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Monday, December 1st, 2014
8:03 pm - Never want to come down. An exerpt from Christine's travel journal.
"She's looking for a young, rich man," Frank jokes.

"In New Zealand!?!" James asks incredulously.

"How about that helicopter pilot?"

"Pshh. Is he young??"

"Well. Young-ish."

----------

I woke up to a partly cloudy sky and butterflies in my stomach. I don't hear anything, and wonder if they've decided to go through with flying. A few minutes before 8 I hear the familiar drone of a helicopter. With growing excitement I step out onto the porch, looking up at the sky while brushing my teeth. After a few moments it appears, with a large cable and bag dangling beneath, just over the trees. The heli pad is just down the hill from my house. I watch the helicopter as it hovers there, and I can see the pilot leaning out his window. Within moments it sweeps around and heads out over the hill again, carrying a new bag of firewood.

I get my stuff together and head out to the work yard. Suddenly it seemed very important to not miss this opportunity. But there was no hurry - Frank and I had to go pick up a couple of shit tanks, and bring them along with the wood to the nearest road access to Whanganui Hut - about a half hour drive away. At the discounted rate of $1350 per hour for the helicopter, everyone was keen to get it done quickly.

And so we drove there in a huge truck and waited for the chopper to arrive, entertained by a herd of curious wild horses. Finally the chopper came into sight. It was carrying a huge chunk of a bridge that had been dismantled the day before. The pilot, who was named Blake, leaned out his window to carefully set it down next to the truck. I nervously stepped aside, watching the wavering helicopter above me, the sound of it roaring in my ears. He then landed to talk to Frank. When he got out of the chopper, I could see that he was a relatively short, slight guy wearing a comically oversized helmet. But definitely young-ish.

Each round, Blake would take a load of wood and return with a chunk of bridge. Each time, it looked like the bridge was flying directly at my face. It was surreal and dreamlike, watching these huge things coming at me so fast, then slowing to a stop just a few meters from me. I didn't like standing under the helicopter. One time, he landed because the clasp on the cable wouldn't release, and I momentarily panicked because I didn't know why he was coming down practically on top of us. Frank went and talked to him, and then informed me that I could come along with the shit tanks since they were light enough to accommodate my extra weight.

And so I was quickly ushered in, without any time to be nervous. Blake personally buckles me in and hands me a headset.

"Ah there ya go, all good then?" he says.
"Oh. I can hear you," I reply.

We're up in the air before I even have a chance to think about it. It's surprisingly smooth and not as scary as I expected. Blake's leaning out the window again as the tank gets loaded. I barely even feel us lift the 400+ kilogram tank, though we wobble in the air a bit. It's a small chopper, smaller than a car inside. You could squeeze four people in it, but it'd be cramped.

Once we're on our way, Blake looks over at me, and maybe it's the adrenaline in my veins but I am immediately smitten. Ruggedly handsome, blue eyes, dark blond-tending-to-ginger hair. I don't care a whit that his helmet gave something of an impression of Rick Moranis in Spaceballs.

"Ever been in a helicopter before?" he asks me.
"Nope, and I'm a nervous flyer. I'm just not talking because I'm paralyzed with terror."
"Aw naw, don't say that!"
"Actually it's way less scary than I expected."

And indeed it was, smoother than flying in an airplane, even. Blake explained how the weather affected flying - we were flying into the wind, which was good, and the light rain was okay, "as long as it's not hail."

It was a short flight to the hut, soaring over the rippling waters of the lake. We hovered over the heli pad. Blake leaned out again and I unexpectedly heard him giggling over the headset.

"The line picks up static electricity" he explained. "He just got a bit of a shock". I couldn't see what was going on from my vantage point but I gathered that Rob had just been mildly electrocuted by touching the metal tank.

We flew back for another round, making small talk. I was grateful because as long as he was making conversation I knew everything was okay. We hover to pick up the next tank and Blake's giggling again.

"He's just got a shock too"

When we got back to the hut, Rob must have looked reluctant because I hear Blake say on the radio that he'll drop the tank on the ground first. Then we land - usually the scariest part for me no matter what contraption I'm in - but it's totally fine and my feet are back on the ground. Although I would say that I wasn't scared, my legs were shaking. A lot.

I set to helping the crew unload firewood, and Blake comes to help too. He looks a good deal less silly without the helmet, and if there is any justice in this world I will marry that man.

(but we all know there is no justice in this world)

I get one more flight back to the truck before he picks up Rob and they fly up to Panekire and I am stuck helping Frank strap the bridge pieces on the truck and driving them back. I hear Blake on the radio. There's a nasty system coming up one of the arms of the lake... now it's hailing (UH OH)... he'll be picking up Ian and making a hasty trip down. I would not get a chance to fly up to the high bluffs of Panekire that day. Sadface. It would have been spectacular. And I'll never see that pilot again, perhaps unless I get "lost" and require a search and rescue...

-------

SPOILER ALERT:

I do see that pilot again and I do get my chance to fly up to Panekire bluffs. And I hope there is even more adventure in my future. :)

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Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
7:21 pm - Runaway
Well I'm posting partially to clarify my own thoughts here. So here's a ramble!

I have stagnated too long. Well, a full year of stagnation, career wise. This job has probably been at least somewhat helpful to my career - I can now at least say I've worked for parks, and I've become friends with the park rangers here... they have encouraged me quite strongly to apply for a ranger position next summer, and it's still pretty likely that I will do so. It'd be an amazing job, though physically very demanding.

But I'm sick of Canada right now. I simply cannot face another 8 months of sitting in Vancouver, unemployed, watching my money drain away. At least last year I could subsist on EI... this year, my pay has been so low that EI would not even pay for rent. Opportunities for me in winter are almost nil. And so... I'm running away.

My flight to New Zealand is booked for October 15th. I have a work visa already. This is my first time ever booking a one way ticket. When will I come home? Whenever I feel like it.

I already have opportunities lined up for the first four months. They are both unpaid, but they are good experiences, with the Department of Conservation. I will start by doing biodiversity monitoring in the northern rainforest, Te Urewera National Park. Then in December I go to Tongariro National Park where I will be a hut ranger.

After that I'm really going to need some paid work, so I'm thinking apple picking or some other type of agricultural work. If I get a good job in Canada for our summer, then back to Canada I go. If not, I will stick around NZ for the winter, hopefully get a city job somewhere because by that time I'm sure even I will be sick of nature.

My dream is to take the long way home across Asia and Europe. But that will depend on my money management skills. Or, if I end up in Canada for our summer, then I'd take the long way back to NZ and get a second year there (only possible by paying a large fee to the SWAP program).

My only reservation with this plan? It means even more time on the road, without a home, living out of a backpack and - most importantly, being lonely, saying goodbye, and feeling like my time is running out.

But my last experience with letting my guard down with a guy because I was lonely blew up spectacularly in my face about a month ago. I seem to always pick out the most interesting guy in a place, get his attention somehow, and then end up burned horribly. BOY CHRISTINE YOU SURE KNOW HOW TO PICK EM.

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Thursday, April 17th, 2014
12:24 pm
Welp, my EI just ran out.

I have had a promising week but nothing is guaranteed at this point.

Worried. Quite worried.

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Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
4:03 pm
Maybe I just don't deserve a job. Maybe I'm just one of those people society has deemed to be a lost cause.

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Tuesday, April 1st, 2014
6:35 pm - April is Get a Fucking Job Month.
Finances finances finances.

Seven months and still unemployed. I'm receiving $1376/month from EI for the time being, which is keeping me from dipping into my $7000 stash of savings - only barely.

I'm paying $300 a month towards my student loan - of which about a hundred goes to cover interest payments. $2.96 per day! But each month my daily interest goes down by three cents. Slow, slow progress. I still owe $19,617.

Recently I contacted the U of A to find out about my pension money that I accrued while working there. I have $12,000 that I'm transferring into an RRSP. I considered withdrawing it - at a 20% tax rate - to help pay off my loan. But I like having something - ANYTHING set aside for retirement, something I can contribute to later when I have income again.

Basically I am sitting in a space where my debt almost exactly equals my assets. I have around $0 net worth. But hey, it could be worse.

Last week I volunteered at GLOBE 2014 - a huge environmental business conference. I was hoping to do some networking - and I did - but again mostly with unemployed people. There are so many jobless people in my field it is ridiculous. It was a good experience though, and managed to stoke my fire a little bit. I plan to write a blog entry about it sometime this week. So April is GET A FUCKING JOB month. At this point, I am willing to take a job that is not in my field under the following conditions:

1. It will provide me with transferable skills
2. It is in Vancouver, or somewhere I might want to live for a summer
3. It is temporary
4. It pays more than I get from EI - i.e. more than minimum wage

There's a few job fairs coming up in the next week, all in the tourism/hospitality industry. Since one of my biggest interests is ecotourism and sustainable tourism, it wouldn't hurt to get my foot in the door in that industry, even as a lowly wage-slave. Also temping. I'm probably going to try temping, though I have my doubts that will go anywhere.

I'm still seeing the engineer. He is definitely not my usual type. But in some ways, that is a good thing. His ex has been causing trouble, but unlike Rhys, he seems to be dealing with his problems in a mature and level headed way. I like that.

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Monday, March 3rd, 2014
12:05 pm - Jumping on the LJ updating bandwagon
So I read LJ from time to time because I am a member of some still-active communities that I enjoy... but I sure do enjoy it when my friends update! It's nice to be updated on your lives in a more meaningful way than what facebook provides.

So it's March. I can't believe I'm still unemployed. It is really getting exhausting and killing my confidence and self esteem. Aside from the Christmas Market - where I had six weeks of work at minimum wage - I've had absolutely nothing since the end of August. I have not been invited back to ABMI or even MEC, which is depressing and makes me question whether I can rely on either of them for job references. Which pretty much leaves me with no references, in the event that I ever DO get an interview.

The only interview I had recently was with a local recycling company. The work would have been only one or two weekends per month. It would have been outreach at local events, which is fine by me - but this included having to wear the Encorp "Return it!" mascot costume! Oh god! I was invited to work at the Modern Family Expo a couple weekends ago but it was the day after my roommate's birthday party. The thought of having to wear a giant bottle costume and get kicked by kids at the family expo whilst sleep deprived and hungover sounded like my worst nightmare. I turned the event down and they said "we'd still love to have you on our team, let us know when you can come meet us." Still kinda desperate enough to sacrifice my dignity, I wrote back with my availability... and naturally never hear from them again.

SO I am still barely squeaking by on the $1300 a month I get from EI, and hoping I find something before that runs out...

-----

So a couple of weeks ago I went to this Green Drinks event - a monthly social event for people who are interested in environmental issues. I chickened out on it two months in a row because I'm still pretty shy about going alone to a party where I won't know anyone. I'm so glad I went though.

It wasn't productive job-wise. Nearly every single person I met there was unemployed. There is seriously a problem in this industry these days (thank you Stephen Harper). But at least I was able to commiserate with others about it. When I was talking to two other unemployed girls, they both got distracted and I was left standing there awkwardly by myself for a moment, and a guy walked up to me.

"Welcome to the unemployed graduates corner," I said.

Turns out he was one of the few people there who has a job - an engineer working in sustainable energy systems. We talked for a while, then went to mingle with other people. I met quite a few engineers that night (most unemployed). Met a forester who put me in touch with a guy who MIGHT have a project that MIGHT need help this summer, and I am hoping to hear back from him eventually (but not holding my breath).

Near the end of the night the engineer guy I had talked to earlier approached the group I was with to say goodnight, and he handed me (and only me) his business card.

HMMM WHAT COULD THIS MEAN?

Well I am apparently not as clueless as I once was... I emailed him and we've been on three dates so far. I gotta say, I don't know why the hell I've been wasting my time with manchildren. It is so, so nice to talk to a guy who has a grownup job and a grownup attitude. He's very intelligent and passionate about his work and I find that SO ATTRACTIVE. I'm not supposed to be dating anyone right now (because I have to be free to leave the city if I find work elsewhere), but I have to admit I really miss the physical affection. I had been casually seeing a friend of mine but that ended abruptly when he found himself a 20 year old girlfriend. Sigh, way to make me feel like a washed up old crone! :P

But yeah. As if I am dating someone who has the same profession as my dad. AS IF I AM DATING SOMEONE WHO IS A MEMBER OF A YACHT CLUB. Didn't see that one coming.

Keep it touch, everyone!

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Saturday, June 8th, 2013
7:14 pm
THAT'S ENOUGH INTERNET STALKING, CHRISTINE.

Quite enough.

...

Facebook is such a blessing and a curse.

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Monday, May 28th, 2012
3:49 pm - Oh for the love of...!
The month I've spent on the job so far has been plagued with all sorts of technical difficulties, stupid mistakes (only occasionally on my part), delays, getting lost, and general stupid stupidness.

I was put out that we haven't been given very much responsibility - mainly "on call" for other crews that need help. Meanwhile we were given easy ground truthing tasks, and not enough of them to fill our time.

And then we went and got the truck stuck. I WASN'T DRIVING. But I feel TERRIBLE because we were super stuck, and didn't have any trees to winch to, and shoveling and laying down spruce boughs did nothing. Since we were fairly far out, it cost $500 to get the truck pulled from the mud. Even though it only took about five minutes. And to make matters worse, our truck is now making the occasional clunking noise, and the shop can't figure out what it is, so they're keeping it till they do.

So we're without a truck and can't do ANYTHING, and it's only the 6th day of an 11 day shift. I feel useless, and guilty. Even though it wasn't my fault and we've done everything we CAN do, I just feel like a drain on the company's money. And so utterly unproductive.

I'm just so frustrated. It was really important to me to do well on this job, to get a good reference, make some contacts. I don't want my fledgling career to stumble because of a series of stupid mishaps. Other crews are going all over Alberta in helicopters and we're just stuck. I guess I have three months to work hard and turn things around, but I just hope that this is the end of the string of bad luck...

I'll be looking for another job in September, and I can't fuck this one up!

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Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
1:33 pm
Welp, I just turned down a job.

I'm graduating. I should be clear, I do not expect to be paid a lot of money. I don't even expect to make as much as I used to at the ole U of A Bookstore. I know I need experience, and it's more important to be doing what I'm passionate about than it is to make lots of money. Although some environmental jobs pay well, most of them pay very little. I accept that I might not be able to drag myself out of poverty for a while yet.

That said, I can't accept a job that pays less than minimum wage. Even if you condesendingly tell me that it's "what I have to do if I want to do research". Maybe it is, but I have to feed myself and pay rent SOMEHOW.

I would work for free in some circumstances... e.g. for an NGO in a developing country if room and board are provided. But $1400/month in the most expensive city in the country (and one of the most expensive in the world)... to work LONG hours, literally dawn till dusk in the summer, might just BARELY cover my rent in a slummy house, and my food. But I have $21,000 in loans to pay off. And it's only a 4 month job so I'll be looking again anyway.

I know it's useful experience, but it's not much more than I already have. So I reluctantly turned it down today. I hope it wasn't a mistake. What if I don't get any other offers?

I hope I didn't shoot myself in the foot.

And the hunt goes on...

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Sunday, February 12th, 2012
11:23 pm - I want to move!
This used to be a pretty good place to live before Miranda moved out.

Now, it's filthy, and falling apart, and my roommate/landlord won't fix anything. The bathroom sink has been leaking into the cupboard since SEPTEMBER and it's disgustingly mouldy down there. His solution is to just put a bucket in there and forget about it until it overflows.

These days, he's opened up his own massage clinic and is using our house to do all the clinic's laundry. He does laundry ALL THE FREAKING TIME. Including right now, after 11pm. May I also mention that when our washing machine broke last year, he replaced it with this piece of junk he bought on Craigslist for $65? That thing is SO LOUD it is unbearable. When it's on it sounds like the world is coming to an end. The ENTIRE house shakes during the spin cycle. I can't study or sleep or do anything when it's running.

There's always nasty shit caked onto the counters because nobody is able to wipe them down when they cook for some reason. One of my roommates is never here anymore, and I don't blame her one bit. I think I've maybe seen her once this year. I'm jealous. I spend maybe have the week at Rhys' place, but damn!

I wish I had more money. I want to move out of this place so bad. And I know I graduate soon but things are not looking too promising for jobs, to say the least (more rants to come!). At the moment, I can't afford to replace my shoes (which have holes in the soles that I can see right through) or my boots (whose heels have sadly collapsed), or my computer mouse which is breaking, or my phone which is like 7 years old and totally embarassing. Even my underwear is all full of holes and none of my bras fit anymore since I've worn out the elastic. I need to go to the dentist, I haven't been in 3 years!...I just broke my French Press today too, which I rely on for coffee! Coffee is of the utmost importance!

Anyway, I'm getting kind of sick of being poor. Blah. Now that all my stuff is breaking down, I'm starting to really feel it...

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Thursday, December 29th, 2011
8:21 pm - Birthday
This year, I am prematurely depressed about my birthday. It's still two days away and I'm already feeling crappy about it. At this rate I might be best off hiding in my room eating a jar of frosting like I did that one memorable year... blah.

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Thursday, December 15th, 2011
1:22 pm - Money!
I haven't posted in ages! It seems I only post when I have something to rant about, and when things are good I am conspicuously silent. Today's rant? MONEY.

I'm not in classes this term. So I try to tell myself that I at least saved $5000 in loans, but it's cold comfort when I realize I am DANGEROUSLY close to not being able to pay my rent in January.

My research job ended November 11th, thanks to a lack of funding. John did everything he could to keep me working as long as possible, and I am really grateful to him for that, but it left me with seven weeks to fill before classes start on January 4th. I thought I was in the clear when I got a part time job at the UBC Bookstore. They pay $18/hr, which I thought was ridiculously awesome for cashiering! That's 50% more than I got paid for an ecology job, and is also depressing (why did I go back to school again?). I worked 3 short shifts and then they only let me sign up for one more this month. There goes that money!

I realize I was hired to work rush, which is the first two weeks in January, so hopefully I'll get a decent number of hours then. But that doesn't help me pay my rent on January 1st, or make my student loan payment on December 30th... and it means no Christmas anything. And the money I got for my Christmas and birthday gifts from my parents goes towards rent. I have $4500 worth of various bills to pay by the end of the first week in January and $700 in my bank account.

I'm sick of being a poor student! I am down to ONE pair of jeans that I wear every day, and I can't afford another pair. -_-

Boo! I'm happy to still have Rhys around, though he's as poor as I am (maybe even more poor), and it's creating tension in our relationship. It sucks to be broke at Christmas, you feel like a failure if you can't buy gifts for your loved ones. He insists on buying me dinner sometimes, and then he can't pay his internet bill. *headdesk*

I can't wait to be done school, but I'm worried I won't find a job and things will be even worse. Must claw self out of this.

/end rant

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Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
6:18 pm
Things are developing, dudes. DEVELOP ON, I say.

Experiencing major registration frustrations. Hope that I can actually take the fall semester off like I planned. Eek.

I get a couple of weeks off from field work! And now I'm going to start working on a new project that will require much less field time, which means I get to go back to dance classes! Woot!

Ohhhh man I don't wanna say anything and jinx it, so things, just keep developing. *fidgets nervously*

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Monday, June 6th, 2011
1:56 pm
Hanging out in the Maple Ridge Starbucks, getting in some internet time.

My job kind of rocks. I mean, except for the part where I have to haul 30 pound car batteries over rough terrain (I keep falling down!), and getting up at 4am. But otherwise... it's pretty awesome, especially if the weather's good.

There's deer EVERYWHERE in the research forest, and they are so tame. And pretty. And last night we saw two bears, from the safety of the truck. But they've been tearing apart the bait canisters for our fish traps. So we know they're hanging around our research sites, so we have to be careful. This involves yelling "HEY BEARS" whenver we get to the site.

Oh, and Discovery News is interested in doing a story on our project! (effects of artificial lighting on aquatic ecosystems... or, are street lights bad for fish?). So it's pretty sweet in general!

Still have to decide what the heck I'm doing in September. But we are off to the forest again now so I must go!

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Sunday, March 27th, 2011
7:51 am
Wow guys. Not being a doormat gets results! I must remember to continue standing up for myself.

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Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
7:19 pm
OH COME ON. Two dates turned into no dates. Admittedly I let contact with one of them slide due to interest in the other. But still. Now I feel like crap.

I need a hug. =\

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Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
9:24 pm - Good things come to those who wait?
BOO I SAY. BOOOO. Date cancelled (postponed?), because somebody went and got himself into a car accident. That's going to pretty far extremes to avoid meeting me. :P

From the sounds of it, he's okay, but just fell behind in his teacherly work?

STILL THIS DISPLEASES ME. I AM IMPATIENT.

On the plus side, I have been offered an interview with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans! Maybe one day I'll be that girl who gets the illustrious job of squeezing salmon sperm into a bucket! Or maybe even something less gross! On the down side, I'd have to move to Burlington or Sault St Marie for the summer.

Anyway, good news and bad news all around.

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Thursday, January 20th, 2011
9:59 pm - Lumber has a million uses!
Okay so I came down with some kind of horrid flu on January 1st, and I am still trying to recover. Sore throat, stop coming back! You're making me not want to get any work done! And I have much to do.

I had a long entry percolating in my mind, but I've kinda forgotten everything now. I just want to post every now and then to show that I am not yet dead.

Back into job application season. :/ Everyone wish me luck in being more successful than last year!

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Friday, December 31st, 2010
8:26 am
Don: Why would you want to go to the Dancing Sasquatch? It's a sausage fest!

Crazy Estonian Girl: (screaming) WE LOVE SAUSAGE FESTS!!!

As expected, I the place was a Douchitorium of the highest degree. I have never seen such a high concentration of Douchebags! After a while, Don, a young scallywag of only *18* had to defend the honour of us girls against relentless and exhausting advances of the men. Which included, at one point, a guy coming up behind me, grabbing me, and grinding his crotch into my ass. Awesome.

Oh the desperation was thick in there. I bet I could have gone home with almost any guy in there. Too bad there wasn't a single one that didn't make my skin crawl, hehe.

My favourite part was when this guy came up to us and started talking about how he's going to Thailand soon to see his girlfriend. RED FLAG! I've been reading about sex tourism every now and then (it pops up on Jezebel pretty frequentl), so I know what the deal is in Thailand.

Me: Ohhhh really? So how did you two meet?"
Dude: Ahhhhhhhhhhh..... (laughs) Well. I was travelling there and (insert vague unconvincing story here). I know, I know about the stories! (shaking head) I know!

He was so flustered that I was on to him! It was pretty funny and I was feeling pretty proud of myself, but then, it was also kinda sad. :/

Ended up apologizing to everyone on behalf of my countrymen. Great shades of Elvis! What the hell am I going to do tonight? :P

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Sunday, December 26th, 2010
3:04 pm - CABIN FEVER.
Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrg!

Ten days on the farm so far, and I've got cabin fever so bad, lemme tell ya. I'm drinking up my family's supplies of coffee and wine. Thank god I'm leaving tomorrow night, as I cannot take it anymore. We watch the news repeat. After seeing the same stories loop 5-6 times I go crazy. If I want to use the internet I have to walk to my aunt's house. When it's -25 it's not a prospect I often want to entertain.

There's no dog here anymore, as nobody wants to take care of one now that Boomer is gone. :( I am telling you it just isn't the same. I need a dog to come with me on walks. There's scary wildlife out here you know! The wolves have been hanging around. :D I never see them though. We do, however, have three deer who hang around behind our house, eating the crab apples that fell off the trees.

Can't wait to get out of here so I can get on top of all the stuff I need to do. I'm going stir crazy.

Oh well, Christmas was nice. A fair few of us came out this year. And now I have news to share! We got the go-ahead to tell people that my sister Laura is PREGNANT! Hooray!

I never thought I would see the day when one of us reproduced. Seriously. This takes some of the pressure off me and Deborah too, hehe.

SO with that AND with Justen in the UK now, I have double incentive to make another trip out that way next year. Hopefully I can make it work!

Hope you folk had a good Christmas, and I'll be seeing some of you soon!

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