The world with borders

Sometimes I am reminded that Internet is much more welcoming than world outside of a computer screen. Usually it’s bad kind of a cue.

WordPress Community Summit

I read the call for nominations to the first ever WordPress community summit and think that with that approach it will gather one amazing bunch of participants. I think hard and nominate couple of folks whose work been most appreciated and inspiring in my involvement with WordPress. I don’t nominate myself, in self-punishment for half-arrogant half-tongue-in-cheek “I am totally big enough deal for it!”  thought.

Several months later I see sparks flying on twitter as people get their invitations and think that some year in the future I will seriously aim for it. Half a day later I am staring at invitation of my own. I am told:

  • multiple people nominated me
  • multiple organizers voted to include me
  • multiple organizers approved to cover costs of my travel and lodging

That’s after I joked that I would need to stop eating for some months to afford that. :) I wouldn’t really, but small matter of flying over ocean does amount to several months worth of food around here.

A lot of surprise in it. Somehow I tend to keep track of grudges and conflicts. Good deeds I tend to do in passing and without expectations.

Embassy of the United States

Crossing ocean, amazing technology feat that is, however is least of my problems. I also need to apply for business/conference visa to enter United States.

I google the heck out of it:

  • 76% approval rate worldwide, statistics say
  • 50% chance coin flip, say local tourism companies
  • taking in account your country you are potential illegal immigrant until you prove otherwise, say laws of United States.

My chances are not even those of coin flip – they want attachments to be left behind hostage until I return. And here I am, alone in my flat and without desk job to head out to anymore.

I am told I am seen as unhappy and isolated in WordPress community and feel weirdly annoyed that it slips out in my online persona. Everyone prefers to be seen as happy and content online.

Every scrap of paper, establishing what I am and what I have, amounts to thin folder at very short interview:

  • a lot of family, but not married (latter is what they care about)
  • had not traveled abroad in recent years (can’t demonstrate I had a chance to bail and passed on it)
  • “private entrepreneur” by legal status and earn living by myself (the way I am interrupted feels like a last nail in the coffin)

My thin folder stays closed through all of it. My home, the one location in the world I care deeply about, is nothing. My savings, which fuel slim hope I will be able to live in a way different from paycheck-to-paycheck one day, are of no interest. All disposable and meaningless on their scales against chance of “escaping” to their country.

I get back my passport and boilerplate response letter from thick pile of printouts. It thoroughly explains that I failed to display considerable attachments and thus guilty of trying to sneak into and stay in United States illegally by default.

I feel curiously powerless. I am lazy, but I fight battles I do pick fiercely and used to giving my all and getting my way. Not this time:

  • no effort skipped
  • no loopholes to find
  • no leverage to apply
  • no help to call for (other people are gullible and exploitable by me)
  • no proof that matters (any and all documents I procure are potential forgeries)

They spend ten minutes of their time (split about evenly between security, taking my fingerprints and interview itself) for which they charge $170. The following evening I spend much longer on twitter, telling many people I won’t meet them and accepting their bitter disappointment. I should feel more grateful to them for it than I do.

We are circled by different lines on the map and someone decided we are humans of different grade.

10 Comments

  • Saying that I’m really sorry you can’t come, and even more sorry that you’ve been treated so poorly, doesn’t really feel adequate. But I am sorry. I hope that sometime in the future we’ll be able to organise an event somewhere that isn’t so difficult to get a visa for.

  • @Siobhan McKeown

    You know I felt it wasn’t “poorly” at any kind of personal level.

    It was “poorly” on system level. The insulting way that system is set up with default assumption of wanting to bail to US. The cynical way that system is set up to reduce you to two minutes and discard anything that might take more time and attention.

  • Anonymous

    “I don’t nominate myself, in self-punishment for half-arrogant half-tongue-in-cheek “I am totally big enough deal for it!” thought.”

    Those are the kind of thoughts that lead to failure.
    You need to have more faith in yourself and in your wishes and desires.

  • @Anonymous

    If it led to failure this story would never have happened. :) I just feel it’s disingenuous to evaluate one self in context of community involvement. It feels more appropriate for community itself to do that.

    I don’t behave in that way in all contexts.

  • HHS

    I don’t know if the entire community sees you as unhappy – could just be me interpreting from talking to you and knowing the feelings :) Disconnected, though, yes. And we like you, and what you do, and want you to be more connected and involved. We just all need to head to the Ukraine, I guess! Fixing the USA seems… futile.

  • Anonymous

    @Rarst

    Yet you failed to get your Visa.

    Don’t you think that this may be related to this?
    “I am told I am seen as unhappy and isolated in WordPress community and feel weirdly annoyed that it slips out in my online persona.”

    Interviewers are told to watch for those kind of things. I have met lots of people, even some from Argentina, who got their visas without problems.

    Don’t misunderstand me, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t appreciate your blogging. I’m just trying to help.

  • @Anonymous

    Interviewers are told to watch for those kind of things.

    I don’t really buy the story about fantastically qualified interviewers who see right through people (as embassy site and such tell it). As for me the process is clearly set up to minimize amount of information and interaction. That’s not what you optimize for when you want genuine insight into person.

    I have met lots of people, even some from Argentina, who got their visas without problems.

    So what? Clearly there are plenty people around who do get visas. Just as clearly there are plenty who don’t.

    I’m just trying to help.

    By pointing out that it’s probably all my fault for being grim human being? :)

  • @HHS

    I’ve seen similar sentiment from others. I’ve been in a ditch quite objectively for a while because of work load and such. :) Yay for rest.

  • Anonymous

    @Rarst

    I’m trying to help by pointing out that you can’t change the Embassy of the United States, but you can change your own person.
    Sorry if I offended you with my comments.

  • @Anonymous

    No worries. :)

    I do see situation in same way (as per post – it is setup to be extremely inflexible), it’s just that things they would like to see from me (wife/kids, travel elsewhere, working for someone) are not quite what is likely to happen in near future.

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