Maybe It’s Not My Weekend, But It’s Gonna Be My Year…

“Maybe it’s not my weekend,

But it’s gonna be my year.

And I’m so sick of watching as the minutes pass and I go nowhere.

And this is my reaction to everything I fear.

I’ve been going crazy,

I don’t wanna waste another minute here.” -“Weightless” by All Time Low

The end of 2013 is approaching fast, and while I haven’t been keeping up with the blog as well as I should, I am working my hardest on staying positive and finding my gumption in light of all that has happened this year.

2013 was a roller coaster of ups and downs, and I want to take a minute to acknowledge all the good things that have happened this year that the bad things can often make me forget.

1) Covering To Write Love On Her Arms’ Heavy and Light as press. It’s one of my favorite events of the year, and I was very lucky that I got to cover it and see some amazing performances.

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2) My 18th birthday with my friends. It was a great night filled with all sorts of fun.

3) My prom. It was stressful, and there was a lot of negative surrounding it, but the night itself was so ridiculously fun.

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4) My graduation: A milestone that cannot be ignored. My family from the UK came out for it, my Grandfather capped me at the awards ceremony, and I received honors in AP Literature. I was really happy to graduate in the Top 10% of my class, with a scholars sash, NHS cords, and my cap on my head…even if I fell as I was getting off of the stage. Oops!

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5) My graduation party: I had a great time on the Saturday after my graduation. It was an amazing party and I had a blast with family and friends, including my favorite four year old, who I got to spend a bunch of time with this year. Watching her grow up is truly incredible and she leaves me in awe every day.

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6) Seeing Fall Out Boy live: I have been a fan of Fall Out Boy for years, and was too young to go to their concerts. When they went on hiatus, I was so disappointed; no new music, no concerts. I was pretty convinced I’d never see them live. When they came back on the scene, I was so excited, especially as they were performing at venues like the House of Blues. I immediately ordered my tickets (woke up at the crack of dawn to insure that I would get them), and in June, I finally got to see them.

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7) The Road Trip: I finally got to cross this off of my bucket list, which was awesome, and I also got to see the place I’ve been dreaming about since I was nine years old: Wilmington, North Carolina. Every stop on the trip was amazing, and I got some amazing photos. One last summer hurrah before I started studying at NPTI!

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8) Riding the Slingshot: Another thing to cross off of my bucket list. Thanks to my friend Christine for our before and after shots and for riding with me!

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9) Covering Warped Tour for the second time: Oh my gosh. Warped Tour is probably my favorite day of the year–like, I love it more than Christmas and any other holiday ever. It is my favorite day, and I have been lucky enough to cover the festival as press, and meet some amazing people. I’ve made a ton of friends from Warped and I’ve also interviewed people I have wanted to meet for years.

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10) Seeing the Rays play at the Tropicana Field. I was so excited. Baseball is my favorite sport, and the Tampa Bay Rays are my favorite team. Seeing them play has been on my bucket list for years, and a good family friend of my family’s was so sweet and he bought us tickets for a Rays vs. Red Sox games. I was already really happy…and then I ended up sat next to We The Kings. What a great night, even if the Rays lost.

11) Graduating NPTI and getting my certification as a personal trainer!

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12) Going into the Green Room at the House of Blues to interview Anberlin. Holy cow, what an awesome night!

13) The giggles with my friends, the moments with my family, and the beautiful feeling of progress.

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While 2013 has had it’s moments of pure awfulness, it has also had many moments I wouldn’t trade. I have made some awesome memories, accomplished things I hadn’t thought were possible, and have fought battles that, while private, are ones I am so proud of.

Gumption is not easy to find, or incredibly easy to define, but I like to think I’m getting there.

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“Sleigh Bells Ring, Are You Listening?”

So it’s been a while.

Like, a long while. That’s not to say I haven’t been writing. I’ve written so many drafts to post on this blog, it’s not even funny. But I also decided to write a novel for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which was November. I am very pleased to say that I reached the goal of 50,000 words! Woo-hoo!

 

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On the blog’s Facebook page, I had said I was going to share an excerpt of the novel here, and finally, here it is for your viewing pleasure! I hope you enjoy it and it entices you, because I’m going to be working on fine-tuning the novel until March time. Then, it’s off to the publishers!

 

It started at zero and ended in sixty-four feet.

Well, more precisely, an eight-by-eight room equipped with bleach-white walls, so blinding, it seemed you had to blink twice as much to avoid the pain of it. Along with the sun-like walls, were two beds that could only be described as eerie.

The frames of the beds were like most beds—metal, dark, and cold, but the beds lacked headboards, merely using the wall to prop their pillows up against.

The pillows on the beds were solitary and flat. I knew I would struggle to sleep that night, and even if I did, I would most definitely have a sore neck and shoulder.

Everything about the room was…clinical, which I suppose was expected, considering it was essentially a mental hospital.

What a word—mental.

Before, it was just a word, sometimes part of slang, but it never carried quite the meaning it seemed to at the moment.

“Emery,” the Nameless Nurse began. “This is your roommate, Adriana.”

Pulling my attention from analyzing the dismal room, I turned to face the next nuisance of the day.

She stood at what I presumed to be about five foot six. Her bleach-blonde hair seemed to be dull and dry, with dark roots at the top.

She raised a frail hand in greeting, resting her other on her boney hip. Her pants were barely hanging onto her body and her shirt seemed to be drowning her.

I had never seen someone quite so tiny. She looked like someone from a Ralph Lauren commercial…fragile-looking, lanky, and quite truthfully, skeletal.

The Nameless Nurse smiled in satisfaction. “I’ll leave you two to get acquainted,” she said, leaving the room.

Adriana eyed me, arching a thin brown. “So, whatchya in for?”

I hesitated, feeling a heat rise up my neck to my cheeks, until I was certain they were stained pink. “Um…well, you know, the usual. How about you?”

“Drugs,” she said without skipping a beat. “And anorexia. But you didn’t answer my question.”

I looked down, looking at my shoes and the dingy-white soles; seemingly the only oddly colored object in the room. “Cutting. I’m in for cutting.”

“Hardcore,” she said, plopping down on the springy mattress. “You better learn to be pretty open about it, because they’re gonna make you talk about it until you’re blue in the face.”

I nodded quietly.

“You’re in a mental hospital for teens. Don’t be proud. You haven’t got a reason to be.”

 

So there it is! As of right now, the novel is called “Castle Hill.” The name may change (it’s already changed one before!), but hopefully, this one will stick. We shall see.

“Box of Peaches On The Passenger Side, Free At Last.”

-“Free At Last,” Jeff Black.

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Free.

If you look in any dictionary, it will tell you that to be “free” is to not be under someone/something else’s control. It’s to be released from slavery, or confinement.

Now, Webster’s is all fine and well, but how many people honestly believe they’re free?

Oh, no. Here she goes, I can imagine a lot of you thinking.

No, I’m not about to start some sort of anti-government rant.

I am about to breakdown freedom and why it’s all a matter of perspective, much like power.

First and foremost, you only believe you’re free because you’re told you are.

And who are you told by?

Well, a power, of course. But who gave that power the control? You did. We all did. Collectively. Things and people only have power if you believe they have power, subsequently giving what/whoever it is, the utmost control, the superiority.

For example, marriage licenses. At the end of the day, let’s call a spade a spade; it’s a piece of paper.

It only has power because we say, “Oh, this controls those two people now,” but that paper means jack squat physically. It’s the relationship of the two people that means something. Same as money. It’s paper…with a bit of cotton. It has no real value. It’s PAPER…and we let it control us.

Hmm…

How very free we are.

Look at how many of us do things because we’re told we have to. If you were truly free, you wouldn’t have to do anything.

In truth, I haven’t been free in a long time, if ever. I’ve not been allowed to leave the country, or to get a job, or to get a driver’s license, or an ID, all like a normal person in a free country.

However, as time goes on, I think, Well, these people have been given rights, but they are far from free. We are all run by fear.

Fear of pushing the envelope too far.

Fear of not being able to be identified in our little worlds.

Ignorance and fear keeps us tied to our countries, to our states, to our safe little rooms, in our safe little houses, with our thoughts locked away.

Don’t say that, because ____.

Don’t do that, because ____.

Because what?

I thought I was free?

But we are children of our country, of the state. We are taught to be loyal and pledge our allegiance from young ages. We are taught to think that our country is the best, and that we should be proud. And that’s not to say I don’t agree.

I think we should be proud of where we come from, but let’s not get confused with being proud and being ruled.

Governments are in place for a reason.

Laws are in place for a reason.

Unfortunately, people that have no respect for the people that they represent tend to be in power (no, this is not a dig at anyone specific–this is a general statement).

This results in people having to put up with things they don’t like, doing things they don’t want to do, because it will have repercussions.

The sad thing is, if people read the laws or got to better understanding their government (not just listening to FOX or CNN or NBC or whoever), maybe the people would get some of their power, some of their freedom back.

There a million and one ways I could point out how we are not free. One that I’ll probably get further into on another day would be the fact that the LGBT community is not given the same rights throughout as their heterosexual counterparts.

Why?

Because the law doesn’t see it as right. People argue that it goes against the Bible.

But doesn’t the First Amendment of the Constitution say something about “Separation of Church & State“?

If the Bible, which, correct me if I’m wrong, is a writing of the Church, is essentially the reason for this law, does that mean that the law is unconstitutional?

Oh yes, people are so very free.

To me, freedom is being able to live where I want, with who I want; to be able to work, and drive, and present an ID (if I so choose, because if we were really free, we wouldn’t need them–you are but a number), and to be given the rights of my American counterparts. But that’s just it. I am not a child of the State. I am, along with everyone else, a child of the world.

If the world would just be a fair and just parent, I’m sure we’d have a brilliant, sit-around-the-table, family-game-night relationship.

But it’s not.

I don’t mean this to come off as a pro-anarchy or anti-government rant by any stretch of the imagination, but merely a bit of insight in showing that we are all not as free as we’d like to believe.

Freedom goes hand in hand with gumption.

The passion to stand up for that freedom goes hand in hand with gumption.

No one is going to defend your freedoms or your rights (also, these things are allowed to you, or given). You have to do it for yourself.

Don’t be extremist about it, but be adults.

I am so tired of seeing/hearing adults acting like children.

For goodness’ sake, just be grown-ups. SPEAK. LISTEN. COMPROMISE.

At this point, I look at the world around me and I just think, “Jeez…is this seriously what my kids will be inheriting? Is this what I want to raise children in or leave behind for another generation? A legacy of dishonesty and separation?”

We are not all puzzle pieces that belong in separate boxes.

We are not competing pictures.

We are all from the same puzzle. Now we just need to get put together.

We are the pieces. We don’t need to put the world back together. We need to come together.

While you all ponder what I mean, rant about what I’ve said, or even send me hate mail, I’m going to go and enjoy a cup of tea, because that’s what I want to do. TSoG

We Go Together Or We Don’t Go Down At All

All Time Low, “A Love Like War (ft. Vic Fuentes)”

 

So yeah. I lied. I’ve been gone for the last…nine days or so, but that’s because it’s been manic for me as of late, though I suppose in my line of work, I shouldn’t worry when it gets busy, but when it stops.

Reviews, interviews, etc. all popping up left and right, added with school, training, and more. It’s a fun life I lead.

One thing I have learned in the last week or so is how easily people become comfortable with one another, especially if you’re crammed together five days a week for four months. At school, I am one of a class of twelve, and we train together each of those days.

When you train with someone, especially with heavy weights, and they’re spotting you (essentially standing between you and the bar crushing you), it’s almost natural to become comfortable with them. You joke together, you talk; in that one training session, you experience the highs (lifting that weight you never thought you could, or just finishing the workout) and the lows (having to stop because the weight is too much or the intensity is too high).

In more ways than one, you become a team.

Sometimes it’s nice to see that you’re not as isolated as you feel.

This got me thinking about my friends; past and present. I’ve not had the best track-record with friends. For some bizarre reason, I tend to become friends with the people who do more harm than good. I like to think I’ve grown out of that, but sometimes I don’t know. As pessimistic as I am, I like to see the good in people, even if they may not deserve it.

I’m not saying I’m completely innocent; I’ll own up to my mistakes in a friendship too, but I was thinking about how friends are like your teammates. You can’t win the game with teammates who you a) don’t work well with and b) who don’t want to put in the work.

Respect your friends, respect your team. When one falls, you have to try and help each other, or you’ll all fall down.

If we all stopped trying to compete against each other, and collectively worked together, maybe the world would operate in a much different way.

Maybe there would be no Left Wing, Right Wing, Chicken Wing, and any other kind of wing out there.

Who knows…

Wait.

-Machines Are People Too (MRP2); Nickels & Dimes

 

We are deemed the “human race.” Maybe it’s because we’re all running around in circles, constantly trying to out-do each other, or get on each other’s level.

We run around and around, until we’re too dizzy to stand, too stressed to breathe, and too tired to sleep.

Sometimes, life hits, like a wall. You either bounce off of it, or you crash and burn.

After being away for a while, I’ve been working hard and working on coming to grips with what could possibly end up being my life.

So far, I like to think I’m doing okay, but then walking around in the grocery store today, I felt this panic hit me out of nowhere. If I stay in the country, under the strain of not being given any independence, am I going to be trapped in this town? This dead end town where most people have lived their whole lives?

I was looking around and not one person seemed truly happy. Just content. The first thought in my head was, “But I don’t want to be just content.”

I want so much more than that.

I want to get out of this town, to write and direct films that bring tears to people’s eyes, and make them laugh; with characters they look at and have to bite back the urge to exclaim, “OH MY GOSH! THAT’S ME!”

As the days go by, I feel stuck in a rut; trapped.

I love being at National Personal Training Institute, and between that and my work, I’m keeping my head above water–staying sane.

But it’s difficult when it feels like everyone else is moving on with their lives. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for them, but it’s hard to ignore the feeling of “being left behind,” especially when friends are too scared to tell you about all these great things, because they don’t want to upset you.

Suddenly, it feels like all of the people I got used to never existed.

I’m part of their past, but not really part of their now.

It’s also scary to imagine going back to the U.K. and attempting to make friends with people who have been “O.M.G. besties since Year Three!” It’s the same as anywhere; you may be friends with them, but there will always be that boundary between you all, because they’ve been friends forever and you’ve only just arrived on the scene.

There are days that I think, “Maybe life will be better and I’m limiting myself by thinking otherwise,” and I try to come up with a list of people and characters who are obviously happy and never come to America.

Then I think, “Well, most of the people who don’t come to America, have never lived here before. It’s not that great, but it’s home.”

There are days I look at my life and think, “God, I cannot wait to get far away from this.”

Then there are others I look at and say, “Oh God, I’m really going to miss this.”

Then I think of the ten year ban.

The moving on its own is upsetting, but the ten year ban is soul destroying.

Essentially, I look at it like this:

  • If I make a movie within the next ten years, I will not be able to attend the premiere in America.
  • I would not be able to attend my 10 year high school reunion, nor would I have a choice in the matter.
  • I would not be able to document a band’s tour around the country. I could travel elsewhere with them, but not here; not until I’m too old to be doing so.
  • I will most likely never live in Wilmington.
  • I will have to wait ten years to film a movie in Wilmington.
  • If I die before I hit 29/30, I will have never been to New York City, never seen a baseball game in live action, never been to LA, etc.
  • I will not be able to accept my invitation to cover SXSW in Texas.
  • I will not see my best friend in the whole world until she is about fourteen, which kills me. I’ve known her for her entire life, and she is my favorite person. To not see that baby would kill me.

The list goes on.

This is pessimistic, I realize.

But I need to be honest here.

In truthfulness, I also think about all the things I will do:

  • I will be able to work.
  • I will have an ID.
  • I will be able to drive.
  • I will finally get to see other parts of the world.
  • I’ll be more independent.
  • I will get to wear boots every day, because I’ll be freezing my ass off.
  • I will probably eventually be able to move to Australia, which has been my dream forever, though the plan had been to do so when I was older and very wealthy.
  • I could get a dog.
  • I’d probably lose weight faster, because I’d walk basically everywhere.
  • I would have the option of whether or not I wanted to go to university.

Double-edged sword, I think.

My mind goes a million miles a minute every time I start thinking about it and it takes a lot to hear the part of my brain screaming, “WAIT! STOP! BREATHE!”

Story. Of. My. Life.

What’s So Funny ‘Bout…?

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“What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?”

 

If I’m truthful, I could answer that question; it’s not that there’s anything funny about peace, love, and understanding, but there’s definitely something funny about the situations surrounding them.

First off, peace will never happen unless people stand up for the right thing, and not the thing they’re brainwashed into thinking. More than that, when countries finally pull their heads from their own Mariana’s Trench. That would be helpful.

Love is funny in that people do incredibly stupid things for it, whether or not it’s real, and whether or not it is reciprocated. John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Well, this love has inspired people to defend their country, risking their lives. This is a sacrifice that is more than appreciated, but shouldn’t have to happen, especially considering how little the country gives back to those who have shown their love in multiple ways.

But this happens in relationships all the time, so people don’t say much.

As for understanding, I have to resist the urge to scoff and roll my eyes at this one. Understanding comes with acceptance and tolerance, as well as education, which many people in today’s society are lacking. I could rant and rave about this aspect all day long, but I won’t.

However, I will speak a bit about what this all comes down to: SUPPORT.

How can a country stand if its people tear each other down? How can the world work together if each country is trying to destroy the other?

I find it comical that the place I think I’ve seen the most support in is a personal training gym, where I’ve known the people for a month. Never have I heard people encourage each other quite as much as on that gym floor, whether or not it’s the person you’re working out with.

Now, imagine, for a moment, that this is how the country–heck, the world, even–functioned. For every productive thing, people worked together, or shouted encouragement. Imagine how perfect that would be. Imagine if we stopped tearing each other down and started building each other up.

Imagine, just for a minute, a world where good, honest deeds and work were actually rewarded. I know, it’s the stuff of fairytales and Disney films, but just picture it for a second.

What if the honest people got a break? What if, just maybe, they were treated fairly?

What if the justice system actually held up and brought justice?

Can you imagine a world like that?

It’s a world I wish for every day.

It’s a world where my mom and I would not be penalized for coming to America with the hopes of starting over and finding opportunity.

It’s a world where our hard work would be rewarded, not ignored.

It’s a world where people would be encouraged to do good, because good things weren’t just going to bad people.

I know, this all seems like the naive dreams of a child, but when I think of how this world could be, it breaks my heart to see it the way it is.

I want to leave this Earth knowing that the people left behind are surrounded by positive counterparts; where they’re not judged on skin-tone, sexuality, ethnicity, or financial status.

Unfortunately, that’s not how this world works.

Unfortunately, there are people out there who like things just the way they are and refuse to change.

They keep trying to fit the wrong puzzle piece into the place, and when it doesn’t quite fit, they smash it in, even though the image isn’t right.

Maybe if we took a step back and didn’t do things just for bragging rights, or for our own selfish needs, the puzzle would suddenly become easier, and the pieces would fall into place.

Maybe if we stopped acting like the hammer and started acting like the pieces, this would all be a lot simpler.

All I know is that I imagine a world I’d be proud to call home.

I imagine a world where my words will mean something.

I imagine a world.

I imagine.

“Fighting For a Chance, I Know Now…”

-“The Kill” by Thirty Seconds To Mars (:30TM)

 

Why did I post that?

Why did I have to expose something like that?

I’ll give you the shortest answer first: “Because I had to.”

 

There comes a time when hiding the truth becomes absolutely pointless. That time usually arrives when you have nothing to lose. At this point, I have nothing to lose. If I’m already being forced to leave, and to not return for ten years, I may as well have my say before I go.

More than that, I’m fighting it.

I’m bringing awareness to the cruelty that has been imposed on me and on my family; the cruel cards dealt to millions of others who have worked tirelessly in an attempt to better their lives.

You don’t want to know? Don’t read.

As Kurt Cobain once said, “If you read, you’ll judge.”

 

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Many who know me did not know the story. They only knew what I chose to tell them.

As immigrants, we are forced to keep our heads down low and our mouthes zipped shut. How dare we attempt to speak in the Land of The Free! Freedom of Speech is for citizens only!

…and this is where the problem begins.

It happens all over the world, on both a macro- and micro-scale; superiority complexes (Napoleon Complex, Little Man Syndrome, etc.).

It’s got to stop.

No one is better than anyone else.

I can’t believe this has to be reiterated to “leaders” and supposedly intelligent adults.

Everyone is against bullying and the damaging effects it produces, but when do people ever turn around and question if they are the bully?

I was bullied for years, so I know one when I see one. U.S. Immigration–I’m looking at you.

Bullying people to strike some fear, and, in turn, the mute button, happens every day. In the hallway, on the street, and on a grander scale–in the government.

Immigrants need to come together to stand up and say, “This isn’t right, and it isn’t fair.”

There is so much wrong with the world at this point, and it seems like it’s irreversible. But maybe if everyone stopped banging their heads together and started thinking as the solution, instead of for it, things would be solved in a more timely manner.

That is why I wrote the shortest version possible of my story; of my family’s story.

The sad thing is, this is the story for many people.

As children, we are taught that good always triumphs over evil.

But is it true? The things I’ve seen in my eighteen years on the planet would suggest otherwise.

The suspected terrorist gets the citizenship, the bully gets the scholarship, and the Ugly Step-Sister gets the Happily Ever After.

It’s pessimistic, but it’s true.

When, in today’s society, does good triumph over evil?

When do battle lines stop being drawn between allies?

When do the people who want to bring about a positive change get the chance?

When do the people that value something most actually get it?

When will beauty be defined in more realistic terms than the number in a pair of jeans?

More than that, when will people mean what they say, and say what they mean?

I can’t fix the world, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to say something that might make a difference.

I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit here without a fight and let a corrupt profit-machine strip me of the only home I’ve ever known and do the same thing to countless others.

I will not lay down like a dog who’s just been kicked, and you shouldn’t either.

Stand up. Speak up. Use your voice. Find your gumption.

“We Know What They Don’t Know. We See What They Can’t See…”

-“Benny & Joon,” Genuine and Counterfeit, William Beckett (out August 20th)

This week has been madness. Pure, and utter mayhem. Warped Tour on Sunday, added with all the editing I have to do, plus the interviews and reviews, plus school, and normal life? Sleep Deprived is my new name, and Insomnia is my other half.

I guess it’s about time I came clean to everyone though. The reason I have been so absent lately is because of some personal things I’ve had going on. Normally, I wouldn’t divulge this, but it’s about time I said something.

My mom and I moved here in August of 2000, when I was five, following my parents’ bitter divorce. We moved from Manchester, England, to Florida, to start over and hopefully find more opportunity in The Land of Opportunity.

However, there have been numerous disappointments. My mom and I are immigrants, as many “Americans” over the years have been. We came here on E2 visas, and my grandparents, who already had green cards, would later act as our sponsors when we applied for green cards ourselves. We were later informed that they had to be naturalized to do so (By the way, that’s a lie we were told, but don’t worry, it was the first of many).

My mother and I put down on our roots in the meantime, settling into our neighborhood, making our house into our home, and the like. Then, while working with an immigration consultant, my mom decided to file for a five-year E2 visa. The “consultant” was completely fraudulent and, for lack of a better word, a bafoon. Once again, only one of many we would encounter over the years. After he took a ridiculous amount of money, my mom decided she could file these things herself, which she did.

Following that, my grandad looked at the paperwork to apply for a green card and it was decided it was time to file for them; a process we were told would take two years maximum. Considering we had about four years left on our visas, it was thought that we had plenty of time, and that we would be legal all throughout; that this would be a quick, painless process.

Oh, boy.

As you can imagine with one look at the eternally broken immigration system (oh, yes, what a long way we’ve come since Ellis Island), this was not the case. The process dragged on and on, and after being told numerous incorrect things from incompetent officers (“Oh, don’t worry, as long as your green card application’s in the system, you’re legal!”), to even getting screamed at by one in broken English (“You. Are. Illegal! Leave! Get out! You. Illegal!”), everything just seemed to get harder.

Those waiting rooms will forever be a dark shadow shrouded over my memories. They are often cold, with an intimidating air about them. No food, no drinks, no electronics (not even a phone), and if they call your number and you’re in the bathroom, well, you’ll just have to reschedule. I dare say that there is no crueler seat in the world than in an American Immigration Office.

Goodness knows how many forms my family has had to fill out, and how many dollars have had to be shelled out (I’ll give you a hint: it’s about the same as the annual in-state tuition for a state university). The real kicker is that most of the forms we were given were INCORRECT. That’s right, incorrect; given by agents who thought they were playing Monopoly or The Game of Life.

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To make a very long story somewhat short, my mom’s process began to move along, while mine stayed behind. My mom did her biometrics and her interview before I even got word of mine. Then, last summer, finally, that little plastic thing we’d been hoping for appeared in the mail. A green card. My mom’s freedom placed on a little card for all to see.

Mine, on the other hand, was nonexistent.

Then, after finally completing my biometrics (and a second $500 medical, as the USCIS had taken too long to sort everything out, and my other “expired”), a letter arrived saying that I had my interview on January 7th.

I picked my outfit the night before with the utmost care. I barely slept, I was so excited.

When we got to the office in Tampa for our ridiculously early appointment, I felt ready.

We were finally called and led into the agent’s office, which I can still see clearly in my head, and have drawn multiple times.

Her desk was normal. There were pictures, and quirky little tidbits on her desk. She almost seemed human.

She asked me questions about school, and if I’d ever committed a crime, et cetera, and then she swore me in and handed me a piece of paper, saying, “Welcome to the United States of America.”

I almost cried, I felt so much relief.

I would finally be able to drive, as I’d wanted to since the day I turned fifteen. I would finally be able to get grants for college, because I’d have a social security number. More than that, I would finally cease to be a nobody; I would be able to carry around an official ID.

To many, those little things mean nothing, or the novelty has long since worn off, but to me, those are the things that make you a functional adult.

I’ll never forget my sixteenth birthday. Everybody kept asking if I was excited to start driving, and how this would be my favorite birthday.

To be honest, I didn’t like my sixteenth. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed having my friends over and things like that, but I wasn’t remotely excited for it. Why would I be? I couldn’t get a license, or really do anything a normal, American teenager got to do. Hell, I couldn’t even get a job.

This same thing got to me when I applied for college. I got into the university I wanted to, but without a social security number, FAFSA couldn’t help me. At first, the university even wanted to charge me out of state rates! It didn’t matter that I’d lived here since I was five, gone to school with mostly American kids, and learned all of the same things they did. It didn’t matter that America was the only culture I’d ever really known. All that mattered was that I was an immigrant, an “alien”; a fact I was never not reminded of.

After the interview, my mom asked why we’d been separated during the paperwork. This, in my opinion, was a valid and fair question; the process was over, and it made no sense as to why it had occurred.

Of course, the officer, says, “Hmm…let me check…” and she begins tapping away at her computer.

Then, she leaves the room for a few minutes. These minutes felt like hours, and the weight on my chest had suddenly returned full-force.

My grandad put the letter in his briefcase and joked, “So they can’t take it back.”

Moments later, the agent came back in, and the first words out of her mouth were, “I need that paper back.”

My heart sank, and I imagine my face dropped too.

Then, the agent began her condescending little act: “Oh, sweetie, don’t worry, it’s just a formality. Just a case of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.

“I want to make sure this is sorted out in case you and your mom ever want to nationalize.”

We all went home disappointed, and I felt nothing but anger.

On January 29th, as we were about to submit the FAFSA, a letter from USCIS found it’s way into our mailbox. My grandad knew, as he checks the online database and had accidentally clicked on my mom’s name instead of mine. He traveled to our house multiple times that day to intercept the mail.

When he picked me up from school, I knew something was off, but thought he was just stressed.

When my mom finally got home that night (at about 7:30, I might add, as she works for a CPA, and that is tax season), my grandad gave her the letter, which was a denial for my green card and an intent to rescind hers.

I’ve never seen my mom cry so much.

I managed to stay strong in front of everyone else and bite my way through it, but the news hit like a ton of bricks. At the time, I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to graduate before we had to leave.

My mom and grandad submitted an appeal, filled with letters from people explaining why we should be able to stay.

Soon after, the appeal was returned, with a letter saying that the USCIS had no idea what we were talking about, as no intent to rescind had appeared.

My grandparents booked an appointment with immigration to get to the bottom of it all.

At the appointment, the field agents they spoke with were sincere and apologetic, even outright admitting that USCIS was at fault for this pain.

They were told that in thirty days, we would know what was happening.

113 days later, on July 18th (a Thursday), my mom and I came home from a long day of school and work. I checked the mail and noticed a letter from the USCIS. “Mom, this is either going to be the best day of our lives, or the worst,” I said.

She nodded and took the letter. Once we got inside she opened it.

Like a bomb, it hit us.

APPEAL: DENIED.

Mom’s green card was to be rescinded, and her right to work immediately taken away. My green card was, and remained, denied.

We didn’t cry–at first. We were just angry. But as the night wore on, I thought of what I’d miss most, and I broke down. In turn, my mom broke down too.

I think the real kicker of the whole thing is that my grandparents, who own a non-profit, sponsored us in. More than that, we did everything LEGALLY, despite being told numerous ways to do it ILLEGALLY. My mom has been told so many times to get married, and my grandad was told to marry me off, as I’d just turned eighteen and it would “just look like two stupid, young kids who were in love.” Yeah, and maybe I’ll join the cast of Teen Mom while I’m at it!

After years of thinking, I have come up with my own theory. Every family we see that comes from the UK that is a mom, dad, and kid(s), get a green card at the snap of a finger. My mom and I are a single-parent household…and we struggle.

Discrimination against single-parents? Hmmm…I think so, especially considering the push for marriage in order to get a green card.

I’ll say this time and time again until the day I die: I didn’t come from behind a white-picket fence, and I refuse to box myself into one. The American Dream does not exist and the White Picket Fence Life is a fantasy that never existed (unless you’re Beaver or Lucy or another character from a 50’s sitcom).

The anger is still there, though I don’t know what else I can possibly do.

We’re fighting it the best we can, but this time with words. Letters to everyone out there, and our neighbor even wrote a blog documenting most of our story.

But the harsh reality is, we’re looking at having to return to the UK. For my mom, it means starting all over again for the second time in her life. For me, it means finding myself somewhere I am somewhat unfamiliar with, angry, hurt, and above all, rejected.

When I’m angry or hurt, that’s when I get productive. Last time, I started Planet Stereo, a company I couldn’t be more proud of.

Now, I’m filming a documentary to expose the true evils of this broken, corrupt system.

For any immigrant that reads this, I want you to know that you’re not alone. I know the hurt of being a nobody, of being told to leave the only home you’ve ever really known, and being unfairly judged.

For any Americans, I ask you to look at your country, to look at your system, and ASK QUESTIONS. Question everything, all the time. Don’t believe every little shred of information given to you on the television.

And for that poisonous agent sitting behind her desk: Sweetie, don’t worry, this is just a formality. It’s just a case of, you know, dotting the i’s and crossing those t’s.

Aches & Pains, and Philosophical Ranting To Later Follow

I know. I’m getting really bad at this, but the amount of work there is to do is killing me. Quality over quantity, my friends.

I have been flicking ideas about left and right, but I do have a development for you all! I have started filming a documentary! It’s about a subject that hits very close to home with me–immigration. At some point, I will sit and document the entire story so you can all see it. This will also come with links to my neighbor’s blog, where she has written down EVERYTHING. But I think it’s time I finally come clean about a lot of what’s been going on for the last eight years of my life.

The days are passing by quickly, and I feel like soon it will be 2014, and for all I know, I may be in another country by that point!

I know that my lack of posting is frustrating, but please stay with me, readers, because the next few entries are going to be doozies.

Absence Explained

This last week has been tough.

My family is coming to terms with a devastating blow, which I like to think will spark something good eventually–the belief that things need to be fixed, that things can get better. 

I haven’t the time to explain it tonight, or else I’d sit here and type it all up to spark a conversation, or to present awareness.

But I ask you once again to recall my last post: everything is not as it seems at first glance. What you think you may know may not be the entire truth.