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Confirmed by embassy. Headed my way via FedEx. Made my plane reservations. Charlotte and I are going right from the real estate closing on Tuesday the 25th directly to the Virgin Atlantic Cargo area. We will arrive in Jollye Olde on Wednesday the 26th, just in time to thaw the Thanksgiving turkey (damn right I make him eat turkey. Though it doesn’t take a very hard push, I must say).

But now…cancelling services, final packing, movers. So many phone calls…so very lazy…

I had intended to give you a full frontal Flaming Weasel (eat your heart out, Ace), but it’s all going very fast now and I had barely enough time to Frankenstein this clumsy thing. It’s rough and unoptimized and not really suitable for web work, but you get the idea.

Dream of all the wonderful furry woodland creatures I will set on fire in England…!

November 17, 2008 — 1:19 pm
Comments: 36

Positively the Last Ever TGIF

I’ve tried not to think too many “this will be my very last…” thoughts. I don’t do finality. Or change; even change from bad stuff to good stuff gives me the shivering willies. But, well…this will be my last TGIF. Next Friday, I’ll be unemployed and headed to Nashville to visit my dad, and whatever I do to earn my keep in the UK is unlikely to involve a traditional five-day workweek.

This will be my first significant period of unemployment since I was 15 and shelved books in a university library. I have baked pizza and I have slung doughnuts. I have worked freelance and I have punched a time clock. I’m not a big fan of making things mandatory, but paying your way working shit jobs for a few years is an enormously educational experience. I could think of an awful lot of people who would benefit from this education, many of them in Washington at this moment.

By shit jobs, I mean jobs that don’t pay for shit. I actually loved my minimum wage jobs. They were fun and physical and no big deal if you screwed up. And every day started anew; no leftover junk from the day before. If I could live on that kind of money, I’d still be doing them.

I have, however, held two jobs I absolutely hated, in succession, the Summer before I went away to college. That, too, is an educational experience.

The first was drawing pastel portraits at Opryland. I was in the New Orleans section. A live band would march down the street every half hour playing When The Saints Go Marching In until I sincerely yearned to be hauled behind them in a coffin.

I’m not good at quick sketches. Or portraits. Or pastels. I always loathe doing work I’m not good at. Also, you have no idea how many people with serious facial deformities elect to sit for their portraits at these things. There is no perfect way to say, “So, first trip to Nashville? You want the portrait with the hairy mole covering most of your forehead, or without?”

I think I lasted six weeks in Dixieland. The next job was my official Worst Job Ever: driving an icecream truck. The guy didn’t want to give me a chance. He told me it was no work for a girl; that I couldn’t handle it. That did it. I had to prove him wrong.

The physical part — loading the van in the morning — was tough, but I could manage. The driving an unairconditioned Chevy van around Nashville in Summer during a heat wave? Not so much. I’d wet down bandannas and freeze them in the icecream freezer and hold them to my fevered brow.

My territory was considered excellent: it was extra slummy neighborhoods. Rich people think icecream should be a rare treat. Poor people will spend their very last buck buying the kid a creamsicle. Of course, the occasional driver gets mugged at knifepoint in those places, but wuddryegonnado?

One day, it reached 110° outside the van, and I went home and collapsed under the aircon with a headache like an icepick to the eyesocket. I quit the next day. Told my boss that an aunt had died and left me a small legacy, so I didn’t need the work any more. I am a lying sack of weasel, but I suspect he figured out that I was, in fact, a girl and I could not, in fact, handle the job.

So…you? Worst job? Best job?

November 14, 2008 — 12:33 pm
Comments: 78

Rub weasel on your behbeh

mustela on your behbeh

Turns out Mustela is a kind of French skin cream for infants. Who knew? They have a whole range of products, but I’m having problems with my Flash plugins so my browsers throw up on the website.

Yep. I got nothing.

Rushed a PowerPoint out the door for somebody today and had a mover’s estimator show up and case the joint. If you’d told me a year ago that all my worldly possessions would fit into a container ten foot by ten foot by seven foot, I’d go, “pff! Yeah! If you leave it on the surface of a really high-gravity planet for like a year until all the atoms smoosh together into some super-dense Weaselium alloy. Yeah. Maybe then.”

But it turns out, 80% of my precious shit was shit. And now it sits on a landfill somewhere, its sightless eyes staring up forever into the wide, empty sky. China, maybe. Or Arizona. Or the Atlantic. Where does our shit go, anyhow?

People keep asking me if it’s a liberating feeling, tossing my shit. It is…but in a horrible, nihilistic way. It’s the liberation of watching your house burn down. It’s the liberation of knowing that everything you have amassed in a lifetime that is worth a damn would fit in a 10x10x7 container. And half of that is probably kind of crap.

But enough poopies! Now that my visa has arrived at the Embassy, I really — finally! — feel quite happy. A little anxious still, but it’s dawned on me…I will wake up to an alarm clock five more times in my life.

Not that I’ve slept until the alarm for years and years, but it’s the idea, man. The idea.

November 13, 2008 — 5:55 pm
Comments: 24

And then I made a little puddle on the floor


I was going to publish the tracking numbers so everyone could follow the twist of the screw with me, but something in the back of my head said that was a bad idea. I can’t put my finger on why, but I don’t need to make unnecessary withdrawals from my stupid account. I’m going to need those credits.

Yep, they’re away. One is cat papers going to the USDA, the other is weasel papers going to the embassy. Pray god I didn’t get them the wrong way around. I don’t want to be wormed before I get on the plane.

The fingerprint place is a general immigration office of some kind. The people who worked in it were teh suck. The surly cow who took my prints refused to join me in a laugh about my full and legal name, a sure sign she was working at being a bitch. She thought I was insanely stupid because she had to tell me what to do. It particularly exasperated her when she pointed to a chair and I sat in it (I was supposed to put my stuff on it). This seems doubly unfair since she ordered me to sit in the chair later by pointing to it.

And just before she took my prints, somebody leaned over and said something that really pissed her off. She’d start to roll one of my fingers and then fling up her hands and shout “He’s lucky I wasn’t there — I’d’ve said something!” and then she’d start to roll a finger again and shout, “I wouldn’t have let that pass!” and gesture in the air. With my finger.

I had to fill out a customer response card on the way out. I gave her good marks for everything. You don’t fuck with civil servants if you want your papers to get there.

That machine is cool, anyhow. It’s a little plate of glass and a big monitor, and you get to see your fingerprints up huge in realtime. Then it grades the quality of the print. I guess I got passing grades.

Hartford wasn’t bad, but I couldn’t find the FedEx place. My GPS got the stupids and kept sending me in circles or directing me down roads that didn’t exist or weren’t named that. It particularly enjoyed sending me up and down Asylum Street (and Asylum Place and Asylum Ave). Ha ha. Yes. I gets it. Wants to go home now?

I hit a FedEx Kinko’s in Providence and got everything packaged up. Then my Visa card bounced. “!” I said. This was a pain because I’d used that card number for the return FedEx slips and had to throw those away and make new ones using a different card number and repackage everything.

Got home, called the credit card company, gave the robot my number…and immediately got to a human being. “!” I thought.

“Your account was frozen because of suspicious activity from overseas.”
“November 4. Great Britain.”
“Oh. I do have somebody in Britain. I might have bought him something locally. How much was it?”
“Well, I can’t really tell if it bounced or if we froze the account after that, but I’ll unfreeze you now! And thanks for calling Huge Stupid Credit Card Company! click

Jesus. They didn’t call me or anything. They waited until I tried to use the card and called them. So either they let a big suspicious charge float for eight days without saying anything or they’ve crushed my little weaselly dreams. Crushed them, I say!

November 12, 2008 — 6:54 pm
Comments: 25

Think of my FedEx bill, and weep!

the application

Here’s where my years as a cubiclemonkey finally pay off. Those document holders are holding sheaves of papers, of course, not individual ones…grouped topically and described in an inventory. The two stacks in the back are the photocopies. And that thing on top is my check to the expediter. I have never been so glad I chose the Scooby Doo personalized checks.

Okay, so, biometrics tomorrow, off to the nearest FedEx/Kinko’s, make copies of the biometrics, FedEx the lot to the expediter, drink until I hear something. Then I’ll pick myself up and dust myself off and start all over again.

Let us review. The visas in order are:

Marriage visa: good for six months, during which time we must wed. That’s this one. I can see a doctor, but I’m otherwise pretty much a non-person on this visa. No work, not even volunteer work. Before the six months is up, I have to go for

Further Leave to Remain: this one allows me to get a National Insurance Number and work and stuff. Essentially the same paperwork as this visa, plus marriage certificate. This makes me a sort of probationary person. Currently, it’s taking two months to process these, so I shall be a Stoat of Leisure — or, at any rate, a houseweasel — for some time. Before two years is up, I have to go for

Indefinite Leave to Remain: this one is good forever, unless I do something bad and get caught. Then they can still deport me. Before I get this one, I have to take something called the Life in the UK test, which is kind of like Limey Trivial Pursuit. I’ve taken a couple of mock versions online. I passed one, but not the other. Dates. I cannot remember them. Finally, there’s

Citizenship and passport. I wouldn’t do this if it at all endangered my US citizenship. But it don’t. So I shall. Under current rules, I’m eligible for this three years after I set foot in the UK with that first visa, so I’ll probably go for it shortly after I get my ILR. I have to be sponsored by a couple of responsible professional people, like a vicar and a doctor. So ixnay on the ussingcay.

You’d think government would prefer people stay on an ILR, because it’s easier to control them, but they are currently talking about making citizenship semi-mandatory. That is, you become a citizen, you explain why you can’t (religious reasons, or losing citizenship in your native country, for example) or you leave. So. Um. Okay.

Each one of these is a thousand bucks a throw, not counting shipping costs and document gathering and so on. The Immigration Service is entirely self-supporting, and it’s not hard to see how they manage it.

So think of me at noon tomorrow, in Hartford, having unspeakable things done to me in the name of homeland security. They won’t even let you bring a cellphone in the building, so I’m pretty sure there’s at least an anal probe. Yay!

November 11, 2008 — 4:44 pm
Comments: 38

Licenfe for to Import ye Weazelle

weasel import licenseOkay, here’s what I had to scrape up for visa number one.

Bear in mind this is originals only — no photocopies. And you can’t start early, the bank documents have to be farm fresh.

Wednesday noon I take me and my passport and my appointment sheet to Hartford, CT, where I get fingerprinted, rephotographed — and possibly put into the DHS database. They don’t tell you when they do this or what triggers it. The biometrics step is all new. Lucky moi.

Then I go to the nearest FedEx/Kinko’s, have the biometrics thingie Xeroxed, put it together with the other stuff and a return FedEx envelope, and FedEx it all to the Visa Expediter. Three hundred bucks to them, they drop it off at the embassy, it goes to the top of the pile (which, incidentally, sounds like a very dubious racket to me) and if the papers are in perfect order, they pick up my Import License next day and FedEx it back to me.

But, of course, papers are never in perfect order. He’s missing June on his bank statements. I’ve carried my birth certificate in my wallet my whole life, but it wasn’t there when I looked today (it’s unclear if I’m from a country that requires this, or if my passport is enough). And on and on. I’m told that individual immigration officers have tremendous personal authority about what to accept and what to reject. So basically, I only have to hope I get dropped on the desk of a British civil servant living in New York City in November who doesn’t have a hair across his ass.

I am SO screwed.

November 10, 2008 — 6:47 pm
Comments: 59

Boxes. Boxes. Boxes. Boxes. Boxes. Boxes.

November 8, 2008 — 8:23 am
Comments: 25

Na. Na. Nananana. No. No. Nana nono nana nono. Pinned for November.

NaNoWriMo thread, if you want it. NaNoWriMo thread, if you don’t. The likely lad who’s buying Stoat Acres got his mortgage confirmation, so I shall be rawther busy for a while (just kidding! I’ll probably post more than usual. I babble when I’m nervous).

November 7, 2008 — 8:40 am
Comments: 42

There’s still good in the world, if you know where to look

schroedinger's toilet

I meant the cat.

— 8:00 am
Comments: 41

Step away. From the news. NOW.

snowflakes and unicorn

Absolutely no analysis you read or hear in the immediate aftermath of this election will be accurate. Except this one, of course. Duh.

I live in the most reliably blue state in the country. All my friends are lefties (art school! What a great idea!). I’ve been in this place many times. It is not a nice place, but every political junkie gets a turn in the box now and then.

We ran a dreadful candidate with a dreadful campaign at a dreadful time and we got good and beaten. But we didn’t get drubbed. And that is very, very interesting. We’ll think about that. Later.

But now is the Time of the Gloating , and you really don’t need a dose of that. So just…don’t do it to yourself. Don’t go there. Nothing to be gained. Stay off the news sites. Have you seen how much great radio is being streamed these days? How many books available on Project Gutenberg have you always meant to read? How about now?

A jet fuel truck rolled over on I-95 this morning, and my boss won’t be in for hours. There’s always something good, if you aren’t the guy driving the truck.

November 6, 2008 — 8:47 am
Comments: 82