Homeland Security and less pleasant things

Today was the day of my citizenship interview. The appointment was at the Department of Homeland Security US Citizenship and Immigration Services office in San Antonio, so I had taken the day off. I set out at 9am, and almost immediately encountered a dead armadillo on the road. I wondered if it was an omen. Turned out, maybe yes. The journey to San Antonio is about 120km each way. It’s a long, boring drive down I-35, enlivened only by the antics of Texas drivers doing stupid shit like tailgating 18 wheelers and cutting in front of buses in their pickups.

In which I kick asphalt

Last driving lesson (not written about at the time) I was seriously stressed out after a day at work, and I made an unsafe turn. I was so ashamed. Today I did the driving before work, and did far better. Three parallel parkings, a couple of three point turns, lots of tiny one-way streets with stop signs, and some excitement with an 18 wheeler and a UPS truck, but it all worked out.

Beating exam stress

Colin Fahey set out to take the SAT and get the lowest possible score. He didn’t quite make it. The thing I find interesting is that he writes about getting a sense of liberation and euphoria from going through a classic academic exam experience, in a situation where it could not matter less and the only pressure is to get everything wrong. It makes me wonder if it would be good therapy for those of us who have suffered PTSD from exams.

Off to Minnesota

Well, I’m mostly packed. So far I’m reasonably calm. I think the nervousness about travelling is getting burnt out of me, now that I end up flying somewhere at least twice a year, rather than once every four or five years. The new suitcases are definitely less capacious. Hopefully they’ll survive better and be impervious to jet fuel. I wish it wasn’t necessary to go with hard sided, but when sara’s case got doused in chemicals it was a bit of a wake-up call.


Last week ended on a stressful note, as Ryan unexpectedly “left to pursue other opportunities”. Opportunities in a more external capacity; a horizontal promotion, as the euphemism goes. I wasn’t going to mention it, but since he’s posted the news publically in his journal, I suppose I can break silence a little. The awkward thing for me is that I have no first-person knowledge of what happened or why; just a bunch of stories from people involved, and no real basis for deciding which to believe.

Instant ditz, just add stress

It’s February 1st. My current “permanent” resident card expires on the 8th. I filed the paperwork in late November—you’re not allowed to file until 90 days before the card expires. Unfortunately, the INS service center in Vermont is currently taking 4-5 months to send out receipts (according to the national service center), followed by another 9-10 months to process the paperwork. Since I rather need to be able to keep working, I asked the national service center person for suggestions, and was told to go visit the local INS office and ask for a temporary visa and work permit extension.

Stress pain

Woke up this morning with chest pains. Felt like I’d overdosed on Ventolin, but I hadn’t taken any in over a month. My back was also sore, probably the weather. The chest pain’s still with me this evening, but it has slowly shifted to my shoulder blades. I’m thinking it may be stress. I had chest pains like this during exams at school, culminating with passing out briefly during a mathematics exam.

Nervous traveler

I’m a nervous traveler. I’ve been to Belgium, Canada, France, Germany (including the former East, just after the wall came down), Italy, Luxembourg, Russia, Spain, and of course various places in the USA. Including rural Alabama, which is pretty damn scary. I’ve survived it all, but nevertheless, I’m still a nervous traveler. It’s not the plane flight. Once I’m on the plane, I’m fine. I can relax, because everything is now someone else’s problem.