Ahoy there! Cheers from the West Indies!

Well, we are officially “on island” and it’s…. different. I don’t know if I’ll have time for a real post this week, what with all the new-country orientation stuff we’re doing, but here is a link to our brand-spanking-new Flickr photo stream for my first batch of pictures from our new home to tide you over until I can type up all the details.

Enjoy! http://www.flickr.com/photos/chesnuthouse/

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

I am the type of person that hates answering the same questions over and over and over again. This is why I try to send out large amounts of information in mass emails or announcements. Thus, the following post. Enjoy.

Where are you going?
We are moving to the island of St. Kitts, part of the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. It is a little island, about 50 square miles, south of Puerto Rico. It is toward the top of the chain of tiny islands that snakes from Puerto Rico to the top of South America.

When are you leaving?
We fly out this Saturday morning, April 27, from the Nashville airport. (Yes, that’s THIS coming Saturday morning.)

How long is the flight?
The flight from Charlotte, NC, to Basseterre, St. Kitts, takes about four hours.

How long will you be there?
A total of two years and three months, which is seven Ross semesters. We will be coming home for Christmas breaks, the first of which starts December 14. We will be get three weeks of vacation then.

Why are you going there?
The Mister is going to Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. We chose that school because they have different admissions standards than state-side schools, the Mister’s application was more competitive there, giving him a better chance of being accepted. (A related question: Why didn’t you just go to Knoxville? Answer: Think about this logically. Don’t you think, if we had gotten into the school at Knoxville, that we would be going to Knoxville? I’m just sayin’.)

Can people come and visit you?
I always want to say, “No, it’s a closed country and they don’t allow visitors,” but the more polite, less sarcastic answer is “yes.”

What will you be doing while you’re there?
I won’t be able to have a “real” brick and mortar job because of the employment laws in St. Kitts. Outside of the tourist areas, it is still largely considered to be a third-world country, which means they only give jobs to natives, unless you have some specialized skill that the natives cannot provide. It is highly unusual for any student spouses to find local jobs, although some are able to work for American countries over the internet. This is what I will be doing, working on some technical writing for my dad, who is redesigning his publishing company. It’s not much, but it will at least be a little income and something to keep me busy. One of my biggest pet peeves with this move is all the people who start apologizing that I’m not going to have work. What a way to not only make me feel bad about the next three years of my life, but also make my husband feel bad about taking me with him. Thanks.

Do you have a job waiting for you?
My mom insists that there are no stupid questions. I disagree. Ok, maybe let’s not call this a “stupid question,” but at least one that the asker did not take time to think about before asking. I have never been to this country. I had never heard of this country until a few months ago. I don’t know anyone from this country. No, I do not have a job waiting for me.

Is it expensive?
Short answer: Yes. Long answer: No, it’s just like moving across the street. We’re going to a foreign country. An island. That involves a plane ticket and the importation of most goods. So let’s think about this for a minute…

Will you have internet or phones?
Yes, both. We will be able to communicate with friends and family through facebook, skype, Apple facetime, phone calls and text messages, as well as written letters. This is not World War I.

Will you have a cell phone?
The Mister will, at least. The school provides each student with a phone to make local calls and pay-as-you-go international calls, although we will use our Vonage-type phone system more often.

Where will you be living?
Students live on campus in dorm-style apartments for the first semester (three months). After that, we will have to find off-campus housing, but they give you a list of options from school-approved landlords so it’s not like they just throw you out into the cold to find something completely on your own. Which I am grateful for.

What do they use for money?
American dollars and Eastern Caribbean dollars. One American dollar is equal to approximately 2.6 Eastern Caribbean dollars.

What is the dominant language?
English, although many natives also speak something called Antillian Creole, which I’ve read is a mixture of Creole, Spanish and French with Jamaican influences.

If you have any questions NOT listed here, or would like further explanation on a listed question (not easily found on Wikipedia), feel free to ask! 🙂

The future prepares us for who we will be, but the past has made us who we are.

It’s been a long, hard week at the Nut House. We are excited about the adventure ahead, but unfortunately that involved leaving behind a lot of the people, places and things that have helped us both come into our own these past few years.

I had originally planned for this to be a long, sappy post – a tribute to all the most important people and places in our lives – but no matter how hard I work to find the perfect words, I know I will never be able to properly describe and thank all those people I hate to be leaving behind. The friends who have built us up in hard times and been there to laugh and cry with us through everything; the coworkers who gave us our first chances out in the real world and always believed in our abilities; the places where memories were made, promises kept and new beginnings started… I could never do it all justice.

So after loading up our first married home (it somehow took five hours to load the uhaul trailer and three vehicles crammed to the brim), sorting our belongings three times for storage, having two complete emotional breakdowns and one last long, exhausting trip back to Middle Tennessee, we are finally (almost) ready to start this next leg of our journey. We spend this week with the Mister’s family and next week with mine, and then we leave.

**On that note, the Mister did find out today that he has been moved up to be a regular first semester student, instead of having to take the vet prep program first! So we’re saving thousands of dollars in private loans, three months on the island and lots of extra headache, so that’s the good news in all of this.**

Martin will never be the same again, but the memories we’ve made and the people we’ve known there will continue to shape us and the choices we make through the rest of our lives.

In the words of one of my favorite Broadway plays:
“I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn, and we are led to those who help us most to grow, if we let them, and we help them in return. Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true. But I know I’m who I am today because I knew you…

It well may be that we will never meet again in this lifetime, so let me say before we part, so much of me is made from what I learned from you. You’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart. And now whatever way our stories end, I know you have rewritten mine by being my friend…

Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better, but, because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”
“For Good,” Wicked

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The Nut House has a Sale

I think I’ve broken my record for how many times I can question my sanity in one weekend.

Let’s review the footage, shall we?

Friday: The Mister and my mother in law help me take a folding table and our extra furniture out to the parking lot outside our apartment building at 6:30 a.m. for my very first yard sale. Doubt #1: It’s 6:30 a.m. Doubt #2: I’m sitting outside in the darkness shivering in four layers of clothing hoping somebody will happen to drive through the parking lot and buy some junk. (Did I say junk? I mean highly useful miscellaneous items.)

Our first customers arrived at approximately 6:45 a.m., while we were still setting up the table. Both complained loudly about our “poor choice” of having the sale outside while it was cold. I barely kept myself from gesturing rudely to the tiny apartment buildings behind me and asking where in the world they thought I was going to have it? Doubt #3: I wanted to interact with crazy old yard-sale-type ladies???

I also discovered that it is very demoralizing to be sitting beside a table of … miscellaneous items … and have old ladies, who OBVIOUSLY do not live in a student apartment complex, drive slowly by, peering out the window at your wares while you shiver and silently beg them to purchase something… and then drive on without stopping. It’s like standing up at auction just to hear crickets chirp as the auctioneer begs for a starting bid. Doubts #4, 5, 6, 7 and 8: We (my MIL and I) are going to sit in this parking lot all day long like complete idiots and nobody is going to buy a single thing. I’m going to have to cart all this furniture back to middle Tennessee. Nobody loves me; I am a failure; all is lost.

Our second customers didn’t arrive until 9 a.m. We made three dollars. Doubt #9: We’ve been sitting out here for two hours staring at a pitiful little table of ju- I mean, miscellaneous items, for three dollars. I would have made more than that going to work this morning.

I did have to deal with a couple at one point that seemed intent on trying to buy our entire apartment for about $20. I took them inside to look at our large area rugs (it was too muddy to pull them out from under the furniture and take them outside), and instead of offering a good price on the rugs, they wanted to make offers on everything else in the house. Even when I told them everything else had been sold. Even when they refused to offer more than $20 (total) for anything. And then they insisted that they wanted to buy the Mister’s flat screen television, and I really wanted to ask, “Look lady, if you won’t part with more than $20, what do you think I’m going to ask for that television!?” Doubt #10: Why do I have these people in my house????

But I am glad to say that the traffic did eventually pick up as the sun burned off the fog and it started to warm up, and by the end of the day we had sold all the furniture and a large portion of the smaller items. Doubt #11: What was I thinking?! Of course a yard sale was a good idea! Of course I know how to advertise events! I am awesome!

Saturday: We set up the table around 8 a.m. this time, since we didn’t want a repeat of the previous morning and because we didn’t have much left to begin with. Which, of course, only made for an even more pitiful scene as the MIL, the Mister and I again sat beside the table (this time with an even smaller assortment of miscellaneous items) and waited for customers. Doubt #12: Why are we out here? We look pathetic.

A family did stop at one point, with the parents asking in broken English where was our furniture for sale. When I explained that everything had been sold the day before, they only continued to ask about beds, dressers, couches and bookshelves. I, again, said everything had been sold. They asked if we were having a moving sale, and what kind of moving sale doesn’t have furniture. I, again, explained. This went on for another 10 or so minutes before they finally drove off disgusted. Doubt #13: What kind of clientele am I attracting to this sale? If you wanted to buy furniture that badly, why did you wait until noon on the second day to come by?

We made about $16 dollars in four hours, and most of that came from our last two customers. Doubt #14: Why did I want to have a yard sale? Nobody is going to stop. I wouldn’t stop. This was a stupid idea.

After chasing several items across the parking lot as the wind picked up, the Mister and I surveyed the ghost town around us and decided to pack the table up and call it a day. The Goodwill pile went into the trunk of my car, while the “see if Mom can sell it at home” pile went into the “random stuff to take back to Mom” box. Doubt #15: Is anybody in Murfreesboro going to buy an expensive pair of name-brand cowboy boots? Murfreesboro isn’t really a cowboy boots kind of market.

I sold four pieces of furniture last week to a young woman over the phone, and I had been texting her all weekend begging that she come by to pay a partial amount and claim the items before I sold them to someone else. She didn’t come and didn’t come and didn’t come. Doubt #16: Why did I ever think it was a good idea to sell stuff over the phone? She is not coming for this stuff. What was I thinking?

We did, ironically, have a few people knock on our door hours after we brought the table in, so we might have made a few more dollars if we’d waited in the breeze, but oh well. If they wanted to buy things that badly, they should have been there earlier. (The unknown young lady’s mother did eventually come by late Saturday afternoon to make a claim deposit on her furniture, thank goodness.) Doubt #17: Why do I have so little faith in humanity?

Sunday: The Mister and I had just gotten my MIL on the road and settled in for a much-needed nap, when we both sat straight up in bed, listening intently. The ice cream man was coming! We scrambled out of bed and into the first clothes we could find on the floor. I actually ran out the front door putting my glasses on with one hand and zipping up my pants with the other. We NEVER catch the ice cream man!

We got outside and lost the music, but we knew he hadn’t been loud enough to have passed by our building yet. Finally we heard a jingling Yankee Doodle, loud and clear, from a neighborhood across the road. Hooray! We staked out seats on a light pole directly across from the entrance. There is no other way out of that neighborhood. We knew we’d caught him now!

We waited. And waited. And waited some more. He never came out. So finally we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and take a walk across the street to find our prey. About halfway into the neighborhood (which forms a small loop, and we were on the side he would have had to exit), we heard the music again, this time inexplicably coming from the direction of the main road. So of course we took off running like crazy people. But alas, we never found the ice cream man. It was probably the greatest disappointment of the entire weekend. Doubt #18: Why are we running around Martin in an odd assortment of clothing with nothing but our door keys and $20, chasing phantom music like deranged people? It was probably a really loud child’s toy.

Monday (today): I got all the way to the lobby of my office building this morning before I realized my favorite boots were making two different sounds as I walked and one ankle was hurting. ONE HEEL WAS AN INCH SHORTER THAN THE OTHER!!! Doubt #19: That hasn’t always been like that, has it? I am surely more observant than that! Doubt #20: I have completely, totally, undoubtedly, irreversibly lost my mind.

Did I Mention Counter Space?

My best friend (“Goose”) and her husband bought their first house this past weekend, and I don’t think I could possibly be happier for them! It’s an adorable starter home, and I cannot even begin to describe how jealous I am that she’s going to have kitchen counter space. And a washing machine. And a giant closet… the list could go on and on.

The new Gunter house. :-)

The new Gunter house. 🙂

But while the Mister and I were flipping through the pictures on Goose’s facebook profile, and he zoomed through the most important images, I realized a very major and important difference between he and I.

“Hey! Go back!”

“Back to what?”

“The kitchen! You didn’t even let me look at the kitchen!”

“It’s just a kitchen.”

“Well that’s just the yard. I don’t care about the yard. I want to look at the kitchen!”

**Blank, confused stare from the Mister**

He didn’t even want to look at the kitchen!!! I was in shock. While I wanted to examine every detail of the countertops, backsplash design, appliances and room layout… he just wanted to flip through and look at the yard. The yard! Yes, a yard is nice and I’m happy they have one, but the kitchen is infinitely more important. To have the cabinets just right, enough counter space the right distance apart, all the proper utilities… how could you NOT be concerned about that???

I can see us now, looking at houses (or even just apartments) someday in the future:

Me: “Oh, honey! Look at the big windows in this kitchen! I love the counter space!”

Mister: “Ok.”

Realtor: “The kitchen appliances are all being included by the owners.”

Me: “Did you hear that, honey? The appliances are included!”

Mister: “Ok. What type of grass is in the yard? Is this area zoned for cows?”

Realtor: “Zoned for cows?”

Me: “Honey, did you see the size of this pantry?!”

Mister: “Yes. Cows. For the yard.”

You see how this is going? There’s going to be a house someday with the perfect kitchen, and we’re not going to buy it because it doesn’t have the right kind of grass or something.

Actually, no, that’s not going to happen. Because if I find the perfect kitchen – or really, at this point, if I find any decent counter space at all – I’m going to duct tape myself to it and refuse to move until it’s mine.

Even if the current homeowners have to cook around me.

(Did I mention Goose is going to have counter space????) 🙂

What did your first home look like? What features does your ideal home have?

**Oh, and a note for last week’s readers: The chicken coop pictured in the blog is not the same coop we found at Tractor Supply Company. The TSC website would not let me steal that picture, so I Googled “fancy chicken coop” and found the one I used. For all the women who have asked my mother-in-law where they can buy that chicken coop (you do realize I was referring to it as a crazy contraption, right?), the one we saw was the same style pictured here: http://www.tractorsupply.com/en/store/ware-manufacturing-premium-chick-n-barn–nest-box-kit