Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mail - e and real

One of the cool things about living in London as an American is that when you go to bed, the US has their whole evening ahead of them - which means that when you wake up, there are oftentimes fun treats in your email inbox from your American friends. Yippee!

Or, there can slightly uncomfortable emails in your inbox like the one I got today from my dad saying my he read my real mail and my US bank account balance was overdrawn. I have a student loan that I pay on monthly direct debits from my US account, and periodically send myself some cash - when I remember. So I'm not sure which is worse - my dad reading my mail, or my dad finding out I'm slightly disorganized in life enough that I forget to send myself money on a regular basis. Sigh.

Blogger Kristina wrote an apt post about how being an expat involves 2x as much paperwork as just being a "normal" citizen, and sometimes I think I got a bad roll of the dice to have lived in the two most paperwork-intensive countries in the world. Although Jon might remind me that I'm lucky to not have to deal with French redtape, it is weird to realize that I actually maintain 6 bank accounts. SIX. For one girl. Sheesh.

And wherever you live, it's really easy to get caught up in day-to-day life and forget about paperwork - bills, renewals, forms, etc etc etc - that's why there are wonderful things like direct debits and automatic payments. But multiply all of that by 2... and combine the fact that my job is pretty much all admin... I'm suffering from admin overload!

And of course there is that pesky "permanent address" issue that I'm sure all expats face - where does all of that American mail GO? I'm lucky that my parents are kind enough to collect my mail and stack it up in a pile for me. Every so often they'll package it up and send it over, or if they are visiting they will bring it along. They didn't used to read it all, but after an incident when Citibank started changing all of their terms, and not telling anyone except by letter, they are doing what any good parent would do - read my mail. I suppose I'm okay with it; I suppose I have to be okay with it. They're gracious enough to take on some of my bloody admin, for which I am grateful. But it is weird - that's MY mail, and MY bank account, even if it only has $15 in it!

So I guess it is a good thing I have my dad opening my mail - now I just need to get over the embarrassment, and lack of privacy - of him finding out my innermost financial secrets. And I guess also grow up and get organized, stat, so I can stay on top of all of bank accounts and debits and various other annoying life necessities.


  1. I*feel*your*pain. I am thirty years old and during a weekly Skype date with my parents they open mail and hold it up to the camera so I can decide if they need to scan it to me, do something, trash it, etc.

  2. Awww! I bet the inventors of Skype never thought that's how it would be used... Classic though. I love parents!

  3. Oh Danielle - I feel your pain too. And I just had my first "hold the mail up to the camera" Skype date with my parents! We are lucky to have the parents we do - but it's crazy! I spent last weekend trying to organize all my new bills/paperwork - I've been here less than two months, and am shocked at how quickly it piles up. Good times!