Saturday, July 29, 2006

A new life... Chapter 4

Well, it's been two weeks since I got here and life has slowed down a little.
This week was all about getting a car. My boss's boss knew a car dealer and I had gone to him last month when I was here. He showed me a white Kia Spectra and told me that would be like $5000. I told him that was the kinda car I was looking for, moneywise. I won't go into details because it's been doing my head in since from the beginning but suffice it to say after a long period of suffering, I've got the Kia. It's an ok car, I don't like it much so it'll turn out to be like my old bloody stupid Fiesta, I can already tell. I was going to run a CarFax on the car before I bought it (CarFax is a company that checks the car's history and tells you exactly what had been done to it, if it's been involved in any accidents, if the mileage has been tempered with and so on) but then I thought that ignorance is bliss and chose to just get the damn car and get it over and done with already(and I didn't want to pay the $30 they charged for it!). All in all the car dealer was nice but I can't help not trusting people in that industry. They're like estate agents - untrustworthy and liars. I know it sounds horrid but I can't help but feel this way because I'm pretty much at their mercy.
Either way, the guy said he'd shop around for a bank loan for me but in the end, because I didn't have a Social Security number yet, no bank would give me one (apparently). So he offered to sell me the car if I put down $3000 and paid him off over the next 14 months for the rest of the $2800 (he added the 800 like the bank would've charged me interest rates). I signed the deal and that was that. I find $5800 for a 2001 Kia Spectra a big amount of money especially because the car has obvious signs of some accident and the gears don't work that well but he said if I don't want it anymore in 6 months or so and I find out that I can afford something else a bit better (like my Mitsubishi Lancer rental which I had to bring back yesterday) he'd trade it in for me. Again, I still don't trust him so that doesn't exactly help but the fact is, I don't have a choice. I need a car... this seems to drive ok. That's that. What bugs me most about it is the fact that it's a hatchback. Which meant nothing to me until I sat in the car and drove it home. Hatchback means that the back goes down in a 35degree angle rathern than the usual 80 degree or whatever so there's lots of space in the boot. That is nice but then when you sit in the driver's seat and you look in the rear view mirror you realize that you can barely see anything in it cause there's so little window you can look through. So that's something to get used to and something to remember about my next car.
I had no trouble registering the car in Nashua - it was my first trip into the city and I got a Library card too which was great. I also had to insure the car which is costing me $1530 a year - it's a bloody joke but whatcha gonna do...?
Enought about the car already... Social Security's next.
I FINALLY got a letter from the SS people telling me I'd get the damn card in 2 weeks - about time, I say!!!
So then I can finally set up my bank account and I will be able to start getting the money I earned since I've started working here.
Another set of good news too, is the fact that my last trip to here in June can be expensed!!! Meaning that the company is paying for the whole trip, which is great! So I will be getting lots of money back as soon as I've got my account set up! YEY!

On the other hand, Townends is trying to fuck me about with my old flat in Woking but if they think they can get away with crap like "Dead flies in the living room" they've gotta think again. There's no way they will keep my deposit, I'll make sure of that. They seemed so prefessional to start with but when it comes to moving out they're assholes and totally completely useless. Beware of Townends, is all I can say.

I'm invited for dinner at one of my old support colleagues's house tonight so I'm off now. Will try to post some pics later if I can find the time.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A new life... Chapter 3

More's happening as the days go by.

First of all - I still don't have my goddamn Social Security Number so everything I try to do here screeches to a halt because I don't have that number. No bank account, no loans (for the car), no internet/phone/TV, no credit cards - NADA.
Trying to get the car business sorted out and the car dealer's been great so far, trying to sort it all out for me but even he is running into problems. With insurance for example. In this country you can't register a car without having insurance (pretty standard I'd say) but then when I called some companies for a quote they quoted some ridiculously high prices and you wanna know why? Because they don't take into account the 12 years driving experience I've accumulated over the pond. AARRGGHH. I'm being treated like an 18 year old driver who's just gotten their driver's licence. Oh well, fingers crossed I'll find another company who's giving me a better rate.

I'm getting more aquainted with my immediate surroundings (aka the Daniel Webster Highway which is a shopper's paradise!!!). Have just bought the Sunday Nashua Telegraph and came across the local section which talks about the Nashua Choral Society so I'm definitely going to join them at some point (if they want me, that is... they looks quite a bit more serious than Woking's choir...)
On Friday one of the bigwigs of the company got an ice cream truck to come to us and we had ice creams after lunch and then were allowed to go home. I didn't go home as I was trying to get a lot of other stuff done but it was still a nice idea.

What else - this coming week will be interesting as the company's big yearly user meeting is happening for the next few days and I will be pretty much on my own with one or two colleagues. Let's hope it'll be quiet and if not, let's hope I'll manage ok. I can't say I'm worried though - I've taken to this job like a fish to water. I always knew I was good with IT stuff and this just proves it. I know once I've settled in I'll be great at the job. I just hope I won't have time to get bored though...

I'm loving this new laptop and the fact that I can connect to the internet using whatever connection through its WiFi capability. It rocks!!! My new cell phone is crap though, I don't like it much, it's a Nokia 6102i and whilst it looks very fancy and can do quite a few things, it annoys me. Why on earth would you want to have one of those "open up" cells that make you put the screen to your ear when you speak and then you spend the next minute or so cleaning it after each call. Totally stupid, honest. Give me an old, fat, heavy cell phone from 5 years ago anytime!!! But I really can't complain that much since it's a free phone and I've got 900 free minutes/month. The company's taking good care of me :-)

Not much else to say for now - I'll need to make a decision on when and what to order from IKEA, furniturewise, I mean. Thankfully the airbed I bought is quite good quality and whilst I don't sleep perfectly on it, it's good enough to hold out for another few weeks. So no hurry there.

If I remember anything else I shall add it to my next entry - until then, buh bye!!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A new life... Chapter 2

Today's new life chapter includes Maky driving off to a far away, unknown place to buy well known furniture and ending up driving back in the middle of the night on unknown roads in the midst of a fantastic thunderstorm with road works (aka construction) for part of the journey.

All in all a very interesting experience, today was!
I sat in my first team meeting in my new job - something that was quite relaxed, easy going and very quick (understandably so since there's only four of us and our boss). After doing a bit of useless stuff on the computer I decided to take initiative and towards the end of the day I begged for something to do. I imaged a few machines and I think I can confidently say I now know what I'm doing. Sort of.

Lunch was fun as I joined some of my old support colleagues and we took the piss out of the idiot team leader we have. Sorry, HAD! Hahahahaha... I couldn't laugh loud enough in their poor faces for thank HEAVENS I got rid of that particular pest in my life (though he refuses quite adamantly to disappear completely. He sent another one of his totally unnecessary and useless emails this morning. I might have to start completely pretending like he doesn't exist and exclude him from all emails. That could be fun LOL). Anyway - it was good to catch up with the guys and girls and whilst I'm glad I'm outta support, I'm going to miss this bunch a lot. They are very cool, multicultural people and I've always enjoyed working in that kinda atmosphere. It makes it very special. Oh well, can't have it all, eh? ;-)

Whilst at work I made the decision to GO FOR IT. I would visit IKEA. Now, darling IKEA is fairly easy to find from where I work and is about 45 minutes drive away on a clear day. However, because I got away from work at 6.30pm, I arrived there for about 7.30 and only had another 2.5 hours to "browse". I stupidly thought this would not last longer than two hours so imagine my surprise when, after two hours I heard the announcement that they were closing in half an hour and could we please hurry to the exit!!! Needless to say I hadn't gotten half of what I wanted but I stocked up on a lot of stuff I had to throw/give away or sell two weeks ago!! Arrgghhh, how very, very annoying. The final bill came to 370+ dollars. Well, I do have a set of plates, cutlery and glasses as well as a lot of kitchen utensils. So it's all good.
What is not so good is that I still have to buy a bed and they're disgustingly expensive and I will have to get one shipped anyway. So I think I might be doing that some other day. What the heck, let's sleep some more on the oh so convenient airbed! LOL

As for the drive back - of course it was now about 10pm and dark outside. Thankfully, most of the big roads here are signposted so you can find them real easily but it is different from Germany and the UK in the way that you join and/or leave a highway/interstate/whatever you wanna call it. When the sudden sight of some seriously stunning lightning scared me to death I realized that not only was I driving down roads I didn't know, but it was also dark and about to rain. And to top it all off - road works! Ok let me see if I can explain this so you can understand.
So you drive down a three lane highway and you see the flashing police lights ahead of you on the right hand side (cause that's how they signal road works!). Basically what they do is they start marking the road with cones in order to make the three lanes merge into two and at the end of the cones (that means, not where they start to prepare you, but AFTER they do so) they put up a big flashing sign with an arrow pointing to the left (or right, depending). So you drive down that road and if you didn't see the police car or the flashing sign, you'd pretty quickly drive into the cones and cause a real nice accident there. Thankfully I still seemed to have had my wits about me (I don't have them now, it's nearing midnight) and I managed to "get" the whole system. And I survived the rain and the thunderstorms and the darkness and the unknown roads and now I'm dead tired and can't wait to get to bed.

Oh and just for the record, I ate a few fries and a ridiculous piece of bread with a sausage in it which they called hot dog in the cantine. Oh and some popcorn as Tuesday is popcorn day! YEY! Other than that though... NADA. At this rate I should lose the weight very quickly! LOL

Night night now - more later!

Monday, July 17, 2006

A new life... Chapter 1

Well... what can I say. I'm in the good ole US of A. I can't even begin to describe the anti-climax after a long wait of 14 years. I suppose I might've grown out of my persistent need to get here. Or (and that's much more likely), I've grown old and scared. Because whilst it's nice to be here, at the moment all I feel is fear. Ok, there IS that bit of excitement, I won't deny it. Everywhere new you go will be coupled with the prospect of discovering a new favorite groceries shop, a new restaurant, a new, better, bigger library - everything that will make you love the place. And all that is exciting, very much so.

However, it doesn't really make up for the fact that I am here on my own. Alone. A few friends here and there, strewn all across this HUGE country but it just isn't the same. I miss knowing I can pick up the phone after work and call my friends, my family. The time difference is too big to cope with that so I'm going to have to pretty much resign myself to talking on the phone on the weekends. A bit pants, if you ask me but hey, that's the price you pay for fulfilling your dreams, eh? ;-)

I don't want to make this sound as horrible as it currently does. I am always like that - homesick for a few days after I change places. I know I'll get over it quickly. In the meantime I've got TACO BELL to keep me happy.

Needless to say, it's one of the things I've been DYING for since I ate tons of the stuff back in 98. I've now got my own Taco Bell in the mall around the corner so I can pretty much go and eat it anytime - I'm in heaven. For now anyway, I know it'll get old pretty soon.

Let's see - a description of the trip.

Good flight from Cologne to Newark. The ladies at the check in were very sweet and didn't charge me for what clearly was a lot of exccess baggage. Good start, I thought. I initially had an aisle seat but when I got to it, the lady sitting in the middle seat asked me if I wanted to swap with her sister, who had the window seat!!! I was like HELL YEAH!!! Very, very nice ladies, turns out they were from Maine and the sister was actually living in Cobham!!! I mean what are the chances to get on flight to the US in Germany to sit next to someone who used to live around the corner from me in the UK! LOL I swear, I just don't believe in coincidences anymore. The flight was ok though Continental really isn't an airline I'll ever fly with again if I can help it. They barely had enough overhead compartments to store people's luggage in (mental note: don't fly Continental with a guitar - no space for it!!!), their in-flight entertainment was ridiculous (a little screen popping out of the ceiling for about three rows of seats, with three movies showing - one recent one and two REALLY old ones. I mean 15 year old movies. I watched "forever young" with Mel Gibson, for God's sake!) and the service on board was horrid. The flight attendands obviously didn't get on with each other, the food was crap and there was very little of it too. All in all, no more Continental. I've been spoiled by Virgin, clearly.

The flight from Newark to Boston was a piece of cake and I had a window seat again and this time, BOY was I glad I did. Because taking off from Newark and flying north to Boston we flew over New York. I could see the Statue of Liberty clearly, I could see Manhattan and Central Park clearly. It was a sight to behold. I can't even begin to describe the view, you just have to see it for yourself.

Once in Boston I was glad to have booked myself into the Hyatt Harborside Hotel for the night (expensive though it was!!!). I don't think I could've coped with driving to Nashua after such a long flight. The hotel was stunning but even more stunning was the view I had from my 9th floor room. It overlooked part of the ocean and one of the airport runways. I was actually lying in my bed watching one plane after another take off. It was fantastic.
After a good night's sleep I woke up on Saturday morning, went to the rental car place (Avis), picked my car up and got started!!!
The car is a Mitsubishi Lancer SE or ES (not sure which way around) and I LOVE IT!!! It was easy to drive, I had no problems finding everything in it and my journey to my new home was very easy going. Within less than an hour I was in Nashua, found my apartment and moved in. I then took the car for a drive to see what kind of shops there were around and started on some heavy duty shopping such as a microwave, an airbed, toaster, a chair, cleaning utensils and stuff like that.

I spent most of Saturday shopping, then most of Sunday feeling sorry for myself and trying to find a way to keep myself busy so I wouldn't feel too homesick. It didn't work too well so I went shopping some more LOL

As for today - well, everything's already looking much brighter. I'm sitting here in my apartment, with my new work laptop in my lap, using someone's WiFi connection to connect to the internet and looking forward to setting up my new work cell phone. I've had a successful first day at work, I like my new colleagues, I feel confident that I will easily get into the job and I've spent most of the day saying hello to people I aready know! Which makes it real nice!!!

So - all in all, it's good now. Being connected to the outside world makes me feel so much better. I've still got a LOT to sort out (like my own car, cancelling a lot of services in the UK and other financial bits and pieces) but all in all it's ok.

I will try to update this as soon as I can and I'll try to update the photo blog as well - I know you're curious to see and read all about my new life so I'll do my best not to disappoint you!

Hugs to all!!! :-)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I figured it out!

I finally know what all the separation pain is all about. All those tears I've cried over the choir, all those tears I know I will cry over leaving some of the people in my current job... tonight after my last Creative Writing lesson it dawned on me.
As I said goodbye to the handful of people I've met up with on a weekly basis every Thursday night, I felt tears spring to my eyes - AGAIN. This time I was not prepared for that at all - I'd only known this group for about 6 months, barely manage to remember some names. How can I feel so strongly about them?
And the explanation was so simple, I couldn't believe I hadn't realized it earlier. Because whilst I treasure these people and what they have brought to my life very much, it is only the circumstances that brought us together. And the same circumstances will tear us apart again. As I left, everyone came over to hug me and made me promise to keep in touch. And I want to. I really do. But the question is, will I?
I treasure all those beautiful stories I have heard from everyone, the laughter we've shared, the tears some of the stories have brought to my eyes - it was part of my life, a very enriching one at that. But as I move on, I somehow know that I will lose these people. Sure I will email every now and then and sure they will email back but I already know it will get less and less frequent over time and after a while it will stop completely. For everything that's bound us together, the writing class, just doesn't exist anymore.
And the tragedy of it for me is that on one hand I want to keep them in my life but on the other hand, others will soon take their place. And I am only mourning their loss because, unlike my real friends, I know they will not be part of my life anymore.

It does help to put it all into perspective... in 6 months I will not feel the pain as much, I will feel the joy of knowing that I was lucky enough to have those people in my life. And it will make me smile and all the tears will be forgotten :-)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Heartbroken

I don't know when I thought the actual grief of moving away to the US would swap over me. I had hoped never but that was quite unrealistic. I also knew that without a doubt, the nearest and dearest to me in this country have grown to be the members of Woking Choir.
I know... it sounds ridiculous in a way. I hardly know these people, I barely know their names, most are 40+ years older. And yet, somehow, this choir has grown so dear to my heart that at this very moment, after the last rehearsal I'm ever going to have with Woking Choir, I'm a sobbing mess, feeling sorry for myself, grieving for something that I never thought could mean so much to me.

It's only been a year since I joined but it feels like I've been with them forever. Not only have they enabled me to get back to what I love doing the most. No, they've also given me a sense of community, of belonging, of home.

And maybe as I'm saying goodbye to more and more people and places it'll get easier and it won't feel like I'm never going to be able to stop crying ever again.
Yeah right... who am I kidding?