Saturday, August 15, 2009

An open book

Somehow when we were walking across the beach to go home after snorkeling, I ended up caked with sand while Andrew remained virtually sand-free. I didn't want to track all that sand into the condo, so when we got there I told Andrew to go on in and I'd go around to the backyard, stomp in the grass, and wait for him to bring a pitcher of water to dump on my legs.

I stood in the backyard waiting for someone to come out and greet me. Usually Rachel is a bit of a Mommy's Girl and will breeze by Andrew to get to me so I was expecting her to at least open the curtain of the sliding door to wave at me. She didn't, at least not for a while.

After a few minutes of standing there, the curtains flew open and my mom and Rachel rushed out onto the patio, a little too happy to see me.

Turns out, Andrew had walked into the house as solemn as could be.

"Where's Nancy?" my mom asked.

"Oh," he said in a daze, "We lost her out on the reef. We searched and searched but couldn't find her anywhere; we had to turn back."

Apparently he did such a good job of acting that my mom actually believed him! I find this amazing because Andrew is as good as an open book to me. He has many talents, but lying? That's not one of them.

Last night my mom sent me an email telling me that McGill has a Middle East Studies PhD program; actually she said they had an Islamic Studies program, but Andrew's more interested in Middle East History. They have a history program with an option to emphasize in Middle East studies. I instantly got all excited and started blabbering on and on about how cool Montreal would be.

"Oh, yeah," Andrew placated me, "We can apply there, too. Umm...hmmm, yeah, sure."

"You aren't excited about this," I accused him.

"No, no, I am," he insisted halfheartedly and about as unenthusiastically as one can get.

"If you don't want to apply there, you don't have to," I told him, "I can see you're not excited about this option."

"I am, I am. We'll put it on the list."

I dropped the topic since I could tell he really wasn't interested. He's not good at hiding his emotions. At all.

About half an hour after I dropped it, Andrew exclaimed, "Nancy! McGill is like the #1 school in Canada for medical and graduate degrees!"

"Yeah," I shrugged. He'd killed my enthusiasm earlier.

"Well, you didn't tell me that!! I thought it was a rent-a-degree school or something..."

"No, no, it's a good school," I said.

"Well, I didn't know that!! It looks awesome!"

So we started researching the possibility of going to McGill, looking at professors, financial aid opportunities, housing, and the details of getting citizenship arranged for our girls (since I slacked off with Rachel and haven't done that yet we figure we'll just do them both at the same time here).

"Montreal is on an island," I mentioned off-hand.

"I love islands!" Andrew yelped, almost jumping out of his seat.

"Are you making fun of me, or...?" I checked.

"No, I really love islands. That's why I'm so excited Miriam's going to be born on an island! Living on an island would be awesome!"

See what I mean about how he really can't hide his emotions? Very little guess work with this one. Now all he's been worried about is how cold Canada is. I made the mistake of taking him to visit my sister in November a few years ago and it kind of shocked him. He thinks New York will be warmer than Quebec simply because New York is Stateside.

So I set out to show him that their weather is almost exactly the same using a cool computational engine called WolframAlpha. At first I failed completely because I accidentally compared Ithaca, GREECE, to Montreal, which made Ithaca seem a lot more mild than Montreal since we were comparing Mediterranean weather to hemiboreal weather. When I corrected that, though, it was relatively easy to convince Andrew that Ithaca and Montreal basically share weather patterns the whole year long.

And when I showed him that -20 only popped up on the screen when we added in Calgary, he was even more happy...although with the windchill factor in the East I hear things feel a lot colder than they actually are.

Our list of first-choice schools, in case you are wondering, includes:
  1. McGill
  2. Cornell
  3. NYU
Our second-choice schools are:
  1. UCLA
  2. ASU
  3. Arkansas
Now we just have to actually apply to these places. I have a feeling that's going to take a while...


  1. Just keeping it real here...I'd say McGill (the free health care would be nice for the girls :) No really where ever you go really look into cost of living. It is so important when you are a grad student with a family. They figure the money for aid and RAships often using single students as the guide. I can't tell you how often I thank heaven for our $509 rent for a three bedroom townhouse w/ washer and dryer :)

  2. That's a big reason I don't want to go to NYU or Columbia...housing is SO expensive.

    Housing in Montreal can actually be quite reasonable. I've been looking and have found several 3 bedroom apartments for around 5-6 hundred dollars. You just have to look a little farther from downtown, but there's a metro so it's not a big deal to be too far away.

    Housing in Ithaca is more reasonable than Manhatten as well. I think housing anywhere is more reasonable than in Manhatten.