Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Around the World in 80 Days

One interesting aspect of living the expat life is deciding what to do when the time in your current country has expired. We had originally signed on for a two year contract and though not really sure of what to expect, we figured we would spend two years and then probably head back home. This way, when we looked back on our lives, we could say we did something interesting, and I could check off that all important ´´international´´ assignment box on my resume.

About 9 months into our time here, Novartis, like all big multinationals, went through restructuring. Since then life has been a bit of a whirlwind in trying to figure out what happens with us. There was a chance that we would end up staying in Mexico longer because I would get some expanded job responsibilities, so mentally we prepared for that. But alas, I did not get the promotion, so then it looked like we would be heading back to NJ (where I still would not have a job) around March of this past year. So we mentally prepared ourselves for the possibility of returning home just when we finally felt completely settled, and with no house and possibly no job. . . .

Before that plan was finalized, a number of POTENTIAL opportunities arose. It felt like everyday was a new prospect: first in Brazil, then in New Jersey, and for a little while it even looked like there might be something in Australia (yes all the way over there). Finally, I was told that we would be staying in Mexico at least until the end of this year and that I did not need to worry about what was next because something would “surely” open up for me, and that discussions would start in October or so. Again we prepared ourselves to stay for a bit and make the most of our time here, and to simply let fate play itself out. That lasted for about a week.

Out of the blue, I received a call from a senior finance head in another one of our divisions, discussing a potential opportunity to stay in Mexico for an additional two to three years. When I expressed a lack of interest in remaining here, in order to move to Europe, I fully expected the conversation to come to a screeching halt. Instead he replied, “Sounds good, let’s get you over to Europe,” and promised to call soon in order to discuss.

Alas, we are now we are back to where we were six months ago: no concrete plans for the future, mentally traipsing all over the world looking for jobs, but physically living here in Mexico.

So for anyone asking where do we go next or when do we come back to New Jersey, let me just say this, I wish I knew what was next. This is one of those times I am just hoping that destiny takes care of my family and me. I just wouldn’t mind destiny moving things along right about now.

And for anyone thinking about going overseas with a large company: just be mentally prepared for this part of the adventure. I think we were prepared for a lot of contingencies, so things have gone smoothly overall. I just did not expect the uncertainty of our future to be such a big part of the adventure.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Bit of This and That

Since it has been some time since most of you have seen me, I thought I would update you with my recent goings-on. Aside from going to school each morning, we really have not been doing anything too exciting from a toddler perspective. A few weekends ago I went with M&D to a going away party for one of Mommy’s friends/colleagues on the Newcomers Board. She had been living here in Mexico for something like 4 years, and is now returning to Palo Alto. So we went to a despedida for her family, where we ate tacos & tamales, got to see a lot of Mommy’s friends, meet a huge and fun German Shepard dog (even though she was locked upstairs for most f the party, and even though I did wonder aloud, “Is she going to eat me?” I did enjoy meeting her), and meet a few pre-teen girls whom I tried to follow around but who were not very interested in entertaining me.

Actually, now that I think about it, the day after Melissa’s despedida, we did go to a birthday party at my pal Isabel’s house. It was her sister Lucia’s first birthday and they celebrated in a uniquely Mexican-American way. There was pizza and cupcakes for the kids, lots of cool toys (Isabel has an exceptional collection of toys and fun activities at her house, I must say) and a piñata. I am a bit embarrassed at having to admit that I absolutely hate piñatas. I know, I know – how can I possibly live here and not like the idea of candy falling out of a large object, followed by a free-for-all collection spree? How can I possibly call myself a toddler? Truth is, it is the hitting of the object (in this case, Winnie the Pooh) that I hate, making my eyes well up with tears and ask in a shaky voice, “Why are they hitting Winnie? He’s gonna get hurt.” This fear of the piñata is a relatively new phenomenon – back in October I went to 4 parties with piñatas and loved them – so I think we are going to steer clear of them for the time being.

Really there is not much else to report, so here are some of my likes & dislikes these days (which are sure to change by the time I come home next month).


--Color: blue. Or pink. Or green. Or light yellow. Anything that I deem “pretty” in a particular moment

--Food: pretzels; M&M’s (who do you think started that habit?) Cake of any kind (so I take after my Mommy); Broccoli; Peaches

--Song: Alphabet song, Wheels on the Bus
--TV show: One, Two, Three, Count with Me (Sesame Street)

--Phrases: “This is for yooouuu, Mommy” (when handing over a flower or a piece of garbage); “Where we gonna go? What we gonna do?”; “I’m not a baby anymore;” (except when refusing to brush my teeth when I am known to say, “I’m a baby more.” )
--Toys: anything princess; beads for making necklaces; feathers; pots & pans and real uncooked pasta for
cooking; water; bubbles, tricycle; colorful pens; toilet paper.

--Hobbies: climbing things; picking up trash; making beaded necklaces; coloring or drawing; running into
corners and pretending to hide; picking out fresh flowers; playing dress-up.

--Clothes: tank tops, flowing skirts, flowery dresses; colorful t-shirts.


--Eating most things

--Going to bed

--Brushing my teeth

--Dirty hands and clothes

-- The dark

--The Lion King movie (something about the first 5 seconds scares me so badly that I scream and cry in terror)

--Being ignored

--Wearing anything with long sleeves.