Sunday, November 04, 2007

Here We Stay

Ian and I came to the decision about 10 days ago that we would rather stay in Seattle than continue to jump through the hoops set out for us by New Zealand Immigration. They were getting ridiculous. One requirement was that Ian submit a certified copy of his undergraduate diploma even though they already had an official transcript. Finding the diploma, which Ian had never considered to be that important, involved him digging through my brother’s basement, where many of our belongings are stored, for most of an afternoon (I happened to be out of town, and was thus, unfortunately, unable to assist).

They were sticklers on relationship evidence as well. Our marriage certificate wasn’t enough, and photos we sent (digital print-outs) illustrating several years of relationship were deemed to be “photocopies, not originals,” as were the digital print-outs of some bank statements. It’s not as if Ian were a New Zealand citizen trying to sneak in a “wife”; he would’ve been there last April if it weren’t for me. We joked all summer that this was his chance to get rid of me. But no, he insisted on keeping me on, as the “anchor weighing him down.” (his words or mine? we can’t remember.).

My health history eventually reared its head too, with a request from the medical consultants for “more specific information from her surgeon, including her prognosis (figures if possible), and future surgical and/or medical needs.” I’m sorry—my surgeon isn’t any more of a clairvoyant than you are, Dr. New Zealand Medical Consultant. I’m afraid she, also, has no idea what my expiration date is.

We spent thousands of dollars on the process too, including the application fees, the medical exam fees, the certification fees, and the shipping fees.

All of those things were irritations, yes, but strangely, the benefit of them was that they took so much time. We started thinking about New Zealand ten months ago, last year, Christmas 2006. I’m sure we would’ve loved Wellington if we’d gotten there in April as we’d originally expected . . . but the longer we spent not there the more we thought about Seattle and how much we already love it here. We really do. We have dear friends here, we have family here, we have a dog here. We have a house that we love, and that appeals to us in location and character. We can ski here, we can ride here, we can kayak here. We can eat exclusively organic food here, even if we go out. Ian can even get a job here, and one that he’ll probably love. If Wellington was expected to offer a significantly different, and significantly better (at least as far as we are concerned) environment, we maybe would’ve stuck it out to the bitter end. But aside from the traffic (which doesn’t directly affect us, fortunately), pretty much everything is at least slightly better here.

And so, thank you New Zealand Immigration, for doing such a brilliant job of petty bureaucracy. If you’d actually seen the value of us as potential Kiwis, we would’ve made the mistake of leaving this land that we love, and giving our considerable skills and strengths to you.


Southern California Fires—Not Our Fault

Ian and I were in La Jolla a few weeks ago, for him to attend a dork conference and for me to, as it turned out, sleep a lot in the lovely and unpeopled apartment of his friend and former UW office-mate, A (for those of you who followed along this summer, A’s parents were the generous ones with the Alentejan beach house in Portugal). Five days in Southern California were enough to make us very, very happy that Ian decided not to look into jobs there. The surface streets are six lanes wide, for crying out loud. Ian did skip out on the last day of his conference and we drove to the Salton Sea. If you know nothing (or even if you do) about the Salton Sea, then you should totally watch this documentary. It’s a bizarre, fascinating place. And it smells.

Probably much of the reason I slept so much was the Valium I was taking for my jaw—turns out I had three cavities that needed filling when I got home from the Summer of Self-Indulgence, so I spent a couple hours with my mouth wide open and as a result it was very sore. I was supposed to take the Valium right before I went to bed, so that I’d sleep well and not be dopey the next day, but it kind of had a time-release effect with me. No matter what time I took it, I finally woke up the next day about 12 hours after I’d gone to sleep (i.e. take Valium and 9:00pm. Go to bed at 11:30pm. Wake up next day at noon.).

We also ate some good Mexican food (I was careful with the chips) in Old Town and the Gas Lamp District, and I finished one night on the town with a chocolate shake from Ghirardelli (yum!).

On our way from the Salton Sea we drove through the town of Ramona, from which 30,000 people were evacuated less than a week later. But we were long gone by then.