Posts Tagged 'immigration'

The Smitten Immigrant works!

That is: I found myself a first little freelance gig. It’s just for a few days, but hey, no complaints here. My first dollars in actually self-earned money in the US of A. Bring me a white picket fence – I’ve got to keep dreaming ūüėõ

I’ve got plenty of other applications outstanding, but since it seems to be the local custom to only contact people that are being considered for employment, I’m not remotely sure how many of those are even being looked at. I’ll just keep sending out an application a day and see what comes back.

Photo by ste3ve, under a Creative Commons License


mumble, mumble, flying, mumble

Photo by Jason Maggini under a Creative Commons License

In which to say: has it really only been eleven days since my last post?

I owe you a post on quite a few things, but considering the circumstances I may leave them be and make this post a summary of all te things I’d write more about if only… mumble, mumble, flying, mumble.

There was, for instance, the goodbye party, for which many different folks showed up. Two colleagues from the pet shelter – puppy in tow. A random assortment of aunts and uncles. Some former colleagues from the publishing house. Some friends of mine, some friends of Beloved. It was one of those lovely chaotic moments with too many people to really talk to anyone. It was a worthy farewell. And people were lovely. We’d requested no presents and people really worked well with that. We received some small packets of flower seeds, a basket of lovely edible specialties from our home country (which was presented to us by the ever-thoughtful Amanda) and my pet shelter colleagues gave me a small key chain with a picture of one of my favourite dogs.¬†I admit it. I cried.

Another story, certainly post-worthy, is that of the actual departure and journey. In which there were check-in troubles, delayed flights and trying to clear a transfer desk, security, customs and immigration on a less-than-one-hour layover. In the end, we arrived in San Francisco with a 90 minute delay and crashed in an Oakland hotel to lay our jetlagged heads. It’s funny to realize that I changed my legal status to ‘permanent resident of the USA’ ¬†in an Irish airport while frantically fidgeting and hoping not to miss our connecting flight and didn’t even realize it until the next morning.

On a related note: I’ve not been refused entrance, am now a green card holder and am allowed to live here despite my political leanings. Great ūüėÄ

Perhaps I should also mention that somewhere between Rotterdam and New York, sails a ship called the Destiny (how fitting) that holds well over a thousand books, some clothes and all my baby pictures. I hope she’ll come in safely. Nothing but good about our moving company, by the way. They’re not cheap, and I think we’re not their usual kind of customer, but they’re efficient, quick and well-organized. Once our little library hits the New York harbour, I hope to hear when and how we can expect our stuff on the west coast.

Seeing as that time flies when you have fun, but flies even more when you’re jetlagged and intensely busy, I’ll continue blogging about what we’ve been up to post-July 10, leaving the rest of the previous eleven days to my befuddled, time-warped mental morasses.

Busy as bees

Photo by Amsterdamized, under a Creative Commons License

I’d thought up this lovely metaphor to build a post around. About how little bits and pieces of our physical life are spreading, pollinating the households of our friends and acquaintances and bringing new colours into their lives.

Except after having to spend time thinking about whether this-or-that-cable is actually needed to connect some vital instrument to some other important thing or whether it is a remnant of some older technological shizzle already discarded, and contemplating which of the six nail clippers gets to be The Chosen One and go into a box for shipping, metaphors can go stuff themselves where the sun does not shine overly much (except in cases of excessive flatulence, perhaps).

Eh. Let’s not go there.

Five more days until the house is signed over to the new owners. This means four more days until it needs to be empty and clean. In the mean time there’s a family event and a visa interview to attend to. It’s sort of busy.

We’re doing fine. We’ve brought down unpacked inventory to ‘camping in the home’ levels, and have sorted furniture and smaller items into destination piles, with the designated recipients ready to start picking things up. We’re seeding a household for someone who is remigrating from the US, giving art supplies to an artisan woodworking friend, giving shelves and electronics to the friends that recently moved to town and sorted through all the stained, bent, sloshy bottles and rusty tins of strange-smelling liquids that magically assemble in the time you own a home. I’d like to think we’re doing a reasonable job with keeping our footprint small, donating and¬†sharing¬†what we can and¬†only¬†throwing out what is beyond reuse.

There is another way in which we’re making our footprint smaller. By selling the house, we’ll be getting rid of the last debt we still owed. It’ll be a new beginning, one of living smaller, lighter, less tied down.

Pokes and prods

Or: in which the Smitten Immigrant goeth and is doctored at for visa purposes.

I found myself in this quaint room, with yellow vinyl flooring and little flyers about yellow fever and the hepatitis ABC. I was sat between pair of men (one with the striped cane used by legally blind people) speaking a language full of tongue clicks and a mother and a child, speaking (what I think was) Italian. I waited and tried not to look too neurotic.

The younger doctor whisked me away to a tiny room in which the assistent was making loud phone calls. He sat me down in a cramped corner and took some of my  blood. He then sent me back to my chair in the yellow-floored room.

The assistent came in and made me fill out paperwork, while the other waiting folks were having their blood taken or were otherwise out of the waiting room.  I handed her the little booklet that my parents have kept since birth to write in every shot I ever received. She left, I waited.

The younger doctor came in, sent another patient out of the waiting room and interviewed me. Filled out more paperwork and I got back my booklet. He left, I waited.

The older doctor came and took me into the actual examination room for ‘The Physical’. ¬†The following results are now known:

– My blood pressure is fine.

– Not smoking is The Best Thing I Can Do For Myself.

– I am half an inch taller than I thought I was. Ha! (Actually, he measured me as almost a full inch taller, but we took half off because I wore sneakers).

– I weigh about ten pounds less than I thought I did*. Which is like free good feelings, and who doesn’t like those? ¬†(I totally had cookies to celebrate, don’t laugh)

– I’m good for another decade of exposure to¬†diphtheria,¬† tetanus and polio. Always good, I suppose (although I would like to be whiny, because my upper arm is sore from the shot and I couldn’t sleep on my side because of it). Bring on the germs!

– I just do not seem to be the type of person to ‘really’ be unemployed (or so the doctor said when he questioned me fatherly about what I’d studied and what my last job was and what I was working on, since I said I didn’t get paid for anything just now).

Then, I was sent on my way to find the x-ray clinic, where there was more waiting (this time with chatty people who I could understand). Once taken in, I was instructed  to strip my top half and press my bare tits against one end of the x-ray apparatus. I was told to strike a strange pose and take a deep breath.

.. mmkay

Change of pose. Another breath.

Done. Please get dressed before you leave, Smitten Immigrant. People will look at you funny. It’s also chilly out.

Oh, and if I don’t get a call in a week I do not have syphilis or tuberculosis, meaning that no health issue will prevent me from getting a visa.


* I do not own a scale for purposes of weight-neurosis prevention and body acceptance encouragement, meaning that I only step on one very rarely.

Housing matters

Picture by Vanderbolt-0 under a Creative Commons LIcense


Ten days until our lease of an apartment in California starts.

Thirty-something days until we hand over they keys to this house to the buyer we found.

Wait, maybe I should announce that with a bit more fanfare..




We didn’t even make a loss. Sure, alright, we didn’t make much money on it either, but to sell – in this market – in six months, without losing money.. It’s a rarity. People are positively envious.

And we’re mostly happy because it helps us leave everything behind and proceed on the road to owning less, to simplifying and to living life lightly. We start packing up our books today, have some possessions already ‘labeled’ ¬†for their new owners and will otherwise do a lot of donating, giving away and throwing out. It will be glorious. Life will be compacted into a trekking backpack and a ¬†carry-on bag for each of us.

I can start planning for a goodbye party. And I can start fretting about the medical appointment that I have to undergo before I can go to my visa interview on June 25.

Things we do while waiting for the NVC: counting

The NVC has still not invoiced us for the IV-package (the last package of information they need to give us a ‘case complete’ ¬†and send our paperwork to the consulate). I’m getting mightily impatient. Why are they so slow in asking us for money? I’m pretty much waving dollar bills in their face as if they’re a second hand book store, but so far to no avail.

However, there is plenty of other stuff to keep us occupied. We’ve signed up for an ‘Open House Day’ ¬†to get more people to come look at our house. We obtained the board game Pandemic and are totally in love with it. We’ve taken walks and cooked food and did other things of which I will yet write.

And, I’ve been programming. A while ago, I asked Beloved to, as a birthday present, buy me a book that would allow me to learn some basic programming. He gave me this:

I recommend Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner by Michael Dawson wholeheartedly. I mean.. I’m pretty smart. I’m not totally computer illiterate. Sure, I may have an unrealistic amount of Command Line Interface Anxiety*, but I did once, singlehandedly, install Debian on my computer. I even taught Debian which of the three soundcards present in that computer should be used (but don’t ask me why there were three to begin with). Still.. programming is a realm of arcane knowledge that just doesn’t look all that accessible to the average liberal-artsy educated almost-thirty-year-old.

However, I decided that programming would be a good thing to learn and I had an inkling that I might like it. I am, after all, a writer, editor and translator by profession and one programs by means of a language, right? I figured that if I just told myself that translating from human to human is not that far removed from translating from human to computer, this could be a fun experience. So far, it has been. The learning curve in the book is not as steep as other materials I had sampled (and which were all disheartening, really). The approach is lighthearted and fun and practical.

So, currently, I am working ¬†on the tail end of chapter four. At the end of each chapter, there are little challenges to help you be more creative with the things you’ve learned so far. And just now, I managed to complete one of the challenges in less than ten minutes and have it execute perfectly. I didn’t even make a single typo or forgot a single bracket, even though I made a point of typing everything from scratch. I’m proud, mmkay?

The few lines below make a little counter program. It allows the user to indicate an integer at which to start counting and one at which to stop counting. You also indicate how big the count interval has to be. The program then counts for you and shows all the numbers it counts.

# Challenge 1 - Autocount
# Shows learning in chapter 4.
# by Smitten Immigrant, March 12, 2013

# introduce program
print ("\n\nWelcome to AutoCount")

# ask for user input
startnr = int(input ("\n\nType the number at which I start counting:"))
endnr = int(input ("\n\nType the number at which I stop counting:"))
interv = int(input ("\n\nType at what interval I should count:"))

# run the counter and show count
print ("\n\nYour count is:")
for i in range (startnr, endnr, interv):
 print (i, end=",")

# end program
input("\n\nPress the enter key to exit.")

* You see.. Breaking a computer by pointy-clicky navigation is really hard. I don’t even know if I could do it if I tried. The command line interface is a wholly different beastie, though. You can type things there and I have this suspicion those words can break things. So far, not one of my geek-friends has seen fit to disabuse me of the notion.

Love is… translating pay slips

It’s time for us to send in what, in visa terms is the AOS package. Not AOS – Adjustment of Status, but AOS – Affidavit of Support, aslo known as form I-864.

This means giving the immigration authorities an in-depth look at income, assets and tax status of the US citizen. Seeing as that he has worked abroad for a long time now, that means foreign bank accounts, foreign annual statements and foreign pay slips. Not to mention a tax return the size of a decent novel.

All of which needs to be copied at least twice and, whenever not in English, it needs to be translated. So, that’s what I’ve been doing.

Has anyone taken a good look at their pay slip lately? Could you, even in your mother tongue, give a layperson an explanation of what each item means? No? Neither can I. Still, there were six of them that needed to be made understandable to English speakers. I think I did a decent job. Not stellar, because whenever there was an English term on the pay slip, I did not check to see if the cultural or financial referent of said term was fully equivalent, but close enough.

I really hope they’ll let us pay the bill for the Immigrant Visa package soon, too. After that, a ‘Case complete’ ¬†should not be far behind..