From My Window Last Night

In Provo, we celebrated pretend 4th of July on the 2nd of July. I don’t feel like explaining why the big party couldn’t be on real 4th of July. There’s a big event called the Stadium of Fire, and big guest stars show up and sing then fireworks go boom in the sky and it’s apparently a lot of fun.

I think this is my first time in Provo during the 4th of July. Maybe I was here sometime in the 90s, but I honestly can’t remember that far back without pulling my cerebral cortex.

Anyway, everyone was off doing something, and I have a pretty good view from my bedroom window, so I turned off my light and waited for the show to begin. I didn’t get to hear any of the accompanying music – I do like patriotic music – but I also missed the performances of David Archuleta and Brad Paisley. I’m sort of bummed about Brad Paisley. Dude can play a guitar.

The fireworks lasted about 20 minutes, and here are the last 3 minutes or so. What I like about pretend 4th of July is that I get to see a lot more fireworks shows on real 4th of July. And I’ll keep remembering all the ways America is awesome before returning to feeling that a lot of Americans are not awesome. That kind of blind patriotism doesn’t only apply to America; I saw it in Africa, too, but mostly among the kids, but they were kids, and we don’t have any excuse, really, because it’s not just our kids who are acting like that. I’m not absolving the adults from being lousy examples to their kids, because they’re adults and they should understand their responsibility to bring up children to be healthy thinkers and honest and community members and not zealots who base their decisions on fallacy and ignorance. I’m not knocking gratitude or democracy or a lot of the things that make America a great country, because America is wonderful. Keep being grateful, but just stop being stupid. You know who you are.

Broad Stripes and Bright Stars

Officially, this is my first Independence Day as an American citizen. A draft of something lengthy and involved and emotional and largely unfinished sits on my laptop. I hope it emerges eventually.

I love this country. I love my freedoms here. I love the servicemen who devote their lives to keep this country safe and relatively secure. I love this country’s founding fathers and their vision. I want their vision, especially when we get things wrong.

I love my family and their sacrifice and unending support. I love my friends.

I love seeing new and different people every day, making eye contact that means we know we’re in the greatest country in history.

These thoughts are no different from previous years. But a friend reminded me yesterday of my citizenship, and I got excited, and I started clapping, and now there’s all this … power.

I’ve lived and worked and thought like an American for all of my life. People have assumed I was American for just as long.

And now I am. I wish I could describe it. There’s nothing like it.

Happy Independence Day. Happy July 4th. Share the excitement about being American.

I’m off to a picnic and maybe attempt to watch the fireworks. We’ll see.

Pursuit of Nouns Pertaining to American Citizenship

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This is an interesting little booklet. I have been studying for my naturalization test, because I AM NOT A CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES. I know people have unique and bizarre and outrageous circumstances, but I don’t know how I grew up with an American dad in the American navy, went to American schools, studied United States history, went (am going) to an American university, have worked in America ever since I was 18 and HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO VOTE. What the heck, people.

The positive thing about the situation was avoiding jury duty. I can’t believe I’m giving that up to be noted in the books as a United States citizen. Oh, the sacrifice.

So I think the government maybe threatened my mom with her life, because when I asked her what kind of questions were on the test, she got all vague and I-don’t-remember-y. Swearing in to become a citizen of the greatest country in the world – that process – I would assume is something you never forget.

Of course Mom remembers, but she wants me to have the full experience of the process. And if there’s anyone in this chunk of the universe who can appreciate the process of anything, it’s me. And I am grateful to my mom for allowing me to grow as a little American seedling into a lush, verdant, concerned citizen, ready to get her voting game on.

The United States of America has gone through a lot. Her journey hasn’t been easy. She’s a dynamic, living organism, certainly with flaws, but I’d choose those flaws over the scar tissue and disfigurement that other countries suffer. I’d choose – that’s the beauty of being in America, an American. It magnifies the very fundamental principle God has given us to make decisions, to participate in government; not only to dream, but to do.

Finally, I’m doing. After years of hanging onto details that kept me feeling sorry for myself – having should have been adopted, feeling ungrounded and unbelonging – and the joking fear that was rooted in a truthful fear of being deported, and $685 later, the process is well underway.

(There’s humor in that, after peeling back the red tape and bureaucracy.)

I have lived in America for 30 years. I have experienced or witnessed much of the toil this country has faced in the last quarter-century. I’m not unaware of the issues; I do what I can to stay informed. This country is blessed. This country, despite of – or maybe because of – its imperfections, will continue to stand as the greatest, freest country in the world.

I love it here. I might not yet be a citizen, and I might not yet be able to do things citizens do, but by all other standards, I am an American. I am due process.

Happy Independence Day.