Despite all the opportunities listed above, some days I hate this country. Today I finallywent to exchange my US driver’s license for a Dutch one. I meant to do it last week but couldn’t because I was too busy. I couldn’t do it before then because I had to get my 30% tax ruling. I couldn’t get that because I needed a Sofi number. I couldn’t get that until I got a residence permit, and that whole process took 5 months instead of the two weeks it’s supposed to take. So finally, finally today I left work at noon (clocking it as a business absence or some such – not gonna take vacation for this bullshit unless they make me), came home, got my documents, and went and waited at City Hall for most of an hour until my number came up. Oh, and also when you apply for your license they take your US one so I wouldn’t have had any until the new one was mailed if we hadn’t been warned in advance to get an extra US one before coming here. (Providentially, I did this by losing mine, asking for a new one, and then finding the old one again.)

Have I now applied for my drivers’ license? I have not.

I have not because apparently I need a competency certificate firs, to get which I have to buy a form for 19.50 euros (this is in addition for the 30 euro charge for the license itself), fill in all kinds of medical information after I figure them out – the questions are only in Dutch, send it in and get a certificate back. Of course, this too is all processed by a government office, just like the ones that took so long getting me a sofi number, so no guarantees how long it will take.

Have I mentioned that you’re supposed to get the new Dutch license before you’ve been in the country six months?

I told the woman that my husband wasn’t asked for this form when he applied for his license a couple of weeks ago. She asked, “Has he gotten it in the mail yet?” and I had to concede that she had a point. Rudder confirmed with the Relo people at work that yes, he does need one (and yes, these would be the same Relo people who should have told us we needed the damned form in the first place) so then I had to go back to City Hall to get one for him. At least they didn’t make me wait in line again, though they considered it.

Also I have a low grade fever and a slight sore throat. It’s possible it’s not actually a cold; my standard explanations for anything unaccountably wrong with me include insuficient fluid intake, an abrupt change in the weather and having or being about to have my period and two of those three apply at the moment. And somewhere in maneuvering around the apartment to get everything I needed for my errands I bumped into the bed and took a large and bloddy chunk out of my leg. Grump grump grump grump grump. Dammit.

I suppose in fairness I should mention the upside. While on my second trip to City Hall I remembered I needed to refill a prescription. And I walked to both the City Hall and to the pharmacy, just a few blocks from here, and got to smell blush roses on the way. And at the pharmacy I pickedup six months’ supply of birth control pills for 17.36 – that’s full cost, not a copay. And there were trees on the way, and I rode my bike home from work and of course taking the afternoon off means by definition not being at work on a workday. It all makes it hard to stay too mad for too long.

But I will for a while longer, anyway. Dammit. Stupid country with its insane paperwork.

(Don’t tell me about the problems of my own country. Is the US any less stupidly beaurocratic? Probably not. Does that make any of this less annoying and less valid to complain about? Certainly not.)