Tuesday, February 16, 2010

wedding gowns need a safety buddy

I never thought I would end up blogging about my wedding. It seems so...domestic. And dull. All the stuff leading up to the wedding, yes. The immigration headaches, my first experiences in a new country, getting to know my new British family, yes to all of that. But the wedding itself? Hadn't planned on it. Talking to you people about my flower choices and the angst involved in finding an affordable photographer (turns out that is a complete impossibility, by the way), or finally discovering the perfect tiara to match my mom's necklace that came with me from Canada...does any of that even remotely interest you? No. Didn't think so. Anyone who would be interested is off reading some lacy, flowery wedding blog and getting dewy-eyed over this girl's four-carat engagement ring, and that girl's ten thousand dollar (pound?) floral arrangements.

But then my wedding gown arrived.


And suddenly I have lost any control of myself I once had and feel the need to tell you people all about the experience. My apologies. Just go with it. My wedding is in eleven days, and after that I am sure I will get back to my non-girly self. The one who doesn't care if her tiara matches her earrings. Any tiara will do!

So. The gown. A few posts back I chronicled my accidental finding of the wedding gown of my dreams, which I truly thought would be my one and only foray into the wonderful world of the wedding blogger. Well, that gown finally arrived from Canada and I pulled it out of the box, breathless with excitement. It looked as gorgeous as I remembered...which was about all I could remember of it, frankly, beyond a vague idea that the straps went like this and the skirt went sort of like that. With some sparkly things. Mmhmm. I was more than a little relieved to find it actually did have more detail to it than that. I inspected it closely to find the alterations beautifully done, the laces up the back looking perfectly corset-like. My dream dress was actually here and in my hands. I think I may have been trembling.

A quick glance up at the clock showed that I still had hours yet before My Guy would be home from work. So of course I immediately had to try it on. It is impossible to let a brand new wedding gown, freshly un-crumpled from its box all the way from Winnipeg, just sit there and not try it on. I defy any woman out there to be able to resist that temptation.

I stripped down in the middle of the lounge - there was no way there would be room for all that gown in the bedroom - and then contemplated the gown for a moment as it draped across the sofa, beckoning to me silently. This called for a game plan. First, I loosened up the ribbon out of the oh-so-carefully laced corset back. There was no way I was fitting in there with the lacings pulled tight. I suppressed a moment of doubt that had me wondering if I would fit into it even without the lacings pulled tight. Or with no lacings at all. I didn't remember it being that tiny...and then there had been all of the new taste sensations England had had to offer over the past three months. I said a silent prayer and vowed not to have another steak slice or iced bun until after the wedding.

Then came the next big decision. Step in, or up and over? I held the top of the dress open, looking down into it. Surely my butt couldn't possibly get in through that tiny opening...? Well, maybe it would. Give it a try. It was certainly the easiest option. So I delicately stepped into the meringue poof of skirt pooled on the floor. Grasped the top of the dress and slid it carefully upwards. Right up to my thighs.

Yeah. I was right the first time.

So, I lowered the skirt back down to the floor and had a good think. I stood again in my underpants, tapping my chin with a finger.

If I just....no, probably not.

Well, maybe if I....

...oh, please, you can't be serious.

There was nothing for it. I laid the gown over the back of the sofa and just sort of...wormed my way in. I burrowed upwards through the netting and lace until I reached open air again. I got my arms through the holes and wriggled myself up into the bodice. And suddenly I was in. The dress was on. I looked at myself in the wall mirror, flushed with the effort and the excitement. I wanted desperately to see how it would look all laced up, and made some interesting contortions trying to pull on the ends of the laces, without making much headway. Eight shoulder surgeries had pretty much taken away any possibility of me actually being able to reach my own back. It hasn't been washed since I was fourteen.

Undaunted, I pulled the sides of the bodice tight to me with my hands and just imagined how it would look once I was all cinched in on my wedding day. After looking at myself from every angle I decided it might be time to get out of the gown again. I was now more than flushed from my exertions. It turns out nineteen layers of netting and lace is really pretty warm. I was suddenly really glad that most days entering our church is like walking into a meat locker, where you can see your breath and icicles hang from your nose by the end of the service. I figure the dress and the stone church will sort of cancel each other out and I will be at perfect room temperature.

At any rate, not wanting to get my gown all sweaty before the big day, I decided to take it off.

This is the point where I got stuck in my wedding gown for an hour. Getting back out of it again involved the sort of physical maneuvers any circus contortionist would have been proud of. And corn starch. Lots of corn starch.

Don't ask.

Who knew that getting out of a wedding gown would be so much harder than getting in? After thinking it over, though, I realized you just sort of have to climb up into the gown to get it on. Whereas you have to actually be able to get all that gown up and over your head to get it back off again.

After trying and failing to get the gown over my head, I bent and twisted and pulled until I had removed all the lacing from up the back. There! No problem! It'll come off easily now!


Or not.

I bravely tried once again to will my butt to fit through the tiny opening and just sort of shove downward. It was not a pretty sight. Sort of like watching a frilly jellyfish try to birth a manatee.

Up and over it would have to be once again.

I writhed.

I wriggled.

I twisted.

I got myself into positions the human body was never designed for.

I went for the corn starch...

Just as I was on the point of admitting defeat, swallowing my humiliation and calling my future mother-in-law to come and rescue me from my wedding gown, I finally managed to worm one arm out of the hole. A few minutes later the rest of me followed. Oh, the joy! The blessed blessed relief! I was hot, I was sweaty, I was panting with the effort. I was covered in corn starch residue. I looked like I had been in a struggle to the death in a baker's and only just barely come out the victor.

Still, I was grinning like an idiot, my beautiful gown in a heap on the floor. And it was mine, all mine.
As a silver lining, I have discovered I can make use of my wedding gown later as a winter parka, should the need arise. That little gold nugget of information was well worth getting stuck in my gown for an hour. And using up half a box of corn starch.

And this ordeal has made me realize one of the most wonderful things about getting married. The next time I need to get out of that gown? I'll have help. :o)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

and it's not even valentine's day yet...

I have been in England for almost three months. And there is so much I could say, so much I need to tell you all. About how I am settling in. How I feel so very much at home already. How some things are so much different than I expected. And how some things are exactly what I thought they would be. There is so much I could tell you about the places I've seen, the new things I've tried, the happiness I have found, so very far from where I started.

And I will.

But not today.

Today I want to tell you about My Guy. That wonderful, incredible man who brought me halfway around the world. And for whom I would have gone across the universe if I had to.

We have been living together here in England for almost three months. Which is almost three times as many days as we have ever spent in each other's physical company over the past two years since we started our long-distance romance. Thirty-two. That is how many days we were together before I got here to my new home. All the rest of those two years was spent on webcam, in telephone calls, on missing each other more than I can say.

Now, when My Guy and I met online, completely by accident, neither of us looking for love on the internet, I really had no idea where it might go. Two weeks after we bumped into each other in a virtual online world, and hadn't stopped talking a moment since, My Guy asked if I would be willing to try a long-distance relationship. At the time I didn't even really know what that meant. Or how it would work. But I didn't care. I had met someone who seemed to be the other half of me, who filled up all the empty places with laughter and hope and a giddy feeling that had me floating through those early days.

I was so scared in the beginning. I worried that I would give my heart over to this man, only to have him crush it completely when he couldn't handle the challenges that I present. I had never before let my heart go unguarded, had never met anyone that I even suspected would be able to cope with...well, with me. But this man made me think maybe, just maybe...

And he has proven to be so much more than I could ever have dreamed for myself. He has a boundless compassion, an empathy that never crosses over to pity, a patience that astounds me still. He also has my twisted sense of humour and makes me laugh until I can't breathe and my stomach hurts the next day. He takes care of me...but also lets me take care of him when he needs it.

We will be married in four weeks from today. And I know that none of this really means anything to any of you. Someone else's love never does. It is all just pretty words that can't ever come close to really expressing how safe I feel in his arms, how beautiful I feel when he is at my side, how I live with the new knowledge of being perfectly loved every moment of every day. There is no way to truly tell you how very much I am in love. But today of all days I felt the need to try anyway.

Happy birthday, my love, my heart. You still take my breath away. You have made every dream I ever had come true.

And then some.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

all good things...

This is my last night in Canada.

I don't really know what to say, other than that. My whole world is about to change, in a very literal sense. And I still can't really get a grasp on what that means to me, even though it all happens tomorrow.

The thing is, I love being a Canadian. And I suppose that that in itself will not change. I will always be a Canadian even if, three years down the line, I pass the test for citizenship in my new chosen country.

But I also love living in Canada. The well-defined seasons have always been a way of marking the course of my life. And winter, here in Southern Manitoba - it is a thing to behold, and not for the faint of heart, or the easily chilled. I will miss the snow, the cold. Yes, even the days when it is -35 and you can feel the frosty air turn to crystals inside your nose. How will it ever be Christmas again if I can't look out the window Christmas morning to see three feet of snow on the ground?

I love how Canadians are regarded in the world. We may often be thought of with a bemused smile and a tolerant chuckle, the kind you have for your four-year old little sister wanting to tag along with the big boys. But who out there really thinks badly of us? Or even hates us? We may not be a big player in the grand scheme of things, but we hold our heads high (or, at least blush bashfully) at knowing that the world at large is indifferent towards us. And maybe even like us a little.

There are so many things I will miss here. Things that if you asked me two years ago, I may not have been able to contemplate living without.

So much has changed in these past two years.

My life has been one of very little change. I have lived with my parents my whole life. I have lived in the same house for 33 years. I have not had a career, a family, a life to really call my own. My job was to make it through each day, and the pain each new day brought, with my sanity and sense of humour intact. Most days I managed that. Many days I even managed it with a smile still on my face.

And then I met him. My Guy. And he changed everything. Absolutely everything.

I am leaving behind my friends, my family, my home, my country. Dropping everything to be where he is, to move across the world, adopt a whole new country, and soon a whole new name.

I expected to be nervous. To be scared of going into the unknown, moving to a country I have never even visited before. I expected to be sad at all the partings, saying goodbye to so many people that I have no real expectation of ever seeing again. I will go from seeing my parents every day for the past 36 years, to seeing them maybe once every couple of years.

But here's the thing. I am not scared. I am not nervous. I am not even particularly sad -certainly not as sad as my family seems to expect me to be. I can't be. Not any of it.

Because I know what I am going to. I may not know what strange foods I may find on the grocery store shelves in place of my familiar favourites. Or what it will be like to experience winter with more rain than snow. Or how I will manage to spend Christmas at someone else's mother's house. Or how odd it will feel to sit on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the road. Or any of the thousands of other changes and differences that I haven't even been able to imagine yet. But none of that matters.

I am going to be with My Guy. The man who finally brought love into my life. Someone who makes me feel beautiful when I am in his presence. A man with more patience, tolerance, compassion and caring than I ever knew existed in this world. Someone who loves me as much as I love him - and for whom I have more love than I ever thought it was possible for one human heart to hold. And that is enough for me to know. Everything else will come with time. But he is over there in England waiting for me. So that's where I'm going.

I'm coming home, sweetness. Be there soon.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

...all dressed in white

Or ivory. Whatever. Don't be picky!

I promised you people the tale of my wedding gown. And, since I never break a promise (although I may procrastinate a week or two before I get around to it), here it is for you.

A couple of weekends ago I went wedding dress shopping with Big Sis. Now, the more clever of you will already have picked up on something. But, TeDiouS, you are likely thinking, you are still in Canada. Your wedding is in England. How will you get your dress to England? In one piece? Without it costing a fortune?

Gah! Stop pestering me! I'll worry about that later. (And trust me, I will!)

Big Sis and I started out that Saturday bright and early, intending to accomplish two things: selling my book collection at the used book store, and trying on wedding gowns for hours. After dropping off her dogs at their grooming appointment. So okay, three things. Leave me alone, it was early!

We dutifully got the dogs to the groomer, still rubbing sleep from our eyes, when we both had a sudden realization. It was before nine on a Saturday morning. In what world did we expect to find either the bookstore or the bridal salons open at this hour? So, our intended quick bite on the way to the shops turned into an agonizing hour at Tim Hortons lingering over a pumpkin muffin (which I highly recommend you try next year when they roll them out again for thanksgiving. Kind of like pumpkin pie in breakfast form. How is that not a good thing?) Have you ever sat in a Tim Hortons for that long? They don't exactly build the place for comfort. Plus they have those signs looming over you on the walls. The ever-so-polite ones in adamant red that say "We enjoy your company, however NO LOITERING. 20 minutes only, please". Ack! Whenever I am there longer than twenty minutes I start to feel all Catholic about it, and the guilt is overwhelming. I am sure every employee is staring at me, shaking their heads in disappointment. I mean, they said please and everything...

We finally made it out of the Tim Hortons without anyone calling the cops on us, or getting a ticket, or whatever they do when you overstay your welcome at Timmie's. Since the bookstore didn't open until eleven, which we cleverly figured out by phoning information, (which we could have even more cleverly done the night before) we decided that dress shopping first would be the better plan.

Big Sis parked under Portage Place in downtown Winnipeg. She had a couple of things she wanted to pick up in the mall and at The Bay, and then we would wander out onto Portage Avenue. Which is basically one long row of bridal shops. Storefront after storefront of mannequins all dressed for the happiest day of their lives. I get a warm fuzzy feeling just thinking about it. *sighs dreamily*

And I didn't get to set foot in a damned one of them! More on that later.

While we were in The Bay, Big Sis decided we may as well visit their bridal shop and look at dresses there before risking life and hairdo in the winds of Portage Avenue. The saleslady was busy fitting another bride so we poked around the dresses ourselves for a bit, picking out two I might actually be able to afford. Turns out I do not look all that attractive in an affordable wedding gown. The first one I tried on looked very dignified and classy for a bride of my age. In the worst sort of way. It was the sort of dress that said yes, I have waited until my mid-thirties to get married for the first time...why am I even bothering? Until I tried it on. And then I nearly choked on my tongue. There was no way I could be seen in a church in that dress! I would spontaneously combust the second I walked in. In order to give you people the proper mental picture, let me just say that it was the first and only time I have ever used the word boobalicious in a sentence. Now, I am not a small-chested girl, sitting snugly in an E-cup. This dress took that and ran with it...even I couldn't stop staring at my cleavage. It was mesmerizing. But not exactly where I wanted everyone's stare to be focussed on my wedding day. In a church.

So off with that one, and onto the next. Once we stopped laughing. It was a proper wedding gown, this one, with a halter neck and an A-line skirt, all in satin, not a lot of blingy embellishment. That one didn't stay on long. It did bad things for my shoulders, emphasizing the imbalance in them and pretty much framing all those scars. And the rest of the dress wasn't flattering in any particular way either. It didn't even have the hilarity factor of the previous one. So off it went too.

At this point I decided to just try on anything I really liked, rather than sticking with things I might actually be able to afford. The point of this day, after all, was not to actually buy a dress. I had merely wanted the experience of trying on dresses with my sisters (Lil Sis phoned me back too late, or she would have been there too). Seeing what looked good on me, trying on anything I wanted, just being a Barbie doll for the day and getting to put on all sorts of princessy dresses. And then I would buy something sensible and affordable when I got to England.

But then I tried on the third dress. It was one I had seen hanging outside another dressing room, and just loved how it looked draped over that hook and spilling across the floor. It looked the way a wedding dress should look, at least in my imaginings. The second Big Sis helped me tug and struggle and trip my way into it, I knew I was in love. I immediately wanted to head out to the big mirror, step up on that block that makes you look like your legs are six feet long, and get a look at every angle of myself. I loved everything I saw.

The seamstress came along and between her and my sis they managed to get me zipped into the thing. I gazed speechless on my reflection, light-headed and hardly able to breathe. Which may have had something to do with the dress reducing my lung capacity to that of a gnat, but mostly I think it was awe. I felt....bridal. My first thought was how much I wanted My Guy to see me in this dress on our wedding day. It was my dress.

Other brides in the shop were complimenting me on the dress. They would look at me and smile, nod, knowing I had found the one. Either because they had already experienced that moment themselves, or were still waiting for it. I felt...beautiful.

And thin!

Only one problem. And a big one. I couldn't afford it. Not by a long shot. And I told the saleslady so. She looked at the tag, looked at me glowing in that dress, and told me that if I was willing to take the one I was trying on, it was a 2009 sample they were trying to get rid of to make room for the 2010s (when did wedding dress shopping turn into car shopping?), and she could offer it to me at half price. My heart missed a beat or two. I had no plans to buy a dress! How would I get it home to me in England? How much would it cost to get it shipped there? How would I get it looking like a wedding gown again after it had been squashed in a box and traveled for thousands of miles?

Who cares?! This was my dress, and I could no longer think of getting married in anything else. So, one frantic phone call to England to talk it over with My Guy, and one promise from Big Sis to pay for half of the dress (even at half price, it was still well over my budget) as well as handling getting it shipped out to me once the alterations were done, and suddenly I had my wedding gown. After trying on three dresses. In the first bridal shop I had set foot in.

Fortunately, the alterations needed were all simple and straight-forward and nothing that requires a second fitting in any desperate way. The hem needs taking up and the straps need taking down. And they are adding a laced back and taking out the zipper, which will take care of the whole problem of actually being able to breathe on my wedding day. And that's it. Everything else fits like it was made for me. It is a total princess dress, with a full skirt and a train, tulle over top of satin, with lace edging and appliqué, some beading. It is exactly what I want My Guy to see me in the day I finally marry him.

When I got home later and was telling My Guy about the dress, I had him guess from which store I had bought it. And he did, instantly. Because the one bridal shop I had ever been to before was with him. We were in Portage Place after we got engaged and ended up at The Bay, wandering through their bridal department. Hating and laughing at every single dress we saw. They were hideous, every last one of them! The saleslady gave us a magazine full of their gown options, and we looked over it later, making fun of the dresses that looked like the poor model was dragging a down duvet behind her, or the ones that looked like a silk florist's had exploded. There was not a single wearable gown in the bunch. But, oh what a difference a season makes in fashion!

I have my dream wedding gown, beyond all expectation or hope. And now is when the worry sets in. Will it get shipped to me in time? Will it survive the trip? Will I be able to find someone on the other end who can make it look as beautiful as it should once it has been crammed into a box and traveled across the ocean?

I find at this point, on the verge of leaving for England in five days, that I have new worries popping up all the time, many of them centering on the wedding. And I have people telling me how much stress is involved in weddings, especially since we will have to arrange ours so quickly once I get there. I have to say, so far there has been no real stress involved. The wedding itself was arranged in an afternoon by My Guy, the dress-buying was accomplished in one shop, having tried on three gowns. This has been a piece of cake!

You just know I am dooming myself to wedding-planning hell now, don't you?

So, all you married people out there, how did you handle the wedding stress? Was there any? What is the worst thing that went wrong on your wedding day? Or did everything go perfectly smoothly? I need to know, people!

But I have my dress. And I can't wait for him to see me in it. :o)

Monday, October 26, 2009

here comes the bride...

I bought my wedding dress last weekend! I am so excited, I can hardly contain myself! I am getting married in four months, moving in a week and a half, and....




Uhhh...yeah, it's been a while since I spoke to you people, hasn't it? When last we met, this TeDiouS girl was having a nervous breakdown and was prepared to scratch out the eyes of the next UK Border Agency Officer I happened to run across. Preferably in a dark alley. While wielding a sharp instrument. Well, here, let me tell you the tale. Or, even better, let me summarize so we aren't here for another month.

My Guy, supreme being that he is, did manage to get permission for us to marry in the Anglican Church and arrange a wedding date* for us in the short space of an afternoon. All while so sick he could hardly stand up straight. Honestly, it was almost a blessing that he was so terribly ill, because I have no clue how he would have managed to get all the things done that needed doing if he had been stuck at work. The Lord works in mysterious ways and all that.

So, I toddled off to a friend's house that same night to get the papers from the church that My Guy had sent me faxed in. (Can I pause a moment here to have a very minor shrieking bitch-fest over how idiotic it is that my only means of communication with the Border Agency was via fax? FAX!? Who even owns a fax machine or has regular access to one? And why could I not just email them back? They obviously have computers and email...they emailed the wedding proof demands to me after all. Which I then had to fax back. From my mom's friend's house. Because she is the only person I know on God's green earth who actually has a fax machine in her home.)

I waited, terrified, to hear back from the UK Border Agency. When the email finally came in the next afternoon I swear my heart nearly stopped. I was sure that this time it would be good news. I gave them what they asked for, everything should be fine, right? Right?

I will never learn.

I opened that email with every hope that my Visa had been approved and I was about to be told it was on its way to me. Instead, my heart dropped into my shoes as I read the note from the UK Border Agency. Followed swiftly by my stomach. And possibly my spleen. I couldn't even understand the email at first I was so confused. It said that my proof of a wedding date with the church was not good enough. They needed proof of a civil ceremony. With all kinds of snotty italics and bold letters just in case I missed it. They gave me another couple of days to supply this, along with also requesting that I send them my intended travel date. Which I did in the original document package I left with them in Toronto. Along with photocopies of my plane tickets and itinerary. So good to know they were paying attention.

My fiance and I began trying to figure out what they were asking for. How could we show them proof of a civil ceremony when we were getting married in the church? If we got married in a civil ceremony, we couldn't also get married in church. Surely they couldn't be telling us we weren't allowed a church wedding? That had to be illegal, right? The more we read, the more confused we got. The Border Agency's own website said that only those already living in the UK had to show they were registered for a wedding, as you CANNOT register until you are in the country with a valid Visa. Which is what they were supposed to give me! Plus, a ceremony in an Anglican church has every bit of authority as one performed at a registrars office, also reiterated on their own site.

Completely baffled at this point, with them seemingly expecting the impossible, I wrote up a letter explaining exactly why I couldn't give them what they wanted. I quoted their own site, gave links to the pages I cited, quoted from the registrar's office site as well as from an email My Guy got back from that office when he made enquiries about what they were asking for. All of it telling them they were asking me for something I couldn't possibly give them. Oh, and I also repeated the info on my travel plans they asked for, which was all exactly the same as I had given them the first time around. I made another trek to the almighty fax machine.

And then I waited through the longest weekend of my life. It lasted at least three thousand days. I swear.

My Guy and I were watching something together online when I got a blip.

I had mail.

Oh, my God.

I nearly swallowed my tongue. But, you see, I had finally learned my lesson. And while last time I guess I may have been excused for my ray of naive optimism, this time I knew it could be nothing but bad news. I had, after all, pretty much told the Border Agency officer handling my case that they didn't know how to do their job. I may have even allowed a little bit of anxiety-induced terseness to creep into the tone of the letter I had faxed in. As my shaking finger moved to click open the email, and my body tried to remember how to make my heart beat, I regretted every last speck of that terseness. What if I was banned from the UK for life? What if I had to start the application process over again because I hadn't been able to somehow provide them with impossible documents? What if it was all over?

The agony of it! Waiting for that email to open, My Guy and I on the edge of our seats and our sanity...and then.....

I slapped my hand over my mouth. Oh. My. God. Oh my god, oh my god, ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygodohmygodohmygod....

Five words.

Your Visa has been issued.

My heart suddenly slammed back to its more usual location in my chest. I was moving in a month. I was going to England. I was going to get married! It was all actually going to happen!

It has been a few weeks and I am still in a state of shocked disbelief. It hardly feels true to me, and maybe won't until I step off the plane in England with My Guy standing there waiting for me to rush into his arms. Or hobble over and fall down at his feet. One of those.

So, I hope you people are all astute enough to pick up on the lesson to be learned from all of this. I mean, yes, I am sure there are things to be learned here about never giving up, and persevering, and true love conquering all and leading you through in the end, and all that. Yeah, sure, that's all lovely and sentimental and *sniffle* and whatever. But the real lesson learned here...?

Sometimes telling someone in authority they are being an idiot is the way to get the job done.

*nods soberly*

Now, stand there and tell me that didn't just put a ray of light into your soul! :o)





What now?

Oh, right. The wedding dress. Do you mind if I tell you about that next time? I need to just sit here and smile happily to myself for a bit. Again.

*the wedding date is 27 feb/2010, for those of you dying of curiosity.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Because I don't have enough stress in my life...

Breathe....just breathe....




Ah, screw it. Who needs air anyway?

Okay, a little background. My Visa application was put in two week ago-ish in Toronto. The website on which I filled out said application had led me to believe I would know the answer within a few days. Only to be crushingly brought back to reality by the lovely woman to whom I handed over my three inch stack of paper, who informed me that realistic times for my type of application would more likely be in the one to three month range.

Three MONTHS? Ummm...I do have this tiny little problem of having travel plans for November sixth. And plans for Christmas in Wiltshire. AND PLANS FOR MY LIFE, DAMMIT!

*takes a deep breath*


*and another, because one is obviously not enough*


I'm fine now. Or have tipped over the edge into the quiet tranquility of madness. One of those.

Turns out, according to an email I got this morning from the UK border agency, that what I should have been planning, was my wedding. In a country that I don't even know if I'm being allowed into yet. Makes perfect sense to me, how about you people? Beyond all expectations and hope, by some divine gift of the immigration gods to whom I have been praying on a regular basis (once every three and a half seconds for the past six months or so...), my application has actually been reviewed by an entry clearance officer inside of three weeks. It's an actual miracle!! Only...not. I am pretty sure real miracles are not supposed to leave you in the grip of a panic attack. This breathlessly anticipated email did not say Yes! Come on over! Nor did it say No, we obviously don't want you. What it did say was that my application was incomplete.

I'm sorry. Say again. I must have kittens stuffed in my ears. Incomplete? My application was three bloody inches thick! I got raised eyebrows from the Worldbridge staff on seeing the gargantuan proportions of my application. I have every detail in there about me and My Guy from the day we were conceived to the second I dropped it off in Toronto. Everything!


I had everything in that application except a confirmed date for my wedding, of course. How silly of me. I am supposed to have booked my wedding with a registrars office or church before knowing whether I can actually go to England or when. My head is spinning at the logic of this. Or it may be lack of oxygen from the panic attack. One of those...

Of course, having to have a wedding date set up and ready to go does not seem like a reason to panic. Until you get to the next line of the email. Which says this has to be accomplished IN THE NEXT TWO DAYS! Not just set up and ready to go, but a letter written to testify to the fact that we are set up and ready to go and faxed in to the UK border agency. In two days. My Guy hasn't even talked to the local church yet to see if he can be married in the church after having already been divorced. We planned to do all that sort of stuff together once I got there. Now he has to somehow get everything arranged on his own, by friday. No pressure there.

The deadline is a big deal. If we do not accomplish our task by friday, I will have to resubmit my application. And the humongous fee. And wait all over again.

I swear to you the UK border agency is testing me. To see how badly I really want this. Well, I'll show them! I will get a date set, get them their letter, and fax it out to them before they can blink! Hmmph!

Or...I will sit here helplessly while My Guy frantically tries to get all this done for us in the next two days.

And meanwhile I will keep busy with trying to remember how to breathe.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

itchy itchy scratchy scratchy

Last week I went to Toronto. Not because I had any strong urge to visit Toronto. At least, not for just one night, only to turn around and fly back home again the next day. It wasn't what you might call a vacation.

The trip was for my bioscan appointment with Worldbridge, the people who handle the UK immigration stuff here in Canada. I got a digital photo taken (which I didn't even ask to see, because I have seen my passport photo, and have decided it's just better not to know how I am going to be immortalized on my Visa.) Got my hand scans done. Gave them all my documentation. Yes, that three inches of accumulated paper that took us months to get together. It got some raised eyebrows I have to say. Turns out most people don't supply them with half a forest worth of paper. But they asked for proof of relationship. And boy did we give it to them. In short form, even. If we'd given them all of the proof of contact we had, it would have required clear-cutting about a thousand acres of old growth forest.

I was politely informed it could take up to three months for my application to be processed.

I'm sorry...WHAT? Three months. Seriously?

Apparently so. Which kind of makes completely useless all of my lovely plans to travel on the sixth of November. Or even the assumption that I will be with My Guy before Christmas. Trying very hard not to think of that right now. Although, I may get to visit the pleasant man with the John Denver wig at the airport again when I am forced to change my flight. That'll be nice.

It all went terribly smoothly and blah, blah blah. Nothing much exciting about the whole thing. The plane trip both ways was smooth as glass, no turbulence. Mom and I made it through the flight with no motion sickness, not a batted eyelash from either of us. And then we both managed to almost pass out on the elevator ride up to the 25th floor of the Eaton Centre for my appointment. And no, I don't understand that any more than you do.

Most of our time in the big city was spent walking Yonge street. Mostly because it is very hard to get at all lost if you stick to one street. And there was a whole lot to see on Yonge Street and it's immediate cross streets. We poked our way through a lot of interesting little shops, until I got so tired I lost interest in exploring even such wonders as the Roots store. So we made our way back to the hotel by way of the biggest bookstore I have ever seen, to spend our remaining hours in T.O. curled up on couches in the hotel lobby.

Ahhhh, yes. The hotel. That little gem our travel agent found for us, only blocks away from the Eaton Centre and what passes for affordable in downtown Toronto at only $179 a night for a one bed room.

We should have known, eh?

Now, as far as first impressions go, it made a fairly good one. The lobby was impressive, with shiny floors and comfy couches and uniformed bellmen waiting to take your baggage to your room. It was a bit confusing with several different desk areas and no really clear signs telling you where to go. But once we actually found the place to check in, things seemed nicely on their way to a pleasant stay.

I opened the door to the room and immediately decided it was a very good thing I am not claustrophobic. It was tiny, with just enough room for the bed, wardrobe, desk, and two chairs that took up every available inch of wall space and then some. Mom and I were sharing a bed, our budget being somewhat minimal for this little excursion and Toronto being not so friendly to the frugal. The bed was not huge, but was the central feature of the room, with just enough space to walk around it.

Now, my mother is....hmmm. A bit OCD when it comes to cleanliness. And not one to bite her tongue when it comes to critical comments. I'm not saying she didn't mention the dubious hygiene of the coffee maker, which looked like it had been wiped down with a smeared dust cloth at best, and had likely never been actually washed. Or that she didn't wrinkle her nose at the state of the bathtub and sink, both of which I am pretty sure were hastily swiped with the same cloth that had left those charming streaks all over the not-so-shiny metal coffee pot. Or that she didn't point out that there was no possible doubt that the splotchy green bedspread had been used and abused by (possibly centuries worth of) guests before us without the benefit of a trip to the washing machine. Or that we didn't both cringe just a bit at the filthy carpet, which looked like it had never seen the business end of a vacuum cleaner and had mysterious staining throughout, including under the bed.

But here's where I was left with my mouth hanging open. She just decided not to use the coffee pot, and to buy coffee in the cafeteria-style restaurant in the morning instead. She volunteered to take a long hot shower before I ran my bath for the night so that it would be clean enough for me to actually lie in for a soak. She folded the bedspread back so that it still covered our legs to keep us warm, but didn't actually touch any part of our skin. She decided to keep her socks on to avoid touching the carpet.

Are you all standing there with your mouths agape like I was? You should be.

I was so thrilled with my mom's attitude. She had obviously decided to make the best of our little jaunt to the big city, and I was proud of her for it. I found myself biting my tongue to not complain as much as the room deserved. And there were plenty of things to gripe about, even beyond the cleanliness issue.

Like the fact that the door to the bathroom was impossible to actually close. The door had swollen up in size and no longer fit into the doorjamb. It was obviously working out at night, getting itself beefed up to impress the fancy door to the hall, with it's sexy green light and alluring keycard slot. I suspect steroids.

It was also impossible to plug the tub for a bath. It had a metal plug with one of those levers you turn to move the plug up and down. Between the combined efforts of the two of us we managed to budge that thing about a quarter inch from where it started. Which means I alternated between having my heel smashed down on the plug to keep it closed while trying to soak in a hot bath with my book, and actually lying comfortably while listening to water rush down the drain and constantly turning the tap back on to refill. Relaxing.

After my bath, which used up enough water to drain half of Lake Erie, I tried to settle in to watch a movie with my mother. I prepared to get comfy in bed, sitting down on the edge of it ... only to have it go scooting out from under me! I got up, looked at it with my head tilted, and tried again. Only to have it slide away once again. Good thing that room was tiny and the bed didn't have very far it could go, or I might have been seriously injured in its attempt to escape. Obviously not a bed that was going to graciously allow us to nestle in it's rock hard comforts for the night without first putting up a fight. I did have a eureka moment, though, in the midst of wrangling the bed back into position. I suddenly understood all the mysterious stains and footprints under the bed. They were no doubt scuffs and drag marks made by other guests digging their heels in when the bed went shooting across the room in yet another bid for freedom. Obviously this mattress had not been properly slaughtered and dried before being shipped off for luxury hotel use. It was desperately trying to gallumph it's way back to the swamps of Squornshellous Zeta. And who can blame it, really?

All in all, mom and I weren't exactly sad to leave our little hotel room the next morning. I was achy and tired and feeling slightly dirtier than when I'd arrived. And psychosomatically itchy.

Or so I thought.

Until I went to the doctor yesterday and casually mentioned the red splodge on my belly that had been there since the day we left the hotel. It is irritating, and growing slowly, day by day. I jokingly told my mom that I had probably caught a fungus from that green bedspread and would be slowly consumed by it. Ha haha ha, funny right?

Only....not so much.

Because the first thing the doctor asked me was if it was possible that I had been exposed to bed bugs.

Oh, yeah. It's possible. Definitely possible.

Almost inevitable, really.

Score one for the wily mattress. I knew that thing was out to get me.


And how about you people? What's the worst experience you've had in a motel, hotel or guestroom?