Friday, April 20, 2007

Next Steps -- News from the Consulate

Dated 13 April 2007, we received our "next steps" letter/packet from the Canadian Consulate here in Seattle.

This is what they asked for:
  • US$415 for Right of Permanent Residence Fee x2 (for self & spouse) -- submitted today
  • Updated Schedules 1 for self and spouse (background declaration, the one that lists your birth/family info, addresses, jobs/activities, organizations, etc.) This is not as bad as it sounds because they were already done for the initial application; there were just a couple of changes and we printed them out again. -- submitted today
  • Updated letter from current employer for me. (at least, they didn't say for spouse) -- submitted today (This time I was smart and gave the person all the text of the letter and only asked him to put it on letterhead and sign/date it; he was thrilled and impressed that I had done all the work.)
  • Updated proof of settlement funds (current bank statements) -- submitted today
  • New FBI clearances for self and spouse (no mention of states at all, including Louisiana which we never submitted because the government there is a mess) because the ones we submitted "expired" after a year. -- I sent away for these two months ago in anticipation of CIC's request and we're still waiting. There was a hasty note added to the materials saying that they (the CIC) understand that the FBI is taking very long these days and to submit everything else and the FBI clearances when they eventually arrive.
  • Certified copies from the IRS of my tax returns for four particular years that seemed random at first and then I realized that it made sense that these were the four years for which they were giving me the "experience points" in our application. Use IRS Form 4506 (NOT 4506T because you need a certified copy, not a transcript) and there's a tiny box on item six that you check for certified copies. Cost is $39 for each year, so that was another $156 to a government agency. -- I sent the request today via certified mail.
  • Medical exams -- they included a comprehensive list of DMPs (designated medical practitioners) in our area very broadly defined, instructions of what to do and what to bring, and forms with our photos attached to bring to the doctor. Seeing it for myself, I now understand that it really isn't a big deal (in terms of worrying that we'll be excluded for some health issue). There are two docs in Seattle and I was quoted US$380 and US$430. I called a doc in Vancouver (referred by West End Bound) and he's only charging CDN$154! We're thinking that we'll do this up North, but there are some snags to think about. One is that we're still waiting for Alan's new passport to arrive; we sent his old one in to be renewed two months ago. But the check for the passport fee just cleared the bank, so maybe that means progress. Also, the Vancouver doc is not available until the third week of May (at the earliest). And we'd have to take more time off from work than if we have the exams locally.

The CIC says that we have 90 days to respond. I take that to mean that everything has to be submitted in that time frame.

Wow. Is this really happening?

[P.S. I apologize that this post is late; it's been a crazy week and my priorities were recuperation and getting the stuff together for the CIC.]

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Checking In

Hey folks,

I know it's been a while since I've posted -- looking at the date of the last post, it's been two months. The reason for this is a combination of not much going on and too much going on that I don't necessarily feel comfortable writing about in a blog. (And, yes, the theme song to "Corner Gas" is running through my mind.)

This will just sort of be a random collection of sometimes vague thoughts. (I think that might just be my life's legacy.)

First, I was very happy to meet MSEH from Two Moms to Canada during her Seattle stop of her West Coast tour. I know it's been said before, but I've really come to feel like our little group of bloggers (check links on the right side of this page) has become a little family of sorts. I share in the joy of your good news and in the disappointment of your bad news. Plus, all you folks just really seem like good, cool people. I appreciate this virtual community. I hope to meet you all in person some day.

Well, I guess I should continue with what's on my mind most at the moment, which is that I'm sick. I left work early on Friday not feeling well, thinking maybe I ate something that didn't agree with me. Alan and I spent several hours in the E.R. later. The good news is that it's not my appendix, nor any major organ. Also, good news is that it's not serious as long as I take the treatment seriously and follow up; I should be right as rain (where does that phrase come from and why is someone my age using it?) in a week's time. (It could very likely get serious without medical care.) The bad news is that it's a pain (figuratively and literally, although nausea is more the problem now). Luckily, I have insurance through Alan's employer, so finances are not a big issue (although we still expect to see a large -- but not heart-stopping -- bill; welcome to health care in the U.S.).

(By the way, everyone at the hospital was great about Alan being with me the whole time. No one even looked funny at us. This is a great improvement over when I took Alan to the E.R. a few years ago. Of course, they checked the "other" box for our relationship on the forms, but that's not really their fault.)

Of course, I worry about how this episode will affect our hopes/plans to immigrate. I really don't think it's something that would keep us out of Canada. I'm just hoping that it won't require more tests and such to convince them. Although as medical procedures go, CAT scans are piece o' cake, the thought of having to do it again is not pleasant. And I'm afraid that's what they (the omnipotent government physicians in Ottawa) would make me do. I guess there's nothing to be done about that except to see what happens.

I'm just finishing a plum work assignment; Wednesday is when the woman I've been filling in for gets back from maternity leave. Up to Friday, my concerns were more about what's next. Now I'm wondering if I can make it to work these last days and when I'll be up to working again. It's just a stupid little down episode in life; I know that.

There's another medical issue that's just come up for me that I just really can't write about. Again, I don't think it's anything that would keep us out of Canada, but it may cause extra questions and tests.

Recently, I celebrated one of the "big" birthdays (you know, one of the ones that end in five or zero). I'm far too vain to say exactly which one. I've been a little obsessed with the approach of this one for a few months now. I know it's stupid and that I should be incredibly grateful to live in such health, wealth, and comfort -- and I am. I feel very fortunate to have a loving and supportive life partner. But I also can't help but look at what I haven't done and feel critical of myself.

Instead of wallowing, I tried to think forward at opportunities. I didn't want anyTHING for my birthday this year, no gadgets, entertainment, or trips. I wanted to think about what I really want in life. My biggest "present" to myself is getting my body in shape. The stars aligned and I've lost a bunch of weight (more than 10%) and started a little exercise routine in addition to the three to six miles I walk every day anyway. (Having surpassed my target weight before I got sick, it's now getting ridiculous.)

Oh, some good news: For the first time in years my cholesterol and triglycerides are in the target range! This is really quite the achievement and/or luck. I have to say, the fish oil pills really do work; I highly recommend them. Alan and I take the "extra strength" pills twice a day; I pay extra for the special coating because "fish burps" would just make me sick. I'm a vegetarian and I had to set aside my aesthetics (am I using that word correctly?) to take these pills. But, damn, they really did the trick.

I've been pushing myself to be more social, which is not the easiest thing for me. (Those of you who have met me might find this hard to believe considering my motormouth. Overcompensation.) What's funny is that I'm developing relationships in Seattle when maybe in a year (or less?) we might be relocating. My sister-in-law put this spin on it and it seems to make sense: One, it's easier for me to put myself out there BECAUSE I know I might be leaving soon and Two, this could be practice for when I am in a new city and wanting to make connections.

When we first started this odyssey, which is almost two years ago, my feelings were that our roots in Seattle were still pretty shallow, despite almost a decade of being here. (And I "blame" no one but ourselves.) It's not that we don't have any friends; we do. But I didn't see myself crying when I said goodbye, as I did when we left New Orleans. The thing is, now I can; I think I'm going to need a box of tissues if/when we move. And I see myself coming back to Seattle a lot on weekends and (truly) inviting people North to see us. (Question: If we have P.R. status, will going back to the U.S. a lot -- like a couple weekends a month -- be an issue? I know about residency requirements both to maintain P.R. status and to achieve eligibility for citizenship. But will the back-and-forth cause any problems?)

I've decided, with enthusiasm, that I want to go back to teaching, which is a career that got derailed a while back. There's a certificate program in Vancouver that I'm very excited about. Upon completion, with the B.A. that I already have, I can get certified to the teaching in which I'm interested. I only want to teach adults; I don't want to work with minors. My primary area is ESL (or more politically correct, TESOL), but I also have had experience in Adult Basic Education and helping folks get their GEDs or high school diplomas as adults. I would also like to look at training, but I don't as yet have many formed ideas or information. From what I've read, Vancouver would have a lot of opportunities for me to teach.

You'll notice there's not any politics in this post. I'm just fried. You know how I feel; nothing's changed.

Digression (and now for something completely different, for you Monty Python fans): Alan and I have been listening to Paula Poundstone read her book on CD. One thing she mentions is that she's an atheist. She talked about an incident, with humor, of how a prominent religious person said, kiddingly, at a public event that they would "need to have a talk." Paula Poundstone noted that while she laughed along with the others, she couldn't help but think that no one would think that her saying that would be funny, that she needed to convince a religious person to her way of thinking. Good point.

That almost catches this blog up; there will be another post coming very soon (honestly). I hesitate to promise tomorrow because of how I'm feeling and I've had to work through a few bouts of nausea while writing this. For anyone who's made it to the end of these ramblings, thanks for reading.