2.28.2005

jitters

Yesterday, I got nervous.

An unknown number of months from now, Allan and I will quit our jobs. Most of our belongings already will have been moved out of our apartment. We'll put our dogs and a few essentials in a car, and drive to our new home. Our new lives will start, with rent and all the other expenses that entails, but we won't have jobs.

Rationally, intellectually, I know the answer to this. We have a lot of money saved, and I have very good reason to believe we'll find good jobs without too much difficulty. Before we do, we can temp - which we plan to do shortly after arriving.

I have a lot of confidence that when I make changes in my life, I make them work. I've always landed on my feet. I have a wealth of experience to look back on if I need reminding of that. Ninety percent of me knows all this.

But there's that little 10%... and yesterday it woke up.

We'll have no jobs. We'll have to find a vet. A dogwalker. Get Buster his meds. Get our own meds. A new bank account. New driver's licenses. New...

Stop! That way madness lies.

Don't get me wrong, this has nothing to do with our decision to emigrate. I feel great about that, even more so as time goes on. And this nervousness doesn't stop me from doing anything. I just need to acknowledge the feelings, then move along. "OK, this is the part where I get panicky..."

My way of dealing with these feelings is to not look too far ahead. There's the goal, far in the future. Plan the next two steps, take those. Now you're two steps closer. Plan the next two steps. Take those. And onward.

13 comments:

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Well, I just got back from Boston. It's been a long time since I've gone south of the border, and it was interesting.

Do they have all those little "Support Our Troops" and "God Bless America" ribbon things attached to cars in NYC?

Also, have you ever heard of Louie the Cowman? He was on the public access channel in Burlington and it was the most bizarre thing I've ever seen. He was ranting on about "we need to teach those I-raqis how to read 'n write, just like wes taught those people in Afgheenistan. Those I-raqis practically live in the stone age...". I thought it was some sort of joke, until he started talking about some YMCA they're building in downtown Burlington.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand, it might be a bit unnerving. But things will move smoothly I'm sure, and you have to wonder how people who are refugees (compared to normal immigrants) can go to a new place with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

L-girl said...

Welcome back, Kyle! You were missed.

How was Boston? Did you catch a little bit of Red Sox fever?

The yellow ribbon stickers are fucking ubiquitous (pardon my language). Most New Yorkers don't drive in the city, so we see them when we're out of town.

Peace groups have been trying to push a blue ribbon sticker that says "Support Our Troops - Bring Them Home Now" but it hasn't really caught on.

Never heard of Louie the Cowman - we haven't watched TV in Burlington in nearly 20 years - but it sounds like typical public access lunacy.

Thanks for your confidence re my jitters. I do think of those people who have a much bigger cultural change in much more difficult circumstances. I know we'll be fine. I guess that little 10% voice needs to cry out once in a while.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Boston was a really neat city. Actually, one of thing I thought was especially neat was this one particular office tower that had a tiny base, then expanded out due to Boston's narrow streets.

Boston drivers seem to be insane. From the Canadian border on down the fastest drivers always had Massachusetts plates, and they seemed particularly aggresive in Boston itself. We drove through the Big Dig and then parked the car at the hotel for the rest of the time.

I did feel weird asking for restrooms, soda, and the check at restaurants (instead of washroom, pop, and the bill). As a side note, I don't know why Americans are so enamoured to green money, but I found it made things hard. I always had to look carefully for the right denomination.

We did see Fenway park, but we didn't actually see any games. Maybe next time.

I don't know about how public transit works in NYC, but I found it annoying that in Boston I couldn't transfer from the subway to the bus without paying again. The practically ancient Green line was neat to explore though.

I couldn't figure why automatic faucets were practically non-existant in public washrooms. Even in the newest of malls, they all had those stupid faucets where you have to use one hand to hold the thing down.

The weird thing was we seemed to be the only Canadians crossing the border both on the way down and the way back. The majority of cars at the crossing in Vermont seemed to have Massachussetts plates. Passing through the border was fairly quick, but the American guard seemed kind of surly.

Despite the .80 Canadian dollar, I didn't seem to have much buying power down there. Pretty much everything (with the notable exception of gas) was more expensive. I'd pay $1.50 US for something I'd pay $1.50 CDN back home.

Grocery stores seemed to have a bigger selection, yet they were smaller than the ones back home. In the end, I figured that the American stores lacked two things: a large produce section and non-grocery items. At the giant Loblaws down the street from my home, I can pick up everything from eggs to a new sofa. The Canadian grocery store chains started building huge stores a decade ago in a preemptive strike against Super Walmarts coming north. They saw how the American grocers suffered, and they didn't want to share the same fate.

L-girl said...

Some responses...

Fenway - Baseball season hasn't started yet. And if it had already, you wouldn't have been able to get tickets anyway. It's a small park with a rabidly loyal fan base, plus they are the defending champions. No tickets!

Grocery stores - American stores have huge produce sections, huge nongrocery sections, just like Canadian stores. What you were seeing was the exception - stores in the big cities in the Northeast. New York, Boston, Philadelphia and a few other places don't have that because of space and rent considerations. (We hate it!!) One of my favorite things to do when we travel outside of NYC is go to the big beautiful supermarkets...

We also have automatic faucets, though not everywhere. They are very common.

And if you had asked for washroom, pop or the bill, you would have been understood. (Though pop is sometimes confusing.) Those words aren't unknown here, though they are used more in the Midwest than the Northeast.

I would say most of your observations apply to Boston, or perhaps the Northeast, but not to the US as a whole. I'm probably the same way about the Toronto area. I think I'm seeing Canada, when in fact I'm seeing Toronto.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Actually, I was commenting on Boston itself, and Vermont as well. It's quite different than the American Midwest where I used to live.

The very first place I saw an automatic faucet was in the U.S., that's why I was surprised they weren't common in Boston.

You're right about they would have understood. In the St. Louis though, they didn't and I would always get a strange reaction. Force of habit, I guess.

Expensive is right. Just for fun, we picked up a renters guide, and appartments seem extrodinarily expensive, housing too, even in the 'burbs.

As for the grocery stores, I've heard of big ones in the states. I just haven't seen them. When I lived in St. Louis, it was before big box stores where all the rage. A 150000 sq. ft grocery store was unheard of in '89.

Oh, one other observation about the North East, and maybe the U.S. in general. While the total number of SUVs on the road wasn't much greater, the number of full-size SUVs was astounding. Excursions and Denalis aren't a common sight here, probably because of higher gas prices.

Actually, I think gas prices are more stable in the U.S.. All of the gas stations here have electronic signs because gas fluctuates wildly. It's not uncommon to pull into a station here and have the price jump before you've managed to start the pump. But the stations I saw there all had signs where a person would have to walk outside and manually change the price, which would seem to indicate more stable pricing.

Car washes seemed scarce in Vermont and Boston, which was also a bit odd. There's usually one at every gas station here in Ottawa.

L-girl said...

Oh duh, I forgot you used to live in St Louis! Of course you weren't generalizing about the States, I misinterpreted.

Housing is amazingly expensive in big American cities. Boston is pretty reasonable compared to NYC and San Francisco.

Yeah, car washes are hard to find in big cities. And gas prices changing while you're at the pump?! That's wild.

Ah, those huge SUVs with Support Our Troops ribbons on the back, ain't that America...

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

I think those costs are one reason why American cities sprawl so much. A similar sized Canadian city doesn't sprawl as much as an American one (though compared to Europe they're both pretty big).

You might have noticed in Toronto that subdivisions are a somewhat denser. The houses are closer together and sit on smaller lots. This varies somewhat across Canada but its fairly typical. In some of the new subdivisions here the houses are almost touching each other, because they squeeze a 3000 sq. ft house on a 50ft. lot. I noticed the houses in Burlington and suburban Boston looked bigger than here, but that was mostly due to the fact that the house was wider than it was deep, and they sat on huge lots.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

I should also mention the news. It basically seemed to consist of three endlessly repeating themes. The corrupt U.N., those dastardly French, and Michael Jackson.

"Cats" was playing in Boston, and one news anchor was getting all made up like one of the actors. The woman back in the studio commented that he "looked French", which led on to the fact that his character was called General something-er-other, so obviously he couldn't be French. Because of Bush's visit to Europe, the whole anti-French thing was in full force in the news.

There was also some mass shooting somwhere in the midwest, which they talked about in a sentence or two before going into a half-hour discussion about the Jackson trial and Condeleeza's fashion choices.

L-girl said...

Sprawl - I think that might have more to do with the age of the suburb or town. The older lots are much bigger - Burlington and Boston suburbs would fall under that. Newer American sprawl is very dense, too.

Now that land is so much more valuable, people have come to expect smaller lots. It's difficult for someone like me who grew up in wide-open suburbs to get used to.

They also build those huge houses one right next to another here. They are referred to as McMansions.

News - Ack! I'll have to take your word on that, I avoid the mainstream TV news for just that reason. The shooting in the Midwest was (I think) the follow-up on an old story - a serial killer from the mid-80s was caught and confessed.

I wasn't aware the anti-French story going on anymore! Was that CNN? Or local news? Local news here is notoriously crappy.

Of course, Michael Jackson. Without celebrity trials, CNN would be on maybe 8 hours a day.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

This might end up double posting, but here goes:

Canadian cities have pretty much always been at the same density. We never really had wide open suburbs. I read somwhere that the Interstate Highway system might be the cause. Unlike many Canadian cities, there's usually one or more ring roads around American cities which encouraged people to move out beyond the ring where land was cheap. In contrast, most Canadian cities don't have ring roads, or the ring road was built after the area was built up. So, people lived closer where land was more expensive and the lots were smaller. It's also why cities like Toronto and Ottawa are somewhat linear, since the major highways run east-west. Ottawa is 50 miles across east-west, but only 15 miles across north-south. Cities with a ring road (like Winnipeg) tend to be about the same both ways.

I watched mostly local news, along with Fox (it was on in all the public areas).

L-girl said...

That's very true about highways and housing developments (the American term for subdivisions). Post-WWII, money was shoveled into highway building, as opposed to public transportation, and thus began sprawl.

Fox - in public areas?? Say it ain't so!! The only thing I've seen on in public (airports, for example) is CNN. This would be a terrible trend.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately it's true. Fox is what people are watching these days it seems.

CNN seems like the BBC in comparison. One of my coworkers used to rant about CNN, until Fox hit the airwaves up here.

One of the things I noticed is that Fox had chosen some swimsuit model as their new weatherperson. Fox seems to be the television equivalent to the rather scummy Sun newspapers we have up here, (and you have down there with things like the New York Post).

--Kyle

L-girl said...

So there are crappy Sunday papers in Canada, like in the UK? From what I remember of them in London, they make the NYC tabloids look like the Paris Review.