Go where you wanna wanna go; do what you wanna wanna doPart One
By Mike Leifheit, Columnist
It is Sunday night at the Irish Rose. My friend Jon Agustsson tells me about a fund-raiser at Kryptonite. It is a benefit for Matt Terrell, the bartender at Octane. Matt had a bleeding ulcer, which resulted in a stay at the hospital. Everyone knows how expensive that can be these days. Chris, the owner of Kryptonite, put together a daylong gathering of bands to raise money to help him out.
I tell Jon that it sounds like a really good idea, and I will join him later, but I want to get something to eat, so I set out for one of my regular Sunday night haunts, the Great Wall. I am sitting at the bar at the Great Wall when a young man comes up to the bar and orders a beer. He is sitting at a table for dinner and just wants to have a drink at the bar. He asks Tom, the bartender, if he can pay with his credit card. I motion to Tom that I will buy his beer, and Tom responds. When he tries to pay, Tommy tells him that I bought his beer. He seems surprised.
We engage in conversation, and he tells me that he has just come from Kryptonite. (I think his name is Benney.) He plays in the band Whalebone, and he sat in at the event. I ask how it is going, and he tells me that it is packed. This serendipity assures that I must check it out. I head back to the Irish Rose after eating. Elisha and Tonia are there. They want to go too. I tell them that I cannot stay late, so we go in separate cars.
Inside the club, we have a few beers. I see Holland Zander, and she gets me a promotional piece that has a listing of all the bands. A young man walks up to me and gives me a card. Beetcafe.com it reads. His name is Patrick McDonough, and he is trying to supply Rockford with info about Rockford. Later in the week, I go to firstname.lastname@example.org and find a great story outlining all the details of the bash. Check it out. On the way out, I see Mike Bunjen from Medicine Man and 420, and we chat for a few, but I have to get going. I have a big day planned on Monday.
The following day I set out for Chicago. Marco Lenis of La Voz Latina has informed me that I may be able to get my green card reinstated for $95, and I want to give it a try. (My mother was a naturalized citizen, and I can claim citizenship through her, but it will take almost two years, and I want to visit my son in Hungary.) He also advised me to go early in the morning as I may have to wait for many hours.
Before leaving, I have to do the normal things to get the place open, and then I search through the papers from my mothers house to find anything that pertains to my entering the country. I find the original envelopes that our green cards came in, postmarked 1947, but not the green cards themselves. The envelopes, however, do have sequential numbers printed on the end, and I am hopeful that they are our registration numbers. I also find an old passport of my mothers, the one she used to enter the country.
The INS office turns out to be on Jackson, right across the street from a club where my friend Megan Gallagher (of Uncorked In The Rock River Valley) and I attended a wine tasting (Louis Glunz) the week earlier. It is indeed fortunate since I already know where to park. I find my way in. A woman is working the admission line. I tell her what I am trying to do. She discourages me. I persevere.
Finally getting permission to move upstairs to take my place in line, I pass through the metal detectors. There are six people working at the detector station. Another person watches them.
Passing into the second lobby, I approach a young man at a desk who is watching the doors where the real people (not us aliens) get to enter the building. He is concerned that I came in through his door, and I almost wind up having to go outside to be readmitted. But finally I get to go up the escalator to the upper area, where I can wait to be processed. Then I get to wait in the line to talk to the triage person. This takes about half an hour. While I am waiting, I talk to a Muslim man and his American wife. She has adopted the Muslim religion and wears the scarf on her head. I tease her about whether she is a Muslim extremist. Finally, I am sent to the room where you get to apply for a green card. Then I wait for about three and one-half hours.
More about this next week.
Owner of the Irish Rose (Rockford) and Irish Rose North (Rockton) restaurants, Mike Leifheits Hanging Out In Rockford reviews locally-owned restaurants, businesses and Rockford life. These columns are also available on his Web site: IrishRoseRockford.com and featured on the Chris Bowman Show, WNTA talk radio AM 1330.