I’m sure at least some of you are aware, the answer to that question is a resounding NOPE! As such, I could use some help from any local folk who happen to be reading this. I’ve recently decided to look for work again after a very long period of self-employment followed by some maternity leave. I am still involved with my coffee business but unfortunately I am no longer in a position to be able to work there full time. With the added financial pressures and responsibilities of looking after a toddler and a six-year-old, I am also looking for a degree of stability that I cannot get from entrepreneurship.
As I dive into the job search in Regina again, I’d love it if you could keep your eyes open for people I could connect with and positions that might be a fit for me. Below is a bit about my background and what I’m looking for, and if anything related comes to you please keep me in mind!
As a serial entrepreneur, my self-employed experience spans the last decade; I have opened two coffee shops – one in the UK and one here in Regina, I also had a mobile coffee van in the UK and I currently run a coffee cart business using my bicycle on Regina Farmers’ Market.
With over 12 years experience in small business development, I’m looking to translate those skills into project management in the creative industries.
My biggest strengths are my creativity, and my research and communications skills that I developed during my social science PhD.
What I’m Looking For
A full time, (salaried) and challenging position in a creative environment where I am encouraged to use my initiative.
Project management, communications, marketing, and anything that involves writing.
Some flexibility with work hours would be wonderful!
My Humble Request:
Even if nothing comes to mind at the moment, I would be grateful if you could keep your eyes and ears open, and even forward this message to any companies you hear may be looking to hire, or who could benefit from my rather unique skill set.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and for keeping me on your radar!
In my last post, I mentioned that my favourite coffee shop in Cathedral is closing down at the end of this month. That coffee shop is of course, Roca Jacks. This makes me very sad indeed.
The coffee is the best in town in my humble opinion, but more than that, the place was my first Regina landmark – we hung around in there constantly in that painful two weeks back in 2011 where Emigration Plan 1 (Kave Haz) fell apart in front of me, and where Plan 2 (13th Ave Coffee House) eventually became an option. It was where I met Tamara, my first real friend in Canada, and through her, and the coffee shop itself, I’ve met so many others. I slept on her futon for 6 months, that used to live in Roca Jacks’ basement and it now adorns our spare room. When getting to grips with Regina’s layout, I looked the place up on Google street map, only to discover that the group of regulars who sit outside it, actually feature on the map!! I persuaded Bill at Roca Jacks to roast a special blend of coffee for 13th Ave Coffee that was unique to their business, and they are still using it now, even though I left a year ago. Bill was also one of the first people to employ my coffee consultancy services. I’ve chained both Yoshi the bike and Twyla the trike up outside it, and sat in there for hours with a laptop, a friend or three, or a sleeping Miranda. Miri has danced, shouted into a fan, climbed into the coffee roaster, petted Lorena’s Daschund (another “Mr Pickles”), drunk copious amounts of hot chocolate and even mastered the toilet in there.
And that is just me.
When they first announced their closure, I immediately dreamed up wild over-ambitious plans of buying the place via crowdfunding and keeping it going as a straight-forward coffee shop (and Bill would keep the roasting side of it). I was gonna do out the basement and make more seating and even sell books in there since the book shop is also closing. I rallied the troops – my friends, the loyal Twitterers of YQR, and friend’s girlfriend’s random acquaintances on Farcebook.
The response was unbelievable – I was not the only one wanting to save it, in fact there were a group already meeting and looking into setting up a cooperative. So many people wanting to keep an unhelpfully small, fairly scruffy coffee shop open, right on the edge of this neighbourhood with all its chipped mugs, sarcastic humour on the tip jar, its chain-smoking-tattooed-bearded-occasionally-unicycling clientele, the unfinished renovations and its secret hidden toilet that made up its “charms”. The place did have a few real difficulties – namely lack of parking (I never really saw that as an issue personally, because everyone I met in there was on foot or on a bike anyway), lack of seating space, no wifi and to my mind, lack of Big Windows through which to people watch. But it was loved by a great many people. It always made me smile to see people sitting outside it in the minus-ridiculous temperatures, while the posh new $tarbucks inside Safeway remains completely empty. My driving instructor actually summed it up rather nicely: “I’m usually in Roca Jacks. I know it’s the scuzziest place but it’s my local and the coffee is great!”
Sadly, my plans never materialised; although the business could have been available, the lease on the building was not, and a coffee shop without an actual shop isn’t much use. I am truly and utterly gutted by this, and I don’t think I’m alone in that feeling.
But, having set my heart on coffee-ing again, I’m going to set a little something up that is not quite so financially insane. Fittingly for Cathedral, it’s going to be a rather hipster-ish coffee cart towed by my tricycle, called Wheelie Good Coffee – that link will take you to more details over on my coffee blog. I’m hoping to get it ready in time to bring coffee to the street fair at the Cathedral Arts Festival.
I’ll be serving beans from Roca Jacks, of course. Because Coffee is important. In this case though, it is not just about the coffee; it’s about community. But it’s coffee that brings my bizarre little community together, and I will always love that.
My tiredness is mainly the result of cycling to and from the splash park (half an hour’s ride away) in 32 degree sunshine, but then, it’s hot and Miranda demands splash park, and the useless buses are more hassle than they’re worth. Amy and I set off at roughly the same time, me on my trike and her trying to find a bus with two kids. She arrived over an hour after I did. (An aside: Regina Transit have done Many Things to the bus network recently, but still there is only one every half an hour if you are lucky, the routes make no sense whatsoever, and every other bus is too narrow for pushchairs and so can’t be used. Oh and there still isn’t one going to the airport!!)
Did I mention the heat? It’s hot.
You’d think, working in an icecream parlour would be luxurious this weather. Far from it. We silently beg people to buy hard icecream so we get a chance to stick our heads in the freezers, but those same freezers give out quite a bit of heat from the back of them. Plus it is a very sticky work environment, which somehow makes it feel hotter! I do really like working there, but I feel like I’ve been working A LOT recently (it’s been busier now the weather is nicer). Here’s our take on customer service:
On one of my two nights off last week, Amy and I went to Word Up Wednesday. Amy actually competed in the Slam competition, but I was the token “Sacrificial” poet as I just haven’t had enough time to write anything worthy of performance! Mine was about dead goldfish.
A lot of fun, but I feel like I’ve barely spent any time at home with Carl and Miranda. Carl has had to take over bedtime duties every night I am at work, and then on the odd occasion I have to go out at night as well. Last night I was at the first ALES club exec meeting of the year. ALES is the Ale and Lager Enthusiasts of Saskatchewan group – all our fellow homebrewers. I vaguely volunteered to be on the Exec back in the spring, when I thought I’d have soooo much time to myself with not a lot to do when I first gave up my job to stay home with Miranda. More fool me!! I am apparently the new “communications person”, meaning I am sending out all the group emails and event reminders and so on. Not too much work I suppose, and I’d be at the meetings anyway!
Our latest batches of homebrew have gone down well anyway. Carl is still brewing away since as it works out around 40cents a bottle as opposed to $7.50 a pint in the pub, even the not-so-great attempts are still worth it. We took some up to Jen’s summer get-together at her cabin out by Saskatchewan Beach – had a lovely afternoon, but it is still weird that technically you can’t drink in public….
If that weren’t enough to be getting on with, I had an interesting meeting the other day with Bernadette, who I know vaguely through various poetry slam events, but mainly through just being in Cathedral Village. It is a small place really! She is the chair of the Cathedral Arts Festival organising committee for next year’s festival, and she asked me to be the voluntary Communications coordinator for next year. I gaily said yes, because I’ve loved the arts festival for the past two years and it would be great to get involved in it all properly. However, it all kicks off in January, preparing for the festival at the end of May, and as per usual, I have absolutely no idea what I will be doing come January…
I really hope to be working by then anyway. My icecream job is only for the summer, so by October we will be back to being painfully broke again. I had a sort of job interviewy type of thing this week, which was fairly positive if not to the point of actually getting me a job. I’d applied for a position with Farm Credit Canada, doing marketing/communications type things and working on their trade magazine. I didn’t get that job, but the guy hiring for the position wanted to meet me anyway, says I have useful skills, that I would fit in well with their company culture, and that “great things will come my way”. I’ve just got to keep in touch and keep persevering with job applications there. All good to hear, but it doesn’t actually change my current job status!
I hate to admit it, but Zenab Nur is not getting anywhere with her erotic novel. I got as far as the first juicy bit, but otherwise I just haven’t had time to write much more than my dead goldfish poem. I am also (more usefully perhaps) working on a little how-to guide for home baristas for my coffee consulting thingy, but that is taking FOREVER as well. Our other bit of news means that I may just get some more time to myself in the coming weeks though. The news is, we may have found Miranda a place for pre-school! Or rather, pre-kindergarten. It’s at Connaught school, (the one we are trying to save from demolition…I got on TV about it. See below!) and it’s four mornings a week. I think she’ll love it! We went for a tour yesterday, and she didn’t want to leave. And I get nearly ten blissful child-free hours a week! YAY!
More to the point though, how on earth is Miranda old enough to go to pre-school??? (disclaimer: this is “pre-kindergarten”, for 3 and 4 yr olds, very play-based and half days only. In Canada, they start Real School properly at age 6 – much more sensible in my opinion!) Where did the time go??? I still remember writing blogs, and my thesis, from this position:
[A little aside: I pronounce ‘niche’ as neesh, not Nitch. My way is French and the second is American. Not sure which Canadians use?] All good things come to an end unfortunately, and the past few weeks have been dominated by the usual soul sapping … Continue reading Finding my niche
The other day was my birthday. I am 30, and I am HAPPY.
It is a bit crazy to think back, but this time last year I was on the beach (!!) in Redcar eating lemon tops with the Chapmen, with Miri and Nyx in pushchairs waiting patiently outside the tattoo shop. The year before that, I was trying not to freeze in my very new cafe in Darlington. Before that I was throwing up a lot with Miranda-related morning sickness and probably commuting to Sheffield on the train. February 2009, I was on a boat crossing Lago Nicaragua on route to the coffee lands of Costa Rica. Four Years…. gees!
I did once write a sort of bucket list, or rather a “30 Things to do before I am 30” list. I do still have it, and I am not going to publish it on here (to protect the guilty) but I can say that it contained things like opening a cafe, getting published, having a baby, and moving to Canada. In fact, I’ve completed 28 of the 30 things. The missing two were “Visit Laos and Belarus because they have funky names” and “learn Welsh or Finnish”.
For my thirtieth, much beer was involved as usual, only mainly homebrewed stuff! We saw some friends, Miranda proved herself a hardcore party girl and stayed up until 12.40am and I learned a lot of weird and wonderful things. For example, over here, heather (as in, the plant) is an exotic, hard to come by luxury; “nh bashtr sardyn” is “no more omelettes” in Farsi (Persian); I know somebody geeky enough to have programmed a Raspberry Pi to accurately measure and adjust the alcohol content of his homebrew beer, and that talking microwaves not only make great flatmates but also keen babysitters. Just the normal sort of conversations then…
It got down to -49 degrees celcius (with windchill) the other week. When I posted this online, I was instantly set upon by a friend calling it INSANE and therefore I must be insane for *wanting* to move here. Well, it was a bit cold, I admit. But I get into work every day feeling very proud of myself for having survived walking in it. In all seriousness though, I couldn’t be happier here.
My mood was lift greatly (yep, it was possible) by having gotten myself a new job of sorts. I took great pleasure in quitting the restaurant as soon as I was able (work permit renewals allowing!). Keen readers may well have read between the lines of this blog, or at least, read meaning into some conspicuous absences. I have not written much about my job here for good reason: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. That place will not get any more free publicity from me, negative or otherwise, so I won’t go into too many details. Suffice to say, one of the sillier conversations recently was about co-authoring a book with a friend who endured a similar situation, called “Vampire Jobs: Sucking the Life out of Employees”! But now, I am back behind a fantastic espresso machine in a proper coffee shop, and also starting a little venture into self-employment again. See link in my blogroll>>>
So, life is generally brilliant, and Regina is definitely cathartic (*snigger*). But even though I am now thirty and therefore OLD and my list is complete, ‘yo seguiré buscando‘. Life is good, but it is not over! I will continue searching… This is just the start. Who knows what I’ll find next?
[The following song is included for relevance and to fulfill your daily CanCon requirements!]
But I don’t want to go to bed alone! (Even if I have got my new, comfy bed back again. This is a long story but in brief, Carl does not like The New Bed because he claims it gives him a bad back. Because I am a nice person, I agreed to let him reinflate the airbed for the past two nights to help his back recover, and my arse has sunk into the airbed both nights and I’ve been waking up with numb legs. This does not a happy Bel make. But aaaaaaaaaanyway…)
My lovely Carly-Warly has had to fly back home – well, to our old home. This is Not Right and Not Fair and shouldn’t have happened. I am sure my Mum would happily post us the ferrets!! He should be coming back at some point over the summer, and then moving out here permanently in September, but until then Miranda and I are on our own here, and Carl has to go back to Dreary Darlington without either of us! Waaaaaaaaaa!!!
So I sat downstairs in the Coffee House tonight with a few beers and the award-winning and Mahoosive “burrito grande” – and Miranda, who ate a small mountain of pita bread and plaintain chips and then started finger painting with salsa and sour cream and charming the couple next to us. It is official: I live there, work there and even voluntarily hang around there in the evenings. Yep, I am that weird loner in the corner that you’re never sure whether to talk to or back away from…..
Apart from the lack of hectic social life however, I am really enjoying it all. I’ve survived three full shifts at the Coffee House and it’s been fun. The others there are daft as brushes (a phrase I had to explain to them!), they’ve all helped a lot and they agree that our lives would be immeasurably easier if it weren’t for those pesky customers; I’ve quickly learned that, similar to other coffee shops I’ve worked in, most of the gadgets used in the kitchen work far better if you sing at them, the POS system at the till has a mind of its own, emptying the dishwasher gives you a free facial sauna, and ‘Lime’ is the best flavoured syrup bottle with which to prop open the window. I do get a lot of comments on my accent too- on the positive side, it gets me a lot of tips, but on the otherhand, no one seems to understand me when I answer the phone for deliveries!!
Exciting Coffee Adventures should begin on Monday, and next week I will actually be doing the coffee-hours I wanted to do (more mornings and less evenings, so I get more “cafe” customers and don’t have to worry so much about the restaurant food). There is a lot to do, and I have a lot of ideas to begin putting in to place, from the simple improvements to madly over-ambitious schemes that I will need to run past The Bosses first. It is exciting!! This weekend is going to be tough as it is the first one without Carl – and I am not looking forward to when Miri realises that Daddy isn’t coming back for aaaaaaaaages (he’s gone to live in the computer!!) I just hope that the new job and all the new projects are enough to stop me missing him too much!
Well, the highly depressing news is that Carl has to fly back to the UK on Friday. I am not looking forward to this one little bit. Miranda has started to form basic sentences now, and even when Carl disappears for a few minutes (running to the late-opening Safeway across the street for instance,) she asks “Where Daddy gone?” plaintively. This is going to be heartbreaking when she does this after he’s actually left the country!
! This is our home now, Carl ought to be here too. It’s Not Right otherwise.
I am also feeling a little bereft of Miranda. On the positive side, she is thoroughly enjoying her new Daycare. This Reggio Emilio daycare place (still sounds like a type of hard, grated cheese to me) is run by a lovely woman called Carolina, and Miri has taken to her, and the daycare environment very happily indeed. Carolina adopts a kind of ‘structured play’ where there is always some educational motive behind the activities they get up, and Miri seems to be getting on very well with it, even in just two days! No problems whatsoever with strange people, other children she doesn’t recognise, strange house, toys that aren’t hers, an unfamilar cot for naptime or neither Mummy nor Daddy being there in the afternoons. She is the eldest there at the moment (if only by a few months) and didn’t want to go home at all tonight!! She did yell “MAMEEE!” when she saw me, but she doesn’t seem at all bothered when we leave her there in the mornings. Maybe unsurprisingly, it has been far harder on me than her. Carl had to pack her up her little lunchbox and everything… My beautiful baby is getting Big and Independent and goes off for the day without me!! This is HARD. Although I am very relieved that she’s settling in so well, and I am incredibly proud of my Moomin. “Her world is getting bigger.” says Carl.
Daycare is now a necessity though, because I have more-or-less started work. Sensibly, Emma has got me doing a little bit of everything. So on Monday I was cleaning the place (with a lot of expert help!) so at least now I know where everything lives – including the elusive blank for the coffee machine! Then today I got sent on another food safety course (remarkably similar to the ones I did in the UK, which, of course, aren’t recognised here,) and now my head is full of “hot holding temperatures” and the difference between pathogens, parasites and protozoa in food. For the rest of the week I am being a temporary line-cook, doing a bit of prep and assembling some of the dishes since they are short staffed at the moment. I hope I am actually some use – it’s been a looooong while since I was cooking to order! But it does allow me to get to know the other staff (there are a lot of them and I’ve only had the briefest of conversations with most!) and hopefully even familiarise myself with the menu, tofu and all!
We also had a Big Chat the other day – about practical things to start off with, like sorting my hours around picking Miri up from daycare whilst keeping as near 40 hours a week as I can, and then more worrying things like paying the rent! And then we got on to the fun stuff – the coffee. They really want to develop the coffee side of the business since the place is called 13th Avenue Coffee House, but at the moment, they make the vast majority of their money from the excellent food they serve here. There is the added threat of Starschmucks opening up across the street too (aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh), but fortunately they like the idea of teaming up with Roca Jacks and with me designing a coffee blend unique to 13th Avenue, but having Roca Jacks roast it for us. Tamara is also happy with all this, and she and I decided (admittedly after quite a bit of champagne) that we were single-handedly going to create the Cafe Culture Revolution in Regina. We got talking about doing Coffee Classes in the evenings, tasting events, and so on, Carl dropped me in it by telling them about the coffee festival I organised, and then we mentioned getting my Ugly Cake Company going as well… and basically I got carried away and my inner Geek got loose in public again and had to be restrained forcibly with talk of “long term plans, right Bel?”
So it’s all exciting!!! And I’ve been meeting so many friendly people. I treated myself to a quick trip to the Wonderful Designer Stationery Shop this afternoon and the woman who runs it, Theresa, first liked my bag, then my accent, then my tales of my Pretty Notebook fetish, then my coffee obsession and then suggested I do a public talk about coffee at the Artesian arts venue opposite…. possibly because I must have come across as a complete freak, admittedly. There is always entertainment value to be found when Inner Geeks are allowed off the leash, right?
Lots of plans afoot. I’ve just got to pace it all, start slowly, prioritise and settle myself in properly first. But I am quite ridiculously happy at the moment. WEEEEEEEEEEEEE!