Sunday, June 18, 2017

Legal Alien

Sting's song suddenly fell into place: I too am a 'legal alien'. 

In fact, I had to repeatedly state so by checking the box beside this new denomination of myself when filling in the never-ending number of forms and documents required to come to the U.S.

I won't lie, at first it felt weird to be classified as such. Then again, I can't remember the last time I felt such an outsider as I feel now. So I guess I really am an alien. Now that all my paperwork has been correctly submitted and processed, I am here legally. Thus: I am a legal alien.

The journey has been more arduous than I had anticipated. People blame fairytales for setting false expectations on love. I blame the whole film industry and media for portraying America as the model every nation should pursue. I was expecting some language particularities, but came to believe that things here worked smooth and flawlessly. These few months here have surely debunked my assumptions.

Banking system
When opening my account I was repeatedly made aware of the fact that my new account awarded me with 4 (exactly 4) checks! But I was to fret not, cause I was able to request more when needed. As I listened to the sales representative, my head was nodding politely, but my mind was having a hard time remembering the last time I had ever seen a check. I'm pretty sure it was at least 30 years ago.
In the country where the internet was invented, people still use checks daily.

Public Transport
I wondered why in a smallish city like this one, people still owned cars. The short answer is: unreliable public transport. Why is there even a bus schedule? One thing I'd say, though, all of the drivers I've encountered are super nice and helpful. So much that they seem to stop wherever it suits the person getting out. True story. 

Home Appliances
The kitchen is the biggest room in every house. Some may argue this allows to accommodate family and social gatherings. I have come to the conclusion that it's rather to accommodate humongous home appliances. No matter how much food I store, my fridge always looks empty. I don't even bother using the dishwasher, the sum of all of my table, cooking and kitchenware fail to load it fully. Yet, I'm still to make sense of the fact that apartments come with no washing machines!

The list goes on and on: prices (I'm talking $9 for 4 kiwis!? $5 for a small coffee!? and I won't even mention what I pay for my poorly-proportioned-with-huge-kitchen apartment...), size of cars, online orders left outside apartment buildings...

And yet, there is no other placer I would rather be :)

Friday, September 2, 2016

Lost in Translation

When I told my Grandma that I was moving to the US, the first thing she said was: 
"You'll have the opportunity to learn English."

English being my second language since the early age of 4, I couldn't help but laugh.
Less than a week in US territory, I am laughing no more. 

I've become a human Wikipedia, having to explain what my British English words pronounced in a broken Irish accent are failing to express.

     · The place where your clothes go is not a wardrobe, but a closet.
     · You ask for the restrooms when you want to go to the toilet.
     · The elevator lifts you up building floors.
     · Fall is the new autumn.
     · Supermarkets don't have trolleys, but carts.
     · Rubbish is put in trash cans.
     · If you have a sweet tooth, you would want some candy.
     · When you want take away from restaurants you order take-out.
     · City center signs read downtown.
     · ...

And don't get me started on the spelling: replacing 's' with 'z' or erasing 'u' in words like flavour and colour.

Or the metric system. My head is currently a molotov cocktail of inches, Fahrenheit, pounds, feet...

Indeed Grandma, indeed, I will be learning English.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Undeniable Signs of Aging

When do we stop growing 'up' and begin to grow 'old'? 

Is it when kids expose the obvious generation gap between you and them by addressing you  as 'Madam' / 'Sir'?

In my particular case, there was that (aren't kids lovely? - sense the irony there) but most importantly, what the event triggered: acceptance. Admitting to myself that, although I still love doing some of the same things that I did years ago ("but I'm not old! I still like to do what young people do!"), the reasons for doing them couldn't diverge more.

Here is what I'm talking about: 

1. Dyeing my hair
'Sunkissed brown', 'golden bronze', 'deep copper'... My hair has seen (and in some cases suffered) a wide range of shades and highlights.
Motivation behind it:
   · Before: new looks
   · Now: new greys

2. Wearing my headphones on the go
During my daily bus commute, walking around town, at work...My headphones plugged in to walkman (yes, I'm that old) > discman (told you I am!)) > ipod > and now phone.
Motivation behind it:
   · Before: listening to brand new hits
   · Now: cancel the noise of world - I confess: there times when no music is coming out of them :)

3. Longing for the weekend
All week waiting for Friday, thinking about the free days to come.
Motivation behind it:
   · Before: Go out with friends till dawn and go out again the following day.
   · Now: Curl up under a blanket on the couch with a good book and a hot tea. My weekend plans are the best!

What makes you feel your age?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Happy Hallothanksmas!

Wait, I'm confused, is Christmas still on for 25th December? 

Excuse me if the answer to my question is obvious. Last time I checked we were half way through November, making it 38 more sleeps (38!) until then - ok, give or take a few hours depending on what part of the globe you live in. 

Why then have we gone from pumpkins and ghosts only a few days ago, straight into snowmen and and Christmas trees?! No 'in-between' whatsoever to enjoy a consumerism-free November. 

I want in-betweens, I like in-betweens! In-betweens keep me sane. In-betweens act as breathers to help me recover. 

But nope! Instead I have shops with fake snow on its windows and/or Christmas carols playing on the background. Even supermarkets are stocked up with toys, chocolates and 'turrĂ³n'. The most astonishing thing is that we don't find this astonishing at all! We happily buy the Christmas tree with all its decorations, we start loading on gold gift wrap, we start planning Christmas dinners and booking friends and family.

How did we allow this to become the new normal? 

Next thing I know I'll start celebrating my next birthday the day after I turn a year older. 

There is a clear conflict between my journey towards inner peace with all my meditation, yoga and whatnot and a world that conspires against my mental sanity. Happiness is found in living in the moment they say, well stop stressing me about future events then!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Wedding Planner

I'm hiring a wedding planner.

Hold your horses before jumping into any conclusions: I am not getting married - everything's still good in singlehood -  everyone else around me is. And they all seem to be doing it at the same time! 

That's why I'm on the lookout for a wedding planner. Not your regular one though. To pull me through this wedding season my wedding planner needs to also be a:

1. Stylist
Looking for a dress opens an overwhelming world of infinite options of colours, shapes, lengths...At least the bride knows she'll be wearing white! 

2. Financial advisor
Outfit for the day (dress, jewellery, handbag, shoes, etc.) 
+ gift for the newlyweds 
+ flights and accommodation when needed 
+ hen-do expenses
+ hairdresser 
x by number of weddings 
= I'll let you do the math!

3. Chauffeur
Wedding day: home > ceremony. Ceremony > wedding reception. Wedding reception > home. 
Prior to wedding day: frantic tours around the city in desperate search of a decent dress.

4. Prompter
Weddings bring people together who haven't been so in years. And, although surprisingly good with faces, I'm a complete disaster at remembering names. Having, like political and royalty members do, someone whispering in my ear the name, relationship to the bride/groom and major life events of the person approaching would prevent me from repeating embarrassing experiences.

5. Nutritionist
Traditional Spanish weddings offer a fine selection of small bites prior to a (at least) 4 course dinner. Add the glasses of wine that waiters eagerly keep refilling and the open bar and you easily get yourself into a nutrition bombshell that only a few weeks' detox plan will help your digestive system recover from.

6. My +1
For 2 main reasons:
a) to mitigate seating planning headaches for the bride and groom (tables are normally set for even number of people)
b) to avoid answering for the nth time whether I am with someone at the moment, which normally follows with a pity faced "who knows? you might meet someone today".