Thursday, September 20, 2012

Edmonton: A Primer for Displaced Californians

Every area you move to will have its own local quirks.  This is why I love to travel.
When you travel to the Pacific Northwest, be sure to ask for a geoduck at the market. You won’t be disappointed. Southern California? Being dressed up means putting on a clean Hawaiian shirt or sequined flip flops.

Journeying to a foreign locale just intensifies the feeling of everything being not quite as you expect it. I always have that same feeling you get when waking up from a deep nap in the middle of the afternoon – not quite with it and everything just seems a bit,.. not right.

Egypt? Don’t wander around with wet hair if you are a woman, for fear that you will be judged as having a loose character. Indonesia? Only always offer your right hand to people. Singapore? Offer both.

While Edmonton, Alberta feels so familiar, there are just a few words people say, or activities they do, that make you remember you aren’t in Kansas anymore.  Here’s a couple of helpful hints for any other Californians getting the great idea to escape 100 degree weather and dive into 40 below.

Learn Celsius already. Because everyone else knows it. You can only ask Siri so many times to convert the daily temperature before she starts to get agitated with you. And Fahrenheit really isn’t very easy to understand, honestly. This point came out when I was chatting with my hair dresser. She was explaining to me the ease of Celsius and how confusing Fahrenheit was. “Zero is the point of freezing,” she explained. To which I acknowledged, “Yes, 32 degrees,..”
Once I said it, it sounded ridiculous. How arbitrary. Zero for freezing does sound so much more logical. Try and forget Fahrenheit. Because, really, once you get to about twenty below, they both converge and it’s called “yes, hell has frozen over.”

A runner is not an unpaid intern in the legislature. It’s a tennis shoe, a sneaker. And you’ll need lots of them, which brings me to the next point

Take your shoes off! Everyone takes off their shoes before entering into a private space For schools you will have to invest in new shoes for both inside AND outside.
I had no idea how rude I was stomping around friends’ houses. Which brings me to my next point –

Canadians are really, really nice. I’m just not used to it. Let’s take last week, for example. The girls had ice skating lessons. Since I consider myself from SoCal now. (I've lived there for so long - the longest I've lived any place, any where actiually - that I have taken up citizenship), I had really no idea how to dress them. I had them in jeans. I forgot Fifi’s gloves. I did bring them coats. After 30 very long minutes of terrified girls freezing their butts off on the ice (yes, screaming, crying and nashing of teeth), the instructor came over to chat.

She acknowledged how hard it is to figure all this stuff out and gave me pointers. She didn’t sneer and correct me like the lady in Idaho when I said ‘BoiZZZZeeee’ instead of ‘Boise.’ She didn’t roll her eyes and turn away like the mommy I asked for directions to the nearest bathroom in the local California school. She didn’t sigh loudly and stomp her feet when I was on line in a Washington store, and had to talk to my credit card company on the phone during check out because someone was purchasing fancy dinners and jewelry in France, while I was  buying a pair of school uniform pants on sale at Kohls.

She didn’t make me feel like an idiot for not knowing anything.  And for that Canada, I would give you a big, huge kiss. Because I don’t know much, and I always let people in on that secret.  Thanks for being so kind.

Loonie is not how you feel when you can’t remember for the life of you where you decided to store all your tank tops when you unpacked them. It’s a one dollar coin. And a toonie is a two dollar coin. How cute is that?

So, when the back to school sale circulars came out, their tag line ‘Only loose a few loonies’ they were referring to the money I’d save, and not the fact that my kids would be gone for a majority of my day.

It’s a washroom. Not a rest room. I’ve left plenty of store employees scratching their heads trying to figure out why I want to take a nap in the bathroom. Gross American,….

And it’s not soda, it’s pop. I don’t care what argument you have with anyone over this, pop rules up north. And for heaven’s sake, if you are from Georgia, don’t call it Coke. If anything, refer to it as Canada Dry.

Beer is expensive.  A twelve pack of Corona? More than 30 dollars. So, either drink your fill while south of the border, or take advantage of the allowable quantity of high quality, cheap beer beverages you can bring through customs.  I may break out my carboy,…

Dairy cows are extinct. Because dairy products will cost you a pretty penny as well.               

Misery loves company. To help you get over the price of beer and Greek yogurt, work it out at your community league or rec center. These are the bomb. Each neighborhood has a community association, and for a small fee, you can take part in amazing activities for free, like skiing, swimming and skating. Most communities – ours included – have an outdoor ice rink that is maintained by a community rink keeper who basically goes out with a garden hose and makes ice on the rink after the first freeze. Booyah!  

The rec centers are scattered all over the city and offer ice rinks, pools, work out rooms and drop in classes, indoor playgrounds. Check out free sessions for the public to skate. Everywhere, every week. So go buy some used skates and get out there.

So, yes, it’s time to pack up the flip flops and break out the Sorrels. You’ll find me in the -30 coat rack, weeping. 


Anonymous said...

I absolutely love your blog! it is giving me insight to the day when my son decides to live there and then we follow him like! I admit Canadians really are super nice!!

Tooyoungrannie said...

I am totally ready to move! You had me at the removing your shoes part. I love it! I'm all about removing your shoes inside.