Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Week of Weeks

This has been one of the most exhausting weeks in recent memory. I'm glad it's come; I'm relieved it's passed. I feel like I can finally rest for just a little bit now. Here's my boring play by play...this is more for me than anything.


As usual I wake up at 6 am to get ready for early morning rehearsal with the marching band. A typical Monday as usual. After school I have to head out to pick up my suit from the cleaner, I got there just as the owner was pulling out, go to Family Home Evening then finally I get home at 9 pm only to start my sub plans, prepare for my review from the assistant superintendent the next day, and pack for my overnight trip to Salt Lake. I finally get to bed at 3 am.
I wake up bright and early at 6 am with the help of my great friend, Kara in Michigan, who I call on to help me wake up whenever I'm scared that I'll sleep through three alarms. It's never happened yet, but she has saved my hide many times. I head to work to prep for that day. My mentor teacher told me to have a file prepared for the evaluation so I can be ready and to impress. I felt prepared by the time school started.

School is the same as usual, except Mr Sommerfeldt is there for a couple of hours to observe me. It went a lot easier than I thought it would. He sent me an e-mail of his notes and they were really positive. I guess that's a good thing. I was hoping for more criticism. His biggest comment, "You expect a lot from your kids...!" My reply, "Ummmmmmm.....yeah....yes I do." I didn't know if he was saying it as a bad thing or a good thing. It turns out it was a little of both. What can I say, I'm never satisfied with the status quo. Well, immediately after I finished my classes, I put together my materials for my finance class, gave them to my sub for my last class of the day and headed out to Calgary to catch a flight to Salt Lake at 4:45 pm. It takes 2 and a half hours to drive there; I had some driving to do.

I get to Calgary and ultimately to Salt Lake without a hitch. Flying in, I have never felt so happy to be home. It was quite emotional for me flying in because of what was at stake and the purpose of my trip. I was glad to be home. Well, David Eff picks me up from the airport and we're finally able to chill and talk. I get to Provo for dinner with friends at the Spark Lounge. I'm sorry, it was nice but I guess I still lean toward quantity over quality. The portions were killing me and I went to Denny's with Kenji later that night.

It was great to see my friends! It always is. Of the many things I miss, one of them is the ability to have any sort of engaging conversation. Maybe it's because I just hang out with high school kids all day and we don't really talk about much...yep, not much to talk about. We ate dinner then headed out across the street to the Pennyroyal Cafe where Nathan Robbins showed us around. Then it was off to the Sego Art Gallery where Kaneischa Johnson and Jason Metcalf showed us their current art show. I say my goodbyes for this round then head home to Sandy with Kenji and eventually to bed after playing Peggle Nights until 2 am. Always great to be with friends.
The day I've been anticipating for months, even years. I had a bunch of errands to do before my interview: get a copy of my criminal record to prove I have none, record all the trips I've made outside the US in the past 6 months, and get some passport photos for my hopeful certificate. I arrive at the offices early and wait for 35 minutes trying not to brood over my dilemma. I get called in by an immigration agent. She was very warm and welcoming. She mentioned my file and laughed at my greencard ID. I was not a happy camper being 17 months old in that photo. It was a good laugh, and her attempt to break the ice. I was still nervous and she readily picked up on it. She said I should have no problem with the interview. And so I anxiously brought up my plight: how I am currently living in Canada but am applying for US citizenship. We discussed everything about it in detail and then she said, "Well, that shouldn't be a problem." WHAT?!?! I couldn't believe it; I have been stressing over this for months and she eased my anxiety away in an instant. It was sooo relieving. The rest of the interview was a piece of cake. She asked 10 civics questions about US government, asked my to read a basic sentence in English, write down, "I want to be an American citizen." on paper and sign a few documents. Oh there was another question that she asked that I thought I would have problems with. "Have you ever broken the law in which you were not arrested for?" I answered yes because I've been a rampage tipping over port-o-potties and wreaking havoc around the neighborhood when I was younger. She said nonchalantly, "Oh, so just juvenile stuff?" I was amazed. I thought it was a bigger deal than she did. She actually thought it was funny.

It was such a relief. I graciously thanked her for being so understanding. It gave me an even greater appreciation for this great country. Months of anticipation, stress, tears, and heart ache came to an end.

After a relaxing afternoon at home and lunch with my parents, Amanda and Kaitlin, I headed back to the airport and back home to Lethbridge where I finally was in my bed by 1:30 am.
The big event for today was my induction into the Alberta Teachers Association. Its the unifying organization for all Alberta public school teachers. I pay hefty monthly dues to them every month, but they are incredibly powerful in Alberta and they keep the standard and respect high for teachers here as well as offer just about any resource to teachers.

The ceremony was simple with other new teachers, seasoned teachers and administrators there to see us inducted. We had free dinner too. This was the meal I was looking forward to.
School as usual except tonight I hosted a musician I met in my LDS ward. His name is Kibwe from Congo, Africa. We met a couple months ago and I had the idea of having him perform at my high school for the community. It finally came to pass tonight. It was great, the students loved it, Kibwe loved it; we all had a great time.
We had marching band rehearsal at school from 10 am to 2 pm. I was soooo tired for it, but it had to get done. They march next week for three Christmas parades in the area. My alma mater won against my alma mater! I was happy about that. Later that night I was ready to go out and then a friend calls me needing some assistance at the hospital. One of our friends fell and hit her head on a curb, got a concussion, cracked her ribs and was on too much medication. So we were with her until late and I gave them a ride home at 2:30 am and was ready for meetings this morning by 8:30.

So I'm a little sleep deprived, but I feel great. This has been a memorable week. I saw my best friends in Utah, got approved for US citizenship, received good reviews by the assistant superintendent, put on a African hip-hop show for my town, and helped a friend in need. I feel great.

I cannot forget one last thing though. I had the audacity to ask my closest friends and associates to pray for me and my interview. I thank all of you who remembered me in your prayers. I felt protected, I felt secure because of you and your faith. I have the greatest friends in the world.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Going solo

The joys of living alone: Ice cream, whenever I want.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I can't sleep at night. Whenever I get really stressed out, I procrastinate going to bed because I just hate lying there at night worrying. So I just stay up until I'm exhausted and my physiological will to sleep overcomes my emotional will to stay up. This upcoming Tuesday I fly into Salt Lake City to interview for my US citizenship. I'm extremely excited at the prospect of becoming a US citizen. Even the thought about it gets me quite emotional because of how much this country has done for me and how I long to be a part of it because everything I love is in the States. The interview consists of a civics test, an English test, questions about my background and an overall judgement of my moral character. The civics test will be a breeze; they ask basic questions about US government, history and Constitution. The English test is just a dictation test, I hope my 25 years of English language speaking will serve me well. The questions about my background won't be a problem as well because I consider myself to be of high moral character. However, there's one question that is keeping me up: "When was the last time you left the United States?" "Yesterday." I know this will begin a discussion about why and where and for how long I've been out of the country. I talked to an immigration lawyer who just counseled to be as honest as possible and hope for the best. I was hoping he'd give me a silver bullet.

My friends and family in the States have been so supportive. It means so much to me to have them part of my life. I've even gone as far as to asking some to pray for me, the interviewer and the interview. My co-workers in Canada are hoping I don't pass so I stay in Canada and it's really upsetting. I am hopeful I do well, but the realist in me instills a degree or fear and worry. How do I get rid of that? How do I become so confident that I believe or even know I will pass? And if that's possible, how do I then make it so I don't come across haughty and pious. This is the interview of my life. More important to me than my interview in February that gave me a jump start my career and brought me up here in the first place. I hope for the best on Wednesday.

I hope that the result will be similar to Apu's:

Hopefully it won't turn out like Groundskeeper Willy did:
The Simpsons

Monday, November 10, 2008

Remembrance Day

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day in Canada. It's a pretty big deal here and yet, I feel bad because I know almost nothing about it. I've even been to Flanders Field in Belgium and all the memorials there. I do feel a deep sense of respect and appreciation for what has come and gone before, but not an understanding, not even a conviction. I feel sadly empty about it. But if there's anything I'm able to do, it's to serve my community well. Today the concert band played in our school's yearly Remembrance Day assembly. Adults were touched when the band played O Canada and graciously thanked me for it. Maybe they cry every year, but whatever the case, I'm honored to be part of it.