Saturday, 29 November 2014

Live through this, and you won't look back

This week, I had my (hopefully) last biometrics appointment, where my fingerprints were scanned, my was photograph taken, and I was also able to change my last name on my application for my 10-year green card. This will be the second time I've done the biometrics portion for the same application, as my case was recently moved from the Vermont Service Center to the California Service Center (which often happens to expedite the process, when one service center is not able to process all the applications they are receiving within the target time frame).

Aside from the continued influence of the stress and pain of the last year and more (ha!), I was surprised by how quickly visiting the biometrics place triggered memories, a sense of displacement, anxiety... It was pretty overwhelming, and it's taken me several days to recover from it. I didn't even have a bad experience; in fact, it was the best biometrics appointment I've ever had, thanks to the lovely USCIS agent that handled my application. She was incredibly warm, personable, patient, and kind. She talked to me about how she is still avoiding changing her name because it's such a hassle, and told me that time heals all things, so I would be truly happy again one day (this was a propos of nothing other than her being friendly, I swear!). I was very touched, and I wish I could tell her sincerely what a difference her compassion made. They do give you a brief feedback form at the end of each appointment, so I made sure to write a glowing review and to try to say thank you to her through that medium.

So, I am now waiting on the next stage. My attorney and I touched base last week, and he has filed the waiver to both service centers, to cover all bases. Therefore, there are three possible next steps:

  1. RFE: If the waiver does not reach the center(s) in time to be paired with my application, they will send me a Request For Evidence to supply my decree (it's been sent with the waiver, but it could just be bad timing in that they don't connect the two - but no harm done). 
  2. Interview notice: I'll be sent a date on which I have to attend an interview to be assessed in person.
  3. A decision: based on the evidence they already have, the USCIS might make a decision without interview. This is unlikely, but not unheard of.

Latest update: moved to the local office/being processed by the California Service Center

Above you can see the new, fancier USCIS case update page that I checked this morning, showing that on 11/4/2014 my case was successfully entered into the California Service Center and connected to my local office. This is what will have generated the new biometrics appointment requirement, which has been stamped and filed as of 11/25/2014. So now, we wait for one of the three outcomes mentioned above, and go from there.

I was driving to my beloved friends Cassie and Lesley's place on Thanksgiving evening this week, and became so lost in thought about life here, this immigration journey, the weight of loss, and the concept of limbo, that I missed three exits on the interstate and went about five miles out of my way. As I said, I was surprised by how distressing (mostly subconsciously until yesterday) I found the experience of doing this again. Being reminded that it's not over yet, that I have so much still to do just to be safe, to be rebuilding myself emotionally while waiting to hear whether, to some extent, life can really go on. It was momentarily overwhelming, and unexpectedly so. I guess the surprises don't stop coming.

However, I do not want to dwell too long on the negative, or to be fearful of a process that exists to protect and ensure legitimacy - things I do not need to fear. Life does, in fact, go on even when life-altering processes are happening in the background, and ups and downs are simply an inevitable consequence of being on the ride. It may sound trite; it may even sound a little defeatist, but I am mostly settled into taking each day as it comes and, as ever, letting myself be happy. These days I'm mostly back to my joyful, appreciative self, with the odd spell of melancholy and some underlying Panic Disorder that I'm dealing with thanks to some amazing support from friends, family, and doctors. You have to - and I encourage anyone who reads this to do the same - be kind to yourself. Accept that you have, in actual fact, been through a lot, and it's okay to struggle, and it's okay to heal. And, more than anything, it's a wonderful life. Don't forget to live it.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

All the arms: A Queen's English video blog for 2014

So, here it is - the 2014, 3-year QE v-log! I would introduce with more of a fanfare, but it's rather rough as I no longer have a video editor on my laptop, so it's just three separate video clips filmed on my point-and-shoot, one after the other. I'm sorry!

At this point, due to technological incompetence, I managed to not realize that the camera didn't capture my confession about "favorite American cuisine". While I have to say that I generally can't stand fast food, I'm a Bojangle's convert, there's no denying it. It's not my "favorite" American cuisine as such, but it's definitely my favorite kind of food - chicken and biscuits - that I've found in NC that we certainly don't have back home.

Please enjoy my excellent stills. YouTube didn't give me many options, so these are the best we'll get, I'm afraid.

So, other than total lack of preparation vis-à-vis the actual recording, a slight giggling fit at one of the questions, and various canine interruptions, this is a seriously professional piece.

As ever, thank you to everyone who asked questions, and to everyone who takes the time to watch my unedited ramblings! I know I don't write as much these days, but I always have and always will appreciate the community of expats, readers, bloggers, and friends that visit QE.

I hope y'all enjoy!