I have been back in Dublin for about a month – apart from a Christmas jaunt to the UK to visit family. I am just about getting settled into feeling like I’m back living here, rather than just on an extended visit.
2016 is – thankfully – nearly over. It has been a hell of a year to be an immigrant in the US. When I moved here three years ago, I never thought for a moment that they would be inaugurating President Trump in 2017.
I swear I was leaving anyway.
I have been putting off writing this post. I didn’t want to write it – I didn’t think I’d have to. I thought, in the days following November 8th, that I’d be able to write something about glass ceilings, and the women who waited 96 years, and the US joining the growing community of nations with a female head of state. It would have been schlocky, probably. Screw that – it definitely would have been overly sentimental.
But instead, the American people made a choice that I don’t think I will ever really understand. And so we face an uncertain and terrifying future, with a racist, xenophobic, misogynistic homophobic, you’ve-been-Tangoed personification of a YouTube comment thread poised to take the helm.
I have written and rewritten this post a few times now; I’m giving up on trying to say anything coherent. Election years are always somewhat bombastic over here – and this has been a particularly turbulent one. I have a lot of feelings about this election, and I don’t seem to be able to verbalise any of them adequately.
So I’m just going to say that this is an important election – not least for my fellow immigrants, many of whom are not as fortunate as I am.
So for those of us who can’t, and who will live with the consequences, vote.
Different people want different things from travel – nature, culture, nightlife, history. When I travel, I like to understand a bit of the social history – how people lived, that kind of thing. So it is perhaps inevitable that we made the decision to visit a slave plantation while in Louisiana.
We’re about half way through a 10 day road trip across three Southern states. Such a trip deserves a lengthier reflection than this, but a morning of driving and listening to the blues has made me pensive.
Things are different here. Gas is less than $2/gall, for starters, and I paid $2.47 for two donuts and two coffees. Best donuts in Greenville, MS. Trust me.
Of the many things that are difficult while living abroad, politics can be the thorniest to negotiate. My convoluted status as a non-resident, non-immigrant alien means that I can’t vote here in the US – no matter how many times Facebook exhorts me to register – and that’s an uncomfortable place to be in an election straight out of the Twilight Zone. There have been important political happenings in my home country and adopted nation too – Brexit and the Irish marriage equality referendum, most notably – which have emphasised my feelings of disconectedness.
I have half a post waiting to be written. It’s about trains, and my love of Amtrak and the National Parks Service. But that’s going to have to wait.
Today, I had an appointment with a USCIS (US citizenship and immigration service) about my employment authorisation document (EAD). This is the little – but oh so important – card that says I’m allowed to work in the USA. I’ve mentioned my troubles with this before; as my application had been pending for more than 90 days, I was advised by the immigration lawyers that I could make an appointment in person, and plead my case for expedited processing. It was a long shot, they said – but I had nothing to lose.
Today, the UK gets a new prime minister: Theresa May. I’ve said earlier that I’m pretty ambivalent about this – I want to see more women in positions of power around the world, but does it really have to be *this* woman? When I was born, Britain had a female prime minister – and she was a pretty hideous woman, whose death lead to the song “Ding Dong the Witch is dead” resurfacing in the UK charts.