A Dot in the Knife: My First Four Weeks in Yellowknife

Some days, it feels like I never leave.
Some days, it feels like I’m always here.

“It’s 11:30 pm, Karen, and we are leaving.”
“But I still have so much to do!”
“You can do it tomorrow. We’re going to get a beer.”

It’s the night before my first deadline day filing for both NWT News/North and Nunavut News/North, and I’m trying not to panic. In a few hours, I have to file four more business stories and two collections of briefs. I am still desperately emailing people for interviews for the next morning and already imagining giant holes in the paper. But at this point, my brain is already fried and my handling editor, Josh, has other ideas.

In addition to dragging me to The Cellar that night (where we have “Green Velvet” vegetable soup, the only thing left in the kitchen), the next day he calmly neutralizes my panic and reassures me I have more time. The technology in the office is often challenging, but Josh’s presence is like an expert mechanic, someone who has figured out how tune his team for maximum performance under high stress.

He’s not the only person at work I’m grateful for. I have been amazed at the sense of encouragement and camaraderie of my work group since my first day in town. So many people work hard, stay late, and then regularly hang out together on weeknights and on the weekends. After desperately looking for a place, a coworker offered the extra room opening up in her apartment. Everyone goes out to celebrate birthdays. They are a big reason I am excited to go into the office every day.

The other thing is – I love my job. My god, I love it. Calling people up to ask them about things or going out and meeting them while also talking photographs, and then writing something to get other people interested or curious about it as well? Especially topics or items normally seen as boring or complicated? This is what my daydreams were made of for a very long time. In the first two weeks, I have had two in-depth education briefings with local industry officials, the latter of which made me feel like I was in a private university lecture being taught by a fun professor who also loved his job. I got to check out a multi-million dollar private jet as part of profile. Recently, I interviewed a Filipino couple who made me two desserts in addition to cooking me lunch.

Sure, there were even later nights I spent at the office or many more moments filled with panic the parachute wouldn’t open in time. And there have definitely been other tough moments during my first four weeks in Yellowknife. I developed a horrible habit of stress-eating every day at work. Living in a hotel for 22 days led to me spending immense amounts of money buying groceries and going out. I overexerted myself during a fitness assessment and couldn’t walk properly for four days. I felt guilty I didn’t call my family enough. I missed friends. A crush rejected me. I got lost numerous times, despite driving around the equivalent of 10 square city blocks. One time I walked outside for an hour and my eyelashes nearly froze shut.

But there were great moments too. Despite all the odds, I went on a great date with someone from OkCupid. We saw the Northern Lights, so bright that streaks, flames and waves of purple and green seemed to ripple across the entire sky for more than thirty minutes. I saw the infamous snow castle with my friend Meagan, where I watched a concert sponsored by CBC North. Nearby, I watched a chimney made of ice be lit from a fire inside, and then fireworks go off nearby.

The next weekend, I made a friend in the aisles of Walmart, and we ended up hanging out at a salsa event later that night.

I will freely admit it has definitely been overwhelming to discover how much I truly do not know and trying to get up to speed as fast as I can. But ultimately, being in Yellowknife makes me feel lucky. I truly get to learn about new things every day, meet new people, see and do interesting things, and reporting it all in a way that I dreamed about for so long. There is no shortage of business news here and writing it all feels what I was meant to do. It’s definitely not easy to make all the deadlines or navigate all the uncertainties, but living here is certainly an adventure. And so far, I’m really glad I’m here.

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