So it came to be that my new role is beginning. The first few days are spent getting shown around and meeting everyone. I had to go through a bunch of introductory material regarding Transportation of Dangerous Goods as well as the way the databases operate. I am still waiting for my passwords to come through however. As smooth as this transition has been there are quite a few bureaucratic hurdles that have not been overcome. It is yet another job that I am starting and I am meeting new faces who all come with stories. In the years to come we will have spent much time working together but right now it is a matter of figuring out how this place operates. How are all of the local hospitals connected as I will likely work at each of them at some point in my career here. In a few days though Chrl and I will be hosting our first gathering at our place so there is a bit of preparation to do.
After my first day I told Chrl that I will be working with a majority of women. The percentages are usually skewed in this direction within the healthcare sector however here there is an overwhelming majority of women in this department. I mention this because it is the most striking feature of this department with respect to the personnel. The equipment that they have is getting a bit old but it is still operational. There is new equipment but it appears that things get changed as needed it is a function of how well the economy functions and as it stands the economy here is reflective of the economy of the province as a whole. The resources here are at the mercy of financial forces beyond the geography of this area. There is a certain amount of discipline that runs through the department and the hospital as a whole. Steps have to be followed when it comes to certain procedures. While there are many roads that can lead to the same outcome I have to first learn the way that it is done here before finding my own creative way of executing these procedures.
On top of learning all of the necessary steps in performing these procedures there are all of the names that I have to learn as well. I’ve never really been good at this although I have tried to get better by trying out all the various methods that help ingrain names into memory. Repetition, vocalization, association, and rhyme are common tools employed in this approach. I have some of the faces down and would probably recognize quite easily. There are also those whom I have met a few times now. Those with whom I have corresponded and now have spent hours with in front of a computer screen reviewing policies related to certain aspects of their job. I have forgotten what her name is now. Hmm…
It all happens so quick these initial introductions. Then there is less time spent repeating names but more time spent talking generally about all kinds of different things. There was an uncomfortable silence on my part as I listened to the observations of a strange slow day that was happening before us. Work is easy when there is something to do but when we are all looking at the clock watching seconds ticking away it becomes painful. I was reassured that days like this are an anomaly. What can be done when people do not show up for their appointments? There was an urgent case that came down and I watched the procedure so that I could get a sense of how everyone works together. There is a degree of camaraderie that runs through this place and it may be due to longstanding relationships that have developed over time. The place is both modern and old. There is a wait for modernization as resources are increasingly sparse due to the forces that have shaved them. My next day was spent observing the other department that I will be working in. The one where I will spend half of my time during the year. Here modernity and brightness are evident. There is a window to the outside world which allows for observation both of them and of us. Much of our time is spent sitting due to the mandated methods at work here.
Friday afternoon after I finished my shift and Chrl her studies we took the bus to the grocery shop in order to purchase provisions for our partay. It is more of a social gathering than anything else. It isn’t going to be anything resembling parties of old where copious amounts of alcohol were served and guests were invited to go wild. Guests in those times were friends and close associates on top of it being at a time when our age reflected our carefree nature. We were idealists and anarchists, rebels who knew that the world was messed up but we just wanted to have fun anyways. All that remains are memories of those times here we are new and almost all the people that I will be meeting are new to me. There won’t be a wild time as the ranges of ages is vast. Kids will serve as a focus of attention as this place is not kid proof at all.
We each had an idea of what we wanted to serve. I was gathering ingredients for spring rolls. I was going to make them myself. That was on top of other things like a tort and various other appetizer type snacks. We were expecting to have ten to fifteen people attend our flatwarming party. It is a lot of work but the result is a more welcoming atmosphere. I set to work on the tort as soon as I got home. A tort in legal terms is “a civil version of a crime” and since everyone that’s invited is deeply involved in its study in one of their classes, I thought it would be appropriate.
It is a simple recipe but I found the steps difficult to execute as aesthetically as shown on the pictures. The biggest problem was getting the rolled pastry onto a baking sheet in one piece. The thin pastry kept falling apart. I resorted to using pie shell forms but that added its own set of problems. I had to crack the resulting piece into the desired round shape that I needed. This was my first attempt at doing this. It took a bit longer than I would have hoped. I am getting used to the kitchen and the resources that I have available. I have to be able to find the extent of the things that I need to have an effective kitchen. It forces me to think about the set up that I have. About the kinds of things that I need to have and where. At certain points it was a mess and then after a certain task was completed it was clean all over again.
In the morning I started on the other tasks like the spring rolls and some of the cleaning and arranging. Chrl was doing some of the other tasks around the flat that needed to be done. We moved the table and set out plates and other snacks. I had to shower before the guests arrived. We were busy but we were also in a good mood as guests arrived. I made some introductory snacks that needed to be warmed and served. Things were falling into place as more people showed up. The meringues were slowly basting in the oven throughout the night. Chrl sat and chatted with all of the guests. They were all people from school that she hung out with and some that she wanted to get to know more. All of them have a wide range of experiences. Some have less according to the amount of time they have spent on this planet. Most of them were not local having been brought here for the opportunity at gaining an education and training at this university. There is a surprisingly wide range of ages represented here to go along with the wide range of views.
I wasn’t in the kitchen for the whole night. I kept coming and going with subsequent fresh portions of spring rolls. I kind of messed up with them by not shredding the cabbage enough. That created air bubbles inside the rolled rice paper pastry. I probably also put in too much filling so that the bubbles ended up popping and spilling some of the filling out into the oil. Again I put this down to inexperience. I am used to buying pre made spring rolls. I can see why they are a popular item to buy premade. It is just such a hassle to make them. I did get compliments on their taste especially with some of the sauces that I had to dip them with. I’m glad that at least that part came out well. I made a lot of them so Chrl and I had them for leftovers for the whole weekend.
Towards the end of the night I got into a heated discussion with one of the guests. It was about an issue that is divisive within society usually along religious lines. I was debating someone who holds an opinion that limits choice and during the course of our debate it became clear that a rational conclusion would not be reached. I don’t hold their opinion against them but the manner in which it is expressed seems to be antithetical to the spirit in which such views are fostered. Language becomes veiled in terms that implicitly forces a reaction instead of discussing the limits that an individual has over their personal domain. I told the individual that I never wanted to discuss this particular topic with them ever again. It has nothing to do with winning or losing the debate but I don’t want this to be the only point that they raise when discussing the limits to their freedom of expression, their supposed persecution because of their views. There are other groups that have been hard done by for a much longer period of time and in a much harsher way. As Chrl says “those who have been in control feel that they are losing their rights when more people gain theirs.” Or something to that effect.
The rest of the weekend we chilled as we slowly cleaned up from hosting the party. We took advantage of the amenities available to us here in the building. The hot tub and pool really helped ease the ol’ muscles as did the dry sauna. We are both getting used to the luxury of having something like this available to us. Neither of us have had this before and after a month and a half of living here we are still pinching ourselves. We had time to watch a bit o’ the ol’ telly too. We had time to sleep and we had time to just talk. It was really a good weekend. It was also a long weekend as this province celebrates Family Day on the second Monday of February. It is a provincial holiday that allows people to have a day off sometime after Christmas and before Easter. Otherwise it is a long stretch without a holiday. This is a fairly new development as this holiday didn’t exist before I left. I know that there was talk about having it but it was never implemented back then.
We didn’t do much on that day either. Chrl’s reading break was starting on Tuesday. Her University has a weeklong break at that time too in order to allow students to catch up on all of their work. I remember back in my days it was an excuse to go out and party. THis doesn’t really happen that much anymore. In all reality I am much removed from that now. I still had work to go to. I am living an adult life post school, fortunate as well to have work. Chrl is determined to perform school boot camp during that time. She was going to get up and walk to work with me. I work at the University Hospital the same University that she goes to school to. Every night we write in our little book before we go to sleep. It is like a little journal of our experiences together. I wrote first and as I read her entry my expression changed into a surprised face. She asked me to marry her.