The Doors to Narnia… Not Really

If you flown to the States through Pearson, then you know that the US customs at Pearson have two levels.

The first level is your typical customs stand.  Show your passport, state your reason, and off you go.

The second level is where you do the first level but it goes something like show your passport, state your reason, reason isn’t good enough, go to the scary looking door.

When I made my way over to the States through Pearson I ended up in the second level security of US customs.  Why?  Because that’s what you get when you don’t have all the documents you need to get your “already approved but missing one official document” visa and you have a two month period between your departure and return flight to Canada.  In essence, I look sketchy.

I don’t do well in interrogations.  I get nervous and flustered.  In the second room, my first conversation went something like this…

Border officer man says

“How old are you?”

I respond

“23”

He profiles me up and down.

“Are you really?

Maybe wearing jeans, carrying a backpack and being makeup free doesn’t work for trying to convince someone I’m not 16 and running away from home.

“Why are you going to the states without a visa”

“I do have my visa but I don’t have the last document so I was just going to go work there for two months… maybe try and see… erhm”

“Um ya that’s not how the process works.  Take a seat”

He takes my passport and information away and I go sit and wait with the rest of second level individuals.

20 minutes into my wait, I was really nervous and really really needed to use the washroom but I didn’t want to miss my turn in line.  So I stayed seated and waited some more.  40 minutes into my wait, I was still nervous, still needed to use the washroom, and now I’m thirsty on top of it all… I think I’ve seen this tactic work on Law & Order and Cold Case.

55 minutes in, I gave up and asked if I could use the washroom.  Looking like you’re a child and asking to use the washroom at a second level security section of customs pretty much makes it look like a 3 year old asking to use the potty after the parents bundled them up in layers of clothes before going on a sleigh ride.

The restroom was quite a process on their end to let me in.  I got out of there as soon as I could.

So now I’m just nervous and thirsty.  Finally 40 minutes before my flight takes off to San Francisco minus me, I get called up.  I wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing.

When I go see the officer, he goes through my files… barely says a word to me and then turns and says

Let’s see if we can get this visa to you right now

Seriously?  Seriously???  You made me sweat for over an hour and a half just for me to hear that.  When I finally got my visa in hand and ready to go, I was giddy and had only 30 minutes left to catch my flight and still needed to go through security screening.

I kept thinking throughout the security screening

“This would really suck if I got my visa after all that and then missed my flight.  I wonder if the girls would pick me up and drive me again next weekend?”

Well obviously I am here in SF and somehow made it through.  Look out for a future blog post on what happens when I try to get a Social Security Number.

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View from Apartment

Less than a month to go

It’s scary to take a step back from the busyness of day to day life and realize that I’m moving in less than a month!  Within these next 30 days, I have a whole slew of things to do.  First, I’ll be heading off to Australia for my eldest brother’s wedding.  This will be my first real vacation since Hong Kong in May 2009.

After Australia, I’ll have roughly 15 days to sort out my life and head West.  Yet, as excited I am to go and start my life, I still have a  list of things I want to do.

(1) Catch a TIFF movie

(2) Dine in Little Italy

(3) Walk around Fairy Lake, Newmarket

(4) Brunch at School

(5) Attend Bradford’s Carrot Fest

(6) Spend a day lying by the pool at my mom’s condo

(7) Visit old bookstores

(8) Back to School shopping on Queen W.!  I still love doing this even if I’m not going back to school… it’s still one of my favourite time of the year!

(9) A day at the Beaches

(10) Patio and coffee date at the Distillery District

(11) Do another hurrah at LA’s backyard

With only about two weekends left that I will be in Canada, I doubt I’ll be able to check off all the items on my list.  Maybe it’s time for me to start putting together a West Coast list?

And so it begins…

Hello there!

Welcome to The SF Chronicles.  As I prepare for a new chapter in my life, I thought the best way to share it with everyone is through a blog.

I weighed my options of doing mass emails to family and friends versus starting a blog and I decided to go with the latter.  My decision came down to how my friend Katie went about it when she went to Botswana and Sierra Leone.

In Botswana, Katie kept a blog which documented her adventures.  When she went to Sierra Leone, she opted to communicate via email.  As someone on her mass email list, I loved receiving her email but I had a harder time keeping up with her stories.  When she blogged, I was always able to reference previous postings for background information and I was also able to more so see a growth in Katie.

With that in mind, I will be blogging about my big move to and then later on life in San Francisco.

San Francisco will be the fifth city I’ve lived in and the first city I’ll call home in the United States.  Other cities I’ve been fortunate to live in include: Brussels, Belgium; Hong Kong, Hong Kong; Honiara, Solomon Islands; and Toronto, Canada.

San Francisco marks a significant time in my life.  It will be the first new city of my adult life and one where I’m technically responsible for myself.  Unlike Hong Kong and Honiara, my family will not be there to guide me.  While I was studying abroad in Brussels during my undergrad (it was actually a small town near Brussels) I was there alone with no real responsibilities other than passing all my classes and my mom was wonderful enough to help subsidize it as part of my high school and university graduation gift.  While I was in Europe, my brother reminded me that my time in Belgium was a heightened reality and that traveling and living the way I did on exchange did not work that way in real life.

So thus, over the next year or so I will be chronicling my SF journey which will likely end up being a coming of age blog as well.  I have a little more than a month to go before heading off and I promise I’ll do a better job of keeping up with this one than I did with my failed Europe blog.

Feel free to join me on my adventure.