Why I Went Missing

Some of you may have noticed that my posts sort of dried up for a while.  Well, here’s the thing ~

Many of you know that, for many years, I’ve been juggling many hats, career-wise.  In addition to being a charming and adorable blogger, a somewhat soft-core artist, and an immortal adrenaline junkie with a death wish, I also spent my nights working as an emergency dispatcher.  And as much as I liked the job itself, I was finding myself restless.

AND I also enjoy taking tests, which is how all this story really begins.  (BECAUSE I AM APPARENTLY JUST THAT BIG A NERD.)

This restlessness led to some random web surfing, which led to me sort of accidentally taking the RCMP entrance exam.  (That’s the Mounties, for those of you who don’t know.  And the Mounties are the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, for those of you who don’t know.  And the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are kind of like Canada’s FBI and state police combined, for those of you who don’t know.)

I think it may have been from a subconscious desire for a pony.  I’m not really sure.

But then I found out that I had passed.  Well, not really passed.  More like ACED IT – 98th percentile, baby!  *self-five*

Turned out they wanted me to come to Truro to work in the RCMP Operational Communications Centre, which led to a year-long recruitment process – that I had to keep secret from the boss who was still paying me, even while being good friends with her and being absolutely horrible at lying and becoming a nervous, yammering squirrel every time I had to be around her.  (It was horrible.)

I’m not allowed to talk much about it, but this recruitment process involved panel interviews, simulations, emptying pockets for armed escorts into the RCMP Headquarters (where there was a very disturbing mounted bison head that still gives me nightmares – and hopefully I haven’t broken any confidentiality covenants by telling you that, but seriously, those things are HUGE), being fingerprinted, being poked, prodded and tested for vision, hearing, medical, and psych (and let me just stop you right there, because OBVIOUSLY if they wanted to confirm my sound state of mind, all they had to really do was read my blog, amirite?).  All of these things  happened in other cities, and due to my having to sneak around, it generally involved me having to work graveyard shifts and then drive the 3-6 hours there and back during the day, plus the time for the testing.    (But they were promising me almost triple my current salary, so….  It’s true.  I’m a capitalist whore.)

Then it was on to the final step.  And here’s where it reeeeally got intense.  The final phase was the security clearance.  And the position I was being considered for required TOP SECRET security clearance.  (It’s true – it’s actually called that.  “Top Secret”.  I would have expected something more cryptic, like, “Level Alpha-1” or “Platinum Tier”, but we’re simple people, we Canadians. )

This top level security clearance meant members of the federal government’s investigative bureau combing through all of my emails and all of my texts from the past decade, interviewing friends, family, and neighbours (because, of course, grannies are the first to know when you are plotting to overtake the government and whatnot).  I was informed it would be a good idea to warn anyone that would be expected to be interrogated interviewed, because some people get a little freaked out when the men in black (men in maroon?) show up at the door.  So I did this – I called up people I hadn’t spoken to in years.  I warned my friends, family, and neighbours that someone might be asking about me and told them no, I was not in trouble with the law (which I’m sure would have been the default expectation).   Along with a few warnings about sexting, obviously.  (Overall, the entire process felt a little like I imagine it must feel for people who have to notify their previous partners about an STD.  A little cooler than that, obviously, but still awkward.)

So, shit was getting real.  I had started looking at apartments in Truro.  And  I quit my job, the dispatch one.  Yeah, that’s right – I did it!

THEN my dad went in hospital for what was supposed to be a routine day surgery, which turned into a week full of medical complications, and I went, “What the fuck am I thinking?  I can’t move away right now!”  (My mom passed away a couple of years ago and Dad has no other family nearby.)   And my side gigs were becoming more lucrative, making the decision easier.

So, I took a deep breath and told the RCMP I was withdrawing my application.  I bought a domain name (www.andreamacmillan.com) and decided to start working for myself, painting for a living and subsidizing naps.  (I am an excellent boss.)

Either that, or I’m now a secret agent under cover as a charming and adorable blogger.  You’ll never know.

P.S.  As it turns out, they don’t actually give you a pony when you join the Mounted Police, anyway.  Pfft.

On the Importance of Always Remaining Just a Bit Out of Touch With Reality – Part II

A girl sits alone in a small emergency dispatch office.  It is the middle of the night.  The room is dark but for a single light above the desk and the twinkling of the Christmas tree lights.

She sits before the monumental task of preparing the monthly emergency reports with the satisfaction that comes from creating order from chaos.  It  is a good job.  It makes her feel important.

But in the back of her mind, she is dreaming of far-off places and the adventures that they hold.  The smell of the Christmas tree stirs a sense of anticipation; the old year draws to an end and a new one is about to begin.  She inhales deeply and shivers with pleasure at the mysteries that lie ahead.

Suddenly, a radio crackles to life, a radio which ensures constant communication with emergency personnel.  The girl casts aside her musings and leaps into action.  There is important business here, lives to be saved.

She keys the mike and speaks.  “Scotia here.  Go ahead, over.”

The speakers crackle again.  A momentary pause.  Then the firefighter’s voice bursts forth, with only a hint of suppressed laughter.

“What are you wearing?”


Another Friday night in Bridgewater.

On the Importance of Always Remaining Just a Bit Out of Touch With Reality

A girl is alone in a small emergency dispatch office.  It is the middle of the night.  She signs off on the radio with a firefighter returning home after a call and stands to stretch her legs.

As she waits for water to boil for her second cup of coffee of the night, she throws open the window and leans out over the windowbox to breathe in the clean night air.  The world is still.  She rests her chin on her hands and sighs, gazing at the sky and thinking big thoughts about life, love, and polar bears.  She likes the old window with its flowerbox, because it makes her feel vaguely French.  In a few hours, she will lean out again to watch the sun rise, as she does every morning.  Soon she will have a hot, sweet cup of hazelnut cream coffee.  Life is good and she is at peace.

A voice penetrates the darkness.

“No!  Fuck YOU, asshole!!!”

Another Friday night in Bridgewater.


Published in: on November 8, 2008 at 3:36 am  Comments (5)  
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Why I Rock.

I have currently been awake for 28 hours.  Since 7 am yesterday morning, I have: 

  • Read and edited the entire first draft of a novel I’m working on (don’t get excited – it sucks.  But it’s like when you make pancakes.  The first couple are always lousy.  I’ll write something someday that will make it out of the Desk Drawer of Shame.) 
  • Gone for a two-hour hike along the ocean.
  • Gone for an extended swim in same ocean.
  • Stepped on a jelly-fish (not actually on my to-do list, just thought I’d take another stab at the sympathy vote.  I mean, it was dead, so it didn’t sting me or anything…it was just really yucky.)
  • Worked an eight-hour graveyard shift at the ol’ emerg dispatch, where I helped save 14,985 lives and wrote 688,324 reports.
  • Enjoyed a 40-minute thrill-ride through the jungles of Bridgewater on Spike the Mountain Bike. 
  • Updated my blog.  Twice.
  • Finished the sketch for a portrait commission (it’s coming, Tanya – it’s coming soon) and transferred it to art paper.
  • Scooped more cat litter than any human should ever be required to scoop. 
  • Taken a leisurely stroll through the gardens surrounding my loverly home.


I am curling up with Pyewackett the Magnificent and my new book, of which I hope to read no more than three pages before being swept away in the arms of my darling Morpheus.


The Hypnotic Gaze of Pyewackett the Magnificent

The Hypnotic Gaze of Pyewackett the Magnificent

Published in: on July 25, 2008 at 2:27 pm  Comments (2)