24 February 2009

I'm going...somewhere...

TO KEIGHLEY...

From my email box today...

Your visa has been issued.

Wow. WOW! That's it...UK here I come...

17 February 2009

Leap, and the net will appear...or the mail will, at least.

(Many apologies to Christine Kane for that title...that song is keeping me sane these days, so it's no wonder it's at the forefront of my mind.)

Well, somewhere about an hour or so after that blog post about my passport, I decided that there was nothing I could do to fix it until the PO updated their website tonight and I knew where my passports/marriage certificate/etc. had ended up.

I didn't check it until I'd been to Anne's and we had a great dinner followed by much fun in an altogether TOO quiet Target. I'm still smiling.

Label/Receipt Number: xxxxxxxxxxx
Status: Delivered
Your item was delivered at 11:13 AM on February 17, 2009 in NEW YORK, NY 10022. The item was signed for by J BLTH.
Dream, and the way will be clear. Pray, and the angels will hear. Leap...and the net will appear... C.Kane, "Right Outta Nowhere"

And speaking of my thumb...

My fun fact for the day from Wikipedia:

Hitchhiker's thumb

The thumb when extended (as in a "thumbs-up") can extend backwards toward the nail and outwards, a recessive congenital condition known as "hitchhiker's thumb", whereas for other people it will extend straight out with little backward bending. Having either condition appears to have no effect on the thumb's function. While most people have either "hitchhiker's thumb" on both thumbs or neither, in some people, the condition only presents itself on one thumb.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

I have this condition. In both thumbs. Think I'm going for another cup of tea now.

Passport to Nowhere

Here's the current visa application ordeal, in bullet points:

  • Got all the paperwork collected and colated and paperclipped and sent on 5 February.
  • Realised that I hadn't sent my passports in with said application on 6 February, ran to the post office and sent them on along after the application.
  • Got confirmation that the paperwork had arrived on 7 February but never got same for the passports.
  • Got passports returned on 8 February, but since I was working I couldn't sign for them so they were held by UPS until 9 February.
  • Spoke to the folks at the consulate on 8 February, assured them that once I had the passports in hand on 9 February I would overnight them so they would have the complete application on 10 February.
  • Was told that they don't hold applications (even though at the start of this conversation the man had called me to see if he should hold my application because my passports were not included and was I sending them on along?) and that I'd get the paperwork back by 10 February.
  • Cried, yelled, and threw things out of sheer frustration, exacerbated by not having seen my husband since 28 January.
  • Collected all my materials from UPS, got a certified check for another $12 so that they would send my materials back AGAIN, and sent everything off in the mail on 13 February.
  • Checked with the USPS employee when I sent all of this overnighted to make sure that even though it would arrive on Saturday, that they would still accept it? (I'm not paying almost $20 to send something to have it sent back, thank you.
  • Checked the tracking number on Saturday, 14 February after 12pm (guaranteed delivery time) to find THIS on the website:
Label/Receipt Number: xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Status: Undeliverable as Addressed

Your item was undeliverable as addressed at 10:50 AM on February 14, 2009 in NEW YORK, NY 10022. It is being returned if appropriate information is available.
If anyone happens to see my sanity running around anywhere, could you please just step on it and hold it in place until this whole ordeal is over and I am where I should be, which is with my husband in England? Oh, and if you have any spare change lying around to help me get the dogs and Mills to England that would be great too.

Seriously...I have come closer to my absolute breaking point more times in the past month than I have in all my 37 years. And yet I go on, hoping against hope that they will try one more time to deliver it today before they send it back (not likely it will be overnighted BACK) and I have to get ugly at the post office.

I just want to point out, though, that it says that they will be returned IF appropriate information is available. IF. Appropriate information was available for it to be delivered (I copied the address directly from the website for the consulate) and it wasn't, so I'm having a mini panic attack that I may never see my passports again. And let's just don't even consider what waiting six weeks more for a new one before I can apply for the visa again will do to my ability to walk upright and use my prehensile thumb...

05 February 2009

Visa Photos, Take One...

So I head out to put my visa application in the mail, planning a stop at Walgreen's to get my photo done. I'd been trying all day to do it myself because I'm cheap, but it's incredibly difficult to set up the camera exactly right so that you get just your head and shoulders and not this:


(I was on the phone to Simon, who was looking up the regs for the photo for me.)

Or this:


(Ignore the state of the bed, I seem to create a playground for the girls to NEST in if I ever try to make it properly...)

Or my very favorite, titled "How on EARTH could I not see that I was that FAR out of the center of the lens?"



I got to Walgreens shortly after four, thinking it would be easy in and out. WRONG. I was to be thwarted in my plan by a Certified Photo Technician Manager type who clearly had an imbalance in his green teeth/acne to authority-given-by-the-store ratio. Ten minutes after I'd told him what I needed, he had the background set up (it pulls down out of the top of one of the rows, not tough), had found the camera used to take passport photos, and was ready for me to sit down. Another ten minutes and we had the picture taken. I wish I was exaggerating.

We then went to the machine that makes the picture into a passport photo. He's clicking along through the screens and ended up on one that says "What type of document is this photo for?" or something like that (with considerably better grammar, of course). Doogie (as I'm choosing to call him) scrolls down and clicks US Passport. Now during the 20 minutes it took for set up and photography I've told him at least three times that this is for a VISA for the UNITED KINGDOM and not a US Passport.

Me: Sorry, did you just click US?
Doogie: Yep.
Me: But this is for a UK Visa, could you click UK?
Doogie: It's the same.
Me: Well, I'd feel better if you clicked UK then.
Doogie: Well, I don't know how to do the UK one so I'm using the US one.
Me: I thought you said it was the same?
Doogie: Well, it is, (here's the important part) but it's bigger on the screen, the head is, and I don't know how to arrange it, so we're gonna use the US one.

(I feel it is important to mention here that I have read, re-read and re-read AGAIN the regs for the visa, the photo, the PETS Scheme to get the animals into the UK, and even the weight and size limits on baggage over the past year and I can probably quote the UK Border Agency Home Office's opinion on all of them if needed.)

Me: You mean the aspect ratio is different? It is, you're right, so can we switch to UK?
Doogie: It's all about the same, we'll just use the US one.
Me: Okay, so when I send this in and they reject it because the photo isn't right, I can just bring these back and get new ones done properly for free, yeah?
Doogie: Well duh. Hey, do you know anything about computers?
Me: What?
Doogie: I'm a computer tech, right, and they're expecting me to use a DOS machine. This store sucks.

He hit continue and then nothing happened. We stood there a few minutes and finally I asked if they would be ready to be picked up any time soon. He said yes, they were printing right now. I had to get away from him before I hit him and so I went to pick up something I needed elsewhere in the store and came back. Doogie was gone, so I stared down another employee until she asked if I needed anything. I said that I was waiting on my passport photos. Doogie, who clearly has superhuman hearing, shouted "Oh, is SHE back already?"

Finally he printed them and then...after I've been in the store for 45 minutes...says "Oh, these aren't right."

Sorry? What?

There was a teeny bluish haze around my shoulders. I told him it was fine, they won't care, it's not the same as if I had a plant behind me, can I please have my photos so I can go? He started ringing me up but kept grumbling about the blue and how they may not accept it (apparently setting it for US when it's UK doesn't matter, but a faint blue in the background will grind the process to a halt).

Me: Look, it will be fine, I did my own photo for my American passport and they took it.
Doogie: What do you mean you did your own?
Me: I mean I took it with my own camera, printed it at home, cut it to size and sent it in.
Doogie: You mean they took that when it didn't come from a professional?
Me: (deciding that I didn't like his tone and whipping out my passport to show him) They sure did.
Doogie: (shoves the bag at me) Have a great night, ma'am.

I know, I should have called a manager when he first refused to change it to UK...Needless to say, I didn't make it to the post office before it closed.

02 February 2009

Things That I Know

I know that not everyone thinks my move is a good idea.

I know that it is not going to be an easy thing, even after I get to the UK.

I know that not everyone understands how I feel about my animals, and that some people think that paying money to move them to the UK with me is unreasonable.

I know these things. What you, the unamed masses who unwittingly strive to make me feel guilty or down on myself or otherwise negative toward the upcoming change in my life, what you need to know is this. To quote Christine Kane, "some choices hold you down. Some chances set you free."

The chance to be Simon's wife and to have him in my life is one that will set me free. Free to be who I am. Free to live and to love. I can't pass on that chance. I won't.

That is at the root of the things I know.

Thus ends my rant.

Dia duit ó GARF.

Almost TOO Irish, that. Go raibh míle maith agat  to Chris Heffron (of the Southern Travel Guide ) for this great shot from last Sund...