Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Little More Daylight

When I left Scotland for the USA, the temperature was hovering above freezing the sky was grey, and there was intermittent drizzle. The greenfields made a pleasant contrast with the grey stones of the miles of dykes, and a few sheep grazed in the fields. A month later I have returned and the temperature is hovering above freezing, the sky is grey, and there was intermittent drizzle. The fields are still green and contrasting with the grey stones of the miles of dykes and a few sheep are grazing in the fields. Mirabile dictu, however, now there is just a little more daylight. When I left the sun was keeping banker's hours. Now it lingered in the sky until nearly 5 o'clock. It is still slow to get out of bed in the morning, but it is beginning to rise a bit higher in the sky, and each increase in that arc lifts my spirit just a bit higher.

The most unusual thing about coming back this time is that it did not feel odd. I picked up my old life like picking up the necklace that I bought at a friend's party and putting it around my neck. As if with the clothes and the colors of here, I pick up the left handed driving and the grey stones and listening to the sounds of the cattle and discerning a Glaswegian accent from an Orkney accent.

Ironically, I am now in the position of having to prove that I have lived here for two years, that I have lived with my husband, and that I deserve to be granted an Indefinite Leave to Remain, which is the new, security-conscious name for what was formerly known as "permanent residence." The oddments of this case to the Home Office bear little resemblance to what I would like to see as evidence. I can compile quite a stack of paper to say that I have received mail here, that I am employed here, that I have represented myself as a married person to various official bodies, that I have a bank account, a national insurance number, a dentist (no small feat in the Highlands), an NHS-assigned doctor, and a library card. But what defines a life in a new country?

I'd like to propose a cultural competency test of a short essay analyzing the humor in one of three jokes. The essay should be evaluated both for demonstrated understanding, ability to describe the humour, and correct use of British orthography in at least 50% of the words.

The next part of the test should be a cross cultural analysis of words that are to be matched or contrasted. For example, "Identify theAmerican counterpart of fairy cakes, white pudding, and water biscuit." Or "Contrast fruit cake with black bun or Christmas pudding in 25 words or less."

More challenging is a fair assessment of married-ness. I think a timeline of fights and their evolution over the course of the relationship. This should be a multimedia presentation.

I think my approach is infinitely more interesting and valid than the paper stack the Home Office requires. I will do my best to comply but, even for an American, I am not good at following orders and slotting myself into little boxes on standardized forms. I sit now in my third floor (or second floor, depending on which side of the pond you are on) "little America zone". There is a transformer in the corner so that my old CD player can hum away. I have bright cheerful photos of a garden from my old town right by my keyboard, many yarn stashes for various craft projects, and now stacks of paper that will be transformed tomorrow into a compelling description of my life as a married woman in Scotland.






6 Comments:

At 3:26 AM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

Great ideas for culture tests! Trouble is, many people won't be able to analyze jokes. Oh, I know you were (mostly) kidding. But defining terms peculiar to a given country is a good way to ascertain residency.

 
At 3:27 AM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

Remember the story about WWII when guards would ask questions like "Who hit the most homers or who won the World Series last year?"

 
At 8:27 PM, Blogger Hayden said...

I love your culture test ideas, but the married test is the best! Such a vivid opportunity!

 
At 12:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello from Chicago, Siena Coffee (on Clark street) and me, Christine!

you're missing the best time to be in Chicago! winter snow has finally fallen and the Chicago Bears are going to the Superbowl!

it was grand to meet you both!

I just completed 44 Scotland Street and its sequel, Espresso Tales by Alexander McCall Smith. Have you heard of them? It takes place in Edinburgh, so Morris probably wouldn't be bothered to read them...I think!

take care, and good luck on becoming a permanent resident alien (the states still win for saying it in the most demoralizing and demeaning way possible)...

 
At 12:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello from Chicago, Siena Coffee (on Clark street) and me, Christine!

you're missing the best time to be in Chicago! winter snow has finally fallen and the Chicago Bears are going to the Superbowl!

it was grand to meet you both!

I just completed 44 Scotland Street and its sequel, Espresso Tales by Alexander McCall Smith. Have you heard of them? It takes place in Edinburgh, so Morris probably wouldn't be bothered to read them...I think!

take care, and good luck on becoming a permanent resident alien (the states still win for saying it in the most demoralizing and demeaning way possible)...

(and my supersecret currently active blog is:
eggnogbubbles.blogspot.com)

 
At 8:28 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

now into March by a day or so and the sky is girding itself for Spring // clouds are higher, the Sun is getting later every day in going to bed like a recalcitrant child that gets away with it and knows it can // the air is sharper and more breathable // lambs are appearing by magic // birds are going ga-ga // scorrie //

 

Post a Comment

<< Home