Well, shit. I guess I know what I'm not talking about for awhile. That topic is considerably spent. Can I still complain about the stupid shit my MIL says to me/about me in regard to working though? Ok, thanks.
First things first. P's appointment went well yesterday, and aside from near-electrocution from gnawing on the ultrasound cord, she is fine. Her murmur seems to have resolved itself, which apparently happens in 60% of babies who have the same type of murmur that she had. I'm just relieved that this means I can swing her around by her feet and sign her up for hard labour without fear of a heart malfunction. Thank god for small mercies, huh?
Jumping to another topic entirely, I thought I'd finally go back to a subject I've mentioned before - being an expat. As most of you probably know, I'm an American who has lived in the UK for almost 5 years. The initial plan was to live here permanently (much to The Dude's chagrin), but a couple of years ago we decided that Canada would be the most appropriate place to settle for good. We chose Canada because it seems like a happy medium between US and UK cultures, without being the US and the UK. It also has one of the highest standards of living in the world, and a cost of living which is vastly better than that of the UK.
A two bed flat for sale a few buildings down from my place:
What the same money buys you in suburban Ontario:
Uh, gee. A two bed flat in a nice part of a mostly shit city or a five bed, five bath house with a big yard? It's a hard decision to make.
I know life is not about having a big house, but that's a lot easier to say when you are not relegated to living in a 600 square foot space for the rest of your life. I want P. to have a big garden to play in, not a concrete square, which is what we have at our current place. That concrete square also doubles as our parking spot, so imagine the fun and imaginative games that could be had there!
There is more to it than the house, though admittedly that's what I'm preoccupied with at the moment. I'm probably going to piss off some Americans here, but uh...I don't have confidence in the culture enough to want to raise my child there and be completely happy about it. Many (many, not all) Americans are rather small-minded, and insular. Before I moved to the UK I thought I was worldly and cosmopolitan. I grew up in a small town but was an Anglophile from a young age, so I was exposed to a culture other than my own, though obviously through an American filter.
While I was dating The Dude, I visited the UK at length numerous times. Because I had this direct exposure to a country other than my own, I believed that I was a true citizen of the world, traveller that I was. Once I moved over here, I realised that I was still ignorant. Even though I didn't vocalise much of it, I did have trouble coping with some of the small differences between here and there. For instance, if you go to the Post Office to get a stamp, they won't take the letter you are buying the stamp for. Even though you are at the counter and paying for the stamp, you have to take the letter and put it in a post box which can usually be found outside the Post Office itself. At the time, I would have compared that to what happens in the States and fumed about how stupid it was that they do it that way in the UK. I think that's the primary issue with how Americans deal with other cultures - so many of them view other methods and traditions as wrong rather than just different. It sounds like I'm being pedantic noting the difference between the two terms, but I think the distinction is very important.
I think the American perspective is often that the way they do things is the correct and dominant way. What they may not realise is that it's the US that may be doing things differently and it's the rest of the world that does it another. Take appliances for example. I cannot tell you how many times US visitors have commented on our "tiny" appliances, often using the most damning of words, cute. "What a cute little fridge!" or, "How can you do your laundry in such a small washing machine?" Look at us here in provincial England with our lilliputian appliances. Aren't we quaint? A quick visual tour of the rest of the world's appliances would show you that it's a uniquely North American trait to have massive appliances.
The UK has its own problems. We could do without a social care system which rewards you for having three kids by the time you're 19, or one which pays people more than my salary for being unemployed. I hate how the country seems overrun by a bunch of loutish, drunken idiots, even if you live (or think you live) in a relatively nice place. Despite living in one of those said "nice" locations, I am more worried about walking certain places here than I ever was in the US. Never in the US was I accosted by a group of 8 year olds asking me for money so they could go buy cigarettes, nor had I ever witnessed a woman being beaten up by a man on the street in clear view of dozens of pedestrians until I lived here, when I saw it happen on two occasions. There is a sort of ambivalence in the UK to crime and anti-social behaviour in general. If I can raise P. in an environment where she doesn't have to see men pissing in the streets, I'd prefer to do so.
We submitted our application for permanent residency to the Canadian Immigration Commission in November, and got our letter of receipt last week. So how long does the CIC speculate it will be before our application will even get looked at again? 45 months. I'm reliably informed by folks a lot better at maths than I that 45 months is nearly 4 years. 4 long years. That is just to then contact us to say whether or not we should bother submitting further details.
Needless to say, I will be writing BarrenAlbion for awhile. Just as well since BarrenCanada just makes me think of some frozen tundra in the Northwest Territories. Yep, look at that Canadian geographical knowledge. Send me that acceptance letter now CIC because proficiency like that cannot go unrecognised.