Anki, a spaced-repetition flashcard program. It tracks which questions you find easy, which you find hard, and which you get wrong. It then schedules you to revisit those questions at the optimum interval to hammer the information into your brain as efficiently as possible. I had waited until I first scored 100% on all cards before filing my application.
Part of the memorization process had been learning the approved answers. For example, one of the questions is to name one thing Ben Franklin is famous for. Well, Ben Franklin is an interesting guy, and he’s famous for a lot of things — but if you decided to mention his flying a kite in a storm, or his invention of bifocal glasses, or his famous letter advocating the delights of older women as mistresses, you’d be marked wrong because those aren’t on the list of approved interesting facts about Ben Franklin.
You’re asked up to 10 questions, and you have to answer 6 correctly to pass the test. I don’t remember all the questions I was asked. One of them was to name three of the original 13 American colonies. That was easy enough, having lived in New England: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island — done.
So it went, and before long I was 6 for 6. After that, I was asked some questions I had already answered on the forms, to make sure that I was swearing under oath that I wasn’t a Communist, war criminal, participant in genocide, or tax deadbeat. I was asked to explain my understanding of what it meant to pledge allegiance to the United States, which I did.
Before long, it was all over. I don’t know how long it took, it was all a bit of a blur. I do know that at the end, I was informed that my application had been approved. The next step is that the records are independently checked for errors by a second USCIS staffer, and I’m sent an invitation to a citizenship ceremony where I get to pledge allegiance and collect a certificate. At that point, I will actually be an American.
As we left the office, my stomach started to untwist itself and nonchalantly ask why I hadn’t eaten much in the last 24 hours. Cate had places to go to and clients to see, so I returned to my car and started the journey home.
After a few minutes I discovered something unpleasant: the collision had knocked out the car’s air conditioning. Central Texas was a balmy 34 celsius in the shade, and the sun was blazing down. I cracked the windows open, put the vents on full, stopped to get an ice-cold drink in San Marcos, and got home sweaty, but not actually suffering from heatstroke. I’ll take the car in for repairs tomorrow.
So, an eventful day. Could have gone significantly better, but certainly could have gone a lot worse. And that’s hopefully the last test of any kind that I will ever need to take. © mathew 2017
© mathew 2017