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.

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Whoa, I may have actually changed the world…

…or at least someone’s world.

I’ve come to the end of my contract at my job as a community outreach worker. I spent four years getting to know people, providing them with resources, helping them achieve their goals, and just kind of being a friend to people who may not have a lot of support in their lives.

This past week, it has really started to hit home how big an impact you can have on people’s lives. A group of clients threw me a surprise going away party at their house- BBQ, pasta salad, beautiful cake, gifts. I was stunned. But, it shows that not only do I care about their well-being, they care about me too. We built genuine relationships and that is a hard thing to do with people living in poverty and distrustful of the system or representatives of the systems.

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My work held another BBQ for all my clients to come say good-bye to me. I was shocked to see 30-40 people roll through to say good luck, give me hugs, and pass me very sweet cards of thanks and encouragement.

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I’ve also been getting lovely words from colleagues. Happy for me, but sad to lose me in this fight for social justice.
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So, it has really hit me… I may have actually made an impact- on people, on the community, on policy, on a city. The world, or maybe just someone’s world. That’s an accomplishment and I am proud and grateful.

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And maybe they changed me a little bit too. And I guess that’s what it’s all about. Affecting people, affecting change. Working for a common goal. Working together. Being kind. Loving one another.

Whoa… that’s heavy.

Pure Joy

I’ve been feeling really good these last couple months. It’s a welcome change from the tight, little ball of anxiety I had become over the last year.

I’ve been having these moments… I want to call them small epiphanies and they just remind me how good life actually is. They make me smile, give me a little bouncy step. I also tend to bob my head a bit- mostly because there’s generally music playing during these moments.

These small epiphanies go something like this…

♥ Walking on my residential street in the inner city
♥ Big, full, old trees swaying in a light breeze
♥ Listening to some old Joel Plaskett song
♥ Smell of lilacs, peonies
♥ Saying hi to cats sitting on their front porch
♥ People passing by walking their dogs that seem to be smiling at me

I smile, walk on. Think about how much I love this town and how good that moment feels. Just like Joel’s song says, “there’s a reason that I love this town.” Actually, there’s many reasons and they all make me smile.

Things I Love, N to Z

This is a series in which I detail the things I love and hate, outlined by letters of the alphabet. Miss the previous installment of this series? Here’s a link to Things I Love, A-M and Things I Hate, A-M.


Neon signs
There are certain cities that seem to hold a great legacy of neon signs. Vancouver is a wonderful example. I guess Las Vegas too, but I haven’t been there. This is a fun Flickr to check out if you enjoy neon signs too.


Old people who look like Santa
I just think this is fun, they often play it up too.


Popcorn
Popcorn is my favourite junk food. I had an airpopper, but it literally konked out on me. So, I recently learned how to make popcorn on the stove top. It is revolutionary and so much better.


Quotes
I enjoy a good quote. I tend to gravitate to those from literary characters or classic authors. Good advice, Oscar.


Road Trips
When I travel, I tend to go by car. I drove to Chicago. I also drove to Seattle and back. It is a great time to reflect and get back really just being you- no impressing anyone. Just you and the road.


Sparkling water
I really have a problem with sparkling water. I drink a lot of it. I don’t drink soda, but sometimes you want something bubbly. This is a great, calorie-free, chemical-free alternative. When I go to the USA, I usually bring back several cases because they have way more variety than we do here. The above is my favourite brand.

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Travel

I love to travel. I didn’t do a lot of it when I was younger and I really regret that. But I’ve been trying to go somewhere new every year. So far in 2015 I haven’t been able to make that a reality because I have been saving a lot of money for my upcoming move. Above is me in front of Buckingham Fountain in Chicago. I walked along Lake Michigan endlessly when it began to vicious downpour. I ran to a small shelter near the fountain and watched the scheduled light show with music. It’s a great memory for me.

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Using the Shazam app

This app is great! I use it often in clubs, the mall, with the radio in a vehicle. I also try to use it with people’s conversations… it doesn’t work and I’m usually drunk when this occurs. True Story. And yes, I did make that photo.


Vinyl
I bought my first record player when I had just barely graduated high school. I found it at a thrift store and it continues to work to this day. I know I should invest in a better one, but I just haven’t. I like to play records in my sunroom when the weather is nice.


Walking
I walk everywhere. Last weekend I walked for 2 hours. The weather was nice and my legs work just fine. I walk to work, to the grocery store, to the gym. Everywhere I need to go is walking distance, so why wouldn’t I walk a lot?


X… xylophone? 

So, not a lot of things that I like start with X… But to be honest, when I was in elementary school, we had a music room that was filled with wooden and metal xylophones. I do think they make beautiful sounds and they always remind me of a simple childhood time where we sang in choir and listened to the Bellybutton song on record. And they actually looked almost identical to this photo.


Yoga
I’m not great at yoga, but I do enjoy it. I find it gives me a time to literally think about nothing. I get so focused on doing the poses that my worries and thought just completely disappear.

Seeing these pop up in my garden brings me more joy than most things in my life. #winnipeg #gardening

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Zucchini
One of my all time favourite vegetables. Zucchinis are so versatile- you can make a cake or a pasta with them. I like to grow these in the summer. The plants get so large and you can grow a squash the size of your head. But, you shouldn’t. The above photo was taken from my community garden plot last summer.

Well, that’s all for this installment. Stay tuned for the things I hate…

Words I Don’t Know

I’m getting old. How do I know that? Because I don’t know what words mean anymore. Is it just me or is slang today just terrible? Here is a list of words I don’t know, but what I think they mean and what they actually mean.

Bae
Someone who has misspelled bao. Bao is delicious.
Example: “Let’s go get some bae.”
“Do you mean bao?”

A shortened form of “babe” and also an acronym for “before anyone else.” 

Fleek
Ugh. I don’t know. It sounds like it’s going to be something really dumb. If I had to guess, I would say something to do with travelling… like looking for a cheap flight?
Example: “I’m trying to fleek Brisbane on Expedia, but not having any luck.”

Something being on fleek means that it is looking perfect.

Turnt
Getting all mixed up. Like, getting turned around.
Example: “Wait a second, which way is Hell? I’m all turnt.”

Being in full party mode.

AF
Abbreviating afternoon.
Example: “See you this AF.”

Abbreviating “as fuck”.

Swerve
To miss a deer on the highway.
Example: “I had to swerve to not hit a deer on the road.”

Used to call someone out on a lie, or to tell someone to go away.

 

Do you use any of these awful words/phrases? 

Alberta’s Affair with Deborah Drever

A little background for you:

On May 5th, 2015, there was a Provincial election held in Alberta. The Province has been hit with some tough times recently with the surplus of oil and low barrel prices- a lot of layoffs and a lot of uncertainty for many citizens.

The election brought into power a change in government (the New Democratic Party) to replace the 44 year long, some would say “corrupt” and overly confident, Progressive-Conservatives.

The NDP won by a landslide that night and history was made. However, the morning after the election, some new history was made for one certain 26 year old woman- the new MLA for the Calgary-Bow riding- Deborah Drever (pictured below). Drever is a sociology student at Mount Royal University in Calgary an without a doubt a paper candidate for the NDP. They needed a name on that ballot and she fit the bill as well as any of the other people acting as token opposition.

Deborah has caused quite the stir in the media after several photos of her were dug up from social media accounts as well as those of her friends. A disparaging Twitter account was made, she became a hashtag, petitions were started to remove her as MLA, and the media can’t seem to get enough of this story. I even received a forward email where her lacking resume was laid out for all to see and scrutinize.

The photos and the judgement from the public just keeps coming. The reactions seem to be split- people are either absolutely and unbelieveably outraged by the photos or people really don’t care or see the big deal. Of course those who are outraged have the loudest, most grating voices… can we say squeaky wheel?

Politicians are people and sometimes we may forget that. They have a past, clean or spotted- just like the rest of us. In my opinion, it is better to have a relateable person who deals with the same problems and barriers that I do representing me at the Provincial level. I can’t say a rich, white dude who blames people for their own misfortunes would be able to bring our issues to the Legislative in an accurate and beneficial way. (Besides, MLAs who aren’t in the cabinet don’t tend to do all that much. Senior government staff really do the heavy lifting).

Believe it or not kiddies, there was once a time when social media didn’t exist and if you got into trouble or did something stupid, no one would know about it, just you and your friends maybe. But now, we are able to put our lives on display if we so choose- and many of us do. I have a blog, I’m on display. Five years ago, Drever never imagined herself being in this position. How could she? We are in a digital age and things have changed a lot since Lougheed or Klein were premier. We can expect this type of thing to continue happening with more photos or posts coming out and being judged by someone else’s morals and values.

Deb is who she is. She has no doubt learned the importance of privacy through this whole ordeal that just keeps smacking her in the face. I hope this will give her the drive and determination to prove all her haters and bullies wrong.

I’m standing behind Deborah Drever. Good luck, sister.

Where Has She Been?

Oh boy!

It has been about 3 weeks since I have posted on this blog. I guess it has been a busy, eventful few weeks. Out of the ordinary? I don’t know about that…

Ok, time for a recap!

Something exciting happened a few weeks ago- I had an article come out and it was picked up by three different news sources- Winnipeg Free Press, CBC, and Rabble. I was interviewed about the article on CBC News Radio One and got many positive comments on it. Here’s is where the article originally appeared.

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This conference reminded me that even one person can make a difference. It’s good to remember that sometimes.

I attended the National Congress on Housing and Homelessness this past week and had a really great time. I learned a lot and got to meet some great people, mostly young professionals like myself. Had a chance to catch up with some folks I don’t see too often too. There were pub nights and sometimes drunken dancing, but all in all, it was really great. It was really nice to be able to speak about advocacy and politics and urban design and so many things with people are are just like me. Twitter and IG handles were exchanged, cell numbers inputted… and all us young kids are talking about meeting up next year for this same Congress in Montreal. Looking forward to it!

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This graph came from one of our Keynote speakers, Christine McLaren, a researcher who worked on the book Happy City. As you can see, life satisfaction increases with more trust in your neighbours and community. I’m sorry to see that Calgary is really quite low on this graph.

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Spending some time in the Bay Downtown.

I’m really starting to transition my brain into a moving mindset. I’ve been calling for moving company quotes, selling off things, stocking up on boxes, and I even had to register for my classes this past week. It’s starting to get really REAL and it’s also really terrifying for me. I wish I had some support to make me feel better about this huge life change. This is just the countdown to freaking out for real.

I finished my second round of the Whole30. Not as good as the first time around. I’ve really hit a plateau. Time to change things up.

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Cherry Blossoms just starting to sprout.

I’ve really been getting into the Alberta Provincial election. So many interesting things happening with the NDP and smarmy things happening with the PCs out there. I think it will likely be close… but hard to say which way it will go.

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Working on repairing a smoke damaged kitchen in a rooming house and cleaning up the community/rooming house front yards with the tenants. Spent some time fashioning a grave marker for my dearly departed buddy/pain in the ass, Willis. I’ll be placing it where he is buried before I leave town. I also started a BurnOut Prevention Group, which I call BOP. Our first meeting is this coming Friday. And… I’m working on a project I spearheaded that could change the way rooming houses are subsidized (they currently aren’t at all).

Been damn busy at that work place, I guess…

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Lastly, I’ve been actually having some fun. Above is a photo of me at the Art City Fundraiser Party. Had a blast, but boy did my feet hurt! This coming weekend I’ll be in Toronto to see an exhibit of my absolute favourite artist at the AGO. Never before seen in Canada. Never before seen by ME in any gallery across the country/USA I’ve been too. I’m too excited for words.

And to wrap it all up, I’ve been spending lots of time in my sunroom listening to records, reading, playing Sudoku, and learning to use my new sewing machine.

What have you folks been up to lately? 

Kijiji Etiquette: Are you a Flake?

I’ve begun to minimize my belongings in anticipation of my Calgary move. A lot of the time when I do a belonging cull, I just donate everything because selling is such a huge hassle. But, I’ve decided that I’ve got some decent junk around this place and I’d like to make a bit of extra money since moving and Calgary are expensive.

I’ve made a number of posts on Kijiji over the last month or so, and it’s getting to the point where I would rather just donate everything and not have to deal with the bottom feeders that frequent that site. Kijiji attracts the worst people because email is so easy and there is no face-to-face interaction until the deal is made and done.

So, I’ve put together an Etiquette Guide for those dim-wits that are trying to buy my listed items.

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1.  Do Not…
Show up without having stated a time/day and just expecting me to be home without notice. 
Wait for a confirmation from the seller that the day/time you request is okay. Do not just show up and expect that person to be home and waiting for you.

2.  Do Not…
Ask to meet up in far flung areas of the city for a $5 item.
I have people asking me to meet in Transcona. Transcona is at least a 45 minute bus ride and $5.20 in fares and even if I drove it would be 25-30 minutes, gas, time. All to deliver a $5 or $10 item.

Think of a Kijiji seller as a store. You go to them. Would you ask a store to meet you half way across the city for your convenience?

3.  Do Not…
Uz theez wrds f u wnt 2 buy.
A fairly good indicator you are dealing with a moron if they can’t use proper words in their initial email to you. I’ve actually asked people what they are saying because I couldn’t understand them.

4.  Do Not…
Do the last minute ditch.
I get ready to meet someone or I’ve stayed home because I expect them to be coming by when a few minutes to the agreed upon time, they email and say “Yeah, I won’t be able to make it” and then you never hear from them again. No rescheduling, no explanation. This is why you don’t take the ad down until it is out of your hands.

5.  Do Not…
Undercut the already low price.
I haven’t had too much bad luck with this one, but I know other people who have. Do not offer half the asking price. Do not show up and say “I only have $20” when the item is listed for $40. Do not go for the Douche Bag Discount.

6.  Do Not…
Provide the wrong email address off the bat.
I had this happen just this week, but never before. Someone seems genuinely interested in buying an item, you go to email them back and it bounces immediately. Kijiji doesn’t make you give a real email address, but I don’t know why you would put in a fake one. Just stupid.

Do you have any Kijiji horror stories? 

Life Milestones as told by Pantone

The company Pantone is known worldwide as the ultimate standard language for color. They have been declaring a colour of the year since 2000- that’s 15 years of unique colours. This got me thinking about my past 15 years and what events “coloured” those particular years. So, we float back in time…

2000
In 2000, Pantone chose this muted blue and I learned how to drive in this very similarly coloured Dodge Omni.

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In 2002, red was in and I was OUT of high school!

2004

In 2004, I moved into my own apartment, leaving the perennial Tigerlillies that appeared in our backyard behind at the farm.

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In 2009, I graduated University and hoped my future would be as bright as Mimosa.

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In 2011, my life changed. I ended a 7 year relationship, lived alone, and got my first real job after graduation. That’s me with a horse on an organic farm. Just part of my awesome job! What a crazy, confused year… kinda like calling this colour Honeysuckle, aren’t those yellow?

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2012 was this year I decided to start travelling alone, whether I had the money or not. That’s my little campsite in a rain forest in the Pacific North West. I can’t come up with a good colour pun, so here’s a bad one- you could say 2012 is the year I began my “tango” with life. (Blerg, I know).

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Now, 2013 and 2014 were full of hardships (almost as hard a time as I have choosing which of these colours is my favourite) and if you read this blog much, you know what those are- depression, anxiety, makeups/breakups, a few deaths, drinking, losing friends, and important people moving away.

2015

And now, it’s 2015! Marsala is kind of a dull colour for a year that is shaping up to be a wild ride.

Do any of these Colour of the Year chips jog your memory of days gone by?

Things I Hate, A-M

Miss the first installment of this series? Here’s a link to Things I Love, A-M.

Anxiety
My anxiety has been skyrocketing these days and it has been hard to get things done or get to sleep or eat… or really do anything besides be anxious.

Birds as pets
I’ve never understood it. You have to keep them in a cage, you can’t cuddle them. The only way for a pet to get more useless is to be a fish.

Cat hair
I have a long-haired cat who is also a giant. So, he has a lot of hair to spread around this little apartment. Since it’s spring, it has been worse with him shedding extra. I should be vacuuming every other day, but I don’t.

Doing dishes
My most hated household chore and this is why I have 2 forks, 2 knives, 2 spoons, 2 plates… and so on.

 


Engagement photos/announcements
They are so cheesy and sometimes look really awkward. And why do you need a lame photo is a forest to tell your friends and family you are getting married? Just send a mass email and be done with it.

 


Fancy meals
I can appreciate a good meal, but I’m talking pretentious for pretentious sake. The above is supposed to be a “deconstructed’ cheesecake, and you know it’s costing $18 for $3 worth of ingredients. I could add “foodies” to this list… I just don’t get you. If you feel the same this is an amazing satirical blog you should definitely check out!


Grumpy cat
I am more of a Bub lady myself. This cat is old news and I’ve grown to hate its face and that Christmas movie only made my hate stronger.

 


Hangovers
As I’ve gotten older, hangovers have me the death of me. They have gotten bad and they LAST! Definitely can’t drink how I used to.


Ignorance of social issues
When people try to argue things they have no idea about, like homelessness or supervised injection sites, and make it into a debate of morals and character. They are mutually exclusive. Those conversations are so frustrating it makes me want to just walk away because you know you can’t change an idiot’s mind.


January
It’s usually around the end of January where I start to get fed up with the cold weather and wishing it would just end already.


Knitting
I’ve never been able to figure it out. I crochet and I love it… that’s enough for me.


Lateness
This is one of my worst pet peeves. I am so punctual you could set your watch by me and I expect the same from my friends/family. I try to set a good example for my clients by showing up when I say I will, being where I’m supposed to be, etc. Please show me the same consideration and leave your house 10 minutes early.


Moths
One of my arch enemies. Moths are the worst. They are unpredictable and erratic. They fly in your face and your hair when trying to get away and it’s terrifying to me. Some people hate spiders… I hate moths.

Stay tuned for more of this Love/Hate series, featuring N-Z. Coming soon!