Friday, January 30, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions

When you get engaged the first question everyone asks is, "when's the wedding." When you are pregnant (I'm guessing) the first question everyone asks is "what is your due date?" or "are you going to find out the sex?" Below is a list of questions people ask you when you quit your job and are moving to South Africa. With answers.

Q - How long will you be in South Africa?
A- 3 years

Q- After the 3 years will you come back to the US/NY?
A - We don't know

Q- Where in South Africa are you moving?
A - Near Johannesburg in the Northern suburbs map it!

Q-Did you have to get shots?
A- No, at least not that we are aware. So hopefully no because we didn't.

Q- What are you (wife) going to do?
A - See this post

Q - Wow! What did your parents say?
A - They said they were excited for us, although I am sure they were a little sad. They said they will come and visit.

Q - Do they speak English there?
A - Yes! Thankfully!

Q-  Do you get to come home?
A - Yes, twice a year.

Q - (well really more of a comment) Wow, watch out for lions!
A - Definitely!

IT'S my job - it's MY job - it's my JOB

If you have been reading through my last few blog posts you may have noticed that I've had something of a realization recently. Taking care of everything at home IS my new job. Part of the premise of this blog was what will I do when I am not working? What will my life be like? I think I have some answers. I will be working. I just won't be getting a paycheck deposited into my bank account.

When we were in Florida recently we were talking with friends about our move and the inevitable question came up, directed to me, "and what will you be doing?" Normally, I answer this with a two minute speech about how I don't have a work visa and I can't work but I'll definitely volunteer, maybe something to do with animals or kids, and oh and I'll join a gym and workout a lot and mostly I'll relax, because you know I have been working my ass off for the past few years." The person who asked the question, and who was probably just being polite, by now has completely glazed over and lost interest. This time was different though. This time, the person asked the question and my husband (by the way I'm giving him a blog name...Mr. Deep) so Mr.Deep jumped in and replied on my behalf and said "she's Sr. Executive Vice President of Household Operations."

It was meant to be funny but for me it was a realization. It is my job to make our household, our move and truthfully my husband's life run smoothly. He has a big new important job, he is not only moving across the world away from everything and everyone that he knows, but he has a big important job and he needs help. How much help he needs can be the subject of a future post. But anyway, he needs a partner he can count on. And just like that I started thinking about my new job and I started treating my new responsibilities the way that I used to treat my old job. I started reassuring him that I was taking care of things. I started asking how I might be able to help him. I began managing up and down and sideways. Here's a great example. It snowed the other day and the movers were coming. There was some snow that fell onto our front steps even after we had shoveled. While getting ready for work and while brushing his teeth (so he couldn't really speak that clearly) Mr. Deep summoned me over to the window, grunted, pointed out the window and through a series of sounds, suggested that I shovel up that bit of snow before the movers arrived. In the past, in my head I might have thought "I don't see your arm in a sling" or something like that because I would have been rushing off to work too, stressed about what the day was going to bring. But I cleaned up the snow and did about 75 other tasks related to household operations. It was actually a banner day for the Household Operations Department at Deep Industries!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Moving Day. The First in a Series...

Today is moving day. Sort of. The movers are here to box up everything we own and put it on a crate and then on a slow boat (takes 7 weeks) to Africa. For the next two weeks or so we will be living in temporary housing here in New York. Once we arrive in Africa we will again live in temporary housing until we find a permanent home.

Have you seen the scene in Goodfellas where Henry is running around like a crazy person, making the sauce, picking up the babysitter at the airport? All while being followed by police helicopters? Well that was me this morning, minus doing coke  - although I did have a venti coffee from Starbucks. Also, as far as I know I wasn't being followed by cops.

In order to make sure we have everything we need for the next two weeks I created a little area of our living room for the "do not pack zone." I promise and swear to you that I did not mean for the way I created this zone to be amusing or funny. When my husband saw it he cracked up laughing and said that I had to take pictures of it for the blog. Then, the movers arrived and they also seemed to find this little zone hilarious.

I made the zone out of little strips of paper that I then taped onto the floor.

The Do Not Pack Zone

Each little slip of paper outlining the zone looked like this:

Friday, January 23, 2015


In my last post I wrote about preparing to move out of our house and mentioned making piles. Now I have taken the preparation to a whole new level. In addition to determining what should be sent by air, boat and carried in our suitcases, I spent the last three days inventorying everything we own. For example, we have two zesters, 1 melon baller and six corkscrews. We also have a lovely set of Irish coffee glasses and the last time we made Irish coffee was never. I took photos and made a giant spreadsheet listing everything. Well, everything except for our clothes. And I still need to do that. It's just that I decided to take a break and go to Florida for a Beerfest this weekend. Because let's face it going to Florida and drinking beer is way more fun than counting socks.

The good news is that this is the second time in 14 months that we have moved so our belongings are pretty pared down (except for that overabundance of corkscrews.) We also have gotten rid of a lot of stuff lately. We gave away things like appliances where the voltage won't work over in South Africa, etc. All this is to say we still have a ton of crap! For example, does a couple really need this many candles and candle holders?

I reminded myself that the answer may in fact be yes as South Africa is having an electricity shortage (more on that in a future blog post I am sure) so I kept it all and assigned it to the slow boat.

The other thing that became very apparent is that when you are the "stay at home spouse" staying at home and doing pretty much everything related to the home IS your job. So you can't delegate. You can't really turn to your husband who just returned from a week-long business trip and say, "hey the garage needs to be swept out."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Countdown

You might be reading this blog and wondering when do we get to the part about South Africa?  Good question! Logistics related to our move have been slow going but in the last week or so a great deal of progress has been made.

Last Friday we went down to New York City and submitted the paperwork to apply for our visas. That means the countdown is on and we should have our visa paperwork in four weeks. Gathering the paperwork for the visa applications took over a month.  My husband handled a bulk of this project and he carried all of the needed paperwork around in a folder. The folder was full of certified copies of documents, letters, chest x-rays to prove we didn't have TB, bank statements, FBI background checks and more. It was quite a project to collect everything that was required.

Today, we spent the day making piles. You might remember from reading my last post that I am a huge fan of organizing things. Today was focused on piling items into three categories 1) the slow boat - meaning the items will be shipped on a boat (obviously) and will take about seven weeks to arrive. The slow boat will take our furniture, housewares and some clothes. 2) the air shipment - we can air ship up to 400 pounds of stuff which will arrive in South Africa a week or so after we do. This is mostly clothes, shoes, sundries, etc. 3) the suitcases - needs to contain everything that we will want between the time that the movers come (next week) and when we get to South Africa and receive the air shipment.  This includes a few weeks while we will still be in NY. Kind of tricky since it's the middle of winter here and summer in South Africa. Below are some pictures of the piles. I tried to strategically hide my underwear. Hopefully I was successful.


half slow boat and half air shipment

slow boat - see you in March! 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cleaning Out My Closet aka the 80's Called

My husband had to take a trip to Geneva to get paperwork in order for our upcoming move to South Africa. I texted my mom to tell her about his trip and she said that she was actually wondering if I had time to help her clean out some stuff in my old room and in my sister's old room. Now, I should stop right here and tell you that I absolutely love organizing things and going through old stuff and throwing most of it away. I know that's a little unusual. Maybe it's because I was born under the sign of Virgo. Maybe it is because I have some kind of OCD, I don't know. I can't even watch the show hoarders because I hate clutter so much. So anyway, when my mom mentioned closet cleaning I screamed "get the garbage bags ready" and rushed up to my parents' house to assist.

I definitely didn't inherit the organization gene from anyone in my family. I think that's pretty much evidenced by the fact that neither my sister or I have lived in this house since the early 90's yet so much of our stuff remains.

I did keep a few things that I found in my old closet. I'm not a Vulcan after all. Here's what I decided to keep, and thus bring with me to Africa.

  • My rock collection. These are shiny polished gem like looking rocks. Not just gravel gathered from the yard.
  • a collection of seashells. I like shells and I will organize them in a pretty glass container.
  • The Laura Ingalls Wilder collection of Little House on The Prairie books. I may see if my god daughter would like these. If not, I will just keep them.
  • A pastel drawing that my middle school art teacher made of Tom Cruise that my husband thinks looks like him. I will frame this.

I took some funny pictures of a few of the items I found. All of these ended up getting thrown away. So grab your time machine and take a look!
I made this alligator in elementary school out of plaster and paper mache'. I think it's pretty good.
Hahaha. I think was a game similar to Simon where you had to remember patterns.

Only part of the cassette collection that I found. Even by 80's standards I think this Walkman cassette player had to be bulky right? 

I begged my parents to get me this game. They did not. Someone else finally got it for me around 1982.

Does anyone under 40 even know who this dog is?

Sunday Monday Happy Days

"Tuesday has no feel. Monday has a feel. Friday has a feel. Sunday has a feel." - Kramer and Newman on Seinfeld
As I continue to acclimatize to my non working life, one of the first thing I've noticed is that the days of the week now have much less of a feel. Back when I worked, Sunday evenings were hard. I liked my job but that didn't mean that I didn't mourn the looming end of the weekend and wasn't spending a large portion of Sunday night thinking about all the week had in store. Friday felt like a finish line. Sometimes it felt like a finish line that I was crawling across on my bloodied hands and knees, a shell of my former refreshed Monday self.  It was a good exhausted like a hard workout and it carried with it a real sense of accomplishment. It seemed like the light was different on Friday than on Sunday night or Monday morning. Like you could be driving down your street and see your neighbor's big tree and somehow the tree would have a whole different look, as if it were saying "so sorry you have to go to work tomorrow" or "hey congratulations it's Friday! You Should go home and have a drink! You've earned it."

Now I'm not working and I definitely noticed this past Friday that I didn't feel very accomplished. I missed that feeling and was a little envious of those who had worked so hard all week long and were now basking in their achievements and congratulating themselves on their survival. It's funny because I actually did accomplish a lot last week. I started this blog, ran numerous errands, made homemade dinners every night, worked out several times, and more. I promise I didn't sit around watching The Price is Right and yelling at the contestants on the row to bid one dollar. But it wasn't the same as it used to be. Now it's Sunday night and I feel peaceful. Tomorrow is just another day. I am planning to stay up and watch the ENTIRE Golden Globes show tonight. I know I really know how to live it up!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Stress: Part 1

I have held jobs since the 80s and have worked full time since graduating from college back in 1992. I'm 44 years old - I'll save you the speculation and the math. Anyway, for the past ten years or so my job has carried with it a great deal of stress. It's important to note here that I wasn't/am not a doctor, soldier, air traffic controller, fire fighter or police officer. When I went to work I didn't exactly face life or death (my own or other people's) in the way that people in those professions do. Regardless I had a great deal of responsibility and faced daily numerous challenges front the small and annoying to full on what I would call disasters. From this I experienced a moderate (you be the judge when I describe the symptoms) stress.

Like I am sure many people do, I blamed almost every manifestation of stress on my job. The dialogue in my head went something like this.

1. I don't sleep well because I am stressed about work.
2. I make bad food choices because I am at work and feeling stressed or hard a hard day/week, etc.
3. I bite my nails because I am stressed from work.
4. My skin looks bad and doesn't glow like it should because I am stressed from work.
5. I will probably get cancer or some other disease due to the stress I feel from work.
And from the extra gross category:
6. I have a bald spot on the top of my head about he size of a nickel that I attribute to stress from work, No, I am not going to show you a picture. No, I have not been to the doctor but my hairdresser and I diagnosed it as being stress related and I will not be seeing the doctor about this due to concerns raised above in item 5. Finally, I style my hair in such a way that this spot is not visible.

So I wonder now that I won't be working will I be largely stress free? Will my skin glow like Kim Kardashian's skin? Will my nails and hair be thick and strong? Will I jump out of bed each morning with a smile after a solid 8 hours of interrupted sleep?

We will see. I wanted to share my "symptoms of stress" now while they are fresh in my mind. I'll keep you posted. I should add that after several weeks of not working I am writing this post at 1:40 a.m. I couldn't sleep!

My First Blog Post: New Year New Everything

Well this is weird. Today is the day the world went back to work and school following the holidays. It is now officially the yucky part of winter. Christmas decorations are past their prime. In New York City yesterday I saw more than one former Christmas tree, now stripped naked of anything sparkly, tossed aside on the curb. Everything on the Today show this morning was all about losing weight and healthy eating. The Starbucks cups have transformed from their festive red to "rest of the year" white. And it's cold. According to the older gentleman sitting behind me talking to his friend its gonna be 9 degrees tonight...and according to him, that's not even counting the wind chill factor.

So far I've described a scene that's more depressing than weird. What feels weird today for me is while the world went back to work today, I did not. In fact I'm likely not going back to work for a long, long time. Two weeks ago I left my job, a place where I worked for over 19 years. I left for a new adventure...a life in South Africa where my husband and I will be moving in a few weeks. This blog is going to be about our life there as well as my adjustment to being a homemaker full time. I don't know anyone who has ever moved to South Africa and I don't know any working age female who has no children and doesn't have a job. I'm sure there are some. (I'm not counting people who are looking for a job in this category by the way.) So welcome to 2015 and the start of a new year, a new blog, and for us a whole boat load of changes...should be interesting!

About Me

My photo
Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have just moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a few months following a few years of living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two places could not be more different. I'm excited to share our adventures, challenges and insights with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.