of which I won), made connections in the sector for me, and offered me a TA position (which I was unable to accept).

 

IMG_9480So… things have been looking up… WAY up over the last 6 months or so. I no longer hate Calgary. I actually kind of like it and I keep discovering new things and places that make it a bit more interesting. I do that through the help of a few people and a lot of curiosity. No more just sitting around watching Netflix and going to the SAME places over and over again! Change has been a good thing and there has been way more changes than I could have predicted. I thought my life would look a certain way when I got here, but it looked nothing like what I was hoping for. But, where I am right now is pretty excellent.

 

Packing for a Music Festival

225“It’s summer-time and the living’s easy…” -Sublime

It’s that time of year for great music and camping. Music festivals often combine both of those things! Next weekend, I am off to Bengough, SK for the Gateway Festival. This is an awesome little place that somehow draws great Canadian acts every year. This year, I’m excited to see Sloan, Shotgun Jimmie, The Odds, Human Music, Del Barber, and more.

This is the third time I’m going to this festival and every time we go, we tent. So, I’ve gotten pretty good at anticipating what I might need in those few days. Below is a list of some of the things I bring, some expected… maybe others not so expected.

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Things to Make-Shift Shower

Baby wipes – These are great from washing that fine layer of dust off you or even cooling off.

Dry shampoo – Helps to revive dirty or greasy hair, also gives you a lot of volume

Beach wave hair spray – Make it look like you’re going for the greasy, wavy look

 

Things for the Campsite

A conversation starter – Something weird that will make people stop and say “hi”. Might be flag, a giant game of Jenga, a dog. Our conversation starter is usually our teeny, tiny tents. This year… we have something new!

Earplugs and eye mask – When staying in party camping, it is bound to get loud and obnoxious at times. Since you’re living outside, you don’t really have curtains. If you plan to get any sleep, use these 2 things.

Something to mark your tent site – This is so you can tell people where to find you. Our site is the Flamingo site and the best parties are at the tall blue light site.

Things for Your Cooler

229Radlers – Good for camp breakfasts because they are fruity and sit around 2.5%.

Block ice – Keeps your drinks cold, takes forever to melt.

 

Things to Have ON You

TP – The port-a-potties are bound to run out. Toss a roll in your bag and bring it every time you go.

Condoms – Obviously for dirty festival sex… because let’s just face it…

Phone charger battery – My phone is always almost dead when I’m out in the middle of nowhere. This year, I’m bringing 2 portable phone chargers. These are great and I pretty much always have one on me.

Light on your key chain – It’s going to be dark wandering back to your campsite after your dirty festival sex or to the port-a-potty in the middle of the night. IMG_7495

Watch – Your phone will die. Just use a watch.

Bike bells – You will lose your friends. The bike bell is your common call to find each other.

 

Did I miss anything? What are your music festival essentials? 

The Beauty in Beer Labels, Part 3: Cat Themed Beer

She returns! Where have I been? Well, I’ll tell you in another post. I wanted to get back to some fun first.

This is a series I started back in October 2014 looking at fun and interesting beer labels. Design is not necessarily thought of when we talk craft beer, however, it’s a big part of sales. Good labels will sell just like people buy alcohol with funny names “just for fun” or as a gift.

If you want to see the previous posts:
Part 1
Part 2

This installment is cat-themed beer.

beer1
I like sour ales and I like cats… this cat looks so evil/regal and his hair is to die for.

beer4
I think I am drawn to the name of this beer- Cat Nap. Unfortunately I would never buy this because it is 3.6%… seems like a waste.

beer2
At first, I would think this was a sake can. I don’t think sake comes in cans though. I like the colours as it reminds me of a Mondrian painting crossed with a Picasso.

beer5
I don’t quite get this but wanted to include because it was so different. What other worldliness is the third eye perceiving? Why the joke collar? I also think there was a missed opportunity to make a pun with “tall tales”. I won’t say it.

beer3
Now this is a fave of mine. This is one I would buy just for the label. Plus it’s an IPA, so that makes it even better. I do not qualify as a crazy cat lady because I have one cat. The official definition includes 3+ cats.

Now, I think this one takes the cake… Hello Kitty branded fruit beer. Not sure who the market is on this one, but it can easily be mistaken for soda. There might be a lot of tipsy juniors hanging around Tokyo. The Atlantic did an article on this beer. They think the branding is genius.

And just for fun… here’s my cat Sam. He doesn’t drink… he’s straight edgexxx.
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Look for more posts coming soon… I promise. Blogging is a nice for silly little outlet for things that make me feel good rather than constant politics bickering, researching sad things, writing papers, etc.  Thanks for reading (if anyone actually does).

5 Things Learned in the First 3 Months of Grad School

In September, I began my first year in grad school. For me, the experience has been extra hectic having moved far away from my home, leaving my awesome job and friends. Then, just  things that have gone sideways in order to make my life harder than it needs to be.

Before starting school, I was really nervous. I was worried I wasn’t smart enough, didn’t have the experience required, wasn’t passionate enough. I felt like a fraud and it was only a matter of time before someone would find out. However, things are much different that I expected them to be.

So, here we are… 5 things I learned in the first 3 months of grad school.

There is no reason to be scared
The selection process is rigourous and they only select the best into my program. I received my acceptance letter the first week of January, I’ve been told that means I was one of the top picks, since I wasn’t expecting it until May or so. I’m occupying a seat because I’m good at what I do and I’m passionate. I didn’t lie on my application even a little bit, so I should feel confident that I belong there.

The course work is not as difficult as you might expect. But, it could be because I am a different person that I was six years ago when I graduated with my last degree.

What you did before matters, but also doesn’t matter
I say this because you bring your experience and knowledge to the class and can draw upon it to apply theory, assist with learning, and figure out exactly what you want (or don’t want) to do after this degree.

I also say it doesn’t matter because (at least for me), you’re not doing that anymore. I was kind of a “big deal” in the grassroots affordable housing movement in Winnipeg. I was an expert on something and people knew that. People talked about me and came to me for comments. BUT… they don’t anymore. It has been an adjustment for me and definitely a blow to the ego. But, you have to move on and continue forging your career and name, it’s just how it is. And if you’re lucky, that work you did before will catapult you into awesome things :)

The importance of networking
If you’re like me, you don’t fit into the tiny box of what your school wants you to be. This is frustrating and discouraging at times. If your immediate circle of faculty members do not offer you what you need in order to grow and meet your goals… GO OUTSIDE! I’ve connected with a prof who aligns well with my values and goals. She has been wonderful in connecting me to people in the community who can work with me and teach me what I need to know. She has also offered some other potential opportunities that sound promising.

Networking makes for a unique and rich experience. It’s also good for your career. Learn how to do it, then do it. Be professional. Get business cards. Shake hands. Attend presentations. Send cold emails. Ask people for coffee.

Create an excellent work space
I do not have a good work space in my home. My house is very dark and my desk is too small for how I want to use it; up until recently I didn’t even have a proper chair. So, I was doing all my work in my oversized comfy chair with big, flat arms… actually quite handy for working on a laptop. But, not ideal.

I’ve taken to working in our faculty’s student lounge. It is open late and everyone leaves at 5pm. I have access to a fridge, microwave, kettle, sink, giant tables and comfy benches! I couldn’t ask for much more. I spend a lot of time there… I mean A LOT OF TIME.

You’re going to feel like crap, no matter what…
You’re going to have doubts. You’re going to fear failure. You’re going to be hard on yourself and compare your life to others.

If you moved, you’re going to regret it at times. If you have a relationship, you’re going to neglect it. If you have a cat, he will end up hating you periodically… but then forget about it because (let’s face it) he’s a cat. Your apartment is going to get gross… and I mean like really gross. You’ll lack sleep and be jittery from too much caffeine.

If you’re in my position, you’re going to be broke and fight off your depression everyday. You’re also feel incredibly socially awkward talking to your peers (how do I be human, I forget). School work distractions are quite helpful in glossing over these things.

It’s just a fact of grad school life…

BUT!
You’ll also make some good friends you can commiserate with and give you advice. You’ll drink a lot of beer. You’ll also eat too many cookies because your classmates are nice people. You’ll get inspired. You’ll learn. You’ll try new things. You’ll have QUESTIONS and discuss the answers with brilliant people.

BUT!
Best of all, if you’re like me, you’ll build on your skills and…

You’ll change the fucking world.

The Weight of Grudges

In a recent conversation I had with a colleague, the work I’d done in the community came up. He thanked me for all I’d done and said I made a huge difference in the lives of so many vulnerable people in the area.

This got me thinking… after I thanked him for the compliment, my reply was “I always hope to make some sort of positive dent where ever I happen to be.” I think I’ve managed to do a pretty good job of that… for the most part.

I would never say I am perfect. I am so far from it. But, I do try to be as good to others as I can without trying to figure out how our relationship will benefit me. Sometimes, this gets me in trouble or people take advantage of my trusting and generous nature.

There has been at least once, recent years, where I was not as good to someone as I could have been. I had hate and anger in my normally good heart and I ripped into them like I’d never done to anyone before. My anger got the best of me and I purposefully hurt someone without thinking about it. I wish I had slept on it, things might be different.

I had held onto my anger and hatred of them for awhile afterward. I put it in a little corner of my soul to silently stew, almost to be forgotten, only to have it flare up every so often… but what did that really do for me? Absolutely nothing. My frustration faded after some time. I put myself in their shoes for a bit, trying to make sense of the ridiculous situation we had found ourselves in. I let go of my so-called grudge because it was of no use to me anymore.

However, don’t be confused. I still believe wholeheartedly what they did to me was very, very wrong and would not wish their actions on anyone. I also know my retaliation was wrong and things were said that likely cut deep. For that I am truly sorry. 

However, I believe this person still holds a very strong grudge against me, they even appear to wish death upon me. There is denial and cover-ups by mutual friends, but it sometimes comes out just how strong their hatred STILL is for me. I’d like to bury this hatchet, but many things stand in the way- mostly ego, a grudge, (and sometimes even people) are holding us back from being civil.

If I could say one thing about grudges, it would be this: they are a weight. Grudges drag you down without you realizing it. They do not make you a better person, they also don’t make what you did the right thing, they don’t escape you from responsibility or bad behaviour. They are a waste of mind space, because admit it… it does take at least some effort to hate someone.

I do not want to be the proud owner of a violent grudge. That is why I acknowledged their wrong of me, dealt with it the way I needed to, and then simply let it go. It’s a hard thing to do, but it really makes you feel good. When you hold a grudge, I don’t think you can ever feel 100% alright because the grudge occupies a space of yourself that could be filled with happiness, but you choose to fill it with hate instead… I’m sounding very New-Age Oprah in this post. 

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For that certain person, in case you should stumble upon this post or if a mutual friend should share it with you:

You’ve probably never read this blog and maybe never will, you likely do not give a shit what I think about the past situation. You may even laugh and let this blog post fuel your grudge. I know you have not let it go and that you have an inhuman amount of hate for someone who is trying to make things right, but is unable to get around the obstacles. You may not know that I am apologetic for hurting you because of these same obstacles. You and I will never be friends and that is understandable. But, the least we can do is be civil, understanding, and forgiving with one another. I hope you can take this to heart, know that I acknowledge my behaviour as wrong and you can do the same of yours. Take a deep breath and let it all go one day. Maybe that’s the day we can make peace. I truly look forward to it one day, in whatever form peace will take between us.

————————————————————————————————–

People CAN evolve emotionally, that’s one of the wonderful things about us. We can change our opinions of people, empathize, and vow to live good lives where we are decent to one another. Choice is a wonderful tool at our disposal, but we also have to choose to use it (ay’ there’s the rub). I made a choice to evolve and I am so happy I did. After all, hatred is a terrible color on me.

Okay…. end of my New-Age hippie mumbo-jumbo. But it does feel good (and a little scary) to put this out into the universe.

Calgary- the first two weeks

Long time, no post!

It’s been a very busy month for me with leaving my job, packing up, and moving a couple provinces away. It’s also been a very difficult and trying time too. With all moves, things don’t always go as planned- you have to roll with the punches and adapt. I’ve taken A LOT of punches in these last two weeks and it has been hard to stay positive about the whole thing. But, the people around me keep telling me that I am resilient and will fare fine. I am resilient, but it’s still been rough.

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We hit the road on August 1st, I shed a few tears for Winnipeg on the way out. Wondered if this was a smart move, or something I would regret in the coming days.

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Got to Calgary and realized there was A LOT of things wrong with my new apartment. The least of my problems was the smoke alarms sitting on a shelf with no batteries.

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But things got better. I met some awesome people and their fun dog. It’s nice to have some good people around you. And a dog to play with is nice too!

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There were a couple intense hailstorms a couple days after I arrived.

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I got some terrible news from the government about my EI. Mainly that I will not be receiving it and that was a shock to me. I kinda built my first few months around being able to focus on studies and not have to find a job right away. That news made for a terrible day.

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I got to hang out with my brother, which was nice. His girlfriend has 2 Shiba Inus that are super cute. Again, DOGS! I like the fat, little girl the best. She is so adorable. Hope I get to hang out with them a bit more.

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I haven’t found strangers to be too friendly here in this town. Went out for a few solo beers at a few different places. Not a lot of interaction with people, but a sorta friendly bar at the Oak Tree Tavern in Kensington. That was a fun-ish night.

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Lastly, Calgary is a hard town to get around if you don’t have a car. Most places I want to go end up being an hour away by bus/train. So, I haven’t been able to do a lot of exploring. It’s not a walkable city like Winnipeg and that is going to take some getting used to. Looking forward to getting my bike fixed and that will help a whole lot.

Well, that’s a bit of an overview of my first two weeks. I HOPE the worst of it has passed and I can start enjoying my time here. School starts in about 2 weeks, so I want to enjoy my time off til then. I know I’ll be super busy in the coming months.