Saturday, December 12, 2009

Since I've been gone

(Can anyone read this post title without singing that Kelly Clarkson song? Can you still, now that I've brought it up? You're welcome.)

An astute anonymous commenter noticed that my "starting over" attempt has pathetically fizzled.

Yeah... About that.

Honestly? I couldn't figure out what to write. Not like that used to stop me.

But: lazy. Also: perfectionist.

So rather than writing something lame (again) just to kickstart the process, I... slumped. Further.


Not like I haven't been up to anything exciting in the past couple years.

I got married. (Didjahear?)

My husband got a green card.

I don't have links or a peppy picture at hand to prove that. But he did.

Actually, that was pretty interesting. Not really because of what went on during our application, which was astonishingly easy -- or maybe not so astonishing since one of the "questions" during our "grilling" to determine whether we were a for-real couple or just a for visa-one was "which consular officer was a guest at your wedding?" (My husband: "that one. Hi!" )

Of course, grade grubber that I am, I totally interpret our easy road to legal American residency as an objective assessment of the awesomeness of our union.

Theo + Naomi: A+++

If this were an AP exam, we would get a 5.

Gold star!

Anyway, my favorite part of the process was where we got to listen in to everybody ELSE's fascinating roads to legal American residency. Or, you know, to somewhere else.

People, not everyone used the study guide.

Like the one group of children trying to rejoin their father who was a naturalized U.S. citizen. Except he was not the father listed on their birth certificates.

Family representative: Oh, they changed their names.

Consular Officer: Huh?

FR: No, the father changed his name.

CO: What?

FR: Everyone's name changed.

CO: I think we're going to need a DNA test.

Or the lovely woman from Mauritania, a legal U.S. resident, who wanted to bring her new-ish husband back with her to the states.

CO: When did you get married?

Wife: 2006

CO: But it says here you got divorced in 2008.

Wife: That was my first husband.

CO: But how could you get married again if you weren't divorced yet?

Wife: It was in the village.

CO: Also, it says you were in the U.S. from 1994 on. Did you ever come back to visit?

Wife: In 2007.

CO: But you said you got married in 2006. Did you go back for the wedding?

Wife: Nope.

CO: We're going to need some further documentation.

It's probably totally illegal to write about other people's visa issues on the internet, but if it is, the embassy should stop using microphones to be heard through the glass.

And actually, I could totally believe that, in both those cases, everyone was being totally honest about their relationships and the timeline of events.

Like the names on the birth certificate. In Senegal, at least up until a few years ago, if you were held back in school or lost your ID card or hoped to become a professional athlete or weren't growing fast enough (okay, not sure about that one), they'd just write you a new birth certificate, with a new birthday -- and, I could totally believe, different parentage, if you felt like it.

Or the wedding, in the village, with the still-legally-married, not-present bride. In many traditional weddings, at least in West Africa, neither the bride nor the groom needs to be there.

My (female, non-Senegalese, non-Muslim) friend once stood in for the groom in a Senegalese Muslim wedding, because he was a well-known musician and didn't want to face the demanding public. Mostly because in a Senegalese wedding, the groom, as "host," is supposed to show -- and spread -- his prosperity with all the guests. So it's totally legit for guests to demand money from the newlyweds. And most people can get away with small change, but this musician was successful enough that everyone knew he had real money. Also, there's no such thing as an invitation-only wedding. Which is why, although Theo WAS present during our vows, I only caught glimpses of him during our party-in-the-village. He filled his pockets with small change and bills and then when it started to run out quickly... he hid.

And in Senegal, the legal wedding and the religious/traditional part are separate, so plenty of people have a mosque or church wedding and don't bother with the legal paperwork. No one would care if you weren't actually, you know, technically, like, legally, divorced from your last husband. (Or if you had checked the "monogamy" box on the marriage certificate but later decided you did actually want a second wife. And yes, my favorite part of my marriage license is the part where it says: "The Spouse has opted for monogamy." Because the other choice was polygamy, and that's totally legal, common, and accepted in Senegal. Because everyone's entitled to the marriage-style of their choice. As long as they're not homosexual, apparently, but that's a rant for a different blog. Or at least a different digression.)

So fortunately (or not, depending on your commitment to the narrative arc) our visa application was approved, which means we weren't around find out if this crowd got their visas or not.

I think what we need is a Maury Povich-style, "You are...........

[longer dramatic pause]

[commercial break]

NOT THE FATHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

to bring us the conclusion. I'll have my people call his people.

And there you go. I wrote a post. It's like a real blog! Stay tuned for all the other things I've been up to besides becoming coupled.... I swear there's something. I'm a little grossed out by myself right now.