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Posts Tagged ‘living joyously’

What a difference this Christmas is compared to last Christmas.  Last year at this time we spent a very lonely, but cozy Christmas in front of the computer with hot chocolate watching ‘A Christmas Story’, one of our favorite Christmas films, with no tree, no Christmas decorations, and no presents.  The only people we really knew were the bartenders at the Hard Rock and the sweet ladies who ran the little ‘Step-In’ store right by our flat.  We have come so far.

We’ve been at our same flat for a year and have managed to endear ourselves to our landlords and their adorable little girl who loves the American candy I have ready for her when we pay the rent.  We really don’t know any of our neighbors, but there has been quite a bit of moving in and moving out, so it is very difficult to try to get to know anyone.  We’ve had Maltese, Italian, French, English and Swedish neighbors, but we really never had the chance to get to know any of them.

We joined an Expat group in March and have made so many friends.  The group grows and thins and grows again.  Many will be friends for life,  and the boat trips to Comino and the Blue Lagoon was a great way to get to know everyone better.  The expats also meet on Friday nights at different pubs and venues and we love listening to everyone’s story about how they ended up on Malta.  Every story is unique and its amazing how your path ends up crossing with certain people.  We’ve experienced many different restaurants, learning many different  Maltese traditions and I love trying the local cuisine, even though I still haven’t had rabbit stew!  Homie knows exactly how many McDonald’s there are on the island, and we have finally figured out how to explain where we are located when we order food to be delivered. That act alone has probably saved our marriage. 

We’ve gotten to know the buses, and don’t mind taking them at all, except when the students are here in August and September, then forget trying to get on a bus between 7 and 10 p.m.  We love the Maltese busses and the way they are decked out with the Virgin Mary, reminders to pray and promises of forgiveness.  Sometimes you will see the older Maltese women genuflect before they get on and we can never tell if that is a good sign or a bad sign.  We know where to catch the bus if we want to go to Mdina, Birkirkara or Mosta.  One thing that has struck me is that most of the Maltese people who I have gotten to know really dislike taking the bus, they’ll drive even if it’s a 10-minute walk.  The island is approximately the size of Staten Island, but because there are so many cars and the roads are so congested, it can take over 45 minutes to an hour to drive to a location that would take you twenty minutes to walk to.  I walk to and from work everyday and I’m home sooner than most people can get through the next stoplight. 

We have found great spots to swim, we have figured out the neighborhood shortcuts and when we go for walks we almost always run into somebody we know.  We’ve been invited to many of our friend’s homes and have gotten to see many different types of abodes with traditional stone architecture as well as very modern and updated apartments.

I have a wonderful stylist that already knows exactly how to cut my hair, I’m joining a gym soon and Homie has a key to a local tennis club where he joined a league a few months ago.  We are getting to the point where it’s a necessity for each of us to have a mobile, and we will soon.  A great friend loaned us an older model and we bought a €10 sims card and a €5 pay as you go card,  and it lasted us nearly three weeks.  It’s not the greatest device to sms on, but it does the job.  I’ve now gone without a mobile for a little over a year and I am starting to miss having it.  Kind of bittersweet, a friend who is moving home to Canada (hate to see her go…!) is planning on selling me her little beauty when she leaves next month.

Homie has gotten his visa issues squared away finally and it has been a rough road, especially for him as he didn’t know whether he was going to be able to stay or have to go home for a couple of months.  I really thought I did my homework before we left the States, but on an island this small, they can make  their own rules. But it is sorted and we don’t have to worry about it any longer.

I guess you could say we’re established.  We left the States with very little money, big dreams and a will to make it happen.   We had a vision, and we made it a reality. (That vision included a tumble dryer, so I have a little work to do, although I have temporarily solved that issue…)  In a year’s time we are sitting pretty good and with nothing but great things on the horizon.  What’s exciting to me is that one day, Homie and I said, “Screw it.  Le’t just do it.”  And we did.  And here we are.  Happy as bloody hell!  Can’t wait to see what 2011 brings.  Here’s to having a dream and then living it.

Merry Christmas to you all and may 2011 be every thing you dream it will be. ♥

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Adventures can come in many different forms, like leaving America to live on a small Mediterranean island, or starting a new job in an office in a foreign country and then, there is my new friend Inga.  Born in Iceland and raised in Norway, this girl has become one of my favorite peeps to hang out with on this little rock in the sea.

The first time we met it was at an expat event at the Black Pearl, a bar and restaurant in an actual ship that had been resurrected from the sea, then used in the film Popeye.   She smoked all my fags, (I am still SO not used to calling them fags!) but in return bought me wine all night.  Me, Inga and Valerie (from France) had a great time inciting riots on the dance floor and by the end of the night we had promised to get together for dinner the next week.

The next week it was my birthday and the three of us met for dinner at a cute little restaurant right on the sea and we shared three bottles of wine, and the last one I brought home with me.  Inga took a class to learn about wine and she is passing on the knowledge to me, free of charge.  This adventure was of a different flavor, there was a dead fish floating right below us and none of us could identify it and after the second bottle of wine and two Irish coffees, we seriously contemplated climbing over the railing and finding a way to get down to the rocks to check it out, but finally settled with talking the waiters into sitting down with us and having a glass of wine, even though they were waiting patiently for us to finish our long dinner so they could go home for the evening.

The next adventure was a BBQ at her house where I had so much fun playing hide and seek with her seven-year old in the mansion they are calling home for the next three years.  After the kids went to bed, we stayed up, discussed world peace, politics in Iran and damn if she didn’t teach me a thing or two about this crazy, radical world we live in. 

The next adventure was a short trip to Gozo, Malta’s sister island and a visit to the dentist office.  It seems this wild child has a phobia with the dentist and she needed some moral support.  I wasn’t working yet, and it was a beautiful day and who am I to say no to an all expense paid trip to the quaint little island? As we sat and talked it occurred to me that I had found a great friend; and in such a short time!  It seemed we were passionate about the same things and as we sat on the ferry and drank our Cisks, we both wondered how lucky we were that we were living on Malta and what luck it was that our paths had crossed so momentarily. 

On to Mdina!  Originally she offered to drive Homie and I to Valletta, since the work permit had not yet materialized, we needed to apply for an extension on our travel visa, and she knew right where to go.  But since we live in Malta, (and remember, we are glad we live here) they closed at half past 11 (that’s in the a.m. folks) and here we are at 12:10 with a whole afternoon free on our hands, so why not visit the oldest city in Malta, the silent city, Mdina.  As we park and get out of the vehicle the clouds start to get dark and here is Inga ready to give her umbrella to the parking attendant, and lucky for her I was there to talk some sense into her as it wasn’t a half hour later and we were caught in a torrential downpour.  We finally found a little restaurant appropriately named Bacchus, and we had the best lunch of calamari, wine and caesar salad (Inga doesn’t eat mammals…) and the three of us had a great day.

The other day we were supposed to meet for dinner and while I still don’t have a mobile (my year of giving up my dependence on the mobile phone is nearly up, and it was Inga who in her distress at not being able to get ahold of me claimed I was so “1995”) she was actually able to phone me.  How you ask?  As I’m biting into my delicious garlic chicken, the owner of the restaurant hands me a phone and says in his Maltese accent, “It’s for you.”  I answer and who else?  Inga.  At the hospital with poor little Freyja, who needed a few stitches above her eye.  We met later the next week for dinner and Inga picks me up looking like a battered housewife.  She has decided to take parasailing lessons and as she was getting to know the gear, the wind took hold of her and dragged her across the rocks for at least 50 meters.  She just laughed about it, and I thought to myself, it’s always an adventure with Inga!

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I’m getting pretty good at taking the bus.  In Minnesota I always had a vehicle, and now after seven months of depending on public transportation I am happy to report that it is all going well and every bus ride is an adventure in itself.  Whether it is the tourists bugging the drivers for directions (which they grudgingly give), to the Maltese women who genuflect as they get on, or the rowdy teens on their way to Paceville, there is always something to observe and ponder during the 15 minute ride. 

Just the other day I hopped on and here the driver is talking on his mobile and smoking a cigarette.  Six months ago this may have concerned me, but now I just smile and have to give the guy a little credit for his multitasking skills.  As we are lumbering down the Strand he spots a friend.  He is still moving but manages to slow the bus to a crawl so his friend, carrying a can of Cisk beer, can hop on and talk to the driver as he continues on his way.  This was my thought, “Wow, that’s amazing that he managed to do that without any cars honking at him.”  The Maltese love their car horns, and while it is universally annoying, I have to admit I was fond of my car horn as well, although I didn’t use it nearly as much as the Maltese, however, they may be equal to New York.  It’s a toss-up.  Anyway, I’ve yet to see a bus in an accident, they are always on time and run frequently, and you can take the bus anywhere on the island.  I’m also fortunate to be able to travel this way because now I don’t have to struggle with the decision of how I, as one small person can lessen my dependency on oil. 

I am sickened, as tens of millions of people are around the world, about the travesty that is occurring in the Gulf.  I have tried diligently to keep up with what is going on by reading all the articles I can find, watch as many videos (one in particular had me in tears, for as far out as 30 miles into the gulf dolphins and whales were covered in oil, not knowing where to go…) and the more I try to do this, the more I feel like there’s nothing I can do to help.  The only thing I can do is lessen my dependency on oil and try to get others to do the same.  Not everyone can start depending on public transportation, but everyone can limit their gas intake, by making a pledge to only fill up once a month.  I could go on with other suggestions, but there’s more to talk about and I’m not your mama.  Either you realize what man is doing to Mother Earth or you don’t care.  It’s as simple as that.  ‘Til death do us part…

As I’ve written before, it is against the law to get divorced in Malta.  The Pope was here in April and in his Homily he stated that the rest of the world should follow in Malta’s footsteps for they understand the importance of holy matrimony.  Or something really close to that. Well, there is now a “Divorce Bill” in Parliament.  Thursday’s headline read, “People will decide on divorce, PM says” and the article stated that the Prime Minister feels that the privilege of deciding on something as important and vital to our society – the family – should not be taken by Parliament, but the electoral (people).  Turn the page and you come upon a roving reporter’s view as he took to the streets of Valletta to see what the people had to say.  

The first response printed read, “I don’t agree with it.  I’m 79 and I’ve been married to the same woman for 52 years.  I like a lot of other women but I only have one wife.” Well, I suppose that could be interpreted in a number of ways. Interestingly, of the 10 people interviewed, 2 agreed that divorce should be legal and the other 8 did not agree.   It seems, from what I’ve seen and what my Maltese friends have told me, that after a while, if the marriage isn’t working, the couple will separate and see other people, (I wonder if the Pope knows this…) but of course they stay married.  To me, this seems like it would cause more problems than just starting over.  Another interesting observation was that out of the eight people who disagreed with divorce becoming legal five were men and three were women and the women vehemently disagreed.  One women said that if divorce became legal, the island would be cursed. 
‘Til death do us part…

The weather has been absolutely fantastic!  It is July 9th and by now, as everyone we hang out with has been telling us, it should be stifling and suffocating and it isn’t!  Some days are a bit more humid than others, but there is usually a breeze and I have not had to turn on the air conditioning yet.  I’m dreading when I will have to as the cost of it is astronomical, much more expensive than the States.  Like the vehicle, it is a luxury item that we are trying to live without.  I’m getting pretty good at living without and not shopping as the extra-curricular activity that I once knew.  I’m kind of sick of my wardrobe, but get a new dress or pair of sandals occasionally, but it is not anywhere near where it was when I lived in the States.  Both Homie and I realized recently that we really are doing what we set out to do, “Live more simply”.  Money is good, I love money, but it’s not about how much money we have.  For us it’s become more about appreciating our surroundings and doing everything in our power to be happy and content.  Making sure we take a walk every day, observe our surroundings and be grateful every day that we took a leap of faith and decided that living our lives now, no matter how scary it gets sometimes, is so much better than not living at all.  ‘Til death do us part!

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When I lived in Minnesota I worked for a lovely little non-profit agency that helped women succeed in starting their own businesses, changing their careers and finding employment in non-tradtional ways.  I worked at WomenVenture for a little over five years and did everything from creating and implementing computer classes to interviewing women on public assistance determining whether or not they had what it took to work in construction.  One of my most fondest memories of working for WomenVenture was meeting Gloria Steinem. 

I’ll never forget when she walked into the Minneapolis Convention Center, at 70 years young, wearing brown leather pants, a camel colored turtleneck and her trademark shades that covered half her face.  She was lovely and charming; had a warm greeting for everyone she met, and her thirty minute talk that afternoon was inspiring and uplifting, complete with a standing ovation.  It occurred to me the other day that if  Gloria knew what goes on in Malta, she may consider a Women’s Liberation Movement on the little rock in the sea.

Recently it has come to my attention that there are a few drawbacks to being a woman when you live in Malta.  (When I say drawbacks, I’m strictly talking about what I consider to be a couple of leaps back in time.) A couple of weeks ago I was having coffee with a few of the expats and one of my new acquaintances was telling us the story of her friend, who had recently moved to Malta from the UK (quite common, the Brits retiring or starting businesses on Malta) and she had bought a small house to renovate and live in.  After receiving an overwhelming bid from a local contractor, she decided to purchase all the bathroom remodeling supplies on her own in an attempt to save a few bucks.  She shopped and picked out all that she needed for her new powder room and the salesman was quite giddy as he wrote up the invoice. As the order was completed and she handed over her mode of payment, the salesman stated that she would need the signature of her ‘husband’ to complete the sale.   She stated quite calmly (I would have blown my stack like a cartoon character) that she was living alone on the island and didn’t have a husband.  Then surely, the bathroom salesperson says, your father wouldn’t mind coming in and signing?  As soon as she was able to regain what was left of her composure, she again said that she was living alone on the island and that since she was 46 years old and had not lived with her father for quite some time, that no, her father would not be able to come in and sign for the order.

As I sat and listened to this unbelievable tale, and tried to keep my mouth from hanging open, my expat friend said that she finally had the contractor go with her, sign the invoice (he didn’t have to pretend he was her father, boyfriend, lover or Uncle who came to visit…) and she was able to complete the transaction.  There’s no doubt that this is an isolated instance, but as amazed as I found myself that day, I started to see bits of evidence to support the fact that women are not considered equal to men in my new home and I just hope that my big American “girls are just as equal as boys” attitude doesn’t get me into a heap of trouble…

I should have known something was amiss when in the ‘early months’ of living on the island I attempted to place a take away order and as I was trying to recite our address to the rude young man on the other end of the line, he asked me, and not very politely, if I could speak english.  I handed the phone to my husband, in disgust, (you should have seen his face at the prospect of not having pizza and wings delivered…) and heard him reciting the address in what I am sure the person on the other end of the line would have considered perfect english. 

A couple of weeks later as we contemplated ordering in, I refused to be the one to place the order.  I had a hard time convincing my husband that he should be the one to do it.  Finally, he conceded and placed the order without incident.  Later that week, my darling husband came home and announced that a female co-worker had validated my complaint; she believed I was right, women are simply not treated equally on Malta.  

So now I find out that in order to open up a bank account in Malta,  I will need a certified copy of my marriage certificate, a certified copy of my divorce decree (both documents are currently in a secured storage space in Minnesota), my passport, and a Maltese ID card, which is not-so-easy-to-get as an American expatriate.  If my husband would like to open a bank account, all he needs is a Maltese ID card and his passport. 

There are so many different adjustments one must make when relocating to another country.  We have been here just about five months now and I am realizing that it will take about a year to really feel like our new surroundings are home.  Most expats will tell you the same thing and I now know how true it is.  We are just about at the halfway mark.  I finally found a job as a technical writer for a software company and have been busy with my first project of re-writing the main training manual.  We are going on our first boat trip around the three islands on Saturday and will finally be able to see Gozo and Comino.  What do you suppose the chances are that the driver of the boat is a woman?  Tune in next week to find out!

~Peace~

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I haven’t been cooking any traditional Maltese food and one thing that I know I probably won’t do is Rabbit Stew.  I feel a little bad about it, because part of this whole adventure is learning and living the culture and that includes experiencing the Maltese cuisine.   Rabbit is a main staple here for the Maltese, and I just don’t know what my problem is, but I can’t seem to bring myself to order it when we are out, even though it smells quite delicious, almost like a spicy beef stew, but yet, not beefy. 

We had a pet rabbit growing up, and still to this day I can’t believe my mother let it roam about the house freely, but its name was Cinnamon and we loved her. (Or was it a “him”?)  I can’t remember how it even came to be that Cinnamon became our family pet, but she was so sweet and loved to sit on your lap and be petted.  So as I fondly remember Cinnamon, it becomes even more difficult to consider eating rabbit stew or anything made with rabbit as one of the ingredients.  When we go to the grocer, I quickly scan the meat counter to see if there is anything we want fresh (this is a splurge as fresh meat is so much more expensive than frozen, for obvious reasons…) because I do not even want to see fresh rabbit behind our grocer’s meat counter.  For our Easter dinner we plan to purchase a beef roast (wanted the ham, but oh-so-salty here) which Homie can then season and pat and nibble from while its cooking in its own juices and he is so looking forward to it!

It’s been a rather weepy couple of days for me, I’ve come to discover that I am over-emotional when a holiday rolls around.  Easter was always a favorite.  Years ago in my previous life, I would go to church with Grandma, then she would come to my house and help me cook dinner.  We’d play Yahtzee and drink coffee and I would get to listen to her stories of life on the farm growing up. Further down the path on Memory Lane I’d make an Easter basket for my grandson,  and have so much fun watching him trying to locate all the plastic eggs we’d hide all over the house that were full of chocolate and other things that he wasn’t supposed to have, that only a Grandma can get away with.  God I loved to torment my son whilst spoiling my grandson!  (It’s in my top-ten list of favorite things to do.)

It has been a very busy week here on what I fondly now refer to as the little rock in the sea.  Normally our one night out each week is Friday and last Friday Homie had to work.  So I went with my friend AB to the expat gathering at a little jazz club in Paceville.  The band was a young ‘Captain & Tenille’, but singing jazz , well I guess I wouldn’t even call it jazz, but to be fair they sounded okay (but not really).   After the first set I got restless and could practically hear the reggae calling my name from the Rasta Bar which was only a five-minute walk away.  Finally my companions were ready to head out and we went to another cool place I haven’t been to yet called Tiffany’s.  Situated right in the middle of a small man-made bay, it was a dark little cigar bar with oversized easy chairs and a great atmosphere.  It offered a huge balcony/deck where you could also dine and had a great view of the sea and million dollar condos. 

We left Tiff’s and finally headed to Rasta.  My new expat friends had not been and ended up loving it as much as Homie and I do.  LB was his regular charming self and I felt right at home as some of the regulars cheeky-kissed me when they saw me and LB got me a beer right away.  It wasn’t the same without my husband, but I was entertained talking to my Maltese friends and watching LB work the ladies.  We ended up staying out until nearly 4 a.m. and one of the expats, who has moved here from Germany gave us all a lift home, and I was so glad I didn’t have to deal with the Wembley cab all on my own.

Couple of updates.  Still haven’t found employment, but not worried at all, I know the Universe will provide. The expats are so cool, the ones that have been here the longest know so many people, and it won’t be long until I finally get my foot in the door. The freelance writing is still going great and the more I do it, the more I love it, and the more I learn.  Started the cigs, but monitoring my intake and will always and inevitably quit again.  Homie and I had our first bout of sickness, a stomach bug that came and went in 72 hours.  It really made us think about how damn lucky we are that we are so healthy and we were so grateful we didn’t have to go to hospital.  (That’s how they say it in Europe…you go to hospital.  You don’t go to ‘the’ hospital!)  While meeting all the new cool expat people I met a woman and her husband who is a marine and is working at the US Embassy (where I just recently submitted my latest application).  They were headed to Sicily the next morning for American supplies and she asked if there was anything I wanted from the PX.  Well I made my way around the jazz club until I found a pen and a napkin and she delivered it to me last Monday because we were still not feeling well enough to meet in St. Julian’s. What a sweetheart!!  Among other goodies, she delivered Lays potato chips, Mountain Dew and Advil! I truly believe it helped to speed up the recovery and 48 hours later we felt fine. 

Fine enough for Rasta Bar this Friday….

~Peace~

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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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I have never really been the type of person who has had regrets in her life.  To have regrets or to wish that a certain event had not taken place, in my mind, would change or alter your path in this time-space reality we call life and then where would you be?  As I write this and think about all that has led me to where I sit right now, whether pleasant or not so pleasant, I have to say that I totally believe in fate. One decision ultimately leads to another and I made a decision in 7th grade that I now regret.  When Ms. Perry told us that nothing is more important than learning another language, I wish I would have listened.  “It can change your life!” she had declared. Sitting in her class (she was one of my favorite teachers) I thought to myself, “Why would I ever need to learn another language?  I’m never going to leave the U.S.!”   Had I known in 7th grade that someday I would move to another country, I would have listened to Ms. Perry and started  studying like there was no tomorrow.  Well tomorrow is here and if I spoke Norwegian or German or even Italian, I would be feeling pretty confident right now. 

Here’s my all-time favorite vision that I am determined to achieve.  It is early morning and the sun is shining as I open my eyes.  I can’t wait to get outside to write and experience all the sounds and smells that my senses can devour.  I walk down to the strand with my trusty laptop and find a little cafe where all the servers know my name.  I order my fruit, granola and yogurt along with a steaming cup of coffee and cream.  As the words flow from my fingers to my Word document,  I feel confident and happy.  Could people actually enjoy what I have to say? Of course I think to myself! (Remember, this is my all-time favorite vision…) Now it’s time to go down to the sea, get some sun and make more Maltese friends.  I have a little picnic on the rocks, and jump into the sea and there are no jelly fish or anything else that will bite me.  I get more than enough sun, pack up my towel and sun cream, and head back to the flat for a little nap.  Rousing,  completely refreshed, I am again inspired to pound out more exhilarating  words.   I’m writing and grateful and happy.  Fulfilled is what I am and I take a minute to reflect that I have no boss with a permanent scowl, no set hours, no time clock, no co-workers that don’t work as hard as I do and certainly no obligation to give eight hours of my life away every five days just so I can pay the rent.  Oh life is sweet.  You may be asking yourselves where Homie is during all of this, and my answer is he’s at work.

Until this vision can completely come to fruition, I must find at the very least, a part-time job.  I believe I would have been working by now if I knew another language or possessed a portfolio of all my excellent Flash designs.  Another expat I met in Malta tells me that I need to market myself as having skills that maybe a Maltese person may not possess, and I have tried that as well.  I’m registered with every employment agency that my Google search has provided me, and I’ve scoured the Sunday Times consistently for the past six weeks. 

I’ve sent emails, I’ve composed amazing cover letters.  I’ve updated my resume, custom tailored for each position I apply for.  I’ve done almost everything I can think of outside of “pounding the pavement”.  I’ve created dialog with hiring managers through email that may be considered cyber stalking in another country.  Everyone says (and my research prior to the move also verified) that obtaining employment may take anywhere from 3 to 4 months.  All I want is a little part-time job! 

It’s really not all about the money.  Working in a new environment is a great way to meet people and to learn more about the culture and the language.  I love to write and I will become a writer, but until that dream becomes a reality, we must persevere and pay the rent!

I’ve been spending a lot of time on expat websites, concentrating on the Malta forums and meeting lots of other Americans who have migrated to this little rock in the sea. Networking is where it’s at, no matter what country you reside in!   I can only anticipate good things to come, and if the book agent comes through with an advance on the manuscript, I won’t have to worry about a thing! But until that happens,  it looks like it’s time to hit the pavement with a smile and a CV.  Or I could knit.

~Peace~

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