Saturday, August 22, 2009

A look back on the journey:


Nov. 7, 2008

Yesterday was a monumental day in my life. A struggle. A trial. A process. I got a first hand look at what it means to become an American citizen. My fiance, Yasser Ahmed Abdou, passed the final portion of the "test" to immigrate to America, to marry me, and for the two of us to FINALLY start our lives together.Two year process. Seriously. If anyone can make it through an engagement this long, paperwork, and your entire lives pulled apart and love for each other questioned - then you deserve to be married!!I won't go into great detail - just know we have struggled, begged, paid thousands - and finally we are heading down the path to our future.I would have moved to Egypt if necessary. Really I would. I loved it there, and I love the people and the culture. I am fairly good at foreign languages, I know I could master arabic in time - but the opportunites for me would have been limited. Here - the sky is the limit.Not that this step is the end of our struggles. Actually it is only the beginning. Unfortunately we live in a world of bigots, ignorance and the uncultured. I am a white, educated, american catholic who lives in the south. I am marrying an arab, educated, egyptian sunni muslim who lives a world away. Soon we will be together and will begin to live a life of cultural fusion. However, we live in a region in the world that is so close-minded and honestly - extremely ignorant.I have patiently listened to friends, aquaintances, co-workers and random people on the street. I have read numerous "letters to the editor" and watch the pundits debate. I know what the world's view is. As a former journalist - I also know how to search for the truth, saturate myself with information and get the facts. Unfortunately most people like to go on opinion. I have the facts - and I realize, it will never be easy for us. Recently I over heard some young (not even adults) share their opinions about a myriad of topics. it almost broke my heart to already see people so young forming such strong opinions about a group of people they truly know absolutely nothing about. *sigh*Besides all of the struggles ahead - I could not pick a better man to stand by my side. Nor could I find a truer friend, a more passionate love, nor a better servant of God. I look forward to all of the good he will bring to my life - here, together.Those are my thoughts. Soo many, some so private. But I felt I had to express myself, especially considering all of the battles he and I will face and all of the exceptionally good times!Until next time...



February

9th, 2009


My back is against the wall and I have both hands up trying to push the other wall in front of me.One wall is failure - the one in front of me is the United States government.I have been battling with Immigration for a very long time now. Yasser and I really thought we were in the clear. All we are trying to do is get his K1 Fiance Visa - in hand - and then get married. We would deal with all of the other details later.I thought we were "home free." We received approval on November 6, 2008. We were promised he would be here in about two months. Since the approval - a little over 3 months. The whole filing process - over 9 months and counting. I recently discovered we are in what is known as administrative processing.Here is a good description of what it is - the source is:http://travel.state.gov/{Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer. Applicants are advised of this requirement when they apply. Most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview. When administrative processing is required, the timing will vary based on individual circumstances of each case. Visa applicants are reminded to apply early for their visa, well in advance of the anticipated travel date. Important Notice: Before making inquiries about status of administrative processing, applicants or their representatives will need to wait at least 90 days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents, whichever is later. About Visa Processing Wait Times – Nonimmigrant Visa ApplicantsInformation about nonimmigrant visa wait times for interviews and visa processing timeframes are shown on this website, as well as on U.S. Embassy and Consulate websites worldwide. It should be noted that the “Wait Times for a Nonimmigrant Visa to be Processed” information by country does not include time required for administrative processing. Processing wait time also does not include the time required to return the passport to applicants, by either courier services or the local mail system. }Hmmm.. yep.. that's what I thought also. This is my theory - and to my more conservative/anti-arab "friends" - I am sure you will be thrilled - but I believe he is being profiled. I think the fact that he is a young arab/muslim male he is undergoing more checks than the normal applicant. I think that all of this should have been done PRIOR to his interview - not after - or atleast do not tell us he is approved. So is he "conditionally approved?" Think about this - he is educated- more so than most of the people I know. He speaks at least 3 languages, and is one of the most genuine, God Fearing people I have ever met.What kills me - I can simply pack my bags, fly to egypt - go to the embassy - they sign a paper - we marry there and I can live there the rest of my life. America is so quick to give up one of their own - but will not allow me - a taxpaying citizen to marry who she wants in her own country where she has more opportunity.What also makes me mad is the fact that I know soooo many couples who are not even half as sincere about their relationship as we are. BUT - because they live here - it is automatically approved. WHAT THE HELL???????????What happened to the right for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Where the hell is my right to the latter... run the damn security check again and again if you must - but do it BEFORE you grant approval.Please note - we are still approved. This is just a delay.. WTF?????Sorry - I am venting. I would not be soo mad if it weren't for the fact that I am also trying to keep someone else's hopes up. His whole life is on hold - THEY HAVE HIS PASSPORT IN DC. He cannot even travel, move to another city for a job or anything - because of this. *breathe*There is one shred of hope - a friend is guiding me thru the federal system. They have connections to people who have answers - and perhaps we can put a little squeeze on them. YASSER AND I NEED YOUR PRAYERS AND ENCOURAGEMENT.I am finished venting. Do I feel better? no - but at least you will understand my frustration.I have faith it will work out. I know God will provide.I know it is all in his time and according to his plan.Know this - I am prepared to move to Egypt if necessary. But just tell us one way or the other. Do not keep us hanging.Please leave any encouragement or prayer here - I will share with Yasser. I know it will mean a lot to both of us.Until next time..



May 12, 2009

Sooo - for whatever reason, I fell asleep on the couch right when Paranormal State came on last night.Many of you know, this is one of my favorite shows. The fact that I crashed means I was beyond tired. 3:30 this morning I awoke to a stiff neck and strange need to check my email. As soon as I opened it I got a shock - Yasser got his passport and papers!! Here's the catch - his VISA expires in 4 days.Yes. You read that right - 4 days.Needless to say, I was so confused. As I am dialing the Embassy in Cairo - I discover that the VISA expires exactly 6 months after issue. Of course the government sat on that VISA and then allowed him only FOUR days to get to the states. I am trying really hard to be patriotic. *scratching of throat.*I did my research and feel a little better - turns out once he arrives in the states - that is when his official 90 Day VISA begins. Ahhhh... but thank God he was financially prepared to fly over. LOLLast I heard - he called me from the travel agent's office and asked how long did I think he needed for a layover in ATL (when he goes thru customs.) I said at least 2 hours - if not more. Just because I am SURE he will get all of types of hell. Especially as an immigrant.Well - I guess the good news is - I have my egyptian. Patience Patience Patience. That's what I learned from this process. It was hard, it was expensive, it was confusing and a bit misleading. But we did it. And we did it legally. No wonder so many people end up in the country illegally - knowing how much it costs, and the trouble you go through. Thank God (literally) that he and I had the brain to figure this out. It was very very very difficult.I also want to thank God that I did not buy my ticket to Egypt when I planned. Ironically enough, my car died - seriously - just a few days before I was going to purchase my ticket to fly out to Egypt on May 16th. LOL MAy 16th. The day his VISA would expire. HA HA HA.The car dying forced me to one - get a new car which I desperately needed. (I was just enjoying not having a car payment.) & two had me push a little harder to find out where Yasser's passport was.God works in the most mysterious ways.LESSON LEARNED. When I finally gave up trying, and let the forces that be do what needed to be done, everything fell into place.Wow.So - I guess the news is this:Yasser will probably fly out either tomorrow night or Thursday morning. He will more than likely arrive Thursday.WOW.I have not seen his face in 1 1/2 years. It has been that long. I said goodbye at the Cairo airport on Nov. 29th 2007. Got through Christmas - then found the immigration attorny by Feb. began the paper work process. Sent papers in April of 08. US govnt received the papers end of May. Got our approval for the Petition on Sept. 20 08. Then his embassy interview of Nov of 08. He was supposed to get his visa in January 09. Instead went into Administrative Processing (security checks) - then he heard his VISa was issued on may 6th - and he received it on May 12th this morning - with an expiration of May 16th.Good heavens.LOLI am

assuming I will be married VERY soon. We only get 90 days for that. hahahaha.WHERE IS ALL THE ROMANCE??? hahahahaha*sigh*Glory to God. Miracles do happen.



May 26, 2009


It's official. I will be married before the end of the week. WOO HOO. It took a looooooooooooong time to get to this point, but here we are and I could not be happier.Here is the latest and the greatest:Yasser and I visited with the President of the Birmingham Islamic Center. Turns out, the ceremony he and I performed in Egypt really is official in his religion (not that I thought it was not - but was glad to hear it is REAL) - and all we have to do is get a marriage license and take it back to the mosque and they will sign and file for us. That's it.Now, that sounds a little unromantic - but there will be an exciting twist. I promise, if my job situation works out, I will have a wedding party. BIG one. Reception/party/whatever. I do have a beautiful dress (not super formal - but lacy and white and romantic) - and I can assure you - I WILL WEAR IT.(Job situation - cuts, June 30 - got to make the cut.)I believe I will have the party in Georgia, and I believe I will rent the Sidney Lanier Cottage. If all is well that ends well, it will take place in July or so.But our journey (for keeping Yasser here) is not complete. We have to apply for some sort of Employee Authorization. We have to get a SS card for him. We need to enroll him in driving courses in order to get his license. Then as soon as our official wedding certificate comes back we have to file for an adjustment of status. (This is to secure his permanent residency, aka - his green card.) Do you know how much THAT cost??? INSANE. No wonder there are so many illegals in the country, it is over $1,000.Then he will be here on a probationary basis for 2 years. So - it will be a little while until he can return home.Sooo - that is what is next. We are adjusting nicely to our living arrangement. LOL Except for the cat situation, we could not be happier. I enjoy waking up to his smiling face, we laugh, we talk, we shop non-stop, we visit with friends. We are just enjoying being together. My family fell in love with him - not to mention Autumn (my niece.) She kept jumping into his arms and just staring at him and touching his face. It was adorable. All of my friends who have met Yasser, seem to love him. It's hilarious to watch them all. He and I laugh about his conversations with people and the crazy questions people ask him over and over.I feel so blessed to have my best friend, the love of my life, and a wonderful man by my side.PS - just a shame he and Lestat cannot make nice and be friends. Then - things would truly be A-OK in my book.Nicole


May 30, 2009



WOO HOOYasser and I are married- again!We had our official wedding on Friday, May 29th (official as in legal.) We performed our ceremonial wedding in Egypt on Nov. 17, 2007. What I am excited about - does this mean I get two anniversary days??!! hahahahahaa.We went to the mosque - me with a big boot on my leg for the broken ankle - and we performed 4 functions:1. I had to ask him to marry me. Then Ashraq Tafique ask Yasser to be my husband. I think he was acting as my "Walid" - not sure if I spelled that right -- but that is my "guardian." hahahaha2. He accepted. Then had to give me money. (My favorite part.)3. Then there were witnesses, a really cool guy named Hesham from Morocco and his two nephews (they had to be at least above puberty. LOL) 4. Then Ashraq pronounced us husband and wife - and he signed our license.That's it.During all of this - I was able to also secure a walk team from the Birmingham Islamic Center and they also want to participate as a Fit Friendly company for the American Heart Association. I will share with our staff on Monday.Talk about multi-tasking.Well - that's it.We will have our official reception in July. I am waiting to see if my job is secure. Many of you know about this.Then we will celebrate this loooooong story. Of course all of my friends are invited. Please join the "Yasser and Nicole need your addresses" Group if you have not done so yet. I promise to invite as many of you as possible. It will be in Macon, Georgia.Love all of you - Ciao .. or now, I guess I should say - Salam!We will have a party


Then - we decided on August 8th...


Arabian Nights - yes, that is the theme for my "reception/party" to my arab. LOL Or Egyptian..I am super excited. In order to make this happen "properly" - I have pushed it back to August(? possibly the 8th) Reason? - We have to go through the adjustment of status fiasco in July and I just don't want to be torn away from planning a super exciting party.It will be back home - in Macon, Ga. (About 3.5 hrs rom Bham - 4 with traffic) My mother is the President of the Middle Georgia Art Associaiton and I asked her could we use the gallery. She is securing it as we speak.We will transform the gallery into a "Far Away" land with Middle Eastern touches. Everyone will get to enjoy egyptian food (amoung a few other VERY cool surprises.) I do have some friends who are belly dancers .. I am wondering... if I paid for their hotel room.. hmmm...Okay - if any of you are still serious about coming - please join the "Yasser & Nicole Need your addresses" group. You can find it on my page under groups.Due to capacity - I will have to limit the number to 75.I believe we will go register within the next week or so. (Someplace fun - not stuffy. No need for china, already have plenty!)SOOOO excited. Can't wait to see everyone!Nicole & YasserPS - I am needing my "girls" to help me make this work!!! Look - I did not have any bride's maids or crappy dresses for you guys to buy - come on.. help me throw a party!!

1 comment:

Zack in the Box said...

Arab man married to a white gal - living in the South. Good luck with that one... he's gonna wanna move to NY or CA within three weeks. I'm sure they'll be real happy when he wants to worship his God locally.. yep - that's the South for ya'...

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