The State of the Union, March 27

Friday, March 27, 2009

Things are starting to happen fast, so I thought I'd give a quick update on how it's all going. Lately I feel like if I let a day go by without accomplishing something, anything, that gets me a step closer to leaving, then the day is wasted. Of course I've managed to schedule things so that the busiest time at work, and the rush to get the house ready, and the peak of my marathon training all occur at the same time. Oh, and did I mention we've had about 20 centimeters of snow this week? My back gate is completely immobilized from being frozen into a puddle of slush, so I have to traipse through my neighbour's yard to get to my car. Apparently this winter is NEVER GOING TO END. There's a bit of stress over here these days.

The House:

It looks like the house will list for sale and start showing on April 3rd. This is a bit later than I thought, but I'm fine with that. It gives me a bit more time to get everything as close to perfect as possible. And how is the house shaping up? Pretty well I think, but it's a shame that I didn't do a lot of this stuff much sooner. By the time everything's done, it won't really be mine anymore. Still, I'm gratified that I did some stuff - like refurbishing the bathroom - early in the fall, so I've been able to enjoy that myself.

I spent a lot of last weekend thumping up and down the stairs to the basement, trying to clear out eleven years of the stuff that accumulates when you're a do-it-yourself-er and a pack rat (a dangerous combination). That, coupled with the fine (and not-so-fine) layer of sawdust that coated almost every surface, made for a tiring weekend. The basement looks quite tidy now, but sort of soulless. It used to be cluttered and dusty, but full of potential. Now there's almost no raw material down there, and all the coffee cans of unsorted hardware are gone, and those things that I was keeping around "just in case" got carted away by a guy I found on Kijiji. It all seems like it's just not my space anymore and it makes me a bit sad to go down there now.

(By the way, the Kijiji guy was fantastic! He came and hauled away a big load of stuff I left piled on my back deck. Even though he didn't know me at all he agreed to do the job without me having to be there, and he just left the invoice in my mailbox. He even laid down old sheets of plywood to walk over so my wet and muddy lawn wouldn't get churned up. All this for $60.00. Great service from this guy! If you need something hauled in Winnipeg, call SuperDave!) .

And I still have a lot of decluttering and packing to do and I'm a very short on empty boxes. Anyone?


It's getting really busy, and will just continue to get more and more frantic for the next month or so. And interviews for my job are underway, which is really weird. Also, I don't really know when my last day at work will be yet, because it that may depend partly on when my house sells, and what the possession date is.


The Fargo Marathon is about six weeks away, and the workouts are getting tougher and tougher. Last weekend I had my longest run since the Boston Marathon last April: three hours and twenty minutes, for a total of 34 km. I'd like to set a new personal best in Fargo, which would be anything faster than 3:41:09. But really I'm hoping for 3:35 or better.

Travel Preparations:

My application for U.K. citizenship is in the works, and I have no way of knowing whether it will be processed before I have to leave. At this point though, I think it's getting less and less likely. If the citizenship doesn't come through quickly enough for me to get a passport, then my initial entry into England will be a bit more complicated because I'll have to provide proof of onward travel. Also it might be logistically trickier for me to get a passport while in England. Ironic.

This week I tried to apply for a new Canadian passport so I could get one with 48 pages instead of the usual 24 (I didn't want to take the risk of running out of empty passport page while traveling). Despite this perfectly valid and responsible rationale, Passport Canada refused to issue me a bigger passport, claiming that my current one is too new, and it's a "security risk" to issue too many passports. WTF? How is it a security risk to issue me a new passport? It's not like I'm asking for a spare! They can have the other one back! Isn't it more of a security risk to force me to apply for a new one overseas where I won't have access to the same kind of supporting documentation I have at home? Arrrrgggghhhh!!!

Several calming breaths later...

Ok, this is fine. Now I just get to add something else to my list of life experiences: "Have passport renewed in a foreign country." It'll be an adventure. Fun times ahead.

Now that I don't have to wait for a new passport, I've got more time to send my current one to the Russian Embassy in Ottawa, to apply for a Russian Visa. (I think that's the only one I need to get before I leave the country.) In order to get that visa for Russia, I have to prove I'm traveling there with a tour company. Apparently they don't let you in if you're just going to be wandering around, unescorted. So I have to go ahead and book that tour, which I think will be the "Taste of Russia" tour, with Intrepid. 8 days, Moscow to St Petersburg! Once I confirm the booking with Intrepid, they'll send me a letter that I submit with my Visa application. (Aside: I wonder if having a tour booked in Russia for 6 weeks after I arrive in England constitutes "proof of onward travel"?)

Tonight I'll be attending my first interview with the local representatives of SERVAS. I anticipate it will all be fine; I think it's just a getting-to-know-you kind of thing so that they can make sure I don't have two heads or fangs dripping blood or something like that. I'll try to remember to leave my Satanic robes at home.

Oh, and then there's the small matter of actually booking some kind of flight to get me out of the country. The trouble is I don't know when to book, because I don't know when my last day at work will be, because I don't know when the house will sell. In fact, I'm not even sure what city I'll fly out of.

A few other highlights from the list:

- change of address stuff
- new bank account for travel (that's another post)
- check on fees for international transactions with my current Visa card
- get a Mastercard for places that don't take Visa?
- find a storage space
- get travel insurance (that's another post)
- visit my G.P. to see if he'll give me a prescription for some general broad-spectrum antibiotics, along with the information to know when to take them (just in case)
- get international driver's licence
- get/make GSRED business cards
- get the rest of the gear I need
- build spreadsheet to track expenses while traveling (Spreadsheets! I *heart* spreadsheets!)
- sell more "big ticket" items on Kijiji
- giant garage sale
- pack up house
- call back SuperDave to haul away everything that didn't get sold or stored or packed
- take a deep breath

And that's the state of "The Getting Ready" for March 27th. Lots has been done, but there's still a big hill to climb before I'm settled into my economy class seat for the long hop to Heathrow.

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Lots to do, but it sounds like you have plan for it all. I've been told the last few weeks go by in a flash procrastinating! I, too, try to do a task every day. Cheers!

Mitch said...

Hey Pam,
I don't get the chance to comment much lately, but I am still reading all the posts, and am thinking that if anyone can amazingly spreadsheet the crap out of this trip; it's YOU. Just wanted to let you know that you're number one fan is still reading every one of your posts with great anticipation!!! I know you are in the heart of all the super busy-ness, but I just wanted to drop a quick note saying "You can do it", and "you are near the end of it all", and "We are all behind you". BTW, How did the SERVAS meeting go?
Again, if there is anything I can do to help with this trip, you know where to find me.

Jill said...

I have a few empty boxes for you if you'd like. Otherwise, it's not really that expensive to buy some from u-haul.

The international driver's licence is super easy too, just go to any CAA branch and thay'll take care of it. How long is your MB licence good for? Have you arranged to have it renewed by proxy if neccesary?

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