Archive for June, 2011


I finished!

Worked through the entire list of questions, came up with what I think is reasonable and fair and typed out the answers, keeping them as brief as possible. Now I really can’t wait for Beloved to come back from his seven-time-zones-away.. I want to see what he wrote.

I’m happy that I’ve figured out what feels fair to me, both from the topdog and underdog perspective. There are uncertainties still, and we’ll need to consult a specialist for certain aspects (not to mention legal experts to make it al ‘real’), but at least I got things out of my head.

So hurry up, Beloved, we need to snuggle up and have a good discussion!


Difficult questions

It took a while to find a notary who was comfortable working with an international couple on a pre-nup that should be respected in courts in both the US and Europe, but I managed to find one a while ago. They sent us some brochures, and we will go visit them in August to get the pre-nup written down and registered.

I was surprised by the responses I got from the few who I asked for advice in my search – quite some responses along the lines of  ‘ if you have to get a pre-nup, you’d better not even get married’. I don’t get it. I’m by far the less well-off partner, and I was the one to bring it up (I hope he would have if I hadn’t. I should ask him). Oh well, we’re getting one. My student debts are mine!

Beloved is across the ocean right now, doing some important stuff in an extremely well-secured compound. I had promised to find a list of questions we could answer to come up with the general contents for the pre-nup. We should make sure we know what is reasonable and fair before meeting with the notary. Still, answering those questions is scary. It brings to the fore that I feel a little.. hm.. insecure because me and my career aren’t as succesfull (read: well-earning) are as he is. For my field, I get a decent salary and I’ve been self-sufficient for quite some time, while managing to save. To prove this: by the end of this year I expect to pay down half of my student loans, two years and three months after graduation (my total student loans equal about 60% of my gross income per year).  So yeah. I’m not poor or dependent on Beloved, but still. Together, we have a lifestyle I could not sustain by myself. I feel a little bad for it.

We face a move to a place where he’ll have a job waiting for him. I won’t. For all I know, I may not be able to find a job at all. I’ll work, somehow. I don’t feel too good to make Venti Cafe Mochas or do customer support, but I have no idea what my earning potential may be (suffice to say I’ve heard about this cliche of burger flipping English majors. Scary, even though I’m not really an English major – it’s close enough). Who out there in that massive country could be waiting for me, eh?

What I should keep in mind is that we’re not just answering questions to protect Beloved’s retirement savings. We’re also answering them to protect me. From being left in a country that isn’t my own, without a job or a way to get back home. From being very hungry because flipping burgers may not mean being able to afford burgers.

I know what I need to do (be fair, think about what I need). I know what I’m inclined to do (focus on protecting what is his, conveniently forgetting me). I know what I’m scared of (adhering to the dreaded stereotype of the woman having designs on a man’s money, being inferior, Beloved resenting me), I know what I should be scared of (being homeless and hungry), I know what I shouldn’t do (let unproductive fears get in the way of what is the business side of this marriage, not being as invested in my interests as in his), but the feeling stays. I’ll need to grow some ovaries, get over the fact that sharing a life with someone means it’s not just me who spends money on him and accept that this time I cannot ask for a part that’s smaller than would be fair.

Maybe I’ll go get a drink. Pfff.

Outfit: a random smattering of ideas in pictures


from: a





I’m pretty sure these aren’t (all) the original sources. If you know the source of an image, please let me know so I can contact/ credit them.

The emperor’s (well, bride’s) new clothes

or how the chance of me showing up naked at my wedding have decreased immensely.

I suppose this is the other ‘thing’  that I worry about. What to wear? I’m a bisexual, rather genderbenderish creature who people like to mistake for a very butch lesbian at first sight. I’m a lot more comfortable with the male aesthetic than I am with the female (for the last six months I’ve been growing my hear out from the 1/8th  of an inch I kept it at for years).

Had I been able to decree a dress-code for my wedding, I would have proposed denim and lumberjack shirts. However, Beloved had a say in it too. While he totally supports (and encourages, appreciates and gets off on) my not-very-gender-appropriate aesthetic choices, he expressed a strong preference to a certain form of festive dress.

My first intuition was a tux. Then I figured maybe I should have a white one. Then I decided I would like to have something that I would actually wear again. (I’ve hips and tits and a waist – no men’s tux or suit would ever fit me without tailoring, making renting something not an option). The list of criteria grew so long that I started thinking about simply buying a not-too-poofy-dress after all, simply because they’re way cheaper than tailored suits or tuxes, so I wouldn’t feel bad about never wearing it again. Who cared if I didn’t feel comfortable in what I wore? I’d still be married, right? And everyone else would love it.

Then.. My mom called. She has a twin brother who is a fashion designer of some renown. I had briefly considered consulting him in the very early stages of planning, but quickly abandoned the idea for monetary reasons (the man isn’t cheap – even with family-discount any of his creations would still cost in the thousands) as well as other ones, like me being skittish to do business with family. However, as my mom talked to her twin about their birthday celebration, she mentioned my wedding plans (not otherwise formally announced to the family – after all, they’re not invited to the ceremony and the reception isn’t planned yet). He offered to make me a wedding-outfit, free of charge, as a thank you for all that my parents did for him, as well as because he feels connected to me (something I had not dared count on – I’ve always recognized things in him, but never knew he felt the same way).

I plan to at least present him with my ideas and see if we can come to an agreement on what I should wear. I have been given the assignment to start gathering pictures of ideas and looks that I find pleasing. I’ll consider it a challenge!

Wedding Photographers, for the discerning customer

This proves to be one of the hardest choices to make, so far: a fitting weddingphotographer. I suppose we have a sense of aesthetics that differs from what is considered ‘normal’  or even ‘alternative-but-findable’  when it comes to wedding photography.

There is one man whose pictures we both like: Patrick Moran. Unfortunately, the man is on the other side of the ocean, and since we’re being all low-budget and small and such, flying in a photographer seems over the top. We’re still considering it, though. Mr. Moran is a friend of the Beloved, and we’re hoping that he may be willing to work if we pay for his ticket and put him up for free for a holiday in our country. Still, it would be a hassle, and things would be easier with a local photographer.

I’ve found the Wedding Photojournalist Association, which seems to come closest to what we may possibly want. They have us a workable shortlist of which I selected three photographers. Beloved picked only one. Depending on the man’s quote, we’ll petition Mr. Moran.

In the mean time: hear me roar:

  • If your website plays music, I will not do business with you.
  • If your website takes more than a few seconds to load, I will not do business with you.
  • If your website is hard to navigate, I will not do business with you.
  • If I cannot properly see your photo’s (because they are small), I wil not do business with you.
  • If your website does not even remotely mention a vague hint of what things may possibly cost, I wil not do business with you.
  • If your website opens every internal link in a new tab/ window, I will not do business with you.

I could go on and talk about photoshopping people until they’re unrecognizable, having a whopping 50% pictures of brides’ shoes in your slideshow and all matter of other things that I’ve come to notice in my scouting for a wedding photographer, but let’s leave it at this.

Filing an I-130

On my usual round through the host of immigration forums I follow, I encountered this notice from the USCIS.


In short, this means that the option informally known as Direct Consular Filing will no longer be available from August 15 onward. Instead, those countries that do not have a USCIS Field Office (I’ve checked, we don’t), will need to send all petitions to a lockbox in Chicago.

Speculation on my part: this means we’ll be filing a K-3 (or CR-1) the ‘normal’ way. Which means dealing with an approval term of approximately 10 months instead of (as confirmed by the Consulate this morning) 10 weeks.

Outcome: Timing his naturalisation and my Visa process is going to be a lot harder, meaning we may well be delayed in leaving. Also: While in a K-3 or CR-1 procedure, travel to the USA is not permitted.

I’ve contacted our local consulate already, but they refused to tell me anything. They even denied knowledge of this notice and told me that they only have business with the State Department, not with the USCIS. The lady I talked to proceeded by asking if I was the US citizen calling and became rather uh.. unfriendly when I told her I wasn’t, doing her best to get me off the phone asap. I guess they don’t like people calling them in advance to ask for information.



National Parks

Yesterday we finished watching a documentary by Ken Burns: National Parks– America’s Best Idea. It shows the history of the National Park system, the creation of parks and how they connect to the American identity. I knew that Beloved had traveled across the US with his parents as a kid, visiting many of the oldest parks – I had no idea that this is a bit of a tradition, or so the documentary told me. As the stories became more personal, near the end of the final episode, both of us teared up a little. So many people have been inspired by these awesome places.

I’ve only been in Shenandoah, so far, but I plan on seeing many more parks. The American idea of nature is unknown in Europe, and it is hard to understand how the parks can unite people from every race and class, bringing them together in a surrounding so majestic that it invites unity. I look forward to experiencing more of this, hoping it can help me become American in the best sense of the word.

The series hinges almost entirely on the words of naturalists, philosophers and authors – especially John Muir is extremely important to the documentary, as well as to the parks. So, I was overjoyed when I received a book by his hand for my birthday, last Sunday. The book itself is gorgeous (a hardback, nostalgic type and page setting), but the words must be even better. I plan on taking it with me whenever I visit a park about which he wrote, so that I can see the things that inspired and that are so incredibly important to the country to which I will belong, at some point.

A quote (because it fits):

I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.”

–John Muir

Housing in the US..

Houses in the US are so radically different from here, I have no idea what to even start looking for. The idea of  ‘urbanized living’ in a way that I recoignize, only seems to exist in the largest of cities. When I check Zillow for houses in the SF Bay Area, where we strongly consider moving, I still see houses with gardens for sale more than apartments or condos. Apartments seem to be either really cheap (and somewhat decrepit) student housing, or extremely expensive, gated-community-fitness-and-pool-style condos.The rest? Houses with massive gardens.. Like, wow!

And then there’s the bathroom thing. Having two “full baths” in any more-than-two-room house seems completely normal. Where I live, one full bath really is the norm. People that have two full baths are generally extremely rich.

What’s up with y’all folks’ idea of no sidewalks, by the way? I remember a drive to a friend in a suburban neighborhood in Richmond, VA, where there was not a single one of the things in sight. Beloved tells me that a lot of the US has a serious ‘walking happens between the front door and the car door-culture’. That will take some getting used to – I walk everywhere. There is hope for me, though. Apparently a movement called ‘new urbanism’ exists that encourages small communities in which shops and restaurants mingle with housing in such a way that walking and interacting in public spaces is encouraged. San Fran and the Valley strike me as places where such a move could gain/ has gained traction – I should look into that.

Cause for celebration

*drum roll*

Today we’ve requested our marriage license and signed for our intent to marry. Today is also our two year anniversary. We’ve put the actual celebratory dinner off until tomorrow because Beloved had a ‘maintenance window’  last night between 1 and 3 (as in: an important computer network had scheduled downtime and he needed to guide people through some hardware upgrades). After this morning’s bureaucracy he had to go into the office too, so he will only want to go to sleep when he comes home, I think.  I bought him some beers just in case, though.

I expect to receive a confirmation from the registry office soon – they need to contact our location to ensure that the wedding will indeed take place there, and then appoint an officiant. That means the most important things are taken care of.

We are free to work with the officiant to design the ceremony, which is awesome (I’m not a fan of traditional vows). I had no idea what the rules were, but apart from saying ‘ yes’  and signing the certificate we’re free to do as we want (assuming the officiant agrees).

I’ve officially chosen to use his name (I don’t actually ‘get’  it – it’s impossible to lose your maiden name unless through expensive and complicated legal action – I only get to use it) without a mention of my maiden name. A painless decision, considering that my name doesn’t work in English and his is almost as sexy as he is. I can’t quite remember if I mentioned this to my parents.. I should, so that they can get used to it a little. So far, they’ve been pretty well-behaved, though. I knew I could count on them to be awesome 🙂

The Confederate States..

of America.

We watched it last night. I can’t remember how we learned of it, but after reading several discussions on the meaning of the confederate flag (and seeing loads of them when I was in Richmond VA last year), I felt I needed to know more. Ken Burn’s documentary on the Civil War is still on my to-watch-list, but was way too serious for a hay fever and toothache suffering couple.

I can recommend watching this, in any case.