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My New Year’s resolution was to blog once a week.  The last time I wrote it was January 11th.  I achieved the same result with my resolution to start up my strength-training program, but as of today I am back on track with both.  It only took four months to get started, but let’s focus on the positive.

There have been quite a few changes for us in the first half of 2011.  We moved into a penthouse apartment less than 10 minutes from our old place. What makes it such a great move for us is the new place is completely decorated and feels like a home.  We have a large terrace off of the kitchen where Homie’s Weber grill resides.  We rescued it from Inga’s place as it sat all alone in the back of her garden.  Then we have another very private terrace off of the bedroom and we get a lot of sun and a great view from both of them.  It has literally changed our perspective living on Malta and we are so much happier in the new space.

Another huge change is I’ve switched jobs.  I am now writing web content and managing the social media outlets for an online gaming company.  While the writing content is a bit more exciting and diverse than the technical work I was doing previously, the bad news is that I have to go through the complete process of getting the work permit all over again.  At least this time I had all my paperwork in order and now it is just a waiting game until the new permit for the new company is approved.  I’ve been talking to a few people who are ‘in the know’ about the fact that the DCEA has changed procedures making the process a bit more streamlined, and all I can hope for is that they know what they are talking about and the new permit is approved asap.  It is against all rules and regulations to work while you are waiting for approval, so I am hoping that it goes fast.  In the meantime I picked up some contract work from the States, so we should be okay as once again I wait to become legal to reside and work in Malta.

Homie is currently in Sweden helping out one of our good friends ready their home for selling.  One of the first couples we met when we first arrived on the island, AB is American and BW is Swedish, and they have been living on Malta for the last three years while they’ve rented their home just outside of Stockholm.  Their eldest is currently attending George Washington University (doing fabulously well I might add as she is interning at the White House) and they have decided to move to the States in July to be closer to her and AB’s mom.  You may remember faithful reader, that AB invited me to join her writer’s group when I first came to Malta and because of her and her gracious support, I’ve met so many lovely people from all over the globe.  She will be sorely missed and I hate to see her leave Malta, but life is never static, always changing, always evolving and we will remain friends for life.  She recently picked up a book agent as she has finished her first novel, so she continues to be an inspiration to me.  I just hope she remembers to give me her coffee pot before she leaves…however, I am not one to beat around the bush so I have no problem reminding her.

I miss Homie terribly, I really do and the first couple of nights were horrible, especially when I got home from work and dinner wasn’t started.  But it has given me extra time to get my half-written (who am I kidding? not even half…) manuscript sorted and I have re-kindled my determination to get the first draft written by the end of the year.  The story is coming along quite nicely and I believe that if it makes me laugh it will make a whole lot of others out there in the world laugh as well.  I was just Skyping with my son the other day, complaining about Malta (I have a terrible case of  island fever) and how homesick I’ve been lately.  He says with complete conviction, “Okay ma, just come home now.  You did it, enough is enough.”  He was goofing around with me, but he was serious too.  Most of my family and some of our friends never imagined that Homie and I would have really made a go of it and gone this far, stayed away this long.

The book is turning into a half memoir/half fictional story about how having a personal goal, a dream or vision affects every person in your life, and, how it ‘doesn’t’ affect them.  What we went through as we tried to make the people in our lives understand why we needed to do this became quite humorous.  Some were and still are supportive, some just pretend to be supportive, some just shrug you off or feel it is their sole purpose in life to try and talk some sense into you. There is so much material there to write about, including all the great adventures we experienced along the way, that it will be hard to edit.

I’ve changed so much since leaving Minnesota and it will be interesting when I go home because a lot of the people in my life haven’t changed at all, still working the same jobs, living in the same home, doing the same things. Skype, Facebook and email keep us connected, but at the end of the day, we are still on the other side of the world.  Our  trip home will be documented religiously because this is the part of my story where the circle of this adventure connects.   Coming full circle, going back to Minnesota, as a visitor, having achieved, accomplished and proved, that if you want something bad enough, there’s nothing on the planet that can keep you from having it.

As for the title of this post, well, it’s been so long since I blogged I had to do something radical to get your undivided attention.  If you are reading this sentence, thanks for sticking around and I promise that the next installment will not take four months to produce!

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As I research my next topic (finally caught a freelance gig and am loving it!)  all  I can think of is,  “isn’t technology wonderful?”   It has become such an integrated part of my life.  I use my laptop for everything from job searching and submitting my work, to checking my online accounts; to Skyping with my grandson.   I don’t think I’d be a happy expat without it.  My laptop and the internet are my connection to my antecedent world and my current world, and having it does not go unappreciated.  I don’t even care that I am not currently wireless,  the speed to which I’m connected is not important, I’m just grateful to be connected!  

Before we left home, friends pleaded with us to create a Facebook account.  Homie and I resisted; we had no desire to become ensconced within a public forum.  Once we were on the road, we caved and each of us created an account.  As it turns out, we love Facebook and log on throughout the day.  Within the last couple of weeks, all my siblings have joined, I’m able to keep in touch with my nephew who is in the service, and have made friends with people all over the world. I started chatting with people I haven’t seen in years, and I love telling them I’ve moved to Malta!

There are two technology-challenged people in my life and they are my parents.  My Dad, a retired over-the-road truck driver has no interest in the crazy talking box and the only highway he cares about is the one you drive on.  I call him (he has managed to operate a mobile phone however….) every Sunday.  My mother, who would love to be more in sync with technology has just recently bought a laptop, and I learned this through my brother whilst Skyping one Sunday afternoon.  I couldn’t believe it!  I had to cut the video chat short so I could call my mother to confirm.  Sure enough she had purchased a laptop, all on her own, at Wal-Mart.  Nothing against Wal-Mart, but, oh forget it, I’m not even going to go there.  I excitedly ask her how soon will I be able to email her?  When will she have Skype downloaded and operational?  Her answer is,  “Oh, when I’m ready.  I have to take this in baby steps!  I bought Mavis Beacon and I have to learn to type first.”  So she may have the Internet by Christmas.  Maybe.  On a more positive note, Homie’s parents are connected, we Skype regularly and are kept abreast of all the family shenanigans.

Another thing I love about Facebook is that I can upload and post all the pictures I want.  And for the last remaining cousins or coworkers that still haven’t mastered or even wanted to, the art of creating profiles and maintaining security settings, I can just send them a link and they can view the pictures without having to sign up.  This is so ironic because that was my whole beef in the beginning, I didn’t think it was right that you had to sign up for a service just to see someone’s pictures. 

What can I say about Skype that hasn’t already been said or written?  Skyping with my grandson has been amazing, and I can rest assured that he won’t just think I’ve abandoned him, as we spent so much time together in Minnesota.  We Skype every week, telling each other ghost stories and creating our own version of the  “Choose Your Own Adventure” series. 

Being able to see and be seen has its advantages and disadvantages.  Especially when you’ve been writing for a couple of days and there’s no reason for “getting ready” when all you are going to be doing is sitting in front of the laptop.  Why does it always seem as though every one in my contact list decides they want to check in or talk about the weather when I’m on the fence about hair and makeup?  This whole scenario reminds me of a Jetsons episode I saw when I was a kid;  I was always fascinated with that cartoon series.  Jane, the mom, got a phone call and it was early in the morning.  She hadn’t gotten ready for the day, so she put on this mask that covered her hair and face, a replica of her, at her best.  So she starts the video call and halfway through the conversation, her friend sneezes and blows off her mask and then says,  “Oh, I have to go!  Someone’s at the door!” and cuts transmission.  Jane felt so bad for her.  It was so fun to believe that video phones were even possible!  I was fascinated, even then as a child, with technology.  I’m actually keeping in touch more now with my friends in Minnesota than when I lived there.  Every Saturday my friend Sandy and I Skype, have a glass of wine and play backgammon online as we chat.  Before we know it, a couple of hours have passed, and it’s almost like we were getting together at one another’s home for the evening!

Being so far from home has many disadvantages, but technology has solved some of the biggest obstacles.   Now, if only technology could solve the one thing I’m really missing, holiday family dinners.  When we call on Easter, before anyone asks us how we are, we will get the full menu, in detail.  I suppose this is just a small form of “payback” since we ditched the American life and are living our dream,  they have to even the score somehow even if all they have is a spiral honey ham, roasted baby reds and green beans almondine.  Cheesecake for desert. Yum.

~Peace~

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It’s been a long eventful day in Malta.  I still have not had a cigarette, and it occurred to me today why it is called a “habit”.  Most of the temptation and frustration stems from  automatically reaching for a smoke when you are so used to having one when you were a smoker.  That first cup of coffee, after eating, while you are working on the computer, taking a break from cleaning.  There are  two items missing from my usual daily routine that I do not have to deal with here.  The first is the phone.  As soon as the phone would ring, I would instantly go to the pack and light one.  It went hand-in-hand.  The second is driving.  I absolutely had to have a smoke on the way to work, and on the way home.  I especially loved this ritual because it would just be me, the road, and my smoke.  No one in the car to bug me about the smell, or complaining that the smoke was drifting to their side.  (Side note: Never did I smoke in the car when my grandson was in the car or anyone else that didn’t smoke or didn’t like it.) These two instances do not occur in Malta for obvious reasons.  No one is calling us and we no longer have a vehicle.  One thing that changed here that I did not do in Minnesota is taking the cigs when we left the house.  Whether it was for a walk, or out to eat, or just down to the DVD store, I would make sure to grab the smokes.  I still miss them but the good news is that I am starting to feel the desire, the bloody in-your-face-I-have-to-have-a-cigarette-NOW desire is subsiding.  I know it will get better as time progresses, just have to get past the 72 hour mark.  I have faith that I may be successful this time around.  There is about 65% less temptation going on around me.

I can’t get my friends from Minnesota off my mind tonight.  They suffered a devastating loss as their brother died from complications of a heart attack today.  He was only 45 years old.  As a family they decided to take him off of life support, as he had suffered brain damage.  It is so hard to be so far away when something like this happens.  Before we left Minnesota we completed our Health Care Directives and left a copy with my mom and Homie’s parents.  This is a nifty little document stating what you want done if you are ever in the position of having to be kept alive by a machine.  It made us both feel better that our wishes were documented and it made me think about what Laurie and her family must have been going through to make that decision. 

I made such a stink before I left the states about not joining Facebook, I was so against belonging to an online community.  There is something so vain about it, and I felt like it just wasn’t my gig.   I have done a complete 360 on the subject and Facebook has become our continual link to family and friends, and I’ve even gotten some of my family members to join.  It has been wonderful to keep everyone up to date about what is happening with us and of course what is happening with them.  So much easier than continually sending individual emails.  It was awesome today because our friends kept us posted about what was happening with Laurie’s brother and we really felt that we were a part of it and that we could in some way, through Facebook, be there for them.  We were able to let them know continually since it happened that we were thinking of them.  Another great feature of technology.  I often wonder if I ever would have been able to make this move without it!   

On a much brighter note, I finally secured a job interview for Monday.  In Malta there are several online betting companies and after talking with some of our Maltese friends, they have said that these companies are the best to work for on the island, they pay better than most other companies.  I have sent out my resumé relentlessly for the past week, checking the job postings every day.  I saw a situation vacant, (that’s what they call a vacant position) at a betting company that would be perfect for me.  It was so nice to finally get excited about a potential ‘situation’ and I applied online straight away.  This morning I found the contact person’s email on the website and sent a cover letter describing all my skills and talents.  They promptly emailed me back, and while I will not be considered for the position I wanted, I was still invited to come in and interview to see if there is anything that I may be a match for.  I am very excited to at least get my foot in the door, and I am sure that once they meet me they will have no choice but to hire me because I am an excellent employee and I have motivation, drive and enthusiasm!!   I am really excited to get out there, meet more people and really integrate within the community.  I want to try and start learning the Maltese language which every Maltese person we meet will tell you that you will never learn it and they are very proud of this.  Homie and I bought a phrase book and promised each other that we would practice together for at least an hour every evening and we have not done it yet. 

Tomorrow Homie doesn’t have to work until 7 p.m. so we are going to walk to where the interview is to take place.  We looked over the Google map feverently this evening to determine whether or not the office is within walking distance from our flat.  We believe that we can walk there in about 30 minutes or so, but it is supposed to rain tomorrow, so hopefully it will hold off a bit while we walk.  I am so grateful that Homie is able to go with me so I know where I’m headed, because I get lost really easy.  I get lost in my home town.  And once I make a wrong turn and realize that I’m lost, I start to panick and then all hope is lost as I am unable to navigate my way out of the blunder.  The timing is perfect, and this is another instance when I discover that life is all about timing and fate.  Homie has been working every day, whether it is 4, 6 or 8 hours as he did yesterday.  I finally make contact on a potential situation just today and tomorrow is the only day that he would be able to help me find the place.  I’ve been cooped up in the flat so much lately that a nice long walk is just what I need, and I am so excited that I too may be working soon.  Wish me luck!  

~Peace~

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