Monthly Archives: November 2013

DoodleArting

Do any of you guys remember DoodleArt? Those crazy old posters that took about a bajillion hours and sixteen packs of felts to fill in? If not, you missed out on some childhood awesomeness, my friend.

Deciding the first mark is the toughest.

Moms faced with life’s most difficult decision – where to make the first mark.

Apparently first appearing in the 1970’s, my earliest memory of colouring in one of these behemoth posters was circa 1986, when my best friend brought home a “Dolls” DoodleArt poster from (if memory serves me correctly) Vancouver’s Expo ’86.

I loved colouring in that freaking poster.

So imagine my joy when I found an App for that on iTunes for my iPad. So much joy. They had the same posters available that have always been available – including the very same doll poster I remember from nearly 20 years ago.

You can download the app for free and monkey around with a couple of partial posters before you buy any full posters (for $0.99/£0.69 each). I decided to go ahead with just monkeying around before I bought, because you never know: Some apps that are grand ideas are not always executed in the best possible way.

Unfortunately, this was one of those apps.

Queue sad music. I was devastated. All I wanted was to colour in a freaking electronic version of a childhood memory. But the stupid thing… the colours kept  fading and bleeding into each other. I hated that when I used to colour with felts; I didn’t expect to have to hate it when colouring with pixels.

I was unhappy enough about it that I did two absolutely unheard of things for me: 1. I actually left a review on the App store and 2. I wrote an email to the company.  Because internet angry is the best kind of angry.

To my surprise, my email was answered by the CEO of  the company. He asked me if I would provide steps to reproduce the issue, which gave me nightmarish memories of the last project I worked on. But I wanted to help, so I agreed to help if I could. In going through the steps (over and over again) to reproduce the issue and write it up properly, I actually figured out what the issue was: Essentially they were having a problem with the “undo” function of the app.

To thank me for my help in pin-pointing the issue, Andrew (the CEO) sent me three posters – real life posters – to thank me for my time. How rad is that? I gave one to my moms (who also fondly remembers colouring these posters back in the day) and the other two I will take with me to Korea to colour in with the kiddos.

Three minus the poster I donated to my momma.

Three minus the poster I donated to my momma.

I think the most awesome thing though was that Andrew is obviously passionate about the product (and therefore the app) and was so responsive. He worked closely with me and then the development team to get an update to the App Store.

With the update, the app works great. I’ve now purchased the dolls poster (helllloooOOOoooOooo nostalgia!) and have already wasted a great deal of time colouring it in. Loads of joy there.

So if you are looking for something to do this long, cold winter and you have yourself an iPad, definitely check out the DoodleArt App. At least with the app you get all the fun of colouring in one of these intricate posters without the frustration of the yellow felt picking up every other freaking colour on the poster. Awesome.

There’s No Place Like Home

Over the past few months (read: since March) my blog has been pretty much a downer. I think it was important for me to share what was happening to me throughout the deportation process, and hopefully it was helpful not just for me to get the story out of my head, but also for others who may be looking for information. And although I won’t be writing about the UKBA and my experiences with them as much (I do still have to hear back from the appeal, but that’s a post for another day), I want to let people know that they are still welcome to get in touch if they are having their own difficulties with the Agency we all love to hate. I may not have the answers you need, but hopefully I can give *some* useful advice at this point. Or at least lend a sympathetic ear.

But on to what I wanted to write about today: Gratitude. Because I’m feeling super grateful these days. Let me ‘splain why.

When I was chucked out of the UK, I had an amazing group of supportive people there. People who opened up their homes when I had to give up my flat. People who took in my stuff when my stuff was too much stuff to stuff on a plane and take with me to Canada. People who offered to write letters, to stage protests, to host charity pubcrawls to raise the money to pay for the lawyer. People who gave all the hugs. People who raged at their own government long after I stopped being rage-y. People who shared my story. People who reached out with their own stories.

And now that I’m back in good ole Canada (even though it’s temporary) I’m grateful again for the people here. For those who were at the airport to greet me and then ate ice cream sandwiches with me. Those who roamed around Vancouver and chatted like it hasn’t been years since the last time I saw them. Those who found a place for me to sleep within a house of young’uns. Those who took me in and then drove me the long drive to my mother’s house.

Then there is my moms.

How grateful am I to her and Harv (who is my awesome stepdad)? I’ve been here for weeks now, boys and girls. Weeks. And last time I checked I was nearly 40 and they’ve had no problem letting me stay like it’s no big deal. And I’m so grateful to them both. For being on my side. For letting me stay without having to worry about my finances. For feeding me all the home-cooked meals I’ve been missing for years now. For providing a safe place where I don’t feel like I’m a burden.

All the grateful.

And you know what? Even though it totally sucks big hairy donkey balls that I didn’t get to stay in the UK, the most important thing isn’t where I am; the important things are the people that I love and the people who love and care about me. And you know what?  The UKBA can’t take that from me.

And for that, I’m grateful.

The Fun Never Really Ends with the UKBA

I’ve been owing you guys a final update on the situation with the UKBA and as I sit here tonight all deported and stuff in my mother’s kitchen in Canada, I thought it was about time to give you one.

1. The “Interview”

I spoke a couple of times with some very polite (and understanding – whoo boy… because was I upset with them) people at Beckett House over the phone in my last few weeks in London. They are the ones that deal with getting folks out of the country once they had agreed to go. They were the ones that got blasted when they told me that a) I *had* to go back to Canada and b) I wasn’t going to get my passport back until I was at the airport. It would have been nice to know that much, much earlier.

They asked me to come in for an “interview” with the UKBA in the days prior to my flight. They told me I’d be able to explain my story and that perhaps my case would be escalated for review by a senior case worker. That I should bring my papers. That I should be ready to explain what happened.

What a crock.

I went into their office, which felt a lot like going into a Job Centre. Dire. So very dire. My “interview” took place at one of the windows through a pane of glass. The guy asked me a couple of questions, one of which was how I had been supporting myself whilst in the UK. And a few others that were on my flipping application. Then he disappeared for a good 10 minutes.

When he returned, he gave me all my supporting documentation (like birth certificates, etc) except my passport. He gave me a letter to give to the ticket counter at the airport and said that they would give me my passport. The letter said I could be “detained at any time” and really didn’t make me feel very safe.

He also gave me a form to fill out to appeal the decision of “overstayer” which had to be sent in from out of the country. That’s what I filled in tonight. More on that below.

2. The Airport

First, if you are going through this: TAKE A COPY OF YOUR PASSPORT PICTURE PAGE TO THE AIRPORT WITH YOU. No one told me that. I just did as my passport is my only ID, so I always have that copy with me. Without it, I don’t think I would have received my boarding pass.

I also didn’t get my passport at that time. I had to go through security first, and then call immigration on a phone at the other side. Several times. Because first the person on extension 2019 told me to call extension 7026. There was no answer. So I called 2019 back. They asked my name. They asked me to hold. They asked me to call them back in 10 minutes. I feeling panicky at this point. I mean, after everything I’d been through with immigration, I didn’t really trust them to actually get my passport to the correct airport.

I called them back after 10 minutes. They put me through to another line that rang and rang and rang. So I hung up and called them back. They said that the “department” that had my passport wasn’t in until 9:00 (just about the same time as my flight!) but they would see what they could do. Then I was told to hang on, someone would be there in 15 minutes with my passport.

Once the immigration officer finally showed up with my passport, she actually escorted me through to the waiting area where all the food and stuff is. And boy oh boy… for someone who knew fuck all about my situation was she ever condescending. She already had her mind made up that my deportation was all my fault. I would have been a lot more argumentative with that bitch but I was still nervous about getting detained, as they said I may be in their vaguely threatening letter. So I kept my mouth shut and got on my plane.

3. The Appeal

I now have a final option where I can send a bunch of information (again) to the Tribunal to ask them to overturn the decision that I’m an Overstayer. I don’t even care about getting chucked out and a 12 month re-entry ban at this point: I have my year-long job to do in Korea now. HOWEVER… not having to claim on any future applications to the UK that I “overstayed” (with a lengthy explanation) would be nice. So I filled out their form.  In a last little bit of awesomeness though, the directions included with the form had a) the wrong website given for you to access for information,  b) spelling error on the form (it said “her” instead of “here”), and c) they had the sections that needed to be filled in for non-asylum appeals incorrectly labeled. Amazing.

Hopefully there are only two more things I will have to endure in what has been a stressful, long-running, agonising and ridiculous process: 1) waiting for the decision regarding my appeal from the Tribunal and 2) the re-application process 13 months from now if I choose to go back to the UK. 🙂

As always: If there is anyone out there that is reading this that is going through their own nightmare with the UKBA… you are not alone. Reach out to others online. There are some really great resources. Share your stories. Every situation is different and there may be someone out there that could benefit from knowing what you went through, just as you may benefit from reading someone else’s story. Get legal advice. I recommend Gary McIndoe of Latitude Law (www.latitudelaw.com) who gave me great advice and was so much help.

Thanks to everyone for reading this saga and your support throughout it. Hopefully as my new adventures kick off (more on that soon!) my blog will be much more entertaining and a hell of a lot less gloomy going forward.