Monthly Archives: March 2015

Passport Hell Part II

I left off by telling you that I was missing my “long form” birth certificate (if you missed it click here). How was I going to get it? I was going to have to beg, borrow and steal, that’s how. Or just write a check.

I was born in New Jersey. Which means that I had to apply to the State of New Jersey Vital Statistics. I applied on February 14 and had to pay $47 to get something that belongs to me. But I guess that’s my punishment for forgetting to put the original back in the safety box. Either that or that is some expensive paper right there.

After receiving emails informing me of my birth certificate’s every step (Confirmation, In Progress, Ready To Mail Out and Completed), I finally received it on March 18.

I now had 16 days until we leave for our trip. My laid-back, “eh, we have plenty of time” attitude turned into full-on panic. I looked online (thank you Internet for being born — just don’t lose your b.c.) and found the number for the nearest Passport Office, which happens to only be an hour away.

Everything was automated. And I was told by Roberta Robot to come in on March 25 at 9:30am for my appointment. Now, when they say “appointment” I pictured a nice lady in a business suit behind a desk with a bun in her hair and black rimmed glasses on her face. I would sit down at her desk and she would ask me questions that I may or may not be able to answer and we’d be done.

I’m not really sure what world I live in.

Just so you know, in order to get a Passport expedited, you have to pay an additional 60 bucks. So far I am $232+ in the hole. Add in my time and wear and tear on my car and fuhgetaboutit.

After waiting in line to get through the metal detector and finding out that I needed to fill out yet another form, I had to get in line #2. This line had one of those rope things you see when you want to catch a ride on Magic Mountain. Except without the magic. And the mountain.

There were three windows but only one was open. A family of seven was at the single window. I was pretty sure they were ready to bust out some wine and cheese because it looked like they were going to be there for a while.

I was sandwiched between two guys. One had so much dog hair on the back of his sweatshirt that I was afraid to inhale too deeply for fear of getting a hairball and the other was mumbling, “this is bullshit” to himself over and over again. I was half expecting him to go “postal” any minute.

After standing in line for 40 minutes, I was given a ticket with a number and had to go wait in the pen with the rest of the poor passport-less people. The only difference is, I already had a processing passport. So, I had a different number than most everyone else. I just had to show the powers that be my $47 birth certificate. Easy peasy.

I sat down at 10:17. My number was called at 11:11. I almost missed it because I was texting DH, bitching about my experience and that I had a fear of not hearing my number being called.

By chance I looked up from my phone and a guy behind one of the six out of twelve windows that was opened was staring at me. Glaring at me like I was a sixteen year old girl. I wish I could say I was flattered, but I wasn’t.

I gathered my crap and ran up before he gave my spot away. After explaining the whole deal, he said, “give me a few minutes to find your paperwork. Sit where I can see you.”

Even though it only took him a couple of minutes and I was sitting in a chair right outside of his little window like he told me to, he started looking around the room for me. I ran up again, before he gave up and moved on to the next soul.

Because the thought of starting over made me want to just throw in the towel. So what if I never leave the country ever again? Who cares if I never see the Eiffel Tower? Or the Taj Mahal? Or Tahiti?

I got out my check, ready to sign over the extra 60 buckaroos to get my passport lickety-split. “Oh, no. You don’t owe any money. We are so sorry.” Yes. He apologized to me. Why? In case you missed it, in Part I I mentioned that the birth certificate I originally sent did indeed have my parents’ names on it. See where I’m going with this?

So now I’m only out $172+ (the “+” is for the processing fee that I don’t remember the cost of). The guy behind one of the six out of twelve opened windows asked me if I wanted it overnighted. Believe it or not, I said no. Because it was going to cost $15 and I’m dirt cheap. He promised me it would be at my house in three business days. He was wrong.

It only took 22 hours. passport

So, it was precisely nine weeks from the start of a journey that should not have been as painful as it was or should not have taken more than a month.

Moral of the story? Make sure you have a passport. You don’t have to have current travel plans outside of the United States. Just have one. Getting a passport because you have to, last minute, is not a good idea. Or as fun as Magic Mountain.

Plus now, you can go to Tahiti.

Passport Hell Part I

I had a passport once long, long ago. I needed one to get to and from Germany. I was probably around 7 or 8. That passport expired around the same time I started to grow boobs and pop zits. And I never applied for a new one.

Until now. Why? Because I’m going to Canada in exactly 9 days. No, I didn’t wait until the last minute. I applied for it back in January, when we decided we would be taking this trip.

I swear my hair looked good in my mirror at home.

I swear my hair looked good in my mirror at home. Although my hair isn’t the biggest problem here.

I went to the local pharmacy and paid 15 bucks for the ugliest picture anyone could possibly have taken of me. An orangutan could have done a better job with his feet.

I meticulously filled out the paperwork, checked and double checked that I had all of the correct forms, proof of citizenship, a pint of my blood and first born. I crossed my T’s and dotted my I’s.

I trekked my ass down to the post office. No, not any post office. It had to be a special post office that processes passports. Luckily for me, there was one in the next town.

After forking over $110 plus a processing fee that I blocked out because what difference does it make? A passport could cost $5,000. If you need a passport, you need a passport. Does the government or world or whatever have us by the cajones or what?

Umm, what was I saying? Oh right…

After forking over some moola, and spending an exorbitant amount of time in line as well as with the man behind the counter, I felt a sense of relief rush through me. It was on its way. Done. Complete. Check. Now I just had to wait the four to six weeks it would take to come in the mail. This was on January 21st. I had plenty of time.

Or so I thought. On February 13th, I received an official looking letter from the State of Connecticut. This envelope was too small to fit a passport. Although with the way technology is these days, who knows? This envelope could contain a chip. To be planted in your ear. I could only hope. I ripped it open. Eager to find out what was inside.

“The evidence of U.S. citizenship or nationality you submitted is not acceptable…the full names of your parent(s) are not listed…”

WHAT? I made a panicked phone call to my mother. Because my mother is the all-knowing, keeper of everything go-to person (I’m not kidding either. If you want her number, let me know). “OH-MY-GOD-MOTHER-MY-PASSPORT-APPLICATION-GOT-REJECTED!!!” I screamed into her ear.

Here’s a little birth certificate lesson for all of you: Apparently there are TWO types…the long form and the short form.

My dear all-knowing mother keeps a copy of everything from the receipt of a pack of gum she bought at CVS in 1994 to…you got it, all of her children’s birth certificates.

After a quick discussion with her, we figured out that I sent the short form. But guess what? The short form DID have my parents’ names listed on it because she checked. You know, on her copy. The State of Connecticut is blind. And my mother is never wrong. Plus she can read. She is not blind.

Unimportant Note: In case you are wondering why I didn’t just send the long form, it’s because I don’t have it. It got lost in a move. Or I probably took it out of our fire-safe lock box for one reason or another and didn’t put it back. I’m betting on the latter.

Most people would have called the State of Connecticut Passport Agency and demanded an explanation. But alas! I am not most people. What did I do next? Stay tuned…this is compelling stuff here. You won’t want to miss it. Or maybe you will. You be the judge.

Going To “Prom”

Prom season is upon us. The Kid is a Junior in high school so this is her first. I’m enjoying the time with her — shopping for the dress, shoes, making beauty appointments. I have a feeling that day is probably going to be very similar to what her wedding day will be like. And it’s weird.

When I was a teen, we called it “THE” prom. “Hey Karen, who are you going to the prom with?” Every time I add the “the” I get reprimanded by my teen for saying it incorrectly. Prom. As if it is a proper noun. Like saying France or something. Does it have its own capital too?

Then there is the way the girls are being asked. It’s a huge production. I don’t think most engagements are this elaborate. I bet The Kid’s boyfriend is sitting over in his house, planning out every detail by the minute. Sweating bullets to get it right. I sure would hate to be a teenage boy these days. Geesh.

When I was in high school, I had the same boyfriend in my Junior and Senior years. He was taking me to the prom. He didn’t ask. It was assumed. Period. And if you didn’t have a boyfriend? You either got a phone call on the telephone (or should that be telephone) or was approached after sixth period. “Hey, wanna go to THE prom with me?” “Sure.” “Totally tubular.”

Then there is the dress shopping. Facebook groups for all the Junior girls to join so that they can post a pic of the dress they bought. Why? So there isn’t a double. And if there is? Oooh, I’d hate to be at the prom. Sorry. PROM. I’d hate to be at prom.

I could see a cat fight brewing. Satin and taffeta and crystals being ripped to shreds right there on the dance floor. “You have my dress you biotch! Didn’t you check Facebook?????” I feel bad for the chicks who don’t have a Facebook page. Yes, it’s true. Believe it or not. I know, I couldn’t believe it either.

prom

My Junior and Senior Prom dresses respectively. Recycled before recycling was a thing.

For Junior prom, my bestie and I each bought a dress. Then the following year, we traded. It was a win/win. And we saved a lot of money. Because back in the day, I had to buy my own dress, with the money I made from the job I had. But that is a story for another show. And if someone came to the prom with the same dress? Eh. She had good taste.

How about the nails and hair? Oh, and the makeup? And if you buy open toed shoes? Go ahead and add in a pedicure. I’m sure that all will cost DH and me upward of a hundred bucks. God forbid you do your own. I offered to do it all for her, but for some reason she doesn’t trust me.

I don't know what the problem is? I do hair good.

I don’t know what the problem is? I do hair good.

  If I had asked my mother if she could make an appointment for me to get a manicure, hair job, and makeover, she would have laughed her ass off and then gone and purchased a home perm, a can of Aqua Net and a bottle of top coat. A little black eyeliner warmed by the flame of a Bic added to the inside of my eyelid, some blush (the same blush I wore to school) and voila! I was ready to prom it up!

Then there is the photo party. The photo party is way more important than the actual prom. This is true. No one seems to really care about the prom. PROM. For God’s sake. Prom. Prom. Prom.

I remember The Kid’s eighth grade dinner dance. The photo party was another large production. With someone hosting it. There was a tent with food and beverages all set up for the ten million kids that were there. It was lovely, it really was. The hosts did an awesome job. The kids loved it.

But there are so many teens in the shot that all their faces are just a blur. Then all that work to get them prepped for that evening, only to get a text halfway through the dance. “Can you come pick me up? We’re bored so we are all going over to Dante’s house for taquitos.” Okaaaaayyyyy. Umm…sure?

I have one kid, therefore, I only have to do this one more time. Phew. I don’t think I can handle any more than that. Next year oughta hold much drama. Bring it on. I’ll just pop some corn and observe. After we pay the bill, of course.

Afterthought: I completely forgot that our Junior prom was held in the gymnasium of our school. Carefully and lovingly decorated by the prom committee. Now? The kids (parents) have to pay for a fancy catering hall. Like I said, it likens to that of a wedding. We’ve all lost our f*cking minds.

Warning: I’m In a Bad Mood.

I suppose you’re wondering where I’ve been. Or maybe you haven’t been wondering at all. Perhaps you are happy that your email box or your Facebook timeline has been lighter.

It’s been a while. My brains are stuck on total freeze mode and cannot, will not, function. I am forgetting about appointments, or thinking I have appointments when I don’t.

I have a to-do list that is longer than Santa’s Naughty list. I have writer’s block so bad, I need a chisel. And I want to get out of bed about as much as I want to eat goat livers for breakfast.

Just the thought of the act of moving makes me want to cry. Sometimes I will sit and stare at the remote on the coffee table. Willing it to levitate in my direction. And if it doesn’t (it doesn’t)? Meh. Watching that episode of Friends when Ross whitened his teeth too much for the forty-second time won’t kill me.

My house is flooded. I have holes in my ceiling from ice damming and buckets strewn all around. It looks like one of those kiddie water parks in here but really, I live in a cave.

Please Mr. Postman, look and see...if there's any way you can MAKE IT STOP SNOWING!

Please Mr. Postman, look and see…if there’s any way you can MAKE IT STOP SNOWING!

My hair is overgrown, I need a dye job. I could use a good wax to my lip. I haven’t put on makeup in so long I don’t even remember where I keep it. My shaver has rusted out from lack of use. And my butt hasn’t seen a pair of jeans in 45 days because I know they won’t go above my ankles after sitting and eating nothing but pulled pork sandwiches and Smiley fries all season.

It won’t stop snowing and the temperature doesn’t seem to want to reach 30 degrees. If it does reach 30 degrees, people are out in shorts and t-shirts like we live in the middle of the Sahara. Which just pisses me off even more.

The snow is piled so high that the simple act of walking out to fetch the mail from the mailbox takes twice as long. That is if I can even reach my mailbox.

I’m bitchy and grumpy.

Yes, I am ashamed to say that I have let this horrible winter win. It got the best of me. I have the energy of a sloth. The brains of a goldfish. And the attitude of a bi-polar Princess Aurora.

But, it is March. That means it’s a little closer to something besides winter. We put the clocks ahead an hour this weekend which translates to “there will be light.”

So, as I stare out my window, looking at the snow that is edging up to eye level, I am grateful for March. Are we getting up to 9″ of snow by Thursday? Yes. So they say. But it’s March. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I will pull my head out of my ass and will become one with humanity.

On second thought, check back with me in April. Yeah. April seems more attainable. After all, isn’t that when bears come out of hibernation?