Eight Lives Left

A few weeks after we got married, the husband and I brought home a kitten. She is completely adorable, equally as crazy, and has quickly become a part of our small family. She has also quickly defied the old saying "curiosity kills the cat" by using up one of her nine lives. This is the story.

Meet Lady Kancha.

We had planned on having a normal Sunday morning. First we would enjoy pastries and coffee for breakfast. After that we would have our usual sudoku competition in which I would surely dominate and finish well before my man. Then we would venture out in the afternoon to go shopping for the husband's suit for our October wedding celebration and to register for gifts at a department store in the city center. Sounds like a nice little Sunday, doesn't it?

Instead, our little Lady fell out of the window.

Sunday was cool and cloudy, but overall a nice day, so we had the windows open like we normally do. Opening the windows in our apartment has actually been one of the biggest adjustments I've had to make since moving here. You see, in Amsterdam, and in most of Europe, windows have no screens. No screens! Just wide open air waiting for something to fly in or something to fall out. It baffles me, a human who loves few things more than opening a window to let in the summer breeze (or the spring or autumn breeze for that matter) and simultaneously despises few things more the bugs that come in along with it. Thankfully, we now have a kitten who believes it's her duty to take care of these bugs, but it's still annoying. And now, after this fiasco, the case for screens is even stronger as I'm too terrified to open our windows again. But I digress. Back to the story.

On this day in particular, the three of us were all going about our own business. The husband was out picking up pastries for breakfast (he goes to get fresh pastries every weekend morning and I'm completely spoiled), I was perusing the Bejinkorf's website for dishes that I could imagine eating our pastries on in the near future, and Lady was playing on the windowsill, and the couch, and with her scratching post, and alternating between toys. She is a kitten through and through, a body of incredible energy and a very short attention span. She is also quite curious (she's a cat after all) and while she's known to hang out by the window and chase a bug or two, she's also usually pretty safe, so I wasn't monitoring her too closely.

That's when I hear the doorbell ring. Thinking it was my man, who often rings the bell on his way up to announce his presence, I ignored it. But then there were no footsteps coming up the stairs, and there was no husband at the door. I figured someone rang it as a mistake, and continued to ignore it.

A few seconds later, it rang again. This time I tore myself away from pictures of the beautiful Wegewood Edme dishes, walked down the stairs to answer it, and saw a man holding Lady.

"Is this your black and white cat?" he asked. "She fell out of a window."

My heart stopped.

This poor man, this wonderful man who saved my kitten, had seen the whole thing happen. Can you even imagine walking down the street and seeing a kitten fall our of a third floor apartment window (second floor if you count them the European way)? Apparently she had landed on her feet as cats always miraculously seem to do. Though unfortunately, he saw that she couldn't keep her mouth from hitting the pavement. Our kitten had a scratched up, bleeding, swollen snout. She was shaking, but she didn't want to be held. So after the man left, she jumped out of my arms and, luckily, seemed to be walking around without any pain. She jumped up to her favorite spot on the couch and fell asleep.

Lady a day after the fall; the scratches on her mouth healing well.

I promptly called the veterinarian who, of course, was closed on Sunday, but had an emergency number to call. I waited for the husband to come home as I figured it was better for him to make the phone call in Dutch. We thoroughly explained what happened and the injuries we could see, and they told us to come in to have her checked out. We had about an hour before the vet was going to be in, so I just sat next to her most of the time and watched her shake and wheeze. She was sneezing, her breaths were fast, and I had convinced myself that there was some lung damage. What kind of mother lets her cat fall out of a window? It was all I could do to leave her side to take a shower, the whole time worrying about our Lady and feeling beside myself for being negligent.

Finally the hour was up and it was time to go to the vet. We put Lady into her carrier and our worries  quickly started slipping away. Once she was in her carrier and outside the apartment, all of the normal behaviors she exhibits when she is in her carrier and outside the apartment were present. She was meowing like crazy. She was alert. She was walking in circles and pawing at the cracks to get out. At that point, I felt that things were going to be alright.

Thankfully, the vet solidified these feelings for us. She checked Lady quickly but thoroughly, gave her some painkillers and sent us on our way with orders to monitor her closely. If she started to look dizzy, we were to go right back to the vet. Our little Lady was quite tired for the rest of the day, but nothing out of the ordinary. And now, three days later, she's making up for all the sleep she got on Sunday. The fall may not have resulted in any major injuries, but I'm convinced it shook up her crazy a little bit. I'm ok with that.

So there you have it, the story of Lady Kancha: the cat with eight lives left. While our Sunday was definitely not what we had planned it to be, it was a good reminder to hug the ones you love and a great argument for window screens. Plus, I got to spend most of my evening holding a sleeping kitten in my arms. There are worse things.

Sleep tight, Lady Kancha.


Verblijfsvergunning Ingewilligd - Applying for a residence permit in the Netherlands

Today I write this post as a registered Amsterdammer (yes, that's what they're called).

Last Tuesday afternoon, a friend came over to visit and brought our mail up with her. In the pile was a letter addressed to me from the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND). I promptly opened it up, and then set it aside. You see, the letter was in Dutch and my usual reaction to Dutch mail is to set it aside until Philippe comes home. Plus, I wasn't expecting a letter with news of my residence being granted for at least another month. But, after catching up on my friend's recent adventures on our apartment's cozy little balcony, the conversation switched to my immigration process and we remembered the letter. My friend speaks Dutch fluently, so she was the perfect candidate to help me understand the letter.

She read the first paragraph silently to herself, then looked up and started reading it to me. "I hereby enclose my decision that today your request of the granting of a residence permit for a fixed period is ... ingewilligd." She wasn't sure what ingewilligd meant and I sure had no idea whatsoever. I did know, however, that I really wanted to know what it meant. So I ran to my phone where I have the Google Translate app handy, and typed it in as fast as I could figure out how to spell it. 

I-n-g-e-w-i-l-l-i-g-d ... Dutch to English ... translate ... Granted!

My residence permit was granted! Mijn verblijfsvergunning is ingewilligd! Here I thought verblijfsvergunning looked like the difficult word in the sentence, but apparently it means residence permit and ingewilligd is a more fancy, official term for granted. As far as I was concerned, my Dutch lesson for the day was complete and my life as a Dutch resident was just beginning. Cue a huge smile, a small sigh of relief, and astonishment that only 27 days after applying for a residence permit at the IND, my residence was granted. I had never really doubted that my request for residence would be approved since Philippe and I had painstakingly followed all the steps correctly, but it still felt wonderful to receive the official news.

Now, my last post was all about how the husband and I decided to get married and the process it took to do so. Marriage was definitely the first step to me becoming a Dutch resident, but it was not the only one. I promise one of these days I'll get around to writing about the more exciting parts of Amsterdam life, but I'm afraid today is not that day. Instead, because I am hoping that this blog will help to serve others in our situation, I want to recount the next step in our journey: the IND appointment.

On the morning July 31, 2013, after returning from a lovely weeklong honeymoon in Malta, I had an appointment at the IND. We had made this appointment weeks in advance and even so, the first appointment they had available was for mid-August. My patient, devoted, loving husband, however, made phone calls almost every day after scheduling that initial appointment to see if there were any cancellation. Luckily, his persistence paid off and we were able to get an earlier appointment.

For this appointment, I had to bring the application for my verblijfsvergunning (it's so much more fun to say in Dutch), as well as a long list of documents. Thankfully, that patient, devoted, loving husband of mine also took the reins on this and filled out the long application, made phone calls to confirm that we had all the information we needed, and put everything together into two color-coded folders for my appointment.

The blue folder held my application, signed and dated on multiple pages by both the husband and I, which was to be submitted to the IND.

The red folder had all things things that the IND needed approve and/or make copies of, but that I was to bring back home afterwards:

  • My passport
  • A copy of my passport
  • Philippe's passport
  • A copy of Philippe's passport
  • My birth certificate with apostille
  • Our marriage license
  • Our apartment rental contract
  • Philippe's work contract
  • Philippe's most recent annual statement from his employer
  • Philippe's three most recent pay stubs

After thoroughly analyzing the documents and taking breaks to tell me all about his cat who recently passed away, the officer at the IND placed a document in my passport stating that I was in the process of applying for a residence permit which would allow me to stay in the Netherlands longer than the usual 90 days as determined by the Schengen Agreement. I was then sent on my merry way with a wish for the best and estimated three to six months until I heard back about my residence permit.

So, you can see why, only 27 days later, I was ecstatic to receive the news that my verblijfsvergunning was ingewilligd! I still have to wait for another letter which will provide me with further information about how to actually obtain my residence permit, but at least I know it's coming ... and soon! 

The population of Amsterdam has now increased by one. Time to start the job search!