Then and now.

Who forces time is pushed back by time; who yields to time finds time on his side. –The Talmud

(NOTE: this is a long one, with a bit of cursing, disclosure, no punches pulled, and vulnerability. Don’t like any of that? Don’t bother reading any further.)

Picture it: October 2013.

Aside from a few pieces of luggage filled to the brim with whatever I could carry, I returned home with almost nothing. The life I was trying to build in the United Kingdom was snatched from me.

I’d been placed on unpaid leave on August 9, 2013 – in contemplation of dismissal – by a shady employer that misinformed me about my work visa, among other things. Because of the employer, I accidentally overstayed my work visa by about 2 months by the time I received notification from the Home Office on August 8, 2013. I then had to report to the local immigration office like a criminal – once per week initially, then once every 2 weeks. I was evicted from my beautiful apartment in October by what turned out to be a shady landlord (I’ll never forget, Gary Sheppard of southeast London). I’d been his tenant for over 3 years and even offered him my security deposit, but money over everything, right? For 3 weeks before leaving the United Kingdom, I stayed with someone who insisted that I stay with her after my eviction. (I won’t mention her name here, but can’t thank her enough.)

I asked the male DNA contributor to please help me get a ticket home; there was no real response. Things were so bad that an American colleague took the male DNA contributor’s number from my phone to call and explain how bad things were. (Even though I knew it was a waste of time, she insisted.) Male DNA contributor begrudgingly bought a ticket, didn’t accept my thank yous, and treated me like shit. After almost 3 months of no contact (didn’t even check to make sure of my safe arrival to the U.S.), the male DNA contributor e-mailed me – not to say “hello” or “how are you?”, but to tell me that “you owe me (insert U.S. dollar amount here)”. No exaggeration – that’s what the e-mail said. When I responded that I was living from couch to couch, the male DNA contributor stated that I was exaggerating and need to look for work to pay back the money, along with some other really fucked up things that I can’t remember off the top of my head. Male DNA contributor would’ve known that I was looking all day every day, including weekends, at employment opportunities, had there been any effort to check on me. Don’t worry… I washed my hands for good.

Bye.
Bye.

The female DNA contributor isn’t much better. (Boy… if there’s a higher power, he or she sure knows how to pick the people whom they want to create new human beings. 😐 ) Complete narcissistic waste of time & energy. Don’t worry… I washed my hands for good a while ago. At least I don’t discriminate, right?

Another person from England, whom I’d known for 10 years, insisted that I pay her back $50.00 I owed her in spite of full knowledge of my situation. Yes… $50.00. I was so stunned that she had the nerve to ask me for money she knew I didn’t have, that I just responded with “not a problem”. I gave her the bit of money (and boy, was it just a bit) I got from the former employer about 5 weeks later and after that… *crickets* –  no “hello” or “how are you?” or even “f*** you” after that. I waited 1 year for her to say something to me on any form of social media or technology… still *crickets*. I was there for her during some really difficult times (including an abusive relationship), before and after my move to England, and she threw everything away for 50 U.S. dollars. Don’t worry… I washed my hands for good.

Bye. (Or, in British speak, off you go.)
Bye. (Or, in British speak, off you go.)

At one point, I don’t think that even my aunt & uncle – who are like real parents to me – realized the gravity of my situation. And I’ll admit, I was angry at & frustrated with them for a bit before my return home. But once they realized how bad things were, that was it. I began staying with them before Xmas 2013.

I forgot to mention that since I accidentally overstayed my visa because of the former employer, along with reporting to the local immigration office, I was banned from returning to the United Kingdom for 1 year. Once I gave up all chances of returning after being shafted by recruitment agencies, I gave up trying to get back to the country and sat out my 1 year ban.

And so many other painful stories of betrayal and outright dismissal, from so-called colleagues, friends & relatives, that I could recount since I hit my rock bottom. (I’m not sure if those people deserve my energy, though.)

But then there are people such as:

  • my (ex-)stepfather who, in spite of us not speaking for 1 year because of an issue, picked me up at the airport upon my arrival home even though he lives in another state and carried my luggage – no questions asked – and gave me money for public transportation to get to interviews without me asking.
  • Joana, who insisted that I stay with her upon my return home, free of charge and refused any of my offers to help otherwise. I didn’t stay long due to other reasons, but for that and her I’m eternally grateful.
  • my aunt & uncle, who’ve housed me, which has helped me rebuild my life slowly but surely. Among countless other things, aunt bought me a coat and interview clothing also.
  • Dashima, who supported my fundraiser and sent me flowers when I finally got a job after almost 8 months of no luck.
  • Juma, who gave me his old coat until I got a new one, and provided other support.
  • those who gave me emotional and/or financial and/or other support and didn’t have to – Ellen & her husband storing my stuff in England, Sherri helping me pack, Sherri (again) & her husband cooking for me, Nadine helping me pack, Dacia, Gary, Johanna, Uzma, Twana, Sharon S., Natalie & Emmon, Ruth, Atiba, my 2 main Facebook group members, and so many others I wouldn’t expect.
  • the many people who sent me job postings.
  • the people who don’t know me in real life or online but believed me and believed in me more than enough to help, no questions asked.

I know I’ve forgotten some names, but I hope those people know my heart.

I think things are beginning to look up.

  • I’ve worked since March 2014, after almost 8 months of unemployment with no benefits of any kind.
  • I’ve paid down some debt.
  • I joined a gym to return to healthier living.
  • I’m studying for my next highest credential (or qualification, for those of you overseas).
  • My aunt, uncle and I get along very well overall, which is definitely a challenge for an introvert like me.
  • I have travels coming up within the next 2 months; my travel bug is finally back. (I’ll leave the travels as a surprise for now.)
  • And last, but certainly not least, I’ve been able to help others with no strings attached. It warms my heart to help those who can never pay it back (nor do they have to try). I’m just grateful to be able to do it. (I’m very selective, however.)
Finally (little by little).
Finally (little by little).

I sit here, typing this with tears in my eyes. (A few of ’em even fell.) Some feel like sad tears, but more feel like grateful tears. For those who left me when I needed it most, farewell. For the rest of you, I’m eternally grateful. I thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart.

Little by little, step by step, day by day.

The world returning to my fingertips.
The world returning to my fingertips.

Time off & out.

I’ve not been home since Xmas and I’m well overdue for a visit home.

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I’ve not been home since Xmas and I’m well overdue for a visit home. I miss my close family members, friends, hugs & kisses. So by the time you read this, I’ll be on my way home. I’ll have a post or two scheduled for you during my time off; otherwise, I’ll be back to blogging later this month. Until later.

Take off.
Take off.

Related post: 2nd home sweet home.

Travel resolutions (again).

I’m not going to wax poetic about my year in review, ups & downs, what I plan to do in 2012, etc. I think that I’ve poured out enough in my writing for you to know about my past ups & down. I will, however, wish you a Happy 2012. May you fulfill all your goals, especially your travel goals.

I didn’t fulfill my travel goal/resolution to go to Germany. I did, however, go to Italy – always one of the top countries that I wanted to visit. In 2012, I hope to visit Germany & Belgium, and I want to visit a warm island for my birthday. (I used the word “hope” in case I don’t get to those countries and/or visit different ones unexpectedly.) Everything else is up in the air and will be spontaneous, so I won’t list any other countries as definite choices.

What are your travel resolutions? How will you meet them? If you document your travels, how will you do so? And finally, if you plan to expatriate, where are you going and why?

Have a happy New Year. Don’t see it as the start of a new year; see it as the start of a new day.

Happy New Year.
Happy New Year.

Home (sweet home).

Happy holidays.
Happy holidays.

It’s that time again…

I’m heading home for a little more than a fortnight and will be on a plane by the time you get this. I’ve got a couple of posts scheduled to keep you reading whilst I’m away, so please stay tuned.

This time will be a little different, though. This will be my 2nd Xmas at my 1st home while working in my 2nd home. Many of my insights are the same, but there are some that are definitely different. I don’t know how these new insights will affect my time back home, but I’m anticipating the outcomes once I return to my 2nd home. Here are a few of my new insights:

– My friendship group has gotten smaller. It comes with the territory of being an expatriate. Rather than mourning the losses, I’m gonna try appreciating the ones who are still around.

– My definition of friendship has changed. It’s hard to explain and, therefore, I’ll test things out while I’m home.

– My definition of family has changed. A wise friend told her husband that “there is a difference between family and relatives”. That’s one of the best insights I’ve had this year and goes with my edited version – “blood is not (always) thicker than water”. Contrary to popular belief, one can choose one’s family, and that’s powerful.

I almost stayed here for Xmas for financial reasons. But I decided to break away from the usual Spinster and take care of my Self first. I can’t control everything, so I’m allowing the universe to take its course for once. I wanted to go home, so I made choices to make it happen, and I think that that’s what the universe wanted. I’m looking forward to seeing my loved ones & getting some rest/recovering from jet-lag because things are hectic at work & I haven’t had a proper vacation since June. With so much vacation time in Europe, that’s a long time to go without self-care and time off. Perfect timing from the universe.

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and happy holidays, no matter what you celebrate (or don’t). To those of you traveling, I wish you a safe journey to your destination(s) and a wonderful time when you get there. Be mindful/careful and have fun. Relax, take a chill pill… whatever you do, just enjoy.

Anniversary.

1 year ago today, I landed at Heathrow Airport to work/live in another country. The time went by so fast. And I’m still alive, still standing.

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1 year ago today, I landed at Heathrow Airport to work/live in another country.  The time went by so fast.  And I’m still alive, still standing.

I’m not gonna write a long entry about the year; instead, I already have a few posts coming down the pipe that’ll address my experience(s)/thoughts about the year, and my other blog is under re-construction and should be done by the end of the week.  You can, however, read this & this & maybe even this to get an idea (if you haven’t already) of my experience moving here, along with reading other posts right after those.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my experiences so far, and I hope that it inspires someone to make that move.

Hot mess.

I don’t think I’m ugly at all, but I’m by no means a beauty queen. I’ll never be the main “character” in a music video. I’ll probably never be a rich man’s trophy. I’ll never win Miss America, Miss World or Miss Universe. Letting myself go makes me feel worse about these (possible) facts.

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Sweat pants, hair tied, chillin’ with no make-up on
That’s when you’re the prettiest, I hope that you don’t take it wrong…..

Drake – Best I Ever Had

Before.
Before.

I don’t think I’m ugly at all, but I’m by no means a beauty queen. I’ll never be the main “character” in a music video. I’ll probably never be a rich man’s trophy. I’ll never win Miss America, Miss World or Miss Universe. Letting myself go makes me feel worse about these (possible) facts.

As a little girl, I didn’t have much say over what to wear, so Mother Dear dressed me in pink & flowers & ribbons, oh my. 😐 Add to that the ritual of getting my hair done, and all of those things added together just gave me more to mess up when playing outside games & climbing trees. So the road to being a tomboy was pretty easy to find. Navigating that road got even easier by fashion trends of the day. A girl/young woman/woman could wear boyish clothing and not be automatically typecast as a particular type of lesbian. (Nowadays it seems the opposite – if one dresses in boyish clothing, it usually reflects one’s sexuality. This is a broad generalization only for the purposes of this entry, so please don’t take this personal.)

Fast forward to college, and though I still had some elements of boyishness about me, I dressed a little more like a girl (no) thanks to my then-boyfriend. His sister was a girly girl and always had guys milling about, so I guess he wanted me emulating her. As time went on, I had to learn how to come into my own.

Fast forward again and although I don’t prance around like the belle of the ball, I became a little more focused on better caring for myself – different forms of exercise (health is important to me), manicure & pedicure once every 1-2 months, hair done every 2-3 months, clothing with a more feminine edge, a little make-up from time to time, a little jewellery from time to time. I was more mindful of taking time out for my Self, pampering my Self on a small budget, so to speak. For those who know me well, I’ve never been a vain/shallow/superficial person even though I took better care of myself; therefore, my appearance is near the bottom of my list of priorities.

I got my hair done right before I moved overseas. I wanted it to last a long time (which it did) so that I’d have time to find a hair salon in this foreign land (which wasn’t hard but took some time). I remember getting a manicure & pedicure before moving over here; after all, it was summertime and dressing nicer was in full effect.

Summertime came and went. And I still hadn’t gotten a manicure or pedicure. Eagle’s claws would best describe my fingers & toes. 😐

In addition to work, I’d moved into my own flat, which came unfurnished. Although it’s nice enough that it doesn’t need a lot of furnishing, it’s still something that only I can do as I’m on my own. That meant more money toward furnishings and less disposable income. In addition, I still have financial obligations in the States along with new bills in this country, and a weak economy that weakens all worldwide currencies makes keeping those obligations even harder. Add to that the unexpected expenses that come with any major move, such as illness & prescriptions & customs taxes from shipping my goods and etc. (more entries about those things in the near future), and the last thing I worried about was how good I looked on any given day.

Then the brisk cold weather came. When it was warm, I walked all over the place. Call it an excuse, but cold weather doesn’t inspire me to walk. Gym memberships are not cheap in my area either. Although I don’t eat much, I didn’t move around as much as I did during the summer and….. I began to notice rolls & creases in different places. Clothing got a little tighter. I can’t go clothes shopping all willy-nilly with my financial obligations, so I returned to my tomboy days of wearing big clothes. The only thing that demonstrated that I wasn’t a boy is my long hair….. and with the new hair on my chinny-chin-chin, maybe the long hair didn’t help after all. 😐

All of this, coupled with the challenges of moving, makes me feel & look less than. I’m used to looking like a boy now and I don’t have enough energy to make myself look nice. Or maybe I’ve become complacent, who knows. I just know that I’ve given up.

I got my hair done a few days before going home, and it was a lucky shot because a new salon opened in my area and the prices are right. Besides that, I’m feeling low about my appearance (and a few other things). I’m gonna get a manicure/pedicure whilst at home, and I’ve set aside a little cash to go clothes shopping – shoes, boots, sneakers, jeans, pants, whatever it takes. Hopefully new clothing will have at least a small impact.

Epilogue: I’ve purchased some nice clothing and, thanks to myriad post-holiday sales & clothes being cheaper in the States, my pockets aren’t hurting as much as I thought they would. But even if my pockets took a hard hit, I’m happy that I can finally begin feeling better about myself. It’s about time I do something for myself; the corporations can wait for once.

How have others in my situation, especially those who have expatriated, handled it? How do you keep up appearances, if at all? How do you keep your spirits lifted, if at all? What are your cost-cutting strategies for keeping up your appearance?

Travel resolutions.

Happy New Year. Take it easy and take care.

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I’m not going to wax poetic about my year in review, ups & downs, what I plan to do in 2011, and all that bullshit. I don’t really feel like it. I will, however, wish you a Happy 2011. May you fulfill all your goals, especially your travel goals.

My travel goal/resolution is to go to Germany. Everything else is up in the air and will likely be spontaneous, so I won’t list any other countries as definite choices. Suffice it to say that I intend to visit other places as well.

Happy New Year. Take it easy and take care.

What are your travel resolutions? How will you meet them? If you document your travels, how will you do so? And finally, if you plan to expatriate, where are you going and why?

Home is where the heart is.

I’m heading home for a few weeks and will be on a plane by
the time you get this. I have a few pending blog entries in my
Drafts folder; this week was busy so I couldn’t publish/finish them
in the time frame that I expected. Don’t worry though… I have
lots of material, and I’ll publish the
pending entries once I recover from jet-lag and my family (which
should take a few days). I didn’t want to leave everyone hanging
without saying something.

I’m looking forward to seeing close
family members & friends, observing the differences
& similarities between the 2 countries & cities,
and appreciating my hometown & my new town for what each
has to offer. I’m also looking forward to getting some necessary
rest because I’m burned out; I realized a few days ago that I
haven’t had a proper vacation since September
2009
. That’s a long time to
go without self-care and time off. This time at home came at the
perfect time, and I’m glad to head home for the holidays.

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and happy holidays, no matter what you
celebrate (or don’t). To those of you travelling, I wish you a safe
journey to your destinations and a wonderful time when you get
there. Be mindful/careful and have fun. Relax, take a chill pill…
whatever you do, just enjoy.

Happy holidays.
Happy holidays.