Wednesday, May 04, 2005


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So getting back to the story, the one thing about Belarus that people might not understand is that it is probably the most bureaucratic state in the world. Not certainly if you didn't know this, the Former Soviet Union Ran on red tape. In fact that is probably the reason for the color of the hammer and cycle flag. And, as Belarus is basically a giant CCCP museum, it goes to follow that crossing the t's and dotting the I's is the national pastime.

And so this is what the last few weeks have ended up being about. I mean, I got stopped not because I had committed some sort of heinous crime, but rather because my paperwork was incorrect. And so regardless of any fear or resentment on my part, the solution to that original problem has unfolded to be about generating lots and lots of new paperwork so as to make things all clear on paper.

Eventually what I will have will be the equivalent of a free pass that allows me to live and breath here without having to hassle about either paying for or doing the paperwork for future visas. And to me this seems to be the solution of quite a bit of my deal. Of course there will still be ridiculous money problems. But potential new opportunities and a diminishment of my monthly outgo will temper for the most part these problems of the wallet and with luck, will be inspire a new beginning.

I will tell you though that I am feeling certain pangs at the thought of one of these steps. I speak of the necessity to write a paper either declaring or condemning Anya to Belarussian citizenship. This may strike the reader as odd considering all I have written and gone through during the last three years just to stay here, but it is true: I really am not sure I am making the right decision in doing this. I will try to explain.

I think I have the opportunity to ask for papers for Anya stating that she be given American Citizenship. I think I can, but I don't know. And if I were to do this, she would have the same rights and privileges as any American- whatever they are supposed to be. However, unlike some European countries, as far as Belarus is concerned, you are only allowed one passport. So she will not have the ability to be both. And at the minimum this means that she will have no in and out privileges like I will have at the end of this deal.

So in doing what I am doing I am making a rather strong commitment to this state. And because I still have no particular way to make a real living here, and because of all of the problems I have had, I wonder if I am doing the right thing by Anya in the long run. I mean, I am sorry, but I just don't know.

So what we have been doing so far is setting all of this up. The first step in the process was getting a new visa, which I accomplished with a couple of long bus rides back and forth to Vilnius, Lithuania. No, I do not go to Poland any more. There are a few stories to tell about this trip and perhaps I will tell them or perhaps not. I guess I don't know about this either.

The second step in the process was to change Anya's name to something that is more in line with reality. So today we changed Anya's name to what it should have been from the start: Anya Adamovna Goodman. The middle name by the way is really normal here. It is not a name given by choice, but is called an "Imya uchistva" and it is a reference to the name of the father. This is exactly like Hebrew names such as "Ben so and so"; it simply means of Adam. Now the first two names will remain the same but the family name will now also be mine. The name she had, at least on paper for the last six weeks was from Tanya's current family name from her first husband. All of us were more than happy to have that wiped away. Seeing the name of the father written on the birth certificate as an odd conglomeration of my first name, an imagined uchistva for myself "Leonardovich" and Egor's dad's last name really kinda sucked.

Now there will be an automatic negative as far as the state is concerned in my officially being Anya's father and that is how much money Tanya is allowed from the state for child care. Here stipend will drop from about $75 down to about $40, so there is a little added pressure on my to somehow find a way to make this up. But we all seem to be in agreement that this is nevertheless something that we all want.

But the next step is the big one. And we would be able to get started on it come Friday if we want to go straight though to the end. However, we have a variation on this in that we have an office that can expedite the process quite a bit (for a fee) but the guy who would do this for us will be out of town for about 10 days. And I am thinking all things considered that i would like to make good use of those 10 days as far as doing some good solid thinking about what really would be the best choice. I mean, what does she stand to gain by being an American vs being a Belarussian?

And I guess I am going to leave it at that for today. It has been raining today and I have been trying to get things right since I got back and I am burnt and tired. But also I have to get out to the farm because I have been away too long and I have lots to do and only a short time to get it all done. This is the planting season you know and everything has to be made right if you want what you have to grow properly. A lot like kids, or pretty much anything. I mean, you do want to do your best, right. I wish it were easier. But it is not.

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And let me know what is on your mind.

More soon.


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