In the morning we parted ways for the first time in two weeks. We have been bonded by proximity to each other continuously since we were reunited. It has been great but at the same time we sometimes need to be in our own heads for a while in order to process what has happened. There are also practical matters that necessitate our parting. Chrl has school to attend and I have a few matters to sort out so that we can finally be truly unpacked.
We are in need of furniture. What kind of furniture depends on what we find. I have been thinking about what I could make in order to house all of the things we have. The television for example has to be mounted. I don’t want a giant stand that holds the television. It becomes too much of a shrine then. The books might go on a handmade shelving unit. What about constructing a bed frame like I did before? If only there was a swedish furniture store nearby some of these problems would be easily rectified without the hassle of designing. Bookshelves for example need to be strong enough to hold all of the weight that books have. Those were Bill’s favorite things to transport. They are heavy and compact. He makes his money based on the amount of weight he is transporting.
After consulting the oracle I set off to an area that has a bunch of furniture places. It runs along 22 St. This is in a part of the city referred to Alphabet City as all of the perpendicular streets have names like “Avenue A” or “Avenue G.” Along 22 St there are many different shops and the area is becoming slowly gentrified through new businesses moving in. This area has had a bad reputation in the past. It was and is in some places a poorer area so all of the social problems sometimes culminated in criminal problems. How bad can it be? Part of the joy of being on this furniture mission is that it will take me into different parts of the city allowing me to get a lay of the land.
There was a particular place that I wanted to stop off in. I had the route picked out and marked on my phone but I somehow walked right past it. It’s much too cold to be holding the phone out. I am heavily bundled up on this crisp bright sunny day. It is way below zero in the negative teens. I walked up and into a furniture shop and had a look around. The lady that worked there struck up a conversation with me. I got to talk to a local. She said that the winter has been the worst since her childhood out on the farm. I told her that I am new here. She said that I should watch out for the Indigenous folk as they will “get you.” Chrl warned me about this. There is a segment of the population that is a bit prejudiced against the First Nations people here. There is a long history behind this but needless to say Alphabet City has a large percentage of First Nations people living there. There has been a history of social problems that stem from failed social policy by the government in the past. Overall though this city is surprisingly multicultural. People who wished to settle in this country as refugees were settled here. Travelling along on the bus I see many people of a variety of cultural backgrounds. The shop that I was in had premium second hand furniture. It was all not what I was looking for. The actual store that I was after was just across the street. The signage wasn’t great and what was on offer inside was even less so. It was off to another such shop.
The next place was a ReUse outpost. Here people brought in their excess building materials and assorted other things for sale to support Habitat For Humanity. I was hopeful to find something here. The warehouse had offices for a variety of non-profit community organizations that worked with the LGBT community in the front. In the back where I entered there was a whole bunch of stuff everywhere. I looked through what they had on offer with an open mind. Would I find bookshelves? Would I find something irresistible. I found bookshelves but not to my liking. I also spotted something that could be used as a piece inside the flat. It had the right size. The piece was solid unlike some modern stuff we buy these days. The price was good. I should take a picture. The credenza would sit right under the tv and would house the stereo and the record player. It’s the wrong color though. It would have to be painted. Mental notes were taken.
Ever since we got our new phone numbers yesterday communication and connection through the network has been restored. We got a good family/student package through the local provincial company. It was such a pleasant experience that it slipped my mind to mention it. The cable and wifi will be installed by the end of the week. This ability to connect to the network has greatly improved my movement through the city. The transportation system consists of bus routes. These busses are live when searching and planning travel anywhere in the city. We are also conveniently located in the centre of the city. All of the buses travel to and from the city centre radially meaning that transferring is mainly done in the centre of the city. I got myself a bus pass as buying a car at this point is simply out of the question financially. It made me think and calculate how many years it has been that I haven’t had a car for. It is getting to the sixteenth anniversary of that moment when my engine blew up on the interstate down south. I left her there and haven’t had the courage to begin another relationship with a vehicle since. Now it is almost a challenge to see how long I can go without buying one. I will have to soon but not just yet. Need to have a job.
The next stop is a home improvement warehouse. This is another type of shop that I can spend hours in. I had to look at my options. On the way there I jumped off the bus to check out a home furnishing store that advertises low cost furniture. That wasn’t good. It forced me to then walk the rest of the way to the home improvement store. The cold wind and blowing snow made the walk treacherous at times. The lack of a pathway indicated that people didn’t walk here too often. I was forced to make my own way through some sections. My jacket was really getting a good test. Parts of me that weren’t quite protected began to go numb the further and longer I stayed out here. It wasn’t that far but out here far is proportional to the conditions outside. Finally after getting inside the warehouse I looked around and made more mental notes. I would have to discuss my ideas with Chrl. I can’t make unilateral decisions anymore the way that I used to. There is no need to make impulsive decisions either. I still have some time. I didn’t actually buy anything just yet. The wheels are turning in my mind processing all of the different factors that make up the decision making process. There are practicalities involved and costs to consider. What is the most effective and practical way of achieving our intended outcome?
Back at home we ate a ready made meal and enjoyed our first coming home and hanging out time together. Chrl had some studies to do for her classes. I continued unpacking. How much bookshelf space do we actually need? I unpacked all of the books and stacked them all along one of the walls. I had to move things in order to make that space available. We researched and talked about our options. I would buy the credenza and paint it in the sun room. I would also make a custom frame to hold some of our plastic storage containers. That way we could store some of out things inside of them. We don’t have too much storage space. We need a bed frame with drawers and while this is not outside of my ability to create the logistics of our space make this prospect improbable. The swedish furniture company has a drop off location in Saskatoon making their products affordable. The size of the shipment does not alter that cost so it is better to make a bigger order. We will get the bookshelves and bedframe from them. It works out way cheaper than any of the options that I have seen on my travels. The other option is to go to the global dominant supershop but Chrl is opposed to shopping there for ethical reasons so I will respect that. Having checked out their prices it isn’t as cheap as one would think and the quality would be inferior to the swedish stuff anyways. So that was that the plan was made.
The next day I went to the ReUse place and bought the credenza. I had to find a delivery company to get it to me however. I couldn’t get a taxi big enough so I called around and found a company that could get it to me for cheap. That was coming in the afternoon. I went to a hardware store afterwards to go and pick up a few things that I needed to prepare it for refinishing. We had decided on white as a color for our furnishings. It is the best color to brighten up our flat. The credenza is going to be with us for a long time and finishing it off right is going to take some time. Luckily I have time on my hands in order to get the job done right. I wonder if I have the patience to see it through to the end. I have made many trips to the home improvement warehouse over the course of the week. Each time I pick up a few more things that I needed. Over the course of those trips as my plan has become clearer I have acquired some tools that will serve me for a while. I had a store credit to burn up so I invested in some cordless tools. There was a promotion where if you buy a drill and driver set you can pick from amongst three different tools. I chose to buy a circular saw. I felt like such a big kid unwrapping them from the boxes. This has been the best present anyone could have gotten me at this time. I bought a tv wall mount for where the tv was going to go on the wall. There is no escaping mounting the thing on the wall. I got paint and sandpaper as well as a sander. There are too many things to list.
Once the credenza made it to the flat I inspected it again and moved it into the sun room that I had converted into a workspace. Here my work will be isolated from the rest of the flat keeping the dirt and dust away from the rest of the flat. The sun room is the only room in the flat besides the kitchen and bathroom that isn’t carpeted. Trying to get dirt out of carpeting can sometimes be tricky so it’s best to avoid all of that. My vision with the credenza is that it feel good to the touch and for it to look good. The credenza itself is made mostly out of solid wood. There are some parts of it that are made out of particle board but that allows it to be so wide and straight. It has good drawers that I may have to fix the runners on. They may even have to be replaced but that will come later. For now I will just focus on making what I have look better than it does right now. What it needs is a good sanding so that I could get all of the surfaces ready for paint. The preparation also included taping off all of the hardware and boundaries that will not have to be painted. The trouble with my little workspace is that it is too little. Every step involved some preparatory step that ate up a bit more time. In order to get this thing looking right will require time.
Over the course of the next four days I would sand and paint all of the surfaces at least five times. The top of the credenza I painted eight times and then covered it with some wax. The trouble with painting furniture is that you have to be quite precise and clean. Any little bit of dirt or hair ruins the finish. The top surface especially is prone to these imperfections. Obsessively I sanded the surface over and over again trying to get it to be as smooth as possible. All those layers took away from the imperfections that I kept noticing. It is almost like a game trying to smooth out the coarseness that can be seen from a particular angle. My activities revolved around sanding and painting a fresh layer on the credenza before heading out or doing something else. As much as I enjoy doing this it is still labour. A labour of love. Running your hand across the surface is actually pleasurable. It is surprising how sensitive touch is finding all the little imperfections on the surface. When the surface is nice and smooth running your hand across it feels nice. When Chrl runs her hand across it I want her to feel that sensuous smoothness. A soft comforting feel that arouses a feeling of pleasure. This thing has to look good because it is the centerpiece of our sitting room. I obsessed over every drip and piece of dust that felt and looked out of place on the smooth surface. I was beginning to see differences in the whiteness as I painted. Each layer became thinner and smoother.
The other thing that was occupying my mind was this project that involved a bit of construction. Having unpacked much of our stuff we are left with quite a few empty plastic storage bins. Many of them are exactly the same. What I want to do is build a frame for them that will also serve as a day bed. They will sit under the window by Chrl’s desk and give her a comfortable place on which to read her many articles and books that she needs to read. She has a lot of reading to do. The storage frames would have a lid and they will snuggly fit two containers. I would make two of these containers and they would sit side by side giving them an overall length of about five and a half feet. Just long enough for Chrl to lay completely flat on them. There were a lot of calculations that had to be made so that I could get enough material and so that the lengths are correct. Having limited mobility around the city forces me to be a lot more careful with what I buy. These frames will also be painted the same white color as the credenza matching it closely in color at least.
We ordered our furniture from that swedish furniture place. It turns out that there is a drop off location in the city that helps reduce the delivery cost. The bedroom set and bookshelves will arrive sometime next week. In between there are also other things to do. The credenza has to be finished. A frame for the containers has to be constructed. All the supplies have to be bought. Clothes have to be arranged. We go through periods of space and then a lack of it as things get unpacked and then placed somewhere. The credenza itself requires a preparatory sanding before each coat of paint. Each coat then requires some sort of clean up afterwards. There were eight coats of paint. I had intended to be done in five but my eyes kept finding spots of disuniformity. I wanted it to look good and the frustration at not being able to finish in five coats was mitigated by the desire to have this thing last. I wanted to be proud to have it sitting there in the living room. It is also a strange symbol of my feelings. The care and attention that I am showing towards this is the same kind of care and attention I want to show toward the relationship that I am in now. It is a bit different thinking about it versus actually being in it. Being here in person continuously interacting, observing, laughing, holding, and all that goes along with cohabitation.
On Sunday afternoon after one of these coats of paint on the credenza I checked out the postings on the website. My field of expertise is really narrow but valuable. There aren’t too many places here for me to find work. I wasn’t expecting them to have any postings right now but lo and behold there it is! There is a temporary position in PET/CT available. The application window closes on Tuesday! I was going to start to look for work after the moving in process finished. I do believe however in pursuing opportunity as it appears. One never knows if it will be successful but chances are that it will lead to something. I shared the good news with Chrl and began to immediately rewrite my CV and work on a new cover letter. My old CV is geared towards being a locum and it is six pages long. I had to minimize everything taking out all the fluff that helped me in those days. That fluff is not necessary in this instance. I worked on this all night and than the next day in the morning. Chrl and I were pursuing our intellectual pursuits side by side in front of our laptops. It is something that I am getting used to. It is something that I am enjoying.
On Monday morning I decided to go and check out the hospital that I may be working at in the future. It is only a twenty minute walk across the bridge to the university. The bus ride Chrl tells me is only five minutes. Those who know me know that I will be walking back and forth on that bridge to and from work. If anything going there and trying to see someone so that they can put a face to the name applying for work will hopefully open up a door. There is a lot more riding on this then ever before. There was a bit of anxiety just enough to focus on the tasks at hand. Those being to find the actual departments and hopefully meet someone who matters. After Chrl left for school I finished my application and then got ready. The walk was pretty cold. The wind blew harder across the bridge and the river that runs through Saskatoon flowed even in this cold weather. It had a mist hanging over it that was beautiful to see even in these conditions. It is almost too cold to take a picture of.
The University Hospital has a nice facade. The original building was built in the 1950’s and it has a stately appearance with its stone cover that has a color that I am having a hard time to describe. It has a pleasing look softer than any brutalist concrete that was not yet in vogue here. Snow covered everything else reminding me constantly of where I am. Every time I go out I am thankful for the sale that has blessed me with my jacket. Inside the hospital the color scheme was different from every other color scheme I’ve seen inside hospitals. It was a shade of green that I wasn’t used to seeing in such quantity. The hallways and floors aren’t ten feet high. They are closer to eight giving some of the hallways a claustrophobic feel. I looked for the nuc med department and followed the signs that took me deep into the bowels of the hospital. Like many hospitals that have been built this one has lots of corridors. The nuc med department is in the back somewhere as it always is. I asked the receptionist for the PET/CT department and she directed me to another section of the hospital. Once at the PET/CT department I introduced myself and said that I was a potential candidate for work. ‘Would it be possible to speak to a manager?’ She made a phone call and walked me over to the manager’s office. She said that she is terrible at giving directions. I introduced myself to the manager and said that I had applied for a position. She sat me down and we had an informal discussion. I gave her a bit about me and we made an appointment for Friday for an interview! I didn’t expect things to go so smoothly. Walking back home the cold didn’t feel as cold as it did before.
I shared the good news with Chrl and got back to work. This credenza has to be finished. It needs to be uniform and this perfectionism has a purpose. It is some kind of abstraction that has a fascination within me as it is something that we check for every morning in nec med to make sure the system is operating properly. The crystal has to respond to a uniform source uniformly and those areas of disuniformity have to have their area correction factors adjusted to conform to clinical standards. I kept sanding away as my mind played such silly games inside of it with music constantly playing and the heat up to the max to keep me comfortably warm. I managed to put on two more coats that day. Thoughts also turned towards calculations. How many feet of boards do I need? Will it all fit together? Is the spacing going to be right? I am redoing the calculations. I ran out of paint before the credenza was finished. On Tuesday I went to buy the boards and all the other supplies that I needed. It is amazing how much time one can spend inside a home improvement store. Everything came together inside of it as I chose all of the materials that I needed to finish. All the cuts that I needed to make allowed me to get boards that are six feet long. This allowed me to transport them via taxi to my home. Once home I put on a final coat and then waited and then put on a final coat of wax. The piece was finished and dry on Wednesday. It took a few days longer than expected but there were mitigating circumstances. The end result I am happy with.
This chapter also covers the time when we finally got connected to the interwebs. The service technitian came over on Friday in the morning. He was a friendly chap and spent the next hour or so getting the fiber cable running up to our flat. It was never installed inside of this flat before so it took a bit longer than normal. I chatted to him as much as I could as I got everything ready for my project. The recently acquired tools came in handy when drilling out a hole for the cable to connect to the tv.
The prairies are far away from any significant body of water. Due to this the humidity is considerably lower in the air. Ever since we moved into this place Chrl has noticed that she feels a bit different. Both of us have been getting a lot of shocks as the static energy builds up. It gets to a point when it actually hurts. A discharge of energy is enough to brighten a room momentarily. We needed to buy a humidifier. I saw one on one of my excursions while the credenza was drying between coats. On the weekend when we went to buy some groceries we went to the store to buy it. Chrl found other ones online that were cheaper but with different features. Those were not available for pick up at any of the local stores. The price that was posted in the store was different than the one posted online. The difference in price was significant enough for us to chose to grab this model. It had the capacity to humidify more than just one room. It would work for our whole flat. After using it for a few days the quality of our air has improved. We can’t just open a window because it’s so cold out and the only window that opens to the outside is inside the sunroom that is currently a workspace.