Sunday, January 27, 2013

How to mail things to Europe

As much as long periods of waiting are frustrating, those short periods of waiting right when the end is sooooo close can be equally frustrating.

Now that our petition is approved, the medicals are done, passport photos taken, all that remains is for a few documents to arrive from the US.

We watched excitedly (via shipment tracking) as our petition was sent from the National Visa Center and arrived in the US Embassy only 3 days later.

We assumed (like our many postcards already sent and received) that First-class mail via the USPS would be sufficient to send my documents to Mickey. We were wrong.

After sending one package "first-class" we realized we had one more document, so I sent a second package 2 days later using Priority mail. It has arrived. The first package has stillll not arrived. Imagine running a race and you get to the last hurdle only to have someone hold up a sign that says you must stop and wait for a snail to cross in front of you before you can continue. That's what this feels like.

I'm pretty sure this is what the USPS does with "first-class" mail:

How first-class mail gets to Europe

Saturday, January 19, 2013

How to prove a bona fide relationship

Now that our Petition for Alien Fiancee has been approved, Mickey gets to take her turn at filling out paperwork and appearing for an interview with a U.S. Consular Officer. The primary function of this interview is for her to convince the Officer that our relationship is bone fide, which Mickey always reminds me is correctly pronounced bone-ah FEED-ey not the Americanized bone-uh fahyd.

As you may or may not be aware, government paperwork is no simple task (reminder: it's tax season). In fact, it's so bad, Congress passed an entire ACT devoted to the problem (which itself was 32 pages and later amended with another 23). Since this is the second set of forms we will have to submit to the U.S. government (with at least 3 more sets coming) it only seems fair that we should take the opportunity to turn the tables a little.

So if they want proof of a legitimate relationship, we have plenty of emails, pictures, phone records, online chat logs, and of course this blog to show for it. Your move USCIS.
How to prove a bona fide relationship

I hope you enjoy the new look of our stick figures. Mickey is too cute not to draw her a little better.

Friday, January 11, 2013

How to transport a collection

You see, I don't have many collections. In fact, the only thing I collect is mugs and it's more like a working collection since I'm a tea and coffee lover. I buy a mug from every city I visit plus I got a few from my friends, so it's an emotional attachment that's hard to break. So when Trevor asked me what else I intended to bring to the US besides clothes, the answer was obvious.

Trevor: How many mugs do you want to take?

Mickey: How much do you love me?

Trevor: Infinitely.

Mickey: About 20.

Trevor carefully packed and transported 21 mugs and a teapot and I am never allowed to call him impatient ever again.

While my dad was driving Trevor to the airport, the conversation went like this:

Mickey's dad: So did she give you any mugs?

Trevor (hesitantly): Yeah ...

Mickey: SHHHH! Don't say a word!

Mickey's dad: How many?

Mickey: Trevor, divide by 2!

<awkward 30 second pause>

Mickey: Are you dividing by 2?

Trevor: No, I'm still counting.

how to transport a collection of mugs

I'm happy to report that almost all the mugs got there safely, with only one cow-mug casualty which was promptly replaced by Trevor

Monday, January 7, 2013

How to react to good news

After checking for months and months to see when our petition would get approved, we decided to slow down with the holidays approaching. We checked a few times before Christmas and a few times between Christmas and New Year but we didn't want to get our hopes too high. You see, whenever you punch in your registration number the screen usually shows 4 polka dots in a row.

We'd been in the Initial Review stage for over 6 months, which basically meant that our application stood somewhere in a box, waiting impatiently for its turn. Initial Review is the limbo of USCIS, so we grew to hate that second polka dot with the power of a thousand pre-December 21st suns. It was always navy blue and always staring us in the face saying "they forgot about you! Ha ha ha!". Ok, maybe I was staring at the screen too much, but it did seem to have a high mocking potential.

So on January 1st, when we were packing the first of the giant suitcases that Trevor brought back with him to the US, I decided to check one more time. And there it was, the migration had occurred, the second polka dot was back to being a regular old gray one.

Naturally, I want to share the news with Trevor as fast as possible so I yell without moving away from the screen (had to keep an eye on that bugger).

Mickey: Treeeeeeeeeeeevor! We were approved!!!

Trevor (who was packing in the other room): Whaaaaat?

Mickey: We were approved!

Trevor (in very serious disbelief): Are you <expletive> kidding me?

It turned out I was not kidding and we both proceeded to do a celebration dance by jumping up and down at 11:30 PM. My downstairs neighbors were cool about it and didn't complain.

Usually Trevor is the optimistic one. Waiting for that long would make anyone a pessimist.

are you kidding me boyfriend stick figure

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Oh, winter holidays, we miss you already!

collage of things to do for christmas a list

Now that we are back into the swing of things we can look back at the holiday season of 2012 as a very joyous time. Trevor visited for 23 days in December and early January so we made a list with everything that we wanted to do together during this time. There are some things which we didn't really manage to get done: we didn't eat gingerbread (made this mistake last year and the gingerbread proved to be a colored lump of nothing), we didn't have a Christmas movie marathon (unless you consider Arrested Development to be cheerful Christmas entertainment) and we didn't make snow angels (ok, I flat out refused, pardon the pun, because it was too cold, so our new resolution is to only make snow angels in our own back yard and then run inside for a hot cup of cocoa).

What we did manage to do is:

- bake cookies (see here and here for recipes);
- decorate 2 Christmas trees. I didn't miss the chance to decorate the Trevor with patriotic tinsel. (Instructions for patriotic tinsel: take all the colors in the flag and wrap them around boyfriend's neck. Done!)
- read short stories by P.G. Wodehouse, which provided Trevor with the perfect occasion to do all of his British accents; of course he didn't miss the opportunity to read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas in his Santa voice.
- cook a snowman pizza. Trevor made a super dough with rosemary and oregano sprinkled in, which made it look like dirty snow, but it was quite delicious.
- have cake an inordinate amount of times.  Not too many times, just an inordinate amount.
- make felt ornaments, which led me to find out Trevor's complete inability to thread a needle.
- freeze our heads off taking walks in the park and in the city.
- have cocoa and marshmallows ... and cake.
- build a snowman upside down. Word of advice: don't put the carrot in first. Just imagine it, and then don't!
- have a couple of lunches with my family, where Trevor stoically endured the "stuff the guest" tradition. 
- watch sunsets that seemed too good for December;
- have mulled wine. We just wanted it to last forever.
- make pancakes.  They're so FLUFFY!
- watch fireworks. Read that: enjoy far away fireworks, hide from nearby ones.

- pack two suitcases. And this is a story for another day.

collage of things to do for christmas a list

and last but not least ...

We got our NOA 2, the highly coveted abbreviation of our dreams. This means that our application was approved in the U.S. and will now be sent to my embassy for processing. It only took 6 and a half months without any sign of life from USCIS and we only checked our status on the USCIS website a few million times. We are still in waiting mode because the petition still has to go through the National Visa Center before it reaches the local embassy, but we are glad and grateful that we didn't get an RFE (Request for Evidence), which would have slowed down the process even more. Cue happy dance!

On January 1st, we decided to check our application status for the 2,534,019th time, and that's when we saw that we were approved on December 31st. So we thanked God and asked Him for a big fat blessing for that government worker who processed our application on New Year's Eve.

our visa petition approval story finacee visa

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