Oct 12, 2012


There have been times in my life when I have been angry. There have been times in my life I have been so angry I thought I might do someone some damage. I have never been this angry. This was like a seven layer dip of anger.

As I sat there by myself at the ISAP office (which stands for Intense Supervision & Alternative Program) I contemplated my future.  “Am I going to allow this to be done to me?” The question running on a loop in my head was driving me crazy but I couldn’t stop it. Was I? After all these years it came down to this moment, this moment when I was going to relinquish something to this country that so far I hadn’t relinquished before, my sense of pride.

Throughout the years, no matter how hard things got, how I went from upper middle class princess to McDonald’s crew member, I always kept my head high. Proud in the knowledge that I was still better than them (who ‘them’ were, it’s not really clear); proud knowing that I wasn’t who the immigration people, immigrant haters and the government wanted or expected me to be. I wasn’t asking for money, I wasn’t struggling with the language, I wasn’t asking for a handout and thankfully never needed one. I took pride in knowing that I had remained in the passing years my snobby, snooty self, thinking myself above begging, above bending over, above asking politely to be allowed to stay. Deep down I had always felt like I deserved to be here, like the country should be lucky to have me, entitled if you may. What do you mean I am not welcome? Don’t you know who I am? Deluded little me.
I didn’t feel like I should have to go through this in order to stay. I sat there, wondering if it was worth it; if I wanted to stay badly enough to walk around with an ankle monitor.

They called my name and along another girl they walked us to a room where they played a movie explaining the program. I suddenly had flashbacks of my McDonald’s orientation days where all the actors where cheesy-ly happy to be working there and recited stupid instructions that were just common sense.

I leaned back and laughed out loud. The girls next to me looked at me like I was crazy and shifty eyed the room, looking for escape. How couldn’t I laugh? The whole video was so fucking ridiculous they should be ashamed of themselves. They took such pride into the program being an alternative to detainment that it made the video look like they were selling a good product, a product that will make your life better and happier. They had a man running through the park, at the peak of youth, healthy sheen of sweat on his forehead, wearing his ankle monitor. A woman at the beach running into the waves, laughing in her bikini (oh yeah because I am sure all the ankle monitor wearers sent here by I.C.E. are 6 foot tall Scandinavian looking women). A couple of hairy legs and hairless ones with suds running down them, showing you can wear your monitor and take a shower. Well damn it, aren’t I fucking happy I can take a fucking shower!

Aren’t you glad we allowed you to stay out of Krome? Aren’t you lucky you get to frolic in the sand instead of locked up wearing a jumpsuit? Aren’t you one of the privileged ones? That’s the message they were trying to shove hard down my throat. Sadly for them I have never been a swallower.

Did they think we were so stupid, so pathetically happy for their scraps that we wouldn’t notice that this wasn’t an alternative? Two shitty options are no options at all. Do not put mayo on chicken shit and call it chicken salad.  It was like that game we all grew up playing “would you rather” Both options fucking suck, asshole. At least respect me enough to admit to yourself and me that this is fucked up. I would appreciate the honesty much more. “I’m going to treat you like a criminal because I think all people who stay here illegally past their initial welcome are all shady people and a danger to society. If you want to stay this is what you need to do, it is what it is” Refreshing honesty. Not delusional optimism that I’m so damn lucky.

I scoffed and looked at my partner on the table, feeling a sense of kinship with her and expecting my outrage to be reflected on her face. She was doodling on the papers they gave us, completely disinterested. I felt somewhat deflated that I was the only one there working myself  into a lather.

After the very informative piece of fiction, they took us into separate rooms where they asked me which dates I would like to have one of the people visiting me at the house and which days I would like to go to the office. So, not only would I be monitored by the ankle bracelet, I would also have to “check in” once a week and have them come over to my house randomly twice a month. I chose Fridays for my check in days and home visits. It seemed so absurd and such a waste of resources, why strap me with a $2,500 piece of equipment that has a built in GPS if you are also going to require to see me in person every week and then see me in my house the same day?

The woman then told me, with a soft voice, as if approaching a coiled snake, that she was going to fit me with a unit. Lingo for strapping me with a completely redundant GPS. This was it, this was the moment when I either got up and told them to shove it, or stayed and went through the hoops this country asked of me.

I thought of not seeing my family for years, of leaving my pets behind, of my friends and the life I have here. I thought about how I don’t belong anywhere else anyway, the same way I don’t quite belong here either. More than anything I thought of my husband who had begged me the night before, not to “do anything fucking stupid”. So romantic that man. J He asked me not to leave. And that was all that mattered, my husband is American and this is his country which makes it mine now too. I didn’t want to leave it. As angry as I was, resentful as I felt, I love it here, the people, the language, the crazy holidays (Easter Bunny anyone?), the security and cleanliness of the streets, the organic food, the diversity of products, the fact that I can be a vegetarian without getting looked at like I’m crazy. I don’t want to live in a place without Whole Foods, so sue me.

I gritted my teeth and lifted my skirt as if presenting my tiny foot to Prince Charming. The woman put the thing on. “Is it comfortable?” she asked. “Yes, of course is comfortable, I walk around with two pounds of plastic on my ankle all the time” I snapped at her. She seemed unfazed by my sarcasm, I’m sure she was used to the being on the receiving end of resentment.
I walked out of there with that clunky thing bruising my ankle bone and ignoring her instructions to wrap a thick sock around it to avoid hurting myself. I wanted to tell her to shove her instructions and fake concern up her ass where her principles were sure to be, because someone with morals wouldn’t work for a place like that one….but I said nothing.

I took a cab to the tri rail (Florida’s pathetic version of public transport) and sat there, furious. More furious I have ever been. So furious I had chills running through my body, so furious I understood crimes of passion, so furious I wanted to break down and cry. I took deep breaths through my nose and clenched my hands into fists, damning everyone to fucking hell and back, NOT shedding ONE.FUCKING.TEAR. Yay me.

And because I am not melodramatic at all I chanted to myself over and over again:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

I made it home safely. I didn’t cry, I didn’t scream. I didn’t run away. I didn’t quit. I did spent $300 worth of flared bottom pants at Anthropologie that day.


http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/deputy-goodman-said-monitor-malfunctioned-i-heard-/nSbJq/  (I call BS on this, btw)

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