random thoughts with green card

darlings

we’re still Very much in a daze.

and *smiling*

so a few Random pictures – and thoughts – and let’s see what happens next…as we type (we didn’t mean In the Larger Sense – too early for such concepts and we’ve only just begun to slink into the dark embrace of the first cup of caffeine at 07:49AM in Los Angeles, USA)

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we have manhattan to thank for the green card.

for tis almost impossible (legally) to get a green card (through employment) unless one has a grand Job with a large established outfit (the company, not the clothing one wears to the Office).

so we got one.

and it was intense and full of world travel and machinations and some very good moments and some not such good times during you-know-what

we learned to Compete and subsist on chutzpah and caffeine. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

but all with an english accent (this is the truly delightful Royal Academy) which helps a Great Deal in American Business (even if they are rarely listening to the Content of one’s impassioned speech). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

but England was always a slight pang of sadness for us – we never fit in there (and we hope to mine that rich seam through the novels and in some way Move On from the early pain of not having the right Background, true Accent or country pile with dogs and batty parents and some nice-pearls-from-aunt-charlotte).

yet the Americans have always found us charmingly british so we slid gracefully into something close to their perception and bought our own pearls (from a street fair in perry street in the village-of-greenwich)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

yet there was always France.

until our 25th birthday, we had a french passport.

and then the immigration rules changed and it was Taken Away.

we were Stateless for almost a year (we didn’t keep a diary or a blog – pre-interweb-days, darlings) until the Editor of the Newspaper we worked on (gawd bless ‘im) insisted that the Authorities Help (as we had to fly to Atlanta for the E3 technology conference and cover the launch of Lara Croft – original game – for computers – not the movie, love).

at that point, we became British – but we look Irish – (which if you know your history was always a point of tension – we’re not underplaying this – but this is Not the blog for that discussion *lookstocamera* #newblogs?) – because that’s where 50% of our blood comes from (of course we are a virtual-ness so have no sanguine-component but who we are in RL is very lyrically freckly with a sing-song voice).

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so when we first came to Los Angeles (on a Visit) in 1999 *looksvaguelytocamera* it felt like home.

one could be Anything one wanted here.

everyone had mixed blood (and amusingly many had it in the same combination – 50% irish, 25% english, 25% french) and everyone Wrote and made movies and music and generally wore great sunglasses and still admired the sunsets even after years of residency here. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

los angeles is also as verdant as a summer garden in england – and remains thus all year round. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

they also have magic places called SOUNDSTAGES which are delicious. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

not everybody reads here – but those who Do – have a Lot of Books (some of which they have written themselves). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

we picked up a camera again around that time and realized that looking-through-a-lens was soothing to the soul (and fun to take pictures of people we love). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and it was here – in America – that we started to Write again – something we thought we’d never do – we had such grief about losing (? walking away? torching?) the career as a journalist 


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yet now we regret nothing.

we have had a Huge journey and travel(l)ed widely and met the Most Interesting (and beautiful) people.

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so, as Madonna sang:

now what?

gosh.

well, the first thing that who we are in RL went and did as soon as she had finished Squealing and crying-a-bit was pick up her camera and go next door and shoot some self-portraits (we put the kettle on and waited patiently – it took a while for her to find the right lighting and liquid eyeliner swoosh) so she could update her Headshot from serious-corporate-manhattan-lady to i-am-so-happy-now-in-los-angeles.

it’s adorable.

she can be very sweet.

as long as she realizes that we need to buckle down and finish Church Row because Charlotte Jones has arrived (and we had No Idea she was behind the door) and Marion goes on-a-date-with-Dovinda (who just appeared off a 1st class direct flight from manhattan without a by your leave).

may we?

*blush*

you are Most Kind.

The three of them walked slowly down the hill. Simon fuming, Annabelle being bossy and Marion caught between them, delighted.

As they reached Church Row, Marion unzipped her tracksuit bottoms to get her keys out. Annabelle helped her open the door but demurred at her offer of a coffee. Simon felt triumphant. Until Annabelle said, “Oh, darling, I forgot to mention, your mother just showed up, she’s in London to sell her house.”

Simon spluttered. “My mother is here?”

Annabelle was tight-lipped. “Yes, she said she had warned you she was going to arrive. Perhaps you forgot to leave me a note on the fridge?”

His wife was never bitchy – unless Charlotte Jones was concerned. Simon’s heart sank. His mother had emailed him last week but in all the excitement over the gorgeous American neighbor and the subsequent revival of his married sex life, he had forgotten.

“Jesus Christ,” he said, quietly.

Marion was amused. She paused on her doorstep and watched them walk slowly to the house next door. “What’s she like?” she asked. Annabelle turned round and put her hand on Simon’s arm in sympathy.

“A credit to the British Empire,” she said, sighing.

“I thought you guys didn’t have an Empire anymore.”

“Don’t tell my mother-in-law that,” said Annabelle as her husband almost smashed his foot on the new lavender and rosemary pots outside the front door.

The door opened from the inside and a statuesque older woman with the most magnificent ash-gray helmet of hair stood there, surveying the scene. Charlotte Jones was a British version of Catherine Deneueve. She had the steely backbone of a matriarch with the gorgeous curves encased in serious lingerie from the Queen’s purveyor of silk unmentionables, Rigby and Peller. Her dresses were beautifully cut, from Dior, the neckline set off with a single strand of pearls (inherited) and she wore low-heeled Gucci pumps in matching navy.

Marion was transfixed. If Annabelle was a sweet English rose, her mother-in-law was a vast and glorious bouquet from a country house weekend. She was magnificent.

Charlotte took in the situation instantly. Her son was bruised, emotionally, her daughter-in-law was flirting with women again (Simon was right, it wasn’t the first pash she had had) and the American next door was trouble, her grandson had already filled her in on that. Well she would sort everything out, she always did. She gave a cheery wave to Marion who was still standing in her own doorway.

“I’m Charlotte,” she said.

“I heard,” said Marion, with a significant nod to Simon who groaned.

“Come for dinner tonight,” said Charlotte.

Annabelle swallowed her fury. How dare Charlotte do this – come and take over her life without the slightest compunction. There was no food in the house, she was going to Lydia’s for a light supper anyway and Simon was taking Mark to Scouts. She appealed to Simon for help but he was hanging up his Mackintosh coat.

“Another time,” said Marion, “I have a date tonight.”

“I’m here for a week – we shall reschedule,” said Charlotte crisply and closed the door. Then she looked at Simon and Annabelle who were standing sheepishly in the hallway. “Seems like a little drama is brewing on Church Row, darlings,” she said, walking ahead of them to the kitchen to put the kettle on. Thank goodness she had arrived in time, she thought. Simon looked helplessly at Annabelle who mouthed “A WEEK?” and they both headed into the kitchen, both of them wondering who Marion had a date with tonight.

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Kelly grabbed the rolls of campaign sketches and her tablet computer from the back of the taxi. Marion paid the driver and marched into the showroom. She had not said much to Kelly all morning. Last night she went on a disastrous date with some American executive in town on business. It was an unwelcome reminder of her former life.

The woman asked her to meet her at the hotel and kept her waiting in the lobby for ages. She hated that. And then they went to a restaurant but the woman – whose name was Dovinda – probably not her real name as after a few glasses of wine she revealed a solid Midwest upbringing and there are not many Dovindas there – was very picky about the table, the menu and the music.

When the food finally arrived Dovinda ate nothing, of course, as she was on a perpetual diet. But she did pop a few pills not that discreetly before she pushed a lettuce leaf around her plate. Marion could not resist. “What are those for?” she asked, innocently. She wished she had not bothered. They were part of an interminably long story about allergies and pain medication and surgeries and despair.

Dovinda confessed that she did not even have to visit her many doctors’ offices anymore – they came to her. Marion had forgotten what a life divorced from any hands on self care was like. She had had doctors on call too. Her insurance covered it and her lifestyle demanded it. Funny how moving to England with just the local GP in his High Street cozy wallpapered surgery had changed her view on healthcare. She had gone once to ask about her sleepless nights, and he had patted her hand and told her to remove stress from her life and go out dancing. Dancing? She expected hot cocoa and a glossy magazine too, but that didn’t seem to be on the prescription pad. In fact he refused to take out the prescription pad at all. That was a first, for Marion. Leaving a doctor’s office without some shopping list for pharmaceutical candy.

So the date was a wash-out. Dovinda had an early call. She suggested Marion come up for a night cap but Marion got the distinct idea that if they had sex it would be the quick thirty minute and thank you version with no remote possibility of staying the night. Which was a pity, The Savoy looked glorious. So she kissed Dovinda (nowhere particularly interesting) in the lobby and drifted into the bar to down a few Jack Daniels before falling into a cab and going back to Hampstead.

yes *nervouslooktocamera* it IS getting a bit Fifty Shades of Laura Ashley over at The House on Church Row.

we had no idea, darlings, when we started writing it.

these things write themselves, of course.

(ahem).

sleep calls.

darlings

a good day – and all-clear on the immigration-medical-front – so That’s Done – and delivered to the Attorneys (in a sealed envelope – not sure why – we weren’t at all tempted to add notations, notions and corrections).

and now sleep calls………..

would you mind just a Picture Post to represent today?

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no Wonder we’re Exhausted.

many miles covered…….

some by foot, others by train, mostly flights-of-fancy too, of course.

what a difference 122 years makes (when you’d like to stay in America)

darlings

*sighs*

a Long Day.

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five hours were spent in medical offices – in and out of blue gowns that open-at-the-back which always reminds us Horribly of you-know-what.

now we’re Not Sick (that we know of – in fact since spending the last two months in California we’ve been feeling remarkably Well).

this was for immigration purposes.

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yes.

we did enter.

one needs to get the All Clear from all contagious diseases (including TB – hence a chest x-ray – have you had one recently? *shudder*) and have blood drawn and needles stuck in one’s arm removing even more blood (look away if you’re squeamish – we’re not – especially after you-know-what and we have to say our blood is a Most Vivid Vermillion, darlings) and then more needles inputting vaccinations and the like.

and then – definitely look away – they check – you know *shudder* for what they quaintly call communicable diseases – lie back and think of england indeed.

in fact if we’d done a little more thinking of England rather than Dreaming Of America as a small person, we wouldn’t be In this Situation.

we had all these tests in 2007 but (careful, careful, careful) it took the powers that be a little longer than perhaps they expected to get round to Us and so they asked for Fresh Tests (we did a whole throwing ourselves on the bed in a Tantrum when we found out – we were Not Well-Behaved – sad to say).

and now we Wait.

for the results.

in the meantime, we thought we’d do a little Research, darlings (a good Education is Never Wasted):

so we’ve been reading about what it used to take when one wanted to Be In America – the whole passage across an unknown and stormy sea, usually in either De Luxe accommodation or the sort of Steerage experience that is best forgotten – and then arrival at Ellis Island.

from 1891, Public Health Service medical officers pounced on anyone who looked Unlikely to make a Good American, but the process was swift and brutal (and without recourse to a second opinion) and took about 6 seconds.

The PHS defined its mission rather narrowly—preventing the entrance of disease to the nation—but PHS officers interpreted their job more broadly. In their eyes, the goal was to prevent the entrance of undesirable people—those “who would not make good citizens” [3]. In the context of industrial-era America, immigrants who would wear out prematurely, requiring care and maintenance rather than supplying manpower, would not make “good” citizens. By 1903 the PHS had elaborated two major categories: “Class A” loathsome or dangerous contagious diseases and “Class B” diseases and conditions that would render an immigrant “likely to become a public charge.”

The diagnostic protocol emphasized the physician’s “gaze,” demonstrating the conviction that disease was written on the body. Dr. Albert Nute, while stationed in Boston, argued that “almost no grave organic disease can have a hold on an individual without stamping some evidence of its presence upon the appearance of the patient evident to the eye or hand of the trained observer” [5]. Exemplifying this notion, PHS regulations encouraged officers to place a chalk mark indicating the suspected disease or defect on the clothing of immigrants as they passed through the line: the letters “EX” on the lapel of a coat indicated that the individual should merely be further examined; the letter “C,” that the PHS officer suspected an eye condition; “S” indicated senility; and “X,” insanity [6].

PHS officers immediately transferred those bearing chalk marks—typically 15 to 20 percent of arrivals—to either the physical or mental examination rooms. In the semi-private, single-sex physical examination rooms, immigrants partially disrobed and were examined with stethoscopes, thermometers, and eye charts. Sometimes height and weight were measured. Those suspected of having mental defects met with a PHS officer who asked them simple questions, such as their name or age, and gave them tests that required manipulation of cubes or puzzles or interpretation of events depicted in photographs. At the conclusion of the medical or mental examination, the immigrant would receive an OK card or a medical certificate.

well, it seems that the borders are still as tightly defended:

SARS, avian flu, bioterrorism: such threats to national security at the dawn of the 21st century have renewed anxieties about controlling disease at the nation’s borders.

and of Course we Completely understand that when it’s Your party you get to make the guest list and hire bouncers to keep out those one doesn’t like.

but we just wish it took Slightly Less Time to decide whether you want teamgloria Here – for good.

because we had a little meltdown on the subway after being poked and prodded and injected and removed of one’s blood.

it’s the Not Knowing that’s hard.

we’ve spent 12 years not making any Concrete Plans for the future.

and now we’re not sure we’d know How To.

the Lovely aspect of this is that one has such a Joie de Vivre about the Day at hand.

because one must stay cheery somehow.

and one has the Nicest friends to stay with while America decides whether to keep us permanently.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand if, in the end, it decides it doesn’t want us – well – there are Other Countries *looksvaguelytocamera* – Lots, right?

plus we signed our book contract today *blush* and one can Write from anywhere, non?

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just somewhere delicious please.

and not Rainy (it was Very Rainy in Manhattan today – quite the frizz).

set-backs….and other sadness..

so the latest visa bulletin is out for green cards and, er, the processing month for when we had our file sent to the Right People, is still a loooooooooooooooong way away.

we had thought June.

mais non.

not our timing.

the Universe knows best. we have to believe that.

or we’d cRaCK up.

but we feel sad.

really sad.

we have waited a long time.

and as someone lovely just said on the phone, in a delightful east coast accent:

oh honey. that’s a bummer.

which helped.

as did taking this bubble picture. and writing these words. and reading your comments. and not scratching the Scar which is a bit sad too.

 

medical leave day 13: german films in the dark cinema while waiting for our glands to grow back (and the Divine DV)

the doorbell rang – not early – but insistently and suddenly there was a very nice man from the FedEx company with a parcel (as you know we Love a Parcel).this was from the elegant, erudite and downright delicious ABM (who has the most flowing script and writes a Very Good Card).

Oh! quelle delight! the package contained the new book about DIANA VREELAND!

we left a croaky (a little more voice everyday) and highly emotional (this cannot come as a surprise to you darlings) voicemail on his machine (which we suppose is virtual these days) to say thank you and will be writing a lovely card (we bought some more from the stationery shop yesterday and love to post letters as you know #smallsimpletasks) first thing in the morning.

divine.

DV.

is truly divine.

we hung the red ribbon from ABM’s parcel in ceremony on the Scavullo portrait (not the original – alas – but a Very Nice Print – well-framed) of Diana Vreeland (on a vivid red mat, naturally) in our main room (we hesitate to call it sitting room as we don’t sit a lot – we lounge and living room sounds silly when one lives in such a small and yet lovely apartment – plus we “live” in all our rooms).

two lovely visits – earlier today Jonathan (took us for a stroll – a lot further than before and happily the rain had stopped as we walked through Washington Square) and, this evening, K took us to UPS to pick up some post that was too big for the mailbox or something of that sort or needed a signature we can’t recall – our mind is a whirl (we’re secretly reading the DV book as we type, looking left occasionally and turning a page – yes! the multi-tasking brain is Back!) and then we went to supper by candlelight very close to the house. it was All Too Much being out as we faded (hopefully gracefully) and came home.

and now – hours later, of course, we’re Wide Awake.

oh – we forgot to mention – on the way back from our walk (like a small black labrador) with our lovely companion Jonathan – we thought we’d see if we were strong enough for the cinema. in the mid-afternoon there are very few people about and we are a tiny bit bored of our apartment as you can imagine after 13 days and so we ventured in, telling ourselves we could always leave if it got too much (the cinema is one of four about three blocks from our place).

we stayed. and we’re so glad we did. we saw Drei (3) (a Foreign Film, yes – we do speak a tiny bit of german) and enjoyed it immensely. the ending was a bit ho-hum to be honest. but the whole effect was a beautiful portrait of three, entwined, 40 (?) somethings who were lost and found each other and then themselves. plus it was european so very duo-chrome and stark and east berlin style housing and vintage paperbacks with curious covers and good art director glasses and unkempt yet well-cut hair and Very Intelligent People. worth seeing.

sitting in the cool darkness of the cinema we had this sensation of our glands growing (because, as you probably recall, they were removed during the 5 hour surgery as they were twisted and sore and destroyed by our tumours/tumors/Tobias and his sisters). it was kinda nice. the idea that while we sat quietly in the dark. bits of us are growing back. and soothing and healing and getting ready for what’s next. whatever that is.

***we DID write to you this morning, darlings. but “something happened” with the laptop. we’re not sure what it was. but it was sort of magical and made us giggle. you see we woke up in something of a Fury. and we made a cup of coffee (after a Decent Interval post the pills we have to take) and we wrote (and Cried a Bit) and wrote and wrote – quite furiously – all about the glass closet and corporate america and homophobia and immigration and sexism and Getting To Be Too Much and What Happened When and there was even some dialogue (very carefully disguised as to Person and Place) and our reaction and their lack of it and there was more. Lots More. and we took a deep breath and felt Very Proud for being all Out There (ahem) and revealing and So There and we PRESSED SEND and went off to run a bubble bath and listen to Radio 4………..

and when we got back there was an error message. the Post had not been Posted.

fancy that.

sometimes darling one Has to Say Something. But the world doesn’t necessarily Have To Read It.

too funny.

it’s never happened before.

we are protected by angels.