Let Me Be of Service

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Just so I don’t bury the lede, it’s official, I am once again employed! But that’s only partially the point of this post.

I’ve been on the hunt for work for quite some time. If you’re like me, when you’re looking for a job, you do a lot of soul-searching. You spend a lot of time thinking about what you like to do, what you don’t like to do, what you’re good at, and what you struggle with. You spend a lot of brain-energy trying to encapsulate your good qualities in pithy little sound bites.

Eventually, if you’re lucky, you discover (or create or stumble upon) a personal motto — something that sums you up as a person, or at least sums up the way you interact with the world. For me, that motto is the title of this piece: Let me be of service.

If you follow me on social media or podcasts, you may know I’ve been temping for the government for a couple of months. Funnily enough, my motto didn’t come to me until after I had the temp job (which I very much enjoyed). Before that, I hadn’t really given much thought to the fact that government employees are civil servants. They work in the civil service. That word, service, is something I only started to emotionally interrogate after I’d started working for the government.

Somewhere along the line I realized that it elegantly sums up how I’ve felt about my interactions with other people throughout my entire life. In a general sense, I’ve always wanted to be of service, whether that meant making someone happy, making someone’s life better or easier, shouldering a burden for someone else, or even just making someone less unhappy.

My temp job is now over, but I was lucky enough to get another, similar, job in the government. And happily, I am finding that it is perfectly suited to my temperament and desires. I am performing a service. I’ve always gravitated to jobs where I felt my work was going toward helping someone, even if that help was somewhere far down the line from the work I performed (and here, it’s really not).

I chose to come here to Canada, to Alberta. It was a scary and momentous decision, but this province has welcomed me and made me feel like I belong here in a thorough and wonderful way I didn’t expect. Now I feel like I have the chance to repay that kindness, and it feels very good indeed.

Practically speaking, it’s also a weight off my mind when it comes to financial stability (though it’ll take a little while to dig out of my shallow debt-hole). And of course we still need to find some income for Steven! But bottom line: I’m deliriously happy to have landed where I did, and I feel fulfilled on a level I couldn’t have predicted.

So this weekend, after finishing my first week in this new position, I am feeling gratitude, giving thanks, and celebrating. I’ve spent what feels like a long time looking, hoping, and worrying, but now I finally have some measure of security.

Best of all, I know I can be of service.

2 Important Things

Uncanny Y3 Solicited Contributors

#1: Uncanny Magazine‘s Year Three Kickstarter is in its FINAL HOURS!

As I type this, my beloved Uncanny Magazine is only $90 away from the stretch goal that will add an additional story to each issue for Year Three! We are proud of the fact that we help introduce the world to new voices, and this is a great avenue to do that. The additional stories will come from unsolicited submissions, so if you care about diverse voices telling stories that make you feel (and if you haven’t already), I urge you to think about contributing to our Kickstarter.

As of right now you have 24 hours left to do so!

There are still plenty of fabulous backer rewards to choose from, including one in which you get to do a live video hangout with ME! (Plus Steven, Lynne, and Michael!) We’ll geek out about podcasts and help you plan/improve your own! We did this last year, and it was great fun!

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#2: Radio Free Skaro Celebrates its 10 Year Anniversary!

10 years is positively Methuselan for a podcast! I am so happy for/proud of these guys, and not only because one of them is my husband. He became that after I started listening to the podcast. In fact, all Three Who Rule were complete strangers to me when I discovered their podcast. Now I consider them all great friends.

A lot of celebratory tweets have been slung their way, and the thing that stands out to me the most is the number of times I’ve seen a variation on this one:

10 years of podcasting is nothing to sneeze at. 10 years of anything is impressive, and 10 years of something that’s a crapton of work and doesn’t pay (well) is a monumental achievement–one that is clearly born out of love for both the subject matter and what they do. But what’s truly amazing to me is the community (and communities) that sprang up around this group of Canadians. It’s a testament to who they are that so many people’s lives have been inexorably changed (for the better!) by listening to three geeks talk about the thing they love every week.

I know my life would be unrecognizably different if not for RFS. I wouldn’t be married. I wouldn’t be living in Canada. I wouldn’t have my own podcast. (I wouldn’t have half-a-dozen podcasts!) I wouldn’t be working for the aforementioned Uncanny Magazine. I wouldn’t be nominated for a freaking Hugo Award! (Also thanks to Uncanny Magazine!)

I know I’m nowhere near alone in thanking RFS for the life that I have now. Here’s to another 10 years!

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Heritage Days and More!

Heritage Days 2016

Steven and I have now spent two glorious days outdoors watching dancers and martial arts demos and eating and drinking our way “around the world” of the Edmonton Heritage Festival. Yesterday we managed to leave at just the right time to avoid the thunderstorm that later closed down the festival. It did rain on us quite a bit during the walk home, but the heavens didn’t properly open up until we were in the car on the way to the grocery store. (That was another adventure — a very wet and occasionally scary one. Puddles on the road are no joke in Edmonton this year.*)

Today we were a little more targeted in our dining — we’d walked around and perused the menus yesterday, so we knew where we wanted to go. A real winner this year has been the Chile booth. The cheese empanada was so good we got it both days, and I’m pretty sure I’m getting another one when we go back tomorrow. It was THAT GOOD. Also, their ice cream was to die for.

I may do a write up of all of my favorites later, but for now, suffice it to say, this is still my favorite weekend of the whole year in Edmonton. And this year it was made even better by a delightful little soirée at our friends’ place last night. It still feels novel to have real-life friends in Edmonton (outside of the ones we regularly podcast with anyway). We were in good geek company, so we got to jabber on about lots of geeky media properties, and, one of my favorite topics, PODCASTING! Yeah, it was a great night.

Related—if you’re not listening to these podcasts, you might want to fix that:

  • Montreal Sauce – interviews with makers, creatives, and friends, plus strange quizzes about 80s actors
  • Film Frown – a podcast that frowns about bad movies so you don’t have to
  • Podcast! the Comics – the podcast of a blog about comics, run by Canadians
  • Doctor Whooch – a bi-weekly podcast dedicated to Doctor Who and drinking, sometimes in that order
  • Yegs & Bacon – the official (on-hiatus) podcast of my local comic shop, Variant Edmonton (which you should TOTALLY PATRONIZE if you’re in town!) They like your face.

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*No, our car did not get swamped and stranded, but there were a few dicey moments when I thought we might.

Heritage Days – Anticipation!

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I spend ALL YEAR looking forward to Edmonton’s annual Heritage Festival. AND IT IS FINALLY HERE!

It is one of the top reasons why I’m thrilled I moved to Canada (and Edmonton, specifically). Seriously. Not only is it a huge festival that highlights FOOD (one of my favorite things in life), but it also celebrates culture. SO. MUCH. CULTURE.* I love being able to wander around and see people showcasing the parts of themselves and their families and their heritage that they are proud of.

Whether it’s a native dance or a bunch of drummers (or even fellows in chain mail mock-fighting!), I feel like I’m surrounded by joy and acceptance, and those are two feelings that seem to be in short supply all too often these days.

So yeah. It starts in less than an hour and a half, and Steven and I are going to walk down to the park and stuff ourselves until we can barely stand to walk home. And then tomorrow we’ll do it all over again. (Monday too!)

Ok. I just needed to squee about that briefly. If your town does something similar, I do hope you check it out. Edmonton’s seems to be one of the bigger ones in Canada, and I couldn’t be happier about it! But even on a smaller scale, it’s great to celebrate the people who make up the fabric of the area you live in. On a normal day downtown I can hear several languages being spoken in the course of walking two blocks (I love that!), but at the Heritage Festival, it’s more like a dozen. I love that even more.

Anyway, I need to get back to my spreadsheet. Why yes. I am creating a spreadsheet of the notes I’ve taken over the last few years. And yes. I do take notes during Heritage Days. Gotta make sure I don’t miss any of the amazing foods I loved from years past. And I want to make sure I don’t waste any tickets on things I’ve tried and not liked. Gotta sample a bunch of new stuff this year! So yes, I’m compiling my spreadsheet of notes. I’m that nerd. And I’d better get back to it.

If you’ve been to the festival in the past and have any recommendations for me, share them in the comments! (I’m off my usual dietary restrictions for the weekend, so ALL FOOD is fair game for me. Steven will be sticking to the vegetarian fare.)

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*Yes, there are a lot of caps in this post. I AM THAT EXCITED!

Canada Day!

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No, it’s not technically Canada Day. Well, not here anyway. As Andrew Smith already pointed out on Twitter, it is in part of the world already!

Tomorrow I’ll celebrate my third Canada Day as a permanent resident of this lovely nation (and my fourth in Canada, as I was visiting on July 1st of 2013). I must admit, I’m a little overwhelmed when I consider that. I still often think of myself as a newbie here (and in many ways I suppose I still am), but it won’t be too long before I can apply for citizenship (which I plan to do). Somewhere along the line, Canada (and Edmonton, specifically) became home.

I still get tripped up when I hear someone say “process”, but I usually remember to ask where the “washroom” is and no longer tilt my head when someone says “loonie” or “toonie”. I’m still getting used to the idea of being represented by an MLA instead of an assemblyman or a senator, but I’m 100% comfortable with the idea of going to the doctor whenever I need to and not worrying about how I’m gonna pay for it. (That last one still makes me deliriously happy, it just doesn’t feel weird anymore.) I think I’ve finally reached the tipping point–where Canadianisms seem more normal than not.

Perhaps the biggest indicator that I’ve acclimated is that this summer hasn’t completely wigged me out. That’s been the hardest thing to get used to. Everyone taunted me about the winters here, but I had exactly ZERO problems with winter. I don’t mind the extra dark. The longer cold months don’t bother me. And while Edmonton’s deep cold snaps are definitely longer than Wisconsin’s, the difference in temperature isn’t great enough that I notice.

The summers on the other hand, have been brutal. This much sunlight in a day is damn unnatural I tell you…or I would have told you just last year. I never had any idea what time it was, and that threw me off more than I ever expected. When you live your whole life of three-plus decades at one line of latitude, your body gets used to the rhythm of the year. My system had nothing to grasp onto when it was 11pm and the sky was still far from dark.

This year, it hasn’t bothered me. For the first time, I’ve kind of enjoyed it. I feel like I do have a (small, admittedly) grasp on what time it is based on the brightness of the sky. It’s neat!

It’s not only neat, it’s home. And tomorrow, I plan to celebrate the hell outta my home. We’ll eat Indian food (for a nation that’s so immigration-friendly, it’s the perfect way to celebrate–especially in Edmonton) and watch fireworks and I’ll spend every moment being happy and grateful I’m here.

Job!

Yes! I’m a working girl once again. Well, sorta. It’s a temporary gig, but it could possibly maybe lead to something permanent. (Please cross all your fingers and toes for me.)

Now I’m not gonna write much about my job specifically, ’cause I feel like that’d be unprofessional, but I will observe how much I am digging the structure of having a place to go to day in, day out again. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but my brain really craves routine. I wasn’t doing the best job of creating a routine for myself, so my mind-juices have been much more balanced the past week or so than they had been for a while.

If this does end up being a truly temporary position, I’m literally writing this note-to-self to remind me to do a better job of sticking to a schedule and create some at-home structure for myself. I always forget how good that is for me until it’s gone for a while and then back. So yay for that!

Additional yay: I really like the job. I get to write, and I get to organize information and track things to make sure they get done on time–all things at which I excel. Plus it’s walking-distance from home. In the summer in Edmonton, that’s a great thing. And I feel good about what I’m doing so it’s a win all around.

Now if only we could find Steven a job too… Actually, he’s been hard at work getting things set up for the podcast production business we’re launching. (It’ll be a side-gig for me if I end up with a permanent position. If I don’t, then I throw myself into podcasting! Kind of a win-win, really.)

Anyway, we’ve come up with a name which is both deep-dive geeky and perfect: Castria. Gold star to anyone who spots why we picked it.

Lightning and Wonder

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When I decided to move to Edmonton, my spouse and I decided I’d better visit for a while first, to make sure it was a place I could really feel at home. So I took a two-month leave of absence from work and came up to try to settle in and see how I fit. And a year before that, I’d visited for a week just for fun. During those visits, I saw several of the most spectacular lightning storms I’ve ever witnessed.

Before I visited Edmonton, I didn’t realize lightning comes in different colors. I saw the entire sky light up purple and bolts of bright turquoise lightning snaking across the whole sky (with thunder boomers that were nearly as impressive as the light show). It was amazing. I’ve always adored thunderstorms, and it felt like Edmonton was trying to woo me with a spectacular show.

I’ve now lived in Edmonton over two years, and I was starting to think the city had tempted me here under false pretenses. I’d seen not one thunderstorm that qualified as even remotely good in all that time.

Until last night.

Tonight I spent well over an hour sitting on my balcony watching the sky. I have now added pink lightning to my collection. (That picture above actually features my building, and yes, the lightning was that pink color in real life. Some zaps I saw were even pinker.)

And it was one of those odd summer storms that was lots of sound (and light), but not much fury. There was a bit of wind, but almost no rain so I could comfortably sit there listening to this week’s episode of Radio Free Skaro. It was delightful and soothing to simply sit and enjoy myself. (And yes, I did pause the podcast whenever I saw lightning so I’d be ready to hear the accompanying thunder.)

Steven and I are both between jobs right now (Steven was laid off just over a week ago), and I admit I’d considered moving elsewhere to find work. I wonder if Edmonton sensed that and stepped up its storm game to keep me here.

If so, I think it worked.

Photo credit: Vagabond Expedition