Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Voice is My Passport. Verify Me.

"The Post Office is the Post Office but this one moved into a new building across the street to the detriment of customer service. While the old building was old there were more service windows and attendants. Sure, on-street parking was bad for the old one but the parking lot for the new one is terribly cramped, especially at busy times like lunch time and Christmas - it's just a mess. I avoid using the downtown office and go to Star City instead. They are smaller but much better." - Random Review of Morgantown Post Office

In May, I voiced that I wanted a passport.
And in May the price to get a passport was about $100.
I was told we could not afford it, and that I didn't need it.

In June, I started googling phrases such as "how to get a passport".
In July, the price of a passport went from about $100 to $135.
In August, I printed out the online forms and completed them. The usps has a helpful page on where to go "Find the closest Post Office to submit your passport application."
I clicked it. Go ahead, click the link on that page.
You get a big white screen of nothing titled, "USPS Exit Page".

In September, I was driving past the Star City Post Office and saw this banner:

Each day I drove past this banner, and waited and waited to get the money.
My friend Stephanie invited me to her Canadian wedding, so I would need to get my passport soon.
In October, I got paid enough money for my passport, and raced home and began collecting my forms, and my birth certificate. When I opened the lock box, I discovered the lack of my birth certificate! It was missing!

I googled "how do you get a copy of your birth certificate?".
I completed the form online.
I received an email stating they were unable to complete my request.

In November, an unexpected expense came up and I spent a good portion of my passport money on that.
Also in November a back-up copy of my birth certificate was found at my mother's house, so I planned the next day to submit the forms.
I drove to the post office, walked up to the door, and was greeted by this note:

Of course, they still had the ginormous banner stretched across the front of the building, to lure would-be world travelers.
I went to the UPS Store, because they had "Passport Photos" on their sign. I was instructed to sit in a chair, and the photo was quickly snapped with a digital camera. I saw what appeared to be a horrible photo of myself on the screen of the camera.
"Can you retake that please?" I asked.
He glanced down at the screen and said, "Nope! Your eyes were open!"
A minute later I was handed my photos and told to go to the main (read: through downtown traffic) post office to process my passport.
It was too late to go then, so the next day I fought downtown traffic, parked the swagger wagon in a skinny spot, squeezed through the narrow opening that was left, walked past the liquor store, and waited in line. Only two 'windows' were open, so it took over half an hour to get to "I can help who's next!". I stepped up to the counter and placed my forms in front of me.
"I'd like to get a passport!" I said in my chipper I-know-it's-not-your-fault voice.
"Oh, I'm sorry." nice postal lady said. "We don't do those after 1:30."
I looked at the giant clock on the wall above my head. It read 1:35pm.
"I was here. I was in line. I've been in line forever."
She smiled, and said, "You can come tomorrow, between 8:30am and 1:30pm. Or on Saturday between 9:00am and 10:30am."
She pushed my papers toward me and called out, "I can help who's next!"
Now I know why they opened a liquor store next door!

At the moment, a passport is the least of my concerns, as I am in bed with the plague. It begins with a rash, a headache, and a high fever. Then it becomes projectile vomiting and two days of sleeping sickness. Right before it turns the victim loose, they get one last round of diarrhea and vomiting.
Arden had this and has fully recovered, Paige got it over the weekend and returned to school today.
I've been in bed with fever and headache since 8pm yesterday, alternating between hypothermia and heat-stroke.
I begged for hours last night for someone to bring me a drink of water.
Harris finally arrived with a glass of lukewarm water that tasted strongly like cottage cheese.
I did not dare ask for a clean glass.
This morning, Arden brought me coffee and meds.
Paige came in this afternoon to check on me ask for a ride back to school to get her history book. To bribe me, she brought me a slice of sweet potato pie the size of my head.
I got out of bed, and drove her the mile to the school, the heel of my palm pressed firmly over my right eyebrow, to prevent the headache-induced double vision.
That which does not kill us makes us stronger (or sometimes cripples us for life).
Either way, you will see the pie again.

News from upstairs is that Harris just barfed all over the kitchen.
I hear the washer running, so I'm going to burrow back into my nest-pod of pillows and pray that they have it all under control, and that the washer holds up.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Return to Me

"In spite of the seven thousand books of expert advice, the right way to disciplne a child is still a mystery to most fathers and mothers. Only your grandmother and Genghis Khan know how to do it."

"No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I'm not talking about the kids. Their behavior is always normal."

I was once trapped in a relationship that I described to a close friend as the most unhealthy relationship I'd ever been in. I had in my life a person with the worst entitlement attitude I'd ever seen first-hand, taking my things on a regular basis, rarely returning them, and making me ask for them to be returned to me.
This person had known me a long time and knew my sore spots. They ran me down in front of their friends. They ran me down in front of my friends. They said things like, "I don't see why your friends listen to any of your ideas- they're all stupid."
If I tried to do something nice for this person, they made it a point to tell me how I'd done it all wrong.
If I asked them for guidance, I was told, "If you love me as much as you say you do, you'd just know!", and if I did nothing, it was held up as "proof" that I didn't really care about them.
The only time this person was ever nice to me was when they wanted something. And as soon as they got it, they went back to being mean, insensitive, rude, and disrespectful.
I was excluded from this person's life at every possibility. They even tried to un-invite me to a party they were throwing in my house!
Ordinarily, a person treating me like that would be hauled to the curb. Certainly none of my girlfriends would advise me to stay with such a person. But as I've mentioned, I was trapped, because the other person was a 14 yr old girl.

She hid her life from me in every way, and would then shriek, "You don't know! You don't know anything about me! You have no clue what's going on in my life, and what it's like to be me!"
Gee, ya think? Why don't you try pushing your hair back out of your face and having a conversation with me that does not use the words "ride" "friends" "movie" "mall" or "money"?
A mother of grown daughters took one look at my eldest and told me "Ah, the demons have taken her, I see."
I asked her to explain. She went on to tell me that at age 13, the demons take your daughters, and then after age 17, they bring them back.
It made perfect sense.
I used to wonder how some parents could send their kids to boarding school. Now that I have teens, boarding schools look pretty damn nice.
I don't even want a good one.
Hell, I want to send them to the one where they have to dig a hole!

I cannot afford boarding schools, not even after I googled "cheapest boarding schools".
But true to their word, the demons brought my eldest back by her 18th birthday. And today she is a joy to be around.
In a few weeks, I'll have a 15 year old, a 14 year old, and a 12 year old. The demons already have the 15 year old in their grip, and are stalking the 14 year old.

What I've learned is that their behaviors are, well, maybe not acceptable, but at least normal enough, common enough, for books like this to be written.

Eldest daughter texted me a few days ago positively furious after discovering her sister had taken her warm winter boots without asking.
She wanted her sister severely punished.
I reminded her that not so long ago she was the one in the demons' grip who drove us all crazy, and with patience on our part, it turned out ok.
With demon residue still drying on her dewy skin, she responded, "Yeah, well that's your choice. I'm just going to punch her. I bet the demons will bring her back a lot faster if I bust in her face."