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parties, planes and poutine
swing
amw
New Year's was retarded. There is little to no control of fireworks here, so from sunset (around 4pm) onwards there was constant whistling and booming coming from all over the city. When i left my house at 10pm to walk to N's, people were shooting rockets off their balconies, from street corners, on the roof, out their kitchen window, everywhere. I sat down in the subway to wait for a train and people were letting off firecrackers in the station, causing the whole place to echo with explosive blasts like a warzone. Walking around after dark on the 31st is not for the faint of fucking heart. I got very drunk with the Russian boys then headed to the Bucht to meet up with H and dance the night away. I was so wasted i poured my heart out to her, then walked her to the cab when she felt sick. Later i recognized a DJ who recognized me back so shared a quick hug and schnapps to celebrate the new year. I only made it till about 8am i was so wrecked, but came stumbling out of the club to witness the most perfect sunrise over the Spree. One of my best New Year's ever.

Of course i spent the rest of the day staggeringly hungover, but pulled myself together for the 2nd, which was my only available day to go out to the epic week-long KaterHolzig closing. I arrived around 9am and completely randomly ran into both R (who was up from London, and i managed to sweet-talk in after the bouncer initially rejected him) and N. My phone was long dead, i think. Accidentally ended up in a VIP room that was a giant ball pit. Danced in all the new rooms they'd opened specially for the occasion. Finally saw Chris Schwarzwälder play after 3 months in Berlin. Sat in a tree hut. Passed out on a couch. Somehow added some New York Club Kid type on Facebook, which was odd because i don't think i spoke more than two words to him, and i swear he wasn't speaking English when we did. Bought schnapps for some other DJ. Said hi to that chick in the hoodie i see there all the time. Laughed maniacally at something that i can't remember what it was, freaking out some tourists, and said hi and smiled at 50 other people who feel like they've become my best friends over the past 3 months even though i don't ever remember talking to any of them. Cried and cried when a DJ played Romanthony - The Wanderer, then danced harder than ever before. What a magical place. I am going to miss it so, so much.

The next morning i had to be out of the house by 7am to get to the airport. It was probably the worst flight of my life. I've been wasted or hungover before on flights, but never on a one-hour/transfer/eight-hour mission. Fortunately by the time i got to Toronto i had slept a bit, so i headed to the pub to meet up with R and a bunch of old colleagues. And got riotously drunk, again. But most importantly, i ate a fucking amazing burger, one i've been craving since i left Europe. Eating was the theme of the weekend - R and i had sort of planned my "perfect Toronto trip" together as a joke a month or two back, though we didn't expect i have it so soon. So, burgers down at the pub Friday night. Chinese food and Dallas marathon for the hangover. Sunday i studied for my citizenship test and we went to see Aladdin, the musical. Which was awesome, because for some reason after seeing Aladdin as a kid i had to have the soundtrack album, so i had tracks like Arabian Nights on my personal mixtapes alongside Guns'n'Roses and AC/DC. The musical took a few of the old favorites and Broadwayed them up, which made them way more appealing to my adult ears (i tried listening to the old Disney tunes and was disappointed). Plus, jazz hands. Lots of jazz hands. And a tiny bit of tap. Yay. Then we had another burger. And a poutine. And more Dallas.

Monday was the insanely early citizenship test. I got a cab at 7am and it took 45 minutes and $70 to get out to the middle-of-nowhere suburb where the test took place. Cruised the test, but spent another 2.5 hours waiting around and having an ad hoc interview while they checked my forms. I was starving by the end of it. And pretty frustrated, because they still wanted my tax receipts and rental agreements for the time i lived in Canada, which is stuff i would have expected to send in the first fucking place (how else are they supposed to know if you're going to be an investment or a welfare leech?) Then i walked outside and was hit by well-below-freezing temperatures, a vicious wind, and realized i was stuck in the middle of nowhere without a car or a cellphone to call a cab. I had to walk across snow banks and multi-lane suburban arterial roads with no pedestrian crossings to try find a strip mall that was open. Well, open to pedestrians. I would have punched my fist through the fucking door when i got to the Wendy's which apparently was only open for drive-thru customers, if i didn't already have fucking frostbite. I don't think i've ever hated Canada quite as much as i did right then. Fuck the fucking suburbs for fucking ever. I mean, strip malls and boulevards and parkways are this wonderful American thing that are iconic for me, and they do give me this little rush of "ooh i'm in North America" when i see them, but when you see them NOT from a car window, they fucking suck giant fucking balls. So i walked and walked and finally found Tim Horton's, Canada's most beloved coffee chain, and drank their famously awful coffee and ate their famously awful fast food, then waited at a freezing cold bus stop for a bus that took 2 hours to get back downtown. I was absolutely fuming by the time i got back, because any plans i had for Monday morning were shot. So instead i just grabbed the documents i needed from R's place, packed up my suitcase and walked to a pub to meet R and another ex-colleague for lunch. So far my ex-colleagues are 5 from 5 for showing up to see me. My "actual" friends are 0 from however fucking many said "oh i miss you so much, we should catch up while you're here". So fuck my "actual" friends.

And, wow, it was great to get back to Berlin. Not just because i went from insanely cold temperatures to a delightfully unseasonal sunny day. I really felt like i was coming home. There is some stuff i really miss in Toronto - the food in particular. Not the "healthy" food. Europe does "healthy" food WAY better than North America. I'm talking bread, cheese, salami, salad, pasta, meat and two veg - you know, staples. But North America shits on Europe for burgers and fried chicken and pancakes and pulled pork and Chinese take-out and all that stuff that makes you fat but happy. And i do miss R. I also noticed while i was there i miss the ethnic diversity too. Although there is plenty of diversity here, it's mostly European/white, and the bohemians/transients don't really count because they're not integrated into everyday life. In Toronto half the city is East Asian or South Asian or Middle Eastern or African or Caribbean and it feels totally natural. It was nice. But despite those things, coming back here really was coming home. The aspects of European culture i fell so easily into when i first got here are things that continue to make me feel really comfortable here. I don't feel like i need to buy a car or a house to be "normal". I can live on my own in a studio apartment and take public transport everywhere and go to parties all weekend and be single and be in my mid 30s and it doesn't raise an eyebrow in my real job or anywhere else. I'm not sure anywhere in North America really has that feel outside of NYC, and NYC doesn't feel anything like Berlin because they have last call, you can't drink on the streets, you can't smoke fucking anywhere, graffiti gets scrubbed overnight, you can't sit on the sidewalk without some doorman telling you to scram, you can't find a mom'n'pop store until you leave Manhattan, you can't sell large cokes, you can't sell anything without a calorie count... Here they just trust you not to shoot your fireworks in someone's eye or smash your beer bottles on the sidewalk or gorge yourself on delicious burgers and tacos. It really is right for me, right now at least. It's good to be home.
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I wanted to ask you but didn't want to do so on fb- didn't you become a citizen when you married J? Why do you have to do it now? Sounds like a colossal pain in the ass! Glad you're having fun in Germany for the most part though! :)

Nah, it's a two-step process - same as in the US and most countries. Step one is becoming a permanent resident, which is pretty much the same as being a citizen except you can't vote or join the military. The down-side of being a permanent resident is if you leave the country for more than a couple years you lose it - that's why i can never move back to Australia without reapplying from scratch. Once you are a citizen you can vote, get a passport and spend 20 years overseas and still come home. That's why i'm trying for Canada, because while i'm happy here in Germany for now, i don't want to give up my opportunity to go back at some point in the future.

You're such a deep selfaware person, with incredible linguistic skills, man, I'm stunned.

I like the fucking calorie counts, damn it. We're the 2nd fattest people on the planet and we should be reminded how come that is. We used to be number one. I am hoping the new mayor lays off on the "broken windows" shit. We had much more character when this place was a shithole.

Are you going for dual citizenship or are you going to surrender your fancy EU passport?

I actually like the calorie counts too, it's just that i was on a roll. It's probably telling that i get kind of emotional about NYC and compare other places i go to it and not to anywhere else i've been. It's not everything i hoped it'd be, but it's still one of the most memorable and exciting places i've visited. I could definitely live there. After i quit smoking.

I sure as hell will not be surrendering my EU passport. That shit is like the unicorn of travel documents. Fortunately, both the UK and Canada allow dual citizenship, so i'm good on that front. I mean, it's all the same queen anyway, right?

That makes much more sense. The EU passport is totally the golden ticket.

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