Author: Dane Lowell
Submitted by: redadmin

Chapt. 334 - 5 181 words
Columns :: I’m living here Illegally? Now What?

Somewhere in Northern Spain, February 25, 2013 – Comments:   Ratings:

Illegal immigrant? Let sleepings dogs lie

Vanya takes 400 euro ride – with my money

Call from ex-wife Elaine: Should I go to U.S.?

Bilbao Guggenheim Museum Big Disappointment

My last will and testament

Letter from Sashas – June 27?

New “Syntax and Morphology” student

Being broke saves me from Igor

Iago – a hopeless fantasy?

Jobless Spanish journalists launch new newspaper

“We’re committing global suicide”

Somewhere in Northern Spain, February 25, 2013 – I got a jolt in the ass earlier this month when I found out that I’m – maybe – living here illegally.

It all happened when I went to my bank to withdraw 30 euros. The ATM wouldn’t give me any money from my Spanish account! What the fuck’s going on?

I went to a teller. She, too, was perplexed and took me to one of the bank’s officers, Antonio Novoa. It seems that when I opened the account in the summer of 2009 – six months before I moved here – Vanya signed on with me because I was still living in Moscow, at 26 Gruzinskiy Val, Apt. 75 (paying $ 1400 a month for the 1926 slum apartment that it was), and had no Spanish address.

I never changed my address after I moved here because 1) I had forgotten that that was my address of record; and b) I didn’t know that I should. The fact that my passport showed trips to Morocco every 90 days -- which someone at the police office here told me was necessary to maintain my tourist status – simply indicated that I was a transient, he said, with no local address of record.

The bank officer did unfreeze my account, but might they freeze it again?

He told me the paper that I had showing my application for residency from the Padron office at the city council only showed that I was living here in January 2012 and there was nothing to indicate that I still lived here. He said I should go to the police office the next day.

I did, and the cranky bitch there said I should go to the Spanish Government Bldg. I did, and the handsome young man there gave me an application and said that I should fill it out and go back to the Padron office at the city council’s office and see if they would extend the length of time from Jan. 2012, when I applied for it with my landlady Elvira, back to January of 2010, when I actually moved here.

He also said that I should get a paper from the police wherever I lived before Spain saying that I had no police record, and that I should see somebody named Santiago in the city council offices. I tried, but the first opening for an appointment with Santiago was the following Tuesday.

My god!

I told my neighbor Conchy about my exasperating experience that afternoon when I went for coffee.

She was alarmed. We must do something!

She returned to the bank with me on Monday to see if we could get a copy of the bank’s record of my transactions. But I have used the bank very little since I’ve been here. I don’t trust banks, and most of the money I’ve taken from my Bank of America account has gone into my pocket to pay expenses, not into the Spanish bank.

They did have one transaction on record from early 2010 showing that I paid for the water and electricity for my first apartment here. Maybe that would help.

We would go to the office of the Padron at the city council the next day, Tuesday.
That night I scoured my apartment for receipts or other evidence that I actually lived here. I found the receipt from the TNT moving company from Dec. 9. 2009 showing that I had shipped all my household goods to Spain. Purpose? “Moving to Spain.” That would surely help.
My passport also showed my entry to Spain on Dec. 21, 2009, and an exit only in June of 2010 to the U.S., where I had a cataract operation. The passport shows my return to Spain on Nov. 2, 2010.

I’ve repeatedly sent money to Misha in Moscow and the Ukraine and to Igor in Moscow and Moldova, with my current Spanish address listed on the Western Union receipt. The first was to Misha on Dec. 23, 2010, less than two months after my return from the States, and they have been regular and frequent since them, each showing my current Spanish address.
So that’s proof enough that I’ve lived here continuously, right?

Wrong, said the office of the Padron. “Rules are rules. Laws are laws. You applied for residency in January 2010, and you have to wait three years.” In the meantime, it seems, I’m living here illegally.

My god! The bureaucracy here is worse than Russia. The only difference is that in Russia, you can grease the palms of the bureaucrats. In Spain, you can’t. But they’re still bureaucrats. A-a-a-a-h ☹

But there is fortune in misfortune, the Germans say: Gluck im Ungluck! The bank froze my account just one day after Vanya took 400 euros out of it for a taxi ride to Madrid. If they’d frozen it one day earlier, he would have been in a horrible situation.

But that’s another long story: In brief, on Jan. 5 Vanya came here with a round trip ticket to stay for a month. But when he went to buy his bus ticket to our home town in northern Spain, there weren’t any seats available. That should have been his first clue.

But still he didn’t buy his bus ticket to Madrid until the very last day of his visit. There are scores of tour offices where he could have, but it would have cost an extra two or three euros, and he’s a cheap son-of-a-bitch when it comes buying thins. The bus was due to leave at 2 a.m. When he went to the bus station the night before to buy his ticket, the ticket office was closed!

He lives in his ex-boyfriend’s apartment, which actually belongs to his ex-boyfriend’s mother, who is paranoid about keys and unauthorized entry, so Vanya left his keys on the table before he left. He came to my apartment about 12 midnight with the sad story that he hadn’t been able to buy a ticket and had given up his keys to the apartment, and had no place to go but here!

But surely there would still be tickets on the 2 a.m. bus. Madrid can’t be that much in demand from the provinces!

But it was. Vanya left for the bus station at about 12:30 a.m. to buy a ticket and catch the bus. About a half hour later, I had a text message from him on my mobile phone. “This is terrible! There are no bus tickets available, and I have no place to go.”

Of course I invited him here.

When he finally arrived here, he was late, he said, because he had been to the Russian café near the bus station which we had discovered when we were enroute to the train station for our excursion to Bilbao earlier this month (see below). The Moldovan lad who helps run the place had agreed to take him to Madrid Saturday morning to catch his flight for 400 euros. Since the taxis charged 500, that seemed like a bargain.

I had given Vanya a card for my Spanish bank account back in 2010 when I went to the U.S. for my cataract operation. So early Saturday morning, with my permission of course, he used my card to withdraw 400 euros to pay the Moldovan lad for taking him to Madrid, leaving me less than 200 euros to live on for the rest of the month.

If he had tried just two days later, my account would have been blocked and he would really have been up Shit Creek without a paddle!

In our conversations, Conchy said I shouldn’t leave the country again because the police at the border can see I’ve been living here illegally and prevent my re-entry. But remember that I have an appointment in June in Casablanca, Morocco, with my Seattle buddy Marco. It would cost big bucksi for him to change his airline tickets; and the process has worked for me for three years, so it stands to reason that it will work for me twice more – in April and in June.

And Sasha is due on the 27th of June after I return, so after that we won’t leave the country. That will save me 300 euros every 90 days – and 600 euros, almost $ 1,000, for me and Sasha – a hell of a lot of money.

In the meantime, Conchy and I will go to the Spanish government office here and see if they will listen to reason. We were going to go Wednesday, but her mother, Carmen, became ill and Conchy took her to the hospital.

Whoops! Change of plans. Conchy dropped by my apartment Thursday evening, Feb. 21, to tell me that she had talked again with a lawyer friend, and I should do nothing. “Let sleeping dogs lie,” goes the American expression.

Now the Spanish authorities don’t know I exist. If I start making waves, they may decide they should do something, and export me. “Let sleeping dogs lie.”

So I’m back where I started. I’ll keep going to Morocco every three months to renew my visa until January of 2015, when my three years of living here are formally up, and I will be entitled to receive my residency card after I jump through all the rest of their hoops.

In the meantime, I returned to Antonio Novoa at the bank on Monday, Feb. 25. Conchy had explained my situation, and changed my permanent address from Moscow to Rome, Georgia, where I went for my 2011 cataract operation and where I have an ID card.

On the Tuesday evening after Vanya and I returned from Bilbao, waiting to go to Café de Maria to see Iago, my telephone suddenly rang. It was ex-wife Elaine. She has sent two letters, she said. She was renting her apartment the following week and wondered if I wanted it. I told her again that I wasn’t ready to return to the States and didn’t know when or if I would. Depends on my health.

She also said a $ 650 million VA hospital is nearing completion in Orlando. It will be perfect for me if I need it.

We had a warm, cordial conversation, and I got a wistful twinge thinking about returning to the land of my birth – no matter how screwed up it is and even if I’m celibate. I’m not having sex here, but at least there I would be among friends and family.

But we didn’t address the question of whether in an emergency I could rent a room in her house until her lakefront apartment becomes available.

When I returned from chatting with Iago at Café de Maria, I checked my mail box. Lying there was her second letter!

So I immediately answered her and mailed it on Wednesday morning:

Dear Elaine,

As luck would have it, your 2nd letter – dated Jan, 20 -- arrived today. I’m still hopeful that the first one will show up in my mail box, since it’s the one that had all the news in it.

It was great to hear your voice and to know that you’re doing well. I don’t blame you for not wanting to go to the hospital, but your knee problem probably warrants it.

Thanks for saving the apartment for me, but as I say, I don’t need it now and don’t know when, if ever, I will. The kid sounds like a worthless little punk. Speaking with somebody from home made me a little homesick to return to my roots. One question we didn’t address was whether, in an emergency, I could rent a room in your house until the apartment becomes available.

Your orchid collection sounds fantastic. Congratulations.

Say hello to Zola and Clyde for me.

Thanks for spending the money on the call. It was great to hear your voice.

Love, Dane

Still have not heard from her. If I don’t hear from her by next week, I will call her.

On Saturday morning, Feb. 2, Vanya and I had headed off on the train to see the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, in the much-vaunted Basque country. It turned out to be a waste of time and of the 300 euros apiece, which could have well been used for other things – like Vanya’s taxi ride to Madrid.

The Guggenheim Museum was spectacular in design and construction. But the “art” inside is not what I consider art. A huge hall was devoted to the works of Claes Oldenburg, whose pop art wasn’t art when it was scratched off in the 1960s and in my opinion still isn’t. I found nothing in this extraordinary building worth seeing – except the building.

Former student Valle called me on my mobile phone while I was in the museum and told me she had recommended me to an English philology student at Univ. of Santiago. We agreed that I would call on the following Saturday when I was back home.

On Monday, a dreadful, typically cold and rainy Bilbao February day, Vanya and I went to San Sebastian, an hour’s bus ride away and a beautiful, stately old city with a lovely beach; and surprisingly there were a number of sturdy basques defying the chilling rain and wind to swim in the Viscaya Bay at the city’s Conch Beach.

We rode the train back to our small city on Tuesday. Vanya’s ex-boyfriend, whose father died while I was in Morocco last month, had arranged for me to see a notary on Thursday and record my last will and testament. His father’s death had put him in mortal fear for everybody else, it seems.

In my will, I said that if I die in Spain, I want my body to be disposed of as quickly and cheaply as possible, which I assume is by cremation. The paltry contents of my apartment should go to Vanya unless Sasha is here, in which case they should go to him -- except he should give my laptop computer to my friend and editor Basil in Moscow to do with as he sees fit.

The contents of my Bank of America and Spanish bank accounts, after expenses of cremating my body are paid, should go to Sasha if he is here and to Vanya if he is not.

I also instructed Vanya to advise my nephew Dennis of my death “for informational purposes,” but Dennis is to have no responsibilities or concern for disposal of my body or of my property in Spain.

Whew! There, it’s done. Now all I have to do is save $ 2000 for cremation expenses, which should take about two more months. Let’s hope I don’t die in the meantime ☺

On Saturday morning, after packing Vanya off and lending him the 400 euros for the taxi, I found the following awaiting me on my laptop:

My darling Dane,

My birthday was Jan. 23. Thanks for your birthday wish!

I haven’t bought my ticket yet. Tell me, when is the best time in June?

I love you very much,


Of course I replied immediately:

My darling Sasha,

Thanks for the date of your birthday. I hope it was a good one.

I think that the 27th of June would be a good date for you to arrive.

How are you, my darling? Be healthy :-)

Vanya left for Moscow today.

I am anxiously waiting for you, my darling.

Good luck. I love you and miss you very much.

I kiss you,

Your Dane

A little later that day I got a call from the Univ. of Santiago student which Valle had mentioned in her phone call to me in Bilbao. The student’s name is Noemy. She said she is studying English Syntax and Morphology, and asked if I could help her. Christ! I don’t even know what sytax and morphology mean, but I told her I could help her and we arranged to meet later in the morning at Café de Maria.

She gave me a copy of her text books. What bullshit! I don’t know half of the words in them: Words and phrases like “prepositional verb,” “suppletive verb,” “orthographic words,” “lexeme,” “predicator,” “catenative constructions,” “obligatory adjuncts,” “illocutionary force,” “non-canonical constructions,” “object extrapositions,” “exhaustative implicature,” and a host of others.

I am convinced that it is part of the phony categorization of humans: If you don’t know these words, you’re not educated. Absolute bullshit. But I will continue to teach Noemy, acknowledging the difference between British English and American as I do. The 15 euros per lesson, 3 lessons a week, will boost my income substantially.

Ah, dear, my “Joe #$%^{@/’s problems keep mounting, but I think I’ve finally ended any thought that he can count on me for money, thanks to my lending Vanya the 400 euros. As a result, and because I have to save 2000 euros for cremation expense in case I kick the bucket here, I simply have no money to send. Zero!

On Feb. 16, I got this e-mail from him:

Hello, my dear Dane!!! How are you, what’s new?

Forgive me for not writing??? There is no money either for the telephone or for Internet…Thanks a lot for the money Dane!!! You sent me money, I went for a checkup, the doctor wrote me a prescription…I bought it….Then in the polyclinic I fell unconscious and because of my throat…I couldn’t breathe ☹

Then they took me to the hospital….they did a puncture….there wasn’t enough money…I asked Mama to call you…but she didn’t know how to do it….She took from a man a loan of 2500 lei ($ 500) …when I am well, I will work to pay it back…Now I need to treat it….

They want to do another puncture….I need 2500 lei ($ 500) more….but we don’t have such money ☹ and I am ashamed to ask you for it….you have helped me so much…thank you. Dane, for everything…

.I am in a ward and a man in the ward loaned me a notebook to write you….I am very bored ☹ I thought about getting on Skype with you…but they don’t permit it in the hospital….

And my throat hurts after the puncture…..Maybe after a couple of days I will get out of here and we will talk on Skype….I have only you and Mama who remain among my relatives. I don’t have anybody else :-((((( I love you, miss you, kiss you ‘bye. I await an answer.

I immediately replied, but for the first time, I was in a position to flatly and unequivocally say No. I wrote:

My dear Igor,

How terrible that you’re in the hospital again. I’m very, very sorry. But I have bad news for you. I have absolutely no money ☹ and won’t have any. I have problems here and I won’t have money now for 4-5 months.

I am very sad. I know how much you need it, but I simply don’t have it ☹ I am very, very sorry. I know that you don’t have anybody else, but now I can’t help you. I’m very, very sorry.

I love you and worry about you.

Your Dane

On Sunday, Monday, Feb. 18, my sister Evelyn’s 89th birthday, I received the following:

Hello, my dear Dave!

I’m very glad that you wrote me! At the same time, Dane, it’s very bad that you have bad news….that you can’t help.

But Dane, don’t think that I only want money from you…no….no… ….no… You are as dear to me as my own family and I worry a lot about you….and I love you like one of the family….You’re my father, grandfather, and best friend! Only you alone have helped me and still help me….

I don’t know how long I will live….How much I can put up with my throat….But as long as I live, however I live….I will think of you and remember you and love you…We don’t have money…Never mind….I am nothing to you, I don’t want to offend you…However much I can, I will help, if there isn’t money to live…

Come live with me…I have a home, and we will live….if I live, I live to look after you and love you like a member of the family!

With love, your Igor, I love you, kiss you, await an answer!

This time, no matter how badly I want to help, I can’t. So I wrote the following:

My dear Igor,

How I wish I could help you. You deserve it. But I simply don’t have any money ☹

I hope you live for a long time, and will be happy. I think about you a lot. Please be healthy, for me.

I love you, miss you, and wish for you the best.
Your Dane always

Then, on Feb. 21, I heard from him again:

Hello, my dear Dane,

How is your health? How are you doing?

I am still in the hospital…I’m still alive. Mama found 1000 lei…I need more, if you can send some, as much as you can, I will ask for the rest, but I don’t know from whom ☹

I will be discharged from the hospital, I will get better, I will find work in this town where I am now recovering….I want to work, earn money….I am tired of being without anything….I don’t have anything, I just recover, recover….

I have old clothes…because I don’t have the money to buy new clothes…and I’ve lost weight and all my clothes are too big for me…that’s why I want to recover, to buy clothes, to help you.

What have you decided regarding coming here and living with me…? We will work out things together ☺

I love you, miss you very much, kiss you. ’bye! I await an answer.

Again, with some relief that I couldn’t untie my apron strings, I replied:

My dear Igor,

I hope you’ve already been discharged from the hospital and are again at home. Forgive me for not writing earlier, but my computer hasn’t been working; now it’s working okay. Thank god.

I still don’t have any money, and won’t have any ☹

Honey, it will be very difficult for me to return to Russia or Moldova. I think that I will stay here in Spain if I continue to be healthy.

I wish for you the very best,

Write when you can.

I love you, miss you, kiss you,

Your Dane

In the meantime, my fantasies over Iago, Santiago, continue to run wild; but unfortunately, I don’t think anything’s going to come of it, although when I met Elvira at Café de Maria Wednesday evening, he actually hugged me. He likes me, clearly, but the circumstances for our spending more time together aren’t likely to develop ☹

In Spain, birthplace of the Indignadoes after which Occupy Wall Street is patterned, unemployment continues at more than 25%, more than 50% for young people -- just behind Bulgaria and Rumania, the EU’s two poorest countries.

The “austerity” right wing government, as does the U.S. and most EU countries, continues to move trash and sewage, health care, social services, and other government services into the private sector; and as in the U.S., rampant financial and banking crimes, collusion between government leaders and big business, and unprecedented corruption have spawned a new type of print journalism that, so far as I know, hasn’t appeared in other Western countries facing the same disastrous problems.

The January launch issue of La Marea, which translates into The Tide, leads with a story headlined “Laws at the Service of Capital.” The monthly publication, owned by its journalists and readers, says it is “is committed to democratic regeneration and aims to reach people with sober language and militant ideas.”

And it appears to be just that.

At a time when major U.S. newspapers – even The Washington Post and The New York Times – exist as apologists for the right wing, bankers, big business, and the 1% financial elite, this meager Spanish effort – 25,000 was its initial run -- is taking a stand for what democracy should be.

Editor Daniel Ayllon calls Le Marea “one more piece in the process, where journalism professionals enter in this chain of social change.”

“We're in an emergency here - education, pensions, they're cutting everything," says fellow editor Thilo Schaefer; but the strategy the Spanish experiment insists on is not to shout about injustice "like another loud, angry leftist voice" singing to an audience of activists, but to "prove and make the point with facts - to reach a broader public.

“If we want to change something, we have to direct it to everyone, not one sector. The big debate happening here is about politicians, how they need to fight back against the markets. But hey," adds Schaefer, evoking a core argument made at Occupy Wall Street more than a year ago, "we're saying the markets are part of you and you are part of the markets, when former ministers are hired by huge energy and financial corporations, and when the public is left paying the bill for all the bankers who messed things up."

“It’s really not a noble 'print project,' or something romantic,” he continues As a weekly we can be profitable. People in Spain buy papers on the weekends. We believe that deep, real reflective analyses and investigations on paper have a future."

One of the younger writers and part owners, 25-year-old Berta del Rio, expresses the conviction they all feel:

"I'm a journalist because I believe in change, in optimism - because a press that unites people behind a theme is possible. And it's the moment to build it. It seems incredible that a small group can produce media - as though it's something only for big business. But we see that we can, that we can swim against the current, can open eyes and reveal a space of freedom.

“We're debating ideas, not ideology. Both parties failed and our press serves to reflect on that [failure] and present new alternatives, to learn from history. It's the way to fight against established power" in the way that previous generations did under Franco, she adds.

Several U.S. non-establishment independent journalist enterprises, like “Truthout,” are essentially doing the same thing, but with the Internet, not with newsprint.

It will be interesting to see if La Marea succeeds, but it’s certainly a noble effort that is “kicking against the pricks” in the best journalistic style they can muster and setting a model for others to follow.

A case in point is the servile coverage of climate change by the American press. Multi-billion corporations are giving hundreds of millions of undercover dollars to organizations set up to deny the reality of climate change, and only a few journalist enterprises, like Truthout, are printing the god-awful truth that carbon-based fuels are destroying the future for all of us.

The following article from Great Britain’s defiant newspaper The Guardian, by Stephen Leahy of ZCommunications chronicling experts’ concern that “global collapse of civilization seems likely” appeared on the Energy Research web site:

“Experts on the health of our planet are terrified of the future. They can clearly see the coming collapse of global civilisation from an array of interconnected environmental problems.

“We’re all scared,” said Paul Ehrlich, president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University.

“But we must tell the truth about what’s happening and challenge people to do something to prevent it,” Ehrlich told IPS.

“Global collapse of human civilization seems likely, write Ehrlich and his partner Anne Ehrlich in the prestigious science journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society.

“This collapse will take the form of a ‘gradual breakdown because famines, epidemics, and resource shortages cause a disintegration of central control within nations, in concert with disruptions of trade and conflicts over increasingly scarce necessities,’ they write.

“Already two billion people are hungry today. Food production is humanity’s biggest industry and is already being affected by climate and other environmental problems. ‘No civilization can avoid collapse if it fails to feed its population,’ the authors say.

“Escalating climate disruption, ocean acidification, oceanic dead zones, depletion of groundwater, and extinctions of plants and animals are the main drivers of the coming collapse, they write in their peer-reviewed article ‘Can a collapse of global civilisation be avoided?’ published this week.

“Dozens of earth systems experts were consulted in writing the 10-page paper that contains over 160 references.

“‘We talked to many of the world’s leading experts to reflect what is really happening,’ said Ehrlich, who is an eminent biologist and winner of many scientific awards.

“Our reality is that current overconsumption of natural resources and the resulting damage to life-sustaining services nature provides means we need another half of a planet to keeping going. And that’s if all seven billion remain at their current living standards, the Ehrlichs write.

“If everyone lived like a US citizen, another four or five planets would be needed.

“Global population is projected to increase by 2.5 billion by 2050. It doesn’t take an expert to conclude that collapse of civilisation will be unavoidable without major changes.

“We’re facing a future where billions will likely die, and yet little is being done to avoid certain disaster, he said.

“‘Policy makers and the public aren’t terrified about this because they don’t have the information or the knowledge about how our planet functions,’ he said.

“Last March, the world’s scientific community provided the first-ever state of the planet assessment at the ‘Planet Under Pressure’ conference in London. More than 3,000 experts concluded humanity is facing a ‘planetary emergency’ and there was no time to lose in making large-scale changes.

In 2010, a coalition of the national scientific bodies and international scientific unions from 141 countries warned that ‘the continued functioning of the Earth system as we know it is at risk.’

“‘The situation is absolutely desperate and yet there’s nothing on the front pages or on the agenda of world leaders,’ said Pat Mooney, head of the international environmental organisation ETC Group.

“‘The lack of attention is a tragedy,’ Mooney previously told IPS.

“Solutions exist and are briefly outlined in the Ehrlich paper. However, these require sweeping changes. All nations need to do everything they can to reduce their emissions of fossil fuels regardless of actions or lack of them by any other country, he said.

“Protection of the Earth’s biodiversity must take centre stage in all policy and economic decisions. Water and energy systems must be re-engineered. Agriculture must shift from fossil-fuel intensive industrial monocultures to ecologically-based systems of food production. Resilience and flexibility will be essential for civilization to survive.

“A key element in meeting this unprecedented challenge is ‘to see ourselves as utterly embedded in Nature and not somehow separate from those precious systems that sustain all life,’ writes England’s Prince Charles commenting on the Ehrlich’s paper.

“‘To continue with ‘business as usual’ is an act of suicide on a gargantuan scale,’ Prince Charles concluded.

But you won’t read this in the Washington Post or New York Times.

See also related pages:
Chapt. #335 - Good People and Psychopathic Leaders
Chapt. #333 - Trudging in William S. Burroughs’ footsteps

This day years ago:
2005-2-28: Chapt. #108 - Zhorik and Igor duke it out; Putin gets a new adversary