Friday, September 25, 2009

What's so amazing/ That keeps us star-gazing...

Thesis: working as a non-American in America is very confusing. I have a job that sponsors me and an immigration lawyer and I am Canadian (I can't think of a more entitled nationality to be: being Canadian basically means you get carte blanches from everybody no matter where they're from. It's awesome).

Lawyer, job, Canadian cred - it all makes it easier by 3000% to stay in the USA legally. I do not even want to think about what a drag it is to not have those things because even with them, I have basically gone through a month-long nervous breakdown over what the proper process to stay is. It finally ended yesterday, and I have felt like I'm floating through warm, soft clouds of joy and relief ever since. This shit is terrifying. For realzzzz.

About a month ago, I called the American Embassy in Toronto to make sure everything was set for me to be under my very lovely H1B work status as of October 1st. By the way, you have to pay a flat rate of $35 to even call the American Embassy, and then a $2/minute charge after that. And the representative put me on hold. WTF-vision!!!!!!

The embassy said: no, no, don't take the instructions your lawyer or the H1B approval notice gave you. Drive to the Canadian border within 10 days of October 1st with every record of being in the United States you have, plus more visa fees, plus more forms, plus a bunch of other documents. They will then decide if you should come back in. I trusted them, because their whole thing is knowing what to do with visas. I have lived and worked in the United States on and off since 2003, under three different kinds of visas, and I have two Social Security numbers, and it all seemed pretty daunting. I really hate looking at my immigration document collection.

So this was fucking scary! I was going through the whole "am I going to get kicked out?" fear all over again, which was basically the only thing that has marred an otherwise stellar year. But I gathered all these documents and stressed out for a month and booked a car and prepared to go. In the back of my head, I was always thinking, "What happens if they don't let me back in?" The panic and dread and stress over that thought had increasing effects as the weeks went by - terrible chest pain and lack of sleep and most egregiously, exposing my wonderful, patient friends to bouts of whining and hysteria. Josh Bowman, Simon McNabb, Chris Dingwall, Will Storie and Nicole Drespel are the only reasons I did not become completely unhinged. I thank them.

This week, the anxiety hit its fever pitch. Before this passing Wednesday's Jason Anderson show, I was looking up every single thing I needed on the consulate web page, and getting a billion different answers about what I should be doing. By the time I got to Pete's Candy Store, I was in a cold sweat. Just really in a bad way. I tried to smile and swallow it for about two seconds while Lee and I ordered beers, but then basically blasted him across the room with high-frequency anxiety. I described in detail the physical effects of the dread I was experiencing and challenged him to think of a time when he felt the same way so that I could have a commiserator (not the best social instinct, but also not the worst; you have to give me that). When he told his version, I became angry, basically because it wasn't my version. All my emotions over this were so strange - the anger, the fear, the frustration, the nerves. By no means am I a stalwart reason-over-emotion person, but I am almost never sucked into feedback loops of negative emotions. I am good at happiness: I like very small accumulations of weird, good things, and I like building them up into weird, great things. Probably 90% of my thoughts follow this pattern. I like problems with no solutions, and making makeshift answers to them that are satisfying because they are not definitive, because they are more just a record of an interaction between yourself and the problem. I also am lucky enough to have one of those things in my brain that refuses to accept shitty experiences as being totally negative, even if it's clear that they actually are. All things bad are a deposit in the ol' bank of character, and such. So to be stuck bouncing between every variety of bad emotion - and really recognizing that this was all just negative - was weird and scary and kind of felt like being on a bad drug trip that you can't stop. I had no tools for it. Humans hate it when there are no tools!

Luckily, a discussion of Lee's vaginal bats sketch was enough to distract me from it temporarily, and then of course, there was Jason Anderson. It bears mentioning that on the evening where I've truly come closer to a mental breakdown than I can remember, my nerves were gone about 5 minutes into the show and didn't come back until the next day. So he's magic, definitely.

I emailed Will that night to warn him that any interaction with me in the next few days was going to be tainted by my accumulation of panic-induced craziness. He responded only by asking when he could see me, which I thought was pretty fucking sweet, given it was so extremely masochistic of him. To respond to your girlfriend when she's like "I'M BATSHIT CRAZY RIGHT NOW!" with "WHEN CAN I BE IN THE LINE OF FIRE?" is a sign of an aces dude.

Simon was the person who really questioned what I was doing (I called him very late on Wednesday for reassurance). Being a Canadian working in LA, also with nebulous visa issues occasionally, he knew how to talk to me about it. He didn't think anything the embassy had said sounded right, and he recommended I call many immigration lawyers about it. I count on him to be my intuition from time to time. I should really look into getting my own intuition installed so I don't always have to borrow his.

I called many immigration lawyers, all of whom said the embassy had given me $50 of bullshit. I don't need to leave the country. I don't need a consular appointment. I don't need any of the documents I gathered. I don't need to pay any more fees. I just need to put the approval notice I already had - have had for months - into my passport on October 1st. The most impressive lawyer of all was Josh's, who got a visa for Josh in less than three months earlier this year (unheard of!), who called me right away and set me straighter than an arrow. Half my notes from our conversation are about how safe I am with what I have and the other half are about how awesome he thinks Josh is.

I was in a bland euphoric haze for almost all of yesterday, and slept better last night than I have in weeks. Which makes all the stress worth it? Yes, because I know I have awesome friends - all compassionate but not at the expense of pragmatism - and I also know there is apparently no limit of bullshit I will take in order to stay in this country. Everyone knows it's a horrendously flawed nation in a billion different ways, but...I love it here.I really do.

I had a Muppet dream last night. It's been a Muppet-heavy few weeks. I read a screenplay for a Jim Henson biopic and I am fanatical about Josh and Chuck's "How Muppets Work" podcast a few weeks back, and in general, have been thinking Muppet-y thoughts. I woke up this morning with this very specific image in my head of Kermit in New York, vivid enough that I was sure it was something I'd actually seen somewhere before. An extremely quick Google Image search led me to it. I can't articulate why the salve that my unconscious provided to relieve the upset of this past month was this image, but it seems so unbelievably appropriate that, I'll admit, I cried a little:

ADDENDUM: On Friday night, Simon texted me this: "There's a line in Jurassic Park 3 where Macy says "We've got enough juice for one call - and don't call the US Embassy, they won't do a damn thing!"


Monday, September 14, 2009


Mine is that he has gotten himself into an amazing position, where it's very hard for me to dislike anything he does. Not only do I not dislike him jumping on stage to steal a pretty young girl's big moment, I kind of love him for it. Let me clarify: it is the person I love, not the act. If anyone else did that, I'd fucking hate them for it. Even my other musical heroes! I would not want to watch Robert Smith or David Bowie or Diana Ross launch themselves up there to make fools of themselves, for really no reason at all. We know he did it for no special reason, right? Pretty much another meaningless act by the biggest narcissist in the music business. (BIGGEST NARCISSIST IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS! Just think of the titans he's defeated to hold such a title!)

But if I'm being honest, as the microphone changed hands, I actually think I ended up disliking Taylor Swift somehow. An unlikeable thing was happening, but I could not quite pin it on Kanye West, the perpetrator of the unlikeable thing. So who else is there? Oh you, pretty young girl? I'm already one of those old ladies that hates pretty young girls on the inside, so it was not hard for me to do some split-second transference of dislike.

You know the Force Majeure clause in a contract, which protects both parties from liability in the case that some force beyond our control strikes, such as a war, riot, fire, earthquake, flood, volcano or some other "act of God"? Taylor Swift, I bet, has signed a lot of contracts these last few years, and a lot, if not all, included this clause. Kanye West is categorized as a Force Majeure, as far as I'm concerned, and he is no more culpable for his acts than a hurricane is.

For now. I fear that someday, he will do a thing I genuinely dislike, but it's going to have to be something pretty despicable, because I like him more today than I did yesterday.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Recent Twitter Updates from Cormac McCarthy

cormacmccarthy1 Darkness fell some time ago.
about 6 minutes ago from web

cormacmccarthy1 The stars face away. It is their retreat from our rancid lushness that appears to us to sparkle. #fail
1:14 AM Aug 30 from web

cormacmccarthy1Germs are our beginnings and our end. #reasonstodespair
2:59 PM Aug 25 from web

cormacmccarthy1 Days of drought have strangled the neighbor’s azaleas. They sweat, wilt, melt under the gaze of those who could save them. #tesuquenewmexiconews
2:32 PM Aug 22 from web

cormacmccarthy1 @johnmccarthy Your last baby tooth. #reasonstodespair
9:59 AM Aug 20 from web

cormacmccarthy1 Dead bumblebee.
10:45 AM Aug 15 from web

cormacmccarthy1 Shame on the haiku/ Whored itself to stay alive/ Better to die sad #haikus
8:19 AM Aug 15 from web

cormacmccarthy1 You must kill the host. RT @oprah Anybody got a surefire remedy for ticks? Just pulled 8 off of 1 dog. None of the prescribed vet meds seem to be working.
2:59 PM Aug 14 from web

cormacmccarthy1 Understood. RT @wernerherzog You will die first.
8:32 AM Aug 12 from web

cormacmccarthy1 We’d wake up in our coffins. #inaperfectworld
7:14 PM Aug 11 from web

cormacmccarthy1 RT @tomwolfe New project in the works. #reasonstodespair
10:45 AM Aug 10 from web

cormacmccarthy1 God abandons everyone. #reasonstodespair #biblelessons
5:05 PM Aug 8 from web

cormacmccarthy1 The hopeful succumb to violence before the hopeless.
8:45 AM Aug 8 from web

cormacmccarthy1 “What am I doing?”
2:59 PM Aug 4 from web

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Calculus Time!

Go here. The link is fixed, yaaaay.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Elevator Ghosts

I went to the hospital today for some check-ups. The elevator opened on one of the floors. Nobody was there. It stayed open for a few seconds, closed, and we all moved on.

When I was a kid and this anomaly occurred, I used to think that it was caused by ghosts. Ghosts had pressed the up/down button, ghosts were standing there when the doors opened, ghosts entered the elevators and stood among us. Ghosts had places to go; how else were they going to get there? Take the stairs?

I believed this because I thought it was the most reasonable explanation. Even though it would render me completely useless as an adult, I still sometimes wish I had that kind of kid logic. Couldn't have been that somebody got sick of waiting and took the stairs. Couldn't have been that somebody accidentally pressed the wrong floor. Ghosts just have places to be, other ghosts to meet. The end.