11.11.2018

a rare bout of nostalgia: remembering our move to canada

August 30, 2005: wmtc
Packing up the apartment and getting ready for the road trip brings back bittersweet memories.

In the spring and summer of 2005, we were in our final preparation for moving to Canada. All at once, an amazing writing opportunity dropped in my lap, we found a house to rent, and our dog Buster became extremely ill.

We made a one-day roundtrip trip to Port Credit (Mississauga) via Buffalo on the first day of what would become a new round of Saving Buster. (Since that cold and rainy night in Washington Heights when I found him on the street, near death, our lives were all about Saving Buster.) This time, it was months before we got a proper diagnosis. He got sicker and sicker, practically fading away before our eyes.

As my deadline loomed, I was writing full-time Monday through Friday, and working my day-job, two 12-hour days, all weekend.

It wasn't long before we realized Buster needed a specialist, which meant taking a subway to a Zipcar, driving the car back home, then driving all the way downtown. Multiple appointments, incredibly time-consuming -- but we saved his life. After that, he was on high doses of prednisone, which means very frequent trips outside, and he couldn't be alone for more than an hour or so.

This is a dog who already has two chronic conditions, requiring all kinds of meds. I had a spreadsheet with all the different instructions -- this on an empty stomach, this with food, these drops in both eyes twice a day, these drops in one eye once a day -- etc.

Allan hired the movers and did 100% of the packing while I churned out the words. It was the most pressure I have ever felt, before or since. But we did it. Allan got us moved. I met my deadline and got paid -- which let us not work for more than a month after moving. I was determined that Buster would make it to Canada with us, and he did.

Ten weeks later, while we were living in Port Credit, one of Buster's conditions suddenly worsened, and we had to let him go. Packing and moving makes me think of that.

It also reminds me of that day, a bit more than 13 years ago, when our dreams and our plans and our hard work and our luck all came together, and we physically moved to Canada. Coming out of the immigration building with my stamped papers, holding my arms high in victory, crying with joy and relief, Allan and I hugging and whooping. We did it.

Finding that post -- the drive north -- I scrolled through the wmtc category immigrating and moving. For a long time I marked the anniversary of moving to Canada -- six months, one year, two years, three years, four years, five years.

Then there are the "becoming a Canadian citizen" posts -- which also reminds me that this blog was, for a time, monitored by the federal government.

Then the anniversary posts end. In 2015, on our 10th anniversary of moving to Canada, we moved from our last rental house into our current apartment. I noted the day but didn't make a special post.

Through my library work, I've learned that, in general, one is an immigrant for a year, and a newcomer for five years. Living in a chosen country for more than five years, most people feel acculturated and no longer think of themselves as newcomers. This was true for me.

11.09.2018

11.11

11 anti-war books, parts 1 and 2.

11 anti-war songs.

Robert Fisk: "...Heaven be thanked that the soldiers cannot return to discover how their sacrifice has been turned into fashion appendage."

Why no red poppy, why no white poppy:
It's that time of year again, the week when no one dares show their face on Canadian television, or indeed in any public place in Canada, without a red poppy symbol dutifully stuck on their lapel. What was once (supposedly) a remembrance of the horrors of war drifted first into a celebration of war and finally into obligatory, reflexive display.

Many of my friends are wearing a white poppy today, and I wish them good luck with their campaign. I myself have no wish to display a physical comment on a symbol that is meaningless to me. It would feel like wearing a Star of David to show that I am not Christian.

There is only one symbol that can express my feelings about the war dead - the Canadians, the Americans, the Germans, the Japanese, the Vietnamese, the Guatemalans, the Africans, the Native Americans, the Iraqis, all my fellow human creatures - and the wounded, and the ruined, and the heartbroken, and the shattered witnesses - the millions of lives wasted - for conquest, for profit, for nationalism, for ideology, for imperialism, for nothing. That is the peace symbol I wear every day. And much importantly, inside, in my heart of hearts, there is my core belief that war is evil and we must oppose it.
Honour the dead by working for peace.