Almost Canadian

When I pictured the location of Zsolt’s citizenship test, I liked to imagine some place like the Museum of Canadian History – with its massive atrium and totem poles, and a view of the Parliament building that really says, “oh, Canada!”

And perhaps for the citizenship test, Canadian olympic champ Jon Montgomery from the Amazing Race (Canadian Edition) would be standing in the middle of the atrium as Zsolt descended down the escalators into the main hall, and in his hands would be the applicants’ first clue cards. Grabbing the yellow paper package, Zsolt would rip open the clue:

Who is the Canadian hero known around the world for his cross country marathon to beat cancer?

“Terry Fox!” Zsolt would say to himself, and then he’d be off to the Terry Fox statue opposite Parliament Hill for the next clue, racing against others would-be-Canadians of all colours, cultures and religions. In this race, there are no rules, and Zsolt steals a cab from another contestant, apologizing as he does so in the proper Canadian manner, and then zooms across the bridge into Ottawa – bribing the taxi driver with a twoonie and a loonie (so, 3$ all together) to put pedal to the metal. Finally, after a series of clues that has him and thirty other contestants racing from historical landmark to government structure to Canadian heritage site around the city, they finally all find themselves vying to get up the Peace Tower elevator, where at the top all the family members are waiting to cheer on Canada’s winner of the Amazing Race Canadian Citizenship Challenge!

As we all wait and hold our breath in anticipation, the elevator digs – and out steps . . . Zsolt for the win!

Because that would be awesome.

However, it was still very exciting when my husband received a letter from immigration in the mail inviting him to participate in a multiple choice test at an unremarkable government building. It was recommended Z study the guide, Discover Canada – and so that’s what he did. We read through it together in the evenings, and he studied during the days. The afternoon before his test, he answered ~400 multiple choice questions online.

Of course, were he to fail he could just take the test again – but sometimes it’s just easier to get things done the first time around.

Then, on a lovely Thursday afternoon, we went to the very unremarkable government building next to a very loud highway, and he entered a room with a test and a pencil, then came out twenty minutes later – answer a few questions in an interview – and voila! Test done!

He scored 20/20, and I’m totally proud of him. I then forced him to pose with his Canada scarf wrapped around his neck. But we were both into it, because it was VERY exciting!

Zsolt is Happy

And now we simply wait for the ceremony invitation to arrive in the mail. I’m glad it is all moving along. Sooner than later, Canada won’t just be Zsolt’s home – it will be his country.


And if you’re wondering, Hungary and Canada allow for dual citizenship. This is a good thing. Maybe one day I’ll get to be as much Magyar as Zsolt will be Canadian.

Happy Fun Times in Toronto

Zsolt and I have run away to eploe! Actually no, we’ve been married for five years. But that’s a fun sentence to write. Zsolt and I have actually run away for mini vacation – or ‘mini break’ as they say in England. This weekend we are in Toronto for the Mirror Ball, but also, we decided that while we’re down here, we would catch us a NBA Basketball game with the Toronto Raptors.

Raptors Game

And that’s exactly what we did last night. Oh my goodness, I don’t think my husband’s smile can get any larger than it was yesterday evening.

So, we left Ottawa thinking it might be tight, but there’s at least be time for me to tap a post-drive nap in the hotel room before hussling to the game. Wrong. We left way too late, and arrived way too late. There’s wasn’t even time for me to grab dinner from Chipolte, which I’d been craving on the drive down.

“We can get hotdogs at the game. It’ll be the full game experience,” says Zsolt in the hotel room as we realize there is no time for a proper dinner.

Anyhow, it was late and we were late so we busted a move out of the hotel room and set off on the subway toward the Air Canada Center. (Personal beef moment: What is up with Air Canada now charging for the first piece of checked luggage? They do it because they can do it. But that’s a grade-A discount airline move, and not at all impressive).

Right so, we’re in the subway riding along to the game. There’s a connection at Bloor or something. Connection caught.

“It’s too bad we didn’t bring the camera,” I say. Because these are the moments you want a camera for, right?

“Augh!” says Zsolt. He is upset we didn’t bring the camera.

And then the next moment, he goes, “Hey, did we bring the printed tickets with us?”

And I go. “AUgh!”

No, we didn’t.

We did however bring the mobile phone which is steadily heading toward zero charge. BUT, if we can just download the Ticketmaster app and bring up our account the online tickets will be there. So we get off the metro, and begin downloading the app. It’s about 15 minutes till the game starts. Meanwhile the phone is having it’s own countdown of battery life 20 percent, 18 percent, 16 percent…

Eventually the app uploads, (after we gave it access to everything on the phone in a desperate attempt to hurry things along) and we have the tickets.

Then we bust a move to who knows where. All I know is one minute there are a lot of people, then a lady giving directions, following by me charging through the crowd, across the street, up an escalator over a bridge and then, finally, when we hit about 12 percent charge on the phone and our tickets, security to get in.


Zsolt buys is six dollar hotdog. It’s a Nate hotdog, so I ask him if it tastes like New York. He tells me it tastes like Hungary, and believe you me that is not a compliment.

One last flash of the ticket to the usher, an we’re in our seats!! (And lucky for that, I didn’t realize we had to show the ticket again!)

What followed was basketball bliss. Zsolt was ‘Woohoo’ing and explaining the more complex rules, and whenever there was a chance of winning a t-shirt he stood up and waved his arms while I held the jackets and pretended we weren’t so, so, so high up. The guy had an amazing time. I haven’t seen him have such a good time in a while. It really made me happy to see him so happy.

Sometimes I forget that Zsolt is going through a lot of stuff. With work and CT scans, he goes through so much. If I could give him a Raptor’s game every weekend, I would. But maybe it’s even more special for being a first-time treat.

We are happy with the scan results. I am not quite so happy, okay, to be honest – because the cancer stopped it’s shrinking and a couple spots may have possibly grown, with the appearance of what may be a new tiny spot. The oncologist says that it might have been there all along, and results on such small scales depends on how the CT scan cuts when taking a picture. And so we wait till the next scan to know more, and see if stable really is stable.

In the meanwhile, we are here in Toronto, and we got to see our first NBA game. How awesome is that? It is awesome. And now onto my kind of fun – the Mirror Ball!! WOoohOO!!!


Champagne Explosion of Brain Bubbles!

(i.e. a rambling post about everything. Except anything useful. Though that does depend how you define useful.)

So, me and Photoshop have been getting to know one another. It’s a multilayered being, and I’ve been playing with Youtube to help me learn. As my friend was saying the other day – it’s a really powerful platform, but with power comes complication. Man, it’s so complicated.

Being the Lady McGuiver I am, and never ever investing more than twenty minutes into learning anything, I’ve been bouncing between photoshop, picmonkey, paint and occasionally powerpoint to design the elements for my new Claire Never Ending cover.

Geez, I love designing stuff. I love, love, love learning stuff and getting hands-on. But I just hate, hate, hate, studying. This contrast is a real flaw in my system of creativity.

Anyhow, all this internal jabbering to sayyyyyyy: The Cover is Coming Along!

CNE New cover1

Preview – I am going with this image, and have now bought it from istock.

Out there amoungst the papers on my desk is a list of TO Dos before 2014 ends. One of them is to finishing the Claire’s redesign. Another is to apply for Zsolt’s citizenship, although I really haven’t gotten that far yet in my productivity.

There are a couple other points, but I’ve completely forgotten them. Hmm. I’m trying to remeber now. Nope. Oh, crowdfunding videos! I remembered one more! I want to finished my crowdfunding series. That’s nearly done to be honest, and just requires a few more late, late nights or early, early mornings for editing.

YouTube is fun. This is another area where I don’t really want to study too much, but do really want to create content.

Where is all this content creation going? No idea where yet. J Zsolt says I need to make a business plan. “Make a business plan?” I asked him, like he was speaking a different language – is “Makeabusinessplan” Hungarian for “You are the best wife and I love you like crazy?”

Probably not.

He is right, actually, plans are good. Structure is good. Strategy is even better. And then, action. That should come along too at some point: Structure, Strategy, Action. Not my strong points, but probably useful.

And that is that.

Now for a story:

Last night I was lying in bed with the Zsolt Man, and he was relating the story of a business meeting he recently had – where he saw the fellows walking down the street, and it reminded him of being with the fellows at the ORC when they would go for lunch.

That got me thinking. Those lunches not too many years ago were a lovely daily tradition. So I began telling Zsolt why they were so lovely. Zsolt would come down to the staff club cafeteria for their lunch. Since I lived & worked on campus, I would very often join them. And after about 5 years of this, it was a comfortable, happy routine. We’d all get together, I’d get to kiss my husband, and then they’d talk about this and that – often around the stresses of being a PhD student, but not always. The conversation always ended on a very similar note, around the lines of: Let’s search it on Wikipedia. And they’d go back to their lab to look up whatever the heck they’d been discussing that day.

And through that group at the lunch table, I not only got to enjoy their company, but also the company of their partners who would arrive occasionally for the meal – girlfriends, children and wives. So we would pull two tables together, and have a great big lunch meal.

It was really nice. Friends, support and food wrapped up into one nice hour.

After I’d finished relating those memories, Zsolt asked me if I missed it.

So I thought about it. And you know what? I don’t miss it. I’m just very glad to have had it. I’m very glad to have been there then. I’m very glad to be here now.

And that had me thinking – several years ago, I missed everything. It was this deep homesick pit inside of myself. Something has changed. Maybe realizing you can’t ever have things as they were before. Or maybe it’s realizing that there are always wonderful people there somewhere to connect with. I don’t know. Maybe it was coming back to Canada – but I’ll tell you, this hasn’t been an easy transition either.

Whatever the reason. I didn’t miss anything in the sense of longing for those day. It was simply nice to have had them.

And that is when I realized, between Zsolt and I, we have friends all over the world. Amazing individuals who we’ve connected with at one point in the moving and travelling and life-living. None of them are congregated in a single spot, and we’ll never have again what we had before in those moments of laughter and friendship.

Even if all those people and all those moment are scattered across our past, and across the world – that is okay. It is better than okay – it’s awesome. Knowing each of them, doing all of that life stuff, has been a pleasure. We have this beautiful gift, and I’m grateful for it.

And I don’t miss them, because to me, they are still there somehow. Whether it’s in my memory, or on my Facebook page. They are there, doing well, and that makes me happy.

Happy picture2P.S. Over on Ottawa Writes this week (in the process of being rebranded) we have an episode about quotes you stick on the front cover of books. There’s also a nice interview around writing and community. Listen here. This sideshow passion project is one of those things that could probably use a business plan . . .