I was born in Port Huron, Michigan, but soon found myself on the other side of the state in Kentwood. I actually did most of my growing up in Jenison (technically, Georgetown Charter Township), and those of you still living there have my profoundest sympathies.
I was released from my incarceration in Jenison High School in 1991. (If you're wondering if the woman who makes costumes for these guys is in any way related to me, I have only two words for you: "Hi, Mom!") After that, it was on to Peoria, Illinois, where I attended Bradley University. I graduated in 1994. But, having waited too long to start my job search, I was stuck with moving back home. I spent the better part of a year working for a movie theatre and a pizza place before I got my act together, and my applications for grad school in the mail.
I applied to several programs (including Bradley's), but decided on grad school at Michigan State University. An assistantship was part of the deal, and my assignments varied from the ridiculously simple "this is a mouse" class (CPS 100—and I am not joking about the "this is a mouse" part) to the undergraduate computer architecture course. Despite the best efforts of some of my professors, I graduated from MSU, too.
That time, I got my job search started early. I got a job with Creative Solutions Thomson Creative Solutions Thomson Tax and Accounting Professional Software and Services Thomson Reuters. (I will neither confirm nor deny referring to them as "TTA P(i)SS" when they were in their "Thomson Tax and Accounting Professional Software and Services" phase.) I departed from Thomson in 2008 for various reasons, then went to work for Urban Science (don't ask... just don't). I'm now working for a small company called Zero Hour Parts.
While I was at MSU, I got involved in play-by-email RPGs. The GM of one of the games I was in eventually decided that she wanted to meet some of us, and another player volunteered to host the get-together. And so I made my first solo foray into the Great White North--more specifically, I went to Toronto.
Ultimately thanks to that visit, I now have more experience in dealing with US and Canadian government agencies than I'd really like. For example, I know that U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (at the time, the Immigration and Naturalization Service) authorizes the entry of foreign nationals (like those dangerous Canadians) into the US. But USCIS doesn't issue entry visas. (Probably because that would be too easy.) That's the job of the Department of State. (USCIS is part of the Department of Homeland Security.) And you can't get your entry visa at just any old embassy or consulate. In Canada, you have to go to Montréal, since the US Consulate in Montréal is the only one in all of Canada that handles immigration visas.
Then there's the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who don't seem to be able to figure out exactly where you need to go and what you need to do to get a police report. (As we later found out, you only need to mail the form in to RCMP HQ in Ottawa if you have a criminal record for which you've received a pardon; otherwise, the check can be done at any RCMP post.)
And how did I find all of this out? Because I was silly enough to send a Form I-129F ("Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)") to INS on behalf of the person who hosted the meeting in Toronto. After about six months of assorted tribulations (including major RCMP-induced stress: they only got us the result of the police record check one week before the wedding), we got married in March 1999.
And no, we didn't waste much time practising marital arts (misspelling deliberate, there). Our son was born just over a year later, and our daughter in October 2002.