Love & Canada: Life Finds A Way (To Get In The Way)

I spent the last seven days working and having a lot of feelings and compiling a to-do list instead of actually doing any of the items on it. (Shannon was also away for work, which meant collaborative decision-making was down the drain.) I’m gonna address the few updates there are and then just talk about things I haven’t talked about because immigrations and weddings are complicated.


notice how almost nothing is crossed off it’s fine I’m fine

My Lesbian Immigration Marriage Feelings, Part 3

15. I bought a wedding magazine.

The options online started to seem overwhelming and I felt over them and also over how much time I was looking at my laptop to look at them so I bought the first issue of Catalyst, a feminist wedding magazine — its website says it “explores the intersections of creativity, community, and feminism in the wedding world. Volume One, Finding a New Perspective, features photos and writing that looks beyond typical wedding media.” I am hoping for something that is basically Bitch but for weddings and with prettier pictures, I think. I am hoping this one thing will answer any lingering inspirational or logistical questions I might have, though that seems unlikely.

7.2. I found some shoes!

They have 3″ block heels (bless whatever it is that made block heels apparently a “thing” this season, and whatever had these shoes inappropriately filed under a wedge search at 3 a.m. the day I found them) and are shiny gold and sandals that it looks like I will be able to walk in.

After considering everyone’s suggestions and spending a lot of time on clothing tumblr I realized I wanted my feet to look more naked than they might in an ankle boot situation (even though boots are my favorite) because my dress has a really heavy visual imprint and having skin and colour peeking out the bottom seemed correct. (I hate wearing sandals, or shoes without socks, but I think for one day I can get over it. I’m also planning to wear them around inside in advance if possible so I don’t get blisters the day of.) I will post a photo when they get here.

16. We are doing our own makeup and hair, have I mentioned that?

Which is to say, Shannon is doing her own makeup, and I am doing some of mine and she is doing the rest. She is quiet about it but Shannon is really good at makeup, she knows about blush and highlighting and colouring inside the lines and meanwhile I barely know where my cheekbones are.

I’m taking this as an opportunity to read all the makeup posts I normally want to read but don’t give myself time for, and as an excuse to refresh my personal makeup bag. The look I am going for is “basically me every day but will photograph better and not risk looking washed out in black” which seems like a dream I can reach.

my daily makeup situation right now is something like this

my daily makeup situation right now is something like this unless I feel lazy

We’re also both doing our own hair, Shannon because hers is a perfect fire that blossoms under her hands and me because I want the best version of one of my everyday hair looks and I am the best person to make that happen. I might use fancy bobby pins instead of my regular ones though, with some sort of gold- or pearl-colored detailing? I haven’t decided. Tiny flowers might be involved. I also haven’t decided whether I’m going to pin everything up or leave some loose, which I will decide the morning of, based on the weather when I get out of the shower. I am, however, making an appointment for a haircut for the week before.

I’m also making appointments for my eyebrows and nails because I am mediocre at both and also secretly love manicures but never have a good enough reason to get one. Maybe because my toes will be visible in my shoes I will also get a pedicure, who knows.

17. I’m changing my food/water/exercise habits and I feel weird about it.

Note I did not write “for the wedding” because even though having a wedding date did make me think “hmm I’d better look like my hottest self for that,” a move is always a good opportunity to change bad habits and create good ones (and also a chance to create more bad ones I suppose) and I want the foundation for a better and more active lifestyle in place before I move to a city that seems actively hostile to pedestrians.

Also I’ve spent some time being brutal to my body and I want to fix it to whatever extent I am able. (Has anyone else been reading “Working On It” and feeling like this?)

So what I’ve been doing is this.

I’ve been drinking a ton of water, because I’m doing my own makeup and I want my skin to look as good as possible on its own/without learning additional makeup skills and for me that means I am drinking a ton of water. (Often with mint or lemon or something in it because otherwise my mouth gets bored.) I’m not tracking this in any way, I’m just making sure that I have about four big glasses a day in addition to all the tea and kombucha and whatever other clearish liquids I feel like drinking, and two more leading up to bed. (Interestingly this has also reduced how often I wake up with headaches, which is otherwise almost all the time irrespective of alcohol consumption.) I’ve been drinking way less — sometimes I want a beer or glass of wine or two every night and sometimes I forget those things exist, and my body has been naturally doing the later lately and I’m leaning into it. This is partly also about my skin and partly because I have so much to do that I don’t want to wake up feeling foggy and partly because even a sip of dark liquor lately tastes like a headache.

I’ve also been trying to pay more attention to food in a positive way. Instead of trying to think, “oh I shouldn’t eat cheese or tons of starch because I’m dairy intolerant and bread makes me feel like garbage,” I’m trying to think, “I am eating a wide variety of fresh produce and protein because they are good for me,” and if the fallout is that I’m not eating things that my body likes less then isn’t that a fun coincidence.

And I’ve been using an elliptical or moving outside in some way every day. I was pretty active when I was younger and not being able to do things I used to for as long or as intensely as I used to do them is something I’ve had to wrap my head (but not body, except after stretching) around, so mostly I’m trying to enjoy it as much as possible.

All the wedding blogs that mention this sort of thing talk about bootcamps or really intense exercise in general or fasting or dieting or losing dress sizes or whatever else, and I’m not really interested in that for me. I just want my skin to be clear and glowing and to not actively be aware of my digestion and to not feel bloated and to not have a headache, and I feel weird for even talking about it from a food/exercise standpoint but for my body those are all food/exercise related things. I want to give myself the best chance to not notice my body except in ways it feels good, I guess, both the day I get married and also every day before and after.

this was supposed to be a smoothie but my blender is 15 years old sooo

this was supposed to be a smoothie but my blender is 15 years old soooo

18. A weird health thing came up and also gave me Canada feelings.

I went to the doctor for my first physical in a few years (maybe ten years? It has been a while) and anyway a few things came up* and so I spent a few hours wondering whether I would have to delay the move or the wedding to take advantage of Canada’s universal healthcare and then I remembered that Shannon has insurance I will be able to use after we’re married, and then I spent a few minutes wondering whether that means we should be married faster, i.e., the day after whenever I get there, and then I looked at the calendar and realized the timeline is as tight as it can be (and maybe too tight as it is) and I took a really deep breath and anyway it’s probably going to be fine.

But it was one of those moments where it felt a little more like leaving Canada is giving something up, which is not how I feel day to day. I’m gaining proximity to/an involved day-to-day life and future with Shannon. (I struggled a lot with adjectives in front of her name just there but they aren’t really enough. You have to imagine me saying her name like if I had to say only one word forever it would be that one.) My work is coming with me. Most of my friendships are some degree of long distance as it is, so I’ll be further away from some but closer to others. I’ve been living a five-ish hour trip from family for years (though usually by train instead of plane). America is basically Canada but with gun violence and no “u” in “favourite,” right? Except it’s not.

*This isn’t entirely why I’m trying to exercise now but it’s definitely keeping me going. 

19. Waiting and leaving and waiting to leave.

As I’ve mentioned before I think, while I wait for everything to go down I’m staying at my parents’ house. To some degree this involves suppressing my essential self and never talking about my favorite topics of conversation and just embracing mostly being in or near the house all the time, but mostly it involves my family as older wiser humans working through all the same crap we as a family have been bad at forever but with different stakes.

For instance, my family consists of the type of people who get mad at each other instead of sad when something involving a still living and more or less okay person is happening, such as if someone was going to move to a different country forever. This normally extends about 48 hours in advance of the leaving, but in this case extends several weeks. We are all just collectively bad at being kind to each other and it takes a lot of yelling at/with each other to get to a point where we can be kind again and in the meantime things are very tiring. (On the other hand it’s cool to visibly watch myself and my parents do emotional work we probably should have managed years ago, I guess? Better now than never.)


20. Flights are happening!

The first person to book a flight to attend the wedding booked her flight this morning! Even I have not booked my flight for this wedding but she has gambled that the interview will go okay and booked the hell out of her ticket and I love her so much for it. But also it just occurred to me this thing is only about 50 days away?!?

FEELINGS. Are you having some? I sure am. Also to everyone immigrating and/or wedding-ing or with ideas and info about either or sending me emails, I love you a lot and your comments and emails and ASS messages are making my weeks! (If you emailed and I haven’t gotten back to you it’s coming.) Anyway email our team of married/getting married/immigrating/immigrated humans at youneedhelp @ autostraddle dot com or leave a question/feeling in the comments!

Carolyn Yates was formerly the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Her writing has appeared in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles by way of Montreal and Toronto. Find her on twitter or instagram.

Carolyn has written 1011 articles for us.


  1. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, and gosh, I REALLY don’t want to give you something else to worry about, but careful on the medical side — even with health insurance, the costs of some things can snowball here (I’m sure you’ve read a horror story news expose or two on that). Shannon should be able to research coverage on the things you’re worried about in advance, just to make sure you’re good. It’s usually more with chronic/ongoing illnesses and with emergency services that the costs rack up. Shorter-term stuff is usually pretty well covered…

    Welcome to the USA?

    • This is a really good point! I know Shannon’s insurance is “really good” but I’ve only investigated far enough to know it will cover my glasses and am going to go deeper now. (I think this is part of the reason my Canadian doctor is also being really intense about various diagnostic tests right now for even less important issues, because what if e.g., MRIs for the rest of my life will be unaffordable?)

      • To add on, it would be good to specifically check how Shannon’s insurance covers prescription drugs and how much any medication you might need will cost you so you can plan ahead!

        For example, I had insurance in college that charged a $50 co-pay for brand name drugs, even though the generic was not available to me… so I was spending $100 a month and it sucked and I ended up having to get my doctor to change my medication because HOLY CANNOLI $1200/year??!?! If you can plan ahead, you can avoid my pharmacy meltdown experience.

      • I’m going to second the above concern. I work in healthcare, so I’ve seen what people get put through, even with “good” or “really good” insurance, and I just would STRONGLY advise getting everything you can possibly get done in Canada up there. When I had my appendix out (so, routine procedure, no overnight, no complications), my insurance, which was by far the best my hospital had ever seen, STILL kicked me a 9k bill. . .for the anesthesiologist. Just the anesthesiologist.

        I’m doing the reverse of what you are – my partner is a landed resident in BC, and we are orchestrating a complicated song and dance to get me up there on a timeline that allows for me to “finish” my current job. I love Canada for so many reasons beyond the healthcare, but it’s not an insignificant consideration.

  2. okay first of all this is AN AMAZING SERIES, and thank you so much for putting such personal thoughts/issues/experiences out here for the world to see. I’m grateful to be able to share in your experience in even just this tiny way.
    now then…
    –a feminist wedding magazine! how excellent! I hope that it’s exactly like Bitch but for weddings, because that sort of magazine is missing from my life.
    –yay for healthy lifestyle! and it seems like you’re come at it with a mindset really grounded in your/your body’s well-being instead of focusing on weight, or toning a part of the body, etc. this holistic approach seems positive and not mentally-sad-making/all-life-encompassing, which is good given how many other things are on your mind, and I hope it helps your health in the long run!
    –“You have to imagine me saying her name like if I had to say only one word forever it would be that one” is such a beautiful sentence.
    –I know how it feels to be cooped up at home with a family that doesn’t exactly know how to work things out, and I empathize with you totally. I’m glad for you that things are being hashed out but I hope that you still feel like you have your own emotional space.

  3. “America is basically Canada but with gun violence and no “u” in “favourite,” right? Except it’s not.” This sentence feels like a punch in the face to my tiny Canadian-in-America heart. Gah.

  4. I saw the picture of your “smoothie” before I read the caption underneath and thought, “Ooh, a nice sorbet! Looks like watermelon, I wonder if there’s a reci…” and then read the caption, which made me laugh. I literally can’t ever make good smoothies even if a blender is new? How do people smoothie? Do you have to be a naturally smooth person to be able to blend fruits and other goodies in a way that is texturally pleasing? More at 8.

    on the real tho, all my positivity to you! keep pushing, you’ll make it

  5. “You have to imagine me saying her name like if I had to say only one word forever it would be that one.”

    I feel like that right there is proof that everything is going tow work out, that the stars are going to align perfectly, etc. etc. etc.

  6. Is it weird that I found reading this to be both focusing and grounding? I have a long list of items I need to do and prep for new roommates and a wedding that I’ve been procrastinating. Reading this though made me feel like you were talking and i needed to listen, so I actually sat and didn’t think for a few minutes. It was really nice. I suppose TL; DR thanks for your sharing and i am 100% certain everything will work out and be splendid.

  7. Yay on decisions for shoes, hair and makeup.

    Boo for health and family drama. I hope those both feel better very soon.

    Cucumber and watermelon both help with bloating, in my experience. And avoiding salt/eating out. Good luck with the health changes.

  8. I moved from Winnipeg to Spokane on a K-1 Visa last summer. I love this series and it got me teary at work due to Canadian feelings.

    The best part about moving to the US and going through the immigration process is that now we’re together all the time. There is no countdown until we have to say goodbye again, I get to just live my life with her doing domestic things like making supper and taking our dog for a walk.

    But during the Women’s World Cup I would have given anything to be able to watch it on Canadian TV, to feel a part of Team Canada. Or the Pan Am games. I’m going to be homesick during the Olympics.

    Anyways, awesome series, I am excited for all the installments and congratulations, I’m sure you’ll do great at your interview.

    At my port of entry, I went in to give them the big folder for the k-1 and the guy just looked at Lacey and didn’t get it. He was nicer once we explained we were the ones getting married. We were the first same sex couple to go through on a k-1 visa at the Winnipeg airport!

  9. oh the brutal body stuff is so hard :( this is honestly one of the major reasons I can’t imagine myself having a wedding because that means everyone will be looking at me and just the thought of that sends every terrible insecurity I have into overdrive. and that feels so sad but there it is. I just wanted you to know that I relate but you will definitely look amazing and beautiful. and I think focusing on good habits is an excellent way to deal with those feelings. so many congrats!

  10. Needing health insurance is a terrifying prospect and one of the reasons I constantly second-guess myself about considering even temporarily living in the US. I just really love universal healthcare.

  11. So excited for y’all! Just picture Shannon whenever you start to panic and you’ll be fine.

    I love that Crystal’s Working On It has also inspired other humans to up their health/fitness goals in whatever way works for them.

  12. My parents have been bugging me about whether I plan to find a way to stay in the US or not, and I emailed them some correspondence I had with an immigration lawyer friend about a possible option, including costs.

    Dad replies with snide remarks about how I’m such a financial burden because I’ve been freeloading off them and how I failed to get a job because I didn’t study Economics like any sane person would and now I’m expecting them to foot the bill for a visa HAHA AS IF.

    Now the financial burden complaints would have been one thing if my parents are poor or working class and trying to make ends meet. But they are upper-middle-class (or straight up upper-class by Bangladesh standards) who travel on expensive first-class tickets all the time and only ever wear designer gear because that’s the only acceptable attire. And in the meantime I’m scared stiff of being too sick to afford meds in a strange country, while their travels cost more than a month’s living expenses for me.

    I DON’T want to rely on their money, fuck no. But visa bullshit (plus bonus racism and other BS) made it nigh impossible to get hired in Australia, and in the US people would like to give me jobs but aren’t in the position to sponsor me (especially with H1B’s vagaries). The best I can do is freelance. I’ve been trying so much that I’m traumatized. But that doesn’t matter, because I decided to be “artsy” rather than capitalist.

    And now I can’t even afford to leave the country when I have to.

    fuck this immigration bs

  13. (I struggled a lot with adjectives in front of her name just there but they aren’t really enough. You have to imagine me saying her name like if I had to say only one word forever it would be that one.)

    That entire bit about healthcare gave me strong empathy-stress feelings — important health issues came up for me when I was in the US, and even though I was insured it wasn’t enough so I waited till I could return to S’pore — but then this bit turned me into a puddle ugh

  14. I have so many feelings about this. I love weddings and the idea of a feminist wedding magazine is amazing – will have to see if I can get it in the UK (not that I’m getting married or anything!). All your immigration stuff really gets to me as well – I have my fingers crossed for your interview and am so looking forward to the edition when you make it to the US and get to have your wedding!

  15. Carolyn, I love this series. I’m so happy you’re gonna wear the black dress too. I had my tiny 3 people in total wedding abroad in Hawaii and decided to wear white for that but for our family celebration, I went for a vintage style bronze colour and felt way more me. I’m also moving TO Canada is a few months so I feel your migrancy anxiety big time, especially regarding family and work.
    anyway, a tip for the shoes- massage them with Vaseline or coconut oil or some oil based lubricant. It curtails the blistering or cutting that may occur and is also strangely therapeutic- like your kneeding your stress away!

  16. I love this series. Are you gonna be like Laneia and abandon us all with no HOW-THE-WEDDING-WENT post?

    I just wanna swim about in the liquid of the AS writers lives forever. Is that so bad?

  17. Reading parts 1 and 2 that Christine and I might be able to pick up tips. We’re more than nervous…actually im more nervous about what and how to do things. Christine keeps reminding me that its legal now and we shouldnt run into TOO MANY bumps HOPEFULLY. I have a consult with the attorney next week and by August we will be more than started in the process.

    Aaaaahhh so many feeeeelings

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