Kittie and the bad s-word, brainwashing and medical exams

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Now, we all know we shouldn’t swear, and a lot of time has passed since the last entry I possibly entertained you with. Say it did or I will cry and that ain’t pretty for anyone. Everyone that knows me knows that I am very prone to swearing. Pretty much every other word is something your grandma wouldn’t want to hear and the contents of my ramblings are highly questionable at best. Yesterday I used one that made even me want to wash out my mouth with soap: S-N-O-W.

All of you that live in not-snowy areas get that stupid shimmer in your eyes when you hear that word, you think about romantic walks and snow angels, building snowmen (if you start singing that song from Frozen now get the hell out and never come back to my blog), sleigh rides wrapped up in warm blankets and quite possibly snowboarding. Here’s a dose of reality for you: getting stuck in your own freaking driveway, snow up your neck, snow in your boots, cold and wet feet, frozen fingers, car doors that refuse to open, having to plug in the car every night, having to unplug the car every morning when the stupid plug is frozen, moronic drivers almost ending your life instead of theirs, slushy roads, tracks in the snow all around town so deep you feel like you’re driving a lowrider and that make left turns virtually impossible, snow removal meaning they first push all the snow to THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. Who needs left turns anyway.

Still think it’s romantic? You’re hopeless.

Off to more interesting news. We’re permanent residents now, have been for almost a year. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. We had to drive down to the border (there was snow everywhere too) because our work permits didn’t allow for a seamless affair. So, down we went. I had just worked a ten hour shift outside in thirty below weather because I’m insane like that, and after a mere twele hours we were there. We had been told beforehand that we needed to inform the US border people that we didn’t intend to enter the country, so we did. They took our passports and had us park the car.

My exact thoughts at that moment: oh, shit.

After nearly ten years I know my husband. I know what happens with him and governement officials and such. Never, ever a good combination. So they had us declare everything we had in the car. Meat? Ten eggs benny sandwiches with bacon. Fruits? Four apples. Tobacco? Twelve cigarettes, can I have one now please. They asked for our license plate number (which we had to check) and the colour (they said color) of my van. Husband said black but it’s MIDNIGHT STEEL or some other bull. They got a dog to walk all over the hood of my van, and through it. I hope they let him have one of my sandwiches, they were awesome. After half an hour they let us go. They escorted us around the building so we wouldn’t drive off into the sunset and into the States (which I wouldn’t do anyway. Not with my family in tow, at least.).

Canadian border. Again, why did I let my husband drive? How long have you been in America? -About half an hour. Do you have cash over 10.000 on you? -I wish. At that point she wrote something on our immigration papers and I swore to the God I don’t believe in I would desecrate the next best flag and strangle my husband with it if his warped sense of homour (humor) would cost us our papers.

Anyway. Ten minutes before it was our turn to speak to a Canadian Immigration Officer. The CIO as we called him. Around us disgruntled truck drivers with missing permits, and all sorts of travellers. I felt instantly superior because we were almost half Canadians now. We were home. He asked us a few last questions regarding our paperwork, answers which at that point we had to give so many times it was sort of boring. We weren’t lying about anything so I wasn’t worried at all. Meanwhile the Canadian side searched our car with a K9, again I hope he got a sandwich out of it. I swear they put our stuff back in the bags after that the other side had left out. I love these people.

Finally the guy looked up at us, after his colleague had returned without any drugs. He smiled and said “Welcome to Canada.” I half expected him to repeat it in French, but he was busy explaining to us where we could obtain a MSP (Medical Service Plan) with our care cards, social insurance and other documents. Dude. We’ve been living here for over a year, not getting all these things by this point would have been against the law. But since some people get their PR before they come to the country I guess they just have to have their programs.

Elated, at least I was, we drove off with screeching tires, only to stop at the rest stop two minutes away. I needed nicotine and phoned relatives quickly to let them know we were alright and didn’t get arrested (you never know, with the way we look… SUSPICIOUS). I think I also updated my status on Facebook.

That’s how we became PRs. And I swear we have been brainwashed. Last time my house was decked out in skulls, all black furniture, the works. Now I have skulls too, but with antlers attached. My husband is wearing Wranglers, so am I, we each own boots and a hat. We go to the rodeo every year and our next big project is buying 100-some acres out of town to start a little farm. Us. Tattooed, pierced, listening to metal. But Eric Church ainèt bad, and really, Jeff FoxworthyÉ SO funny. Yep. Totally brainwashed. Our friend is really proud of us though. She knew we would come around. Five years ago my husband teased her about her camo hat, now he has one himself. Is there a thing like metal-rednecks?

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You think you thought you knew what was coming

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Hello world. It is I, Kittie. And I have just discovered that the Canadian government is insane. Or maybe I am, who knows. Since we last talked we have adopted a dog, I read more Jane Austen than was healthy for me and discovered that I read about 20 books in the past six weeks.

And we kept up with the immigration work. See, because we can file for permanent resident status now. Which means we had to fill out forms again. And answer questions we had already answered. Where have YOU been traveling in the past ten years? Provide the exact dates, please.

I got so excited I just kicked the speakers off the desk. Good thing this isn’t my place. Where was I?

Yes. It is easy, at least for countries outside of the EU, to determine the date you entered those countries, provided you weren’t stupid enough to get married so you had to get a new passport (like I did) or had to get a new one because your old expired (like my husband’s did). So. Lots of searching for old documents, receipts from airlines. Because I knew exactly when I had been to Canada the last time and when I had left. Too bad my husband doesn’t keep a journal, I have to get him one. From Hello Kitty.

He also made the mistake of reproducing before we met. How dare he. He doesn’t have custody and definitely does not intend to bring those children along. Yet he had to magically obtain information about their schools, their height and weight and whatnot. How that was supposed to work when him and the mother aren’t even on speaking terms… Well. We managed. And he only had to declare in writing – for each child individually – that he will not smuggle them in somehow. Maybe baked into a cake. And that he had to do witnessed by a barrister. Which, how he observed, does more than just make coffee, although he was offered some after the business part had been done.

Our police records from Germany have been sent in and just need to be translated by yet another half skilled individual that charges a lot of money. Our birth certificates were sent in so they can see that we were actually born and not put together in some underground lab. At least I wasn’t. And my husband was born in a swamp hut, like all ogres. Marriage certificate. Check. His divorce papers. Check. SIX pictures of each of us. Passport pictures. We paid over 100 buckaroos for that. At Wal-Mart for crying out loud. And the best is yet to come.

For the lovely people to go and LOOK AT OUR PAPERS we had to pay a fee. 550 dollars. Per person. 1100. Yes. Lovely. I will look over papers all day if this is the kind of money that can be made with it.

Unfortunately my work permit doesn’t allow me to work in the health sector, with children or for the government. I am appalled. So I have to reconsider my plans, because since working with the criminally insane should fall under those restrictions, so I can’t possibly work as a digital media designer anymore.

Canada tastes like chicken

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Because everything does, right. RIGHT.

Today we had the first rain since I got here and as far as I heard it’s been dry for a while longer. After working on our WINNEBAGO OF DOOM every Sunday since we got here (and last Monday too because British Columbia Day was clearly made to sit out in the prairie sun and sweat like a pig while replacing roofs) I was begging for rain. No, really, I was. With the Peace Gumbo (that’s how our friend calls the thick, weird mud out there, don’t know if that’s a common term or not) dried up with cracks about a foot deep… And you out there in the sun all day, the only fun being crawling under one of the many old cars with some of the seven dogs or riding around on a quad… you kind of understand why people go nuts in the desert.

That’s what people back in Germany usually don’t get. “It’s supposed to be cold up there.” Yes. In the WINTER. Canadians do not live in igloos all year round.

Sometimes they live in Winnebagos and collect strange things. Antlers and rodeo trophies? Alright. Horseshoes yes. But HOOVES? We found the strangest things in the Winnebago we only got for spare parts. The dude owning it used to be a rodeo cowboy of sorts and I particularly like the things that were painted on the thing./ Unfortunately they painted it white for the auction so there won’t be photographic evidence. The word “Wannabango” comes up every now and then, a different spelling on each side. The one in the back is still there, but they forgot the a in the middle. Tragic.

This is a very pointless post, really. But the good news: I will get a laptop in early September. Let’s hope I will get internet, too. I know my husband and his very literal ways.

There were so many things I wanted to talk about, like the 70th anniversary of the Alaska Highway and old army trucks being mean because they made me want to get a sewing machine to make uniforms. And lots of other, really funny things. But there’s a thunderstorm building up out there and I lost a good post to a power outage yesterday. Bare with me. At some point this will be interesting again.

What a difference a country makes

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Seriously, guys. Canadian guys. I say that instead of my general blubbering about North Americans because I know how that’s always a touchy subject and we all know how much more awesome Canadians are (and hey, I haven’t even received my landed immigrant yet, so I’m rather safe than sorry folks).

What is up with your underwear for boys?

All the cool stuff like Spider Man and all the good guys, Transformers, heck, even Iron Man? Only briefs. The coolest boxers you can get for a 5-year old are camo and I sincerely dislike where this is going. Are you trying to tell me something? Are we rednecks because we buy our boy boxers? Are nerdy boys (and seriously, at that age almost every boy likes comic book dudes) doomed to wear uncomfortable briefs forever? What is UP with that?

And then I wandered. Oh boy how I wandered. Never, ever go to the little girls section at Wal-Mart I beg you. I have never worn skirts that short when I was that young and I managed to become this screwed up individual anyway. But hey. If you want to let your 8-year old skip around in short denim skirts, be my guest.

Then we stopped by a local diner, something we never really did in Germany. At least not this often. The kid would get a burger once a month or when he managed to talk his grandma into buying him one and I will not get into how easy that probably was.

While I tried not to look at young mom of two busy texting on her shnazzy smart phone while her little boy locked himself and ran around the parking lot… A girl walked in, maybe twelve. And I did a double take when I saw her shirt, my husband chuckled and told me it wasn’t my size anyway. I asked him how that little girl could get SOA merch and I couldn’t. “Because somebody loves her.” I had to let her know that her shirt is awesome though, because I remember being that age and loving it if older people commented on my Nirvana shirt. Before I could speak up she sat down next to me, grinning.

“I love your hair.”

“Thanks! Your shirt is awesome.”

“I know, right. Jax is my favorite, he’s so hot. Who’s yours?”

I dropped my burger at that point and my husband choked on his coke. When I was her age I had a vague idea that liking Knight Rider just because his car was awesome wasn’t exactly good. But I also thought horses were way cooler than boys and my one attempt at writing a letter to a guy from my class I thought was cute ended when the boys found it and laughed at me. Quite a few of them went home with bleeding noses. But I did not swoon about a dude on a TV show centered around a MC that tends to shoot people and beat the crap out of them. But ah, times change. And I hope she didn’t really watch the show. She was suspiciously well informed, though. When I rattled off a list of characters she nodded approvingly or shook her head. Apparently I have a taste for the creepers and weirdos but that is nothing new, now, is it.

My son bought his first shirt on his own today. An Avengers shirt. Sadly it is lacking Hawkeye. He put that one down again when his dad pointed at me and my slightly deranged grin saying: “Your mom used to look at me like that.” Which I would like to protest vehemently. I never looked at my husband like that. Because he is not Hawkeye. Or Jeremy Renner.

Anyway. My son also picked an Optimus Prime backpack for kindergarten and I sincerely hope they will not fuss about that like they would have in Germany. And he has never seen the Avengers movie, read any comic books or seen anything from the Transformers Franchise. It’s just something kids think is cool and as they grow up a little more they might or might not appreciate the comics behind it. Just like that little girl might one day maybe get involved with bikers watch Sons of Anarchy. I did both and I can only say godspeed her.

Anyway. Seriously, retailers. Get some decent underwear out. And while you’re at it, the girlie shirts shouldn’t all be “Talk nerdy to me” and all that junk. We want comic book prints, too. I already have a bunch of men’s shirts all cut up to fit. It’d be nice to have one that I don’t feel like ripping and bleaching for a change.

Don’t stop believing

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Yes, this title was brought to you by a Journey song, I hope they will sue me and take away my credit card. Before that I was allowed to listen to Kansas and even though I really wanted to write I HAD TO dance around and sing a little. On a few washers and dryers waiting to be picked up. Using a mop as a mic. I totally blame the heat.

Anywho.

NEWSFLASH: Four flights, umpteen hours flying with a headstrong 5-year old? Are not fun. But we did spend some extra money for decent meals so on our 12h flight from Frankfurt to Calgary we weren’t only served first but I got awesome vegetarian stuff (couscous salad with chickpeas? FRESH FRUIT and real cutlery. Not plastic.) and my kid had all kinds of things arranged to look like smiley faces and all. That is the only positive thing I could say about the flight with the German airline.

Then we arrived in Canada and once again it was like being shoved into an alternate universe. PEOPLE WERE FRIENDLY. A dude (playing a dude disguised…. sorry, wrong story) helped me carry our two carry on bags stuffed with important things (cameras, external hard drives, CDs, random memorabilia, a flannel blanket and tons of toys and that was just MY bag), the young police officer that unfortunately didn’t want to marry me on the spot ( I was just grateful for finally getting somewhere, seriously) and didn’t even want to see the letter from my husband allowing me to travel with our son alone and said so many nice things about my hair. “It’s really pink, eh.” MARRY ME NOW YOU SMART, SMART MAN.

Ahem. Then: Immigration. I dreaded that place. Last time? I waited for 3 hours. This time? 3 minutes I spent trying to console a young lady from the States who thought they thought she was an illegal immigrant. The officer seemed slightly unfriendly but she probably had German ancestors. I had all my paperwork in one place, which pleased her greatly and anyway, my husband had already been in the country and gotten his work permit so she just gave me my open permit and waved us on to the next place where I was allowed to pay 150 bucks for my permit.

THEN the fun part began. Picking up our three humongous bags, dragging them and the kid through customs just to find that the Air Canada check in was right in front of the doors. Let me declare my undying love and gratitude for Warren who not only welcomed me back after hearing my ghastly story but also was just his friendly self and helped me with the bags and all. The two hours we had to wait for our flight to leave were spent in yet another security check and hanging out with firefighters that sadly didn’t look like the guys from the calendars. It was way too hot for flannel, too, which made me sort of sad but there was camo all around. Paired with flip-flops.

When it was time to board our flight we could go first because little child (by then he was almost sleeping anyway) and THEY DROVE US TO THE PLANE! You know those awesome little cars they have at airports? I always wanted to be on one, can cross that off my bucket list now. Our seats were in the very first row and our flight attendant was every nerdy girl’s wet dream. And so, so good with kids. And witty. And… yes, I was tired and just happy about every friendly and helpful face, but the guy was really nice and funny. And we were also allowed to remain on the plane while we stopped in Edmonton.

When we finally arrived in Grande Prairie it was almost midnight and I really almost walked past the husband because he had shaved and lost a few pounds. He blames the absence of my good cooking, that sneaky bastard.

Anywho. He managed to obtain a little fourwheeler for our son and they spent all of last week working on it after hours, yesterday we took it to our friend’s farm and the boy rode around on it for hours on end, only stopping to feed the gigantic wolf mutts or to get a quick snack and a drink.

I have been busy harvesting rhubarb previous tenants have planted and making all kinds of fun things with it. If I wasn’t cleaning like a maniac or sanding down our old furniture. A few years ago I was convinced that all our furniture had to be black and glossy. I probably knew how bored I’d be a few years down the road, without internet or cable. So, my fingers hurt, they are stained a reddish pink and I accidentally sanded down a few fingers when I was tired.

But I also got my SIN card today and will receive my ID and license shortly. I have worked my first day at the SPCA, walked a few dogs and socialized the cats and all of it without taking any animals home. I might however stat breaking in some of our friend’s horses. Maybe I’ll even keep one if things go well. Now it is 9PM here and I am really tired. There is bread to be baked and whole pigs to be bought because a few things haven’t changed: Canadians still don’t know how to bake, make sausage or beer. That’s next on my list!

Are we hoarders?

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What is it in Canada that brings out the pack-rat in my husband?

He’s been there for barely a month, let me list what he has managed to accumulate so far, starting with the things that are in fact necessary:

-a Ford Pickup

-a house (magic tricks and voodoo were involved to get a rental on such short notice)

-our old furniture (that our friend had in storage for almost four years, hoping we’d be back. Aw!)

-Two 70s Winnebagos (yes. Two. one, of course, is for parts)

-A choice of old, busted cars he gets to pick from

-Offerings of at least five dogs and seven cats.

 

I don’t know how this is even possible. I get that he is alone. My sleep pattern is completely gone now, I have watched more episodes of my favorite TV shows than one could possibly consider sane, I smoke too much and feel very moody because there’s nobody around to pester me with little remarks or that I could hug. my cats hate me just about now. But I can’t even blame him for all of this, at least most of it. We need a place to live and we need a vehicle. The rest? People just offer it.

Last time I seemed to be a magnet for stray animals, even our friend’s half wild pack of dogs seemed to like us. And now people just think “Them Germans like animals, let’s ask them if they want out unwanted [insert random species here].” Oh, I was offered a filly last time, too. One with a disfigured leg (that could have been treated early on if someone would have bothered to care). But apparently they thought that in Germany people know how to work a miracle.

And we did buy a ratty old Bel Air, which is now owned by a guy here in Germany. Damn near broke my heart to sell it. We worked on it every weekend for months and people thought we were crazy. Except those guys that thought my hub was a lucky bastard because I cooked and worked on cars with him. Anyway. Now they seem to think since we enjoy working on old cars and most of them have a ton of them rotting away on their property anyway, maybe we want some. Hence the Winnebago thing, which is kind of neat since we get to do little trips with the kid and everything. Once we finished working on the interior. Expect loads of pictures once I followed. Fifteen more days.

And if anyone knows where I can get my hands on a halfway decent Impala (’67, won’t settle for anything else) in B.C. or Alberta… Well. I’d like one. As a project for next summer. Looks like I might be getting into the hot shot business. Seriously, my husband keeps digging up job offers and every time he mentions the pay I could cry. At least twice as much as I would get here. Today took the cake. Quadruple the pay I’d get here for a similar job. Seriously, Canada.

Stereotypes are fun, ja

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Germans are neat, always punctual, like bratwurst and sauerkraut and wear their lederhosen even to bed.

Canadians are laid back, peaceful, all love to hunt, wear flannel a lot and say “eh” all the time.

Fun, isn’t it. Anyone who has ever visited my house (without two days notice) will know that I am nowhere near neat. I crave a certain creative chaos when I’m working (and I am always working on something) and my life philosophy is that laundry can wait a day, life can not. But maybe that’s why I don’t fit in? Maybe.

These past days have been filled with farewells. One of my favorite people in the world, I consider her more of a sister than a friend actually, visited me last weekend and in spite of Germany playing the soccer (yawn) we dared to go out and have tons of fun. And yesterday my kid had a farewell party with his kindergarten group, they do that every year to say goodbye to those kids that will go to school. One of the teachers officially announced that we’re moving to Canada because today is his last day and I brought breakfast and cupcakes for everyone (which, apparently, is outrageous in itself). We live in a small town and, seriously, everybody KNEW. And after that announcement, they were flocking to me, asking all kinds of questions and making me wish I had prepared cur cards to just have them read for themselves.

No, we’re not moving to Mallorca. Yes, I actually speak English (a little, as you might have noticed). No, there will be no TV cameras following us around. No, the husband and I didn’t split up because he ran off with some hot Canadian chick (he does however speak fondly of steaks and burgers, I am a little worried).

To understand why I was so, pardon my french, pissed off about it let me explain something. We live in a small village. Everybody knows everything about everyone, or they at least like to think that. And if you haven’t been born and raised here? You are nothing but scum. At first I thought it was because we looked different and don’t exactly partake in local activites like binge-drinking while handling guns, or doing shots with the old ladies from the red cross. But I talked to anothe family yesterday. Sweet people, the dad a hard working man in construction, I could relate. Normal people (aside from a wicked sense of humor). They moved here five years ago and people still don’t talk to them no matter what. I did all kinds of things for the kids, built a doll house for my kid’s group, always volunteered to drive whenever I could, baking, spending hours at bake sales so they could buy new toys, helping set up the annual flea market with my husband, talking to the mayor and city officials about adding another group to the place so all kids had a chance to get a spot, all of that shit. I just don’t want to sit down with people that look down on me anyway and try my best to get their approval. Most likely by buying everybody shots.

Most of these people haven’t even said “Hello” once in three years. And now that they are curious they suddenly can talk? It’s a miracle, ladies and gentlemen!

Other scenario: In ’07 I moved to Canada with my husband. A relatively large town, an apartment building, anonymous or so I thought. Foreign country, foreign everything. We had nothing but two bags of clothes and the first thing we did was buy a bed. Boughtt groceries, hauled them upstairs not even four hours after we received the key. While we looked at the apartment earlier that day we met our future neighbor from across the hall and the landlady told her we had just moved in from Germany. She was over that same day, offering a spare bed and some other things that were just gathering dust at her place, and she wasn’t the only one. We were invited to barbecues, people offered a few very helpful hints (where to buy a car, where we really shouldn’t get our truck fixed because the guy is perpetually drunk and uses duct tape and a hammer…), organized used furniture so we at least had some things, we just felt welcomed. Nobody said anything about my pink hair, about tattoos, about us not being Canadians. Of course I’ve had some less than pleasant encounters over the years, especially while working (and 80% of that? Immigrants from Germany. I am not kidding!). But all in all I can say that country stereotypes have to come from somewhere, because as much as some people would like to deny it, Canadians are friendlier. They are more welcoming. And I don’t think that is a bad thing.