Archive for the 'My Inner Feminist' Category

The Smitten Entrepreneur

Picture by pumpkincat210 under a Creative Commons License.

By which I mean to say: I am now self-employed. Sole proprietor of my business. Embracing the American spirit of small business ownership and all that. Pioneering. Frontier mentality. *cough* Sorry ūüėõ

Sure, it doesn’t fully solve the immediate lack of forty hours of revenue generating activities per week, but it makes me flexible, allowing me to jump on Craigslist gigs, work with my old employer and do it all within the letter of the law. Also: tax deductions. Useful in case I end up making money. Which I already did, a little, with the freelance work I talked about in earlier posts, but I needed a way to justify those funds to Uncle Sam’s tax folks. So here we are…

I built myself a website, had business cards printed and obtained a ‘home occupation permit’ (to allow me working from home) and a business license. Uhuh! I’m the real deal. Even snagged a signature from a big, burly fireman to certify that there are smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher. I’ve been networking with folks and am hoping to reel in some more assignments soon.

But Smitten Immigrant, what is it you actually do? 

Right.. I should probably mention that. The job title I invented for myself is ‘language professional’. Which means I offer services as an editor, proofreader, translator (between my native language and English) and (copy) writer. Stuff like doing linguistic quality assurance for software translations, translating user interface text, but also more traditional red pen circling of errant commas, missing capitals and ambiguous phrasing. ¬†Possibly telling you to tone down the enthusiastic superlative language of your marketing pitch because in the ‘Old Country’ ¬†your exuberance just gives cause for cynicism.

Hey, hey can we see? Show us!

Err.. no. Well. Not on here. I have considered connecting this blog to my website, since it is a large collection of my personal language wrangling that people may like to see, but I have decided against it. This is my personal blog, where I do not want to proofread what I write. I don’t want to think about the commercial viability of my posts, nor wonder about whether things may be too personal for possible clients to read.

I’m not under the illusion that a dedicated sleuther would be unable to find both my website and this blog and connect the dots. It’s not a matter of deep importance that the two never be connected. But I don’t want to make this little corner of the web a marketing instrument, which is what would almost inevitably happen if I added it to my portfolio. I’m not interested in the ‘brand’ ¬†Smitten Immigrant. I don’t plan to become a marketing guru or even a professional blogger on a personal title (although I am not averse to writing blog posts for payment).

The big thing that looking at a wide variety of language jobs has taught me, is that I want to write your text for you, or my text for me, but not the other way around. I don’t know if that makes sense to people whose field of work is not closely related to the realms of marketing and or social media, but it makes sense to me. I’m a language professional, not an internet personality. I love my work because a good writer (and even more so a good editor and most so a good translator) is invisible. It’s not me you should want, it’s the words I stick together.

Imagine you would ask me to write something. A job application for instance, which needs a good mix of personal showcasing and high quality writing. As your hired wordsmith, I need to write you. Because they need to hire you (not me). And so I need to ‘be’ you, adding nothing but the linguistic quality that makes those HR people sigh with relief because that letter is such an effortless read.

Are you averse to accepting work form people who have found this blog?

Not at all. If you see me play with words ¬†(which is really what I do here, at The Smitten Immigrant) and you like it, superfluous commas and all, then feel free to hit me up and ask me for my professional details. I’ll happily share. I just don’t want to encourage the process the other way around.

Names and IDs and little bits of sexism

Photo by Brian Suda, under a Creative Commons License

My driver’s license was about to expire. And my passport was only valid for a few more months – not long enough to be able to get it stamped with a visa.

And so I went off to city hall to get that stuff renewed. Beloved came with, also desiring a new driver’s license. When I signed, gave finger prints and handed over a passport photo, the clerk asked me if I wanted my partner’s name added onto my new license and passport. ¬†This may need some culturally oriented explaining.

I decided that, yes, please, I’d like my partner’s name in my passport on the line below my own name: the line ¬†for ‘spouse’. Mostly to have a little visual proof for those not accustomed with people keeping their names, but also because of the fun tickly sensation of, you know, having found my Favourite Human and being able to have this verified by Powers That Be. (I acknowledge that this is a form of privilege that many people do not have, by the way.)

Much to my chagrin no one gave Beloved the option. So now I have two official documents listing Beloved as my spouse and he has two new documents that totally fail to acknowledge my¬†existence. ¬†Hello?! I’m here! I married this one! I know he has a penis, but why does that imply that he doesn’t need _my_ name all up in his business? Hmm?

*grumble*

Bad feminist! Bad!

Which is to say: I gave ‘notice’ at my job. I resigned. I am relieved and terrified at the same time.

I gave notice two months in advance, because I’m a nice woman who does not want to inconvenience her employer too much¬† (or perhaps she’s simply very much afraid of displeasing anyone, ever). January 1st 2013 will be my first day of not having a full-time activity since the day I started university as a lowly freshman. I will also give up financial independence (For a while, okay? Temporarily! Only until we’ve moved. Only because when Beloved starts studying I get to be breadwinner for a few years. Only because I’ll make up for it!). I’m looking at a time frame of three to seven months of no-job, depending on how everything goes.

Queue freak-out. Do not want. No like! Aaaargh. *panicked arm flailingl

However. Let’s look past all my fears of immediately losing all justification for my existence by changing my employment status (it is hopefully obvious I don’t apply that standard to other people who are un(der)employed, so I need to learn to cut myself some slack).

Maybe I should acknowledge that one can’t simply sell a house, move to another continent, obtain visas and passports and keep up with the many other, smaller responsibilities of life as a grown-up when there’s only two of you and the both of you are eaten alive by work, work and more work on top of a nice portion of work. Or maybe other people can do so, but we don’t have to, which is a form of privilege. Which I should also acknowledge, but perhaps not feel so incredibly terrible about that I refuse to use it.

What good _is_ privilege if you feel too guilty to use it? How about if you have privilege and use it to make other people’s lives better along with your own? If there are people out there for whose physical, immediate survival it is necessary that they spend all their resources on themselves, isn’t it sort of a duty for those who have resources to spare that they use some of them to make the planet a nicer place?

The inner feminist insists I only twist things that way to get out of the feelings of guilt.

Maybe the inner feminist should (kindly, consensually) go fuck herself, though.

I get to be happy. I should find another way than a pay check to find value in myself.  I appreciate non-financial contributions from everyone else, so I should learn to appreciate them from me. As a starting point, below is a list of ambitions for when I have free time:
– fix up the house to make it sell better (to be done in time off while still employed)

– deal with realtor

– find good homes for all the stuff we’re not bringing to the US

– handle USCIS / consular business

– arrange the international move

-arrange travel (if we have time to travel)

– keep house (save money by no longer having a cleaner)

– Cook All The Things (bento box lunches, maybe?)

– finish working through the book ‘Python Programming for the absolute beginner’ to improve future employability

– improve understanding of math

– volunteer at pet shelter (and maybe see if we can do short-term fostering!)

– volunteer at the food bank my mom has set up

– find cool freelance assignments (and enhance resume)

– find a form of enjoyable exercise

– see some friends
On another note: I have so far not had a single negative response from anyone who heard of my decision to quit. Beloved is pretty much the person who proposed it and argued against all my doubts. And everyone else so far has been telling me that they think it is an awesome idea. Even at work they’ve all been like :”Well, it’s too bad for us, but it makes total sense for you and we think you’re smart to do it.”
Can I say that I am very¬† suspicious of the total lack of opposition? I mean.. was I that obviously miserable? Does no one worry about me finding another job? Does no one feel anger-on-principle that once again a (sort of) female-identified person puts on an apron? Does nobody think I’m an idiot? Has nobody yet thought: “Oh, see? There she goes.. Not even married for a year and she strong-arms that poor guy into letting her quit working!”?

Anybody need some guilt? I’ll ship it to you for free!

The wife-stereotype: a colleague

Last week Beloved went off to another country for work related reasons.

When the weekend approached, I packed the unpaid project I am currently working on, some underwear and my toothbrush, went to sleep and left for work extra early the next day. A good nine hours later I wrapped up the work week and began the race to the airport  to catch a plane to where my husband happened to be.

The next morning I woke up early to put a few good hours of work into the  project I had brought. Beloved was dropped off at the hotel by a colleague around lunch time.

The following conversation was relayed to me:

C(olleague): “Hey, is it okay if I drop you off early? My holiday starts today and I don’t feel like working past noon.”

B(eloved): “Sure. Let me call my wife though. She came to join me for he weekend and she probably does not expect me this early.”

C: “Oh. She’s spending your money, huh..”

B: “…”

I get it, C. You’re a white man in a first world country. You have a well-paid job. You work in a male-dominated industry and (in this part of the world) in a white-male-dominated industry. Most of the people who are your colleagues follow the traditional, hetero-normative, baby-having pattern. You live in an area of the world and in a socio-economic class in which two incomes are not a necessity.

I understand that it is¬† likely that these types of remarks have previously worked well if you wanted to bond with a (white, male, supposedly heterosexual) colleague of yours. Nothing unites people more than a common enemy or, (in a part of the world in which war doesn’t really happen anymore) a communal subject to whine about.

But you’re a sexist douche canoe. And would have much appreciated meeting you so that I could have told you this to your face.

One less thing

..to worry about. I won’t have to spend any more time having to avoid explanations for working some unusual hours¬† to schedule around job interviews. No more glossing over why I needed to work from home or needed to switch some work days around. Not having to walk somewhere out of earshot of my colleagues when the recruiter calls. No longer crossing my fingers when I answer my current colleagues when they ask ‘when are you emigrating again?’. Not starting at a new company knowing I already have a deadline for when I have to leave. Not having to not-tell-all-the-truth when someone asks about my ambitions. Not having to think about what this may mean for my resume and my career.

It means I did not get the job I was interviewing for. Obviously, I would have loved it if I got the job, but now that I know I don’t get it (after four interviews, an assessment and a resume/ cover letter combo, so I’m consoling myself with having been at least a serious candidate), I am also a little relieved.

Still, Google, I think we would’ve gotten along very well, you and I.

Tomorrow :)

Tomorrow Beloved and I will have a semi-versary. As in, we’ll be married for six months. Pretty cool, eh?

It went fast, and we’ve both kicked ass the whole time. I could not have asked for a better human to be my team mate.

Did I ever tell you about our food initiative? It started on March 15 (you know, the Ides of March, and all) and¬† since that date we both cut our greatest vices from our diet. We also started having low carb dinners (while keeping relatively carby breakfasts and lunches). Seeing as that we’re no longer eating fried foods (his vice)¬† or cookies and chocolate (my vice) and have exchanged piles of pasta and white rice for spinach, lettuce, lentils and other goodness, I can say we’re objectively healthier. The end date on the ‘trial period’ for this (rather big) diet change is June 15, but my guess is that we’ll try to keep it up. Although I do miss lasagna. Maybe I could make some to have for lunch on the weekend?

I also went back to riding our spinning bike twice a week, without Beloved having to tell me to do so. Not that I suddenly like exercising (I don’t), but I hope it’ll help me keep my lungs in somewhat adequate shape for when I want to go to the mountains (seriously, I’m an asthmatic living at sea level. Put me at 10.000 feet and I basically suffocate just from standing still).

With regards to other ass-kicking:

Three weeks from now, we’ll have our final, final wedding celebration. This weekend, we round up all the non-RSVP-ers and harass them for an answer ūüôā

Beloved has been doing a lot of math in preparation for the GRE. I’m sure he’ll do really, really well.

We’ve talked to a tax specialist who has prepared our tax returns, for here and for the US (not that I file US taxes, but Beloved now has to file as ‘married, filing separate’ which means we have to disclose everything, down to the colour of our underwear to the IRS, basically).

Last but not least: I’m in the middle of an interview process. For a new job. A really awesome job at, like, THE company that everyone would want to work for. I promise to tell you more once I know whether I get the job or not. For now I’ll let you know that¬† am exhilarated as well as a nervous. This process is also the main reason that I’ve been so quiet. It is on my mind most of the time, but it just seemed to early to mention it.

Also, this is me, anxiously awaiting results from interviews, answers to date requests and replies to petitions for naturalizations.

Picture available under CC license, courtesy of raindog (Jim Crossley).

When the going gets tough, I want an apron

No seriously. If I had a bad day at work, I fantasize about baking. About lovingly folding shirts. Selecting ties. A tough week makes me think in detail about weeks’ worth of carefully laid out bento boxes my Beloved can bring to the office/ university library/ wherever he goes to bring home the Tofurkey.

It’s a form of escapism that is both hilarious (to me) and surreal (also: to me). I’m not sure if I also should call these escapist fantasies enlightening. They may be, but I don’t know what the message is. Because I’m pretty sure I’d get a serious case of cabin fever if I were to be a stay-at-home-wife. Or even a part-time-jobby-job-volunteer-75%-housework-wife. I have never been happier than now, in a set-up where I work a full-time-equivalent job which allows me to be financially independent and have a career, where Beloved has one too (but with different hours) and whatever is not done by our cleaning lady (she rocks!) we divide up by level of anal-retentiveness.

So, why the fantasies? I don’t much like housekeeping (although cooking, baking and laundry folding are by far my favourite endeavours in that arena), but I think it provides me with a sense of security. Something that says “Well, at least you can do that” when I’m am staring down the three most probably US-move-locations (one on the west coast, one on the east coast and one pretty much in the middle) and I do not see a strategy to start planning for what happens when I get there.

Really, it’s the thing that most exhilarates and terrifies me about this whole move to another continent: What Will I Do When I Am There? I’ve managed to conjure up scenarios from part-time remote employment at my current employer with freelancing and volunteering (at a pet shelter with cool dogs) on the side to complete SAHW scenarios to high pressure careers in demanding industries in which maybe Beloved gets to follow me around instead of the opposite.

The scenario I like best is that of the unattached-freelancers-with-nomadic-lifestyle. I keep translating, writing and editing, and Beloved goes from conference to panel to think tank and me, I come with, doing my work wherever and meeting everyone and seeing everything. Due to it’s absolute unplannability, though, it’s not a good fantasy scenario if the inner list maker decides something needs to be planned and scheduled and listed and flowcharted.

Hence my desire for neatly boxed up lentil stew with flowers made of naan-bread, hummus with a sun made out of slices of red and yellow pepper and whole-wheat pasta covered with stars of fresh tomatoes, and mozzarella and a basilicum moon.