Despair, fight, and hope
Friday, Jul. 12, 2019 - 8:20 pm.

A few things:

Andrew and I discovered that we might have to return part of our scholarship money. We thought it would cover us until September, but the bases say that its lasts "until the [PhD] exam or its equivalent", and for us that was in June. The scholarship agency assumes that the exam is when you receive your degree, but that's not what happens in the UK. We don't get the degree until our thesis corrections have been submitted and accepted. Hence, in our perfect planning, that was going to happen in September.

Andrew and I have been on the verge of tears. We're talking with someone from the agency, we're asking friends from the PhD, we're asking in a Facebook group for people who are pursuing, or have pursued their studies with the same scholarship. Or rather, Andrew has asked around. He's more eloquent and straightforward. I've mostly curled up with a knot in my stomach.

We think we can make a case for ourselves. We feel we have strong arguments, but also, we're coming to terms with the fact that we might have to pay four months' worth of UK Higher Education and Living Expenses for International Students. Times two.

My whole life, I've been in the privileged position of being able to avoid debt. I've also had the chance to save a little bit over time, and with the prospect of being jobless and homeless upon our return to Latin America, I was aiming to use the money to get us through our first months back there.

Those savings are my safety net, and thank God I have them (at times like this, my Catholic upbringing shows, eh). But if I use them...well, then I don't have them anymore, do I? I can't even think about replenishing the savings too quickly. Job hunting at the moment doesn't show a lot of promise for us upon our return.

Not a lot to do about this for now, anyway. It seems we'll still get our scholarship money until September, and we give it back after we submit our paperwork to the agency. But because of this mess, we got sidetracked in our request for our plane tickets. We still don't have a date for our flight back to the American continent.

The cats do have a date for their return. The amazing cargo company that flew them in four years ago will handle them. We got the notification today: Someone from the company will pick them up on August 12th in the morning. They'll be driven to London, spend the night there, and they fly out to Chile the next day.

I nearly bursted into tears at the office when I read that email. I cannot bear the thought of being away from those stupid cats for about a month. It breaks my hearts thinking of them being scared shitless through their trip, not knowing what's going on.

Our vet friend, bless her forever, will pick them up in Santiago. She'll keep Nico, the ginger one, in her house, and Marla, the black one, in her clinic. Marla gets really aggressive towards Nico when they're stressed, so it's best to keep them apart.

See, major silver lining to sending the cats ahead of us. We have truly amazing, caring people who will look after them, and will keep them safe.

Since the new president took charge in my homeland last month, social networks like Facebook and Twitter have become an endless stream of harassment for those who dare not give a standing ovation to the president. I've had many Twitter acquaintances lock their accounts for the first time since they signed up, a decade ago. A well-known journalist was driven off Twitter after the president retweeted her, accusing her of misquoting him (she didn't), and wanting to see his security plan fail (what?).

My second-to-last column in the online news outlet is about this. I've been of the few lucky ones, never getting much attention for anything I write online. That news outlet gets a lot of hate and vitriol, but my last column about Pride only received two hateful comments, about zoophilia and aberrations. I mean, there were probably more comments like that, but I, directly, only received those two.

I know I've bitched about people not paying attention to my writing and shit, but I've also recognized that being invisible has kept me safe. Perhaps this column of mine that mentions the president will also go unnoticed. But if it doesn't, just in case, I'm taking measures.

I did have some training today, with some asshole commenting on a sign I posted on Twitter. The sign was about donating clothes for trans and non-binary people because shopping can be unsafe for them. No use echoing his garbage replies, but I felt I handled it nicely. Andrew told me so. Hell, even he had to jump in that stream of bullshit. Actually, seeing his reply was sobering, because it made me realize I was being too soft on that scum. And yet, I handled it like a gentleman, sent that asshole on his way, and muted him.

Long story short, I remain in a safe position and nothing has happened to me, but it's best to reinforce my security online before it's too late. I'm going encrypted, I'm deleting some of my traces, I'm changing passwords, eventually getting a VPN. I'm just reading up on all this at the moment, really, see what's all about. But I figured, this isn't the time to shut up, and for the time being I can afford to speak up for others. Best keep it as safe as possible.


I remain on the verge of tears, I'm anxious and feeling a bit of despair, but I'm doing great overall. Andrew and I share the load of the stress and the heartbreak and the hassle of changing countries, but also the hope for what's to come. Having someone like him helps a lot. Also, he and I are going to the Peak District tomorrow, to say goodbye to the path that we walked so many times with friends and family.

A part of me is ready to leave. I don't want to, I cannot stress this enough, I don't want to leave, but since I must, I think I might as well get this over with soon. My only regret here was not living closer to my friend Anna so I could've visited her more; but that was a bit out of my hands, and I'll see her in August, and hopefully she'll be able to come here, too. Other than that, these four years in the UK have been the best life I never imagined I could have. I'm a better person for it.

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