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?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

you've got mail

Dear you people,

I should have written long ago. I kept meaning to. I even kept coming to this page and staring at the blank whiteness of it.

And then left again.

I have so much that is going through my head right now, so much that I could say. Instead I stall and hesitate and leave all that blank whiteness intact. I've never had any of these feelings before, and I'm not quite sure what to do with them or how to give them voice.

This blog was meant to be a record of my journey from single Canadian gal, to happily married British citizen, and all the immigration trauma and hilarity in between. And yet, somehow, I have let two weeks go by while the big things were happening and have recorded none of it. There was drama in the last two weeks. Frustration, relief, discouragement. None of which is recorded here.

I know what you're saying. Write it down now. It's only two weeks, catch us up! It's not too late.

And of course you'd be right. But somehow it feels too late. All of the heavy emotion I have gone through in these last days seems so very transient. It has dissipated, leaving me just sort of tired and hollow. And none of it seems important now. If I had written about the stress of, say, trying to get my mother's plane ticket free as a medical assistant for me while it was happening I am sure it would have been a harrowing tale, full of suspense and my own heart-stopping terror that this was going to end up costing me another $800 I don't have. But now....well, I got the ticket. Everything's fine. Blah blah blah. Thrilling tale now, isn't it?

So here's something I have to come to terms with as a blogger: I seem somewhat incapable of actually sitting down and writing things out while they are happening to me. This was entirely untrue of me as a journal writer. I would grab my thinly-ruled coil-bound journal and write fiercely in the midst of whatever emotion was currently gripping me. Spewing everything out onto the page, all of the indignation and self-righteous wrath, the joy and delight, the crushing sorrow. It all went on the page, immortalized forever in the surging passion of the moment.

As a blogger, though...I am cautious. Tip-toeing up to my thoughts and feelings with tentative steps, hesitant and oh so careful.

Because this is not just for me. I cannot rip these pages up later, knowing I am the only one to have read them, if I've calmed down and regret my words. I have become aware that as the writer of a blog I have to be prepared to truly own my words. To accept them and be willing to throw them out there for the world to see. To be willing to be seen as someone who gets upset. Or angry. Or frustrated, elated, overwhelmed, joyful.

Which sounds easy. Or overwhelmingly difficult. One of those.

So, I make my pledge, to keep you people up to date, to not let weeks go by between posts, to not let myself get a calm perspective on things before I blog about them. And, hopefully, to be a hell of a lot more entertaining in future posts than I have been in this one.

yours truly,
that TeDiouS girl

Thursday, September 3, 2009

it's in! finally!

I am so excited!


...and I feel a little sick.

But mostly SO excited!

The oh-so-important, much-talked-about Visa Application has finally been submitted. I can't even tell you how many times over the past six months I have said "...once the application is in..." Well, now it is. In.


I spent four and a half hours worth of my day yesterday filling it in online, after finally receiving all the papers I needed from my fiancé. Well, almost all. There was one bank statement that just never came, so he sent off the packet without it, and we crossed our fingers that a screen print of the account online would be enough. So you already know what arrived in his mailbox yesterday, don't you? *sigh* On the bright side, if he spends another five pounds he can get it to me before I have to physically hand in my application and the massive stack of paper that goes with it. Many, many trees have died in the attempt to get me to England.

Now I get to go plan a trip to Toronto next week. I think I get to go to the British Consulate there. Or something. I should probably find that out. Well, wherever it is I'm going they want to "collect biometric data".

*cue the discordant violins*

Does that sound as creepy and ominous to everyone else as it does to me? And, yes, I know that it only means they are going to take a digital photo of me and do some sort of scan of my handprint. But I can't help getting hazy visions of me strapped to a cold metal table in a dark room, the only light coming from behind the beings looming over me, shadow-people with enormous heads and shiny metal implements in their long-fingered hands, clicking and screeing in their alien tongue, all set to collect my biometric data...

Gah! I haven't had enough sleep. Obviously. Or I've watched too many episodes of X-Files. One of those.

So, I am off to the big city. Spending yet more money before I actually even know if I am going to be allowed to go to England in the end. I shudder to think how much has been spent on this process so far. Let's see...

Birth certificate $25
Passport $90
Postage $100
Application fee $1100
ticket to England $1000
ticket to Toronto $600
hotel stay in Toronto $200
passport photos $15

actually getting to go to England? priceless...and SO worth it!