We Have Landed

Here’s how it went.

They say that when you are deprived of sleep, you tem­porar­i­ly lose some short-term mem­o­ry, so maybe that’s the rea­son that that some of my trip to Buf­fa­lo is lit­tle fuzzy. Here is what I do remem­ber:

I left on Tues­day morn­ing and flew first to Chica­go. I knew I was back in an Amer­i­can air­port imme­di­ate­ly as I entered and heard that hor­ri­ble Tex­an woman’s voice you now hear in all US air­ports (THENK-YOO for your coöper­a­tion”). The longer your lay­over, the more times you have to hear it. I’m now pos­i­tive that one or more cir­cles of Hell include her announce­ments at reg­u­lar inter­vals. My con­nect­ing flight to Buf­fa­lo was delayed sev­er­al times because of mechan­i­cal trou­ble, and we switched gates no less than 3 times, but we even­tu­al­ly got a new plane and I arrived at the Buf­fa­lo air­port about an hour late, 11 PM. I checked into the near­by Sleep Inn and got some­thing to eat at a near­by Denny’s and then tried to sleep. I was still on Pacif­ic Time and ner­vous about what was to come the next day, so that was hard to do.

The next morn­ing, I called a taxi and left for down­town at about 7:45 AM. The scenery along the high­way and near the HSBC Cen­ter was uni­form­ly grey and depress­ing, with many emp­ty ware­hous­es, and clus­ters of neigh­bor­hood hous­es all look­ing like they were hud­dling togeth­er for warmth. It had snowed the night before, but less than an inch. If this was to be the place where I was to make a good-bye of sorts to the US, I’d be hard pressed to find a bleak­er spot.

The cab dropped me off by the 30-sto­ry HSBC Cen­ter, the tallest build­ing in down­town Buf­fa­lo. The Cana­di­an Con­sulate was on the 30th floor. Even though it was only about 8:10 and the Con­sulate had not opened yet, there was already a line of about 25 peo­ple in the lob­by. A short, brisk woman with a strong Upstate New York accent (which I rec­og­nized from the days I lived in near­by Rochester, and to my ears is still the aur­al equiv­a­lent of drink­ing a glass of dis­tilled vine­gar) gave us each a stick­er and herd­ed us into two groups; my group was sent to a glass cor­ral a few hun­dred feet away. She then took the first group, lined up by the wall near the ele­va­tors, up to the 30th floor and then returned in a few moments for us for the same. When we reached the Con­sulate, she care­ful­ly and pre­cise­ly direct­ed us to rows of chairs at var­i­ous places around a win­dow­less wait­ing room. The room was bare except for these plas­tic chairs, arranged in rows as if view­ing the tele­vi­sion high on the wall at the front, which was show­ing non-stop CNN cov­er­age of the death of Pres­i­dent Ger­ald Ford. As peo­ple were called to either the recep­tion win­dow or one of the cashier win­dows, we shift­ed our seat­ing, mov­ing over, return­ing to a dif­fer­ent row or leav­ing. I cal­cu­lat­ed about 75 peo­ple who were dealt with in total. The admin­is­tra­tor woman (who’s name I nev­er learned), gave a spiel every time she returned with anoth­er set of peo­ple until 10 min­utes before 11:00 AM, at which point the Con­sulate would take no more busi­ness. We were to put the stick­er we’d got­ten in the lob­by on the back of the card with our num­ber we’d receive from recep­tion, men were oblig­ed to give their seats to women, there was no leav­ing this room dur­ing the day, no use of cell phones, etc.

Dur­ing the wait, I spoke to neigh­bors sit­ting near­by from Mex­i­co, Hon­duras, Eng­land and India. I did not meet anoth­er Amer­i­can, although I sus­pect there were a few. At about 9:30, I pro­vid­ed my com­plet­ed forms, pho­tos and fee of $980 CAD to the recep­tion win­dow. At 11:30 was called back to receive my com­plet­ed mate­ri­als. There, past­ed into Pam’s and my pass­port, was a visa that could be used one time, allow­ing me to ‘Land’ in Cana­da as a per­ma­nent res­i­dent (which I would be doing the next day). After some best wish­es and con­grat­u­la­tions exchanged with my fel­low Immi­grants, I called the cab from a pay phone (know­ing before about the no cell phone rule, I had left mine at the motel) and returned to the Sleep Inn. I took a chilly walk to anoth­er near­by restau­rant (an updat­ed Greek Din­er), where I had a huge plate of meat­loaf and pota­toes. My body had no clue what time zone I was in, and I essen­tial­ly had noth­ing to do until I was to leave, at 6 AM the next morn­ing. Since a flight at 4 AM required me get­ting up at 3, that was the equiv­a­lent of 1 AM Van­cou­ver time, and I decid­ed to try and get to bed as ear­ly as I could stand. After talk­ing to Pam and my broth­er to share the good news that I had accom­plished my tasks, I lis­tened to my iPod and tried to sleep.

The next morn­ing I took the first flight to Washington’s Dulles Air­port, made the tight con­nec­tion to the Van­cou­ver flight. Anoth­er delay because of equip­ment prob­lems, 6 hours, 3 in-flight movies and one snack-box lat­er, I arrived at the sun­ny (!) Van­cou­ver air­port at about 1:30 PM local time.

The wait­ing and paper­work weren’t over yet. After fol­low­ing the usu­al long snaking line through cus­toms, I pre­sent­ed my mate­ri­als at a spe­cial room for Immi­grant Land­ings, and learned that my Per­ma­nent Res­i­den­cy ID card would be mailed to me in about 6 weeks. The staff was very friend­ly and wel­com­ing, and I mar­veled at how one girl man­aged to speak about 4 or 5 dif­fer­ent lan­guages, includ­ing Hin­di, Can­tonese, French and Taga­log. I tried call­ing Pam sev­er­al times, but some­how her phone was turned off or not receiv­ing me. Nev­er­the­less, I caught a cab home and col­lapsed. Kind of an anti­cli­max, but that’s the way these things go, I sup­pose.

The next day, Pam took off from work, rent­ed a car and drove to the US bor­der, and after a cou­ple of hours of wait­ing in the line of cars and the pre­req­ui­site U-Turn from the US side, pre­sent­ed her paper­work in much the same way that I had when I land­ed (small ‘L’). We both should now receive our ID cards some­where around the begin­ning to mid­dle of Feb­ru­ary.

So ends our jour­ney, and we now have the right to per­ma­nent­ly call the coun­try of Cana­da our home. In a few years we will have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to become full cit­i­zens, which we intend to do. I can’t say that I feel any dif­fer­ent now (Pam declared when she returned from her trip to the bor­der that she felt ‘Land­ed’), but we’re both look­ing toward the New Year of 2007 with antic­i­pa­tion and excite­ment. The months of wait­ing and putting off plan­ning are over. It’s offi­cial: We’re now here to stay.

Canadian Flag

Christmas Day Walk

Sky, Water, Bridge and City

That nasty look­ing storm did appear, but it brought most of its force to Van­cou­ver Island, where they expe­ri­enced high winds and heavy rain. Then it hit the coastal moun­tain range and seemed to dis­si­pate. By 11 AM this morn­ing, the rain stopped, so we took a walk on the False Creek sea­wall, just like last year.

Every­thing was gray and qui­et, but there were a few oth­er peo­ple out doing the same (per­haps tak­ing a breather before a big Christ­mas din­ner — we are keep­ing things sim­ple with a roast chick­en and del­i­ca­ta squash). I was sur­prised to see a crib-style baby stroller occu­pied not by someone’s child, but their bor­der col­lie. I didn’t ask them why.

We’re tak­ing it easy today because I have an impor­tant trip com­ing up tomor­row. I’ve decid­ed that the best way to expe­dite our get­ting Land­ed Immi­grant Sta­tus is for me to take all of the mate­ri­als (pass­ports, fees, pho­tographs, oth­er assort­ed papers) direct­ly to the office that is pro­cess­ing our case. That office hap­pens to be in Buf­fa­lo, New York. Most peo­ple immi­grat­ing here would go to the office in near­by Seat­tle, but because we moved from Boston, we (in ret­ro­spect, with­out much fore­thought) chose the East coast’s Cana­di­an Con­sulate, rather than the west coast’s. Anoth­er tip for peo­ple con­sid­er­ing immi­grat­ing to Cana­da: Choose the office clos­est to your des­ti­na­tion area, not the US point you are leav­ing.

We could get away with send­ing our pass­ports and the funds via couri­er and wait­ing for their return to us, but since I will be need­ing my pass­port soon in ear­ly Jan­u­ary to attend Mac­World Expo — and frankly, because I’m just not com­fort­able with send­ing off these extreme­ly valu­able trav­el doc­u­ments with­out accom­pa­ny­ing them to their des­ti­na­tion — I’ve decid­ed to fly to beau­ti­ful down­town Buf­fa­lo in the week between Christ­mas and New Years. Yes, the office I’m vis­it­ing is indeed open for busi­ness on Wednes­day. Tues­day, when I am trav­el­ing, it is closed for the Box­ing Day Hol­i­day.

So, I leave tomor­row morn­ing, change planes in Chica­go, and arrive in Buf­fa­lo at about 10 PM EST. Bright and ear­ly at 8 AM the next morn­ing, I appear at the Cana­di­an Con­sulate and present all of our doc­u­ments. Accord­ing to their web site, they make every effort to get cas­es processed the same day, and return all items between 1 and 3 PM. If all goes accord­ing to plan, I then fly back at 6 AM EST the next day. My route this time is via Wash­ing­ton, DC, which is an odd way to go, but strange­ly sym­bol­ic, I think. I should arrive in Van­cou­ver at just before noon, and at that time, become a Per­ma­nent Res­i­dent of Cana­da. If all goes accord­ing to plan.

My Newest Writing Assignment

I men­tioned in my last post­ing that I was work­ing on a ‘writ­ing project’. I no longer have to be vague and/or mys­te­ri­ous about it. Through a series of refer­rals (Thanks very much, Mak­taaq and Travis), I was put in touch with an edi­tor at the LA Times, who hap­pens to be an old friend of Travis.

It seems that the LA Times Edi­to­r­i­al Dept. was kick­ing around the idea ear­ly last week that an Amer­i­can who had left the coun­try for Cana­da due in some part to the reelec­tion of Bush in 2004 might have some poten­tial­ly humor­ous com­men­tary on the fact that that they now live in a coun­try with a Con­ser­v­a­tive Prime Min­is­ter while the US has since elect­ed a Demo­c­ra­t­ic major­i­ty in Con­gress. So with three degrees of sep­a­ra­tion tra­versed, I offered to try to write the Op Ed, know­ing full well that if they didn’t like it, my efforts would be up on this blog and that would be that.

I gave it my best shot, spend­ing a three-day hol­i­day week­end holed up in my office at the key­board writ­ing drafts and run­ning them by friends and fam­i­ly (Thanks also to Pam, Sooz and Matt), try­ing to get the jokes right, and try­ing to get it down to between 500 and 800 words. (it’s always easy to write more, hard­er to write tighter).

The result is…tomorrow I’ll be pub­lished in the LA Times! As soon as the URL goes live, I’ll blast out an email announce­ment to every­one I know, and will copy the text to this blog, since the link will go dark after about 30 days, and I can’t very well pla­gia­rize myself.

Do I like the piece? Well, it’s prob­a­bly a bit more inten­tion­al­ly humor­ous than I typ­i­cal­ly write, and there was one joke in par­tic­u­lar that was pulled by the edi­tors because it was a ‘cheap shot’. No mat­ter. Like most writ­ing projects (and I can now say this with con­vic­tion), the best part is now, when it’s over and done with. Just as I was hap­py a decade ago to get to say “I’ve writ­ten a cou­ple of books”, I’m also pleased that after tomor­row, I’ll be able to say “I’ve writ­ten for the LA Times”.

Another Police Certificate on the Way

Pam called Police Head­quar­ters in Con­necti­cut this morn­ing and they con­firmed that they had processed and approved a police cer­tifi­cate for her. They said that it was in the mail, but it had been a hol­i­day on Fri­day on the US (Veteran’s Day) and of course, a hol­i­day here in Cana­da on Mon­day (Remem­brance Day), so it will prob­a­bly arrive in our mail­box either today or next week (no mail deliv­ery on Sat­ur­days in Cana­da).

Two down, one to go!

Enough Whining

I think I’ve got­ten most of the ‘Oh woe is me, my Work Per­mit is due to expire’ out of my sys­tem, and despite the drea­ry weath­er, there is plen­ty to be pos­i­tive about.

Specif­i­cal­ly:

  1. It’s Elec­tion day today, and hope­ful­ly the Democ­rats will take back some of Con­gress. It prob­a­bly won’t be the Sen­ate, but at least the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives is due to return back to Demo­c­ra­t­ic rule for the first time in… is it 12 years? What­ev­er it’s been, it’s been a long time. This doesn’t mean that Pam and I will be head­ing back South again. We’re here, we’re near­ly legal, and we’re stay­ing put, vis­i­tor sta­tus or not.
  2. Yes­ter­day Pam got her Police Cer­tifi­cate from Mass­a­chu­setts! That’s one down, two to go. Col­lect all three and you win the jack­pot: Per­ma­nent Res­i­den­cy (even­tu­al­ly). Hope springs eter­nal, but let’s hope this doesn’t take place in Spring.
  3. I’ve got plen­ty of things to get done in the com­ing months. There’s a bed­room to repaint (nev­er did that room when we moved into our con­do). I’m also going to make a con­cert­ed effort to clean up my office. (It’s amaz­ing how clut­tered it got in 14 months). There is a bunch of stuff I want to sell on Ebay (most­ly elec­tron­ics that are either out-of-date, not need­ed (like a Satel­lite Receiv­er and a Net­work Hub), or bro­ken, and now I’ll have the time to take care of it. I also need to move ‘The Kendall Group’ web site to British Colum­bia (and make it a prop­er web site, with blog and oth­er more cur­rent fea­tures).
  4. A while back we planned a trip down to see my niece dance in the Pacif­ic North­west Ballet’s The Nut­crack­er.
    That’ll be fun, as the fam­i­ly bal­le­ri­na, along with a bunch of oth­er lit­tle girls in tutus, takes to the stage in Seat­tle in about a month, which calls for a fam­i­ly reunion. Her Aunt and Uncle will be hap­py to see her oper­ate the canon in the bat­tle between the Nutcracker’s army and the mice.
  5. Mac­world Expo is com­ing up in San Fran­cis­co in Jan­u­ary, and again, that’s been planned and reser­va­tions have been made far in advance. Since I missed what some have dubbed ‘Wood­stock for Smart Peo­ple’ last year, I’m look­ing for­ward to renew­ing my almost annu­al pil­grim­age in 2007. I’ve got a lot of old friends to recon­nect up with.

That’s a few so far. There’ll be more. Noone ever said that I was a Pollyan­na, but I’m sure there are a few sil­ver lin­ings in all of these clouds (real or sit­u­a­tion­al).

Update: I’ve since learned that my niece will not be pulling or shoot­ing a canon of any kind, but she will be hold­ing a gun (a rifle, I believe). She made it clear that it’s a prop, but giv­en the US’s love firearms, I hope she keeps what­ev­er looks like a safe­ty on. You’d think with a bal­let like The Nut­crack­er that the artillery would be kept to a min­i­mum.