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Day 739 and Immigration Anxiety

My family has been working on a visa for a friend to come visit us in the United States. It’s felt like the longest 2 years of everyone’s lives. I had no idea how broken our visa and immigration system ones until we tried to invite a family friend with a bad passport on vacation to America.

Sure the pandemic distended wait times into bulging impossible monstrosities, we pushed simple state department work into an impossible task. But it’s not just the broken bureaucracy at play. It’s a system so broken by it’s own disdain and lack of resourcing, your only hope is the grace of God.

If you tried to arrange a tourist visa for someone from the global south you’d find the next available appointment for a tourist visa was three years down the road. And this was after the borders opened up after the pandemic got to be too much trouble. It only got worse from there. I quickly become shocked at how impossible it is to travel to America if you aren’t on a Schengen passport from Europe.

I’ve been working on this seemingly intractable problem for well over two years. We are on our second embassy appointment. The first visit was in Frankfurt in March where it was immediately turned down without the officer even looking at the paperwork. Thousands of dollars and endless time lost to a random bureaucrat in thirty seconds.

And you aren’t even allowed to ask them to take another look as they could ban you on the spot. I cried I was so humiliated after seeing that first refusal. How could America be so broken? We did everything right and it didn’t matter. Kafkaesque doesn’t begin to describe it.

Apparently the American state department treats a visa like a Rabbi handling a conversion. It took another 10 months to schedule a follow up appointment in Prague. Our friend’s home embassy has a three year wait so we’ve been going to European embassies to avoid needing to pay a bribe for an appointment in his home country. Legal immigration is much harder than illegal immigration.

So we planned a trip to Prague. And now the appointment is tomorrow. And I’m terrified. I’m despondent. I’ve done everything right and I have no idea if we will succeed. And it’s not even a visa for me. I can’t imagine how they feel. To be treated as if you are a criminal when all you want to do is visit friends and spend money in a other country.

I’m almost embarrassed how invested I’ve become in making this work but I will not allow myself to be beaten by this system. Guests do not deserve this humiliation and America is my house.

Mind you this is for a tourist visa not a work visa or a green card. This is just for coming to enjoy tourism and spend time with friends and family. Tourism is an important part of the American economy. Especially where I live in Montana. The whole world wants to see Yellowstone.

The entire process has been so humiliating for everyone involved. As the sponsor of the visa I filled out a form called an I-134 where I had to prove my net worth, my home ownership, my income, my job and compensation. I accepted personal financial responsibility for them.

This after being instructed that our guest must show strong ties to their home country and a minimum financial independence of their own. They had to show their home ownership, car deeds, work pay stubs & tenure at the company, not to mention guardianship and primary care responsibilities for their grandmother among many other invasive questions. The paranoia of visa overstays has made it so no one can get a tourist visa at all.

All this humiliation be granted the privilege of spending wealth in America as a tourist. It’s beyond insulting. It only gets worse for each step down the line if you want to work or live in America.

If you’ve ever wondered why we don’t have more legal immigrants this is why. Insofar as I can tell there are two ways to get to America. Illegal crossing and you pray. Or tens of thousands of dollars and years of waiting and you pray. Oh and you probably only get to come if you do it illegally. It is a crisis in every sense of the word.

We’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars, weeks of time on the ground in foreign countries and it has gotten us no where.

We’ve also called in everyone type of favor and access we could find. A privilege most lack. Our constituent services office at our Congressional office has been amazing. They submitted a letter asking for a fair review.

If the hundreds of pages of professionally prepared paperwork, the millions of dollars of financial assets and a congressional letter of fair treatment simply aren’t enough, I wouldn’t be too proud to go crying hat in hand to the ambassador to please consider our case. All we want to do is have a family friend granted the freedom to travel. I’ve got no idea where to turn if it isn’t granted.

I’m so anxious and depressed now that the culmination of so many years of work is coming down to one short interview tomorrow, over which we had no control. I’m mess. I’ve let it get to me.

I cannot fathom what else we could do. If millions of dollars of assets, a by the book legal case, multiple political appointees vouching for us and a good faith effort to show our personal responsibility aren’t enough, than what is enough for America?

My fear is nothing will be good enough and I will be despondent in tears tomorrow by 11am. And I pray I have the strength to fight on if it happens. Because I believe in America and I will go to the mat to bring more people to see it’s splendor. Empire’s end won’t happen on my watch without a fight.

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Emotional Work Uncategorized

Day 623 and Pausing

I am feeling a bit anxious about back to work season. I’ve traditionally had a terrible relationship with work. I’m a workaholic and struggle to pace myself effectively. I particularly love riding on the zeitgeist of a season like the fall as “everyone” is back at the grind and I like to ride the energy of the moment.

But I also need more frequent and shorter pauses than the American work week or season has ever allowed. I’ve always been afraid to take them because I fear being seen as lazy. “Only the morally weak rest” is a truism of English and Germanic lineage well prior to the Reformation. Though that’s kind of an aristocracy needs the serfs working thing.

But Protestant Work Ethic aside, I’m not really cut out for hustle culture. Being disabled, even modestly with something my spondylitis, is like the double whammy of being weak and lazy. I need to maintain a different schedule because I cannot overcome the foibles of my own body? That’s an affront! I’ve got a lot of self talk that basically goes like this

You soft feminine pathetic weak bitch get your ass back to work.

Me to myself. Sadly.

Does someone have internalized issues with feminine cycles? Oh yes she does! I guess it’s not just being lazy but it’s being female and a waste of productive worker all in one body. Super fun! And yet here I am a libertarian and I work in finance. Square that circle my friends.

Capitalism has enjoyed patriarchal structuring because it allows us to categorize the inconveniences of bodies that are harder to regulate. Women in the workforce was a pain in the ass until we figured out chemical birth control I’ve got to assume.

But all these legacies of who is worthy and who is strong and who is valued are kind of bullshit constructs. I can take what serves me. I don’t need to get all up in my head about having a less productive body because who even set the damn standard right?

So I am reminded I can pause without crashing. I choose to pause at my own leisure. I can choose to self nurture so I operate from my own point of maximum strength. I have to chose to pause. A pause is not is weakness.

A pause is like the ocean cresting before the wave breaks. And I can choose to ride that momentum. This is all a part of my own work on not just surviving the current moment but thriving with optimism. It’s peace from strength. While I recognize and even ride the chaos outside, I do not feel chaotic inside.

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Internet Culture Uncategorized

Day 541 and Doomscrolling

I love internet culture. While I’m an American, if there were citizenship for the internet I’d consider myself fully naturalized. Millennials aren’t natives like Gen Z, but we definitely moved online when we were kids. I’m a proud immigrant to the internet.

I engaged in one of the internet’s proudest exports yesterday. After the news about Roe v. Wade hit I was glued to my phone watching for tractions. I spent easily five or six hours Doomscrolling. I’m not proud of it but what else are you going to do when American implodes around a topic as emotional as abortion? Do something sensible like go for a walk. Nah.

Doomscrolling probably doesn’t have a an exact IRL analog. If town squares were still a thing that existed, maybe we’d crowd in and listen to people scream and heckle the town criers. Maybe it’s more like going to the mall and chatting up your peers.

Though I can’t really imagine anyone engaging in the kind of brawling that goes on when Doomscrolling turns reactive. And boy was it reactive when this mess hit America. People were feeling a kind of way. I saw various colors of shock. That surprised me as all I had felt for years was cynicism curdled into disgust. It has been clear where some demographics wanted the issue to land. We had taken too much for granted.

I’ve got an ambition to stay off the internet for a bit. But I know that my reflexive habits will put me back on Twitter if I don’t monitor my usage constantly. When I am anxious I like to surf sentiment. Taking a gauge gives me some sense of false control. That if I can just read the tea leaves right that maybe I’ll protect myself.

But it isn’t really that is it? You know at any minute you could be treated like a second class citizen. That unbearable cruelty could be casualty meted out on your body. And that so many people simply do not care about that pain. And fuck me if that doesn’t shatter your faith in humanity a little.

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Chronic Disease Uncategorized

Day 372 and Pace Yourself

I was in an incredible groove yesterday. I’ve been letting go of the awful December I experienced and enjoying the new January energy. If you look at yesterday’s post I was absolutely in the zone. So I pushed myself thinking I can handle full capacity day. Mistakes were made in my enthusiasm. And well I’m probably in need of a rest. I over did it.

I often struggle with pacing and moderation. It’s important for me to remember that I’ve got a history as a workaholic. But I don’t want to feel as if I can’t push myself either. It’s the middle path I must walk. But it is hard to stay on it. I feel like every day I am sliding off the middle path right into the ditch. I’m getting better at getting myself back.

I used to be happy mailing elaborate detours. I’d take every exit on this metaphorical path in the past. But tonight I’m going to remind myself I’ve got a destination. And that is being responsible for keeping myself happy and healthy. So I’m going to get in bed and watch some TV and shitpost on Twitter

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288 and Both Ends

Alas I cannot find the scene but there is a bit in Ted Lasso where the most cheerful football player Danny Rojas recounts a bout of food poisoning saying “I was sick out of both ends. The body truly is a miracle!”

It’s a pretty good joke because having food poisoning doesn’t feel terribly miraculous. The indignity of shitting and vomiting at the same time doesn’t invite existential awe for most people. I can say this with some certainty as I got to enjoy this particular miracle today. I’m not entirely sure if it was food poisoning, but I was juggling squatting and kneeling and I didn’t feel like my body was a miracle at all.

Maybe in hindsight I can recognize how impressive it is that my body has the capacity to rid itself of a poisonous toxin with such efficiency. But good grief is it miserable as it is happening.

I’ve debated if pain or nausea is worse. Pain is a tricky beast that consumes your capacity to live. But nausea can capture your attention more completely. You can tough out some kinds of pain, perhaps manage your capacity to tolerate it through mental gymnastics and medication. But nausea demands relief. When you have to expel a toxin, you better run as it may arrive before you arrive at the safety of a toilet.

I hate the feeling of being nauseous as there is simply little else you can do but let your body run whatever course is necessary. Which I suppose is a miracle. Maybe Danny Rojas is right. I feel absolutely fine right now. A full 10 hours of miraculous misery later I have recovered. Just in time to go to bed.

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Consumed 1/6/21

Media: Lets be honest I sat in front of the television and watched Fox News in horror for most of the day.

I did some reading. Practically speaking the Republican Party is leaning more on disenfranchisement techniques. As a conservative and libertarian I would much prefer simply creating a more popular party platform instead of leaning in on minority rule and chicanery.

Food: As it is winter I’ve been eating fruit that is available like winter satsumas. I much prefer berries. So it was a thrill to get a vat of organic blueberries and raspberries for my Greek yogurt. Now that I eat breakfast consistently instead of a fasting (a long story for another time)