Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Little Help?

Ok, so most of you know that about six months after Craig passed away I did a major shake-up of my career. I quit my stable, secure job I'd had at a large oil and gas firm for almost five years and went back to school.

I sold my house, moved, and started all over again.

It was terrifying.

I'm about halfway through my degree and after a bit of a rocky start, I'm finally getting a handle on things. Unfortunately, the Calgary employment market isn't what it used to be and that year off work leaves a bit of a gap in my resume, even though I was in school at the time.

I'm currently trying out for an internship at a large oil and gas company here in Calgary but I need some help. It's a part of the Alberta's Next Top Accountant competition and in order to win the job I have to get the most "likes" on my tryout video online.

So if you are able, please help me out by clicking the link below and then "liking" my video (it's the little thumbs-up icon to the right of the video you need to click). I would be so grateful and know it would go a long way to beefing up my resume and helping me get my career back on track.

Thank you!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Because It Makes Me Laugh

So a million years ago, give or take, Craig and I finally got all grown up and decided to get an apartment of our own.

Well, technically I got tired of living in a basement and got an apartment of my own, dragging Craig with me.

We were finally grown ups and loved every minute of it. At least for that first week. The rent was a mere $700 a month for 546 square feet of pure... bliss? Ok, so the bedroom was too small to fit a bed (which we didn't even have) and with no couches we were forced to watch our 14" tv while lying on blankets on the floor. Oh and that 14" tv? It was too old to hook our dvd player up to so we were forced to watch beta. For those of you who don't remember beta... well... good grief I'm old.

Only one person could be in the kitchen at a time and you couldn't load dishes into the dishwasher while still in the kitchen so you either had to, a) wash them by hand in the teeny tiny sink, or b) stand outside the kitchen to load the dishwasher while someone else stood inside the kitchen passing you the dishes that had been sitting on the counters, stove, or in the oven (when we ran out of room on the counters... pretty much every day).

We didn't have a dining room or a table - just a sort of breakfast bar that became a pseudo shelf for our desk since we had nowhere else to put stuff. Those first couple weeks we ate dinner off of ice cream bucket lids and tupperware.

The washer and dryer were stackable which is just a fancy way of saying you could only wash about two pairs of socks at a time. We did have a deck, though. All ten beautiful square feet of it. The dust from construction in the area was so bad if you went out there you usually left footprints akin to those after a serious snowfall. Whenever the global fireworks festival came in August we would scrunch ourselves up against the far corner of this deck and catch the left 50% of the show. It was magical.

It only took about a year for the nerves to fray and my patience to run out. I'd found us a nice little place for not much more a month, down the street from my parents, that had not one, but TWO bathrooms. This, I knew, would be the secret to matrimonial success - no more sharing sinks or having to wait for someone else to finish in the bathroom. We got three good sized bedrooms, an actual place for a table (which, ironically, took us over a year to buy anyway), and a real kitchen with cupboard doors you could open and everything. I was only too thrilled to dump that apartment and head for our new life, never looking back.

It actually shocked the heck out of me when Craig became all nostalgic about that shoebox of an apartment. We bickered there constantly and always seemed to be crawling on top of each other just to get anything done. For some reason he saw this as "being close". While I complained about having to try to cook in a cramped kitchen and was forever bashing my head on cupboard doors and low-lying light fixtures, he watched wistfully as his wife made him a home cooked meal, marvelling at my "cuteness" (read: clumsiness). While I hated dragging groceries up three flights of stairs because of an elevator that never worked, he relished the exercise and would take them full speed, two at a time, grinning with glee.

When it actually came to moving day, I couldn't have been happier. Craig, however, was sad. He wanted to remember those days in the crummy apartment for the rest of our lives. Some thing he could tell our grandkids about and remember fondly in our old age. I, of course, wanted no part in this.

So, oblivious to my disbelief, he decided to run around frantically and catalogue as much as he could of the old apartment. These photos are a few of the ones he took that day. They are my favourites, obviously:

Now I look at these and I can't help but laugh. Instead of the two of us on our rockers perusing memories of our "first crappy apartment", it's just me. I don't love these because I loved that apartment. Far from it. I don't think I could ever have the affection for it that Craig did.

Instead I love them because of what they represent. Craig's enthusiasm for cataloguing our lives as though someday we might forget. He was meticulous about keeping old cards, notes, photographs, and trinkets that held special meaning to him. Like a magpie he would squirrel away these tokens like shiny objects, taking them out from time to time to reminisce.

I always loved that about him and was delighted to uncover these treasures, one at a time, after he passed away.

In the end, he didn't just catalogue our lives for himself. He catalogued them for me.

They became a way for me to remember. To pick up these trinkets and photographs, turn them over in my hands, and smile about where they came from.

All the little pieces of our lives, neatly wrapped up and ready for me.

And though he may never know this, I am truly grateful for this gift he left me.

I do take them out and remember these moments in our life. Sometimes it's like he's looking at them with me, hovering just over my should to point and say, "See, Sal? Look at how skinny I used to be!"

Monday, February 13, 2012

How Valentine's Day Really Looks

When you are first widowed, the pain is so big and so real, it manifests physically. I remember having very severe chest pain (first time I actually took "die of a broken heart" as more than an overblown cliche), back aches, constant nausea (good for weight loss, bad for being social), and no ability to sleep on my own whatsoever. Everything hurts. Not just emotionally, but your whole body too.

Then time marches on and that pain begins to ebb. It fades, slowly, so very slowly you don't even notice it happening at the time.

Eventually it turns into a big empty space where the hurt used to be.

You walk around with this. A big empty bubble, ready to burst at any moment from the slightest provocation. When it bursts... well, duck and run for cover because the hurt comes back tenfold.

It's been almost two years now.

This time of year is hard for me. It has a lot of memories. Mostly I associate it with this sick feeling of dread. That something bad happened/could happen/might happen/did happen. It makes me reflective. Probably unecessarily so.

This time last year, Valentine's Day made me sick. Not because my boyfriend wasn't great (he was... and is) but because it still remains a fixed point in time that I actually remember spending with Craig. You see, most days drift by in your life without you even noticing. A million little things that slide by, some funny, some sweet, some sad. It's like the little ripples in a wave. You see the bigger wave, but the little ones, no matter how special or beautiful, sort of slide by.

But big days, days like Valentine's Day or anniversaries or Christmas, stand out because of their fixed date.

So those I can remember.

I remember exactly what we did.

I remember what we said.

I remember how it felt.

I've told the story of Craig's lack of Valentine's Day forethought before and the resulting Coach bag I love so much, so I won't bother recounting it here. Last year, the one year anniversary of that date, was thick with heartache for me.

This year, with more time having passed, I feel less.

This is not to say it doesn't make me sad or make me miss him. It doesn't mean I love him less than I ever did. It just means that I feel... less.

I try not to let myself get too carried away on what-ifs anymore. I know that once I allow myself to follow a train of thought, like "I wonder what we would be doing today if he was still here..." there will be no stopping the hamster wheel in my mind that can race for days, round and round, obsessing over the possibilities.

I've learned from experience how this can create someone new to mourn. Because as time goes on, you inevitably imagine the person with the slightest of alterations, so small you barely notice them at the time. Before you know it, that person you are remembering isn't the same as the one you lost. And I'd much rather keep those memories of Craig intact, preserved, exactly as he was.

This Valentine's Day I'll be rocking out alone, studying for exams, probably finishing off the night with a glass of wine. Or bottle. Depending on how things go.

I can't promise dinner won't be McDonald's accompanied by a box of Kleenex.

Or I might just laugh my way through some old emails.

I might take Coach out to look at, I might not.

Either way, I think I'll feel a little calmer, a little softer, a little less sad than last year.

And that's progress.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Because Awesome Friends are Awesome

I don't have a whole lot to say today. My posts have been a little darker as of late. What can I say? It's been a rough go of things for the last couple months.

But I've started settling back into the routine of school and for some reason (clearly magical in nature) I actually feel like I'm not drowning this go around. I like my classes. All of them. Well. Except one where I have to do group work every day. Note to course developers: accountants don't like playing with others. That's why we are accountants!

I have a few exciting projects on the go that I'm actually looking forward to. One is a competition for a summer internship at Husky. Shameless plug: Please visit this website and vote for me!

But more than that I have two great buds suffering through the workload with me this semester making my classes a heck of a lot more fun. Yes, we are that obnoxious trio at the front of the room constantly giggling and talking about eating cake. Normally after class we head home but get stalled right before leaving campus and end up yakking for an hour in the freezing cold because we just can't shut up long enough to actually get going. Besides, we are all way too interesting and funny.

Suffice to say, after the way I struggled last semester, having someone to giggle with innapropriately during lectures and share notes with makes it all a lot easier to deal with.

And did I mention they don't get weird when I talk about Craig?


They are awesome.

So here's to awesome friends being awesome!

(but don't let it go to your heads guys... I'll mark you down on peer evaluations if you get too cocky)