On Leaving Manitoba

Life is full of surprises. A month ago, if you would’ve asked me when or if I was planning on leaving Manitoba, I would say no way! I wasn’t planning on leaving. I wasn’t hoping to move on anytime soon. I knew I wasn’t going to be here in Brandon forever, but I was hoping to stick around for a little bit. But then, life happens.

I won’t really go into the long and short of it, but due to some unseen circumstances, I have decided that my time here is up. I’m packing up and actually heading to Edmonton, where I’m hoping a promising opportunity awaits. It’s going to be hard. I’m dreading saying goodbye to certain people. But also looking forward to a new adventure that is upon me. I’m young, not tied down, and I’m looking forward to writing a new chapter.

Manitoba, and Brandon was an interesting chapter to say the least. It had its good times and its bad times. I think it may be the place that gets me to the place where I need to be. It introduced me to the West, and I’m certainly not done with the West. And at this point, I couldn’t imagine going back to Ontario right now. Someday, maybe.

What will I miss the most? My friends, obviously. Couldn’t have asked for better ones. The weekends up at the lake. The fun trips into Winnipeg. Getting lost in Winnipeg. All the kids at the Humane Society (yes, we call them kids). Doing things I would never do in Ontario, like…going to hockey games or going to the Winter Fair or  grooming a horse and even help a friend look around to buy one. Oh, and the minute drive to work. There are so many other things, but my brain is in crazy packing chaotic mode, so I’m not quite thinking straight!

And now, I’m moving on and I’m going to Edmonton. Very soon. And my cat and dog are going to learn to love each other on that road trip, let me tell you! Fun times in close quarters. I don’t know what’s ahead, but I guess that’s the exciting thing for me. And I may not be Maude in Manitoba anymore, but I’ll still carry Maude’s motto around (Harold and Maude, 1971 movie – if you’re wondering), which is:

“Reach out. Take a chance. Get hurt even. But play as well as you can. Go team, go! Give me an L. Give me an I. Give me a V. Give me an E. L-I-V-E. LIVE!”

So, as I close a chapter here, it just means that I’m going to start living out another chapter somewhere else. Thank you, Manitoba. You’ll always be a part of me and I’m sure I’ll be back for multiple wedding seasons!

Dogs, Cats, Manitoba and Me

It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to have a dog. I always, always, always wanted a dog. Or any kind of pet, really…other than fish. However, this was always a problem, because my mom was allergic to the fur and hair on the fuzzy animals that I wanted. So really, it was always out of the question. This meant I had fish growing up. I loved my fish and all, but I always wanted more.

Circa September 2010. I had come back from a month long backpacking trip in South East Asia and the cutest orange cat I had seen prior to my trip was still on the Hamilton-Burlington SPCA website. I was going to get her. Enough is enough. That day, Trixie became Beatrix, and the rest was history. Of course, I was like, “it’d be so nice to get a dog”, but I was in a little one bedroom apartment and I really didn’t want to get a dog in such a small space, although many of my neighbours had dogs in their apartments. Beatrix was just the right fit at that time.

Beatrix

Fast forward to September 2011 and I’m moved into Brandon, Manitoba. It took so much hard work and a very lucky and unexpected connection to find a place that would even accept Beatrix. I found a great apartment, but I had to pay a ridiculous pet deposit, which I just didn’t understand – I didn’t even ever have to pay a damage deposit in Ontario, let alone a pet deposit! It was all just so new. I didn’t know why wonderful dogs and cats weren’t allowed in homes and apartments. But I quickly learned that Manitoba is one of the least pet-friendly places I have ever seen. I know I was lucky to find my apartment and have my cat.

I still longed for a dog, and I just wanted to spend more time with animals in general, so in August 2012, I started volunteering at the Brandon Humane Society. I think it might have been the best decision I’ve made since moving to Brandon. It has brought so much positive stuff into my life, that I just can’t complain. It’s brought me community, friends and care, and dogs and cats that I absolutely love. And it brought me Josie! But first…

At the end of September 2012, a year after I had moved to Brandon, my friend wondered if I would consider being her roommate. She wanted to get out from under her mom’s roof, but she had a dog, so we had to find a pet friendly place that would allow both cats and dogs. It was like magic, a pet-friendly house showed up on eBrandon and we went to the Open House soon after. And at the Open House, what do I learn? That my landlord volunteers at the Brandon Humane Society! Of course this house is pet-friendly. There were a lot of applicants for the house, and we thought it was a longshot, but my friend and I ended up getting the house and we couldn’t have been more excited!

Now a dog was a real possibility. I didn’t want to rush into anything, because it wasn’t a decision I was going to take lightly. No way! Plus, I wanted Beatrix and my roommate dog to get accustomed to the house and each other (which they are still working on, I will admit). However, I was pretty sure I knew what dog I wanted from the Humane Society. It was a process of elimination in terms of who would be good with cats, and I also knew I wanted a black dog, since they are always the last to be adopted. Josie was it! So mid-January, I decided to take that girl home. It hasn’t been perfect. There have been tiffs between the dogs, and Josie is still a little timid of Beatrix. There is still so much for me to learn and for Josie to learn, but it’s working out amazingly well.

Josie

I never thought that my dream of having a dog to call my own would happen in Brandon, because of the lack of pet-friendlyness here. But I guess life is full of surprises, right?

Easing Myself Into Manitoba “Pride”

I’ve been a long time proponent of Manitoba. I have loved it here for several years, spending summers here since I was 18. Spending the summers here at a camp near Boissevain is what made me fall in love with this province in the first place, so I’ve always felt like I had the love, but did I have the pride? I was still an Ontarian at that point and I love(d) my former city of Hamilton fiercely (partly due to the fact that it has a terrible reputation – love you, Hamilton – always will). But the more time I spend here, the more comfortable I’m getting with the idea of being a “Proud Manitoban”. I think in my head, I will always still consider myself mostly Ontarian…at least at this point in my life. That could very well change in the years to come.

Now, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a huge sports person, but find myself getting going to more sporting events and even watching sporting events (ahem, Grey Cup…). When that game was on, I was obviously rooting for the Bombers. Why wouldn’t I? It made sense. But really, it was one of the first times that I actually felt a sense of pride to be a Manitoban. Our team was in the Grey Cup, and we gotta represent! Ha! Despite the loss, and the poor play throughout the game that got me all riled up and a little mad, I had to step back and say “Woooah. What are you doing? Are you coming to terms with the fact that you’re a Manitoban now?” Weird how those transitions happen when you don’t really think they will.

Oh, and let’s talk about the Twitterverse being all abuzz about “#snow” or “snow in Toronto”. I had to laugh. My Manitoban side was coming out. Really, Toronto? Really southern Ontario? We got snow in the beginning of November and no one was crying about it (except me – but that subsided, as did the snow). At that moment, I got why people dislike Toronto out West. It really DOES seem like anything that happens in Toronto/southern Ontario is the be all and end all and all other Canadians must be experiencing the same thing. So I found myself slightly annoyed, and slightly amused at everyone’s freak out. Through this small process, I also found myself becoming a more “Proud Manitoban”.

So here it is: I think I might be a Proud Manitoban. I say think, because I don’t want to commit to anything too soon. Also, this isn’t without its hardships, which will come in an upcoming post. And it doesn’t mean that I’m not Proud Ontarian either.

How about Mantario Pride?

Never Say Never

Just a year ago, I was in Manitoba. Specifically, Brandon and my Manitoban “hometown”, Boissevain. I was here for a potential wedding (long story), and just to visit, because I hadn’t been out here that summer.

I had two Thanksgiving dinners, and one, in which I remember vividly talking to my friend’s mom about social work in Manitoba and how it’d be so great if I moved here and did social work (although, I’m questioning how much Manitoba needs me at this point). I was pretty non-committal, but I thought about it. For real. I was like, hey, maybe I can do that.

However, as great as the week long visit was, I specifically remember nearing the Ontario border on my drive home and telling myself “I’ll never actually move here, it’s just a summer infatuation”…as I looked around at the frosty ground and the uninspiring cold, flat land.

I got back to school and didn’t think much more about moving to Manitoba – especially to Brandon. I got through the year at school (somehow!) and I was jobless, although was promised employment at my student placement from the past year. This was awesome…and then a 3 month contract turned into 1 month, and then 1 month turned into 1 day. I didn’t know what to do with myself (while waiting to see if this job thing was going to pan out – it never did), and then the thought of camp entered my mind. I was asked to go, and I was extremely careful in my decision making. It took me forever to make my decision. I didn’t know why this was something I was going to do in my life right now, but in the end, I decided to go. I was officially going to be in Manitoba at the end of June.

I get to Manitoba. I’m fearful about my decision and ask myself and others the purpose behind being there. I had hoped that there was some purpose behind going. I mean, I was done school. Why would I go to camp for the summer? It didn’t make sense to me at all. Still, I went. And let’s just say, if I hadn’t of gone, I wouldn’t be in Manitoba right now. Purpose?

Honestly, within the first week of camp, my mind started meandering over thoughts of moving to Manitoba…and for some reason, not Winnipeg, but to the southwestern area of Manitoba; the little pocket of Manitoba that I have come to know and love. I always said that I would never live in Brandon, yet this was the place I felt pulled to to move to. Insane. Completely insane.

Much like my decision about coming to camp, it took a painstakingly long time to make the decision. Well, it felt like forever to me. At the beginning of August, I made the decision to at least try to find a job. If I got a job here, then I would move.

Needless to say, after some long thought and serious decision making, I decided that I was moving here regardless of employment. I figured that I would be unemployed in either Hamilton or Brandon, so I may as well be unemployed in a place I feel like I should be at this point in my life. And that was that. The next day, I sent in my 60 days notice to my landlord; a week and a half later, I packed up, along with my friend Tari and headed back to Ontario. I was there for about 2 weeks and BAM, I was gone. I think those 2 weeks were the most overwhelming and stressful weeks of my life…but I don’t regret spending the time I did with friends and family, when I really should have been packing up my apartment.

And now I’m here, wondering how in the world any of this ever happened. Like the title suggests, never say never. I said that I would never live in Brandon (I had said that for many, many years), and just last year, I said that I would never be moving to Manitoba in general. Oh how things can change. I’m still navigating the new waters and trying to find my place here. It’s tough. I just hope that the time will come sooner than later that I’ll have a few things figured out, and in the meantime, I’ll still work on the farming machinery and country music.