Saturday, December 11, 2010

toby's from san francisco: The truck! The truck!

Just when we were sure our furniture would get trapped in a snowdrift in Calgary, there was the giant truck, taking up 8 metered parking spaces along the side of St. Laurent, our little blue car smiling at us from the back. Our new apartment is, as toby will be the first to tell you, on top of a yogurt shop. He tells this to anyone who appears to be listening, especially people that we meet on the bus. “where do you live? I live on top of the yogurt shop”. By on top of a yogurt shop, I mean that you ascend one steep, narrow flight of stairs to put you directly above said frozen treat purveyor, then up another two flights into our apartment. If you desired, you could then go up another flight and be in our bedroom or on our deck with a view of downtown. It is a lovely view and you might consider doing this unless you are one of the men carrying our furniture and boxes up from the truck, for example, the man who at the end of the day explained that he had the steel plates holding his recently broken spine together, in which case, I suspect that you might pass on the view because your legs have already turned into jello. And in fact, just so that they don’t have to contend with that last flight of stairs, we tell them to just stack all the boxes in the vast empty area that we don’t have enough furniture to fill right now anyway. As a side note, we bought a new dining table and sofa like a week before we moved. In our San Francisco apartment, they looked enormous and so we have had weeks of fitful sleep when we imagined all the money we wasted on furniture that would be too large to even fit up the stairs, let alone fit into our new place. Of course, the new place is large enough to have swallowed our previous apartment in one gulp, and thus the sofa and table appear tiny by comparison, so in the end, I feel that was not the most productive worrying that we’ve ever done. In any event, somehow, the movers managed to get everything up the stairs unscathed and so our apartment went from empty to full of boxes to full of empty boxes and piles of paper to full of stuff that we shouldn’t have moved all the way over here but we were too frantic before the move to properly clean out our closets so now we have a huge pile of junk for goodwill to almost presentable, just requiring a few more coat hooks. and with that, we’re finally home. And ready for some yogurt.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

toby's from san francisco: blandest vacation ever

The grande biblioteque is both grand and bookfilled as its name would suggest. But I am mostly just sitting sleepily watching the glass elevators shuttle up and down. Toby and jon are in the kids section reading, I assume, books about or involving or with at least one picture of lions. As with most aspects of our new life in Canada, this is actually just a form of waiting. In this particular instance, we are waiting for lunchtime. But much of the past week has been spent waiting in lines, waiting and filling out forms, trying to distract toby while waiting, waiting on wait lists, or just generally waiting. It’s a strange limbo. We went to a party last night and everyone asked how we like living here so far, and mostly we smile and respond positively that we like it very much. Because we do, or at least, we think we do, and we certainly expect to. But of course, we don’t really know, because living in a hotel and working by standing in lines isn’t really what our life will be here, in fact with any luck it isn’t what our life will be next week, when we hope that the slow moving truck with its amiable but somewhat tooth-free driver and all of our belongings pulls up at our new apartment. But until then, we live in what may b the blandest vacation ever, swimming every evening in the hotel pool (for which we purchased heavily discounted bathing suits because ours are on that slow truck) and cooking some pasta on our single functioning burner, and waiting waiting for furniture and cell phones and credit cards and bank accounts and medicare and snow. But at least right now we can stop waiting for lunch time as it has finally arrived. cheers!

toby's from san francisco: 4093 km is a lot of miles

Just a few notes for those of you who might be considering a transcontinental move to a different country, for example, from san francisco to montreal.

1) carrying cats through the metal detector is not as terrible as you might expect if perchance you are lucky enough to be holding a surprisingly limp lulington. If, on the other hand, you are holding wendy, it is full of all the clawing, scratching, and bleeding that you had previously imagined. And maybe more.

2) speaking of cats, while soft carriers are lighter, easier to fit under the seat in front of you, and keep the people at customs from asking to see your paperwork because they don’t realize those bags are full of cats, they do little to protect the cats from rambunctious 3 year olds who are also quick to forget that they are not just luggage.

3) the flight from san francisco to toronto is REALLY long if no one takes a nap.

4) 1 hour and 15 minutes may or may not be long enough to get from one airplane, through customs, to a second airplane. We don’t know the answer to this because what we did learn is that 75 minutes isn’t anywhere near to enough time to get through immigration when you are actually moving to that country, especially when the immigration computer system is mysteriously down.

4a) when the immigration computer does go down and they have to fill out your work permit form by hand, be prepared for every office that you walk in to subsequent to that to eye you suspiciously because of your strange non-standard green work permit that has been haphazardly stapled into your passport.

5) while Jon disapproves of “found” toys for hygiene regions, I feel that once you wash off that plastic dinosaur that’s been sitting in the immigration waiting room for hours or perhaps even days, it becomes your best option for occupying an antsy 3-year old while the immigration official tries to fill out your work permit paperwork by hand.

6) it’s much easier to estimate the cost of all of your belongings on the spot when the customs agent asks if you have just gone against the all the rules of importing furniture to Canada and bought a bunch of furniture immediately prior to your departure.

7) it turns out that montreal is pretty far away. And after today, it feels even farther. Fortunately, beer is here to help.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

toby lives in san francisco

ok, so I have plans to describe to you in glorious detail, our new life in Montreal. but a quick digression before we start. when we last left off, apparently way back in february, we were inches away from moving to iowa. well, it turned out that iowa could kinda tell that we were not exhuberant about the prospect of being cornhuskers or hawkshuckers or cornhawkers or whatever they are there and so days before the visit that we had planned for the middle of february, they cancelled. the trip, the job offer, the whole shebang. I can't really say that we were upset exactly, it mostly just meant that they had taken away a really good bargaining chip that we had. an offer from iowa is, at minimum, better than no offer at all. in any case, shortly thereafter, although at the time it seemed like an eternity, somehow through the magic of canada, we got jobs at mcgill in montreal instead. both of us got jobs. that's one, two jobs. 100% more jobs than we have gotten anywhere else. 2 times more jobs than we've been offered before, and this time it was in a city where we would not just be willing to sit for a year or so while trying to get other, different, better jobs, but somewhere we would like to live. needless to say, we took them. fast forward 7 months, and here we are, living in montreal. anyhoo, I had planned to just pick up this blog from where we are now, and not dwell on the dark days of iowa, because I am old and lazy and can barely remember what we did yesterday let alone last july, and if I had to recall last july, well, I think we'd still be stuck with the most recent post being from last february, except that as I was working on the first post, there was a bit of a ruckus upstairs. toby had been complaining about his stomach after dinner. this happens not infrequently, but it's hard to tell if he's just eaten way to much or had too much juice or if the strange sassafrass candy from the local natural foods store is disagreeing with him or if maybe beef tartare isn't so great for three year olds. in any event, we suggested that maybe if he just went to bed, he would feel better. I then came downstairs and was clacking away on the laptop while jon offered him a nibble of an antacid. I'm sure you can see where this is leading. so moments later came the ruckus and the lovely dinner from our new neighborhood bistro was all over the blankets and floor and behold, toby felt immeasurably better. I bring all this up because after we stripped the bed and wiped down the floor, we did not hand wash those items while planning tomorrow's trip to the laundrymat, oh no, we placed them in our energy and water efficient washing machine, pushed a button and set it to work. to which I say, take that IOWA.

and just fyi, that picture is from a little trip we made to san mateo in august to escape the fog and eat some ramen. so now you're almost filled in on what we've been up to.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

toby of the day: a picket fence is a secondary luxury

A week or two ago, I may have come up with a brighter side to that whole iowa thing. You see, it was a Sunday night, and toby’s stomach revolted against a) something that he ate or b) some sort of microbial invader. Whichever it was, it meant that, like a little alarm clock, every hour or so there would be some sort of explosion to let us know that time had passed. Sometimes, it wouldn’t fall on the hour, and we would naively hope that it had subsided only to find ourselves, moments later, changing clothes and mopping the floor. Toby wasn’t particularly helpful in this regard, as instead of saying “quick, get me a bucket” he would say things like “I want to lay down” or “I want some water” and so there we would be, maneuvering him through the house only to discover that his request was actually a euphemism for “I am going to puke on you again” or “stand back, I believe my diaper is about to explode.” Needless to say, over the course of a couple days, we generated an astonishing quantity of laundry. We have one washing machine in our building which, when it is not already in use and is functioning, is large enough to fit one pillow case or two pairs of toddler footie pajamas. Consequently, Jon spent the better part of Monday lugging sheet sets to and from the laundromat down the street. And that right there is the silver lining. You see, in iowa, we could afford to live in what’s known as a house. and not just any house, but the kind of house that would have it’s own washing machine. I have only once lived in such a house during my adult life, but I dream of someday living in such a magical place again. Iowa, here we come? Eh, I’m still not convinced either.

toby of the day: so long and thanks for all the fish

The simple fact is that toby likes animals. Of course, like all simple facts, this one is complicated by the particulars. Toby likes animals from a distance, a very specific distance that seems to change depending on a nonlinear combination of factors, including but not limited to the type, size, energy-level, texture and general pokiness. To determine the appropriate distance, one must see the animal from afar, then move in closer, until you get too close, then back up again, then move forward, then back up, and so on, slowly titrating until either you reach the perfect spot or the animal, usually a dog or the occasional police horse, wanders away. Every once in a while, toby will pet an animal, again usually a dog. This is best with large, old dogs because toby’s prefers to pet animals on their back about 2/3 of their length away from the head. This way, he avoids the poky and slobbery mouth area while also steering clear of the wagging tail region. Small dogs pose a problem because they tend to be too short and fast for him to manage to maneuver into this region. Similarly, puppies are troublesome because they mostly just want to lick him on the face, so as he circles around, covering his face, trying to get to their back, they circle behind him, trying to lick in between his chubby little arms. Anyway, over thanksgiving, we went to Hawaii for jon’s dad’s birthday. While there, we spent a day ‘swimming’ with dolphins. Knowing toby’s difficulty with approaching and petting animals, we tried to prepare him ahead of time, talking about how fantastic dolphins are and so on. And during the dolphin show that we watched before our swim, I think we had him convinced. They jumped in the air, let people stand on them as they swam around in circles. Toby thought they were pretty fantastic. Naturally, this was less true once we were in the water. To be fair, he managed quite valiantly. The only trouble was, he really wanted to pet the dolphin on that one spot, 2/3 of the way down it’s back. But each time the dolphin would come by, the toothy area or the tail would be too close and the magic spot would pass him by. These days, when we talk about the dolphins, there’s no mention of the dolphins he almost touched. At the same time, his strongest memory is about a statue we saw while I was changing his diaper before the dolphin show started. Apparently, the statue was terrifying. So in some respects, I guess we should be happy he doesn’t remember the swimming part, at least it means that the whole experience wasn’t all that bad, or at least is wasn’t as scary as some tacky Polynesian d├ęcor. It’s a start.

toby of the day: I spy something that begins with the letter 'C'

So for the past month or two, I’ve been thinking about making an end of the year post, the sort of post that could make up for all the spotty posting of the last few months, the sort of post that could fill you in on some of the year's highlights --toby’s first camping trip in Yosemite with 30 of our closest friends; proudest moments --toby has memorized much of the soundtrack to Dr. horrible’s sing-a-long blog and belts it from the highest point he can find, usually the cat scratching post while wearing oversized gloves and doing lots of elaborate arm movements; greatest betrayals --in conjunction with the previous section, toby spurned the hand stitched alligator costume that I made him for Halloween and instead dressed as captain hammer. Although, in truth, this really also belongs in the proudest moments section; and general craziness --our new motto is ‘Sunday is the new Friday’ because, in our pre-toby days we could drink many drinks on Friday and use Saturday to recover. We can no longer do this because toby begins screaming “mama. . .maMA!” at 7am sharp every day, even, much to our chagrin, on Saturdays when we are responsible for watching him the rest of the day which he seems to believe involves more than laying in bed watching movies on the laptop in between naps. However, if you treat Sunday as Friday, you can hand him off to the daycare Monday morning, assuming you can manage to dress him and endure the train ride, and then you have the rest of the day to treat as a Saturday, wallowing in bed and watching the likes of Point Break. I should point out that, as you might imagine, jon was a wee bit intoxicated on the Sunday afternoon when he came up with our new motto. Consequently, we haven’t yet decided whether it is the best idea we’ve ever had, or the one that will ultimately lead to our destruction, or at the least a stern reprimand from the people who sign our paychecks. So far though, I’d say it’s been a rousing success.

However, in the midst of all this, we’ve also been applying for jobs. This has been problematic for me in two respects. First, is the fact that after 45 applications, I have not gotten any jobs. While this supports my contention that I would be better off as a baker, it does not do much to boost my own morale. Second, and perhaps more troubling is that jon has gotten some jobs, well, one so far. Which is great, or would be great except that it is in a place so strange, so frightening, so unbelievable that I almost can’t bring myself to mention it. That place, of course, is iowa. It presents me with a similar dilemma as one I confronted the other day when a friend of Toby’s came down with scabies. Because scabies is such a perfectly silly yet creepy name for a disease and at the same time, at least I had thought, such a sufficiently obscure disease that you can use it whenever you need to make light of some other sickness e.g. “if you go to fred’s house, watch out for scabies! Ha ha!” Now, I have to rethink my go-to joke disease, to something like, oh I don’t know, botulism or myxomatosis. See, it’s hard to find a good replacement for scabies. Iowa had been my scabies, as in “you live in Rwanda? Wow, well, at least you’re not living in iowa, am I right?!? Ha ha!” and yet now our living there is no longer impossible. In fact, it is quickly gaining traction in the realm of things that are possible. Faster than I can say scabies. And that is very scary. Very scary indeed. You see, after half a dozen moves over my lifetime, I have finally found a home here in San Francisco which, sadly, is the one place that I cannot continue to live without jon and I both making a drastic career change. And since we’ve never really had the chance to try out the career that we’ve been practicing towards for the past 14 years, I feel like we should give that one a try. Only thing is, we very well might have to give it a try in iowa. Anyway, as you can imagine, all this thinking about my future in some cornfield has left me without much energy for writing quick witticisms. In fact, I bet that you’re feeling like this is the point in the post where I would usually change the tone, start pointing out all the bright sides to the current predicament, how living in iowa will be a great opportunity to join an older ladies bowling league or learn about the intricacies of thunder-snow or watch more television, but I’m just not there yet. Someday I might be. But not today. So until then, here are some pictures of toby, may he never come down with a case of scabies, or iowa.