First, let me open this update up with a nod of welcome to the newest people subscribed to Transplant Monologues; if there is anything in specific that you wish to know about, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my best to follow up with you either as a reply or as a post properly. That said, officially, on the 5th I will have been here for four months now, as many of you know already, and it was time I did my monthly reflection piece.
A couple of days ago, I was speaking to my husband about the pets that I had to leave behind as well as family I have still left in the states. I opted to leave my two cats and dog in the states on account that I found not only the cost of sending them to the UK extortionate (See: $2,000 or more PER animal; just to ship them, this does not include added costs with chipping them and either putting them through quarantine or updating their shots) there was also the added fact that they are all middle-aged or senior animals already and I thought that the stresses involved in shoving them into crates, sticking them onto a dark, temp-controlled, cargo plane for 8 hours would be a bit much to ask of anyone.
Anyone who doesn’t have pets might not understand this, so, to put this into terms that would be more universal: Would you do this to your grandmother or any other senior citizen? No (I assume not, at least; you would have to be sick and twisted if you answered yes), you wouldn’t; more than likely, you wouldn’t do it to a child, either (teens, maybe, but only in rare circumstances… sorry, that joke is in poor taste).
With my cats being around 9-10 years of age and the dog at about 8 years (in cat years they would be around 50-60 years old, while the dog wouldn’t be much better at 52 in dog years, approximately) and no real place to keep them at the time, it just didn’t seem like it would be fair to them.
Be it as it may, they are there and I am here and, for the most part, while I miss them, I know that I will see them again eventually. It, as we discussed, occurred to me that I miss my second dog, which I ultimately decided to put to sleep back before the Winter of 2012-13 hit (however delayed it was in Minnesota that year). He wasn’t young, had a hard time getting around because of hip pain, had tumours that were taking more energy for him to keep than he could gain from eating double what he should have for a dog his size… and the Winter of 2011-12 was hard enough on him, I decided it was better to not make him suffer.
Nevermind the fact that he, in his late age, wouldn’t have been able to understand why I was going and he had to stay behind. I still remember the day I took him to the vet to have him put down. I still recall how, as he laid his head on my lap for the last time, the song “Remember Me This Way” by Jordan Hill ran through my mind on repeat. I cried a lot that day, obviously. I don’t regret my choice, I still hold that it was the best one, I just miss that stupid labrador and only time moving on will help me in doing the same.
The emotional bit aside, we then moved on to talk about my brothers. I have to admit that I miss them, if only for the simple fact that they in their own, individual ways, gave me a purpose. My older brother because, at one point in time, he told me that the nagging voice in his head that told him when something was probably a bad idea (that he generally ignored and regretted later) often times sounded a bit like me. Which, really, goes to show just how much of a fishwife I was in my youth; constantly telling him where to go and what to do with himself once he got there. 🙂 My little brother I looked out for in a different way; though I did nag him as well at times, he got the I’m-older-than-you-I-know-best routine in contrast to our older brother who got you’re-older-than-me-how-is-it-that-you-don’t-know-better?
It was said once that, as the middle-child, you learned to poke the sleeping bear and yank the chain; with how my brothers suffered under my torment (yes, I tormented them, terrorised them, even. To this day, they fear a woman’s mood-swing) it’s a small wonder that they even date women at all. 😛
Point being, I liked being that person that sat between them, bridging and balancing their stark contrasts to Mr. Straight-laces and Mr. Rebel-seeking-cause. Here, I can’t be that for them (mostly due to the fact that they have their lives to lead and, if it got down to it, they could always just hang up the phone if I lit into them too intensely), so I sit back and hear the stories, shake my head and think: my brothers, with no lack of rolling of my eyes. And yet, it’s not in frustration so much as it is in general amusement, because that’s what it means to have siblings, to me.
If you aren’t completely exasperated by them, obviously you weren’t paying attention. Sure, like all kids, we had our petty arguments and disagreements and, when it came to my brothers, I have to admit that I held grudges way longer than was necessary (ask my older brother; I was mad at him for about two years, once, over something so minor that he probably can’t even remember what it is now). I don’t know if children in single family homes have anything remotely like what those in multi-child homes have. Learning that, even despite how you may squabble and disagree or fight about every detail between you, at the end of the day you’ve still got each other’s backs (unless the trouble involves the parental-units, in which case, you’re on your own, Bro).
That, even as we get older, we learn to accept – if not love – despite the things about each other that drives us absolutely bananas. Why? Because you’re siblings and sometimes that’s all you’ve got. You have to stick with each other, regardless. It isn’t like the neighbourhood friend, or the child of your mother/father’s best-friend; if those guys are tools, you don’t have to talk to them again.
With siblings, it’s different. You learn how to talk even if you hate each other’s guts. You can trust siblings to be honest with you, even if you don’t want to know the truth, even if they know they won’t like how you will respond. We’ll throttle each other, but damnit, you look horrible in that dress, I’m telling you – I don’t care what your supposed friends said; they’re lying and I’ll eat a knuckle sandwich for it, but at least I know you won’t look like you stuffed a pillow up your backside to achieve that “bubble.”
Yesterday, we payed a visit to our Immigration Attorney (commonly referred to as a Solicitor in the UK for reasons I do not yet understand, but there you have it) to go through our FLR(M) forms and documentation so that he could give us feedback on any additional information we needed to provide and/or point out any spots where we did not enter the information correctly.
If I ever had to offer any advice to anyone about to apply for the Family Leave to Remain (Marriage) VISA, I would say this (yes, in caps): GET AN ATTORNEY TO HELP YOU. Even if all they are doing is reviewing the forms after you’ve written them and checking the documentation you have, which isn’t much and isn’t costing us a lot for him to do (Less than £100, which anyone can tell you is cheap for a lawyer), it will save you time, energy, STRESS and/or headaches because, to be honest, these forms are confusing at points.
Examples of poorly worded/written questions that are CONFUSING (yes, capitals, trust me on this one):
1.4 “Your full name as it appears on your passport”
then, 1.5 “Surname” Redundant much? When does my full name not include my surname?
2.2 “Is this the first time you have applied for a visa or extension of stay in one of the above categories (including previous leave granted as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner) with your current sponsor?” Yes or No. If you answer YES, go to second 3, if you answer NO go to 2.3.
This one is confusing because, the correct answer for someone like me is NO and then check the box in 2.3 that reads: “first period of leave to remain (following initial clearance as a… Fiancé(e)…)” How they expect anyone to do that correctly is beyond me when it’s worded like that.
Then, 6.5 under “Contact with Sponsor” after already establishing that this form is only used for people who are already supposedly living with said sponsors, it asks: “How do you keep in contact with your sponsor?”
Wait, it gets better, because after 6.5 is 6.6 which asks: “Do you and your sponsor currently live together?” Couldn’t they have just swapped those two questions with each other and then let people skip question of how they keep contact if THEY ARE ALREADY LIVING TOGETHER? Or would that be too easy? Must be too easy, moving on.
Financial Requirements: Now, a part of me gets why this section is confusing, it’s trying to be a catch all for every possible method someone could have legally made an income. What I don’t understand is, why, for the love of sporks, WHY can’t they follow the same method of calculating income as HMRC does? Did they need to re-invent the wheel when they had set guidelines already in place from another governmental source so people don’t have to guess whether the money they received on the payroll of the company they own falls under Salary Employment or Self Employment? (I’ll give you a hint: it isn’t where HMRC puts it).
Also, you’re asking us to write down names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses in a box that’s less than 1-inch square. ARE, YOU, MAD? You’re making us write this by HAND, you jerks. This isn’t supposed to be a skills test; I shouldn’t have to kill myself with my pen while trying to write in size-4 font and still have it come out legible.
Thankfully, that is the worst of it, and everything else is pretty much straight forward. Though I do wonder why they don’t just tell you that you need Passport format/quality photos instead of sending you to their website to look for their separate “Photograph guidance” form. -_- really?