Nov 29, 2012


I can explain it now. I know why I didn’t feel like I thought I would when I received the Green Card.

All these years I had been working under the misconception that the green card was the only thing holding me back from true happiness, that if only I could have my GC, everything would be alright with the world and bliss would be mine.

The thing I discovered was that I was already happy. Yes, the immigration issues were a problem and a nightmare and a pain in the ass, frustratingly slow and mind boggling but I was happy, without it I was happy and with it I am happy too. I don’t need it.

Ok, who am I kidding? I mean I do need it. I need it to be able to stay in the country, and work and live a normal life and be part of this country in a recognizable way, but I don’t need it to be happy, I don’t need it to be me.

I didn’t know how to feel because all this time I have been granting the GC almost mystical powers; it was the Holy Grail of my quest, as if getting it was going to be my salvation.

What a revelation and how silly of me for not knowing that was the reason. So damn simple. All those emotions I always imagined myself having (hell I even imagined myself crying of happiness and that only happens at weddings) weren’t happening because I was already feeling like that and it didn’t have anything to do with my immigration status. I was and am happy, I am content, I am in love, I am safe and warm, I don’t go hungry and everyone that I love and care about are also healthy and well and I’ll assume at least moderately happy.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t go around the streets tra-la-laing and skipping and twirling around and talking to the birds (just the squirrels), I get mad and sad and pissed off and frustrated and I do feel this sense of dissatisfaction about my professional life, my frustrated dreams of being a published author and the state of my thighs.  But all in all, I am happy and the Green Card is just the cherry on top.

Now I am just full of questions and half assed plans and it’s so close to the holidays that I have decided to postpone all the soul searching until after the merry season. Still the questions hound me and swirl in my head, crowding my thoughts and keeping me from enjoying this time when everything is solved but there’s still so much to do. Amazing how possibilities are more overwhelming than the lack of them.

Where do I go from here?

What are my plans?

Are we staying in Florida?

Am I going back to school?

If yes, what I am going to school for?

Will I have to take math classes if I go back to school?

Why do I hate math so much? 

Do I really suffer from Dyscalculia?

What car am I buying?

When am I going to stop procrastinating and actually go to the DMV to do the driving test?

Are we buying a house? Where? How big? When?

Can we get another dog?

How about a pet rat? (Completely unrelated and DH said no on the pet rat)

I am turning my brain off; these questions can all wait until after I empty the bank account buying Christmas presents and when January 1, 2013 gets here.
Unless the Mayans were onto something….

Nov 26, 2012


I have been writing in this blog for a couple of years now. It has been interesting for me to put my experiences on paper; there is something about writing something down that makes me feel relief. It’s like I am a pressure cooker and I have all these steam inside and only writing it down will relieve the pressure.

I wish that all the practice I’ve had explaining my journey and my feelings throughout it could help me explain how it felt to open that envelope and find my Green Card in it. I could describe it as happiness, but I am not sure it was. It was a weird sense of “huh, what now?”

What now? I don’t know. I saw the Green Card and the badly taken picture on it (I had a cold the day of the Biometrics) and I wanted to jump up and down in happiness (which was the reaction I always pictured in my head when I dreamed of the moment) but I didn’t. DH and I looked at each other and felt an anticlimactic sort of joy. I guess I was expecting to feel an overwhelming sense of completion, after all a long awaited goal had finally been reached. I don’t know what was wrong with me, maybe it was all those Mai Tais, or all the Maui rum, or sun burned, or the ink in the tattoo had done something to me, I don’t know. All I know is that I felt as if I had a filter between the Green Card in my hand and me, it wasn’t touching me.

Where was the sense of overwhelming relief I was sure I was going to feel? Don’t get me wrong, I did feel relief, I felt free and like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. But where was the thrill? Where were the tears? The lifting happiness? The sense of accomplishment?  Why couldn’t I feel super happy as I had expected to feel? I felt oddly muted.

I called my mom and friends, and posted it on Facebook with many exclamation points. Everyone was happy and excited about the prospects of my future and how this was finally over.
Why couldn’t I feel anything? It was as if all my emotions had been felt and used up in Hawaii and I had no room for more. DH spent a sleepless night (he’s a worrier) thinking of all the things we could do now that I was free to be here. I can work anywhere I want, I can move to a different state, I can get a driver’s license, I can visit other countries, I can buy a house, I can go back to school. All those choices previously denied to me, now open. All the possibilities kept him turning and tossing while I slept like the dead next to him.

Words fail me, and believe me, it doesn’t happen often. If anything I suffer from a surplus of words and if something can be said in two words I manage to deliver it in a hundred of them. Why then do I fail to explain my feelings? I brought the GC to work and my coworkers hugged me, my boss was near tears, they felt so much, what the fuck is wrong with me? Why am I feeling so numb?

We had planned a party, when we were still waiting for the Green Card, DH and I had said we would throw a giant party and invite everyone and have a cake with a copy of my GC on it. We would hire a DJ and caterers and do it like we never did our wedding because we didn’t have the money then. My mom had bought DH an expensive cigar that I am sure she hoped he would smoke when he became a daddy (not happening); he instead had planned to smoke it as soon as the Green Card was in our hands.

The party hasn’t happened, the cigar remains un-smoked

Nov 20, 2012


The first week of October of 2012 DH and I, finally, after almost four years of marriage, went on our honeymoon! Woo hoo!.

The deportation order had been lifted which meant I could travel within the U.S. Even if things still weren’t solved at least I had the liberty of moving within the country via plane (a huge privilege we take for granted).  A whole month came and went and we still hadn’t heard anything back from the local USCIS office.  Our lawyer suggested they might need more information and that if so they would request via letter. At this point there was nothing for us to do but wait. They could take all the time in the world. He asked me the same thing he had been asking me for years. You guessed it…he asked me to be patient.

I was seating under a cabana, staring at the blindingly blue Pacific Ocean when I read an email alerting me a comment had been made, for the first time in almost a year, on this very blog. The writer of the comment had mentioned how she was going through the same process and how difficult it was, how it seemed never ending and impossible. She sounded so hopeless, exactly how I had felt for the past three years, that I wanted to reassure her, but what could I really say? I was, just like her, still waiting.

I looked around me. I was spending the most amazing vacation in Maui with DH, and I was tanned and drunk on fruity drinks feeling so incandescently happy I felt weightless.  It was as if the merest of sea breezes could carry me away and my sense of peace, even though things were unresolved, made me think that maybe it was time to look at the past year with less anger. No matter how hard things got, how humiliated I felt, how much I had cried, how much damage I had done to my liver, how frustratingly slow, stupid and redundant the process seemed, it had all led me here, to this moment. To the beautiful water around me, to the gorgeous mountain views, to sharing it all with the man I call my husband. Maybe it was the Aloha! spirit.
To everyone that can I would recommend a visit to Maui. For DH and me it was almost a religious experience. We swam with wild sea turtles in the open ocean, saw beautifully colored reef fishes out of Finding Nemo, ate delicious food, got to know the sad and beautiful story of the Hawaiian Islands, went all the way up 10,000 feet to a Volcano Summit (Haleakala) to see the sun rise and came back from it all, tattooed.

It’s so damn difficult to remain angry and bitter and resentful when life shows you how lucky you are, how privileged I truly am, being here, happy, healthy, in love. Also, how privileged I am by being able to afford a trip to Maui when so many others can’t afford the basics. It’s a sobering fact to know how much one complains when one has it easy.

I am not going to lie, I wish this entire process had been smoother, faster, less humiliating, but all things worth anything are worth fighting for, right? It was so easy to forget all the troubles and the pain and tears when wallowing in the beauty of Hawaii.  I felt suddenly silly about the time I spent complaining. I also felt like that moment when I was feeling so happy I wanted to burst, was a reward, a reward for putting up with it all, a reward for staying strong when all I wanted was to run away and quit. It felt like a promise, a promise of better things to come, of how happy I could be now, even without everything completely solved.

You know when you are in a crappy relationship, and the person you are with hurts you, or cheats on you and you feel worthless and angry and miserable and as if you are never going to trust love again? And then someone comes and shows you just how damned wrong you were? And slowly, almost timidly, you are happy again and in love and you trust them and the relationship is how a relationship should be? And in that moment you realize you had to go through all that heartbreak, all those nights getting drunk or eating ice cream, all those nights spent drunk-dialing and crying to your girlfriends, and doubting yourself. You had to go through that so you could fully appreciate the beauty of love how is meant to be experienced.

That’s how I felt, like everything crappy that had happened to me during this immigration process was to make me appreciate the moments ahead, the beauty this country has to offer, the incredible luck I have that it didn’t go worse when it could’ve.

What won’t kill you makes you stronger, if you may. I remembered the many times my mom said to me that God won’t give you a burden he won’t think you can’t carry. I felt, even though I am not a religious person, that God was done testing me for the moment and here was my prize for carrying my burden the whole way. I may have done it bitching loudly instead of in quiet dignity but hell, I carried it.

We landed back in reality after a glorious week in Maui. We felt disconnected from the world, I had missed the first Presidential Debate and more shockingly I didn’t care. We came back in a daze for all we had seen, all we had drunk and all we had experienced. We didn’t want to go back to work, unpack, sleep in our room and look out the window to our parking lot. We wanted to get up early and go for breakfast in Lahaina, rent some gear and go snorkeling, or jump from the Black Rock into the blue/green waters in Ka’anapali Beach; we wanted to take another helicopter ride through the mountain’s inner valleys.  We wanted to look out the window and watch the palm trees sway against the mountains and the pink and purple colors of the sunset reflecting on the water.

But we couldn’t. We unpacked, took Zoey for a walk, restocked the fridge, did the laundry, and opened the stack of mail.

Fateful mail...amid the Anthropology Catalog and the Costco Coupons was The Envelope. I opened it unbelieving, with shaky fingers…and there it was. My Green Card had arrived.

Nov 19, 2012

Update No. 10

Just when you think things are solved, just when you think you have done everything that needs to be done and dotted all your i’s and crossed all the t’s, something comes along to remind you that no matter how prepared you are, you are never prepared enough when it comes to the immigration process in the U.S.

We showed up at our appointment, eager to get this out of the way. My stomach was killing me, I felt like I needed to throw up and it was 112 degrees outside and the AC in the car couldn’t keep up with the heat and I was all rumpled and sweaty and nervous and desperate for this to finally be over.

I got hit on by the cops who guard the location (they always do that) and walked through a Citizenship ceremony, feeling jealous and annoyed it wasn’t me (in other words I was all full of piss and vinegar).  The agent called us into her office five minutes after our appointment time. We stood in her office surrounded by pictures of Colombia and coffee bags and Colombian candies in a dish and I wanted to ask her why she had to look so bitchy when we were compatriots. I held my tongue and swore to say the truth and nothing but the truth, amen.

She begun by asking me questions regarding my deportation order “The deportation order was dismissed” I replied. “By whom?” She asked. “The Immigration Judge in Miami who saw us on June 21st” I replied. As it happened she didn’t have a copy of the Judge’s decision and she wasn’t aware the order had been dismissed. “How can you not have it? I mean isn’t that why you guys called me here to complete the process? Without that order being dismissed you couldn’t have send me a letter to finish the process” I replied flabbergasted.

“Do you have a copy of the order with you?” She asked.

“No, I brought with me what the letter you sent asked me to bring” I replied fury escalating like boiling water and spilling into my voice. DH took a hold of my hand in an attempt to calm me down. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, trying to erase the image of me jumping across the desk to choke her, out of my head.

How is it possible that the Immigration J made a decision, that decision propelled the local USCIS to send me a letter to finish my process and yet they had no record of the actual decision being made?! On top of it all they also didn’t have a copy of the receipt for the original I-485 when it was filed three fucking years ago.

“So, let me see if I understand. You don’t have the original receipt of the I-485 being filed, even though you are interviewing me now for said I-485,  and you don’t have a copy of the Immigration Judge’s decision to terminate my deportation, even though without it I wouldn’t have been summoned here either?” I asked trying to understand her logic. How in the fuck had I gotten an interview then, since according to their files I hadn’t applied for the interview in the first place?  I shouldn’t even be granted one since I was still in “removal proceedings” since they hadn’t seen a copy of the Judge’s decision.

“We have different people putting the files together, someone must have misfiled yours” She said without a note of apology in her voice, as if it was completely acceptable to be that damned fucking stupid and that disorganized, as if this “minor snafu” wasn’t affecting my life and it was just a tiny inconvenience.

We suggested to drive to our house and get the paperwork for her since I had a copy of all of it, I just had assumed (dumb fuck that I am) that they would have their files in order and we brought simply what the letter requested me to bring. I handed her the sealed medical paperwork while I tried to breathe through my nose to calm myself and avoid making a scene. She said No. Just that, NO. Dry and uncompromising. She then said she would send a letter requesting extra information from us. More time to wait for them to get their shit together. I sighed in desperation.

I have done everything, EVERYTHING they have asked of me, I have paid all the fees they wanted me to pay, paid taxes, I allowed them to treat me like a criminal even though I am a law abiding individual that has followed all the proper channels and other than bending over and holding my ankles I have done all they’ve wanted. Is it too much to ask for the courtesy of their ability to keep shit straight? I am required to go above and beyond and they aren’t required to even keep my file up to date and organized?

She then asked me: “Have you ever, hurt, tortured or prosecuted someone based on their sex, race, and religion?” I turned around to look at DH surprised by the question.
“Um, no”
“Have you ever belonged to a Communist Party?”
“Do you have ties to any terrorist groups?”
“No” I hate to point out the obvious, but has anyone being asked these questions ever answers yes? I mean if they are terrorists and torture people based on religious, race or gender differences don’t they lack the moral compass to simply lie if they are asked?

She then asked me if I wanted to keep my maiden last name or change it to my husband’s. Now, I have never planned on changing my name, I adore my DH but my name shall always be my name, is my family name, he and I are family but the bonds of blood between me and my last name are stronger than those bonds of legal matrimony.  I don’t see our union as a holy union where we become one, or whatever. I see it as a conscious, emotional and legal decision to tie our fates together because we love each other and choose not to live without each other. I respect everyone’s decision to take their husband’s or wife’s name, it wouldn’t be a decision I made.
I still had to reply “I’ll hyphenate it” It didn’t seem the most appropriate place to start spouting feminist reasons as to why I wanted to keep my name.

Time was running out, she was required to go a meeting and either feeling pity for my situation or taking responsibility for their disorganization she gave us an hour and half to go home, retrieve the paperwork they didn’t have and bring it to them. We live a ten minute drive from them. Haleluyah!! A practical decision to a solvable problem. Color me surprised!

We rushed home, me cursing the whole way there and back. We handed our paperwork in, she smiled, thanked us and said:
“We’ll try to process this as soon as possible. You will hear from us shortly”

After almost four years of immigration process, after being treated like a criminal, after witnessing their disorganization and lack of common sense, her words seemed trite and insulted my intelligence. At least be honest with me, don’t give my false hope, don’t tell me this will be taken care of in a speedy way.

DH and I drove back home, trying to answer all the questions our well intentioned and loving family had. It was frustrating and sad that we couldn’t assure them it was all over.