engagement ring

My beautiful ring

I’m engaged.

Your first thought is, “uh yeah, we know.”

But if you look at my hand, it’s missing one engagement ring.

See?

engagement ringI get to wear my ring when I visit My American in Spokane.

Every time I leave to return to Canada, I take my ring off and put it back in its box, next to the matching wedding band I’ll be wearing in the new year.

I posted on Facebook the sadness I felt the first time I took the ring off and left it behind. Friends rallied to encourage me to “just wear it,” because the border guards “won’t even notice” or even care.

Except for one problem.

They hadn’t been reading the VisaJourney.com stories about other Canadian brides who tried crossing the border with their engagement rings.

The ones who were detained until the border guards could contact their fiances and gain prove of the ring’s value.

The ones who had their rings confiscated and were fined.

The ones who were charged hundreds of dollars in duty. (Ahem … I’m unemployed, remember?)

I could fill out Form E29B for a Temporary Admission Permit. That form — and a small deposit, which is about 10 per cent of the ring’s value — lets me have my ring north of the 49th parallel.

For two months.

If I surpass the two months — which I would have done as I await the completion of my visa process — I would have had to pay duties anyway.

And so we decided to leave my ring in Spokane. It’s far better to play by the rules than to attempt circumvention and risk getting caught, right?

The waiting game

I have spent the equivalent of two and a half hours on hold this week with the National Visa Center. That’s five phone calls, averaging a half hour of hold time each, for a two-minute phone call that ends in disappointment.

We received our second Notice of Action from U.S. Customs and Immigration Services on Sept. 25. That meant My American’s petition to sponsor me as a immigration applicant was approved.

The next step is waiting for the California Service Center to send our file to the National Visa Center in Portsmouth, N.H. Once it arrives there, it’s assigned a case number and sent to the U.S. consulate in Vancouver.

Then and only then may I start my application to enter the U.S.

While I’ve read of others with a similar NOA-2 date receiving their case numbers, our case has yet to land in New Hampshire. There’s no rhyme or reason to the delivery of case files, and there’s no way the NVC representatives can answer why my case hasn’t arrived yet.

They give a pat answer that I must wait at least 42 days after my NOA-2.

Sometimes little about this process makes any sense, but these are the necessary steps we take to be together.

These wait times are really only little bumps in the road, though, aren’t they?

After all, how long did I wait to get that beautiful ring on my finger anyway?

It’s just stuff

He’s fascinated by the Tiny House movement.

He wants to live simply.

He wonders if I can. He wonders if I can live in a smaller space — smaller than a three-bedroom home in suburbia — and with less stuff.

I chuckle.

My first one-bedroom apartment in Calgary was a tiny little dungeon off Edmonton Trail in Crescent Heights. The bedroom was just big enough to fit my queen-sized bed (no boxspring, mind you; we couldn’t squeeze it down the stairwell) and six-drawer horizontal dresser.

It had no closet space, just a couple of those Rubbermaid shelf racks screwed into the wall.

wire closet shelf

It was exactly what I could afford on the salary of a lowly sports reporter for Sun Media.

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An immunity idol to get off the island

Today, I met a doctor with a wry sense of humour.

When it comes time to head to Vancouver and have the medical for my K-1 visa application, I have to prove I’m immune to a lengthy list of communicable diseases, including chicken pox, mumps, measles and rubella.

Survivor immunityA Canadian girl in the 1970s remembers well her trips to the school nurse to get stuck up like a pin cushion, the boys not needing any rubella shots.

And chicken pox? Yeah, that scar on my right temple is from picking a chicken pox scab. (The one between my eyebrows is from bouncing on my parents’ bed and landing forehead-first on the corner of their dresser. It was a sometimes rough childhood … all my own fault, sometimes Kevin’s.)

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spokane engagement

A new journey

I knew 2014 was going to be a big year.

By now, many of you know My American popped the question.

spokane engagement

And thus, a new journey begins. Today, we received our NOA-1, a Notice of Action that our K-1 visa application is now under adjudication at the California Service Center.

That’s right.

The girl with the tattoo of a Maple Leaf and old pipe-blade hockey skates is getting ready to pack up her stuff and make a run for the border. I joke about cheap beer and wine but many of you know how difficult it’s going to be to leave Canada and become an American.

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1 second everyday

Blowing off the cobwebs

<tap tap tap>

Is this thing on? Can anyone hear me? Have I completely lost the legions of people who kept coming back here for more?

You know what I hate? Checking in on someone’s blog and seeing sporadic posts—one every three or four months— apologizing for being absent, for not writing, for not having anything to say.

Now look at my post history. I wrote something last July and then again in November when Shep got sick. It isn’t any better on my adventure blog, Our Great Escape.

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Calgary flood 2013

Twitter: is it still optional in communications?

You seem to like Twitter a lot. Should it be part of our communications strategy?

It was a question posed to me during a recent job interview. Many of my friends should be surprised to hear I responded ‘not really.’

The company for which I was interviewing is based in a smaller city, one where social media — at least Twitter — hasn’t really taken off as a business communication tool.

Sure, I said, the competition is using it and that means we should be listening and posting when necessary. Twitter should be a bit player in the overall strategy, I said, but our key communications tools should be traditional media.

It made sense at the time.

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beer cans

Getting the cold shoulder on Twitter

Imagine for a moment that you’re looking for a specific item.

You approach the salesperson in your favourite store or boutique and ask, “Do you have any navy pencil skirts?”

The salesperson responds: “All of our skirts are on the second floor. Just go up those stairs.”

That doesn’t feel very helpful, does it? You were probably hoping she might lead you to the correct spot and even say “Can I help you find something in your size?”

The helpful reaction isn’t just what I might expect while out shopping. It’s a reaction I have gotten, which made me happy to spend hard-earned money in that store.

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