Tag Archives: immigration status

Still a moany wee shite.

Wow, I had no idea that the last time I posted on here was January 6th! I thought my last post was in mid-February. I should have realized it was a long time when I attempted to log into WordPress, and had a hard time remembering my user ID and password. Thanks to those chipmunk aficionados, though, my stats haven’t taken much of a beating. In fact, insultingly, my busiest day ever was January 7th with over 300 hits!

Since I’ve been gone, lots of things have happened. “MM” and I passed our immigration interview, and so now I have a two-year green card. I’ll get the ten-year one at the end of next year (if we haven’t got divorced, that is!). I also passed my driving test about a month ago. Both of these things mean that it will be much easier for me to find a teaching job. I’ve been substitute teaching in a neighbouring school district in the hope that that will help me get my foot in the door there.

You’d think I’d be happy, wouldn’t you? But, well, I wouldn’t be the same moany wee shite you know and love if I was happy. I still have days (like today and yesterday actually) when I’m crushingly depressed, and I wish I could just stay in bed all day. I fantasize about slashing my wrists, or putting a bullet through my head. I don’t know why I feel this way. It just seems that nothing ever changes. I feel hopeless.

Last week was a particularly difficult week, as it always is in Mid-March, because there was a massive music festival here. Every year I’m reminded by all the musicians floating around of how I’m a talented singer and yet I do nothing, absolutely fucking nothing, with my talent. It’s the same thing with writing. I have all these ideas for articles, but I never do anything.

I picked up my copy of “The Artist’s Way” this morning, and read through the first chapter with the intention of working through all the exercises. Maybe this time it’ll help unblock me. I can’t help but be discouraged, though, whenever I look at the date I wrote on the inside cover when I started using it the first time – January 15th 2007. 2007! More than three years have passed, and still I’m completely artistically frustrated and blocked. Admittedly, I didn’t really follow the book properly, so it’s no bloody wonder I failed.

At the weekend, I posted an ad online to see if I can find musicians to collaborate with. Every so often I’ll realize that I’m wasting my vocal abilities, and I’ll frantically spend about a week or two trying to find somebody to work with. I’ll meet up with a few, but nothing ever seems to fit. I shouldn’t let that discourage me really, and should keep on looking…but I don’t, and then I forget all about making music. If I can forget so easily, maybe I don’t even want it enough.

Even blogging is a chore these days, another stick to beat myself about the head with. I find it hard, if not downright impossible, to keep up with all of the other blogs I read. I don’t know how you do it, but everybody else seems to manage it. They manage to write a post per day, read and comment on other people’s blogs, and then respond to comments on their own blogs in a timely fashion. All that, and they’ve got a life as well! If I did that, my life would consist only of blogging! Yet another reason to feel guilty and “less than”.


My husband is such a know-it-all twat.

I just had a huge fight with Midwestern Man. He really is such a know-it-all twat, and there is nothing (I repeat…nothing!) I hate more than know-it-alls wankers who aren’t informed about a subject but who decide to open their mouth, anyway.

Somehow Midwestern Man seems to be an expert on teaching, and the American public school system, and its hiring practices; and, oh yeah, he’s apparently also an expert about immigration to the US, and the US’s immigration policies. It’s fascinating how one man can know so much. I truly am fucking blessed to be married to such a polymath! He’s a fucking 21st century Renaissance Man. That’s what he fucking is!


Tonight’s fight was caused by my innocently pointing out that there was an article about Baltimore in last Sunday’s “New York Times” travel section. I’ve never been to Baltimore but I have a sneaking suspicion that I’d like it a lot, as I generally enjoy more blue-collar, racially diverse cities on the East Coast. I’ve also heard that it’s got a thriving arts and culture scene. To be honest, I think it might be a lot like Glasgow.

Baltimore came up a couple of months ago in conversation when it was apparent that I’d have to drop out of my teacher certification program due to lack of a work permit. I could re-apply to that God-awful program for admission next year, but that would mean staying in a city both of us are bored of until summer 2011! We were considering places where I could apply to go to grad school, and Baltimore seemed like a good place because Johns Hopkins University is there – and it’s a good school – and the city itself appeals to me. I have since shelved the idea of applying to grad school to get certified as a teacher (well, at least this year) because, quite simply, I am broke. Also, it’s unlikely that my immigration status would be fixed out in time for me to become a conditional permanent resident, and be able to apply for financial aid.

I then thought about applying for “Teach for America” and “New York City Teaching Fellows” which, if you’re American, you may know about already. If you’re not American, well, these are just programs that basically take the “brightest and best” potential teachers and then throw them into some of America’s toughest and most under-achieving schools. You get practically no training (something both these programs have been criticised for a lot) but you start earning a salary straight away and, in many cases, you even get a subsidized Master’s of Education. “New York City Teaching Fellows” does not guarantee job placement, which could be a major disaster for me if I got accepted to the program, moved to NYC, and then didn’t find a job. “Teach for America”, on the other hand, does.

What, you may be asking, does this have to do with Baltimore? Or, more to the point, what the hell has it got to do with the fight you had with your husband?

Well, seeing as “Teach for America” guarantees job placement, this made me more keen to apply to them than “New York City Teaching Fellows”. “Teach for America” also allows you to choose certain specific cities or regions you’d like to teach in. I thought it might be a good idea to pick Baltimore seeing as it wouldn’t be as popular as somewhere like New York, and therefore might make it more likely for my application to be accepted.

Despite this, there are some glaring problems with “Teach for America”. Quite simply, I’m not really sure that I agree with their modus operandi. First of all, it’s incredibly prestigious to get accepted to this program, and it appears that most people who do are, for the most part, rich and privileged recent college graduates who have very little, if any, experience of working with troubled youth in the inner-city. Worse still, most people don’t apply to “Teach for America” because they’re desperate for a career in teaching. Rather, they seem to see it as a nice way to while away two years (getting a cheap Master’s in the process and a nice boost to their résumé – employers and grad schools look very favourably on “Teach for America” participants) before applying to law school or getting a job on Wall Street. Take a look at the “Teach for America” website and see what things their alumi are getting up to. Very few have stayed in teaching.

Now, I know I’m smart, and I also know I’d be a great teacher but, from the limited information you have about me from my writing on this blog, does it really seem like I’m the kind of person “Teach for America” would be looking for?! I am, after all, not a 23-year-old recent college graduate who wants to be a doctor or a lawyer. I may have an absolutely fantastic undergraduate degree, and a Master’s but, at the end of the day, I’m a 31-year-old, broke, hungry erotic masseuse with gaps on my résumé because I’ve been working in the sex industry, and have been unable to find a legal job due to immigration restrictions.

Add to this the “small” problem that if I were to apply and get interviewed, I would be unable to produce any documentation proving that I’m not an illegal immigrant to the US, as it clearly says on their website that I would be required to do. This is because, technically speaking, I am an illegal immigrant. I’ve yet to save up the $1,355 I need to change my immigration status. I’ve been trying for months to set money aside, but it’s been pretty hard to do given that I sometimes can’t even find the money for food.

I merely suggested to Midwestern Man that I was no longer so enthusiastic about applying to “Teach for America” only to be told that I “should just do it”. I probably will “just do it” but I certainly need to wait until my immigration status is fixed out. Apparently, though, Midwestern Man has insider knowledge about “Teach for America’s” hiring procedures because he seemed to know better than me that it would be OK for me to apply there despite my being an illegal alien. He also seemed to know that it wouldn’t matter about my age despite the fact that I’ve been told personally by two “Teach for America” graduates that they wouldn’t take somebody my age.

I don’t mind somebody encouraging me to do something, but it’s galling when they ignore what you say even though they’re quite ignorant about a topic.

Earlier this year, he told me that I “didn’t try hard enough” to find a job despite the fact that, um, I didn’t have a work permit and that many teachers with years of experience couldn’t find one either. This was, without a doubt, one of the worst years ever to be looking for a teaching job but, according to Midwestern Man, they were just growing on trees.

I wouldn’t mind taking career advice from somebody who actually had a career but Midwestern Man doesn’t. He’s been working in the same fucking coffee shop for four bloody years while he “works” on a graphic novel that never seems to be nearing completion. Tonight he told me that he was angry about my wavering about “Teach for America” because I’m “incapable of finishing” anything. He has a point in that, yes, I do have a problem with deadlines and finishing stuff. I’m not particuarly proud of that but, in my defence, I want to say that nearly all the stuff I didn’t finish was stuff I didn’t really care about in the first place. Somehow he includes my aborted teacher certification program among the things I didn’t finish despite the fact that I had to drop out because I didn’t have a work permit.

When I filled out my immigration application, I often checked online to get help for filling in some of the questions. There are lots of online immigration forums, and I’d always be reading about “Brad” bringing over “Tatjana” from Russia to get married. Clearly, “Tatjana” wasn’t paying for the immigration process herself. I don’t expect Midwestern Man to help pay for me to become a conditional permanent resident but sometimes I can’t but think that if he wasn’t such a big loser he could have lent me the money, and then I wouldn’t have had to drop out of my teacher certification program. But he can’t because he has no money.

I really do feel that he’s a fucking loser and, yet, I have to hear all about what a failure I am.

He’s also been getting chubby again lately. When I first met him, he had a huge belly but he lost it once he started running with me. He soon got out of that habit, though, and now barely does any exercise. I find this deeply unattractive. And he wonders why I don’t want to have sex with him!

Honestly, sometimes I think I should have an affair….Maybe with the gorgeous teller at the bank I met earlier this week. You don’t really expect bank tellers to be cute but, ooh, this one was…and he was very witty and smart. I found him extremely charming, and, unless I’m sorely mistaken, I think he was flirting with me, too.

The fact that I’m even thinking about having an affair with another man, no matter how whimsically, makes me wonder if I even love my husband. I don’t feel particularly passionate about him, and sometimes I feel that I only want to hang out with him because I’ve got nothing better to do. I know I don’t have the feelings about him that I should, but I always just put that down to my being emotionally fucked up and afraid of commitment, or being wiped out by financial worries. But what if it’s not that?

What if it’s not that complicated?

What if I just don’t love him?

“Education is the civil rights issue of the 21st century”

Besides getting married, the most significant thing which happened to me during my long absence from the blogosphere was applying to and getting accepted in an alternative teacher certification program. Yesterday, however, I made the difficult decision to drop out of the program.

This was not a decision I made lightly, as I am more than aware that I, since graduating from university, have had an abysmal track record when it comes to starting a project and following through. First of all there was my Master’s program, which I did eventually complete but only after sinking into a deep depression when I realized that academia was not the career for me. Since the age of twenty-three (and I’m now in my early thirties!), my life has often lacked focus and direction, and this is quite a depressing fact given that I’m not getting any younger. I spent many years swearing that I would never become a teacher – it just seemed like the most boring and predictable thing to do – but this time last year I realized two things: (1) that working full-time as a sex worker was slowly eroding my soul and not very fulfilling, and that it would be nice to “rejoin society” by having a normal job and having a salary and (2) that I really wanted to help underprivileged kids. I realized that the reason I had failed so miserably in academia was because I found the work so abstract and pretentious, and completely unrelated to reality. As interesting as it was to do research on obscure late eighteenth/early nineteenth century poetry, there was always a voice inside me screaming “Who the fuck is reading what you’re writing?! How the hell does your work change anything or help other people?!”.

When I decided to become a teacher, I vowed I would never set foot in a university again, so it made sense to me to apply to an alternative teacher certification program, which would be cheaper than a university program, and would also have classes at night and at the weekened (so I wouldn’t be a full-time student and could still work as a masseuse to pay the bills). The application process did give me some doubts, though. First of all, potential students were not interviewed or required to teach a mini-lesson, which I know is the standard procedure for being admitted to a teaching program in the county where I’m from. Instead, the whole application process was online, and they required you to do an online “interview”, which was basically a series of multiple choice questions in which the correct answer ranged from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”. I don’t see how this test can possibly predict whether a person will be a good teacher or not and, indeed, when I finally met my fellow students, there were many people in the class with either weird attitudes (e.g. lack of compassion for the kids; a narrow-minded viewpoint etc.) and others with introverted personalities whom I just couldn’t imagine being able to engage a class full of unruly teenagers.

Much to my disappointment, I also soon realized that the vast majority of people in that class were there purely because they were bored with whatever job they were doing, and wanted a career change. I found very little passion for teaching, and I never once had a conversation about teaching the whole time I was there. There was only one other person interested in teaching poor kids in high-needs schools; some weren’t necessarily against the idea but I overheard so many people turn up their noses at working with troubled kids because they would find it “too difficult” or “too stressful”. I also heard lots of little barbed comments and judgements about troubled kids.

The worst of all was that when I arrived for the first class, I found that our teacher (our only teacher…how fucked up is that? We only have one teacher for the whole duration of an eighteenth month program?!) was a woman I had met at the information session and found incredibly insincere and fake. I disliked and distrusted her immediately even then and all my instincts were telling me “She’s trouble!”. As the months went by, I discovered that I couldn’t possibly have found a teacher whose personality would have clashed with mine more. She was a Southern Belle type who went to church regularly, and who was yet one of the most biased, prejudiced people I have ever met…not in racist way, or anything like that, but it was clear she judged people who didn’t fit into her idea of what a teacher, or even a human being, should be.

I was essentially a marked woman before I even entered the program because of the bad reference my bitchy Master’s advisor had given me. I could sense that this teacher was observing everything I said and did, and just waiting for me to trip up..and, well, of course I did because it made me paranoid, anxious and insecure to be so judged and watched.

The beginning of the end for me with this teacher was when I went off to get married. I had spent hours and hours pouring over the class schedule, trying to find a good time to tie the knot that wouldn’t clash with my teaching program classes (you were only allowed to miss two classes over the whole eighteen months otherwise you could be kicked out of the program!). Just when I had booked everything, the teacher gave us a new schedule, which featured an online course which was going to take place exactly during my wedding and honeymoon. I emailed the teacher to see if I could do it at a later date, but was basically told to fuck off. This angered me, and especially so months later when one of the teacher’s favourites announced in class that she would be moving house, and perhaps wouldn’t have an internet connection to be able to complete that weekend’s online course. The teacher told her to email her if she was having trouble and “we will work something out”. Wow!

After having spent nearly my entire honeymoon completing an online course, I was so frustrated and angry that I made the “mistake” of emailing the teacher to express my opinion that it was unfair to expect people to do work during important life events (such as death, marriage, birth). I got called in for a meeting after this email, and was informed that (1) “I was emotionally fragile” (huh? where did she get that from? I wonder if my advisor said on the reference she gave me that I had suffered from depression in grad school?) (2) I wasn’t cut out for the “rigours” of the American public school system, which was so much more “rigorous” than in Europe (3) I should think about leaving the program to work in a charter school which would suit my personality more and (4) I had behaved in a completely “unprofessional” manner and that she doubted I would be able to work in a school if I was going to behave in such an “insubordinate” manner and, finally, (5) even though I was clearly passionate about and dedicated to the teaching profession, and produced quality work, that that ultimately meant jackshit to her because of all my other “problems”.

A few weeks later, when we were about to do our two-week student teaching placement, she assigned me to a school around thirty miles away from my home – in an entirely different city! – which had no public transport links. She did this despite knowing that I had no car, and could not even apply for a driver’s licence because of a stupid immigration technicality. I had been looking forward to student teaching so much, and I was pretty sure she had sabotaged this on purpose, so I had to excuse myself from the class at that point to go off and cry in the toilets out of sheer frustration and disappointment. Afterwards, I was told by the teacher “See, this is just another example of how emotionally fragile you are”. She also told me I should probably think about leaving the program because I didn’t have a car, and had “visa issues”. I told her that I had made a professional connection in a school right up the street from my home, and asked if it would be OK for me to work there instead but I was informed that would be “impossible”. Curiously enough, the next morning – no doubt after she had spoken to her superiors – it suddenly was possible for me to work in this school, a fact I was told about at 11:00 a.m. I was given two hours by this teacher to find my own student placement, at a time when most principals are at lunch. Luckily, I managed to talk to the principal and convinced her to take me.

Ugh! I never meant to go into so much detail – I’m sure I must be boring you all to tears – but these are some of the reasons why I have decided to leave my program. I am hugely passionate about teaching; I really, really, really care about the kids; I’m fucking smart, and I know my subject well, and I’m good at presenting it in fun, engaging ways…I don’t mean to be arrogant, but I would be asset to any school! It’s probably true that I would be better suited for work in a charter school, but I don’t believe that charter schools – while some are good – are the answers to America’s public school problems. After my experience with this teacher, I have come to the conclusion that most public schools and the teachers who work in them are probably bland and conformist, and, yes, I will probably hate having to deal with the administration. However, I also believe that students need teachers like me who are “alternative” and challenge them to see a new perspective.

The main reason I left the program, however, was because I still haven’t been able to save up the $1,355 (!!!) I need to apply to change my immigration status and hence receive a work permit. Having no work permit means I couldn’t apply for a job for this school year. I could re-apply for the program next year, but this would mean being stuck in this city until 2011 while I got certified. Both Midwestern Man and I are ready for a change. I also found out recently that certain states (New York was the one I looked into) will not let you teach there with a certificate from an alternative certification program unless you have three years’ experience! I would be trapped, in this awful conservative state, until 2013! I’ve already been here since 2004, and my exile needs to come to an end sooner rather than later.

So, my plans? I’m looking into applying to graduate school in various states to get certified and gain a Master’s in education in the process. If anything has come out of my disappointing experience in this program, it’s that I still want to be a teacher. I think that’s very important because that awful teacher could easily have put me off teaching forever. I never thought I’d want to go back to school again, but I want to learn as much education theory and as many teaching strategies as possible before having my own class. Around 65% of 12th grade kids do not read at grade level, so I need to know how to help them. In my alternative teacher education program, we learned nothing about this. In fact, we pretty much learned nothing in general.

It was, bizarrely, John McCain who, in his acceptance speech at the Republican convention, said “education is the civil rights issue of the 21st century”. I never thought I’d be quoting John McCain in my blog, but, well, there you go…The American public school system is badly failing its students, and the vast majority of them are African-American, Mexian-American and/or poor. Something needs to be done! And I, people, am going to try to contribute what I can. It will take more than some bigoted Southern Belle to get in my way!