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Tag Archives: Immigration

Sleeping Late

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Apparently, once they get over their jet lag, almost teenagers sleep until 11 on a regular basis. Old mom types get up by 7 because what else is there to do? Old mom types make a sticky mess of the kitchen trying to make lilikoi syrup and take photos of big pitchers of lilikoi green tea. Almost teenagers win at Uno and want you to throw stuffed animals at them. Then they beg you to play chess, but you’d rather have a root canal so you talk your young husband into doing it instead.

You have a juice for lunch and a salad for dinner because yesterday you ate too much ice cream and Taco Bell and you feel a little gross. But then you ruin it by having a Magnum bar. Except having a Magnum bar actually makes everything better.

Your husband writes a big fat check to immigration, and you wish there was no such thing as borders because the whole thing is stupid really. It’s just the Earth and why shouldn’t you be able to live on whatever part of it you like as long as you contribute? Seriously, why all the closed doors, world?

You watch your stats hit about average, which is a let down from the astonishing numbers from the day before. I mean, you made everyone a milkshake. How can they not love you?

But you’re generally happy about your life because everybody is where they should be and healthy and loving each other. It’s pretty awesome.


Jump in the Deep End

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Real life certainly caught up with me today. When I arrived back at work after my day off, I had about three boxes worth of letters waiting to be stuffed. I literally used every glue stick in the office. At least half of them are still waiting to be sealed in the morning.

Even though traffic was harrowing, I knew I still had a lot of work waiting for me when I got home. In addition to writing my first post for a monthly feature on my blog, there were dishes and laundry to consider. Luckily, we ate leftovers, so dinner took absolutely zero effort. The funny thing is, I was looking forward to the writing. Blogging isn’t something I dread. I hope I can become good at it. Good enough to do it full time? I doubt it. I think you need friends for that.

I also learned that I cannot listen to a forty five minute news show about immigration laws without wanting to kick and stab. Like many things in life, I have a generally unrealistic, highly idealistic point of view on this matter. I’ve been an immigrant. I’m married to an immigrant. I hope to be an immigrant again some day. If free markets are supposedly so great and grand and perfect, why can’t we also have free borders? Why can’t people just live wherever they want on this planet of ours. Nationalism is not my thing. We’re all one human family, and this is the only planet we have to share. I can’t help but think of Frost and ask “before I built a wall, I’d ask to know what I was walling in or walling out.” Yes, this is naive where safety and security are concerned. But there is something in me that doesn’t love a wall.

My borders are open. All are welcome here in my small corner of this planet. Stop by. There will probably be cookies.


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With only two days left to go in the year, I decided it was time to do some obligatory reflection.  Let’s see if I can recall some highlights from 2011.  I am in no way organized enough to give you something like a top ten.  That would mean planning out this blog post before I started writing, and you know that never happens.

One of the most exciting moments of my life technically happened on Christmas day in 2010, but it was one of the things I wanted to share that made me start this blog in the first place.  Geoff asked me to marry him. I cried like a girl and then said yes.  I was ecstatic for days, and I’m sure it must have spilled over into the new year, so I feel like it most definitely deserves a shout out.

After doing a ton of research into the immigration process, (This was all done by Geoff.  He’s the smart one on this team.) we decided that the only way for us to move to Hawaii without the possibility of being separated was to get legally married in Taiwan and apply for a green card for Geoff from the US “embassy” in Taipei.  This meant a ton of paperwork had to be gathered from all over the world, but eventually we gathered all of the stamps and signatures.  Without any ceremony, we went down to the household registry office and filed our marriage certificate.  On March 4th, we became husband and wife in the eyes of the law in Taiwan and America.  We’re still not legally married in the UK.  I should probably hide his passport.  Okay, not really.

A lifelong dream came true in April when we flew to England for two weeks for Geoff to be in a friend’s wedding.  I had grown up reading and loving English literature.  It only takes half a second on my blog to realize I adore Harry Potter. England has always held a romantic fascination for me.  I couldn’t believe I would finally get to walk the streets of London and stroll through the English countryside.  It was an exhausting and wondrous trip.  We traveled all over England by train, and we had nearly perfect weather.  I absolutely fell in love with the country, and I can’t wait to go back, especially to see Geoff’s family and my great friend Gaz.  I know a lot of people who live there aren’t that fond of England, but to me, it’s still of place of magic and wonder.

Definitely the most stressful experience of  2011 was getting Geoff’s visa.  There was a week when we thought it might not happen.  He had pretty much already been offered his job at the zoo.  It was time to book the tickets.  Everything was happening.  But we didn’t have that one piece of paper that said he could get in to the country.  I cannot express the level of relief when, without ceremony, they told us he was granted the visa.  I nearly fell over right there in the immigration office.

With that most important piece of paper nicely laminated in his passport, we were able to pack up most of our belongings into our suitcases, give the rest of our stuff away, and leave Taiwan forever.  There’s not a lot about that place that I miss, but I do dearly miss our friends and hope they come to visit soon.  Also, we have yet to find a place as perfect to hang out in on a Friday night as the Early Bird Diner.  Go and drink a white Russian for us, Taiwan friends.

So now we’re here living in paradise, and it is as completely beautiful as you could have imagined.  Every single day I am in awe of its beauty.  I hope I never take it for granted.  We found a place to live, two scooters, and now a car.  I got a job, got another job, quit the first job, and am now really happy working retail at Island Sole selling flip flops and not being responsible for any children’s futures.  We’ve made some really cool friends here.  And the most exciting thing is, there’s still so much to explore on this island.  But that’s in the future.  And that’s a blog for another day.  The last day.  Well, probably later today.

I guess this is the part where I say, “Well, a lot can happen in a year.”  Well, it can, and it did.  It’s been stressful and wonderful and full of laughter and full of tears and completely horrible and completely perfect and it’s my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  The best thing about the new year is that it’s the end and the beginning at the same time.  That’s its own kind of magic.  I’m ready for it.

Two Tuesdays

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I.  Am.  So.  Tired.  It’s about 7:30 on Tuesday evening as I sit writing this.  It is currently 1:30 in the afternoon on Wednesday in Taiwan, which is where I was this morning.  Or at least, I think it was this morning.  The sun went away and came back while we were flying over the Pacific, but when we got here, it was the exact same time as when we left our hotel in Taichung,  9 am on Tuesday.  Back to the Future enough for you?  Confused yet?  So am I.  In my experience, it’s all been one extremely long day.

We set off in the shuttle, after a disappointing breakfast at our hotel, with our friend Gill riding along with us.  Our driver was great and got us there quickly and safely.  Once at the airport, we met up with Zach, checked in, ate at Burger King, and hung out for our final moments before disappearing through immigration and the limbo of air travel.  I managed not to cry, mostly from sheer bewilderment over what’s happened in the last month and what we’re about to do.  I was glad my friends could be with me until the last moment.  We’ve only been here one day and we’ve mentioned them a dozen times at least.  I will miss them immensely.

Our flights were fairly smooth, and we even got the exit row on our first short flight to Seoul.  The service with Korean Airlines was great.  The food was horrible, but I wasn’t expecting much.  My only problem was that it was colder than a polar bears nipples on that plain.  A few hours through our eight and a half hour flight, I was shivering and had goose bumps, even though I was covered in one of those frail airplane blankets.  I developed a sore throat and a sinus headache from the cold.  It was extremely unpleasant.

Our next big obstacle was immigration.  We had no idea what to expect.  After initially getting in the wrong, very crowded line, and then having to duck under poles with all of our bags to get out of it, be made our way to the immigrant waiting area.  The officers who helped us were very relaxed and friendly.  They didn’t make me feel anxious at all.  We did have to wait for over an hour, as there were at least four other immigrants entering in front of us, but we got to sit on a comfy chair, so I can’t complain.  I was worried I’d fall asleep though.

Getting out of the airport was tricky.  We couldn’t find our bags.  Remember we’d been sitting up at immigration for over an hour, so all the other bags from our flight were surely long gone.  Turns out they were down at the other end of the baggage claim hall waiting for us nicely stacked on a cart.  That’s aloha for you.  We also had the world’s most awesome bus driver on our shuttle bus into Waikiki.  She had this fantastic rat tail braided down to the middle of her back.  That woman could maneuver that enormous bus as if by magic.  It was flawless.

When we got to our hotel at noon, we found out we couldn’t check in for another two hours.  Luckily, they let us leave our suitcases in the lobby, but Geoff didn’t feel comfortable leaving his backpack and computer bag, so he had to carry it around with him while we walked through Waikiki trying to pass the time.  It was very reminiscent of our first day in London.  We just had to keep moving to stay awake.  We managed to buy SIM cards, though, so message me if you want my number.  🙂

Once we finally got into our room, we fell on to the two separate twin beds (which will be pushed together tomorrow by housekeeping) and fell into a deep sleep.  I was so bewildered when the alarm went off after 90 minutes.  It was extremely difficult to drag myself back out of bed, but it was 3:30 in the afternoon, so I knew if I slept anymore my internal clock would be a mess.

We went swimming in this walled off area of ocean that essentially functions as a salt water swimming pool.  It was lovely for just lounging in the water because it was protected from the waves that often crash onto the shore on Waikiki beaches.  We didn’t manage to last very long swimming though as we were both extremely tired.  We did the only sensible thing a person can do when in an exhausted and hungry state.  We ate cheeseburgers.  Expensive cheeseburgers, but delicious cheeseburgers.  Cheeseburgers we’d been thinking about for a year.  I also ordered a cocktail called a Sunburn, which tasted like melted raspberry sorbet.  So good!   We won’t be eating anymore expensive restaurant meals for quite a while, so I especially enjoyed this one.

It is absolutely wonderful to be here.  It’s so beautiful, and I am so fortunate.  I can’t wait to get settled down into our new place and start figuring out how our lives will work oh this island.  Right now, though, all I care about is sleep, and lots of it.


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The alarm went off at 4:30 am.  It was still dark.  I could barely peel my eyes open, but I had no choice.  We had somewhere to be.  I called the bank in Washington one last time to see if my documents had arrived.  By a lucky chance, the person helping us had received them just five minutes ago.  For one brief moment, it seemed like we might have a bank account.  But then the lady from the bank emailed me back to say that I had a non-sufficient funds charge at my previous bank, and they couldn’t open the account until it had been paid.  Of course, I haven’t used this account in well over a year, so this means that my ex-husband just kept sneaking money out of it until it was drained.  Just one more way for him to screw up my life.

We set off up the street and easily found a taxi, even though the sun had barely risen.  We easily got high speed rail tickets and sat down to enjoy the view one more time.  The knot in my stomach was slowly growing bigger and bigger.  I couldn’t even drink any of Geoff’s water, let alone eat breakfast.  Through the technological wonder that is high speed rail, we were at the AIT office by 8 am, but I didn’t have high hopes.  I fully expected to be turned away with a request for yet more documents.

I steadily grew more and more nervous with each step.  When we got into the immigration room, none of the windows were open and no one was there.  After a couple of minutes, somebody came to the window to collect our documents and then told us to take a seat and wait.  We had brought a whole stack of papers.  Anything we could think of that would show ties to the US and give evidence that we were leaving Taiwan for good.  The half hour we had to wait for the immigration officer to check our documents was one of the most tense of my life.  I was dizzy, hot, and nauseous.  Geoff and I sat in silence, holding hands, both looking pale.

The shade behind which the immigration officer sat perusing our papers was raised a couple of inches so that we could watch his hands rummaging through our documents, taking a few seconds to read each one.  He set our folder aside and looked through someone else’s file.  He then opened the shade and another woman came into the window area.  I heard the man say “everything looks fine” but I didn’t know if he was talking about us.  I was near hyperventilating at this point.  Finally, the new lady called us up to her window and said, “Okay, fill out this blue paper and take it to the courier desk.”

“Wait, what?  Did we get it?

“Yes, now fill out this blue paper…”

I nearly collapsed and tears came into my eyes.  After months of filling out forms, and a horrible week of sleepless nights worrying about a bank account, they granted us the visa without so much as a congratulations.  Just goes to show how completely insignificant it is to them.

All this was accomplished by 9 am.  We got back on the train and headed back home, fantasizing again about all the things we’re going to do in Hawaii.  I feel such a huge sense of relief.  All the sleep I’ve missed over the past week has suddenly caught up with me all at once.  I’m completely exhausted.  But I feel that for once, I’ll be able to sleep just fine.

Round Two Jitters

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My husband came home early, and the lemon linguine has already been dispatched.  Nothing left to do but watch a travel show about Hawaii and write this blog.  Oh, and worry.  That’s probably what I’ve been doing the most of for the past week.

We’re up early tomorrow to get the high speed rail to Taipei.  We have a big folder full of all the letters and correspondence from potential employers and landlords, as well as letters from our current landlord and employer saying we’re ending our contracts here.  I’m hoping the immigration people will be feeling kind and decide to grant us the visa then and there.  But I’m not getting my hopes up too much.

I need to say a huge thank you to my aunt and my grandmother who have been giving up their precious time to help me try to get a bank account.  You have no idea how much I appreciate it.  I’d also like to say thank you to all of my friends who have offered to help or even given words of encouragement.  Just knowing that there are people out there rooting for us helps ease that sick feeling in my stomach.

I am going to attempt to sleep tonight.  That’s my goal.  That’s the thing I need the most.  A nice relaxing restful night of sleep.  My shoulders are so tight, even the slightest touch is painful.  I’m ready for this trauma to be over.  I’m ready to move on to the trauma of packing.  Fingers crossed.

Without Him By My Side

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Another day has gone by without opening a bank account.  That leaves only one day to gather the necessary evidence before returning to Taipei to try yet again to make a case for domicile.  Every day that passes without adequate proof increases the chances that I may have to go to Hawaii ahead of Geoff to try to find a job and/or a place to live.  Every time I think about that, I feel physically ill.

I love this man so much.  This ordeal has only made me more certain of our devotion to each other.  Never once has he gotten angry with me or tried to blame me.  Everything we’ve experienced has only increased my faith in him.  When we’re not in the same room, I’m never quite as calm as when he’s with me.  He might not like me telling you this, but when I got out of bed a few nights ago to check my email, he had a nightmare while I was gone and couldn’t return to bed without me.  We need each other.

If it turns out I have to go, of course I will.  I would do anything for this man.  He came halfway around the world to a place he knew he didn’t like to do a job he knew he hated because he loved me and wanted to be with me.  I will do whatever it take to make sure that he gets his dream job in paradise.  I want it for him just as much as he does.  I would do anything.

But I am only at my best when I have him by my side to support me.  It was when he repeatedly showed me that he would be there to support me through my anxiety that he went from being someone who was really fun to be around to someone that I started to believe I could depend on and possibly fall in love with.  He has shown me again and again that he is my rock.  I hope that we can get off the plane together, holding hands.  Starting a new life in a strange place is a significant moment.  I want to be able to share it with my husband.