Mabo's Citizenship Journey

Mabo’s Citizenship Part 4

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

We were expecting a letter from the the govt as early as September, and knowing how things can seem to crawl through the system we were surprised when it arrived several days ago, late October. Not too bad… as things can go in “the system”.

This is the letter giving us our interview date. This is the last real hurtle on the journey. This is where they sit us both in an office together with an interviewer and they can ask all sorts of questions to see if we really are a couple. Questions could be specific enough that you might only know the answer to if you are living together.

A couple of our friends who have gone through this said that the questioner was so nervous (because of the same sex thing) that they asked a couple basic things and stamped their papers as quickly as they could…”next!”

Within a few weeks of this interview (if we pass) Mabo will be presented with a GREEN CARD! And two years from now, proving we are still together, he will be given FULL U.S. CITIZENSHIP status.

With his green card, he will no longer be bound to any of his temporary visa restrictions…

Our interview is set for December 01 @ 10:15am! Wish me luck that I don’t forget his favorite cereal or what country he was born in… or something silly like that!

Jimmy

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Our Love Story

Power Ranger line dances into my heart

Three years ago I stood on the side of the dance floor at the Round Up Saloon and Dancehall watching a power ranger do the most hysterically funny and energetic line dance I’d ever seen! That was the official night that I first noticed Mabo.  Less than two years later we were married. Click here to read OUR LOVE STORY – a true Country & Western Dancehall Romance.

Here we are three years from that fateful night. Mabo pulled the costume out of storage and put it on for the 2014 Halloween Block Party down on Cedar Springs (Dallas, TX).  Three years earlier I did not have the opportunity to dance with this power ranger… Last night I had the honor of boot scootin’ with a Power Ranger! Happy as can be!

halloween 2014

 

Our Love Story

The Un-Dateable ME

Finding love when you feel you are The Most Un-Dateable Person on the Planet.

by Jimmy Belasco, Poster Child for THE MOST UN-DATEABLE PERSON ON THE PLANET (reigning years 2009-2011)

One day, I found myself on the phone with my ex-boyfriend, Bill (name changed), as I was trying to talk him “off the ledge” (of his bed); he was in the throws of a deep depression.

I’m so lonely! I will NEVER find anyone who could ever love me!” As he droned on and on for nearly an hour, inside my head I was shouting, “SHUT UP! You’re a 6’2” gorgeous model for GOODNESS SAKE! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! You think you won’t be able to find someone just because you are a starving artist!? SHUT THE HELL UP! You’re worried that you are getting too old!? YOU’RE ONLY TURNING 40!!!!” I am pretty sure at one point I remember envisioning myself reaching through the phone with my hands securely around his neck as I was trying to cut off just enough oxygen to stop him from uttering one more word. It is also at about that point that I found myself thinking, or in this case yelling, outside of my head as I was shouting, “SHUT THE HELL UP!!!   IS THAT ALL YOU GOT!?   STOP NOW… BEFORE I START TO LIKE YOU A WHOLE LOT LESS!!!” “Oops, did I say that out loud?” I got him to chuckle at that one. “Let’s just stop right here and compare our situations, shall we?” as I gathered my composure. “Take a moment to catch your breath while we spend a little time to look at THE UN-DATEABLE ME.”

‘The Un-Dateable Me’ I was referring to was the ME, about 4 years prior, when I re-entered back into The Wonderful World of Singledom. During that period in my life I could have been the official poster child for THE MOST UN-DATEABLE PERSON ON THE PLANET. I knew in this situation of odds, I had him beat – not that this was a contest; I just had to shut him up and give him a little perspective. But let’s face it; I didn’t look very good on paper.

JIMMY BELASCO – The Most Un-Dateable Person on the Planet

  1. I was closer to 50 than I was 40. (Age didn’t make one bit of difference to me, but it always seemed to end up on the top of his list, so I pulled the “I’m older than you and look what I was able to do” card)
  2. I was unemployed. (My most recent business had failed after years of struggling to keep it afloat)
  3. I was unemployable. (No one seemed interested in hiring someone who had been self employed for over 20 years)
  4. I was financially broke. (See #2 & #3 above)
  5. I was a 5’9” pasty white doughboy who was at least 40-50lbs overweight! (Now hold on, it is getting good…)
  6. I was living with over a dozen rescue animals (which are all part of the family and NOT up for adoption), with a veritable GERIATRICS WARD as well as a SPECIAL NEEDS WING (for some of the animals with Special Needs, requiring things like hand-feeding and watering with a turkey baster). And the kitchen often doubled as a TRIAGE UNIT & EMERGENCY ROOM (because I could not afford to go to the vet hospital)
  7. And ALL that item #6 entails (Living with that many animals requires a very special kind of insanity, I mean, a special kind of person with a very, very big heart)
  8. …And the DOG HAIR (this one deserves its own listing…I used to miscount dogs during headcount thinking the ball of hair sleeping in the corner was actually a dog)
  9. And in a house that was in varying stages of remodel and disrepair (With my businesses closing, businesses opening and ever changing; money always seemed to be tight, leaving the house in complete and utter distress. Add to this the items listed in #’s 6-8; this was not a place to which you wanted to invite guests. It was, in fact, the perfect place to horrify and scare away any person you really liked!) (And now it gets really, REALLY GOOD, and you may want to get a glass of water and sit down for this one…)
  10. …The GRAND DELUXE PRIZE for that LUCKY PERSON who would have been unfortunate enough to go out with me… I was living with my ex-ex-partner, John, of 14.5 years in a house that we own together! (Because of the bad economic state of my financial affairs, he had to move back in to help us keep the house from going into foreclosure. And even though he had his own separate living quarters upstairs, had his own boyfriend of several years and we had grown to be more like brothers, it was still not something you would want on your dating resume!)

“HA! TRY TOPPING THAT!!!” Now that finally shut him up! Though, I do remember hearing a chuckle or so about halfway through my list – I know the whole dog thing sorta freaked him out.

Now, be honest with yourself, if you were handed this Dirty Laundry List attached to a Dating Resume, would you have made it more than half way through without running?  I can clearly hear the pitter patter of feet starting around number 2 or 3 on the list. It starts with “R”, ends with “N” and has “U” in the middle – Lace up your Nike’s… and Run, Forrest, RUN!!!

Even with all of those odds stacked against me back then, I believed with ALL OF MY HEART that I would draw to me the love of my life; the person whom I would love and adore and who would love and adore me, and accept me – including ALL of THE UN-DATABLE ME. And that is exactly what I did. About three years after becoming single, I met the person who would become the love of my life, Mabo Yamamura. And two years later, we were married at the very tip of Cape Cod. And lets go back to Bill; because of his amazing ability to focus and the fact that he had done much of the work (that we will discuss later) prior to his meltdown, he pulled himself together and within approximately TWO months after the talking him off the ledge conversation, he had drawn to himself his current relationship, which he now describes as the love of his life. Let me point something out something very important here, my new relationship and Bill’s new relationship didn’t just happen “by chance”. We specifically and knowingly attracted these people into our lives using a few things I have learned over the years.

The period leading into attracting the love of my life, was THE darkest period of my life. My 14.5 year relationship had just ended along with a long, slow and painful collapse of my most recent business. Adding to all of this fun, I went well over 3 years without a paycheck. THOUGH, it is because of this dark period that I AM NOW HAPPIER THAN I HAVE EVER BEEN!

If not for My Dark Period, I would have never gone to the Round Up that night (to get out of the house and socialize for the first time in about 3 years), I would not have met Mabo, I would not have had the time to get to know him (unemployed and all the time in the world). I would not have looked as good as I did (I couldn’t afford to eat much more than basic proteins, along with the dancing I lost nearly 40 lbs). I now look back upon My Dark Period, as my friend Maggie (John, my ex’s mom) so aptly named it, as a necessary step for me to not only find myself, but also to be in a space in which I could attract the love of my life – Mabo! To read Our Love Story, find that link on the menu of this site.

Our Love Story

My Dark Period – prequel to our love story

In 2005, I was 41 years old, I had a solid 11 year relationship and I was at the top of my industry. I was sitting at a friend’s house outside of Seattle watching myself on TV being featured in a segment story on up and coming entrepreneurs called ON THE RISE during CNN’s News Night with Aaron Brown. It was a wonderfully edited piece, which lasted nearly 5 minutes, which during Prime Time on CNN is priceless. Approximately 20 million viewers were watching CNN that evening.

While watching what was the pinnacle of my career and my business success, I sat there with a feeling in my gut that it was all about to end… And I was correct.
 

A little back story: In the mid to late 1990’s I met the gentlemen who created and was in the process of patenting the first soy wax formula. I was the first national candle maker who believed that SOY WAX was The Future of the Candle Industry.  I was a pioneer marketer of SOY WAX CANDLES, introducing them to the nation. I helped launch what is now a billion dollar portion of the candle industry. By the time the CNN segment featured me in 2005, I was at the top of my game.

 

As I sat there and watched the program that evening surrounded by some very excited friends, I had a gut-feeling it was all about to end. Mind you, I am NOT a pessimist – I just knew in my gut that the end was near. In this case, it was not pessimism, it was intuition.

 

Two months later, I was Steve Jobs’ed out (voted out) of my company by a group of shareholders that held the majority of the shares. My personal friends and I held the minority shares and we were out voted…I was voted off the island I had created, nurtured and turned into a success.

Within a month or so later I was up and running with another soy candle company. Not to bore you now with all the details of those tumultuous years, if you want to read the full story of my candle history, click here: JIMMY’S CANDLE HISTORY and scroll down to PART 1 and start at the beginning.

 

You would think that My Dark Period would have begun when I was voted out of my company in 2005, but I handled that transition quite masterfully. My Dark Period officially began in the early part of 2008 when two KEY factors collided:

  1. The bottom fell out of the US economy and my new candle business began to collapse beneath my feet.
  2. My partner of 14.5 years, John, told me that it was OVER and we should begin dating other people.

 

I remember saying to my partner at that time, “Do we have to do this RIGHT NOW? I have a business collapsing beneath my feet! Why now?”

 

During the next few years I had to fire my staff little by little until I was the only one making and shipping candles. I was working 70-90 hour weeks in a factory that had neither air conditioning nor proper exhaust ventilation – if it was 105 degrees outside, it was 120 degrees in that tin roof building! In early 2008 was the last paycheck I had given myself from the company.

 

In 2011 I licensed my brand to a larger candle company. By that point, I was done. I was nothing but a shell of my former self. Licensing my brand was my last effort to keep the brand alive, especially since there was nothing left of me physically, emotionally or spiritually to continue on. It was during this licensing period that I didn’t have to kill myself working, though I still had no income. I was still in charge of my company and had to design the new collection that would be released with the licensing company; my work load had dropped to just a few hours a week – and I desperately needed the break. Even though I was not receiving a paycheck, I was under contract with the investors in my business and I was not able to work anywhere else and my focus had to stay upon this company. Up to that point, my entire life for the past several years was focused upon keeping that company going – and I had become a hermit. Now that the brand was licensed out, I was free to focus upon myself again.

 

In the spring of 2011 I made the most life defining decision of my life. I was tired of not being social and I decided it was time to do so. I decided to get out of the house and go to The Round Up Saloon & Dancehall – I needed some social interaction with humans (my dogs had heard all of my jokes and when they started saying the punch lines back to me, in unison, I knew it was time to get out of the house!). I chose the Round Up because I could go there and watch the dancers, which are so amazing, and I did not have to spend a penny since I didn’t drink (and I was broke). For years I have gone to this bar to watch the dancers, though I never had the desire to learn how to country and western dance. Though to my fortune, it was on that very first visit to the Round Up that I ran into an old acquaintance, Mark-Brian, who pulled me onto the dance floor and taught me how to dance in the follow position. I actually learned very easily and dancing became my drug because the entire world of my troubles went away while I was on that dance floor. I started going every chance I could.

 

By end of 2011, I decided to close the down my company for good. The licensing deal just wasn’t working and I was done. I hadn’t had a paycheck in over FOUR YEARS. I had gone through any savings I might have had and I no longer had any credit cards as I maxed them out trying to save the business and could no longer make the payments. I was living on $5 a week for food by going to the Mexican grocery store (an excellent tip from my friend Mark-Brian) and buying unidentifiable meat for $0.99/lb. In order to keep the mortgage paid and my dozen rescue animals alive I had to sell off much of my furniture and artwork. Yes, I had a pack of rescue animals that my partner and I had collected over the previous 17 years. Because we had been rescuing for so many years and all of the original animals were still with me, I had a literal GERIATRICS WARD as well as a SPECIAL NEEDS WING. Thought at that point if any of my animals would have needed veterinary care, I could not have afforded to take them to the vet hospital. In fact, during that period my kitchen was often turned into a TRIAGE UNIT and EMERGENCY ROOM. I actually saved one special needs dog’s life with a long handled wooden spoon when I was hand-feeding her and didn’t realize she couldn’t swallow due to dehydration. I also saved her life yet again, this time with a chip clip to stop the bleeding when one of the other dogs ate her ear nearly completely off. And no, he didn’t eat her ear off because of hunger… he used to lick and clean her ears and I think he got a little carried away, plus he’s a little “special” too. Needless to say, I had my hands FULL and my pockets were EMPTY! But I had The Round Up to help me heal.

I fully give credit to my time at the Round Up for helping me heal and pull myself out of my dark period.

 

During My Dark Period I made the decision that I wanted to have someone to share my love and life with. But this time, I would purposefully draw that person to me. Over the years of running my businesses, I had learned how to pull things into my existence. I had learned that we live in an Attraction Based Universe…I had done it many, many, many times throughout my business and personal life. I know it works and I was pretty good at it (when I wasn’t in my dark period). I made a decision early on to not date and not fool around unless I felt the spark of something special from someone. I also knew that in order to attract someone with the qualities I wanted in a partner – I had to become those qualities. I had also learned that if you create from a space of “lonely” you will only draw to you someone who will make you lonelier – I had seen it happen to several of my friends.

 

Every time I began to feel sorry for myself (during the 3.5 year period of being celibate) or when I would feel lonely creeping in, I would stop myself and begin to state to the universe the qualities of the person I was drawing to me. “I am drawing to me the person who has an immense capacity to love and an immense capacity for happiness, who will adore me as I adore him…” and on and on I would go. I never added a face, an age or a race. One of the things I would call forth was, “I will find this person physically attractive and he will also find me physically attractive.” Because of this, I never had to put a body type in my calling forth. I would list qualities, such as honesty, caring, loving, loves to dance, healthy, happy, skilled at his profession, loves animals, lots and lots of animals, thinks similarly about spiritual matters, non-materialistic, peaceful… these were all on my list. When you begin to list these things out loud, you forget about being lonely. Honestly, you have to think of yourself as a magnet. What ever charge you are giving out, you will attract. If you are sending out lonely, you will only attract lonely. If you are sending out drama, you will only receive someone who feeds off and give you more drama. It may sound corny, but I would say, “I am love, I am peace, I am happiness…” knowing that I was sending that out into the universe.

 

Every day I worked on these things because every day I would begin to feel lonely at some point… and I couldn’t have that. I was definitely working on all of these things when I met Mabo. And the very first time I actually danced with Mabo, I felt “the spark” – enough so that I asked him if he was in a relationship – because I wanted to go on a date with him. He was the first and only person I asked on a date since my split with John.

 

I KNOW that calling things forth works. Mabo and I have now been together for about two years. He possesses every single quality that I called forth. He adores me! I adore him! What are the chances that I would find someone who would be able to not only deal with but LOVE my animals as if they were his own children and also love all the other parts of me that I would think of as hard to love?

And I give full credit to MY DARK PERIOD for showing me who I am not. If the events of my life had not played out as they did, darkness and all – I would not have been in the position to meet the love of my life. I made some life changing decisions during that period. I had to choose to believe in love. I had to choose to not give up on life. I am very thankful to myself for not giving up on love or life. I now look back at My Dark Period as a necessary step to become a happier person. It definitely was a rough several years and I really don’t ever want to go through anything like that again…but I am so happy that I did.

 

There are two stories that you should now read, first off I would read THE UN-DATEABLE ME, and then you should read our LOVE STORY – both of which you can find in the menu on this site.

Mabo's Citizenship Journey

Mabo’s Citizenship Part 2

…continued from Part 1 (Click here for Part 1)

Mabo finally met with the attorney and received some answers.

The BAD news:  The attorney confirmed that the process to finalize the spousal immigration status will take approximately 1 year. We don’t have 1 year – we have only until August 31st when his employer is required to purchase him a one-way ticket to Japan.

The GOOD news:  Before I get to the Good News… Thank God we have an attorney who knows her stuff! And thank God that this attorney is doing this as a favor for Mabo’s HR person at his school!!! It sounded like the attorney was doing this gratis. I am not sure if the school is paying for it, but either way, there isn’t a fee being charged to Mabo for these services.  So, here is the GOOD NEWS: The attorney alerted us that there is a special visa Mabo can apply for that will allow him to work out the time on his existing work visa (June of 2015) and he can WORK ANYWHERE WITHOUT SPONSORSHIP  and the approval process of this application is only 3 months!

So,

  1. Mabo can apply for and receive this special visa before his last day of employment on August 31, 2014 – allowing him to remain in the US until June 2015.
  2. By which time we should be able to, just barely, finalize the spousal immigration papers – giving him permanent residency or a green card or something like that, I am not sure exactly what he will get at that point, but he will be allowed to stay in the US as my spouse.
  3. And supposedly, this special visa will allow him to work ANYWHERE and not have to be sponsored. So, he can begin working for the Sport Med Trainer temp agencies in town (which pay very well) while he looks for a more permanent position.
  4. If all goes as planned, Mabo will be able to stay in the country with me and work during this process!
  5. Halleflippinlujah!

The attorney urged us to get all of these papers filed this week…so, that is what we have been doing!

I will keep you posted. (if you wish to follow this journey and receive an email when I post on it, please find the main page of this blog and FOLLOW it.)

thanks for reading,

Jimmy

Mabo's Citizenship Journey

Mabo’s Citizenship Part 1

Mabo is a Japanese citizen. He came to the United States to go to school and get his Bachelors Degree in Athletic Training and a Masters in Physical Education, which he did.  Mabo is now working as the Head Trainer of Sports Medicine at a small university near Dallas. He has a work visa that will expire in 2015; at that time, under normal circumstances, he would have to return to Japan.

In 2011, we met and fell in love over a period of 7 months, at which point we began living together. (To read our love story, click on this link: A Country & Western Dancehall Romance. Or find the link, Our Love Story on this blog.)  Over the next year of living together we often talked of getting married and that hopefully, someday, the laws would change that would allow us to do so – affording him the right to become a US Citizen through our marriage – allowing us to remain together in the same country. I honestly thought this was not going to happen any time soon; so I was absolutely blown away when it actually did!

On June 26th, 2013, when the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was overturned by the US Supreme Court, same-sex couples were given the right to marry and have it legally recognized by the United States Federal Government. For the majority of Gay people this was a huge victory allowing them to realize the 1,100+ rights and responsibilities that marriage provides on a Federal level. To Mabo and me, this meant much, MUCH more! This meant that we could stay together – in the same country!

On that day when it hit the news that DOMA was overturned, I spent a good part of the day at work trying to confirm what this meant for us. By the end of the day I had gathered enough sources confirming that the Federal Government would recognize any marriage that was performed in a state that same-sex marriages were legal. And, most importantly, this act would give us the same rights as all other marriages in spousal immigration rights. I was in complete shock! This seemed to come out of left field – I never expected it to come true so quickly. I drove home with the good news and was bursting to tell him in person.

When I got home from work, I pounced through the door and Mabo was in the kitchen preparing dinner and talking to John, my ex-partner and now “brother” of sorts. “It is true!” I exclaimed, “We can now get married and you can become a citizen!” Mabo jumped up and down, which he often does when excited and even sometimes when he isn’t excited, and shouted, “So, when are we getting married?!” “Well, I haven’t even formally asked you yet.” “What are you waiting for??? Ask me!!!”

I looked up at him and said, (mind you, we are standing in the kitchen, I have my things from work still in my hands – and my ex-partner is standing right there – not very romantic!) “Mabo, will you marry me?

YES! YAY!” as Mabo begins jumping up and down, while hugging and kissing me.

John rolls his eyes, sighs and bellows, “THANK GOD!!!!

We had already planned a trip to Provincetown, Massachusetts with my brother and a few friends for the first week in August, a month and a half later. So, we turned that trip into our wedding since our marriage would be legal in MA. I researched online and found out all we needed to do to make it legal in that state and I arranged for a Justice of the Peace to marry us on a secluded beach on August 9th, 2013.

The beach thing never happened because a storm blew in that morning and to get to the beach, you have to take a boat ride. And, I could already see it in my mind,  “…the weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed…” So rather than taking the risk of being stranded on a desert isle, we opted to be wed under the safety of the covered porch at our condo complex. It was just lovely and we had instant access to our condo for the celebration to begin afterward.

mabo and jimmy toast

We were joined by my brother Michael Todd and several of my best friends. The rest of my family would have come if they could have. This was all done so quickly, no one who hadn’t already planned to be there for the vacation (before it was even a wedding) could have come – Ptown books solid several months ahead. I also find it quite serendipitous  that the two friends from my past that I would have wished to be there, my growing up gay best friends, had already planned to meet us out in Provincetown. So, we were surrounded by family and friends for that magical week!

Once we arrived back home after the wedding, we looked up all the information on filing for his citizenship. There are two main parts and the total filing costs are around $1500. All of the instructions are right there on the US government site, so we followed them and filed the first petition that proved my citizenship and that we were married and living together. This first part cost only $420. We decided to file this on our own, without an attorney, since we found out it would cost a few extra thousand if we hired one. The second part of the filing costs around $1100 and Mabo had to obtain his birth certificate and other documents, so we were taking our time and saving our money for the fee. Mabo’s visa wasn’t up until June 2015, so we had some time… or so we thought.

In the first week of March, 2014, less than two weeks from when I am writing this, Mabo’s school announced they are closing the campus at the end of the school year, in June. uh oh! Now, time is of the essence. Luckily, Mabo was able to extend his work time to the end of August “to help close the department and deal with all of the athlete’s insurance issues”. But for Mabo, it was simply buying some more time.

If Mabo doesn’t have a job with a company willing to sponsor him (up to $6,000 above his salary), or if he doesn’t have his citizenship finalized before the end of August, the school is required by law to purchase him a one-way ticket back to Japan – immediately.

Mabo also found out that the school has to pay for an immigration attorney to help him out. Luckily, we don’t have to do this all alone. Mabo will meet with the attorney in the next week to get answers as to how long this process will take. If the process will take longer than August 31 – he will need to focus all of his energy upon finding a company willing to hire and sponsor him in his field of study.

I will add additional posts as we go. If you want to follow this journey, please hit the FOLLOW button on this blog and you will receive an email notice when I add to the story.

Thanks for reading!

Jimmy & Mabo