Monday, June 29, 2009

Separation Grind

We did not immediately get married, and I settled into a routine. I went to school, volunteered at my rescue squad and worked every available shift to make extra money to take trips to see M. I kept my eyes peeled for cheap airfares, signed up for a frequent flier program, and got used to driving each time I could not find a good fare.

*As a side note, any students who might be reading, check out www.studentuniverse.com for really good airfares. You have to book a minimum of two weeks ahead of time and have to keep your eyes peeled because the fares change daily, but I got some monster good deals during that period of my life since I was working on my Master's and full time in school.*

The fact that M and I were not yet married and therefore could not start his immigration process really began to get me angry. Every spare moment I had was dedicated to either finding ways to travel to be with him, actually travelling or working so that I would be able to travel. I was beginning to get exhausted and started to blame M. After all, we could start if he could just get over being petrified of marriage after his Pakistan ordeal. On reflection, I may have been being selfish, but I knew he wasn't going to get better until things were settled. He was still horribly depressed, and this on top of everything else really stressed me out.

On the up side, school was really interesting, but didn't consume much of my time. The most difficult scheduling for that semester (Fall, 2005) was doing 30 hours of high school observation. The next semester, however, I knew was going to be absolutely crazy. The culminating project for my Master's in Teaching was a full-time (unpaid) student teaching assignment at a middle school. I would be required to work the same hours as a teacher, including all after-school assignments and parent meetings, and somehow manage to keep up with my "M travel" and work enough to keep a roof over my head. The way I did this was by working 14 hour night shifts on Friday and Saturday nights and a 10 hour day shift on Sunday. My saving grace was the November/December horse racing assignments.

That sounds funny, right? . . . an ambulance at a horse race. . .well, we were to take care of any jockeys that fell off. For this, we were payed overtime pay, 1.5 times our normal rate, no matter if it was midway through shift or if we came in specially for it. These were basically snooze assignments. We would sit on the field, watch the race, or read, whatever, and wait for something to happen. Thankfully, usually, nothing did.

Anyway, exhausted as I was, I continued all of these assignments and waited, impatiently, for M to wake up.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Slow Changes

The divorce certificate arrived in November 2005, seven months after M sent the divorce. I went for my Thanksgiving break and we got it notarized. I thought that this would be the end of all our problems and that we would just immediately get married. M was not thinking the same thing. M was still reeling from his last "marriage" and felt like nothing should be rushed. He was getting a little more to himself but was still much more gun-shy than the man I once knew. Before his trip M was almost cocky, now he was hesitant about each new move. He had the urge to study everything and wanted to just 'let things happen' without any forward motion from his direction. For this reason marriage, among other things were difficult.

M again sought counsel about marriage from the Imam of his mosque, who did not even listen to his question and basically sent him away. He tried instead the gentleman who handled marriage ceremonies at his mosque. This man actually yelled at M. The man demanded to know why M would want to marry a non-Muslim. M could not even try to reason with him, he was too embarrassed by the man's reaction. M never tried to speak with either man again. M had attended this mosque for more than eight years, but when he needed assistance and counsel, no one would listen, except for Uncle.

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M had arrived in January and since then had not been able to find consistent work. In April, as soon as the divorce was declared and sent, he managed to find agency work. It was not always the same place, but it was daily work and gave him some money to work with. After a month of showing he was dependable, the agency sent him to work in a factory as a temp for a long term assignment. This gave him a bit of consistency and a higher wage, but ended after only three months and though his supervisor wanted to hire him permanently, the contract they had with the temporary agency prohibited it. And so by November, it was just temp work again moving from place to place to place and working for meager pay after trudging through Canadian winter snow and riding the bus.

M hated riding the bus more than anything. Riding the bus meant walking a fair distance through the snow, and added about 45 minutes to what would normally be a 15 minute drive. When you have to be at work at 7:00 am, this is a significant hardship, at least for my friend M. I was trying to find solutions to this problem and it came in the form of my own car-lust. I wanted a different car. I had long been wanting a change and fell in love with a little sporty Cougar. They were not very new, and thus were pretty cheap. I wanted one and that meant that I would no longer need my older 1999 Contour. I thought it would be a cool idea for M to have a car and for me to have my Cougar. That November M got his divorce and his Contour.

Getting up 45 minutes later than before somehow made living in a motel, working temp jobs for crappy pay and 700 miles of separation a little more tolerable.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Obsession

I am not a patient person, I am actually quite obsessive. I can obsess about anything. I usually turn it into a good thing, again by learning everything I can about whatever is going on. In my obsession about getting M to live with me in the United States, I began researching everything about immigration that I could. Google was again my best friend. I found legal websites and forums where there was a ton of information.

I found out that in order to overcome the Expedited Removal from that day at the border, we would have to file a special waiver and wait for it to be approved before being given a visa. I reasearched waivers in depth during this period. I spent every extra moment trying to find instructions on how to compile evidence for the waiver, how it would be filed, statistics on wait time and approval rates. I was completely obsessed. I couldn't have M, so I had to have something to fill my time.

My secondary obsession, only secondary because I had absolutely no control over it, was getting M motivated an getting a copy of that divorce certificate. After much nagging, M began calling his father (over and over again) to get him working on a divorce certificate. This was another aspect of my research, I knew that M needed a copy of the union council certificate.

*Cultural note* In Pakistan, smaller towns are divided up with Union Councils. . .think equivalent of a Town Council or a Board of Supervisors only with a lot more leverage. The Union Council maintains divorce records and tries to set up arbitration to prevent a divorce. This is in addition to many other duties . . .

Unfortunately, M's family felt that the council would not give a certificate because of the influence of the girl's family. For this reason, M's father and brother enlisted the help of an attorney, who drew up a paper for M to get signed and notarized in Canada. This letter was written on something called "Rupee Paper" and had Government of Pakistan watermarks on it. The attorney assured M's family that this was "exactly" what was necessary to prove divorce. He claimed to have had clients successfully use it for U.S. Immigration in the past. I, on the other hand, assured M that it was not what was needed and even showed him the information on the Department of State website.

M believed the attorney.