Tuesday, January 20, 2009

O Happy Day!

We do not have a TV in our office, and my work computer doesn't have speakers, so I had little hope for watching the inauguration. However, early this morning, one of the partners sent around an email letting everyone know she got the internets streaming to the big screen monitor in a conference room. She invited all who were interested to come and eat lunch together while watching the ceremonies. Of course, by 11:30 am when we showed up with our brown bags, all the news sites were crashed with the rush of eager viewers. We finally got a spurty feed from MSNBC to come in intermittently, and plugged in an old analog radio.

But nobody cared about the logistics... it was just so fantastic to be listening to President Obama speak, watching hope light up the faces around the table, and knowing that faces were lighting up with hope all around the world.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Just Another Day

I work in the private sector, for a small business. Martin Luther King Day is one of many federal holidays not recognized by the company, so today was an ordinary work day for me. It's a long cold stretch between New Year's Day and Memorial Day, let me tell you. But that's besides the point... What I noticed today is how spooky it is working downtown on a holiday.

The only thing missing was the tumble weed. No school buses on the drive in, no traffic at all downtown, no pedestrians waiting at the crosswalks. Plus I got a spot on the third floor of the parking garage, which is practically like getting a spot on the first floor, since the bottom two levels are reserved. [I normally park on the fifth floor.] Our office was bustling as always, but we might have been the only ones in the building, the only ones on the block.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Speedy Delivery

When we applied for our passports, Helpful Postal Clerk seemed surprised by how far in advance we were applying. With our trip is still many months away, there was obviously no need to pay extra for expedited processing. So it was a huge surprise when SodaBoy called me at work this afternoon with the news that our passports had arrived in the mail today, just nine days after we originally submitted our paperwork.

Apparently having my surname spelled wrong on my previous passport and using it to travel to Soviet Russia wasn't as much of a problem as I'd feared it could be. [I enrolled in Russian language classes the first year they were offered at my high school, and ended up being selected to fill the shoes of another older student who was supposed to be participating in the exchange, but couldn't go. My parents rushed me down to the state building, but my last name was missing a consonant on the first passport I was issued. We sent it back dismayed, only to have a second arrive mere days before my departure, this time with an extra vowel. What did I do? Practice signing my name wrong, of course.]

Luckily, this minor youthful discretion did not seem to cause any problems, and all names spelled correctly this time around... on my passport anyway. Unfortunately for SodaBoy, my passport curse seems to be infectious. His name and birth date are correct, but his sex is indicated as "F," and clearly that won't do. When he called me, he had already determined he has to send the passport back with a photocopy of his drivers license to show proof of gender. I couldn't resist offering another suggestion for photocopiable evidence.

And the birth certificates? They did not arrive today, but as promised, I am not panicking. Like Mom to Baby J noted in her comment, the literature indicates they will be mailed separately.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Passport Process

SodaBoy and I went to the mall yesterday evening, for what will hopefully be our last visit there for a few months at the very least. I am always happiest to avoid the place altogether. Yesterday our mission was simple: passports. Even though we both have expired passports, it has been too long for them to be considered simple renewals, and we had to start the process from scratch. We'd picked up the application forms previously, so we could have them all filled out when we arrived, and hopefully streamline the process.

However, when we sat down yesterday afternoon to do our paperwork, we discovered more information is required than we remember providing in the past. Parents birthdays were easy enough, but SodaBoy and I both stumbled a bit when it came to our parents birth places. We knew the general areas where our folks were born, but weren't certain if they were born in the small towns where they grew up, or the nearby bigger cities where the hospitals are located.

So we starting placing phone calls, and it was a few hours before we tracked down all the pertinent data. Hence the need for the trip to the mall, to get to the post office and accomplish the goal of getting the passport applications completed. See, the post office branch located at the mall has extended hours compared to all other branches in the area: it is open evenings and weekends, even Sundays. I would even go so far as to say it would seriously rock, if only it wasn't located at the dreaded mall.

The line was super long, and super slow. Several people had called in sick, stranding one sole postal clerk to staff the entire branch alone. I have decided postal workers get a bad rap. This man was practically a saint, he was so calm and patient. With his help, we accomplished our goal! The application process is complete... now we just have to wait for the passports to arrive in the mail.

The only part that was a little weird is that they kept our birth certificates, to be returned with the passports when they arrive in the mail. SodaBoy and I each only have the one copy of our birth certificates, and mine is the original, with the raised seal and real signatures. I feel vaguely bereft without it -- hopefully it will all work out, and I won't need it in the interim. To quote the hilarious Lanes123, I'm sure it's fine.

Translation: I won't start panicking for at least a month.