Another Update from North Country. - Still Waiting to Close on this House.
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posted 21 May 2021 by Krister Axel
Even in the most generous of predications, it would be hard to make the case that I have anything to complain about. So I will attempt to simply explain.

I’ve been waiting for some time to write this post. Something about the tone has never quite worked for me—it’s hard to describe what’s been happening without sounding like a complainer. That has always been some thing that is hard for me to accept. I have a personal thing about never complaining, even though sometimes it’s important to separate personality from circumstance. But even in the most generous of predications, it would be hard to make the case that I have anything to complain about. So I will attempt to simply explain.

The last six months have been a whirlwind. We sold our house, we packed up all our stuff, we spent a few months in a rental cottage on the Oregon coast, and we’ve been here in New York for almost 2 months now. Although that experience at times was difficult, and it certainly is not a simple thing to move across the country with two young children and a mother-in-law, it is easy to repackage the entire process as a form of privilege. Many families, if not most, might find it difficult to just pack up and switch coasts, on something of a whim. I have to give my wife enormous credit for taking on this challenge with me and doing such a great job with it. Our kids have never been happier, they love the adventure, and as a family we spend all of our time together. I know for many this pandemic has been quite a burden, but in our case it seems to have been mostly a blessing. We had a school lined up in Oregon for my daughter, but that soon became very complicated and allowed us to opt instead for homeschooling, which in turn made it possible to consider a move like this. And now we are here in Ogdensburg, New York.

It may seem a bit naïve to think that 4 to 6 weeks was enough time to shop around, find a house, purchase it and close, but that was the original idea. The good news is that we found a truly stunning house at a price that we can afford, but as it turns out closing on this property has been complicated. Because we don’t have anywhere else to stay, every week that goes by costs us a lot of money in terms of hotels and rentals, so that adds to a sense of uncertainty that is already a bit difficult. We just want to move in and start our new life, and we still are not exactly sure when that will be. But it also seems pretty clear that we will close eventually, so for the moment we are just enjoying the late Spring and doing what we can to stay afloat. Every day I fall a little bit more in love with the Saint Lawrence River, there is just something truly beautiful and peaceful about building an existence here in North Country, and I look forward to settling in more and more.

I’ve had a lot of questions from friends about what brought us here in the first place. Put simply, we just wanted to be as close to Canada as possible and find a property on the river. I have always wanted my kids to have the opportunity to speak French, just like I did, and after years of trying to make the case for a move to Europe, Ontario and Quebec became the compromise. Montreal is a beautiful city, but not quite as affordable as we would like, and on top of that the added expectation of bilingualism felt a bit daunting to my wife, and I certainly can’t blame her. I speak really good French and still feel self-conscious about it, so I can barely imagine what it feels like as an adult beginner to this complex and nuanced language. Once we had settled on the region as a good place for us to go, and the recent wildfires in southern Oregon certainly helped to motivate us, I looked around for academic opportunities that could serve as a segue into Canadian residency and even citizenship. That is how I found Algonquin College, I sent in the application, applied for the work visa, and it was all approved earlier this year. So it begins: I will spend one year studying computer science, and for the second year as part of the co-op program I will be applying to local Ontario businesses and hoping to connect with someone who can use my expertise. The way I see it, I have a number of things going for me. I don’t need a particularly high salary, I already speak fluent French, and I already have skills in web software and CMS development that go far beyond what I will learn in the three semesters of preparation. After one year of that, in 2023 I will be able to apply for what is called a post-graduation work permit, which will allow me to work for two more years. From there it is a short jump to permanent residency, and after that, citizenship.

Although entering into a diploma-level course in computer science after already working for 20 years in that space does allow me to have a very different perspective as compared to many of the entry level students that I have as cohorts, it certainly does not absolve me from doing the work. There’s still a lot of reading that I have to do, I still have quizzes and workshops and labs and exercises that need to be submitted, so I’m doing my best to adjust to life as a student. Certainly the college experience has shifted considerably from my years as a Bachelor of Arts student in the mid 90s. What’s interesting about that is when coronavirus hit in the spring of last year, I really had no idea what my future would hold. I was working from the assumption that we would just dig down and stay in Southern Oregon and for that reason I took on some new projects. The Chillfiltr Review, for example, was conceived in that way, along with the new podcast, the Song Contest, and the internet radio channel, so now barely a year later I do wish I still had time to move all these projects forward consistently. But this blog has always been a labor of love, and after three years of more or less full-time work for no pay, it should surprise no one that for the moment other things will have to take precedence. I will still be writing, just less so; nothing will be canceled, but progress will be made more slowly. I also wonder if in subsequent semesters I will be able to use this blog as part of a project for one of my software development courses. At the moment I am learning about Java, but I can imagine that PHP and CSS and JavaScript will soon be on the horizon.

It’s been quite a ride, and although things will be slowing down momentarily, I have not wavered in any way in terms of my long-term commitment to this blog, the radio channel, and the long-term vision for chillfiltr.com. If you are reading this and have sent me a message and are waiting for a reply, please accept my apologies. There are days where I get close to 100 emails, and it’s just not feasible for me to respond to everyone directly at this point in time. If you haven’t heard back from me within a week or two, feel free to ping me again, and it’s always best to use the contact form, because then I can go back and check the history there instead of searching through my bloated email inbox. I remember fondly the last time I had reached inbox zero, that was November of last year and I am not sure that will happen again anytime soon.

I also hope this message serves as some sort of explanation for what’s been going on recently. Because I still don’t have an office or even a larger screen to work with beyond my little 14-inch MacBook Air, I just don’t have the bandwidth that I did back in Oregon, so for the moment that’s just the way it has to be.

Thanks for your understanding, and I will update again when we finally close on this beautiful house. A note to artists and publicist: I am not writing much in terms of features right now, but if you include a download link for any new songs you are working with, if I like it I can put it up on our Internet radio channel which reports through SOCAN. At the moment that’s the best way to get coverage, and our listenership has been increasing steadily over the last few months.

About the Author

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Krister Bjornson Axel

Ogdensburg, New York

Paris, France. Madison, Wisconsin. Los Angeles. Ashland, Oregon. Ottawa. I write music, I write about music, and I write code. See also: photography, prose, podcasting. I have 1 gorgeous wife, 2 amazing kids, and many interests.


Recent Awards: 2020 ND (Photo) Honorable Mention, 2020 Accenti Writing Contest Finalist