Thursday, May 24, 2012

Seasonal Jobhunting

If you have to be unemployed, try to make sure it's during the summer.

For one (major) thing, you can leisurely soak up the sun while reading "How To Find A Job" articles. If you're jobless in the winter, you can hunch over a library table and glare at the same articles with rain pouring down outside. In the summer, you can waltz around your house in a Tshirt and shorts while vacuuming and musing over job opportunities, instead of stamping from bedroom to kitchen to living room in search of a warm den, conducive to pondering. 
At the end of the day, though, you're still jobless. So I'd advise a compromise: get a job at least before the winter. In the summer, don't wallow in boredom or laziness. Search for jobs, take fun courses and helpful quizzes. In other words, enjoy being on the lookout from your deck chair, if you can.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I.D. Photos

<p>Today was photo day. I never had a cute collection of yearly school photos, and I think the last adorable-child-smiling-against-a-vague-studio-background was when I was 7.</p>
<p>Over the last few years, though, I have more than made up for this tragedy. Bus passes, drivers' licenses, residency permits and passports in various countries. Nearly all of them with that oh-so-restrictive rule, "Please do not smile." Hmph. Thanks to America's Next Top Model, I know how to "smile with eyes only," which means that, A, my photos turn out acceptably rule-following to be put in official documents, and, B, I don't look emo. Or "Oh oh you just took my photo when I was absent-mindedly thinking of something else,"which happens pretty often.

In any case, the photos today turned out nice. I walked out of the store, checked again in surprise, and then attached the photo to the four pages of residency paperwork I had with me. Then sealed in the envelope and popped it in the postbox with a wish for safe travels. A sympathetic bureaucrat on the other side who drank good coffee this morning would also be very nice.

The question is, will I be allowed a new I.D. card that declares I am legal to live here? If I am allowed, will they let me know in four months, like last time? The only thing worse than not getting residency again would be if I do, but only if I pick up the I.D. card within a week... while I'm in the USA on vacation. Not cool. At this point, though, I still have about two months, so let's hope I hear sooner, or later, but not in the middle. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Residency Paperwork

Last year I waited anxiously to hear if I would get a residence permit. The backup plan was to quickly pack my suitcase and leave for a friend's house in the UK. After months of waiting, I finally got the oh-so-precious letter saying I was granted residency for a year. Celebrations all around, jubilant skype conversations, and even pastries from my parents in law!

Thanks to bureaucracy, I received that letter in November, informing me that the year I was granted began... in September. I was grateful that I had my permit and could stay with my husband in our new apartment, so I wasn't going to call and complain. We eventually looked up how soon I'd have to reapply: three months before expiry.

Which means tonight, six months after getting my permit, I need to sit down and apply for my next. They did send the whole packet of materials to our house, unasked, so that makes it really convenient. Unless, of course, we choose to grumble about needing to go get new, "previously unused for residency document" photos made. Besides that quick errand, we should be good to go. Just praying now that the regering/government/IND is still happy to let me live here....

Saturday, May 19, 2012


After a very long, wet winter-spring, how thrilling to join the ranks of Dutch Housekeepers and hang my laundry outside. White duvets and linens blossom from balconies in a mass embrace the sunshine and wind. Hopeful loads of fluffy winter sweaters are crammed onto clothes rack before being packed away. Small children run outside to play, thankful for the sudden release from conscription in the rainstorm sentries corps. For these few, happy hours, man and nature are at peace.

At least until the winds pick up and threaten to gift my downstairs neighbors with the zebra striped pair of socks that I neglected to securely clothes-pin.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tapas and Techies

<p>Out to eat tonight with the tech team frm church. Some older, some younger. I'm the only girl on the team at the moment, though last year there was another one. Actually, she ran sound for my wedding, which made me happy. Female techies are pretty rare, but the few that I know are cool. I think it comes with the job....

For one thing, techies tend to have a quirky kind of humour. There are always things to notice and quietly chuckle at, preferrably with another techie or two. From the remote (sometimes even soundproof) tech booth, you have a great view of fidgety kids, accidents on stage, and other workers.

Then there's independence. As a techie, you have to be able "to keep your head when everyone else is losing theirs and blaming it on you," (Kipling). If a server crashes or microphone dies, you have to fix it. Now, or sooner. Even if you're lucky enough to work in a team you're still responsible for your part. Judging from the amount of introvert techies I know, I'd guess that the solo work is a big attraction. If you want to be a part of events but don't get warm fuzzy feelings from being surrounded by people, the tech booth is a brilliant place to be.

And tonight the tapas restaurant is a good place to be as well. Great food - so many fun little dishes - and great company. A discussion about years spent running sound, on one side of the table. On the other side, a debate on Macs vs Windows. Drawing on serviettes, discussing Westlandse accenten and Southern drawls. Adding 'Techies' to the graffiti collection on the walls. All in all, a satisfyingly different way to spend a Friday evening.tim

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Maybe On Time

It has been a long day and a longer spring. Learning a language in a foreign country is in no way a rarity these days. Nor is looking for a job in that foreign country. Nor is being a newlywed and building a new life with a new family and new friends in that language in that country.

Even though I know perfectly well that none of this is unusual, I found myself crying on my husband's shoulder today about all the above. Which, unfortunately, is not unusual either.

Instead of reminding me calmly that none of the above is deadly, or permanent, he said an oddly comforting thing. "I'm impressed that it's taken this long for you to be like this." And I felt better. Just one more reason for me to love my husband. He said a few more things, like a reminder that I have been through a lot of major changes in the last year, and he knows how it feels to not have a purpose in your days. But it was that one comment that stuck with me the most.

Even though it feels like I've cried way too much over the last few (long, cold) months, maybe I've been stronger than I thought. And even though it feels like I've been struggling to find all the pieces of 'home' for way too long, maybe I'm right on time.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

No Spotlights Needed

Keyboard. Drums. Guitar. Bass Guitar. Singers. Check. Now, the tricky part. Making it all sound good. 

I sit in the back of the hall, checking the sound system. Each element on stage plays its own part; harmony, melody, undertones, rhythm. The spotlights catch the faces and the instruments, but what's hidden is my concern. No matter how beautifully the stage is set up, if the sound isn't right, listeners will hear one big chaotic mess. 

I put on headphones and start moving the sliders. The singers - her voice needs to be clearer, his louder. The guitars are too heavy and distracting from the delicate piano. It's not a competition on stage - it's a cooperation. Another techie friend motions to me to check the speakers onstage. Delicately I adjust the keys and buttons until the front of the room pours out sweetness and power, mixed in the right proportions. Maybe the audience won't notice any difference, and maybe even the musicians and soloists will be too caught up in the music to check the details.  That's why I'm here, though. I do my part, so they can do theirs, so the message in the music can come across clearly, effortlessly. 

I smile quietly, contentedly hidden in the dim lamp glow behind the sound panel. No spotlights needed for my job.