Tag: plans

Lost

inspiration

Feeling a bit hopeless right now. I haven’t posted about all the recent politics because I can’t think how to articulate my incredulity in any way that hasn’t been written a thousand times already. Brexit was bad enough… Trump is just unbelievable. Carl and I sat up watching the US election (alternating between BBC, CBC and Twitter, for ‘balance’) until it was clear that Hillary was not going to win; it was about 1am when we finally gave up and went to bed despairing of the world.  At the time I was angry and raging sarcastically online, but the next day I seemed to get a sort of political hangover. I didn’t want to do anything, couldn’t face going online in case there were still Trumpanzees on my Twitter feed, but couldn’t summon the motivation to go out and do anything else. I met up with friends and took the kids to the park and it seemed like we all felt the same, just numbed by the whole thing.

I can’t blame this entire malaise on Trump though. I am in a low spot for lots of reasons right now – maybe it’s the weather? (For the record, no snow yet..). It’s all about Uncertainty and not being in control of various aspects of my life at the moment, and I am never very good at handling that.

My ‘maternity leave’ (not that I actually took any) officially finished 6 months ago, and since then, I have had some actual leave in that I haven’t been doing any work that warrants a salary. Strangely enough, this isn’t sustainable for very much longer, as we are living paycheque-to-paycheque and struggling.  Theia will be 18 months old at the end of January, which means she can go to daycare then, IF we can afford it, and IF I have a job that requires childcare. That is extremely difficult to engineer though, because I not only have to find a job, I have to find a job at a time that coincides with when the daycare has space for her, AND that job has to pay me enough to make it worth me paying the daycare fees for. This isn’t as hopeless as it was in the UK when I found myself in the same position with Miranda – even a full-time minimum wage job here would net enough to cover daycare costs and spare me about $500 a month – which would certainly help right now. (As opposed to the UK where full time daycare would have cost me more than my entire month’s salary after tax)  But, I like to believe I am an adult now, I shouldn’t really be looking at minimum wage positions, and I don’t want to go to work just to have half to two-thirds of my earnings go towards paying someone else to raise my child.

To this end, I have applied for ten other “grown up” jobs, most of which I think I would actually enjoy doing too, and all of which, on paper at least, I had the qualifications for. I haven’t heard back from a single one of them. I can blame the economy or the time of year, but I think a large part of it is my resume. It  must be fairly obvious that I don’t know what I want to do with myself, and I honestly don’t right now, but that is not the same thing as saying ‘I DON’T want to work’, I just don’t know what work I want to do! Also, I am back to the overqualified problem. Turns out, the only thing worse than putting “obscure Arts PhD” on your resume, is putting “nearly a decade of self-employment” (NB: I am paraphrasing here). Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur… but one who still has to pay the bills.

Through the cafe in its various forms, and Wheelie Good Coffee on the market, I have basically put myself through an MBA only without the certificate at the end. At risk of immodesty, building a business from scratch with no money in a country you’ve only lived in for 2 years really takes some doing: it’s all problem-solving, multi-tasking, design, research, fundraising, communications, networking, social media, marketing, leadership skills, HR, business development, even financial wizardry (YOU GUYS I DID A BUSINESS TAX RETURN ALL BY MYSELF!!!) I guess the trick is to make it look like I can apply all these skills to things other than coffee. I know I’m capable, but there’s a fair chance prospective employers will just give preference to someone with more direct experience.

In the absence of any employment offers, my other hopes are that I/we can continue with the cafe in some form – that is, I work out a way I can return to work on/in it and pay myself enough to live off. Owning and running a coffee shop has always been my dream – and I achieved it. What I didn’t manage/haven’t managed yet is living my dream and making a living from my dream. ‘Ay, there’s the rub.’

In an ideal world I’d pick it up and move the whole endeavor to a better and cheaper location. And I would love to try and incorporate a bookshop. But I need the funds to do that, and I don’t have them. Even if I can raise some investment somehow, I lack the confidence now to know if I should even be considering this as an option. Is it too much of a financial risk, and should I concentrate on finding an actual employer instead? Somehow, all of this is so stressful that I haven’t got the mental energy to make that decision, let alone get on with doing something about it. I am exhausted.

Also, I wrote a book. An actual, 70,000 word, non-silly, zombie-free memoir sort of thing about coffee and about the whole entrepreneurial experience. For once, I’ve taken my writing seriously enough to have planned out a structure and storyline, and I don’t hate what I wrote! I have spent this year’s Nanowrimo trying to edit it properly. I even approached a couple of publishers and wrote a proper book proposal. Unfortunately, the publishers’ websites say things like “Please allow six months for a response”. So I don’t know whether its worth prioritising the editing over fruitless job-hunting when I get fed up, in the event that it gets rejected over and over and over after months of waiting.

So. The end of the year is looming, and the future is highly uncertain. I am lost, and in need of inspiration, something to boost me in the right direction again.

Something will turn up. It always does.

Learning when to quit

I am tired. VERY tired. Life is, as usual, hectic and only going to get busier! So much so that I haven’t posted on here for ages. Since the last post, I totally failed to get a promotion that I had high hopes for at work, we saw Rocky Horror (fantastic!) Halloween happened which was great (I was the Starbucks Siren, the most evil creature in the universe. At work. Wearing a cardboard corset. All day.), I started writing a Zombie novel for Nanowrimo, the Farmers’ Market moved to its indoor winter location, I went to the CBC Tweetup, met the host of the Morning Edition, Shelia Coles properly and won a CBC coffee mug, I got a new ferret tattoo, Amy, Jen and I had a wee bit too much to drink in the new pub and sang murdered a few songs at Karaoke, and I helped paint Miri’s daycare green and orange. Also, I found out the Irish Poutine is a Thing. AND, we’ve booked our flights back to the UK for Christmas! So, life has been generally good.

However, I am finding that I have to slow things down a bit to fit the important things in (and I don’t like it one little bit). Something BIG this way comes, which will remain cryptic for now, but this Happening is taking up virtually all my spare time and energy – and it needs to. Recently, I resigned from the exec of the beer club, and from the CVAF (arts festival) planning committee – fortunately both groups were very understanding and very excited for me! I haven’t gone to Word Up Wednesday for months (the poetry slam) and I haven’t even written anything for it either. I was swearing and stressing about my Nanowrimo novel until both Carl and my parents gently reminded me that I was supposed to be doing it for FUN, so I gave up on it – and I really found that difficult. Nanowrimo is my THING. I love it, and I really wanted to develop my plot this year. I got to 15,000 words and actually feel guilty about it.

With the advent of Winter – by which I mean about 20cm of snow and minus-ridiculous temperatures already – we decided to gracefully retire Wheelie Good Coffee from the Farmers’ Market until the Spring. We did manage a few weeks in the new indoor location, but we were still having to pedal the cart across town, and that made the cart grumble (and us too, to be honest). Snow and extreme cold take their toll on rubber and we had two blown tyres in 3 weeks, then as the first snow fell, the pipes in the cart frozen absolutely solid, and we had to take a fan heater to it to defrost it. No serious damage was done fortunately, but we didn’t want to risk anything irreparable happening. Plus, we both really enjoyed having the whole weekend off work. It’s been ages since we could do that.

Unfortunately, all this means I am seriously beginning to resent my day job. The people there are still awesome and nothing specific has got worse, I just don’t like it taking up all my time when I have other, far more exciting and fun things to be getting on with. I cherish my independence, and as such, I think I’d feel the same about any job right now: in simple terms, I just don’t want to work for other people. Ever. I spend more time with work colleagues than I do with my husband and daughter. I drag myself out of bed for it at some ungodly hour and walk to work in -28 celcius while it is still dark, and leave just as it is getting dark again. It brings in enough for us to be financially quite comfortable, but what’s the point of having money if you have no time to spend it?

The BIG, cryptic Happening on the horizon may dash any hopes of financial security for quite some time. But it will be sooooo worth it, and I am madly excited!!

Because Coffee is important…

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.

The regulars outside Roca Jacks, as they appear on Google Street View
The regulars outside Roca Jacks, as they appear on Google Street View

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!”

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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.

Busy-ness

I am knackered.

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:

Sandy has been making Vine videos for #DessartSweets

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.

Amy, on a minor poetic rant about Beyonce.
Amy, on a minor poetic rant about Beyonce.
My turn!
My turn!

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….

Currently drinking, wheat beer and bock. Waiting for Pilsner to ferment. Next project, raspberry fruit beer!
Currently drinking, wheat beer and bock. Waiting for Pilsner to ferment. Next project, raspberry fruit beer!
Miri at the beach! (not with beer!)
Miri at the beach! (not with beer!)

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!

Connaught School heritage recognized | Watch GlobalNews Videos

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:

Ahhh, the good old days, when she used to nap!
Ahhh, the good old days, when she used to nap!

My baby’s got BIG and all growed up!!

Pondering….

Your thoughts/votes/comments are all appreciated!!

Canuckiversary Part 2 – Silliness

Look what we found!!!

The Giant Coffee Pot of Davidson. Suitable for my usual Monday intake.

We had a lovely trip away this weekend up to Saskatoon and beyond, and the car survived the whole journey with nothing falling off it. We passed the Giant Coffee Pot (7.2m high) in Davidson as our halfway point to let a moaning-Miri out of the car for a stretch, spent the night in a nice B&B in Saskatoon and attempted to visit one of my Twitter friends in a coffee shop there (and missed him, but the coffee was still good!). The next day we went to Wanuskewin Heritage Park, followed imaginary  bison around the river valley, played Pooh sticks in the river, Miranda got fascinated by different shapes and sizes of animal poo, we ate bannock bread and bison burgers, and then had a go at hoop dancing! And finally, finally, Spring has Sprung, and it was warm and sunny all weekend. Perfect! [ed: that was, until this morning when we woke up to another 3 inches of snow and -4 degrees AGAIN aaaaaaargh!]

It was good to have a little trip away, even if it was just one weekend, and one night outside Regina. Other than one trip to Moose Jaw and Regina Beach when my parents visited last June, we haven’t left Regina since we got here. I love this city but I still want to explore a little more!

So, we have officially been here a year – actually, a year and three and a half weeks now. The week of the actual Canuckiversary (I still love that word) we arranged a Skype party and managed to talk to most of our friends in the UK. The “conversation” ranged from madness, flat unicorns, Thor/monkey porn, phantom cement mixers, skeleton motorbikes, noisy typing, Dave’s Mum’s TV, Eric the parrot and Rodney the raven, brownie-making, “giving Carmen’s thingy a quick pump”, marmite beer and Bronies.

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My beloved collection of geeks and weirdos.

I do miss them all a great deal – they generate the best sort of collective silliness! But then I meet up with Tamara or Lorena or other friends over here with their split tongues or talking microwaves or poets in bikinis or the beer-making Raspberry Pi, and realise that it is not just confined to Darlington and surrounds!

Year One has been a complete rollercoaster; part of me still doesn’t quite believe we made it, or that we survived all the stress and dramas that went with packing up our entire lives and transposing them to another country where we knew no one, had no connections and no history. I think it beats starting my coffee shop from scratch as The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Attempted, certainly it was harder than my PhD, but it has proved more worthwhile than all of them.

And Year Two? I have Plans and Schemes and Ambitions as always, but for the first time in many years, I am happy to just sit back, enjoy life and stop just bouncing on to the next Mad Project and pushing myself to find a new challenge the second one finishes. My PhD is finally, finally, completed and I’m comfy staying at home with Miranda at the moment. Now the work permit dramas are sorted for a few years, I am in no hurry to find a job that will mean uprooting Miranda’s routine yet again, it’s enough to know that I can get one if I see anything. (That said, I am not *just* staying home with Miri, I’m also Coffee Consulting, writing lots, making Ugly Cakes with the kids, attempting to get some academic journal papers sorted, and absent-mindedly selling coffee t-shirts!)

*Waves a bottle of homebrew in the direction of The Future*

CHEERS!