Getting wed part 1 – Courthouse wedding

This post has been long overdue, and it won’t even be a good one because the courthouse wedding wasn’t very long or very interesting :D.

Something that might be good to know for my non-US readers is that a couple of civil services(among which is marriages) are dealt with by the Osceola county clerk and his staff in the courthouse and not at city hall. Not entirely sure if they even have a city hall like we’re used to in the Netherlands. NB. “regular” ID cards are handled by the Department of Motor Vehicles(DMV), who is also in charge of driving licenses and voter registration. Strange but true.

So, first things first. In order to get married in Florida, one must first purchase a marriage license($93.50) and then wait for three days before it becomes valid for 60 days. While it’s possible to get a discount and a waiving on those three days, we decided to just wait it out. It involves spending time in some sort of pre-marriage counseling class which costs about as much as the money you “save” with the discount. Don’t really need somebody to tell me how to share responsibilities and how to deal with our shared pool of money anyway.

After obtaining the license we had to pick a date to go back there to have the wedding performed. The date we picked is the same date as my birthday and so easy to remember. Since we applied for the license on the 19th of March(3 days after I arrived in the US), we had ample time to look for rings.

The day of the actual wedding the courthouse was practically empty, which kind of came as a surprise considering the amount of time we spent waiting in line the first time we were there. Handed over the license to the lady, who promptly directed us to a separate, and somewhat sterile, room where the simple ceremony was supposed to take place. A video of this really short ceremony can be found here:

License stamped and just like that we were married. And have been for almost two months now. A handful of photos of this event can be found in the courthouse wedding gallery.

American adventures part 1 – SSN and bankaccount

I´ve been here for about two months now and slowly getting the things I need done.

My first objective after getting married(More on that in another post, after the ceremonial wedding :)) was getting a social security number(SSN).

First attempt at getting one failed pretty horribly. As it turns out, the nearest Social Security Administration(SSA) office in Kissimmee stopped dealing with registering new cards and we were sent off to Orlando. Unfortunately we had no time to drive up there that day.

The second attempt was more successful. We went up to the new SSA building up in Orlando, which was actually split into two separate buildings with one building specifically for dealing with social security cards. I had already researched and done the things required thanks to my wonderful sidekick and so didn’t have to do anything but wait.

In short, as a K-1 visa holder, I had to fill out the application form and bring my passport with valid visa(alternate ID requirement) and valid I-94. Due to recent changes in eligibility and status, I also printed the full list that proves I’m a “Legal alien allowed to work”. Apparently not every SSA employee has their knowledge up-to-date and other people were denied their social security card because of it.

Due to the very specific purpose of the building(social security cards), we waited about half an hour before it was our turn. I handed over my filled out form and passport and the guy started his work. At one point he called over a colleague. This had me worried that I had to actually use the list I had printed and argue my way to my SSN.

As it turned out, the computer did something he did not expect. Apparently it was supposed to seek confirmation of my papers electronically first, but it didn’t. It was asking him to send in the papers for confirmation by mail. He ensured me that they were going to do all that and that I had nothing to worry about. And sure enough, a few weeks later I got my social security card in the mail.

Now that I had my SSN the next thing we went to do was open a bank account. The bank of choice in this case is Chase. Due to a new policy(possibly as a result of the PATRIOT Act) I, as an immigrant, had to prove my current address. This proved to be somewhat difficult, because I don’t own a home or have bills in my name. In fact, I barely get any mail to begin with. I did have a letter from the SSA and one from the Dutch tax office. The SSA letter wasn’t valid proof and the Dutch tax letter was a bit iffy due to the fact that they had no idea what it was saying and as far as they’re concerned it could be anything.

They did accept this as proof of my address in the end, although it took a few hours. And so, after signing a few times and handing over $100 as an initial deposit, I now have an American bank account with a debit/”credit” card(It’s a debit card with a credit card number on it, apparently this is normal here) that I can use for other stuff. Like change my country on Spotify and finish my American PayPal account.

Next part will most likely describe getting my driving license. I’ve also yet to write about the courthouse wedding and post the pictures from that, even though I’ve promised people to do so at “the end of the week” about a month ago. Oops.

America – Land of the free, home of the food commercials

A week has passed and I’m still alive and well in America and so far things are going pretty good. So far it hasn’t really gotten through to me that this is more than simply a vacation and that I’m here for life. I’m sure that’ll change once I’m going to be able to apply for jobs and drive around the place and everything.

This week started with my flight(s) over here. I had initially booked a flight with a 5 hour layover in New York. However, my connecting flight was changed and the layover was now 6 hours. All well and good, I thought, I had no idea how long it would take to get from one flight to the other with the immigration part. As it turns out, it didn’t take much longer than usual. The main difference is that I know had to fill out an I-94 form and wait for a little bit in the immigration office while my visa was further processed.

The first thing I noticed about this office reminded me of a bit about pharmacists that Jerry Seinfeld did:

The immigration officers, too, were sat at a desk higher than the rest of the folks. So after sitting there for about 5-10 minutes, my name was called and I could go up to the desk to get my passport back and be on my way for checking in my luggage for my connecting flight. The whole process, including waiting in line, took maybe 30 minutes or so. A lot less than what I expected. So I spent the rest of my time wandering around JFK airport, resisting the urge to go to Dunkin’ Donuts but giving in to the temptation of a large slice of pepperoni pizza and strawberry Shnapple.

Overall, the flight itself was quite alright. Beyond the annoying people in front of me giving my knees a hard time and the fact that we had shared screens during the long flight over the ocean it was pretty quiet. No turbulence, no crying babies, nothing. Also, it was the first flight I got a pizza-like meal at. That counts for something.

The day after I arrived we went to some tux store to look for a tux to rent. Found a nice and light(light as in, thin fabric) one, because, fuck the heat. Then at night we went to see the live edition of Jay and Silent Bob Get Old. As I write this, the episode we’re in isn’t up yet, but no doubt it will be next week or so.

I made some clips of the more physical bits called Let us fuck, but the quality isn’t all that. My phone decided that it needed to refocus every so often, so don’t mind that.

For video that’s up closer and at better quality, hit up the youtubes.

Rest of the week was mostly spent getting things in order for my stay here. We’ve gone to the courthouse to get our marriage license. It’s quite silly how this place still works with the honour system. I had to vow(right hand up and everything!) I had filled out everything correctly and truthfully and that’s that. Now, the silly part about getting the marriage license is that as far as we understood it, we’d have to wait for 3 days to get it. At first I had thought that you’d have to wait for 3 days before you’d receive the license so they have time to do research on you and actually check if you’re not married or whatever. However, we’ve already got the license and this 3 day waiting period is literally an arbitrary date written on the license itself. Speaking of which, today is the first day it’s actually valid and it’s time to use it too(the 4th and the 11th of april have come up for this).

So, so far so good. Still have a lot to do, like get my license and a phone plan where I don’t pay out the arse for abroad data usage, but one step at a time. In the mean time, I’ll just watch tv and amaze myself at the hilarious amount of food commercials. Surprisingly though, I’ve seen Arby’s, Quizno’s, Subway, Sonic various chocolates and crisps and cheese and beer commercials, but the big ol’ McDonald’s is nowhere to be found. Nor is Brighthouse, for that matter…

The more or less inevitable “Things I’m looking forward to” post

We’re now about three weeks away from my departure and I’ve promised that I’d post about the things I’m actually looking forward to(Crazy, I know!). I’ve not added the blatant “Getting married, starting a life etc.”, because, you know, that’s a given. So without further ado and in no particular order. The list!

  • Free refills!
    Almost good enough to replace the void of stroopwafels. Almost.
  • Netflix, Hulu and the like
    It’s such a simple concept, yet so brilliant.
  • Earlier access to other online services(Or at all, for that matter)
    Specifically of the Google variety, like Voice and Music, neither of which are fully available over here
  • Better release dates, usually
    It’s only a few days, usually, but I’ll take whatever victory I can!
  • Better weather, mostly
    No more snow, no hail, higher temperatures overall. Hurricane-season though. @.@
  • A new job!
    I’ve worked at the same place for almost 3 years, and they were great. A new job will certainly be an interesting change of pace.
  • Explore the US further
    It’s pretty friggin expensive to get to the US to begin with, but there’s plenty I’d like to see and now I’ve got a chance to!

And that’s it. Nothing too fancy. Ironically, some of the things on this list will be things that may inevitably kill me at some point. <3

The inevitable “Things I’ll miss” post

It’s just over a month before I leave behind this country for the United States. So I’ve decided to compile a list of stuff that I’ll probably end up missing eventually and tried not to name the obvious “Family & friends” malarky. That’s what Skype is for.

  • Stroopwafels
    Because. Friggin. Stroopwafels.
  • Liquorice
    Specifically the sweet honey kind. <3
  • Proper chocolate
    And don’t give me that “But…Hershey’s!”. No.
  • The often moderate weather
    I don’t like extremes in weather, the hot weather in Florida is going to kill me.
  • The metric system
    Because the imperial system is silly and shouldn’t exist.
  • Cycling lanes
    I do enjoy cycling, but from what I’ve seen, it’s a suicide mission to even attempt it.
  • Various other seasonal and not-so-seasonal snacks
    Including, but not limited to: Pepernoten, Speculaas, Hagelslag, Penniewafels, Negerzoenen, Suikerbrood and vla.
  • Beer
    American beer sucks. Plain and simple.

And that’s all I can think of for the time being. There will undoubtedly be more, but I’ll most likely won’t miss it till it’s gone. A lot of it is food related, but that’s mostly because there aren’t very many typically Dutch things I enjoy enough to miss that aren’t food. Like tulips. And windmills. I’ve also tried to steer clear of blatantly political issues. I’ve my views and they don’t really line up with how the US is doing things, so lets keep it at that <3.

I might also make a list of stuff that I’ll gain from moving over there, apart from the obvious. It’s not going to be all bad, it can’t be!