Tying up loose ends is usually the worst part of a move to a new country. Upon getting my new job in the Sandbox, in April, suddenly expense piled upon stressful expense, boring bureaucratic indignity upon boring bureaucratic indignity.
The Girlfriend and I had been planning a May vacation; but she got a new job, meaning she gets no holiday until October. We decided that I could come to Russia for a month before leaving for Saudi.
I began the laborious process of getting a Russian visa. To get a business visa, first you need an invitation from one of many shady companies that will sell you one. (Prices vary, but I paid about $75 for one which arrived in 10 working days.) Then I spent nearly an entire day filling out forms for that, and mailed it off to travisa.com to send to the embassy; I was told a day later that the embassies were no longer accepting scanned copies, and now needed an original. Everything was mailed back to me. (Total expense of mailing, around $70.)
After a few more days of angry consulting, the company that sold me the invitation told me that I could wait a week to get a hard copy, or fly into Kiev and get the visa there with the same invitation, and at about the same price as I'd pay in America -- $450 for embassy and processing fees. Maybe a few days in Kiev would amuse me. Anything's possible.
I got a root canal. A guy that I went to high school with turned out to be the leading endodontist in the area. (Oh yeah? Well I bonked a bunch of Russian babes.) He charged me $700, a 20 percent discount on his usual fees.
I would need a crown over the tooth that had the root canal; that would cost about $1000. I decided that that part I could probably do in Russia, as they were supposed to do decent prosthetic dentistry for lower prices.
I did my taxes. I spent a few days fucking around with Turbo Tax, and failed to find any more deductions. I filled out forms and finally mailed a check for $542.
Envelopes from the company that hired me in the Sandbox began arriving. I started doing all the paperwork and documents for my new job in the Sandbox. I had blood drawn for medical tests, and I shit in a plastic bucket-thing they gave me to affix to the toilet. Then I scraped some out with a stick and put it in a pill bottle and delivered it to the lab to be tested for ova and parasites.
I got papers notarized, I made copies of diplomas and certificates and my passport. I spent more days filling out application forms and letters and so forth. (There were costs for this, hundreds of dollars worth, but they will be repaid by the company that hired me.) Same as last time, I'll need my degree verified and a police background check.
The tricky part about the Sandbox is that when you get hired, very rarely do they give you an exact date to arrive; instead they just tell you to come when all your paperwork is finished, which can take months sometimes. The recruitment company wanted to get me there in July, though I'd prefer August.
Finally I booked a ticket to Kiev at the end of April, which cost about $1200, and then found a connecting flight ($250) to Vodkaberg, Russia, for the first time since August of 2011.
Somebody in the comments described me as "undead" recently, and certainly I've been in-between all year. Not quite together with the girlfriend, not quite single. Not quite faithful and sober, not quite debauched. Not quite free to roam the world, not quite loyally home at my sick parents' side. Not quite employed, not quite unemployed -- making money from e-books all year but mainly just doing administrative crap, not having published much original content.
Maybe that's a good description of middle-age in general, but the in-between year draws to a close. The relationship will be decided. Soon I'll be full-time English Teacher X again, not just Independent Author X.
Next week: VODKABERG 2013. Whatever happened to ... ?