Saturday, November 24, 2012

Essential in any year

I started this in 2010, and it is still rings true as I pack again for another winter away. Passing through Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary, I am once again blown away by the generosity of my friends. Spare rooms, entire houses! even, opened, vehicles and novels loaned, meals and beer gifted, rides offered, time given. To acquire such a debt is humbling and reminiscent of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros "home is wherever I'm with you" so a hugely insufficient thank you is overdue.

2010 Bare Essentials (and any year since) 

  • Valid passport
  • Orange work caulk (pronounced cork) boots
  • Word processor
  • Credit card of my choosing – and I am spoiled for choice.  I hold all three major cards in my wallet. 
I imagine these items are indicative of the year I want to have.  Passport to travel, work boots to trudge through the boreal with, a word processor to write about it, and a credit card to make up the difference where the struggling B.C. forest industry falls short. 

All of these are some sort of ID.  Government issued, industry standard, future aspirations of amateur writer and a financial institution that happily finances my pursuits for an exorbitant interest rate. 
Collectively, these items do not make me autonomous or even mildly independent.  If anything, they reemphasize my dependence on others.

Passport reminds me I am thankful of the rides to the airport, the bulging address book full of friends, family, acquaintances and strangers who will take me in and shelter, feed or simply entertain me for a few moments and the support of my mother who will promptly answer any phone message I leave her. 

Likewise with my caulk boots.  They remind me of the close-knit forestry community and my ultimate dependence on the Creator to harvest and renew His creation. 

There's a photo somewhere that Robyn took of my daypack while we frantically searched for my passport as my bus to Edmonton idled.  It shows my laptop, a bottle of rum, camera and a handful of novels from Donna.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Too many cooks

It’s been eight years since I purposely worked in a female dominated domain, and it’s truly a great mystery how I lasted two months (nearly to the day) in the same gender arrangement before giving my notice.

More than fed up with the forest industry, specifically in the role as a contractor, and seeking a, any really, change of employment, I was pleased to land in a lunch bistro committed to providing nutritious, quality lunches for my northern community that doesn’t know quiche from quinoa.     

That delight was short lived as I was reminded of the subtle politics, daily agony, personality wars and unnecessary competiveness that working alongside sisters from another mister holds.  Anti-women I am not.  Non-feminist, no way.  I love my girlfriends, mother, female cousins, aunts, I do! 

I acknowledge it’s entirely possible I have yet to develop the skill set required to navigate the frothy, temperamental waters of all-female coworkers.  Not surprisingly, the forest industry fostered my compassing, cultivated veg ID and deepened my soil typing rather than nurturing those softer people skills. 

While I claim a few new kitchen tips and tricks, my ultimate goal of taking a breather, a sabbatical from primary industry was accomplished.  Fewer hours and demands (physically and mentally), negligible stress and personal time factored in my gainful underemployment. 

Sure, I may use my new-found personal time tooling around on the internet, cleaning the bathroom or visiting girlfriends when really I’d like to be reading novels (non-fiction or otherwise) and walking puppies.  But that’s not the point.  Not since my retail days of high school have I had flexibility and freedom in my schedule, am not falling-over tired from faking another (!) good day in the rain or as truly committed to never asking, “to stay or to go?” in the context of food again. 

Yeah, we roast our pieces of pig, Hutterite turkeys, roast beasts in store, bake our own bread, make outstanding soup and spreads and daily attempt to bake up a storm for the Chetwynd masses.  Yes, I am deeply proud of serving and creating quality food. 

But I am ready and it is time (for me, not the sodding sandwich) to go. 

To Africa.