Monday, October 7, 2013

Part I of why the United States and Canada fought over who wanted me less.

So, remember a few weeks ago when I said that I had a story for you? Well, I have TWO stories for you that happened in the last week and a half, so stay tuned for Part II of this saga on Wednesday. But now, without further ado, Part I of the story you’ve been waiting more than a week for! Sorry in advance if all of the anticipation was more exciting for you than this forthcoming story.

Ok, so back in the early summer, I was busy being all responsible and organized and an overall awesome citizen of the world and applied for a renewed passport for my trip to Vancouver in the fall. Easy, breezy, filled out the form and got a new picture. Wham, bam, I’m a travelin’ ma’am.

Of course, then the government got involved and was like “No, sorry, we don’t trust you to leave this country and so we’ll take forever to give you your passport. Also, we’ve been sequestered and now you have to pay attention to what that means when they talk about it in the news because maybe it’s about to affect your life, like, big time.”

But I’m going to be honest with you: when I initially heard about the sequester, I was all “this is probably one of those things the 24-hour news outlets are making into a big deal because they have to fill 24-hours with non-news.” And then it was the middle of September and I still didn’t have my 6-8 week processing time passport and I was like “the government must have me on a glitter-terrorist watch list and/or the sequestration is real.”

However, I decided that it’d definitely be ok and the government would not let me down. And then it was three business days before I was leaving and I was like “We’re breaking up, United States. This was the invisible line that you just weren’t supposed to cross.”

So that Tuesday afternoon, I called the 800 number for the passport agency and discussed the situation with someone who clearly didn’t understand that this was CRISIS! and, instead, was like “enjoy not going to Vancouver, sucka’!”

Later that night:

Me: “How am I going to tell (insert boss’ name here) that I’m not able to go on this business trip that I’ve been preparing for over the last two months?”
CB: “She’ll understand.”
Me: “’She’ll understand’ is not a solution. I’m panicking.”
CB: “It’ll be fine, you’ve literally done everything you possibly can, they can’t fault you for that.”
Me: “Maybe I’ll call the 800 number again tomorrow morning and tug at their heartstrings?”
CB: “How will you do that?”
Me: “By being charming?”
CB: “Yeah, you’re definitely not going to Vancouver.”

So of course I decided to prove CB wrong, especially because I can be incredibly persuasive and pitiful via telephone, and called the agency back the following morning.

One hour later I had a fool-proof plan that could fall apart at any moment and took it to my manager for approval.

Me: “So I can take a train to Philadelphia tomorrow morning, where I have an appointment at the Passport Agency at 9:30am so they can decide whether they’ll approve me for an expedited passport.”
Manager: “You’ve done everything you possibly can, definitely go! Especially since you’ll get a passport after all is said and done.”
Me: “Um, actually, they couldn’t guarantee that I’ll walk out of there with a passport OR that they’ll be able to overnight anything to me for the trip. So I’m basically taking an entire work day to wait in line at a government agency where they’ll take hundreds of my dollars and then maybe let me go to Canada.”
Manager: “I don’t see how this could possibly go wrong.”

Sidebar: something you should know about me is that all of this is perfectly normal. In my life, which has been quite a nice one thus far, things that are just regular, day-to-day things turn into EVENTS. And not because my flair for the dramatic takes center stage, though that’d be a logical conclusion. Mainly just because it’s in the universe’s DNA to make sure I don’t get too comfy with life. Keeps me on my toes and also sometimes craving anti-anxiety medication.

So the next morning I hopped a cab, then a train, then another cab to the Philadelphia Passport Agency and waited in line with 45 other people who also had a 9:30am appointment. I was number 40 and there were 7 windows and three people working.

Sequestration? Real.

Finally, I got up to the counter and handed over all of the various necessary documents for my application.

Passport Agency Rep: “What’s the purpose of your travel?”
Me: “Business.”
PAR: “What is your business?”
Me: “I’m an editor.”

And then the PAR just stared at me for an uncomfortably long period of time. I stared back and started to sweat, which is my go-to power move.

PAR: “Is this your birth certificate?”
Me: “Um, yes?”
PAR: “I don’t think I can use it because I can’t feel the raised seal and the doctor never signed it.”
Me: “Um…..but this is all I have.”
PAR: “Sorry.”

Second sidebar: Ok, PAR, you’re not sorry. I can tell there’s no remorse in that statement! Also, just because the doctor who delivered me failed to sign the document doesn’t mean I wasn’t born. I’m standing in front of you, born for several decades now, and so please just take it.

Me: “Well, I have my old passport – they didn’t take it when I applied because it’d been more than 15 years so I had to apply for a brand new one.”
PAR: “Yes, that would help a lot. Otherwise, I was going to have to deny you.”

So I took out the old passport and handed it to her, and while I was waiting for her to find something wrong with it, I was looking at my upside down fake birth certificate to have anything else to focus on other than my anxiety.

And that’s when it happened.

Towards the top of the document I noticed a date that read 11/26/1977.

11/26/1977. 11/26/1977. 11/26/1977.


And then, for the next two minutes, I flashed back to every single year of my life and how I celebrated two days in advance and MY WHOLE LIFE IS A SHAM!

And then I realized that that was the processing date and that my actual birthday was right there next to it and the flop sweat and updating of my Google calendar commenced.
Not actually born. Just a terrified,
life-like doll. 

A few minutes later, though, I had a 2:30 appointment to come back and pick UP my passport because, guess what? Pity and brow perspiration work every time.

And so I texted CB in excitement:

Me: “I’m getting my passport this afternoon!”
CB: “That’s great!”
Me: “Also, remind me to tell you why I think the day I always thought was my birthday actually isn't.”
CB: “Ok.”

And then that was it. No follow-up, no wondering why that'd ever come up in a person's life. He just took that as yet another normal part of having a conversation with me and left it at that.

Anyway, come back on Wednesday for Part II when I tell you how I actually got to Vancouver and then they didn’t want me to stay!

Happy Monday, everyone! 


  1. After carrying around my recently-expired passport for literally 2 months, I finally put it, the renewal form, and a passport picture off in the mail today. Because I thought, yeah, after months of not doing it, the middle of a government shut-down seems to be the right time.

    Also, my sister has a rather pathetic story about trying to get to Vancouver. The universe thwarted her at every step. She did finally get there, though. Looking forward to the rest of your Vancouver story.

    1. Hahahaha I love your logic. Also, glad I'm not the only one who had a helluva time getting to Vancouver!

      Also, next time I'm there - blog meetup?

  2. Okay, so I pretty much am in love with this story because this is basically how everything in my life goes which is a big reason why I don't drive (i'm working on that) and have never gone anywhere far - there's too much to orchestrate. It's kind of amazing that I walked down the aisle.

    Also, just because I think you're awesome and you were obviously very clearly flustered when writing out the story (true story - when I first got my birth certificate, I thought the same thing. I was 13, though - but you were also looking at it upside-down) I wanted to tell you that I now know CBs name (you wrote it in your text convo), so I thought I'd point it out in the event that you want to be super stealth mode, because I think you do, since you're a ninja.

    Happy Tuesday!

  3. Ahhh! I'm so NOT a stealth ninja! You're the best. I just fixed it, but now you are in on a not-so-well-kept secret (CB's name!).

    Also, I must know why you don't drive. Also, maybe we're the same person?

    1. Well, I've actually signed up for driver's training today, so this will be changing soon, but I'll tell you why:

      Mainly: as a pedestrian (and cyclist), it's pretty awesome to know that it would be really hard to kill a person, or even maim them. This is why I also don't run. My arms flail a lot, and I feel like I could poke someone's eye out. This is one big reason I don't like driving. That's a huge machine and what if I ended up being like Elizabeth Wakefield and am arrested for killing someone while drunk driving, when really, my evil, but much cooler, twin, had spiked my drink? No, I don't have a twin, but it could happen!

      Also - I get easily distracted. "Ooh! Look at that....." is pretty much my motto in life. So I've always felt like driving would be terrible because if you add the killing machine to my complete lack of attention, it's really just a terrible idea.

      And now I am afraid for my Driver's Training tonight. Do I want to do this?

      The big thing is that my city has a realllllly terrible transit system. It takes me an hour and a half to get home from work and it's a 15 minute drive. Plus, because the transit system is so bad, the only people who ride the bus are crackheads. And so then I feel like a crackhead and it's not good for my self esteem.

      So, at 31 years of age, I'm going to give it a shot. We'll see how it goes.