Not In The Past

Looking forward from 30

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

Under the weather

I’ve been fighting this cold for a few days.  I suppose nobody enjoys being sick, but the stuffed nose and sore throat is the worst.  I’ve always hated it.  Vomiting is more unpleasant overall, but it’s at least temporary and you do feel a little relief when you stop.  With stuffed noses and sore throats, they just linger until they just fade away.  You don’t even get the catharsis.

I suppose I am a little hard on Miramichi.  It’s mainly the town (still can’t think of it as a city) proper that’s the most frustrating, and I suppose some of the isolating aspects (especially culturally) are mitigated with internet access.  What I think it boils down to (besides economic issues) is that I’m the type who gets energized by the city, especially the diversity and opportunities for different kinds of experiences they provide.  A lot of Miramichi’s problems are also really New Brunswick’s problems in general: they’re just easier to mask in bigger cities.  (On a tangent, one of my complaints about Moncton is that they seem to think their vitality of a city is measured into how many generic big-box stores/restaurants they can attract.  Trying to copy every other place is easier than fostering and developing a unique city atmosphere, I suppose).

There are actually a few really nice spots even within Miramichi city limits.  Once you go out into the surrounding country, though, you get into the great scenery.  Once I’m feeling better, I’m going to grab my camera and try to get some pictures.  I hope the weather cooperates with me.

I want to explore the province a bit more and see a few spots I haven’t really visited, or just drove by on my way to somewhere.   New Brunswickers, recommend a spot to me to photograph.  I don’t really want to stick to the really overdone places that everyone goes to.

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Purgatory

Staying in Miramichi is not an option for me anymore.  I feel like I’m repeating myself too much on this blog, but the fact of the matter is that I feel too “cut off” from things here to ever want to stay, and this feeling is amplified now that we don’t have intercity bus service in New Brunswick.  If we lose our VIA Rail connection, the feeling’s going to get worse.  I’m finally learning to drive since I probably should have a licence to find good work, but realistically, if you don’t have a car in Miramichi, you’re trapped, and at the mercy of other people.  I’m a little self-conscious about being dependent on other people for something I should have had years ago.

I sometimes wonder if it was worth the layoff, and bemoan my stasis, but whenever I run into someone from the job, I’m reminded that getting laid off was really an opportunity for me, because I definitely would have still been living for the next two days off back-to-back instead of thinking more about relocation.  I was particularly neutral about the job itself, and all the headaches that came with it: the worst part for me really was that I felt like my life was on hold when working in a call center.  I was making not even a dollar above the minimum wage in New Brunswick, and I couldn’t really focus on planning for the future because the job takes a surprising amount of energy out of you.  I recommend you read Call Center Purgatory to get a feel for what life in one is like.  Even when you like your co-workers and can wave off management decisions you don’t like, ultimately, you’re still defined by your stats.

Someone at a job search once told me: “You have your degree.  You definitely should not be in a call center.”  I’ve been working at call centers for longer than I was at university, though.  If I don’t have to wear a headset and tether myself to a computer to have every minute of my shift micro-managed to the last detail, I’ll be happy.

I’m working on my resume right now.  Skills you haven’t been able to use for years are still skills, right?

In the employment desert

Today I met with an employment counselor to discuss the possibility of going back to school.   She was absolutely useless, basically telling me that since I already have a Bachelor’s Degree, I don’t qualify for anything to help fund retraining (never mind my father got something like that a few years ago and he had his Master’s).  Basically also gave me a bit of an attitude, at least what I was sensing, like “unless you can afford to live in another city full-time first before you get a job, you might as well settle for what’s here”.  There are jobs in my city, but there’s very little that aren’t call centre or Wal-Mart jobs.  Of if there are, I don’t really have the specific skill set (without going back to school), or they’re for something I’m completely ill-suited for.  I honestly got more help from the place in Halifax I dropped in.  Maybe she’s paid to keep people from fleeing the crumbling city; I don’t know.  She’s not worth getting worked up over, let alone her cushy paycheck.

The plan I have is just to do something for the next year (pay down some debt, get space, save money) and go back to school the year after that.   I’m wondering whether I should do Fredericton, Halifax, or another city.  I have a feeling my relocation options are limited to where I can get to within a day.  I’d love to go further afield and I wonder if I should get out of the Maritimes, but at the same time I feel like I’ve missed the train on career paths and opportunities, wasted too much time in the call centres, and basically cancelled out my degree.

Professional directions

As I mentioned here earlier, I moved my blog away from a page that included my full name into a more anonymous sphere to allow greater freedom in my posts without having it linked to my easily-pinpointable surname.  I decided to keep a hold of the site with my full name to work into a professional page (buying the domain name as well) where I’m going to host my photography portfolio and basically just present my professional side.  I’ve written a few things that were published in papers: one was a freelance submission for my university paper, while another article was commissioned after I wrote a letter to my local paper in support of someone who was getting a lot of flak from the townsfolk for portraying the city in a less-than-flattering light.  Both were years ago.  I’m thinking of also using it as my writing site.

If anyone has advice on setting up a professional page, I would appreciate it greatly.  As I transition between careers and potentially go back to school, I need to make sure I have a good presence on the web.

It takes a tragedy

While I was off Facebook and Twitter, I still managed to get notifications from both, including any group I belong to.  A few days into my break, I found out that there was a beating death on Gottingen Street in Halifax; it’s a familiar location to me, and any visits to the city usually involved stopping by one of the bars there.  The victim was a well-known gay activist, Raymond Taavel.  I never met the man but his name was familiar due to his tireless advocacy for the LGBTQ community in the Maritimes.  Some are on the fence as to whether it was a hate crime or not: while a witness mentioned hearing homophobic slurs while Taavel was being beaten, the man accused in the killing was a psychiatric patient who failed to return to custody while out on a day pass.  I don’t doubt that he may have targeted whoever he saw coming out of Menz Bar based on a predisposition against gays, but it just seems like an isolated, yet horrific, incident that greater illustrates a failure of the mental health system than any animosity against LGBTQ people in the city, as much as both are illuminated.

The outpouring of grief, emotion and love has been tremendous.  Halifax poet laureate Tanya Davis poured her grief into words she shared not long after Taavel’s death, not far from where he died.  (She reflects more on the tragedy and subsequent vigil in an interview with the Chronicle-Herald).  Mary Burnet discusses how we can only make sense of the tragedy when we realize the failings of our society and our institutions, and how we need to work for change.  John Williams mentions that Taavel’s death united a fractured local LGBTQ community.  By the time I returned to Facebook, a lot of people on my friends list changed their profile pictures to the rainbow flag.

It is my hope the galvanization of the community outlasts the raw grief and sadness experienced in the last week.

Re-education

I’m considering going back to school, either for next year, or taking a job for the next year with the intention of going back to school for the year after.  The Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Canadian Studies and English I have just isn’t enough.  I don’t have the patience to teach, and I’d probably need some upgrading of my GPA if I were to try to do a Masters, so I’m trying to assess what I could probably see myself doing as a career and looking at the various websites for colleges around the country.  I’ve been thinking of doing something a little more practical/hands-on but at the same time I don’t want to leap into something I’m good at but don’t necessarily enjoy.  I’m looking for any advice some of you may have with regard to this.

I need to think short-term and long-term right now.  My problem is that I end up getting comfortable in a bad situation, like one of my previous jobs: I knew I didn’t care for it, I knew it was making me miserable, and I knew my life was disappearing while I worked there, but I was so used to the money (which was merely OK but well-enough above minimum wage after the “attendance bonus”).  I thought I was doing the responsible thing, but is it really all that responsible to resign yourself to a situation that makes you miserable?

I accidentally logged into Facebook for a second today.  I don’t think the week off Facebook or Twitter really helped matters any with regard to my bad habits, and I think I ended up just isolating myself even further.

Options

I’m really needing to make a few short-term goals with regard to the near future.  I’ve been looking for work but my problem is that I know more what I don’t want to do than what I actually could be doing: I’m having a little trouble deciding what my options are.  Do I go back to school?  Take something for the short term?

I need to talk this over with a few friends.

Election 2012: Wake me when it’s over.

I’m at a point where I’m just frustrated with the American political system; it seems like it’s going to be a not-particularly-hopeful situation no matter who wins.  I’m more a fan of Obama than Romney myself, but even if he does win, is anything going to get done, especially if there’s a Republican majority in the House or Senate.  If Romney wins, I think there is still some hope he’ll be a decent President if he skews centrist and doesn’t kowtow to the evangelicals and the Church of Ayn Rand.   If he doesn’t, though, he’s not going to get a second term.  It does seem like the far right wing is basically trying to turn back the clock fifty years without having a lick of sense that Dwight Eisenhower had.  There’s really not a lot of vision from either side, though.  Or if there is, there’s one that opposes it equally.

I can’t wait for the election to be over.  For all the talk about those horrible policies enacted under Obama’s watch (such as NDAA or HR 347), I don’t think the Republicans really want to undo them either.

I’m not really thinking too clearly right now.  I’m just crabby.  It’s not even my country.

Cure for Insomnia

I’ve been having trouble sleeping the last few nights.  I really think I need to turn off the computer, TV, iPod after a certain time and just start reading to get me calmed down.  Maybe it’s just my mind racing, or maybe it’s just a sense of dissatisfaction that keeps me up these days.  I think it’s the recurring “endless loops” and lack of space getting to me.  It’s hitting me that what I probably need is some time alone away from computer screens, TV, music, and people in general.  What money I have right now is earmarked towards the Toronto trip and bills, though.  Can’t just take another trip out of town right now, especially one where I just stay in a motel by myself.

Maybe it’s just another vacation from the internet I need.

Flight booked

I’ve made my travel plans for my friend’s wedding in June.  Now that I have this out of the way, I can relax a little bit and focus on the job hunt.  I don’t expect to need to move before the wedding.  In a way, it’s disappointing, but in another way, it’s a load off my mind.  I haven’t had a chance to see my friend in over three and a half years, and I knew I’d regret not going more than another period of time in Miramichi.

I need to travel every once in a while.  To many, it’s a luxury, but for me, it’s necessary.  I moved around a lot when I was a kid and staying in one place for so long doesn’t come natural to me.  At first, I resented having to uproot.  Now, I find if I’m in the same place for a long period of time I end up feeling trapped.  I felt it when I lived in Riverview, and I really feel it here.

I’ve set it up so I spend the most amount of time I can in Toronto over the course of the three days.  I’m probably going to have to find a place to stay in Moncton the night before and the night after my trip, though.

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