erynn: Gaelic merman image (05 nin)
[personal profile] erynn
I finally got a call from the contractor about the bathroom. They will be here tomorrow morning at 9am, then again next Saturday morning at 9. They will do the ceiling and the bit of wall that need to be replaced, and then they will paint everything, and it won't cost me a penny, as the HOA takes care of this kind of thing. While I am not keen on being up and dressed by 9am for the contractors, at least it will be done in the next eight days. Armed with that information, I updated the realtor and got an acknowledgement back from the office.

I wrote to my correspondent who'd been to Italy (let's call her S for the sake of ease) and talked more about specifics and answered her questions. Composing the email took me an hour or so. This evening late she wrote back with more thoughts and advice, including information on which airlines have good reputations dealing with pets, and which (Air Italia, she is looking at you) are likely to leave you entirely and permanently petless. I hadn't known quite where to start looking for this information, so I was very grateful to hear about this.

From what she says, it would probably be a good idea when presenting my visa application to have the facial piercings removed for the day and get them put back in once I'm out of the consulate, and to over-dye my hair to my natural color, so as to present a somewhat more conservative (or at least mundane) appearance for the sake of the bureaucrats who will be in charge of my ability to get to Italy. While I am not keen on hiding who I am, I'm also reasonably practical. A little thing like a temporary removal of jewelry and a likewise temporary change in hair color is harmless and can be restored very quickly.

S also noted that there is a possibility that, since my money comes from federal government disability pensions, the consulate might not be quite so strict about the $50,000 requirement, which is looking more and more like it is "$50,000 in your accounts right now" rather than "have you had a total of at least $50,000 in your accounts over the past six months." Anyway, regardless of their requirement, it won't hurt to prepare with everything else they require and hope that this is not a non-negotiable issue.

I spent a goodly chunk of the rest of the day reading the blog of a woman who went with her husband and three kids to Italy for a year, living in Umbria. They had some difficulties and their first attempt was turned down; they reapplied at a different consulate after a relocation to a different state, apparently, and were eventually granted a visa. Now that's a blog I have been learning a lot of stuff from, both in regards to how and why their attempts failed, how they succeeded, and how they dealt with the bureaucracy. They also took two cats to Italy with them. I think they have recently returned to the US, but I haven't read their most recent entries yet and am not sure exactly when they got back. It might have been last month or earlier this month.

My next door neighbor got back from Costa Rica last night, where she'd been for the last week. I was out with the DoDC+3 when she got back, so I helped her haul her bags back into her place. I saw her this evening out with Tater (the dog of one of our neighbors) and she was on the phone. I waved and she came over to tell me that her little dog Rinnie had died today of a serious acute diabetic episode. What a horrible thing to have happen when you come home from vacation. A horrible thing to have happen ever, for that matter. It's so hard when you know it's coming, and something sudden like that is such a shock. I feel so awful for her, particularly as I'd nearly lost Chris a couple of years back after Steamcon when the veterinary boarding screwed up and he broke all those ribs. You've had this great holiday and suddenly everything just goes bad, and there's nothing that can be done about it. I would have given her a hug, but Tater and Chris sometimes are okay together and sometimes get snippy, and I didn't want to have a sudden dog fight break out in the middle of a hug. She said that was okay, she'd get one from me later.

I walked over to see [livejournal.com profile] gra_is_stor shortly afterwards, as I'd forgotten to give her something last night, and I was feeling very downhearted after hearing Sally's sad news. I figured she would want to know, and I rather needed a hug myself.

I'm still waiting to hear from Geordie, who should be back in Vancouver now after his year in Spain. I have a box of books waiting for him. He's probably going to sleep for a week.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-17 05:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] varushka.livejournal.com
I think you got good consulate interview advice from S, and I was going to tell you the same stuff she told you (but was waiting until later, when the interview is scheduled).

But I would go even farther and say:

Wear clothing that completely covers your tattoos.

Remove all your earrings if you have multiple piercings in your earlobes and/or ear cartilage, so as not to draw any attention to any of the holes there.

Wear no visible pagan (or otherwise non-conservative) jewelry or rings. Even better to remove it all, just so that there is no chance it will be seen or noticed.

Dress as conservatively as possible (perhaps even finding a special suit just for the interview if you don't have dressy conservative clothing on hand ~ I know I don't!). Thrift stores and consignment shops are a viable possibility here, as I don't at all think they have to be brand new clothes, just business-like, with classic styling, and fitting you well. Polish your shoes. Don't wear Docs or anything that would look out of place working for a law firm.

Cut off your rat tail and get a fresh, flattering-to-you haircut not too long beforehand, as well as dyeing your hair back to your natural color. Seeing a pro colorist may be a very good idea, especially if you would rather dye your hair a color which is not quite your natural color but still very flattering to your skin tone and eyebrow color (I do think that would probably be fine, if the prospect of strictly matching your natural color is just too dreary, but make sure your colorist knows you want the results to be natural-looking).

I do think that if your interview is in the winter, you might be able to hide your rat tail in a high turtleneck or dressy neck scarf. Since you don't have eyes in back of your head, I think you'd be well-advised to play dress up in the outfits you might wear, with a friend or two on hand to give feedback as to whether the rat tail would stay tucked in and hidden and not get pulled out slightly and thus become visible, regardless of how you turn or move your head.

While it may pain you to cut it off (I know you've been growing it for more years than I even know), your hair will grow back, but your opportunity to make a compellingly pleasant, harmless, and mundane-looking first impression to the stodgy Italian immigration officials will not come again.

Having said all of this, it's not anything you have to deal with right now. But it's good that you're starting to think about it and get some ideas for being well prepared for looking like the sort of person they'd have absolutely no problem with letting relocate permanently to their country. Socially and politically in appearance, anyway. But once you're over there and permanently settled (bureaucratically), you can readopt all the appearances you currently enjoy. MUA HAHA! Bait and switch!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-18 07:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] erynn999.livejournal.com
I was planning on doing most of what you've suggested here except for cutting off the braid, and I won't do that. It's not a fashion statement so much as an act of magic & affirmation that my disabilities won't cost me everything meaningful in my life. It can be coiled up into a discreet little knot at the base of my skull and pinned up with a barrette or something to get it out of sight.

I don't actually wear any recognizably and explicitly "Pagan" jewelry anymore. My hands can't cope with rings these days, and the symbols that I tend to wear don't scream Pagan to anyone but somebody on similar paths. That part won't be too hard, thankfully. The last two rings I was wearing had to be cut off my fingers because they didn't actually fit anymore. That was a bit painful on several levels.

Gods, I haven't had to even think about "interview clothing" in so long. I'll let it percolate in the back of my mind while I'm going through the initial phases of selling the condo and relocating, then will look for something suitable once I'm in Seattle and getting the process together for a consular appointment.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-18 07:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] varushka.livejournal.com
Coiling up the rat tail sounds workable. It is a pretty thin braid, after all. Using a dark bobby pin to fasten it might be less conspicuous than most barrettes.

If your brother ends up going with you to the interview, he should make the same efforts for dress and appearances, if you can enlist his cooperation. Although being military, he might already have a rather clean cut presentation and just need to wear the right clothes and shoes. No doubt you both already know how to polish shoes for inspection, plenty of practice during active duty.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-18 08:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] erynn999.livejournal.com
Yeah, he says he is pretty much accepted as a local these days. I'm sure he would understand the need for a good appearance and would support me in that. He dresses more like a European than an American anyway, except when he's in uniform.

I have seen some pretty inconspicuous barrettes in colors similar to my natural hair color. I'm not sure that bobbypins would really work for me. My hair is pretty slippery. I will find something that works and will have friends look it over before it's approved as part of the Interview Costume. ;)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-18 08:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] varushka.livejournal.com
I think rehearsing the outfit and even doing some mock interviews with friends would be excellent preparation, and might even blunt some of the anxiety wrapped up in the actual event. Better than walking in cold, I think.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-17 06:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] varushka.livejournal.com
A few months ago I found the Expats in Italy website (in case you're not already familiar with it), and one of the participants in the forums spoke of his/her experience with the consulate interview, saying that part of why they think it went really well for them (and it was a much quicker interview than typical, apparently) is that they did not fill out any of the required documents by hand. Their documents were all typed, or had the appearance of being typed. If they were online forms, they were downloaded or scanned, and then the applicant used software (PhotoShop? not sure) to fill in the forms. I am not sure if it was just not possible to print out the forms and then type in the blanks; I am thinking it's far more likely that software was used because hardly anyone owns or has access to typewriters anymore.

Also I think he or she mentioned using a heavy, good looking office clip (like a money clip, but for office papers) and used a leather or vinyl folder or binder for carrying their stack of neatly clipped papers in. So they were able to present thoroughly legible, neat, carefully organized paperwork, which made the work of the consulate officials easy, fast, and pleasant, which probably subtly swayed them to genuinely like the applicant (for making their jobs easier and more pleasant) and want to approve him/her.

Just like a resume, your paperwork should be easy to get info from just by glancing at it, and it should be conforming to a standard. As a parallel, of course you wouldn't hand write your resume, because even if you printed carefully and perfectly legibly in block letters, it would still be a somewhat distracting presentation over having your resume typed in 12-point Times New Roman font. This interview is not unlike a job interview for a conservative workplace.

Again, not anything you have to deal with yet, but I think it's good to be gleaning info from others' personal experience with the process, and thinking about your strategies in advance. I am glad you found S as a resource.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-18 07:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] erynn999.livejournal.com
That's a good website. I think I'd looked at it in passing before but some of the threads at the top of the forums this week were actually relevant to what's happening with me right now. One of them had links that led to links that located what appears to be one of the forms my brother needs to fill out for me, so thank you so much for that. I think that will save both of us a good deal of hassle.

I was certainly planning on keeping the packet in good order. (All that time in the military and a law office, don'tcha know.) The visa application has teeny tiny blanks to fill in and I'm not sure, even with a pdf editor, how I'd get everything they want into those tiny spaces. I wonder if it's okay to put in "see attached" and then attach a printed out sheet with numbered answers for the bits that are too small for the information. I definitely understand going for the "neatness equals easier for the person at the desk" approach.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-18 08:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] varushka.livejournal.com
When the time comes to fill out the application, you can play around with looking for ways to make it look typed. Sounds like it will be a small font indeed if you are able to make it work on the same page (which I think would be more preferable to a bureaucrat than "see attached," if you are able to manage it). But, at least "see attached" would be typed and not handwritten, so there's that at least.

Maybe you should create a profile for the forums at Expats in Italy and create a post with your particular situation and questions. I can't recall seeing anything posted there from a disabled military vet moving over, so someone might know something that hasn't been addressed in the forums before.
Edited Date: 2013-08-18 08:10 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-18 08:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] erynn999.livejournal.com
In looking at the form again, only one or maybe two lines don't actually have enough space for the information requested. This might not be quite as difficult to manage as I feared.

They also require a cover letter where you talk about why you want to go to Italy, how long you intend to stay, where you will be staying, and the like. I know I'm good with written stuff, so that shouldn't be too bad.

In order to 'practice' for an interview I'll have to know the kinds of questions they ask, but that can be found out at least in a general sense. I'm sure there are some that are pretty standard and that I can at least get a handle on that bit. Very little I do is really going to make me less nervous. Having an anxiety disorder will do that. But I still manage to get things done, so I figure I will survive the process.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-18 08:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] varushka.livejournal.com
No doubt forum participants could tell your their experiences with what questions they were asked, and if they were asked anything unanticipated that threw them off, or caught them unprepared and bumbling. I'm sure the basic stuff to reasonably expect is along the lines of why do you want to move to Italy, how will you support yourself, why should we allow you to move there, what do you have to offer, etc., but it might be good to know what others experienced. It could help you prepare. Of course it won't take all the anxiety away, nothing will do that.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-17 07:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] man-of-snows.livejournal.com
Hoorah for the bathroom. Sorry to hear about the neighbor's dog. That sucks and definitely brings up Chris' situation from a while back.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-17 08:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alfrecht.livejournal.com
I'm very sorry to hear about Rinnie, too. I could never believe that a dog that small and cute wasn't a toy, but he sure was real...he'll be missed.

Do you know if Geordie is going to be at the EBC this year? I'm still a little miffed that our panel wasn't accepted (and that they're having Daniel Schulke present YET AGAIN!!!???!!!), but I'd still like to meet him at some stage...

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-18 07:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] erynn999.livejournal.com
I'm not certain. Maybe? I'll ask him when I see him. That should be sometime in the next week or three.

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