Archive for the 'practicalities' Category

Housing matters

Picture by Vanderbolt-0 under a Creative Commons LIcense

 

Ten days until our lease of an apartment in California starts.

Thirty-something days until we hand over they keys to this house to the buyer we found.

Wait, maybe I should announce that with a bit more fanfare..

 

WE SOLD OUR HOUSE, Y’ALL!!

 

We didn’t even make a loss. Sure, alright, we didn’t make much money on it either, but to sell – in this market – in six months, without losing money.. It’s a rarity. People are positively envious.

And we’re mostly happy because it helps us leave everything behind and proceed on the road to owning less, to simplifying and to living life lightly. We start packing up our books today, have some possessions already ‘labeled’  for their new owners and will otherwise do a lot of donating, giving away and throwing out. It will be glorious. Life will be compacted into a trekking backpack and a  carry-on bag for each of us.

I can start planning for a goodbye party. And I can start fretting about the medical appointment that I have to undergo before I can go to my visa interview on June 25.

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Interview date

The next step after a case complete, is the assignment of an interview date at your local consulate.

Which has happened. *yay* *squee*. Unfortunately it has also happened later than I had hoped (and, frankly, expected). Not that it matters all that much, because an appointment is an appointment and as far as visa timelines go we’ve been incredibly lucky (and pretty well organized) and are ahead of the curve in terms of how long these processes frequently take.

A quick timeline:

  • NOA1 (confirmation of petition received by USCIS) November 8, 2012
  • NOA2 (USCIS approves petition by US citizen and allows case to progress to national Visa Center) January 2, 2013
  • Case Complete (National Visa Center has formally ‘accepted’  original petition by USCIS + evidence of monetary sufficiency by US Citizen + visa application by foreign spouse), April 15, 2013
  • Interview Date (with local consulate), June 24, 2013

General counsel is to not make any travel arrangements until after the interview is passed and the visa is ‘ in hand’. However, the summer holidays are coming, ticket prices are skyrocketing and we’ve got a lease on an apartment that starts June 1st. So, we’re seriously considering booking tickets already. Due to the time needed to actually put the visa in my passport, we’re not comfortable leaving less than 8 days after the interview. Which places us right in the first week of the high season (and the 4th of July rush).

We’ll have to see about how to handle that one..

Bad feminist! Bad!

Which is to say: I gave ‘notice’ at my job. I resigned. I am relieved and terrified at the same time.

I gave notice two months in advance, because I’m a nice woman who does not want to inconvenience her employer too much  (or perhaps she’s simply very much afraid of displeasing anyone, ever). January 1st 2013 will be my first day of not having a full-time activity since the day I started university as a lowly freshman. I will also give up financial independence (For a while, okay? Temporarily! Only until we’ve moved. Only because when Beloved starts studying I get to be breadwinner for a few years. Only because I’ll make up for it!). I’m looking at a time frame of three to seven months of no-job, depending on how everything goes.

Queue freak-out. Do not want. No like! Aaaargh. *panicked arm flailingl

However. Let’s look past all my fears of immediately losing all justification for my existence by changing my employment status (it is hopefully obvious I don’t apply that standard to other people who are un(der)employed, so I need to learn to cut myself some slack).

Maybe I should acknowledge that one can’t simply sell a house, move to another continent, obtain visas and passports and keep up with the many other, smaller responsibilities of life as a grown-up when there’s only two of you and the both of you are eaten alive by work, work and more work on top of a nice portion of work. Or maybe other people can do so, but we don’t have to, which is a form of privilege. Which I should also acknowledge, but perhaps not feel so incredibly terrible about that I refuse to use it.

What good _is_ privilege if you feel too guilty to use it? How about if you have privilege and use it to make other people’s lives better along with your own? If there are people out there for whose physical, immediate survival it is necessary that they spend all their resources on themselves, isn’t it sort of a duty for those who have resources to spare that they use some of them to make the planet a nicer place?

The inner feminist insists I only twist things that way to get out of the feelings of guilt.

Maybe the inner feminist should (kindly, consensually) go fuck herself, though.

I get to be happy. I should find another way than a pay check to find value in myself.  I appreciate non-financial contributions from everyone else, so I should learn to appreciate them from me. As a starting point, below is a list of ambitions for when I have free time:
– fix up the house to make it sell better (to be done in time off while still employed)

– deal with realtor

– find good homes for all the stuff we’re not bringing to the US

– handle USCIS / consular business

– arrange the international move

-arrange travel (if we have time to travel)

– keep house (save money by no longer having a cleaner)

– Cook All The Things (bento box lunches, maybe?)

– finish working through the book ‘Python Programming for the absolute beginner’ to improve future employability

– improve understanding of math

– volunteer at pet shelter (and maybe see if we can do short-term fostering!)

– volunteer at the food bank my mom has set up

– find cool freelance assignments (and enhance resume)

– find a form of enjoyable exercise

– see some friends
On another note: I have so far not had a single negative response from anyone who heard of my decision to quit. Beloved is pretty much the person who proposed it and argued against all my doubts. And everyone else so far has been telling me that they think it is an awesome idea. Even at work they’ve all been like :”Well, it’s too bad for us, but it makes total sense for you and we think you’re smart to do it.”
Can I say that I am very  suspicious of the total lack of opposition? I mean.. was I that obviously miserable? Does no one worry about me finding another job? Does no one feel anger-on-principle that once again a (sort of) female-identified person puts on an apron? Does nobody think I’m an idiot? Has nobody yet thought: “Oh, see? There she goes.. Not even married for a year and she strong-arms that poor guy into letting her quit working!”?

Anybody need some guilt? I’ll ship it to you for free!

I don’t write enough

Not per se in the ‘Oh noes, I am not a regular blog-updater way’, but in the ‘My brain is trying to eat me and I need to spit out some thoughts-way’.

So, let’s see. During his latest trip, Beloved had a change of heart. Instead of keeping on our house and trying to rent it, he decided he wanted to sell. Now, before you go all egalitarian on my ass and chastise me for making it sound like such a unilateral decision: I was in favour of selling before he was. Doesn’t make it any less of a unilateral decision, but  if globe-trotting Beloved had one place he felt his heart was, I wasn’t going to  insist he get rid of it for mere convenience. However, when he did come to the conclusion that keeping the house wasn’t what he wanted, I told him frankly that I was happy he felt that way. (Funny legal sidenote: one is not allowed to sell the marital residence without permission of one’s spouse, even if their name is neither on deed or mortgage).

Picture by Cal Evans under Creative Commons License

Then, I e-mailed a bunch of realtors to come and have a chat. The two days after those conversations were spent in a flurry of discarding things, boxing things up and deciding which items go where (apparently having 8 overflowing bookshelves do not help you sell the house – sadface).
Throwing things out is cathartic. It is also generally fun (at least I think so – putting a pile of stuffed trash bags on the curb is very fulfilling). It felt really good to donate approximately 130 books to charity. And yet I had a good cry, well-described by a term invented in the community of A Practical Wedding: mourning the path not taken. Because while life is full of stuff and nonsense and trinkets, sometimes particular objects become symbols of a part of yourself that – while not currently actively under development – you have trouble parting from. Hence, it is a painful thing to give away all the paper, paint and brushes because the eighteen-year-old you who was so proud to be admitted into a specialized Fine Arts college thinks you’re squandering your talents . It hurts to throw out event-specific clothes that you wore too little, because it feels like you resign yourself to a life of boring mediocrity in which there can be no themed parties, playing dress-up or even just looking spectacular and sexy.

In the end it will probably be liberating. It will probably feel very light to not drag around a bunch of “you shoulds”. It will probably help me find new things to try. In the mean time, I’ll try to make myself feel better by knowing that I’m finding good homes for the Things that Mattered to me.

Bring on the oaths!

An official letter was deposited on our doorstep yesterday.

Our government has decided to approve Beloved’s request for naturalization.

 

Photo by bayasaa under a Creative Commons License.

 

The process isn’t over yet. He’ll have to be invited to a ceremony and swear an oath, which will make him a citizen. After that, a passport will be made available to him.

We’re overjoyed to have the decision be favourable, obviously. We’re also really happy with the timing. The predicted timeline was six to eight months, but we got the good news only four months after filing the request. This gives us a lot of extra time for the process to obtain the greencard for me. We can file earlier and hopefully get the whole process over with early enough to leave us a few months to travel the world before settling down in Whicheveruniversitytown, USA.

Wicked, eh? Now I get to think about which countries we may want to go to.

A second passport for Beloved also the best possible insurance policy to many risks that come with emigration, because it means we can always travel back to a country in which we both know we can live and be happy. It means we can go live close to my family, should something happen to them. It significantly decreases the risk of the Beloved and I ever be separated by immigration authorities. It also increases the freedom to travel to places that.. may not look kindly upon entering the country with a US passport.

On a sentimental note, he can have his new passport say ‘spouse of smittenimmigrant’. Once I renew mine, it will certainly note – next to my unchanged maiden name – ‘spouse of Beloved’.

Photo by Jeff McNeill under a Creative Commons License.

Income requirements

Since the waiting game for Beloved’s naturalization has well and truly started, I’ve been looking into the details of the CR-1 spousal visa (and green card). Filing a petition for a spouse to be allowed to immigrate, has requirements for the petitioner. The petitioner must have, or must at the time of immigration, established domicile in the US. The legal definition of establsihing domicile for immigration purposes is vague.

There is also an income requirement. Which isn’t unreasonable in and of itself, of course. But it’s somewhat problematic if the petitioner is planning to go to grad school, instead of working. Now, the income requirement can be fulfilled by owning ” immediately liquifiable assets”.  But the definition of “immediately liquifiable”  is also vague. And do assets abroad count? Or not?

I had expected us to be able to do the entire visa process ourselves (I consider myself a red-tape adept, honestly), but we may have to consult a lawyer on all this. If our understanding of legal definitions differ from the understanding of the immigrations people, our petition could be denied for nothing more than having money in the wrong type of bank account.

Eh. Better go learn something more about finance.

On a completely different note – argument

It’s been a tough week. We’ve both been working ourselves to the bone, job-wise and life-wise.

When both of us are stressed and in a state of discomfort, we get less patient with one another. We know this, we’re aware of this and try hard to not take things out on one another, but it’s tough. I want to distract myself by doing fun things with him, he wants to turn inward and spend more time alone. I think this reflex is the biggest point of contention in our entire relationship.

We’re both introverts, but of different types. I don’t like large groups, loud gatherings and situations that require complex social interaction. However, I can spend (relatively) large amounts of time in the company of selected people (like Beloved). He, on the other hand, loves wild parties,  rowdyness and loud arguments with fifteen people at the same time. When he’s done with that, he wants to be entirely alone. We have different ideas of what ‘spending time together’  means. Me, I feel that it requires some dort of actual interaction. He feels that sharing the same space counts too.

Normally, we negotiate this difference pretty gracefully. If I make sure to spend time in a different room, and he takes care to occasionally drop by for a kiss, we’re good. If we have a very general schedule for the day to reserve solitary time and joint activities, we’re also good. When were both tired, stressed and grumpy and there is no schedule (or life changes the schedule) our needs drift further apart and things get somewhat less harmonious.

This week? Not so harmonious. We said some harsh words and felt like shit. We misinterpreted things and said things that were misinterpreted. We tried to be nice, but failed, tried to give in, but felt resentful. And yet, whenever we argue, it feels healthy. It may be frustrating, but it’s not destructive. It’s painful, but not damaging. We’re not perfect of course, but I can call him out on arguing to win, instead of arguing to solve the issue. And he can call me out on being unrealistically negative and making things ‘about me’  that never had anything to do with me to begin with. After the tension has been released, we also know how to negotiate to ensure both our needs are met.

I hate fighting with the Beloved, but when it happens it is a tremendous relief from all the other relationships arguments I’ve had with people who came before. Those were unbalanced, unfair, missed the heart of the matter and (in case of my previous relationship) regularly turned abusive. It may sound strange, but in part it is having had a a handful of arguments with the Beloved that lets me know we’re healthy and solid together. So, while the week may not have been very harmonious, it has convinced me even more that I should marry the man with whom I argue the way we do.