LisaListed

The best things in life aren't things at all


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TALL, DARK & HANDSOME (for a woman) – SEEKING Fellow Carb Lover and Outdoor Activist

First things first… let’s be clear that when I say “Outdoor Activist” sitting on a patio on a warm, sunny day absolutely counts as an outdoor activity.

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My kinda lady!

One of the toughest parts of this journey is meeting new friends. Especially when you don’t have a job. I’m trying to think of how I met my closest friends back home, and I met them either through school or work. Now, I’m not going to school or going to work. But I’m determined not to let that slowly eat me away. I’m going to find some sort of way to make friends. It can’t be that hard, can it?

My Bridesmaids

My Bridesmaids

Yes, yes it can. How do you make friends with people nowadays? With social media, you can have 500 friends on Facebook or thousands of followers on Twitter (I currently have 3, thank you very much), but how many REAL friends do you actually have? The kind of friend that you can call (yes, use a phone to actually phone someone with) on Sunday morning and grab brunch with them. Or go for a coffee. Or go see a comedy show. We are in Chicago for goodness sakes with millions of people and millions of things to do… but are we destined to do everything as a couple rather than with friends?

I have to give my dear Husband credit… he is trying to make friends with his co-workers. He has us set up for a double date with his coworker and her husband when they return from holidays in a few weeks. But what if she is just being nice and doesn’t actually want to be our real friend? Can I really potentially call up one of my Husband’s coworkers to get our nails done together? Where is the line drawn?! She seems pretty awesome so I hope that line is drawn pretty far away…

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I’ve decided that it’s easier to find a boyfriend or girlfriend then it is to find a friend. There’s online dating, people love to set people up on dates, etc. There’s a better chance at finding a date in your local coffee shop then there is in finding a friend. How do you make initial contact with a potential friend without coming across as overly eager and/or desperado? Most people already have their group of friends and it’s hard to break into that…

Speaking of online dating, I even tried finding friends through Meetup.com. John and I went to a ‘Meet Up’ to try and meet new friends. We even split up at the event so we didn’t cling to each other out of fear (okay, let’s be real… so I didn’t cling to John out of fear). John is good at small talk. I’m not. I’m shy and can come across as bitchy and reserved until I warm up. Not so attractive to potential friends. So anyhow, at this Meet Up, it was strange. Really strange. I think lots of people were looking for more than “just a friend”. But, I did exchange numbers with one girl and we are going on a double date tomorrow. Will report if there is a potential friendship or not.

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Today, I took Ernie (our beloved pup) to the dog park to burn off some energy. I was chatting with a girl there for probably about an hour… nothing too deep, just kind of water cooler chit chat. She seemed really nice, was down to earth, seemed close to our age and was a nurse. Plus her dog’s name was Bert. Bert and Ernie, c’mon! So I toyed the idea in my mind for probably a solid 30 minutes before I had enough courage to grab Ernie’s leash to leave the park and casually ask her if she’d like to grab a drink or something sometime. She was caught off guard but we exchanged numbers and names, and I hustled my butt out of there as fast as a I could without trying to show my sheer and utter embarrassment. I was completely out of my comfort zone and the first thought that popped into my mind was “Oh my god, I can’t believe you $&@&in’ did that, she probably thinks you are some crazy lunatic. Who asks for somebody’s number at a dog park and asks to go for a drink? You did, you dummy, etc, etc…”

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After making sure the coast was clear, I called my Mom and told her what I did. She and I are very similar and I knew she would understand the feelings I was experiencing. She listened to all of my concerns about if I got “fake numbered” and that she wouldn’t respond to my text and what if I saw her at the dog park again after she ignores my texts (if she even gave me the right number…) My Mom was great, she essentially told me to put myself in her shoes and I wouldn’t have any of those thoughts or concerns.  She told me not to be so sensitive and to be positive. My dear, sweet Mom told me that if she did give me the wrong number or doesn’t respond to my texts, then she likely won’t be going to the same Dog Park so that she can avoid the Creepy Canadian (my words, not hers).

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By going outside my comfort zone, there are only two options that could come from this experience:

1) I gain a friend
2) I’ve scared someone away from a dog park for life, and that is a pretty remarkable feat in itself

Who knows, maybe one day I will call her up to go for brunch on Sunday morning after all?

As always, thanks for reading, my lovelies! Until next time…

Enjoy Life,
L

 

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A Letter to My Closet Followers

Dear My Closet Followers,

Thank you. I appreciate your kind words, your support and your encouragement. I appreciate and understand your reasons for keeping your messages to me private, and I’d like to thank you for sending them. Whether the reason is that you do not want your message read by others, you are scared of what you fear others may think of you when they read your words to me, whether it’s because we aren’t friends anymore but you have the courage to reach out to me… thank you.

I know that there are people out there who don’t necessarily like what I have to say, and yes, of course that bothers me. Am I on a journey of intentionally writing things to upset people? No, absolutely not. There are so many other people out there writing wishy-washy blogs because they are scared of ‘saying the wrong thing’. If that is more your cup of tea, by all means drink up. However, I am more of a coffee drinker myself. If you don’t like my truth, that is a-okay. People who truly know me know that my intentions are nothing but pure.

My closet followers send me messages that make me feel like what I have to say is valid. They make me feel like something that I’ve said hits home to them. Others have sent me messages telling me that they are going through the exact same thing and that it’s nice to know that there’s somebody else out there who shares their feelings. Somebody else who has experienced the judgements that they are currently going through. And that’s what this journey of mine is all about. To make others feel like it’s okay to live outside of the box. To be different. To speak your mind. To do what you’ve always wanted to do and stop allowing others to put limitations on your dreams.

It’s ironic, the people who I am receiving criticism from isn’t from whom I thought I would receive it from. I’ve been told that I have poor spelling, that I have improper grammar. That my posts are a bit too “intense”, that I could be “insulting” people. I am getting suggestions on how to make one of my posts less “harsh”. How I should make a comment in one of my posts that “I have the opportunity and the plan to get a job.” (clearly, they did not get the message that I cannot get a job here). They say that I should make this comment because I am somehow delivering the message to people who don’t give up their jobs that they don’t value their family. That, my lovelies, is not my message at all and I hardly believe that this is the message that I am spreading.

I am just as much a fan of the working Mom who works 80 hours a week, takes their kids to soccer practice, puts dinner on the table as the next guy. I am a huge supporter of Sheryl Sandberg and would love to have dinner with her one day. I am just as much of a fan of a woman who chooses her career above all else. By no means am I suggesting that if you are a working Mom that you don’t put your children or husband first. In fact, I applaud you as I don’t know how you do it. I am sharing our story, our circumstances, the choices that we have made as a couple. And I am simply asking to hold all judgement for the choices that John and I have made.

I received this from a successful business person in response to my latest post:

“it warms my heart to see how things have turned out for you guys. I admire your strength and positive outlook on things. Your ability to charge into any situation and not just make the best of it, but turn it into something spectacular sets you apart from most. Anyways, I just wanted to say you give me hope and strength in knowing that being true to yourself and the things that are important to you are worth it through and through! Thanks for being someone that I look up to, even though you may not have known it.”

So, to my closet followers and all those who have also publicly sent me incredibly sweet, supportive and loving messages, I once again thank you. Because you are what makes me feel like maybe my words are worthy of being told.

Enjoy Life,
L


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Why I Gave Up the 8:00 to 5:00 Corporate Career

I had no idea how many people were interested in my career, my job, my 8 to 5 until I gave it up. I quit. Gave my two weeks. Totally doneski!

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I gave up my corporate career at one of the most incredible companies to work for in not only the city, not only the country, but the CONTINENT! A company who was a regular winner of all kinds of awards. What kind of awards you ask? Oh you know, the kind that you would kill for your employer to win such as:

– Canada’s Top 100 Employers (a winner of this award for over decade)
– Canada’s Best Diversity Employers
– Alberta’s Top 65 Employers
– The 2013 Achievers US Most Engaged Workplaces

And I left. Did I have another job in place? Nope. I know what you’re thinking… and no, I am not some spoiled fund baby, nor am I lazy, “new age”, or “one of those…”. Nope, not any of those at all in fact. I have always been ambitious, tend to bite off more than I can chew, and I have the highest level professional designations that you can obtain in my field.

What I am, is a loving wife who has always made it loud and clear that my family is first. It’s funny, TONS of people say it, but I’m uncertain how many people actually mean it. I am actually walking the walk… and I’m getting super judged for it. However, that’s okay, I’m walking side by side with the love of my life and I could not be happier.

And no, I did not come from some slack job where “I just don’t get it”. I came from a real career where I was surrounded by people who were glued to their phones during meetings, who were glued to their phones when they finally went home late at night, glued to their phones on their weekends. It’s absolutely incredible how many people will check their email first thing in the morning, prior to making their children breakfast or making sure they are ready for school. Check their phones while on vacation and find a local Starbucks in some far away island just to make sure that they can connect to Wifi to check their emails. Am I bashing those people? No. In fact, I likely would have become one of those people if we didn’t move to the US.

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Which brings me to why I quit my above average salary job. My husband is the most incredible man that I could ever dream up, and I am grateful every single day that I am able to call him my husband. My other half, my better half. My husband, John, was offered an opportunity of a lifetime to move to the US for his career. To start with a new employer, a new company, a new area of business. Simply put, John is a genius. Now, I’m sure as he is reading this, his face is the colour of a lobster, because you see, John is very, very humble about his career and his intelligence. I am so incredibly proud of how hard this man works and how far his hard work has taken him and I am that proud wife who occasionally shouts this from the rooftop, much to his absolute embarrassment.

I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!

I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!

Moving to the US meant that our lives would change forever. Even if his visa is only good for three years, those three years would impact the rest of our lives. As soon as John started getting these incredible opportunities dropped at his feet, I encouraged him to at least see what these opportunities would look like. He was hesitant at first, but after he talked to the first person, neither of us could stop dreaming of ‘what could be’. We knew things would be different, we knew that we would have to sell our 2,500+ square foot home and live in an apartment, we knew that we’d be kissing my sweet pension and benefits ‘bye bye’, we knew that our five year plan would be taking a real detour, but you know what? That’s okay. Isn’t life about living after all?

So we decided to go for it, fully aware that I would not be able to have a career in the US. I tried to see if my employer would allow me to work from Chicago, but the reality is is that it’s simply easier for them to replace me in Calgary. So they did. You see, a Canadian is unable to simply drive across the border and start looking for jobs as if they were still in the same country. The simplest way for a Canadian to work in the US is that you have to be on a list of professions through the NAFTA agreement. It is a privilege, an opportunity quite rare for a Canadian to work in the US.

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It’s really quite complicated and I will spare all the boring details of why I am unable to work in the US. The main reason behind is is that the unemployment rate is SO high in the US that I would be taking a job from a capable American. I would be thieving a job from right under the country’s own nose. Ridiculous as it seems, I can’t even work at a coffee shop or book store. I. Cannot. Work. Anywhere. Really!

When people found out that we were moving and that I wouldn’t be able to work, there was so much judgement. People can’t wrap their brain around that thought. Some hide it better from others, but I felt each and every single one of those eye rolls and smirky faces. Many don’t understand the simple fact that I am unable to work. Suddenly, mostly everybody who we encounter has plenty of career advice and has taken such a keen interest in my career. Few even knew that I obtained my Fellowship, hell few even KNEW WHAT I DID AT WORK (yes, I’m partially to blame for that as I do not like talking about myself.. strange that I’ve started I blog, isn’t it?!) Yet, they feel entitled to offer career advice. Thanks.  (Let me be clear that there were a select few who were very supportive and encouraging from the get go, and I’d like to genuinely thank you… you know who you are)

John or I are often asked why I don’t change my career and become a profession on the NAFTA list… well there are a few reasons in fact:

1) I don’t have any desire to be an Astronaut
2) Neither of us have any desire to fund my non-dream of becoming an Astronaut and pay the foreign tuition premium
3) We both knew that I wouldn’t be able to work, we decided to come here anyhow and WE ARE HAPPY! Happier than we could have imagined. We made this decision together, we stand by this decision together, so all those who want us to make another decision… sorry, not going to happen. Unless you would like to fund my non-dream of becoming an Astronaut, then maybe I’ll consider it.

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Both John or I will get comments such as:

“what is she going to do..?!”
“she’s going to be so bored!”
“she has to work… she just has to work”
“she’s using you for your money”
“she’s going to go stir crazy”
“she could be a nanny”

…. and you know what, neither of us have had the balls to stand up to these comments yet, but I am going to start.  I am not the nanny type – I would never nanny in Canada, so why would I start here? And I’ll answer those questions of “what do you do all day” in another post… because I am actually quite fun and my adventures deserve a post of their own. 🙂

Am I gold digger? No. I was the one who was the more diligent investor in our early relationship. If I were a gold digger, I would go after a man who doesn’t keep a spreadsheet  of our finances. But I love my spreadsheet keeping man. I love him more than all of the dolla bills in the world. Sure, my husband’s new job pays substantially more than his old one, but we are still a married couple on one income. Neither of us feel like it is “his money” and he has made it very clear to me from the start to never feel that way. And I don’t.

So although I agree that it is strange for a young wife without children to not have a job, it does not allow you to judge me, my husband, or OUR decision. Maybe what some people don’t understand is that I value my family over money. I value my family over my career. I value my husband becoming the best that he can be and achieving his dreams. I get more validation by being told by our doorman that I’m a nice person than by receiving a 20% bonus. And if that means living on one income, so be it.

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In this feminist whirlwind that we are living in, where “women are competing in a man’s world”, where “women are taking a backseat to men”, where I hear whispers of “she’ll never have it all”…. well, you know what? I already do have it all.

opinion of others

Maybe I will work again one day. Maybe I won’t. Maybe our journey will take us to places we never would have expected. But, I know that no matter where we go, we will be together, we will be happy and we will always do what is best for our family no matter what that means.

On our wedding day, my husband and I didn’t have a conversation about writing our vows. It was just assumed that we would. When I wrote my vows, I put a lot of heart and thought into them. I knew that when I was going to look my husband in the eye at the altar, I was going to mean each and every single word I was saying and that I would forever stand by my vows. Below, I will share with you part of those vows that I said to my Husband on our special day:

“I vow to be by your side through whatever life may bring us and I will be honored to experience life with you side by side. As long as I have you next to me, I will know nothing but pure bliss and true love. Today and everyday, I give you my hand, my heart and my love.”

My Everything

My Everything

And that, my dear lovelies, is why I gave up my corporate career.

Thank you for reading. A “share” or “follow” is the biggest compliment of all and I appreciate each and every single one of them.

Enjoy Life,
L


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Pt 2: The Not So Warm Welcome – Justin Bieber, We STILL Blame YOU!

Thanks for stopping in to read the second part of “The Not So Warm Welcome – Justin Bieber, We Blame YOU”.  In the first part, I shared some of the struggles of our journey and in this second part, I’m sharing some more. We prepared for this journey as best as we could, but we discovered along the way that there are things that you just can’t prepare for. And yes, Justin Bieber is still to blame…

We still blame you...

What are you even doing!?

Driver’s License
John and I had 30 days from the time we entered the US to get new State driver’s licenses. I spent a morning at the DMV office in person to ensure that we are taking the appropriate steps. I get our booklet to study, find out appointments to write the exam are first come, first serve, and so, on Saturday morning, we drive over an hour to a suburb to write our exam. We get to the DMV on Saturday morning prior to the office even opening and the line is outrageous. The kind of outrageous line that curls around the building outside.

When we finally make it inside the building and to the front desk, we proudly tell the lady that we are there to write our exams. She tells me that I’m not allowed to write. But John writes and passes, yay!

The lady tells me that I have to make an appointment to write for mine. So I say “okay, let’s make an appointment.” Not that easy. She gives me a phone number that I have to call first thing in the morning in order to get an appointment. Every single morning I call the number. Every single morning. My record was calling 62 times in one morning. Naturally, I couldn’t get through and of course it’s impossible to actually speak to a person. I call in the afternoon to find out how this game works, and I find out that there is a three month waiting period and you have to have lived in Illinois for at least 12 months prior to even write the damn exam.

That was the toughest part for me. And no, my Canadian license and insurance are no longer valid, I tried to make that happen every which way possible, but it just doesn’t work that way. Sweet talking only gets you so far in life I suppose.

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We Have Made People Quit Their Day Jobs
Now, I’m not entirely sure we can take all the credit for this. But it’s true, two people have upright quit their jobs as soon as they started to get entangled into our tango dance. Our situation is so complex, it seems as if nobody we encounter has ever dealt with our situation before. Nobody knows what to do with us! The way that most Canadians move to the US is that they stay with their same employer or they are not deciding to actually LIVE in the US and still technically live in Canada. But not us. John changed employers and we technically are not living in Canada presently. This complicates things to a whole new level that we were not aware of until we were in the midst of things. Apparently, from a business perspective, this is really complicated as well. We had the US auto insurance lady quit leaving us high and dry, and then also our international tax accountant quit leaving us higher and drier. Neither knew how to answer our questions, nor did they point us in the direction of someone who may be able to actually assist us. They clearly didn’t want to get tangled into our web. I don’t blame them, I would have quit as well.

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Now, Canada, you haven’t exactly been Mr. Perfect either over there, so don’t be too smug…

Hold off on tooting’ that horn just yet…

Here are just a couple of Canadians struggles we’ve been dealing with:

Mortgage Payments
Our mortgage payments were still being withdrawn from our Canadian bank account even after all the legal docs where signed, sealed and delivered. John called the bank with which our mortgage was through and the lady on the phone didn’t believe that John was who he said he was, so she wouldn’t talk to him. He passed all the security questions and secret passwords and everything, but she thought that he was lying for some reason. That’s annoying.

So I called and the lady I spoke to tried to blame our lawyer as being the reason why money was still coming out of our account. So we contacted our lawyer who tells us that there’s nothing on his end that would affect that. So I call the bank back and finally, I get to speak to somebody who actually wants to help us. And yes, I was friendly and polite before (I’m still Canadian after all). So, I spend two hours on the phone with this lady who admits that they have no idea why money is being taken out of account, etc, etc but our money will be returned to us in 30 to 60 days.

It’s sure funny how they are really good at taking money out of your account, but not so quick in returning it to you.

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Canadian Security System
Oh Goodness. Where to begin… essentially, when we found out we were selling our home, we were told by our security system that we had two options to terminate our contract:

1) Pay it out

2) Transfer the contract to the new buyers

We ended up transferring the contract to the new buyers, but wouldn’t you know it… money is being taken out of our Canadian bank account again for the month of May. We moved in mid-April, which is when the contract was transferred. We get into contact with the security system and tell them there was an error on their end and to please credit the money back to us.

After probably at least 75 emails, we still to this date have not received our money back. This company is worse to deal with than the US utilities company (mentioned in Part One)…their customer service is the absolute worst. And at this point, we don’t care about the money anymore, it’s simply the principle. Just recently, we receive an email from the company with a PDF attachment. We open the attachment assuming that finally we are somehow getting our money back… only to find out that they HAVE SENT US A $100 INVOICE FOR NO GOOD REASON AT ALL! Seriously…. Good thing we’ve kept all of the email correspondence.

Is this a joke?

Is this a joke?

Those are just a few things that we have dealt with that we didn’t expect would occur. There are more, but this has turned into an essay. If you are still reading, thank you, my lovely. I like you. You are the greatest reader of all time.

Keep in mind that this all happened in a really short amount of time and it was so overwhelming and stressful that we questioned if what we were doing was the right thing…. But I remember one of the last things my Dad told us before we left was “if you’re going, you’re going to make it work. There’s no other option”. And that has stayed in the back of my mind like glue. We are making it work and we hope that one day we look back and find humor in our tales. But not yet, it’s still too soon.

I bet my Dad had no idea that he was paraphrasing Eminem

I bet my Dad had no idea that he was paraphrasing Eminem

It also didn’t help that around this time, almost 80% of Americans we spoke to who found out that we moved from Canada asked us “Why?” And at that point, how do you answer such a question when you are asking yourself the same question? Now that the dust has settled, I can answer that question more confidently. Everytime we are in a store and we see how inexpensive beer and vodka is, John and I look at each other, smile, and say “ahh this is why we moved… this makes everything worthwhile”. And then we purchase a Fred Flintstone sized bottle of vodka for under $20 and life is good again. Hey, it’s not like I can drive anyways!

Cheers!

Cheers!

As always, thank you for reading! The greatest compliment of all is a “follow” or “share”, and I appreciate each and every one that I get, so thank you in advance, my lovelies!

Enjoy Life,
L


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Pt 1: The Not So Warm Welcome – Justin Bieber, We Blame YOU

WE BLAME YOU!

WE BLAME YOU!

Welcome to America – the land of the free, the home of the brave, the land of opportunity! The land of enormous servings of food, the land of cheap booze! The land of endless opportunity to make your dreams come true! The land of the white picket fence, the 2.5 kids that the Mom drives around in her SUV. The land of the $5 coffee. The land of In-n-Out and White Castle! The land of Six Flags! The land of The Jones’!

The Jones'

The Jones’

We thought that crossing the border was going to be the tough part. We both spent many sleepless nights stressing out about how the person at the border determines our fate. Determines if they will grant John his working Visa or not. Determines if all of our hopes and plans would become our reality. The person at the border crossing determined if they would give us the ‘nay’ or ‘yay’ to cross into their country where John could begin his new job. Sure, we had all of the required paperwork from lawyers and did our due diligence to ensure that there was not a reasonable reason for that person to say ‘no’… but ultimately, it was up to the person at the border to make the decision of whether or not they allowed us entry into the land of the free.

The Much Anticipated Border Crossing

The Much Anticipated Border Crossing

Ironically, that was the easy part. It was pretty simple. We got our visas stamped into our passports and we were on our way! We thought we were golden, that life was going to be easy, breezy, beautiful! And although it is beautiful, it hasn’t exactly been easy nor too breezy. Stay gold, Ponyboy, Stay gold.

Just crossed the border and we booked it like we were in an Ikea commercial..

Just crossed the border and we booked it like we were in an Ikea commercial..

Below are a few of the struggles that we encountered, some of which we are still struggling with. As this post ended up being longer than expected, I’ve split it into two posts. Here is Part One of our Not So Warm Welcome: 

Finding a new place to call home:
We decided to rent for the first year as there was too much unknown at the start of our journey. Long story short, our agent was absolutely terrible. He sent us a list of ten properties which we ranked from our favourite to ‘No way, Jose’. Essentially our agent showed us our top ranking, and our bottom four rankings. He had the most ridiculous reasons for only showing us one apartment out of our top five. He would ignore me completely and would only talk to John. He wouldn’t even make eye contact with me. Rude.

We flew into Chicago for three days and our agent had only spent 4 hours with us. Thanks, ya jerk. We ended up filling out an application for the only apartment that we liked that we were shown in the agent’s car. Yes, in a car. The agent pressured us to hurry up and tried to persuade us that the entire 5 page application did not have to be completed. He had somewhere to be and he made it very clear that we were not his priority. Once John had partially filled out the application, he kicked us out of the car and peeled out as I was still getting out of his car.

We didn’t end up getting the apartment we applied for (possible because of the poorly completed application) and ended up renting an apartment that we didn’t actually see in person.

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Opening a bank account
We were warned that this is a common nightmare among Canadians living in the US, however we were optimistic that those horror stories were just that. Au contraire, mon frère.

We went to a bank whose headquarters are in the Canada and showed them all of our Canadian cards, our Canadian account numbers, etc. hoping that they could pull our history to see what awesome clients we are. They didn’t even try to pretend to care. We were told that we couldn’t open a bank account because of ‘X’ amount of excuses and reasons, for which we had counter arguments. I am stubborn and I was not leaving that Canadian bank until we got an account. All we wanted to do was give them money… how could they not want our money?

After almost five hours in the bank, we walked out with a bank account. The bank account could only be in John’s name and he would get a debit card in the mail in approximately two weeks. I was only the beneficiary and we could not have a joint account. Whatever, at least we finally had a place to house our money.

We were so excited when John’s debit card finally arrived in the mail, he called to activate it and the lady on the phone told him that his PIN for the card would arrive in the mail in 5 to 10 business days… Are. You. Kidding. Me!??! No, no they were not kidding me.

(And to all Canadians reading this, you must be thinking “why didn’t they just open up an American bank account through their Canadian bank account?” Well, we did. But it’s not the same. Others have also told me that their friends or family who frequent the US often were able to open bank accounts, but many don’t understand that living in the US is a completely different story.)

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Obtaining a Credit Card
So, we opened a bank account. YAY!

But the bank wouldn’t give us a credit card. We showed them our Canadian credit cards with the same exact logo. It’s like we were showing them Monopoly money. They wouldn’t even let us apply for a credit card without housing a substantial amount of money with them. Well, for one, why would we want to house all our money with you when it was so hard to even open an account? And for two, we didn’t have that much money… it was a ridiculous amount. It’s as if some Executive randomly selected a number to be the minimum limit and then he added a zero to the number just for good measure.

We also were not allowed to even question mortgages. That is off the table unless you have a green card. Good thing we decided to rent. Luckily, we finally were able to get a credit card after being declined through several department stores and gas station cards. Who gets declined for a Target card!? I hit a new low when I opened the mail telling me that Target declined us. Ouch. All because we have no US credit history… but you can’t build credit without a credit card… but you can’t get a credit card without US credit… A vicious cycle I tell you.

And yes, we could have used our Canadian credit cards for everything in the US but we didn’t want to pay the extra 2.5% “conversion” premium on each purchase on top of the exchange rate.

Yeah, we know...

Yeah, we know…

Almost Losing The Beloved Credit Card
Yay! We have a credit card! John applied and had me as a co-applicant, as I am essentially an alien living here (more on that later). We received our credit cards in the mail, activated them, and went on a shopping spree! And then DOOMS DAY!

We find out that our account has been “randomly selected for an audit” (I question just how random that audit was). Through the audit we discover that they may take my credit card away… it was like preparing your first bite into a 28 day aged steak that you aged yourself, then let it marinade for 24 hours, grilled it to perfection, and as you slice through the meat and are bringing the fork up to your mouth for your first bite, Godzilla comes from nowhere and steals your entire steak right from under your nose.

Luckily, after some serious sweet talking, we were able to recover the steak.

Ikea Shopping Spree, where else does one furnish their apartment!?

Ikea Shopping Spree, where else does one furnish their apartment!?

Utilities
We didn’t have utilities for two and a half weeks. The process here doesn’t even make sense. In Canada, you call the Utility company and they set you up with utilities. Easy as pie.

But in the US, you have to call the Utility Company who sends you on a goose chase to a Currency Exchange to have your identity verified, which once verified, you will be given a secret code that you call back the Utility Company with and they send someone to your place to turn on your gas “at the next available appointment” which could be one day, could be three weeks. We had to get our identity verified five separate times. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.

*moment expired*

Five. Yes, five times. Five separate trips to a currency exchange. Five separate secret codes that didn’t even work. And endless hours on the phone with the damn company trying to figure out how they are the only company in the entire city who offers such services in such a ridiculous process. But alas, I can now do laundry. It’s a good day.

No gas, no problem! Bon Appetite!

No gas, no problem! Bon Appetite!

 Eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh
Stop telephonin’ me (who doesn’t love Gaga & Bey?!)
So we go to most of the different phone companies in Chicago only to be turned away at the door. They won’t give us a cell phone because we do not have any US credit. Story of our lives at this point. After successfully spending five hours opening a bank account, we feel like we are on top of the world and go try getting a phone again.

So we go in, we do the “you have no US credit, we tell them we know that but we are from Canada and we just moved here, blah blah blah” tango. They try to tango us right out the front door, but our tango moves are getting good at this point. We are not going anywhere until we can call the Utilities company and tango with them on our US phones rather than being charged up the ying yang using the Canadian phones. Roaming charges are a beyotch. Anyway, after FOUR MORE HOURS at the phone place, we strut our stuff out the door with new phones in our pockets.

See Mom, my stubbornness does have some perks!
image.png copyPlease check out Part Two of this post, “Pt 2: The Not So Warm Welcome – Justin Bieber, We STILL Blame YOU”. Thank you for reading, my lovelies, and I’ve love to hear any and all comments. If you’ve enjoyed this post, please follow my blog and/or “share”… I’ll appreciate that immensely!

Enjoy Life,
L

Why Bother Crossing A Street If You’re So Worried About Getting Hit By A Bus?

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THEN In Canada, December 2013, before our lives were about to change forever!!!

 

How does one tell their friends and family that in a matter of two weeks, they are selling all of their possessions and they are going to drive for 37 hours to move to a new country where they knew absolutely nobody? Through an email of course.

Aside from telling our immediate family in person, this is the actual email that we sent out to our friends and family announcing our news:

Dear All,
First of all our apologies for having to share the news via email …  our lives have been incredibly hectic and are about the become even more so. As much as we would love to tell each of you in person or at the very least through a phone call, please appreciate that this is not feasible for us right now.  
 
Long story short: John has been offered a great opportunity in Chicago to further pursue his Actuarial career. Although it was a difficult decision to make, after much thought and analysis (and yes, many spreadsheets), we have decided that we are going to embark on this crazy journey together!!! We are moving to Chicago on April 17th! Holy moly, we know…
 
Why so soon? What’s the rush? John’s offer was contingent on many conditions (ie. invasive background checks, drug testing, etc) which took several weeks to complete. His offer was officially final on Thursday, March 27th. We listed and sold our home in a week and half, and the conditions were waived last night. The buyers wanted a possession date of April 17th. So, today we gave our two weeks notice, and as of April 17th we will be jobless and homeless. We are selling most of our possessions, renting a U-Haul trailer and going to go on quite the road trip…  John needs to be in the US for a few business days ahead of his start date (which is the 28th) to get a new SSN, etc.
 
We did not want to tell anybody until everything was set in stone and final, so please do not have hurt feelings or feel left out as that was not our intention whatsoever.
 
We are having a Going Away Party on April 12th and would love if those in Calgary would be able to come.
 
Even though we are both excited and terrified at this opportunity, everything we’ve always wanted is on the other side of our fear. Plus, what’s life without a little risk!? 🙂
 
Although we may be perceived as impulsive, crazy, naive, full blown nuts by some, we have been inspired by the following quote:
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” T.S. Eliot
 
So, there you go… We are up and at ’em again and heading to Chicago for one hell of an adventure. At the end of the day, as long as we have one another, we have nothing to lose.
 
Thank you for your support!
 

You see, my incredible husband received an amazing opportunity for his career. This opportunity involved selling our “forever home” that we purchased not even 6 months prior to listing it. This home was beautiful… the kitchen was an absolute dream… it had an enormous L-shaped island, two ovens, top of the line appliances, gorgeous stone and custom cabinetry. And we sold it. It was the perfect family home.. it backed onto an incredible green space that had a park for the kids and was walking distance to schools. It was in a great location, right next to a provincial park with incredible mountain views. Oh, she was a beaut…  We were looking forward to summer time there and we dreamed of raising our family there. However, we learnt our lesson that forever can’t necessarily be planned. We learnt many lessons.

Our Amazing Kitchen

Our Amazing Kitchen

John and I always had a plan. We had a five year plan that was going accordingly… we moved in together, we got engaged, we got married, we travelled, we explored… we mentally crossed things off our list. And then everything was thrown for a loop when John was offered a job in Chicago. Chicago! The Windy City! The land of deep dish pizza and hot dogs! Where Oprah impacted so many lives! Chicago seemed exciting to a couple of newlyweds who were currently calling Calgary, Alberta home.

Chicago is precisely 1,660 miles (2,671 kilometres) from Calgary. That. Is. Far. There was a lot that went into making the decision of actually moving. Would we be okay financially? Do we sell or rent our house? Do we sell all of our possessions and buy new things or do we move everything with us? Do we rent or buy in Chicago? Is it worth leaving our friends and family? Will our friends still be as good of friends when we don’t live a few minutes from each other? What if we hate it? What if we love it? What if we don’t go, but always wonder what if? And the paper work… do not even get me started on the paper work. No matter how many exaggerations and adjectives I use to describe all of the paper work, nothing can explain the vast mountains of paperwork involved. I hate paper.

423-CanadaUS
Ultimately, we decided to go. We are young, if we didn’t go now, we never would. If we didn’t like it, we could always move back to Canada! We both love an adventure and we both were excited at the thought of something “new”. We were both excited to imagine a life outside of Calgary where we would have likely spent the next 30 years of our careers. We decided that we really had nothing to lose… well, we probably did, but we didn’t let our minds wander too far to the negative side. Why bother crossing a street if you’re so worried about getting hit by a bus?

We have been living in Chicago for almost two months and we absolutely love it. LOVE IT! There are highs, there are lows, there are in betweens… but shit, we live in one of the most incredible cities in the world which we are lucky enough to now call home!

In this blog, I plan to share our journey. The highs, the lows, the unexpected… It has been an incredible adventure so far and I can’t wait to bring you on our adventures with us!

And that, my lovelies, is the conclusion of my first ever post.

Enjoy Life,
L

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NOW In Chicago, loving life!