Category Archives: Production Widow

The Trappings of An Expat Life

I hate the words “economy” and “credit crunch” so much that I practically foam that the mouth when I have to say it aloud…

“Well, with the economy being the way it is…”

“The credit crunch is hitting us all…”

Ahhh! So aggravating, to say the least, but there’s no better way to explain our situation.

There’s still no word on Mike’s contract and it seems there isn’t going to be.

The projects that the company had banked on never came. Lack of funding, poor planning, politics, the ECONOMY… the exact reason hardly matters any more. Mike’s last day will be this coming Friday and our visas expire the same day.

The frustrating part is that had this been a company in the US, or dare I say, one of us was a British citizen, he wouldn’t necessarily be out of a job so abruptly.

Since his work visa has to be sponsored by the company, billed to a specific project, and legitimized, he simply cannot be paid for another second of his time without a new contract…

Apparently, the British are VERY strict about that… or so I’ve been told. I don’t really care to find out on my own.

We are still able to remain in the country, albeit temporarily, provided we leave and come back through immigration, thereby reestablishing ourselves on tourist visas. This is no different than coming here on a vacation and staying on our passports.

As tourists, we absolutely cannot apply for jobs in the UK. Although, I have no idea how that would play out since we were originally here on a work visa and Mike’s already well within the interview process at a few other London studios…

I mean, I’m sure there’s a way to work around it. I just don’t know what that would entail.

Either way, it’s an extra level of stress to the already tenuous situation of looking for a job in a bad economy. I know this because, I’ve been very casually, ever so slowly inquiring, if only to allow us more time in the UK.

The first question I’m always asked is, “Are you legal to work here?”

“Umm, I’m on a dependent visa, so yes except…  You see, my husband’s work visa… Okay, it’s complicated.”

…and I’ve lost them entirely.

We are absolutely gutted to leave London, especially so soon after arriving, but quite honestly, the feelings haven’t sunk in yet. There’s just so much to do.

A few weeks ago, I e-mailed our landlords in Australia to apprise them of the situation. They were very understanding, and then mentioned that they are expecting a new baby in NINE DAYS TIME…

(Read: This is SO not what we need to be dealing with right now. Go away and leave us alone.)

This past week, our house went back in the lettings market and I started accepting bids on shipping companies. Avery has to watch yet another train table that we can’t take with us be sold and we have to shed all trappings that have finally made our little rental property into a home.

Yeah, gutted is a very good British English word for it indeed.



Filed under Family, Packing Up and Moving, Production Widow

Keep Calm and Carry On

Now that the election is past us, would you kindly redirect you attention back to me. Me. ME!

I just want to thank you for indulging my momentary wallow in self-pity and drama. I know I said that that I didn’t want to be comforted, but you knew that I secretly needed it and did so anyway.

Aren’t you the BESTest Internet and real life friends a girl could have!

I don’t discuss Mike’s company or his job much because…

1)  the multiple NDAs they’ve made me sign prohibit me from doing so

2)  … and, as I’ve mentioned before, I generally try to stay OUT of his job.

(Okay, mostly it’s the strict NDAs from the studio. They are scary.)

Well, now that his professional life has invaded our domestic… or should I say “foreign” life, it’s only fair that I get to turn it into blog posts.

It isn’t even the job that’s getting to me. Gaps between productions are expected in the film industry. It’s the being dependent on visas and moving our family across oceans at a moment’s notice that’s putting the gray I’m my dark brown do.

Mike’s boss equates this sort of existence with that of migrant farmer workers, except on a global scale. When “doing the ’rounds” includes years of going between London, Los Angeles, New York, Canada, and NEW ZEALAND as many of Mike’s co-workers, wives (or “production widows” as they call themselves), and children have done, it’s an apt description.

When the  boss’ wife (because yes, in spite of myself, we ARE friends now) and her daughter dropped by for an impromptu play date yesterday, I knew that the topic would come up. To avoid things getting awkward, I mentally rehearsed a nonchalance about it…

While my words gingerly danced around our husbands’ office politics, my eyes screamed, “Please DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!”

Of course, she has about as much influence on studio funding as I do, which is to say, none at all. She  did, however, share my eye-rolling disgust over the situation and brought up an interesting point…

Remember that writers’ strike from oh so long ago ?

(Yeah, neither did I…)

While other parts of the entertainment industry have since recovered or, in some cases, brilliantly overcome, its effects are just now hitting the CG animation world. So now there’s a lull in projects anyway… in least in the UK.


20070702-keep_calmLike I said… Nothing I can do about it.

Best to simply go on with daily life or, as a ubiquitous English sentiment from Word War II goes, “keep calm and carry on”.

I must say, it’s a good motto to live by…

That is, until the very thing you’re trying to repress starts to impact Every… Single… Decision.

For instance,  we’re running low on ketchup and I can’t decide if I should buy more… you know, in case we just have to throw it away in four weeks!

Okay, so that may be THE stupidest example I could come up with…

(Who cares? Just buy the stinkin’ ketchup already. It’s the only thing that gets the kid to eat his meals these days.)

… but it does go to show just how much anxiety I have over this.

For the record, it affects bigger decisions too, like whether or not to enroll Avery in that wonderful  nursery school I spent the last two months feverishly finding lest he be denied early admission to Harvard for lagging in his preschool acumen.

So yeah. Preschool in the UK… There’s a whole other post for tomorrow.


Filed under Daily Life, Family, Packing Up and Moving, Production Widow