Said and read – June 2018


I can’t explain why, but June, despite having had some vacation time, wasn’t filled with as much reading as I’d have liked. This disappointing sentence seems to be a variation on my opening sentence for every single one of these monthly posts. I may finish about 20 (or a few more) books by the end of the month, which of course is shy of the book-a-day pace I’d (however unintentionally) set through most of the early part of this year. I realize it’s not about quantity, but somehow having neglected reading for so many years, I feel as though I am playing catch-up. And I know I will never ‘catch up’. Catch up to what exactly?!

…I’d prefer to begin with some riveting tale about how I feel that too much can be read within a person’s eyes – it’s out of their control and completely unguarded, and each time I try to tell myself to be more open, don’t judge anyone by what their eyes immediately tell me, my initial reaction to a person’s eyes seems accurate. I wish this were not the case. These stories, too, about people’s eyes betraying their true nature, might be more interesting than how I start these chronicles of my random reading.

It might also be more interesting to go on wild tirades about the tyranny and insanity of several world governments at the moment, but what can I really add to that collective outcry? Many books have been and are being written about related subjects – last month I unabashedly recommended Sarah Kendzior‘s The View from Flyover Country: Dispatches from the Forgotten America, for example; Peter Temin‘s The Vanishing Middle Class is another good one that illustrates that the US is not the ‘best country in the world’, as it boasts in the loudest, most bellicose, violent way possible but is rather a developing country. There are really too many to count.

I can also calmly reaffirm my great love for Scots and how it sounds. A friend shared The Allusionist podcast about my beloved Scots language with me, and I think it’s worth sharing onward.

Dig further into what I was reading, liking, thinking, hating in May, April, March, February and January, if you’re curious.

Thoughts on reading for June:

Highly recommended

*StonerJohn Williams

I did not know what to expect from Stoner – first mentioned to me by a friend not long ago, which caused me to add it to my to-read list. I was never sure when I’d get around to reading it. Some books, after all, linger aimlessly and endlessly on this expansive list (in many cases because the books are not available as e-books or because they are entirely out of print and not easy to get my hands on).

But the simplicity of the narrative – the heartbreaking simplicity and humanity – make Stoner an enduring, if under-the-radar, classic. William Stoner, a farm boy in Missouri who has modest aims and wants, goes to college to study agriculture, and ends up pursuing literature and philosophy and becoming a professor. His life is beset by the troubles and pains of … the average. He never sought much, and his modest needs and wants ensured that he had a life of contentment, marked by his principled nature, even if there were professional struggles, domestic unpleasantness and a brief but intense love affair that ends. It’s almost sad for its/his lack of striving, or at least never striving beyond what he could reach (apart from early on breaking away from a future in farming). Hard to describe what is so compelling, which is largely why it’s a must-read.

“And it might be amusing to pass through the world once more before I return to the cloistered and slow extinction that awaits us all.”

“In his forty-third year William Stoner learned what others, much younger, had learned before him: that the person one loves at first is not the person one loves at last, and that love is not an end but a process through which one person attempts to know another.”

“Then he smiled fondly, as if at a memory; it occurred to him that he was nearly sixty years old and that he ought to be beyond the force of such passion, of such love. But he was not beyond it, he knew, and would never be. Beneath the numbness, the indifference, the removal, it was there, intense and steady; it had always been there.”

*Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the revenge of unintended consequencesEdward Tenner

The last book I read in June, and also the one that put me at 200 books for the year so far. Like many books I find myself immersed in, this was a random choice, a recommendation sourced through some other article. It’s hard to say exactly why I enjoyed this book. I think on the surface of it, it is interesting because it chronicles the unintended consequences of some of the most ingenious inventions and innovations (some good, some bad… some positively catastrophic), but at a deeper level, it coaxes the reader to think more holistically about how anything and everything can have unintended consequences and almost prompts one to think in a different or more careful way about planning and implementation of virtually anything, while at the same time, pointing out the folly of believing that even the most careful of risk assessments and examinations of ‘domino effects’ can foresee all the consequences.

“Doing Better and Feeling Worse.” This phrase from a 1970s symposium on health care is more apt than ever, and not only in medicine. We seem to worry more than our ancestors, surrounded though they were by exploding steamboat boilers, raging epidemics, crashing trains, panicked crowds, and flaming theaters. Perhaps this is because the safer life imposes an ever-increasing burden of attention.”

*FuelNaomi Shihab Nye

Poetry. Need I say more?

*Anything by Donald Hall

US Poet Laureate Donald Hall died near the end of June, and it was the perfect opportunity to revisit his poetry. I re-read a few volumes and don’t have one single book to recommend but think you’d do well to start with any.

When he died the other day, I reread and shared this piece about solitude and loneliness, moved anew by the love for solitude but the possibility of finding solitude while still coming together with another person, as Hall did with his partner, fellow poet, Jane Kenyon, with whom, as he wrote, he shared “the separation of our double solitude”, and from which each day they would emerge to be together as it suited them.

*Olive KitteredgeElizabeth Strout

I had long ago seen the HBO film adaptation of Olive Kitteredge, so it was hard to form new ideas about the characters (e.g. Richard Jenkins as Henry and the formidable Frances McDormand as Olive… impossible to erase while reading). Still, I had forgotten so much of what happened in the film that the book was almost like a new experience, and I was carried away by the beautiful, fluid writing, the vivid characters and their lives (and stages of those lives) and by how moving the entire thing was overall.

“Sometimes, like now, Olive had a sense of just how desperately hard every person in the world was working to get what they needed. For most, it was a sense of safety, in the sea of terror that life increasingly became. People thought love would do it, and maybe it did.”

Good – really good – but not necessarily great

*What is the WhatDave Eggers

Dave Eggers isn’t really the story – he’s just the writer of the story. And the story is a heartbreaking and challenging story based on the life of Valentino Achak Deng, a Sudanese child refugee who migrated to the United States under the Lost Boys of Sudan program.

“Humans are divided between those who can still look through the eyes of youth and those who cannot.”

*IndignationPhilip Roth

I came late to reading Roth (the last two years), and I don’t love everything he wrote. That said, there’s still quite a lot for me to read. I don’t want to recount the plot of Indignation, but there were some thoughts that I took away that have stuck with me for several days, which is, I suppose, one of Roth’s hallmarks: planting thought-provoking seeds, however little or much they have to do with the story.

“I persisted with my duties, determined to abide by the butcher-shop lesson learned from my father: slit the ass open and stick your hand up and grab the viscera and pull them out; nauseating and disgusting, but it had to be done.”

“If you ask how this can be—memory upon memory, nothing but memory—of course I can’t answer, and not because neither a “you” nor an “I” exists, any more than do a “here” and a “now,” but because all that exists is the recollected past, not recovered, mind you, not relived in the immediacy of the realm of sensation, but merely replayed. And how much more of my past can I take?”

“Because other people’s weakness can destroy you just as much as their strength can. Weak people are not harmless. Their weakness can be their strength. A person so unstable is a menace to you, Markie, and a trap.”

Entertaining/informative/thoughtful or some combination thereof

*The Order of TimeCarlo Rovelli

I don’t know what I can write about Rovelli and the way he presents physics and complex concepts in … elegant and beautiful ways that make them transcend the page and provoke thought, imagination and curiosity indefinitely.

“How does one describe a world in which everything occurs but there is no time variable? In which there is no common time and no privileged direction in which change occurs?”

“The difference between past and future, between cause and effect, between memory and hope, between regret and intention . . . in the elementary laws that describe the mechanisms of the world, there is no such difference.”


* Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 QuestionsValeria Luiselli

In keeping with what I wrote above about all the books that chronicle our difficult times, in the most timely fashion, coinciding with the Trump administration’s child-migration concentration camps (I cannot even believe I am writing those words), I read the brief but important Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions, in which Valeria Luiselli writes about the legal crisis and cruelty facing children who come to the US from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, etc. She wrote her reflections before the latest nightmare (detention camps filled with children put in cages, separated from their parents), but it was nonetheless stark and painful in the narrative it painted. Who would have imagined it could get worse?

“From the beginning, the crisis was viewed as an institutional hindrance, a problem that Homeland Security was “suffering” and that Congress and immigration judges had to solve. Few narratives have made the effort to turn things around and understand the crisis from the point of view of the children involved. The political response to the crisis, therefore, has always centered on one question, which is more or less: What do we do with all these children now? Or, in blunter terms: How do we get rid of them or dissuade them from coming?”

We have also seen the resurgence of old books that foretold the kind of rise in tyranny and dictatorial rule that we’re seeing in chilling abundance now, such as Sinclair Lewis‘s hastily written 1930s/Depression Era *It Can’t Happen Here. As he himself writes, “The hell it can’t.”

And when I just can’t take more of the timeless and timely old warnings (yes, somehow the US avoided becoming a fascist/Nazi state in the 1930s, but just as well might not have, as Lewis imagines, or as the recently passed Philip Roth envisioned in his alt-future imagining, The Plot Against America. Having resisted these tendencies once certainly doesn’t inoculate one from future tyranny. The same concerns and fears seen, for example, in the 1930s, have echoed in the present day and led to a dictatorial moron to the WH. Despite some brilliant passages and predictions in Lewis’s book, the book itself was not smooth reading and felt both like it was rushed and dragged out at the same time.

“(but)… that couldn’t happen in America! Why, where in all history has there ever been a people so ripe for a dictatorship as ours!

“Why are you so afraid of the word ‘Fascism,’ Doremus? Just a word—just a word! And might not be so bad, with all the lazy bums we got panhandling relief nowadays, and living on my income tax and yours—not so worse to have a real Strong Man, like Hitler or Mussolini—like Napoleon or Bismarck in the good old days—and have ‘em really run the country and make it efficient and prosperous again.”

*My Country, My Life: Fighting for Israel, Searching for Peace Ehud Barak

It does not exactly qualify as a coincidence so much as it was a random fluke that I decided to read this autobiographical account of Ehud Barak’s life. I never would have considered it except that one morning while heading out for a coffee in Oslo with AD, we ran into one of her acquaintances (because it’s impossible to go anywhere in Oslo without running into at least one person she knows). This particular acquaintance, squinting into the sun on one of Oslo’s blazing, and unusually, hot early June days, immediately started telling us how he was reading this particular book, and if I may say, sort of mansplained Israel, (cultural) Judaism, kibbutz culture and military strategy and Ehud Barak’s role in all of the key moments of Israel’s brief history. Yes, I suppose I have often complained about Norwegians knowing nothing about Judaism, so someone having a clue is surprising – but having a man (however ‘enlightened’ and committed to equality Scandinavian men are purported to be, middle-aged men of all nationalities seem particularly keen on demonstrating their knowledge… maybe in some bid to seem important, intelligent, relevant?) try to explain Judaism and Israel to me is not a surprise but is completely laughable.

Nevertheless, having heard him recount much of the book himself, I decided to read the book. Mostly I could have done without it, although there were a few key passages that capture, I think, fairly succinctly many of the strategies and ways of thinking behind Israeli military actions (not recent actions, as the country has moved further and further right). That’s not to say I would concede that any of the actions made sense – just to say that it was interesting to get the insight.

Overall the book itself could be skipped. Heavy on detail of Barak’s life running in parallel with the birth and development of the state of Israel and his role in it. Maybe a bit more detail than I needed at times, but, as I said, a valuable POV of someone who was inside the fateful moments and decisions in Israel and the Middle East as a whole – including some circumspection. Not perfect but … worth the read if only for the epilogue alone, which was oddly moving.

“The cause to which I’ve devoted my life—redeeming the dream of Zionism in a strong, free, self-confident, democratic Jewish state—is under threat. This is not mainly because of Hizbollah or Hamas, ISIS, or even Iran, all of which I feel confident in saying, as a former head of military intelligence, chief of staff, and defense minister, are real yet surmountable challenges. The main threat comes from inside: from the most right-wing, deliberately divisive, narrow-minded, and messianic government we have seen in our seven-decade history.”

Biggest disappointment (or hated/disliked)

*War & WarLászló Krasznahorkai

I didn’t despise anything I read, but for some reason had had high hopes for War & War, but it ended up being disappointing. I suppose this is because expectations always betray us. It was not a bad book – it just didn’t hold my interest.

“16. Should we die, the mechanics of life would go on without us, and that is what people feel most terribly disturbed by, Korin interrupted himself, bowed his head, thought for a while, then pulled an agonized expression and started slowly swiveling his head, though it is only the very fact that it goes on that enables us properly to understand that there is no mechanism.”

Images by SD 2018

The hidden inner journey: Lupe did it!


We never truly know the inner journey of another. I can only guess at the feelings, fears, motivations of anyone… even of a partner or of a best friend. Clearly that’s true – a case in point: my best friend in youth became so estranged and not at all the girl I thought I knew. Sure, people change, but I reflect and think, “Yeah, I probably knew nothing about how she really felt.” Or what anyone has ever felt. And it’s a challenge and a pain to face that you don’t really know the people you think you know, or at least not the way you think you do.

It is stranger, though, to reflect on the hidden, inner journeys of the people whose paths crossed ours but whom we did not know at all. Peripheral characters who populated our world, briefly appeared like little more than a blip upon the screen of the movies of our own lives. We thought of these people very little, except where their actions appeared briefly before us.

In junior high school a girl named Lupe appeared. She spoke no English, which I can only imagine created the tremendous frustration and anger she regularly exhibited. At the time it was easy just to dismiss her (and I cringe as I write this) as “some Mexican kid”. The town had a large number of migrant workers, mostly from Mexico, but the truth is… what did I ever know about any of them or of the children who came with them? Or even if that was their story? Maybe they were there for some other reason. That is the point – I have no idea. It is not that we have to know the stories of everyone we meet or see, but the danger is in assuming the background story because it’s easier, and lazier. We can make assumptions and assign stories and stereotypes to people, making it easier to categorize, dismiss and dehumanize them. It is not that that was the intention at the time. No one wanted to actively make fun of Lupe. We just had no way to reach her. Even if we had been active in trying to engage her, it would have been next to impossible. Why? Because we were Americans, and despite being enrolled in basic Spanish classes, we only spoke English. Of course!

It is not as though these stories and people come to mind frequently, but in a bout of crazy exhaustion recently, I used the word “loopy” and then as if the light in my life’s film projector flickered on, there was Lupe’s face in my mind. Lupe’s overly colorful and unfashionable wardrobe, her thick, out of control hair tamed by equally colorful rubber bands, seeing her plow through the hallways silently and angrily, one morning kicking the corner of a classroom door held open by a piece of wood, sending the wood flying, causing the door to slam shut. By the time the teacher in that classroom came out to scold the offending party, Lupe was long gone, but my friend T and I were walking by, and the teacher looked at T as if she were the culprit. Flummoxed, T exclaimed, “Lupe did it!”

And that is the sum total of what I know, knew and remember of Lupe, and it’s only now, more than 20 years later, that I begin to wonder about the inner life and frustrations of Lupe. Where did she come from, how long would she remain? Where is she now? What did she think about back then? Did she share the same adolescent frustrations we all felt, compounded by the language barrier, not being able to talk to anyone in school, and not fitting in?

When I was even younger, just a small child, a Cambodian refugee joined my second-grade class. His name was Praseuth. His “plight” had a deep influence on me to the point that I remember him very clearly even now. And the sensitivity of my youth intact, I felt so much for him and his situation, even if I could not fully comprehend it back then. I was untainted by the hideousness of … society, judgment and misconceptions. People did make fun of him and his ill-fitting wardrobe, and this broke my heart. I wanted to jump to his defense, which was something I did infrequently in general because I was ridiculously shy – could barely defend myself. He was quiet, but exceedingly polite, always making an effort to converse politely, rapidly picking up English.

I remember very clearly a picture he drew, particularly in contrast to pictures the other students drew. They drew over-the-top, brightly colored rainbows and unicorns and his monochrome pencil drawing was a lone tree, bare of its leaves, with just a few leaves blowing away in the wind. I am sure I have written about it before because I found the picture so striking, so lonely and so haunting then, so much so that it still haunts. And what of him? Where is he now? What of his hidden, inner journey?

Statelessness: You don’t understand citizenship


I have written before about the misunderstood and taken-for-granted nature of citizenship. In many countries, you can be born somewhere and live there your entire life and still not be a citizen. In some countries, your citizenship will be stripped from you when you leave the country for some period of time. It is potentially a more fluid state of being than one imagines. As I have argued before, most people don’t think about it until something happens that forces them to.

I just watched a documentary on Al Jazeera English covering the stateless citizen problem in Greece for the Turkish minority there.

One woman has spent more than 20 years as a stateless person – born in Greece, her citizenship was revoked when she went to Turkey and married a Turkish man, but she cannot get Turkish citizenship without a Greek passport to give the authorities. She is not legally allowed to work in Turkey – she only has a residence permit – so survives on her husband’s pension. She was not able to travel back to Greece to attend her own father’s funeral.

The laws in Greece have shifted throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, but many of these displaced people have been unable to find their place or legal recourse through any of the changes. One such change in the law was to implement a process by which former citizens could reclaim their Greek citizenship – but the process was more like naturalizing a foreigner who was becoming Greek for the first time, which struck most people as discriminatory. The thinking being – a person who has lived in Greece all her life is not a foreigner, and should not have to declare that she is for the sake of getting her nationality back.

As I wrote above – people don’t think about these things until something happens that forces them to. In an article in The Guardian, writer Kamila Shamsie describes, based on her own experience migrating to the UK, the uncertain citizenship journey. First, when a person moves to a new country, s/he assumes that the path is laid out clearly. If she just follows the rules, she is on the right course to achieving citizenship. It’s just a matter of time.

But, as I, the Al Jazeera story and Shamsie point out: immigration and citizenship laws are in constant flux. You might be staying in the country of your dreams legally – for now – and have a good handle on what you have to do and be, following all the steps to the letter. But by no means is that the end of it. Until you have the new nationality confirmed, in your hands, you are not home free. Something can always change, making the feeling of settling down and finding a comfort level almost impossible and out of reach. As Shamsie wrote: “I wasn’t prepared for the mutable nature of immigration laws, and their ability to make migrants feel perpetually insecure, particularly as the rhetoric around migration mounted.

Australia – the Burning Urge to Migrate


The temptation to pack up and move to Australia has never been stronger. I can’t explain why – I have never really been one of those people who fantasizes about or even wanted to go to Australia, let alone live in Australia or work there. The heat, the poisonous insects and snakes, etc.

New Zealand, on the other hand, is a completely different story. I went through the entire skilled migrant process with New Zealand at one point and then just decided against it – mostly because of the most basic reason possible: distance.

When you tell people (especially Americans) that you live in Iceland, they imagine someplace remote, difficult to get to, distant. Yet, despite the fact that the lands down under are more than twice as far, people imagine some kind of nearness or kinship – perhaps because these countries are English speaking, are more in the headlines, seem friendlier and less forbidding? It’s hard to say why (other than the dismal state of the average American’s knowledge of geography). It seemed far more reasonable to them when I was plotting out a move to Christchurch than to Reykjavik.

I’d say I’ve exhibited a fair amount of perspicacity when it comes to making decisions based on the so-called “writing on the wall”. I am fairly observant and think – and act – on things that appear to be in the offing. For example, when things start to shift significantly in the workplace, I sense it and start evaluating options – I don’t want to be blindsided.

But there is very little deeply intellectual understanding informing this growing urge to move to Australia. I have halfheartedly thought about it in years past, but suddenly in the last six months, the pull is very strong.

The biggest hurdle, which is something I have never wanted to face again in my life, is the immigration part. The bureaucracy and paperwork and endless steps in the process – all perfectly surmountable, if expensive. Easier if one had a job offer and sponsorship/employer nomination, but as a communications and marketing manager, writer or even as a technical marketing and user documentation writer/manager, I am not really a prime candidate for employer sponsorship. I am not a tech worker; I am not a healthcare worker – even if I have worked in these fields, I have never been a programmer or a nurse. And I don’t work directly in any of the in-demand fields for which Australia has a shortage.

In any case, the desire is there with strange dreams of Melbourne.

The Lone(ly) Immigrant


The roughest part of moving to a new country on your own – without a real reason, going somewhere without a support network – is the making connections and friends. You do not often meet the kind of immigrant who moved to a new country just because he or she wanted to. If not following love/the heart, following a career path or deciding to study abroad (which is its own protected cocoon that barely counts as “living abroad”), you are just out there somewhere, on your own, adrift in this new place with no inside track on how to meet people or interact. The whole thing is a wild ride, a learning curve, negotiating the place between who and where you are and who and where everyone else is… finding a comfortable place in between.

I am too headstrong and naturally weird (other people’s assessment more than my own) to “fit in” anywhere I go so have never been one of those zombies who moves somewhere and professes love for a place without reservation. I don’t go native. I am who I am – and I won’t impose me on others, but I don’t want to be too changed by them either.

Long ago when I volunteered (oh, the sense of adventure) to be an immigrant, I struggled with the whole maze of bureaucracy and adjusting to the little things that make up a new place. You never really think about how things operate elsewhere. Things that seemed like second nature where you came from are often done in a completely different way elsewhere. The mind is conditioned to think that the way it’s done wherever you came from is “the right way” – but part of adjusting and assimilating is not just finding out how these things work but also acknowledging that perhaps the new way is better or more efficient.

All of that is easy enough to accomplish – it is a matter of changing the way you think. But making genuine connections with people – locals or other foreigners – is so much more difficult than that. Moving to Scandinavia especially (not the warmest or most social place), it’s hard to break into the already formed social circles and make even acquaintances (although forming lasting friendships does mean something when you finally get there). I have never been a really outgoing or friendly person, so making friends has always been difficult.

At one point almost ten years ago I decided I had nothing to lose by attending a course for immigrants who wanted to start businesses in Iceland. It was a three-weekend course, quite inexpensive and perhaps would lead me to forming a business (I was already actively freelancing). The course was a bit of a joke; designed and run by Icelanders, they automatically assumed all the immigrant attendees wanted to open restaurants. That’s right –that is all we’re good for. Food service. People from all over the world took the course – people who were highly educated, had been working in professional fields in their home countries – but yeah, we all want to open a food cart.

What I had not banked on was meeting three people who actually changed – and elevated – my quality of life. Two Australians and an Italian – people who became my best friends and who still are.

It happens – but the life of an immigrant can be a lonely one.

You Don’t Understand Citizenship


If you were born somewhere and lived there all your life, it is hard for you to understand the concept of citizenship. People in almost any country will talk a lot about defending their country, their patriotism, their sense of belonging in that place and culture – any number of ideas that are really taken for granted in addition to not being fully understood. Yes, perhaps most people are perfectly happy with their lives and do not question or think about the accident of their birth, of their citizenship. You are born with it and accept the rights (and sometimes duties and responsibilities) associated with it, but rarely know what it means because you never had to fight for it, never chose or did not choose it, never had it denied or taken away from you and, in many cases, have never lived somewhere that was truly oppressive or denied your basic human rights. When discussions arise about immigration and people from some unknown “somewhere else” wanting to come to your home country, the tendency is less openness and understanding about people wanting a different life and more wall building and protectionism.

Many argue that there are different kinds of “immigration” – and at least in the eyes of the law, this is true. Different countries’ immigration laws classify different types of immigration and immigrants into different categories. Some are skilled migrants (and most people aren’t arguing against them when complaining about hordes of immigrants – although the shortage of skilled migrant visas in the US would belie that point). Some are family reunification migrants – joining husbands, wives, immediate family. Some are refugees. The list goes on, and depending on the country, the levels of detail by which immigrant groups are classified are minute.

I don’t know what I would call myself, but my first move was to Iceland from the US. Sure, I came from the US – where a lot of people struggle to GET to – so my “struggle” is not quite the same thing as the struggle other people go through. I don’t deny that I came from a position of privilege to start with – having a cushy starting point going to something that just felt better. It makes a big difference when you have a choice in where you go and where you stay. Many immigrants do not have so many choices open to them but want to go somewhere to start over or find a better life. While I suppose that my personal choice was to “find a better life” (for me), it is entirely from a place of good fortune, independence and freedom that I could select the place that felt best for me.

Still, though, even with these undisputed advantages, the whole uphill battle of fighting against a system that always feels like it has been designed to keep you out is exhausting even in the best circumstances. The feeling that you will never quite get where you need to be to be a “permanent” resident (and eventually a citizen) never quite leaves.

Then the overwhelming relief – something like standing atop a mountain and looking at the panorama of what surrounds you after having scaled the terrifying and difficult heights to get there – when you are granted citizenship in a country after a long struggle is completely beyond words.

What is funnier still is the ease of forgetting the struggle. There used to be daily headaches before all the bureaucratic hurdles were cleared, before new passports were issued, back when bureaucrats in an immigration office somewhere held all the power, to the point that it defined my life, contributed tremendous stress to my existence. And now that all of that is a distant memory, the details of those struggles also fade. I remind myself not to let them all fade – I am reminded of them every time another friend mentions his or her own (often arbitrary) immigration woes. Understanding and appreciating citizenship, I think, requires more than just being happy that I have citizenship where I want to, and being happy that my path is free and clear. It also requires being fully aware, never forgetting the hard road that got me there.