17 September 2008

The Not Always So Glamorous Life of An Expat

It is funny sometimes. I think people are envious of the cosmopolitan lifestyle that my husband and I seem to lead. A few years here, a few years there, visits to 'exotic' destinations, experiencing the amazing cultural variety this planet has to offer from a resident's point of view. This is all well and true, but there is an underbelly to this marvelous lifestyle:

Call it inconvenience, call it a headache, call it an infringement on human rights; it sucks and that is all there is to it. Over six months ago, I applied for my residence card (which I am entitled to receiving within six months of applying by the European Union) and despite numerous telephone and written inquiries as to the status of my application, I have still yet to receive anything. Not even a lousey letter apologizing for the delay which is now over two months. According to the Home Office website, those poor pencil pushers, who get enormous pentions from our hard-earned tax money, are still processing applications from the month of January. Fabulous. And I thought the Germans were bad. Never again will I bash the Ausländeramt.
Now, I understand wanting to take extra precautions to prevent terrorist activity, but give me a break, how much more Orwellian can we get here people? We pay taxes, are totally on the grid and are even filmed as we walk down the street going about our daily business. And yet, due to bureaucratic incompetency, personnel shortages and bogus political rhetoric, I still have no passport.
Matthias and I tried to hire a solicitor (that is lawyer to you) through his company. At least this guy in his swanky London office had the decency to tell us he could do no more than we could do for ourselves, ie bug the hell out of the Home Office. So, with that in mind, I have taken to a weekly letter writing campaign. Two days ago, I sent off my third reminder letter as well as a complaint form which is nicely made available on the Home Office website (as if they were expecting something). 
Still not taking no answer for an answer, I am now liasing with the US Embassy in London about the situation. For the first time today, I actually managed to get someone on the phone. And what did he tell me to do after I had explained the basic details of my predicament? Write an email. So I did and I am awaiting their response. The guy seemed to be familiar with my situation and send they would be sending a form letter addressing what exactly there is to do. Hmph.
I will definitely be giving you an update on this one folks. In the meantime, Matthias and I are enjoying the last day of our 'staycation' which, as you may deduce, is not due to skyrocketing fuel prices. Actually, it may be a conspiracy of the British government to keep all passportless, in-limbo expats like us in the country so that they are forced to pay exorbitant prices for below-standard British tourist attractions, restaurants and hotel accomodations. I think I may be on to something here....

The good news is that my article finally appeared online last week in the Fall 2008 edition of Knitty.com, the grandmother of all online knitting magazines. Yes, I know it sounds totally dorky, but it is serious business! Here is the link if you would like to read it.

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