Tag Archives: fear

Grab a Bike, Rent a Bike

The easiest way to get around Hanoi is by far on a motorcycle. Note I didn’t say “safest”, just “easiest”. I haven’t taken any pictures or videos of the traffic here, because there are a million pictures and videos online (seriously, just Google “Hanoi traffic”), but you can take my word on it: The traffic here is mental. Regardless, being on a bike is usually the easiest and quickest way to get from A to B.

For my first couple of weeks, if I was going somewhere, I was on the back of a Grab Bike. Grab, like Uber, is a taxi service made up of a lot of drivers. Anyone can apply to be a driver, and I’m not too sure what the hire criteria is. But there are a lot of drivers. I started using Grab instead of Uber (or Lyft) mostly on a whim, and whilst I was using a service like this, I was using Grab.

At the beginning, I was highly impressed and loved the service. I would use the app to say where I was and where I was going. The app would tell me the fare (no surprises, no haggling) and how long it would be until my driver was with me. Once I was dropped at the other end, I could pay in cash and rate the driver. Happy days! It seemed like a great service.

Until it wasn’t.

Too many times over the past week I have given myself an hour to get to a location just thirty minutes away and been nearly late. Not because of traffic, because of idiotic drivers. On more than one occasion I have had drivers (sometimes twice in a row) cancel on me after I had already waiting more than five to ten minutes for a driver supposedly only two minutes away. Worse, some of them refuse to cancel (there must be a penalty on them if they cancel too often), forcing me to cancel which bumps me down the priority list. GAH. One day this week their shenanigans meant I waited 40 minutes for a taxi to take me home… less than 15 minutes away. I was getting super frustrated and often sent rant-texts to Dan. Keep in mind that I was waiting either in the blistering heat (41c on day) or the pouring rain. Either way, not happy.

So, see you later (until I’m out drinking) Grab! I decided to speed up my plans to rent my own bike. Now this was an easy process.

Rent-A-Bike had come highly recommended to me, so I decided to check them out. I sent an inquiry telling them about me (especially my lack of experience on a bike!) and asking for recommendations. Thu got back to me in under an hour and had two bikes that she thought would work for me (a Honda Cub or a Yamaha Mio) and said I could pop by to try them out.

Two days later, I was in their shop. And just to underline that I was doing the right thing, the Grab driver that took me there 1) drove right past where I was standing to be picked up, and pissed around the block behind me for a good five minutes while I waited in the rain, 2) said he knew where he was going but stopped to ask directions five times – ignoring the map on his phone and mine, 3) stopped by the side of a random road and told me to get off the bike… to get his raincoat, 4) didn’t bother checking the address once we were close but rather just kept pointing at buildings until I finally had him stop in front of the right building, and 5) didn’t have any change, at all, and made me ask Thu for change. YARG.

Thu, Danny, and (I believe Chris?) were all in the shop when I arrived. At first, Danny said I should probably talk to one of the others, but when I said how much of a noob I was, he got up to help me. And help me he did!

We talked about which bikes would be best for me, dependent on my skill, usage, and budget. I was well-pleased that he kept my finances in mind because money is tight tight tight at the moment.

He thought it would be best if I started with the Yamaha Mio, an automatic bike that was in my budget. It isn’t really built to carry two people, but as I doubt Dan will be comfortable riding with me for awhile, I wasn’t too worried.

moto.JPG

My Mio!

Knowing that I was new, Danny (from the shop, not my husband – this might be confusing!) took me down to a quieter road. He talked me through all the controls. We went for a short drive while he explained how to drive. And then it was my turn.

I sat in front and him behind me. He had me start the bike but then he reached around me and took the handles. He got us moving and told me to take over. This was awesome, as I was most nervous about starting out. His way meant I could get a feel for the acceleration without spinning out from a dead stop. He was very calm and talked me through turning and how to deal with cars driving straight at me in my part of the street (that actually happened). I was feeling confident and comfortable after our lesson so we went back to the shop.

Danny then offered to have me try the Cub and any other bike I was considering, but I was honest and said I thought the Mio, being an automatic, was probably the best one for me. The Cub is a semi-automatic, but until I really get used to the traffic and riding in Hanoi, I think it is better if I have less to think about! Even though I declined trying the other bikes, I was told I was welcome to come back any time and give them a try, or to switch up the bike if I was so inclined.

We wrote up the paperwork, and although it made a mighty dint in my rapidly dwindling funds, I can’t say it wasn’t fair. To rent the bike is $55us a month, with one month’s deposit, if you rent for two or more months. So, two months plus a deposit. Additionally, Rent-a-Bike offers something that is nonexistent in Vietnam – insurance on the bike. For the cost of a month’s rent, I get a year’s coverage for loss, theft, and write-off. Instead of paying the cost to replace the entire bike (yikes), I only have to pay 30%. Hopefully I’ll never need it, but isn’t that what one always says about insurance?

Fees paid, I also purchased a phone holder (so I can get directions) which they installed. Thu went over the controls again and showed me how to lock the bike as well as where to fill the tank. I was given a printout about parking, police, and other exciting (read: scary) things about riding a bike in Vietnam as well as a rain poncho (having just bought one, I’m using their poncho as a spare/bike cover).

Overall, it was a great experience and I felt like they were really attentive. I also feel assured that should anything happen, they will be there for me whether I need information or assistance. If you are looking to rent in Vietnam, definitely check out Rent-a-Bike!

Raincoat on, borrowed helmet on, I walked the bike into position, hopped on, and rode home. Tonight I will be really riding out in it (my work tonight takes me into the very busy Old Quarter part of Hanoi) and I can’t say I’m not both nervous and excited. Adventure!

motocape.JPG

Next Stop: Vietnam

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a post in an airport. I think the first time was also the last time, when I was collecting my thoughts in the Vancouver International Airport when I first flew to Korea in 2005.

My situation back then was a lot different than it is now, but a lot of the feelings where the same. Then, I had never flown outside of North America and had never lived anywhere except in BC. I was also just freshly on my own from a long-term relationship and had thoughts that I would be back when my one-year contract was finished with new insight into what I really wanted to be doing and such with my life.

This time, I’ve traveled to nearly 30 different countries, have lived in 3 different countries on 3 different continents, and I’m a married woman moving ahead without my husband and cats, who will follow as soon as they can. And I definitely have no delusions about figuring out what I am doing with my life. I doubt I will ever figure that one out.

But there is a lot the same. I suppose it doesn’t matter which cliff you are standing on the edge of, the tightness in your chest and the butterflies in your stomach are still the same. I had some safety in place then (a job and housing on arrival, pre-arranged) and I have some safety now (mostly in the form of experience and my husband’s support). I had fears then and I have fears now. Everything changes, yet everything stays the same.

Overall, I’m excited and terrified. I don’t think I have all that much to be truly worried (pretty sure I’m going to survive) but at the same time, this is another huge risk. I’m just very hopeful that because the last jump worked so well, this one has a lot of potential for greatness, too.

Not My Day in Court

In another universe, yesterday would have been the day I’d be in court to fight the decision handed to me by the UKBA back in March. And with how often I get asked “So how are you doing with everything anyway” these days, I thought I’d give a quick update on how I’m feeling about things and stuffs now that the court day has come and gone.

I still feel like I made the right decision to not pursue the hearing. Although logically the “punishment” (deportation and a 12 month re-entry ban) seems to severely outweigh the “crime” (missed a tickmark) in this situation, I still believe that a judge would have been hesitant to set precedence in this case by overturning the decision of the UKBA. So had I been in court yesterday, I honestly believe today I would have been out a hefty lawyer’s fee and just getting the gears in motion to move on.

I do wish I had more information from the UKBA earlier (like back in December, when the first application was returned would have been nice). If they had sent me back everything in March I wouldn’t have ever filed for the hearing and could have gotten moving earlier. That would have meant avoiding spending the last six months as I have done: Waiting in limbo for my life to change.

I’m not happy about having to leave my friends behind. In the past six years living so far from home many in London have become like family to me. I’m grateful that keeping in touch is easier than ever, but a Skype call is not the same as a pint down at pub. I’m going to miss a lot of people an awful lot.

My career in the London tech scene, which was just progressing nicely from operations to project and product management, also gets put on hold. At best gets put on hold. With 12 months out of the country, it could very well be the end of that progression. A year is a long time in technology and if I want to return, I may have to start at the beginning again. And I’m starting to feel a bit too old for that nonsense.

And leaving London stinks. I love this silly old city so much and I feel like although I’ve been so fortunate to have explored so much of it, I’ve definitely not seen enough. I could live a thousand years I think and not see enough of it.

But on to happier thoughts. There are some positives on the other side of all this bureaucratic governmental idiocy.

I am very excited about teaching again. I really enjoyed my time as a teacher before and looking forward to working with the kids again. I’ve actually had a student from when I was there previously get in touch and it’s made me realise how much I missed working with the little monsters.

I’m happy to be heading back to Asia. South Korea is an amazing country and I highly recommend checking it out. Of course, from there it is also easy and affordable to visit other countries in Southeast Asia… something else I’m really looking forward to. With any luck, this Christmas you’ll find me on a Malaysian island beach instead of sitting about in my pants in a cold London flat, eating leftover pizza and playing Civilisation.

So how am I feeling?  

I’m alright. I have a lot to do in the next few weeks – like move out of my flat this week, hassle the UKBA for my passport (oh yah, those dirty birds still have it), find a teaching job in Korea and finish my Korean paperwork for my Korean visa. And do all that without a job or a home.

It’s a scary time. But it is also an exciting time. At least you shouldn’t hear me complain about being bored for the next few weeks.

For the want of a checkmark, a kingdom was lost

Or Queendom, as the case may be.

And speaking of cases… I’ve made a very difficult decision to withdrawal my appeal to the first level tribunal and leave the UK. I’m not entirely sure what the timing will be, but it is looking like I will be leaving sometime in late September.

So what happened?

The first thing that you need to keep in mind is that I am entirely and unquestionably eligible for the Ancestry UK Visa I had applied for. The only criteria are really that you were born in a Commonwealth country (feel the wrath of Canada!) and had a parent or grandparent born in the UK (thank you, Scotland-born Grandma S.).

My visa application was not rejected because of an issue with my eligibility or even my supporting documentation (it was all there). No, my visa was rejected because of issues with the UKBA taking payment.

But surely this is still be worth taking to court? Well… not really. The mistakes are technically mine. Technically. I think that’s what makes this so incredibly painful. Yes, I made a mistake on the payment page of my application (twice). But was it so massive that I deserve to be deported and made to stay out of the UK for a year?

Here’s the error:

payment_page

Do you spot it? Maybe you are much smarter and eagled-eyed than I am (although I’m a pretty meticulous and thorough person). I’ve shown this page to several people… I usually have to point out what exactly had been missed. If you found it, you are awesome and deserve to stay in the UK (haha). If you missed it, go back and look at number five. If you are STILL missing it, let me know and I’ll send you a picture with a red circle around it.

The issue is that I didn’t tick the box with “£561” in it to indicate how much money they should charge me. I somehow missed this box on two applications in a row. Maybe it’s because of how not-obvious it is? Or is that just me? Should there be a tick-box for the box?

But wait! There’s more!

It is also extremely frustrating that because payment is handled by a separate company  subcontracted by the UKBA, that company cannot a) contact me for payment clarification or b) turn the fucking page and look at my application to see what sort of application I was making.

They cannot contact me because they are not “contracted or qualified” to contact applicants (that’s direct from the UKBA by the way; personally I like the idea that they have a company full of people not qualified to pick up a phone and interact with human beings that are processing visa payments).

They cannot look at my application because of “data protection laws”… yet the payment process company also looks at every piece of my supporting documentation (including my passport, birth certificate and bank statements) so I’m not sure how that works.

So that was my first two applications. Returned to me as “invalid” because they were “not accompanied by payment”.

So yup. My fault because I didn’t tick a box. But I cannot help but think that if the agency wasn’t so broken, their procedures so poor, that my application wouldn’t have been sent back invalid because of this. This could have been avoided if they allowed for online payments or hired people “qualified” to contact applicants for alternative forms of payment.

But there is still more – my third application was sent back to me as well for not having a payment with it. As with the previous two, I had no idea from their letters what had happened. The way they word the letter, it makes it sound like you were missing the payment page (which I so hadn’t). But since the hearing stuff kicked off, they finally provided more information about what happened with the third application.

They tried to take payment for my third application on 31 December 2012. Honestly, who tries to take payment in the late afternoon on New Years Eve? Unfortunately, on that day there was a hold on my card because I had missed my payment at the beginning of December. This might be my favourite bit of this entire circus, because that one is legitimately my fault. But I can’t help but feel burned by the UKBA in this situation as well anyway – a) I had switched from my debit to credit card because I thought perhaps the previous two payment issues had been with my debit card  and b) I missed paying that bill most likely because I had been fucking around with UKBA visa applications at the beginning of the month when the bill was due, and c) had they been able to process my first application (or second!) the third would have not been an issues. But alas!

So why am I dropping the hearing? Surely a human being looking at this situation would see that I’ve been kinda dicked around by the broken processes of the UKBA. I’m completely eligible for my visa, not a criminal, and have been contributing my bit to the UK for nearly six years now (taxes, working the tech scene, general awesomeness, etc). Had I gone in to their offices the first time (it would just take a day off work and an extra £300 or whatever), this never would have happened. Surely the judge would see that this proves it was them and not me?

I think there is the potential to get one of two kinds of judge: Either a human who sees how ludicrous this situation is, and that the punishment grossly outweighs the mistake that was made; or another government automaton who will not look past the technicality of the mistake.

So a 50/50 chance(ish). Are those odds high enough to warrant how much the lawyer would cost and the continued life-on-hold situation?

There is a further complication. Even if I was lucky enough to get a Good Guy Judge, and he (or she, but most likely he) wanted to be humane and  reasonable about what has happened… he will have to keep it in mind that how he rules in my case will set precedence for later hearings where perhaps the appellant isn’t trying to play by the rules as I am. Which would drastically reduce my chances from 50% down to too-low. And I certainly cannot afford to take my case to the Upper Tribunal. It was always going to be “win at the Lower Tribunal or go home”.

I don’t think my chances of winning the case are good enough to push forward. Although it means giving up so much (my life is here in London now), it also means giving up a handful of things I haven’t wanted… like paying a lawyer’s fee. And coming home every day and feeling sick if there is mail. And not being able to make  plans past 10 September. And feeling like a criminal even though I did nothing wrong. And not being able to just get on with living a normal life. And this constant, underlying and undefined fear that I don’t even want to talk about because it sounds SO DRAMATIC even to me. All of that. I’m happy to give up all those things.

So this is how my UKBA story ends. I suppose it shouldn’t be a happy ending if the bad guys win. But I plan on making the most of it and getting on with getting on. Further updates on next steps for another post. But here’s a teaser: It involves heading back to Asia. Where getting a visa isn’t such a freaking circus.

Holy macaroni this was a long post. Thank you so much for reading. What got me through this horrible year of UKBA rottenness has been the support of everyone. My family and friends, obviously… but also all the other people out there in the big, bad world that had great advice, kind words of encouragement and their own stories to share. The UKBA makes you feel like you are alone. You wonderful lot proved that this is not true. Thank you.

How do you fight the UKBA when they’re wrong?

After my plea yesterday on Facebook for any advice or help regarding the recent devastating UKBA (UK Border Agency) decision to remove me from the UK based on what I see as a technicality, many people have requested more thorough details regarding my situation so they can offer further suggestions and pass along the details to others who may be able to help.

After posting these details online, I am going to respond to the UKBA “case worker” who sent the rejection letter (as I was advised by the UKBA) with these details and copies of everything I have. Unfortunately, because this should have been a simple case, I did not take thorough copies of everything. I am hoping against hope that what I do have will be enough.

I am also going to reach out to my MP (Rushanara Ali), the local Citizens Advice Bureau and the local Law Centre. Additionally, I’m going to try reaching out to Ben Hammersley to see if he is able to help – a long shot but one I have been urged to take. What I will not be able to do is hire a lawyer; sadly that is beyond my means. Any other suggestions or advice would be wonderful; this really feels like being the littlest guy having to take on the biggest, scariest guy in the room in a fight.

Thanks, everyone. For reading, for the support, for the help. You’ve been amazing and I will keep you informed on how things are going.

TL;DR version: I applied for the renewal before the expiration of a UK visa I am still absolutely eligible for, but due to UKBA not being able to process payment – I believe their errors, not mine – I have had to send in a total of four applications. The first three were ignored by the most recent case worker, and they are rejecting my renewal because the most recent application was submitted more than 28 days after the expiry of my visa. I’m being told to leave the UK with “no right to appeal”.

My application to stay in the UK, a process which began on 30 October 2012, has been rejected as invalid because I am being considered an “overstayer” and in violation of 189(iii) of UK Immigration Law. The letter outlining the reasons for the refusal clearly shows that the case worker completely disregarded any of the circumstances leading up to the most current application, as outlined in this reasoning in the letter:

“Your leave to remain expired on 1 November 2012. A valid application was received on the 1 February 2013, therefore your leave had expired for a period greater than 28 days and therefore your application falls for refusal under Paragraph 191 with reference to 189(iii) of the Immigration Rules as you did not have leave to remain at the time of your application.”

Here is the background story.

I arrived in the UK in November 2007 with a valid UK Ancestry Visa and have continuously resided in London since that time. For those who are not aware, there are essentially two criteria that need to be met (other than the obvious ones that you would expect) to be eligible for an Ancestry visa: You have to be a national of a Commonwealth country and you have to have a grandparent born in the UK. I am a Canadian with a paternal grandmother born in Scotland. As neither of those circumstances had changed, I expected the renewal process to be simple. I was wrong.

That visa was due to expire on 01 November 2012. Having been warned countless times that the UKBA punishes people for applying early, I waited until just before the expiration to submit my application by registered post on 30 October 2012. I received a letter dated 01 November 2012 confirming the receipt of my application. There is no doubt that it was submitted well within the 28 day window the UKBA affords applicants.

In December 2012 I received a package containing all my documentation and my application with a letter dated 18 December 2012 stating that my application was invalid as I had “not made any payment and have not completed the payment page of the application form”. It then stated that I should ensure “the payment page is completed before returning” the application. (emphasis mine)

I am absolutely certain that the payment page had been filled in both completely and correctly. Anyone who has been through a similar process will understand how meticulous you are to ensure there will be no issues whatsoever with such an important piece of paperwork. However, I did not take a copy of my completed application at the time before submitting it and the payment page was never returned to me so I am unable to prove beyond any doubt that this was indeed the situation.

I returned my application with a new payment page included on or around 20 December 2012 with a covering letter explaining why I was returning my application. Yes, this was beyond the 28 day window, but a) they had not notified me until beyond the 28 day period and b) because of the wording on the letter (to wit “returning your application”) I was lead to believe that I was still within the rights of my original visa as the application was still in progress.

I received notification on 31 December 2012 that my application had been received by UKBA. In a letter dated 12 January 2013, which was included with the return of all my documentation once again, I was informed that “the fee transaction accompanied with the application has been declined”. No such transaction is recorded against my bank account and no proof of such an attempt exists. Again, the payment page was not returned with my documentation.

I submitted my application – this time an entirely fresh copy as the form had changed since the previous resubmission – yet again which was received on 21 January 2013, confirmed in a letter of receipt dated 22 January 2013. This application was returned with a letter dated 29 January 2013, stating once again that I had “not made any payment and have not completed the payment page of the application form”. As with the first return letter, this also stated that I should ensure “the payment page is completed before returning” the application. (emphasis again mine)

So I returned the application yet again, which was received on 01 February 2013, as confirmed in a letter dated 02 February 2013.  This time when I submitted the application, I took photos of myself including the payment page (I was getting very paranoid by this time) and included yet another cover letter referencing all the case and reference numbers I had been given as well as a full outline of the situation to date. On 18 February 2013 I sent a complaint email to ukbacustomercomplaints@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk outlining the issues and poor service I had experienced. Other than the automated response stating that I would have a reply from them “within 20 working days”, I still have heard nothing from that department.

You can imagine my relief when I saw that £561 had been charged to my MasterCard by “The Home Office UK” on 07 February 2013. As payment had been the only obstacle in obtaining my visa renewal, I expected I was finally reaching the end of this ordeal. When I received a letter dated 05 March 2013 instructing me to have my biometrics taken, I was certain that the next correspondence from the UKBA would be my passport with my renewed visa.

Instead, on 22 March 2013 I received a letter dated 15 March 2013 which outlined why I was refused leave to remain, the reason stated referred to Paragraph 191 with reference to 189(iii) of HC 395 (as amended) which reads, “189.(iii) he is not in the UK in breach of immigration laws except that any period of overstaying for a period of 28 days or less will be disregarded.”  In brief, because my first three applications had not been considered one continuous process dragged on because of internal payment issues, the letter stated that I had now “overstayed”, a violation of the UK Immigration Law.

But have I “overstayed”?

Paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules defines “Overstayed” and “Overstaying”. It reads:

6. In these Rules the following interpretations apply:

“Overstayed” or “Overstaying” means the applicant has stayed in the UK beyond the latest of:

(i) the time limit attached to the last period of leave granted, or
(ii) beyond the period that his leave was extended under sections 3C or 3D of the Immigration Act 1971, or
(iii) the date that an applicant receives the notice of invalidity declaring that an application for leave to remain is not a valid application, provided the application was submitted before the time limit attached to the last period of leave expired.

Emphasis is mine to illustrate that the 28 days in this situation should be calculated from the date of the notice of invalidity; in my case the three notices of invalidity. In each case, I responded as requested immediately and with all the details requested. At no point have I had an application submitted for processing beyond 28 days from the receipt of most recent notice of invalidity, and my original application was submitted before the visa expired. Further, paragraph 6 does not state that should there be multiple re-applications and notices of invalidity that the date considered as the start of the 28 day period will be reverted to the expiry of the visa.

Additionally, it should be clear that there are exceptional circumstances surrounding my application process. That there were issues with the payment process three times before I sent a covering letter stating that I had flagged the payment page and took pictures of its submission on the fourth application suggests that there are internal processing errors. That the “incomplete” payment page was never returned for review also suggests that the UKBA may have marked the page as “incomplete” in error. Especially telling is the return of the second application for a declined payment of which there is no record; a story that you can find told again and again online. My research has uncovered that legal advisors are telling applicants to send in cheques or bank orders, despite the larger costs, because of the high volume of applications returned due to UKBA payment retrieval errors.

I feel I am a victim of a broken process. To illustrate, I have received three barcode numbers, four case IDs and six reference numbers. Despite being told to “return” applications, each reapplication was treated by the UKBA as though we were starting again. It is clear that not one person referenced early barcode numbers, case IDs or reference numbers, even though I had included these each and every time I had corresponded with the UKBA.

That twice my application, containing my passport, birth certificate, banking information and other personal details was pushed through a shared letterbox into an unsecured hallway is also indicative that the UK immigration process is not functioning to a standard that one should be able to expect from the Home Office.

And finally, the lack of clarity around the visa renewal process and the extreme difficulty in trying to reach anyone within the UKBA also hinders the process; and I am an educated, native English speaker. I can only imagine the difficulty others must face in trying to effectively navigate their way through this jargon-ladened and frightening process. There is no help to be had directly from the UKBA; I never received a “case worker” name until my application had been already been rejected each time and even then there was no direct contact details offered. My email to the complaints department has gone unanswered.

I understand why there is a need to maintain a firm yet fair immigration system to deter and prohibit those who would try to enter and remain in the United Kingdom under false pretences or without entry clearance. However, there is no question in my case that I came to this country entire legally and with entry clearance. I have been in the UK for more than five years and at this point the only reason why my continued presence here is being deemed ‘not lawful’ is the fact that the UKBA was incapable of processing payment. It is one thing to have a firm immigration system, it is another thing entirely to have an immigration policy that is utterly inflexible and does not take into the slightest consideration the particular circumstances of the individual situation.

What has happened here is sadly a classic example of a thoroughly unreasonable, disproportionate, and inflexible application of policy without the slightest regard for the facts burdened by a system which encourages a lack of any common sense or humanity. We have case workers “just doing their jobs”; forced into making decisions which have immeasurable impact on people’s lives without being allowed the space for compassion or intelligence to fully consider the circumstances; driven instead by the policy makers, managers and others who expect them to reach and/or maintain specific numbers.

I believe I am due to be given a discretion based on the circumstances of my application, and that this decision be reviewed and a discretion granted on the basis that it will be exercised with a modicum of intelligence, common sense and humanity. We must ask what possible reason there could have been for not already exercising discretion in my favour by the case worker who reviewed my file.  Certainly it is apparent from the letter of 15 March 2013 that no consideration whatsoever was given to the impact of forcing me to leave a country in which I have made my home for more than five years now.

Because my application was simply not logically regarded as one continuous process and because the UKBA returns applications as invalid instead of more reasonably requesting the submission of just the allegedly “incomplete” payment details, I am the one now looking to pay the ultimate price if this cannot be rectified: I am being asked to forfeit my life in the UK.

I’m obviously scarred emotionally

I had an entirely frightful moment today.

It was like  looking back in a moving car and seeing that scary Terminator guy (not Arnie, the creepy one) hanging off the trunk with his scary hook hands.

I very nearly had to interact with one of the denizens of Aurghville.

I KNOW, RIGHT? I actually shuddered and had to take evasive action.

All I was doing was heading out to grab some lunch (not to take a lunch break, but to grab food and eat it at my desk while I stare vacantly at my monitor wishing away my to-do list) when all this happened.  I saw the denizen and nearly panicked – there was a moment where I stood there frozen wondering if he would notice me. Rather than walk by with my head turned and risk it, I actually turned into a restaurant and ducked out the back door.

50 bajillion freaking people in London. I can’t believe I nearly had to relive even a moment of that nightmare with a face-to-face discussion.

Yikes.

>Significant Nightmares

>I’m not going to go into details because I can’t imagine that what I dreamed early Sunday morning would be frightening to anyone except me.

I’m only mentioning it because it was disturbing enough that I felt nervous about going to bed last night and woke up this morning still thinking about the dream from Sunday.

It’s been a long time since my own brain has turned on me like that.