Bring on the sleigh bells

Today I began my day feeling miserable, cold, tired, and altogether rather sorry for myself. I’d spent the last week or two getting used to the positive temperatures, working a week in skirts, switching from oatmeal to cold cereal and very much getting excited to finally be rid of winter. And then today happened. Winter storm watch on red alert. Roads closed. Frozen faces and downtown highrises disappearing in a sky reminiscent of December. Winter apparently wasn’t going anywhere, and I couldn’t make a cup of coffee large or warm enough to get me going this morning. On the way to work I found my thoughts taking off without me. “You live in a city where half the year is spent in Arctic conditions!” my head was telling me. “That’s going to be half your life!” said my father in a mid-afternoon e-mail, confirming my day’s anti-Winnipeg thoughts and making me wonder whether I really can live in this city after all. I’ve been here nine years. Well, eight years, three hundred and fifty days. But close enough. But recently it’s really been hitting me hard as to whether or not I can happily live somewhere where half my life I’m never going to be happy to go outside in the mornings. Going back home and visiting the UK didn’t help, neither did seeing beautiful Ireland for the first time last summer, and neither did taking bike rides along Venice Beach in shorts this January. I love Winnipeg, well, I love parts of Winnipeg, but those parts are just so much harder to see when the last six months have been so awful, and it seems life could be so much more enjoyable anywhere else in the world.

Still, at least things aren’t brown and dead and grey and gloomy any more. That’s my least favourite thing about spring, and today the sky was filled with soft and sparkling snowflakes. I walked home from Osborne Village tonight and I wish I’d had a camera with me. Under the bridge a series of frozen stalactites had formed in neat little rows and looked quite decorative. As traffic crawled through laneless roads, slipping and sliding and inching along, I clambered over mounds of freshly fallen snowflakes. I couldn’t get over the shimmering sparkles, so I kept my eyes on the ground the whole way. That way my destination was a nice surprise, rather than a far-off goal impossible to reach. I turned down my street and admired the view. Across the river, downtown was lit up. There was no road, no path, just a vast expanse of new, never-trodden snow. I climbed my way through it and started to laugh – I’d safely made it past McDonald’s and Burger King resisting all temptation, and I was so hot and exhausted from the trek that I was completely okay with the fact I hadn’t gone to the gym tonight. I arrived at my front gate and laughed out loud. The gate was adamantly shut in the middle of a desert of snow dunes in my front garden, refused to open, and so I had to climb over. I finally arrived home to a warm house, a happy kitten, and yesterday’s cupcakes, and collapsed.

It sucks so bad that winter’s here all over again. But sometimes you can’t help but smile.

The day I almost lost my toes

Yesterday I lost all my shoes. It could’ve been worse, I suppose – it could’ve been my toes, but it was still a very distressing horrible day. I don’t usually have a whole lot of bad things to say when I write and I apologise for the upcoming vent.
I got up bright and early at 6:30 so I’d have some time to clean my apartment a bit as I knew I was going to be showing it to potential subletees when I got home from work. I swept and mopped and then made myself a nice cup of tea and some breakfast, and sat down and started watching an episode of Casualty. A while in, I hear some scratching coming from by my front door. Rose Kitten is sitting quietly on the couch, so I get up to see what it is. Any early morning chipperness was quickly replaced by an awful sinking feeling in my stomach. Chloe, my usually well-behaved sweetheart of a cat, was wiping her feet just as she does after going to the litter box… on a pile of all my winter shoes . I quickly shoed her away, but the damage was done. There was cat pee all over every pair of shoes I own.

I’ve had cats pee on my stuff before. I’ve had to replace mattresses and duvets in the past because no matter how much you wash it, the smell never goes away. So yesterday morning began with throwing all my shoes into big bin bags, and throwing them all away. I was mortified. Probably about 6-8 pairs in total, including my only pair of running shoes, brand new knee-highs I hadn’t even worn yet, ankle boots, work shoes… and my winter boots I need every day to walk to work in.

Winter boots I’d need in fifteen minutes to walk to work in. I called my dear boyfriend in a panic, realising after he picked up that this wasn’t going to bring my shoes back, but vented anyway. He suggested putting plastic bags over my feet and then putting the boots on – but as much as I love him and as good as his intentions were, I couldn’t bring myself to touch the Cat Pee Shoes let alone walk for 40 minutes in them. So I called my boss, who had a wonderful idea. I still had all my summer shoes – put a pair of those on, and she’d come pick me up on the way in! I’d only be outside for a minute, and could get to work and not arrive smelling of urine. Awesome. I went and grabbed a pair of open-toe sandals from my storage closet and put them over my socks. I still had bags of shoes and rubbish to throw out before my apartment showings, and I was going outside anyway, so I braved the blizzard and ran to the back and threw them out. This took a couple of trips, and then my boss called. She was on my street, but didn’t know exactly whereabouts I lived, so asked me to come wait on the side of the road.

I waited. And waited. Did I mention the blizzard? Finally after what seemed like an eternity of walking pretty much barefoot in snow and ice and minus 25, she called again. “Where are you? I’m at Sobeys”. Blinking back tears from the pain I told her she’d gone too far, and to turn around. “Well come over to the other side of the road so I can see you. I’m at the stop lights, I’ll be a bit. Traffic’s crawling.” I shuffled across Taylor in my sandals and waited on the other side of the road until finally she pulled up. At this point I was crying because my feet hurt so bad.

She figured it was because I had to throw out my shoes, and proceeded to rant about how stupid I was for keeping a cat that had cost me $1000 in the last 6 months and kept peeing all over my stuff. How I needed to put myself first and stop being irrational and that it was just a stupid cat who’s “ruining my life”. I got to work and I knew something was wrong. I went to the bathroom and took off my socks… to find my toes looking like this:

I freaked out a little bit. This is why it’d hurt so bad!! I couldn’t walk, and she had a client waiting for her, who kindly offered to drive me to a clinic or to the drugstore to pick something up… but I said I’d be fine and he rescheduled to come in at 4:00 instead. My boss then started yelling at me again. “You can’t work like this, why does something always happen?? If you’re not here, I can’t make any money because I have to reschedule all my appointments and miss out on making money. And if I don’t make any money then I can’t pay you your vacation pay.”

I sat there and listened to her rant, not once acknowledging how much pain I was in. She agreed to let me go home once her husband arrived with some bandages and polysporin, and to sit in her office until he did. She clocked me out at 10:30 “because I can’t pay someone for sitting here and not working.” He arrived at twelve. I wrapped my feet up, hobbled into the truck, and he gave me a lift home.

I spent the day thinking about what she’d said about my cat, and I got ridiculously upset every time I did. It’s true: I have spent over $1000 in the last six months replacing furniture, bed linen, result-less vet bills and now 8 pairs of shoes – and I am trying to get out of debt. As well, she sheds an insane amount and I have people that no longer come over because it’s impossible to get it off my sofas, and it gets all over their clothes. But at the same time when I adopted her I signed something that said I was responsible for her living a safe and healthy and love-filled life. I couldn’t bear to think of giving her back to a shelter – even if it was a no-kill shelter, just thinking of her in a cage like that not knowing where she is, I just about bawled every time I thought of it yesterday. I’d feel like an awful human being because I love her so much. But I don’t know what to do. Do I keep sacrificing in order to make sure my little cat is safe and loved? Or do I “put myself first for once” and not get all my stuff wrecked, but feel like the worst person ever. I don’t know if I could bring myself to do it. I just don’t know what to do.

What I do know though, is that I’m looking for new jobs. I’m meeting with a recruiter tomorrow morning, and I have an interview at Great West Life on the 23rd. I’m in a huge dilemma about my poor cat. But at least I might be getting a new job… and I got to keep my toes.

The Abominable Snowsuit

As you probably all know, I don’t drive. It’s not like I never tried; in high school I made full use of being in Grade 12, and enrolled in the Driver’s Ed program. This was a disaster, although I had a series of “eventful” lessons with a lovely instructor and a good friend of mine. Still, a few weeks of mid-January night time lessons later, I was sufficiently frightened for life, and to this day have remained faithfully bus-bound.

This year however, I moved to Taylor Avenue. This street has one bus going down it, maybe once an hour, and it doesn’t go anywhere close to my work. So I’ve been walking. It’s good exercise and it’s free, and until this week I thought I was going to be alright, firm in a hopeful belief that winter wasn’t really all that bad… as long as I had my Big Headphones and Big Mitts, right? Sadly though, this week I was forced to accept that my wishful thinking really was a wasted effort, and admit defeat. Winter: 1, Emily: 0. I’ve been arriving at work with legs glowing scarlet and skin frozen to the touch, and even with my trusty mitts and headphones, still not the happiest of bunnies. So I made the decision to get a snowsuit.

I had one a few years ago. It was black, and consisted of a pair of padded trousers with a high waist and straps that went over your shoulders. You could wear it under a winter jacket and be absolutely toasty on the longest of walks and the coldest of nights, and it could pass as a regular pair of black trousers so you didn’t draw too much attention to yourself. Unfortunately I’ve put on a bit of weight since then, and it definitely doesn’t fit any more. And the legs were always too short anyway. I’ve spent the last few days looking around online, only to find either rubbishy “wind protector pants” with no padding or anything, or exactly what I am looking for… for $300. It came up in conversation with my boss, and she said she had a spare snowsuit she could give me for the winter. Huzzah! So, today she brought it in.


It’s neon green. It has emo stripes on half the sleeves. It’s got a weird pattern across the top, and sweaty yellow stains around the neck. And she wants me to try it on so I can wear it home tonight.
Maybe she thought my walk home involved heading down Pembina and then taking a sharp right into 1984 where this thing may have almost been acceptable. Did I mention the neon green? This thing is fluorescent. Heck, if I did drive, I wouldn’t need head headlights, ‘cause I’m pretty sure this thing would glow on its own for a decent 10 feet. And it smells funny!


So I have precisely four and a half hours to come up with an excuse not to have to come into physical contact with this abomination (or explain its sudden mysterious disappearance). And I’m begging you guys for help.

Winter: 1, Social Life: 0?

In the last few weeks, my initial waking moment in the mornings has become progressively colder; each day becoming less inviting to step in to than its predecessor.

Winter is coming.

My morning walk to work is turning rapidly from a nice little jaunt, accompanied by summer tunes, iced cappuccinos and open-toed sandals, to daunting trials soon to only be even possible after first arming up in gloves, boots, even snow suits. At least if I wear a balaclava, nobody will know who this fashion disaster actually is.

Winter is coming.  And it’s going to punch me in the face and steal my lunch money.

I was thinking about winter recently after talking to my friend John in Dublin, who somehow manages to jet off to some sunny destination every other month, who is also unimpressed with the imminent coming of winter.  (Living in Winnipeg however, we are fully prepared to take on any “My winter is worse” argument and win hands down.  I wish I could take joy in this victory.)  I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to occupy my time for the next seven months while the city’s social lives are taken prisoner by Arctic temperatures and threats of frozen skin.  Hibernation! I would like nothing more than to crawl up in my apartment surrounded by kitten love and blankets and catch up on a busy summer’s worth of neglected reading.  But clearly this is not going to work.  I’ve spent this year trying to be very social, catching up with old friends, seeing more of my family, and just getting out there in general.  Winter kind of puts a damper on this, and though my Financial Advisor is probably eagerly anticipating the funds I’ll save over the next half a year, it leaves me wondering about the inescapable seasonal shift of my own social life.

Sure I have plans.  Scrapbooking the millions of pictures I took over the year, reading lots of books, pirating movies, baking cookies and really (hold me to this) learning to use my sewing machine. To do actual sewing, and not just attach the front of a dress to the back of a dress making it impossible to put on.  🙂 But I can’t help but think of the lack of actual human beings in this plan.  Thinking of my weeks right now, I usually have it all planned out by Monday night.  I’ll see so and so on Tuesday, have such and such over on Wednesday, go see this or that on Thursday, hang out with David’s family on Friday, and poof, the week’s done.  I’m left feeling content with the contact I have with the lovely people in my life.  But winter brings difficulty in getting to see those people.  No more going to Ready Mix and dancing every Thursday night.  Too cold.  No more popping round friends’ houses for dinner parties or movies or pot lucks.  Too cold.

So I wonder how I’ll be feeling come, say, February.  Will I be feeling sad and lonely and sorry for myself that I haven’t seen anyone for 4 months? Or will I feel a sense of personal accomplishment for the (intended) copious craft projects I plan to undertake to keep myself occupied? If this was a year ago, the answer would be the former. Hands down, with miniature violins in the background.  But this year, I think things are going to be just fine. I’ll have more projects than I’ll know what to do with, and I know a certain Mrs. Kyla will be helping with half of them.  I’ll read the Twilight series that everyone is banging on about and be happy just to be reading regularly again.  I’ll have a spick and span apartment, I’ll hone my baking skills, and have little movie nights indoors.  There’ll be pumpkin carving and Christmas tree decorating, and tonnes of festivities to look forward to.  This year, I have very little worries about winter’s effects on my social life.

But I can’t say the same for my outdoor style.  Next year’s plan most definitely involves a car. 🙂