Tuesday was Valentine’s Day, but now is when to buy candy and romantic gifts. Shopping holiday clearance is a joy to me. I recently purchased a gingerbread house kit for $1.19 from one store’s Christmas clearance section to do with my sister next month to herald springtime. And really, it’s not like chocolate goes bad that fast. Check expiration dates to be sure, of course. Besides my obsession with saving money (My sister once said we could get what I was craving at Aldi, and I replied, “Savings?”), I don’t celebrate a romance-themed holiday until May with Beltane (aka May Day). Valentine’s Day is overshadowed by Mardi Gras here anyway. Instead of pining for a candlelit dinner on the 14th, I read about Lupercalia, a Roman fertility festival. As the days grow longer and we begin seeing signs of spring in new flower buds and baby animals, we see an upswing in fertility and romance celebrations. Since I’m still separated from my partner, every interaction with him feels special. I’m instead focusing on the other aspect of fertility: creation. The waxing of the solar year is a great time to undertake creative endeavors: writing a book, creating art, or building a structure. Planting a garden is another great way to celebrate this time of year. Too bad about my skin’s eternal disagreement with the sun. As I explained earlier this month, I also undertake new projects on the New Moon. How fortuitous then that the New Moon is tomorrow. Time to stop dreaming and starting doing.
A good chunk of my most recent time has been spent with my sister as she puts the final touches on her third book in the Empowering You series. Her first book dealt with depression, the second tackled stress, and the third is about embracing introversion. Obviously, I got a sneak peek! I’m special. Haha! As an introvert who battles depression and anxiety and as a former high school teacher, I cannot overstate how useful and empowering these books are for young (and not so young) people. I read somewhere that we should spend time with people who force us to level up. Being in the presence of such an intelligent and accomplished writer inspires me to pursue my own literary dreams, despite my executive dysfunction and fear of failure. I know it’s not time for Camp NaNoWriMo, but I think I may treat the next 30 days like it is. NaNoWriMo always has something going on year-round. So does my local library, come to think of it. It’s fun to know there are creative communities all around if we’re just willing to poke around and find them. And having a platonic life partner who is a writer is the greatest encouragement of all.
How about a visa update? The UK Secretary of State officially declared my appeal ended on December 29th, stating, “[I]t has been concluded the decision to refuse is no longer appropriate and the immigration decision is therefore withdrawn. It is anticipated D-ECP.1.1. will be granted.” As per their request on December 13th, I had already sent my passport back to the VFS Global Visa Application Centre in New York. Then silence. I reached out on February 10th. This turned into quite a situation. I first made a phone call to UKVI, which cost me about $6. They referred me to Administrative Reviews, who said they were the wrong department, so I emailed UKVI Visa Queries (~$4 – yeah, this nonsense isn’t free). I responded to both departments several times, growing increasingly annoyed and desperate. Finally, I emailed Immigration Appeals since they were the last people who had said anything of substance to me. They told me it can take 16 weeks from the end of the appeal for the proper paperwork to be filed. That was not what I wanted to hear, but it was a mercy to have ANY idea of a timetable. I would have to be patient until April 20th. But then…! On February 14th, Immigration Health sent me a request for my healthcare surcharge of $2343.96, which I paid. This was a fee I knew I would eventually have to pay if I was approved, but good lord is that a lot of money! I sent a message to UKVI Queries to ask if this means I’ve been approved. They couldn’t see any updates to my case, so they told me to reach out again if I haven’t heard from anyone by the end of next week. I can’t imagine they would charge me for healthcare if my visa weren’t on its way shortly, but we shall see!
What are you looking forward to seeing bloom this spring?