3/02/2007

For the love of god, anything but SAHM/working moms

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.

Par exemple:

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.

10 comments:

Alexa said...

Glad to hear that P's heart is well enough that she can be sent to the mines soon to start paying for her keep!
And I know what you mean about the house issue--it is why I will probably never live on the East Coast again. There? Rat-infested shanty. Here, for the same price? Mansion carved entirely out of gold and studded with precious jewels.
I am selfishly glad to hear that you will be moving back to this side of the ocean eventually, as it means I may actually get to meet you...

Hetty Fauxvert said...

Yay that the murmur is okay! I'm sure Miss P will take to playing "airplane" swimmingly. :)

Interesting comments about the "insular" qualities of much of the U.S. I agree with you, except that I also found that in London and France. Basically, I call anyplace insular in its outlook if it has the general notion in its populace that NO place could possibly be as wonderful as that place, which automatically makes furriners and immigrants suspect. I was surprised to find it in London (but maybe that was just a galloping case of Big City-itis, a malady shared by Paris and NYC). I am *from* Texas, which is certainly insular (though I love Texas so I don't care -- which makes me a co-conspirator, I guess), and currently living in No. Calif, which loves to think of itself as delightfully cosmopolitan and nuts-and-grainy, when it is in fact THE most insular of any place I've ever lived, in terms of being nose-in-the-air about other places and their merits.

The only place I've lived which really did embrace other places and cultures was Seattle. We wanted to return back there to live after my husband completed his degree, but couldn't find a job for him. I'd recommend looking at Seattle as an interim place to live before going to Canada. First, Canada's right across the border, so you could make a lot of trips to Canada and make sure that's what you really, really want. Second, while Seattle is higher in cost of living than say, Texas, it is lower than London, so you might still do very well by moving there (especially if you don't mind living in a burb rather than the city proper). Third, rain is easier to deal with than snow. :)

I commend you for trying to find the best place for raising your daughter. Good luck in your quest!

Flicka said...

Any way you could move to Canada on some sort of temporary visa until they approve your application? Seems to me that it would make them move faster if you were actually there, consuming resources. Then again, what do I know?

I agree, Americans are royally spoiled with our massive appliances and most of the continent to ourselves. I'd like to see US teenagers with far less of a sense of entitlement, all things considered.

So glad P's murmur resolved...what a relief for you!

Rachel said...

Well, duh. We need big refrigerators to hold all the food we stuff in our increasingly obese bodies. We have a standard to uphold, after all!

I would LOVE to move to the UK, if only to practice my British accent and drink good beer. But here I am in America, and here I shall probably stay. Sigh.

Glad to hear Princess P is all healthy! I love it when all of my Imaginary Internet Friend Babies are doing well!

gingajoy said...

You are SO right abou England actually being more intimidating and weird sometimes than the U.S.--I guess the U.S. segregates its "louts" better than in the UK. (or whatever)

I have had so many of the same thoughts--about moving back there, about Canada being the best "in between" etc.

I am struggling myself over whether to move back to old blighty (brewing a post). But at least my family is there...

Lut C. said...

Good job P on resolving the heart issue on her own!

I knew you were an expat from the U.S. living in the U.K., but didn't know you were thinking of moving to Canada. From the little time I spent in Canada, I did the impression that the culture leans to European culture more than the U.S.
(They do go warning-sign crazy, just like the U.S. )

If it's any consolation, everyone who goes abroad to live goes through such a phase. You view the world filtered through what is normal in your culture. How else would one view the world - before you gain new insights from living elsewhere that is.
So, this is by no means an issue that affects U.S. citizens exclusively. Then again, coming from 'the shining light of democracy and freedom'** might make it harder to accept that other cultures are just different, not wrong. Mind you, I do think some cultural practices can be seen as wrong (high stake beauty pagants for toddlers!?), but that's another discussion entirely.

There many reasons why I wouldn't consider moving to North-America.
It's very much every man for himself. It would cost me a fortune to get the level of health care, education and social security I enjoy here. I don't think the lower tax rate would be adequate compensation. But the difference with the U.K. might be less significant.

** Sarcasm alert. This message is pushed ad nauseam by U.S. media, movies, series. The real-live Americans I've met are usually a tad more nuanced. ;-)
As a European, all I get to be is snooty, bah. ;-)

Mollywogger said...

Oh my god, I want that house. If you move to Canada, can I live in your basement? And, you know, eat your crumbs as they fall from the table?

Adrienne said...

Just found you via May. I'm one of those damn insular Americans who wishes she were a bit more worldly (and a single post-bar exam trip to Paris doesn't cut it). Plus, I'm obsessed with England, so I'll be stopping by often to soak up the atmosphere.

So glad to hear that your P's heart murmur has resolved itself.

Kristi said...

Here's one American you are most definitely not offending with your comments, because I think you're right on target with them. I lived in London for six months after graduating from college, and traveled all over Europe, and I found that Europeans' attitudes toward everything were so much more open-minded than most Americans. I wanted to move there permanently for exactly this reason.

That said, I can see why you want to choose Canada to stretch your money and standard of living. Ontario (are you thinking Toronto?)isn't that far from where I live in upstate NY.

PS: I'm glad P's murmur is gone. Great news.

Anonymous said...

Kate again, agree completely, however I grew up in Ontario and lived there last year for a year and honestly it is becoming more like the US each year, but there are some parts that are much more of a good mix between US and UK, but sadly you do have an every growing group of "masses" who are very much into the materialism found in the US and who honestly believe world travel is going to Florida each year :0