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One Year In The USA

Added on: 10/14/2012 12:10 pm

Dear Readers.

I am not sure if you have been missing my blogs, but is has been a year since I wrote one. Maybe some people are wondering how Jeroen and I are doing in the USA?
Some people on my own Dutch forum of even wondered whether I was deceased, so I thought: maybe I should write a new blog, it’s long overdue.

We are still living in Davis, and it hasn’t rained here for about 5-6 months now. Every day is a sunny day with an endless blue sky, sometimes a few modest clouds. Our garden is filled with divine Hummingbirds, Scrub Jays and other subtropical birds. Don’t forget the squirrels! We have been doing fine. North California is an amazing, almost heavenly place on Earth. Nature is endless and beautiful, people are very friendly, and the environment is well taken care of.

Since June 2012, I have been teaching German again, part-time, at a German language school in Sacramento. Because I was out a couple of years (since 2007), I had to refresh my German again. Teaching has always been in my blood, so it was not hard to teach again. New was the combo-use of German and English – no Dutch anymore. The American people I have in my classes (age approximately 23-75) are very eager to learn, polite and friendly students. Keeping ‘order’ in the class is not an issue , so I can concentrate on the content of my German curriculum.

A lot has changed. It was only December 2009 that I received my Dutch driver’s license. Now I am driving myself to – among other places – Sacramento. Because it is an evening school, I have to drive back in the dark. My Guardian Angels are still paying attention, because I didn’t ‘crush’ myself or others, not even the car, and I could have, because I am a little night-blind. Because of that, I am wearing my ‘cool’ night glasses when I drive back after dark.

I am certainly not saying that I am a bad driver, because I see a lot (almost everything) and drive carefully and very aware, but I have been making mistakes. In a mysterious way, nothing ever happens, knock knock on wood, and let’s keep it that way. We are driving an Audi A4 we bought in Los Angeles. It’s a fine driving car.

Jeroen is still working as a programmer and is repairing pcs and Macs too. Regarding work, Davis has been a little quiet on him; there is a tough competition here in the lovely and little, student filled City of Davis. Fortunately, he still has customers from the Netherlands. We think San Francisco is a better work place for him.

We both have fallen in love with San Francisco, a city that is a 1.5 hour drive away from Davis. Davis is truly wonderful, but there is almost no wind, no thunder and lightning and no sea. In The Netherlands we lived in Scheveningen for 7 years, we could see the sea from our living room. We miss the wind and the see. We see Hummingbirds and all there is in Davis, in San Francisco as well; so we would still have our feathered friends there, if we move to there. The climate is a little bit more moderate than in Davis: Summers In San Francisco are less hot and Winters are less chilly at night (though it almost never freezes in Davis ánd in San Francisco).

We visit San Francisco as often as we can, and we are always very delighted to be there. It’s a magic place, both in the daytime and in the evening. In the evening and at night, you will see a million distant lights, in a wonderful 3D landscape with buildings and houses on a lot of steep hills. Sometimes you see thick drapes of mist hanging over the hills and mountains like waterfalls. At the coast side you can bike too.
That was one of the main reasons why that we started in Davis, not in San Francisco. In Davis you can bike, like in The Netherlands. In San Francisco you have the most amazing steep streets; you wont believe your eyes as a Dutchie. But you can bike, if you know where to go. And of course you can throw your bike in the car and drive somewhere where you can bike.
San Francisco is very expensive, that is to say, the rent is about $500-800/month more expensive than in Davis, and in Davis the rent is more expensive than in The Netherlands. So we cannot just go there, we have to make sure we can afford it. But the (vegan) food in San Francisco is very good and very cheap, if you want to: 2 lbs (±1 kilo) bananas for only 0.50 $ in the Chinese Quarter, downtown.

I had a job interview at the Goethe Institute in San Francisco and here too: they said I am welcome, as soon as we have come up with a new living plan. I really love the school in Sacramento too, so we have to see how we can work everything out. I am very thankful to the school in Sacramento that they hired me, and let me have my first American-German teaching experience.

About German: it turns out that my choice to study German, was not only a good one in The Netherlands, but in the United States as well. German is considered an important language here too, and here likewise, there are almost no certified German teachers / teachers German who have a valid work permit, and I have one. Thanks to Jeroen winning the DV Green Card Lottery, we both have our permanent resident cards and we can work and do (almost) everything American people do. In fact, in 4 years from now, we are planning to become Americans, to apply for Naturalization. You can, if you have lived for 5 years in the US and we want that very much.

Back to German: it’s the same old story as it is in The Netherlands: not much students to learn German, not many German teachers. People keep seeing Germans and/or the German language as related to World War II. A pity for them, but better for me, because all schools that are teaching German in California, are steadily looking for German teachers. I cannot teach at regular American high schools, at least: I am not sure about it, because maybe I would need a Californian teacher’s certificate and that takes a lot of money and time to get it. But I can teach at adult schools like the one where I am teaching right now.

Here you can see my Green Card:

This Green Card still makes me very proud and Jeroen and I are very grateful to have won the Green Card Lottery.
The only thing I can’t do, besides of becoming the first female President of the United States (because you have to be born in the United States for that, the Republicans didn’t even believe Obama, that he was born in Hawaii) , is vote. Nor can Jeroen. You have to be naturalized for that, but we do hope we can vote in four years from now. Maybe we are just in time to jump on that voting train in 2016.
Of course, Obama will win the 2012 Elections, not hunter-killers and liars Romney and Ryan. Can you believe that Romney likes to kill innocent pheasants, the most beautiful, colorful birds? Ryan is a regular hunter too. And I can call them liars, because they áre, and even the Democrats can call them that, and then so can I.

Even my hairdresser, her name is Soon, said Obama is going to win the 2012 Elections and she is not even in his favor. I have always though Obama will be reelected, of course because I want to, but because of another reason too. There is no place for somebody like Romney and Ryan anymore, times are changing and people are getting more aware. It is not  “I” anymore, but “We”. Ryan and Romney still don’t understand, and Romney was saying what he was really thinking: that he didn’t care about the 47 % of the Americans who are not in his favor. He’s twisting and turning, just to get elected now, and squeezing the truth till there is nothing left of it. But I firmly believe this time the Cosmos will say NO to the Republicans (again). Of course, Jeroen and I are here now, and hope to shine a little extra to make it so.

Next election we hope to vote ourselves: of course for the Democrats and for an animal and bird loving (female?) President, not ever! for somebody who enjoys killing pheasants and other divine creatures.

Next time, I hope I will write you form our new house in San Francisco. We are not there yet, but it is our goal. I always like to think: “Waar een wil is, is een weg” (Dutch): “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

That’s me in front of San Francisco

I forgot to mention that I am working as a volunteer; it’s in the Pence Art Gallery in Davis. That is wonderful because of the real fine art in this Gallery. There are a lot of talented artists in Davis and surrounding areas.
Look for instance at this piece, it’s nor regularly painted, but made with a very difficult to master lacquer technique (hot wax painting). I adore these two birds!:

Link to Artist

So, Jeroen and I are exploring San Francisco and surrounding areas; here you see Jeroen, looking at me and now at you too:

John in Daly City, San Francisco

If you want to see more photos, then visit my Twitpic, Camera+ and Google pages.

Next year on January 6. 2013, Jeroen and I will be married for eight years already and of course know each other even a lot longer than that. We are still an interesting and matching team. Though we are true opposites some times, there is this magical match. We are completing each other, and if I play a ball, Jeroen will kick it in, and vice versa. Love always leads the way and it is love that glues people together. Only love.

About my out-of-body experiences: I still have them and other interesting phenomena, but I do have a little bumpy road. Immigrating into another climate and totally different country is a little tough at night (high night temperatures, being tired, new bed room etc.), and I have been missing the thunder, lightning and wind here in Davis. Every time I visit San Francisco, my astral energy builds up again, one important reason too to keep on moving.

Btw. Our house in The Netherlands at this moment still hasn’t been sold! Please don’t ask me more about it; the economic wind in The Netherlands is just very bad right now and we had to leave the apartment behind, because we couldn’t wait forever and we didn’t want our Green Cards to slip through our fingers. I do miss my Zebra finches, and canary, every day, I had to leave them behind too, and I still blame myself for that. I miss my mum and dad too.

Oh my, there is so much to update on, after one year, I am so sorry.

I had my fourth book , Through Heaven, in the iTunes store for about a year, but I can tell you, and warn you about Apple (Developers Service Centre): don’t work with them, or when you really have to, be prepared to be very, very patient or to just accept the fact that they just can’t and won’t solve problems that pop up.
Because I had immigrated to the United States, Apple had this problem (turned out to be a HUGE problem for the oh so ‘skilled’ Apple peeps) turning my Dutch account into an American one, with my new American Social Security Number. Daniel, my apps’ developer for Through Heaven, told me in the past, he had problems with Apple too, and that they just didn’t solve them (!).

After one year, iTunes/Apple decided to withdraw my 4 Through Heaven apps – two for iPad, Dutch and English and two for iPhone Dutch and English –  because they just couldn’t get it right.
I have e-mailed them more than fifty times (yes, you read this right, more than fifty times), I was on the phone with them several times, but they kept asking the same question: “What is wrong, can you please make a screenshot of…?” And then: “We are going to solve this, this is your reference number…” etc. They kept appointing new persons to solve it, but none of them did! And then, time and time again: nothing. More than 10 months passed and Apple still couldn’t get my new Social Security Number into their system. Makes you wonder about Apple’s true competence, ay?

So, I got really mad, writing Apple that they most definitely have the worst customer service worldwide, and that I wanted my money back (about $100) for the second year I paid them. That I developed the apps to no avail, because they had now withdrawn them, and that I, after receiving my money back,I didn’t want anything to do with them ever again, and would warn other people. Now I have and now you know.
I am planning to make my children’s book Through Heaven available as free download PDF soon.

I don’t think you think I am exaggerating about the service of Apple, but if you do, I will convince you with this: they decided to give me my money back, and this last person wrote: Apple never refunds, but now we do.
So you know, and I know and they know too, they have been blundering big time; else they wouldn’t have refunded my money.
Let me cite a part of their last e-mail:

I understand that your request was for refund for your renewal purchase. I had sent the previous email to advise you that I was reviewing the issue. We are generally not able to issue refunds however in light of your situation I wanted to review the details of the case prior to making a determination.

After reviewing the details of this case, I am able to issue a refund for your renewal purchase as an exception to our no refunds or exchanges purchase policy. Please allow 5-7 business days for the credit to post to your cardholder account.

Two days ago, I received an (in my eyes very daring) e-mail from Apple, now asking about my ‘experience’ with them. I very happily filled out their form, giving them the lowest review possible and these final words about what I think about their service:

The worst ever!!! After more than 50 (fifty) e-mails, several phone calls and more than 10 months, the problem Apple system was causing with my registration still hadn’t been solved. It still isn’t solved. I asked my money back for the second year because my 4 apps were withdrawn because of Apple’s OWN mistake. Now I have developed the 4 apps to no avail. I will advise everybody I know NOT to work, ever, with Apple Developer Support! This is no joke, I am dead serious.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, to do warn you about Apple, and to let you know why I wasn’t able to keep my Through Heaven apps in the iTunes store. I regret that very much, but you will be able to download the children’s book soon.

It is almost Halloween here, and maybe I should wear an Apple costume to complete the ‘scary Halloween characters’.

Halloween Scare-Crow
Painting by artist Linda Apple

One more thing, something trivial, but maybe you like to know anyway. Our favorite American TV series now (we are watching it on, is The Dead Zone.

Are you following me on Twitter? You can, here (updated). On Twitter, I am most active and you will find updates almost every day.

So, see you around, somewhere, somehow. Next time a blog from San Francisco?

Little peeps (protected species in San Francisco) on San Francisco shore line