Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Today I woke up and there was snow, layered, rising, and I thought "not today".

I made four different phone calls to say we weren't leaving.

Wee man and I had popcorn for lunch and watched Elmo. Cuddled in our blanket. I tried not to think about the money I was costing us by deciding to stay in.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day in the Life

5:00 am: "Is Little Fella awake? No? Is he going to wake up?"
                "Go back to sleep, woman"

5:30 am: "Little Fella?"

6:00 am: "I think the sun is coming up. Do I hear anything?"

6:30 am: Squeaks and coos next door - Little Fella is awake and as I crawl out of bed, Mr.Fella's alarm goes off.

I walk into Little Fella's room and all I can smell is shit. Awesome. He smiles and chirps hello, he doesn't seem to care. He politely hands me his soother and his little fuzzy duck.

I zip him out of his sleep sack, cautious of what I might find underneath. No visible explosions. Good. I scoop Little Fella up onto his change table and he screams bloody murder until I've finished changing him - he still has a bad diaper rash. If he'd stop pooping over night, it'd probably heal more quickly.

I let him run around pantless while I wash my hands.

I have to be out the door in 40 minutes.

Mr.Fella gives me a kiss, "Go get your shower, I'll give him breakfast"

Shower. Awesome.

There's still some hot water left, also awesome.

New moisturizer. I like it. Quick powdered makeup. God, my eyebrows look like shit. Oh well.

Mr.Fella and Little Fella are having breakfast - oatmeal with apples and cinnamon. Oh yeah, breakfast. I put some bread in the toaster, but I don't feel very hungry. Mr.Fella goes to get his shower. I attempt to clean Little Fella up - he's finished his breakfast, so he's bored. I take him out of his chair and let him continue to run around pantless. I fill two bottles for daycare and throw them in his bag. My toast pops up. I put on some peanut butter and take a bite. "No, I really don't want this right now". I throw it in the garbage.

Time to go.

I grab some of Little Fella's clothes and get him to sit on my lap in our living room. He giggles. I kiss his forehead. Socks, pants, shirt. Okay. Boots. Jacket. I strap him into his stroller with a blanket tucked around him. He's going to get warm now, so I have to act fast. I grab my bookbag, which I packed last night. Sweater. Jacket. Where the fuck did I put my keys? For the ever-lovin'-fuck-why-the-fuck-do-I-do-this-every-fucking-time?! They're in my bike helmet. Why the FUCK were they in my bike helmet?!

Oh well.

Mr.Fella is still in the shower, so there'll be no goodbye kiss today.

Out the door.

It's nice outside. Sun. Breeze. Rustly leaves. Idyllic fall and university students gather next to the bus stops outside our apartment building. Little Fella's hood slips down his back and his sandy, downy hair flutters in circles. He kicks his boots rhythmically. Cutie. Down we go, down the hill to daycare - 15 minutes. I'm still on time.

The Daycare lady comes to the door and Little Fella smiles. I'm glad he likes it here. She scoops him up and takes off his coat and boots. I remind her that we still need the receipts for the last several weeks so Mr.Fella can put in our claim to his Student Union. She mutters "Oh yes. Right."

I kiss Little Fella's chubby cheeks and tell him to be good. I tell him I love him. He smiles goodbye. It's 7:30 am and it's the last time I'll see him today.

My first job starts at 9:00, but I'm beginning a new project so I want to get there early. I have to head downtown. The bus comes next to Little Fella's daycare at 7:40 - a lot of people are traveling at this time of day, and within minutes I feel lucky that I have a seat. It's slow moving until we get on the transitway. We zip by bedrock and other buses. I close my eyes - why didn't I feel this tired at 5:30 this morning?


I get off at Albert and Kent and it's the busiest I've ever seen it downtown. There are more people than cars. It almost looks like New York.

I need to stop at the bank and deposit yesterday's paycheck so we have enough money in our account to cover daycare and homecare. There are so many people, I have to check over my shoulder, like a car changing lanes, before darting into the bank.

Cheque deposited. I take out a $20 for coffee.

Where can I go that has a decent latte besides Starbucks? What's that place, "Coffee and Friend's Co"? No, I tried that last week and it was horrible. I see someone with a MacDonald's coffee cup - heeellll no. Second Cup? No, look at that line. I check the time. I have about a half hour before my shift starts.

Bridgehead. "Organic, Fairtrade, Shade Grown, Coffee"

I don't know why "Shade Grown" is a good thing, but okay.

I dart in Bridgehead. There are a couple of people in head of me, but the line is moving fast. "Large Skim Latte to go, please". $3.50. Nice. I wait for my latte and read part of their board "Shade Grown coffee preserves the ecosystem and natural environment". Hmmm. Haven't heard that before.

Latte's ready.

Oh, it's good! It's really good! Awesome. New latte place. I'll have to tell Mr.Fella.

What time is it? 8:40? Yeah, alright. I'll go in a bit early. I join a pack of people crossing the street and head towards my building. Two blocks West.

Here we are.

5th floor

First door on the left past the bathrooms. It smells like computers, carpet and faintly of despair.

Two girls sitting in supervisor chairs swivel their heads towards me.

"Hi", I say "I know I'm a bit early, but I was in for training on Monday. We went over SAQE, but I haven't used CallWeb at all, yet. I don't know how to use it. Jussst thought I'd let you know"

The supervisor with approximately 3 gallons of eyemakeup on replies, sickly sweet, "Oh yes. Just wait in the break room until 9, please".

Alright, b'y.

I sit in the breakroom. A few of the regular workers drift past me into a group in the kitchen. I eat one of the granola bars I packed yesterday.


I poke my head back into the main area. "Oh yes, you can sit at seat 17"
It's by a window. Score.
A nicer supervisor gives me the basics of Callweb and watches my first call. It's an answering machine. She watches me code it. All's well.

I sip my latte between calls and try to convince strangers to do a survey about their travel habits within the city. A few calls reach polite people, some calls reach rude people, most calls reach dead air and answering machines.

I take a ten minute break. Makeup supervisor scolds me for not closing out CallWeb properly. I remind her that I've never been told how to close it. She smiles, sickly sweet, "Oh yes, well, just for next time."

I get more respondents the second half of my shift, so it goes by more quickly. Some of the people I took my training class with filter in. Before I leave for the day, I call over the nice supervisor to make sure I close everything out properly. I follow her back to her desk and get her to sign me out. It's 1:58 and Makeup Supervisor informs me that "we dial right up until the end of our shift. Not two minutes before."

I have 5 minutes to catch my bus

I smile, sickly sweet, "Yes, I'll remember that for next time."

Out the door.

I really have to pee, but I don't want to miss my bus. I wonder if, next time, I can push my break to the end of the shift and maybe just leave 10 minutes earlier. This is cutting it close.

I need bus 86.

I wait at my stop as route 85, 95, 97 and 96 fly past me. 86. There we go.

I eat my second granola bar on the bus.

I arrive back at my apartment. Do I have enough time to pee? I check the time. It's 2:30. Yes, I should be able to pee and.

In the building, in the elevator, floor five. Pee. In the elevator, out the door.

Amelia, beautiful Amelia, is chained to a tree next to our building's wheelchair ramp. I unlock her and off I go. 15 minutes of beautiful, windy, fallish riding. Down quiet suburban backways and new asphalt. Past pedestrians and black squirrels and recycling left on the curb for tomorrow. A mini-oasis between shifts.

I chain her out of view next to the strip mall where our hospital is located. Some asshole stole the rear light off of her back a few weeks ago - they didn't even take the bracket that holds it, so it'd be completely useless, but they took it anyway. Assholes. This is why I now hide her.

I realize that I'm starving. I check the time. I have 15 minutes before my shift starts and I still have to change into my scrubs.

I buy a diet Dr.Pepper and a bag of SmartPop from the convenience store next door.

Fuck, I'm hungry.

I walk in through the clinic doors - the morning shift is ending and the evening shift is starting, so there are a lot of people around. Most of the girls are folding up vaccine reminders and chatting. Everyone gets along pretty well here, I think. It's nice.

I change into my scrubs, grab a chair and start devouring the SmartPop. After I've taken off the edge of hunger I go into treatment and check the schedule. When's our next appointment? Not for a half hour. Awesome.

I go back up front, finish the bag and chug my Dr.Pepper. Better. I play with one of the tech's bernese mountain dog. His name is Thunder and he's beautiful. I call him "Thun-dar!". He recognizes me now, so he says hello with drool, fur and nudges. "Heelllooo, Thun-dar!!! THUN-DARR!" Every time I see him I think about how much Mr.Fella would love him, if he could ever find time to come in and visit.

The girls from the morning leave, the half-hour passes and the real work begins. Our schedule is blocked, the phone keeps ringing and there are three of us in the hospital - the doctor, one tech and me.

The appointments rolls in - I weigh dogs, pull up vaccines, bill people out, answer the phone. I ask the doctor between appointments if one of her patients can have more thyrotabs. Yes. I count them out, but the tech has to ask me a question. I lose count. I count them out three more times.

I need to help the tech with some bloodwork. I hold a sweet tabby named Max very still for a jugular. He's snuggled under my arm in a towel. We can't get any blood - let's try elsewhere. Max is purring in fear. We wiggle and try different veins until we have success!

Haven't we changed labs for the pre-anthestic bloodwork? How do I put that in? I can't find it in Avimark - oh, there it is. It's about the same price as before, that's good.

We have a half hour to go when a very good client walks in. This man loves his dog more than anything in the world and is frantic because she peed in the house today - he holds a bottle of urine under my nose. He doesn't have an appointment, but can the Doctor PLEASE see them today?!

I inform them that we are booked up, but I will ask the doctor. I know if she sees this appointment, we won't get out of the hospital until at least a half hour after we close. She's writing up a file in treatment. I explain who it is and what he wants. She sighs "alright".

"He brought in urine, do you want to run it?"
"Yeah, might as well, I guess"

I bring the urine to the tech "I think she wants you to run this for you-know-who"
"She wants me to go over a puppy kit with the people in room two, too. When should I grow extra arms, do you think?" She's good natured about it.

I get a stool sample ready and fill out a lab rec form. I print off a vaccine certificate, I call back one of the Doctor's clients with the instructions she's given me for them. I print off some information that the Doctor asked for about some weird kind of cat litter one of her clients told her about.

I text my babysitter who, by now, will have picked up Little Man, fed him and put him to bed, to let her know that I'm running behind. Within seconds she texts back "No problem :)" She's awesome, I love her.

We get out almost exactly a half hour after we closed, as predicted. The walk-in client's dog had absolutely nothing wrong with him.

I turn on Amelia's head-lamp and peddle home in the dark. It's not quite as picturesque as during the day, but it clears my brain a little. I pull in and chain her to her spot.

In the door.
Up the elevator.

I walk in, and there's our babysitter. "Hi" she smiles.
I'm pretty exhausted, but I smile back. "How was wee man?"
"Oh, good. There's a bowl of broccoli in the fridge though"
"The little frigger, I know. He won't eat it. We'll just keep trying"
"I've been trying to be sneaky about it, but he's too smart!"
"I know, me too!"

"Goodnight, thanks for staying late."

As soon as she's out the door I remember something and send her text
"Did the daycare give you a receipt today?"
a few seconds later I get a response
"Nope, sorry"


It's 7:15pm and Mr.Fella won't be home for another two hours. I miss him.

Then I realize I'm fucking starving again.

I proceed to eat half a small pizza, a handful of baby carrots, two squares of dark chocolate and two bowls of popcorn. That's better. I ignore the sink of dishes I know I have to do before bed. I'm too tired.

I sit on the couch and think.
People do this all of the time. Days like today, every day, all of the time. People do this. all. of. the. time. People have whole lives that are like this.
Every day.
All of the time.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Writing is like a muscle; you need to keep using it to hang on to any kind of proficiency.

I've been pretty inconsistent about a lot of things in my life, but I've always stuck with two things: Writing, in one form or another, and loving my husband since the day I met him.

Not bad, all in all.

I've decided to write a 1000-1500 piece for a creative non-fiction contest. I can't post "the story" here before I enter it, as part of the contest rules, but I'll let you know how it goes and I'll post it after everything is finished.

Considering how spastic and thrown-together most of the things I write are, it'll be nice to have longer term goal. Put a bit of polish on it. A lot of heart.

This is what happens when you don't have any friends in your city, haha!

Friday, November 4, 2011


On our second day, I chatted with my cab driver. He was from Bulgaria and warned me that, in order to get a decent job in Ottawa, I needed to speak french. He asked me a lot about what I do and what I planned to do, until I mentioned that I had a son. Once I mentioned Little Fella, he seemed appeased that I had my life's path sorted out.

In our first week, Mister Fella and I talked to a man at the bus station. He seemed kind of scattered and came over to tell us that Little Fella was cute. He told us that he was from Montreal, that he also had a Ph.d in English, and that the nicest people in Ottawa weren't from Ottawa. I'm not sure if he actually had a Ph.d, or if he was just an eccentric man. His comment about the niceness of Ottawians has  been stuck in my brain since we spoke.

In our second week I started my part-time job at a local vet clinic. It was smaller than my previous hospital; only two vets, four techs, no other receptionists. I sat in on a staff meeting and the girls showed me where the latest earthquake had cracked the tile in our treatment area. Every time I walk by that tile, I'm reminded that I am no longer in relatively-earthquake-free Newfoundland. The week after I started the hospital had more euthanasias than they had had in months previous - I joked that I was bad luck and everyone laughed, but I think they wondered if it was true. 

In my second month I interviewed for another part-time job at a research firm downtown. I got lost on my way there and finally realized what real "city blocks" looked like on the ground. I wondered how everyone around me was navigating their way around. I asked a man sweeping the sidewalk for directions.

In my interview I learned that the position started at 5:30am;  counting traffic on the side of the road. Data collection. The man interviewing me seemed to be my age and had an accent I couldn't quite place. I sensed a hint of flirtation in his conversation and thought to myself that he might have been my type if I wasn't married. Then I felt guilty. (I told Mr.Fella that he had seemed cute later, which is my self-imposed honesty policy - Mr.Fella didn't feel threatened in the slightest.)

Later I found out he was from New Zealand, and he wouldn't be directly over-seeing our project. I was glad when I wasn't disappointed.

Last month, at the 5:30 am project, I was partnered with a man from Sparta. He talked about how small Ottawa seemed and how he was thinking about moving to Toronto. I told him that the population of Ottawa was larger than the entire population of Newfoundland and Labrador and he looked at me like he couldn't imagine living in such a place.

Last week, at the 5:30 am project, I worked with a woman from England who talked to herself a lot. When I introduced myself to her, the first things she said was "I had a miscarriage last week - have you ever lost a child?"

"No." I said
"That's good."

For the next four hours I spoke as little as possible as she talked about her partner (apparently, a mute-frenchman), her mom that she lived with, and  how kind I was, even though I said practically nothing to her.
At one point, she started talking about a serial killer pig-farmer from B.C. and I wondered if I could out-run her.
Several times she told me I was pretty.
She asked me if I was married, I told her that I was, and she asked if I ever "really hated being stuck in a marriage sometimes." I told her "no" and that seemed to confuse her.

This week I worked with a 22-year old man from Toronto and I told him all about the crazy-lady from England. He laughed. Then he asked me for relationship advice, and told me that the longest he's ever had a girlfriend was three weeks. I didn't give him much advice, but he regaled me with a series of his failed relationships. He also told me that I was very nice.

Today, when I was downtown, I walked into a coffee shop called "Coffee Friends Co." and ordered a latte. I always try to find an independent coffee shop that makes decent lattes because I like giving my business to places other than Starbucks. The latte cost about a dollar less, but tasted vile. I threw it, half-finished, into the garbage next to my bus station.