Yesterday, I did a 6-mile run to the Husband's office and back in order to pick up the paperwork he'd printed off for me. I spent the night after putting E to bed filling out everything and collecting all of the supporting documents I'd need to make my application. The only thing that was left was 1) to get some passport-sized photos taken, and 2) to sit my Life in the UK test.
So, this morning, I packed E's bags, got us both dressed, and ran out the door to get some cheap snaps taken at the photo booth in our local Sainsbury's. With that done, I sped up the motorway to Reading to leave E in the care of his Auntie Rachel for the day. Ostensibly, this was a great plan because Reading is a short trip from Maidenhead - where I was sitting my test - and E would have all day to play with his cousin Henry. Drop off completed, I zipped along the M4 to Maidenhead in order to sit my test.
This, my dears, is where the stress comes in. I was meant to sit the test the other week, but due to one thing and another, it just didn't happen. Of course, it had to just not happen after I'd already crammed a bunch of useless facts in my head the night before, driven out to Maidenhead, thoroughly cursed my directions (which were not only obfuscating, but unhelpful as a street I needed was closed), searched frantically for a place to park, and then rushed into the library only to discover that - though there was no outward indication - the test centre I was looking for was inside the library. Needless to say, I was not happy that day.
So, having rebooked the test, I went to sit it today. The test itself is basically a formality. You memorize a few useful facts, though mostly just useless ones, and anything you're not sure on can usually be solved with an appeal to a relative degree of common sense or Sherlockian logical deduction. The real sticker is that in this whole process to be formally and permanently settled in the UK, any official body who has anything to do with your application will take every opportunity to be financially rapacious. Can't sit your test? You forfeit the fee. Want to stay in the country with your family? That'll be £991, please. Oh, you want to do it in person as time is of the essence? That'll be a cool £1300+, please. For reals. And you, of course, are over a barrel as your only other options are to A) leave, or B) stay and tell the UKBA to sod off, thus becoming what no child of a first world nation ever dreams they'll have to call themselves: an illegal immigrant.
Needless to say, I'm not going back to the States any time soon, and I wasn't about to evoke a bunch of cliched racial stereotypes and stay in the country illegally. So, my wallet had to bend over and take it...metaphorically speaking. To compensate for the victimization of my debit card, I breezed through the process with an ill-grace and as much efficiency and disdain as I was capable of. (That's a lot, in case you're wondering.) Of course, that did mean that last night, staring the day down in all of its hectic glory, I had to stay up and read through the mediocre fast-paced prose of Dan Brown to calm myself down enough for sleep. (It may be meh, but it's an enjoyable mind-numbing meh, which was just what the doctor ordered.)
|we just can't switch off.|
And so now, tonight, with my baby asleep and my application to stay in this country sailing along in the post to Durham, I can now take a deep breath and calm the f--k down. It is out of my hands. I might as well be zen, because worrying won't effect any improvement to the situation. When I still had things to do worrying was fine: it would help me stay on top of things. But now, it's just the holidays. Sure, those holidays mean baking Christmas cookies, doing Christmas shopping, getting ready for my sister to come, and prepping for a wedding. But they also mean baking Christmas cookies, doing Christmas shopping, getting ready for my sister to come, prepping for a wedding, AND going to see The Hobbit!
|via, The Hobbit Blog|