From an email, 18 May 2004
This last winter, Kim became very depressed, and one of the things she cried about was that I'm not legal. That is a big problem, in Holland. We were living in a tiny room, and with me working under tenuous circumstances (and then barely at all,) I thought I'd better do something. I had a vague plan that I'd go to Ireland, save money, come to the U.S. and apply for legal status, either in Ireland or Holland. As I said, it was a vague plan, based only upon thin information and the feeling I had to do something.
I went back to Kilkenny, where I'd lived for about two years. My friend Justin said I could stay at his, and Gary said my old job was still available, only no promises about hours. Industrial cleaning. A lot of it is doing the initial clean of windows in new-built housing developments. Paid by the job, no bosses around, working with a friend--one of best jobs I've had. (And I've had a lot of jobs; close to twenty, since the last time I saw you.)
One day I ran into my old flatmate Melissa, who said my old room was available. So there I was back in Kilkenny. Kim needed me, though, and when she finally asked me to return, I did so immediately. I hadn't made any "progress" on the matter of legality.... Except, well, things do happen.
I got back here on Easter Sunday. On that Monday, "Tweede Paasdag," or the Second Day of Easter, there was a market. I was walking around and passed "Bakker Arend," where I had worked one day a week, and saw Arend inside. I went in and we had a cup of tea.
Arend said not to tell, but that there may be something working out. His wife may be going to school, he may be staying with the kids, and he may need someone to work the shifts. This will happen, if it does happen, in September.
It's tentative, but Arend is acting as if it will happen, or at least as if I'm going to be working there a lot more. He's been training me into the bakery, slowly for now. This is an excellent development for me, and for Kim too.
The Dutch labor market is restrictive, and permission to stay pretty much depends on work. You get into a chicken-and-egg problem that is very, very Dutch. Super bureaucratic. How do you get work if you don't have permission to work, which you can't get unless you have a job?
But we've been looking into it and it looks good. I talked to somebody at city hall the other day, and they told me that with a work contract, my chances are good. Arend is having his accountant draw up a work contract.
Arend has to advertise the position for five weeks, and so it's a bit of a waiting game now, until early-mid June.
Whew. Well, I had to tell you about that.
Er, I mean, hasta pronto