Saturday, October 07, 2006

I am American

I woke up all giddy and excited at six o'clock on the morning of October 3. American citizenship day had come at last. After 24 years, seven months and eleven days being an American, I can finally say that I am an American with the papers! Woohoo!

My mother had applied for my citizenship when I was in college. I believe the fee then was about $100. But when she got the notice for the interview, it turned out that I was going to be in Indiana for an internship. I tried to become a citizen during graduate school, but graduate school and dealing with the inanities in graduate school took precedence.

I thought about becoming a citizen under President Gore, but that did not work out. I should have just become one during President Clinton. At any rate, under Bush II, I have become one.

Before going to the Nob Hill Masonic Center, I had to prepare. First off, what kind of clothes? The old me would be going there with jeans and a t-shirt. But since I was the new me, I decided on a suit and a tie. The tie had the golden bears of Berkeley on it. Bought it on a store that catered to Cal alumni. But that store J. Good is now gone. A victim of lowered tastes and greater competition. The suit itself was bought in 2003 in anticipation of interviews. At the time, I bought the size 38 pants. It's a little loose now. Time to go to the store and have it shortened and tightened around the hips.

I placed the flag in the bag. Placed the documents in the plastic bag. Placed my resident visa card in my wallet for the last time. I had to give up the card that showed my youth, my promise and my naivete.

We took Bart and the cable car to the Masonic Center. Masonic Center is the place where I have watched two of my friend graduate from UCSF medical school. I never thought that I would enter it with a ceremony of my own. A small part of me still wonders why I couldn’t be a medical doctor. A larger part of me, the logical part, says if I had done that, I would be thrice divorced, working hard, unhappy, not very close to my family, an arrogant ass and an idiot. And, the SO probably would not be married to me.

There were a lot of people present at 0830 hours. The SO said I should go in so she could sit down. Apparently, she did not have a lot of sleep time. By the time I sat down, I was the seventh person in the section. Woohoo!!! Up close and personal!

It was an hour of explanations from the officer of the USIS. A lot of don't do this with your certificate. A lot of explanations on what you need to do as a citizen. VOTE!!! A lot of appreciation for what the people there are giving up.

Some of them give up their identity wholly. Some give up their culture. They believe that as Americans, they don't have to teach their children what it means to be the non-American. My skin is too brown to give up anything like that. American citizen born in the heat and humidity of the Philippines. Where sweat makes you thin.

There was a photographer from the Chronicle. She kept taking photos of the people. The Filipina woman in front of me kept fixing her hair. The photographer would not take our pictures. I wanted to tell her to stop preening and let the photographer take photos. I imagined myself as being noble. Like a king, which you are in America.

They asked for someone to read the pledge of allegiance. Apparently, I still had some "hiya" or Filipinoness in me. I did not fast enough. I should have. Next time. Hell, I am a Toastmaster after all. I can sell real estate if I have to!

At the end, I brought out the American flag. I waved it to the wife!!! And of course, we took photos outside of the Masonic place.

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