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Travel update

Since leaving England on September 8th, we’ve visited friends and family in Washington DC, Ft. Lauderdale, and Gainesville, and we’re just about ready to start travelling across the country.

We’ve decided not to buy a car as originally planned (too expensive, too stressful, don’t need a car in Portland for a while), so we’ll be taking trains and planes and renting cars.

Gainesville, in the meantime, is lovely. It’s gone from full-on summer to crisp fall weather since we’ve been here. We’re doing lots of bike-riding to try and burn some calories. Neither one of us is sleeping very well, but that’s been the case for the past few months and I’m sure we’ll get better as we continue to decompress and adjust. Francis has been doing some job hunting, and my last employer said to give them a ring when we get to town because they might be hiring, woo!

Anyhow, I’m estimating we’ll be in Portland around the 28th of October, Halloween at the latest.

On Friday we’re renting a car and driving up to Atlanta. There we’ll see our totally awesome and cool internet friend Lee and his partner Arn, and another awesome and cool internet friend Elizabeth will meet us there. We’ll be there until Tuesday October 11th, having celebrated Elizabeth’s birthday and generally got up to no good.

We’ll then take the train to Birmingham and go to Elizabeth’s, where we will meet her husband Jon (yes, another awesome and cool internet friend).

Wednesday the 13th we fly to Albuquerque (try typing *that* three times fast) to visit my oldest and dearest friend Celia and her family.

Sunday the 17th-ish we’ll rent a car and drive to Los Angeles via the Arizona Painted Desert, the Grand Canyon, and maybe Zion National Park. We may get a little camping in. I’m guessing we’ll get to LA around the 22nd, and we’ll hang out with my brother Nat for a few days.

Then it’s another rental car for our drive north. We’ll beeble through Santa Barbara, Big Sur, Monterey (can’t wait to see the aquarium there!), Santa Rosa, San Francisco (Chinatown, Berkeley sake factory, etc), northern California, the redwoods, and finally PORTLAND!

Where we will find the perfect house and jobs and live happily ever after. Yes.

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The interview was at the American consulate in London this morning. It went very smoothly, thank god. (The only minor hitch occurred when we went through security and I had to throw away my little Swiss army knife, duh.)

We had all the paperwork they needed (and many, many other bits and pieces I’d amassed just in case), the consular officers were pleasant, and the entire process took less than two hours. I was 99% sure it would be a cut-and-dried process, but you never know with government bureaucracy, and we lost quite a bit of sleep whilst trying not to imagine the worst. But all went well, and Francis’s greencard is on the way.

We are incredibly relieved. And exhausted! We got up this morning at 5.30 after a six-day trip to Paris and Florence. The trip was amazing and I’m grateful we got to go, but it did add considerably to our stress levels. (Check out the pics on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/specklet/sets/. They’re not labelled or tagged yet; I’ll get around to that… sometime.)

Anyway, we’ll be flying to the States on September 8th. Visits to Washington DC and Florida first, then a leisurely drive cross-country. ETA in Portland: late October.

It will be very hard to leave our family here in England, but we are looking forward very much to seeing everyone on the other side of the pond.

Visa update!

Hello my dear ones!

I know I haven’t been writing much at all, and I’m sorry. There just hasn’t been that much to report, other than that we’re waiting for the flat to sell and for Francis’s visa to come through.

We haven’t got the visa yet, but today we got a letter to say that our petition has been accepted, which is very good news! The next step is that the American consulate in London will contact us with further instructions. There will be paperwork (oh lord so much paperwork), a medical exam or Francis, and finally an interview at the consulate. We have no idea about when this will happen, but I’m hoping that things will go as smoothly and as quickly as possible. Please send your good thoughts.

In the meantime, we’ve had a few people view the flat (no takers so far but it’s been on the market less than a month), I continue to work at the call centre, and Francis is enjoying his time as a house-husband. (He was laid off in April which was actually a very good thing as he got a large severance package!) The weather has taken a turn for the better, and as I type this it’s 7.00PM, sunny, warm, and the birds are singing.

I must confess my mood is not that good, which is one of the reasons I haven’t been posting. My dear grandfather Ralph died in February, and although it was not unexpected, my grief has been intense. And of course, the stress of waiting for all the details surrounding the move to fall into place is difficult to deal with. I concentrate on what I can control, try to take care of my rather long to-do list, and take care of myself. Francis is, as always, a wonderful source of support, and along with all the stress comes lots of giggling and cooking and walks in the park.

It’s a case of hurry-up-and-wait, as I told Jo, Francis’s mum. So we’re waiting.

I can’t wait to see everyone back in the States! We’ll be flying to Florida, and after a few weeks there, we’ll drive cross-country visiting friends and seeing the sights. It will be glorious. Then home to Portland. Ah, yes.

So wonderful to see, and what a smile!

Beautiful Rilke quote

I beg you…to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer…

Rainer Maria Rilke

Read the small print.

Me: [rings IRS] Hi, I’m re-filing taxes because poo head said I was an independent contractor, but your lovely selves have determined I was an employee. My question is this: the forms you have instructed me to fill out only talk about tips. I had no tips, I had wages. What forms do I need to fill out to attach to my amended return?

Them: You need to talk to such-and-such department. [transfers me, I spend 25 minutes on hold]

Them: Hi, what’s up?

Me: [explains]

Them: Yeah, that form you’ve been instructed to fill out doesn’t make sense to me either. Let me see what I can do. [on hold for ten minutes]

Me: [clarifies questions]

Them: Okay, hold on. [on hold for five minutes]

Me: [clarifies question]

Them: Yeah. [on hold for six minutes]

Me: [clarifies question]

Them: Yeah. [on hold for five minutes]

Me: [clarifies question]

Them: Boy, I’m stumped. Let me put you through to these guys. [on hold for 22 minutes]

Me: [clarifies questions, gives entire story again]

Them: Ah, see that small print where it says this thing about if you have wages, you need to file this other thing? You need this other form.

Me: Oh thank you, thank you, I see that! [accidentally hangs up due to shifting papers on the computer keyboard]

[hysterical laughter ensues, big glass of wine consumed, cigarette smoked]

If I had read the bloody small print, I would have found that the form the IRS instructed me to fill out had a small caveat directing me to a different form.

AI CHIHUAHUA!

I know I haven’t posted in a very long time, I will write and update on life and how are plans for moving are going soon, but in the meantime, check out this beautiful video!