On Becoming American

Aside from my son, I’m the most politically engaged disenfranchised person I know. (And yes, I do realize that’s probably an oxymoron.) He has an excuse for his disenfranchisement since he’s not yet 18. My excuse? Not a citizen of the U.S.

However, my son is busy doing this thing called growing up. He recently informed me he’ll be old enough to vote in the next presidential election. I don’t even know how that happened, but it shocked me enough to make a resolution. I will vote in the next election, too.

So, after sixteen Green Card holding years, I’m applying for naturalized citizenship.

WHOA, NELLY!  Don’t be rash now! Have you thought this through, Marianne?

Yeah, I have. Canada and the U.S. have a reciprocal agreement, so I don’t have to give up my Canadian citizenship to become American. It’s the sheer volume of paperwork that stops me. This is actually my third time of printing out the application. The last two times, I did not make it past page 4: Listing my addresses over the past five years. For the record, that’s three addresses in three countries. But I have found my German and British postal codes and managed to turn the page. Several pages. I sailed on easily to page 7, where I confronted:

Part 8.

1. How many total days (24 hours or longer) did you spend outside the United States during the last 5 years?

That would be… just a minute now…. Most of them?

Not good enough? You need an actual number? Okay, I’ve got old calendars. I can do this. But…

3. List below all the trips of 24 hours or longer that you have taken outside the United States during the last 5 years. Begin with your most recent trip and work backwards. If you need more space, use an additional sheet(s) of paper.

The use of bold on this form is freaking me out. Is there an official somewhere who HAS kept track of all of my comings and goings? If so, could you please share with me? And if I miscalculate are you going to stamp a big DENIED on my form?

So I’m gonna skip this section for now.

Most of the rest is a relief. A delight even. Pages of easy fill in the blank and lots of checking the NO box. No, I’m not a habitual drunkard. No, I wasn’t a member of the Nazi party between 1933 and  1945. No, not a bigamist. And no, I’ve never worked in a prison camp or forced a child into military service. Not even once. If this application is any indication, I am squeaky clean.

But I have met the enemy, and it is page 13.

9. A. Have you ever (again with the intimidating use of bold) been a member of, involved in, or in any way associated with, any organization, association, fund, foundation, party, club, society, or similar group in the United States or in any other location in the world?


I’m gonna go with… yes?

9. B. If “Yes” provide the information below. If you need more space, attach the names of the other group(s) on an additional sheet(s) of paper and provide any evidence to support your answer.

Uh oh.

Just how far back do I go? Let’s see…. There was Brownies when I was eight…. It just sort of snowballs from there.

But I will do this thing. I will. Third time’s a charm. I’ll keep you posted.