Seven Weeks

 

On August 22, 2019, I left my job. Have you ever been in a position where all the signs are just saying, it’s time to move on? I was in that position. Some of those signs were speaking louder than others, but really, when it comes down to it, it was just time for a change.

In 2016, I was managing a Bosley’s pet store, and I loved it. No job is perfect, but since I left that company for personal reasons, I’ve sort of cast around for work which satisfied. I found jobs which paid well that I hated, and I found jobs which paid crap but I loved. I didn’t find the perfect fit.

I’m more a joy and satisfaction kind of girl than a dollars and cents kind of girl, but this time when I quit, I wanted to be a bit more selective about my next position. Ideally, I’d like to find a blend of personal fulfillment, financial security, and flexibility. I am looking to build a writing career, after all, and I weigh that against my other employment options.

Will the job I accept offer enough time for me to continue with writing? Will it leave me too tired and eye-fatigued to write? Will it suck the soul from my being and leave me too emotionally drained to write? I’ve experienced all of these before. Or, will it fit me like Goldilocks’ bed — not too soft, not too hard, but just right?

I’m going to write more about the voyage of my job hunting experience in the coming weeks, but for now, let me just give the highlights — in seven weeks, I received nine job offers. Some of these were career type positions with high paying wages and great benefits packages, some were not. I briefly tried out two of these jobs, and although the people were nice, the jobs were not for me, so I picked up the last of those paychecks today, and tomorrow I begin life as a barista at Starbucks. lol. It might seem an anti-climactic end to such a choosy search, but it’s what I want. Baring early retirement, I am excited to begin.

And, today I received the employees benefits package manual, and let me just say, wow. This is one amazing employer. At least, on paper.

The point of this post is really not about the job hunt, it is, at the outset of Thanksgiving weekend, a tally of all I accomplished in the seven weeks (to the day) from the end of my previous full-time job and the start of my new job. Because, I am so grateful for this time I’ve had these past two months.

In these last few weeks, I have finished writing a novel – Feathers in the Snow. (Which means I am now up to seven completed novels — with publication of the third launching next month.) I have written blog posts, had an article picked up by Okanagan Life Magazine, am in the middle of an art gallery-related writing contract, have created a fiction writer’s course, have submitted several short stories to potential publishers, have formatted print and EBook editions for my soon to be published, The Heart of Things, and tonight reformatted the Ebook version of my former release, Honey on my Lips, which had some glitches the company was unable to remedy. I’ve checked the sample pages, and the book is fixed (yeah me!). I have signed up for a second year of NaNoWriMo, and tonight was contacted by a man who will soon need help writing his memoir. I feel like there is more, but I forget. In short, I have been productive, am on a role, and like I said to my son today, I feel like if I could only have six more months working at this pace, I wouldn’t need to get a second job at all.

I have visited regularly with my mom, talked politics with my dad, hung out with my sister by phone, at least, and with my brother-in-law over coffee. My eldest daughter and I went on a coffee-fueled nature photo shoot, and I’ve been to my younger daughter’s soccer and volleyball games, have tracked my nephews (by marriage) football games. I am prepping two of my children for their driving tests, and having so many great conversations with both my sons. I like these people. I love having the time to be involved in their lives.

I have regularly picked Sheen (the only one still in high school) up mid-day and taken her out for lunch before dropping her back off to sweat it out in pre-cal. Have baked and cooked and made healthy soups and meals and cleaned the house — although I never did get to the lawn and now intend to let winter just kill all the weeds for me, and I will try again next year. I love what being all domestic goddesy does to my soul. It makes me feel settled and somehow fundamentally healthier and (don’t hate me feminists) more female. I like it when it is organized in here and not falling down at the rafters. I mean, I am never going to be accused of being an obsessive housekeeper, but it’s nice to be able to see the floor again.

I’ve been to two art exhibit openings, to the Armstrong IPE, then skipped a bunch of other things I was invited to for various reasons, but mostly because, for as long as I had the opportunity, I just wanted to make the most of my time here at home. I’ve taken day trips and road trips, blogged about some of them, gotten too busy with the novel to blog about others until I didn’t care to bother anymore.  I’ve had great conversations with friends, have swum and hiked, and honestly meant to do yoga, except the dog thinks it is playtime when I sit on my mat, so yeah, that hasn’t really happened.

I have kept up with American politics — best reality TV around — been enraged at times, ridiculously saddened at times and currently am resting somewhere between hopeful and I-told-you-so. I bet you didn’t know that was an emotion, but lemme just attest, it surely is. Bigly. American politics has even led me to reading my Bible on a couple of occasions, although that might also have something to do with my new doctor pen-pal. He’s in Yemen. Doing doctor things. I’m mostly almost sure.

I feel, at the end of these two months, amazed by how refreshed I am. Body, soul, spirit. I feel in touch with the essential, peaceful, content, hopeful, sentient and self-aware parts of my personality which at times get sucked away in the challenges and demands of life.

There are also so many things I wanted to do but haven’t yet gotten to. I still have to create my self-publishing course content — but I have five more weeks to do that. I never did give up the junk food or lose all the weight — have a lifetime to do that. I haven’t always been great at getting to sleep on time (4 am. But that was only once. And the book I was reading was sooo good.). I never called the manager of Chapters, who said she would talk to me about taking on my novel once September arrived, and I haven’t even started the outline for my Nano novel. I need to get on both! I never did go see my boyfriend Gerard Butler in Angel has Fallen, and I didn’t get to the play I was supposed to go to last night or the art reading I had at one point planned to attend tonight. But I did binge watch season fifteen of Grey’s Anatomy and also the Netflix series Unbelievable. And I did cuddle my dog and pet her silky ears (she’s right here beside me right now, as a matter of fact) every day, as much as I possibly could manage. Oh, and I’ve started playing guitar daily in an effort to re-establish callouses. It’s almost like I might want to record again some day.

It turns out that going into Thanksgiving, I have an amazing amount of things to be thankful for. I’ve been feeling that way all month long, like my heart is just full, and brimming, and wanting to spill over — but in a good way. There is such a power in being selective with the choices I make. There is power in accepting the pros and cons which come with each decision. It’s a power that comes from deep down within. Choice is just that gift I get to give myself at this point in my life.

So, tomorrow I begin the journey of learning to be a barista. In the evening, I am meeting my former gallery associates for drinks — and I can’t wait. On Saturday I get to once again go watch my daughter in a volleyball tournament, and this one is just down the street at my alma mater, which is nice on multiple levels. Sunday, my sister is making Thanksgiving turkey and we are having a thanksgiving bonfire at the farm, then Monday, since my kids have to work through C’s thanksgiving, I’ll be doing dinner here. And I know, technically, those dates extend past my seven weeks off, but for some lovely reason, I have the weekend off. My second baristing day isn’t until Tuesday.

This has been a great moment in life. I feel rejuvenated, and am looking forward to what comes next.

CBC’s The Debater’s on Is Easter the Best Holiday

So, it’s been a heck of a week.

In Salmon Arm, a shooting in a church service. In Penticton, a shooter on the streets. In Kelowna, bank robberies and police takedowns at gunpoint appear to be becoming the norm, and yesterday the courthouse next to the art gallery where I work was evacuated when someone pulled the fire alarm. Local news called it a false alarm, but in the gallery we noticed the commotion not because of sirens and flashing lights and hot-bodied men in uniforms wandering the street, but rather because the gallery smelled of smoke — causing concern and an immediate investigation of our entire building. Fire is not the friend of art. And I’m not saying the news is lying to you, but…

In France, we saw Notre Dame burn. In response to Notre Dame… memes? Really people? Is nothing sacred with this generation?

In the US, the Muller report, redacted but released, and showing how depressingly immoral a government and apathetic a democratic country can become. Nixon was gone for a lot less; a poll shows that half the American people determined prior to the release of the report that its contents would not change their opinions. Look how far we’ve come, baby.

On the home front, a broken car, a repaired car, a broken car, a repaired car… and a daughter who came home from school in tears twice because of the social and academic pressure dispensed at this mandatory government institution.

Living in the 21st Century, apparently, is not for the faint of heart.

And then it’s Easter. And in a bizarre turn of events a woman with two jobs (me!) has both Good Friday and Easter Sunday off.

This year, I have found that an antidote to the stresses of life and of media immersion is laughter, and I have been turning to comedy more and more often for relief. Thus, I have become a great fan of CBC Radio’s The Debaters.

When my University profs used to speak about listening to CBC Radio in their cars on their way to class, I privately thought, I will never get that old. Turns out, I did. I even downloaded the ap on my phone. So, for those who aren’t familiar with The Debaters, two comics debate opposing sides of a given argument in a comedic fashion, and a studio audience votes for their favourite. Winners are determined by the volume of the audience’s cheers. And it is hilarious.

With topics such as Are the Toronto Maple Leafs the Worst Franchise in Hockey and Pierre versus Justin: Who was the Superior Trudeau, this show is so funny it often has tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks.

This week’s topic was Is Easter a Fun Occasion, and the debaters were Lara Rae and Derek Seguin. Once again, I find myself laughing, and crying, and I think, I should post this to Facebook in honour of Easter! I wonder which of my friends would enjoy the humour in it, as I do, which would be touched, as I am, and which would be scandalously offended, as I’m certain a portion of the faith community within my acquaintance would be. To post or not to post, this is the question.

Lara Rae, comedian, Artistic Director of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, and transwoman, is given the side of the debate that Easter is a truly “hoppy” occasion. She is given two minutes to argue for her point of view.

Montreal-based Derek Seguin, a comedian who speaks about getting divorced by saying, “I got divorced…not really divorced, I think to get divorced you have to get a lawyer or file paperwork… I’m not really a paperwork kind of guy. I’m more a change the lock on the house kind of guy. But I’m also Quebecois, and I travel all over Canada, so I’m uncomfortable with the word separate, so I always just say divorce,” is given the other side of the argument.

Lara Rae opens, and it is incredible. She starts by talking about the hunger associated with Lent, then says, “Jesus was the first social justice warrior, and the best.” Continuing, she describes the Easter story in terms that would do justice to the script of an epic movie. “It’s got a rock; it’s got a roll. It’s got Golgotha, which literally means hill of skulls. Awesome. It has courage; it has betrayal. It has three women standing up to a fascist military dictatorship; feminism, and a centurion that gets Van Goghed by a hot-headed disciple with a machete.”

And it’s funny, because although I am laughing, it feels a bit like I am in a really good church service. And if more preachers paraphrased the Bible as well as Lara Rae, I’d likely attend a lot more regularly.

Seguin comes back by wondering about the math in the Bible. “Hey, Steve, if I ask you on a Friday, hey, let’s go for lunch in three days, what day are you showing up for lunch?” When Steve responds, “It seems like Monday,” Seguin agrees. “Steve,” he says, “Is very good at math. A terrible Christian, though. ‘Cuz apparently, in the Bible, Friday plus three days is Sunday. What the hell happened?” Then he goes on to say, “What Jesus did, is come back from the dead! That is so huge. What a huge message! And who did we, as parents, choose to bring this message to the kids? A frickin’ bunny rabbit? What? What?” He says, “Maybe Jesus should sneak into the house and.. hide the secret of how to come back from the dead. Maybe in a Kinder Surprise or something.”

And again, I am laughing, but I am actually thinking, that’s pretty profound, really, and some would even say, is exactly what Jesus did that first Easter, year zero (Another Seguin quote).

The debate continues into the bare knuckle round, and Lara Rae laughs that she was “this close to the priesthood! I was set to be one of Rome’s primary transgender female priests.” Even she can’t say this without laughing, and when the host gives Seguin the last word on the topic he says, “I just, I learned a lot about the Bible I didn’t know,” and he sounds serious, actually. The show moves into the firing line, where the comedians answer questions about Easter with their best guess, then finishes up with closing arguments.

Derek Seguin suggests that we are a multi-culture, multi-faith country so we could have an all-faith free 2019. In order to do that, kids should just stay in school on weekends so that parents can have fun with melted chocolate on the long-weekend while the kids are at school. He knows teachers wouldn’t enjoy this, but says, “Suck it up, you have a whole two months off.”

When Lara Rae closes, her speech is reverent, more serious than funny. I mean, she’s funny, but I could be listening to a sermon. Just, a more palatable sermon than most. She says, “You can’t taint Easter. So, they made a pagan holiday to sit alongside it with rabbits and chocolate. Whether you believe in the resurrection, or have a deep respect, it’s still the centre symbol of Christianity and contains a powerful message of forgiveness the world needs terribly today.”

Listening, the audience is hushed, and I find there are tears in my eyes, not of humour, this time, but of respect, of need. And then, in place of an altar call, she concludes with a joke, but the moment is not lost on me, and I find myself extremely thankful that before I move on with my planned day off activities of sweeping the living room floor and swishing the bathroom toilet with its brush, I have had this faith moment, laughing in the comfort of my living room, yet still reminded why I have this day off today in the first place.

In a week that hasn’t had a lot to laugh about, thank you, Debaters, for making me laugh. Thank you, Jesus, for your love that lead you to sacrifice. And thank you Lara Rae and Derek Seguin, for reminding me of the beauty of faith in a world which is most certainly in need of a little faith.

The Colours of Autumn

10454293_10152706773526075_8811197310775507416_n

Years ago when I was studying the lyric essay at university, I wrote an essay titled The Journey, in which I detailed a trip taken from Kelowna, BC, to Vancouver by car. On this journey, I noticed that the deciduous leaves had started to change colours on the Coquihalla Highway even though they had not yet begun to change at home. Was it altitude, I wondered in this piece of writing, that caused the leaves to change? Was it temperature? Was it something else? I noted that I’d often wondered about the reasons behind the phenomena and debated the value of researching the answer versus having the pleasure of asking myself this question every year. I never did discover the answer.

Until now.

IMG_9724

According to Wikipedia (and elementary school science class), leaves are green because of chlorophyll, which is a green pigment. In the growing season chlorophyll is abundant in the cells of leaves, which is why leaves are predominantly green in colour.

Leaves need chlorophyll to capture the sun’s rays and use the energy produced to make the simple sugars which are the plant’s food. While making the food, the chlorophyll is broken down and used up, but it is also replenished in the growing season. Once daylight hours shorten and temperatures drop, the veins of the leaves (which carry the chlorophyll) gradually close off and a cork layer forms at the base of each leaf. The cork layer reduces water and mineral intake for leaves. This begins slowly but progresses more rapidly as the season changes. Although chlorophyll may still be in the veins of the leaf (keeping the veins green), the tissues between the veins dry out and change colour.

According to David Bradley of SciScoop, “the change in color to reds and yellows in autumn is not caused by the leaves dying, but by a series of controlled biochemical processes.” With less chlorophyll in the leaves as a result of the formation of the cork, less green pigment exists. The yellow pigments which already exist in the leaves can then become dominant. The leaves ‘turn’ yellow.

The process is different with red leaves. As the quantities of chlorophyll in the leaf get smaller, the leaf actually produces a new pigment called anthocyanin. This pigment, which is red, did not exist inside the leaf previously. For anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of colour theory, this makes some sense, considering red and yellow would make an orange hue which, when added to the green of the chlorophyll pigment, would simply turn all leaves a muddy brown.

Since the information about anthocyanin was only recently discovered by scientists, there has been an effort to explain why this process occurs. Anthocyanin has a toxic effect, and the red foliage appears to be a warning to insects that these leaves are toxic. The red colour is actually how the trees ward off insects. Red leaves, as beautiful as they might appear, are how certain tree species defend themselves in autumn.

IMG_9568

The Longer You Spend The More You Appreciate: Herman H Levy at Kelowna Art Gallery

KAG

The first week that I worked at the Kelowna Art Gallery, I walked the gallery in giddy awe that my life had put me in this beautiful spot. Every day I got to wander the gallery and admire art work I’d only previously seen in Art History text books. I certainly never expected to see works by Monet, Van Gogh, Pissarro, Rubens, Degas, and other masters in my home town of Kelowna, BC, population 127,400. I gravitated that first week to the landscape by Jean Victor Bertin. Large and displayed prominently, this painting, which was in every art history book I had ever touched, compelled me. If I didn’t have an actual job to do, I could have stood in front of it and memorized the painting’s play of light and shadows for hours.

The second week that I worked at the Kelowna Art Gallery, my parents came from Vernon to support my new job, and see the art work I kept extolling. My mother, who is the organized glue which keeps our family of artists running, walked diagonally from one end of the gallery to the other twice, meeting me in the middle both times, then settled herself in front of Harold Gilman’s Portrait of an African American, and was promptly moved to tears. I understood. The anger and pride and humiliation and fear battling in the features of the model spoke to me, too. My father, himself a landscape oil painter, traversed the entire collection slowly, gazing with detail at the paintings he most enjoyed then leading me over to the Bertin and conveying his appreciation for the work. Apparently, I thought, the apple did not fall far from the tree in our family. My parents had picked out two of my favourites.

Except, by the end of week two, I would discover the passion in the rocks and waves of Roderick O’Connor’s Red Rocks and Foam. His technique reminded me of a lesson from University Art Class, where the name of the game was get your arm flowing freely. Somewhere, I have a painting from that class whose impassioned brush strokes rival O’Connor’s. On the opposite end of the spectrum, during week two I would fall slightly in love with the evocative warmth of Henri Le Sidaner’s The House in the Morning. If, I thought to myself, I could own only one of these paintings, The House in the Morning is the one I would want.

In week two, you see, I started to understand the urge to posses. These amazing works hanging on the museum walls stir the type of reverence which has grown adults whispering in their presence. The collection is on loan to Kelowna for a limited time. Eventually, we will have to give them up. I am asked by patrons on a daily basis, which is your favourite, if you could own one, which would it be? By the end of week two I had my answer narrowed down to a list of six, no eight, maybe ten, of the works.

By week three, I had noticed the disproportionate nature of the garden planters in the Le Sidaner painting, and had become arrested by the eyes of Maximilian III, by Peter Paul Rubens. What is that expression on his face? I would ponder, unable to properly identify the look in the man’s eyes. If I stood back far enough, the Archduke looked imperiously annoyed and dangerous. Three feet in front and to the center, he looked hopelessly sad, but directly in front of the portrait and slightly to the left, and the long ago Austrian with the warm brown eyes and beautiful long eyelashes looked — intelligent. Intelligent, is not an emotion, I chided myself. So what is the expression on the man’s face? With the slight churl of his upper lip, the man could have been irritated, or, I supposed, he could have been born with a trace of a cleft palate. I didn’t know which, but I wanted to learn. At some point,  I promised myself,  I will research this man, I will learn who he was and what he accomplished.

Continue reading “The Longer You Spend The More You Appreciate: Herman H Levy at Kelowna Art Gallery”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑