The business of living here

I want to tell you about the business of being an expat.  I mentioned that I had to renew the girl’s passports.  It has been 5 years since they have had residence in the United States.  As I talked about before, applying for them was the easiest thing I’ve done, but they said they would e-mail when they were ready, and they never did.  I waited a month before I called, and they said they had had them for two months!  The passports expired on October 10th, and the earliest I could pick them up was the 11th.  Apparently, they were closed for many days this month due to Chinese and American holidays.

But, in order to update their visas, I had to go to the police station to renew our residency status.  Of course I went with everything I needed, except my lease.  The thing is, we’ve lived in this same house almost three years, you would think they have my landlord’s name and ID number in the computer.  Luckily, I called my HR department, and they had it and talked to the police officer in Chinese.

Not speaking Chinese is often a hindrance, and there are different things I do to get around it.  One thing is, I carry a notebook with me, and in it, I keep all important addresses in Chinese, so that I can show taxi drivers.  And on the day we went to the police station, we had to go to the hospital first, because I needed to get more thyroid medicine.  Then a taxi to the police station.

Ok, so back to the police station.  I was kind of losing my cool, because I had a folder full of documents, but I seemed to be missing one, I couldn’t find my phone, and I was so hungry from not being able to eat before seeing the doctor.  That’s when I realized…in public, the girls are often better behaved than I am.

I got the residency papers, and I asked them where we should eat, because I was way too hungry to go home and cook something, and they suggested a mall in the area.  We found a new restaurant there that was fabulous, and I felt a lot better.  As we were walking around, we saw that the mall had this trampoline thing set up, and I let the girls play there since, really, they were better behaved than I was.

Today, we had to go pick up the passports downtown, and then take all of this paperwork, the old passports and the new passports to HR, so they can take them to the visa office and renew the visas.  The woman who hired me came out of her office to see us.  She couldn’t believe how big the girls have gotten.  It was nice to visit with her.

After that, we went to Carl’s Jr.  Haven’t been there in forever and no one got a hamburger, so that was weird.  Went to the bookstore to get school books, and came home before the time we usually ever even get out of the house.  Then we all collapsed on the couch and napped until dark.

I hate when my weekends and free time are completely taken by all of this business, but I am really grateful that HR came through for me twice.

In the meantime, twice, realtors have attempted to bring more people to see this place, and I felt awesome saying, “No, you can’t come in.”

My next weekend is three days and I’m setting it aside for anything but business.

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