25 July, 2016

Last Week (end)'s Revelations

We have a move-out date! That is to say, we have decided to write September 30 as our final day, on our lease-breaking documentation. They need to know two months in advance, and we won't have a precise date that soon, so opted to round to the nearest month. 

Since my last post...

We figured out (sort of) how our finances will work in China
I got rid of my camping equipment
More piles of books sorted for various people
One box of men's clothes donated 
One box of women's clothes ready for donation  
I've started mental lists of things "to take", "to store until we return", and "to get rid of". This week, I want to post written versions on the walls in our hallway, that we can add to or edit.
 
 I picked up a Mandarin phrase book. I know small chunks of Mandarin from living in Taiwan during high school, but can't remember a lot. So my goal is to have key phrases down pat before we get to Beijing. That's my latest book, like I need a new one!

As I sort through my books and DVDs - deciding which few to keep, I was about to put in the "donate" box Amy Tan's "Joy Luck Club" then realized there's a lot about Chinese culture there - maybe I should keep it! ...Or give it to a friend here in the States to understand where we're going. I have my dad's old copy of "Tai-Pan" too, and went through the same thought process. I'm still undecided.

I feel relatively calm about the move consciously, but everything else in the world sometimes gets me down. So I'm working on my positive attitude. I've unfollowed facebook friends who post too much negativity - political, news, personal - and I'm working on having a smiling "resting face" so I appear pleasant. Smiling on the outside leads to smiling on the inside. Here's hoping!

The weekend was productive. We had supper with my parents on Friday. It was an enjoyable, un-argumentative evening! Then on Saturday did errand-y things - oil change, car wash, groceries - and we started taking the nails out of the walls from picturesFound a new Mexican restaurant too. With rather darker-themed seating than I usually see!
Not just the cock-fight, but there's a little girl watching!


To relax, last night we watched the movie "Trumbo" starring Bryan Cranston (of Breaking Bad and Malcolm In The Middle fame). Cranston's involvement was all I knew about it going in, but I recognized a good chunk of the cast. Good movie about the days of communism fear-mongering in the US. Ironic to watch that as I prep to move STRAIGHT INTO a communist country! (or isn't it ironic?) 

I was also told by my boss that I can keep working here as long as I need to. They are actively seeking my replacement, so that I can help train her. Now I know that even if they hire her tomorrow, I can stay on, and get some of the "ongoing" projects completed.

Looking Forward - My sister comes this weekend to take away more furniture - some just for safe-keeping. Among the items she requested is my grandfather's old WWII army trunk. I've been using it as a cool-looking coffee table, and that's what she'll do, too. Still has papers, photos, letters, etc. inside, but she can hold onto those!

Maybe we can make a dent in my liquor cabinet while she's over.

19 July, 2016

Funny Ol' Thing, Life!

Life is a funny ol' thing, as I've heard numerous characters say in (probably mostly British) books and TV shows. I have learned from some of the newer bloggers I read (as in, I'm new to them, they are not new to blogging), the value of doing a recap periodically. I can't say I have enough to write about every week, but for now, I'm going to try something similar, if for no other reason than to keep this outrageous move in perspective. (I say "outrageous" as in, "larger than life" - What other word would work? Seriously, I'm interested. Please comment.)

Oddly enough My Mind has been dwelling more on all the violence in the world than on the events in my own life. Enough. I can't control what others do. I can pray, and I can try to be a little sweeter, a little kinder, a little more compassionate, to brighten my own corner of the world. I need to be present in my present.

I'm still Reading Christopher Moore's Sacre Bleu which my sister gave me for Christmas a couple years ago. We both enjoy his books, and she keeps saying how much she loved this one. It was hard for me to get into, but I only have about a quarter of it left. Maybe I'm just not into the visual arts enough: It begins with Van Gogh's death (not a spoiler, that's on the back cover and in the first few pages) and involves a bunch of artists from that period in France. But I WILL finish it.

I'm also trying to catch up on my Elle magazines so I can leave them with my stepdaughter. Of fashion magazines, I prefer this one, to stay up-to-date on makeup trends, and she likes the strong female influence through all the articles. 

Since I'm trying to finish my reading, I'm not Watching a lot of TV these days. When we finished up Orange Is The New Black this past weekend, I declined to begin a new Netflix series. I'm watching a couple of other shows that I'd like to wrap up before the move, and meanwhile, I'm reading more.

We did go see Ghostbusters this weekend. We both thoroughly enjoyed it. I highly recommend it.
The crazy blonde one is my favorite. She's nuts.


I also realized over the weekend that we will need to have a big ol' party sometime before we leave, Drinking up the liquor in the cabinet! I don't do mixed drinks a lot - gin & tonic in the summer, maybe a 7&7 occasionally - but I bake fruitcakes in the winter, so I have over half a bottle of spiced rum, a small half-full bottle of Bacardi, Grand Marnier, some tequila leftover from margaritas with my sister, and half a bottle of vodka from a distillery we toured down south! Maybe we can have a party in September. 
Not this, exactly, but kinda similar!

Looking Forward - I'm still awaiting the "all clear" on our background checks. Meanwhile, we move forward - iron out what we need to do to break our lease, tackle legal matters, pack and sort books, china, and donation items. We may even write a will! I'm trying to take advantage of all the free services that come with my current benefits plan, before we leave the country.

I guess it was a pretty busy week, after all. We'll see about next week!

14 July, 2016

The End Game

Have you ever read Milton's Paradise Lost? I think it's in there that time is described as a sort of spiral, with God in the middle, seeing everything at the same time.

Right now, my primary mental exercise is reminding myself that God sees the end-game. I'm stuck in the waiting room of life - we've all been there at different times, waiting on someone else's action to determine our next steps. Time is my primary stressor, so this situation is difficult.

BUT - it will pass. 
It may even pass tomorrow! 
Maybe next week! 
God can see the time, and may even be laughing at me for being impatient.

Our hold-up is the background checks we ran on the weekend, and we just have no guarantee of a time-frame for when we'll get our results, so it's like driving with no map.

Not that I'm completely stalled. We actually have friends and relatives coming over each of the next three weekends to collect stuff; I have a bag of books in my car to deliver to a couple friends; and I just sold all my camping gear! We set a date for a sort of "good-bye" dinner with friends we don't see very often, and I'm working in at least one "good-bye" lunch each week.

I've just stopped looking at the end-game. God can keep an eye on it for me. Where I used to look up ticket prices several times a week for comparison, I simply don't. I don't talk about our plans as much either, and haven't mentioned it on facebook in days.

This will happen.
Everything will come together.
I can only control what I can actually do - get rid of stuff. Gather information about finances and business... without providing dates. Set up get-togethers.

Time? I can't control that. 

I apologize for the rant - just had to put  it out there.

12 July, 2016

The Agony and the Ecstasy



This weekend was rough. There was sweat; there were tears…Fortunately, no blood.
 
As you know by now, we are planning a move to China this fall. This is different from moving across country in many ways. Not only are we getting rid of almost everything except clothing, the paperwork is intense. Before I buy our tickets to Beijing, I am waiting for us to have our work visas in-hand. Before we can get our work visas, we need approval from the Chinese government. Before we get the government approval, we need our Chinese employers to officially offer the jobs, and before they can officially do that, they need our U.S. criminal background check.

This weekend, we went back to Brett’s hometown to get the background check, only to be told by the person doing it that it may take 4-6 weeks! She followed that with, “It doesn’t give a time on the form, so I could be wrong, but…” 

Honestly, on our end, things have been moving along so smoothly that it might have been possible to move in mid-September. If we don’t get U.S. approval until August, and then still have to go through the school in Beijing, the government in Beijing, and the Chinese embassy in the US, we may not even have visas until the end of September!
That is, in my mind, the worst-case scenario.

Even assuming we were misinformed about the timing of the background check, another wrench was thrown into the works by our residence development:

Obviously, when you break a lease, there is a penalty to be paid. This is another hiccup that was expected, but we have to look at ways to get them to reduce the penalty, find ways to work with them, or pay later… Right now it’s just a headache, BUT we need to give them an exit date 2 months in advance, which may now be impossible. Hopefully they will be okay with an approximation.

So really, all the “agonies” just mean questions need to be answered, and of course, paperwork waited for.

The Ecstasy part is that we accomplished a lot:
  1. Background checks, of course
  2. Collecting work references
  3. Dropped off books with three different people
  4. Delivered our Ball Python to his new owner
  5. Donated all of our board games
  6. Increased our online DVD library

AND we set up with another friend to come out this coming weekend with her van to take away some more furniture!

Our apartment is going to be empty and we won’t even know when we’re leaving.

The bedroom already echoes.

07 July, 2016

What Dreams May Come...

 
Image from the 1998 movie "What Dreams May Come"

I dreamed last night that I was being followed by ghost people. They looked like people, but dream-me knew they were not alive.

Isa-Lee Wolf of A Bit To Read was posting about bad dreams and it came back to me. (Thanks for the inspiration, I-L!)

Truthfully, the theme of being chased is extremely common in my bad dreams. I do not like it. I'm always hiding. I don't want to be found out. (anonymous blog, much?) But I haven't had one of these in quite a long time. I've had disturbing dreams for the last week or so, which is, coincidentally, as long as Brett has been working nights. I go to bed early, so that when he comes home at 4:30 he can wake me up and we have a few hours awake together.

Two things have happened: 
1. The bad dreams - which may just be a manifestation of shadows I don't usually see when I go to bed after dark 
2. Now I bounce right out of bed as soon as I awaken. I cannot fall back asleep. No dozing and "having a lie-in" as my Brit friends say. 
This morning that was at 2 a.m. because he came home early. I've been awake since 2 a.m.!

Tomorrow I am sticking to the "get up at 4:30 a.m." schedule because we want to be on the road early for the next visit with family / delivery of stuff we can't take abroad. 
 
I can't help but think of the origin of this post's title: In Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy, he is musing on the value of death.

"...for in that sleep of death, what dreams may come must give us pause..."

Would death be a respite, or full of haunting nightmares? 
  
Maybe I'll get used to sleep deprivation; who knows? At least it's only a few months. Then we'll be on Beijing time. Hey, maybe this will make the transition easier!

05 July, 2016

The Beginning of the End

...and so it begins.

THIS WEEKEND I... went to my sister's with a few small things I'm getting rid of, that she can use in her new place:

3 Van Gogh prints
A floor lamp that I had that just happens to match hers
Blender
Kitchen "gadgets" including bread knife, measuring spoons, wine glass charms, etc.

We visited IKEA - I giggle with joy every time I go there - and I promised her some of our larger items when she visits with a cargo van later this month.

While I was doing that, Brett delivered my National Geographic Magazines with their bookshelf to his brother, and visited with his kids. This weekend was a first step toward clearing our home of all our possessions that are either unnecessary, or too cumbersome to take with us to China in the fall.

AFTER RETURNING home, I sat out on our balcony, watching fireworks through the trees across the pond, and talking on the phone to an old friend in India. (Facebook Messenger, baby!)

IT FINALLY OCCURRED TO ME, while lying in bed last night, listening to fireworks in our development: This will be my last July 4th in the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave for probably several years. Not just leaving the USA, we are actually moving into a Communist country! The strangeness of preparing for life in a country where things we take for granted here are monitored and restricted finally hit me. 

No freedom of speech means social media is blocked by the government. Of course, for the technologically savvy, there are ways around it, but how long will it take to get to that point? Even after we apply for our internet license, (for real!) it may be a month or more before we learn to navigate the system and get back to our blogs!

I'M BEGINNING TO... transition from coffee to tea. Not that coffee is unavailable in China, but I'm sure tea is the less expensive option, since it's the local product. We are hoping to be able to pay down our student loans while living in a less-expensive country, and that will mean modifying our lifestyle and compromising on some things we take advantage of here. 
Like cheese. 
I don't know what we'll do about cheese...

LOOKING AHEAD: Things are moving along nicely. For all my concern when I last posted, the apartment now looks like we are moving. Piles of books - some claimed, some waiting for a decision - and piles of empty boxes are everywhere. I move things around periodically so the chaos doesn't drive me crazy. 

I'm anxiously awaiting the issuance of our work visas - a multi-step process - so that I can buy our tickets and we can have an end-date to work towards. I feel a bit like Scarlet O'Hara, "I can't worry about that right now. I'll worry about that tomorrow."

NEXT WEEKEND: More deliveries of our possessions into the hands of new owners, and we get our background checks. (Step one in the visa process.)