Posted on Leave a comment

Why I was Fired in Two Days

So I was suppose to start my job the second week of September. And I did. For two days.

On my second day, my mobile rang. I was home, as I work 10 – 2 five days a week. And it was around 330 when my phone rang with the name of my company on the display.

I admit, I panicked. Why were they calling so long after the end of my day and on my mobile? It’s my private mobile, so the only people who have it are HR, recruitment, my bosses etc. So I answered it.

It was the Head of HR. And a solicitor. It seemed that I was wrong about it being okay that my Indefinitely Leave To Remain (IDLR) visa was in an expired passport. Well, half wrong. It was fine to travel on it that way. It no longer gave me the right to work. It had to be moved to a Biometric Residency Permit (BRP) and until that happened? I was fired.

I had an email from my boss mere minutes after that phone call ended telling me she would keep my job open. She wanted me for it and no one else. So get it sorted and come back to work as soon as possible.

I, of course, spent a few minutes crying and kicking myself. I used to check the IDLR rules regularly! Why had I stopped? When had I stopped?

No clue.

Simon and I had a small amount of money set aside for something else but agreed using it for this was bettter. So I started to get organised to get my visa moved and looked into doing an ‘emergency’ application.

Remember how this was the second week in September? The first ‘emergency’ appointment available at any Home Office Visa office was 29th October. In fucking Liverpool.

I thought for sure that had to be an error. Surely there was some sort of problem with their online system!

So I rang.

Nope. No problem. That really was the first available appointment.

So Simon and I talked about it and I did some more research, which was telling me that people were getting their moved visas in just weeks. Not the six months the Home Office claims it can take.

So I got my stuff together and sent it in. That was around the 3rd week of September.

And I waited.

And then I panicked again. The rules about IDLRs had changed in 2012. I had been working for myself this whole time. Had I been breaking the law?!?!

So I found an immigration lawyer and gave them a ring.

I had not. In fact, by law, I didn’t actually have to wait to go back to work until the IDLR was moved. Having the IDLR, no matter what document it was in, gave me the legal right to work in the UK. But the lawyer wasn’t surprised my company didn’t want to take the chance, considering the fines start at £10,000.

So I kept waiting. And I got a text saying they had the information. And then another text saying it had been given to a case worker to review and I’d be contacted if they needed any other information.

What? Why did it need to be approved again?!?!

Because it was still in my name of origin. And to change it to my chosen name, I had to prove I had lived in the UK for the whole 15 years that I claimed.

Well, fuck.

So then I waited some more.

And then I got an email. Did I have any proof that I had lived in the UK from 2009 until 2017?

And I replied, um, I sent you all of the passports I have.

And she replied, no. You didn’t. There’s a gap.

And I hit my head on my desk and remembered that I had gotten a new US passport around the time Adam was born so our passport surnames would match. That’s a US government requirement, by the way. Not sure what they do about parents who have a different last name from their kids, as happens in this world, but for me it was easy fix nine years ago when we registered Adam’s birth with the US consulate and got his US passport and social security number.

So I replied again, I can overnight you my passport or can I just email you my tax returns for that time period?

And she replied that tax returns would be great and that I should have an answer in a few days.

And a few days later I did indeed have an answer. And my BRP arrived a few days later.

Biometric Residency Permit
Ta da!

And I went back to work 3rd December.

So all in all? Not paying the urgent price (plus flight and hotel) meant I only waited about a week past how long it would have taken had I paid and gone to Liverpool.

And my theory as to why there are no emergency appointments for weeks?

Brexit.

Which doesn’t even affect me personally in terms of immigration as I’m not an EU national. Of course it affects me personally in all the ways it will affect all of us in the UK. But not for immigration.

So I’m now legal again, until my BRP expires in five years. But I won’t be fired this time. There’s a grace period to get it sorted once you have one and need another one.

And I have a permanent reminder in my diary to check the IDLR rules every six months.

Just in case…

Posted on Leave a comment

The Menopause

Drawing of me with fire in the background

So, as I think I’ve mentioned before, I turned 50 last week.

And like a switch being flipped my occasional bout of feeling slightly warm has turned into hot flashes so hot I swear I’m on fire. So far my sleeping meds have prevented these horrible things waking me up, but I am expecting to have that happen any day.

So I went to my GP’s office and chatted to one of my favourite GP’s, Dr Mc, about what I could do, since I can’t take hormones, as they give me migraines. And he actually suggested natural remedies. He admitted that he had no idea if they actually worked or if it was all placebo effect, but we agreed even if it’s just placebo effect, anything is better than feeling like you’re on fire!

So one night this week after work I am going to go to Harland and Barrett and see what they have for “Menopause Vitamins.”

I promise to report back.

Unless I spontaneously combust before then…

Posted on Leave a comment

Why I Really Missed PIP by One Point.

As I mentioned previously, I applied for Personal Independant Payment in 2017 and took it all the way to appeal.

And I lost. By one point. I am one point not quite ill enough to receive the  money the government claims I’m entitled to. 

Except I’m not entitled to it. Not any more.

And everyone keeps telling met to reapply. That finding that one point, by starting from the beginning, shouldn’t be too hard.

But, for right now, the government has won. I don’t have the energy to start all over again.

And that’s what they are counting on, really. That they’ll wear down those of us who, according to them, are ‘fine’, so we’ll give up. Go back to work and not try again.

So I am, currently back at work, part time. 

And I’m exhausted and in pain. Like always.

But I’ve also been thinking about why I actually didn’t win my appeal. 

Because I don’t think it’s because I didn’t have enough evidence as to why I get anxious when I go some place new (the point I was trying very hard to get).

I think it’s actually because the appeal committee, who I met in person, saw the Robyn who covers her pain. And her exhaustion. 

Because that’s what a lot of us with invisible illnesses do. We cover. We put forth a facade of being normal. Of not hurting. Of being fine.

It’s not that we’re faking sick. We’re faking well.

And it can be hard to turn that off. To show how we really feel. 

How every step hurts. How our words get jumbled. How tired we actually are.

I am so used to letting no one, not even my family, see how bad I really feel, that it’s hard to drop the act and let it show. 

And why do I keep up the act? Because I have to. No matter how I feel, I have to get up and get Adam ready for school, and now me ready for work. I have to make lunches and help him with his uniform (Yes, even at his age. He’s still autistic, after all, and still has issues with fine motor control.) and wait for his bus with him.

Sure, Simon helps as much as he can. But he leaves the house over an hour before we do, to make it out to his campus for his first class. That might ease up a bit if Ulster ever actually moves to Belfast. (Perhaps a post for another day…)

So, as it always has, it falls on me. Except now, after Adam is on his bus, I’m on mine, off to work.

And I love my job. I really do. It’s the Administrative job I’ve always wanted in terms of autonomy, power, and the back up to use it. 

But it takes it’s toll. Even if I do not have a physical day at work, I still end the day exhausted. And some days have to be physical as there is a lot of cleaning up and organising my poorly neglected office needs.

So I spread that work out and make sure I have whole days of just sitting at my desk doing other things.

But even on those days I do 5,000 steps without even trying. Just from walking around the office.

It will become somewhat easier in a few months when we buy a car, because I won’t need to do any of the walking I do now to get to work. It’s not much, but what it is takes some of my energy. Not that driving isn’t tiring, but I don’t find it tiring in the same way.

But what I really want is to not have to wear the facade, ever. 

But I have to. 

Because my kind of illness? The invisible kind? Is still not believed by a whole lotta people. 

So if I grimace in pain, or don’t laugh off my word confusions or give in to the exhaustion as often as I truly want to, then people would think I was faking. Pretending to be ill.

When, really, I’m pretending to be well.

Posted on Leave a comment

Half A Century

In less than a week, on 5th February, I will be half a century old.

The big Five Oh.

50.

And I’m really good with that.

I wasn’t good with it for a long time. It seemed so very old. Half a century. Firmly middle aged.

And then I was. I’m not really sure what I did or said to myself to get to the point where I’m actually looking forward to the nice round number that is 50.

And I’m celebrating. Hard.

Out for dinner with Simon and Adam this Saturday.

Bryan Adams in concert at the end of February with some friends.

A trip to Glasgow in April with three of my closest women friends.

And a tattoo on my left shoulder.

a hand holding a fountain pen drawing in yarn a semi colon
copyright 2019 DTAT

The quality of the image needs to be improved, but overall that’s what it will look like. A hand holding a fountain pen writing a semi colon in yarn.

It’s taken me about 50 years to decide on what my tattoo should be and I’m very pleased with it. Can’t wait to get it inked on.

It’s a big year in general around here.

I’m 50.

Simon is 45.

Adam is 10.

Simon and I are married 15 years.

Surely it should be a great year with all those zeros and fives!

It’s certainly starting well.

Posted on Leave a comment

Commitment.

I was reading a really really good fan fiction series recently. It was Rafael Barba/Sonny Carisi from Law & Order Special Victims Unit. I can link to it if there’s any interest. It’s on AO3.

Anyway, along with being really well written, it had a fantastic timeline. It started with Sonny and Rafi as friends. The first story ends with them dating and admitting how they feel about it each other.

And then it jumps ahead. A year. Eighteen months. Three years. Five and a half years.

And I realised how realistic that is. I mean, sure, some of the inbetween stuff might have been nice to see. Their day to day lives together. Cases worked together and the like.

But the truth is, day to day life isn’t all that interesting. Even if you’re a cop and an ADA.

In real life you don’t ponder every day. You just live it. You meet your mate, live together, maybe marry and start a family. And you don’t really think about the years going by.

Simon and I have been married for 15 years this coming September. Together for 18 years at the end of the year.

And I certainly can’t remember every day. I remember big things. Our first real life meeting. When he asked me to marry him. Our wedding. The day we found out I was pregnant. Our son’s birth. Buying our house.

And some little things. Like the time my sister in law thrust my baby niece into his arms so she could pee and I found him there sort of staring at the baby in his arms, totally perplexed.

Or the time my sister did the same thing with my baby nephew and when she took him back, Simon had left red marks on his legs, he was holding on so tight.

But otherwise, years go by with nothing of note. We do things, of course, but every day things. We go to work and take care of our son and do things around the house and visit people and watch TV. Play games.

And, always, at the base of it is the fact that today is like tomorrow and the next day because we will be together until death do us part.

Maybe it’s taking each other for granted.

But that’s not always a bad thing.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Okay, So, Discretion is Indeed the Better Part of Valor…

And Simon and I have agreed to not name and shame our plumbers on the internet until we see our legal position.

So, if you live in Northern Ireland and want to know who they are? Private message me on FB or Twitter or wherever you know me from and I’ll tell you who to stay away from.

And stay tuned to hear about other stuff.

Maybe.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

I Am About to Name and Shame Our Plumbers

Who we’ve just fired, but I thought I’d name and praise our gardeners, first!

When we moved into our rental house 5.5 years ago now, it was October and the lawn was dormant.

And then it was spring and it started to grow. And we hauled out the mower and Simon tried to mow. He was not successful.

So we ignored it.

Then my mom and step-dad came to visit and step-dad insisted on giving it a go.

So he did.

Then he left.

And we ignored it.

And then the house next door started having Moulds Gardening Services do their lawn, very surprising as the man who lived there seemed to love doing his own lawn, but whatever!

So I walked over to the guy doing the mowing and asked if he’d have a look and give me a quote to do ours.

I don’t remember what the exact figure was at this point, as it was a bit more in order to tame the wildness of our lawn, but after that first mow, it was £15 every two weeks.

And William and his then very small team (him and another man) started regularly mowing our lawn. I barely saw them, an invoice hitting the matt every two weeks, unless I was home and paying attention, and then I’d pop out with a cheque and for a chat.

Then the weeds went mad and the hedges needing trimming and there was William happily working away, neatly, cleanly and with reasonable prices.

And then we moved to our house that we own. And it was time to start actually caring about the lawn, since it was ours. And William has been right there with us the whole way.

At this point, William has expanded. He has at least two branded trucks and I saw him driving a plain one just today so a third one may be in the works. He has several crews working for him.

And he and his gang of merry men are amazing. They show up when they say they will. They trim and mow and pull weeds and do plantings and are just spectacular.

Our weeds were out of control again and so I sent William an email asking him to sort it. He said he’d be here this past Friday.

And then before the end of the day Friday he sent me an email apologising for not getting to us but we would be done first thing Monday.

 

Our weeded back garden.

How first thing?

One of his men was working on our weeds when Adam and I left for the school bus at 845 this morning.

That’s how to run a business.

Stay tuned for how not to run a business…

Posted on Leave a comment

Health At Every Size (HAES), Size Acceptance (SA) and Me

About a year ago I stumbled upon the idea of Health At Every Size (HAES). And I loved what it said.

It says that no matter what size I am, I can still be healthy. It says I have the right to move my fat body in any way I choose without censor or ridicule.

And it says that fat does not immediately mean out of shape and that thin does not immediately mean healthy.

In fact, I remember a man in my first ‘Oh fuck you have Type II diabetes, now what?’* class who was thin as a rail. And still had Type II.

You know why? Because a Type II diabetic is one whose body does not use insulin properly. Yes, that can mean because they are too big for their insulin supply, or could just mean their body produces too little. But they produce some.**

Anyway, HAES gave me the courage to say ‘fuck it to dieting.’ I have never really been a “dieter” anyway, but I certainly tried Weight Watchers or other weigh what you eat plans. And have never kept the weight off for more than a year.

Of course, I didn’t just see HAES and give up watching what I eat. I also read the actual studies about the harm yo-yo dieting does to the human body and also how none of the weight loss “experts” or programmes, such as Weight Watchers, will even publish studies past about 5 years of success.

One of the blogs I follow, Dances With Fat, says this about weight loss past five years:

 “The vast majority of people who attempt long term weight loss gain their weight back, and a majority of those gain back more than they lost.  When most people trying an intervention have the exact opposite effect, ethically we have to stop recommending it, at least until we figure out why and have research that shows a higher degree of success.”

HAES has actually even permeated Type II Diabetes guidelines. When I was diagnosed about 10 years ago, I was told my HBA1C*** had to be under 7 in order for me to be in control. Just last year that number went up. To 7.5. And just two weeks ago, at my 6 monthly appointment, I was told it needed to be about 7.6**** or under.

diabetes.co.uk 50 Shades of Diabetes chart
diabetes.co.uk 50 Shades of Diabetes chart

This was because a lot of studies showed there was a nominal difference in health and secondary pathic issues between 7.5 and 7 but a huge difference in the quality of life for diabetics. In other words, people were working so hard to achieve 7 or lower, they were miserable.

And my last A1C (not counting two weeks ago, that one isn’t back yet)? 7.4.

And then there’s SA. SA is exactly what it says it is. Accepting that people are fat or thin just as they are tall or short, brunet or blonde. My weight is none of your business and your weight is none of mine. You can’t tell how healthy someone is by their size. And it’s really none of your business how healthy I am or am not.

So what does this mean practically for me? It means I still eat fairly well most of the time (I’m a huge lover of vegetables and always have been) and when I don’t? I don’t worry about it.

But I am also exercising more. Because my goal isn’t weight loss, but to just enjoy the exercise, I am more willing to do it and I do it more often. There is no goal, actually, beyond trying to move (I usually walk) about 4 days a week, if not more.

So give it a try. Try eating what you want, when you want, as much as you want and accepting that some people are just fatter than other people. I mean, I will never be 6′ tall. And now I accept that I will never be 140 pounds either.

*Probably not the actual name of the class.

** For the record, a Type I or Juvenile diabetic produce no insulin at all. That’s the difference between the two. Also, everything I say here having to do with diabetes is about me and Type II.

***HbA1c refers to glycated haemoglobin (A1c), which identifies average plasma glucose concentration, usually over 8-12 weeks.

****The United Kingdom no longer uses DCCT numbers for A1C but IFCC numbers instead, which are two digits and start at 35. But just as kilometres have no meaning to me, IFCC numbers mean nothing. So I always convert to DCCT, which I understand!

Posted on Leave a comment

So…What’s The Craic?

First of all, the sharp-eyed among you will realise that the URL of the site has changed. My former web host, aka my brother, decided to shut down his server and so we’ve migrated to a new host (NameCheap, if anyone cares) and given me a new URL. Which is actually my same URL that I’ve used for the company website since I started it seven years ago. Six years ago? Some amount of years ago.

But don’t worry about changing your bookmarks or that you’ll miss something because Leyser.org/TeeBlog will get you directly to designedtoatee.co.uk/TeeBlog. That’s the front page of the entire site now. It’s a nice picture of me, yeah?

Of course, if you don’t care about looking at my working or buying things from one of my shops (And why not? Huh?) you can add a new bookmark. To get directly here, to the blog, you need to use http://www.designedtoatee.co.uk/TeeBlog/Blog.

Or you can come through the front door. That’s okay. 😀

Let’s see, what else…

We’ve purchased and moved into our new house. OUR new house. As in, we own it. Weeeeelll, us and the bank, at least. But we can do whatever we want to it. And we are. And we will. And it is awesome in be here. I’ll be posting some before and after pictures at some point. Major changes coming, actually, starting with a complete bathroom refit.

My mental health is good. My diabetes seems to be under control. My fibro/early degenerative disease/arthritis kicks my ass and steals my spoons on a regular basis.

But I’m knitting. And crocheting. And doing tapestry. And sewing. And being a mum and a wife. And I have just bought a drop spindle and some wool and a book and I am going to learn how to spin.

I wonder if Simon will notice if I put a new shed up in the garden to hold a spinning wheel and a shuttle loom…

Or maybe convert the attic? Image source: http://www.jofirthlacemaking.co.uk/textiles_of_ireland.html

 

Posted on 1 Comment

Good Bye 2016!

Well, that was a year, yeah? Good, bad, and ugly, all together.

Personally, it was a good year. I met my two main goals (more on that in a minute), Adam is thriving and only 10 inches shorter than me (eep!), Simon is working hard and enjoying it and I just keep keeping on.

My two goals were buying a house and earning my Driver’s License. Check and check.

The license took longer than expected, but I did it! In my case 6th (I think it was 6th) time was the charm. And passed with flying colours at that point. I had something like 4 minor faults. So yeah. I know how to drive!

The house also took longer than expected that but that was because all solicitors are evil. Weeeel, all solicitors working for other people are evil. Our solicitor was great. The vendor’s solicitor was a dick and a half. But we got there, in the end, moving in on 24th October. And two months later I still get a fission of ‘Oh yeah! This is *our* house!’ at the most random moments.

The other really good thing that happened was the letter from my former California employer informing me that I had a pension I could cash out. A pension I barely remember having. A pension that was now worth a fuckton of money. So I cashed it out. And the cheque cleared a few days before Christmas. And we now have the money to redo our bathroom (which is livable but needs work to be perfect), buy some new appliances for the kitchen and do some other bits and bobs we thought we’d have to wait to do.

And I think most people agree about the bad. A never ending list of celebrities left us this year. Some were just old, 80+. Others were taken way before their time. And the younger ones hit hard. Really hard in some cases.

The personally hard ones were George Michael and Carrie Fisher. No, I didn’t know them. But I admired them. And both of them were with me through my childhood and/or teenage years.  And their deaths were so unexpected. And the last 2 seconds of Rogue One didn’t help me deal with Carrie Fisher’s death. At all.

And of course, the ugly. Brexit. President-Elect DT (I will never use his name. He deserves to be nameless. He gets no respect.).

So 2017 has a lot of stuff coming up. I imagine it will also be a hard year. Maybe not quite so many major celebrities dying. But a total world change with the UK pulling out of the EU, or at least starting to, and President-Elect DT living up to his campaign promises, even though he’s already gone back on several.

A line from the voice-over from Torchwood keeps going through my mind. “The 21st Century is when it all changes.” And maybe we’re already a decade and a half into it, but it is still true. I just wish that what voiceover meant (aliens) was what we were actually dealing with.

Instead, there are shades of The Nazi Party and WWII. Borders slamming shut to the those who need help. The definite ‘smell’ of WWIII in the air, if not actually in progress.

So what are my goals for 2017?

  • Write more
  • Knit more
  • Exercise more
  • Get our house to the state we want it to be
  • Crochet more
  • Sell more
  • Survive

So nothing exactly quantifiable. Or with a completion date.

But definitely achievable.