Canada Border Services Agency


In Simon Ushakov's icon of the The Last Supper...

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I haven’t commented on the wedding. It was a wedding. They are all the same on the surface, varying only slightly depending on the personalities involved and the tales told in the aftermath.

Dee loved being a flower girl but she has no use for Catholic ceremonies that involve/revolve around the mass. The last time she was in church was for my dad’s funeral in ’08. At that time, she and N2 entertained each other a bit and the ritual still fascinated her with its exotic qualities and mystery.

No more.

Cannibals At the Altar

At nearly nine, she listens. And her reactions ranged from frustrated – because she couldn’t participate in the rote recitation and response that is so drummed into me that I could follow a mass while in a coma – to horrified when she finally comprehended what the priest was saying at communion.

“Body of Christ,” he intoned as he placed a wafer on each tongue

Horror. That was her expression.

“He doesn’t mean that literally, ” I whispered.

Incredulous horror.

“Do you remember the Last Dinner painting?” I asked her.

She nodded. Da Vinci’s Last Supper is a favorite of hers. The Canadian public school system recognizes no separation between faiths and state though Christianity in its Catholic form gets the most play. Dee loves to talk about the “last dinner” and what happened.

“Do you remember that Jesus shared bread with his followers?”

Eyes begin to widen in growing comprehension.

“The priest is just doing what Jesus did,” I assure her. “It’s not really anyone’s body.”

“That would be gross,” she said.

Indeed. And yes, I know perfectly well that Catholics believe (or should at any rate – it’s so hard to know what Catholics actually understand about their own faith) about the host, but transubstantiation would sail over the heads of adults and I didn’t have time to get into that with Dee then.

Witnessing

Rob and I ended up being matron of honor and best man. It’s a better gig than reader though I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to explain the role reassignment and by the time I had to reassure Fr. Pat that all was well and truly figured out, I was thoroughly reminded of why patriarchal systems irritate me so completely.

Domestic Air Travel in Canada

The weather was wonderful. It warmed our spirits up considerably to be somewhere that snow wasn’t, and the air travel, aside from a few minutes of disaster movie like turbulence on the return trip, went smoothly.

Did you know that Canadians don’t remove footwear as they move through security for domestic flights? Nothing even slightly Gestapo-like in the screening area at all. Just quick, suspicionless inspection of bags and jackets.

However, I did find the security wonks at the Kelowna airport a bit lax in their reaction to an abandoned backpack. I noted it and, being an American I suppose, pointed it out to Security agent. When he radioed it in, he was told to simply “take it to the break room and I’ll look at it later.” As I haven’t seen any news reports about the Kelowna airport blowing up, I will assume that someone – who is clearly not an American nor has ever traveled by air in the U.S. – just forgot the whole “unattended bag thing”. Understandable because in the domestic travel areas of Canadian airports one doesn’t hear that automated voice droning on about responsibility and how “only you can prevent a terrorist incident”.

On A Break

This week, I officially asked for some time off at my paid blogging gig. Between reno, teaching and recurrent health issues, I need a real vacation.

For example, I didn’t take my netbook along last weekend. I didn’t check mail or blog or Facebook.

It was nice.

More than nice and has jumped-started my quest to balance virtual and actual reality toward the latter. Rob’s opinion is that until the Internet completes its inevitable split which will leave those without means trolling a UHF-inspired tier like bottom feeding fish, one should enjoy what is left of the web. It is a shadow of what it was even just a few years ago as the “entrepreneurs” continue to destroy its actual quality for the fastest bucks possible. But my eyes and interest are open to opportunities to free myself though probably not from my personal blog. I still enjoy my little corner of the blogosphere enough to resist attempts to make it bigger or shinier.

Family Matters

Rob picked out a movie for us at the bookmobile last evening. It’s never a good idea to watch a film on a weeknight and now with Dee’s bus driver on a mission to get us up as early as possible, it’s even less of a good idea, but we haven’t snuggled and viewed in a while (unless you count the “Hoarders” thing this last weekend and I don’t).

A 2010 flick called Mother and Child, which takes all the worst aspects of adoption from every possible angle and mushes them into one film. I am used to the misrepresentation of adoption – good and bad – but there was one thing in the film that made me incredibly sad. Sad enough that I cried when the movie was over.

There is the notion that it’s difficult for adopted children or birth parents to find each other. If the agency is known, most allow adoptee’s and birth parents to place contact info/letters in the file that both parties can easily access. Agencies will sometimes contact one party on the other’s behalf.

Both the mother and the daughter in the film write letters for their file, but due to miscommunication the mother doesn’t learn about her daughter until after the young woman dies.

Which was sad, but not what upset me.

The upsetting thing was being reminded that neither of my birth parents have ever contacted me. My information has been on file with the agency for 25 years. I haven’t thought about that for sometime now. Not looking for sympathy, mind you. Just an observation.

Last But Most

Both Rob and I are tired. In the last 6 weeks obligations have been plentiful and while we took care of them, the reno sat by idly a lot and we have gotten run down, over-tired and illness/injury prone. That’s being the grown-ups, I know. Suck it up, Buttercup.

But we now have a bit over a month to move a few mountains around before the obligatory family holiday to see folk down south and it’s just him doing all the work and just me trying to make the trains run around it.

This last weekend was a two nighter of bad mattress that has stove up both of us for much of this week, and a week or better at my mom’s (not to mention hotels there and back) promise more back and shoulder issues on top of exhaustion. Tripping to the States is about family. Not fun. Not relaxation. However, Christmas was exhausting and I don’t foresee resting up in advance of the trip. A dilemma that I am rolling around with now and for which I have no solution. Having pulled the holiday rug out from under Dee in November, I can’t see doing that again, but a hotel is a pricey option given the expensive Christmas followed by an unplanned for in the budget wedding and other miscellaneous.

“I am content never to leave home,” Rob pointed out as we discussed this today. I’d called him from the truck with the latest dental update (I’m not ready to discuss that).

“I suppose we could just start telling everyone that if they want to see us, they will have to come here.”

“No one would come then.”

A sad but true point. He and I are the wheel hubs in our families. If we don’t make it so, it just won’t be.

Just a good night’s sleep. That’s all I need. Oh, and to avoid further illness. At Christmas the new father-in-law left Rob and I the cold from hell as a parting gift. Today Rob got an email from his mother describing some virulent stomach/intestinal flu that they came down with last evening.  Nice.


The Canadian Border Services Agency at the Pac...

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I know many immigrants. They are primarily my students, and they hail from countries nearby like Mexico and from places far away such as Bosnia, Russia and Sudan. They have come to the United States both legally and illegally. Their reasons for coming are as varied as they are. Some came to be adopted. Others with their parents who were seeking jobs or relocating close to other family members. They are political refugees fleeing war torn homelands or seeking asylum from religious persecution. Above all they are kids who smile and laugh and do all the same things that kids do regardless of where they live on the planet.

 

I hear the rhetoric and read the news. Immigration is a hot topic in the upcoming presidential race. The president wants to create a guest worker program for those who are living and working here illegally. It is not an entirely altruistic gesture. Businesses benefit greatly from the use of cheap undocumented workers. I am not sure I completely go along with the argument that these workers are doing work that would go undone without them or that the low wages they are paid depresses wages for the average American citizen. There is probably more to it than that. I do know that there is no way to stop many of these people from coming here and there is definitely no practical way to send the millions who are here already back to their countries of origin. Giving these people status might keep them from being exploited to the extent that they are.

 

Ironically I find myself on the immigrant side of the question these days because I am marrying a Canadian and going to live there. Immigration, it seems, is not the simple thing that our President makes it out to be in his stump speeches. There might be a reason so many poor, under-educated people from south of our border chose to sneak past the Minutemen zealots who patrol their little stretches of border. It is not simple.

 

I have a college degree. Two in fact. And I am finding that the correct information pertaining to my situation to be not quite so comprehensible at times. It’s like anything else to do with government here, or anywhere I would imagine. Everyone reads the same websites and pamphlets and then feels free to interpret it. English is my native language but even reading the information myself doesn’t always answer questions, and I find myself more and more empathizing with illegal parents of my legally born students. Doing things by the book should mean that the book is easy to read and understand. How can people follow the rules if the rules change depending on who reads them and what kind of a day he/she is having?

 

It is exciting however. To go and live in another country. In the states we tend to annex Canadians whenever it is convenient for us. Generally we believe that they are just like us in all things and it is more than just a common language and ancestry that we share. But they are different it seems to me and it goes beyond the “politeness” that my fiance claims Canadians are famous for and this in spite of the fact that they “swear like truckers”. I don’t believe that Canadians feel themselves to be above the world or that there aren’t places beyond their border that are worth more than a cursory inspection on the way to Club Med or the nearest version of McDonalds.

 

One of the first things I am asked when I mention that I am going to live in Canada after Rob and I get married is if I am going to become a citizen and would that mean giving up my citizenship. I don’t know. About becoming a citizen. For the moment, I just want to live in the same place as my husband and be able to send my daughter to school, but I do know that if I should decide to do that someday I would retain my citizenship here as well. A curious thing that people should worry about that. As if they believe that giving it up would exile me to something worse than a third world existence.

 

The next question relates to the weather. Winter is a long season up in Northern Alberta and those who know me (and those who live in Canada and have only heard of me) wonder how I will adapt. And the answer is that I will. I have a lot of incentive after-all.

 

I have always marveled at those who could leave everything behind and start over. Envied them really. I have never been too sure that I had it in me to do anything like that, but in just a little more than two months I will be in Canada.

 

An immigrant.