Friday, January 10, 2014

What a Difference a Year Made

It's been a year and two days since my grandmother passed away, which is hard for me to believe.I actually sort of forgot about it on the day, which was probably for the best.I still can't believe that she and Grandpa are gone.It feels less strange now, but when I think about it, it still is.The fact of not seeing them for the rest of my life still stings a bit.

But on the upside, we've come a LONG WAY this year, literally and figuratively.For one thing, we aren't in the shithole that is Korea anymore.I know that I've posted a lot about it, but I'm thrilled to be out of there.Korea was sucking our souls away.Whenever my husband and I talk about Korea now, it's like talking about Narnia, except there were no unicorns or fantastical creatures - just crazy white-witch painted-faced ajummas and insane children who poked and prodded and laughed and pointed.My only regret about leaving is that we didn't leave sooner.

I got a new job, which is going really well (I think) and that I really like.My co-workers are nice, my bosses are cool (as cool as bosses ever are), and the company itself is generous and growing.Case in point: I just received a free winter coat with the company logo today that is worth over $100 off-the-rack.It's dorky because it has the company logo, you say?Whatever! says I.Free coat!I also got a free polo shirt, fleece, and puffer vest.And also I don't hate my job.It's actually interesting.

We're having another baby.Yes, it was a surprise.I think I may have posted about this (my memory is getting bad for this sort of stuff, and I've frankly had a lot on my mind lately, besides), but I had a miscarriage around my birthday earlier this year.That was a surprise pregnancy, for sure.Well, this one followed right on the heels of that miscarriage.Another surprise.Apparently I can't share a toothbrush with my husband without getting pregnant.Anyway, baby girl number two is due in early April, almost exactly a year after the miscarriage.We're naming her Millie, and she's big and kicky and apparently quite healthy.So that's cool, if not mildly stressful.

My husband is going through the US immigration process.He has biometrics coming up, and then I guess we'll have an interview sometime in the not-too-distant future.Getting all of that paperwork together in a timely fashion and getting everything sent off - only to have it returned because I screwed up the check amount, moron - was mildly stressful.I actually got the paperwork in like, the day before Christmas, which allowed it to go into process at the last possible minute before my husband's visa expired.Yeah.STRESS.

For those of you who may be interested, I will, when I have the time, which should be at approximately a quarter past never, make a post about how to muddle through the Adjustment of Status process for a spouse who is already in the US with you.It is more time-consuming and more stressful than consular reports of birth abroad.I'm also not going to lie: USCIS and ICE are far scarier than the Korean immigration authorities, in my humble opinion.There are a lot of rules, and not very many things are clear-cut, legally, with US immigration.It seems like there are exceptions and loopholes to everything, and the best thing to remember is that ultimately, you're at the mercy of the case officers.I will tell you this now, though: if you are living and have married overseas and are considering bringing your non-citizen spouse to live with you in the US, have all of your documentation ready ahead of time.Prepare before you arrive!You will have a lot to do when you get here.Of course, consular processing abroad is also an option, which I've had other friends do.

On top of all of that, we've bought a new car, and now we're searching for a house for our growing family.Man, I never realized what a pain in the ass buying a house is.Price tag of the house, realtor's fees, esgrow, home inspections, current and future tax projections, possible maintenance issuesI mean, there's a nearly inexhaustible list of crap that you have to worry about.It's phenomenal.A co-worker of mine just bought a place here in town, and when they had the radon inspection done, the house totally didn't pass.Now they're having to deal with that.When they say it's always something, they ain't kidding.

So that's where we're at back here in the old Midwest.We're buried under 8-10 inches of snow and trying to rearrange the pieces of our life that were so thoroughly scrambled when we left Korea.But you know, it's pretty much all good.We're making progress.We've come so far in a year, it's incredible.2014 is already kicking 2013 s ass, which wouldn't be hard, frankly.2013 was a bitch of a year - the worst I've had in my adult life, to be honest.

But the thing to remember about the bad times is that sometimes you need them to pave the way for the good.I feel like we're entering a new phase of our lives, one that includes more responsibility and probably more stress, but also one that features more great times and goals reached.Sometimes it's necessary to strip away the things that you don't need.I'm not implying there that my grandparents were unnecessary, but I will say that life without them has forced me to grow up in so many ways, big and small.And that's a positive change.Leaving Korea was undeniably a good thing.We needed to get out of there.Korea ain't healthy, not even for Koreans.

We're in a transitional phase right now, and it's exciting to think about where we might be at this time next year.I like to think that more of those goals will be reached or at least within reach.More positive things will have happened.Maybe we'll have a house.Brett will be two, and Millie will be going on a year old.My husband should have his green card.He might have a job, or he might be home with the kids.But the important thing is that we're moving forward, and the New Year is shaping up to be a good one!
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