There is tremendous pleasure derived from living in Japan and in the USA, but this does come at a bureaucratic price. I have been in California for over a week and the mainstay of my activities is ensuring that all my documentation is in order.
I go to the Social Security office to see if the money I paid in when I worked at Stanford plus the 16 years I have been paying US tax gives me any kind of pension or Medicare.
The answer is no, by the way. The experience however is salutary. I am there half an hour before it opens amid a crowd of people with needs greater than mine.
I have to file my US taxes and I track down a wonderful Russian lady, Elena, who says she is happy to do it for me. She is lots of fun and seems in no way daunted by the complexities of US tax on a Japanese salary. I have to fill in lots of forms.
I have to have my car smogged. California has very strict emission controls and before you change car ownership or anything like that the car has to pass a smog test. The Tacoma fails! Not because of dirty emission syndrome but because the removal of the battery last weekend zeroes out some internal record lost deep in the electronic wilderness of the car. I have to drive it for a couple of hundred miles to reset this thing. I do not understand.
San Francisco has excellent public transport and I have to get a bus pass know as Clipper. More forms.
Another smog test – she passes. I am now armed to go to the DMV to have the title changed to my name. It was under Ben’s name for a reason I cannot remember.
Visiting the DMV is not fun, especially the Fell street office, which although very close to the house, is the busiest in San Francisco.
I wait in line outside for 2 hours
When I finally get to speak to the man, he tells me that I have filled in the wrong forms. I should have filled in Family Transfer forms. For a moment I think he is going to tell me to go back and start again, but no, he grins and helps me through the whole procedure. Thank you DMV man.
I have also had to do a lot of banking adjustments.
As I say being legal, running apartments and cars in two countries comes at a price.