March 13, 2011

Ahora, la espera (the waiting game)

All my documents finally came together and I received the call on Wednesday afternoon informing me that my exam date was set for the next day at 8:30 am.  Earlier that day I'd gotten nervous that I hadn't heard from my contact yet or that they weren't answering the phones, and stopped by the offices to check in person.  I was told to hang on, they'd be calling soon.  So I did.  Sure enough, the call came through around 4-ish. 

The next day, we packed ourselves into the truck early, made it over to Secretary of Exterior Relations, where we only waited about 10 minutes before I was called in to submit my documents, take my exam, do my fingerprints, pay, and then we said our goodbyes.  Altogether, the process took about 2 hours- not bad considering the electricity went out in the offices while we were there. Now, I wait 4-6 months to hear the official response- was my application for citizenship granted or not.

I'm not telling the entire story because I am, frankly, tired out from the process but more so from the fact that my baby daughter got sick for the first time ever, the day after.  She and her dad both started to cough, and try as I might have, I simply could not figure out where she got it from. I think it was a combination of things.  But this evening as I was putting her to bed- she almost all better after 48 short hrs- I recalled something that struck me as remarkable this past Thursday.  Her and my own adaptability- I'm really not bragging,  maybe simply reflecting on how flexible life forces us to be.

From the moment we found out we'd be having her, I knew my life was about to pass through a number of intense changes, not too unlike moving to Mexico.  So many things in my pregnancy prepared me for what was to come as a mother.  And again, this citizenship seeking process, as difficult as it has been at times, has prepared me for things that lie ahead.  The baby has kept up- perhaps even exceeded me- every step of the way in terms of adaptability. To illustrate, when she was a newborn, I felt frightened to take her out anywhere- it made me nervous that places that stress me out, such as long lines, chaotic streets, etc., would in turn be hard places to take her to. 

At first, it really was hard- diaper changes or nursing out on the streets, even in my mother in-law's dark bedroom, were often a cause of screams and tears and anxiety for all of us.  But how far she has come- in five short months- to being able to get her diaper changed and be nursed, on the floor of the Insurgentes Metro station in the heart of Mexico City, still all smiles- all of us!  That's pretty impressive, in my opinion.  I, an American, and my husband, a Mexican, brought an American Mexican (how d'you like that flipped script for our daughter) into this world.  And now not just my husband, but she too, is ushering me newly into this world as a naturalized Mexican (if all goes well).  I think that's a fair, albeit rather unexpected twist on things.

March 4, 2011

One Step Closer...

I need to discover the art of the short post.  So I will try to keep this as just an update.  After gathering together 100+ sheafs of Mexican legalese meant to document who I am and why I ought to be granted citizenship...I gave up on endless unanswered emails and phone calls and headed over in person to the Secretary of Exterior Relations (SRE) on Bernardo Quintana, baby in tow, to see just how ready my documents were, or, just how close I was to this exam & interview.  I must confess I was feeling a little cocky, too sure of myself, and that emotion never bodes well in my experience here when scaling paper mountains.

On the bright side, my contact at the SRE is a really nice guy.  His interest was piqued when I mentioned that I had sangre Latina that was coming back home -in that grandparents on my Dad's side were Mexican.  He said "perfecto" several times when 5 out of the 14 requisites I had to present were just right.  He thoroughly helped me correct the writing of some letters.  On the down side, the other 9 requisites had little details.  Umm, yeah. Some littler than others.   Stuff like 80+ pages, printer ink & trips to the copy shop being a total waste because they want bright white paper and not recycled paper or two-sided copies, even on 32 page documents.  I should have known better.  But since INM had been accepting some of my copies like that I got sloppy.  My bad.  Or that their interpretation of "certified copy" is "original" in our house.  So, we'll need to let go of a few VIP documents & get them replaced sooner or later.  At least that can be done here or by mail.  "Just think of one lady," he said, "who has to go in person to get her birth certificate. She cried. And pleaded.  And I had to tell her, I'm sorry, asi es, señora."  I did feel gratitude for that. So what the expensive certified copies that took hours and a trip with a screaming baby to get @ the local notary are worthless. Big deal.  It's just paper & change.  Although I may need to plant another tree as a result of this naturalization process.

Perhaps the biggest "detallito" was about our wedding certificate.  With this one, there were no guarantees the error would be fixed to my favor.  I described the issue rather verbosely on FB- it's been a nearly 5 year saga with the civil registry, but the third time's a charm- they fixed their third & hopefully final error, which was to not include the place and date of our wedding (Pacifica, 2004) on the acta de matrimonio.  It only took two visits downtown, lots of prayer and deep breaths, and about 4 hrs total to get that one figured out.

The horrible passport photos taken on Monday were replaced with some much better ones.  My contact seems to think we have enough window to get in my formal appt. to deliver documents and take the interview and exam before March 18th.   I got an A on the study guide & will try to commit it to memory this weekend.  The payment doesn't take place until after.  So it looks like yours truly is one step closer to Mexican citizenship.  This invokes elusive definitions of what belonging to a land really means.  For example, I'll be able to vote legally, unlike expats who've lived here for much longer than me but still haven't and may never obtain citizenship.  I hate to say it, but the level to which my community accepts my change will affect my own view of things. Above all my sense is that naturalization is really just a first step ...  really "becoming Mexican" will take much longer. And my ability to type a short post may have to wait too.