Monthly Archives: May 2017

Bureaucracy and the Immigrant (my Beauty and the Beast tale, um flipped?)

I’m flying back to the states for a week to take care of stuff, so I’ve begun the close down of my expat status here in the UAE, so that InshAllah when I return the rest of my closeout will go quickly.  Since, I’ll also be moving to another country in a few months (part of the stuff I have to take care of), I’m also researching expat life in the new country.

It seems running around to different offices, being told different things, and having to get lots and lots of official stamps on official papers is also part of that country’s way of doing things.  Woes me and my never-ending stamp/paper trail.  Too bad this doesn’t tone body parts!

My home country has its fair share of bureaucratic bullpoop (in the spirit of Ramadan I’m trying not to cuss), but me oh my do I miss the efficiency of things like —- gasp!—- American utilities and cable companies.  I know some of you are thinking I’ve lost my mind here, but trust me on this.

It took almost two weeks of running around to get electricity and water turned on in my apartment.  It took only two days to shut it off (I was hoping for more time, but oh well).  That said, I then have to wait two days before receiving a text, so that I can go to the utility office to collect my clearance letter, and, find out how much longer I’ll have to wait to get back my 1,000 dirham (around $227) deposit.  Inshallah maybe I’ll get it that day?

Clearance letter?  Yes, I need to bring my employer proof that my debts are paid, which is fair enough.  I get that.  Why I have to go wait in line to go get it is beyond me.  The bill gets texted each month, why not the letter?

Cable and Internet took 3 months to finally get working right in my apartment.  I kid you not it took less than an hour for them to cut that sucker off.  That said, I will have to wait around two to three days before going to the main office —- God help me! that’s a DMV-like experience —- to possibly collect my clearance letter.  I’m fully expecting several trips before I actually get that letter.

Same company also needs to switch my mobile from post to pre paid.  Now that doesn’t cut off so quickly.  I’ve been told it’ll take up to 72 hours, and in the meantime if I go over my remaining balance of 10 call minutes and under 1 gigabyte of data the switch will be cancelled.  So, for three days — at a time when I’m making calls and using data because my Internet is gone — pretty much don’t use my phone.  Then, I have to do the prepaid thing, then, you know, wait for my clearance letter.  If I weren’t in such a hurry to get these clearance letters before I fly out, I’d space it out better, but it is what it is.

I’m a little confused about the whole closing out my apartment thing, which I will finish when I return.  Apparently, I do something online to get a “your closing out housing has been approved” form, then my landlord needs to print and sign a letter, and then I bring it to my employer with everything else, and then, if I’m lucky, during my first visit, someone there signs and stamps, takes my passport for a few days to close out my work visa, and then I get to, hopefully, chill by the hotel pool paid for my employer while waiting on my passport return (2 or 3 days I’m told).  I’m holding on to the dream of pool time to help get me through this.

Now, let’s add the fact that I’m also in the process of being hired by a government entity for my country (oh the joy of more paperwork), getting my teaching license renewed (which should be easy) and then I have to, you know, go through the legalities of immigration and housing in my new home, with a language I do not yet know (okay I know like 4 words of it).

I’d say send in the booze, but it’s Ramadan, and I’m trying to be good.

I’m atoning for my disorganised, procrastination sins because this is a whole other circle of hell.  I’m not looking forward to all the wasted line time associated with it.  BUT, this is a convoluted Beauty (so much for me being a modest soul) and the Beast story.  Beyond the curse is the magical, almost happily ever after, overseas life.  This too is what I hold on to when being told “Madam, you must go to X, then come back with Y.”  Or, being cussed out in a foreign language, while I sit there with my folder of papers, grinning like the mad hatter, hoping the raised voices are proclaiming progress is about to happen?

So yeah, there’s way more good than bad in this life, but do know if you’re planning on moving, working in another country, there is that never-ending cycle of lines you must stand, cry and sweat in.

Counting my blessings…

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First off Ramadan Kareem to my Muslim friends!  It’s the first day of a holy month of fasting, detoxing your spirit, being charitable and communing with God.  While I may not be Muslim, and I’m not even going to pretend that I’m fasting (I tried, but I just can’t go without water during the day, and let’s face it my cellulite demands to be fed too many times a day), I am grateful for this reminder to remember those who are not as fortunate as me, and to nourish my spiritual self.  And, to thank God for all of it!

It’s been a stressful few weeks, but the last two weeks have reminded me of how incredibly lucky I am.  I am so unbelievably touched by the people I work with.  My students blessed me with heartfelt notes and lovely gifts, all of which I’m taking to my new home.  Local teachers surprised me with heartfelt notes in English (which isn’t easy for them) and beautiful gifts (all of which are coming with me too!), and my fellow expat teachers took me to lunch and made me the most awesome, personal reminders of my time here, and how lucky I was to share it with all of them!  I am beyond words for how much I will miss everyone.  The job has had its horrible days, but oh my goodness the people I’ve met along the way are priceless.

I’m busy closing down my apartment, and it’s bittersweet.  Sometime this week my electricity and Internet will be shut off, and I’ll move in with Shannan until I leave for good.  Week after next I’m flying to Virginia for a few days to get some things done for my new job.  It took a month, but woo hoo I finally got the final word on my housing benefits, which are more than what I expected.  So, yes!   I can afford to take the job.  I cried for like 5 minutes and have been light on my feet ever since I got the “you’ve been approved” email.  I didn’t realise how much it was weighing me down.  I’m still not posting where this job is until I sign the final offer because I so don’t want to jinx it.  But, Joe and I are beyond excited.  I will tell you it’s not in Virginia (that’s just where HR is, and since I have friends and family there it’s the easiest stop for me to get fingerprints, etc. in) and that it’s for a Department of Defense school (holy moly I landed a DOD job — it’s only taken 4 or 5 years to get noticed!) somewhere on our planet.  No Mars schools yet.  As soon as I sign the final paper I’m blasting my news, and then you can all plan to come visit.

And, on that note, I need to get back to packing.  For the folks back home, enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!  I’ve attached a ton of love and gratitude to this post, so that you can all, hopefully, feel the good in this world too.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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While I get to travel the world and do many cool things and meet many cool people, these three are my most amazing accomplishment.  Despite my nagging and my constant “are you sure that’s a good idea?” I am so beyond-words grateful and proud of the souls I am blessed to have shared my womb and life with.

My kids aren’t into the Facebook or blogging thing, so they’re not gonna like me posting more pictures of them (lol nor will they see it — okay Kaylene will).  But screw it.  It’s my day, and I’m so sad to once again be away from them on a holiday.  So, of course, I can’t help but look through old pics and share.

I love my life and all the things that I am doing, but I do so miss being with my children who’ve grown into exactly the kind of adults I’m proud to be around.  They are each their own person, and I am so very proud of the way they choose to navigate their paths.

I’m digging this overseas thing, but me oh my do I long to be with my children.  I promise guys when I come back, Mama time is on!  And when the grand babies make their way into this world (no hurry!), I’ll have so many stories to wow them with — while you guys take your much-needed breaks.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of us!  I guess this also makes it happy kids day because we’re so darned happy to have them (lol even when we’re not)!

Okay, here comes the picture blast (sorry the baby pics are all in Arizona, otherwise I’d totally shame my kiddos with baby butt photos):

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In between the good is a bit of stress

Two Africa trips, Dubai weekends, brunches and parties, etc., etc.  As you all know I’ve been busy living it up.  But, there’s no such thing as all good.  Life likes to keep us in check.

During my first night in Kenya, while I was lounging on a porch swing, I got a message from Joe that Meiko had had her last day.   I knew I wouldn’t see her again when I left last summer, but, of course, I hoped I would.  I poured some gin on the ground and wished her well on her next journey.  I’m still saddened by her passing, and I worry about Badger since he’s a spaz to begin with, and now he’s missing his Meiko.  But he’ll be fine.  Death is part of the deal, and life will go on.

Meiko and bunnymeiko and bunny2

Sleep well my lil buddies.  Bunny is in both pics.  She passed my first year here.  They both lived a long and happy life, and ours had that much more love in it thanks to these two.

Toward the end of the Kenya trip I got an email for an interview for a school I’d love to work at in a location that Joe and I would both love to live at — a too good to be true kind of deal.  I interviewed that same day while surrounded by mangroves, monkeys and the Indian Ocean (definitely on the list as most memorable interview).  I was pretty sure I blew the interview, which of course stressed me out.  I lost too much sleep over what I should have said, but I figured lessons learned from this would better prepare me for the next big interview.  Three weeks later while I was in Egypt, I got the tentative offer for that job.   Africa must have good mojo for me on the job front!

Since it’s through the Department of Defense there’s a lot of paperwork and back ground checking involved, so I’m not jinxing myself by telling you where the job is until I’m much further along in the process (not that I’m expecting the background check to fail!).  That said it’s stressing me the eff out because you see I’m what they call a CONUS hire, which is meant for U.S. stateside folk.  Because I’m currently still working in the UAE I’m not yet back at my permanent residence in the U.S. (although I will be before moving to the new job) and that’s apparently making it unclear on whether or not I will qualify for a housing allowance and all the other financial perks that go with it.  The proper forms verifying my years of work are also not yet in, so the tentative salary is quite a bit lower than where I should be at, which I’ve been assured will change once years of experience have been properly approved.  Long story short, if things don’t work out as they should, I might not be able to afford to take my dream job, which — you guessed it — is stressing me out even more. This isn’t a job that opens up often, so if it doesn’t work out this time, it’s not gonna happen for me next year.   I’m sure it’ll all work out, but that’s not stopping negative me from doubting.  The biggest stresser is not hearing back from my HR rep.  I’m okay with jumping through hoops to get whatever documentation I need to get, but the empty inbox is killing me.  I feel like I’m in a bad dating scene again — why am I not getting return messages?!!!!  I’m so trying to do my part and if a paperwork glitch ruins this all for me I’m going to scream, possibly explode.

Work has also not been a barrel of fun.  We’re in our last days of teaching, so the girls are just a tad chaotic, but they’re not the ones really stressing me out.  It’s other craziness that is just best left unwritten.  This too will all pass soon, and before you know it I’ll be crying because it’s my last day. (lol today it’s tears of joy, but tomorrow it’ll be genuine sad-to-leave tears).

And then there’s the stress of getting rid of my stuff and getting things ready for my next move.  I also have to make sure I have enough saved to live off of until my end-of-service check from here clears, which may not happen until late August.

So, that’s about all that I have to whine about, and trust me I know what’s causing stress in my life isn’t nearly as bad as what other’s face.  Even if, heaven forbid (please don’t let this be so) I can’t afford to take the job, I still get to go home to my family and enjoy some down time.  So, it’s all good (um, ahem!  but powers that be I really, really want to keep the new job). [it’s best to attach as much positive, good vibes as possible]

Today I play with a bunch of friends and fill my belly with too many calories — so my poor jeans will also be stressed the hell out.  And, so will I when I step on the scale, but let’s save that one for another day.

OH and Happy Cinco Di Mayo!  I’m sure my friends back home will be whooping it up with a margarita and some nachos tonight.

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