Tuesday, November 3, 2020

I Voted!

So it happened, my friends - I voted! Justin and I received our ballots in the mail, filled them out and dropped them at the official voter's drop box this very evening. (Anya is not old enough to vote just yet, but she will be very soon, just in a couple of months, ready for the next election.) 

I was looking for an I Voted 2020 illustration for my post and found this adorable vintage inspired sticker on Etsy (HERE). If you like to see stickers from all 50 states, click HERE.

I participated in the federal elections for the first time because only US citizens can vote, and one of the several very important things that I managed to complete before the pandemic started, was getting my citizenship. It's a long process that all together takes several years, but I could have done it many years ago. I don't know why I didn't - I guess it wasn't a priority for me. Except for a short period in the early 1990s when millions in Russia hoped that the breath of fresh air was there to stay, I too was very optimistic and even politically involved. Never before or after that I was even remotely interested in politics. 

I have lived in America since 2002, and only a couple of years ago I finally decided that becoming a US citizen was the right thing for me. Justin had an opportunity to work with a very nice guy, an experienced immigration lawyer who helped me to fill out the application, and the process began. Like I have said earlier, it's a long complicated process, and has a few stages. First, you have an appointment with a local immigration office where they take your fingerprints. Then a long wait, and finally you're invited to an interview. In my case, it took 15 months or so. There were already delays with documents because of government reorganizations back then, and when I finally got a letter from them, apparently due to a large number of applicants, instead of having our interview here in Seattle, we had to go to either Yakima, a city 140 miles southeast of Seattle, or to Portland, Oregon - a city in a neighboring state, 170 miles south of Seattle. I was sent to Portland and was glad simply because we all love it, and took it as an opportunity for a little family vacation. 

We  booked a sweet and very stylish hotel near the interview office - a bit fancier than our usual. My appointment was early in the morning, and on the way to Oregon, I had time (two or three hours in fact) to overview the one hundred historical and political questions which I had to learn last Summer. I believe it was the first time since I graduated from my university that I had a sort of a test. 

We had a light evening meal in the bar downstairs, went up the roof top overlooking city preparing for a new work week on a hot summer night, and went to bed early. In the morning, we had coffee and walked to the office where I was going to have the interview. I was really pleased with how friendly and polite all the officers were (not always the case with government offices, to say the least). My officer was an immigrant herself, and we had a nice chat rather than a strict questioning. It reminded me about my Green card interview many years ago, which took place on the Victory Day (May 9th) in Michigan. When the officer asked me whether I was involved with any crime, I playfully asked, "Do I look like a criminal?" to which he playfully replied, "Yes" and approved my Green card. Not this kind of humor in the Portland office, but we had some giggles and discovered that we both loved style and had cats.  

A rare hot Summer day in Washington State

The reading and writing tests were easy, and then I was asked whether I wanted to have an oath ceremony later that day or be invited to a later one. We didn't have time because Anya had her own commitments, so we had to go back home to Washington. Besides, I have already purchased a ticket to Russia to visit my parents, and needed my Green card just one more time before I would have to give it up to become a US citizen. Fortunately, I do not have to give up my Russian citizenship - both countries allow a dual citizenship (some countries do not). So I flew to Siberia, and while there I actually received an invitation letter to my oath ceremony... Everything that I planned, all the dates were so close to one another that I worried how it all would play, but at the end everything lined up and worked out without a hitch - без сучка, без задоринки as we say in my native language, or, as one popular Soviet comedy character would say, "без шума и пыли" (without noise and dust). 

We were prepared to make another trip to Portland for my oath ceremony, but the Portland office surprised us once again. Instead of inviting hundreds of people to drive from Washington to Oregon, THEY CAME TO US! They booked a venue in Olympia, WA and made three ceremonies to accommodate over 500 applicants if my memory is right. It was well organized, beautiful and touching. For the national anthem they had a record of a Mariachi band singing which was deeply meaningful, if you know a little about the US politics in the past four years. "Cool dress," said the officer who was helping us to find our seats (mine was close to the stage). He was stylish himself with a fun necktie - even in official situations, it's important to stay lighthearted! My favorite people in the whole world were near me, and once more I felt like everything was happening in just the right time, in just the right manner and with the right people. I didn't become a citizen simply because I could. I became a citizen because I was deeply thankful to this country for the life I built here, for somehow treating me kindly as if I was her native child, for supporting my dreams, for my family. I finally felt rooted.

The oath ceremony is an official event during which you as a citizen-to-be make a promise to love and respect your country, and in exchange for your loyalty the country basically adopts you as a family would adopt a child, by giving you a certificate of naturalization. And one of the most significant rights it gives you is the right to participate in federal elections which is a privilege of every person born in this country. So this year, for the first time in my life, with my beloved husband and millions of other Americans, wearing nothing but my comfy home clothes, colorful cardigan and wooly slippers, I voiced my choice of the future of the USA. I voted for the brighter future of my country. I voted for the happier, more enlightened and progressive future for my child.

Thank you for your lovely comments, dear friends! Oh how I've missed you all!
I will be visiting you soon, give me a couple of days.

Outfits from 2019:
both dresses - Eloquii
denim jacket - Old Navy (old)
accessories - variety collected over the years

My "voting" (actually, my homey) 2020 outfit:
cardigan - Old Navy
slippers - Nordstrom
lounging pants and tee - Calvin Klein via Macy's


  1. cool dresses indeed!! love both very much - chic and timeless but far away from boring! would like to wear them myself :-D
    and congrats to the US citizenship! it is interesting to read about the long and complicated process. never had an idea. we here in germany are looking at your election with hope....
    tons of hugs! xxxxx

  2. Congratulations on your US citizenship, Natalia. The process sounds really complicated, which is probably why you held off for so long! Being able to vote for the first time must be a wonderful thing and I love the vintage inspired sticker! The dress you wore for the oath ceremony is very cool and colourful indeed! Hugest of hugs xxx

  3. ...auch in offiziellen Situationen ist es wichtig, unbeschwert zu bleiben!... Das ist wirklich entscheidend, für den Fortgang der offiziellen Situation :) man kann viel kaputt machen, wenn man sich " verkleidet " vorkommt. Danke für diese Bemerkung !
    Das Kleid ist toll und dass die Dokumententasche ? so trefflich passt - wunderbar. Sicher kein Zufall.
    Wir hoffen auch wegen der Wahl .
    Herzlichst, Angela

  4. I haven't read this yet, but oh my God, that dress! The brightly coloured one. I love it. I knew right away it had to be Eloquii. I get compliments every time I wear one of their dresses.

  5. Congratulations Natalia on citizenship and voting rights. What a passionate beautiful post. In my heart I support your choice ♥
    By the way, cute slippers :)
    With love and a very huge hug Tina

  6. Congratulations on your citizenship and glad that you could vote!.
    Lovely that all the process and the oath ceremony happened in the right manner!, and you wore a fabulous dress, dear Natalia (looking gorgeous!). It's moving to read about it and this has put a smile on my face!
    Citizenship is something we usually take for granted here and it's not as appreciated as it deserves. I know that immigrants have to deal with our famous bureaucracy, which is a total nightmare even for us.
    LOvely Post, dear Natalia!

  7. Wspaniałe sukienki :)))pięknie w nich wyglądasz:))))bardzo ładne miejsce odwiedziłaś:)))Pozdrawiam serdecznie:)))

  8. CONGRATULATIONS, NATALIA! I love your story of how you became a citizen and also how you dressed and celebrated these pivotal moments in your life. If I read your tone correctly, I'm guessing that the party you voted for has become successful. What a week of holding our breath, even here across the border in Vancouver. Even though our border is closed and it's so sad to see Portland being ransacked, I'm believing for a turnaround, if not quickly, then in due time. Stay strong. I have missed you too. Sending love.
    xo karen

  9. How wonderful to see you so happy! You look fabulous in that dress. Congrats on USA citizenship dear. I'm sure you're relieved to have it sorted out after all these years. So great you voted and could do it from your home. You all look so happy in all your photographs!

    It took me more than eight years to get BIH citizenship, in fact I have only recently got it- less than a month ago. The process was extremely complicated, unpleasant and expensive. The less said about it the better. No pleasant chats for me, it was a nightmare from start to finish- I'm so relieved it is over. Only love for my husband made me put up with all that. On the brighter side of things, at least like yourself, I was able to keep my original citizenships. That's definitely a plus, isn't it?

  10. Congrats from deep of my heart! What a cool clothing, both! Get a deep hug, Sunni