Tuesday, December 21, 2010

All I want for Christmas...

No, I don't want my two front teeth (although I'm happy I have them), nor do I want a DSI XL (as I think all the kids want...I'm not even sure what that is...a video game?).  I don't even want to gorge myself on baked Christmas goods!  No, all I want are non-material things.  Things I have to give myself, I think.  Now, how do I do that?!

As the end of the year approaches and Christmas is just around the corner, all I can think of possibly wanting for Christmas is to be anxiety-free, if only for one week?  This international move has tested my patience and pushed me further than I ever thought I could push myself.  Very eye opening, and I've not even left the United States yet.  From the realization that I have formed, over the years, a weird attachment to my possessions all the way to being knee deep in immigration paperwork, my anxiety levels continue to climb.

How does someone not form such a weird bond with personal belongings?  All I know is that I've had major mental meltdowns as I've cleaned out my closets, cupboards and drawers at the thought of parting with my stuff.  I know I have to part with some of it...I can only pack and ship so much to Ireland and I can only store so much at my mom's house.  With my brother's stuff, my stuff and my mom's stuff, I'm surprised there is even room to move at my mom's house.  But, its almost impossible to decide what is worthy and what is not worthy of being discarded, shipped or stored.  I've even tried to sell some items on ebay, which I have been successful doing.  I've even coped well with packaging these personal items up and shipping them to complete strangers...well, until this morning.  I sold my DVD player this morning on ebay and nearly cried myself to death thinking of parting with my DVD player!  I mean, seriously, my DVD player?  Even I think this is weird. 

And, my clothes.  All I can think of when I part with my clothes is that I have hundreds of dollars invested in these clothes and now I'm just throwing them out?! I actually find myself apologizing to  my clothes for not thinking they are worthy enough to come with me to Ireland.  Yes, I'm slowly losing my mind I think.

So, Santa Clause, if you can hear me, all I want for Christmas is just one week of pure nothingness--no stress, anxiety or obsessing over my stuff. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Immigration Schmimmigration

So, yeah… I’ve been so consumed by getting my cats' immigration papers prepared for their journey to Ireland that I didn’t plan for mine!!  Yes, that’s a major oopsie on my part and completely unlike me!  I’m the queen of lists…princess of organization…how could I forget something so major like that?!  Well, actually, I didn’t technically forget, I just figured I could do all my immigration paperwork once I got there.  Turns out, after a little research, I was wrong.  The paperwork has to be done before I leave the United States (stress level climbs).  Just when I thought I couldn’t handle anymore…from preparing my cats to go to Ireland, preparing to leave my job, storing and throwing out my belongings, packing up my apartment, shipping stuff, promoting my book, Christmas shopping and conducting my Zumba classes…I didn’t think I could handle much else.  Looks like I will…my immigration papers. 

Okay, so let’s fill out these immigration forms.  Hmmm, technically, Barry is in Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, so do I fill out a UK visa form or an Ireland visa form? I think it is a UK form, even though Barry is considered both a citizen of Ireland and the UK.  Alrighty then, I’ll fill out the UK immigration form for spouses. 

Lalala…everything is filled out, I’ve gathered all my supporting documentation to show that Barry and I are indeed married.  Next, I need to go submit the forms…turns out that they can only be submitted online and then you have to pay to submit these forms.  Once I made it this far in the process, I realized that the payment is $1, 274 to submit these forms…what to the what, now?! One thousand, two hundred and seventy-four dollars?!!!  You’ve got to be kidding me!!  Oh, and another little gem, it could take up to four months to actually get this visa approved!  WHAAAAAAAAAAAT?!  That can’t be!  I’m planning on being in Ireland by the end of January.  I don’t think I could handle another four months apart.  Woe is me!    There’s got to be a better way, right?  I mean, Barry is a citizen of Ireland, so perhaps I can come in under Ireland’s rules, which are not so stringent?  Yes, perhaps. 

After a few calls are made, Barry actually gets to talk to someone who knows what they are doing--The Law Centre offices in Derry, Ireland.  He was advised that since Barry is a citizen of the UK and of Ireland that I could come in using Barry’s Irish passport under the European Union immigration laws.  Hallelujah! Specifically, the European Economic Area regulations of 2006…oh, how I love thee European Economic Area of 2006!  This makes everything sooo much easier!  And, the best part—it’s absolutely free!  Hmm…free versus $1,274…um, I’ll take the free way, thanks.  I still have to submit all this paperwork and get approved before I leave the United States however, it shouldn’t take nearly as long as going in under the UK’s immigration laws and my timeline of January 2011 should still stand.  Here’s hoping!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Please rate our wedding picture and video on TheKnot.com!

Our wedding video, The Wedding Train, is posted on TheKnot.com.  If you would, please go and rate the video for us!  We created this silent film for our 1920's themed wedding to play before we were announced in the reception.  Barry did such a great job putting all the film together! It was a fun surprise for all of our guests.  Click here to go to the website. 

Also, please click here to go to the photograph section of TheKnot.com where you can rate some of our wedding photographs as well.

Two cats' European vacation

How could I not take them with me?  This is Charlie.

This is Fox Jeffrey.
Ten years ago, when I adopted my cat, Charlie, I just knew I would have him as long as his nine lives would let me.  He's been my best buddy for a long time and he's always such a sweet cat.  Five years ago, I decided to give him a little partner in crime, Fox Jeffrey.  Charlie and Fox Jeffrey clicked and have been best friends ever since.  When I made the decision to move to Ireland, I had to consider my two feline companions.  Of course, I love them and the thought of leaving them behind automatically brings tears to my eyes.  However, I had to consider the expense and the trauma the cats would endure if I were to take them.  Especially Charlie.  At ten years old, he's no spring chicken and he's not a good traveller--anytime he's confined to his carrier inside a car he cries and pees on himself.  Vet trips are never fun.  I've tried to help him prepare for an extended period inside his carrier with frequent rides in the car, and he has gotten more used to, but he's still not great with it. Anyway, after much research into Ireland's pet relocation rules and after advice and trips from my vet, I've decided to take Charlie and Fox with me.  I made a committment when I adopted these two fuzzies, and I intend to honor that committment.

Right before our wedding, I began the process of getting my cats ready for their European vacation.  This is still an ongoing process and will be up until April, when they will be allowed entrance into Ireland.  Under Ireland's pet relocation guidelines, in order to avoid a six month quarantine, the cats have to undergo a six month waiting period in the States before they are allowed to enter the country.  Six month quarantine versus a six month waiting period at home?  I'll take the waiting period, thank you.  Of course, there's much more to it.  In order to qualify for the waiting period, I have to go through a series of steps...mountains of paperwork and vet visits.  Perhaps I can help anyone who is considering a pet relocation?  Well, just in case I can, here's a few tips for anyone considering moving their pet to Ireland:

Step One:  Make sure your vet is USDA certified.  You can do this by calling the USDA regional office in your area.  If not, find one that is.  Having a USDA certified vet will make the process easier on you--less paperwork and signatures, blah blah blah.
Step Two:  Research Ireland's pet relocation rules.  For Ireland, you can only bring a pet in from the U.S. on certain flights from certain cities (New York, Boston, Chicago and Orlando) and you HAVE to use a pet relocation company.  Pet Express is the only approved pet relocation company for Ireland. 
Step Three:  Prepare your first vet appointment with your USDA vet by bringing an outline of everything that is required from Ireland to move.  Get information from you pet relocation company to bring with you.  You will also need a U.S. health certificate and a EU health certificate.  Even though these won't be filled out until ten days before you leave the U.S., bring them with you to the vet to show them.  My vet wasn't extremely well versed in moving animals overseas, so it has been a learning process for both.  The more information you can provide, the better.
Step Four:  At the vet, be sure to get your pet microchipped.  The microchip has to be a certain type so that it is compatible in Ireland.  You can check Ireland's pet relocation guidelines for what type it can be.  Charlie and Fox were microchippped with the Home Again brand, which I'm told will work.  I'm hoping it will!  The cats will also need to be vaccinated for rabies after they are microchipped. 
Step Five:  Wait for about a week and go back to the vet to have the animal's blood drawn and sent off to the Kansas State University Lab for the rabies titre test.  The Kansas lab is the only one in the U.S. that Ireland has approved for this test. 
Step Six:  Wait for the rabies titre results.  Once the results are in, you need to submit it to the pet relocation company along with the rabies vaccination certificate and other paperwork the relocation company has requested to return.  Oh yeah, along with a deposit for partial payment of their services.  This isn't cheap, folks.
Step Seven:  Now, it is time to wait.  The six month waiting period begins on the date the blood was drawn for the rabies titre test.  So, now I have to wait until early April to bring my boys to Ireland.  I will be heading over before to get things ready and leaving them in the safe hands of my family, but that will be very difficult because the next time I see them, I will be back to take them on the journey of a lifetime.
Step Eight:  Well, now I haven't gotten to this part yet, since I'm still in my waiting period.  But, it should go something like this: Come back to U.S. from Ireland.  Take animals to vet.  Have the vet fill out the two different health certificates.  Send the U.S. health certificate to the regional USDA office for approval and then send the EU health certificate to the Ireland office for approval. Then 48 hours before leaving the country, get the cats de-ticked and de-wormed.  Oh yeah, then put them in a car, and drive them for 8 hours to New York to board a flight. 

Hmmm...anxiety again...paper...bag....where...are...you?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Preparing for my ever after

So, I’ve met my soul mate, had the fairy tale wedding and am now preparing to live happily ever after.  I sometimes, momentarily, wish it was like everyone else’s happily ever after…you know…you meet someone, fall in love, date for a while, get married and then go straight in to your newlywed life.  Um, yeah.  That’s definitely not anything like mine.  Although Barry and I have gotten married, we certainly are not typical newlyweds since we are currently living, at the moment, on separate continents.  He’s in Ireland and I’m in the United States.  Of course, we’ve never had the typical relationship.  He’s always been in Ireland and I’ve always been in the U.S.  We’ve never had an actual dating life together as most couples do. Sure, when we would visit each other’s respective countries, we would go out to dinner or movies, but those evenings were few and far between.  Thank goodness for commercial airlines and Skype, otherwise, we wouldn’t have made it. 

So, now it’s time.  We’ve been married for nearly three months and it’s definitely time we actually get to live together like a married couple.  But, here’s the kicker.  In order to do this, one of us has to move…to a different country.  And, that someone is me.  For me to move makes sense for us for a lot of different reasons, which I won’t get in to here.  But, yes, I’m headed to Ireland, so top ‘o the morning to ye!
What a simple thing that is for me to say:  “I’m headed to Ireland.” It rolls off the tongue so easily.  However, there is nothing easy at all about moving since this isn’t just a move down the street; it involves a whole mix of planning, emotions and…boxes.  I have to figure out what to do with my car, my belongings, and my cats (both of which will be coming with me after a mountain of paperwork and vet visits are complete).  Can I teach my Zumba classes once I get there? Will I adjust okay to a new country? Will I make new friends? Oh, no…will I be able to drive on the opposite side of the street? (This actually just hit me). Well, the list of concerns and questions in relation to this move goes on and on.  But, I’ll stop them here as I feel an anxiety attack coming on at the very thought of it.  I’m reaching for a paper bag to breathe in.

Planning for the move is not a problem. In fact, I’m probably the planning queen of the world.  Yes, keeping everything organized in nice neat little folders is no problem. It’s these damned emotions that make it hard.  These emotions won’t go into little folders and they certainly won’t arrange themselves neatly! The emotions have probably been the most overwhelming part for me.  In fact, I’ve learned to live with (not happily) my panic and anxiety attacks I’ve developed over the past several weeks as it relates to move (as I once again reach for a paper bag to breathe in).  The guilt, the fear, the excitement, the unknown…well, at least these are some of the emotions I’ve been able to identify as I prepare for this life changing situation.  The other emotions are just in there swimming around all willy-nilly waiting for me to wrangle them in, which I hope I’m able to do. 

As I prepare for and finally make my move within the next few months and adjust to life in Ireland once I get there, I’ll post what’s going on, so you can join me on this journey as well, and perhaps, give me some advice when needed.