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**It Happens

Immigration's filing system - one of the finest in the world.

To paraphrase the old saw, July was what happened while the staff at Crescent Blues was making other plans.

At the start of the month our summer schedule appeared a thing of beauty. Our August interview would feature Lee Killough, one of our favorite writers, just in time for the release of her latest novel, Killer Karma. For the editorial, I would write a fluff piece about my much-anticipated trip to Scotland. The staff would celebrate a temporary respite from "the Meanest Woman in Cyber-Space," and our September articles would feed off all the fabulous interviews I would land at WorldCon 2005.

Then, two days after the anniversary of my dad's death, my mom suffered a serious stroke. Two days after that, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), in its infinite idiocy, sent a deportation order to our webmaster, Stephen (SJ) Smith. Seems they confused him with one or several of the 190-plus other Stephen Smiths currently in their system -- specifically, a Stephen Smith who filed in Wisconsin. Neither SJ, nor his wife, Crescent Blues Assistant Editor Teri Smith, ever even visited Wisconsin, much less filed any paperwork there.

Thank goodness for the Internet! Online friends from Seattle to Germany rallied in support. They sent so many letters to Teri's congressman, it overwhelmed his office mail system. Meanwhile, some behind the scenes online networking reassured SJ that he didn't face deportation over the USCIS mistake. Can't say it moved SJ's application for a resident visa forward, but it certainly didn't hurt the process.

One could say the Internet helped my mom too. I met Teri over the Internet almost ten years ago. I met her mom when she attended Teri's wedding to SJ at my house. Now her mom -- like mine, a former nurse and military spouse -- has come to Virginia to help my mom get back on her feet. I can't tell you how much that relieves my heart.

Never did get to Scotland. But in the great scheme of things, it doesn't seem to matter. The outpouring of love and support for SJ, and the arrival of Teri's mom loom so much larger in my mind. A big thank you to everyone who helped Teri and SJ in their July need -- and a big thank you to Teri, SJ and Teri's mom for helping me.

Jean Marie Ward

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