Friday, April 18, 2008

Happy anniversary - and - Angela makes her way back into the world

April 15 was mine and Oli's second anniversary. Remember this classic video?

We're pretty bad about planning things for ourselves (this is something I think you get better at in your first few years as a parent and citizen of a foreign country, but that you need to make a concerted effort at in order to not go crazy slowly from lack of care to yourself) and even though every night for a month we discussed that his brother would be visiting the week of our anniversary and could possibly babysit, we still never came up with anything to go out and do and the two of us ended up going out to the park to drink beers, play ping-pong and toss the frisbee around, which was, to be fair, very enjoyable. There was little pressure to come up with anything bigger mostly because we knew that the first weekend in May we'd be taking a trip of some sort to celebrate and also because we are swamped at the moment and the last thing on our minds is anything happening after tomorrow (Although I have managed to purchase our plane tickets to the US for Christmas).

Despite being here months, there's always another bureaucratic process to tackle. Once one goes through, it just means I then have the ability to use whatever number has been assigned to me to apply for another one in another system. This is all complicated in that I don't just deal with my immigration, employment and healthcare paperwork, but also Lily's ID, healthcare, daycare, and all utilities and filings for government assistance...all of which include multiple steps and are reliant on one another in a silly web of paper and numbers (I do like puzzles so there was an exciting element of challenge, but that wore off some time ago when each time I'd go to an office they'd tell me something contrary to the information I had previously spent so much time piecing together; it was like an Agatha Cristie novel where she doesn't give you real clues or any chance of actually solving the mystery for yourself. You read a whole novel of things that make you go 'Hmmmm' just so at the end Hercule Poirot or Ms Marple can sit you in a room and tell you some solution unrelated to all that previous stuff you spent so much time hm-ing at. Only here the solution revealer is almost invariably a chain smoking woman with dark rimmed glasses that you wait two hours to see and she always has bad news and says I'm sorry but inside is really laughing at me and my fourth visit to her office.).

While my immigration process was a nightmare (See parenthetic statement above.), other things that are handled by the city hall or by the health care authority have been extremely well organized and customer assistants have been fantastic. Lily even had her first doctor's appointment on Monday and I was relieved to know she needs no new vaccines and can go to nursery if we want, and I have managed to find one I like that I can get her into this late in the academic year. So I can't complain really. It's just a matter of keeping going. And you better believe my Spanish of bureaucracy is getting, well not great, but pretty darn GOOD. I must say I like the work "trĂ¡mite" which basically means "a bureaucratic process" and can be used as a verb (tramitar) as well. Extremely useful stuff.

Anyway, point being, after days of being with Lily, going to offices (Sadly, Lily knows the word office really well but somehow shows no aversion when I say we're going to another one; what a good girl.), enjoying time with guests, and seeing my husband for a few minutes, I find myself up 'til past midnight every night cleaning up, preparing food for the next day, putting together applications, researching applications and opportunities, putting up ads for the available room in our flat (we're poor!), looking for Spanish classes or intercambios, and playing around on Facebook (Has anyone realized how absolutely fun the graffiti application is?!). I figure that most parents, and adult people in general, lead some sort of cluttered life, so I'm not asking for special pity here.

Despite all the negator talk above, the nice weather has been uplifting and we've been out together with friends in the city to parks and beaches A LOT, which has been really really nice. Lily loves the beach and could throw stones in the sea and bury Lego men all day.

Anyway, one of our major principles as parents is that kids need to see their parents doing things that make them happy. Thing is, I currently can't remember what I'm interested in or if I ever had interests to begin with. I also have a sneaking suspicion that many people, childless and childful, have this sensation, so I don't feel so bad. Solution to me seems to be making it a priority to stay in touch with the outside world through media and human contact such that connections (between synapses in the brain, ideas, people, opportunities) occur over time in an accumulative fashion and one day you realize you're the person all your friends describe as "really into [fill in the blank]".

So, it will not happen over night, but after almost a year of doing little more than moving and installing my family in a new country, I'm making efforts to take some baby steps into the outside world again. Is the world ready?


Post Scripts:
1 - Up above there at the beginning of this post I pretty quickly glossed over the fact that we recently had an anniversary. Let me just say I've been a terrible person lately for reasons outlined above and that my husband generally has a way of really listening to abstract maniacal thoughts and responding to them with openness, sympathy and real solutions. Oh, that sounds so robotic. I don't know, I guess he's just good at being my partner and sometimes I can't believe it. He's also makes me a much funner person than I would otherwise be.

2 - We now have a real internet connection and land line. It's soooo nice.

3 - Oli's brother Dave and his (Dave's!) girlfriend Laura were with us and we really enjoyed having them. Without a digi cam, we have little evidence of their having been here. Lily LOVES the venus fly trap and cash register they bought her.

4 - The Hartrichs (Jim and Deb) offered to buy us a new digi cam after we hosted Nate and Laura Hartrich and lost our digi cam while out with them. J and D said they wanted to thank us for showing N and L such a good time. We (very very naughtily) accepted and the camera arrived on Tuesday. THANK YOU. So......

5 - When Chris and Mal and Baby Aldous visit us this weekend we will take pictures.

DONE!!!!! It's 1:32 in the morning and I'm going to BED.


Colin said...

hey Seeleys, just wanted to let you know that I love anything you post on the internets so I can keep up on your lives in Spain, and that I miss you all so much. And love you very much, and look forward to the next time I get to see each one of you.

I think of you as part of my family, and I love any bit of information that I can read about your lives these days. We miss you so very much.

Maiasaura said...

Angela, you express yourself so well. In the time we were in Barcelona, I felt like I understood the hardships of hoop-jumping you were going through. But the Agatha Christie analogy you wrote here was the best description yet.

Maiasaura said...

And Happy Anniversary!!!

Does not sound robotic at all. It's great to have a partner who accepts you, even during your less pleasant times. I know this from experience.

Jay M. said...

-I understand that feeling of a lack of "other stuff that makes up a person." Sometimes you get so used to working and trying to take care of things that you forget about actively pursuing things you enjoy. I think with the weather changing (at least here) it will be easier to remember to do those things.

-You said "digi cam" a lot at the end there. Do Spaniards regularly use film cameras and differentiate between the two when talking about them? Just curious.

-negator sounds like a villain from a He-Man style cartoon. Negator, ruler of the BadLands and all things cynical.

-We miss you.