Friday, February 15, 2008


Are you still here? I know I haven't been around. While I should have been writing about my adventures I was too busy dealing with the daily problems that came my way over the last few months. I'll give you a quick recap before I move on to writing more entertaining stories about life in the US.
So what happened? First I had some trouble with my immigration procedure. After they lost my first file and I refiled a second time, immigration came across the first file in December and decided to process it alongside the second one. This resulted in me getting charged twice for the filing fee and in having 2 parallell immigration procedures. That's annoying and expensive, but not the worst thing that happened. I recieved an e-mail notice in the beginning of December to inform me that my work permit was approved and the card would be sent to me. It never arrived and apparently went 'missing' in the mail. Bureaucracy dictates that in this case, instead of immigration sending a me new card, I have to 're-apply' for a workpermit (average processing time: 3 months!). Meanwhile, I can't officially work! Thanks to overlapping procedures on different files, this issue might be resolved a little earlier since I have my interview for my temporary Green Card later this month. The Green Card is also a workpermit, so I might get a social security number some time next month - fingers crossed. Immigration: always an exciting adventure!
Meanwhile, Laura and I were living in BedStuy. It sounded romantic and exciting for me to move into the neighboorhood that is so prominently featured in my favourite hiphop lyrics (Moss Def, Talib, ...). It turned out to be less exciting than initially expected. The biggest problem was that there was hardly anything around us. I mean, there are little deli's and barbershops on every corner. But to only have 1 restaurant and 1 coffeebar within walking distance is not very New York like. It gets worse when most food delivery services refuse to cross the 'BedStuy border' and when the local grocery stores only have the worst vegetable selection since WWII. OK, we did find a nice 'coop' that provided us with decent vegetables, but it was expensive and inconvenient. The fact that we kept having problems with our landlord (the heat kept failing, our mailbox broke - see above for the result that had for me) didn't help in motivating us to 'deal' with our neighborhood. Last, but for Laura certainly not least, we were in the middle of a 'turf war' between 2 gangs. This didn't affect us personally since we weren't 'targets' but I can tell you that hearing gunshots during dinner doesn't help the atmosphere for the remainder of the night.
So what does an unemployed, brand new immigrant and husband do in a situation like this? He gets into fights with the landlord, tries to improve things, and finally gives in and decides to move. That means breaking a contract and searching and paying for a new New York apartment: not easy in a country where people normally hire a lawyer for every little thing. If you can't afford a lawyer, you pretend to have one and you tell the landlord you'll take him to court. It's called 'bluf' and I learned some of it playing Poker at my former job. It worked and last weekend we moved into our new appartment. I'm a Manhattanite now. I'll miss Brooklyn, but one day I'll look back at it and smile about the turmoil my first 'home' in the US caused.
So that's briefly what I've been up to the last few months. There's more, but this will do for now.
Next time, some thoughts on presidential elections, soda and banking in the US.


Anonymous said...

Jow Fredlan,
Precies al redelijk wa beleeft in de US of A. Hopelijk gaat alles nu wat beter lopen.
Wegens financieel te moeilijk in mijn nieuwe situatie kan ik helaas niet naar uw trouwfeest komen. Het dichtste dat ik bij u in den omtrek zal komen zal in April zijn wanneer ik voor het werk voor een week naar Vegas moet.
Hou u goed daar ginderachter,

Ps: blijf zeker deze blog volhouden, het is superleuk om jou avonturen een beetje te kunnen opvolgen vanuit het verre Belgie.

Anonymous said...

Fred, You used your 'poker-bluffing' skills and it worked??? Man ... I definately want to play poker with your landlord. Cuz' we all remember you as 'Mr big smile with a Carre in the hand'


Jokke said...

Hey Freddie,

Gene stress man alles komt toch in orde zeker, zeker blijven bloggen want ik zen ma zjust mee!!!

Take Care

Say hello to Laura