On alert

Hassan Melehy

1.   I know why some immigrant children keep their given names.

2.   One of the best skills to have is cooking, then repairing your own house then your own car.

3.   Get the certificates, deeds, and licenses, but if you can manage not to rely on them further steer as clear as you can.

4.   Because the thing they’ll try hardest with you is to turn you into what they most need you to be.

6.   Authenticity is the minstrelsy of immigrant children.

7.   Even the forms you fill out do it to an extent, but in my experience you can use that slot as a shelter—as long as you file all of them on time you can find room to move.

9.   The color they imagine you to be when they process the forms will influence whether they audit or prosecute, to a greater or lesser degree depending on the charge. Once they do, you need to find polite ways of reminding them of your pedigree, whatever it might be.

10. If you’re lucky enough to just have to enter a few numbers, I believe you should still take care not to make a mistake.

11. Filling out forms and creative writing involve exactly the same skill, one the inverse of the other. But anyone who claims to know which is rightside up is full of shit.

12. Keep food nearby when you write, and as soon as you get to the part that’s self-discovery, don’t watch the clock.