Pain, Fire and Other Moving Upheavals

When you’re moving overseas, there are going to be massive changes to your plans. That is inevitable. Something that seemed a solid plan one day will disappear by the next. Even upsets in your life can seem like a bigger deal when you’re moving overseas.

These days, with COVID-19, plans are even more unpredictable. I check border updates every day to see if there is a way that my Mom and I can enter Canada. I have chronic pain issues and I got treatment by a Canadian healthcare provider that worked better than anything I have ever had in the US. One thing I am hoping for is if I can get into Canada to get treatment for my pain. I had to stop getting treatment because of COVID-19, so I have struggled with pain through the lockdown. I manage it on my own as best as I can, but I am going to need to resume treatment soon. I might have found a way to get in for healthcare reasons though. I might have to give up my IEC visa and find another way to get a work permit once I’m inside Canada.

Thanks to the pandemic, I hear companies aren’t hiring people from overseas. That means I have to establish residence first and then find a job. I do have financial worries because of this, and I am thinking about starting my own sort of enterprise and exploring my options for that. Whether I can do it in Canada before I get permanent residence is another matter. COVID-19 has made me think about what I want to do with my life and where I want to be financially.

Wildfire season has started in California, and it’s freakishly early compared to other years! I couldn’t believe it a few days ago, when I found out there are a lot of fires going on nearby. I haven’t needed to evacuate, but the fires are closer to where I live than they were in previous years. In 2018, the Camp Fire in November gave me ten days off school because the Air Quality Index was ridiculously high. Last year, classes were cancelled for a couple days in October because of a potential fire risk.

Sunrise and sunset are different when there is a fire. It’s almost eerie! I took some photos of a sunset when the smoke was really bad. It’s getting better in my area now, though. It’s scary to think wildfires are happening during a global pandemic too, especially since prisoners are recruited to fight fires, but the prisons have been hit with COVID-19. The whole system is fucked frankly!

Sunset on August 20, 2020 in SF Bay Area, East Bay
Sunset and Evening Star are one clear call for thee (Crossing the Bar by Alfred Lord Tennyson)

I thought when I left for Canada, I would only be taking the things I really need. I will be coming back later to move things up in a van. Now, I am thinking, “What can I not bear to lose if there is a fire?” I am going to take the things that are valuable to me that I have collected on my travels. Also, people have given me meaningful gifts from their countries and travels over the years. I collect things from foreign countries and I would be devastated if they got destroyed by a fire.

We have just started our sixth month on lockdown in the US. I feel scared to go out sometimes because cases keep going up even though indoor activities are not allowed. I have been good and doing my part, and it feels really unfair that I still have to stay home while other people are being reckless. Mental health is my number one priority at least. I have been doing a lot of self-care, like what I mention in my Self Care post. I think Michael Rappaport said it best in his PSA to wear your mask.

I admit, it has been nice finding some content that makes fun of anti-maskers, or even just content that creatively reminds you to do your part. Here are some of my favorites:

Signs You’re a “Karen”

Everybody Must Stay Home – Bob Dylan Coronavirus Parody

Sarah Cooper is a gem that has emerged during the pandemic. Someone once said she doesn’t just mimic Trump. She exposes him. I think she’s been doing people in the US a service, especially those who are good and staying home.

I also love the John Oliver shows. My favorite is still the first one he did on COVID-19 when he talked about this handwashing informational video from Vietnam that featured a dance routine that went viral all over the world. It’s funny to talk about something going viral during the time of a global pandemic.

Even so, I find it hard to enjoy these things sometimes and keep up my motivation to stay on lockdown. Whenever someone in my family comes home from a high-risk area, we have to do a 2319 from Monsters Inc. Now, that joke is getting old unfortunately.

My Mom and I say every day how we can’t wait to leave the US. Sometimes, we get news that makes me say, “Oh no! We’ll never get there!” I have to remember though that I have a false sense of timing about moving. It has always been that I would be in a country a few months after my Dad got a job overseas. We had the company help us with the paperwork and stuff, but now that I have to do it on my own, it takes longer. I have to remind myself that where there’s a will, there’s a way and just keep going until I reach my goal.

How have you all been handling the coronavirus situation? Hope you are all hanging in there and staying healthy! Watch this space for more updates!

Fuel and fire: How a green recovery can save Alberta from itself

As COVID-19 put the world on pause, a decreased demand for oil sent prices plummeting, spelling disaster for the future of Alberta’s oil sands. The province continues to deal with a worsening economy and the impacts of climate change, and climate activists say a green transition might be the solution Albertans need.

Fuel and fire: How a green recovery can save Alberta from itself

I definitely believe Canada should transition to a green economy now, especially Alberta.

National Acadian Day represents culture, community, and a struggle for recognition

There are over 29,000 Acadians living in New Brunswick alone. But for some Acadians, it’s hard living in major cities like Fredericton. While New Brunswick prides itself on being Canada’s only bilingual province, with both French- and English-language inhabitants, behind the province’s dual history lies a story of deportation and alienation.

National Acadian Day represents culture, community, and a struggle for recognition

A great read about the history of Acadians!

What I’m Looking Forward To

I have been saying lately, “I can’t wait to try my first poutine!” There have been a lot of stressors with moving, and it helps to have things to look forward to. After all, moving to another country is a whole new adventure and there are some genuinely exciting things to anticipate. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress and emotional roller coaster, but I find thinking of new and exciting things are the best medicine. Here’s my list of things I can’t wait to experience!

I love maple syrup! I have it with buckwheat pancakes every weekend! I hear that you can get candy from maple syrup by pouring it on ice and that sounds really cool! 

When I was working as a chef back in London, the place I worked at used Canadian Bacon. I would sneak little bits of it when no one was looking. It was among the best bacon I have ever tasted! I wonder if the Canadian Bacon that’s imported is different from the local kind. I guess I will find out! Generally, I’m a vegetarian, but I appreciate good quality meat and I’m happy to break my norm if I’m eating ethical meat.

Food: I’m all about the food in the culture! I love experiencing the authenticity of the taste and ingredients and preparation! When I was about 7 or 8, my Mom got a recipe for Nanaimo bars from a Canadian friend and we made it for Christmas. After that, we made it every year without fail! When I was in the hospital with appendicitis over the Christmas season, we had a post-Christmas celebration and my Mom made Nanaimo bars! That was the first year I hadn’t made them with her since I was so sick, but my Mom made sure I didn’t miss out! (I love her! 💕) Christmas isn’t Christmas without Nanaimo bars. 🎄

Nanaimo Bars from a few years ago. One of my friends said he would gladly turn himself in to terrorists for a slice of Nanaimo Bar!

I have heard about a lot of other foods that I’m eager to try, like Montreal Bagels. I have never tried bagels cooked in water with honey, so that should be cool! I know Tim Hortons is like the Starbucks of Canada, and normally, I don’t go to Starbucks. I am willing to try Tim Hortons and see what it’s like. I heard that it got taken over by Burger King, and I am a little dubious because I learned about the pros and cons of multinational corporations when I took a class in international finance. 

These are just a handful of foods that I’m looking forward to. To be honest, I don’t know how I’m going to deal with the love of ketchup, because I avoid eating it! The reason I avoid it is because I am a trained chef and I find ketchup to be food terrorism. Okay, I like good quality ketchup because it doesn’t have as much sugar in it. I really have a problem with too much sugar with tomatoes. But hey, I can’t be the only weirdo! I know people who don’t like poutine!

I have learned a lot about popular Canadian foods from the following websites:

17 Traditional Canadian Foods You NEED To Try

47 Of The Best Canadian Dishes – Traditional Canadian Food

10 Must-Try Canadian Dishes (and the Best Places to Find Them)

18 Traditional Canadian Foods and 10 Places To Taste Them in Canada

The 15 Best Canadian Foods You Need To Try

Canadian Foods 

Basically, I am a foodie and can’t wait to expand my cultural culinary horizons! Plus, the excessive amount of stuff I have said about food is my French side talking!

Holidays: I love learning and participating in public holidays in another country! Guy Fawkes Day was my favorite UK holiday because I was fascinated with its historical significance, and I loved the fireworks! I didn’t like that fireworks were illegal in the USA and you only got them on the Fourth of July, so I would watch fireworks any chance I got! It did become a problem though when people started setting off fireworks a couple weeks before and a couple weeks after both Guy Fawkes Day and New Year’s Eve. Animals were suffering from all the noise and veterinarians were petitioning to only limit fireworks on those holidays. People who lived in the UK all their lives supported that petition because that’s how it was when they were kids. Plus, if they had animals, they wanted to help them. Last Fourth of July, there were way too many fireworks going off in the month before. It was worse than the fireworks going off before and after Guy Fawkes Day because they would go off in the middle of the night and I would have to sleep with earplugs.

I have had some good Fourth of July celebrations, but now, I don’t want to celebrate it again. I have gotten despondent about it the last few years and the last Fourth, no one in my household wanted to do anything. We did watch fireworks though, but only because they are cool. There are a couple memories about the Fourth that will never leave me. When we were in England, we had a Fourth of July celebration, and my Mom went to a local shop to get some food. She told the cashier that we were American and celebrating our Independence Day from England. The cashier was Indian and he was fascinated about our holiday. He asked her questions such as, “When did your country get its independence?” It was so cool!

There was another Fourth of July I will never forget. I have a friend from college who is from Shanghai, and her mother was visiting her in California. My parents and I invited my friend and her mother to spend the Fourth with us. It was wonderful! My friend’s mother brought some pork dumplings she had made and they had some ingredients in them you could only get in China! Her mother didn’t speak English, so my friend translated. However, she and my mother were able to communicate in their own way, since my mother said that Mom Code is a universal language. One thing I found touching was this mutual respect we had for each other’s cultures. My parents and I appreciated the dumplings and did our best to communicate and make our guests feel welcome. My friend’s mother was fascinated with how things are in the US, and we had a good discussion about the differences between houses in the US and China. Also, we asked her mother if she wanted to use chopsticks to eat, but she said no, because she wanted to eat the way Americans do on the Fourth of July. There were a lot of fireworks that evening, and we all enjoyed them, but I think frankly, the Chinese outdo the Americans when it comes to fireworks. I just think about how polarization is happening in the world and it makes me sad that people are disrespecting each other’s cultures. I think the more people make an effort to understand and respect each other’s cultures, the better off this world will be.

There are some things I miss about holidays in England. Since I grew up in a multicultural neighborhood, I have had the pleasure of being invited to celebrate holidays with people from other cultures. I have experienced Russian Easter and Christmas quite a few times. In England, Easter traditions are observed more broadly. Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day, is celebrated nationwide, even if people aren’t observing Lent. Additionally, there is a four day weekend off work from Good Friday to Easter Monday. I remember talking to a friend from Romania about cultural Easter traditions and my friend said she misses celebrating Easter in Romania. She said she has to remember that Easter is not as big a thing in the US.

I was ecstatic to learn that in Canada, there are Bank Holidays. I loved Bank Holidays in England and I miss them so much here! Bank Holidays are a great lull in the hustle and bustle of life and remind you to take a break. I think it’s very telling how some countries have Bank Holidays and some don’t. It can say a lot about how much rest and taking care of yourself is seen as a priority in different cultures. However, London has expanded a lot and self-care priorities seem to take a back seat. The term “London refugee” is real. People move away from London for a more peaceful life, and yes, I did that too. I can only hope there will be a cultural shift back to self-care, considering the number of London refugees.

Travel: Whenever I have moved someplace new, I make a New Year’s resolution to see more of my beautiful, new country. I caught the travel bug at a really young age. Sometimes, I feel like I don’t get to travel as much as I would like, but I feel blessed for being able to see some really beautiful things. 

I plan to get a good pair of hiking boots when I move to Canada. I want to take nice long walks on the weekend. Whenever there is a long weekend, I want to go visit some other region and take a look around either the city or countryside.

Sometimes, I will have to come back to the US to sort out business, but I plan to have some fun too. There are places in the US I haven’t seen, so if I am ever passing through some cool area, why not stop and look around? It’s hard to go back to the country you came from sometimes, and it would be nice to take a break and go someplace cool.

Thanks to the pandemic, I am yearning to travel overseas too. I tend to go stretches of years without traveling to another country, and I want that to stop. There’s a world out there to see and I want to milk it for all it’s worth, but in a good way, not an exploitative way.

Winter: Yes, I’m moving from California. No, I’m not freaking out about snow. In fact, I love snow! There was snow a few times in London, but it was hard to enjoy because people didn’t know how to handle it! The first time the snow happened when I was there, the city practically shut down. Even after that, people didn’t know how to clean the streets properly, and you would have to tiptoe around to prevent falling on black ice. Pretty embarrassing for the largest city above 50 degrees north if you ask me. Additionally, the winters in London would chill me to the bone and I would get depressed from the dark. People didn’t cope well with the winters there, so I didn’t learn how to cope well with it either. After 13 years, I couldn’t wait to move to California! I see that Canadians seem to have certain skills to help them through the winter and I have friends who have given me good advice for staying physically and mentally healthy. Someone once told me that winter in Vancouver is like Hawaii compared to London. Thanks, Delusional Bubble! I do have a recurring mountain theme in my life though. Climates don’t worry me. It’s the culture that surrounds climates that can worry me.

I did find this hilarious meme about Canadian winter on Facebook once:

Source: Facebook meme going around

There are still annoying things going on that make me wonder if I’m ever going to get to Canada, but it helps to look forward to these things. Watch this space for more stories!