The Ten Year Challenge…

Lately my Facebook newsfeed has been filled with photos of my friends from 2009 to today, leaving people to see the differences. I added mine but felt so much was missing, namely the history going along with the first picture and the growth leading to the last one. They say that a picture’s worth a thousand words but I think some words can really round out the story.

10 year challenge

In 2009 I’d just finished a job working at a call centre representing Sympatico, a Canadian internet company. I started off in the tech support department and moved to billing after half a year. The job paid good money (compared to minimum wage) and came with benefits. The downsides were leaving a 12 and 14 year old home alone until dinnertime. I couldn’t even call them until 5pm. And the extreme pressure. One pressure was time. Three minute bathroom breaks (even if you were on the far side of the building from the washrooms) and getting written up if you were 30 seconds late from any break. The second was also time but phone time. You had to clear security, fix the problem, and make a sale in 15 minutes for tech and ten for business. That had to include any phone calls to other departments, bill adjustments and, for tech support, getting people to unplug every phone jack, except for the one they were calling from *click*. Yeah, quite a few people disconnected the phone.

That summer I got a job at Tim Hortons, a Canadian doughnut store chain, it was still fast paced but not nearly as fast as the call centre. I quickly made friends and got to know the regulars, some of whom came in two and three times a day, every day. The constant movement helped me drop a lot of the weight I’d put on at the call centre (the weight loss was after this photo). I was extremely lucky that my managers were willing to work around my quirks (later diagnosed as autism).

We also lived several blocks away from my parents and sister in a three bedroom apartment in an apartment complex. It wasn’t the best place to live but it was convenient for transit and shopping.

Fast forward to today. I’m about 40 days away from moving into my tiny home and I got to see pictures of one of the units. It looked gorgeous. A spacious kitchen and laminate flooring. I’d hoped to see more of the living room but the two pictures were backlit by the patio doors so all I could see was a wall and the flooring. I won’t see my own place until I move so it was great to get a view of what it will look like.

I haven’t worked since 2016, the year I became suicidal, and am now on disability. It’s hard in some ways. The friends I made through work have faded away but I’ve made new friends in my groups. I’m lucky enough to live in a community with lots of supports and, even though I’m leaving some of my supports behind, I’ll have new supports where I move to.

In 2009 I was positive I was straight; any thoughts to the contrary were quashed immediately. I’ve spent the last five years learning and understanding my sexual orientation. 2009 me would have been both shocked and scared to find out I’m a panromantic asexual and, for a short time, had a girlfriend (who I’m still friends with).

I now have a 22 year old, a 24 year old, and a one year old grandchild, none of which are moving with me. I’m facing my first move alone (well alone with five cats). Colin was supposed to have a meeting for moving options on Monday but it got cancelled at the last minute. He has another meeting tomorrow. And Kait has her own tiny home and family now. It’s her turn to experience childhood second hand.

I’ve been exploring my new community along with my Mom. I’ve done a shop at the local grocery store to see if they have everything I need (they do). I’ve registered the cats at the local vet and myself at the local dentist, both right across the street from my new place. There’s also a pizzeria and a pub which has karaoke. It looks like a good place to settle down.

So much has changed these past 10 years, more than I could ever have anticipated. I can’t help but wonder what my life will be like in 2029!

20191103_134355-01-01

A filtered phone taken from one of the trails where I’m moving

Two steps away from reality…

I had a fairly busy morning yesterday. Colin and I hurried through a downpour, sans umbrellas, to catch our first bus. I spent that entire trip checking the bus app to see how long we had until the connecting bus and silently cursing whenever we stopped. By the time we got off our second bus the rain had stopped. We went to meet my Mom and walked to the restaurant for lunch… and it was closed even though their site said it was open. So onward to our favourite Indian restaurant where I had our worst food from there ever (and they’re usually amazing). I tried something new, which turned out to be tasteless, and our onion bhaji appeared to be onionless. From there we went to the grocery store, which was necessary but was one stop too many for me.

I went to pick up one last item then looked around in bewilderment. This is one of our regular grocery stores, we visit it about twice a month. I felt like I slipped though some sort of mirror. Everything was sort of recognizable but at the same time not. The only way I could describe it was by being two steps away from reality. I tightly gripped the shopping cart handle as if I’d fly away if I let go and slowly made my way to the front of the store, which was a zoo. Thankfully my Mom gave me her car keys so I could sit in quiet. There were police dogs by the exit, a promotion for their calendar, and I couldn’t even stop to pet them, that’s how badly I needed to leave. Thankfully I was okay soon after I got home. I looked it up and it’s called dissociation; just something else to tell my psychiatrist.

There’s been way too much happening. So far my occupancy date is set for January 1st but they have staggered move in dates. I can only hope I’m before January first and not after. Then there’s Colin and his move. He’s been having long meetings with one agency and has another meeting tomorrow that might be talking about a potential place. They’re even talking about a site in Toronto, which would make it hard for family to visit. But it’s urgent and any apartment is better than none. And, finally, there’s Blackie. She’s doing a lot better now with antibiotics and is absolutely ravenous, even with her sore, rotting teeth and mouth ulcers. We haven’t been able to see into her mouth so it was an unpleasant surprise to see her back teeth. I’m feeding her whenever she begs because she was starving and needs the calories. So far she’s had three dinners tonight. I need to drop some paperwork off at the vet clinic on Wednesday for a possible subsidy for her bloodwork and xrays. Then submit them again for dental surgery. But even there there’s a lot of uncertainty.  What if the bloodwork turns up something worse? I can’t picture my home without her.

And then there’s the whole move. I’ve bought beautiful things for my new place but it’s not going to be here. I’ll have a brief panic, like an elevator dropping a bit too fast for a few seconds and then the OMG moment hits. I’m not going to have my room there. Not with my teal and glitter walls. It’s going to be different. Everything’s going to be different. And I’m going to be alone in all that difference. Completely and utterly alone. Then I practice my breathing until I’m not going to pass out from hyperventilating and try to get on with my day.

And my world keeps spinning like a whirligig and I just keep hoping that my psychiatrist is right and this move will be a big help for me. Only 65 days to go.

 

Don’t worry…

It was late winter of 2012 and I was looking for an apartment for Colin and I. I had my eye on one the next town over. It had an indoor pool, which made me fall in love with it, and it was close to everything. They had two units available, one on the 11th floor and one on the 7th. The 11th floor was meh. The previous tenants had done a midnight move and left a lot of stuff behind. My Dad and I entertained ourselves by finding what they’d forgot, from the clock on the wall to the Christmas tree in the closet. Then we saw the 7th floor apartment and it. was. perfect! Two balconies, tonnes of storage, and there even was a pantry/storage area big enough for its own light.

The downside was we were at the end of the month and the office needed to decide who to choose. I told her I had to give my 60 days notice on the first. She told me there was nothing she could do. So I walked to the office of my then current building and told the woman my concerns. She looked at me from across the desk and said, “Kathleen, you’ve been a good client here for years. As far as I’m concerned, you’ve given me your notice. Your word is good enough for me.

And that was that… at least for five months. That was when my parents got a letter for me from CapReit stating I owed them $465 in arrears for not giving notice until the 8th of March. So much for my word being good enough.

And here we are again. I’ve got an apartment I’ve been waiting (and waiting) to move into. Now I’ve been told twice that the apartment will be ready for January 1st. But the official website still reads December 1st. Everyone says “don’t worry” but not everyone has needed to pay almost $500 due to a conflict with their moving schedule.

I’m counting down to January now and am resigned to the fact that Christmas is going to be full of boxes and not decorations. And all I can do is hope they’re right and I’m not walking into a big financial mess.

20190929_105819-01

Tiny homes…

I’ve never been a fan of tiny houses. Don’t get me wrong, I love to go through the pictures and marvel at how they managed to cram so much into such a small space, especially while keeping it looking clean and relatively spacious. But I’ve never wanted to live in one.

Apartment layoutBack in February I desperately wanted to figure out the layout for my new apartment, I didn’t want to move in blind. Except they didn’t have a layout, just a floor plan. No problem, I copied the floor plan into my photo editing program then drew lines over every blurry line in one apartment and, voila, I had a layout. I had no idea how accurate it was but at least it gave me some idea.

Last week I was told there would be a viewing in a nearby apartment building which was made by the same company as ours. The apartment was apparently identical to the one I’d be moving into. I was so excited, finally I could know what my apartment will look like and get an idea of where I can put my furniture. I could hardly wait.

Monday finally arrived and my Dad, Colin, and I arrived at the building. The lady doing the tour commented that the unit we were viewing was accessible so it wouldn’t look like mine. I’d just get a general idea of the size. So I’m still moving in completely unknowing what to expect.

My first thought when I walked through the door was “Where did they put the rest of the living room?” It was that small. I’d originally planned on putting my couch and hutch on the same wall (the one beside the stove in the layout) but the main wall was too small to fit both, it was barely big enough to fit a couch. The little cubby was there, same as the layout, but it turned out to hold the heating and air conditioning units and is not to be opened. The plus side is I’ll have total control over my own heating.

The kitchen was nothing like the one in the floor plan. It was bigger in some ways and smaller than others. There was more cabinets than I’d expected but the cutlery drawers were a third of the size. The previous tenant had their cutlery tray on the counter and the top drawer contained tinfoil and saran wrap… that was all it could hold. Now I can’t help wondering about mine.

And to make moving just that bit more interesting, they’re negotiating a new date, somewhere from mid-December to early January. So I’m thinking this is going to be a New Year’s move. If I’m up at midnight this year it’ll involve lots of tears and packing tape.

As for now, I’m jettisoning some furniture and getting ready for my own tiny home.

 

Everything’s coming up roses…

I went into my Friday meeting with one question to ask. Was the move in date still December 1st? The answer to that was yes but there was more. The team manager had gone to the construction site and introduced herself. They gave her a hard hat and took her on a tour of the building. She described it as amazing, luxurious, and gorgeous. Apparently every unit has high ceilings and, since there are no balconies, there’s going to be a sitting room with lots of windows on the first floor. It sounds wonderful and I’m counting down the days until I move.

new apartmentToday I went back to the neighbourhood with my Mom and had lunch at the pub across the street. I also registered all five cats at the vet clinic and took a picture of the building. It’s so close to completion but obviously still needs a fair bit of work. I’m assuming those tenants want patio doors and not plywood.

I’m looking so forward to moving. I love Colin dearly but we have so little in common. Right now we’re bonding over anime, which is not my thing. He talks to himself on a regular basis, watches videos on YouTube which irritate the hell out of me, and stays up past midnight. I go to bed between 8 and 9pm, tend to be quiet, watch videos like The Dodo, and talk to the cats. It’s hard to find common ground. I’ll miss Colin, of course, but I’m looking forward to the quiet and having it just be me (and the cats).

This move has gone well so far, other than the inevitable construction delays, and I can’t wait until I’m settled in. Only 97 days to go!

 

100 days of anxiety…

I move in exactly 100 more days, unless the move in date is changed again, and Colin still doesn’t have a place. When we started looking, I figured we’d find a cheap little apartment and everything would be fine. No such luck. Even bachelor apartments are $900 to $1000/m. I read an article recently that says Oshawa is the top third city in Canada for highest rents and I can certainly believe that. It makes finding a home for Colin almost impossible… almost.

I started looking at apartments in houses and Colin turned them all down, claiming they were all basement apartments… even the main floor ones. Alrighty then. So I started looking at rooms for rent and Colin turned those down too. He’s getting rent and moving expenses reduced through CHCH but they won’t help if he moves into a room. It has to be an apartment. He finally asked me not to help, he was going to do it himself, and with the agencies he’s involved with.

Right now he’s getting help through CHCH, John Howard Society, CMHA, Kerry’s Place, and DSO. Hopefully one of them will find a place for him soon. We’d really hoped it would have been yesterday. Colin had a meeting with CMHA and DSO and we all were hoping that meant DSO had a place for him. Sadly there was a family emergency and they couldn’t make it.

So now we wait and hope that one of the agencies finds Colin a place to live soon.

Time hit a speed bump

me-and-a-mountie

Me with a Mountie character outside the Yukon Strider

First, this has nothing to do with main topic but it was such a great experience that I had to share. Colin and I went to Canada’s Wonderland on Wednesday with CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association). We had transportation there and unlimited fountain drinks and our tickets were only $10 each. That was the first amazing part.

Second, it called for horrible weather on Wednesday, thunderstorms and rain all day. It was a little drizzly but the rain stopped before we got to the amusement park and it was sunny for the rest of the day. Everyone else must have cancelled their plans because the park was empty. Colin and I wanted to go on the Yukon Strider, a roller coaster with a 90 degree drop, but he’d heard the lines were an hour and a half long. Instead we just walked right on… three times! This was the same for every ride. I used my disability pass twice and that was just because we wanted to be in the front row. It was, hands down, my best Canada’s Wonderland experience.

The rest of the week was quiet and boring to write about. Then this morning I got an email from the company who owns my new apartment building. Due to unforeseen issues, they’ve had to change my move in date from October 1st to December or January 1st. It’s a disappointment for me. I was down to 72 days left until my move in date and was handing in my notice on Friday. I’m now up to 133 days, if I move in on December 1st. The good news is it’ll give Colin more time to find a place. He’s got two agencies working to assist him in apartment/room hunting and another two helping him find a job. Between them all plus Colin and I, he should be settled in before I move in. That’ll also give me time and space to pack.

Now Colin’s got all the questions. What if I get told to move in early? What if they put all the subsidized units on the first floor and you’re able to go in early? What if all the subsidized units are on the top floor and it gets finished early and you’re told to move in? I kept explaining to him that no one will be moving in until the building is completely finished and eventually the questions stopped. I don’t know if that means he’s satisfied or if he’s just waiting for a later date and I’m scared to ask in case I set the questions off again.

I’d posted that time seemed to be speeding but it’s slowed right down again. There won’t be Thanksgiving or Hallowe’en decorations out this year and Christmas will depend on my move in date. Next year they’ll all be out in their glory and I’m looking forward to that.

And now to organize and wait because time will get here eventually.