Oct 31, 2012


If anything positive came out of this ordeal with the ankle monitor is a lot of self discovery and a lot of new clothes. I realized I am not built for long suffering and martyrdom. There are some people that enjoy victimization, I am sorry to say it but is true. Everyone has one of them in their lives, the coworker/friend/cousin/ex/aunt whatever that enjoys the role and wears it well.  They like the attention their sad situation, whatever it may be, gives them. I see is a milder form of Munchausen by proxy Syndrome.  Some people like it; I know it because there are several people like that in my circle of acquaintances. I respect their choice to live their life like that but I can’t live mine the same way.

Some people might have milked the monitor for all its worth. I wanted the monitor gone and my life back. I wanted to go back to normal. I didn’t have the patience for it. I could imagine myself gnawing my foot off like some feral creature and getting rid of it. I emailed my lawyer constantly, asking him for other avenues we could take that would allow me to remove the bracelet, I gave him hypothetical’s where my monitor would simply fall off without my knowledge, and sent him web articles of people like me who had sued the contractor the INS was using for the monitoring for harassment.

None of it made a difference I was still tethered to that thing and nothing I did would make a difference. That was the problem, I needed to do something about it, I needed to feel like I was somewhat in control of the situation, I needed to feel useful and like I was making strides towards resolution. That wasn’t the case; there wasn’t anything I could do, nothing I could fix, no steps I could take. That, more than anything, was driving me crazy. My fate was in the hands of people who didn’t give a damn about me and didn’t feel my sense of urgency because they weren’t the ones walking around, working out, showering, having sex with an ankle bracelet banging around.

I kept thinking about the promise I had made to myself not to allow another year to go by. This year on April 28, 2012 would be my ten year anniversary in the country and I had promised myself that if everything wasn’t solved by then I would just leave. If things are this hard then maybe they aren’t meant to be. Dear Husband and I had a list of places we would go. Vancouver seemed the most ideal since they are super liberal there (my kind of peeps) and it looked like a gorgeous city and it was close enough to the US that I could still see my sister and brother and mom. I could imagine my mom driving with my brother and sister all the way to the US/Canada border where we would embrace each other, both with our feet in the respective countries, without crossing over, then turn around and go back to our new lives without seeing each other for another year or so.

I felt that I had already betrayed myself by allowing them to put an ankle monitor on me, I couldn’t betray myself even further by breaking that promise. I don’t break promises I make others, why should I break a promise I made to myself?  I tried to think of all that leaving would entail, as grim as everything looked I felt like something I had to do. I researched Vancouver to see if they had a ban of pit bulls since Zoey would be going with us, of course. New Zealand (Dear Husband’s choice of country to flee to) had to be taken off of the list because they have a ban on them. Shame on you Kiwis

DH understood. I don’t know if he was placating me or not, but he seemed willing to leave all he knew behind and go with me. I wasn’t equally willing to uproot him and take him away from all his loved ones, he seemed to see it as an adventure and I felt like I had ruined his life.
I was in my bedroom reading historical romances and waiting for my scheduled visit from ISAP agent one Friday when my lawyer called. “I have good news” he said. “They agreed to reopen your case; by the end of the year if everything keeps going like this you should have your green card”

“At the end of the year?” I repeated numbly. I imagined myself wearing that thing for the rest of the year and I just couldn’t handle it. “Are you out of your mind? I can’t wear this thing for a whole year! I refuse to walk around like a criminal with this fucking thing for a whole fucking year!!” I pretty much screamed at him. “It won’t be a whole year with the monitor” He said calmly, as if speaking to an unruly child. “I will be sending you the letter from the decision to reopen your case, you can take it with you to the ISAP place, and they should take you off the monitor. This is going to take a while; I need to petition the judge for a dismissal of the deportation order, the prosecutor may choose not to agree with it. Remember you have no right to be here, they don’t owe you anything”

He kept talking to me, mentioning another client who that very morning had gotten her petition to reopen her case denied, we had the exact same case and yet mine went well and hers didn’t. I was one of the lucky ones. I could barely hear him over the roaring in my ears.

“They don’t owe you anything” Kept repeating over and over again in my head. I had forgotten that, I had forgotten that I didn’t belong here, that I wasn’t part of this country, that it wasn’t really home, it wasn’t us, it was them and me. I had gotten so used to thinking I was meant to be here, my husband is here, my family is here, my life is here. If I can’t be here, where else would I be? I lived in Colombia for three years of my life, in Venezuela for seventeen and in the U.S. for the last ten. Where exactly is home? I am a combination of these three countries, they’ve made me who I am and it was a slap to be reminded that no matter how much I love this country and how these past ten years have changed me and turned me into this person that doesn’t mean the country feels the same way for me.

Unrequited love is a bitch.

Oct 30, 2012


After I got my ankle monitor and I stepped out of that stupid ISAP office I called my DH to tell him I was on my way home.  He had to go to work and couldn’t accompany me in my humiliation. My lawyer called right after I hung up with DH and for the first time in the ten years as my lawyer sounded like he gave a damn. “I know this is difficult, but hang tight for me” He asked, talking to me softly.  He then proceeded to explain that in two months or so everything should be in place and I would have the ankle monitor removed.

My former case that ended in the removal proceedings would have to be reopened. Once reopened new evidence would have to be submitted explaining that my circumstances had changed. I was married to a citizen, I didn’t have a criminal records, was an asset to the community, spoke the language, etc. Everything was in place since it had taken so long to get my interview; my lawyer was as prepared as we could be.  The problem was the USCIS office that wins the medal on bureaucracy would be in charge of sending my entire file (all twenty tons of it) to the office in Miami where the Immigration Judge would review my case and decide to reopen or not.

That was a bad strategy of my lawyer’s giving me a date to focus on. I was counting down the days with a fervor Mother Theresa couldn’t have matched.

One random day weeks after the monitoring started I was at home after work when the monitor started beeping. That noise is so annoying. It was charged and within range of whatever fucking imaginary zone I was supposed to remain in (which was the entire fucking area of the state of Florida) and yet it kept on beeping. It would stop for a minute or two, making you believe it was finally over and then resume its incessant high pitch beep. Four hours into it I was ready to take a hammer to it.

The thing is when sonar torture has taken place for a few hours and you are drunk on moderately priced Cabernet, the possibility of being deported gets to be the least of your worries. Maybe number one should’ve been that if I took a hammer to it I could break my fucking ankle in the process and not the monitor but at that point I didn’t care, at that point all I cared about was making the noise stop. That noise that kept reminding me that I had to allow this to be done to my person in order to stay here. The noise that didn’t allow me to fall asleep and more importantly concentrate on my episodes of Downton Abbey.

Cooler heads prevailed. I let out a bloody murder scream that shook the windows and made Max’s tail all puffy, I went up the stairs and launched myself on top of my (amazingly) asleep DH and finally cried my drunken eyes out.

I am sure I made no sense to him; I barely made any sense to myself. I was so exhausted (it was already around 3 am) and full of wine and angry, so damn fucking angry.
The next morning we both missed work and showed up bleary eyed and hungover (at least I was) to the ISAP office. The women in the office with whom I had been dealing with since being put in the program looked at each other in horror.

“That has been beeping all night?”

“All night” I confirmed, leaving out the cuss word that wanted to come out. The woman was pregnant after all. What is it about pregnant women, even the ones you aren’t related to make you feel like they need to be treated with kiddy gloves and fawned over?

They apologized and tsk, tsk, making me feel somewhat better. They took the monitor off to give me a new one, apparently the one I was wearing had malfunction. No shit, Sherlock.

I enjoyed that brief minute when my ankle was free again and watched the skin of it disappear under the ugly black plastic once more.

Oct 24, 2012


I am ashamed to admit I am not half as strong as I always thought I was. All it took was a hit to my vanity, my pride and I became a wallowing, wine-guzzling, whinny woman.  That first afternoon when I came back home from getting my ankle monitor I sat there looking at that thing and feeling utterly defeated.

I remember popping open a bottle of wine, the sound of the cork no longer as cheery as it always had been. I sat (spilled myself) over the couch on the living room and stared at the thing on my ankle as if it was a snake about to strike. I hated it; hatred, however, seems to pale in comparison to what I was feeling, hatred is not a strong enough word for what I was harboring toward that beeping, blinking inanimate object that was now ruling my life.

Dear Husband arrived home to find me wrapped on my bathrobe, bottle completely gone, Max and Zoey looking at me like I had lost it. I wasn’t crying, just sitting there in the almost dark, staring at nothing. Poor DH must’ve thought I had finally cracked. Not yet, not quite yet.

The next day at work everyone seemed so upset on my behalf it soothed my ego a little, but the presence of the monitor was something I couldn’t ignore. I felt weigh down, as if it was something out of a King novel, determined to drag me to hell.  That afternoon I also chose to drown my sorrows in wine. Thank God I am a wine drinker and not into hard liquor because I don’t think my liver would’ve survived the pace I seemed determined to set.

I knew this wasn’t a tragedy. Deep down, I knew that I was still in the country, surrounded by family, friends and coworkers who all offered their unconditional support. They didn’t see me any different; they didn’t think anything less of me because I was still me. When I looked closely at my feelings I realized that what I was feeling was anger and humiliation for the future, for that moment when someone I didn’t know would glimpse the monitor while I walked in my long pants, skirts, dresses and jeans and they would think ill of me, they would assume I had done something wrong. Why did I care? I don’t usually care what people think of the things I do or say. Yet the idea that they would think I had done something to deserve it was devastating.  Image, apparently, is more important to me than I had thought. I was as vain as my DH sometimes jokingly (maybe not so jokingly) accused me of being. I take painstaking care of my appearance, my weight, my hair, my clothes. Why? Because I enjoy feeling pretty, I enjoy the look of respect people afford you when you are well dressed and well groomed. I enjoy the compliments on my style, my hair, and my outfits. All these are superficial accomplishments that I take an inordinate amount of pleasure in. I truly am vain.

I know my looks aren’t all I am. I knew and know still that the monitor wrapped securely around my ankle didn’t define me. I was still me. But I was afraid of the moment when someone outside my circle noticed it. What if they asked? What if they didn’t ask and I notice the look of doubt and derision? I would feel the need to explain, but why? They don’t know me. I don’t know them, why do I care? I don’t know why. But I did.

By day three DH was worried my liver was going to desert my body so he called my sister behind my back. He told her he was worried about how I was taking it and between the two they convinced me to go spend the weekend at my sister’s. It was my cousin’s birthday we would hang out, get drunk, have a BBQ by the beach in her apartment building and forget all about the monitor.

I didn’t feel like going, I didn’t feel like getting up and pretending I was okay with my current situation but I didn’t want to worry DH whose call to my sister for help is as uncharacteristic as me being sweet. He wasn’t used to be worried about me I got up and left.

Saturday morning at my sister’s I woke up to the monitors annoying beeping. I tried charging but a green light confirmed a full battery and after twenty minutes of “Leaving inclusion zone” droning it finally stopped. I called the number they had given me for emergencies but apparently they don’t work on weekends (which makes sense because why waste even more resources on someone who isn’t an actual danger to others). I left a message and left it at that. In the end it was a case of me being too close to the water (my sister lives by the beach) and the GPS signal was bouncing and it didn’t locate me. They didn’t care so I chose not to care either.

I had a great time that weekend. I saw my cousin’s baby, met the other cousin’s husband, saw their dad who had been a great uncle to me growing up and whom I hadn’t seen in ten years. I had more mojitos than I needed and ended up taking care of my drunk cousin and sister after a club.

I sat in my sister’s apartment drinking wine, eating cheese, talking about old times back in Caracas and my cousin whose twin sister had the baby looked at DH and myself, wrapped around each other on the couch and said to me in Spanish. “Chama, como se nota que esta super enamorado” (Dude, you can tell how much he loves you) . And I looked at him and smiled. Not the first and not the last honest smile of that weekend.

I came home somehow refreshed, and glad that I had all I had. I am so rich in every department I didn’t want to allow this to keep me down, bracelet or not I would be okay.