Moving Voo Doo

Ok – My international shippers are giving me acid reflux.  They gave me the estimated window for picking up our stuff about a month ago. Promising to refine the estimate to an actual day, and then further to an actual time. I have neither in my possession right now. I have emailed repeatedly. I’m trying to stay away from my inbox for a few hours to calm down.

Everything we’re shipping is stacked our dining room, so Jeff stops hitting his 6 foot 3 inch head on the light fixture. This includes our bicycles and our couch wrapped entirely in plastic. I lamented that we no longer have anything to sit on, other than our two air mattresses in the bedroom. Our last TV is on a cardboard box in the bedroom until the guy comes to get it on Sunday.

If I had actually met the ‘customer service’ people from our shippers, I would be crafting Voo Doo dolls of them with the old cat hair in our vacuum bag, and some paperclips and old string I found in a drawer. I have no straight pins left, but I found nails in the garage, so I figure this would work in a pinch. Their back pain and migraines would force them towards their inboxes to email the information I require.

Jeff has assured me that we can still use the couch.

‘It’s gonna be moist, but my grandma had her couch covered in plastic for like 40 years, so I”m pretty sure we could sit on it for a few days.’

I declined, since it’s pretty sweaty in Arizona and I’d like to keep the skin on the back of my thighs for later. My confidence in these people isn’t as high as I need it to be. They’re going to be in possession, of all our possessions, for up to 16 weeks. I think my favorite boots actually cried when I closed the box.

I’ve learned to trust strangers on two continents in the last 6 months. I have no choice, I have to. But I don’t have to like it. Those shippers better watch out. I’m a woman with ALOT of time on my hands, until that truck pulls up – please let it by by Friday. And I’m feeling particular crafty in my doll making skills.

Detente

We have one week to go. Next Monday we fly to LA to pick up our visas and then we’re on a plane to Spain. It’s down to the wire. And while I’ve been handling most of the list over the last 6 months, the last few things are going to be a group effort and requires negotiations.

Jeff is a person who likes to cross the finish line in more of a ‘Just in Time’ fashion. In direct opposition to my ‘The Early Bird Catches the Worm’ philosophy. Today is a holiday in the US, so he’s home and we’re mopping up. He’s packing up his computers, VR stuff and other things, I have no idea what they are. He has purchased special water proof bins for these things. They will be zip tied and wrapped in plastic.

I’m not allowed to go in the room where he’s packing these things. He wants to focus and encounter no interruptions. I”m sure he’s doing what he needs to do with the piles that he’s created around the house. Some how he’ll figure out how to get it all into boxes or the garbage bin.

Music is important to this task. Usually, we listen to our own music via headphones. But today, it’s on full speaker and apparently we don’t have to same taste in music. It’s a realization that seems to have escaped me for the last 18 years.

Jeff was a DJ at a roller skating rink when he was in high school. He’s a connoisseur of 80’s music, all the way through to last week, and he has a vast collection of it. My musical tastes are more eclectic. I had older brothers and sisters so I have things on iTunes from the 70’s and even as far back as the 1930’s.

Jeff got to hear these songs –  many that he’s never heard before.

‘How can you not know who Andre Botcelli is?’ I ask him.

‘Sorry, but I’ve avoided opera so far.’

‘Well, you know that Paolo Conte’s Via Con Mi  is my go to on any airplane take off. It’s cheerful and optimistic.’ I’m not a good take-off-er.

Heavy sigh – ‘Yes, I know. But your playlists are curious.’

‘How so?’ I asked, ready for battle. Anyone who doesn’t like Edith Piaf and ‘Schmeilson in the Night’ is suspect, as far as I’m concerned.

‘Well, usually you build it so that it starts out with some slow stuff and builds up to something head banging, with a heavy base. Then you take the listener down and drop them off gently at the end. This assault is more scattered and random.’

I close my eyes and breathe.

‘Have you never heard of ‘Shuffle’? It means that tracks are played randomly. I don’t choose it.’

‘Yeah – well, whatever algorithm is ‘choosing’ it, is just sad.’

‘Well it might make you sad, but I’ll always be ready for Jennifer Hudson’s ‘I Am Changing‘. Dream Girls is a timeless anthem to women overcoming and rising up.’

‘Maybe, but it’s startling. It’s like your songs stab the listener when they play, before you figure out what you’re listening to.’

I thought he should be careful bringing up stabbing, but the knives are gone. We’re going to be spending ALOT more time together when we get to Spain. I think I can turn him on to Edith, Andre, Yo-Yo, The Spin Dotors and Depeche Mode. And perhaps, just perhaps, I can reorder my music so it’s less of an assault on the senses. And I’m sure I’ll come to appreciate Cake and Jane’s Addiction, eventually.

 

Visa Approved!!

Just heard – we are good to go. Its a little surreal. If we hadn’t had to provide one more month of financial statements, it would have taken only 3 days. I love the Spanish Consulate in Los Angeles. Crazy! After all that – it was quick and painless.

Crazy Ideas

It’s strange. Thinking back, when we started this whole crazy idea of doing this – we targeted February 28th as the day we would fly out to Spain. And now it’s going to happen. In the end, I fooled the Gods of Document Hades – I think I wore them out!

I just booked our flights. I’m not sure how it all dovetailed together, but it did and our project planning all worked out. In software parlance, we finished UAT in plenty of time.

I included a photo in this post. Its a book my husband bought for me. He had no idea how may crazy ideas I could really have when he gave it to me. But he soon learned that the sky is the limit as far as my imagination is concerned. So, here we go!

If you could see me right now, you’d see a HUGE smile, that will be celebrated later tonight with the last bottle of champagne I’ve been saving for this occasion. The sound of the cork popping will be like the sounds of the fireworks of Fallas, we will get to experience in a few weeks.

Here’s to dreaming and taking roads less traveled. Here’s to all the crazy ideas and believing that anything is possible. Here’s to living the life you’ve imagined. It can be done. Ask me. I know.

Day 8 – Visa Watch

We’re just waiting now. Checking email throughout the day to see if the ‘We like you, come to Spain’ email is waiting for us. Now I’m doing the housekeeping of sweeping up all the little things. Funny, I thought the list was almost done, but the closer we get I keep adding one thing here, another there. To Do’s I didn’t think about. Turning in cable boxes and routers, mailing important documents to my parents for safe keeping. Finding stray bins full of photos that I need to figure out what to do with them.

Today, I’m putting our entire movie collection on an external hard drive so we can avoid taking the dvd’s with us. It’s tedious but we’ll have entertainment when we decide we can’t get through the day without watching Harry Potter or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Music CD’s will come after that.

Yesterday, I made the inventory of all our boxes and wrapped them in plastic wrap and labeled them for the shippers when they come next week. And speaking of international shippers. Are they all flakes? I signed the contract with ours and their dispatch still can’t tell me what day next week when they will come and pick up our stuff. And when Jeff dropped off his motorcycle with a different shipper in LA last week, they acted like it was the first time they had ever shipped a motorcycle and were making it up as they go along. A process ripe for disruption, if I was looking for a business opportunity or a Start-up to start up.

Only one more document and our accountant will have all the documents he needs to do our taxes. Every day, I do small things now. But most of them have to done on a specific day, so it’s slowed me down. I can’t batch it all up and just muscle through, so it’s good I have this movie converting to do.

Jeff is still working an hour away and he has the truck so I’m home bound, for the most part. It’s goes against my nature. Before my son, Nick was born I was put on bed rest for 6 weeks for high blood pressure. It drove me crazy, even though everyone said I should appreciate the rest before sleepless nights became my reality. But I didn’t. I hated the inaction.

So, I’m determined to appreciate this time. Our last 14 days in the US. I’ll watch some of my favorite shows. Enjoy some foods I can only get here. Call friends and family. Take more walks in the neighborhood. But that doesn’t mean I’m not hitting refresh on my email – hoping against hope that we’ll be the exception and get our visas in record time. The biggest lose end tied up, at last.

 

Check, Check, Check

Yesterday, I sat near our open front door and waited all day for the overnight package from our translator so I could turn around and send it to the Spanish Consulate. Our mail carrier is flakey – a looong history of creatively avoiding bringing packages to our door and just leaving the ‘Sorry we missed you’ slip on the door when I’ve been home. Never ringing the bell and forcing me to go to the post office to collect them.

This time, I was going to outwit him. I sat on our only piece of furniture facing the door with it open. He was not going to get by me. Like any flu sufferer, I hit refresh on my laptop as I watched it get ever closer to our house. And then it stalled. Where was he? It’s like he fell off the radar. Refresh, Refresh, Refresh – Nothing.

Where could my Oh So Valuable package be? Where could this man I had to battle through high package delivery seasons like Christmas and Valentines Day? My postal nemesis was outwitting me and it wasn’t just the cold meds. Finally, I decided to walk up to the mail box and there it was. He had avoided coming to our door again and hadn’t put in the delivery status and it had been there for hours!

I grabbed it and like a wide receiver in the Super Bowl, I headed straight for the goal line a half mile away at the UPS store. Sure, I was still in my PJ’s and my hair wasn’t combed so when the UPS guy saw me come in the door wild eyed, he just shook his head. He and I know each other well.

‘Where are we sending this today?’ he asked, fingers over his key board. ‘Spain? Colorado?’

‘No. To the Spanish Consulate in Los Angeles.’

He raised his eyebrows. ‘Weren’t you just there on Monday?’

Yes, the people at the UPS store have seen me so many times for copies, notarization, overnight parcels that they know my schedule and visa milestones.

‘We were, but they needed one more set of bank statements.’

‘Seriously? You gave them like 1000 pages already. I copied all of them.’

‘Yeah – but they wanted more. This is the more, and it’s all been translated.’

He shook his head and put together the label and the envelope. We worked together to put it in and seal it.

‘I hate to say this, but I hope we never see each other again.’ I said

He smiled and nodded. ‘I know what you mean. I’m too emotionally tied up in your visa process. I’m going to need a break.’

I paid him and waved goodbye, trying to smooth down my hair with some sort of dignity – wandering home in my PJ’s after the adrenaline let down. Happy I could finally shut the front door and take a nap.

Today, we delivered our Audi TT to the Dealer who purchased it.

‘We have no car now.’ I lamented to Jeff tonight.

‘Yes we do. The truck is still in the driveway.’

I pulled a face.

‘Like I said, we have no car.’

‘We have one, we’re just ashamed to go out and drive around in it.’ he conceded.

He’s not wrong. We will technically be able to convey ourselves around these final two weeks – before someone who actually wants Mary Jane (our old truck) comes to pick it up – but we will not enjoy it.

On Sunday we’re heading down to Tuscon and visiting Jeff’s Mom, for the last time before we leave. I want to see her face when we pull up in it. Its not lost on me that we gave away or sold nearly everything of value. And now, the final vehicle we own is something from 1985.  But the list is smaller. Only a couple more things to check off and we’re outta here.

 

Just One More Thing…

After driving to Los Angeles and staying in a hotel overnight, we made it the the consulate a bit early for our appointment. Their website details EXACTLY how you’re supposed to do everything, down to printing two copies of the document check list and the order in which those documents must appear in the packet. It emphasizes how important this all is and I checked and double checked it all. I had Jeff go through the instructions on the website himself, in case I missed something. Here’s how it actually went.

We got there early – I’m never, ever late to anything. And this appointment is too important to be left to chance. There weren’t any other people there to get visas at the moment we arrived, so they took us early.  Good sign – I thought. And they’re really nice people. I know they want to help us get our visa.

‘Just pull the financial documents out and let’s go through them first. That will be the thing that will keep you from getting the visa so if they are good, then the rest is easy’

Seemed logical to me. So out I pulled the holy scriptures of our financial picture – thick dossiers of everything and several months worth of statements.

‘Yeah – we don’t need all this. Just the beginning and ending balances. And being that this is February 5th and your January statement looks like it would have ended on the 29th – we will need that too. Why don’t you have that?’

I was incredulous. I had everything – EVERYTHING – related to our financial picture. It had all been translated for hundreds of dollars. And it all came down to our last bank statement??

‘There was no time to send it to Boulder to the translator and get it back in time for this appointment – 6 days later with a weekend in there.’

‘Well, we’re going to need that since it’s past the 29th.’

You could visibly seem my mouth hanging open. But of course I said, ‘OK’. I would get it.

Then they wanted to know why my translations weren’t ‘stapled by the translator’. I said I didn’t know. They were very concerned unstapled translations might be rejected in Spain. Jeff and I looked at each other. We could staple them ourselves but we remained silent.

‘Please consult your translator and ask why she didn’t staple them.’

I said I would and reached out to her in email from the consulate. Oh, No You Didn’t! She came unglued! She told me in her official translation certification, they expressly said that official translations are never stapled, she never staples, and she thinks it renders the documents unofficial. I was beginning to feel like I was caught between Mom and Dad and they were in a fight.

Ugh. Then we were told we needed more copies of our 10lb packets, so we had to walk across the street and get some made and bring them back. Great! We were all set – the guy gave me back some copies and we went back to our hotel to pack up and get Jeff’s motorcycle to the port of Los Angeles to ship it out. Then my phone rang.

They were very sorry but they had given me the wrong papers and I needed to come back across town and give them back to them so they could give me the correct ones. I will admit to having a melt down in the hotel room. The Gods of Document Hades were having me on again! But what could I do?

I went back through LA traffic and they squeezed me in to sort it out. It only took an hour. I left there and drove down to the port to meet up with Jeff – more than an hour away. I had all his gear, that was shipping with his bike, in the trunk of my car so he couldn’t complete it without me. This delayed us getting out of LA. And I know from experience, you never, ever delay getting out of LA after noon. Or it will take you FOREVER!! You will age on the drive from San Pedro to San Bernadino. It’s like dog years.

So at midnight last night – we rolled into our driveway. Yes  – midnight. And this morning I’m going to our bank to explain to some nice person that I need to get those statements stamped again. And then I’m going to scan them and send them to our translator, who has promised to do them quickly and get them back to me via overnight post, so I can overnight them to the consulate. She’ll probably put 50 staples in them just for spite. But I’m tired thinking about it.

I know we aren’t alone. While I was sitting there in my second consulate visit yesterday morning – I noticed almost everyone had a ‘Just one more thing’ to go take care of. Three weeks – we need that visa in three weeks so we can get on a plane. Crossing my fingers that our ‘Just one more thing’ is really ‘The last thing.’