Sunday 15 April 2012 - Two weeks later - part 2
The other entry was getting a little long so here's what's happened since I arrived.
Being on UK time, of course I crashed out early and woke up early - before daylight in fact. But the sun rose quickly and the temperature climbed. Up here in the desert it gets cold at night but warms up during the day. Some quite extreme ranges of temperatures in a single day in fact.
Kerry's wife, Sharon, was 8 months pregnant when I arrive. I was aware of this and only intended to stay a couple of weeks so I'd be out of their way by the time the baby arrived. But the baby did not hang around and decided to arrive that very first night! So when I got up in the morning Kerry came and found me and announced that they'd had the baby overnight! I thought he was joking but when I saw the medical tag on his wrist (giving him access to the maternity unit) I realised he wasn't! What's more, they didn't get to the hospital in time... Sharon had pains around 11pm and thought she probably was in labour. By 1am they set off for the hospital, 40 minutes away. But as they pulled into the hospital grounds Sharon said "it's coming!" and she had the baby right there in the car as they pulled up outside the ER! Kerry ran in to get help and doctors came running out. They even delivered the placenta in the car as it was ready to come out. Add to that, they had their 4-year old son in the back of the car. Had I known, I would have helped of course, if only to look after their son. But I was blissfully unaware. Still, I tried to help over the next few days by cooking and helping entertain and feed the son.
On the first full day (Friday) I managed to get a $50 pay-as-you-go type SIM card for my old iPhone on T-Mobile. As it wasn't a bundled phone I ended up having to set up several things manually which took some Googling over the next few days. I also eventually found out that I hadn't got any international texts or minutes with the plan so had to fork out another $10 per month. A little pricey but that's the cost of doing things over here. One day I'll upgrade to a newer phone and might be able to get a better deal.
That afternoon I walked into Wells Fargo expecting difficulties setting up a bank account. Not so! Although it took the best part of 90 minutes (and the latter half hour after it had closed) the bank had a checking and savings account set up for me. Most of that time was the lady talking though! Fast forward a week and my cheques ("checks") and debit card have arrived.
The next few days are a bit of a blur now! I bought a PC and a cheap table so I could start working in my bedroom. Oh, and a laundry basket - sounds silly but I didn't have anywhere to put my dirty laundry! Slowly getting to know where the major shops are in this city, doing a lot of window shopping at the time.
On Wednesday I went to Apple Valley to a rental property agent - part of the Century 21 group. Though the bloke was friendly enough, I don't think he could have sounded more bored if he tried. The main question was whether anybody would rent to me given my lack of credit history. But he said that it was up to the individual property owners, not him (or his company). So that potentially worked in my favour. But there were plenty of properties and I wasn't ready to move yet so left it at that.
Later that day I was passing the Social Security Administration office so I thought I'd call in to see if my SSN was ready. You're supposed to wait about 10 days before applying but to my surprise they not only had issued the number but had mailed the card to me on Monday! They printed out a copy of the number for me in the meantime. Fast forward to Friday and the card had arrived - just a flimsy paper thing, albeit with watermarks and other security features.
The same day I phoned American Express to ask if I could do a global transfer on my card. It was approved! Only a $5000 limit compared to my GBP16,000 UK limit (of which I've never used more than 3000) but it's a good start. That card arrived on the Thursday as they'd sent it by express delivery.
With my wife in the Philippines, house hunting was going to be interesting. But I pointed out a property that she might like and she did, from the photos. It wasn't far from Sharon's and it had a pool. Three bedrooms, all on one level. Reasonable rent price. So I plucked up the courage to phone the number listed. It turned out to be a private landlady, not an agency, although she had several properties. We arranged to meet the next morning (today) and she seemed okay when I explained the credit history issue.
So 9am this morning Kerry and I turned up and she was waiting with a friend. Kerry did most of the talking while I was happy to listen and take it all in. After all, what do I know about pest control and the benefits of high ceilings and tiled floors in the summer?! The house was perhaps on the smaller size but certainly big enough for us. And, of course, it had the pool in the large back yard. I would have liked some grass in the yard but you can't have everything. Instead it was concrete throughout the yard (which is apparently a good thing). The pool looked good but was icy cold. Apparently it wouldn't need heating in summer but I think I might pay the electricity bill to warm it a little until it warms up naturally.
Inside the bedrooms had built in closets, fitted with shelving. The shelving was cheap but it was one less thing to buy. The bedrooms had carpet but the remainder of the house was tiled except in the lounge which had wooden floors. Some of the other cupboards had cheap furniture but the kitchen was modern and looked in good condition. A fitted microwave, cooker, and dishwasher meant less things to buy.
So then we came to the rent issue. She'd asked for bank statements and proof of income, the former of which I started to show her but then remembered my credit report from the UK. This has a score of 999 which is about as high as you can go and her jaw dropped open! She showed it to her friend and asked me when I wanted to move in! We agreed on meeting again on Thursday where she would want the first and last month's rents in cash or cashier cheque (following months would be by ordinary cheque). She was going to have the carpets shampooed but from Thursday it will be mine.
Wow, so I've now got a house to fill! I've got to sort out electricity, gas, and cable. She's included the water and trash in the rent so I don't need to do those. I need to buy a bed for me and the wife and a refrigerator for the kitchen, plus a washer and dryer. Those are the minimums to move in really but soon I'll also have to buy a cot and a bed for our baby and son respectively. Oh and a TV! Expensive times ahead!
Time to go shopping I think!
My attempt to get an EB1a visa for the US, a person of extraordinary ability, which gives a green card pretty much immediately, and there is no waiting period unlike most other visas.
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