Not In The Past

Looking forward from 30

Archive for the tag “Miramichi”

To move or not to move

I’m still looking for work; I haven’t heard much from my applications aside from a handful of form-letter rejections.  I’m wondering if part of my lack of job hunt success is that I have a Miramichi address, a Moncton cell number, but I’m looking in Halifax.

I wonder if I’ll have more luck if I move to Halifax before landing a job.  The main issue with that right now though is I really don’t have the money for a place right now.  My parents offered to lend me a little for the very short term, but they really don’t have much money.  I have a few friends down there (I’ve stayed with them on prior trips to the city), but I’m concerned about overstaying my welcome or goofing off too much.  My EI is going to run out and I’m concerned I still won’t have a job.  Doesn’t help that I have some debt either.  Some people say that taking the leap is the key because otherwise we’d be always waiting for the right time to do it, but I wonder if I even have that option anymore.   Not being 100% frugal and responsible during this time, even if it was to provide a temporary lift to my spirits or attend a friend’s wedding, only increases my guilt as there is a separate set of rules for the haves and have-nots.  That’s why I was questioning whether I really needed my camera: I felt like I had to justify owning such an expensive piece of equipment, even if I did get it before I left Riverview.

The responsible thing is to stay in Miramichi or go to a closer city, possibly take yet another call centre job, and save money for the big move.  The trouble with this scenario is that I know myself too well: I’d get complacent in the job, and try to distract myself from boredom or misery by spending the money I was supposed to save.  I feel time’s running out; I’m 30 and I still don’t feel like I’m getting a running start on life.  If I stay in Miramichi, take another call centre job or end up at Wal-Mart, I know its only going to make me depressed.  I won’t even be able to write.  I wonder if I need to push myself even further away from here, maybe go West.  No money -> lack of options, and most of the remaining ones are dead ends.

Maybe it’s just my pride preventing me from mooching off friends, or maybe it’s that I don’t want to impose or strain the relationship.

I’m at a crossroads.

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This is the game that moves as you play

I had a dream last night that I was in Halifax; it wasn’t really a pre-meditated, planned trip, more of a “Hey, I’m in Halifax” thing.  I remember waiting for a bus along Pleasant Street near where my friends’ house is.  I wonder if that’s supposed to be a sign that I’m going to be back in the area sometime soon.  It’s been over three months since my last trip.  I’d like my next time there to be related to job interviews though.

How many applications need to go out before you hear back?  I’ve retooled my resume since last spring to show more of my skills, but I still have to wonder if I’m doing enough specializing for each application.  I’m looking to leverage six years worth of call centre experience, a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a little bit of radio experience and various summer jobs into something that I could get some new experience in.

I’m going to Sappyfest in a few weeks.  Bought my tickets a while back and took advantage of a VIA Rail sale for this (probably the last time I’ll get to before the service gets slashed out here).  It would be good to see people roughly my age (although I suspect the baby hipsters will be out in full bloom this time); one thing I notice every time I go out somewhere in Miramichi is how a lot of the people in restaurants or Tim Hortons are 60 and older…

An open response to a recent letter in the paper

I just read a letter in the local paper where someone mentioned how after the election next week, he hopes the city council upholds the Christian values and morals of the community, citing the time the city gave money to have a “questionable” sexual-education expert from “Upper Canada” speak to the grade 9 students of the school division.  He must have been referring to Sue Johanson, who is a registered nurse, a member of the Order of Canada, and arguably Canada’s leading advocate for safe sex.

I understand the author of the letter is a very devout Catholic: there is nothing wrong with this.  But I take issue with a few things with his letter.  First off, who is to say he speaks for the whole community?  Miramichi is a small town more than a city, yes, but there are still a number of residents who don’t identify as Christian, or have more progressive views on the topic of sexuality.  I also have a problem with his calling Johanson’s credentials into question: Johanson is a qualified counselor and has been giving practical sexual advice for years before she became a media personality.  There are some areas where she does have a few blind spots, but in this case, would “qualified” only be bestowed on an educator who promotes abstinence-only education?  Lastly, what’s with this “Upper Canada” nonsense?  The colony of Upper Canada hasn’t existed since 1841.  My view is that the way that term was used connotes resentment against so-called “big-city values”, as if insulation from differing viewpoints is the only way to protect the integrity of the Miramichi.

To me, not giving information about contraception is irresponsible and immoral.  It’s like telling your children not to go into a dangerous area, but not letting them protect themselves if they do.

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.

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.

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.

Restless again

I posted earlier about how I want to get out of Miramichi for a little bit around my birthday.   I’m starting to get quite restless now, and I’m considering my options for the short term.

I think what’s getting to me is that I just feel like I’m in a bit of a repetitive cycle these days: I feel like my days are predictable and my options for variety are too few right now.  I feel like bad habits are easier to fall into here, and I need to force myself out of my rut.  I can see where I have been able to accomplish things in the last little while, but I feel that too many baby steps won’t get me as far as I want to go.

I’m considering submitting articles and essays to different places.  Worth a shot…

Out of Miramichi

I’ve talked a little earlier about how one of my goals is to get out of Miramichi for a little bit around my birthday (if anyone’s wondering, it’s two weeks from next Monday).  I haven’t left the region in a while: the last time I did leave was back in January to drop my sister off at the airport.  I haven’t settled on where exactly I want to go: Halifax would probably be my first choice since I’m planning to move there.  Moncton and Fredericton are also possibilities, although with the Acadian Lines lockout that has been going on since December, getting to and from Fredericton is difficult without a car. Doesn’t help that the train doesn’t go there either.  Going further to a place like Montreal or Toronto would be fun but unrealistic, and too much of a strain on my finances at the moment.  Where I end up going depends on a few factors, namely being able to secure a place to stay.

It’s not enough for me to go down to the city for the day to shop.  I’m starting to get tired of the Trinity Drive power centre (and whoever designed that whole area hates pedestrians).  As much as I like browsing a better selection of CDs, DVDs and Blu-Rays that I can find in Miramichi, which often feels cut off from the world culturally, I’ve become dissatisfied with going to the same chain stores you see in any sizable city and am more interested in the downtowns, the cafes and the restaurants.  I still like going to chain restaurants once in a while, but I feel like I’m just experiencing the same thing over and over again.  I’m fine with doing these things once in a while, but when it gets to the point when even special occasions and vacations are exercises in the overly familiar, it’s no longer satisfying.

Maybe I’ve only realized how empty consumerism is, but I really want to experience a bit more in my life than just buying shit.

My dream photo project

I’ve had this idea in the back of my head where I would go to the different towns and cities where I’ve lived growing up and take pictures of them at equal intervals over a period of time.  I’ve lived as far east as Pictou, Nova Scotia, and as far west as Regina, Saskatchewan.  I’ve also been fascinated by old pictures I’ve seen of familiar places: I like seeing photography of cities that aren’t restricted to the postcard shots, but have a certain frame of reference that is still recognizable to anyone who’s lived there, no matter which part of the city you actually lived in.  I also like seeing footage of the more mundane aspects of the past: city streets, storefronts, etc.

I did try a tentative start to the whole project back in the summer of 2010, but I was unhappy with the pictures I took.  Part of the issue is that I didn’t make a very specific plan of when and what I would shoot.  I also hadn’t bought my second lens yet, and wasn’t as used to what I could do with the camera.  I felt like I was being rushed at the time, so that may account for some of my negative feelings about the first attempt.

The way I see this playing out, I would focus on maybe doing the places in Atlantic Canada one year, the places in Ontario another, and Manitoba and Saskatchewan a third year.  This would also document my growth as a photographer.

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