Monday, August 27, 2012

Legal Immigrant

Well, I hit the ground running yesterday! Part of being a foreigner here is renewing my residence permit every year so I remain a "legal immigrant". My permit expires Thursday, so I knew I would have to go down to the central police office and renew my residence permit sometime this week. Yesterday, I emailed our HR department to ask if they could send over my renewal paperwork right away. I got a phone call an hour later from a colleague who also needed to renew hers saying that they were sending the paperwork for both of us over and we could go together. For some reason you have to go the same day as the contract renewal letter is dated, so we had to go yesterday. So, we trekked down about 1:45. I have to submit a new picture every year, as well as various copies of my passport, so I went to get my picture taken first. Every year I say I’m actually going to have a nice picture taken, but every year I end up going while I’m jet lagged/sick/extremely overheated at the end of August, and I always look depressed and/or deranged in my photos. Yesterday it was the hair that gave me away. I wanted to explain to the police officer that I had just come back yesterday, as he could see from my paperwork, and that’s why my hair is bad in the picture. He didn’t seem to care, though, so I let it go.

We got to the office and got our number at around 2:30. I got number 500, and there were 44 people in front of me, my paper number informed me. Bad sign. So, we decided to go back out and sit in some A/C for an hour. The only problem is that to get into the police compound you have to go through two security checkpoints. My colleague is getting married in 3 weeks and had just received a package with her wedding shoes in it, which she brought with her. So, at every checkpoint the guards made her open the box and they went over the shoes carefully. In total, I think we went through 6 checkpoints yesterday. At least it was her, not me, who mentioned that maybe she shouldn’t have brought the shoes in retrospect. I’m glad we were together, though, because she had her Kindle with her and we played word games while we waited until her battery ran out.

Anyway…we got our paperwork turned in at 4:45, and it just so happens that my husband works next door to that building. Convenient! I just waited 30 minutes or so until he got off work, and we headed home. I should get my documents in about 2 weeks, so that’s all taken care of. I wasn’t expecting it to happen so quickly, so that was definitely a nice welcome home!

In my hometown

My apologies for the almost 2 month blog blackout! Since my last post, I spent a few weeks moping around because my husband couldn't go back to my hometown with me, then I spent about a week getting ready to go and moping some more, then I spent 4 wonderful, fun, relaxing weeks with my family and friends, and I just got back home last night. It was great to see everyone, and I didn't write any blogs because I was just too busy having fun. Here are some highlights:

- I got to go to my cousin's baby shower! I don't get to see my dad's side of the family much as it is, but it just so happened that they scheduled the baby shower for when I was in town. It was great to be in on that family milestone.

- I was at the church where I grew up when they called their new senior pastor. Although I didn't technically "meet" them, I at least got to see the new pastor and his wife in person! It feels strange that there will be a different pastor there now, but I'm really happy for the church. It was exciting to be there for that time.

- My parents, brother and I went camping! We couldn't remember the last time that had happened, so it had been a while. We had planned that when we thought my husband was coming as a little adventure for him, but it turned out to be a bit too adventurous with a driving rain/hail storm and a skunk in our camp (we were in tents). Still, it was tons of fun, complete with smores and guitar and harmonica around the campfire. Props to my brother for his harmonica solos on "When the Saints Go Marching In". (Sidenote - I had never sung all of the verses of that song before. Not all of them are as cheery as the first verse. My personal favorite was "Oh when the mooooooon goes down in blooooood Oh when the moon goes down in bloooooood How I long to be in that number..." Wow.)

- We spend tons of family time with my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandma. Those can be crazy times. Unfortunately, when we all went out for dinner at the steakhouse, another patron had to come tell us to keep it down because our shrieking laughter had hit rather high octaves. He didn't actually ask us to keep it down. He just came over to where we were, stared at us for a while, and said, "Holy s*%&!" True story. My apologies to you, dear man.

- We also scrapbooked all together to get all of my cousin's pictures into a scrapbook. It was a daunting task, but when we all worked together, we got more than half of it completed, and it was a special time of looking at her pictures and remembering her life.

- I got to see many close friends, including my dear, dear friend who lives in China. She was back visiting family, too, so we did some karaoke together, among other things. We dueted "A Whole New World" pretty well, but I definitely need more practice to catch up to her skills.

There are a lot of other things I haven't mentioned because I am seriously jetlagged at the moment, but those were some highlights.