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6/03/2007

An Accidental Immigrant

This is the continuation of my old blog that you may find on the link below:
"My Old Blog"


This is indeed to be considered a short story yet so true, for the experience of being an immigrant in America didn't last that long:

I entered the United States in the end of the ebullient Y2K with roughly my Basic English and a couple of dollars on my pocket, and no idea of what to expect or what I was going to do. My husband’s company transferred him to work for at least three years in Washington, D.C. My Visa Status didn’t allow me to work. Nevertheless, as soon as I put my two feet on the ground I started to work hard, as it seemed that everyone around there was basically doing that. I wrote and illustrated more than fifteen picture books and my staying home had me inspired for more three novels.
I got that opportunity of "doing no-thin" within my hands and, with my own time and my own dime, I started to write my memoirs and a book about Out-of-Body Experiences encouraged by my active participation in an amazing forum in the net as I surprised myself by writing a whole lot about one sole subject. Time seemed to run, or rather, fly, while I kept myself pretty busy. In the meantime, I also experienced some overwhelming events, not only with personal and deep emotional stressful proofs and pains, but mostly situations from the outside as "The September Eleven tragedy", when I had just crossed New York City, a stalker menace at home, and (who can forget it? Only those who didn't have to pass through it) the Sniper Case, which took place right at the corner from where I lived.

Anyway, life continued. And although it seemed pretty dangerous to be just walking around my neighbourhood, nevertheless, I decided to give classes for free in an Academy some three blocks away, which also gave me the opportunity to practice the so-obviously-necessary art of self-defence, of course.

A law finally arrived that spouses of workers would be allowed to work to help increase the economy for the crisis seemed to be there to stay after one year and a half (and what a heck of a year!) I was thrilled that I could finally apply for a work permit. The INS issued my Employment Authorization on July on the day of my birthday. And I wonder if they did it on my behalf…yes, I have a dream!

I was so thrilled that I could finally work where I really enjoyed the atmosphere and doing what I loved since I was a little girl (and earn money for that!) So I started to give Ballet classes the same day I got my card.

Three months later I was invited to perform and choreograph.










The classroom
where I taught at Black Rock Center for the Arts, in Germantown.

I started to realize that my English was actually improving, as well as my brave new life there. I had the pleasure to see the incredibly rapid development of the number and work of my own students, and of all the home improvement we did, my husband and I, with our own hands, in our apartment. My books were miraculously getting in shape as well. And I could finally call America home. It was a splendour moment! Everything sounded to be going with a divine touch for me in my newly-adopted home.


** I had often said to a neighbour friend of mine, who also lived as an Immigrant, though she had married to an American man, that we should always play by the book. That if we do it all accordingly with the local laws there would be no mistakes and we should be safe. Little would I know then that I was so far from the truth. **

When everything seemed to be working out perfectly well for the newly-added wedded couple, without any notice, they kicked me out of the country, for my Visa depended on my husband's and he got laid off. ** I just didn't get deported because I left the country before this could even happen. I acted faster, and I left a week before my Visa would actually expire. So no problem when I took that plane, crying once I found my seat, and while I travelled around the red light from the obelisk that seemed to watch me like a spy eye. Deportation never came that near me, though, thank God!! Nevertheless, as a victim of the system, I had some very mixed feelings, from anger to profound sadness over my fondest hopes. All this frustration were especially due to the first time that I was actually obliged to be separated from my half-orange.** I had to leave before my husband did. We stayed more than five months without seeing each other, just trying to get our basis settled somewhere else, as we had to start from scratch (and when you start to scratch you cannot stop it!) We had to restart our lives from ground zero, the right beginning from where we left it, just once again... Now he wants me to write a book he insists me that I should promote with already a title:

“Lay-Off”

But I told him instead, with a peculiar good mood, in spite of all the changes we quickly had to go through:

“I just wrote a book about taking off...You should be the one to write a book about being laid off. For I was a mere collateral damage. I felt this as a third person not as my own. So the impact of my writings wouldn't be as strong as your talking about what happened to you. Besides writing about that will make you feel better.” As well as writing about my personal experiences make me feel so great that I decided to devote a lifetime on being a writer since I was a little girl.

So now I am ready to write a new book. It already has a title:

"Live&Work in the US without kicking your ass"

I bet it will be a best-seller, although I do not intend to earn an award for that. Well, at least I hope my experiences will serve as a warning to all those who come to live in another country.

** So here I created a list of "Things You Should Never Do Before..." thinking about going through a time-consuming enervating stressing painful process of getting into the Immigration whirlwind:

1-DO NOT THINK YOU HAVE IT ALL DONE BY YOUR COMPANY.

Revise your employment contract. If you see any clause that state that you should leave the country when they terminate at any given time, be cautious: that could mean they can kick you out at any time THEY want and not tell you with any prior notification.

2-DO NOT TAKE THINGS FOR GRANTED.

Any small detail is really REALLY important. Review your employment authorization. Does it say that you are only allowed to work as much as you have a contract from any employer? That means you can only work if someone is willing to get you a signed contract and it doesn't matter if you signed a contract (which I did) for if your Visa Status depends on something else (I mean, ANYTHING) that is a WARNING signal saying you are screwed!

3-DO NOT GET A JOB WITHOUT A SIGNED CONTRACT WITH A TERM OF COMMITMENT OF BOTH PARTS.

If you get a job while in your new country make sure the contract exposes a guarantee where you can still have the job no matter what. And before you commit to your employer make sure he or she will allow you to work and extend the status of your VISA authorization. All that INDEPENDENTLY of the Visa Status from your spouse. Something that I should have done with the Ballet Company which hired me. And I didn't, which made both the Director and I cry in a quick, but deep blue farewell.

There are so many more advices and the list is too long for this short-story. ** Anyway, if you hear about a bunch of American girls dancing in the US a Ballet choreographed with a Brazilian Music, remember me, for this might have a touch of my magical wand. I tried to give the best from what had been given to me. In a subtle manner that beat left me with a piece of each of my students' heart, when they all wrote me the most endearing notes on a farewell card. Still my heart danced joyously as a snowflake at "The Nutcracker" with the Metropolitan Ballet Theatre. Although they had decided that there was another Snow queen, so I just had a demi role. As it seems that this is what God gave to us, anyway: this role as demigods, that sometimes turns some others into demagogues... What a gag! Not for me, though; I already have a tough time trying to find another gig...
To read more about my True Hell... I mean, Holy & Odd Story here is the link for a preview of the book:

"Holy and Odd Story"
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