Hi all. There will be no pictures or jaunty artwork to accompany this post. You know why? Because I’m on goddamned DIALUP! And just getting to this page right here, right now, took about 10 minutes. Why, you might ask? Because I am now living in America, and apparently it takes weeks to get a telecommunications company to come to your door and set you up for the privilege of them being able to fleece you once a month.

As mentioned, don’t get me wrong — I love America. Your public transit rocks. So does your selection of products in grocery stores. You are very friendly, warm and happy people, for the most part. Every day someone says something to me in the course of axing my way through mountains of red tape that makes me laugh.

But sweet Jesus, the red tape. For a country that claims it doesn’t like government interference in the lives of its citizens, the U.S. makes Canada seem like a free-wheeling, outrageously corrupt banana republic. Which is ironic considering some people think of Canada as a socialist state (it’s not, but you know, there’s public health care and some people equate that with Communism).

We have lived here almost two weeks now and here’s what red tape is meaning for me:

My poor boy is still not in school because Americans don’t like Canadian birth certificates. I had to order a special, long-form one from my government and am awaiting its arrival via Fed-Ex, and have been for days. When it arrives, there are only about four or five more bureaucratic hurdles I have to clear until my son can actually sit down in a classroom and learn. Including a TB test. A Canadian TB test will not do, apparently. It must be a TB test performed in Montgomery County. It doesn’t matter how many times I explain to people that Canada has no TB, so they have nothing to fear — the Canadian result wasn’t faked — they need a local TB test!

I can’t get a social security number for weeks. Do you know what this means? It means I cannot start up an American bank account, I cannot get an American credit card, I cannot start up accounts for my gas and electric bills, I could not get my son a cellphone, I cannot order groceries online, I could not even start up an account at Blockbuster — I basically cannot do a fucking thing without it. And it could be weeks until I get it. So I am living in a strange state of limbo, and there’s no exceptions made for people like me who are here on work visas and so need a social security number pronto.

Needless to say, I am a bit stressed by all this and the fact that the movers seem to have lost a few boxes of expensive clothing but claim they didn’t. And that my washing machine keeps flooding the basement.

Thankfully, American good humour and friendliness is helping me through. Many people I have talked to are appalled on my behalf, and have offered all sorts of kindnesses to help me out. Which is why, as stressful as my life is right now, I am so glad to be here as I sit out in my breathtakingly pretty backyard and gaze up at the towering oaks and glimpse the family of deer that wander by occasionally. America may have its problems, but it sure is sweet at times.

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