Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dual citizenship

Wednesday, 30th of May 2012, I will gain dual citizenship. That is, I have Brazilian citizenship - that I have not resigned, nor intend to - and will gain the American one.
Many people do not understand this matter properly. When I talk to people about the citizenship process, they stare at me and ask, "But were you not a citizen already?"
No, people. Yikes. Citizenship is a serious thing.
Let's get this straight.
When I entered this country, I came in with an exchange student visa - a J1. The J1 is a visa that entitles you to enter and leave the U.S. for a year, plus a year's bonus stay without the right to multiple entries. This provided that you maintain the status of exchange student.
At the end of my bonus year, Dean and I were already dating, and several people had suggested I did my graduate studies here. Having nothing to lose, I started the paperwork, returned to Brazil and got a student visa - an F1. The F1 gives you the right to enter and leave the U.S. for five years, provided that you maintain your student status.
At the end of the second yearas an F1, Dean and I were married. Now I was the wife of an American, and the U.S. thinks (with a mind of a donkey of the people that make the immigration laws) that a person married to an American citizen must have the intention to live in this country permanently. It does not occur to them that maybe, and just maybe, I just want to finish my degree and move with my new husband, back to my home country. No. Wives/husbands of Americans obviously have to give up their original visas (ie, temporary stay) immediately and apply for permanent residence - the famous Green Card. What do I call that? Presumption, if you want to know my opinion. They presume that if you marry an American, you obviously want to live nowhere else other than America. Who are you, I ask, to think for me?
There are scores of ways for a person to get a Green Card. Marriage to a citizen is the fastest of them. But, in short, anyone who has a legitimate reason to establish residency in the U.S. can enter the Green Card application. We must have good background, and never have attacked the U.S. government. It also requires that the greencard-holder be residing in the U.S. for six months plus a day every year. Right! This is a residence permit. If you do not reside, why do you need the document? But to speaking English and knowing history are unnecessary things to obtain a green card.
A person who has obtained a green card in the U.S. can live their whole lives here without being bothered. For, as the official name says, a green card gives its holder permanent residence.
A U.S. resident, has all the rights stated in the Bill of rights. Freedom of expression, of worship, of assembly, to bear arms, to make petitions to the government, having a fair trial, among others.
To recap - anyone with legitimate reasons to establish residency in the U.S. can apply for the Green Card. And you can spend your whole life here with a Green Card.
GREEN CARD is NOT CITIZENSHIP !! It is not the same. Understand this, guys. Citizenship is a serious thing. Can you imagine if the government went around giving out citizenship to everyone that sets foot on the country? That means now you are also offering these people diplomatic protection and the right to influence in the political life of your country. A bunch of foreign nationals, telling nationals what to do witrh their country. 
Let me explain. Citizens have certain rights and duties that residents simply do not have. For example, citizens can vote and be voted. Citizens must serve in public jury when called. To become a citizen, he must prove that he can speak the language of the country and has a basic knowledge of American history. To gain citizenship, you also have to have some years with a Green Card.
After a few years with a Green Card, you can reach citizenship. Obviously, you do not need it. But you can. Citizenship gives you many privileges, and I do not have to renounce my citizenship natural, I have not seen reason to wait. Green Card has the expiration date and must be renewed every 10 years. Citizenship is forever. With citizenship I have the right to participate politically, but not with a green card. The Green Card can be revoked at any time by the government. Citizenship may not.
So yeah. It was the best way. That is why on Wednesday I become U.S. citizen.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Theology from an lay girl

I really like theology. Even though I am far from being a theologian, it have fun learning and discussing biblical doctrine. I like organizing and improving my thinking, especially concerning things related to God.
But, sometimes, when I am at church, and the pastor is preaching his sermon, my mind wonders to ideas that are not very theological, but are just based on biblical facts.

So, here it goes, theology of a lay girl:

A couple of Sundays ago, we started studying the book of Daniel. And we soon read the account in which Daniel and his friends make a point of not contaminating themselves with the king's food. They decide to adhere to a diet of vegetables and water. Daniel and his friends didn't know it then, but, by choosing not to eat from the king of Babylonia's table, they adhered to a vegetarian diet, which was healthy enough for them. So if you want to argue against vegetarian diets, take it up with Daniel.

I am not saying I agree when vegetarians say they don't eat meat because the poor animals had to be killed. When we eat salads the poor tomatoes and lettuces had to be cut off of its life source - so lives end so that others may continue, just the same. And, hey, animals farts are not, by any respectable scientist's standards, increasing the hole in the ozone layer or contributing to green house effects.

But, most vegetables and fruits have negative calories in them, besides vitamins and minerals. So you're eating nutrients and not getting fat. How about that!

On another Sunday we were studying the book of Samuel. Back in the beginning of Samuel's story, we find Hannah, his mother. Hannah was a tormented wife because she could not have children. God eventually hear her desperate prayers and granted her Samuel.
That shows how great and loving God is. But here's what I don't understand - Hannah was so upset about not having children! I don't think I'd be that worried if I found out I couldn't have any. But then again, this was 4k years ago. I mean, what else was there for a couple to do, after a year or two of marriage, than to raise children? Life must have gotten pretty boring after a little while without children.
I mean, how much entertainment was available? How many plans for the future could they do that would be made harder or impossible by having children? Were children ever part of an either/or choice (you know, either children or that other thing that makes my life so meaningful)?
I love it though, that even when Hannah's heart was breaking, she didn't prevent herself from worshiping God. Stop going to worship is the worst thing anyone can do. Don't give up on worship when you're overwhelmed. It would be like saying, I am too tired all the time, I don't even feel like eating, so I should stop eating. Well, you'll just make yourself worse. The thing is - life will go on, with or without you. So it is up to you to choose to continue or not. Do the next thing - keep your life going. Don't collapse.God is there - He is the one who holds you up.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Life Deals

I skipped a week in my blog posting, but not because of lack of reasons to write. It was lack of time. Last weekend was jam packed. Last weekend's laundry didn't get put away until this morning and this weekend's laundry is done but still sitting in bed.
I don't like when life suddenly gets so busy that it feels like I even breathing takes too much time out of my day.
However exciting things happened. For instance, I got my citizenship appointment and I got a publishing contract with a fairly big publisher for my Little Girl From Yesterday book.

But there's something else I have in mind for tonight.

Let's talk about money issues.

Money is never a problem. Money is always the solution. The only problem with money is that money is hard to earn and easy to spend. It's the opposite of weight – which is easy to earn and hard as heck to lose. It makes me think of that Roberto Carlos song, “Can it be that every thing I like is either illegal, immoral or makes you fat?”But let's get back to talking about money, something king Roberto Carlos has enough of. Let's talk about how to save money in little things!

Last weekend, even with all the rush, I purchased two pairs of Converse for only 21 dollars each! I got home and the first thing I did was throw away my old sneakers. I can't say they lasted well. I have older sneakers that are in better shape than those ones. But, hey, you never know when you'll get lucky with anything you buy! I had bought those from the Avon magazine for only $29 dollars. But, at least with converse I have a better chance.
The crazy thing, however, was how I got that great deal. I was trying on the women's size, which was a size 8 and it cost 35 dollars. So I looked at the Junior sizes and they looked an awful lot like the same size as the ones I had on. I grabbed a Junior 5. A tidy bit too small. So I grabbed a Junior 6. Perfect fit. Seriously! For 14 dollars less I got the same shoes! I am so glad I am tiny!
I gotta say I love my high heels, but on a daily basis and sometimes when I just want to look cute, or for outings to the park, sneakers are a must-have in any smart girl's wardrobe. Now I have 2 pairs for only 42 bucks.

Since we're talking about good buys, I should probably mention the reason I was so busy over Spring Break. I spent a good part of my spring break doing price research at Walmart and PriceRite (our two major grocery stores). I put all the prices of all the stuff we regularly buy in a spreadsheet and now it's on our phones. It makes it so much easier to price check. And, when we happen to go to a different store, all we have to do to check if we have found a deal is to check the phone.

Here's an example. I had it listed on my Walmart column that my hair color was $4,98. PriceRite doesn't sell it and I tried the dollar store once, but will never do it again. The color looked on my hair like water color. And it lasted less than a month. So I figured I would go back to my Revlon 11. In an emergency run to Big Y (can you imagine! BigY!), I found it for less than 4 dollars. I checked the phone file and grabbed it right away. Today, after making a trip to Pittsfield, we entered their Walmart and fond my Revlon 11 for less than $3!!! Heck, I am getting it right now!!! It is so much easier now that I have files to immediately compare prices!!!

By the way, this is the thing about dollar store items. They are only a dollar!!!! Buy them! Try them! The worst it can happen is that you'll realize you wasted... a dollar!!!! The best it can happen is you will have found an amazing way to sabe money! But be careful with dollar products. Sometimes they cost less but they come in smaller amounts as well, so they end up being more expensive then at your regular grocery store. For instance – popping corn at Dollar Tree costs more per pound than Walmart brand popping corn. And just a little bit less than a brand name popping corn at Walmart.