Living in California has its perks, but there are a few things happening in the UK right now that I’m missing. Continue reading F.O.M.O.
I’ve just got back from a couple of weeks in London. While I was there, I binged on Britain – I drank in every pub, ate in every tea room, lined up in every job centre.
It was my first trip back, and I was surprised by the things I’d missed. Here they are.
Today is exactly 6 months since we left the UK.
In that time, Alex has taken up running, Daisy has tantrummed in some of the biggest public spaces in Northern California, and Ava has turned into a walking, talking all-American kid. Me? The main change I’ve noticed is that I wear white socks more than I used to, without worrying about my street cred.
Here’s the 16 things we’ve learned since we got here… Continue reading 16 things we’ve learned about life in the US.
In 12 hours we’ll be on a plane, bound for San Francisco.
It’s been over a week since my last update, and in that time, we’ve covered a lot of ground. If I had £1 for every task completed, document signed and goodbye uttered in that period, I’d have enough cash to pay for the professional hair regrowth and colour treatment I so desperately need.
I won’t bore you with all the details. Because unless you’re my mother, you don’t really want them. Instead, I’ll just add a gallery of images and leave you to figure it out.
Tomorrow is exactly 24 weeks – 168 days – since I first discussed the relocation opportunity with my boss. Countless people have played their part in the journey we’ve been on ever since. Tax advisers, immigration attorneys, relocation specialists, shipment packers, recruitment consultants…
But an honourable mention goes to Simon.
I met Simon last month. He was the guy with the words “Love Love” tattooed across his knuckles, and a haircut befitting the wildest of rock stars. Except he wasn’t a rock star. He was a depressive cashier at the US Embassy, who – when I asked him the meaning of his tattoo – told me it reminded him of something, before falling silent and crying. He cried to himself right there in front of me, behind a glass window! Poor bugger. I was only being polite by asking. I actually thought it looked crap.
So now I call time on our pre-move journey. Tomorrow we leave Barnet, and head to the Bay.
See you on the other side.
Two days until our non-departure, and there’s still no sign of our visa.
We’ve reported it missing to the Police, placed ads on the side of milk cartons, and even developed a Twitter handle to get the word out. You can follow it at #givememyeffingvisa.
I’m constantly thinking about the whereabouts of my visa, so much so, I’m starting to see things. Just the other morning I could have sworn I saw it doing the walk of shame along Barnet High Street.
Remember that ad with Usain Bolt – the one where he runs around effortlessly and it ends with the tagline: “Life flows better with VISA”? False advertising, that. If I were to bump into Usain anytime soon, I’d give him a piece of my mind. Except I can’t. Because he’s in Jamaica and the Embassy has our bloody passports.
In a burst of productivity I phoned the Embassy’s call centre and told a sob story to get the guy to reveal classified information, but he didn’t budge. Obama must have warned him about me.
So I’ve spent the past few days scouring the US Embassy website for vital clues and information – anything to make us believe our visa delay is actually for reasons more solid than a dodgy printer. Over the weekend the official message on their site was basically: “we’re having trouble”. Yesterday it was updated to the effect of “yep, still having trouble”. But just this morning, this cryptic message appeared:
As of noon yesterday, 22 posts have been reconnected, representing about half of the global nonimmigrant visa volume. We will continue to bring additional posts online until connectivity with all posts is restored.
At last, golden information, about posts!
Now, if only they’d thought to shed some light on WHAT IN GOD’S NAME A POST IS, perhaps the message would have actually served a purpose. Are we talking goalposts, bed posts, or Facebook posts?
And when they say “about half”, they really mean “less than half”. Because if it was half, or more than half, they would say so. The sentence isn’t quite so strong if you say “we’ve fixed less than half of the problem”.
But wait. The message continues, and this time I see a glimmer of hope:
There is a large backlog of cases to clear, but we have already made good progress. We are prioritizing urgent medical and other humanitarian cases.
Things are looking up.
I’m taking my brood overseas to bring British culture to the American people. To educate the US population about Steak & Kidney pie, Cilla Black and Eastenders. To demonstrate how an overcast day is reason alone to stick on a bikini and hit the park with a picnic. And to help them understand what it feels like to rally behind a sporting nation that nearly always fails.
I’m pretty confident that classifies as a humanitarian effort. Right?
Stop the clock.
The US Embassy would like to make the following announcement:
We are currently unable to print most nonimmigrant visas approved after June 8, 2015. If you attended a visa interview on or after June 9 and were advised that your visa was approved, we are currently unable to print that visa.
So what does this mean?
Well, despite the US having the world’s largest economy, and Americans spending $1.5 billion each year on teeth whitening products alone, they don’t have a printer that works. And until they do, we’re here for an indefinite period. I believe the kids would typically end this paragraph with “FML”.
All in all, things are just a little awkward.
Take yesterday for example, my supposed last day at work, when I was presented with a gift from everyone in the office. I then cleared my desk, said my goodbyes, and some of us went to the pub down the road to toast my onward journey. Next week, I’ll be back in the office again.
And then there’s tomorrow night, when our friends and family descend on a bar in the local area for our leaving party. Except we’re not leaving.
And, for those of you who read my previous posts, it also means that I’ve been needlessly hugging that homeless guy up the street.
Our flights have been released, corporate housing contract cancelled. All we can do is wait.
So if you need to reach us in the coming weeks, you’ll mostly find us in a darkened room, listening to American folk tracks and crying into a cheeseburger.
Long live the American dream.