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2007-03-15 - 4:03 p.m. have to have good balls to live in Canada...

K and I have made significant progress towards achieving permanent residence here in Canada. The process still feels like an elaborate scavenger hunt. Every month or so we get yet another packet that indicates, "very good. You've solved the clue and are ready to proceed to the next level." The packet then contains elaborate and confusing instructions about finding the fifth tree on the left side of the paddock, look under the moss-covered rock, bring a cashier's check for $1100.00... "Bring a cashier's check" is a favorite instruction in the whole immigration-scavenger-hunt process.

In mid-January, after our first and last screw-up with the whole 'Cashier's Check' thing (little did we realize that EACH step involved yet another $1100 cashier's check), we proceeded to the criminal record check level. Our fingers are clear of the ink needed for fingerprints, for criminal records from Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, USA, and Canada; the ~$400 in fees have been paid out to retrieve said records; the records have mostly arrived (still waiting on O Canada).

In mid-February, we received another letter explaining that our application files kind of took the same trip that we did across the country - they traveled from Buffalo, New York, to Seattle, Washington. We assume that they did not travel in a half-exported temporarily-registered Toyota Corolla with two howling cats and a German driver with dubious immigration status, however… Nevertheless, the letter stated that it could take as long as 90 days for our file to be ‘in place’ in Seattle, and therefore we should follow the idea of ‘don’t-call-us-we’ll-call-you. Maybe.’ The purpose of this 90-day move was to *expedite* the paper processing….but at this point we have learned not to question the reasoning of immigration offices. We just blindly follow.

So you know how seven years to a human is like one year to a dog? Well, apparently 90 days to a Canadian is like 30 days to a German or American. Because in mid-March (last week), we received another packet in the mail with another set of instructions, from Seattle. Congratulations. We’ve reached the next level in Donkey Kong. We do not need to be interviewed. We just need pay more money. Our next mission (should we choose to accept it) is to (a) finish sending in all of our criminal records, (b) provide detailed information about the 18th year of K’s life, which was missing from his original application, (c) take detailed medical examinations (costing us $400 plus another $20 for another new set of passport photos), and (d) send another cashier’s check for $1000.

So, the medical examination. K just went through this a year ago in Leipzig, in preparation for his immigration to the United States. And he will tell you, that the Leipzig exam went something like this. "Stand up. You look healthy to me. Sit down. Thank you." And then he will also tell you, that Canadians seem much more concerned about this health thing. I mean, this doctor was THOROUGH. We kind of expected chest X-rays, and blood tests and the whole drink-water drink-coffee plunge-your-hand-into-running-warm-water and think-of-waterfalls pee-in-a-cup thing (I have a leetle problem with stage fright when it comes to peeing at doctors offices. Which is amazing because I spend most of the REST of my life having to PEE. Now that was a wee bit too much information now, wasn't it??).

But apart from that there was a LOT prodding, poking, picking, looking, and questioning... I had to have a breast exam. K had to have his testicles checked. The doc SQUEEZED his testicles, so that he could get into Canada. You have to have GOOD BALLS to become a ‘friendly-neighbor-to-the-north.’ (insert hockey puck jokes here).

So what happens now? Our thorough doctor awaits the arrival of all of our X-ray and test results. (3-4 weeks). He piles everything into an envelope and sends it off to Ottawa. Something mysterious happens in Ottawa with the medical records. And then they are sent BACK across the continent and across the border to Seattle to go into our ever-expanding file.

Now, I don’t want to spook anything, but that actually may be IT. I mean, it just might be, at this point, that we will have permanent resident status. Or, we could be delivered our final set of instructions, on an anonymous little cassette player, which will self destruct in 10 seconds after it is finished playing. (insert theme to Mission Impossible here…..). But we are yet another series of steps closer to achieving these goals.

And were there any lessons learned? Perhaps not for us. But for any of you Canadian ladies out there? Or for any of you Canadian men out there, depending on your preferences. . . . If you find yourself attracted to any recent male immigrant to Canada? You may feel happy and safe in knowing that his jewels have met with Commonwealth approval.

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