98. Prove it all night

 

If dreams came true

Ah, wouldn’t that be nice…

 

Yesterday was a red letter day for Jersey girl and me. We were summoned to the hellish pit known as Newark, New Jersey by the Department of Immigration to give an accounting of our relationship.

That’s a needlessly dramatic way of saying that my first year in the US was up and now we were required to prove, to the satisfaction of a lone bureaucrat, that our marriage was not a sham. This is the part of the process known as Adjustment of Status which, once passed gives the applicant legal permanent resident status.

This was a day that had been hanging over our heads like the sword of Damocles since my arrival last March. I mean, it’s not like the marriage isn’t exactly what we claim it to be, both of us (and hopefully you, dear readers) are very much aware of exactly how real it is.

The thing that always gnawed at the back of my mind, however, was just how real it would look from the perspective of a bored government employee with very literal power over our entire future in his or her hands.

There was only one way to discover the answer to that nagging question.

The drive into Newark was not too bad but finding a park proved challenging (especially the one lot staffed by a lone, toothless Nigerian who couldn’t comprehend our English and whose own brand of same we could not decipher). Eventually, though, we found a place to stash the car and arrived on time at the fortress that all government buildings seem to be in this country.

Our lawyer, big surprise, was twenty minutes late showing up but, despite being told by the callow youth behind the sign in desk that the wait times were one to two hours, my name was called within twenty minutes and we were soon sitting across the table from an unassuming but very businesslike young man.

I won’t bore you all with a blow by blow (and I’m not sure the Department would be happy with me if I did – I think they like to keep the process mysterious) but the interview itself was relatively painless as we sat side by side and tried to appear like two people who know each other intimately – which, of course, is what we are.

People always say ‘be yourself’ but it’s funny how, under certain stimuli, we can struggle to remember who that is. Suffice to say, our interviewer seemed convinced by the end of our conversation and gave his tentative assurance that all would be fine. the Caveat to that was that if he checked my files and discovered any dark past type secrets then all deals were off. I’m pretty confident that all deals remain on.

We’ll have the official answer in the next fortnight or so. We’re not worried. Currently, we are looking for a new place to live and there’s even talk of buying something in the not too distant future.

Oh, the best question from the interview?

Interviewer: Do you intend to act against the US, by which I mean commit an act of terrorism or insurgency?
Me: Do a lot of people answer ‘yes’ to that question?

What a wacky world.

 

 

©2018

 

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97. Straight to you

 

IMG_8018a

 

I travelled 16,618 km (103256 miles) to be with my wife. At least, that is the distance, as the crow flys, between Melbourne Australia and New Jersey. Of course, I made the trip five times before that final permanent one. Five times both ways; 166,180 km plus the final trip bringing the total to 182,798 km or 113,585.411 miles.

Any way you cut it, that’s a lot of travel hours; a lot of time spent jammed into undersized airplane seats listening to babies cry and people snore, a lot of time dashing through strange airports trying not to miss my connection, a lot of time being irradiated in body scanners and harangued by the TSA.

Add to that the heartbreaking farewells at the end of each of those five visits and the weeks of depression once I’d returned to Melbourne and the whole thing feels a little Homerespue; at the very least, it is an epic(ish) poem of devotion and unflagging determination.

Was it worth it? Was all the lost sleep, longing, anxiety, and sheer discomfort worth the final reward?

Absolutely.

Jersey girl and I recently passed the one year mark in our real life together. One year living under the same roof. One year living as a family. It has been challenging, rewarding, vexing, and, at times, downright confusing but mostly it has felt like home. We live well together. Our chemistry has survived close and prolonged proximity. If there was a honeymoon period, it is still very much in effect.

I wake up every day and thank the universe for this woman with whom I now share my world. She has shown me what true love and devotion really are.

And my new adopted country?

America, much to my surprise has become a strange fascination to me. I have felt myself falling in love with her too. Her seasons, her moods, her people, and her beating heart (New York) have captured me in ways and with an intensity, I never would have guessed could happen to me.

There is a feeling that anything is possible here, that you might discover who you truly are as this vast melting pot of ideas and cultures reflects your persona, your mask, back at you. America will not let you hide from your true self. She demands that you simply be – you.

Challenge accepted.

 

 

Time

 

 

Yes, I know, I haven’t been around much lately. I’m bummed about that and I’ve been missing you guys more than I care to admit (so how’s it been going, anyway?) but I’ve had my reasons for being an absentee blogger. I’m currently just a couple of weeks out from my last Immigration interview (the one that determines if the relationship is real and if I get to stay)*.

I’m not too worried about it as there is ample evidence that my marriage to Jersey girl is anything but a sham but I have inadvertently forgotten, in the year I’ve been here, to get the required vaccinations and now I have to get them all done in a rush. My own silly fault.

The other thing that’s been eating up my available time is working on my graphic novel project (I mentioned this in a previous post). A large part of the reason it’s taking so much of my time is that I’ve had to teach myself how to draw with a digital pad in Photoshop. This has proven a steep learning curve and there simply hasn’t been much time left over for things like the blog.

Anyway, I thought you might like to see some of what I’ve been working on (since I can’t keep mentioning something and not actually produce some kind of evidence that it’s, in fact, a real thing).

Am I one hundred percent happy with it? Er, no. All I seem to see are the flaws but I’m persevering and it’s just nice to be drawing regularly again. I haven’t done that for years and people are always on at me to get back to it. I just wish I liked the end result a little more. Ah, well, there’s always room for improvement.

 

 

Cavalier cover
This image is a mock-up of a potential cover. The figure was a line scan of hand-drawn artwork coloured in Photoshop. I was still using the mouse to paint with at this point so it’s a little basic.

 

 

musketeers12
This image represents a huge leap for me. This is the first one I created entirely ‘in program’ using a digital drawing pad. The background is just a placeholder from one of my photographs.

 

 

vanquished44
I’m relatively happy with this full-page image of a vanquished officer.

 

 

inn6
This is a panel from the first page of the book. Environments are the biggest challenge for me, I’m learning it’s all about patience.

 

So, that’s what I’ve been up to these past few weeks. It’s been quite good fun pushing myself well beyond my usual comfort zone. Hopefully, one day in the not too distant future, I’ll have a completed book to show for it.

 

*If you are new here and have no idea to what I am referring, may I direct you to the ‘Love letters’ section of this blog?

 

The artwork and characters featured in this strip are my personal IP and may not be reproduced or distributed without my express permission. ©2018