Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Naturalization: Part Two - The Revenge

When you apply for citizenship they hand you a booklet and an audio CD of the 100 civics questions they will fire at you during your upcoming interview. Having not taken an exam in approximately 15 years I was rather excited about this. Mostly because I am a nerd and used to be rather good at exams. I'll also admit that I was 'quietly confident' about passing the written and spoken English portion of the citizenship test. English, why it's practically my mother tongue. Perhaps you wouldn't know that from my grammar or spelling, but in my head I'm brilliant.

Anna and Lucy suffered through weeks of listening to the Citizenship Test CD in my car and now scream 'No! Not Nancy Pelosi' whenever I grab my car keys. I know you're dying to know what the 100 questions are, so here's a link, but if you're too lazy I'll write the 10 questions I was given at the end of this post - feel free to knock yourself out - but I want an honest marks out of ten in the comments section afterwards please.

I actually really enjoyed learning about that 'Congress' thing you have, the 'Constitution' and the brilliant idea of 'Checks and Balances', vetoes, separation of powers etc. A written Constitution - what a concept. The more I read, the more I realized that being allowed to be considered a naturalized citizen is an honour, nay, an honor.

So when the INS interviewer called my name I leaped up and put away my 'Best Short Stories of 2010' - see, everyone, I read English for fun, for a laugh, a ha ha ha (poor Peter Sarstedt reference). I clutched my binder of critical paperwork and followed him behind the magic door. The night before I'd assembled my 'very important paperwork' binder because people in chat rooms had suggested that if you look like you're armed with all the relevant info they won't ask for any of it (true). As I collected bank statements and tax returns I came to the section about 'proof of marital union'.

I asked LK how I was supposed to prove marital union.

"You are a moron" he answered.

"Yes, but how do I prove that I'm your moron?"

"Erm, maybe our children???!! Our children who I am starting to believe are much smarter than you?!"

Good point.

My INS officer led me deep into the bureaucratic corridors of the INS - full of small cubicles, family pictures, and people trying to look American and remember who signed the Declaration of Independence.

I took a seat and he asked me how the fires had been in Santa Barbara. Good question really, for establishing residency (and residual distrust and hatred of your current town). He asked me if I would ever bear arms for the US and I, perhaps misunderstanding, said I would be more than happy to bare arms, or bear alms, whatever was needed. He asked me if I had any money owing to the IRS, whether I'd ever been convicted of a crime? I answered no. He said 'not even a speeding ticket?' I said no, thinking of my 3mph drive down to LA. It is impossible to speed here. He asked if I'd had any traffic violations at all. I told him I'd had a parking ticket when I was in labour with my oldest daughter and hadn't been able to avoid the street sweepers. He seemed satisfied.

He then asked:

  • What's the name of the national anthem?
  • Who is our Governor?
  • If the Vice President and President are out of action who takes over?
  • Name one amendment to voting rights?
  • What ocean lies to the East of the US?
  • Who is in charge of the Executive Branch?
  • What is the state capital?
  • Why did the colonists leave the UK?
  • When was the Constitution written?
  • How many amendments to the Constitution are there?

and finally, he asked me to write 'California is the State with the most people', and I was very tempted to write 'California is the State with the moist people' but I didn't because I am cowed by authority.

He asked me again if I owed any taxes or had ever committed a crime. I was starting to doubt myself at this point. Library fines? Changing lanes without signaling?

But that was it. I made it, I passed. I high-tailed it off to Ikea to spend my money on Stüff like a true American.

Next stop the 'Swearing in Ceremony'. I bet you can't wait can you?

  • Star-spangled banner
  • Arnold Schwarzeneggar (also accepted - The Governator)
  • Nancy Pelosi!!!
  • Any citizen over the age of 18 can vote
  • Atlantic
  • The President
  • Sacramento. Not LA! Don't say LA!
  • Because they were fools
  • 1787
  • 27


Summerlandgirl said...

Bravo! I don't know the answers to any of those questions. However, I don't live in Ca.

Heather said...

Congratulations! Although, you *really* would have been my hero if you'd written "moist people."

Norm said...

Congratulations! And after today I should say we are all moist people.

Anonymous said...

Okay, first of all, i love how one of your ads is for the Betty Ford Clinic, after writing the word "Drunk" no doubt. I clicked on it and found out some very intersting stuff. But anyways - Congratulations! I am embarressed to tell you how many of those questions i got right... or wrong...depending on how you look at it! But, you will be happy to know, as i am , that Coby only got 8 questions correct! HA!!!! That's right, not a full 100%, so take that!! Okay, seriously, we are so happy for you! Congrats!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... it would appear that there are some gaps in my knowledge of all-things American. But not in yours, so congratulations! Bet you could have floored your interviewer with a few fascinating facts about the cultural geography of North America too, so congratulations also for holding off on doing that.
Please, please use your strongest, broadest Yorkshire accent at the swearing in ceremony Sxx

Anonymous said...

Of course I meant the Historical Geography of North America! That was just another little test x

Carrie said...

I'm such a nerd. I have to answer the questions.

1. Star Spangled Banner
2. Schwarzenegger (not sure if that's spelled right) uh and he's not mine, mine is Rick Perry (ick!)
3. Speaker of the House
4. Um, 19th amendment, gave women the right to vote
5. Atlantic
6. president; currently, Obama
7. your's is Sacramento, I think; mine is Austin
8. to have religious freedom
9. Uh, 1776, I guess, maybe 75
10. at least 33 but I'm not really sure.

Oh, man. 8 out of 10. Huh, well, you can't know everything right?

Meegan said...

Impressive! I didn't know the answer to the last two. And you did NOT say that when asked number 7! ha!

Nimble said...

Yay you! I didn't know Nancy was up next, that's great. And I guessed 29 amendments. I guess I'd better get busy writing two more.

The only reason I know when the constitution was written is because my third grader brought home a lyrics sheet to the Schoolhouse Rock song which sets the preamble to music. Love the Schoolhouse Rock...

Greengeeks said...

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chole said...

i saw your answer - 27 amendments - and thought, but no! we only have 26. of course (being a nerd myself), i looked it up. i can NOT believe we wrote an amendment to the US CONSTITUTION about limiting changes to congressional pay. i mean, i guess a sticky note wouldn't be appropriate but really? we had to actually amend it? are you sure you want to be a us citizen?

chole said...

oh! and congratulations too!

Daffodilly said...

I used the "Dummies Guide to becomng an American Citizen!" Congratulations!

Jane/WTKnits said...

I must get that book Daff! ;-) Congrats Ali and thanks for sharing. I still have all of this to come!!

pvz said...

I meant to say "congratulations" but somehow managed not to save/post my comment last week. So, congratulations, and welcome to the land of ... whatever it is that characterizes the USA these days. (It doesn't bear too much consideration without adequate coffee....)

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