Friday, February 6, 2009

What's Happening to Me?

Bet you're all wondering what the heck has happened to me. Well, I left for California in mid-December to go to the dreaded Italian Consulate in Los Angeles to get my work visa only to be turned away - not once but twice! As I write this blog, I am still in California.

The woman from hell was behind the window at the Consulate office and refused to even acknowledge or look at the paperwork I brought in as she said it was all wrong without giving any indication of why. I was in shock, to say the least, and wondered how on earth I could figure out what I needed. I had gone to the website that the Consulate had sent me via e-mail for guidance and picked what I thought was the type of visa I needed. She informed me that the type I collected all the information for was for corporations -- not individuals. She referred me to a web address and refused to assist me further. I walked out of the office in tears as my flight home was scheduled for December 31 and I didn't know if I'd be on the plane after all.

After looking at the site that she referred me to, writing the Consulate several times (with no response) and calling and leaving several messages for someone to assist me (with no response), I tried to figure out what I needed on my own. I was able to get a few documents from Italy (via fax) and was hopeful that my next appointment would be more fruitful.

When I returned (on my birthday of all days), you guessed it -- the same witch was at the window and took pride in letting me know I had it all wrong again! I told her that I had tried calling the Consulate office, writing them, and looking at the web site she recommended and thought I had it right. She just shook her head and pushed everything back at me again and said they weren't there to help me.

I was really furious and pushed it back at her and told her I wanted her to look at it and help me because I had a job waiting for me in Italy, two dogs who were with pet sitters and an apartment that I needed to get home to. She started yelling at me and said they couldn't accept faxed documents as they could be forged and shoved everything back at me again.

I told her that my entire trip had been a nightmare and that I had been so stressed that I hadn't been able to enjoy the holidays and my time with my family and friends and she just laughed at me! I told her I didn't think it was funny in the least and she just said she didn't mean it as "ha ha" funny. I asked her what possible other way she could mean it and she just changed the subject.

I insisted she let me know if any of the documents I had were accurate and she flipped through them and told me I had a few correct but most of them were not right for some minor reason. I told her I had used the forms from the website that she recommended to me and she just made more excuses. I left again in tears and knew at that point that I wouldn't be coming home as scheduled.

When I got back to my son's house, I tried to change my flight and found out it wasn't possible. Therefore, I not only didn't get to go home, I have to buy a whole new ticket when I finally get everything resolved.

In any event, after gathering the paperwork I could from here and my company working very hard to figure out all the documents I need from Italy, I think they'll finally be mailing everything to me by the end of this week (fingers crossed!!!). IF I get everything and it's correct, I will make yet another appointment with the Consulate, turn everything into them and hope that it will be accepted and I can be on my way home.

I'll put more videos and fun stuff up when I return to Italy. I've been so stressed and disheartened by this whole bureaucratic nightmare that I haven't had the heart to write about it or keep my blog updated.

On a positive note, my son and his wife have gladly opened their home to me for my time here. I couldn't have done it without their love and support. I've also had a lot more time to spend with my friends and am working on my next teaching certificate so I'll be ready to get back to work when I get home. My Italian friends both here and in Italy have been invaluable in their assistance and support and have kept me sane. I also have two wonderful pet sitters who are taking turns staying with the girls in my absence. One day I will laugh as I remember this nightmare, but until that day...

Hope my next blog will be full of joy and good news about being back home.