Monday, 19 October 2009
"What part of Canada are you from?" enquires the nurse as she leads me to my room. I am about to be needled and prodded in the name of green card. Apparently you cannot have the freedom to pay taxes in this country unless you have had a prick or two. Or in my case three. Actually, make that four punctures. The first was to see if I had TB, the second to draw blood (I think she used knitting needle, I have an impressive mass of purpleness where once the needle was), the third for an MMR and the last for Tetanus and Diptheria. "I'm from London." I answer trying not to sound patronising, as she opened the door to a small room overpowered by one of those printed paper photographic murals of a rural Wisconsin scene, all rustic log cabin watermill and autumnal foliage. I wonder if they replaster every season, till I realise it has probably been up there since 1982 such are the orange browny hues of it. As my eye casts a nervous sweep around the room (I'm not into needles and doctors and such) I notice most of the furniture has probably been there since then too, as well as the bed I am perched on. It has all these silver bits and pieces and ledges that whip in and out as and when needed; one to step up, one to extend, another for I don't know what. I don't get a chance to noisy about much before I am told to lie back and blood is drawn. She efficiently informs me my pulse is "normal" and my blood pressure is to her liking. Not that her face cracks into a smile or anything, she has that professional nurse thing going on. Friendly but in no way making you feel like she actually cares about you. She asks me a few questions and I immediately feel guilty. The whole green card process so far I have felt like we are trying to wheeler dealer me into a social security number. Almost eight years of marriage and an almost three year old together and yet somehow I still feel like we may be "found out". Ridiculous I know. I feel the same around police. Oh come on I'm sure you have too. At least once? Anyhows she dissappears out of the room with a "doctor will see you now" but eyes firmly on the her next job in hand, which I gathered from the phone call she was on when we arrived had something to do with her mum's birthday tomorrow, conducted in the same breezy professionalism as her time with patients or wannabe immigrants. A few moments later Dr. Frinzl enters. He looks down at my form, "New York ha? Where's New York?" I am using my in-laws upstate address. I panic slightly thinking that he might be an immigration officer doing a surprise geography test on me but he saves me from any possible nervous drivle but smiling with half of his mouth. He was giving me a classic Frinzl-put-you-at-ease lines Apparently Brits aren't that attuned to irony after all. Well, not this one, not with needles on my mind. I breathe a bit for him, he uses a lollipop stick and I do the "aaah" thing, he counts my knees, my livers, almost pushes the flood gates of my (full) bladder open, lifts each leg (medical or dance coach? The lines are so tenuously blurred) and with a half nod takes his leave. Just me and the orange photo thingy for a bit. I dangle my legs like a nervous 6 year old on the edge of the metal bed and hope that the family in the waiting room aren't getting too restless. Yesterday my in laws arrived after a short ride from upstate New York (6 hours) armed with all manner of local goodies. Zucchini bread lovingly made by Vern, my father in law and even more lovingly scoffed by us over fresh coffee this morning (I just discovered the bimbo grinds up coffee beans. Welcome to sanity!) alongside half a barrel of just picked apples from the farm of his friend. Courtlands and Empires, or as I like to think of them, Sweet n' Sour. Its great to have the apartment filled with all of us though I am wondering if they had wished we had left them there whilst I went for my checks rather than the soul-less strip lit reception. Sam keeps them entertained though, handing out and collecting magazines from everyone and having his hands periodically washed so he doesn't take anything home with him. No sooner have a started to loose myself in some thought or other (mostly how I am going to describe this in the blog) does a veiled lady swoop in greeting me with a warm smile. I don't catch her name because I can't get passed the "student physician" she slips in. I silently enter the ring with Fear and we battle it out discreetly under the table. "What part of Yorkshire do you come from?" she says looking up from my notes. I run over the London thing for the third time. She asks more questions about my circumstances and I decide to double bluff the undercover officers (clearly here is good cop) with trying to make them believe I haven't uncovered their motives. She manages somehow to get out of me that I am in the business too. "Don't say that!" she adds, "You know I will have to ask you to sing!" Aha! So immigration decisions are based on what people would hypothetically add to the humour (or tragedy) of Pop Idol. Looking good. Turns out she has family in Sheffield. It was quite an astute guess of mine even if I do say so myself and her "Yes Ma'am" reply was priceless being somewhat juxtaposed with her appearance. I know I ought to be more worldy than this but I am still shocked when a young Chinese woman speaks in a heavy scottish brogue, or when this physician looking to me like she wouldn't be out of place running the wards of a Somalian hospital talks in a slightly southern drawl. I am sure she was thinking the same about me; Mexican border jumper rambler from the Pennine's mouth on her. I stop trying to get over my prejudices when she flippantly tells me that the needles they have there aren't the smallest. Apparently in Pediatrics yesterday they were like a hair but these? Oh no. I ask her if they are, at least, sharp and her half laugh gives me the sad answer. "well, as long as you don't have to do this," I try to joke miming her punching the syringe into my arm, "then I won't have to do this!" I add punching the air with the other hand. To all intents and purposes I have just promised to cause grievous bodily harm if she hurts me. Not going to go down well in the notes. I make a promise to myself to plead self defence. No sooner as she has squeezed the fat in my upper arm than one is done and just as I realize she is whispering "45 degrees..." to herself as she does the other side it is all over. Frinzl re-enters for the once over and on wednesday I am to collect the forms. $250 later and we are all back out into the crisp Cleveland sunshine and in the car headed back to Little Italy where we found Guarino's, est 1908. The owners have done everything to try and recreate the turn of the century feel but the mirrored glass mosaic oversized cement bows hung al about undercut it somewhat as did the demonic halloween lamp shades. It was dark and fairylit and advertised nonna's upper attic bed and breakfast and private parlour dinner in their menu inbetween veal parm and ossobucco. One of which made it to our table, alongside authentic antipasto (anything topped with good quality artichoke always ranks high with me), pesto pasta and meat besauced angel hair, all washed down with a little chianti and authentic gelato from across the road. The espresso accompanying it was as bad as the ice cream was lush, but I don't want to get bogged down with my obsessive coffee habit. The afternoon was spent recuperating, christmas afternoon style back at the pad. Boy having a surprise nap, husband and father-in-law watching the game, mother in law Fay and I tapwording the hour away on my iphone. As I type, satiated with homemade turkey chilli and bimbo'd ice cream (yes ice cream!!!), Fay is quickly becoming a champion of the game. For those who are still managing not to put a piece of technology at the centre of their existences let me explain. Tapword, brought to us by Tapjoy (?) is a free downloadable game which is basically a word search with a timer and the dictionary used is unlike any I have ever had on my shelf. I have all faith that she will break our 25% average. My father in law is alternately watching the game (American football now, baseball is done and the excitement turned to despondency once the LA Angels beat the beloved Yankees watched intently by the three generations of men in the house sausage and beers in hand) and knitting metal. That's what it looks like in my peripheral anyway, its actually him trying to outwit those metal puzzle wotsits, you know like those monkey rings you have to work out how to separate, aka things that drive me mad with frustration. And as my son knows well, this is not a healthy state for anyone to be around. I think his life purpose at the moment is to find my frustration threshold at all times. How far will she go before she will blow? I am not doing too bad at rising to the bait and then out calming my oponent. Terrible twos terrible shmoos. Terrible threes is what I am bracing myself for. Bigger brain, bigger vocabulary, bigger lungs. It all points towards some testing times ahead. I feel we are on a precipice just as we were when he turned two; after month of intense boundary pushing we were finally back to three happy musketeers again. Yesterday in the supermarket, he tried a new tack by asking what I was frustrated about and I explained that I couldn't work out the lay out of the shop and that it was taking us twenty minutes to find a loaf when it should take five. He gave me a hug and explained that this would make me happy and everything better. He most definitely was right. Who needs bread anyway?