Tag: writing



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!!

Poetic Justice

Tonight I pedalled across town on my trike, on my way to a poetry slam, big fat snowflakes drifting down softly.

It would almost be romantic if it wasn’t MID APRIL.

And then there was some frigging idiot who nearly killed me.


Potholes and stones

Won’t break my bones

But the words you speak on your mobile phone

distracting, as you plough on in to the night

looking straight through my signal and lights

Those words, and your massive Dodge truck

Driven as if you don’t give a fuck

Those are the things that will crush me.



A brutal revelation

There’s nowhere left to hide!!!

Last night, I experienced the sort of revelation that Thunks you between the eyes like a wet fish. I was sitting in Beer Brothers with Amy after a fun, impromptu and childless night out, when a complete stranger came up to me saying she wanted to tell me how much she liked this blog! Well, that completely threw me. I had no idea how to react! It was a shock even that she’d recognised me (though I guess with the additional volume that comes with beer drinking, my accent is quite noticeable!). But honestly, I write this stuff safe in the knowledge that few people outside my close friends and my Dad bother to even skim through my stream-of-consciousness drivel, and they only do so when I nag them. I certainly don’t plan, draft, and edit these posts with an audience in mind, so having strangers read it feels very odd indeed.

My fan, if that is the right term, said she liked hearing an outsider’s view of Regina – well, that I certainly can offer! Even after 18 months here, I am still discovering new things to do, which is great. Amy and I were having a drink after going to see the Regina Symphony Orchestra at the Connexus Arts Centre. She and her hubby go quite regularly, but he is sadly suffering the same daycare-plague that Carl and I got the other week, so I got to gatecrash what would’ve been their date night! We saw Tchaikovsky’s Sixth, and Amy gaily filled me in on the stories of cholera, suicide and scandal surrounding the gay dead Russian’s final work, which only added to the experience. I am by no means a classical music aficionado, but I really enjoyed it – very different, and I’m glad I got to see something that it wouldn’t even occur to me to try without a friend waving a spare ticket at me.

Our other recent adventure was going out to Pilot Butt(e) for the Amaizing Corn Maze! Not as sunny as last year unfortunately, but we dutifully got lost and had a lot of fun jumping in hay and rolling around in the pea pit. You also get a nice view of the city from there – you can see my new work! – and I heard The Best description of Regina ever the other day:

“Regina: like an empty carpark, with a pile of Lego in the middle.”

The SGI building is the second tower block in from the right on this photo. The only other blog-reader that I know of (who I daren’t actually call a “fan”) has been asking for an update on The Job. So for her sake, “the Job goes well”. It is not the most fascinating role ever but I am confident that it will get more interesting eventually, but even in the meantime it is such a relief not to have to count hours and worry about whether I have enough shifts to survive the month, and it is considerably easier work for more money that spending 8, 9, or 10 hour shifts on my feet making soy crappycinos for rude vegans. SGI really look after you – there’s all sorts of complicated health and insurance benefits which I’ve never had before, plus a random day off every two weeks (which is lovely!), and even the Timbits fairy who delivers deep-fried sugary goodness fairly frequently to our office. We’re on the 6th floor and the views are pretty good (except my desk is facing out over the railway tracks, not the prettier downtown side) but the cafeteria on the 18th floor has a stunning 360 degree view of… flatness! I can’t quite make out my house, but I can see the Cathedral so I can work out where our street is at least.

The first day I discovered The View, I only had my phone on me with which to take pictures. This is my excuse for Terrible Photography this week.
The first day I discovered The View, I only had my phone on me with which to take pictures. This is my excuse for Terrible Photography this week.

I do get myself up there as often as possible to remind myself that there is a world outside the scanning room, where I am currently stationed. I do have a proper desk too which I have been adorning with photos of Miranda, and then more silly clutter like a china moose riding a purple scooter, and I have an official SGI notebook in which to write daily Scanning Room Haikus. The whole office is now covered in Halloween decorations – NOT instigated by me! and I appear to be working with a trekkie (who ordered herself a lifesize cardboard Karl Urban…), a fellow Whovian who also happens to “try and bring cake at least once a month”, and someone else who owns Rammstein’s entire discography. So, I am amongst friends!

My new workplace. I still think it looks like a giant 9v battery.

We had a staff meeting the other day, and us new folk (there’s four of us) had to introduce ourselves. I did my best but Jim followed up my comments with “and I’ve just learned that Annabel has over 1000 twitter followers, and one of them is sitting in this room!” – yes, thanks for that! Gulp. Another new starter happens to follow me on Twitter, and recognised me from there even though I didn’t recognise her until she told me her name, or at least her twitter handle. Regina is a small town really… (I found out over the summer that statistically, I am the 177th most influencial twitter user in Regina – out of 21000, which is kinda cool, and kinda scary! I think I should have that on a rosette!). I had at least noticed that I’d hit the Big Four Figures on Twitter, but really, folks, why do you follow me?? If you think this blog is pointless, I can assure you my tweets are considerably worse… I think the real reason why the realisation that people actually read my crap is so uncomfortable, is that I am now immediately starting to self-edit, and self-censor. I’m quickly becoming far more conscious of what and how I write (the preceding sentence is grammatically terrible, for instance!) and now it’s all awkward. So, thank you all for reading, but I am now going to try and pretend you don’t exist so I can carry on churning out carefree psychobabble.

I got another amusing message on Twitter recently from Mark and Ange back in Darlington, warning me that my other, old twitter account had been hacked and was sending out spam to people. The other account is @thetinycheese – actually, Miranda’s account from when she used to want to bash the keyboard with Mummy in my cafe, aged about 10 months. I haven’t used it in ages, since Miranda got big enough to actually damage my keyboard! Apparently, people still follow it, but I’ve forgotten the password so I can’t get in to it and get rid of the spam, sorry folks!

Miranda is slowly settling in to her new daycare, but it has been very hard on her, poor baby. I was really pleased that we managed to get her in to the one we wanted – it’s very close, run by a very friendly woman who seemingly has infinite patience and energy, Miri can carry on going to her preschool too, and best of all, our neighbours’ daughter goes to the same daycare so Miri has her big friend Abi to play with there! I know full well she enjoys it really, but she is not remotely impressed by having to get up so early in the mornings now, and we are officially The Worst Parents Ever when we have to shove her through the daycare door and run off quick before she can follow us to work. She’s got quite clingy to Mummy now – probably as a result of having spent the last 6 months with me all day every day, and now barely sees me at all apart from in the evenings when she is already exhausted. I miss her too!! Staying home with her this summer was far, far more demanding and tiring than going to work in an office so in some ways, going back to work is a big relief, but it is very strange not having my big baby around all the time. Waa!

Anyway, November is looking to be a busy month – we’ve got big Halloween plans as always, it’s Nanowrimo, I’ve somehow naively got myself a stall at a craft fair mid-month, so I have to Make Things to sell on it, and I’ve still got lots to learn at work. Oh, and I’ve got my first ever driving lesson (on the wrong side of the road) this week! So, I better get on with things and stop just writing about things, I reckon!

Not Unemployed!

As of Friday, I am officially, erm, non-unemployed, to put it much grammarously.

After what feels like YONKS of job hunting, I finally found something when I wasn’t really looking, in a place I honestly didn’t expect to. Marianne and I went to a jobs fair last week; it was mainly full of potash and construction jobs, and lots of shiny posters of people wearing hard hats and grinning inanely. Frankly, I didn’t hold out much hope of anyone wanting to hire someone with a Phd in coffee, so Miri and I were really just there for the freebies. In that respect, we did very well indeed. Miranda scored herself two rubber ducks from SIAST, a frisbee from CIBC bank, and dozens of pens and a few bribery-flavoured lollipops. It was on a quest for another lolly that we came across the SGI stall (for non-Reginans, that is Saskatchewan Government Insurance. Yep, insurance is nationalised, well, provincially-owned here, sooooooooo much easier than comparing and negotiating with hundreds of extortionate companies in the UK!!). A very friendly guy called Jim asked if I was looking for work, I said yes, but also that I’d applied to SGI back in June and never heard a squeak back. He explained that they usually just recruit at entry level, and then promote people internally. He took a look at my resume anyway, and said he felt “under qualified” in comparison! I can’t help feeling my qualifications are pretty useless though – he has a job, I don’t!

(An aside, and RANT KLAXON! we watched BBC Question Time the other night, with the Tories’ new and inventive ways of torturing the poor: apparently if you haven’t got a job and you’re under 25, you should go back and live with your parents so you can’t claim housing benefit, do community service in order to get your already-reduced unemployment benefit – thus putting people who get paid properly to do community service jobs out of work – and if you are STILL out of work, go back to school and learn new skills. Which is only ever going to result in a lot of drastically over-skilled, over-educated unemployed people chasing low-skilled, part time, minimum wage jobs, and up to their eyeballs in debt from university or college fees. Cos that is the perfect solution, right? Idiots.)

But moving swiftly on… the next day, Jim called me to invite me to an interview, and through a roundabout series of events including doing obscure HR tests for admin work, I got offered a job at SGI! This is brilliant news!! It’s only entry-level, but it’s a foot in the door at least, and could lead on to more exciting things. It being insurance, I’ve had to sign confidentiality agreements and things, so I can’t go in to too much detail on here obviously – fairly easy to agree to since I really don’t feel like I know what I’m doing yet anyway. I start on the 16th, so hopefully all will be revealed then!

Which does mean though, that I have ten days to try and find child care for Miranda again. This could prove tricky. Ugh.

I’ve been doing more poetry! It was Culture Days last weekend, and there was another poetry slam at the Mercury. We actually got to write in advance this time, so I was a little more prepared and wrote an empassioned rant about all the jobs we have to do under the umbrella term, ‘Mum’  This one was *just* before I got offered the job though. Maybe I should have polemicised far earlier!

Ode to Regina

This was my effort for the latest


I’m always curious how you came to be

So remote, so detached, not close to anyone or anything,

I looked you up but nearly didn’t call

Intimidated by your sparsity. Agoraphobic? Me?

Amongst the endless nothingness,

You are an abrupt, unashamed something.

A grain stain amongst the green and gold

Like chewing gum on the pub’s carpet.

And your name… I mean, seriously?

I always thought it was pronounced “ReGEEna”

Who were your forefathers, and what were they thinking?

Oh. Oh the Queen, right, I get it!

Yeah there she is, that bronze statue

A very young Queen on a horse by the lake.

That was one of the first things I heard about you:

“Regina has a pretty Leg!”

But you do know the Queen hasn’t looked like that in about fifty years, right?

Of course you do. There’s the modern Queen,

All fat-faced and grumpy on a $20 bill.

Well, you’d be grumpy too if you were

Shoved in and out of wallets and exchanged for beer.

I wonder how she’d feel about you

The flat prairie city she gave her title to,

Perhaps unknowingly.

So sparse, so quiet, such a contrast

To the headache; the noisy, busy, suffocating

hyperactive stench of humanity

The incomprehensible, irrepressible assault on the senses that is London, her home.

How far removed you are from all I have ever known.

And you are so young,

The Queen sits in her palace

Built while you were still a Pile of Bones

But I am glad I took the chance

Embraced your opportunity

I can see your brutal beauty

The place where they hand planted every single tree

This space, this flatness, that feels so free.