Friday, June 22, 2018

Visas Denied And Other Struggles

We had our visa appointments, as scheduled, and to my amazement, we were denied.

The woman I spoke with at the Mexican Consulate General of New York said that the Mexican government wants to know what I will be DOING in Mexico.

It was very strange because according to their website, all I need to do is prove my income/financial assets OR have a employment invitation letter from a Mexican company. Since my finances qualify me for entry, I shouldn't need an employment letter.

When she asked what I will be doing, I said I would be volunteering for a non profit there. She said I need a letter stating that I will need a letter saying so. Even though the website and even the paperwork she showed me says nothing of the sort.

I've been in frequent communication with the nonprofit in Mexico and they are trying to help but it turned out their registration number was expired and they had to go to Immigration multiple times and now they've filed the request for the new registration number but it takes two weeks to arrive and only once it arrives can they send me the letter. Oh, and the letter has to be an original. Not emailed, not scanned. On original letterhead with an original signature.

The day of our appointment was the day after Trump announced tariffs against Mexico. And we were late to our appointment. I was really frustrated with myself for that. But we still had plenty of time left since I had made three appointments for us and most likely, we only needed one for all three of us.

It definitely felt personal. She was looking for a reason to refuse me.

My friend Jackie got her visa without a single question.

If we can't get the visas, we will enter on a tourist visa and have to leave before 180 days has elapsed. Not the end of the world, but San Miguel is not near the border and Amelie can't tolerate a 10 hour bus ride to the border. So then we have to fly to a border, and pay for hotel rooms across the border while we visit the embassy there to apply, again, for a visa.

So I made visa appointments again for next Friday in NYC. Basically hoping that I get a different person -- which seems unlikely -- or else try again to plead my case. Which sounds like an exercise in frustration and stress. But I can't think of a good reason beyond that not to try. Being stressed is not as bad as spending hundreds of dollars on travel in six months. Argh!

I'm also having trouble finding renters for my apartment. I dropped the price and finally am getting more interest. Someone saw it a couple days ago and apparently loved it and tried to bargain down the price. I resisted initially but finally agreed... and now they haven't responded to my agreeing to their terms! Argh.

On a more positive note, I found my replacement at work! She is young and enthusiastic and spent the day with me today, seeing patients with me and learning all the documentation. I'm so relived to have someone great to take over.

I'm going out tonight with my four closest friends and really looking forward to that.

Today was my last full day of seeing patients. The students have a half day next week and then school is out for summer! I will work all next week but it will be very quiet. I'm looking forward to wrapping up! I am surprised to find that I feel not a shadow of hesitation or regret about leaving. It's definitely the right time for me to go.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Mug Shots

Every time I look at that photo of myself I think my nostrils must be flaring. So. Funny. Looking.

Anyway, we are ready for our visa appointment tomorrow with the Mexican consulate. I don't know why I am nervous but I am. Worst case scenario, we have to make another appointment and come back later. We still have plenty of time before our July 28 departure from Brooklyn.

But I really don't have to do that.

So I've got double copies of my retirement accounts and pay stubs and investment accounts and birth certificates and even called the RE's office and got a letter attesting that I conceived with donor sperm. 

Getting the photos was a bit of sh*t storm. Going to CVS with both girls after work/school and asking them to stand extremely still while the young CVS employee attempted to take a workable photo with a crappy camera -- no smiling, ears must show, no glasses, and obviously not blurry -- was ridiculous. And then their machine took forever to process each photo, and we had to repeat each one. Kind of a nightmare. The kids were tearing around the store, playing catch with the large rubber balls from the display. A store manager gently chastised Amelie for playing ball and she got scared and ran to me and buried her head in my shoulder and he felt so bad about it he said never mind and gave the ball back. My little maniuplator.

And then she started asking me if the twenty year old CVS employee if he is Daddy. (snicker.) She asks me that about every man he meets. So he says to Amelie, "Hi, I'm Dennis. What's your name?"

"Dennis," she replies. And won't change her answer no matter what.

Then Calliope volunteered that her name is Annabella Isabella. It probably didn't help their behavior that I was cracking up at the conversation.

They were pretty riled up by this point so finally it occurred to me to get a shopping cart. Amelie got strapped in the child safety seat and Calliope sat in the back. Peace at last. Mission accomplished after a good long wait for the photos to be printed very very slowly and cropped and rung up.

Then yesterday Calliope and I had to leave school early to go to the birth certificate office in downtown Manhattan because naturally I had sent many of my important documents home with my brother for safe keeping. Including, of course, Calliope's birth certificate. I was anxious we wouldn't get there early enough -- I love beaocratic offices that close at 3:30 -- but we finished with time to spare.

Now I just need to run to the ATM to make sure we have sufficient cash to pay our visa fees. And scurry home afterwards to meet another moving company for another moving estimate. Whew. The fun never stops.

Fingers crossed it all goes smoothly tomorrow and I cross another major item off the to do list!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Movin' Right Along

While the list is long and daunting, I am making exciting progress towards moving to Mexico!

A few of my successes:

  • Listed my apartment for rent. We've had two open houses and a few private appointments. No bites yet but it's still early... I may have to bring the price down eventually but I am holding off as long as possible. Each open house or appointment means leaving the house immaculate when we go out, of course. Luckily I have decluttered like crazy over the past six months and continue to do so, more slowly now that I have so much less stuff.
  • Secured an apartment in San Miguel de Allende! It's a three bedroom, two bath place in San Antonio, a very mixed and popular neighborhood. It's close to where the girls will board the van to school so that's convenient. And my friend that saw it for me said it's amazing. I hope she's right!
  • Took myself to the dentist for a cleaning. Always an anxiety producing event so I am glad to have that done. And today I even made another appointment with the dentist to get some sealants applied since my teeth are ground down and thus more vulnerable to cavities. But no cavities for now and none for a very long time, despite my anxiety.
  • Set up appointments with two different moving companies to get quotes and already got an over-the-phone quote from a third who I have tentatively scheduled but may cancel.
  • Requested the oral typhoid vaccine for myself and Calliope from our respective medical providers and made an appointment to take Amelie into the city to get her injectible typhoid vaccine (kids six and under can't have the oral version and the local pediatrician offices don't carry typhoid injections since it's not given in the standard vaccine schedule).
  • Called the insurance company and confirmed that Calliope and I can get physicals even before 366 days have elapsed since our previous physicals. Then I scheduled both of our physicals.
  • Got a quote for international health insurance. Are you ready for this? Eighteen hundred dollars for the YEAR for the three of us with a $500 deductible. Accidental injuries are 100% covered.
    Visits back to the States not included but coverage includes everywhere else in the world.
  • Booked three ONE WAY tickets to Mexico!!!
There's lots more to do but I'm so excited to have accomplished so much. Unfortunately I can't start packing yet because I need the apartment to be as pristine as possible when showing it to prospective tenants but I will start that in mid July. 

Tomorrow I hope to finally speak with my HR manager -- we've been playing phone tag -- and officially submit my letter of resignation, effective August 30. By submitting it now I can hopefully help hire my replacement. I hope we can find someone terrific!

Thursday, May 17, 2018


I finally heard back from HR... and they denied my request for a year long leave of absence.

I have mixed emotions.

The first part of me is relief. Now there is no external pressure to come back to Brooklyn in a year. I think I'd like to be in Mexico for at least two year, possibly a lot longer... or forever. Now I won't feel any sort of urgency to come back. I won't feel like I'm letting anyone down if I decide not to come back in a year. I make my decision to leave and that's it. No more decisions to make about this job.

The second part of me is sadness. I've been at this job eleven years. I had never been at a job for more than eighteen months before! I've been happy here. I started here as an ambitious new graduate with lots of big plans. Now I'm a bit jaded and a lot tired. It's time to move on. But I'll be sad to say goodbye to the many wonderful teachers and families I've known here and the children I've watched grow up.

I thought the third part was fear, of letting go of the security of this safe job. But it's not true. I'm not afraid. I worry about how much harder another job will be when we come back, when (and if) my children are in this building and I'm working elswhere... but that sounds so far away that I'm not really worried about it yet. I can't worry about it.

I'll wait for August to send in my resignation letter because many of my colleagues were cheated out of their pro-rated summer salary (money withheld from their paychecks during the school year). Which is too bad because it means they can't post my job position until then, most likely, due to union rules. My medical director is my friend so I'll tell her informally this week though she is already expecting the news. Still, I wish for the clinic's sake that they could know officially now so they could hire someone fabulous to be my replacement, ready to start on September first.

Mexico, here we come!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Burned Out?

You know how people complain that on Facebook, everyone else's life looks perfect and no one shares the hard stuff?

This is not like that.

Guys, I'm so weary. I don't know if I am fighting off an illness -- Amelie has had a fever for three days. Maybe I'm catching it. I couldn't eat dinner last night, so it might have been that... or it could have been too much trail mix mid afternoon.

I worry I am not cut out to parent two children.

I stayed home with Amelie yesterday since she was sick (though she seems almost herself when the Motrin is working) and I was endlessly patient with her through the frequent meltdowns, easily remembering that she wasn't feeling well and feeling lots of sympathy.

But then sweet Calliope came home and everything she did -- AND everything Amelie did -- just worked my last nerve.

We had gone to a neighbor's apartment on the same floor to pick up some soup the neighbor made for Amelie (how sweet is that???) and Calliope went into the apartment a minute or two before me. I was carrying the steaming hot soup so I yelled Calliope's name through the door and rang the doorbell. No ansswer. Despite multiple attempts.

Finally I juggled the soup and other food and managed to open the door (yes, I could have set the soup down on the floor), spilling a little hot soup on myself. I got into the apartment, set down the soup, and fully laid into Calliope. SCREAMING with her. Months of frustration about how she never, ever hears me when I call her name came pouring out. I didn't actually mention those times but the extreme anger reflected it.

And you know, it felt really good. Which is terrible, I know. But my god. It is so frustrating to have someone never ever hear you.

And it makes me think, too, that maybe her teacher is onto something when she says she's worried about Calliope's ability to focus.

This morning it was hard to get her out of bed. Once she was finally up, though, she did well at her "morning jobs" since she puts the next day's clothes in the bathroom the night before. She finished early and went to play. Five minutes before we were due to leave, I told her to put away the toys. She took about five minutes to put five plastic animals into a bin sitting right next to her. Then, at the time she was supposed to put on her shoes, disappeared into the bathroom.

FURY on my part. As I am scurrying around making your lunch, your breakfast, my breakfast, my tea... you decide to go make a nice long trip to the bathroom just as I am finishing up? God forbid you use your playtime for that.

So I yelled a bunch more.

I know what this is about. It's been constant, for months now. Staging an apartment, selling an apartment, renovating an apartment, moving to the new apartment, unpacking the new apartment, staging the new apartment, downsizing our belonging in preparation for packing up and moving. So many high pressure deadlines.

I am just tired. I worry that this is middle age creeping up on me but maybe it's just too much. Adrenal fatigue, some call it.

I'm trying to be good and schedule the every other Friday night out and god knows they feel great while they are happening... but the next day I am even more exhausted because I often go to bed too late after such a night. And right now I'm extra tired because of interrupted sleep with Amelie being sick -- I've slept with my door open so I hear every whimper and vault out of bed at the first sound. (I'm a bit paranoid about anyone puking in her bed.)

I just arranged for the sitter to come again this Friday night and this time, I am planning to go to the movies by myself. To try to just really tune in to my own needs.

I successfully pushed through a pile of mail on my desk and checked a few more items off my to do list... the list is never ending.

I don't have a good way to wrap this up with a bow but I thought it might be helpful to say that sometimes this parenting gig is really, really hard. I feel like I am really doing a not-great job right now and I worry I am doing permanent damage to my kids. I hope not. I apologize after the fact. But I want to be better.

Friday, April 20, 2018

We Are Doing It

We had a fabulous time in Mexico. And, you guys, we are doing it. We are moving to Mexico!

The second week of our trip the girls spent three full days at the Waldorf school. Amelie didn't say much but Calliope loved it. After the second day she said she was sad to be leaving. This is high praise from a quiet kid who is "slow to warm up."

I met with the teacher and administrator the last day and they felt my girls fit in beautifully. The teacher said she didn't see any signs of processing issues with Calliope. She had no concerns.

(Oh yes, I never got around to sharing this fun tidbit... in Calliope's winter progress report and in the parent teacher conference, her teacher and the reading specialist both expressed concerns that she's a bit behind where they expect her to be. Not a lot, just a little. And she has trouble following directions. That part was not a huge shock to me since she has trouble with verbal instructions at home, too. There was some wondering about an auditory processing disorder.

But still. It was unexpectedly devastating to be told there's something wrong with my perfectly imperfect child. My sensitive, creative, dreamy little bird.

I scurried about making phone calls, requesting evaluations, mourning.

And then I stopped. And started to get mad.

This school told me not to worry about reading in kindergarten. Told me to focus on play. And reading aloud to her. And promptly assessed her reading at the beginning of first grade and found her lacking.

What. The. Fork.

Screw you. There's nothing wrong with my kiddo. She's on the more sensitive side. She needs things explained more than one way. She doesn't do well, sometimes, with one teacher to twenty-six children. She has more interesting things to think about than science. Like unicorns.

So this is one more reason to embrace Waldorf. Calliope commented that they had so much time and so few things to do. No more racing from task to task.

And one teacher for fifteen children. And two hours of outdoor time a day. And lots of art and music.

And oh, the tuition for both girls, full time, is under $500/month.

But it's not just about the girls. I'm so burned out on my job. I just made my 11 year anniversary. I'm tired. The children are wonderful but the political stuff is exhausting. And I'm tired of always scrambling. Of not being present with my girls. Of not having money put into my GD pension.Of not getting a raise since 2011.

I signed a contract with my real estate broker last night for her to rent out my apartment. The hope is that I make enough in rental income that I can live on the proceeds. Fingers crossed.

I have a job prospect in Mexico, too, but hope that I can take some time to just be for a while. To wait for the hunger to do more.

We start showing the apartment in a week or two. Photos to be taken next week. I'm trying to make peace with it not looking perfect.

In the meantime, I have a long list of things to accomplish. I have to get international health insurance (suprisingly cheap) and a virtual mailbox (they open mail for me and scan me the contents, not as cheap) and cancel every paper bill and catalog. We have to get typhoid vaccines and go to the dentist and to the doctor to get physicals and downsize downsize downsize. And how on earth am I going to get my curly hair cut in Mexico???

Trying to figure out what to bring with us will be a challenging logistical puzzle. I'm already working on it in my head. I'll have two weeks with the girls in daycamp to pack up our suitcases and get everything else into boxes and into storage. And sell my car. July will be an adventure for sure.

We leave for Mexico on or about August 1st.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

We Are (Mostly) Moved In

I took last Friday off and spent the three days moving us into our new apartment, two floors down from our former home.

It was chaotic and I had a lot of paid help but we are getting close to unpacked. Whew! Exhausting work.

The move had been postponed twice but that turned out to be fortuitious because all three of us got a horrible stomach bug in Jamaica (amazing SMC trip!) and there was no way I could have muscled through the recovery period when we got back.

The house is still kind of a mess and these photos don't do it justice but if I don't post now while I am still so excited, I may never remember to do it.

I'm loving it so much... and yet Mexico is constantly in my thoughts.

This counter top (quartz, with a faint grey thread you can't really see here) and backsplash
still make my heart skip a beat when I see them. I never dreamed I would get to design my
own kitchen one day!

My beautiful kitchen (and beautiful child for scale) 

Also never imagined I would pick paint colors (other than white) and crown molding!

So fancy with my recessed lighting

Master bath isn't quite done yet, obviously, but loving my tile and the rain forest shower head.
Glass shower door arriving soon. (And the blue stuff will be pulled off the vanity.) 

My peaceful bedroom. The shelves in the corner (and the plastic bins) will (hopefully) go
away once I am finished upacking and the living room cabinetry is completed.
So happy about the canvas hung over my bed, at last.