Success With A Hitch and Some Blur

That was quick.
I mean, as soon as they called my name.
The letter told me to arrive no earlier than 30 minutes prior to my appointment.
Federal Plaza is kind of an intimidating building.
Security is like the airport’s, except the line was short.
I showed up a little bit after 2:00.
My appointment was at 2:25.
They didn’t call me until 5:00.
The interview took less than fifteen minutes.
The officer was nice. Fast talking, but we handled each other really well.
It went something like the following – fyi, it’s an extreme paraphrase, but the punctuation here (or lack thereof) is deliberate because it was that rapid fire:

STAND AND RAISE YOUR RIGHT HAND DO YOU SWEAR TO TELL THE TRUTH THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH SO HELP YOU GOD I do
PLEASE HAVE A SEAT Thank you
(The “hitch” part which comes up at the end)
WHAT IS YOUR NAME May Venancio Anderton
WHAT IS YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER [That’s totally not going on this blog]
WHERE DO YOU LIVE [I stated such]
IS YOUR MAILING ADDRESS THE SAME Yes
WRITE YOUR INITIALS AND THE DATE HERE THE DATE IS TEN-THIRTY-OH-EIGHT Thanks
WHAT IS YOUR DAYTIME PHONE NUMBER [I stated such]
IS YOUR EVENING PHONE THE SAME Yes
ARE YOU CURRENTLY EMPLOYED Yes
WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE COMPANY YOU WORK FOR [I stated such]
WHAT IS YOUR POSITION THERE Claims assistant
AND YOU’VE BEEN WORKING THERE SINCE JUNE 2003 Yes
HAVE YOU EVER COMMITTED A CRIME No
DO YOU SUPPORT A TERRORIST GROUP No
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ARRESTED No
[BLAH BLAH CAN’T UNDERSTAND] PROSTITUTION No
SMUGGLING OR DEALING IN ILLEGAL SUBSTANCES No
WRITE YOUR INITIALS HERE WITH THE DATE
Okay, here you go
[BLAH BLAH CAN’T UNDERSTAND] DEPORTED What deported?
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN DEPORTED No
ARE YOU CURRENTLY IN ANY DEPORTATION HEARINGS No
HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO ENTER THE COUNTRY ILLEGALLY No
WOULD YOU BEAR ARMS TO DEFEND YOUR COUNTRY Yes (I actually voiced this more strongly than I thought I would)
DO YOU UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES Yes
IS THIS YOUR SIGNATURE Yes
DID YOU BRING TWO PASSPORT PHOTOS Yes
THAT’S GOOD (I present her with the photos)
SIGN YOUR NAME ALONG THE SIDE Okay
OH YOU HAVE TO SIGN JUST LIKE YOU SIGNED HERE WE DON’T USE INITIALS
So sorry about that
All right, there you are
HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOUR MOM BECAME A CITIZEN I was 29, it was about three years ago
YOU WERE OVER THE AGE OF EIGHTEEN WHEN IT HAPPENED Yes
(More questions I don’t remember, and more initialing and dating forms)
LET ME TRY TO FIND THE NEW TEST Okay
DID YOU STUDY Yes, I hope I’m ready

WHEN WAS THE CONSTITUTION WRITTEN The Constitution was written in 1787
WHAT IS FREEDOM OF RELIGION To practice any religion or no religion at all
HOW MANY MEMBERS ARE IN THE SENATE One-hundred (I’m trying to slow her down, here. She’s enunciating, too, which is helpful.)
NAME ONE STATE THAT BORDERS CANADA Maine
HOW OLD DO MEN HAVE TO BE TO ENTER THE SELECTIVE SERVICE (Pause) Between the ages of 18 and 26
WHAT OCEAN IS ON THE EAST COAST OF THE UNITED STATES The Atlantic Ocean
(She grinned) YOU STUDIED (I grinned)
SIGN ALL THREE NAMES HERE AND DATE … okay
READ THIS SENTENCE (I looked at the sheet of paper she held up)
OUT LOUD (It was something about the Senate)
SIGN ALL THREE NAMES AND DATE
WRITE THE SENTENCE I WILL SAY TO YOU HERE “WE PAY TAXES.” THAT WAS EASY
(I write, “We pay taxes.”)
WELL, YOU PASSED. BUT I CAN’T YET MAKE A DECISION ABOUT YOUR APPLICATION. I CAN’T SAY ANYTHING UNTIL I’VE LOOKED AT THE OTHER FILE DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS
So, I guess I have to ask my mom what happened back in 1982?
YEAH, ASK HER ABOUT A SECOND ALIEN REGISTRATION NUMBER.
So, I just have to wait. Should I be worried?
I REALLY CAN’T SAY ANYTHING UNTIL I LOOK AT THE FILE, WHICH ISN’T HERE. I’LL REQUEST THE FILE TONIGHT OR TOMORROW MORNING DEPENDING ON WHEN I FINISH MY LAST INTERVIEW. I HAVE ONE MORE TO GO.
Well, okay. I’ll just wait, then. Thank you officer. This has been really good. You’ve been helpful.

So, I followed her out and we stopped at a copy machine and she copied my green card and looked through my passport. She walked me back out to the waiting room, and we wished each other good night.

That was kind of a weird anticlimax, guys. This part of my life is never without drama. What was I thinking to assume I’d be done after today, with only a notice of ceremony to wait for?

Try not to notice the irony of “finally” in the video.

Spying on the front door
Spying on the front door
Planning on scaling the wall
Planning on scaling the wall
The maze you must finish for citizenship
The maze you must finish for citizenship
Sitting at warp speed
Sitting at warp speed
Good thing I only had to go to the 7th floor
Good thing I only had to go to the 7th floor

What did you see, sir?

Thomas Jefferson, what kind of experience gave you the foresight to say this:

“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

He probably saw us, doin’ what we do, not carin’ or likin’ much of anyone or anything.

I’ve got lots stewing in my mind right now.

I think I’m ready.

Let’s not forget to count our blessings, eh?

Thanks, Sarah.

Pressure of the Peer

I just declared to the apartment, “I want a cupcake today!”

Then a friend said, “So do I!”

And another friend said, “I could go for a cupcake, too!”

That’s right, baby.

And one of those friends told me Monday she’s now undecided with her vote. She was leaning McCain. And now? Undecided. Undies. Sided.

World, you’re lucky I’m not pushing drugs or some sort of anarchist. You’d fall prey to my power. Muah hahahaha!

Kissing and Naturalization

i had a conversation the other day with some friends about how many guys we’ve kissed.
one friend said six.
one friend said five.
i said eight.
but it was really seven.
given that i’m substantially older than my friends, that’s not too horrible of a number.

i just wanted to set the record straight.

Oh! I’m throwing a swearing-in party. It’ll be on November 12, and everyone is invited. I’ll write up the actual invitation and send it out in the next few days. Of course I’ll also post it here. My roommate demands I give a speech for the occasion, so I’ll be outlining that, as well. Also, if you come, YOU’LL GET TO MEET MY MOM! You can’t say no, can you?

Enough of that for now; I’m studying for the interview.

I know the Preamble
But I’ll just go ramble
About American scrambled eggs

I’m excited and bright 
For all my new rights as
A little American light

So my eggs I will eat
Then get off of my seat
To other new Americans meet.

This poem is dumb
Point down my own thumb
And stop to keep all of my chums.

Oh – if you want a sneak peek of the playlist for the party, here you go:
Neil Diamond, “America”
Lee Greenwood, “God Bless the USA”
Simon and Garfunkel, “America”
Tracy Chapman, “America”
John Denver, “Country Road”
Don McLean, “American Pie”
Carrie Underwood, “American Girl”
Tom Petty, “American Girl”
Bruce Springsteen, “Born in the USA” (not quite, but just as well!)
“You’re A Grand Old Flag”
“God Bless America”
“Fifty Fifty United States”

I will also take suggestions. I will accept cheesy, and I will also accept more country.

Regarding the first comment on the last post,

someone using a computer in Oklahoma is quite impassioned. For while, I couldn’t get the IP address locator to work. Because if the commenter wasn’t a real person, I’d rather just delete the comment. But, since a person or a comment-bot seemed especially thoughtful about his/her comment, I’ll leave it, if only for the interesting discussion. Plus, this is America, right? People need the chance to express themselves, right? “We the People,” right?

Good grief, people. I just thought the video was funny. I think everyone’s who’s decided to vote has already pretty much made up his mind. Since I can’t vote, my would-be Obama vote can’t cancel out any for McCain. So just calm down, HORATIO ALGER.

Silliness

I did a lot of stuff on camera today. It’s kind of blackmail fodder.

I think I wanted to impress one friend so badly I was willing to look like an utter fool.

She’s a cool gal. Pretty fun.

But, I got to see her runway walk.

And, she got to show us her dance moves. We’re practicing for the big Halloween dance on Friday. Hollah!

My roommate likes to move her hips.

Ooh. I think I should document the numbered dances my roommate and Alicia have seen me do. The dance moves are already on camera, and I will be destroying the data card sometime in the very near future. This written form is so I don’t forget the numbers.

zero (null) – backup singer dance; side to side stepping, with slight head bobbing; default

1 – grab ankle, other hand to head; bring knee toward and away from opposite elbow to the beat. (Extra credit: accidentally bump into a wall for big laughs.)

2 – flap arms gracefully to the side while dancing lightly on the tippy-toes

3 – add an extra step to each side of the backup singer dance; throw in double hitchhiker thumbs

4 – shooting multiple rounds from pistols from the hips

5 – the worm; in my case, it’s a dying worm.

6 – Michael Jackson; must include moonwalking and that kick thing he does.

The arsenal is full. I will be doing these seven dance moves on a rotating basis. Except for the worm. That was is reserved exclusively for my own home. So, six.

Ang lahat ay mabuti.

That idea I had about where the passport was, it wasn’t there. So I went back to all the places I looked before, just in case I overlooked something. Up in the hall closet was a box where I hadn’t yet looked. I took it down and opened it up and came across some old stickers and supplies for the children’s Sunday School classes. I looked through a few pouches of old photos. A small plastic bag held even more photos, and it was tied shut at the handles. I was fully prepared to look through all of the photos, because I’m a sucker for nostalgia. I untied the plastic bag and I saw a small brown booklet. Vinyl cover, light green, textured pages. The title on the outside reads “Pilipinas Pasaporte” with the seal of the Philippines between the two words. I took it and held it in my hands and opened it immediately to the page with the photo on it, probably to make sure it was me, it was my passport, and I raised it in the air and looked toward the sky, and I let out the biggest sigh of relief of my life. I tossed the passport over to the couch, and I folded my arms and said a very grateful prayer. Then I opened my eyes and picked up the passport again and commenced dancing around the living room. There was jumping up and down, too. And maybe even a few tears of joy.

So yeah, I guess that’s me. I was eight years old. And that’s probably the cutest shirt I have ever owned. Why don’t I wear clothes like that anymore?

On page 4 is a stamp that reads in all caps, “Immigrant.” On page 5 is a stamp from US Immigration, the day I returned to Guam from five weeks in the Philippines. On page 6 are two stamps from Philippines Immigration, the dates I arrived and departed that country: June 9, 1984 and July 16, 1984.

No other stamps.

My mind is flooding with memories from that time in my life. I got baptized just the week before. When my mom, brother and I arrived in the Philippines, we took a cab to my mom’s cousin’s home, and on the way there, I had to roll down the window to throw up the chicken I had just eaten at the airport cafeteria. The vomit stuck to the side of the car, and it was kind of pink.

We spent some time in the city, then we went to the country to visit my grandparents, where they lit their bamboo home with oil lamps and listened to a radio made out of scrap wires and other parts. They lived up in the mountains. They owned chickens and had a grove of guava trees. The view was magnificent – rain forests for as far as the eye could see.

My aunt, mom’s younger sister, lived in the valley with her daughter and husband. They owned a little candy store adjacent to their hut. My brother learned how to bite people from my cousin.

We ate lots of rice and fish and vegetables, and I got to see my uncles slaughter a chicken once for dinner. I craved things to read, but I learned to play with the other kids and I picked up a little bit of Tagalog while I was there.

I had pretty smart and beautiful cousins, but most of them were quite a bit older than me, and they weren’t around very much, so I really didn’t get to see them. My mom’s the ninth out of ten siblings, so the only cousin even close to my age was mom’s younger sister’s daughter.

I got to take a shower at a small waterfall on the side of the mountain. It was early in the morning, and the water was really cold.

At my grandparents’, people used the bathroom sitting on a 2X4 plank laid over a square-foot hole into a large chamber. It had to have been 15-feet square by at least 8 feet deep. I remember being scared I would fall in. There was toilet paper, but no flushing. There was a bamboo shelter built over it in case it rained. It was far enough away from the house for privacy. It was self-composting, and it didn’t smell. I’m not sure why I remember this.

The countryside is beautiful. The city is exciting, but dirty and crowded. Running water is a luxury. Hot, running water is even rarer. I bathed in a large metal basin and ladled  cold water onto my body to rinse off.

Those five weeks were an incredible experience. More happened than I can remember right now, but I want to remember.

It’s time to go back. It’s time to visit and explore and see things with these eyes that are 24 years older.  

It’s time to go back. Curious and fascinated and longing for old roots and family I’ve never met.

It’s time to go back. As an official American.

A United States citizen.

Which, I almost am.

It’s SO close.

Everything is good.

Update on Important Papers

This morning, I woke up after a hearty six hours of sleep (my fullest night this week!), and I started dismantling my room again. I figured I would go back to the binder where I keep all my important papers – birth certificate, baptism certificate, my parent’s marriage certificate, among other documents. It’s a regular three-ring binder with a one-inch spine. It has pockets on the inside covers, and I specifically remember the passport being in the front inside pocket. Well, it still wasn’t there, and when I flipped through the rest of the papers, NEITHER WAS MY BIRTH CERTIFICATE.

A little bit of panic set in.

So, I began a slow, deliberate search. In my mind I kept seeing the passport. I visualized it in several places, not because I hoped it would appear there, but because those are places I remembered seeing it. I don’t have a desktop computer, otherwise I would have looked on top of the monitor. I rummaged through boxes, crates, big plastic storage bins. Then I remembered at least my birth certificate was in one of those clear, plastic sheet protectors, so I kept an eye out for that.

I decided to give one last look in my filing box. It has hanging folders with tabs that I try to keep in alphabetical order. I worked from the back of the box, fingers flipping against the edges of various papers, thumbs tabbing to the folder in front of the one I looked in before. Eventually, I came to a folder actually labeled “Homeland Security,” and that’s where my birth certificate was. And I felt so much better about that. My birth certificate is a copy, but it’s all I have, but I’m glad that hasn’t disappeared.

So, my passport hasn’t come up yet. But my letter for the interview says to keep the appointment even if I don’t have all the required paperwork. The sheet says I “MUST” have it, but I wonder what will happen if I don’t. I haven’t used that passport since June, 1984. I haven’t been outside of the United States since. I wonder if I tell my really cheery interviewer (totally expecting the worst, here) that information, what would happen.

Some fun things have come out of this search, though. It makes for some fresh blogging. Stay tuned.

Gotta go, Just had another idea about where the passport might be.